This occurred over what the Washington Post and the New York Times suggest was President Trump’s inadvertent disclosure of highly classified intelligence from Israel in the Oval Office when Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The disclosure, the Times quoted American officials as representing, “could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected.” At one moment Wednesday, the Times had on its home page something like 18 pieces on this or related scandals.
What a contrast to, say, 2006. That’s when the Gray Lady thumbed its nose for news at President George W. Bush’s pleadings that the paper refrain from disclosing how the government, in its hunt for terrorists, was mining data of the Swift banking consortium.
The Bush administration had begged the Times not to proceed. Yet it did so. Bush called it “disgraceful,” adding that the “fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror.” Treasury said it would hamper the pursuit of terrorists.
Such a hullabaloo arose from long-suffering Times readers that the paper’s executive editor, then Bill Keller, issued a 1,400-word “personal response.” In it, he suggested that if conservative bloggers were so worried, they should stop calling attention to it. Read the rest of this entry »
The Constitution guarantees our right to a jury trial in “all criminal prosecutions.” Our commitment to this constitutional safeguard is tested when the government haughtily claims a trial isn’t necessary…
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Lee v. United States.
In 1982, Jae Lee came to the United States from South Korea as a child. Now 48 years old, Lee has lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for decades. In 2009, he pled guilty to a drug crime after his lawyer assured him that he could not be deported as a result.
As it turned out, Lee received bad legal advice. His conviction made Lee subject to mandatory removal, meaning that after serving several years in prison, he would eventually be deported to South Korea and essentially banished from the U.S.
When Lee learned of this mistake, he asked the court to vacate his plea, arguing that his counsel’s assistance was ineffective and he only pled guilty because of the recommendation from his lawyer.
He wants to take his case before a jury. The district court denied this motion because of the overwhelming evidence against Lee, ruling that his conviction at trial was so certain that his counsel’s bad advice didn’t actually harm him, particularly given the much longer prison sentence he would receive if convicted after trial.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed that a jury wasn’t needed to determine Lee’s guilt and that denying the “chance to throw a Hail Mary at trial is not prejudicial” and therefore doesn’t violate Lee’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.
Federal prosecutors say there’s no need for a trial because the evidence against Lee is strong, but our constitutional right to trial by jury doesn’t depend on the government’s assessment of its own case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reasoned that that the only chance Lee had was acquittal by “jury nullification,” which is the doctrine that says a jury can return a “not guilty” verdict even after it has concluded that the person on trial violated the law. Why order a new trial based upon an idea so irrational and antiquated, the Court reasoned.
Well, for one thing, there’s nothing wrong with jury nullification. The Framers of our Constitution believed that jury nullification was part and parcel of what a jury trial was all about.
The Supreme Court itself has noted that the jury is supposed to be the “conscience of the community” and should check the government when necessary to protect individuals from injustice or oppression. The jury cannot perform that function if it is told that it must always apply the law mechanically, without regard to justice.
Lee is now pressing the matter at the Supreme Court, which heard his argument earlier this week. Read the rest of this entry »
The leaks that led to Michael Flynn’s resignation are just the beginning. Obama and his loyalists in and outside government are working to undermine Trump.
“As the leaks keep flowing from our intelligence agencies and the tweets keep flying from former Obama officials, keep in mind that although we haven’t heard much from Obama himself yet, the Trump administration is going to keep feeling the disruptions of what amounts to a shadow government.”
There are exceptions, of course. Jimmy Carter threw himself into international diplomacy, mediating an agreement in 1994 to return exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti, and generally agitating for a Palestinian state.
Then there is Obama. Less than a month out of office, the broad contours of Obama’s post-presidency career are already taking shape. Obama and his loyalists, it seems, will remain in the center of the political fray, officially and unofficially, in an organized effort to undermine the Trump administration.
The bizarre scandal now unfolding over the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn is a case in point. Flynn’s resignation was prompted by a series of coordinated and anonymous leaks from current and former Obama administration officials in our domestic intelligence agencies.
