Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

Turkey Invades Syria To Crush Kurdish Forces

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Turkey just launched a major military operation in the Afrin region of northern Syria in order to crush U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in the region:

Turkish war planes have launched air strikes on Kurdish militants in northern Syria, in a move likely to cause tensions with the US.

It’s not just warplanes. There are reports of Turkish Leopard tanks crossing the border.

Turkey wants to oust the Kurds, which it calls terrorists, from Afrin region which lies across its southern border.

Some Kurdish groups are allies of the US against the Islamic State group.

Russia has moved its troops away from Afrin, saying it is concerned but will not interfere. Syria denounced Turkey’s “aggression” and “brutal attack”.

Turkey had been shelling the area for two days, ahead of its declaration of a military operation on Saturday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey has notified all actors involved – including the Syrian government – about the offensive. Syria denied this was the case.

According to Livemap, Afrin is a very active theater right now:

The yellow area is Kurd-held territory in Syria, while the blue dots are Turkish military activity.

How much, if any, of the area is held by the directly U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is unclear. (“Unclear” being the watchword for much of the Syrian civil war.)

I can’t imagine that this will improve already-bad relations between the United States and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s scumbag Islamist government in Ankara. Maybe, as with our erstwhile “ally” Pakistan, it’s time to cut ties with Turkey (and start moving to get them expelled from NATO), as they’ve been more of a hindrance than help ever since Erdogan took power.

UT: Hey, Look At This Sweet Communist Chinese Money! Ted Cruz: DON’T EVEN! UT: 😥

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

It’s been a few month since the administration of the University of Texas came up with a really bad idea, so naturally they were ready to latch on to a doozy (accepting propaganda money from Communist China) until Ted Cruz made them back off:

After months of internal uproar and a letter from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the University of Texas at Austin has declared its China center will not accept funding from a Hong Kong-based foundation that the Republican from Texas said helps spread Chinese government propaganda abroad.

The decision – first reported in an article in the “Opinions” section of The Washington Post – was disclosed in a letter sent Friday from UT-Austin President Greg Fenves to Cruz.

The school must “ensure that the receipt of outside funding does not create potential conflicts of interest or place limits on academic freedom and the robust exchange of ideas,” Fenves wrote. “I am concerned about this if we were to accept funding from [the foundation].”

The week before, Cruz had written to Fenves to “express concern” about UT-Austin’s new China center’s relationship with the China-United States Exchange Foundation – a “pseudo-philanthropic foundation,” Cruz wrote, that has ties to an arm of the Chinese government that manages “foreign influence operations.”

In his letter, dated Jan. 2, Cruz wrote he’d heard that the UT-Austin center was considering a partnership with the foundation. Launched around the start of the fall semester, the China Public Policy Center was charged with making “fresh and enduring contributions to the study of China-related policy topics while advancing U.S.-China relations and Texas-China relations,” according to a UT news release.

Its executive director, David Firestein, was formerly a U.S. diplomat and senior vice president at the EastWest Institute. He forwarded requests for comment to a university spokesman.

Cruz said in his letter that he was worried about the center’s collaboration with the foundation and that it would disseminate “propaganda within the center and compromise its credibility.” The same concerns were raised in emails circulated on an internal UT-Austin faculty e-mail list in December, just four months after the China center launched.

An ugly spat played out in one email exchange obtained by The Texas Tribune, with several faculty members voicing or agreeing with concerns about the center’s activities and funding from the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation. One lengthy email suggested an event held by the China center in November was infused with propaganda, and said it had upset students and led some to send concerned emails to the dean.

UT’s scheme would be far from the first time a western university accepted money from a brutal foreign dictator, but it would be an unnecessary and cringe-worthy example. Good for Ted Cruz getting them to slam on the brakes.

(Hat tip: Cahnman’s Musings.)

(And yes, I realize I just used an emoji in a headline. Come spring I’ll surely explain it away as cabin fever brought about by #Icepocalypse2018…)

Clinton Corruption Update: It’s All One Scandal

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Got slammed by the holidays, so this Clinton Corruption update is both extra late and extra huge. Unless I just start throwing stuff down wherever it even remotely fits, I’ll never finish this update. So let’s jump in!

(But first, take a look at Was Fusion GPS Allowed to Run Unsupervised FISA-702 Queries? if you haven’t already.)

Several Clinton scandals, and revelations from the ill-conceived Russia investigation, have been converging into a single scandal for months. With the Peter Strzok/Fusion GPS revelations, there’s no longer any gap between the various Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration unmasking scandals: it’s all one, big swampy scandal, with some of the same players showing up again and again, and Hillary Clinton is involved up to her chin.

Strzok, in case you hadn’t heard, is the FBI agent dismissed from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. His text messages reveal that he’s a dedicated Trump hater:

Text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in 2016 that were obtained by Fox News on Tuesday refer to then-candidate Donald Trump as a “loathsome human” and “an idiot.”

More than 10,000 texts between Strzok and Page were being reviewed by the Justice Department after Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe after it was revealed that some of them contained anti-Trump content.

The messages were sent during the 2016 campaign and contain discussions about various candidates. On March 2, Strzok texted Page that someone “asked me who I’d vote for, guessed [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich.”

Fine and dandy, but what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton?

Strzok, who was an FBI counterintelligence agent, was reassigned to the FBI’s human resources division after the discovery of the exchanges with Page, with whom he was having an affair. Page was briefly on Mueller’s team, but has since returned to the FBI.

House Intelligence Committee investigators have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events that began when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.

Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier.

Strzok also oversaw the bureau’s interviews with ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators in the Russia probe.

He also was present during the FBI’s July 2016 interview with Hillary Clinton at the close of the email investigation, shortly before then-FBI director James Comey called her actions “extremely careless” without recommending criminal charges.

More than that, Strzok is the one who changed language in Comey’s draft report on Emailgate from “Grossly Negligent” to “Extremely Careless,” essentially letting her off the hook.

He was also the one who sent a text to Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer he was having an affair with, stating how he was working on an “insurance policy” in case Trump became President.

More on Peter Strzok:

A supervisory special agent who is now under scrutiny after being removed from Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office for alleged bias against President Trump also oversaw the bureau’s interviews of embattled former National Security advisor Michael Flynn, this reporter has learned. Flynn recently pled guilty to one-count of lying to the FBI last week.

FBI agent was one of two FBI agents who interviewed Flynn, which took place on Jan. 24, at the White House, said several sources. The other FBI special agent, who interviewed Flynn, is described by sources as a field supervisor in the “Russian Squad, at the FBI’s Washington Field Office,” according to a former intelligence official, with knowledge of the interview.

