10 US Navy sailors held by Iran

A senior defense official tells Fox News that the two US Navy riverine vessels were headed from Kuwait to Bahrain when the US Navy lost contact with the boats.

“It appears the two vessels went into Iranian territorial waters,” said the official.  He said U.S. Navy sailors are currently being held on Farsi Island, a tiny island in the middle of the Persian Gulf controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

The official said NONE of the US Navy vessels were disabled.  The official was not aware of how Iran ended up commandeering the US Navy ships.  He did not know if warning shots were fired, but could not rule it out.   

The U.S. Navy informed “earlier today” by Iranian authorities that they were holding the sailors and their “safety and well-being was assured” by Iran and the American sailors “would be allowed to continue their journey.”

The official offered no timeline on when the US Navy sailors would be released.

The official did not know if this incident was tied to President Obama’s State of the Union. 

The Plight of the Yezidis: An Interview With Seed Foundation President Sherri Talabany

FBI Investigation Expands: Classified Emails and Public Corruption

By Catherine Herridge

The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of private email as Secretary of State now has two tracks with one focused on the classified material found on her personal server, and the other on whether the co-mingling of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business potentially violated public corruption laws, according to three intelligence sources not authorized to speak on the record.

"The agents are investigating the possible intersection of donations to the Clinton Foundation, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed,"  one source said.   The Clinton Foundation is a public charity, known as a 501 (c)(3) which had grants and contributions in excess of 144-million in 2013, the most current available data.  

Fox News was told that FBI agents will be “screaming” if a prosecution is not pursued because “many previous public corruption cases have been made and successfully prosecuted with much less evidence than what is emerging in this investigation.” 

With the latest State Department email dump,  the number of classified emails identified on Mrs. Clinton’s private account has risen to at least 1340.  A 2015 appeal by the State Department to challenge the “Top Secret” classification of at least two emails failed, and as Fox first reported, is now considered a settled matter.

It is unclear which of the two lines of inquiry was opened first by the FBI and whether they will eventually be combined and presented before a Special Grand Jury.  One intelligence source said the public corruption angle dates back to at least April 2015.

On their official website, the FBI lists "public corruption as the FBI's top criminal priority."

Fox News is told that some 100 special agents assigned to the investigations were also asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, with as many as 50 additional agents on TDY --temporary duty assignment.  The request to sign a new NDA could reflect that agents are handling the highly classified material in the emails, a reminder not to leak about the case, or both.  

On Sunday, when asked about her email practices while Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton insisted to CBS News Face The Nation, "there is no there, there."


Speaker Paul Ryan On Special Report

New Fox News Polls

Days before President Obama’s State of the Union speech, the Fox News poll asked voters to assess whether the White House had “mostly succeeded” or “mostly failed” at handling national priorities. The results are clear, as voters consistently say the administration has mostly failed. 

The poll, released Friday, shows the worst rating is on ISIS:  65 percent think the administration has mostly failed on dealing with the Islamic extremist group, while 23 percent say it has mostly succeeded. 

Fox News Poll

Obama Administration On ISIS

Mostly Succeeded      23%

Mostly Failed              65%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.

In addition, 58 percent of voters feel the White House has mostly failed to make the country safer (34 percent say succeeded).  That’s a significant change from how voters felt the first time Fox News asked in June 2012.  At that time, 55 percent said mostly succeeded and 32 percent said mostly failed.  This is the only area that shows such a shift since 2012. 

Fox News Poll

Obama Admin. On Making Country Safer

Now    Jan. 2015         June 2012

Mostly Succeeded      34%     43%                 55%

Mostly Failed              58%     49%                 32%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.

To be sure, there are extreme partisan divides in the assessments, with more than 8 in 10 Republicans responding negatively on each issue area tested and Democrats being mostly supportive.  However, more than half of independents say Obama has mostly failed in each instance. 

On other issues, views are only slightly less negative.  Overall, 26 percent of voters say the administration has mostly succeeded on handling illegal immigration, while 62 percent feel the opposite.

And despite Obama’s signature health care law, by a 53-41 percent margin, voters say the administration has mostly failed on improving health care. 

Voters also aren’t impressed with how Obama has done on keeping his “most transparent administration ever” promise:  59 percent feel he’s “mostly failed” on running a transparent administration.

Thirty-four percent think the White House has mostly succeeded on improving the country’s image, while 60 percent say mostly failed.

