D. O’Connor writes: A little over 40 years ago, Richard Nixon went from a landslide re-election winner to a president forced to resign in disgrace. Nixon’s downfall was the direct result of his unsuccessful attempts to politicize through patronage of an independent, straight-arrow FBI. The commonsense, ethical lesson from this for all government officials would be to avoid attempts to use our nation’s independent fact-finder as a partisan force.
There is as well, of course, a more perverse lesson to be learned from Nixon’s downfall at the hands of an independent FBI, to wit: there is much power to gain by politicizing the Bureau, but only if its upper-leadership team is all on partisan board. Emerging evidence increasingly suggests, sadly, that this was former FBI Director James Comey’s leadership strategy in our country’s most sensitive investigations.
In the years running up to the 1972 election, Deputy Associate FBI Director Mark Felt, serving under feisty bulldog J. Edgar Hoover, staunchly refused the entreaties of Nixon lieutenants to act politically, e.g., to whitewash an ITT/Republican bribery scheme and to lock up innocent war protestors. Felt, the natural successor to Hoover, fell out of White House favor as a result.
Following the death of Hoover in May 1972, Nixon appointed in place of Felt the decent but politically malleable L. Patrick Gray. When six weeks later five burglars were arrested in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, Nixon’s Justice Department tried to limit, through Gray, the scope of the FBI’s investigation. Unfortunately for Nixon, regular Bureau agents, led quietly but spectacularly by Felt, fought these attempts, with a far worse result for Nixon than if the Bureau had been left alone to do its job. Read the rest of this entry »
John Sexton writes: There’s a certain view of Ben Rhodes which arose in the aftermath of the Iran deal and specifically after the publication of that infamous NY Times profile in which Rhodes talked about creating an “echo chamber” of know-nothing journalists to push the deal. After that story, it was easy to see him as a kind of Machiavellian character manipulating people from behind the scenes.
There a good reason Rhodes does his best work behind the scenes. He’s just a really bad actor. I mean ‘bad actor’ in the theatrical sense, i.e. someone who is playing a part in our national story with such overwrought pathos that it becomes unintentionally funny …
“I came outside just to process all this,” Rhodes says to the camera. “I can’t even….ah…uh…I can’t…I mean I, I, I, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t put it into words, I don’t know what the words are.”
… Rhodes has a book coming out about his experience in the White House. The NY Times profile of it suggests Obama’s reaction to Hillary’s loss wasn’t much better:
Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory.
“What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.
He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
‘It’s Not Syping Spying, it’s Investigating Spying’.
The revelation, stemming from recent reports in which FBI sources admitted sending an agent to snoop on the Trump camp, heightens suspicions that the FBI was seeking to entrap Trump campaign aides. Papodopoulous has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.
“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” President Trump tweeted Saturday, calling for the FBI to release additional documents to Congress.
The Halper revelation also shows the Obama administration’s FBI began prying into the opposing party’s presidential nominee earlier than it previously admitted. Read the rest of this entry »
About That FBI ‘Source’
Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.
House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”
This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.
The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign. Read the rest of this entry »
MODERATOR: All right, thanks everybody. So we are glad to have with us today two folks to talk about the President’s decision today to withdraw from the JCPOA. This will be on background, embargoed until the end. Our two speakers with us today are [Senior State Department Official One], and next to him is [Senior State Department Official Two]. And so they’ll start with a few comments and then we’ll take some questions.
I think – you’d like to start?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Great, yeah. Hi.
MODERATOR: Senior State Department Official Number One.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Hi. So I thought we would just start with a little bit more substance, going one level deeper. You all heard the President’s remarks; you saw the Secretary’s statement. So we wanted to put a little bit more meat on the bones and then open it up for questions and use the time the way that you think is most useful for you all.
So the sanctions reimposition that the President talked about is going to come in two phases. There’s going to be one period for wind down that lasts about – that lasts 90 days, and one period of wind down that lasts six months. The six-month wind down – wind downs are, by the way, pretty standard across sanctions programs. So this is not Iran-specific, but oftentimes when we either impose sanctions or reimpose sanctions, we provide a wind down to allow both U.S. companies but foreign companies as well to end contracts, terminate business, get their money out of wherever the sanctions target is – in this case, Iran. Because what we want – we don’t want to do is we don’t want to impact or have unintended consequences on our allies and partners. We want to focus the costs and the pain on the target. And in this case, that’s the Iranian regime.
So wind downs are pretty natural. In this case, we’re providing a six-month wind down for energy-related sanctions. So that’s oil, petroleum, petrochemicals, and then all of the ancillary sanctions that are associated with that. So, for example, banking; sanctions on the CBI in particular, because the Central Bank of Iran is involved in Iran’s export of oil and the receipt of revenues. Shipping, shipbuilding, ports – all of those sanctions that are related to both the energy sector and then the banking and the shipping or transportation of that energy will all have a six-month wind down. Everything else is going to have a 90-day wind down. So that’s – the architecture of the Iranian sanctions program was quite complex, but everything else includes things like dealing in the rial, providing metal – precious metals and gold to the Iranian regime, providing U.S. banknotes.
So there’s a whole kind of swath of other sanctions that are all going to have a 90-day wind down. In addition, within the first 90 days, the Treasury Department is going to work to end – to terminate the specific licenses that were issued pursuant to the statement of licensing policy on civil aviation. So Treasury’s going to be reaching out to those private sector companies that have licenses and work to end – terminate those licenses in an orderly way that doesn’t lead to undue impact on the companies.
The other big action that has to be done is the re-designation of all of the individuals that were delisted pursuant to the JCPOA. There are over – I think 400 and some odd were specifically designated for conduct, and another 200 or so were identified as part of the Government of Iran. Treasury – that’s obviously a big – it’s a lot of work for Treasury. Their aim is to relist all of those individuals and entities by the end of the six-month wind down. They’re not going to relist entities and individuals overnight, and – both for practical reasons, but also for policy reasons. If some of those individuals and entities were relisted right away, it would impact the wind down, right? So if we’re allowing a six-month wind down for energy-related or petroleum-related business, and then you designate – you re-designate tomorrow an Iranian-related petroleum entity, it makes null and void the six-month wind down that you just provided. So that’s all going to be done in a coherent way to provide a real wind down period.