Strzok was removed from his role in the Special Counsel’s Office after it was discovered he had made disparaging comments about President Trump in text messages between him and his alleged lover FBI attorney Lisa Page, according to the New York Times and Washington Post, which first reported the stories. Strzok is also under investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General for his role in Hillary Clinton’s email server and the ongoing investigation into Russia’s election meddling. On Saturday, the House Intelligence Committee’s Chairman Devin Nunes chided the Justice Department and the FBI for not disclosing why Strzok had been removed from the Special Counsel three months ago, according to a statement given by the Chairman.

The former U.S. intelligence official told this reporter, “with the recent revelation that Strzok was removed from the Special Counsel investigation for making anti-Trump text messages it seems likely that the accuracy and veracity of the 302 of Flynn’s interview as a whole should be reviewed and called into question.”

“The most logical thing to happen would be to call the other FBI Special Agent present during Flynn’s interview before the Grand Jury to recount his version,” the former intelligence official added.

The former official also said that “Strzok’s allegiance to (Deputy Director Andrew) McCabe was unwavering and very well known.”

(Hat tip: Aceof Spades HQ.)

Now on to other Clinton Corruption news:

  • Need more information? This timeline of FBI/Clinton malfeasance may help.
  • Here’s a “state of play” piece Conservative Treehouse put up before their Fusion GPS/FISA-702 bombshell:

    As the Inspector General investigation continues:

    • FBI Agent Peter Strzok has been reassigned to the HR department.
    • FBI Lawyer Lisa Page, personal legal aide to FBI Asst. Director, Andrew “Andy” McCabe, has been returned to the DOJ side.
    • FBI Chief Legal Counsel James Baker has been relieved of his duties by FBI Director Christopher Wray.
    • FBI Asst Director Andrew McCabe has announced his intent to retire in March.

    All of these FBI personnel moves are a preliminary outcomes of the still ongoing Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation. All of this has been reported. None of these moves are speculative. All of these geese are cooked. However, this is just one side of the 2016 political “Trump operation”, the FBI investigative Counterintelligence Division side.

    The other side, the legal side of the Trump operation, stems from the National Security Division of the DOJ. A FISA application is submitted from the DOJ-NSD for use by the FBI Counterintelligence team. Sunlight upon this side of the collaboration is the reason for all of the current distraction narratives.

    While both sides of the corrupt political apparatus participated in the illegal unmasking and leaking, the documentation and activity behind the origin of the FISA application is the current ‘hot potato’ no-one wants any association with.

    The FISA application(s) and the subsequent wiretapping and surveillance collection, along with the unmasking that followed, is the focus of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

    Sometime this month, after the initial Inspector General Michael Horowitz release, House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte and Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley will likely call for a Special Counsel to investigate the upper-level management of the FBI and DOJ.

    We should support that approach. The SC can quickly put a Grand Jury together and start presenting the IG investigative evidence, as well as enforceable subpoenas for witnesses.

    There’s a lot of different down-stream legal issues:

    • The unlawful exoneration of Hillary Clinton by political operatives in the DOJ/FBI.
    • The unlawful destruction of evidence; and the manipulation of investigative protocols to gain a specific and pre-planned political outcome. (Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe)
    • The unlawful use of the FISA court for political spy operations by the DOJ/FBI.
    • The unlawful use of the Dept of Justice National Security Division. For weaponized political benefit. (Sally Yates, Loretta Lynch, Bruce Ohr)
    • The unlawful use of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. For weaponized political benefit. (James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, James Baker)
    • The unlawful use of a Special Counsel (Mueller) investigation to hide the conspiracy; (James Baker, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Andrew Weissman, Jeannie Rhee, Aaron Zebley)
  • Mueller needs to release all the documents congress has requested. Also:

    Voters also have an interest in knowing who else on Mueller’s legal team is biased. Not a stretch, as we already know many key players have donated heavily to Democrat politicians, including Clinton. Here’s just a few:

    • James Quarles donated $33,000 over the years to the Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Obama and Clinton campaigns, according to CNN.
    • Jeannie Rhee has given more than $16,000 to Democrats since 2008. She also maxed out donations both in 2015 and 2016 to Clinton’s presidential campaign. Rhee also represented Clinton in a legal case involving access to her private emails and defended the Clinton Foundation in a former racketeering suit.
    • Andrew Weissman gave $2,300 to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2006, according to CNN.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Remember how Hillary Clinton swore up and down she had no classified information on her illegal homebrew server? Well guess what: There were classified documents from that sever Huma Abedin had forwarded to her own account and stashed on husband Anthony Weiner’s computer.
  • And speaking of EmailGate:

    Republicans on key congressional committees say they have uncovered new irregularities and contradictions inside the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

    For the first time, investigators say they have secured written evidence that the FBI believed there was evidence that some laws were broken when the former secretary of State and her top aides transmitted classified information through her insecure private email server, lawmakers and investigators told The Hill.

    That evidence includes passages in FBI documents stating the “sheer volume” of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case, the investigators said.

    The name of the witness is redacted from the FBI documents but lawmakers said he was an employee of a computer firm that helped maintain her personal server after she left office as America’s top diplomat and who belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.

    The investigators also confirmed that the FBI began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton of any crimes while evidence responsive to subpoenas was still outstanding and before agents had interviewed more than a dozen key witnesses.

  • Christopher Wray Refuses to Say if Steele Dossier Was Used to Procure FISA Warrant.” That would be the current FBI director.
  • If you’re still confused as to just how deeply Fusion GPS (in the pay of the Clinton campaign, the DNC and Russian nationals) infiltrated America’s press corp, read this:

    Fusion GPS’s principals—Glenn Simpson, Peter Fritsch, Thomas Catan, and [Neil] King—are all [Wall Street] Journal alumni. Moreover, several other former Journal hands employed throughout the Washington DC press corps to cover the Russiagate beat have teamed with the Fusion four. Because Journal alums played a key role not only in creating the Great Kremlin Conspiracy but also in disseminating it, it is natural that the Journal would find itself in the middle of the story. It appears its newsroom is still influenced by the former staffers driving the Russiagate story.

    William Browder, the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act, told me recently about his experience with the Journal’s newsroom and its relationship with the firm four former WSJ reporters have founded. “When I was trying to get journalists interested in a story about the role Fusion GPS was playing in trying to undo the Magnitsky Act,” said Browder, “I found that the Wall Street Journal was one of the places where Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS were deeply entrenched in the newsroom.” Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker did not reply to a request for comment on Browder’s assertions.

