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Obama’s Defense Secretary says ‘our national security is threatened by what has happened in Afghanistan’

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By Jenny Goldsberry

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta railed against President Biden for botching the Afghanistan withdrawal. According to him, it could translate directly into a national security threat on American soil. Panetta appeared on MSNBC Tuesday to share his predictions.

“I don’t think there’s any question that our national security is threatened by what has happened in Afghanistan,” Panetta told host Andrea Mitchell. “We went there for two missions. One, to go after al-Qaeda and the leadership of al-Qaeda and bin Laden because of what they did in attacking our country on 9/11. And we were successful at going after al-Qaeda, and obviously I’m very proud of the mission to go after bin Laden. But there was a second mission, which was to prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a safe haven for terrorism again.”

Biden echoed this statement during his address on Afghanistan earlier this week. Then, he explained the mission from the beginning was “never supposed to be nation-building,” or “unifying.” Instead, he said it was about “preventing another terrorist attack on American homeland.”

“Unfortunately, we have failed at that mission,” Panetta said. “And with the Taliban now controlling Afghanistan, there is no question that they will provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda and for ISIS and for other terrorists to be able to reorganize, strengthen themselves again and potentially use Afghanistan as a base for attacking not just the United States, but other countries as well.”

During his speech, Biden was proud to be the ending the war that lasted five presidencies. But Panetta, who served under the Obama administration, said claimed the U.S. has lost all cooperation from the Afghans.

“This is a national security threat and it’s not going to be easy to go into Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban,” he said. “When we were there, we had the cooperation of the Afghans. We worked with the military. There were a lot of partnerships involved. We had good intelligence on where the targets were. We’ll have none of that with Taliban control.”

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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Columbia alumni are also anti-Israel, threaten to withhold $77 million in donations

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2,000 people claiming to be Columbia University alumni have signed a letter pledging to “withhold all financial, programmatic, and academic support” from the institution until it meets the demands of anti-Israel protesters. The result is $77 million in donations is at risk.

National Review reports that the letter, addressed to Columbia president Minouche Shafik and the school’s trustees, expresses support for the protesters who oppose the university’s “continued collaboration with the Israeli government’s ongoing genocidal violence against Palestinians.”

“The movement for Palestinian liberation, on campus and globally, is often led by Jewish people of many nations,” the letter says. “Weaponizing claims about antisemitism to silence student speech is based on faulty logic, harms Jewish students, and distracts from true antisemitism, including the attempts by a craven American right to tokenize, exploit, and appropriate Jewish trauma and resilience.”

There does not appear to be a process to verify that people who sign the letters are, in fact, Columbia alumni. It allows people to sign anonymously.

The letter condemns the “administration’s brutal repression of student speech and assembly,” specifically president Shafik’s decision to call in the New York Police Department Strategic Response Group on protesters. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters were arrested at Columbia and at the City College of New York on April 30, including some who barricaded themselves inside a campus admissions building.

Signatories of the letter are pledging to withhold donations until the university meets 13 demands, including: that it divests from companies that “fund or profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation of Palestine”; calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war; removes Shafik as president; bans the NYPD from campus; and drops charges against student activists, reverses disciplinary measures against them, and finances the healthcare for students who were “brutalized” by the police.

The website where the letter is shared claims that the signatories have previously provided over $67 million in financial contributions to Columbia, and that over $77 million in donations are now at risk.

The letter also claims that the university “failed to hold accountable the former Israeli soldiers who carried out a chemical attack on protesting students in January 2024.” That seems to be a reference to an incident involving anti-Israel protesters who told the student-run Columbia Spectator that during a demonstration earlier this year they were sprayed with “skunk,” a chemical developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

While this letter is from supporters of the anti-Israel protesters, Columbia has also received pushback from opponents who say the school is allowing protesters to break the law, disrupt the educational environment, and harass Jewish students, adds National Review.

On Monday, 13 federal judges sent a letter to Columbia leaders saying they will no longer hire the school’s students as clerks due to their behavior and the school’s mismanagement of anti-Israel protests, writing that “Columbia has disqualified itself from educating the future leaders of our country.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia alumnus, said in April that he would withhold donations from the university due to the anti-Israel protests.

“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken.”

 

 

 

 

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