Links for 2-1-2018

  • Andrew McCarthy writes on the FBI’s objections to the release of Devin Nunes’ memo:

    Since before the Republican-led committee voted (along partisan lines) to seek the memo’s declassification and publication, the FBI has been complaining that it was not permitted to review the memo. As I explained last week, this was a very unpersuasive complaint. Having stonewalled the committee’s information requests for several months, the Bureau and Justice Department are hardly well positioned to complain about being denied access; the committee, by contrast, has every reason to believe they would have slow-walked any review in order to delay matters further.

    All that aside, the FBI was guaranteed access to the memo before its publication because of the rules of the process. Once the committee voted to disclose, that gave the president five days to object. During that five days, Trump’s own appointees at the FBI and DOJ would have the chance to pore over the memo and make their objections and policy arguments to their principal, the president, and to the rest of the Trump national-security team. This tells us the real objection was not that they were barred from reviewing the memo; it is that they were barred from reviewing it on a schedule that would make it more difficult to derail publication.

    Angelo Codevilla offers a more partisan take:

    The FBI’s top leadership — whose careers, business dealings, politics, marriages and extramarital affairs intertwine — invested itself incompetently and illegally into the 2016 election campaign against Donald Trump. In part to cover itself, it launched the so-called “Russia probe.” Its members are personally, deeply interested in keeping the public from seeing the documents concerning these activities. They raised the familiar shield: release would compromise the sources and methods of national security.

    The House of Representatives’ Republican majority wanted the documents made public, issued a subpoena for them, and was prepared to jail senior FBI for contempt had they not complied with it. The House compromised, being satisfied by viewing them and making a summary, which it has voted to make public. The FBI and the Justice Department’s bureaucracy, being out of options for saving their reputations, their pensions, and perhaps for keeping themselves out of jail, urge President Trump to advise the House to guard the secrecy of the summary, of the activities that it describes, and hence to save their bacon.

  • The U.S. Marine Corps relieved the commander of one of Okinawa’s two MF–22 Osprey squadrons of duty. Lt. Col. Bryan Swenson lost his job due to a “loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command.” Six months ago an Osprey crashed off Okinawa’s coast.

  • Fourteen Catholic senators voted against cloture for the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” a.k.a. the 20 week abortion ban. Father Dwight Longenecker provides the name of each senator’s bishop so you know who to complain to.

  • The Trump administration designated Harakat as-Sabirin Li-Nasran Filastin as a terrorist group. As-Sabirin is a Shiite group that operates in Gaza and is funded by Iran. The Trump administration also designated two Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in Egypt as terrorist groups — Harakat Sawa’id Misr and Liwa al-Thawra.

  • The Syrian government reportedly used chlorine rockets again in Douma.

  • Reuters provided some backstory for Ji Seong-ho, the North Korean defector who appeared at Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech this week.

  • A cybersecurity company based in the United Arab Emirates, DarkMatter, started revealing some information about its operations and customers. DarkMatter is tight with the UAE’s government, and hires a lot of ex-CIA and ex-NSA people.

Links for 7-14-2017

  • The latest version of the Senate’s health insurance bill contains hand-outs for states intended to persuade the senators from those states to vote for the bill. Here’s an example intended to buy off Lisa Murkowski:

    Section 106 of the bill includes new language—page 13, lines 4 through 13, and page 18, line 12 through page 19, line 4—dedicating one percent of the new Stability Fund dollars to “each state where the cost of insurance premiums are at least 75 percent higher than the national average.” As a Bloomberg story noted, this provision currently applies only to Alaska, and could result in $1.32 billion in Stability Fund dollars automatically being directed to Alaska.

  • A federal district court judge in Hawaii again took it upon himself (again) to re-write parts of Donald Trump’s “travel ban” executive order.

  • American and Somali special forces troops killed several al Shabaab fighters during a raid in southern Somalia.

  • Three gunmen killed two Israeli police officers on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The gunmen, who were Arab citizens of Israel, were killed by other police officers.

  • An Egyptian man stabbed two German tourists to death and wounded four others at Red Sea resorts. Three gunmen on a motorcycle killed five Egyptian policemen at a security checkpoint south of Cairo.

  • A high ranking member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi, was caught trying to enter the U.S. while posing as a cancer researcher. Dehnavi was deported back to Iran.

    “Here are the facts: Mr. Dehnavi is a high-ranking member of IRGC’s Basij, has been involved in the IRGC’s military research programs, has played a key role in oppressing dissidents, and Iran’s Supreme Leader has given him his own keffiyeh as a gift,” Saeed Ghasseminejad, a prominent Iranian dissident and regional expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the Free Beacon.

    Other media outlets have independently identified Dehnavi as a top Basij member who was involved in efforts to suppress dissident and reformist voices in Iran.

  • New reporting from Raqqa indicates the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate in Tunisia actively recruited young men to fight for ISIS in Syria.

  • Young male Afghan refugees in Europe are in the habit of sexually assaulting women:

    But there was one development that had not been expected, and was not tolerable: the large and growing incidence of sexual assaults committed by refugees against local women. These were not of the cultural-misunderstanding-date-rape sort, but were vicious, no-preamble attacks on random girls and women, often committed by gangs or packs of young men. At first, the incidents were downplayed or hushed up—no one wanted to provide the right wing with fodder for nationalist agitation, and the hope was that these were isolated instances caused by a small problem group of outliers. As the incidents increased, and because many of them took place in public or because the public became involved either in stopping the attack or in aiding the victim afterwards, and because the courts began issuing sentences as the cases came to trial, the matter could no longer be swept under the carpet of political correctness. And with the official acknowledgment and public reporting, a weird and puzzling footnote emerged. Most of the assaults were being committed by refugees of one particular nationality: by Afghans.

  • 38 North, a think tank that monitors North Korea, believes that thermal images of North Korea’s main nuclear site suggest the country has reprocessed more plutonium than previously thought.

  • Hong Kong’s High Court stripped four opposition lawmakers of their seats in the legislature because they refused to (correctly) take an oath when they were sworn in.

  • Jeff M. Smith wrote a good summary of the border dispute between China and India at the point where China, India, and Bhutan meet:

    First, the de-facto border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is a magnet for standoffs between Chinese and Indian border patrols. Unlike the turbulent Line of Control with Pakistan in Kashmir, however, an elaborate series of bilateral mechanisms has kept the LAC free of any fatal exchanges for decades. Only once since 1962 has a standoff turned bloody. That’s the good news. But there is also bad news: That fatal exchange, the Nathu La incident of 1967, unfolded near the site of the current crisis.

    Second, the peace that has prevailed at the border masks a disconcertingly ambiguous tactical situation along select portions of the LAC. Not only is the roughly 3,500-kilometer border unsettled and un-demarcated, there are roughly a dozen stretches along the frontier where the two countries cannot even agree on the location of the LAC. These are the source of hundreds of relatively innocent “transgressions” by Chinese border patrols annually. (China doesn’t publicly track Indian transgressions). On occasion, these devolve into more serious “intrusions,” as witnessed in 2013 and 2014 when the People’s Liberation Army spent several weeks camped across the LAC in the Western Sector.

Links for 1-26-2017

Links for 4-13-2016

Links for 6-9-2015

Links for 4-11-2015

Links for 2-28-2015