    The Fusion GPS story doesn’t end with the Wall Street Journal. It only started there. Recently The Daily Caller reported onCNN reporter Evan Perez’s ties to Fusion GPS, showing photographs of Perez with Fritsch and King, with whom he shared bylines at the Wall Street Journal before they went to Fusion GPS and he moved to CNN. Perez had the lead byline on CNN’s January 10, 2017 story that broke how four U.S. intelligence chiefs briefed incoming president Trump and outgoing President Obama on the Steele dossier. The CNN story made no mention of Perez’s friends and former colleagues who produced and distributed the dossier that was the subject of the story.

    Former WSJ reporter Adam Entous, recently hired by the New Yorker, had the lead byline on the Washington Post article breaking the news that Marc Elias, a lawyer from the DC law firm Perkins Coie, hired Fusion GPS to compile an opposition research file on Trump for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign. After the story broke, New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel expressed their professional frustration on Twitter. They were after the story, and someone else nailed it.

    “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,” tweeted Haberman. “When I tried to report this story,” wrote Vogel, “Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’”

    So how did the Post get the Clinton campaign, DNC, or Elias to confirm the story? There’s no evidence they did. A former Clinton spokesman told the paper he wasn’t aware Fusion GPS was hired. A DNC spokesperson said the new leadership was not part of the decision-making. “Elias and Fusion GPS,” according to the Post report, “declined to comment on the arrangement.”

    That leaves the firm’s principals as Entous’ most likely sources. Why? Because Fusion GPS and its principals had an interest in dumping information to deter the House Permanent Select Committee in Intelligence from successfully subpoenaing the company’s bank records for evidence that Fusion GPS paid journalists. “Entous,” said one veteran journalist familiar with the national security beat, “is tight with Fusion GPS.”

    Carol Lee of NBC News is another WSJ alum. At her new job she has worked on Russiagate stories with Ken Dilanian, a reporter Browder believes to be a regular and reliable purveyor of Fusion GPS-manufactured talking points. In September, for instance, Lee and Dilanian broke a story about the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which also included Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

    The network of journalists who take dossiers from Fusion GPS is rich and deep.

    Lee and Dilanian reported, “Two sources tell NBC News that Manafort’s smartphone notes from the meeting included the words ‘donations’ in close proximity to the reference to the Republican National Committee.” NBC News was eventually forced to walk back the story when it turned out the word on Manafort’s phone was “donors,” not “donations,” a difference that nullified the thrust of the story, which was to suggest that Russia was funneling money directly to the Trump campaign.

    But who fed Lee and Dilanian their story? It seems likely from the list of people at the meeting that their sources included Veselnitskaya herself and another Russian at the meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin—who both had partnered with Fusion GPS to try to undo the Magnitsky Act on behalf of pro-Putin elements. Indeed, Simpson met with Veselnitskaya before and after her meeting with Trump Jr.—a meeting Simpson says he didn’t know about until it was later reported.

    The network of journalists who take dossiers from Fusion GPS is rich and deep, which is how the company manages to seed so many stories around the media and make its money. Others whose tenure at the Wall Street Journal intersected with those of Fusion GPS principals and who have filed numerous stories on the Trump-Russia narrative that originated with Fusion GPS’s “Steele” dossier include, among others, Devlin Barrett and Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post, and Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times.

    (Hat tip: Aceof Spades HQ.)

  • Lefty legal legend Alan Dershowitz says that Strzok should be punished:

    The FBI agent who altered former FBI Director James Comey’s assessment of Hillary Clinton’s private email server should be “severely punished,” said Alan Dershowitz, the retired Harvard University law professor.

    FBI agent Peter Strzok changed the wording in Comey’s assessment from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” a key change in legal terms that softened the case against Clinton.

    Derschowitz also poo-poos the whole “obstruction of justice” angle as regards President Trump:

    In order to be charged with obstruction of justice, you have to go beyond simply exercising a presidential prerogative under Article II of the Constitution,” said Dershowitz on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Monday. “If you bribe or take a bribe, if you destroy evidence and do what Nixon did, which is pay hush money or tell your subordinates to lie, of course you can be charged with obstruction of justice.”

    Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were both charged with obstruction of justice, Dershowitz pointed out.

    “But you cannot be and should not be charged with obstruction of justice if you merely pardon people,” he added. “You merely fire people even if the prosecution believes your intentions are not good. That’s what George H.W. Bush did. He pardoned Caspar Weinberger and five other people. The special prosecutor said the intent was to stop the investigation of Iran-Contra. It succeeded. And nobody suggested that President Bush be charged.”

    Further:

    “He can’t be charged with obstruction merely for exercising his constitutional prerogatives,” said Dershowitz. “That’s an important distinction. No president in history has ever been charged for any crime or anything because he exercised his constitutional prerogative. They impeached President Andrew Johnson for doing that. And the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that that was absolutely wrong. The president had the authority to fire the secretary of the Army. He was impeached for that and wrongly impeached.”

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Hillary gonna Hillary:

    A former government watchdog says Hillary Clinton’s campaign threatened retribution against him and his loved ones when he raised concerns about classified info on Clinton’s private email server while it was being investigated in 2016.

    “There was personal blowback. Personal blowback to me, to my family, to my office,” former Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III told Fox News’ Catherine Herridge on Monday.

    He said the Clinton campaign even put out word that it planned to fire him if Clinton won the 2016 election. Democrats in Congress also mounted what he thought looked like a coordinated campaign to intimidate him.

    McCullough, an Obama appointee, became inspector general after “more than two decades at the FBI, Treasury and intelligence community,” Fox News reported. He explained how the probe was quickly politicized and his office marginalized by Democrats in Congress.

    The intimidation campaign intensified in January 2016, after McCullough notified senior intelligence and foreign relations committee leaders that “several dozen emails containing classified information” were determined to be “at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, AND TOP SECRET/SAP levels.”

    A government source involved with the review told Fox News at the time that seven of those emails had been deemed by the intelligence community to be so sensitive and so potentially damaging to national security that they could never be released under any circumstances.

    “All of a sudden I became a shill of the right,” McCullough recalled. “And I was told by members of Congress, ‘Be careful. You’re losing your credibility. You need to be careful. There are people out to get you.’”

    He also got it from congressional Democrats for having the unmitigated gall to tell the truth about Clinton’s emails:

    In March 2016, seven senior Democrats entered the fray, sending a letter to McCullough and his State Department counterpart expressing their reservations about the impartiality of the Clinton email review.

