ISIS Is Getting Smarter About Avoiding U.S. Surveillance

Helle Dale /

Social media can be a double-edged sword for terrorists groups such as ISIS, a fact that its leadership appears to be aware of.

According to recent reports, the group’s top cadre has curtailed electronic communications, hoping to shrink its footprint and exposure to western intelligence agencies. A terrorist group of the 21st century, ISIS is adept at the use of social media, producing “cruelly effective” propaganda, as retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen has put it. Yet, that same propaganda also has provided a wealth of information for the U.S. and other governments.

As reported by The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris, who cited U.S. intelligence sources, ISIS is changing its “communications strategy.” It is encrypting its electronic communications, limiting its online presence and using services that delete messages as soon as they are sent.  Its top cadre uses couriers rather than electronic devices to deliver orders, making them elusive in the U.S.-led surveillance campaign. As human intelligence is hardly available on the ground, especially in Syria, and the number of unmanned drones is limited, cyber surveillance has been a key tool in the fight against ISIS.

Yet, although ISIS leadership may be wise to its cyber vulnerabilities, its followers are not as easy to control in the electronic sphere. The group disseminates its grisly propaganda on social media, and its thousands of followers and recruits continue to post pictures and information on their social media accounts.

According to reports by communications expert James Farwell published by the London-based Institute for International Strategic Studies, “advances in technology may eventually leave the group vulnerable to cyber attacks, similar to those reportedly urged by U.S. intelligence sources to intercept and seize funds controlled by Mexican drug cartels.”

Communications strategy must be a critical component in combatting this latest form of violent Islamism, which itself uses propaganda so effectively to magnify its own image of invulnerability.  Most effectively, writes Farwell, would be a message that shows the opposite, that the United States and its allies are powerful and determined to win. (Though unfortunately that has hardly been forthcoming yet.)

Communications strategy is currently in the hands of Rick Stengel, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Stengel recently attended a meeting with Arab nations in Kuwait to discuss precisely this issue and encourage their participation in the communications battle. It is clear though, as Farwell writes, that information warfare should be seamless with military tactics, allowing Gen. Allen to coordinate the resources of the whole of the U.S. government.  Strategic communication is as important today as at any time during the Iraq and Afghan wars.

 

29 Tweets About Obama’s Immigration Speech - Daily Signal

29 Tweets About Obama’s Immigration Speech

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen /

If you caught President Obama’s immigration speech last night or have scanned the conversation on Twitter today, you might have read some congratulatory remarks as well as some sarcastic tweets. We compiled a few below.

.@AP says there were “notable omissions” in @BarackObama’s #immigration speech last night. Read their #FactCheck here-http://t.co/16SZDs27Tg

— Diane Black (@RepDianeBlack) November 21, 2014

This will be one helluva litmus test for #GOP presidential contenders in a primary: “Do you sir/ma’am undo the exec action on day 1?”

— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) November 21, 2014

If the @NRA really wants to troll Obama, it should congratulate the 5 million people now on the path to legal firearm ownership in the U.S. — Sean Davis (@seanmdav) November 21, 2014

Reminder: the Democrats had control of the House, Senate, and White House and did not pass immigration reform. — Ryan J. Croft (@RyanJCroft) November 21, 2014

When I said there wasn’t much POTUS could do with just a pen and a phone, I was thinking of legal actions. Silly me. — Brit Hume (@brithume) November 21, 2014

Important 1st step by @BarackObama and more must be done – time for the House to act #immigrationaction

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 21, 2014

Want to know how liberals plan to govern without ever controlling Congress again? Tonight is your answer: executive fiat. — Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) November 21, 2014

#priorities pic.twitter.com/drWCUWrFea

— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) November 20, 2014

Pres Obama is ignoring the will of the people who voted against his policies just a couple of weeks ago: http://t.co/PzzjKfwL71 #Immigration — Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) November 19, 2014

A pretty good day for the DREAMers who forced the issue by heckling Obama at speeches. And they got paid way less than lobbyists.