“Obama had eight years in the White House to secure his legacy. Any efforts on his part to undermine his successor aren’t just an affront to the principles of our democracy, they’re an admission that he and his acolytes never put much stock in democracy to begin with.”
Regardless of any valid criticism of Flynn, the leaks are part of a larger, loosely organized effort now underway to preserve Obama’s legacy. This effort involves Obama-era officials still inside the federal government, former Obama staffers working in the private sector, and Obama himself.
This isn’t some conspiracy theory. After the election, Obama indicated he intends to stay involved in the political fray. In an email to his supporters on his last day in office, Obama encouraged them to stay engaged, promising “I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.” Less than two weeks later, he issued a statement saying he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests over the executive order on immigration.
But there’s more to all this than Obama issuing solidarity statements to Trump protestors. For one thing, the former president isn’t moving back to Chicago. The Obama family will remain in Washington DC, within a couple miles of the White House, for the next two years as Obama’s youngest daughter finishes high school. Read the rest of this entry »
The mainstream media is the biggest purveyor of fake news.
Debra Heine writes: You gotta love our liberal media. Their entire modus operandi for at least the past two decades has been to shamelessly disseminate false left-wing narratives to the masses in their ongoing effort to discredit conservatism and further a progressive agenda. It’s what they do.
But since the election of Donald Trump, they have been obsessed with a new pet narrative: that a so-called “fake news” epidemic is occurring on the right.
This is partly because, I’m convinced, they resent the fact that some people on the alt-right are making inroads on their turf. But the “fake news” excuse also functions as a soothing balm for their wounded egos after their devastating 2016 election losses. It helps them deal with the uncomfortable fact that the electorate just rejected the hell out of the candidates for whom they blatantly shilled.
This happens every time the mainstream media’s favored party suffes a massive defeat at the polls, by the way. In 1994, they blamed their losses on the “angry white male.” After the 2010 “shellacking,” they attributed it to a menacing “climate of hate,”as personified by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.
And now we are asked to believe that fringe conspiracy theories like “PizzaGate” swung the 2016 election for Donald Trump. That may make the left feel better about losing, but their pathetic “fake news” narrative is a conspiracy theory in and of itself.
PizzaGate refers to a spectacular conspiracy theory surrounding Comet Ping Pong, a Baltimore pizza parlor that some internet sleuths claim is at the center of an international child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton and the Podesta brothers. This month, a man with an assault rifle walked into Comet Ping Pong to “self-investigate,” and reportedly fired the rifle at least once inside the restaurant. Luckily, no one was injured.
If only one could say the same about the countless left-wing fake news narratives that have been pushed by the MSM over the years.
For example, the PizzaGate conspiracy theory festered online only in places like 4Chan, Infowars, and Reddit.
But the “hands up, don’t shoot” conspiracy theory — which suggested a racist white cop shot an unarmed black teenager for no reason at all in Ferguson, Missouri — was propagated all over the mainstream news: CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and others. It even was heavily spread by elected members of the Democratic Party.
That fake news led to riots, and it’s no stretch of the imagination to assume that the ensuing murdered policemen were the result of some bad actors feeling justified in retaliating.
Here is a list of ten memorable fake news stories from the mainstream media.
CBS did its own investigation in the matter, and determined there were several serious breaches of handling this story, among them failure to identify the sources of the documents properly; failure to document the chain of custody of the documents; failure to establish the credibility of the documents.Those that tendered their resignations on request were: Senior Vice President Betsy West, the supervisor of primetime programs for CBS News; Josh Howard, the executive producer of Wednesday’s version of 60 Minutes; Mary Murphy, senior broadcast producer and Howard’s deputy. Mary Mapes, the actual producer of the Killian documents story, was terminated, in part for calling a senior official in John Kerry’s presidential campaign (Joe Lockhart) and offering to put him in touch with Burkett. The CBS panel called Mapes’ action a “clear conflict of interest that created the appearance of political bias.”