So that’s kind of the – putting a little bit of meat on the bones of what it means to reimpose the Iran architecture, sanctions architecture.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s great.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Do you want to open it up for questions?
QUESTION: I have a question. Lesley Wroughton from Reuters. You said it’s not meant to have unintended consequences, but it does. Nobody’s going to touch Iran or – and immediately I think the U.S. ambassador to Germany just said to – told all German companies to move out immediately, so it does have unintended consequences.
QUESTION: Do you have guarantees from the Europeans that they’re going to go along with this? Or like they have with the Cuba sanctions, are they going to fight it? Do you know?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So what we’re going to do and what we’ve already – since last December, when we started working with our European allies on both the nuclear file but then also the broader array of Iranian threats, we’re going to continue to work closely with them. We’re going to broaden that engagement. And like both the President said and I think the Secretary said in his statement, he’s going to lead an effort to build a global effort to constrain and to prevent, both on the nuclear front but then also on the ballistic missile front, support to terrorism and the – kind of the six or seven areas that the President has outlined as kind of the broad array of Iranian threats. We’re going to build a global coalition to put pressure on Iran to stop that behavior. That’s —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And let me just —
QUESTION: What was the —
QUESTION: We’ve heard from the Brits –
QUESTION: Sorry, could you just respond to her?
QUESTION: I was going to say, I mean – go on, Matt.
QUESTION: We’ve heard from others that they not only are not going to —
QUESTION: Would you mind? I had the first question.
QUESTION: Oh, sorry. Okay. Yep, I apologize.
QUESTION: And they haven’t even answered it.
QUESTION: If you don’t mind.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So I just wanted to say that those are actually intended consequences. We do think that, given the IRGC’s penetration of the Iranian economy and Iran’s behavior in the region, as well as its other nefarious activities, that companies should not do business in Iran. That’s an intended consequence. And we thank our ambassador out there for reaffirming that message.
QUESTION: So all those companies that have gone in are moving out?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re certainly going to encourage them to.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Why —
QUESTION: And what if they don’t?
QUESTION: If they don’t, are you prepared to sanction German companies, French companies?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Those are discussions we’re going to have with the Europeans.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, you’ve been having discussions —
QUESTION: Sorry, just a point of clarification on that. That would begin after the 180-day period is over, correct?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: If it’s energy-related or banking-related. If it’s related to the provision of precious metals or gold or any of the sanctions that are being re-imposed after 90 days, then that would be —
QUESTION: So you are planning to sanction European companies, or you will have those discussions? Like —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’ve already started the discussions this afternoon, right. The discussions are ongoing and the effort is ongoing. Hopefully we will build – and this is the Secretary and the President’s desire and focus, is to build this global effort to put renewed and strengthened pressure on Iran. And that will include trying to isolate Iran economically.
QUESTION: Well, why not keep the structure of the deal and address these concerns on the side, as has been discussed for the last few months?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, I think as the President laid out, that the problem with the deal was that it reduced our ability to pressure Iran, right. It essentially cordoned off this huge area of the Iranian economy and said, “Hey, we know about the IRGC’s penetration of the economy. We know Iran’s doing all this nefarious, malign activities in the region. But because of this nuclear angle, which is only one aspect of Iran’s behavior – a critical one, but just one – you essentially can’t sanction these entities that are involved in all this other stuff.”
QUESTION: So wait, just – so the United States has basically no economic relationships right now with the Iranians, right? So there is no power of U.S. sanctions to prevent – in preventing U.S. economic activity. The only power that U.S. sanctions have is in preventing European and other economic activity, right?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Secondary sanctions.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The secondary sanctions, correct.
QUESTION: Why get out of the deal until you know for sure that Europe is going to go along with that secondary sanction activity or whether you’re – they’ll fight you? Because if they fight you, you’re going to be in a worse situation vis-a-vis Iran than you are now and than you are previously, right? So you don’t actually know – you’re saying that the President’s going to start this global coalition, but you don’t actually know whether even your closest allies are going to be part of that coalition, right?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The President made clear on January 12th that he was giving a certain number of months to try to – for – try to get a supplemental agreement with the E3. We didn’t get there. We got close. We made a – we had movement, a ton of good progress, which will not be wasted, but we didn’t get there. So he was clear January 12th that if we don’t get this supplemental, he’s withdrawing the United States from the JCPOA, and that’s what he did. That being said, you could even see that President Macron tweeted only a few minutes after the President finished his statement that France is eager to be part of an effort – I forget the exact words, but part of an effort on a broader deal that addresses the nuclear file but also —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Syria, Yemen.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: — Syria, Yemen, and others. So you already see – you already see from President Macron a willingness to work on a broader deal; you see from the Saudis have also issued a statement supporting our withdrawal; the Israelis did as well. No one is saying this is going to be easy, right, but the President made clear his intention on January 12th. He made good on that – on that promise.
QUESTION: You don’t know right now whether you’re going to be in a better place or in a worse place; is that what you’re saying?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, we think we’re going to be in a better place.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No, we know we’re —
QUESTION: But you don’t know.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We know we’re going to be in a better place because we don’t think that the current JCP – the JCPOA, as it is now, adequately protects U.S. national security. So —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Because it allowed Iran to enrich after sunsets, after those restrictions melted away —
QUESTION: In seven years.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes.
QUESTION: And even then, not enriching to a level where they could build a nuclear weapon.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Listen, after – after the Israelis revealed what they were able to find —
QUESTION: All old stuff, all old – before.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Listen, it was – we have acknowledged for quite some time that the Iranians had a nuclear weapons program, but nobody knew until the Israelis found it, this well curated archive, the level of detail, right. And the – I think it reinforced in a very meaningful way that all of the Iranian statements throughout the negotiations and after were lies.
