Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Was Fusion GPS Allowed to Run Unsupervised FISA-702 Queries?

Friday, January 12th, 2018

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled LinkSwarm, and preempt our next gargantuan Clinton Corruption update, to bring you a development that potentially dwarfs not only what we already know of the scandal, but any national American political scandal since Benedict Arnold sold the British the plans to West Point in 1780.

These claims center around a Top Secret FISA Court Order document obtained by Judicial Watch on May 23, 2017, but I first came across them last night on Twitter:

Here is the prolonged argument at Conservative Treehouse/The Last Refuge:

Ever since the transcript of Fusion-GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was released by Senator Dianne Feinstein, several inquisitive media outlets have begun questioning the relationship between the FBI investigators, Glenn Simpson and dossier author Christopher Steele.

What we have discovered not only highlights the answer to that question, but it also answers a host of other questions, including: Did the FBI pay Christopher Steele? Yes, but now how media thinks. Was the FBI connected to the creation of the Steele Dossier? Yes, but not in the way the media is currently outlining.

The story of how surveillance on the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump took place is simple. However, to understand the truth behind how they did it – the story it becomes more complex. Some key background understanding is necessary.

  • First, to understand what took place in 2016 we must first travel back to 2015 when Office of Inspector General (OIG) Michael Horowitz asked for approval to conduct oversight over the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.

    In 2015 Inspector General Michael Horowitz was blocked by the Department of Justice from having oversight over the DOJ-NSD. In a lengthy response to the IG’s office [Full 58 page pdf HERE] Sally Yates essentially said ‘all DOJ is subject to oversight, except the National Security Division.

  • Second, to understand how FISA is used it is CRITICAL to understand that any National Security Agency, such as the DOJ National Security Division or the FBI Counterintelligence Division, may use the NSA database -and FISA enabled inquires- with more leeway and less restrictions on access and use. In short, FISA “queries” from any national security agency within government are allowed without seeking court approval.
  • Snip.

    Understanding the scale and scope of what took place in 2016 is contingent upon understanding how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was being used. More specifically how *critical* exceptions for FISA-702 “search queries”, without judicial warrants or FISA court approvals, were permitted.

    FISA-702(17) “About Queries” from legislatively authorized national security entities did NOT require FISA court approvals.

    Snip.

    The recent stories about the 2016 DOJ and FBI counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign center around how the Christopher Steele ‘Russian Dossier’ was used by the DOJ/FBI in obtaining FISA approvals for surveillance of Trump campaign officials.

    Within the “Russian Dossier” back-story everyone is now familiar with the relationship between Fusion-GPS, the founder of the company, Glenn Simpson, and the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele. Additionally, the relationship between the Clinton campaign and Fusion GPS is now well known.

    In/around April of 2016 the Clinton campaign entered into a financial relationship with Fusion-GPS. Team Clinton paid Fusion-GPS for information on candidate Donald Trump. That agreement led to Fusion-GPS hiring sub-contractor Christopher Steele, which eventually led to the creation of the ‘Steele Dossier’.

    Yesterday, it was reported that the ‘Steele Dossier’ was used as the underlying foundation for the DOJ and FBI to seek FISA Court Approvals to monitor the communications of the Trump campaign.

    In essence, as of yesterday, the FBI used contracted Clinton opposition research -via Fusion GPS- on candidate Donald Trump to generate surveillance authority over her political opponent.

    That sounds bad, but what we have discovered is even worse.

    Dates are critical because they build the circumstantial case amid a story clouded in obfuscation and convenient FISA secrecy.

    We know NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers became aware of an issue with unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Queries” early in 2016. Due to a FISA court ruling that was declassified in May of 2017 we were able to piece that specific timeline together.

    After discovering the FISA-702(17) “About Query” concerns, NSA Director Rogers initiated a full FISA-702 compliance review.

    Snip.

    During the exact same time-frame that Christopher Steele was assembling his dossier information (May-October 2016), the NSA compliance officer was conducting the internal FISA-702 review as initiated by NSA Director Mike Rogers.

    The NSA compliance officer briefed Admiral Mike Rogers on October 20th 2016.

    On October 26th 2016, Admiral Rogers informed the FISA Court of numerous unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Query” violations.

    Subsequent to that FISC notification Mike Rogers stopped all FISA-702(17) “About Queries” permanently. They are no longer permitted.

    The full FISC Court Ruling on the notifications from the NSA is below. And to continue the story we are pulling out a specific section [page 83, pdf] CRITICAL to understanding what was going on:

    Pg 83. “FBI gave raw Section 702–acquired information to a private entity that was not a federal agency and whose personnel were not sufficiently supervised by a federal agency for compliance minimization procedures.”

    This is where the snippet shown in the tweet comes in:

    Notice how it was an FBI “private contractor” that was conducting the unauthorized FISA-702 Queries.

    We have been tipped off that the contractor in question was, unbelievably, Fusion-GPS.

