“Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office,” the White House statement reads.
President Trump has previously been critical of Comey, suggesting that his actions helped Hillary Clinton during the campaign, while Clinton blamed Comey and his late announcement about the FBI’s investigation into her email server contributed to her electoral college loss. Read the rest of this entry »
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning.
Matthew Continetti writes:
…The same forces that opposed Trump during the Republican primary and general election are trying to break his presidency before it is a month old. At issue is the philosophy of nation-state populism that drove his insurgent campaign. It is so at variance with the ideologies of conservatism and liberalism predominant in the capital that Washington is experiencing something like an allergic reaction.
“The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy.”
Nation-state populism diverges from Beltway conservatism on trade, immigration, entitlements, and infrastructure, and from liberalism on sovereignty, nationalism, identity politics, and political correctness. Its combative style and heightened rhetoric offend the sensibilities of career-minded Washingtonians of both parties, who are schooled in deference, diplomacy, being nice to teacher, and the ancient arts of CYA.
“Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete.”
The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy. That is why his firing of acting attorney general Sally Yates was so important. She ordered her department not to defend an executive order that had been cleared by the White House counsel and her own Office of Legal Counsel. For Trump to have delayed or done nothing would have been an invitation to further subversion. He let Yates go within hours.
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning. “Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump,” read one Politico headline. “An anti-Trump resistance movement is growing within the U.S. government,” says Vanity Fair. “Federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives,” reports the Washington Post. Read the rest of this entry »
Judge Gorsuch is one of the finest writers on the federal bench.
John O. McGinnis writes: President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, meets the most important criterion for the successor to Justice Antonin Scalia—that he be an articulate exponent of originalism. Scalia was the most consequential justice in the last half-century because he had the intellect to forge a consistent jurisprudence and the pen to make it widely known. When he arrived on the Court in 1986, originalism had no influence in the legal academy. Today, even among liberals, it is the jurisprudential theory to beat. He not only changed the law but the legal culture as well. Changing the legal culture is as important as making the right decisions in individual cases, because only a good culture will preserve those decisions for tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »
Dianne Feinstein Horrified After New Gun Control Bill Disintegrates Immediately Upon Crossing Into Senate ChamberPosted: June 20, 2016
WASHINGTON—Staring down in shock at her empty hands where the piece of legislation had been only seconds earlier, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was reportedly left horrified Monday after her gun control bill disintegrated immediately upon crossing into the Senate chamber.
“I was just walking in from my office holding the bill like this, and as soon as I stepped through the doorway, it just crumbled to nothing,” said an alarmed Feinstein…(read more)
AWR Hawkins writes:
…According to Suffolk University, in addition to not wanting to hear about gun control in 2016, a majority of Americans do not believe increasing gun control via expanded background checks will curb mass violence. Fifty-six percent of respondents said it would not, while only 40 percent of respondents said it would.
This makes sense, when you consider that Roof allegedly purchased his gun via a background check at a Charleston gun store.
This poll comes nearly seven months after a PEW Research Poll showed that American attitudes toward gun control had shifted to a place where the majority of Americans wanted protection of gun rights rather than passage of more gun control. Released on December 10, the PEW Poll showed that 52 percent of Americans were concerned with protecting gun rights while 46 percent were concerned with passing more gun control. Read the rest of this entry »
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Journalists and Investigators Detect Disturbing Smell Leading to Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy NetworkPosted: March 28, 2015
Emails disclosed by a hacker show a close family friend was funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account starting before the Benghazi attack.
“Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations.”
Jeff Gerth and Sam Biddle report: Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal’s account.
They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.
The emails, which were posted on the internet in 2013, also show that Blumenthal and another close Clinton associate discussed contracting with a retired Army special operations commander to put operatives on the ground near the Libya-Tunisia border while Libya’s civil war raged in 2011.
Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations. They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.
“The contents of the memos, which have recently become the subject of speculation in the right-wing media, raise new questions about how Clinton used her private email account and whether she tapped into an undisclosed back channel for information on Libya’s crisis and other foreign policy matters.”
The contents of that account are now being sought by a congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attacks. Clinton has handed over more than 30,000 pages of her emails to the State Department, after unilaterally deciding which ones involved government business; the State Department has so far handed almost 900 pages of those over to the committee. A Clinton spokesman told Gawker and ProPublica (which are collaborating on this story) that she has turned over all the emails Blumenthal sent to Clinton.