— daveweigel (@daveweigel) November 21, 2014

Obama depending on the American people to rally around the idea of compassion, never mind the law #ImmigrationAction pic.twitter.com/4zoqlsYJqH — Jenn Jacques (@JennJacques) November 21, 2014

Every other country punishes illegal immigration, now thanks to Obama, America is rewarding it. #ImmigrationAction pic.twitter.com/1wITpf3FR9 — C (@chelsea_elisa) November 21, 2014

America is a nation of immigrants, NOT illegal immigrants. #ImmigrationAction — Dean Michaels (@quixxdraw) November 21, 2014

Obama is a sovereign leader, he calls out Congress to pass a bill, when he isn’t even giving them an opportunity. #ImmigrationAction — Drew Curtis (@D_C_3) November 21, 2014

Obama’s idea of debate is getting on tv and talking at us. If he was listening, he never would have made this speech. #ImmigrationAction — Jerry (@rightinillinois) November 21, 2014

Note that if Congress took #ImmigrationAction the President would not even consider doing what he outlined tonight. — Ayana Fakhir (@lawgurrl) November 21, 2014

Proud to have a president that chose to take action on a issue that is long overdue #ImmigrationAction — Marisol Regalado (@MarisolRegalado) November 21, 2014

#ImmigrationAction You sound like a hypocrite, talking @ not breaking the law & then rewarding those who did. & leave emotions out of it! — dara parker (@tenegirl) November 21, 2014

#ImmigrationAction Does anyone really believe illegals will turn themselves in, pay a fine, pay taxes & go to back of line? What changed? — Darwin H.M. (@Darwin_Darko) November 21, 2014

My French permanent resident husband just asked “So, do I still have to apply for citizenship?”…#ImmigrationAction — laurakfillault (@laurakfillault) November 21, 2014

I think about my student. An all A student, who wanted to be a teacher but couldn’t. She’s a “dreamer” right now. This is huge #immigration — Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) November 21, 2014

A near majority of #Americans disapprove of #ExecutiveAction on #Immigration & want legislative action 2 b solution pic.twitter.com/2LJdUnY6Wm — Steven G. Cruz (@StevenCruz) November 21, 2014

Sorry, @BarackObama, but if shielding millions from deportation is “not amnesty” then what is it? #ImmigrationAction — Chris (@ChristianNoboa) November 21, 2014

We are a country of immigrants – to be sure. But most, like me, arrived here legally. #ImmigrationAction — Rai Rojas (@rairojasii) November 21, 2014

How is it going to be confirmed someone has been in the country 5 years if they lived in the shadows? #ObamaAmnesty #ImmigrationAction — Tim Knight (@Scruluse) November 21, 2014

A person without “proper papers” remains a child of God, deserving dignity and respect. #ImmigrationReform #Immigration — Archbishop Gomez (@ArchbishopGomez) November 21, 2014

The first date at the table next to ours is turning into an angry debate about #immigration and #obama — Bill Murphy Jr. (@BillMurphyJr) November 21, 2014

Last night Obama redefined the American dream. Come out of the shadows and become #fruitpickers #Bedmakers — Legal Fruit Picker (@PuttyBudd) November 21, 2014

I’m pro- #immigration #reform, but I’m anti- unconstitutional, unilateral, executive #amnesty. — Captain Kudzu (@captainkudzu) November 21, 2014

This Week’s News in 16 Photos - Daily Signal

This Week’s News in 16 Photos

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris /

Immigration, immigration and more immigration. After reports surfaced about President Obama’s 10-step plan to take executive action on immigration, lawmakers and the media flooded our screens with alternative plans and warnings. Last night, he made it official.

In other news, Pope Francis is holding a raffle, and one photographer proved cows can be artistic.

Check out this week’s news photos below.

President Obama announced Nov. 20 that he will begin to fix the nation’s “broken” immigration system by allowing millions of illegal immigrants to stay.

President Obama announces executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a national address from the White House Nov. 20. (Photo: Jim Bourg/Newscom)

President Obama announces executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during an address from the White House. (Photo: Jim Bourg/Newscom)

Republicans could use the “powers of the purse” to stop Obama’s executive action. But, lawmakers in the House and Senate disagreed over how.