    It is almost certain this early 2016 series of FISA-702 compliance violations was the origin of NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers concern. His discovery becomes the impetus for Director Rogers requesting the 2016 full compliance audit. It appears Fusion-GPS was the FBI contracted user identified in the final FISA court opinion/ruling.

    Note the dates from the FISC opinion (above) – As soon as the FBI discovered Mike Rogers was now looking at the searches, the FBI discontinued allowing their sub-contracted agent access to the raw FISA information effective April 18th, 2016.

    [Fusion-GPS was working on behalf of the FBI? Fusion-GPS was a contractor for the FBI? Fusion-GPS was being paid by the FBI?… while using access to research Trump]

    On April 19th, 2016, the day after the FBI stopped allowing access to the FISA database, the wife of Fusion-GPS founder Glenn Simpson, Mary B Jacoby, went to the White House.

    The piece then goes on to reiterate what we already know about the Clinton/Democratic Party Fusion GPS ties, as well as ties to intelligence community figures such as Bruce and Nellie Ohr.

    Accepting the FBI was utilizing Fusion-GPS as a contractor, there is now an inherent clarity in the relationship between: FBI agent Peter Strzok, Fusion-GPS Glenn Simpson, and ‘Russian Dossier’ author Christopher Steele. They are all on the same team.

    The information that Fusion-GPS Glenn Simpson put together from his advanced work on the ‘Trump Project’, was, in essence, built upon the foundation of the close relationship he already had with the FBI.

    Simpson, Jacoby and Ohr then passed on their information to Christopher Steele who adds his own ingredients to the mix, turns around, and gives the end product back to the FBI. That end product is laundered intelligence now called “The Trump/Russia Dossier”.

    It is a circle of intelligence information.

    The FBI turn around and use the “dossier” as the underlying documents and investigative evidence for continued operations against the target of the entire enterprise, candidate Donald Trump. As Peter Strzok would say in August 2016: this is their “insurance policy” per se’.

    The explosive part of the piece is also, alas, the one that currently appears to have only anonymous sources as corroborating evidence: that Fusion GPS was the “outside contractor” allowed to run “unsupervised” FISA-702 queries. It fits the pattern and makes sense, but I have to treat it with wariness because it too neatly fits my understanding of Obama administration/Clinton campaign patterns of lawlessness, and I want to avoid the trap of confirmation bias.

    It’s an explosive charge, that the Obama Administration authorized a private company to run unsupervised queries on unmasked American citizens in order to destroy political enemies. That dwarfs Watergate. In fact, the entire unmasking scandal already dwarfed Watergate.

    But what greatly magnifies the scandal is that, at the same time they were allegedly running these unsupervised FISA-702 inquires, in addition to getting paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, Fusion GPS was in the pay of Russian nationals who opposed the Magnitsky Act.

    If Fusion GPS was allowed to run unsupervised FISA-702 queries, it brings up a whole host of other questions, including just who in the Obama administration and/or the US intelligence community granted Fusion GPS (and why they aren’t in prison), and how such access was granted. Where they escorted to a secured terminal room in Ft. Meade and told “Have at it, boys!” Was a Virtual Private Network setup to give them a direct pipeline into U.S. intelligence data? Were they allowed access to all U.S. intelligence data (including all intercepts of American civilian communication), or just small abstract of same? Did any of the information resulting from the queries run end up in Russian hands?

    Knowing the answers to those questions would tell us how bad a breach in our security this was, and just what sort of felony charges need to be filed.

    If the worst case implications of the above are true, the Obama Administration gave unlimited, unsupervised access to America’s most sensitive national security data to a private firm in the pay of foreign powers merely to go after political enemies.

    That’s a huge, huge scandal no matter how you slice it.

    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:

  • 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.)

    LinkSwarm for October 27, 2017

    Friday, October 27th, 2017

    Let’s take a break from talking about Hillary Clinton’s scandals so we can talk about Barack Obama’s scandals. At the end of the day, though, there’s a significant chance they all tie up together in one giant knotted scandal tangle…

  • “‘Smoking gun’ email reveals Obama DOJ blocked conservative groups from settlement funds“:

    While Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general, the Justice Department allowed prosecutors to strike agreements compelling big companies to give money to outside groups not connected to their cases to meet settlement burdens. Republican lawmakers long have decried those payments as a “slush fund” that boosted liberal groups, and the Trump DOJ ended the practice earlier this year.

    But internal Justice Department emails released Tuesday by Goodlatte indicated that not only were officials involved in determining what organizations would get the money, but also Justice Department officials may have intervened to make sure the settlements didn’t go to conservative groups.

    In one such email in July 2014, a senior Justice Department official expressed “concerns” about what groups would receive settlement money from Citigroup — saying they didn’t want money going to a group that does “conservative property-rights legal services.”

