14th Anniversary of 9/11

911-in-memory-of-september-11

Today is the 14th Anniversary of 9/11. Americans of age recall exactly where they were on that morning of September 11, 2001. That was the day that 19 members of the radical Islamic group al-Qa’eda attacked America from the skies and incinerated 3,000 people. As a new law professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law, in San Antonio, Texas, I was working on my second cup of coffee with the television turned on in the living room.

Then I saw it; like a promo for a bad movie, the news channel was reporting that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. As a former Army staff officer who was deeply involved in terrorism issues during my twenty years of service, my gut feeling told me that it was not an accident, but a terror attack. When I saw in real time a second aircraft plow into the other tower, I knew the culprits – radical Islam.

Indeed, not only had I served a quarter of my career in the Army as the senior legal advisor to the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) dealing with the legal and tactical aspects of terrorism, in 2000 I had published a chapter in a book for the US Army War College detailing the group al-Qa’eda and the imminent threat they posed to the United States homeland by means of a massive terror attack.

At first, some Americans were deeply incredulous about the cause of the attack. When it became clear that the terrorists were members of the Afghan based group called al-Qa’eda the nation quickly closed ranks and supported President George W. Bush’s plan to counter strike them with a heavy military blow. But as we soon discovered, it was more than just bombing a rogue Islamist terrorist group “over there;” the United States was quickly faced with a plethora of legal and policy issues associated with how to deal with a much bigger threat. What President Bush euphemistically dubbed the “War on Terror,” was on.

After 14 years and two major combat missions in the Middle East costing over 50,000 Americans in dead and wounded, the War on Terror is still with us today. So where are we?

We know that al-Qa’eda has reconstituted itself following the 2011 death of Osama Bin Laden and still represents a real threat to the United States in terms of a massive terror attack on American soil. They were behind the attack in Paris earlier this year.

But what about the new face of radical Islam – ISIS? In a front page story in the Washington Times of May 8, 2015, I was asked if ISIS was able to attack the United States in a similar manner as al-Qa’eda had done on 9/11. I stated that “much Islamic State rhetoric may be bluster” but “if unchecked, it likely could execute a 9/11-scale attack in the U.S. a few years from now.”

If ISIS acquires a true weapon of mass destruction (WMD), we will wake to the news headline: “New York – Gone.” Four days after my remarks, former CIA Director, Mike Morell agreed that it was “only a matter of time before the jihadist group [ISIS] is likely to be in a position to direct more elaborate attacks on American soil that could result in mass casualties.”

Indeed, ISIS has inspired hundreds of Americans to act or attempt to act on their behalf, but these are the domestic jihadists not the jihadists operatives that would be sent into America from the ISIS caliphate, what I call ISIS central. The jihadists coming from ISIS central have the military skills and operational discipline to execute successful large scale attacks, homegrown jihadists do not.

Since 9/11 literally hundreds of terror attacks have been attempted here in the United States by homegrown jihadists that are inspired by radical Islam. In New York City alone, dozens of plots have been broken up by excellent law enforcement work at the State and federal level coupled with the fact that the vast majority have been unsuccessful because the operatives were sloppy and amateurish in either the planning or follow through.

ISIS central has the operational discipline required to strike us a heavy blow and cause fantastic mass civilian casualties. It has the men, time, money, and skill to land a devastating terror attack on America, and they will do it.

America may be war weary after the years in Afghanistan and Iraq, but fatigue has no counterpart with ISIS. ISIS is neglecting neither offensive nor defensive weapons and tactics.

In July 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Homeland Security issued a white paper entitled: Terror Threat Snapshot. The paper listed three top takeaways:

  • ISIS is dead set on attacking America and its allies. With the recent attacks in France and against tourists in Tunisia, ISIS has now been linked to 47 terrorist plots or attacks against the West, including 11 inside the United States. The rate of ISIS terror plots against the West has more than doubled in 2015 (19 plots in all of 2014; 28 already this year).
  • The number of post-9/11 jihadi terror plots in the United States has surged. There have been more U.S.-based terror plots or attacks in the first half of 2015 (a total of 24) than in any full year since 9/11. Overall, homegrown jihadi plots have tripled in just the past five years (from 36 plots/attacks in June 2010 to 118 today).
  • Islamist terrorists are getting better at recruiting Americans. Ten U.S.-based ISIS supporters have been arrested in the last month, bringing the total to 55 ISIS-inspired individuals arrested and charged in America (not included two which have been charged in absentia). ISIS followers have now been arrested in at least 19 States.