Unbowed and still convinced of the document’s authenticity, Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and its former corporate parent, Viacom on September 19, 2007, claiming he was made a “scapegoat”. A day later, Mapes wrote a column in the Huffington Post, claiming that far-right blogs have “pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact … They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the “a,” the dip on the top of the “t,” the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972. It was a deceptive approach, and it worked”.
In a clear contradiction of her rant, Mapes did in fact have prior knowledge of Bush’s guard service in her hands but chose to ignore it. In a press release on January 10, 2005, Accuracy in Media reported that the internal investigation conducted by CBS into the “Rathergate” matter revealed that Mapes had documented information on hand which detailed Bush’s attempt to volunteer for duty as a fighter pilot in Vietnam but was denied by his superiors at the time due to his inexperience. Accuracy in Media Editor Cliff Kincaid explained:
“Mapes, who was very close to Rather and enjoyed his confidence, had the evidence exonerating Bush of this malicious charge. The report shows that there were multiple credible sources to prove that Bush did not try to avoid Vietnam by going into the National Guard and that he was in fact willing to go to Vietnam as a pilot. However, CBS News deliberately kept this information from its viewers and conveyed an opposite impression because Rather, Mapes & Company were trying to depict Bush as a coward who, as Commander-in-Chief, was sending American soldiers to their deaths in Iraq.”
The truth is that Bush, the alleged slacker, had volunteered to go to Vietnam while in the Texas Air National Guard, but was he was turned down because he didn’t have enough flight hours to qualify.
On January 8, 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on a Safeway parking lot in Casas Adobes, Arizona, shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head, and eighteen others. Six people died, including a federal judge, one of Rep. Giffords’ staffers, and a nine-year-old girl. Read the rest of this entry »
After eight years as an autocratic president with a maximalist view of executive authority, Barack Obama is handing his successor an expansive interpretation of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war around the globe.
Josh Lederman writes:
…In his final weeks in office, Obama has broadened the legal scope of the war on extremism, the White House confirmed Monday, as it acknowledged for the first that the administration now asserts it is legally justified to take on the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.
The determination is based on an expanded application of a 9/11-era use of force authorization, a statute Obama has repeatedly leaned on to justify military operations. That rationale has raised concerns about how Trump might use Obama’s precedent to justify other overseas entanglements — without consulting Congress.
The White House staunchly defends Obama’s use of military power, arguing in a detailed report Monday that all operations have been firmly grounded in domestic and international law. White House counsel Neil Eggleston called the report — the first of its kind — a demonstration of how Obama has ensured “that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective and consistent with our national interests and values.”
Yet the report, which Obama said should be updated annually, also reveals how his administration has relied overwhelmingly on the 2001 authorization, which even Obama acknowledges is outdated.
Though the law’s targets were al-Qaida and the Taliban, a clause in the bill includes “associated forces” of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan or beyond. That clause is now being used as a catch-all for military action in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya, the report shows, plus the basing of U.S. troops in other countries.
As for al-Shabab, until recently, the U.S. determined only that its individual leaders were linked to al-Qaida, which limited targeting of those individuals. Now the broader group is included.
Trump has promised a more muscular and militaristic approach to counterterrorism, occasionally using expletives to suggest he’d aggressively bomb ISIS militants, although he has been vague on details.
Deborah Pearlstein, a former White House official and international law professor at Yeshiva University, said it’s likely the next administration will use Obama’s framework as its starting point. “By practice and long history, those opinions tend to stand,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »
The Regulatory Gray Goo Nightmare
Paul Bedard reports: The new implementation of EPA rules on heavy trucks has boosted the 10-year regulatory burden on America past $1 trillion, 75 percent of which have been imposed by the Obama administration.
That amounts to a one-time charge of $3,080 per person, or an annual cost of $540, according to a new analysis from American Action Forum.
“In other words, each year every person, regardless of age, in the nation is responsible for paying roughly $540 in regulatory costs. These burdens might take the form of higher prices, fewer jobs, or reduced wages,” said AAF’s Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the watchdog group.
