Links for 12-11-2017

  • Andrew McCarthy asks whether Robert Mueller can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia conducted a cyber espionage operation intended to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. If he can’t, Mueller can’t prove the Trump campaign colluded in that operation.

    The government, the media, and most of the public accept the premise that Russia interfered in the election. But not because this assertion has been proved in court. Instead, it is based on an intelligence judgment by three agencies, the FBI, CIA and NSA, announced under the auspices of a fourth, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    All four agencies were run by Obama appointees. The Obama administration had a history of politicizing intelligence to serve administration narratives, and the intelligence judgment in question cannot be divorced from politics because it was announced just as Obama’s party was fashioning a narrative that Russian espionage had stolen the election from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, it is not my purpose here to make a partisan argument. The point is to consider the nature of intelligence judgments — to contrast them with courtroom findings. This dichotomy does depend on which party is running the executive branch.

    The objective of a criminal investigation is a prosecution, not a national-security judgment. In a prosecution, each essential element of the offense charged must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. It is virtually certain that Mueller could never establish, to this exacting standard of proof, that Russia is guilty of cyberespionage — at least in the absence of an accomplice witness involved in the hacking, which he apparently does not have despite the government’s 18 months of investigative effort.

  • A Department of Justice official who was demoted for concealing his meetings with Fusion GPS — the opposition research company behind the Trump dossier — had even closer ties to the company than previously known. It turns out Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 presidential campaign, although we don’t know exactly what her responsibilities were.

    Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”

    Initially, DOJ officials provided no explanation for Ohr’s demotion. Later, they said his wearing of two hats was “unusual”; still later, they confirmed Ohr had withheld his contacts with the Fusion GPS men from superiors.

  • In the past week, Reuters, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, The New York Times, and CNN all published false anti-Trump stories:

    Forget your routine bias, these were four bombshells disseminated to millions of Americans by breathless anchors, pundits and analysts, feeding frenzied expectations that have now been internalized as indisputable truths by many. All four pieces, incidentally, are useless without the central faulty claim. Yet, there they sit. And these are only four of dozens of other stories that have fizzled over the year.

    Later:

    The fact that many political journalists (not all) are hopelessly biased is one thing (social media has made this fact inarguable), but if they become a proxy of operatives who peddle falsehoods, they will soon lose all credibility with a big swath of the country. They will only have themselves to blame.

  • John Daniel Davidson visited Alabama and interviewed people to learn why they (still) support Roy Moore for U.S. Senate. If the Democrats had nominated a pro-life candidate (are there any pro-life Democrats left?), they would have had a much better chance of winning this election.

  • An immigrant from Bangladesh who was inspired by ISIS attempted a suicide bombing in New York City. He injured himself and three other people. He entered the U.S. on a chain migration visa.

  • The Secret Service settled a five year old lawsuit with a whistleblower after the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General determined that the Secret Service retaliated against him for complaining about a superior’s alleged misconduct.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to convince EU foreign ministers to follow Donald Trump’s lead and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but didn’t get anywhere. Meanwhile Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan keeps digging deeper holes, saying, “ The ones who made Jerusalem a dungeon for Muslims and members of other religions will never be able to clean the blood from their hands… With their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in this bloodshed.”

  • I haven’t linked to a story like this recently, but Turkey continues to bomb northern Iraq on a near-weekly basis. The Turks claim the latest strike killed 29 PKK members.

  • Vladimir Putin visited Syria and said an unspecified number of Russian troops are withdrawing from Syria now that ISIS has been defeated.

  • The Associated Press published the backstory of “Mosul Eye,” a blogger/historian who anonymously documented life under ISIS in Mosul.

  • A Chinese diplomat threatened to invade Taiwan if a U.S. Navy ship ever visits the island.

  • Josh Robin writes for The Washington Post that Washington, D.C. is waking up to “the huge scope and scale of Chinese Communist Party influence operations inside the United States, which permeate American institutions of all kinds.”

  • The Department of Justice says it has no plans to deport Guo Wengui, who is wanted by the Chinese government:

    Since earlier this year, China's government has engaged in a wide-ranging influence operation, including the use of cyber attacks on American institutions, in a bid to force the United States to repatriate Guo to China.

    The effort has included the use of American business leaders with interests in China to lobby President Trump to return the dissident.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reviewed the case and determined Guo will not be forcibly returned, the senior official told reporters during a briefing at the White House.

    Later:

    Guo, who now lives in New York City, has become an outspoken critic of China's government and a pro-democracy advocate who has charged that senior leaders are engaged in corrupt financial and other activities. He has labeled the ruling Communist Party of China a "kleptocracy" and warned that China's government is working to subvert the United States.