ISIS probably can’t carry out large-scale attacks in the U.S. right now, but such limitations can easily disappear, the Islamic State is certainly working on gaining that capability and it has a proven track record. It cost al-Qa’eda just under one million dollars to fund all of the logistics connected with the terror operation on 9/11, “ISIS has billions of dollars – with a ‘b’ – and if they plan an attack from over there, it’s going to be 75 percent [probability] successful and larger than 9/11.”

Advertisements

Iran, Obama, & Nuclear Weapons Part TWO

ira1

Paradoxically, from a global perspective, the Obama approach to nuclear non-proliferation will have the exact opposite effect. More nations, like South Korea, will surely be forced to acquire nuclear weapons, not less. It is illogical to assume that America’s friends and allies will continue to forswear the development of nuclear weapons if they lose confidence in America’s commitment to protect them from nuclear-armed enemies. This will surely come about in the Sunni nations in the Middle East, as Iran has now been given the green light to acquire nuclear weapons in the not that distant future by Obama’s July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

In this context, a significant concern centers on the NPR’s moratorium on the development of new nuclear warheads. Since NPR, no new nuclear weapons have been produced by the United States. This moratorium has forced the development of various life extension programs (LEP) for American nuclear warheads. The greatest challenge in this regard is finding ways to replace the aging core or pit of a nuclear warhead made from plutonium-238. Cannibalizing and reusing parts from decommissioned nuclear missiles should be done only as a last resort, not as a first choice. In addition, the NPR greatly harms the delivery systems used for nuclear weapons by simply eliminating such tactical weapons as the tomahawk sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM). One nuclear weapons policy expert assessed this as meaning that the Obama Administration has improperly “concluded that the United States could reassure U.S. allies in Asia, and deter threats to their security, without deploying sea-based cruise missiles to the region in a crisis.”

Again, if the primary goal of the 2010 NPR is to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it is not producing this result. North Korea is continuing to pursue the development of more and stronger nuclear weapons. Iran is also continuing its quest for nuclear weapons and now with the Obama treaty they will get them in the not too distant future.

On the other hand, smaller nuclear nations such as Israel will never agree to nuclear disarmament no matter the incentivizing, economically or otherwise. Even the most cursory view of the geopolitical environment surrounding the tiny nation of Israel would conclude that it would be irrational for Israel not to possess a nuclear force. Without the aid of the United States or other significant allies, the massive conventional forces of their enemies would overwhelm them in battle. Prudent smaller nations understand the realities of the world.

Under the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), deterrence is achieved through the practical realization that no nuclear State will attack another nuclear State, as the nuclear response would be unbearable. This may or may not deter a radical Muslim State like Iran that could base calculations for use of a nuclear weapon on a religious “duty” to usher in the apocalyptic “end times.”

The problem is that current and potential nuclear powers see this as a golden opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the United States, the formerly untouchable giant. The Obama policy is based on unilateral concessions, signaling weakness to nuclear and non-nuclear powers alike. In a world where nuclear weapons exist, the only realistic standard of behavior calls for the United States to maintain a robust nuclear capability, second to none, so that no nation would ever consider using a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately, this simple truism is lost on Obama.

When President Obama delivered his 2013 Berlin speech on disarmament, he remarked that “so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.” While the masses may enjoy such epigrams, this belief is absolutely false. A world in which the United States and other free nations do not possess nuclear weapons is both unrealistic and undesirable. It is precisely because of nuclear weapons that we are safe. In the nearly seventy years that modernized nations have been armed with nuclear weapons, not once have they been used by the nations that possess them. Wars have been fought between proxies of nuclear nations, but no nuclear-armed nation has attacked another nuclear-armed nation. Is this because the nature of man has changed? Or does it have more to do with the rational conclusion by even the most totalitarian regime, that the cost of using a nuclear weapon is simply unacceptable under MAD?