Thirty-one percent say Obama has improved race relations, while 59 percent think he’s mostly failed on this too. 

Some of the best ratings are on the economy.  Yet even there, 40 percent say Obama has mostly succeeded in improving things compared with 51 percent mostly failed.

Fox News Poll

Rate Obama Administration On…

                                    Mostly             Mostly

                                    Succeeded       Failed

Health Care                 41%                 53%

Economy                     40%                 51%

U.S. Image                  34%                 60%

U.S. Security               34%                 58%

Transparency               32%                 59%

Race Relation              31%                 59%

Immigration                26%                 62%

ISIS                             23%                 65%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.

Meanwhile, the number who feels optimistic about the economy has dropped to 49 percent, down from 58 percent a year ago.  And most voters, 76 percent, continue to rate economic conditions negatively (43 percent “only fair” and 33 percent “poor”).

Fox News Poll                                                           

     Feel About U.S. Economy

                        Now    Jan. 2015

Optimistic       49%     58%

Pessimistic       49%     39%

January 4-7, 2016

  Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.


Fox News Poll

Condition Of Economy

Excellent/       Only Fair/

Good               Poor

Now                23%                 76%

Nov. 2015       21%                 79%

Jan. 2015         25%                 75%

Jan. 2013         9%                   91%

Jan. 2009         5%                   94%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.


Only 28 percent would describe the country as “strong and confident” right now (71 percent disagree).


Fox News Poll

Is The Country Strong And Confident?

            Now    Jan. 2015

Yes      28%     27%

No       71%     71%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.


Currently, 42 of voters approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 53 percent disapprove.  A year ago it was 42-52 percent.  His highest job rating came in the weeks after his first inauguration: 65 percent approved and just 16 percent disapproved (January 2009).  Obama’s record low was 38 percent approval in September 2014. 


Fox News Poll 

President Obama’s Job Performance

                                    Jan. 11-13        Sept. 2014

                        Now    2015                Record Low

Approve          42%     42%                 38%

Disapprove      53%     52%                 56%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.



President Obama took new executive action on guns this week.  The poll asked voters how concerned they were, in general, about Obama’s use of executive orders “permanently” altering the country’s system of checks and balances:  65 percent are at least somewhat concerned.  Republicans (88 percent) are more likely than independents (66 percent) and Democrats (43 percent) to express concern. 


Fox News Poll

Pres. Obama’s Use Of Executive Action

Altering System Of Checks & Balances

                                    Now    Dec. 2014

Concerned                   65%     68%

Not Concerned           33%     32%

January 4-7, 2016

Registered Voters ± 3% Pts.


The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,006 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 4-7, 2016.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.



Gen. Joseph Votel to be named next US CENTCOM commander

By Lucas Tomlinson

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, currently commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, will be named by President Obama to be the next commander of U.S. Central Command, responsible for the Middle East and Afghanistan, multiple officials tell Fox News.

President Obama’s appointment of Gen. Votel as the next CENTCOM commander is noteworthy because of his background in special operations, the U.S. military’s elite organization used extensively by the administration to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS in coordination with U.S. airpower.

Gen. Votel has led all U.S. special operations forces since 2014.

Gen. Votel replaces Gen. Lloyd Austin, a general most famous for his candid admission that only “4 or 5” U.S. military- trained Syrian rebels remain “in the fight” against ISIS in Capital Hill testimony in September.

WSJ first to report the news of Gen. Votel expected to be named new CENTCOM commander.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter will be heading to different U.S. military commands in the United States next week, part of the administration’s effort to get out speak more about the war against ISIS.

Carter will visit Ft. Campbell next week, home to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) as well as the U.S. Army’s  160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, tasked with flying U.S. special operations forces into and out of harms way.  Carter is expected to speak about the ISIS war at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

Carter will later travel to Florida late next week to take part in a press conference naming Gen. Votel as the next CENTCOM commander.  (U.S. Special Operations command and U.S. Central Command are both located in Tampa.)

Carter will also visit the U.S. Southern Command located in Miami, responsible for South America, before returning to Washington at the end of the week.

US special ops team "pinned down" inside Marjah compound awaiting rescue

UPDATE: A US military official tells Fox News--

A US military “quick reaction force” of reinforcements have arrived and have

evacuated the US special operator killed in action and the two wounded Americans in the compound in Marjah, Afghanistan.