  • The IRS has finally admitted that it illegally targeted conservatives:

    In an unprecedented victorious conclusion to our years-long legal battle against the IRS, the bureaucratic agency has just admitted in federal court that it wrongfully targeted Tea Party and conservative groups during the Obama Administration and issued an apology to our clients for doing so. In addition, the IRS is consenting to a court order that would prohibit it from ever engaging in this form of unconstitutional discrimination in the future.

    In a proposed Consent Order filed with the Court yesterday, the IRS has apologized for its treatment of our clients (36 Tea Party and other conservative organizations from 20 states that applied for 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) tax-exempt status with the IRS between 2009 and 2012) during the tax-exempt determinations process. Crucially, following years of denial by the IRS and blame-shifting by IRS officials, the agency now expressly admits that its treatment of our clients was wrong.

  • House Republicans manage to pass something resembling a budget. Is it a good or bad budget? “Answer cloudy, ask again later.”
  • How Democrats committed political suicide passing the assault weapons ban in 1994.

    “So mostly everybody is like jumping for joy. And I’m walking around like a zombie. But nobody really gave a damn what my feelings were. So I went back to the office and I got a call from Congressman [Jack] Brooks who is the congressman from Texas and Chairman of [the Judiciary] committee and he said, ‘Well you just lost me my seat.’ And he and I had a good relationship. I said, ‘Well, you voted against it. The president doesn’t want you to do anything going forward that would jeopardize you. And if we come back from the conference and all that stuff…’ And he was just really down, down, down… He said, ‘my seat is done.’”

    Snip.

    In all, eight Democratic Senators lost their races and 54 Democratic House members too. The list included those who opposed the assault weapons ban but reluctantly voted for it (like Speaker Tom Foley) and those who had tried to strip the crime bill of the assault weapons ban, like Brooks.

  • Left-wing heroes that treat women like garbage. In addition to Harvey and Teddy, there’s Bill Clinton, Andreas Baader, several Black Panthers, and assorted “male feminists,” though it occasionally veers into the weeds.
  • What Harvey Weinstein tells us about the liberal world.”

    Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.

    Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.

    You know what’s really shocking? That piece is from liberal commentator Thomas What’s the Matter With Kansas Frank…

  • Besides Hollywood, you know what other powerful liberal establishment is full of sexual harassers? The EU Parliament.
  • Joe Bob Briggs on how illegal aliens knock Americans off the lowest rungs of the economic ladder:

    One of the cruelest things we do to prisoners is pump them up with the idea that, if they educate themselves in prison and learn a trade, they will be able to work when they get out. This is a lie. They probably won’t be able to work, because, aside from typical job-interview demerits like too many nasty facial tattoos, that felony conviction automatically eliminates them on most application forms. As late as the ’70s, in Arkansas, it was considered a badge of civic pride if you hired a couple of convicts and a couple of blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound citizens at your business—which is why we didn’t use the term “hardcore” for any of the unemployed.

    Would it be a stretch to say all these convicts have been replaced by young able-bodied illegals? I don’t think so.

    Snip.

    “Get rid of the illegal Mexicans and see how fast that wage goes up to $15 on its own, no government intervention needed.”

  • “Tucker Carlson: If Robots Are Killing Jobs, Why Allow 1M Low-Skilled Workers To Immigrate Legally?” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Flake flakes.
  • Boston “fair wage” pizza shop dedicated to “economic justice and healthy food” fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Young Chinese are taking a pass on Communist propaganda.
  • Evidently actually reading the Constitution is not a requirement to be head of the DNC. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Another week, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The “sexual assault” allegation against George H. W. Bush is just silly.
  • Program automatically produces Slashdot headlines. Too bad these are fake, as I would totally read “Sun Sues New Star Trek To Stop The Math.”
  • Evergreen cartoon:

  • LinkSwarm for September 15, 2017

    Friday, September 15th, 2017

    Greetings, and welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! Cleanup from Harvey and Irma continues apace, and there was another London jihad terror attack.

  • Bomb attack on a London tube train injuries 20, but no reported deaths. “Officers believe that the blast on the train at Parsons Green, southwest London, was caused by an improvised explosive device and hundreds of detectives are now investigating with the assistance of MI5.” More west than southwest, I would say, since it’s north of the Themes and south of Earl’s Court.
  • Also, not one, but two jihad knife attacks in France today, fortunately with no fatalities. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Irma death toll is at 82, 39 of them in the United States, and 1.5 million homes remain without power.
  • “Houston councilman tells residents not to donate to Red Cross.”

    Houston City Councilman Dave Martin, who represents hard-hit Kingwood, had a message for the public about the American Red Cross.

    “I beg you not to send them a penny,” he said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “They are the most inept unorganized organization I’ve ever experienced.”

    In part of a broader rant that also roped in a perceived lack of assistance from his native New Orleans (“Send me your darn trucks, Mitch,” he said, a plea for the Big Easy’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, to send waste trucks westward to haul off storm debris), Martin said local folks opened shelters and gathered water and supplies to help his northeastern suburb’s evacuees.

