Trump proposal for terrorist listing of IRGC in limbo
John Walcott, Matt Spetalnick, Mark Hosenball, Phil Stewart, Reuters, Feb 24 2017
FASCHINGSTEIN – A proposal the Trump administration is considering to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization has stalled over warnings from defense and intel boxtops that the move could backfire. One boxtop told us:
That move could potentially backfire in Iran. The Iranians are a major source of trouble, but those kind of moves would only help the hardliners. If you do that, there is no way to escalate, and you would foreclose any possibility of talking to the Iranians about anything.
Momentum behind a possible presidential order has slowed amid an internal debate that has included concerns it could undermine the fight against Daesh, draw opposition from key allies, torpedo any diplomatic prospects and complicate enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal, sources said. The proposal would take the unprecedented step of blacklisting the entire IRGC as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” That would go far beyond the targeted sanctions already imposed on individuals and entities linked to the IRGC. The proposal has been in the works for weeks, and was originally expected to be rolled out this month, but while the idea remains under consideration, it is unclear when or even if an announcement may be forthcoming. A decision on the matter was complicated by the Feb 13 resignation of Michael Flynn, who was spearheading the crafting of a strategy for confronting Tehran. Even before Flynn’s departure, however, Pentagon & intel boxtops had raised objections to naming the IRGC a terrorist group. Such a move would be the first time the 1996 Foreign Terrorist Organizations law has been wielded against an entire institution of a foreign government, potentially subjecting it to a wide range of Pindo sanctions. It likely would complicate the Pindo fight against Daesh. Shi’ite militias backed by Iran and advised by IRGC are battling Sunni Jihadis in Iraq & Syria. It could further inflame proxy conflicts elsewhere, including in Yemen. In addition, it would cause friction with Euro vassals, who are trying to rebuild business ties to Iran in the wake of the 2015 nuclear agreement, which often means contact with the IRGC and the companies it controls. For now, it is still in play, but apparently on the back burner. A Euro source said his Pindo counterparts told him it is on hold. A failure to go forward with it could disappoint those looking for a strong response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test. The new administration warned Tehran at the time that it was being put “on notice” and then imposed a series of new sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies, which a White House official said was just an “initial” step.
DHS Analysts Say White House Travel Ban Is Wrong
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Feb 25 2017
Another day, another symbolic ‘mutiny’ has broken out against Pres Trump in the Pindo intel community, this time involving the Dept of Homeland Security. Overnight, analysts at DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis found “insufficient evidence” that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in Pres Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to Pindostan. According to a draft document obtained by AP, citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to Pindostan. It also says that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in Pindostan in the last five years. The report said:
DHS assesses that country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.
The White House on Friday dismissed it as politically motivated and poorly researched. As the WSJ notes, the report is the latest volley in a struggle between intelligence officials and the Trump administration that has rippled across several agencies. Coming the same day as Trump’s bashing of the FBI, an agency he accused of being unable to find leakers, the administration was disappointed by the report’s leaked findings. Trump administration officials said the assessment ignored available information that supports the immigration ban and the report they requested has yet to be presented. They were quick to preempt speculation that this is just the latest mutiny against Trump. DHS spox G M Christensen took issue with the quality of the report, saying:
This is commentary based on public sources, rather than an official, robust document with thorough inter-agency sourcing. It is clear on its face that it is an incomplete product that fails to find evidence of terrorism by simply refusing to look at all the available evidence. Any suggestion by opponents of the president’s policies that senior intelligence officials would politicize this process or a report’s final conclusions is absurd and not factually accurate. The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics.
It was not the first time this week that DHS boxtops were at odds with White House policies and statements. On Thursday, DHS Sec J Kelly, on a trip to Mexico, assured officials there that Pindostan would not undertake “mass deportations” of illegal immigrants, and that the Pindo military would not play a role in immigration enforcement. But that contradicted a statement by Trump earlier that day in which he described enforcement as a “military operation.” White House boxtops later clarified that Trump was referring to “military precision” rather than actual military action. The DHS report states that its findings are based on public statistics and reports from the DoJ and the State Dept, as well as the annual report on Global Threats produced by ODNI.