Links for 6-15-2018

Links for 5-31-2018

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 2-8-2018

Links for 2-5-2018

Links for 1-17-2018

Links for 11-29-2017

  • The U.S. Air Force fired the commander of the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team, Lt. Col. Jason Heard. His boss cited a lack of confidence in his “leadership and risk management style.”

  • Yesterday Garrison Keillor published an op-ed in The Washington Post declaring “absurd” the idea that Senator Al Franken should resign over sexual harassment charges. Today Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio over sexual harassment charges.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States, an important Fourth Amendment case dealing with the circumstances where law enforcement must obtain a search warrant to access cell phone records.

  • Mollie Hemingway points out more cases where the mainstream media bends “fact checks” to advance a political agenda, not to advance the truth:

    Far more troubling was the Washington Post’s fact check of Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that “There are more Americans working today than ever before in American history.” Now, a fact check of that statement means you check whether it’s true that more Americans work today than ever before. A reasonable person would suspect it has a high chance of being true if for no other reason than there are more Americans living today than ever before.

    In fact, it is factually correct to say that more Americans are working now than ever before. The Washington Post admits this, showcases the numbers (124 million, up from 65 million in 1968), and says Pence is “technically correct.” So they give him, quite amazingly, three Pinocchios, their little metric that summarizes their analysis of the truthfulness of the statement. Then they admit they wanted to give him four Pinocchios but were constrained by the fact that what he said was true. I’m not joking.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that we need to create new national security courts to try terrorists instead of prosecuting them in civilian or military courts:

    These problems, it should be noted, are separate and apart from the main challenge: It is impossible to try terrorists under civilian due-process protocols without providing them generous discovery from the government’s intelligence files. This means we are telling the enemy what we know about the enemy while the enemy is still plotting to attack Americans and American interests. That’s nuts.

    The patent downsides of treating international terrorism as a law-enforcement issue are why critics, myself included, were hopeful that a shift to military prosecution of enemy combatants would improve matters — more protection of intelligence, and due process limited by the laws and customs of war. We were wrong. The experiment has been a dismal failure. To catalogue all the delays, false starts, and misadventures of the military-commission system would take another column or three. Suffice it to say that it was unfair and unrealistic to task our armed forces with designing a legal system on the fly even as they fought a complex war in which, unlike prior American wars, swaths of the American legal profession backed the enemy — volunteering to represent jihadist belligerents in challenges to military detention and prosecution.

  • Russia is a signatory to an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe agreement requiring them to allow other countries to monitor military exercises that exceed certain parameters, such as the number of troops participating or the number of tanks involved. Russia always under-reports the size of its military exercises before they’re held to elide the monitoring requirement, then trumpets the huge number of troops and equipment involved afterward — numbers that would have triggered monitoring.

    Western concerns about the possible size and purpose of Zapad 2017 were a direct consequence of Russia’s consistent lack of transparency regarding its military activities over the last several years. Russia has consistently under-reported the numbers of troops involved in its exercises to avoid outside observation, and has conducted large no-notice “snap” exercises to test Western responses to unexpected troop activity. This behavior, coupled with Russia’s actions against Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008, contributes to the perception that Russia is prepared to use military force again against its neighbors and shows that it feels little obligation to play by the rules it has agreed to.

  • A commander of Bosnian Croat forces, Slobodan Praljak, committed suicide in a U.N. court by drinking poison. Judges had just rejected his appeal of a 20 year prison sentence for war crimes against Bosnian Muslims.

  • An exceptionally tight election for president of Honduras is triggering a political crisis.