Links for 5-19-2018

  • Andrew McCarthy writes on the politicized nature of Department of Justice investigations, specifically the differences between how the Clinton email server investigation was handled and how the Trump/Russia investigation was handled:

    It has now been confirmed that the Trump campaign was subjected to spying tactics under counterintelligence law — FISA surveillance, national-security letters, and covert intelligence operatives who work with the CIA and allied intelligence services. It made no difference, apparently, that there was an ongoing election campaign, which the FBI is supposed to avoid affecting; nor did it matter that the spy targets were American citizens, as to whom there is supposed to be evidence of purposeful, clandestine, criminal activity on behalf of a foreign power before counterintelligence powers are invoked.

    But what was the rationale for using these spying authorities?

    The fons et origo of the counterintelligence investigation was the suspicion — which our intelligence agencies assure us is a fact — that the Democratic National Committee’s server was hacked by covert Russian operatives. Without this cyber-espionage attack, there would be no investigation. But how do we know it really happened? The Obama Justice Department never took custody of the server — no subpoena, no search warrant. The server was thus never subjected to analysis by the FBI’s renowned forensics lab, and its evidentiary integrity was never preserved for courtroom presentation to a jury.

  • The New York Times and The Washington Post have revealed enough (leaked) information to identify the person dispatched by the FBI to wheedle his way into the Trump campaign: Stefan Halper.

  • China landed bombers on its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

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.

Links for 5-12-2018

Links for 5-8-2018

Links for 3-5-2018

  • John Kerry has been working with Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. and others to rescue the Iranian nuclear deal:

    With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.

    Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

    This is about as blatant a violation of the Logan Act as you’ll find, but Dan McLaughlin argues Congress should repeal the Logan Act.

  • The Guardian reports that the Trump administration hired an Israeli private intelligence company to investigate two Obama administration officials, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, whose work was instrumental on the Iran nuclear deal. The Guardian treats this an unacceptable, but of course was OK for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to hire a former MI6 agent (Christopher Steele) to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign, relying on Russian sources for information.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller need to publicly state whether there’s a criminal case against Donald Trump and the nature of that case:

    In every other independent-prosecutor investigation in modern history — Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater/Lewinsky — the president and the public have known exactly what was alleged. The prosecutor was able to investigate with all the secrecy the law allows, but under circumstances in which we all understood what was being investigated and why the president was suspected of wrongdoing.

    After two years, we are entitled to nothing less. The president should direct Rosenstein to outline, publicly and in detail, the good-faith basis for a criminal investigation arising out of Russia’s interference in the election — if there is one. If he can’t, Mueller’s criminal investigation should be terminated; if he can, Mueller should be compelled to explain (unless Rosenstein’s disclosure makes it clear) why he needs to interview President Trump in order to complete his work.

    If Rosenstein and Mueller are reluctant to do that, it can only be because they’ve decided that not only their investigation but also their desire for secrecy take precedence over every other consideration, including the president’s capacity to govern domestically and conduct foreign policy in a dangerous world. But secrecy is not the nation’s top priority. It’s long past time to lay the cards on the table.

  • Two of James Comey’s allies within the FBI, James Baker and Lisa Page, quit their jobs yesterday. Baker is joining the Brookings Institution.

  • The Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for 86,000 Hondurans who happened to be in the U.S. when Hurricane Mitch hit their home country in 1999. Mark Krikorian writes that Congress needs to reform this program so presidents stop abusing it.

  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat bill into law, which means Iowa is now the state with the tightest restrictions on abortion. Of course implementation of the law will be blocked while it’s challenged in courts for years.

  • A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Hawaii’s big island after Kilauea erupted and sent lava flowing through a housing subdivision.

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and more 1,000 other protesters were arrested ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

Links for 5-2-2018

Links for 2-26-2018