A Real Case of Obstruction: Project Cassandra

Six House Democrats filed five articles of impeachment against President Trump last week, claiming the President obstructed justice in connection with the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. No evidence has been found of obstruction yet.

I hope the Republicans grow a spine in the Senate and investigate a real case of obstruction: Project Cassandra

Politico’s Josh Meyer wrote a great piece of investigative reporting in December 2017 called “The Secret Backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the Hook.” Reporter Meyer opens his report “In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States.” Drug Enforcement Agency followed cocaine shipments, tracked dirty cash, and traced it all to the innermost circle of Hezbollah’s leadership and their state sponsors in Iran. The Obama Administration’s Justice and Treasury departments, in order to make a nuclear deal with Iran, threw obstacles and roadblocks into the path of the DEA. And a name we’ve heard before led the Justice Department team… Bruce Ohr. His wife did the research for Fusion GPS on the discredited Russian Dossier.

The State Department rejected DEA requests to lure high-value Hezbollah network targets into countries we could arrest them in.  It’s called rendition. 

The Project Cassandra folks were stonewalled every chance they got close to exposing Hezbollah’s network of drugs, money and leadership. Obama Administration water carriers of course said it was all a lie. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes called the Meyer piece “non-fact based anti-Iran propaganda.” Other Obama officials pushed back

My “so what” to this story is reopen Project Cassandra and see where it goes. The Trump Administration has the political will to let the DEA run with the program. Also, open a Senate investigation into the Obama Administration’s obstruction of the DEA efforts to stop the Project Cassandra investigations and arrests. Remember, the Obama Administration sent a plane load of cash to Iran, on top of the $483 million Hezbollah reaped in drug profits. The Senate should call for a Special Council, just like the Mueller Special Council, into how Project Cassandra DEA efforts were blocked by the Obama Justice and Treasury departments.

If the Democrats under Nancy Pelosi are going to investigate President Trump, then the Senate Republicans should investigate the Obama administration for their role in blocking efforts by an Iranian backed terror organization selling drugs and laundering billions of dollars in the United States.

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

MSNBC Beats Fox News for the first time in 18 Years

For the first time in eighteen years, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s cable news show has beaten Sean Hannity’s show in their news hour. The Main Stream Media was very quick to broadcast this blessed event. The Hill headline reads “MSNBC beats Fox in key ratings…” In BizWomen the headline reads, “For the first time in 18 years, MSNBC has beaten Fox News in two ratings metrics — including one that’s most attractive to advertisers.” The Washington Times blames it on the “Trump Slump.” My favorite is Newsweek, saying “Fox News Host Sean Hannity has seen his ratings fall as buddy Donal Trump’s problems have increased.”

Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow / Getty Images

I didn’t believe it. Fox News has been #1 since September 25, 2000. So I dug a little deeper. Here’s what I found.

First, Rachel Maddow’s show only moved into the #1 spot because Sean has been on VACATION, as has Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

CinemaBlend tracks show ratings. In their headline story about MSNBC being #1, they did provide this caveat, “Fox News has been without its namesake host since December 14th.” MSNBC can only win when Fox News high power newscasters are gone. Very few of the Main Stream Media outlets reported this, but a few did like Axios, a left liberal new outlet, but did so as an update. 

For eighteen years, Fox News holds the #1 spot in cable news ratings. Eighteen years… The MSM is misleading Americans by saying MSNBC has beaten Fox News when their primary newscasters on not behind the desk.This is like saying we are the world champions when the number one team didn’t show up on the field.

The so what of this story… the liberal news outlets like CNN are losing viewership. CNN’s viewership is down an average of 41 percent. The latest survey from Nielsen shows CNN is losing the prime time cable news race. It has 944,000 viewers from 8 to 11 p.m. EST. Compare that to 2.3 million for Fox News and 1.7 million for MSNBC. In October 2018, Fox News had more viewers than MSNBC and CNN combined. In July of this year, The Daily Caller ran this headline, “MSNBC joins CNN in ratings behind Nickelodeon and HGTV.” 