The staggering amount is likely to surge even higher as President Obama scrambles to lock in several environmental regulations before leaving office. He has already broken records for new regulations and added red tape this year and still has 50 days in office.
Incoming President-elect Trump has promised to kill two current regulations for every new one he adds.
The new high in regulatory costs, said Batkins, came after new fuel standards for trucks were implemented. Read the rest of this entry »
POTUS should read some honest, non-Leftist comparative history.
Austin Bay writes: The slaughter in Brussels is another reminder that our violent Islamist terrorist enemies are fighting a sustained, generational campaign of global, imperialist conquest.
One of President Barack Obama’s first dishonest acts was dropping the name Global War on Terror. Obama the Peacemaker substituted bureaucratic lingo, dubbing our long war an OCO—an Overseas Contingency Operation.
“When the vast majority of Earth’s oppressed get a chance to vote with their feet, the destination isn’t Mosul or Moscow, it’s Manhattan or Miami.”
9-11. Fort Hood. San Bernardino. Chattanooga. It’s past time for the president to acknowledge his obvious and stupid mistake. America is a battlefield; the war is not just overseas. More importantly, if successful leadership is one of Mr. Obama’s presidential goals, there is nothing “contingent” about the war. The war is quite real. Our enemies wrath and goals are unconditional
“Mr. Obama needs to get the hell over his self-serving guilt trip and get serious about stopping 21st century genocidal imperialism.”
For the record, I never liked the name Global War on Terror, though it served. In fall 2001 I suggested Millennium or Millennial War. I thought we were in a long haul war for the terms of modernity.
We are engaged in such a war, fighting enemies who believe the future lies in unconditionally restoring their imperialist past.
When the vast majority of Earth’s oppressed get a chance to vote with their feet, the destination isn’t Mosul or Moscow, it’s Manhattan or Miami.
“Does Mr. Obama’s American guilt shtick reinforce the Islamists’ evil external propaganda? Yes.”
For the moment, ISIL jihadists have assumed Al Qaeda’s mantle of global leadership in a global war to secure a global caliphate. From their rump caliphate in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, and its provinces in Yemen and Libya, ISIL’s caliph and his commanders direct political policies which include enslavement, mass rape, the mass murder of minority ethnic groups like Yazidis and Berbers, mass murder of Arab Christians and non-Arab Middle Eastern Christians and mass murder of Shia Muslims. ISIL-affiliates take the slaughter beyond the Middle East and Europe. Boko Haram terrorists rape and enslave Nigerian Christian girls. They have also murdered thousands of Nigerians who oppose them, whether Christian, Muslim or animist. Read the rest of this entry »
“Refugees should stay where the hell they are. Hey, no one has worked harder for the human condition than I have, but they’re not part of the human condition. If 11 guys in the group of 10,000 are ISIS—how can I take that chance?”
Lewis then said that President Obama was “never prepared” for ISIS and suggested that he was not a real leader…
…The clip concludes with Lewis praising Trump for his “showmanship.”
“I think he’s great,” said Lewis of Trump. “He’s a showman and we’ve never had a showman in the president’s chair.”
“You can’t make do a comparison on Ronald Reagan because I can do three hours on him with just praise, he was so good.”
“Well, we had Ronald Reagan,” Arroyo interjected….(read more)
The need for regulatory reform has never been greater.
The number and cost of government regulations continued to climb in 2014, intensifying Washington’s control over the economy and Americans’ lives. The addition of 27 new major rules last year pushed the tally for the Obama Administration’s first six years to 184, with scores of other rules in the pipeline. The cost of just these 184 rules is estimated by regulators to be nearly $80 billion annually, although the actual cost of this massive expansion of the administrative state is obscured by the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. Absent substantial reform, economic growth and individual freedom will continue to suffer….
In a new paper titled “Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama,” the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz and James Gattuso write that in 2014, the government issued 2,400 new regulations, including 27 major rules that may cost $80 billion or more annually. These rules range from forcing restaurants to list calorie counts — even though past experiments have revealed that such measures fail to change consumers’ behavior — to reducing consumer choices and increasing energy prices by imposing tighter energy-efficiency mandates on the plugs that we use to charge cell phones, laptops, and even electric toothbrushes.