    McCullough, of course, wasn’t the one making the decisions regarding the classification of Clinton’s emails, he was just, as Herridge notes, “passing along the findings of the individual agencies” that had the final say on classification.

    The watchdog said he thought there was “a coordinated strategy” targeting him based on the evidence he saw.

    Six weeks before the election, McCullough said Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office tried to pressure him to respond to the letter – which Feinstein had co-signed.

    “I thought that any response to that letter would just hyper-politicize the situation,” McCullough said. “I recall even offering to resign, to the staff director. I said, ‘Tell [Feinstein] I’ll resign tonight. I’d be happy to go. I’m not going to respond to that letter. It’s just that simple.”

    The pressure intensified as Election Day approached and McCullough and another senior government investigator on the email case were threatened.

    “I was told in no uncertain terms, by a source directly from the campaign, that we would be the first two to be fired — with [Clinton’s] administration. That that was definitely going to happen,” he said.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • “The Anatomy Of Hillary Clinton’s $84 Million Money-Laundering Scheme.”

    The Committee to Defend the President has filed an FEC complaint against Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic state parties and Democratic mega-donors.

    As Fox News reported, we documented the Democratic establishment “us[ing] state chapters as straw men to circumvent campaign donation limits and launder(ing) the money back to her campaign.” The 101-page complaint focused on the Hillary Victory Fund (HVF) — the $500 million joint fundraising committee between the Clinton campaign, DNC, and dozens of state parties — which did exactly that the Supreme Court declared would still be illegal.

    HVF solicited six-figure donations from major donors, including Calvin Klein and “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, and routed them through state parties en route to the Clinton campaign. Roughly $84 million may have been laundered in what might be the single largest campaign finance scandal in U.S. history.

    Here’s what we know. Campaign finance law is incredibly complex and infamous for its lack of clarity. As I’ve explained before, its complexity is a feature, not a bug. Major political players with the resources to hire the very few attorneys who practice campaign finance law benefit from the complexity that keeps others out. Perhaps HVF’s architects thought so too, and assumed that if no one understands what’s happening, no one would complain.

    Here’s what you can do, legally. Per election, an individual donor can contribute $2,700 to any candidate, $10,000 to any state party committee, and (during the 2016 cycle) $33,400 to a national party’s main account. These groups can all get together and take a single check from a donor for the sum of those contribution limits — it’s legal because the donor cannot exceed the base limit for any one recipient. And state parties can make unlimited transfers to their national party.

    Here’s what you can’t do, which the Clinton machine appeared to do anyway. As the Supreme Court made clear in McCutcheon v. FEC, the JFC may not solicit or accept contributions to circumvent base limits, through “earmarks” and “straw men” that are ultimately excessive — there are five separate prohibitions here.

    On top of that, six-figure donations either never actually passed through state party accounts or were never actually under state party control, which adds false FEC reporting by HVF, state parties, and the DNC to the laundry list.

    Finally, as Donna Brazile and others admitted, the DNC placed the funds under the Clinton campaign’s direct control, a massive breach of campaign finance law that ties the conspiracy together.

    Democratic donors, knowing the funds would end up with Clinton’s campaign, wrote six-figure checks to influence the election — 100 times larger than allowed.

    HVF bundled these megagifts and, on a single day, reported transferring money to all participating state parties, some of which would then show up on FEC reports filed by the DNC as transferring the exact same dollar amount on the exact same day to the DNC. Yet not all the state parties reported either receiving or transferring those sums.

    Did any of these transfers actually happen? Or were they just paper entries to mask direct transfers to the DNC?

    For perspective, conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was prosecuted and convicted in 2012 for giving a handful of associates money they then contributed to a candidate of his preference — in other words, straw man contributions. He was sentenced to eight months in a community confinement center and five years of probation. How much money was involved? Only $20,000. HVF weighs in at $84 million — more than 4,000 times larger!

  • As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton personally lifted the U.S. travel ban on terrorist-supporting accused rapist Tariq Ramadan. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Hey, Remember the Uranium One scandal, Hillary Clinton’s other other scandal? Well guess what? Indictments have been issued:

    The Department of Justice unsealed an 11-count indictment on Friday to a former DoD intelligence analyst-turned uranium transportation executive who stands accused of a bribery and money laundering scheme involving a Russian nuclear official connected to the Uranium One deal.

    The indictment corroborates a November report by The Hill that an FBI mole deeply embedded in the Russian uranium industry had gathered extensive evidence of the scheme.

    Mark Lambert, 54, of Mount Airy, Maryland, was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of violating the FCPA, two counts of wire fraud and one count of international promotion money laundering.

    The charges stem from an alleged scheme to bribe Vadim Mikerin, a Russian official at JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation and the sole supplier and exporter of Russian Federation uranium and uranium enrichment services to nuclear power companies worldwide, in order to secure contracts with TENEX.

    According to the indictment, beginning at least as early as 2009 and continuing until October 2014, Lambert conspired with others at “Transportation Corporation A” to make corrupt and fraudulent bribery and kickback payments to offshore bank accounts associated with shell companies, at the direction of, and for the benefit of, a Russian official, Vadim Mikerin, in order to secure improper business advantages and obtain and retain business with TENEX. -DOJ

    While the indictment lists Lambert’s company as “Transportation Corporation A,” a simple search reveals that Lambert is the co-President of DAHER-TLI, “the leading front end freight forwarding company dedicated to Nuclear Cargo,” according to its website.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • More thoughts on same.
  • “Obama State Department Let Clinton And Huma Make Off With Boxes Of ‘Muslim Engagement’ Docs.”
  • Could a Trump executive order lead to a crackdown and seizure of Clinton assets?

    The Trump Administration quietly issued an Executive Order (EO) last Thursday which allows for the freezing of US-housed assets belonging to foreign individuals or entities deemed “serious human rights abusers,” along with government officials and executives of foreign corporations (current or former) found to have engaged in corruption – which includes the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, and corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources.

    Snip.

    Now consider that if reports from The Hill are accurate – an FBI mole deep within the Russian uranium industry uncovered evidence that “Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow (the Uranium One approval)” – a deal which would eventually grant the Kremlin control over 20 percent of America’s uranium supply right around the time Bill Clinton also collected $500,000 for a Moscow speech, as detailed by author Peter Schweitzer’s book Clinton Cash and the New York Times in 2015.

    “The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials. –The Hill

    The same FBI informant claims to have video evidence showing Russian agents with briefcases full of bribe money related to the controversial Uranium One deal.