QUESTION: So the President said that we would impose sanctions on countries who helped with Iran’s nuclear program, but actually, you will reimpose sanctions on companies and countries that do any – roughly any economic activity, no matter if it has anything to do with nuclear or anything, right?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: In the buildup – in the buildup to the negotiations that led first to the JPOA and the JCPOA, we had an extensive architecture of secondary sanctions that started more or less with CISADA in 2010. We had to use those secondary sanctions very, very rarely. In fact, we only ever sanctioned two banks with secondary sanctions, Kunlun and Elaf in Iraq. The leverage that we gained from the secondary sanctions is what we used throughout the world with engagement to get countries to partner with us to build the economic isolation of Iran. That’s what we want to do again. It’s not about sanctioning foreign companies; it’s about using the leverage and engaging the way we did before.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s right.
QUESTION: When you say that the – when you —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This is a long-established practice, I mean, since ILSA in the late ‘90s, this is something the U.S. has been doing. Sorry.
QUESTION: When you say that the effort that you had in the negotiations with the E3 will not be wasted, will you be implementing any of that? Because I mean, it was the supposition that the U.S. would stay in the deal if these areas were addressed by the E3. The U.S. isn’t staying in the deal, so —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So we made a ton of progress on ICBMs, on access, on missiles writ large, on regional issues, and then we got stuck on sunsets, right? We didn’t quite make it. That work – we’re not sure. We have to – we’re starting those conversations with the E3 today, tomorrow, so I can’t – we can’t tell you exactly how it’s going to be used, but I can tell you it will be used. That work is not going to be wasted.
QUESTION: So you think they’ll go forward.
QUESTION: But if a ton of progress was made, then why not give it more time? Why take such a dramatic action that’s going to have you basically starting over from square one?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The President made very clear on January 12th his intention. If we got a supplemental agreement before May 12th, he would consider it. We didn’t get there. He said this – on January 12th, he said that was his last time waiving sanctions. He followed through on that promise.
QUESTION: And what was the sticking point? Can you just sort of tell us what didn’t work?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It was the one-year breakout.
QUESTION: The sunset program.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. Read the rest of this entry »
Below is my column in USA Today on the rapid demise of James Comey and Andrew McCabe, who have fulfilled the very stereotypes drawn by President Donald Trump. Comey continues to spin the controversy over his book as fulfilling what he saw as a need for ethical leadership (i.e., Comey himself). Comey acknowledged that he never asked Mueller if he should wait on the book. Why? If you are so committed to the FBI and this investigation, why would you not ask about the possibly deleterious effects of a tell-all book (which discussed both public and nonpublic evidence). Clearly the book was not helpful to the investigation, but that did not matter to Comey who saw the greater need as advancing himself as the personification of virtue and ethics — while cashing in on the first tell-all book from a former FBI Director.
Here is the column:
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In the Weeds: Kehinde Wiley’s Obama Portrait
.As the United States clips along at the speed of Trump, the news cycle races by in a dizzying blur. Events rapidly recede without any time for real analysis. Such was the case for the big reveal of the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Although it just happened on February 12, it already feels like ancient history. Yet this regrettable image is going to be cluttering up the National Portrait Gallery forever, so it’s worth understanding just what the tax payers had to subsidize.
The Michelle Obama portrait is just sad. A tentative, pallid non-likeness. The apparatchiks at the museum assure us that it is so popular it had to be moved to a larger display space. Perhaps a pilgrimage to it gives the same solace that some progressives get from the plastic Obama…
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The scandal involving Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook data underscores the point.
Ben Shapiro writes:
… In 2012, The Guardian reported that President Obama’s reelection team was “building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before.”
… Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now. There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”
Not so with Trump. As soon as Facebook realized that Cambridge Analytica had pursued a similar strategy, they suspended the firm.
This whole hullaballoo about Facebook isn’t complicated.
1. Trump wins.
2. Democrats/Left declare social media in “crisis,” threaten legislation.
3. Social media heads punish conservatives.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 20, 2018
Again, this isn’t surprising. Since Trump’s election, Democrats — in search of a rationale for their favored candidate’s defeat — have blamed a bevy of social media outlets. Senate Democrats trotted out pathetic Russian-created memes on Facebook, viewed by a handful of human beings, as an excuse for Hillary’s loss; Democrats claimed — without evidence — that “fake news” had swamped Facebook and thus led to Trump’s victory. Democrats have also insisted that Facebook be regulated. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) raged, “You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will.” Facebook’s former privacy manager called for the government to step into an oversight role regarding Facebook.
In February, Wired magazine ran a cover story specifically dealing with Facebook’s role in the election of 2016, and their subsequent attempts to “fix” the problem. After the election, Mark Zuckerberg even met with Barack Obama, apparently in an attempt to convince Obama that he was serious about stopping the “misuse” of the platform. And in February, Zuckerberg said he wanted to re-jigger the algorithms on his platform to benefit content that Facebook deems “trustworthy, informative, and local.” Wired celebrated: “You can’t make the world more open and connected if you’re breaking it apart.” Read the rest of this entry »
We need to think about more than Trump. We need to deliberate over the course of public policy in a beneficial way.
Jay Cost writes: If the people deliberate about nothing except Trump, they are not thinking about important issues.
It can be hard to keep one’s wits about oneself during the Age of Trump. Our president is like the ringmaster of a circus, and the American people are his enthralled spectators. It seems as if we cannot get enough. Love him or hate him, he remains at the center of our public consciousness.
It is hard to meditate on anything about politics these days without one’s passions being inflamed by Trump. Case in point, Jeff Flake’s appearance on State of the Union Sunday afternoon. CNN reported:
Flake said he was “puzzled” by the White House’s intense focus on former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and disagreed with Trump declaring McCabe’s firing “a great day for democracy.”
“I think it was a horrible day for democracy,” Flake said.
This is how the Trump effect works. He says something ridiculous — in this case, that the firing of Andrew McCabe was a “great day for democracy.” Flake, in disagreement, says the opposite. No, it was a “horrible day for democracy.”