I’m just pointing out Fox News has been number one since the George W. Bush presidency. MSNBC jumped to the #1 position only because Fox News big names are on vacation. Take a look at the ratings numbers the second week of January. Fox News will be back on top again.

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

The Air Refueling Shortfall: Closing the US Air Force Air Refueling Capability Gap.

Nobody kicks ass without tanker gas… and there will never be enough tankers.

The US cannot… repeat… cannot… go to war without air refueling tankers.

I don’t know how many times my KC-135 crew participated in an Air Force exercise where the planners said there will always be enough airborne gas. Maybe it was true in the Cold War days of the 1960s through 1980s.

Not any more. The USAF fleet has shrunk while aging. 

During my refueling planners first pass at the 2003 Iraqi Freedom opening night of Shock and Awe, the coalition air forces were 42 tanker sorties short… totaling slightly under five million pounds of gas. This was Tuesday night with the opening on Friday night 21 March. The Master Air Attack Plan cut critical strike and intelligence sorties simply because there wasn’t enough gas. The coalition flew the Opening Night Air Tasking Order O seventeen tanker sorties short because we knew there would be fighter and bomber no-shows for various reasons. And we were right.

The second limiting factor to Shock and Awe’s opening night was the lack of Boom and Drogue equipped air refuelable tankers which could be filled up without landing. The KC-10 was the only aircraft fitting this definition. The sixty-year-old KC-135 filled the rest of the US Air Force tasking for the Iraqi invasion. Imagine this: the Air Force refueling workhorse was flown by the Grandfathers of its current Pilots and Booms. The Air Forces needed a new tanker in 2003. 

Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus tanker was supposed to fix these shortfalls.

As the new US National Defense Strategy hits the streets, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson stated the US Air Force will expand from 312 squadrons to 386, close to Cold War levels. Expansion means more refueling support will be required. Secretary Wilson’s vision adds 14 new tanker squadrons. The 14 squadrons will fly KC-46 platforms more than likely. Problem is, Pegasus is three years late and $2 billion over budget. It doesn’t look like the spring deadline for Boeing to put a plane on the Altus Air Force Base ramp is going to happen.

Airbus’ A330 tanker is the alternative. 

Lockheed EVP Michele Evans and Airbus EVP Fernando Alonso exchange MOAs in an A330 cockpit

And Airbus A330 MRTT’s just keep on delivering. 

The A330 MRTT tanker has won the last two international competitions for refueling platforms because of Boeing’s poor KC-46 performance. Singapore, a former KC-135 flyer, and South Korea have purchased the Airbus A330. The French Air Force received its first A330 in October after flying KC-135s for 55 years! The RAAF brought one of their A330’s over to Edwards AFB and certified Air Force and Navy aircraft on their Boom and Drogues because of efforts in the Middle East. The Royal Australian Air Force A330’s are enjoying a great run in the fight against ISIS, filling up all but our stealthiest platforms.

A US Air Foce B-52 bomber is refueled by a Royal Australian Air Force A330 tanker

On December 6th, Europe’s Airbus, manufacturer of the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, and Lockheed Martin signed a memorandum of agreement to explore the US refueling shortfall issues. In her statement to the press, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said “The companies will seek to provide aerial-refueling services to address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in the challenging environments of future battlespace.” This agreement adds additional pressure for Boeing to perform. The Airbus A330 won the original US Air Force contract until Boeing protested and won the second round. Now we wait. The Air Force is looking for additional options to fill the tanker shortfall. One solution is contract air refueling, commercial companies flying A330s or KC-46s to close the capability gap. Smaller airline derivatives like the A310 could also fill this role. Tyler Rogoway of The Drive wrote a terrific article here on the benefits of contract A/R. 

