Daily Archives: May 13, 2014

RF ambassador : NATO seeking to make maximum use of Ukrainian crisis to prove its worth

BRUSSELS, May 13. ITAR-TASS.

NATO seeks to make maximum use of the crisis in Ukraine to prove it is still in demand, Russia’s permanent representative at NATO Alexander Grushko said on Tuesday.

“These days, NATO representatives have said many words how important it is for the alliance to waken from sleep, and, judging by the enthusiasm of the rhetoric about the emergence of a new threat in Europe, NATO is seeking to make maximum use of the Ukrainian crisis to prove that it is still needed in the current security environment,” he said. “The aim of this deliberately heightened rhetoric is simple – to reanimate the bloc, to have more funds for military needs. And this requires an enemy.”

“The base of argument is being built up to prove that Russia has some expansion plans,” he noted, adding that for these ends new threats were being invented. “Thus, one of NATO’s military chief has worded a universal formula explaining any protest movements – everything gives away the hand of Moscow.”

“At the same time, they prefer not to see the contribution our country has made to do away with the heritage of the Cold War and put an end to the arms race. If truth be said, Europe should be thankful to Russia that it can spend only one to two percent of its GDP on defence. Now, amid this campaign, taxpayers will be tapped for additional money on defence,” Grushko said.

“The alliance denies the fact that the crisis in Ukraine is an internal one and, despite all the tragic instances, keeps on speaking about a foreign interference in Ukraine’s eastern regions,” the Russian ambassador said. “I hope that now that they have seen longest queues to polling stations in Donetsk and Lugansk NATO would admit that this is civil society but not mythical ‘agent provocateurs.’ If the alliance is really interested in deescalating of the situation, as its representatives are claiming, it can also make its contribution by urging the Kiev regime to stop the punitive operation, to pull back its troops and by stopping any aid to it.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

UN Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi steps down

After nearly two years of grappling with the various groups embroiled in the Syrian uprising, the UN and Arab League’s peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has thrown in the towel and resigned.

Reconciling the Western and Russian positions and mediating between other significant players such as Iran and Qatar proved impossible.

“It’s very sad that I leave this position and leave Syria behind in such a bad state. I have absolutely no doubt that you will continue, as you have to do everything that is humanly possible,” he said, standing alongside the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

He will officially quit his post at the end of May, more than a year after the Algerian diplomat indicated he would step down. The failure of peace talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and opposition, and President Bashar al-Assad’s decision to stand again for re-election next month proved to be the final straws.

Tunisia’s former foreign minister Kamel Morjane is thought to be the frontrunner to replace him.

Enhanced by Zemanta

WH, State Dept Duck Questions on Hunter Biden’s Ukraine Gig

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff

May 13, 2014 4:36 pm

Both the White House and State Department bluntly replied Hunter Biden was a “private citizen” when asked about his new role with Ukraine’s largest gas producer and whether that could pose a conflict given the tense situation between the U.S. and Russia.

Biden is the younger son of Vice President Joe Biden.

“Does this building diplomatically have any concerns about potential perceptions of conflict or/cronyism – which is what you’ve often accused the Russians of doing?” Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked.

“No, he’s a private citizen,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki replied shortly.

White House press secretary Jay Carney referred ABC’s Jon Karl to the vice president’s office and said Hunter Biden’s work did not reflect an endorsement by the administration in any way.

White House exchange:

JON KARL: On another subject, Hunter Biden has now taken a position with the largest oil and gas company — holding company in Ukraine. Is there any concern about at least the appearance of a conflict there – (inaudible) — the vice president’s son –

JAY CARNEY: I would refer you to the vice president’s office. I saw those reports. You know, Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens, and where they work does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president. But I would refer you to the vice president’s office.

State Department exchange:

MATT LEE: And it was — the question was referred to the vice president’s office. But I’m wondering if the State Department has any concerns or any thoughts about the vice president’s son joining the board of directors of this Ukrainian gas company. Does — in particular, I understand when — the White House would refer this to the vice president’s office, but does this building diplomatically have any concerns about potential perceptions of conflict or/cronyism – which is what you’ve often accused the Russians of doing?

JEN PSAKI: No, he’s a private citizen.

LEE: I — OK. But then so the — do you consider that the Russian oligarchs who control or the Ukrainian oligarchs who control these, they’re all private citizens as well, correct?

PSAKI: We certainly wouldn’t put them in the same category on that.

LEE: No, I’m not suggesting that — I’m not — and I’m not suggesting that it should be in the same category, but I’m wondering if if there are concerns in this building about the perception of — about how the Russians and / or the Ukrainians would perceive the involvement of a son of the vice president of the United States in this, especially given the situation.