Speaker of the House Republican John Boehner walks through Statuary Hall. (Photo: Michael Reynolds/Newscom)

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks through Statuary Hall. (Photo: Michael Reynolds/Newscom)

Pope Francis is raffling off dozens of gifts he’s been given during his short papacy, with the proceeds going to charity. The Vatican City State administration this week put up posters around the Vatican advertising the $13 ticket raffle. Tickets are on sale at the Vatican post office, pharmacy and other venues open to the public.

A girls holds a lottery ticket for the charitable works of Pope Francis. (Photo: Massimiliano Migliorato/Newscom)

A girl holds a lottery ticket for the charitable works of Pope Francis. (Photo: Massimiliano Migliorato/Newscom)

More than 5,000 men and women aboard the USS George H.W. Bush and the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun were welcomed home by loved ones in Norfolk, Va., Nov. 15.

#MilitaryMonday: Welcome home USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) following a nine month deployment! pic.twitter.com/imvGB0lxDI — Crash MacDuff??? (@Crash_MacDuff) November 17, 2014

There were so many beautiful reunions.

RETURNING HUGS Navy Cmdr. Camille Flaherity hugs her son after returning to Norfolk, Va., from a deployment . pic.twitter.com/0VC3Zlag2i — MichaelDouglasCarlin (@MichaelDCarlin) October 22, 2014

Ferguson, Mo., was back in the news as a grand jury continued deliberations whether to indict Darren Wilson, the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Protests in Ferguson, Mo. continue. (Photo: Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Protests in Ferguson, Mo., continue. (Photo: Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Two Palestinian men armed with axes, knives and guns attacked people praying inside a synagogue in Jerusalem on Nov. 18. Israeli officials report they killed four people.

Israeli policemen take position near the scene of an attack in a Synagogue in on Nov. 18. (Photo: Newscom)

Israeli policemen take position near the scene of an attack in a synagogue. (Photo: Newscom)

“Football” players from Brazil celebrate a win over the China. All the players in the league are under the age of 22.

U-22 Brazilian soccer players celebrate after the 'International Youth Football Tournament' match against China. (Photo: Xinhua/Newscom)

Brazilian soccer players celebrate after the International Youth Football Tournament match against China. (Photo: Xinhua/Newscom)

A new study suggests secondhand marijuana smoke is just as dangerous as tobacco smoke.

'Today’s marijuana is a dangerous substance, much more so than alcohol.' (Photo: Getty Images)

Photo: Getty Images

Who knew a cow could be so cool looking? Photographer Karl-Josef Hildenbrand captured this great shot.

A cow of the brown cattle (Braunvieh) breed amongst other cows in the stall of a farm in Betzigau, Germany. (Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/Newscom)

A cow of the brown cattle breed amongst other cows in the stall of a farm in Betzigau, Germany. (Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/Newscom)

Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of Obamacare, has been caught over and over again mocking the American people. Those same taxpayers were on the hook for $6 million in federal and state contracts awarded to him over the past six years.

'That's not too painful,' Jonathan Gruber writes in a comic book explanation of Obamacare.  (Photo: Newscom)

“That’s not too painful,” Jonathan Gruber writes in a comic book explanation of Obamacare. (Photo: Newscom)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke about how to make sure the U.S. military is ready to defend the nation’s vital interest in these difficult days. Hagel, however, didn’t describe a plan to deliver “game-changing” technology; he gave a speech about planning to have a plan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at a news briefing at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. on Nov. 14, 2014. (Photo: Newscom)

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at a news briefing at the Pentagon on Nov. 14. (Photo: Newscom)

It’ll probably be a white Thanksgiving for Buffalo, N.Y., residents. Winter storms dumped several feet of snow on the area this week.

A man uses a long fishing net to scrape snow off his roof as snow continues to fall. (Photo: Newscom)

A man uses a long fishing net to scrape snow off his roof as snow continues to fall. (Photo: Newscom)

Just in time for the holidays, the third installment of Hunger Games was released at midnight Thursday.

Jennifer Lawrence attends the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.' (Photo: Newscom)

Jennifer Lawrence attends the premiere of Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1.” (Photo: Newscom)

The House’s traditional conservative caucus voted Tuesday to make Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, its next leader, sparking recriminations about inappropriate influence from “establishment” leadership and open questions about whether the group had abandoned its conservative roots.