“This is a great way to become the main character, be it the hero or villain, which is exactly what Trump has managed to do. But if we move outside his orbit for a moment, it’s easier to appreciate how we have become detached from reality.”
How about: Neither great nor horrible? How about: The quality of our democracy does not hinge on whether some relatively obscure government official receives his pension?
Temperamentally, the American people have often tended to millenarianism — a great hope that the world is on the cusp of some massive transformation, which hinges on this generation. It is amazing that this predominantly Protestant expectation has managed to remain part of the civic consciousness, even while the United States has become less and less religious.
Trump brings this impulse to the forefront in the way he communicates with the nation. He frames just about everything in hyperbolic terms, and those who disagree with him seem compelled to do likewise. Read the rest of this entry »
- A new book claims former President Barack Obama hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Romney
- Obama used law firm Perkins Coie to hide payment to Fusion GPS
- The Clinton campaign would later do the same thing to investigate Trump
Chuck Ross reports: The Barack Obama presidential campaign hired Fusion GPS in 2012 to dig up dirt on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to a book released on Tuesday.
The Obama campaign hid its payments to Fusion GPS through its law firm, Perkins Coie. The arrangement is similar to the one that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee used to pay Fusion for its investigation of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.
Dossier ‘coincidences’ pile up
That contract led to the creation of the infamous Steele dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
“In 2012, Fusion GPS was hired to do opposition research on Mitt Romney for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign,” reads “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and Donald Trump’s Election.” Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew Kugle writes: During eight years of former President Barack Obama’s weakness towards Russia, the country invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, propped up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and interfered in the 2016 election.
At the beginning of his administration, Obama and his administration were eager to “reset” the United State’s relationship with Russia. The reset began with the infamous photo of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presenting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a red “reset” button in 2009. One of Obama’s first foreign policy decisions was to scrap missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, which prompted celebration in Moscow.
In addition to scrapping missile defense, Obama announced in 2010 a historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty with Russia. The agreement was supposed to reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia by a third. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Washington Free Beacon reported numerous violations of the START treaty by Russia as early as 2012.
Obama was caught on a hot mic in 2012 telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to give him “space” and that he would have more “flexibility” on missile defense after being reelected. Read the rest of this entry »
FISA Memo Is Scarier than Watergate.
Victor Davis Hanson write: The Watergate scandal of 1972–74 was uncovered largely because of outraged Democratic politicians and a bulldog media. They both claimed that they had saved American democracy from the Nixon administration’s attempt to warp the CIA and FBI to cover up an otherwise minor, though illegal, political break-in.
In the Iran-Contra affair of 1985–87, the media and liberal activists uncovered wrongdoing by some rogue members of the Reagan government. They warned of government overreach and of using the “Deep State” to subvert the law for political purposes.
We are now in the midst of a third great modern scandal. Members of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice sought court approval for the surveillance of Carter Page, allegedly for colluding with Russian interests, and extended the surveillance three times.
But none of these government officials told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the warrant requests were based on an unverified dossier that had originated as a hit piece funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear Donald Trump during the current 2016 campaign.
Nor did these officials reveal that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had already been dropped as a reliable source by the FBI for leaking to the press.
Nor did officials add that a Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, had met privately with Steele — or that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, had been hired to work on the dossier.
Unfortunately, such disclosures may be only the beginning of the FISA-gate scandal.
Members of the Obama administration’s national security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance. Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.
The House memo reveals disturbing facts about the misuse of FISA.
Now we know why the FBI tried so hard to block release of the House Intelligence Committee memo. And why Democrats and the media want to change the subject to Republican motivations. The four-page memo released Friday reports disturbing facts about how the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath.
The White House declassified the memo Friday, and you don’t have to be a civil libertarian to be shocked by the details. The memo confirms that the FBI and Justice Department on Oct. 21, 2016 obtained a FISA order to surveil Carter Page, an American citizen who was a relatively minor volunteer adviser to the Trump presidential campaign.
The memo says an “essential” part of the FISA application was the “dossier” assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele and the research firm Fusion GPS that was hired by a law firm attached to the Clinton campaign. The memo adds that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the committee in December 2017 that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” without the dossier.
This is troubling enough, but the memo also discloses that the FBI failed to inform the FISA court that the Clinton campaign had funded the dossier. The memo says the FBI supported its FISA application by “extensively” citing a September 2016 article in Yahoo News that contained allegations against Mr. Page. But the FBI failed to tell the court that Mr. Steele and Fusion were the main sources for that Yahoo article. In essence the FBI was citing Mr. Steele to corroborate Mr. Steele.
Unlike a normal court, FISA doesn’t have competing pleaders. The FBI and Justice appear ex parte as applicants, and thus the judges depend on candor from both. Yet the FBI never informed the court that Mr. Steele was in effect working for the Clinton campaign. The FBI retained Mr. Steele as a source, and in October 2016 he talked to Mother Jones magazine without authorization about the FBI investigation and his dossier alleging collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The FBI then fired Mr. Steele, but it never told the FISA judges about that either. Nor did it tell the court any of this as it sought three subsequent renewals of the order on Mr. Page. Read the rest of this entry »
As president, Barack Obama repeatedly mocked Donald Trump’s political ambitions, laughing at the idea of Trump ever winning the presidency.
Peter Hasson writes: Obama mocked Trump in 2011 for calling into question whether he was born in America. The state of Hawaii later released Obama’s longform birth certificate to put the matter to rest. Obama viciously mocked Trump for the controversy, before mocking the idea of Trump ever serving in the White House.
From the White House transcript of the event:
Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. (Laughter.) And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing? (Laughter.) What really happened in Roswell? (Laughter.) And where are Biggie and Tupac? (Laughter and applause.)
But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. (Laughter.) For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — (laughter) — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. (Laughter.) You fired Gary Busey. (Laughter.) And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. (Laughter and applause.) Well handled, sir. (Laughter.) Well handled.
Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there. (Laughter.)