PSAKI: No, there are not.

via Washington Free Beacon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NSA spying on foreign embassies helped US ‘develop’ strategy

The National Security Agency in 2010 provided the US ambassador to the United Nations with background information on several governments and their embassies that were undecided on the question of Iranian sanctions.

In May 2010, as the UN Security Council was attempting to win support for sanctions against Iran over its nuclear-energy program, which some say is a front for a nuclear weapons program, several members were undecided as to how they would vote. At this point, the US ambassador to the world body, Susan Rice, asked the NSA for assistance in her efforts to “develop a strategy,” leaked NSA documents reveal.

The NSA swung into action, aiming their powerful surveillance apparatus at the personal communications of diplomats from four non-permanent Security Council members — Bosnia, Gabon, Nigeria and Uganda. This gave Rice an apparent upper-hand in the course of the negotiations.

In June, 12 of the 15-member Security Council voted in favor of new sanctions.

Later, Rice extended her gratitude to the US spy agency, saying its surveillance had helped her to know when diplomats from the other permanent representatives — China, England, France and Russia — “were telling the truth … revealed their real position on sanctions … gave us an upper hand in negotiations … and provided information on various countries’ ‘red lines’.”

The information comes from a new book by journalist Glenn Greenwald, ‘No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State’, the New York Times reported.

Rice’s request for assistance was discovered in an internal report by the security agency’s Special Source Operations division, which cooperates with US telecommunications companies in the event a request for information is deemed necessary.

Greenwald’s book goes on sale Tuesday.

The book also provides a list of embassies around the world that had been infiltrated by the US spy agency, including those of Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, the European Union, France, Georgia, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela and Vietnam.

United States Vice President Joe Biden (R) sits with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice stands (C) before the start of the United Nations Security Council High-Level Meeting on Iraq at U.N. headquarters in New York, December 15, 2010

News of the NSA’s vast surveillance network, which targets friends and enemies of the United States with equanimity, were revealed in June when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided Greenwald with thousands of files on the program.

Despite promises by President Obama for greater safeguards on the invasive system, which has infuriated people around the world, the NSA seems determined not to let international public opinion block its spying efforts.

“While our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments — as opposed to ordinary citizens — around the world, in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation do, we will not apologize because our services may be more effective,” according to a White House statement.

The latest revelations detailing how the NSA gives American diplomats an unfair advantage raises the question as to how such orders passed legal muster in the first place.

According to the documents, a legal team went to work on May 22 building the case to electronically eavesdrop on diplomats and envoys from Bosnia, Gabon, Nigeria and Uganda whose embassies were apparently not yet covered by the NSA.

A judge from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the request on May 26.

The Obama administration has faced fierce criticism following revelations of the global surveillance program, which was used not simply to identify potential terrorists, but to eavesdrop on the communications of world leaders.

Following revelations that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private cell phone communications were being hacked by the NSA, Germany pushed for a ‘no-spy’ agreement with the United States to restore the trust.

The Obama administration, however, rejected the offer.

Now Europe has announced plans to construct a new Internet network that bypasses the United States and the NSA, a move the US Trade Representative labeled “draconian.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Son of US VP Joe Biden appointed to board of major Ukrainian gas company

Hunter Biden, son of US VP Joe Biden, is joining the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer. The group has prospects in eastern Ukraine where civil war is threatened following the coup in Kiev.

Biden will advise on “transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities” to “contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.”

Joe Biden’s senior campaign adviser in 2004, financier Devon Archer, a business partner of Hunter Biden’s, also joined the Bursima board claiming it was like ‘Exxon in the old days’.

6558789

Biden Jr.’s resume is unsurprisingly sprinkled with Ivy-league dust – a graduate of Yale Law School he serves on the Chairman’s Advisory Board for the National Democratic Institute, is a director for the Center for National Policy and the US Global Leadership Coalition which comprises 400 American businesses, NGOs, senior national security and foreign policy experts.

Former US President Bill Clinton appointed him as Executive Director of E-Commerce Policy and he was honorary co-chair of the 2008 Obama-Biden Inaugural Committee.

Burisma Holdings was set up in 2002. Its licenses cover Ukraine’s three key hydrocarbon basins, including Dnieper-Donets (in eastern Ukraine), Carpathian (western) and Azov-Kuban (southern Ukraine).