President Obama is simply the world’s icon for those unaccustomed to the reality of war and the necessity of nuclear weapons in the hands of countries that value freedom. Indeed, this sophomoric thinking led the international community to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the world’s foremost nuclear alarmist, Barack Obama, even before completing the first year of his presidency. The Nobel Peace Prize was primarily given for Obama’s “emphasis – in word and deed – for a world free from nuclear weapons.” In reality, if one is really concerned with keeping the peace, the real recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize should have been the atomic bomb. Shortly after Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize an article in Time magazine by David Von Drehle noted the absurdity of the award being given to Obama:

As bad as they are, nukes have been instrumental in reversing the long, seemingly inexorable trend in modernity toward deadlier and deadlier conflicts. If the Nobel Committee ever wants to honor the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end industrial-scale war, its members will award a Peace Prize to the bomb.

In addition, America has no special burden of guilt because it is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons. Not only was the use of the atomic bomb legal under the law of war, many more lives were saved by the use of the two atomic bombs during World War II than were destroyed. It is estimated that approximately one million more American soldiers and perhaps three million Japanese would have been killed had the United States actually carried out its plan to physically invade mainland Japan. President Truman understood the real world. The concept of nuclear deterrence was immediately established in 1945, the year the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Obama Doctrine, which seems intent on employing scare tactics and demonizing the possession of nuclear weapons, imperils both the world and America. Unilateral reductions of America’s nuclear forces create a vulnerable and weakened nation that can be “intimidated into conforming to the will of less-benignly inspired actors on the international stage.” Furthermore, such a course increases the actual promotion of the development of nuclear weapons in other nations. In short, a shrinking U.S. nuclear arsenal will certainly prod other nations to strengthen their own nuclear arsenals. One thing is certain; Obama’s misguided policies of unilateral reductions in America’s nuclear arsenal have not achieved his desire for worldwide nuclear disarmament. Instead of inventing mythologies about how nuclear weapons cause a more dangerous world, strong American leadership requires assessing the world as it really is and not how one wishes it to be. Statesmen accept the nature of man as it is and keep clear of the siren song of appeasement and crusader arrogance.

The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been extremely effective in reducing the spread of nuclear weapons. In exchange for a nation’s direct commitment to the treaty not to acquire nuclear weapons (they may develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes associated with energy production), many of these nations look to the United States for their security because they know that the United States of America has the nuclear muscle to ward off totalitarian nuclear-armed nations. The treaty has worked so well that, as of this writing, there are only nine nations with nuclear weapons, down from twelve. If America weakens its nuclear posture, the number will surely increase.

Obama’s pacifist desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons cannot be achieved. Unfortunately, however, its ability to hamstring America’s nuclear capabilities is all too real. Instead of pursuing the panacea of a world without war and nuclear weapons, President Obama must be made to wake from his millennial dream and institutionalize comprehensive arrangements that only provide for American reductions if our adversaries do the same, a process that must be verified through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). When it comes to nuclear weapons our policies must be fully rooted in the context of common sense. Unilateral reductions in America’s nuclear arsenal are disastrous when confronting totalitarian fanatics. The world remains a dangerous place and Russia, the other major nuclear power, is once again making noises of expansion by force. How will they be deterred from using nuclear weapons? In his book Einstein’s Monsters, Martin Amis wrote:

What is the only provocation that could bring about the use of nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the priority target for nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the only established defense against nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. How do we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? By threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And we can’t get rid of nuclear weapons, because of nuclear weapons.

In a nutshell: The only established defense against nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons cannot be abandoned because of nuclear weapons.

Iran, Obama & Nuclear Weapons Part One

ira1

Much has already been written about the horrendous nuclear treaty with Iran just negotiated by Obama in July 2015. We have seen this film before. Substitute Iran with North Korea and you have it all set out. President Clinton cut a deal with North Korea in the mid 1990’s to halt their nuclear program. Of course, North Korea lied, as all totalitarian regimes do, and set off a nuclear weapon shortly after Clinton left office.