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, newly elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee, says the group has 'pulled the House to the right.' (Photo: Tom Williams/Newscom)

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, newly elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee, says the group has “pulled the House to the right.” (Photo: Tom Williams/Newscom)

Cartoon: Obama, the Constitution and Immigration - Daily Signal

Cartoon: Obama, the Constitution and Immigration

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden /

141121_cartoon

 

Earlier this week, Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky and John Malcom wrote:

According to the Associated Press, as well as House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.,  President Barack Obama’s plan to provide executive amnesty to more than 5 million illegal immigrants is no different than unilateral actions that were taken by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

However, this claim plays a bit fast and loose with history and fails to explain the significant difference between Obama going against the will of Congress, which considered and rejected the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act on several occasions, including when both houses of Congress were controlled by the president’s party, and Reagan and Bush, who made administrative corrections designed to carry out congressional intent.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization ….”  And it is the president’s constitutional duty, under Article II, Section 3, to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed ….”

….

In short, while Reagan and Bush worked closely with Congress to implement the comprehensive legislation that Congress had passed (in the case of Reagan) or would pass shortly thereafter (in the case of Bush), Obama is bypassing Congress entirely. He is unconstitutionally revising existing law and, without congressional approval, imposing new ones  that have been explicitly rejected by Congress time and time again, thereby setting himself up as a kingmaker (or king) on immigration policy.

By doing so, the president is establishing a dangerous precedent that violates fundamental principles of separation of powers that serve as a bulwark to protect our liberties and that established a government of laws and not of men.

Study: State Governments Are in a $4.7 Trillion Hole - Daily Signal

Study: State Governments Are in a $4.7 Trillion Hole

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden / Malia Zimmerman /

HONOLULU — A new report from State Budget Solutions, a national nonprofit organization focusing on states’ fiscal responsibility, warns it’s time for newly elected state officials in Hawaii and throughout the country to address unfunded liabilities in the retirement system.

The report finds Hawaii has $30 billion in unfunded liability–money promised to state and municipal employee retirees for health care and pensions but not appropriated by lawmakers. That’s $21,852 per person, seventh-highest in the nation, according to Joe Luppino-Esposito, the study’s author.

He said Hawaii’s Employees’ Retirement System is only 29 percent funded, and the unfunded portion amounts to 41 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.

State officials say the pension system is 60 percent funded and thus only $8.5 billion in arrears. But the state assumes the plan will average 7.75 percent in investment growth, a figure Luppino-Esposito calls “far too high.”

Hawaii is far from alone. The SBS report, which reviewed 250 plans, found state governments are in a $4.7 trillion hole. Liabilities have increased roughly $600 billion since last year. The average state public pension plan is only 36 percent funded, the report said.

Wes Machida, executive director of Hawaii’s Employees’ Retirement System, acknowledged there are some elements in the study to which the state should pay attention.

Hawaii is trying to address it through increased contributions. Legislation passed in 2011 requires employees to pay between 6 and 14.2 percent of their checks into the fund and for employers to pay 17 percent for most employees and 25 percent for police and fire. Also, employees now must work 10 years, instead of just five, to become vested in the system.

“There are concerns about employers being able to make those kinds of contributions,” Machida said. “At some point down the road, this will likely be an issue for Hawaii. The requirements will be so high as to outgrow what is available in the general fund. That is a possibility if we don’t do something to help with the situation.”

Even using the state’s modest estimates–that another $8.5 billion is needed to cover unfunded liabilities or future payments owed to the more than 115,000 people in the system, including all retirement income, death and termination benefits–Hawaii won’t be able to cover that amount for decades.

Further complicating matters: The average life expectancy for members in Hawaii is 82 to 83 years of age, much greater than the national average, Machida said.


Read more at Watchdog.org

Tom Steyer, Largest 2014 Donor, Says Americans Worry Big Political Donors Get ‘Special Privileges’ - Daily Signal

Tom Steyer, Largest 2014 Donor, Says Americans Worry Big Political Donors Get ‘Special Privileges’

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden / Malia Zimmerman / Josh Kaib / Kathryn Watson /

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, the largest donor in the 2014 election cycle, says the way to win the debate on the environmental issues he cares about is to emphasize how money in elections and industry lobbyists are hindering a healthier environment.

