Links for 2-18-2018

  • Kevin Williamson demolishes the FBI:

    As was reported on Friday, the FBI had been alerted that a particular pasty-faced virgin down in Florida was probably going to shoot up his old school. He had put up social-media posts to that effect, cleverly shielding his identity from the steely-eyed G-men by signing his legal name to those public threats. The epigones of J. Edgar Hoover may not be Sherlock Holmes, but presumably they can read, and some public-minded citizen took some screen shots and sent them to the FBI.

    The FBI of course did what the relevant authorities did in the case of Omar Mateen, the case of Nidal Hasan, the case of Adam Lanza: nothing.

    We could replace these guys with trained monkeys, if we could train monkeys to be self-important.

  • Andrew McCarthy writes that Russia is waging an information war with the U.S., and we’re responding with a puny, meaningless lawsuit:

    To the contrary, we use counterintelligence rather than criminal investigation to thwart foreign adversaries because prosecution is a woefully inadequate response. The point of counterintelligence is to gather information so we can stop our enemies, through meaningful retaliation and discouragement. Generally, that means diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and, in extreme cases, military means. It could mean deploying our own cyber capabilities. The idea is not to invade every rogue nation. It is to respond to provocations in a manner that hurts our rivals — conveying that the prohibitive cost we will exact makes attacking us against their interests.

    That cannot be accomplished by a mere indictment on which no one will be tried.

  • The Washington Post interviewed a former Russian troll whose job was posting comments on news sites.

  • The U.S. is investigating whether Daimler used software tricks to help its diesel engines pass emissions tests.

Links for 2-16-2018

  • The FBI completely botched the case of the Parkland, Florida high school shooter. On January 5 the FBI received a tip that included the shooter’s name, his location, his weapon, and his intent to conduct a school shooting…and they did nothing. Local law enforcement was called to the homes where he lived more than 20 times and they did nothing, too. Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign, and he has a point.

  • Erick Erickson reviewed a book by two evangelical leaders that attempts to explain/justify Donald Trump’s Christian faith. The review includes this:

    You should know that I read The Faith of Donald J. Trump in the English version and can only guess at what was lost in the translation from the original North Korean. Donald Trump has, it is clear from this book, become Dear Leader, Generalissimo, Eternal General Secretary, Eternal Chairman, and Eternal Leader of the People’s Evangelical Party of America. The Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans would find it very familiar.

    It ends with this:

    In the end, Brody and Lamb’s book exposes how the leaders of the evangelical movement, long treated as outcasts from mainstream culture because of the charlatans in their midst, now enjoy an utterly transactional relationship with Donald Trump, each using the other for an end they believe justifies the means. The long-term damage to the American evangelical movement, which has spent decades working toward respectability and intellectual seriousness, remains to be seen. And a president in need of a savior is surrounded by men and women of faith who are more interested in doing business with him than calling him to repent so that his eternal soul might be saved.

    But Gorsuch!

    Meanwhile The New Yorker published an article detailing an affair between Donald Trump and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. The article explains how the National Enquirer paid McDougal for the exclusive rights to her story with the intent to bury it, a technique called “catch and kill.” The White House claims the article is fake news. The article is well sourced and fits a pattern of Trump’s behavior.

  • Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for attempting to influence the 2016 election. According to prosecutors, no Americans knowingly helped the Russians, although the Russians did use Facebook and Twitter to advance their cause.

    The indictment describes a sophisticated, multi-year and well-funded operation, dubbed “Project Lakhta,” by Russian entities to influence the election, beginning as early as May 2014.

    Russians unlawfully used stolen social security numbers and birth dates of Americans to open accounts on the PayPal digital payment platform and to post on social media using those fake identities, the indictment said.

    Mueller also on Friday reached an agreement with an American named Richard Pinedo, who pled guilty to aiding and abetting interstate and foreign identity fraud by creating, buying and stealing hundreds of bank account numbers that he sold to individuals to use with large digital payment companies.

  • Eli Lake writes that Russia ordered its mercenaries to attack American and allied forces near Deir al-Zour, Syria, and paid for it with more than 200 dead, far more than the five acknowledged by the Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday.

  • Leon Aron writes that Vladimir Putin is running a wartime presidency.

  • For some unfathomable reason the Trump administration is trying to resurrect the U.S. relationship with Turkey, which prompted Turkey to suggest stationing both Turkish and American troops in Manbij, Syria. That would be pathetically dumb.

  • A Trump nominee for a State Department position told Congress that the Obama State Department prevented the FBI from arresting Chinese spies to avoid upsetting relations with Beijing. Susan Thornton is a career foreign service officer and she was working in the Obama-era State Department when this happened; moreover she said she’d maintain these policies toward China if she’s confirmed to her new position.

    Under questioning from Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) Thornton said the State Department was among several agencies that decided to block the FBI arrests of Chinese officials.

    The four MSS [China’s Ministry of State Security] officials were caught by FBI counterspies in October conducting illegal activities while traveling in the United States on transit visas.

    The officials had traveled to New York from Washington as part of a major Chinese government effort to pressure dissident Chinese businessman Guo Wengui.

  • Mitt Romney confirmed that he’s running for U.S. Senate from Utah.

  • Thirty-two class action lawsuits have been filed against Intel over the flaws in the company’s processors that make them vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

  • The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Google didn’t break the law when it fired James Damore. Damore is still suing Google.

Links for 2-15-2018

Links for 2-8-2018

Links for 2-5-2018

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 2-2-2018