    “Don’t waste your money,” said Martin. “Give it to another cause.”

  • Woman downloads app during Harvey, and suddenly she’s doing rescue dispatch.
  • How many times must a gay Democratic mayor be accused of child sexual abuse before resigning? Judging by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, the answer is evidently “five.” Edited to add: Forgot to mention (as Dwight does in the comments below) that Murray was a member of Illegal Mayors Against Gun Owners.
  • Speaking of prominent Democratic office holders who are sex offenders, Anthony Weiner is arguing he doesn’t deserve to go to prison because it’s not his fault that those darn sexy 15-year-olds keep attracting his attention and taking advantage of his sickness. See Anthony, the thing is, when normal men receive a message like “High! I’m nubile jailbait!”, we ignore it because we’re: A.) Not perverts, and B.) Not complete morons. But only the dimmest, stupidest, sickest pervert would fall for that crap when he lives under a media microscope and after it’s already ruined his life.
  • The Awan family Democratic House member data breach gets murkier:

    On April 6, at midnight, in a small room once used as a phone booth on the second floor of the Rayburn House Office Building, a Capitol Hill Police Officer doing his security rounds discovered evidence that will possibly reveal one of the the biggest security breaches involving House Democrats by the Awan family, a group of entrusted IT staffers, according to court records, police reports and news reports.

    In the small room, the U.S. Capitol Police found a laptop computer registered to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida Democrat and former DNC chairwoman. Wasserman-Schultz had been fighting authorities for months to return the laptop, that she once claimed was not hers.

    What’s more concerning, say senior House officials who spoke to Circa, is that Imran Awan was also allegedly transferring files – including documents and emails – of House Democrats to a secret server connected to the less secure House Democratic Caucus. The organization was then chaired by Rep. Xavier Becerra, who left Congress in January after being sworn in as the Attorney General of California.

    The Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak was the first to break the story and last week Rosiak reported Wasserman Schultz’s IT staffer, now indicted Awan, is believed to have planted her laptop in the Rayburn office room, along with his Pakistani ID card, copies of his driver’s license and his congressional ID badge. Awan also left behind letters to the U.S. attorney.

    Awan apparently wanted the evidence discovered, according to a Capitol Hill police report on the matter.

    Officials are now asking the question of why the computer was left but the answers remain elusive.

    “There is no reason to accommodate all the members data on one server and one that was apparently hidden,” said the Senior House official. “Why didn’t Xavier Becerra know this because it happened on his watch? Each member had their own server to protect against this and Awan intentionally tried to hide what he had done from investigators.”

    Becerra’s office did not return phone calls for comment.

    The House official told Circa that Awan was also allegedly uploading “terabits of information to dropbox so he was possibly able to access the information even after he was banned from the network.” The official said there is a need for a full congressional investigation on the matter.

    “I think this may lead to information as to who really accessed the DNC server – everybody talks about Russia – but look at the access (Awan) had and potentially those emails could have been sold,” the House official added.

  • Speaking of data breaches, here’s Brian Krebs on how to protect yourself after the Equifax data breach. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • “The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that will provide $1.2 trillion to fund the government past Sept. 30, and will allocate $1.6 billion towards President Donald Trump’s border wall.” This is why I don’t freak out over all the reports of President Trump’s reported amnesty deal with Democrats. It’s not that I trust Trump, it’s that I have no interest in watching the magician make flourishes with his left hand. If such an amnesty actually approaches the voting stage, then I’ll worry. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Still, President Trump would do well to heed Kurt Schlicter’s advice and not let Chuck Schumer play him for a fool. “What we saw isn’t the art of the deal. This is the art of being suckered.”
  • An organizer for the #BlackLivesMatter rally where five Dallas police officers were killed has been arrested on felony theft charges. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Illegal alien arrested in murder involving a stolen police officer’s firearm was wearing an electronic monitor issued by United States immigration officials at the time.
  • “Outraged illegal aliens demand ICE announce their raids in advance.” Note: Not an Onion headline. (Hat tip: BigGator5’s Twitter feed.)
  • Obama Administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice admits that she unmasked Trump associates.
  • Even with President Donald Trump’s recent chumminess with Democratic congressional leaders, he’s less of an authoritarian threat than Hillary was. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Don Surber puts his finger on what’s ailing the Democratic Party:

    It comes down to one man.

    The leader of the party.

    Barack Obama.

    He was a terrible president.

    Also this:

    Calling us deplorable backfired too.

    Democrats are intellectually lazy. Decades of demonizing conservatives failed to win the last election. Name-calling won’t win votes. Racist, sexist, even Nazi, no longer have any meaning thanks to overuse.

    If Democrats want to win again, then they will have to sell their ideas, not their skin color, their sex, or any other superficiality.

    People want results, not tokens.

    (Hat tip: The Other McCain.

  • How Antifa are helping reelect Donald Trump.