Washington regulatory bureaucrats’ control over the economy and Americans’ lives is intensifying. According to Katz and Gattuso, during the first six years of the Obama administration, the number of new major rules reached 184, including 13 regulations of the financial system that saw the light of day in 2014. Another 126 are in the pipeline. That’s more than twice the number imposed by President George W. Bush, who himself wasn’t shy about regulating the economy.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Official regulatory costs are vastly underestimated because of the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. More importantly, official costs never appropriately account for the businesses, innovations, and economic growth that will never exist because of the continued accumulation of regulations. Needless to say, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater….(read more)
…President Barack Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to act by regulatory fiat instead of executing laws as passed by Congress. But regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. A great deal of the excessive regulation in the past six years is the result of Congress granting broad powers to agencies through passage of vast and vaguely worded legislation. The misnamed Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law top the list.
Many more regulations are on the way, with another 126 economically significant rules on the Administration’s agenda, such as directives to farmers for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables; strict limits on credit access for service members; and, yet another redesign of light bulbs.
In many respects, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater. The White House, Congress, and federal agencies routinely ignore regulatory costs, exaggerate benefits, and breach legislative and constitutional boundaries. They also increasingly dictate lifestyle choices rather than focusing on public health and safety.
Immediate reforms should include requiring legislation to undergo an analysis of regulatory impacts before a floor vote in Congress, and requiring every major regulation to obtain congressional approval before taking effect. Sunset deadlines should be set in law for all major rules, and independent agencies should be subject—as are executive branch agencies—to the White House regulatory review process.
Measuring the Red Tape
The federal government does not officially track total regulatory costs, as it does with taxation and spending. Estimates of these costs from various independent sources range from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $2 trillion annually. However, the number and cost of new regulations can be tracked, and both have grown relentlessly.
The most comprehensive source of data on new regulations is the Federal Rules Database maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to this GAO database, federal regulators issued 2,400 new rules during the 2014 “presidential year” (January 21, 2014, to January 20, 2015). Of these, 77 were classified as “major.”
Forty-eight of the 77 major rules were budgetary or administrative in nature, such as Medicare payment rates and hunting limits on migratory birds. A total of 27 were “prescriptive” regulations, meaning that they increase burdens on individual or private-sector activity. (Two others were “deregulatory,” as explained below.) Altogether, during the six years of the Obama Administration, 184 prescriptive rules have been imposed. That compares to 76 such rules issued during the same period of the George W. Bush Administration.
Regulators reported new annual costs of $7.6 billion for the 2014 prescriptive rules based on the limited number of analyses performed by the agencies. This total cost is 15 percent less than the $8.9 billion in costs imposed during the sixth year of the Bush Administration. However, cost calculations were incomplete for 12 of the 27 Obama rules issued last year.
There was also $1.8 billion in reported one-time implementation costs for the 2014 rules, bringing the Administration’s six-year total for such costs to about $17 billion.
Only two of the 2014 rules decreased regulatory burdens, bringing the Administration’s six-year “deregulatory” total to just 17—despite a widely touted “retrospective review” initiative that President Obama claimed would take outdated rules off the books. This compares to four deregulatory actions during President Bush’s sixth year, and his Administration’s six-year total of 23.
Overall, the cost of new mandates and restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration now totals $78.9 billion annually. This is more than double the $30.7 billion in annual costs imposed at the same point in the George W. Bush Administration.
These figures are consistent with other measures of a growing regulatory burden. For instance, according to economists Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren, spending on federal regulatory agencies has increased from $20.7 billion in 1990, and $50.9 billion in 2009, to more than $53.6 billion in 2014 (in constant 2009 dollars). Similarly, total staffing at regulatory agencies has grown nearly 6.6 percent since 2009.