People may not inherently care about big-picture ideas, he said at a panel discussion on climate change Wednesday sponsored by the Center for American Progress. But they do care about special breaks for big business and the influence big money has on policy.

“People are very worried about the idea that money in politics is getting special privileges, and to the extent they ever see that actual connection between political favors and any kind of contribution, they are very upset about it,” Steyer said.

Steyer failed to mention that Americans won’t see much impact on policy from the nearly $67 million he spent on the 2014 cycle because most of his favored candidates lost.

Part of it is that voters don’t much care about his issues. Just 1 percent of Americans in a Gallup poll  taken Nov. 6-9 said climate or pollution is the greatest issue facing the United States.

Steyer had a different take. He said Democrats lost because they didn’t step up for the environment and make it important to more voters.

“I think that my interpretation of the 2014 elections is, not standing up for the things you deeply believe in is not really a great idea,” he said, echoing the sentiments of many progressives following the Democrats’ idrubbng at the polls.

Steyer said “in this case, particularly given the way that activist Democrats and young people across the country feel about this, not standing up for the things you really believe in, in an attempt to protect yourself, doesn’t feel like a winning strategy.”


Read more at Watchdog.org

Obama’s Most Vocal Immigration Critic Speaks Out. You Can Watch It Live Here. - Daily Signal

Obama’s Most Vocal Immigration Critic Speaks Out. You Can Watch It Live Here.

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden / Malia Zimmerman / Josh Kaib / Kathryn Watson / Video Team /

Sen. Jeff Sessions will outline his critique of President Obama’s executive action on immigration at a Heritage Foundation event today at 11:30 a.m. The Alabama Republican has emerged as a vocal critic of the Obama administration on the issue.

In addition to Sessions’ speech, the event features a panel discussion with National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, Temple University law professor Jan C. Ting, and John Malcolm, director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and Heritage’s Ed and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson senior fellow.

>>> Get More Information on the Event and RSVP

Announcing His Lawless Executive Action on Immigration, Obama Takes Aim at Straw Men - Daily Signal

Announcing His Lawless Executive Action on Immigration, Obama Takes Aim at Straw Men

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden / Malia Zimmerman / Josh Kaib / Kathryn Watson / Video Team / Derrick Morgan /

Tonight, President Obama called for reasonable debate while attacking an army of straw men: those who want to rip children out of the arms of parents, deport college graduates, close off the country to immigration and those who want to do nothing to fix our broken immigration system.

There’s just one catch: Nobody is calling for those policies.

What is broken about our immigration system?

We could streamline legal immigration and encourage more high-skilled immigration, no doubt. But the biggest problem is lack of law enforcement. Instead of addressing that issue, Obama’s order doubles down on our lawless system by granting a new, temporary status for millions of illegal immigrants.

Congress should do everything in its power to stop the president’s lawless and inappropriate amnesty.

Trying a mass amnesty might have more merit if it had not been tried before.

In 1986, Congress passed, and President Ronald Reagan signed, a bill granting a “one-time only” mass amnesty to 3 million along with promises of law enforcement and border security. We’re still waiting for those later promises to be fulfilled, but now we have 11 million or more illegal immigrants.

Even Obama once understood this: “I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair … this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration,” he said.

Congress and the American people oppose trying this same unfair policy without first ensuring our border is secure and our laws are enforced. Instead of working with Congress on areas in which there is agreement—like reforming our legal immigration system—the president continues to insist on an amnesty-first policy.

He also noted that the “politics of the issue are tough.” (I guess he would know since his “policies were on the ballot”—including amnesty—and his party was defeated soundly.)

Obama pointed out that some people use the issue “around election time to get votes.” Here he might be on to something. His immigration policies are incredibly unpopular, as evidenced by polls and especially by the fact that the president decided to take these actions after the midterm elections. His contempt for the voters’ wishes and their representatives in Congress was palpable.