(Screens show “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”)
A month before the 2016 election, Obama mocked Trump’s campaign on “Jimmy Kimmel.” Obama read a tweet from Trump saying that Obama “will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States,” before turning Trump into a punchline. “Really? Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president,” Obama said, dropping his phone on the floor for dramatic effect.
A year into the Trump presidency, Obama’s legacy is taking a beating.
Trump has overseen the dismantling of several of Obamacare’s most controversial aspects. The tax cuts package Trump signed last month included a provision repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate. Trump also rolled back the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which forced religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide birth control for all employees, regardless of conscientious objections. Read the rest of this entry »
Letter writers on the paper’s editorial page make critical concessions that you don’t often hear on television.
Erik Wemple reports: There is a monotony to telling the truth about President Trump. He is as unfit for office today as he was in June 2015, in November 2016 and on Jan. 20, 2017. He has failed to school himself on the issues before him. He is incorrigible and a spewer of lies and falsehoods.
The New York Times editorial page has taken a short break from its self-assigned beat of telling these truths. It has forked over its Thursday editorial-page space to the arguments of Trump supporters across the country. “In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close,” noted an italicized message at the top of the presentation.
Any decision taken by the New York Times vis-à-vis Trump is guaranteed to land smack-dab in the middle of a great American fissure. And there’s been some criticism of the decision.
Yet there’s a visionary aspect to the exercise, an aspect that only a committed cable-news watcher can appreciate. Big-time Trump supporters have failed over and over again at their jobs. Think back to Jeffrey Lord, the former pro-Trump CNN pundit who unspooled implausible historical “parallels” to excuse the Trump outrage of the day. Or think back to Kayleigh McEnany, the former pro-Trump CNN pundit who made even less sense fighting for Trump. (She’s now at the Republican National Committee.) Or think back to former White House aides — Sebastian Gorka and Sean Spicer, for example — who are no longer inelegantly spinning for the president from the White House grounds. Read the rest of this entry »
Source: Covers | New York Post
The codes needed to launch a nuclear strike are never far from the president’s side — at least they’re not supposed to be.
The codes needed to launch a US nuclear strike are supposed to be kept close to the president at all times.
A department within the Defense Department is tasked with overseeing all aspects of the nuclear-launch process, including the codes.
During Bill Clinton’s presidency, officials from that department discovered the codes had gone missing.
Christopher Woody reports: The process the president has to go through to launch the US’s nuclear weapons isn’t as simple as pressing a button, but the key component of that process — the codes needed to authorize the launch — are never far from the president.
At least they’re never supposed to be.
According to Gen. Hugh Shelton, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1997 to September 2001, the number of redundancies in the nuclear-launch process “is staggering.” All of steps are “dependent on one vital element without which there can be no launch,” he wrote in his 2010 autobiography, “Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior.”
That element, the president’s authorization codes, is supposed to remain in close proximity to the president at all times, carried by one of five military aides, representing each branch of the military. The codes are on a card called the “biscuit” carried within the “football,” a briefcase that is officially known as the “president’s emergency satchel.”
However, around 2000, according to Shelton, a member of the department within the Pentagon that is responsible for all pieces of the nuclear process was dispatched to the White House to physically look at the codes and ensure they were correct — a procedure required to happen every 30 days. (The set of codes was to be replaced entirely every four months.)
That official was told by a presidential aide that President Bill Clinton did have the codes, but was in an important meeting and could not be disturbed.
The aide assured the official that Clinton took the codes seriously and had them close by. The official was dismayed, but he accepted the excuse and left. Read the rest of this entry »
Politico reporter is punished for raising the curtain on Obama’s Hezbollah policy.
Lee Smith reports: A week after Josh Meyer’s Politico expose, “The Secret Backstory Of How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook,” former Obama officials are still berating Meyer for his 13,000-word article detailing how the Obama administration killed a nearly decade-long DEA effort to stem a global Hezbollah cocaine-smuggling-and-organized-crime ring to help secure its nuclear deal with Iran. “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” former Defense Department analyst David Asher explained in the article. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
Asher helped establish and oversee the project, codenamed Cassandra, that looked into Hezbollah’s wide-range of illicit activities across the globe, including weapons procurement, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Senior Obama officials, according to Asher, ignored the legal and financial instruments that he and others had provided to target a terrorist organization with American blood on its hands and was still plotting against the United States.
In response, a Twitter mob of mid-level bureaucrats and former intelligence officersorchestrated in the usual fashion attacked Asher in tandem with the media echo chamber used to sell the Iran Deal, with former political operatives from the Obama White House supplying the usual talking points to their hatchet-men. Meyer’s “on the record sources have undisclosed anti-Iran deal bias,” tweeted former Obama speechwriter Tommy Vietor, who has remade himself as a podcast host. Meyer’s “entire piece,” tweeted Obama lieutenant and former CIA officer Ned Price, “is based on pure speculation by these ‘1 or 2 sources’ w undisclosed anti-Iran deal bias.”
The catchphrase, “undisclosed anti-Iran deal bias,” is an extended replay version of the catchy slogans Team Obama used to market the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Opponents and critics of the nuclear deal were “warmongers” beholden to “donors” with “agendas” whose concerns were shaped by their loyalties not to America but rather to the Jewish state. Now, the echo chamber insisted, Meyer’s sources aren’t to be trusted because they were against the Iran deal, or have associated with think tanks that opposed the Iran Deal—which means that they are secret neocon slaves of Israel, of course. Read the rest of this entry »
Josh Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack.
Matthew Continetti writes: ;Nothing has been more tedious over the last year than the constant reminders that good journalism is “now more important than ever.” The implication, of course, is that solid, groundbreaking reporting was not as essential so long as a liberal Democrat was in power. I’ve long assumed that the factotums mouthing such clichés lack the self-awareness to understand the true import of their words. But maybe I’ve been wrong. Recent days brought evidence that, no, liberals really mean it: The only meaningful investigative work is that which reflects poorly on Republicans.
