Was John McCain’s trip to Syria sanctioned? Or not?

Shorter Question Everything

Did McCain undergo this trip as an agent of the US, with the Obama admins say-so? If not, is McCain just the latest right winger to travel abroad to conduct a foreign policy he has no right to conduct? Is the right wing so desperate to reclaim the mantle of foreign policy expertise? Is this policy? Is this treason? Either way, it’s weird.

grahammccainsyria
Lindsey Graham: Best wishes to @SenJohnMcCain in Syria today. If he doesn’t make it back calling dibs on his office.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) met with rebel leaders in Syria on Monday, The Daily Beast reported, making the senator the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the country since conflict broke out over two years ago. CNN and Politico confirmed the visit with McCain’s office. While in the country, McCain met with the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council leader Gen. Salem Idris

Meghan McCain Found Out On Twitter That Her Dad Snuck Into Syria. When news broke Monday that John McCain had snuck into Syria to meet with members of the opposition, his daughter found out the same way many of us did — on Twitter.

• McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria. The entire trip was coordinated with the help of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American nonprofit organization that works in support of the Syrian opposition. Two leaders of the group attended all of the McCain-Idris meetings and discussed them with The Daily Beast.

John McCain Shows Up in Syria. By law, senators are not allowed to make foreign policy during their trips abroad, which are meant to be fact finding in nature. McCain’s clandestine visit with Gen. Salem Idris of the Free Syrian Army has upstaged the high profile negotiations between the actual secretary of state, John Kerry, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Monday.

• “They are doing everything to quash the idea of this conference”. The U.S. and its allies will expand support for the Syrian rebels and consider all options short of deploying American troops if diplomacy doesn’t halt a bloody civil war, Kerry said last week at a conference in Amman, Jordan. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, today crossed the Turkish border and went into Syria, spokesman Brian Rogers said, without disclosing details. The trip was reported earlier today by the Daily Beast website. McCain backs increasing support for the rebels. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich last week accused Syrian opposition groups of trying to sabotage U.S.-Russian efforts to broker a peace deal. “They are doing everything to quash the idea of this conference,” he said in televised comments.

• US Senator John McCain has visited Syria to meet rebels in the war-torn country, his office has told the BBC. The BBC’s David Willis says that Senator John McCain is “bound to be emboldened” by his unannounced visit to Syria.

• Sen. John McCain makes unannounced visit to Syria to meet with rebel forces. His visit comes as the Arizona senator and former challenger to President Barack Obama looks to strike a contrast with his old rival, appearing much more hawkish than the administration on wanting to support Syria’s rebels with arms and military intelligence. He’s also urged the use of U.S. aircraft and missiles to knock out the Syrian government’s defenses and prevent them from taking anymore arms shipments from Russia and Iran, along with encouraging an “international force” to move in and secure the regime’s weapons of mass destruction once the war comes to an end.

It was not immediately clear if McCain, a fierce critic of the Obama administration’s handling of the Syrian crisis, told government leaders about his plans to visit the country. The White House had no immediate comment. A senior Sate Department official, in Paris with Kerry, confirmed that McCain did “cross into Syrian territory” but referred all questions to McCain’s office.

More on Syria

• French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday said there were “mounting suspicions” that chemical weapons were being used in Syria. Speaking to journalists after talks with his EU counterparts, Fabius said that “very detailed verification” was necessary however. There were indications of “localised use” of chemical arms, he said. “We are consulting with our partners to examine what concrete consequences to draw,” added Fabius.

• After reportedly reaching an impasse in talks on Monday, the European Union has decided to lift its arms embargo on Syrian rebels, British Foreign House Secretary Jack Hague said Monday.

Asia

A U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter crashed off the southern Japan island of Okinawa early Tuesday after the aircraft developed problems in flight. The pilot ejected and was recovered safely. The F-15, flying out of Kadena Air Base, went down in the Pacific about 115 kilometers (70 miles) east of Okinawa, the military said in a statement. Lt. Col. David Honchul, the chief spokesman for the U.S. Forces, Japan, said the pilot was recovered safely after a search by U.S. and Japanese rescue crews. After he ejected from the plane the pilot remained in contact with the rescuers. He was rescued by a Japanese air force helicopter. The cause was under investigation.