My take on this is its a good thing Airbus and Lockheed have partnered. Competition is always a good thing for the customer, driving costs down and innovation up. Boeing’s performance on the 767 tanker is terrible. The Japanese and Italian 767 programs were also late and over budget for several issues. The US Air Force continues to wait on a program plagued by technical issues. Airbus has a flying tanker and Lockheed showed a mock up of their stealth tanker design at an Air Force Association convention several years ago. They both know another USAF tanker bid is coming, why not prepare for it now?  

Contract air refueling support is already here. Omega has been flying contract refueling support for the US Navy and Marine Corps for years, and recently sent jets to Australia for an exercise. Other companies in Europe have looked at the contract refueling market and are considering jumping in. In one case I worked on, their airframe of choice was the A330. If the US Air Force can contract out adversary air support like ATAC and Draken for the fighter community’s training, why not air refueling support?

One last issue… can contract refueling support work over the battlefield? Issues of insurance, recruiting and training aircrews, and tactics and employment need a hard look. The insurance costs are the contract killer over the battlefield. Splitting the work between contract refueling tankers training in the States or creating and sustaining the air bridge delivering fighters, bombers and ISR aircraft to the battlefield is a great option. The Active Duty/Guard/Reserve tankers can accomplish the in-theater (read combat support) refueling sorties to fill the battlefield air tasking orders.

Boeing needs to figure out what is wrong with their KC-46 program and fix it. Their reputation in the air refueling world is on the line. The cost of running a KC-135 fleet is huge using 1950s technology in a 2018 world and the USAF and other air forces need a modern tanker. Airbus and Lockheed have a very viable alternative to Boeing’s plagued 767 program. Hopefully this new Airbus/Lockheed partnership will explore new ways to fill the air refueling shortfalls the US, NATO, and other allied partners face because…

Nobody kicks ass without tanker gas… nobody!

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

Iran’s Four Proxy Wars and the General leading them

Last week I mentioned a name for you to remember. To Shia muslims in Iran he is now larger than life. They are even making movies about him. Major General Qasem Soleimani, the “shadow commander” of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quids forces, stepped into the light to protect the Shia of the Middle East. He runs Iran’s four proxy wars reporting directly to Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei.  Soleimani has been very successful fighting ISIS across Iraq and Syria, even joining forces on the front lines during the fighting. Since President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and imposed stiff sanctions against Iran, Soleimani’s forces have increased activity across the Middle East. Soleimani has now included Bahrain in the list of countries Iran wishes to destabilize, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen as the other four.

Inclusion of Bahrain should alarm you. The Sunni government of Bahrain has been one of our closest allies in the Middle East. US Air Force, Navy, and Royal Air Force aircraft operated from Manama and Sheik Isa airfields during both wars in Iraq. The State Department declared the Al-Ashtar Brigade, a militant group in Bahrain, a terrorist organization. On August 13, the US State Department listed one of AAB’s leaders, Qassim Abdullah Ali Ahmed, also known as Qassim al-Muamen, as a specially designated global terrorist, subjecting him to wide-ranging sanctions. Al-Muamen’s group received direct support from Iran for bombing Bahrain’s oil pipeline and assassinating government leaders.

Major General Qasem Soleimani walking the strrets of Tehran during a celebration.

Iranian backed militant group assassinating leaders in Bahrain? The US has military leaders in Bahrain. On Saturday, Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US Fifth Fleet, was found dead in his home in Bahrain. Current reports state there does not seem to be foul play. But we are talking about the Middle East and madness Iran has created.

The so what of all this is I’ve wondered today if Soleimani ran his own version of Operation Vengeance, the intercept of the two Betty bombers carrying Imperial Japanese Navy Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto near the island of Bougainville. Khamenei said he would implement the Mother of all Battles against the US. Iran would target US military personnel with no regrets, and have done so in the past. I sincerely hope I’m wrong… normally I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but with all the things Iran’s Khamenei has been saying against the US and the majority of the population in Bahrain being Shia, a vengeance mission against a US military leader is right up Qasem Soleimani’s alley. Hunting ISIS leadership has become one of his strengths in the Al-Quids forces fight against ISIS.