    It should be apparent, but evidently is not to antifa members and leaders, that the United States, despite Donald Trump being president, is not in a comparable situation to that of Weimar Germany on the eve of Hitler’s ascension to power…Leftist violence in the 1930s in Germany led many to support the Nazis in the hope they would put an end to the continuing street brawls and violence. Today, the antifa left may even help to get Donald Trump reelected in 2020.

  • “And they wonder why people don’t vote for Democrats around here anymore.”
  • In a poll of possible Democratic candidates for 2020, Bernie Sanders has a commanding lead over— [At this point a lynch mob broke into the writer’s house to wreck terrible vengeance upon him for mentioning the 2020 presidential election more than three years out.]
  • Democrats declare war on vaping.
  • Camille Paglia says that transgender activists are committing child abuse by advocating “sex change” surgery for children.

    In sex-reassignment surgery, even today, with all of its advances, cannot, in fact, change anyone’s sex. You can define yourself as a trans man or a trans woman or one of these new gradations along the scale, but ultimately every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that cell remains coded for your biological birth.

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • “The Left Is Still Freaking Out About Betsy DeVos Because School Choice Is An Existential Threat.”
  • Don’t look now, but there’s a new war in the Congo.
  • “Brexit: EU repeal bill wins first Commons vote.”
  • When are experts right and when are they wrong? Scott Adams offers some guidelines.
  • Oberlin College: Hey! Let’s go full Social justice Warrior! Reality: Hey! Enjoy declining enrollment and financial problems.
  • Russian company develops anti-riot truck that’s like a moving battlement. Looks like it would be adept at crushing pro-democracy protestors and Antifa equally.
  • Jack Kerouac: “You stupid hippies should get the hell off my lawn!”
  • How it took four decades to restore Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Including a fascinating interview with Welles from 1958.
  • “Commuters express concern as Thomas the Tank Engine falls to the power of Chaos.”
  • My library was featured on the Ace of Spades Sunday book thread.
  • “The War George W. Bush Had Won, Barack Obama Had Lost”

    Sunday, August 20th, 2017

    This video is an antidote to the widespread revisionism that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a debacle from beginning to end and that George W. Bush was responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. One can question the wisdom of many decisions involved in the conduct of the that war, but the fact is that The Surge had largely succeeded in pacifying Iraq and that the country was functioning quite well by the very lose standards of the Middle East before Barack Obama withdrew American troops, facilitating the rise of the Islamic State.

    (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

    Clinton Corruption Update for July 18, 2017

    Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

    Time to do another Clinton Corruption update, which references such far-flung locales as Haiti, East Timor and Libya, as well as the inevitable mention of Russia:

  • “New Abedin Emails Reveal Additional Instances of Clinton Donors Receiving Special Treatment from Clinton Department of State.” What sort of favors?

    In July 2009, in reference to the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Clinton Global Initiative head Doug Band told Abedin that she “Need[s] to show love” to Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical. Band also asked for Liveris to be introduced to Hillary, “and have her mention both me and wjc”. Dow gave between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. Band also pushes for Clinton to do a favor for Karlheinz Koegel, a major Clinton Foundation contributor, who wanted Hillary Clinton to give the “honor speech” for his media prize to “Merkel.”

    The emails reveal that on June 19, 2009, Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, passed a long a letter for Hillary Clinton for Clinton donor Richard Park. Park donated $100,000 to Bill Clinton as far back as 1993 and is listed by the Clinton Foundation as a $100,000 to $250,000 donor.

    The Washington Examiner reported:

    In March 2012, Bill Clinton received an invitation to speak at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. Richard Park’s friendship with Tony Rodham earned him a direct line to Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of state. In January 2013, the Korean businessman sent Rodham an email and asked him to “forward this to your sister.”

    On November 14, 2009, Clinton donor Ben Ringel, who has appeared in numerous prior emails asking for favors, emailed Abedin to get help in getting an Iranian woman a visa to come to the United States. He writes: “We need to get her clearance even only temporary to be with her granddaughter.” Abedin forwarded the request to Lauren Jiloty, asking her “Can U help Monday with consular affairs?” Jiloty replies, “Sure. Will look into it.” Ringel donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation. In May, Band, working through Abedin, attempts to help Canadian concert promoter and Foundation donor Michael Cohl with the processing of a visa. Abedin passes the request to Monica Hanley, Clinton’s “confidential assistant.”

    The emails show that the Clinton Foundation operative Band was involved in personnel matters at the Clinton State Department. In a May 2009 email exchange between Band and Abedin, a “career post” to East Timor for someone is discussed. Abedin explains to Band that Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s then-chief of staff, was working on the situation “under the radar.”

    In August 2009, Band tells Abedin of someone who wants to be the ambassador to Barbados. Abedin replies: “I know, he’s emailed a few times. But she wants to give to someone else.”