Dodd–Frank Dominates in 2014
Regulation of securities and the banking system dominated rulemaking in 2014, accounting for 13 of the 27 major rules issued during the Obama Administration’s sixth year. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed the largest number of rules (seven), while the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency jointly promulgated five rules, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued one. Read the rest of this entry »
Historical analogies most popular with the administration reveal precisely why this deal is so fraught with risk.
Analogies, Sigmund Freud once wrote, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home. President Obama is explicitly comparing his diplomatic triumph with Iran to President Nixon’s opening to China in 1972. Nixon, the president explained in a July 14 interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path” of “very important strategic benefit to the United States” — a point repeated in supportive commentary by Fareed Zakaria, and others. Meanwhile, former Obama National Security Council official Phil Gordon has cast the president’s breakthrough with Iran as a noble contrast to the George W. Bush administration’s alleged rejection of diplomacy with North Korea, claiming that Pyongyang developed nuclear weapons because Bush refused to implement a similar disarmament framework with North Korea negotiated by President Bill Clinton.
It is not surprising that an administration that came into office rejecting geopolitics and poo-pooing strategy in favor of “don’t do stupid [stuff]” would treat history as a plaything for twitter-sized talking points. But the historical analogies most popular with the administration reveal precisely why this deal is so fraught with risk.
Nixon was right to play the China card against the Soviets in 1971 — but for reasons that simply do not apply to Iran. First, in 1971, China already had nuclear weapons and Nixon never asked Mao to abandon them. Second, the Soviet threat to Washington and Beijing, which ultimately drove the two countries together, was incalculably graver than the threat posed by the Islamic State to either Iran or the United States (the president and National Security Adviser Susan Rice have dismissed the Islamic State as “the JV team” and “not an existential threat” so perhaps they do not even really believe their own Nixon analogies). Third, the more militant, pro-Soviet faction in China led by Lin Biao had been purged by 1971, whereas Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force are on the ascendance and, in fact, will gain billions of dollars as a result of being delisted from the sanctions list. Read the rest of this entry »
Hillary Clinton demonstrating her hypocrisy by complaining about secret email accounts in the Bush administration. Later she did far worse with her secret email accounts.
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 »
For the Wall Street Journal, Ruth Wisse writes: There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail.
Assaults on intellectual and political freedom have been making headlines. Pressure from faculty egged on by Muslim groups induced Brandeis University last month not to grant Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the proponent of women’s rights under Islam, an intended honorary degree at its convocation.
Ruth Wisse‘s book: “No Joke: Making Jewish Humor” (Library of Jewish Ideas) is available at Amazon.com
This was a replay of 1994, when Brandeis faculty demanded that trustees rescind their decision to award an honorary degree to Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In each case, a faculty cabal joined by (let us charitably say) ignorant students promoted the value of repression over the values of America’s liberal democracy.
Opponents of free speech have lately chalked up many such victories: New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly prevented from speaking at Brown University in November; a lecture by Charles Murray canceled by Azusa Pacific University in April; Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and national-security adviser under the George W. Bush administration, harassed earlier this month into declining the invitation by Rutgers University to address this year’s convocation. Read the rest of this entry »
In a Gallup tracking poll released Tuesday, former-President George W. Bush currently stands with a favorability rating of 49%, compared to 46% who see the 43rd president unfavorably. Meanwhile, another Gallup poll shows President Obama with only a 47% approval rating, with 44% disapproving.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense.
After all, Obama fooled everyone when he ran as the anti-Bush in 2008.
Everyone thought Obama meant he would be less hawkish than his predecessor. But as we have seen, Obama apparently has no problem killing American citizens via remote control with drones or greatly expanding on Bush’s surveillance state. This, even though Obama told us he had pretty much won the War on Terror.
Therefore, it appears that what Obama meant by promising to be the anti-Bush, is that unlike George W. Bush, Obama would not get us out of a recession and into many years of economic prosperity. There would also be successful terror attacks on American soil during Obama’s watch and a litany of scandals unseen in almost a half-century.
Maybe the next time a former community organizer raised in a creepy church runs for president, the media will work a little harder to dig into his real agenda.