The dispatches from Blumenthal to Clinton’s private email address were posted online after Blumenthal’s account was hacked in 2013 by Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, who went by the name Guccifer. Lazar also broke into accounts belonging to George W. Bush’s sister, Colin Powell, and others. He’s now serving a seven-year sentence in his home country and was charged in a U.S. indictment last year. Read the rest of this entry »
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — The State Department confirmed late Tuesday that it has closed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff because of the political crisis and security concerns following the takeover of much of the country by Shiite rebels.
“The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis who continue to work toward a peaceful, prosperous and unified Yemen. We will explore options for a return to Sanaa when the situation on the ground improves.”
— State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
The department announced it had suspended operations at the embassy in Sanaa and relocated its remaining diplomatic personnel “due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation.” The embassy had been operating with only a skeleton staff for some weeks amid deteriorating conditions.
Yemen has been in crisis for months, with Iran-linked Shiite Houthi rebels besieging the capital and then taking control. Earlier Tuesday, U.S. officials said the embassy closure would not affect counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida’s Yemen branch.
“The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis who continue to work toward a peaceful, prosperous and unified Yemen,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “We will explore options for a return to Sanaa when the situation on the ground improves.”
The State Department also issued a travel warning advising U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and urging U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart.
Two U.S. officials said Marines providing the security at the embassy will also likely leave, but American forces conducting counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate in other parts of the country would not be affected. The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the closure publicly on the record.
Although operations against al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate will continue, the closure of the embassy will be seen as a blow to the Obama administration, which has held up its partnership with ousted Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government as a model for his strategy in combatting terrorism, particularly in unstable countries.
“Yemen has never been a perfect democracy or an island of stability,” President Barack Obama said late last month as conditions in the capital of Sanaa became worse. “What I’ve said is, is that our efforts to go after terrorist networks inside of Yemen without an occupying U.S. army, but rather by partnering and intelligence-sharing with that local government, is the approach that we’re going to need to take.”
The embassy closure will also complicate the CIA’s operations in Yemen, U.S. intelligence officials acknowledge. Although CIA officers could continue to work out of U.S. military installations, many intelligence operations are run from embassies, and the CIA lost visibility on Syria when that embassy was evacuated in 2012. The CIA’s main role in Yemen is to gather intelligence about members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and occasionally kill them with drone strikes. Both the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command run separate drone killing programs in Yemen, though the CIA has conducted the majority of the strikes, U.S. officials have said. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles C. W. Cooke writes:
…In the space of just 144 words, Gopnik has managed to: 1) conflate the supposed problem of “assault weapons” with the actions of the man who murdered Richard Martinez’s son (when, in fact, that killer did not use a rifle, but instead used a trio of bog-standard handguns that were legal even in California); 2) propose that those handguns “should never have been in the hands of a lunatic” (when, in fact, that “lunatic” passed the federal and state background checks that Gopnik’s ilk routinely sell as a panacea for our problems); and 3) pretend that there is any evidence whatsoever that to “reinstate assault-weapons bans” would likely “stop the next massacre” — which, as even the Obama administration’s DOJ concedes, there is not….(read more)
[VIDEO] The Man Who Waterboarded 9-11 Terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Megyn Kelly Interviews Dr. James MitchellPosted: December 15, 2014
“It shows al Qaeda and the al Qaeda 2.0 folks, ISIL, that we’re divided and that we’re easy targets, that we don’t have the will to defeat them because that’s what they know. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told me personally, ‘Your country will turn on you, the liberal media will turn on you, the people will grow tired of this, they will turn on you, and when they do, you are going to be abandoned.”
Mitchell described Sheikh Mohammed in initial interrogations as “immensely arrogant” and “disdainful.”
“He had a propensity at that particular point to be confrontational without being physical,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell touched on waterboarding, telling Kelly, “Those techniques are so harsh that it’s emotionally distressing to the people who are administering them. Even though you don’t want to do it, you’re doing it in order to save lives in the country, and we would just have to man up for lack of a better term.”
Mitchell recalled how he initially did not want to do interrogations, and he remembered the instant that he decided to “pony up.”
“The 911 victims are the reason that I’m here,” he said.
Mitchell remembered the heroes on Flight 93, telling Kelly that if ordinary people were willing to give up their lives to save the Capitol building, then he should be able to give up his moral high ground to save more lives.
“What we forget is al Qaeda tried to decapitate the United States on 9/11,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell recalled how waterboarding was not effective against Sheikh Mohammed, and he told Kelly that other enhanced interrogation techniques finally led the terrorist to divulge useful information.