    The emails also show that Abedin received advice from her mother, Saleha Abedin (a controversial Islamist activist), on whom the Obama administration should appoint as the US Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. She notes that she has obtained a recommendation from “Hassan” (NFI), and that she’d reached out to “Ishanoglu”. This is presumably Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a Turkish academic and the former Secretary-General of the OIC. Ihsanoglu famously called on the West to enact anti-Islamic blasphemy laws.

    On Monday, June 8, Clinton emails her aide Lona Valmoro and Abedin asking to attend a cabinet meeting: “I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Is there? Can I go? If not, who are you sending?” Valmoro answers: “It is actually not a full cabinet meeting today – those agencies that received recovery money were invited to attend/participate. We were welcome to send a representative though, not sure if we have anyone going.”

    it’s not just pay-for-play. Once again, Judicial Watch requests have turned up instances of Hillary Clinton being super loosey-goosey with classified information:

    On July 4, 2009, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Jonathan “Scott” Gration sent Abedin an email that the State Department has classified in part and redacted because the information deals with “foreign governments” and “national defense or foreign policy.” Abedin forwarded Gration’s email to her personal, unsecure email account. In his email, Gration related his meeting with Libyan president Muammar Qadafi, saying: “I conveyed our appreciation for Libya’s role to improve relations between Chad and Sudan … Leader al-Qadafi promised to continue his nation’s close collaboration with the United States … and is eager to meet you and President Obama.…” Gration would later be fired for, among other things, using personal email accounts to send government information.

    A document titled “HRC PRIVATE LINE BLOCK” gives the planned whereabouts for President Obama for Thursday, June 4, 2009: “Attend POTUS Foreign Policy Speech at Cairo University.” In another example of lax concern for security, Valmoro forwarded Clinton’s detailed daily schedule for July 15, 2009, to officers of the Clinton Foundation, including Doug Band and Justin Cooper. Again, on July 26 Valmoro forwarded Hillary’s detailed, sensitive daily schedule to numerous Clinton Foundation officials.

    In other examples of lax concern for security, on June 11, there is a reference to testing the “Federal preparedness and response for an international terrorist threat to the United States. [Principal-Level Exercise] will be a scenario-driven discussion for Cabinet Secretaries, agency Directors and Administrators, senior officials in the Executive Office of the President, or their approved representatives.” A document in Abedin’s unsecure email account dated May 2009 is titled “The Secretary’s Phone Call with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang” is marked sensitive but unclassified and fully redacted, as is a document titled “The Secretary’s Phone Call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.”

  • Libyan army spokesman Col. Ahmed al-Mesmar says the blame for the current state of the country is on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

    The main responsibility falls on NATO, which interfered in Libya in 2011 to end the Gaddafi regime and destroyed all Libyan army weapons and infrastructure, only to then leave Libya alone to fight the terrorists. They took none of the necessary measures to help rebuild the Libyan Army or even help to reactivate other security facilities.

    The U.S. administration led by Obama and Hilary Clinton was not up to the challenge in Libya and didn’t give much attention to the Libyan situation.

    We don’t have any doubts that the Obama administration and his ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, had considerable contact with militias and terrorist groups in Libya.

    Also this:

    Col. al-Mesmari also claims that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade — hired by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia in attacking the consulate compound on September 12, 2012.

    That attack led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

    Libyans celebrated last week when, after three years of battle, the LNA finally liberated Benghazi from all terrorist groups in the city.

    The piece is also worth reading for Qatar’s involvement backing Libyan jihadists.

  • Hillary Clinton sided with Russia on sanctions as Bill made $500G on Moscow speech.”

    According to Mrs. Clinton’s ethics disclosure form filed while she was secretary of State, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by the Russia-based finance company Renaissance Capital for his June 29, 2010, speech in Moscow to its employees and guests attending the company’s annual conference.

    The speech is now coming back to haunt the Clintons, considering the company that cut the check was allegedly tied to the scandal that spurred the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill that imposed sanctions on Russians designated as human-rights abusers and eventually would become law in 2012.

    This was the same law Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was lobbying against during her sit-down with Trump Jr. last year. And back in 2010, it would have put the Clintons on her side.

    Shortly before Bill Clinton’s speech in 2010, when members of Congress pushing the sanctions bill had asked Hillary Clinton to refuse visas to Russian officials implicated under the policy, the State Department denied the request. The Obama administration initially was opposed to the Magnitsky Act because then-President Barack Obama was seeking a “reset” with Russia and did not want to deepen the divide between the two countries.

    Former President Bill Clinton’s speech to Renaissance just weeks later was all the more curious, considering Renaissance’s Russian investment bank executives would have been banned from the U.S. under the law.

  • “Haiti Official Who Exposed The Clinton Foundation Is Found Dead:

    [Klaus] Eberwein was a former Haitian government official who was expected to expose the extent of Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice next week.

    He has been found dead in Miami at the age of 50.

    The circumstances surrounding Eberwein’s death are also nothing less than unpalatable. According to Miami-Dade’s medical examiner records supervisor, the official cause of death is “gunshot to the head.“ Eberwein’s death has been registered as “suicide” by the government. But not long before his death, he acknowledged that his life was in danger because he was outspoken on the criminal activities of the Clinton Foundation.