Chinese Hackers Reportedly Compromised U.S. Designs For More Than 2 Dozen Weapons. Designs for more than two dozen major U.S. weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, a U.S report said on Monday, as a news report in Australia said Chinese hackers had stolen the blueprints for Australia’s new spy headquarters. Citing a report prepared for the Defense Department by the Defense Science Board, the Washington Post reported that compromised U.S. designs included combat aircraft and ships, as well as missile defenses vital for Europe, Asia and the Gulf. Among the weapons listed in the report were the advanced Patriot missile system, the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense systems, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The report did not specify the extent or time of the cyber-thefts or indicate if they involved computer networks of the U.S. government, contractors or subcontractors. But the espionage would give China knowledge that could be exploited in a conflict, such as knocking out communications and corrupting data, the Post said. It also could speed Beijing’s development of Chinese defense technology.

North Korea Says South Koreans Can Re-enter Kaesong Complex. North Korea says South Korean businessmen can enter a jointly run industrial park in the North that has been emptied since April after tensions between the two countries soared.

Canada

• A senior member of Rob Ford’s office was interviewed by police last week about a tip linking a video allegedly showing the mayor smoking illicit drugs to a recent Toronto homicide, two separate sources have confirmed. The staffer felt compelled to share the tip, which came to him from someone else in the mayor’s office, with police because it could constitute evidence in a homicide investigation. The [crack smothing] video originally belonged to an individual who may have been killed for its potentially valuable contents, according to a source. The video clip was allegedly offered for sale to the Star and Gawker by men involved in the drug trade, according to reports in both outlets. Gawker is trying to raise $200,000 for the video through an online campaign. Both media reports were accompanied by a photo, provided by the men selling the video, that allegedly shows Mr. Ford standing with a man believed to be Anthony Smith, a 21-year-old man gunned down in downtown Toronto in March.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s press advisers are the latest to leave their jobs as questions swirl about a video that purportedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine. The mayor of Canada’s largest city said outside his office Monday that press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom decided to leave, but he declined to say why. Ford fired his chief of staff last week. Ford also apologized for calling journalists “a bunch of maggots” on his weekly radio show on Sunday.

Rebranded Canada Gazette website touts minister, Tory ‘priorities’. As spotted by my hyperobservant CBC colleague Chris Hall, it appears that the venerable Canada Gazette is the latest website to be conscripted into serving as an online billboard for the government’s seemingly permanent self-promotion campaign.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s absence from the House of Commons Monday drew sharp criticism from opposition politicians intent on questioning him directly about the spending controversy involving his former chief of staff and a former Conservative senator.

Final vote count has potential to alter 2013 B.C. election outcome.

US

Some Groups Targeted By IRS May Have Violated Election Law. A report conducted by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General found that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) improperly targeted conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status and IRS officials have publicly admitted to relying on inappropriate criteria to screen out the names of organizations that included “tea party” or “patriots” for additional scrutiny. But the New York Times reported on Sunday that some of the targeted groups may have used most of their resources to engage in political activity and backed Republican candidates for office, potentially violating the terms of the “social welfare” designation.

Reward offered for information on fatal Kentucky cop ambush. A reward of $6,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect who killed a Kentucky police officer on Saturday, in what authorities are calling a premeditated ambush. It’s not clear if 33-year-old Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis was the intended target, or if he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But according to CBS News affiliate WKYT-TV, he came across some debris in the middle of a highway exit ramp early Saturday morning just after 2 a.m. and stopped to examine it more closely. That’s when someone approached the officer and shot him multiple times with a shotgun, not even giving the seven year veteran cop a chance to reach for his firearm — which suggests that Ellis was killed before he even knew he was under attack.

A U.S. Marine was killed in a shootout with police after he allegedly killed two women and injured five people in North Carolina and Texas, officials said. Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Esteban J. Smith, 23, died Sunday morning after apparently randomly shooting at vehicles in Concho County, Texas. Smith’s rank and service record with the Marines weren’t made public, ABC News reported Tuesday. He was an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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