Links for 2-3-2018

  • The counter-leaks have already started in response to the release of Devin Nunes’ memo; many of the controversies regarding the memo would go away if the Department of Justice released the text of its applications for FISA court warrants targeting Carter Page and other people associated with the Trump campaign and transition team. Many commentators are arguing there isn’t a scandal here, but Victor Davis Hanson makes a good argument why there should be one:

    If all this is not a scandal — then the following protocols are now considered permissible in American electoral practice and constitutional jurisprudence: An incumbent administration can freely use the FBI and the DOJ to favor one side in a presidential election, by buying its opposition research against the other candidate, using its own prestige to authenticate such a third-party oppositional dossier, and then using it to obtain court-ordered wiretaps on American citizens employed by a candidate’s campaign — and do so by deliberately misleading the court about the origins and authors of the dossier that was used to obtain the warrants.

    Mark Steyn takes issue with the Department of Justice renewing the warrant targeting Carter Page even as the the perceived quality of the intelligence that justified the warrant in the first place kept decreasing as they investigated further:

    A surveillance warrant against a US person also has to be renewed every 90 days – which this one was, thrice: That would presumably be just before the inauguration in January, and again in April and July. By the time of the first renewal, signatories Yates and Comey were aware that Steele had been fired as an FBI informant for blabbing to the press about being an FBI informant. In addition, an internal FBI investigation had found his dossier “minimally corroborated”. Yet evidently the diminished value of both the dossier and its author were not disclosed to the judge – in January or subsequent renewals. Indeed, one can be fairly confident that Deputy AG Rosenstein and the FBI would have been happy to apply for a fourth renewal, were it not for the fact that the general crappiness of Steele’s dossier was by then all over the papers and even a judge kept in the dark by the feds for a year might have begun to notice it.

    In the middle of all this is an American citizen who was put under 24/7 surveillance by the panopticon state because it enabled the ruling party to eavesdrop on its political opponent. As much as Steele’s dossier, Carter Page was a mere pretext: The dossier was the pretext to get to Page, and Page was the pretext to get to Trump.

  • For more than two years, Israeli drones, helicopters, and airplanes have conducted airstrikes against militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula with the Egyptian government’s blessing.

    The Israeli drones are unmarked, and the Israeli jets and helicopters cover up their markings. Some fly circuitous routes to create the impression that they are based in the Egyptian mainland, according to American officials briefed on their operations.

    In Israel, military censors restrict public reports of the airstrikes. It is unclear if any Israeli troops or special forces have set foot inside Egyptian borders, which would increase the risk of exposure.

    Mr. Sisi has taken even more care, American officials say, to hide the origin of the strikes from all but a limited circle of military and intelligence officers. The Egyptian government has declared the North Sinai a closed military zone, barring journalists from gathering information there.

  • Syrian rebels in Idlib province shot down a Russian fighter plane and killed the pilot after he ejected.

  • A suicide bomber killed 11 Pakistani soldiers and injured another 13.

Links for 1-13-2018

Links for 1-2-2018

  • An American soldier was killed and four were wounded during fighting in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which is on the border with Pakistan. The U.S. is withholding $255 million in aid to Pakistan because it harbors terrorists.

  • Mark Steyn’s first post of the new year includes a twelve days of Christmas-style countdown: an eight o’clock curfew, seven sexual assailants, six stabbers arrested, five homes raided, four women gang-raped, three pubs attacked, two police officers lynched, and a canceled New Year in Sydney. His numbering scheme doesn’t handle the 945 cars that were torched in France on New Year’s Eve.

  • Two members of Germany’s Alternative for Germany party are being investigated for violating a new law that makes it a crime to “incite people to commit violence against a certain section of society.” Their alleged offenses were committed via Twitter, which deleted the tweets because the company can be fined 50 million euros for failing to delete “hateful” content.

  • Senator Al Franken (D-MN) officially resigned.

  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) won’t run for re-election. He’s only been in the Senate for 40 years, and he’s 83 years old. Say hello to Senator Mitt Romney.

  • Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) won’t run for re-election.

  • Huma Abedin forwarded emails containing passwords to government systems to her personal Yahoo account before all of Yahoo’s accounts were breached. At least one of those breaches was perpetrated by a Russian intelligence agent.

