Links for 3-18-2018

Links for 3-1-2018

Links for 2-28-2018

Links for 2-19-2018

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 12-17-2017

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.