“Meyer points to congressional testimony from former Treasury official Katherine Bauer, who said last February, ‘These investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.'”
Earlier this week, for example, Politico Magazine published a story by Josh Meyer headlined “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.” This epic and copiously sourced piece relates how, “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 [Hezbollah, not the Obama administration] was funneling cocaine into the United States.”
“President Obama, in other words, slow-walked counter-narcotics efforts for the inane ‘greater good’ of paying Iran billions to pretend to shut down its nuclear program for ten years. This is the very definition of ‘stupid stuff.'”
The law-enforcement program in question is called Project Cassandra, which for eight years “used wiretaps, undercover operations, and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.”
However, as investigators came closer to unraveling the globe-spanning conspiracy, “the Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force.” Linger over that last item for a second.
“Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack. He worked for the Los Angeles Times, for NBC News, and for the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative before joining Politico as a senior investigative reporter. His Twitter feed contains plenty of criticisms of President Trump and congressional Republicans. And his story is solid.”
Meyer cites “dozens” of interviews and documents as evidence. He quotes a veteran U.S. intelligence operative — the sort of guy whose every utterance is anonymously paraded in the newspapers and magazines so long as it’s anti-Trump — who says, “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision.” And the reason for this systematic decision, presumably, was to make Hezbollah’s Iranian backers more willing to deal with the Obama administration on nukes.
“He explores different angles and gives his subjects fair comment. He’s produced a classic example of the good journalism that our betters tell us we need more than ever. Except our betters don’t like it, not one bit, because it reflects poorly on the most significant – yet dubious and controversial – achievement of Barack Obama’s second term.”
Meyer points to congressional testimony from former Treasury official Katherine Bauer, who said last February, “These investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.” President Obama, in other words, slow-walked counter-narcotics efforts for the inane “greater good” of paying Iran billions to pretend to shut down its nuclear program for ten years. This is the very definition of “stupid stuff.”
“‘Non-fact based anti-Iran Deal propaganda,’ sneers former deputy national security adviser and creative-writing expert Ben Rhodes.”
Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack. He worked for the Los Angeles Times, for NBC News, and for the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative before joining Politico as a senior investigative reporter. His Twitter feed contains plenty of criticisms of President Trump and congressional Republicans. And his story is solid. He explores different angles and gives his subjects fair comment. He’s produced a classic example of the good journalism that our betters tell us we need more than ever. Read the rest of this entry »
Corporations could repatriate as much as $400 billion in earnings and cash from abroad.
Companies could bring back as much as $400 billion, according to one estimate, as they take advantage of a one-time cut for repatriation of earnings and cash held overseas written into the GOP tax overhaul. That typically requires them to sell foreign holdings and buy assets denominated in dollars, which could boost the U.S. currency.
Gauging the dollar’s trajectory is crucial to both investors and corporations. The currency’s climb over the past several years has been blamed for pressuring profits among U.S. multinational companies and making exporters’ goods less competitive abroad.
Its trajectory also influences prices for raw materials like oil, copper and gold, which are denominated in dollars and become more expensive to foreign investors when the dollar rises.
Many investors expected the dollar to strengthen in 2017, boosted by the Trump administration’s fiscal-stimulus and infrastructure-spending pledges. Instead, the currency as of Friday had fallen nearly 7% against its peers, as key White House initiatives stalled.
Project Cassandra leaders, who were working out of a DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, Obama Justice and Treasury Department officials delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
Alex Pappas reports: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is launching a review of a law enforcement initiative called Project Cassandra after an investigative report was published this week claiming the Obama administration gave a free pass to Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking and money-laundering operations to help ensure the Iran nuclear deal would stay on track.
The Justice Department said in a statement to Fox News that Sessions on Friday directed a review of prior Drug Enforcement Administration investigations “to evaluate allegations that certain matters were not properly prosecuted and to ensure all matters are appropriately handled.”
“While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans,” Sessions said in a written statement. “We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”
According to a bombshell exposé in Politico on Sunday, an elaborate campaign led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, known as Project Cassandra, targeted the Lebanese militant group’s criminal activities.
“We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”
– Attorney General Jeff Sessions
But when Project Cassandra leaders, who were working out of a DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, Obama Justice and Treasury Department officials delayed, hindered or rejected their requests, according to Politico. Read the rest of this entry »
Now swap out “Trump” for “Obama” and “Russia” for “Iran” and imagine the eruption these revelations would generate. Because, by any conceivable journalistic standard, this scandal should’ve triggered widespread coverage and been plastered on front pages across the country. By any historic standard, the scandal should elicit outrage regarding the corrosion of governing norms from pundits and editorial boards.
Yet, as it turns out, there’s an exceptionally good chance most of your neighbors and colleagues haven’t heard anything about it.
Days after the news broke, in fact, neither NBC News, ABC News nor CBS News — whose shows can boast a collective 20 million viewers — had been able to find the time to relay the story to its sizeable audiences. Other than Fox News, cable news largely ignored the revelations, as well.
Most major newspapers, which have been sanctimoniously patting themselves on the back for the past year, couldn’t shoehorn into their pages a story about potential collusion between the former president and a terror-supporting state. Read the rest of this entry »
Congress Demands DOJ Turn Over All Docs Related to Obama Scheme to Nix Hezbollah Terror InvestigationPosted: December 22, 2017
Congress investigating former administration’s efforts to appease Iran.
The letter represents the first salvo in a new investigation by congressional leaders into allegations senior Obama administration officials thwarted a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into Hezbollah’s illicit operations.
The Obama administration, in what congressional insiders described to the Free Beacon as a “potentially criminal” enterprise, interfered with the DEA’s investigation into Hezbollah drug activities in order to avoid angering the terror group’s chief patron Iran and preserve the landmark nuclear deal.
“I’ve long believed that the Obama administration could not have done any more to bend over backwards to appease the Iranian regime, yet news that the Obama administration killed the investigation into a billion dollar drug ring that lined the terrorist group Hezbollah’s pockets in order to save its coveted Iran deal may very well take the cake,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) said.
