Links for 5-17-2018

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Gina Haspel as CIA director on a 54–45 vote.

  • The New York Times published an article describing how the Obama administration’s intelligence agencies spied on Donald Trump’s campaign. Mollie Hemingway offers ten takeaways from the article, including this:

    This is a stunning admission for those Americans worried that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies might use their powers to surveil, leak against, and target Americans simply for their political views or affiliations. As Sean Davis wrote, “The most amazing aspect about this article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election.”

    Andrew McCarthy further emphasizes this:

    But that’s not even the most important of the buried ledes. What the Times story makes explicit, with studious understatement, is that the Obama administration used its counterintelligence powers to investigate the opposition party’s presidential campaign.

    That is, there was no criminal predicate to justify an investigation of any Trump-campaign official. So, the FBI did not open a criminal investigation. Instead, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation and hoped that evidence of crimes committed by Trump officials would emerge. But it is an abuse of power to use counterintelligence powers, including spying and electronic surveillance, to conduct what is actually a criminal investigation.

    The timing of the Times article is more interesting — it’s designed to inoculate the public against a forthcoming DOJ Inspector General report.

  • The Associated Press documented mass internment camps in China’s Xinjiang province:

    The internment program aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. Detainees who most vigorously criticize the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.

    There are also details of the panopticon that China has constructed in Xinjiang.