We’ll wait and see what the official report says but earlier today I read two articles saying they don’t believe what is being said about the Vice Admiral’s death. Iran is exerting their influence through the Middle East, and the commander of their version of CIA and Special Operations Forces is named Qasem Soleimani. Remember that name.

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

The Migrant Caravan Part Two: Sunday’s Rush on our Border

Reuters photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon snapped a picture of Maria Meza and her twin daughters running from a tear gas canister fired into a crowd of 1000 migrants rushing the US-Mexico border by US Border Patrol agents on Sunday 25 November. Kyung-Hoon’s photo appears on the front page of every news outlet. The photo is meant to tear you up emotionally. Migrant activist Jesus Ibanez stated “The sheer desperation in their eyes, the stories you hear of people fleeing from violence only to be met by violence here, was disheartening…” Liberal progressives and the main stream media continue to say how barbaric gassing children is, Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom of California saying in a tweet “And we will not stand for this.”

Kim Kyung-Hoon's photo used by numerous news outlets

The Russian Times gets it… their article “The Art of the Narrative” openly says the liberals and main stream media’s agenda is “to silence the immigration narrative.” Events on Sunday and the pictures you are seeing are designed to shut down the immigration narrative.

How? What is the real story behind the photo and event?

Everyone should view Ami Horowitz documentary he recorded while traveling with the caravan

Ninety to ninety-five percent of the caravan are males. There are very few women and children traveling in the caravan but the media focuses on that demographic. Ever present is the activist group Pueblo Sin Fronteras says Horowitz, clad in black T-shirts and colored vests. They are the caravan organizers and funding of millions of dollars. Pueblo Sin Fronteras advocates a world without borders, read no walls or national sovereignty. Read closely what they have on their website. Pueblo sin Fronteras organized the buses and trucks moving the thousands in the caravan. From their website, “We accompany migrants and refugees in their journey of hope, and together demand our human rights.” Heard anything about Pueblo sin Fronteras’ demands in the main stream media? Since when is it a “human right” to live in the United States? 

The migrant group rushed the US border placing women and children in front of the wave. Remember the human shields seen in the Middle East? They are trying to provoke a response, which the main stream media will always misrepresent. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote a long nine point Facebook post saying the event was “entirely predictable.” Males in the crowd threw rocks and parts of cinder blocks at Border Patrol Agents rushing the border while women and children kept Border Patrol from engaging directly.

Which prompted the use of tear gas. Border Patrol Agents have a right to self defense. President Trump is being excoriated for using “chemical weapons” on women and children in this single event though, typical of the MSM and liberals. Yet the media has not mentioned once the number of times Border Patrol Agents employed tear gas under the Obama Administration.

Does the photo tell the real story though? Remember, a single photo is a moment in time which never gives the context for when it’s taken. Notice every media outlet in the collage above used the SAME picture of Maria Meza and her twins. Makes me skeptical of the story. Several people examined the photo of Maria and her twins, focusing on the four quadrants behind them. There are a lot of cameras making it looked staged. Why are there no other photos? One examiner measured the distance from the bridge to where Ms. Meza is standing, three quarters of a mile according to Google Earth. That’s an arm the New York Yankees want.

Kyung-Hoon's photo with observations by reviewers on Twitter

Here’s my “So What”… As my father told me over and over again, when it comes to news events and the images shown, believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.

“This is an invasion!” is no longer a statement by President Trump, residents of Tijuana are now saying the same thing. Migrants are aggressive, vulgar bullies according to other residents. Will that state of mind change when arriving in the US? Nope. 