Links for 12-1-2017

Links for 10-10-2017

Links for 8-14-2017

Links for 8-10-2017

  • Donald Trump thanked Vladimir Putin for ordering a reduction in the number of American diplomats in Russia because it reduced the State Department’s payroll (in reality, the diplomats are being sent back to the U.S., and are not necessarily being laid off). This is one of those things that you can think to yourself, but you shouldn’t say out loud. Trump has trouble with this concept.

  • The chattering classes have been discussing the possibility of negotiating an Iran-style nuclear deal with North Korea to discourage a war. John Daniel Davidson points out that Bill Clinton negotiated a deal with North Korea back in 1994 that’s strikingly similar to Barack Obama’s Iran deal. Jim Geraghty adds this:

    As with the Iran deal many years later, the deal with North Korea was not a formal treaty and thus never ratified by Congress.

    Of course, the North Koreans cheated; the U.S. provided oil, two light water reactors, and a new electric grid, altogether worth roughly $5 billion, in exchange for promises.

    Clinton’s deal resulted in North Korea possessing nuclear weapons, and Obama’s deal with Iran will end the same way.

  • A U.S. Navy destroyer conducted another “freedom of navigation” operation in the South China Sea, sailing to within 12 miles of Mischief Reef, one of China’s artificial islands.

  • Two of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s top aides quit: chief of staff Steven Groves and communications director Jonathan Wachtel.

  • In the context of Google’s firing of James Damore for “perpetuating gender stereotypes,” Joy Pullmann argues that it’s time to end all discrimination policies and restore equal protection:

    Since Google is a private company I have no problem with them making unequal hiring and promotion rules. I am all in favor of discrimination — the freedom to set one’s own criteria for making decisions — and free association, for any reason, as individuals’ constitutional and natural rights. If they wanted to be an all-man or all-woman or all-black or all-Asian company, or give preferences to whatever people they feel sorry for at the moment, that’s Google’s business. At the level they’re operating they could be an all-woman company and still have the world’s best engineers, as Harvard or Stanford could since many more qualified people apply than can be admitted.

    The problem is when they promise “equality” then deliver discrimination. It’s this hypocrisy Damore had the temerity to point out, and for which he was fired. It’s the same hypocrisy inside the famous “Animal Farm” slogan for totalitarianism: “All are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  • For the Democratic Party, abortion is a positive good:

    Lindy West of the New York Times recently, and similarly, insisted that unfettered access to abortion is essential to women’s economic and other liberties. Hers is one of many denunciations, by party activists and progressive journalists, of the Democratic Party’s decision to support pro-life Democrats running in more conservative districts. Pro-choice activists in the past decade made the leap from regarding abortion as a tragic necessity to seeing it a positive social good; West now sees it as the central guarantor of American liberty.

    Later:

    On some level, [John C.] Calhoun and other pro-slavery ideologues recognized that any “right” to slavery would be destroyed the moment the United States recognized that nature’s law affirmed the liberty of enslaved African Americans. Lindy West similarly holds that the human and civil rights of women would be undermined if the rights of the unborn were recognized. Even to question the right to abortion is “to be, at best, indifferent to the disenfranchisement, suffering and possibly even the death of women. At worst it is to revel in those things, to believe them fundamental to the natural order.” For West, abortion is the key to women’s economic, political, and social rights in the United States. If abortion were to be shown to be inconsistent with the natural order, then Lindy believes every freedom gained for women would evaporate.

  • A grand jury indicted Benjamin Roden for bombing an Air Force recruiting office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Roden is a former member of the Air Force. No one was hurt in the bombing.

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro affirmed that the new constituent assembly is the most powerful institution in the country, saying, “I come to recognize its plenipotentiary powers, sovereign, original and magnificent.”

  • Cuba reportedly used a “sonic weapon” against American and Canadian diplomats, damaging their hearing. The Trump administration responded by expelling two Cuban diplomats, which seems wimpy.

  • British police broke up a huge child sex, prostitution, and drug ring:

    As a result of a massive ongoing investigation the police have named “Operation Sanctuary,” one British woman and a total of 17 men have been convicted of rape, conspiracy to incite prostitution, and illegally supplying drugs. The men, BBC notes, were from the “Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle.”

  • Israel is building an underground wall around the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas from tunneling into Israel. The wall will extend into the Mediterranean Sea to discourage commando attacks.

  • Tim Tebow shakes a kid’s hand, hits a three run homer:

  • PragerU: College Made Me a Conservative:

Links for 7-7-2017

Links for 5-23-2017