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that we’re in the midst of an unusual experiment in American government, a rapid switch from far-left to far-right governing at the federal level. He characterizes the Obama administration this way:

    Identity politics, progressive policing of ideas on campus, an end to campus free expression that only empowered hate speech, the politicization and expansion of the deep state, along with open borders and new laxities governing citizenship and voting would usher in new, kinder and gentler race, ethnicity, and gender agendas. A single EPA director, one high IRS commissioner, or a federal-appeals-court justice would now exercise far more political power than any congressional committee. The “law” — in the sense of customary non-surveillance of American citizens, disinterested attorneys general, or a nonpartisan bureaucracy — was redefined as whatever would best serve social justice and equality.

    On the economic side, more regulations, larger government, more entitlements, higher taxes, zero interest rates, and doubling the national debt were designed to redistribute income and “spread the wealth.” The idea that the stock market could get much higher, that GDP could ever hit 3 percent or above, or that industry and manufacturing would return to the U.S. was caricatured as the ossified pipe dreams of discredited supply-siders.

  • The initial narrative on collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia isn’t going anywhere, so The New York Times is trying again, this time focusing on George Papadopoulos instead of Carter Page.

    In the Times’ new version of events, it was not the dossier that “so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election.” That, according to the Times, is a false claim that “Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged.” Somehow, the paper omits the inconvenient details that it was the Times that led the charge in claiming that it was Page’s trip to Moscow that provoked the investigation, and that it was the dossier that so alarmed the FBI about that trip.

    In what we might think of as the latest “Russian Reset,” the Times now says the investigation was instigated by “firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies” — Australia. Turns out Papadopoulos was out drinking in London with Alexander Downer, “Australia’s top diplomat in Britain.” Tongue loosened, the “young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign” made a “startling revelation” to Downer: He had learned that “Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

    Later:

    To say this story has holes in it does not do justice to the craters on display. To begin with, the Times admits that “exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said” to Downer “is unclear.” What we are dealing with here is sheer supposition. And, it appears, flawed supposition.

  • The death toll in Iran’s protests is up to 20, and the government is blaming the country’s unnamed “enemies.” Ben Shapiro writes that Donald Trump has reversed the Obama doctrine on Iran:

    Contrast Trump’s behavior with that of the Obama administration, which deliberately ignored anti-regime protests in 2009, choosing instead to cozy favor with the regime and maximize Tehran’s regional power. The administration even went so far as to give Tehran a legal pathway to a nuclear weapon. Obama stated that while he was “troubled” by violence against the protesters, it was “up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be,” and he hoped “to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.”

    The administration would go on to allegedly leak Israeli plans to kill the commander of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, to the Iranians, lie to the American public about contact with the “moderate” Iranian regime regarding a nuclear deal, and then ship pallets of cash to the greatest state sponsor of terror on the planet.

    This, then, is the irony of Trump’s foreign policy in contrast with Obama’s: Obama jabbered endlessly about American leadership while simultaneously “leading from behind.” Trump actually pursues American leadership while simultaneously claiming the isolationist mantle of “America first.”

  • Iran re-opened two border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • The Washington Free Beacon obtained a document from China’s Communist Party that indicates China offered North Korea increased aid and military support if the country stopped testing nuclear weapons. China’s public stance is that it wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula, but the document says North Korea can keep its existing nuclear weapons. The Beacon doesn’t say how it obtained the document, but there’s a good chance dissident Guo Wengui was involved.

  • An academic study suggests that Republicans support photo voter ID laws to combat voter fraud, but Democrats only support them when it’s likely that Republicans would be hurt by such laws.

Links for 11-3-2017

Links for 11-1-2017

  • The suspect in the New York City terrorist attack, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, is from Uzbekistan, and he came to the U.S. via the “Diversity Visa Program.” The Department of Homeland Security questioned Saipov in 2015, but didn’t formally investigate him. And there’s this: “Saipov’s social media activity showed that he actively sought and engaged with radical Islamic propaganda and sympathized with ISIS.” Saipov used America’s chain migration policy to bring another 23 people into the country.

  • Mark Steyn wrote a tremendous column on the New York City terrorist attack that ends with this:

    So now eight grieving families and dozens more who’ll be living with horrific injuries for the rest of their lives are told by Cuomo and De Blasio and the rest of the gutless political class behind their security details that there’s nothing to do except to get used to it.