  • “A joint investigation by the Washington Examiner and the nonprofit watchdog group Judicial Watch found that former President Clinton gave 215 speeches and earned $48 million while his wife presided over U.S. foreign policy, raising questions about whether the Clintons fulfilled ethics agreements related to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton‘s tenure as secretary of state.” Nice work if you can get it…
  • How Clinton cronies pay to manufacture fake news:

    A wealthy Hillary Clinton supporter dropped half a million dollars in the run up to the 2016 election to fund a number of alleged victims willing to accuse President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.

    The New York Times reported on Sunday that Susie Tompkins Buell, a major Clinton donor for years, gave $500,000 to celebrity attorney Lisa Bloom in support of a stable of women willing to come forward – if the price was right.

  • Why Democrats finally turnd on Bill Clinton:

    The media doesn’t suddenly “believe Juanita”. Or rather it always knew that Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones and the other women were telling the truth. It didn’t silence them because it thought they were lying. It silenced them because they were telling the truth about its guy.

    Now Bill Clinton isn’t the media’s guy anymore. He’s a problem.

    And what the media does “believe” is that the Clintons will continue to be a liability that might cost them victories in 2018 and 2020. The DNC badly needs money. The Clintons are once again posing a threat to the DNC’s financial viability. And the Dems have become less willing to lose House and Senate seats to sate the insatiable greed of the grifters from Hope.

    Then there’s 2020. The Dems don’t want to risk their nominee facing passive aggressive attacks by Hillary Clinton. Nor do they even want to see Hillary Clinton on the air for the entire election.

    Snip.

    They’re purging the Clintons for the same reason that they covered up for them.

    They’re calling out Bill Clinton for his sexual assaults for the same reason that they covered them up.

    They did it out of political self-interest then. And they’re doing it out of political self-interest now. There’s nothing clean or honest about what they’re doing. There’s no moral reckoning here. Only a political reckoning. It’s not about the women Bill abused. It’s about DNC cash and the 2020 election.

  • Democrats are shocked, shocked to find out that Bill Clinton is a sexual predator. Remember all those Democrats who looked into allegations against Clinton when he was President? Me neither.
  • Despite all the “we’re free to call Bill Clinton a sexual predator now that Hillary will never run again” talk, don’t count on it. “Hillary Clinton never does anything spontaneously. Until further notice, we should assume she’s running to get back that which is *rightfully* hers.” And remember that the DNC recently purged all the non-Clinton DNC staffers.
  • Dolly Kyle, the women who claims to be Bill Clinton’s longtime mistress, claims that Bill Clinton has had over 2,00 sex partners and that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. I would approach her claims with several pounds of salt.
  • Hillary Clinton said America was totally unprepared for the advent of artificial intelligence, then excused herself and asked directions to Sarah Conners’ house.
  • The New York Times ever-changing Trump Russia narrative:

    Slowly but surely, it has emerged that the Justice Department and FBI very likely targeted Page because of the Steele dossier, a Clinton-campaign opposition-research screed disguised as intelligence reporting. Increasingly, it appears that the Bureau failed to verify Steele’s allegations before the DOJ used some of them to bolster an application for a spying warrant from the FISA court (i.e., the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).

    Thanks to the persistence of the House Intelligence Committee led by Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the dossier story won’t go away. Thus, Democrats and their media friends have been moving the goal posts in an effort to save their collusion narrative. First, we were led to believe the dossier was no big deal because the FBI would surely have corroborated any information before the DOJ fed it to a federal judge in a warrant application. Then, when the Clinton campaign’s role in commissioning the dossier came to light, we were told it was impertinent to ask about what the FBI did, if anything, to corroborate it since this could imperil intelligence methods and sources — and, besides, such questions were just a distraction from the all-important Mueller investigation (which the dossier had a hand in instigating and which, to date, has turned up no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy).

    Lately, the story has morphed into this: Well, even if the dossier was used, it was only used a little — there simply must have been lots of other evidence that Trump was in cahoots with Putin. But that’s not going to fly: Putting aside the dearth of collusion evidence after well over a year of aggressive investigation, the dossier is partisan propaganda. If it was not adequately corroborated by the FBI, and if the Justice Department, without disclosing its provenance to the court, nevertheless relied on any part of it in a FISA application, that is a major problem.

    So now, a new strategy to prop up the collusion tale: Never mind Page — lookee over here at [George] Papadopoulos!

    But that’s not what they were saying in April, when the collusion narrative and Democratic calls for a special prosecutor were in full bloom.

    Back then, no fewer than six of the Times’ top reporters, along with a researcher, worked their anonymous “current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials” in order to generate the Page blockbuster. With these leaks, the paper confidently reported: “From the Russia trip of the once-obscure Mr. Page grew a wide-ranging investigation, now accompanied by two congressional inquiries, that has cast a shadow over the early months of the Trump administration” [emphasis added].

    Oh sure, the Times acknowledged that there might have been a couple of other factors involved. “Paul Manafort, then [i.e., during Page’s trip] Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, was already under criminal investigation in connection with payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.” And “WikiLeaks and two websites later identified as Russian intelligence fronts had begun releasing emails obtained when Democratic Party servers were hacked.”

    But the trigger for the investigation — the “catalyst” — was Page.

    Somehow, despite all that journalistic leg-work and all those insider sources, the name George Papadopoulos does not appear in the Times’ story.

    Now, however, we’re supposed to forget about Page. According to the new bombshell dropped on New Year’s Eve by six Times reporters, it was “the hacking” coupled with “the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign” — Papadopoulos — “may have had inside information about it” that were “driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.”

    It seems like only yesterday — or, to be more precise, only late October, when he pled guilty to a count of lying to the FBI in the Mueller probe — that Mr. Papadopoulos was even more obscure than the “once-obscure Mr. Page.” Now, though, he has been elevated to “the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration.” But hey, if you’re willing to hang in there through the first 36 paragraphs of the Times’ nearly 3,000-word Papadopoulos report, you’ll find the fleeting observation that “A trip to Moscow by another adviser, Carter Page, also raised concerns at the F.B.I.”

    You don’t say!

    Again, until this weekend, Page was the eye of the collusion storm. And as I outlined in a column last weekend, a significant part of what got the FBI and the Obama Justice Department stirred up about Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow was the Steele dossier — the anti-Trump reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. Alas, six months after the Times’ planted its feet on Page as the linchpin of the Trump-Russia investigation, we learned that the dossier was actually an opposition-research project paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. We further learned that at Fusion GPS, the research firm that retained Steele for the project, Steele collaborated on it with Nellie Ohr, the wife of top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr — and that Bruce Ohr had personally been briefed on the project by Steele and a Fusion GPS executive.