“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist group with American blood on its hands and it would be unconscionable for American policy to deliberately empower such a nefarious group,” he said.
Congressional leaders have begun a formal investigation into the matter and petitioned the DOJ to hand over “all documents and communications” that may shine light on “interference with the DEA’s law enforcement efforts against Hezbollah,” according to a letter sent by Reps. DeSantis and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio.).
“We have a responsibility to evaluate whether these allegations are true, and if so, did the administration undermine U.S. law enforcement and compromise U.S. national security,” the lawmakers wrote to Sessions, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon. Read the rest of this entry »
The research firm that put together a dossier filled with unsubstantiated claims about Donald Trump hired a top DOJ official’s wife to dig up dirt on Trump … (read more)
[VIDEO] Dershowitz: I have Lost 7 Pounds Because Liberal Friends Stopped Inviting me to Dinner PartiesPosted: December 11, 2017
Where is the ACLU when you really need them?
Thomas Farnan reports: What do you call a system of government that cannot tolerate a transition of power without corrupt machinations by those unwilling to cede control? Banana Republic is a term that comes to mind.
The Special Counsel was appointed to determine whether Russia colluded with Trump to steal the election. Michael Flynn was indicted for a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador on December 28, 2016, seven weeks after the election.
That was the day after the outgoing president expelled 35 Russian diplomats—including gardeners and chauffeurs—for interfering in the election. Yes, that really happened.
The Obama administration had wiretapped Flynn’s conversation with the ambassador, hoping to find him saying something they could use to support their wild story about collusion.
The outrage, for some reason, is not that an outgoing administration was using wiretaps to listen in on a successor’s transition. It is that Flynn might have signaled to the Russians that the Trump administration would have a different approach to foreign policy.
How dare Trump presume to tell an armed nuclear state to stand down because everyone in Washington was in a state of psychological denial that he was elected?
Let’s establish one thing early here: It is okay for an incoming administration to communicate its foreign policy preferences during a transition even if they differ from the lame duck administration.
In 1980, President-elect Reagan’s transition was dominated by negotiations between outgoing President Jimmy Carter and the Iranians about the fate of 52 hostages that were being held in the Tehran. Read the rest of this entry »
Tucker’s Thoughts: Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin both lied to the FBI in the Clinton email server case, but thy are not going to jail like Michael Flynn, who also lied. A partisan FBI is treating him differently. #Tucker
The Justice Department is in the process of handing over to the House Intelligence Committee the anti-Trump text messages that got a key FBI official removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Fox News has learned — a move that comes as the panel weighs a possible contempt resolution.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had demanded the text messages between FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was romantically involved. Both were part of Mueller’s Russia team at the time. Page has since returned to the FBI, and Strzok was reassigned to the FBI’s HR department after the discovery of the anti-Trump texts.
The existence of the texts first emerged publicly over the weekend. A source familiar with the discussion between the DOJ and House panel told Fox News on Tuesday that Nunes has been assured those messages will be turned over in the coming days.
The exact timeline is unclear, and only the relevant texts will be turned over.
Also unclear is whether this will satisfy committee Republicans who had been looking to move forward with a contempt resolution against top DOJ and FBI officials barring a breakthrough – after the agencies did not comply with a deadline to hand over long-sought information that goes well beyond text messages.
Nunes originally had given the agencies until “close of business” on Monday to “fully” comply with the panel’s demands. Otherwise, he threatened to move a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Strzok is a focus of their efforts. House investigators have long regarded him as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.
Nunes has sought documents and witnesses from the DOJ and FBI to determine what role, if any, the dossier played in the move to direct the surveillance.
Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session, House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House, Crown Jewel of Public Housing, Infested with Vermin: Cockroaches, Mice, Ants, TrumpPosted: December 3, 2017
Work orders for the White House reportedly show reports of mice and cockroach infestations in the West Wing, broken toilet seats in the Oval Office and numerous other problems.
The documents, obtained by NBC4 Washington, were made public this week just months after President Trump reportedly criticized the shape that it was left in by the previous administration.
“That White House is a real dump,” he said, according to Golf magazine.
While the president later denied the comment, it turns out there really are loads of issues plaguing the historic structure.
White House officials made hundreds of requests for repairs, equipment and pest control in 2017 with the US General Services Administration — many of which were similar to those made in 2016 during President Barack Obama’s final year in office, NBC4 reports. Read the rest of this entry »
These were the myths in which the Kennedy assassination came to be embalmed. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they are still widely believed, and not only by members of a credulous public. The claim that JFK was a victim of hatred and bigotry or a martyr in the crusade for civil rights is now a basic element in the liberal interpretation of the post-war era.
James Piereson writes: It has now been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was cut down on the streets of Dallas by rifle shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, a self-described Marxist, recent defector to the Soviet Union, and ardent admirer of Fidel Castro. The evidence condemning Oswald was overwhelming: the bullets that killed President Kennedy were fired from his rifle, the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the warehouse where he worked and where he was seen moments before the shooting, witnesses on the street saw a man firing shots from a sixth floor window in that building and immediately summoned police to provide a description of the assassin. Forty-five minutes later a policeman stopped Oswald on foot in another section of the city to question him about the shooting. As the policeman stepped from his squad car, Oswald pulled out a pistol and pumped four shots into him before fleeing to a nearby movie theater where he was captured (still carrying the pistol with which he had killed the policeman). Two days later Oswald was himself assassinated while in police custody by a nightclub owner distraught over Kennedy’s death.
Despite the evidence, few Americans today believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy or that, if he did, he acted alone. A recent poll found that 75% of American adults believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy of some kind, usually of a right-wing variety. This is not surprising because most of the popular books published on the assassination since the mid-1960s have elaborated one or another conspiracy theory. Right-wing businessmen, disgruntled generals, CIA operatives, and Mafia bosses are the typical villains in these scenarios. Before long the Kennedy assassination came to be encrusted in layers of myth, illusion, and disinformation strong enough to deflect every attempt to understand it from a rational point of view. And this enduring national illusion and confusion has had unfortunate consequences.