    I don’t want to get used to it – and I reiterate my minimum demand of western politicians that I last made after the London Bridge attacks: How many more corpses need to pile up on our streets before you guys decide to stop importing more of it?

    If your congressman or senator says that’s not on his agenda, what he means is he’s willing to sacrifice you and your loved ones in the suicide lottery of diversity.

  • A U.S. Navy report detailed a long list of mistakes made by the crews of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain prior to their collisions with other ships. This part is interesting:

    In the early morning hours of June 17, the Fitzgerald was traveling at a speed of 20 knots about 50 miles south of Tokyo Bay when it began to sail past commercial vessels. Contrary to his standing order, [Cmdr. Bryce] Benson was not notified on multiple occasions when the Fitzgerald came within three nautical miles of several of those ships.

    At one point the Fitzgerald crossed the bow of one of those ships at a distance of 650 yards.

  • The CIA released some of the material they obtained when U.S. Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan:

    The Abbottabad repository confirms that bin Laden was anything but retired when US forces knocked down his door. He was not a mere figurehead. During the final months of his life, Osama bin Laden was communicating with subordinates around the globe. Recovered memos discuss the various committees and lieutenants who helped bin Laden manage his sprawling empire of terror.

    In fact, al Qaeda’s network was a great deal more cohesive than was widely suspected in May 2011. Groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Shabaab (in Somalia) regularly sought and received the al Qaeda master’s direction. Other organizations, such as the Pakistani Taliban, are featured throughout the documents as well. And al Qaeda continued to maintain a significant footprint inside Afghanistan, relocating personnel to the country in 2010 and fighting alongside the Taliban.

  • A group of lawmakers accused the Trump administration of illegally arming and funding the Iranian-backed militias that are fighting alongside the Iraqi army. There are photos circulating of militia members driving American M1A1 tanks.

  • U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Schultz died in a crash at a Nevada testing range back in September. The Air Force refused to specify what plane he was flying, which led to speculation that he was testing something new. It now appears he was flying a Russian Su–27 as part of an aggressor squadron that helps American pilots train against foreign aircraft. The Air Force is now considering whether to contract out these aggressor planes and their pilots to a private company; the contract could be worth billions of dollars.

  • The Salt Lake City nurse who was arrested for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient settled her lawsuit against the city for $500,000.

  • A Chechen woman who fought for Ukraine in its battle with Russia, Amina Okueva, was assassinated in an ambush on the outskirts of Kyiv. Okueva’s husband was injured in the attack. Back in June there was another assassination attempt against the two of them, that time by a Russian citizen posing as a journalist for Le Monde who came to interview them.

  • U.K. Defense Minister Michael Fallon resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.

  • The Iraqi government threatened to restart military operations against the Kurds.

Links for 9-25-2017

Links for 9-1-2017

  • Matt Labash wrote a tremendous profile of Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson. Labash followed Gibson around before, during, and after Antifa assaulted him in Berkeley. 

  • Mark Steyn writes on “The Coming Terror”:

    Meanwhile, the police stand around and watch. Administrators of publicly funded colleges dislike having to pay lip service to free speech, and are happy to have antifa’s shock troops on hand to send the message loud and clear. Municipal governments cannot, yet, be as openly hostile to dissent as college campuses are, but in Charlottesville the authorities were plainly resentful at a judge’s order commanding them to re-instate the neo-Nazis’ rally permit, and they determined to circumvent it. So they surrendered the streets to the “anti-fascists”, and then drove the “fascists” into their path: The good cops in effect decided to leave it to some informally deputized bad cops. The selective rule of law is one of the most unsettling features of contemporary America, and there will be a lot more of it in the years ahead.

    Charlottesville did, however, provoke CNN to one of its more inventive flights of fancy. A few days later, normality had sufficiently reasserted itself that Muslims were once again going full Allahua Akbar on the Continentals. Covering the Barcelona bombings, Wolf Blitzer suggested that it was a “copycat” attack modeled on Charlottesville. In Barcelona, the van drove into the pedestrianized area (as Muslim motorists have done in Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, London, etc); in Charlottesville, the police had abandoned the streets and so the pedestrians were swarming all over the roadway. In Barcelona, the driver was part of a twelve-man cell that had spent the previous days stockpiling their house with TATP; in Charlottesville, the driver was a diagnosed schizophrenic, but apparently such a murderous mastermind that within days he’d inspired that twelve-man cell all the way over in Spain to get their motor running and head out on the sidewalk. I’d be very surprised if a schizophrenic panicking at finding his vehicle surrounded by a mob of protesters could be convicted of anything more than involuntary manslaughter, but, as I said, the rule of law is increasingly capricious. And, as Professor Bray would explain, schizophrenic fascists cannot be defeated through speech.