  • Reminder: Chelsea Clinton used Clinton Foundation resources for her wedding. So say Wikileaks documents. Just in case you had forgotten…
  • Sabre-Rattling Over Indo-Pakistani Nuclear War

    Monday, January 15th, 2018

    Forget that false missile alarm in Hawaii. The biggest chance for someone dropping The Big One this week comes not from crazy North Korea, but from the long-simmering Indo-Pakistani conflict, where two nuclear-armed nations are once again trading shots:

    India and Pakistan exchanged gunfire Monday in the disputed Kashmir region, killing several soldiers on both sides. Each side blamed the other starting the altercation, giving its own figures for the number of dead.

    India claimed its troops killed seven Pakistani soldiers, while one Indian soldier died. Pakistan said four of its soldiers died in Indian firing, while its forces killed three in retaliatory fire.

    India accuses Pakistan of sending militants across the border to carry out terrorist activities on its soil. Pakistan, on the other hand, accuses India of grave human rights violations in the part of Kashmir under Indian control, which has long faced a separatist movement.

    My guess is that both of these allegations are true, and that both Pakistan and India fairly ruthlessly suppress a number of different Kashmiri separatist groups, some of which are aligned with international jihadists.

    It doesn’t help that both nation’s military officers have been posturing in best “Come at me, bro!” fashion:

    Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said Friday his military was ready to call Pakistan’s “nuclear bluff” and carry out aggressive military operations across the [Line of Control].

    “We will call the (nuclear) bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff,” Gen. Rawat warned, responding to a question during a press conference on the “possibility of Pakistan using its nuclear weapons in case the situation along the border deteriorates,” said the Hindustan Times.

    On Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif unleashed a Tweetstorm denouncing Rawat’s comments as “very irresponsible. Amounts to invitation for nuclear encounter. If that is what they desire, they are welcome to test our resolve. The general’s doubt would swiftly be removed, inshallah.”

    The threatening and irresponsible statement by the Indian Army Chief today is representative of a sinister mindset that has taken hold of India. Pakistan has demonstrated deterrence capability,” he tweeted.

    “These are not issues to be taken lightly. There must not be any misadventure based on miscalculation. Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself,” he added.

    The spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign Office Mohammad Faisal also criticised Gen. Rawat’s comments as very “irresponsible.” Further, the Pakistani army said its nuclear weapons have deterred India from launching another full-scale conventional war, as both nuclear superpowers are playing chicken.

    Escalating the war of words, Pakistan army spokesman Asif Ghafoor said on state-run television, “should they wish to test our resolve, they may try and see it for themselves. We have a credible nuclear capability, exclusively meant for threat from east. But we believe it’s a weapon of deterrence, not a choice.”

    The Line of Control (LoC) refers to a heavily militarized zone in Jammu and Kashmir, in which it splits some of the India-Pakistani border. In 2017 alone, the Indian Army killed 138 Pakistani troops in tactical and retaliatory operations along the LoC. In the same period, 28 Indian soldiers perished. In late December, we reported on an intense battle between Indian and Pakistani forces leaving 4 Indian troops dead, where it was believed that Pakistan was the aggressor.

    All this comes in the wake of the United States suspending most military aid to Pakistani over the continued presence of jihadi safe havens in the country.

    State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the suspension would remain in effect until Pakistan takes “decisive action” against the Taliban and Haqqani network, militant groups blamed for stoking violence in Afghanistan and prolonging a conflict that has become America’s longest war.

    “No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials,” Nauert said.

    Pakistan’s continued support for the Taliban is no surprise, given that the Pakistani ISI created the Taliban over two decades ago.

    India’s Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi is not exactly an exercise in enlightened virtue, either, but his government is fighting rather than backing jihadis, and he’s had some small but notable reforms, such as warming relations with Israel.

    My guess is that all this sabre-rattling is for deterrence and domestic consumption rather than a sign of looming wide-scale conflict or actual nuclear war. Having just been put on notice by its primary arms supplier, I doubt Pakistan is eager to go to war with India over Kashmir just right now.

    Liberals have been whinging that President Donald Trump has brought back “the specter of nuclear war.” That specter never went away, Democrats just ignored it for a quarter-century…

    Iran Roundup for January 2, 2018

    Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime continue across Iran, so here’s a roundup of news. Here’s a liveblog on the protests, courtesy of Austin Bay at Instapundit.

  • This piece makes the case that Iran’s corrupt theocratic government has used up all its remaining legitimacy:

    As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival. That is deadly for a theocracy, by definition an ideological construct. Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence. The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, Mr. Rouhani was the ruling clergy’s last gasp, a beguiling mullah who could enchant Westerners while offering Iranians some hope. That hope has vanished.

  • “US gives Israel go-ahead to kill powerful Iranian general.” The would be the same Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani Obama saved three years ago in pursuit of his precious, asinine Iran deal. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How President Donald Trump saw the Iranian protests coming. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Some pessimism about protestor’s chances:

    In Iran, the obstacles to success are daunting. Whereas most Middle Eastern countries are ruled by secular autocrats focused on repressing primarily Islamist opposition, Iran is an Islamist autocracy focused on repressing secular opposition. This dynamic—unarmed, unorganized, leaderless citizens seeking economic dignity and pluralism, versus a heavily armed, organized, rapacious ruling theocracy that espouses martyrdom—is not a recipe for success.

    And yet, against this inauspicious backdrop, Iran’s mushrooming anti-government protests—although so far much smaller in scale than the country’s 2009 uprising—have been unprecedented in their geographic scope and intensity. They began December 28 in Mashhad, a Shiite pilgrimage city often considered a regime stronghold, with protesters chanting slogans like “leave Syria alone, think about us.” They soon spread to Qom, Iran’s holiest city, where protesters expressed nostalgia for Reza Shah, the 20th-century modernizing autocrat who ruthlessly repressed the clergy. They continued in provincial towns, with thousands chanting, “we don’t want an Islamic Republic” in Najafabad, “death to the revolutionary guards” in Rasht, and “death to the dictator” in Khoramabad. They’ve since spread to Tehran, and hundreds have been arrested, the BBC reported, citing Iranian officials.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Iran Charges Russia With Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel. The Islamic Republic says Russia sold codes to Israel that neutralize its air defenses.” Attacking your primary arms supplier, and your ally Syria’s effective air force, is a pretty desperate look. If true, it also means that America (and probably Saudi Arabia) have those codes as well… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Obama toadies vs the Iranian people:

    In the US, former members of the Obama administration and the liberal media have determinedly downplayed the importance of the protests. They have insisted that President Donald Trump should stop openly supporting the protesters and so adopt former president Barack Obama’s policy of effectively siding with the Iranian regime against the Iranian people who seek its overthrow.