Creating the Myth
In the days and weeks following the assassination the idea took hold that a climate of hate in Dallas and across the nation established the conditions for President Kennedy’s murder. Racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, followers of the John Birch Society, fundamentalist ministers, anti-Communist zealots, and conservatives of all kinds had sowed hatred and division in national life. These battalions of the American Right had been responsible for manifold acts of violence across the South against Negroes and civil rights workers in the years leading up to the assassination, and they must have been behind the attack on President Kennedy. It followed that President Kennedy was a martyr, like Abraham Lincoln, to the great causes of civil rights and racial justice. Liberal writers had warned throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s about the undercurrent of bigotry and intolerance that ran through American culture and the political dangers arising from the “radical Right.” Now it appeared that their warnings had come to fruition in the murder of a president.
This explanation for the assassination did not drop out of thin air but was circulated immediately after the event by influential leaders, journalists, and journalistic outlets, including Mrs. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Democratic leaders in Congress, James Reston and the editorial page of the New York Times, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., columnist Drew Pearson, and any number of other liberal spokesmen. The New York Times through its editorial page and columnists insisted that a climate of hate brought down President Kennedy, even as the paper’s news reporters documented the evidence against Oswald and his Communist connections. Reston, the paper’s chief political correspondent, published a front-page column on November 23 under the title, “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in the Nation.” In the course of the column he observed that, “from the beginning to the end of his Administration, he [JFK] was trying to damp down the violence of the extremists on the Right.” Reston returned to this theme in subsequent columns, pointing the finger at hatred and a spirit of lawlessness in the land as the ultimate causes of the presidential assassination.
Following this line of thought, Chief Justice Warren, soon to head the official commission that investigated the assassination, declared: “A great and good President has suffered martyrdom as a result of the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” Pat Brown, governor of California, and Charles Taft, mayor of Cincinnati, organized a series of candlelight vigils across the nation “to pledge the end of intolerance and to affirm that such a tragedy shall not happen in America again.” The Reverend Adam Clayton Powell (also a congressman) issued a statement shortly after the assassination: “President Kennedy is a martyr of freedom and human rights and a victim of injustice as promulgated by Barnett and Wallace,” here referring to the segregationist governors of Mississippi and Alabama. Less than a week after the assassination, Pearson published one of his syndicated columns under the title, “Kennedy Victim of Hate Drive.” Many took this a step further to declare that all Americans were complicit in Kennedy’s death because they had tolerated hatred and bigotry in their midst. As a popular song, “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones put it a few years later: “I shouted out: who killed the Kennedys? When after all it was you and me.” This became the near universal response to the assassination: a strain of bigotry and hatred in American culture was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.
For his part, President Johnson saw that his job as national leader in that time of crisis was to supply some meaning to his predecessor’s sudden death. “John Kennedy had died,” he said later, “[b]ut his cause was not really clear…. I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into a martyr’s cause.” In his first speech before the Congress on November 27, Johnson proclaimed that “no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long.” The civil rights bill, which Kennedy belatedly proposed in mid-1963, was approved in 1964 with bipartisan majorities in the Congress. On the international front, Johnson feared a dangerous escalation of tensions with the Soviet Union and another McCarthy-style “witch-hunt” against radicals should the American public conclude that a Communist was responsible for the assassination. From his point of view, it was better to circumvent that danger by deflecting blame for the assassination from Communism to some other unpopular target. Read the rest of this entry »
Prior to the election, Russian government’s online meddling was focused on trying to ‘denigrate Secretary Clinton.’
Nancy Scola and Ashley Gold report: Top lawyers from Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that Russian-linked posts and advertisements placed on the social networks after Election Day sought to sow doubt about President Donald Trump’s victory.
Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told a Senate Judiciary panel that content generated by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency after Nov. 8 centered on “fomenting discord about the validity of his [Trump’s] election.” That’s a change from Russia’s pre-election activity, which was largely centered on trying to denigrate Hillary Clinton, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a January report.
“During the election, they were trying to create discord between Americans, most of it directed against Clinton. After the election you saw Russian-tied groups and organizations trying to undermine President Trump’s legitimacy. Is that what you saw on Facebook?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked at the hearing.
Stretch and his Twitter counterpart, Sean Edgett, called that an “accurate” statement.
The disclosure opened up a new wrinkle in the continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which has increasingly focused on the role of the biggest internet companies. Tuesday’s hearing marks the first time Facebook, Google and Twitter have testified publicly about what they’ve learned about Kremlin meddling on their platforms in the presidential campaign. The companies face additional lawmaker scrutiny Wednesday with back-to-back hearings by the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
James Lewis, an international cyber policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the revelation about Russian anti-Trump activity on social media post-election fits with typical Kremlin information warfare efforts.
“Their goal is to create confusion and dissent. The target is the U.S. and NATO, not any particular candidate. They just want chaos,” Lewis said. “It went from being a grudge match against Clinton to what they thought was a priceless opportunity to inflict harm.”
The Silicon Valley giants have been slow to reckon with Russian use of social media to undermine American democracy. Days after the election — amid criticism that Facebook allowed the spread of hoax stories and misinformation — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was a “pretty crazy idea” that fake news on Facebook influenced the vote. But as reports have piled up about Russian manipulation, Zuckerberg last month said he regretted being dismissive about the concerns, though he continued to argue that Facebook had a “far bigger” positive effect by giving people and candidates a place to communicate. Read the rest of this entry »
It counters a report that predicted he was going to block the release of the documents due to national security reasons.
President Trump said Saturday morning he will allow the release of the classified files related to former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s announcement counters a report that predicted the president was likely going to block the release of some of the documents by the National Archives, which cited pressure from the CIA over possibly harmful national security information being revealed.
Still, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters told Politico Magazine that the Trump administration was trying “to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public.”
The White House later put out a statement couching Trump’s pledge to release the files on one caveat.
“The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” a White House official said, according to an afternoon press pool report. Read the rest of this entry »