TOP-SECRET MEMOMAGEDDON: Too Late for Damage Control?

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  report: The intelligence community has deemed some of Hillary Clinton’s emails “too damaging” to national security to release under any circumstances, according to a PANTSUIT-REPORTU.S. government official close to the ongoing review. A second source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, backed up the finding.

The determination was first reported by Fox News, hours before the State Department formally announced Friday that seven email chains, found in 22 documents, will be withheld “in full” because they, in fact, contain “Top Secret” information.

The State Department, when first contacted by Fox News about withholding such emails Friday morning, did not dispute the reporting – but did not comment in detail. After a version of this report was first published, the Obama administration confirmed to the Associated Press that the seven email chains would be withheld. The department has since confirmed those details publicly.

The decision to withhold the documents in full, and not provide even a partial release with redactions, further undercuts claims by the State Department and the Clinton campaign that none of the intelligence in the emails was classified when it hit Clinton’s personal server.

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Fox News is told the emails include intelligence from “special access programs,” or SAP, which is considered beyond “Top Secret.” A Jan. 14 letter, first reported by Fox News, from intelligence community Inspector General Charles McCullough III notified senior intelligence and foreign relations committee leaders that “several dozen emails containing classified information” were determined to be “at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, AND TOP SECRET/SAP levels.”

[Read the full story here, at Fox News]

The State Department is trying to finish its review and public release of thousands of Clinton emails, as the Democratic presidential primary contests get underway in early February. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Doesn’t Know How Many Foreign Visitors Overstay Visas 

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After two decades of failed attempts to track such visitors, some officials call the visa program a critical national security weakness.

WASHINGTON — Ron Nixon writes: The question from the congressman to the Obama administration official was straightforward enough: How many foreign visitors overstay their visas every year?

The reply was simple too, but not in a satisfying way. “We don’t know,” the official said.

The testy exchange during a recent congressional hearing between Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, and Alan Bersin, the assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, highlights what some law enforcement officials call a critical weakness in the United States foreign visa program.

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The issue has taken on added urgency as part of a broader examination of immigration policy following the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. Tashfeen Malik, one of the attackers, was granted entry to the United States under a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa. Her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was an American-born citizen. Both died in a shootout with the police. While Ms. Malik did not overstay her visa, the attack added to fears that a terrorist could exploit gaps in the system.

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to develop a system to track people who overstayed their visas. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an entry and exit tracking system was seen as a vital national security and counterterrorism tool, and the 9/11 Commission recommended that the Department of Homeland Security complete a system “as soon as possible.” Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Satam al-Suqami and Nawaf al-Hazmi, had overstayed their visas.

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Since then, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on the effort, yet officials can only roughly estimate the number of people in the United States illegally after overstaying visas.

Officials blame a lack of technology to conduct more advanced collection of data like iris scans, resistance from the airline and tourism industries because of cost, and questions about the usefulness of tracking people exiting the country as a counterterrorism measure.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

Some experts also note that a sizable number of those who overstayed their visas are highly skilled workers who come under the H-1B program or are foreign students.

One widely cited statistic, from a 1997 report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, puts the number of people who overstay their visas at 40 percent — which now would mean about 4.4 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States. Numerous lawmakers, including the Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have used that figure when trying to describe the scope of the problem. But even that number has never been conclusively substantiated.

Federal agencies have not provided a new report to Congress on overstays since 1994, despite the congressional mandate. Read the rest of this entry »


Trey Gowdy Frustrated by Dem Stonewalling 

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Ryan Lovelace reports: Two top Clinton aides, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan, will appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi next month, but when will the committee interview several other top Obama administration officials and Clinton allies?

“What can I do to make the Department of State produce Jake Sullivan’s emails to me? I’ve asked. I’ve sent a subpoena. I don’t know what else I can do. I can’t send the FBI to get him.”

House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., described how the committee intends to finish its work before the calendar year 2015 ends, in an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner.

“I have a freshman in college who could go pull up all of her emails and have them printed off by this afternoon. I don’t know what takes so long, but it’s been months and months and months. And we still don’t have all the documents we’ve asked for.”

Gowdy discussed his desire to interview key Obama and Clinton operatives, including former State Department deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, State Department undersecretary for management Patrick Kennedy, and State Department chief of staff Jon Finer. He also indicated his frustration at the lack of information former State Department policy planning director Jake Sullivan has produced.

Sullivan now serves as a top foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Abedin is a top aide and confidant of Clinton, and Kennedy and Finer remain at the State Department.

Gowdy said he wants all of the documents relating to these individuals before interviewing them, but continues to face an uphill battle. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Kelsey Harkness: Emails Raise Questions About Bias in Sweet Cakes Ruling

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Kelsey Harkness writes:

…Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

In April, a judge for the agency recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000.

Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state…(read more)

DailySignal

 


Kevin D. Williamson: The GOP Should Turn its Attention to Prosecutorial Misconduct

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Kevin D. Williamson writes:

“…The Democrats have long been acculturated to the climate of corruption that attends government agencies that are largely free of ordinary accountability, where a carefully cultivated lack of transparency shields operatives from scrutiny and normal oversight. Republicans can rouse themselves to action, if only barely, when this involves the federal Internal Revenue Service or Environmental Protection Agency. But deference to police agencies and prosecutors is so habitual among the members of the law-and-order party that they instinctively look for excuses when presented with obvious examples of police misconduct, and twiddle their thumbs in the 99 percent of cases of prosecutorial misconduct that do not involve a Republican elected official.…”

[Read the full article at NRO]

National Review Online


[VIDEO] How Courts Failed the Constitution

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Clark Neily on “Terms of Engagement” 

“The judge will actually collaborate with the government in coming up with hypothetical justifications for a law in order to bend over backwards and uphold whatever the government is doing,” says Clark Neily, attorney at the Institute for Justice and author of the new book, Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government. “You don’t get a neutral arbiter.”

Neily sat down with Reason TV‘s Zach Weissmueller to discuss what Neily describes as an ongoing pattern of “judicial abdication” in America.

Neily’s book: Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government is available from Amazon

The judiciary, he says, was meant to stand as a bulwark against the tyranny of the majority, a defender of individual rights. Instead, it has become a mere enabler of legislators and government agencies.


Read the rest of this entry »


Power Grid Down Drill To Be Conducted By US Government

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Power grid vulnerabilities are finally garnering some attention by government officials.

An electrical grid joint drill simulation is being planned in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Thousands of utility workers, FBI agents, anti-terrorism experts, governmental agencies, and more than 150 private businesses are involved in the November power grid drill.

The downed power grid simulation will reportedly focus on both physical and cyber attacks. The antiquated electrical system in the United States has been one of the most neglected pieces of integral infrastructure.

The EMP Commission, created by Congress, released a report in 2008 calling for increased planning and testing, and a stockpiling of needed repair items.

Read the rest of this entry »