    These talking points have been pushed out into the media echo chamber by Obama’s former deputy national security adviser and strategic communications chief Ben Rhodes, his former national security adviser Susan Rice and former secretary of state John Kerry.

    Obama’s Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon stated them outright in an op-ed in The New York Times on Saturday. Gordon called on Trump “to keep quiet and do nothing” in response to the protests.

    In Gordon’s view, no matter how big their beef with the regime, the protesters hate the US more. And they really hate Trump.

    Gordon wrote, “Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.”

    Just as Obama’s surrogates have repeated Gordon’s claims, so the Obama-supporting liberal media have gone out of their way to diminish the importance of the protests in their coverage of them and use Obama’s surrogates as their “expert” analysts to explain what is happening (or rather, distort what is happening) to their audiences.

    Obama administration officials have been so outspoken in their defense of the Iranian regime because they rightly view the prospect that the protesters will succeed in overthrowing the regime as a mortal threat to their legacy.

    Obama’s foreign policy rested on the assumption that the US was a colonialist, aggressive and immoral superpower. By their telling, the Iranians – like the Cubans and the Russians – were right to oppose the US due to its legacy of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. This anti-American worldview informed the Obama administration’s conviction that it was incumbent on the US to make amends for its previous decades of foreign policy.

    Hence, Obama traveled the globe in 2009 and 2010 apologizing for the policies of his predecessors. Hence, Obama believed that the US had no moral right to stand with the Iranian people against the regime in the 2009 Green Revolution. As he saw it, anyone who stood with the US was no better than an Uncle Tom. Truly authentic foreign regimes were be definition anti-American. Since the Green Revolutionaries were begging for his support, by definition, they didn’t deserve it.

    Since the current wave on anti-regime protests began last Thursday, the liberal media have parroted the Obama alumni’s talking points because they feel that their war against Trump requires them to embrace Obama’s legacy just as they embraced his talking points and policies for eight years.

    After all, if Obama is not entirely infallible, then Trump cannot be entirely fallible. And if Trump may be partially right and Obama partially wrong, then their dispute may be a substantive rather than existential one. And so, the New York Times’ coverage of the most significant story in the world has deliberately distorted and downplayed events on the ground in Iran.

  • A relevant Twitter thread:

  • The Deafening Feminist Silence on Iran Protests

    Monday, January 1st, 2018

    Having implemented Sharia law, Theocratic Iran is one of the most repressive regimes in the world when it comes to women’s rights, and a wide variety of activities are prohibited to women simply because they are women.

    Now that widespread protests have broken out In Iran over the rejection of the Islamic Republic and greater rights for women, you might think that feminists organizations would be in the forefront of those clamoring for greater women’s rights.

    You would be wrong. They are, as usual, nattering on about the standard array of far-left causes having nothing to do with women’s rights.

    To drill down even further, I thought I would check the Twitter feeds of several prominent feminists. They too are silent on Iran:

    Once again, the unwillingness to speak out on Islam’s demonstrable treatment of women as second-class citizens has left American feminists with nothing to say about the most important woman’s rights struggle of the day. (That, and the Democratic Party’s insistence on defending Obama’s disasterous (and unconstitutional) Iran deal.)

    Feminism is only about “women’s rights” when they align with a far-left agenda.

    Anti-Government Protests Across Iran

    Saturday, December 30th, 2017

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime have spread across Iran. Women are removing their oppressive hijabs. Protests have even spread to the religious city of Qom, where “demonstrators shouted ‘Death to Hezbollah’ and ‘Aren’t you ashamed Khamenei? Leave the country.'”

    The people of Iran are obviously chafing under the repressive Islamist regime, and are tired of money being spent on foreign adventurism and a proxy war in Saudi Arabia rather than on domestic needs.

    Similar protests occurred during the “Green Revolution” of 2009, which Obama generally ignored and which was crushed in short order. Instead of regime change, the Iranian people saw the Obama Administration prop up Ayatollah Khamenei’s theocratic regime via the asinine Iran Deal.

    Could real change be coming with President Donald Trump in the White House?

    Stay tuned…

    Edited to add:

    Edited to add 2: Protestors chant “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!”

    Updated to add 3:

    LinkSwarm for December 29, 2017

    Friday, December 29th, 2017

    Welcome to the last LinkSwarm of one wild year!

  • Five Great Ways Trump Shook Up Washington in 2017.” (Hat tip: Mark Tapscott at Instapundit.)
  • “The RNC closed November 2017 with $39.9 million cash on hand, while the DNC closed November 2017 with $2.6 million in debt.”
  • Democratic Party voter registration is down in a number of states. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Panic at the Washington Post as even they start to realize that the Russia-Trump fantasy is bunk. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Trouble in Texas: “Public Schools Using Taxpayer Resources to Defeat Republicans, Elect Democrats.”
  • Islamic State bombing in Kabul kills 40.
  • Why #NeverTrump should get with the program.
  • This weeks example of liberals bigwigs acting like sexual creeps comes from: Vice. Gee, with a name like that, what are the odds?
  • “Stephen Henderson, the managing director of opinion and commentary at The Detroit Free Press and a Pulitzer Prize Winner, was fired for alleged sexual misconduct.”
  • The link between polygamy and war.
  • Australia ends airstrikes against the Islamic State. That happens when you run out of targets. Thanks for the help, Australia!
  • “Democrat run Baltimore had 343 homicides in 2017, sets record for killings per capita.” A singular achievement for a city that already gave us Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets, The Corner, and The Wire… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Here’s a real sweetheart: An Egyptian lawyer who says its a duty for Muslim men to rape women who wear revealing clothing.
  • How the beloved Charlie Brown Christmas Special almost never happened. Network executives hated the jazzy score and all that Christ stuff in Linus’ speech…
  • John Nolte on how hard Hollywood sucked this year. Though #6 should probably be #1…
  • Happy 2018, everyone!

    North Korea Mini News Roundup

    Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

    Several North Korea news items worth noting:

  • The UN Security Council voted unanimously Friday to imposed new sanctions on North Korea over its missile program.

    The draft, seen by Reuters on Thursday, seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum product exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and demand the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 12 months.

    It would also cap crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year. The United States has been calling on China to limit its oil supply to its neighbor and ally.