He cautioned that Americans shouldn’t trust Senate Democrats who Mitchell claimed went in with an agenda on this report. Instead, they should trust the men and women of the CIA who wrote reports which were released back when ex- Vice President Dick Cheney requested them.
Mitchell told Kelly that this ordeal “is like being caught in a bad spy novel.”
He said that those who released the CIA report knew the results they wanted beforehand.
“They didn’t give us a chance to explain anything.”
Now, Mitchell said that interrogators are getting death threats, and he fears for his life.
“I do not mind giving my life for my country, but I do mind giving my life for a food fight for political reasons between two groups of people who should be able to work it out like adults.”
Mitchell alleged that no one from the Senate committee has ever asked him a single thing about the interrogations. Read the rest of this entry »
Louis J. Freeh writes: Seventy-three years ago this week, on a peaceful, sunny morning in Hawaii, a Japanese armada carried out a spectacular attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403, wounding 1,178 and damaging or destroying at least 20 ships. Washington immediately declared war and mobilized a peaceful nation.
“The RDI program was not some rogue operation unilaterally launched by a Langley cabal—which is the impression that the Senate Intelligence Committee report tries to convey. Rather, the program was an initiative approved by the president, the national security adviser and the U.S. attorney general…”
In another unfortunate Washington tendency, the government launched an investigation about who to blame for letting the devastating surprise attack happen. A hastily convened political tribunal found two senior military officers guilty of dereliction of duty, publicly humiliating them, as some political leaders sought to hold anyone but themselves accountable for the catastrophe.
“The Senate committee’s new report does not present any evidence that would support the notion that the CIA program was carried out for years without the concurrence of the House or Senate intelligence committees, or that any of the members were shocked to learn of the program after the fact.”
With the Democratic members of the SenateIntelligence Committee this week releasing a report on their investigation holding the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency accountable for the alleged “torture” of suspected terrorists after 9/11, some lessons from the Pearl Harbor history should be kept in mind.
First, let’s remember the context of the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when President George W. Bush and Congress put America on a war footing. While some critics in and out of government blamed the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to prevent the terrorist attack, the 9/11 Commission later concluded that part of the real reason the terrorists succeeded was Washington’s failure to put America on a war footing long before the attack. Sept. 11, 2001, was the final escalation of al Qaeda’s war-making after attacking the USS Cole in 2000 and U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.
“CIA leaders and briefers who regularly updated this program to the Senate Intelligence Committee leadership took what investigators call ‘copious, contemporaneous notes.’ Without a doubt, the Senate Intelligence Committee and congressional staffers at these multiple briefings also took a lot of their own notes…”
The Intelligence Committee’s majority report fails to acknowledge the Pearl Harbor-esque state of emergency that followed the 9/11 attack. One week after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, President Bush signed into law a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the president authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
“…Will the committee now declassify and release all such notes so that Americans will know exactly what the senators were told and the practices they approved?”
This joint congressional resolution, which has never been amended, was not a broad declaration of a “war on terror,” but rather a specific, targeted authorization to use force against the 9/11 terrorists and to prevent their future attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogations is a moment for reflection, but not for the reasons you’re hearing. The outrage at this or that ugly detail is politically convenient. The report is more important for illustrating how fickle Americans are about their security, and so unfair to those who provide it.
“The report’s greatest offense is its dishonest treatment of political accountability. The authors portray a rogue CIA operating without legal authority and hiding information from Congress, the public and even President Bush. This charge is rebutted even by current CIA director John Brennan , who otherwise dries his predecessors out to hang.”
After the trauma of 9/11 and amid the anthrax letters in 2001, Americans wanted protection from another terror attack. The political class fired up a commission to examine what went wrong so it “would never happen again.” So the CIA, blamed for not stopping 9/11, tried to oblige. It captured the plotters, detained and interrogated them—sometimes harshly. There hasn’t been another successful al Qaeda plot on the homeland.
“Ms. Feinstein has had an admirable career, so it is a shame to see her mar her legacy with this one-sided report. Mr. Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are also not profiles in courage, issuing everyone-has-a-point statements while endorsing release of the report. Better leaders would have resigned for the morale of their agencies…”
But political memories are short. As the Iraq war became unpopular, the anti-antiterror left fought back. Democrats who sensed a political opening began to fault the details of how the CIA and Bush Administration had protected the country—on surveillance, detention and interrogation. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, the lead Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, unleashed their staff to second-guess the CIA.