With Iran, our only hope is that the U.S. Congress will be able to stop implementation. The bottom line is that the world’s number one State sponsor of terrorism, radical Islamic Iran, will now be able to get nuclear weapons in the not too distant future, They will either use the weapon as a psychological tool to continue their expansionism in the region, or they will use it in reality. In either case disaster is on the horizon. There is only one truism, the time to stop Iran is before they acquire nuclear weapons, not before. In the Middle East ten years is but the blinking of an eye.

This blog is a two-part series that deals with the under reported story of how President Obama’s view of nuclear weapons is weakening America’s national defense in the real world. For a complete examination of these issues see Game of Bombs: Obama’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime, 3 University of Baltimore Journal of International Law 1 (2015).

One of President Barack Obama’s favorite solutions to reducing or halting armed conflict in the world centers around his often-stated desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons. While this simplistic formula for a more peaceful world has certainly been voiced by other occupants of the oval office, the world is, and always has been, an extremely dangerous place, and the machinations of competing spheres of power in a “Game of Thrones” will always exist in human history. Coupled with an aggressive Russia and China, the dangers associated with the new era of radical Islamic extremism rubricate the need to view the naiveté of President Obama’s vision of a planet without nuclear weapons with great caution, particularly when a large part of the so-called Obama solution calls for the unilateral weakening of America’s nuclear arsenal.

To the serious student of history, the maintenance of a well-trained military—armed to the teeth with the best weapons available—is far more than a political or philosophical issue; it is an absolutely vital component to the national well-being of any freedom-loving nation, including the United States of America. Simplistic epigrams about “peace and brotherhood” achieved through unilateral reductions of America’s nuclear arsenal only encourage the probability of war by non-democratic entities. In the modern era, a well-provisioned nuclear arsenal serves as a significant deterrent to aggressive behavior by those rogue nations who possess nuclear weapons.

In addition, reckless reductions of America’s nuclear arsenal will certainly mean that the number of nuclear-armed nations will increase, not decrease. Those States friendly to American interests that rely on the umbrella of America’s nuclear protection, such as South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, or many of the new European nations, may now be compelled to develop their own nuclear arsenals in order to counter the threats of aggressive totalitarian regimes now armed with nuclear weapons.

As of this writing, with 193 nations in the United Nations, there are only nine states known to possess nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. South Africa disassembled all its nuclear weapons in the 1990s, following the end of Apartheid, and the Soviet Union’s client states quickly returned their nuclear weapons to Russia with the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. Today, the United States and Russia continue to lead the world in the volume of nuclear weapons. The United States has an estimated 2,150 active warheads with a total stockpile of 7,700. Russia has an estimated 1,600 active warheads with a total stockpile of 8,000. Britain has an estimated 160 active warheads with a total stockpile of 225. France has an estimated active arsenal of 290 warheads with a total stockpile of 300. Communist China tested their first atomic bomb in October of 1964. Although the number of active warheads in their arsenal is unknown, their total stockpile is believed to be near 250.

In 1974, India tested their first nuclear weapon, “Smiling Buddha.” India is thought to have a nuclear weapons stockpile of 90-110 warheads. Pakistan tested its first nuclear weapon in May of 1998, and is thought to have between 100 and 120 nuclear warheads. While it is unknown whether North Korea has developed a warhead that is small enough to be carried on a missile, their current stockpile of nuclear warheads is ten. Israel keeps its nuclear capabilities confidential, but is thought to have produced a nuclear weapon as early as 1967. The actual active arsenal of Israeli nuclear warheads is unknown, but estimates range between 60 and 200 warheads.

In the first year of his presidency, President Obama delivered a number of broad policy speeches, both internationally and nationally, on a variety of lofty aspirations ranging from how to end the War on Terror – by means of simply changing the narrative – to ridding the world of nuclear weapons. In espousing his goal of nuclear disarmament and leading the world toward this goal, Obama chose an international setting in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Echoing his political campaign slogan of “Hope and Change,” President Obama blissfully promised that America would maintain an arsenal capable of deterring any potential nuclear attack, but nevertheless simultaneously “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”

Since Prague, President Obama has taken specific steps to implement his utopian vision of a nuclear weapon-free world.