The Biden board news came as Gazprom moved Ukraine to a prepaid gas delivery regime and sent Naftogaz, Ukraine’s gas champion, a $1.66 billion bill that is due June 2, or Moscow will halt supplies.

Ukraine currently has about 9 billion cubic meters of gas in storage, but by the winter needs 18.5bcm. Kiev bought 27.7 billion cubic meters from Gazprom for which it still owes some $3.5 bn in 2013.

Gazprom is demanding Kiev pays $485 per 1,000 cubic meters, raised from $268.50 after Moscow was forced to cancel several discounts agreed upon under Yanukovich’s tenure as president. Kiev rejects the new price as “politically motivated” and says it will only pay its debt if Gazprom lowers the price back to $268.50, or else open an arbitration case against the company in Stockholm.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Former Israeli PM Olmert sentenced to six years in jail for corruption

Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Tel Aviv District Court in Israel, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Tel Aviv District Court in Israel, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel’s ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in jail on Tuesday for taking bribes in a massive real estate deal, a crime the judge said was akin to treason.

The first criminal conviction of a former Israeli head of government all but ended speculation that Olmert – a centrist credited internationally with working towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians – might return to political life.

He had denied any wrongdoing in the property deal that took place while he was in his previous post of Jerusalem mayor.

“A public servant who takes bribes is akin to a traitor,” said Judge David Rozen of the Tel Aviv District Court.

“(Olmert) is a criminal who devoted most of his time to praise-worthy public service. (But) he also lined his own pockets,” he said in passing sentence.

Rozen ordered Olmert to report to prison on September 1, effectively giving his lawyers time to lodge what they said would be an appeal to the Supreme Court and a request that he remain free until it rules.

Two years ago, the veteran politician was acquitted of most of the major charges brought against him in separate cases involving his links to a U.S. businessman.

Those corruption allegations forced Olmert’s resignation as prime minister in 2008, and his acquittal had appeared to position him for a possible political comeback.

But in the new corruption trial, Rozen found Olmert guilty on March 31 of two bribery charges and said he accepted 500,000 shekels ($144,000) from developers of the Holyland apartment building complex in Jerusalem and 60,000 shekels in a separate real estate project.

On Tuesday, the judge granted the prosecution’s request for a six-year jail term.

NETANYAHU CRITIC

Olmert has made several criticisms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s policies toward the Palestinians, fuelling talk about his future political ambitions.

But in sentencing Olmert, the judge said his crimes entailed “moral turpitude”, which under Israeli law would preclude him from running for any public office for seven years after finishing his jail term.

A lawyer by profession, Olmert began his political career in the 1970s as a legislator who targeted organized crime in Israel.

He served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, staying in office in a caretaker capacity until after an election that brought right-winger Netanyahu to power.

As prime minister, Olmert waged war against militants in Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza Strip in 2008.

He claimed significant progress in talks with the Palestinians aimed at securing a final peace deal, offering an Israeli withdrawal from much of the occupied West Bank. But no agreement was reached.

After a three-year break, U.S.-brokered negotiations resumed in July, but they were frozen last month by Netanyahu after President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas, an Islamist group that advocates Israel’s destruction.

Palestinians blamed Netanyahu for the collapse, citing Israeli settlement-building and his failure to carry out a pledged prisoner release.

Olmert was among 13 defendants in the Holyland case, which revolved around the construction of a hulking, hilltop housing project widely regarded as Jerusalem’s worst eyesore.

Sentences handed down on Tuesday against six of the other accused ranged from three to seven years.

In 2010, a former Israeli president, Moshe Katsav, was convicted on rape charges. He is serving a seven-year sentence.

 

President George W. Bush exchanges handshakes ...

President George W. Bush exchanges handshakes with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel during their meeting Tuesday, May 23, 2006, in the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Related articles

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Vladimir Putin is to make an official visit to China

3

On May 20, Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping.

In the course of talks in Shanghai, the two leaders will discuss issues of bilateral cooperation. A number of important documents are being prepared for the visit, covering trade, economic, energy and humanitarian areas.

The parties are to consider the current state of cooperation between Russia and China on the international arena and prospects for its development. The visit is to bring these relations to a new stage of overall partnership and strategic cooperation.

On May 21, the President of Russia will take part in the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) dedicated to improving dialogue and coordination for a new, peaceful and stable Asia. The summit will also consider CICA evolution prospects.

During his stay in Shanghai Vladimir Putin will hold a number of bilateral meetings with CICA summit participants.

via President of Russia.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Former CIA director: ‘We kill people based on metadata’

Former National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Michael Hayden

At a recent debate concerning the National Security Agency’s bulk surveillance programs, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden admitted that metadata is used as the basis for killing people.