  • But right after that passed came word that China was already selling oil to North Korea illegally:

    According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, U.S. recon satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions involving Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea on the West Sea in October. The images allegedly showed large Chinese and North Korean ships transacting in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea. The satellite pictures even showed the names of the ships.

    A government source said, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.” Meanwhile, on paper, China’s trade with North has recently collapsed after U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of sanctions in September targeting North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.

    Back in November, the US. Treasury Department sanctioned an additional six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships after the satellite pictures surfaced. In the above picture, the North Korean ship named Ryesonggang 1, was easily identified and connected to the illegal sale of oil from China.

    According to Chosun Media, “the department noted that the two ships appeared to be illegally trading in oil from ship to ship to bypass sanctions.”

  • North Korea soldier who defected had immunity to anthrax.
  • Fostering rebellion using using balloons and flash drives? This strikes me as more naive wishful thinking the useful. For starters, I doubt whether anyone knows that “The majority of North Koreans have devices that can read the flash drives” is actually true…
  • Ditto Christmas-themed radio broadcasts.
  • Kasich gonna Kasich.
  • Obama Let Hezbollah Sell Cocaine in U.S.

    Monday, December 18th, 2017

    This should take still more of the shine off Obama’s plastic halo:

    In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

    The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

    Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

    They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

    But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

    The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

    How high did drug trafficking evidence go?

    As a result, the U.S. government lost insight into not only drug trafficking and other criminal activity worldwide, but also into Hezbollah’s illicit conspiracies with top officials in the Iranian, Syrian, Venezuelan and Russian governments — all the way up to presidents Nicolas Maduro, Assad and Putin, according to former task force members and other current and former U.S. officials.

    The network was extensive:

    For decades, Hezbollah — in close cooperation with Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guard — had worked with supporters in Lebanese communities around the world to create a web of businesses that were long suspected of being fronts for black-market trading. Along the same routes that carried frozen chicken and consumer electronics, these businesses moved weapons, laundered money and even procured parts for Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

    As they pursued their investigations, the DEA agents found that Hezbollah was redoubling all of these efforts, working urgently to raise cash, and lots of it, to rebuild its south Lebanon stronghold after a 2006 war with Israel had reduced it to rubble.

    Dating back to its inception in the early 1980s, Hezbollah, which translates to “Party of God,” had also engaged in “narcoterrorism,” collecting a tariff from drug dealers and other black-market suppliers who operated in territory it controlled in Lebanon and elsewhere. Now, based on the DEA’s extensive network of informants, undercover operatives and wiretaps, it looked like Hezbollah had shifted tactics, and gotten directly involved in the global cocaine trade, according to interviews and documents, including a confidential DEA assessment.

    “It was like they flipped a switch,” Kelly told POLITICO. “All of a sudden, they reversed the flow of all of the black-market activity they had been taxing for years, and took control of the operation.”

    Operating like an organized crime family, Hezbollah operatives would identify businesses that might be profitable and useful as covers for cocaine trafficking and buy financial stakes in them, Kelly and others said. “And if the business was successful and suited their current needs,” Kelly said, “they went from partial owners to majority owners to full partnership or takeover.”

    Hezbollah even created a special financial unit that, translated into English, means “Business Affairs Component,” to oversee the sprawling criminal operation, and it was run by the world’s most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, a notoriously vicious Hezbollah military commander named Imad Mughniyeh
    Imad MughniyehA Hezbollah mastermind who oversaw its international operations and, the DEA says, its drug trafficking, as head of its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization.
    , according to DEA interviews and documents.

    Mughniyeh had for decades been the public face of terrorism for Americans, orchestrating the infamous attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983 in their barracks in Lebanon, and dozens more Americans in attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that year and an annex the year after. When President Ronald Reagan responded to the attacks by withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed a major victory and vaulted to the forefront of the Islamist resistance movement against the West.

    Over the next 25 years, Iran’s financial and military support for Hezbollah enabled it to amass an army with tens of thousands of foot soldiers, more heavy armaments than most nation-states and approximately 120,000 rockets and ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and U.S. interests in the region with devastating precision.

    Socialist “hero” Hugo Chavez was also involved in the operation up to his ears:

    In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez was personally working with then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah on drug trafficking and other activities aimed at undermining U.S. influence in the region, according to interviews and documents.

    Within a few years, Venezuelan cocaine exports skyrocketed from 50 tons a year to 250, much of it bound for American cities, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics show.

    And beginning in 2007, DEA agents watched as a commercial jetliner from Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline flew from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, Syria, every week with a cargo-hold full of drugs and cash. They nicknamed it “Aeroterror,” they said, because the return flight often carried weapons and was packed with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives whom the Venezuelan government would provide with fake identities and travel documents on their arrival.

    From there, the operatives spread throughout the subcontinent and set up shop in the many recently opened Iranian consulates, businesses and mosques, former Project Cassandra agents said.

    So what was the result of all this painstaking case-building?

    Senior Obama administration officials appeared to be alarmed by how far Project Cassandra’s investigations had reached into the leadership of Hezbollah and Iran, and wary of the possible political repercussions.

    As a result, task force members claim, Project Cassandra was increasingly viewed as a threat to the administration’s efforts to secure a nuclear deal, and the top-secret prisoner swap that was about to be negotiated.

    Snip.

    In addition, the briefings for top White House and Justice Department officials that had been requested by Holder never materialized, task force agents said. (Holder did not respond to requests for comment.) Also, a top intelligence official blocked the inclusion of Project Cassandra’s memo on the Hezbollah drug threat from being included in Obama’s daily threat briefing, they said. And Kelly, Asher and other agents said they stopped getting invitations to interagency meetings, including those of a top Obama transnational crime working group.

    That may have been because Obama officials dropped Hezbollah from the formal list of groups targeted by a special White House initiative into transnational organized crime, which in turn effectively eliminated DEA’s broad authority to investigate it overseas, task force members said.

    Snip.

    “When it looked like the [nuclear] agreement might actually happen, it became clear that there was no interest in dealing with anything about Iran or Hezbollah on the ground that it may be negative, that it might scare off the Iranians.”

    Hey, what are the lives of some black kids hooked on crack compared to the glory of Obama’s Iran deal?

    Remember the fantasy floated by liberals in the 1980s that the CIA was secretly behind the Central American cocaine trade? Obama actually did that, letting Hezbollah off the hook despite an iron-clad case of narcoterrorism, in order to do the Iran deal.

    This is a long, detailed piece in a mainstream media outlet. Read the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)