    Eberwein was a fierce critic of the Clinton Foundation’s activities in the Caribbean island, where he served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, for three years. “The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,” Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year. Eberwein was due to appear on Tuesday before the Haitian Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he was widely expected to testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors. But this “suicide” gets even more disturbing…

    Eberwein was only 50-years-old and reportedly told acquaintances he feared for his life because of his fierce criticism of the Clinton Foundation. His close friends and business partners were taken aback by the idea he may have committed suicide. “It’s really shocking,” said friend Gilbert Bailly. “We grew up together; he was like family.”

    During and after his government tenure, Eberwein faced allegations of fraud and corruption on how the agency he headed administered funds. Among the issues was FAES’ oversight of the shoddy construction of several schools built after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. But, according to Eberwein, it was the Clinton Foundation who was deeply in the wrong – and he intended to testify and prove it on Tuesday.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • If Hillary had won the election:

    Hillary and her campaign aides have long been involved with Russia for reasons of personal gain. Clinton herself got $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation for allowing Russia to take over twenty percent of all uranium production in the U.S. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, is reaping the financial benefits of being on the board of a Russian company, Joule, which he did not disclose. Besides, the Left has historically loved Russia and wanted to emulate its authoritarian governments. They laughed when Mitt Romney, in 2012, named Russia as our most serious foreign policy problem. And Obama, even when he knew/believed that Russia was attempting to meddle in the election, he did nothing. They’ve done it for decades and so what? Hillary was going to win.

    Had Hillary been elected, the Clinton Foundation would be raking in even more millions than it did before. She would be happily selling access, favors and our remaining freedoms out from under us. She would be further eviscerating our military and she would be raising taxes to fund Obamacare even though it is a clear and present disaster. Anyone who doubts that should look up Hillarycare, the monstrosity she designed behind closed doors when her husband was in the White House. Her plan would dictate who could go to medical school, what specialty they would “choose,” and where they would be compelled to practice. Her plan was the U.K.’s NHS on steroids. Her plan was rationed care and death panels from hell.

    Had HRC won, she would be implementing thousands of new regulations on businesses to further hamstring the economy. She would let the fascist freaks at the Environmental Protection Agency have their way with every aspect of our daily lives: Our cars, our showerheads, our toilets, our rainwater in our yards, etc. She would, like the EPA under Obama, privilege any species, no matter how insignificant, over humans. Central California has been devastated by the environmentalists’ reverence for the delta smelt! Thousands of farm workers lost their jobs thanks to this lefty decision, turning a lush agricultural valley into a brown wasteland in the name of “going green.” This is the American left today.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • On the same theme: Remember when Hillary pledged to destroy fracking? (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is the gift that keeps giving. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Hillary Clinton Told FBI’s Mueller To Deliver Uranium To Russians In 2009 ‘Secret Plane-Side Tarmac Meeting.'” I’m including this in the roundup, even though there’s nothing necessarily untoward here, since the enriched uranium was “a ten-gram sample of highly enriched uranium (HEU) seized in early 2006 in Georgia [the country] during a nuclear smuggling sting operation” and was probably Russia’s anyway. But why would then-Secretary of State Clinton have then FBI Director Robert Mueller deliver it, since he wasn’t in her chain of command? It would seem to be a task that would fall to the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, or possibly the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has a treaty with the U.S. State Department about the transfer of such materials? And why tarmac-side? These two elements do seem…curious.
  • From Director Blue: the complete Hillary Election Loss Blame List:

  • Heh:

  • For the sake of completeness: Clinton critic Richard Smith found dead of apparent suicide. Honestly, I’m having a hard time believing this was a real case of Sudden Clinton Death Syndrome simply because I’d never heard of Smith until now. Honestly, I’d expect that even I would be higher up on that very long Clinton Critics to be Assassinated list… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The State of the War Against the Islamic State

    Thursday, July 13th, 2017

    The coalition of forces fighting the Islamic State continue to make steady advances on a number of fronts:

  • Mosul is liberated, though mop-up operations against tiny pockets of resistance continues. They just pulled 28 mostly foreign born militants out of tunnels. That sort of thing can continue for a while. The Washington Post has a nice overview of the campaign to retake Mosul.
  • Islamic State forces are completely surrounded in Raqqa, as coalition aircraft pound militant positions in the capital of the crumbling caliphate and the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to grind them down in street-to-street urban warfare. Here’s the livemap snapshot:

  • There are consistent but unconfirmed reports from a number of sources that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. As in past cases of jihadis reported dead long before they actually reached room temperature, a large dollop of caution is in order. Though this quote from a coalition spokesman (relayed via Stephen Green at Instapundit) is pretty glorious: “We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed.”
  • Given the investment of Raqqa, there are conflicting reports as to where the Islamic State’s defacto capital is now: Some say Deir ez-Zor, others say Al Mayadin, AKA Mayadeen, which is all of 44km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, both in Syria on the Euphrates near what used to be the Iraqi border.