The comments were made during a debate at Johns Hopkins University, after Georgetown University Law Center professor David Cole detailed the kind of information the government can obtain simply by collecting metadata – who you call, when you call them, how long the call lasts, and how often calls between the two parties are made.

Although NSA supporters often claim such metadata collection is permissible considering the content of the call is not collected, Cole argued that is not the case, since the former general counsel of the NSA, Stewart Baker, has already stated metadata alone is more than enough to reveal vast amounts of an individual’s personal information

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Cole elaborated (you can also watch his explanation around the 14 minute mark of the embedded video):

“Of course knowing the content of a call can be crucial to establishing a particular threat. But metadata alone can provide an extremely detailed picture of a person’s most intimate associations and interests, and it’s actually much easier as a technological matter to search huge amounts of metadata than to listen to millions of phone calls. As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said, ‘metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.’

“When I quoted Baker at a recent debate at Johns Hopkins University, my opponent, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker’s comment ‘absolutely correct,’ and raised him one, asserting, ‘We kill people based on metadata.’”

Hayden paused after making this statement – around the 18 minute mark of the video – and then qualified it by adding, “but that’s not what we do with this metadata.”

Presumably, when Hayden emphasizes “this metadata,” he is referring to the information collected from American citizens. As RT reported in February, the US is already using metadata to select targets for drone strikes around the world. In a report for the Intercept, an unnamed drone operator – backed up by documents leaked by Edward Snowden – said the agency analyzes metadata as well as mobile-tracking technology to determine targets, without employing human intelligence to confirm a suspect’s identity.

Screenshot from YouTube user Johns Hopkins

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” the operator said. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

According to Cole, the realization that the NSA is collecting such vast amounts of information has prompted action from both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Last week, two committees in the House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to support the USA Freedom Act, which would bar the NSA from collecting metadata in bulk. The data would remain in the possession of telecommunications companies, only to be accessed by the government if it can prove reasonable suspicion to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

As noted by Cole, however, the bill doesn’t address all the facets of the NSA’s surveillance program. As its currently written, the Freedom Act only applies to American citizens, not foreigners who are also under surveillance, nor does it address what he termed the NSA’s “guerilla-like tactics of inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications.”

As RT reported previously, the NSA designed at least two encryption tools offered by the security firm RSA – one of which was made the default option, and which allowed the NSA to easily infiltrate computer security systems.

Enhanced by Zemanta

NSA embedded surveillance tools within exported US computer hardware

While the United States has warned against buying Chinese routers due to surveillance concerns, a new book about the Edward Snowden revelations states America has been intercepting and tinkering with routers intended for foreign customers.

According to Glenn Greenwald – one of the journalists entrusted with Snowden’s leaked documents – the National Security Agency has been implanting devices into routers headed overseas since at least 2010.

In an extract from Greenwald’s new book, titled “No Place to Hide,” the journalist states the NSA “routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers, and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.”

Once the agency gets its hands on these products, it embeds devices that are linked to the NSA’s own system, giving officials access to foreign networks and information from all the users connected to that network.

“In one recent case, after several months a beacon implanted through supply-chain interdiction called back to the NSA covert infrastructure,” a 2010 NSA report states, according to Greenwald. “This call back provided us access to further exploit the device and survey the network.”

The revelation comes after US officials and lawmakers spent years criticizing Chinese telecommunications companies like ZTE and Huawei for potentially looking to sell their products to Americans while collecting data for the Chinese government.

Glenn Greenwald.

In 2012, a report by the House Intelligence Committee stated the companies “may be violating United States laws” and have “not followed United States legal obligations or international standards of business behavior”.

Although no evidence was uncovered to back up the allegations, the committee still pushed American companies to reject products from ZTE and Huawei.

“Private-sector entities in the United States are strongly encouraged to consider the long-term security risks associated with doing business with either ZTE or Huawei for equipment or services,” the committee stated.

“US network providers and systems developers are strongly encouraged to seek other vendors for their projects. Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”

The news also comes less than two months after it was revealed that the NSA spied on Huawei, as well as the China’s Trade Ministry, banks, companies, and top political officials. As RT reported in March, the campaign against Huawei took place a few years before lawmakers urged American companies to stay away from Chinese products, and was intended to explore potential links to China’s cyber warfare units.

Whether or not it discovered any evidence for this, however, remains unknown.

According to Greenwald, it is “quite possible” that Chinese companies are tampering with their products in order to install surveillance technology, but it wouldn’t be any different from what the US is doing on its own.