>>> What You Need to Know About Obama’s Executive Move on Immigration

Using Orwellian language, Obama talked about prioritizing enforcement and shielding from deportation. But he has already done these things before. Tonight, he went a step further and is preparing to give out millions of new work permits to those who are here illegally.

There are 10 things Obama could do to really prioritize enforcement and start repairing our broken system. These are all within his power as president. Instead, Obama has decided to stretch the concept of prosecutorial discretion behind any reasonable limit.

Congress should do everything in its power to stop the president’s lawless and inappropriate amnesty. It is bad policy. And it also steals too much power from Congress and gives it to the presidency.

DeMint on Obama’s Immigration Plan: ‘It’s Unfair to Those Who Have Come Here the Legal Way’ - Daily Signal

DeMint on Obama’s Immigration Plan: ‘It’s Unfair to Those Who Have Come Here the Legal Way’

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden / Malia Zimmerman / Josh Kaib / Kathryn Watson / Video Team / Derrick Morgan / Video Team /

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint called on lawmakers in Congress to cut off funding to stop President Obama’s executive order granting amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants. DeMint discussed the issue with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” tonight prior to Obama’s announcement.

>>> Read More: Republicans Differ Over ‘Power of Purse’ to Stop Obama Immigration Action

What You Need to Know About Obama’s Executive Move on Immigration - Daily Signal

What You Need to Know About Obama’s Executive Move on Immigration

Helle Dale / Ericka Andersen / Kelsey Harris / Glenn Foden / Malia Zimmerman / Josh Kaib / Kathryn Watson / Video Team / Derrick Morgan / Video Team / Josh Siegel /

President Obama tonight announced he will begin to fix the nation’s “broken” immigration system by allowing millions here illegally to stay and to get work permits.

Obama did not specify a number, but the White House put it at about 5 million of the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants.

Obama said he decided to go around Congress and allow certain unlawful residents with established roots to “come out of the shadows” because mass deportation of illegal immigrants “would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”

“I know some of the critics of the action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not,” Obama said sharply, responding to Republicans and others who use that word to describe a process, including his unilateral actions, under which lawbreakers do not have to face the consequences.

“Amnesty is the immigration system we have today,” the president said. “That’s the real amnesty, leaving this broken system the way it is.”

>>> Watch the President’s Immigration Speech Here

The Obama administration intends to begin accepting applications for legal status and work permits this spring. The next president can undo the program.

“I know the politics of this issue are tough,” Obama said in his 12-minute address from the East Room of the White House (transcript here). “Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight, but I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home.

“I hear those concerns,” he added in a speech that quoted both Moses and George W. Bush, but “immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society.”

Here is the skinny on the president’s plan.

So, Mr. President, what’s the deal?

“If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up,” Obama said.

He insisted his actions are about “accountability,” not “amnesty.”

Who gets deportation relief?

Two groups.

First, illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens who have been in the country more than five years with no criminal record.

Obama didn’t specify, but the White House indicates this population could be granted deportation relief for three years “at a time” and be eligible for work permits after background checks and paying fees. They also must pay taxes.

>>> Commentary: In Immigration Speech, Obama Takes Aim at Straw Men

Second, Obama intends to expand his existing 2012 program called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, for certain so-called “DREAMers” who were brought into the country illegally as children.

He will remove the age cap and expand eligibility to those who arrived in the U.S. as minors before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007. He also will remove the requirement that applicants be under 31.

Highly skilled workers will be eligible for visas.

Who won’t be eligible for legal status?

Illegal immigrant parents of those who qualify under DACA and agricultural workers who are in the country illegally. Both groups had been rumored to be part of Obama’s plan.

What won’t these protected illegal immigrants get?

Access to Obamacare, food stamps or other federal benefits, the White House has suggested, nor a pathway to citizenship.

>>> DeMint on CNN: Obama’s Immigration Action Is ‘Unfair’

What else is involved?

>>> Republicans Differ Over ‘Power of Purse’ to Stop Obama Immigration Action

The Rebuttal

Obama challenged Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration bill to replace his actions and “fix the whole system.”

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half-century. To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

The Republican National Committee posted its own rebuttal video just hours before the speech.

This report has been modified.