“Then there is President Obama, who issued his own have-it-both-ways statement that condemned the Bush-era practices but extolled our intelligence services. He could have taken executive responsibility by having Mr. Brennan issue his own report or release the one done by former CIA director Leon Panetta , but that would have meant more personal political risk. Better to leave the public wet work to Senate staff.”
That’s the context in which to understand the Senate report, which reads like a prosecutor’s brief. It devotes 6,000 pages to marshalling evidence to indict the CIA program, and nothing was going to interfere with its appointed verdict. Read the rest of this entry »
November Surprise: Decisions on Immigration, Iran and Other Hot Issues that were Delayed for Political Reasons will be Coming SoonPosted: October 29, 2014
The problem, as the Founders saw it, is to prevent the president or Congress from acquiring unchecked power, as they will inevitably try to do. The solution was to divide powers between the executive and the legislature and hope that they would be constrained by countervailing institutional interests. But Harry Reid is a “party man,” not a “Senate man.”
Mr. Lipson is a professor of political science and director of the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security at the University of Chicago.
Charles Lipson writes: With the midterm elections looming, the White House has delayed controversial decisions and appointments. That makes sense politically. The administration doesn’t want to force Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Michelle Nunn, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, or other embattled Democrats to defend presidential actions right now, or worse, to oppose them publicly. But as soon as the voting is done (perhaps after runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia), several big shoes will drop. Here are the most likely ones.
Obama’s Post-Election Policy Blowout
1) Immigration. How many millions will the president let in? On what terms? One hint: The Department of Homeland Security recently ordered more than four million green cards and visas for next year and says it might order another 29 million for future years.
“All of these matters have been high-profile and potentially deeply divisive. That is precisely why the White House is postponing any announcements. When the administration finally does speak, it will unleash a political storm, even if Democrats hold the Senate.”
The cards would give immigrants who are here illegally the right to continue living and working in the U.S. legally—and perhaps receive a variety of federal and state benefits. Should the president unilaterally issue these cards, there will be a brutal debate over the wisdom of this policy, whether it extends to welfare benefits, and whether the president has the constitutional authority to issue so many cards without specific congressional approval.
“If Republicans win, those winds will reach hurricane force, since the president will likely try to ram everything through a lame-duck Congress. If that happens, consider boarding up the windows.”
2) The next U.S. attorney general. The president wants a crusader on progressive causes and a reliable firewall to protect him, just as Eric Holder has done. Rumor has it that he wants Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has been the point man on racial preferences. Read the rest of this entry »
Glenn Reynolds: ‘It’s not surprising that in such an atmosphere, CIA operatives would feel comfortable snooping on the Senate’Posted: August 3, 2014
CIA responded to Obama’s acquiescence when it spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Public Servants Acting as Public Masters
For USAToday, Glenn Reynolds writes: “Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that.” That was CIA Director John Brennan’s answer in March when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., charged the CIA with breaking into computers used by Senate investigators looking into CIA misconduct.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that people respond to incentives.”
It turns out that the CIA would do that — and, in fact, had done so. Brennan’s reassurances were false, and CIA spooks had been hacking into the committee investigators’ computers looking for documents they thought the investigators shouldn’t have, violating a promise not to. So, first Brennan broke a promise. Then, he either lied, or showed that he doesn’t control his own agency, which in many ways would be worse.
[Glenn Reynolds‘ book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]
Brennan has apologized, but his apology won’t be the end of things. We’re already seeing bipartisan calls for his removal, from Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The White House is hanging toughso far, but we’re now hearing comparisons made to the speed with which Brennan’s predecessor, Gen. David Petraeus, was cut loose over an extramarital affair. Does this mean that the White House views spying on, and lying to, members of Congress as less serious than an affair? Read the rest of this entry »
Couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting, similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, well, that’s it, we’re not doing, we’re not seeing that again, and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.
Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country that would put up with this.
In other words, the president of the United States just praised a government for forcefully removing all semi-automatic firearms (i.e. a remarkable number of the guns in America and the majority of those sold today) from its citizenry.
Let me be clear, as Obama likes to say: You simply cannot praise Australia’s gun-laws without praising the country’s mass confiscation program. That is Australia’s law. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] The Cool Whip Presidency: For a Supposedly ‘Whipped-Up’ Controversy, Bergdahl Concerns Remarkably BipartisanPosted: June 5, 2014
George Will on Thursday’s Special Report.
“…a recurring theme in his presidency, which is there’s no such thing as honest, intelligent disagreement with him…”
Will couldn’t help but note that it isn’t solely Republican lawmakers taking issue with the conditions of the trade.