  • Robert Tracinski wrote another good article on Google and free speech:

    It is entirely natural for a company to not want to give money to people calling for its destruction, and I totally support that. Yet Google and many other big tech firms have also tried to present themselves as beacons of “progressive ideals.” That’s why they funded the New America Foundation, which this article refers to as a center of “market-friendly Silicon Valley progressivism.” What’s progressive about it if it’s “market-friendly”? Well, the big tech companies and the people who work for them tend to back Democratic Party candidates. They pay lip service to “progressive” policies like the basic income. And they do things like firing employees for opinions the Left deems offensive, or targeting right-leaning YouTube channels for “demonetization.”

    That’s what “Silicon Valley progressivism” means: be the Left’s enforcers against heretics and infidels in the culture wars, in exchange for (temporary) dispensation for your sins against the Left in the realm of economics.

    By targeting Google for prosecution under the antitrust laws—the brainchild of the original Progressives, by the way—the Open Markets team breached this unspoken bargain, and that’s why they had to go. Even if Google or Schmidt didn’t directly order the firing, the big tech companies are the new centers of overflowing corporate abundance, without which think tanks like the New America Foundation can’t thrive, so they didn’t need anyone to give anyone instructions.

    It’s not just this case, or the Damore affair. Another reporter has come forward to describe how Google pressured Forbes to deep-six her exposé of Google’s aggressive negotiating tactics, for fear of having Google cut off their flow of Web traffic.

  • Hans von Spakovsky argues that the federal district court judge who enjoined parts of Texas’ “sanctuary cities” law grossly misapplied the law and the Constitution:

    The judge also found that requiring local law enforcement to honor detainer warrants violates the Fourth Amendment.

    Detainer warrants are issued by the Department of Homeland Security for illegal aliens who are legally removable from the country and filed with local law enforcement officials, asking them to hold the illegal aliens for 48 hours so they can be picked up by federal authorities.

    But as Texas says in its stay motion, “if the Constitution allows Congress to authorize federal immigration officials to take aliens into custody based on civil removability grounds, then it makes no difference for Fourth Amendment purposes whether state officials carry out the first 48 hours of that detention at the behest of the federal government.”

    Attorney General Ken Paxton has already appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit.

  • The Department of Defense wants to spend $30 million to upgrade facilities in Turkey.

  • Caroline Glick argues that the creation of an independent Kurdistan is in the strategic interest of the U.S.:

    In the interest of keeping Mattis’s “laser focus” on fighting ISIS, the US surrendered its far greater strategic interest of preventing Iran and its proxies from taking over the areas that ISIS controlled – such as the Syrian-Lebanese border and the tri-border area between Iraq, Syria and Jordan. As Netanyahu warns at every opportunity, Iran and its proxies are moving into all the areas being liberated from ISIS.

    And Iran isn’t the only concern from either an Israeli or an American perspective. Turkey is also a looming threat, which will only grow if it isn’t contained.

    Turkey’s rapidly accelerating anti-American trajectory is now unmistakable.

    Later:

    The Kurds, with their powerful and experienced military forces in Iraq and Syria alike, constitute a significant check on both Iranian and Turkish power.

  • A federal district court judge fined David Daleiden and his lawyers $200,000 for releasing video recordings of Planned Parenthood representatives.

  • Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidated the election that re-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta, citing irregularities:

    International observers, including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, had said they saw no manipulation of voting and tallying at polling stations. But the election board was slow posting forms showing polling station results online.

    Thousands were missing when official results were declared, so opponents could not check totals. Court experts said some documents lacked official stamps or had figures that did not match official tallies.

    The court ordered that a new election be held within 60 days.

  • An al Shabaab bomb killed 12 people in Somalia’s Puntland region. Five of the 12 were soldiers.