Sunday’s use of tear gas and the MSM coverage is propaganda at its finest. Many Americans are falling for the fake narrative when a little investigation goes a long way. Bottomline, none of the people Ami Horowitz interviewed said they are seeking asylum, they are coming to the US for economic and educational reasons. Economic and educational shortfalls are not asylum criteria. I agree with something Glenn Beck said the other day on his morning radio show. The Migrant Caravan will become the US version of Israel’s Palestinian State struggle. And you know how this has turned out for the Benjamin Netanyahu government. Violence along the Gaza Border has been intense. As the residents of Tijuana know, this situation only aggressively intensifies over the next couple weeks as the Christmas holidays approach. Liberals and progressives are trying to stifle the conservative immigration narrative and the main stream media’s photos are the tools for facilitating the propaganda. 

About the author, Mark Hasara

Author of Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, Mark Hasara is a retired US Air Force pilot with 24 year in the KC-135 airborne tanker. He is a speaker and aviation industry consultant in campaign planning and cockpit architecture. Follow his weekly newsletter “On the Nations DIME”.

No Gas for Operation Yukon Journey

The current Saudi leadership has asked the Trump Administration to cease US air refueling support to the their coalition fighting in the Yemeni civil war. Our support to the Saudi coalition under the name Operation Yukon Journey came to a halt after US voiced concerns about how the Saudi and United Arab Emirates coalition’s conduct during the air campaign. The halt also comes on the heels of allegations Crown Prince Salman may have been involved in the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The target of the Saudi coalition are the Shia aligned Houthi Rebels, led by Abdul-Malek Al-Houthi. 

Saudi and UAE began an air campaign in 2015 to reinstall the sunni leader Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi who was removed from power is Sana’a. The Houthi Rebels are supported by the Iran regime with arms to include SCUD type theater ballistic missiles.

The civil war has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as the Yemeni ports have changed hands several times during the civil war. More than 23 million people, two-thirds of Yemen’s population, now rely on aid to survive and 13 million could die from famine, according to the United Nations. 

Here’s the “so what” of Operation Yukon Journey…

The Saudis are involved in a proxy war with Iran. So is the US in Syria and Iraq. The Iran regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei currently fights on four fronts. Khanenei’s goal is Sharia Law throughout the region and the world. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni muslims are trying to stop that from happening as is the US in Syria. But the Iranian Shias have the advantage as Iran’s Hezbollah militias support the Houthis in Yemen.

Iran’s military support to the Houthis has included ballistic missiles, which they fired against Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh and southern large city of Khamis Mushayt and King Khalid Air Base. American-made Patriot missiles ringing Riyadh and Khamis have engaged numerous Houthi SCUDs over the three year civil war.

Remains of a Houthi ballistic missile lying in the streets of Janir Saudi Arabia

As the US coalition learned during the First Gulf War, hunting Saddam’s SCUD ballistic missiles requires a big net of airplanes which must remain airborne for long periods of time. Air refueling extends the range, increases the payload, and stretches the endurance of airborne aircraft. The US Air Force has the largest fleet of tanker aircraft, 414 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s. The Royal Saudi Air Force has 26 and the UAE 3. The Royal Saudi Air Force operates a version of the US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle, a very capable fighter bomber. Loaded down with 8-12 bombs, a Strike Eagle consumes 12,000 pounds an hour at tactical speeds. A four-ship formation of F-15Es will consume 144,000 pounds of fuel during a typical three hour long tasking. Multiply 144,000 by a 24 hour day means 1,152,000 pounds of fuel, or 177,230 gallons. An American family uses 1010 gallons a year so Mom can operate the minivan for 175 years on what the F-15Es will use in a day. Now do you understand why air refueling support is so important?

Air refueling support may not seem like a big deal to most US citizens but when you run some numbers we used during the planning of both Iraq wars and compare it to the number of tankers Saudi and UAE have in their tanker fleet, the loss of US tanker support actually limits their ability to run an effective air campaign. And the Iranian regime marches on extending their influence across the Middle East.