First, in 2010 the Obama Administration released its official guidelines for a nuclear free world in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The Obama NPR listed five key objectives: (1) prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism; (2) reduce the role of nuclear weapons in America’s national security strategy; (3) maintain strategic deterrence and stability at lower nuclear force levels; (4) strengthen regional deterrence and reassure American allies and partners; and (5) sustain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal.

Second, rubricated by the premise that the two super powers must abolish their arsenals of nuclear weapons, the United States signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia in 2011. In the wake of the NPR, President Obama directed his administration to conduct a detailed review of the United States’ nuclear deterrence requirements for his new employment strategy. Incredibly, echoing back to his unilateral decision to dismantle President George Bush’s missile defense plan for Europe, President Obama unilaterally announced that the United States would pursue further nuclear arsenal reductions by reducing nuclear weapons stores to one third below what was called for in the New START!

President Obama has directed to the Department of Defense (DOD) to “use the new guidance to begin the process of updating and aligning its directives and contingency plans in order for this policy to be implemented over the course of the next year.”

Four Civilian Contractors Sentenced in DC Federal Court

Blackwater_Trial-02831The April 2015 sentencing in the DC federal district court of four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards to lengthy jail terms for killing 14 civilians in a Baghdad, Iraq traffic circle in 2007 stands as an illustration of the myriad legal and policy issues associated with the use of contractors on the battlefield. Hired to provide security protection to State Department personnel, all the defendants believed that they acted in self-defense and will most certainly appeal (one received life in prison and the other three 30 years each). The case was tried in federal court because unlike military personnel, civilian contractors accompanying the armed forces in the field do not fit neatly into well-defined arenas of military law and procedure. While the military has always carefully outlined its own command structure for its uniformed personnel, the picture is far less certain for civilians accompanying the forces. In fact, prior to the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, which now authorizes trial by military courts-martial for crimes committed by civilian contractors who accompany military forces in both declared wars by Congress and on contingency operations, the Court of Military Appeals in U.S. v. Averette (1970) had made it clear that except in a Congressional declaration of war (which last occurred in 1941 during World War II), civilian contractors were not subject to the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), that is, military law.

There are three primary statutory avenues by which civilian contractors could be subject to criminal liability, the Special Maritime and Territorial Jurisdiction of the United States (SMTJ), the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), and the UCMJ. The USA PATRIOT Act amended the SMTJ and allowed for jurisdiction for offenses committed by or against a U.S. citizen or national, or on a facility used for U.S. foreign missions, or operations to include a location outside the jurisdiction of any nation (like Somalia).

MEJA authority rests with the Attorney General via the respective federal districts and provides jurisdiction for crimes committed by civilian employees and contractors of the DOD operating with or near the U.S. military outside of U.S. territory, for felonies (offenses punishable by more than one year imprisonment).

Negotiations with Iran Continue: April Fools

iran_nuclear_usa

It is April 1, 2015. The March 31, 2015 deadline to strike a deal “or else” with Iran on its testing and development of nuclear weapons has passed and yet the negotiations are being extended. Obviously, the stakes are extremely high but once again the West has blinked. Apart from commenting on the efficacy of negotiating with a totalitarian regime in hopes that it will keep its word, there are far more serious consequences at stake.

Clearly, if Iran is allowed to proceed forward to any degree under a negotiated agreement, more nations in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, will seek to acquire nuclear weapons. It is unlikely that they will continue to rely on America’s nuclear umbrella to protect them. The stated goal of President Obama of riding the world of nuclear weapons will witness the increase of nuclear armed nations.

In turn, a nuclear armed Iran will have far greater flexibility to advance its aggressive terrorist agenda both in the region and around the globe. To date Iran has shown that it is absolutely intent on continuing its quest for nuclear weapons, and no amount of international pressure will halt their development and testing. For Iran, negotiations are simply a delaying tactic towards their nuclear breakout.