“If this is ‘whipped up,’ the project of whipping it up is remarkably bipartisan.”
Will said, pointing to concerns raised by West Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, has also spoken out about the White House’s handling of the situation…(read more)
Death did not take place at CIA headquarters
For The Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz reports: A senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide this week from injuries sustained after jumping off a building in northern Virginia, according to sources close to the CIA.
CIA spokesman Christopher White confirmed the death and said the incident did not take place at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.
“We can confirm that there was an individual fatally injured at a facility where agency work is done,” White told the Washington Free Beacon. “He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to privacy reasons and out of respect for the family, we are not releasing additional information at this time.”
The Daily Caller‘s Mike Piccione reports: California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is circulating a letter on Capitol Hill calling once again for a ban on semi-automatic rifles and asking for President Barack Obama to keep his State of the Union promise to make 2014 a “year of action.”
Citing the Gun Control Act of 1968, Feinstein states, “In recent years… importers of firearms have taken advantage of ATF’s interpretation of the ‘sporting purposes’ test to evade the import ban.”
The phrase contained in The Gun Control Act of 1968 Feinstein is referencing prohibits the importation of firearms that are not “generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” She claims that in recent years firearms importers have taken advantage of ATF’s interpretation of “sporting purposes” to circumvent the ban.
Although Feinstein recognizes that the firearms are designed for civilian use and never manufactured or used by any standing army, she maintained that “many semiautomatic firearms on the market today do not have a military origin but are modeled closely after military firearms.”
Kevin D. Williamson writes: Now we know what it takes to nudge Congress’s sense of self-respect into a state of at least semi-consciousness.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, God bless her, is throwing a very public fit over findings that the CIA spied on Congress — on her Select Senate Intelligence Committee, specifically — as part of a campaign to undermine the committee’s investigation into an interrogation program that the agency does not much want to see investigated.
“Willing subservience to the presidency is not the mark of a legislative branch that has any meaningful sense of self-respect, or any real understanding of its constitutional role.”
It’s a strange contradiction: Senators do not want for self-respect. If anything, the individual members of that august collection of a hundred self-identified future presidents and vice presidents suffer from excessive self-regard at levels that are frequently embarrassing and occasionally delusional. Look into the eyes of John Kerry or Joe Biden and consider for a moment the political incubator that hatched such specimens of Miltonic-Luciferian self-importance. But the Senate, and Congress as a whole, have been experiencing something of a crisis of confidence in recent decades. Our constitutional order makes Congress the effective seat of domestic governance: Only Congress can appropriate funds; only Congress can tax. Spending bills must originate in the House, presidential appointments are subject to Senate approval. Only Congress can coin money. And while the Constitution entrusts the president with some important powers regarding such outward-directed issues as military engagements, only Congress can declare war or ratify a treaty.
Transparency: Despite Vows of Help, White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA ProbePosted: March 12, 2014
For McClatchy DC, Jonathan s. Landay, Ali Watkins, and Marisa Taylor report: The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.
“The most nefarious explanation is that they are not privileged and the White House simply doesn’t want to hand them over…”
— Elizabeth Goitein
In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.
“…Executive privilege is generally asserted after negotiations and brinksmanship behind the scenes. People put on paper what they want to be formalized, and these negotiations by their very nature are very informal.”
— Elizabeth Goitein
The significance of the materials couldn’t be learned. But the administration’s refusal to turn them over or to agree to any compromise raises questions about what they would reveal about the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons.
The dispute indicates that the White House is more involved than it has acknowledged in the unprecedented power struggle between the committee and the CIA, which has triggered charges that the agency searched the panel’s computers without authorization and has led to requests to the Justice Department for criminal investigations of CIA personnel and Senate aides.
Mark Mazzetti reports: The Central Intelligence Agency’s attempt to keep secret the details of a defunct detention and interrogation program has escalated a battle between the agency and members of Congress and led to an investigation by the C.I.A.’s internal watchdog into the conduct of agency employees.
“As you are aware, the C.I.A. has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal C.I.A. review, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy…”
— Senator Mark Udall
The agency’s inspector general began the inquiry partly as a response to complaints from members of Congress that C.I.A. employees were improperly monitoring the work of staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to government officials with knowledge of the investigation.
The committee has spent several years working on a voluminous report about the detention and interrogation program, and according to one official interviewed in recent days, C.I.A. officers went as far as gaining access to computer networks used by the committee to carry out its investigation.