Meanwhile, hacktivist group Anonymous has called for a protest against Greenwald as he sets out on his book tour for “No Place to Hide.” The ire directed at Greenwald comes from the journalist’s relationship with Pierre Omidyar, Greenwald’s boss at First Look Media and the ultimate owner of PayPal. Omidyar’s PayPal was hacked three years ago by those now deemed the “PayPal 14” for refusing to process donations to WikiLeaks after the online organization published classified US government documents given to it by US Army leaker Chelsea Manning.

Omidyar, Anonymous says, allowed the blocked donations as a “means of control,” and he and Greenwald have since only expressed “tepid ‘support’ for the PayPal 14” as the group faces jail time and $80,000 in court-ordered restitution.

Anonymous also criticizes Greenwald’s – and Omidyar’s – place as the possessor of a major cache of public documents regarding National Security Agency surveillance supplied by leaker Edward Snowden. Anonymous said that, nearly a year after the NSA leaks were first published, Greenwald has positioned himself in a cozy, lucrative spot by forming a partnership with billionaire Omidyar while hawking his book – promised to have more NSA leaks – for a profit. Greenwald’s handling of the leaks has kept “aggressive, non-celebrity journalists from finding answers and pro-freedom hackers from building better defenses.”

The protest, Anonymous wrote, should aim to explain the relationship between the journalist and his financial benefactor.

Enhanced by Zemanta

CNN: NATO’s Rasmussen says separatist Ukraine referendums ‘don’t count,’ pledges ‘further steps’ if needed

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says May 11 referendums in estern Ukraine were illegal, “organized in a chaotic manner with dubious and ambiguous questions.”

Referendums by separatists in Ukraine, such as Sunday’s in Donyetsk, “don’t count,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“These referendums are illegal, they are organized in a chaotic manner with dubious and ambiguous questions.”

Pro-Russian separatists claimed victory in a vote in the eastern Ukrainian region; they say that 90% of voters wanted independence from Ukraine.

The acting Ukrainian president called the referendum a “propagandist farce.”

“The only thing that counts is the presidential election on the twenty-fifth of May. And I urge all actors to make sure that those general elections can be conducted in an orderly manner,” Rasmussen told Amanpour.

NATO has tried, through limited troop deployments, military exercises, and air flights to present an enhanced deterrent to Russia, its erstwhile Cold War foe.

Amanpour challenged Rasmussen on whether that was enough.

“The allies say they’d like to see a little bit more – if not reassurance, heft,” Amanpour said. “I don’t know what you think, but a hundred and fifty U.S. soldiers to Poland? I mean, is that really enough to tell Mister Putin – who’s got forty-thousand troops massed on the borders there – to step back?”

“We are right now in the process of considering further steps,” Rasmussen said. “Those further steps might include an update of existing defense plans, development of new defense plans, enhanced exercises, and also appropriate deployment.”

“However, it’s a bit too early to tell exactly how to do it and where to it, but we will not hesitate to take further steps if needed.”

Russia, he told Amanpour, “obviously” has a “strong influence on the separatists.”

“So no doubt that if Moscow took the decision to encourage separatists to lay down their weapons and let the presidential elections go forward in an orderly manner, that would also happen.”

Amanpour asked if Russia could move against the Ukrainian port of Odessa or the surrounding area in an effort to land-lock the country.

“Well at least they have the capacity to do so. They have massed armed forces along the Ukrainian borders – around 40,000 troops. And in addition to that 25,000 troops in Crimea.”

“We have seen that Russia is able to – or the Russian armed forces are able to act within a few hours if the political decision is taken. What I don’t know is whether the political decision has been taken or will be taken. But at least they have the capacity to do that.”

NATO has seen no evidence of Russian withdrawal from the Ukrainian border, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed, he told Amanpour.

Rasmussen also, of course, has much responsibility in Afghanistan, which just held the first round of presidential elections.

President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement, which he negotiated, to keep foreign security forces in the country past 2014. All of the major Afghan candidates, including the front-runner Abdullah Abdullah, have pledged to sign an agreement in interviews with Amanpour.

“We will establish a training mission to continue to train, advise, assist the Afghan security forces after 2014,” Rasmussen said. “I am confident that we will get a signature on the necessary security agreement.”

He praised the Afghan security forces’ performance securing the country for the presidential elections.

“We have seen them address that in a very professional manner.”

“Of course we are alert, but the fact is that the Afghan security forces took the lead in ensuring a secure environment for the conduct of presidential elections, and they will continue to be in the lead.”

Enhanced by Zemanta