The crew of the disabled helicopter have evacuated safely as well.

But the rest of the US special operations team remain in the compound to secure the damaged HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and the team remains in an area surrounded by Taliban fighters.


A team of US special operations forces is currently pinned down inside a compound in Marjah in Helmand Province Afghanistan while an AC-130 gunship orbits overhead to protect those trapped inside.

A U.S. official describing the “harrowing” scene to Fox and said there were enemy forces surrounding the compound in which the spec ops team sought refuge.

“On the map there is one green dot representing friendly forces stuck in the compound, and around it is a sea of red [resenting hostile forces],” the official told Fox News.  

A team of nearly 12 special operations forces, including the body of the special operator killed today as well as two other Americans wounded in the fighting remain inside the compound overnight awaiting rescue while fending off the Taliban.

Earlier today, two USAF HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters were sent to rescue the US special operations team.  One of the helicopters took fire and waved off the mission and flew back to base. 

The other helicopter’s blades struck the wall of the compound while attempting a rescue of the special ops team, according to defense officials who compared the scene to one similar to the helicopter crash inside Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan on the mission to kill the al-Qaeda leader in May 2011.

The joint US and Afghan special operations team was sent to Marjah to clear the area of Taliban fighters who have retaken most of the town since November.

There were nine airstrikes today in support of a clearing operation. 

Earlier today, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed to reporters that the fighting in Marjah remains ongoing.

"There's fighting on the ground as we speak," said Cook.

"Everything's being done to secure the safety of those Americans and the Afghan forces," he added.


Krauthammer on Hillary Clinton: She should be a little more careful when discussing videos

Nationally syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told viewers on Monday's "Special Report with Bret Baier" that Hillary Clinton should be a little more careful when discussing videos she alleges are radicalizing jihadists. 

Donald Trump demanded an apology from rival Hillary Clinton after the 2016 hopeful used Saturday's democratic debate to go after Trump, saying he was becoming “ISIS’s best recruiter,” and that members of the terror group "are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."

Alluding to the Obama administration's bungled attempts to blame an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi because of a video, Krauthammer said the former Secretary of State "ought to be a little bit careful about talking about incendiary American videos that are radicalizing jihadists into attacking Americans."  The columnist pointed out that Clinton's video strategy is not working and "she ought to quit at two."


The Long Awaited Special Report Blooper Reel of 2015

(Bret Baier Approved)

Krauthammer on Ted Cruz’ Immigration Stance: “it depends on how you define amnesty”

Charles Krauthammer said Thursday on “Special Report with Bret Baier”  that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’ previous statements show that the senator supported a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in congress’ failed 2013 immigration reform bill saying “if you define amnesty as he does, as citizenship, yes he fought that. If you define it as allowing people who came here illegally not to suffer the consequences of illegal entry, which by law should be deportation, he did not oppose that. It is very clear that he supported it and as you showed last night and has been shown in many, many pieces of evidence.”

In an interview on “Special Report” on Wednesday, Cruz told Bret Baier that his proposed amendment to the bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits but would not allow citizenship, was not a sign of support for the overall measure, but a “poison pill” designed to derail the overall effort, saying “It doesn't mean that I supported the other aspects of the bill, which was a terrible bill. And Bret, you've been around Washington long enough, you know how to defeat bad legislation, which is what that amendment did" 

But in June of 2013, Cruz took to the Senate floor to tout his amendment saying  “If the proponents of this bill actually demonstrate a commitment not to politics… to finding a middle ground, that would fix the problem and also allow for those 11 million people who are here illegally a legal status with citizenship off the table. I believe that is the compromise that can pass.”

But Krauthammer, a syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor said he doesn’t understand Senator Cruz’ strategy with regard to clarifying his stance:  “at the time said he was in favor in a compromise that would take the 11 million out of the shadows and give them legal status. I'm not  sure I understand why he's doubling down on denying what you can demonstrate with pieces of tape. Perhaps he sees that it's worked for other candidates. He could easily have said, "circumstances have changed, we now have terrorism, infiltration, all that, and I've shifted over" which I think is really a minor difference, but he's decided he's going to go whole hog on the other side.



Coming Up

Most of the GOP presidential candidates are in South Carolina today -- the site of their next primary-- preparing for another debate tomorrow night in Greenville, SC.

All-Star Panel

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  • AB Stoddard @thehill
  • Jason Riley @jasonrileywsj

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