The events have elevated the protracted battle — which began as a fight over who writes the history of the program, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the American government’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks — into a bitter standoff that in essence is a dispute over the separation of powers and congressional oversight of spy agencies.
The specifics of the inspector general’s investigation are unclear. But several officials interviewed in recent days — all of whom insisted on anonymity, citing a continuing inquiry — said it began after the C.I.A. took what Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, on Tuesday called an “unprecedented action” against the committee. Read the rest of this entry »
‘I Think A Lot Of The Privacy People Don’t Understand That We Still Occupy The Role Of The Great Satan’Posted: January 19, 2014
From NRO’s The Corner, Betsy Woodruff writes: Dianne Feinstein decried NSA critics on Meet the Press this morning, saying the government is much less intrusive than corporations and that privacy advocates don’t understand the extent of the threat that terrorism poses to the United States.
Andrew Johnson writes: The chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees believe the United States is not safer than it was at the beginning of the Afghanistan war. Representative Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) agreed that the risk of a terrorist attack against the U.S. is not only higher, but also more diverse.
“Al-qaeda as we knew it before is metastasizing into something different — more affiliates than we’ve ever had before” Rogers said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “All have them have at least some aspiration to commit an act of violence in the United States or against western targets all around the world.”
Feinstein warned of enhanced weapons technology among terrorist groups, including state-of-the-art bombs that go undetected and have been attempted on at least four separate occasions in the U.S.
Burdened with a failing president and stung by blocked appointments, Reid rallies Senate to impose limits on filibuster in desperate effort to advance judicial agenda
WASHINGTON — Jeremy W. Peters writes: Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, is prepared to move forward with a vote that could severely limit the minority party’s ability to filibuster presidential nominees, possibly as early as this week, Democrats said Tuesday.
Exasperated with the refusal of Senate Republicans to confirm many of President Obama’s nominees, Mr. Reid has been speaking individually with members of his caucus to gauge whether there is enough support to change filibuster rules.
Given how much deference senators have traditionally shown to the rules and procedures of the institution — many of them in place since the 18th century — any modifications are a serious undertaking. Read the rest of this entry »
BEN SHAPIRO writes: On Wednesday, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a bill in the Senate that would allow Americans to keep their health insurance plans for a limit of two years. “I have repeatedly said that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect,” Udall said, “and it will need to be improved as it is implemented.” Udall already wants to push off the open enrollment deadline on the Obamacare health exchanges until the end of May.
But Udall’s plan isn’t the only one in the offing. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has introduced the “Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act,” co-sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagen (D-NC), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). That act does not set a two-year deadline on how long people can keep their insurance. As Ezra Klein of The Washington Post points out, “Obamacare’s premiums would rise.” But Landrieu’s office ominously called the bill a “transitional fix.”
Eliana Johnson reports: Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, told CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday that the counterintelligence measures recently unveiled by national-security leaker Edward Snowden were unexceptional. Though he said it’s conceivable the president may not have been aware of specific measures, he indicated that “leadership intentions were a very high intelligence priority.”
“It’s impossible for me to imagine that the NSC, the administration, the White House, didn’t know,” Hayden said, “and the fact that they didn’t rush in to tell the president this was going on, points out what I think is a fundamental fact: This wasn’t exceptional, this is what we were expected to do.”
Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier seems to think that gun-control laws don’t apply to the liberal elite. The police chief helped Sen. Dianne Feinstein acquire “assault weapons,” which are illegal to possess in the District, for a news conference early this year to promote a ban on these firearms, then tried to cover up the police involvement.
In the wake of the D.C. shooting, some lawmakers are pushing for new regulations on firearms. But legislation should never be passed in the heat of a crisis.
Nick Gillespie writes: Monday’s horrific mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard left 12 victims (plus the shooter) dead and more than a dozen people wounded. It has raised immediate, impassioned, and understandable—if ultimately misguided—calls for increased levels of gun control now.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a longtime proponent of assault-weapons bans whose effectiveness is questionable at best, announced that the killer was armed with a “military-style assault weapon” and asked, “When will enough be enough?” She argued for restricting sales of AR-15 rifles even though the shooter was not armed with that weapon. Read the rest of this entry »
As William A. Jacobson observes, “Don’t trust media reports for at least 24 hours.”
Washington’s Boogey-Man Bad-Boy Voodoo-Doll Senator
How does Senator Ted Cruz freak out liberals? Usually by being good at what he does.
Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party. Read the rest of this entry »