On the other hand, some commentators argue that even if Iran obtains nuclear weapons it will most likely use them for defense, as using them in an unprovoked attack against another State would result in annihilation for Iran. On the other hand, there is the possibility that the religious leaders of Iran will not comply with the Cold War’s mutually assured destruction doctrine (MADD). After all, a basic precept of “radical Islam” is to die in jihad.

As the international “negotiations” with a then non-nuclear North Korea under the Clinton Administration revealed – the time to stop a totalitarian regime from getting nuclear weapons is BEFORE they get them, not after. With North Korea it is too late, with Iran there is still time. At the end of the day, the former Prime Minister of France Nicolas Sarkozy summed up the bottom line solution quite precisely, “we either bomb Iran, or Iran gets the bomb.”

The Bergdahl Controversy and Why it Matters

140601-bergdahl-jms-1627_5df7c34d23abe2641a6d47da874daabe

After ten months of indecision by the military high command, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has finally been charged for allegedly deserting his post in Afghanistan and misbehavior before the enemy. Sgt. Bergdahl was a prisoner of the Taliban for five years after intentionally leaving his military post in Afghanistan without authorization in 2009. In May 2014, President Obama unilaterally bypassed Congress and exchanged Bergdahl for five top Taliban leaders then held in detention at GITMO. At the time, the Obama Administration proclaimed that there was simply no time to notify Congress in advance (required for all detainees released from GITMO) then cited two reasons for the swap: (1) We leave no one behind (President Obama); (2) Bergdahl “served his country with honor and distinction” (Susan Rice).

Now that Bergdahl has been charged many are questioning the initial White House narrative. Indeed, when pressed on the reason for the delay in charging Bergdahl and whether the White House knew at the time that Bergdahl was a suspected deserter while in a combat zone a State Department spokesperson related “what does it matter?”

It matters for several reasons. First, there are credible reports that several soldiers lost their lives in high risk search operations looking for Bergdahl. Second, the government has a responsibility to follow the law. The Obama Administration did not notify Congress of the release of the five top Taliban leaders in advance as required. Third, the American people expect transparency. While it is obvious that national security matters must sometimes be withheld, it is just as obvious that Bergdahl did not serve his country with honor and distinction. In fact, many suspect the swap was done in an attempt to get the Taliban to “negotiate” a peaceful settlement as US forces pull out of Afghanistan.

Finally, at the end of the day, it is not the military or America that left Bergdahl “behind.” Bowe Bergdahl left the military and his country behind when he took off his uniform, set aside his weapon, and walked out on his fellow soldiers during wartime. Misbehavior before the enemy strikes at the heart of the esprit de corps of our fighting forces. If convicted Bergdahl faces life in prison. He must be held accountable for his crimes.

Iran and the 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment: The Enemy of Your Enemy

AddicottWorld

While many are aware of the ongoing negotiations between the Obama Administration and Iran over the Iranian ongoing nuclear program, something quite extraordinary occurred last month in the context of these discussions. The 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities has removed Iran and its surrogate Hezbollah from the list of nations and organizations that are deemed “terrorist” threats. The annual report is given to the US Senate by the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Amazingly, the report ignores or glosses over the obvious terror activities of Iran and Hezbollah and concentrates instead on Iran’s efforts to combat Muslim Sunni extremists, i.e., ISIS. Interestingly, in direct contrast, the 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities delivered by Clapper listed Iran and Hezbollah as clear terror threats that had increased terrorist activities.

The good news is that Iran is still listed by the US State Department as a State sponsor of terrorism, a designation consistently renewed since 1984. Other nations listed as State sponsors of terrorism include Cuba (added in 1982), Sudan (1993), and Syria (1979). Of course, under the Obama Administration this does not mean that Iran will remain on the State Department list. The 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment may be an attempt to repackage the regime. Nations removed in the past include South Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea.

Finally, it is often remarked that national security is not just about using the raw power of the American military. In the real world, choices are sometimes between two evils – like choosing better Hell and Hell-lite. The evil of ISIS and the evil of Iran are blatantly obvious to all civilized people and nations. Nevertheless, great caution is necessary when dealing with Iran – the puppet master of worldwide terrorism. The words to the US Congress recently delivered by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, hold great wisdom – “The enemy of your enemy is [still] your enemy.”