  • How President Trump’s strategy against the Islamic State differs from Obama’s:

    Under President Obama, U.S. Army Special Forces assigned to Syrian Democratic Forces needed special approval from Washington for virtually all tactical moves amid the politically complex theater of Americans, Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Syrians.

    In Tabqa, where the city, its dam and its airfield were the objectives, the Green Berets decided they needed an airlift. Suddenly minus red tape, Arabs, Kurds and Americans were helicoptering into battle, and they quickly seized territory.

    Under Mr. Obama, Islamic State terrorists could at times retreat from towns, immune from airstrikes if they used civilians as cover. The battle for Manbij in August became infamous when the SDF let 200 Islamic State fighters turn in their weapons and escape because they had threatened to kill town residents if they were not allowed to run away.

    The new Trump strategy calls for surrounding towns, as opposed to pushing from one end or one side to another, in order to isolate Islamic State fighters and annihilate them.

    Brett H. McGurk, special U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State who performed the same role for Mr. Obama, talked of “the delegations of authority which has made a difference in terms of the speed of execution. I think Tabqa was an example of that.”

    “Our military people on the ground saw an opportunity to kind of surprise ISIS with a helicopter, moving them by helicopter, surprise them from behind and seize the airport, the dam and the town,” Mr. McGurk later told reporters at the Pentagon.

    After Tabqa’s liberation, Mr. McGurk spoke to the city’s mayor, who gave a brief description of the war of annihilation.

    “He also said he believes that most of these foreign fighters are now dead,” the diplomat said.

    Mr. Mattis said: “No longer will we have slowed decision cycles because Washington, D.C., has to authorize tactical movements. I’ll leave that to the generals who know how to do those kind of things. We don’t direct that from here. They know our intent is the foreign fighters do not get out. I leave it to their skill, their cunning, to carry that out.”

  • Some videos:

    House-by-house clearing in Raqqa:

    The ruins of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, from which al-Baghdadi declared his short-lived caliphate:

  • The Islamic State is by no means destroyed, but they’re definitely on the ropes. The defeat of the Islamic State won’t end transnational Islamic fundamentalism, but it will certainly take the wind out of their sails.

    Not included in this roundup: Groups outside Islamic State territory that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. I hope to have a separate roundup on them Real Soon Now.

    Note: Post updated to remove embedded video on improvised weapons of the Battle for Mosul, as it’s been taken down for “violating YouTube’s Terms of Service,” possibly because it included Islamic State propaganda videos of weapon-making among the footage.

    Obligatory James Comey Testimony Roundup

    Sunday, June 11th, 2017

    Now that the breathless wall-to-wall coverage of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony is finished, let’s wade into the towering thicket of articles covering it to pluck the most succulent points:

  • This Comey timeline is a good place to start.

    If you know that what you are about to say is going to lead people to believe the president of the United States is under investigation (as it did), and you know for a fact that the president of the United States is not under investigation (as Comey did), why make the statement? And if it was important enough to tell Congress that Trump was not under investigation so that Congress would not be misled, what conceivable reason is there not to tell the public — especially when you must know that withholding this critical detail will make it much more difficult for the president to deal with foreign leaders and marshal political support for his domestic agenda?

  • “Former FBI director James Comey’s decision to leak FBI documents to a friend may have violated the FBI’s employment agreement regarding unauthorized leaks.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Did the Attorney General lean on Comey to go easy on the target of his investigation? Yes. At least when the Attorney General was Loretta Lynch and the investigation target was Hillary Clinton:

    [Sen. James] LANKFORD [(R-OK)]: Then you made a comment earlier a the attorney general, the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the Clinton e-mails saying you were asked to not call it an investigation anymore. But call it a matter. You said that confused you. You can give us additional details on that?

    COMEY: Well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence as we typically do of an investigation for months. And was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns we’re talking about interacting with the FBI in the course of our work. The Clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security matters, things like that for what was going on.

    We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to testify and talk publicly about it I wanted to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we have an investigation. She said yes, don’t call it that, call it a matter. I said why would I do that? She said, just call it a matter. You look back in hindsight, if I looked back and said this isn’t a hill worth dying on so I just said the press is going to completely ignore it. That’s what happened when I said we opened a matter.

    They all reported the FBI has an investigation open. So that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning.

    LANKFORD: You gave impression that the campaign was somehow using the language as the FBI because you were handed the campaign language?

    COMEY: I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way it was describing that. It was inaccurate. We had an investigation open for the federal bureau of investigation, we had an investigation open at the time. That gave me a queasy feeling.

  • “Most seemed to miss the fact that Comey was describing his own conduct in strikingly unethical terms. The greatest irony is that Trump succeeded in baiting Comey to a degree that even Trump could not have imagined. After calling Comey a ‘showboat’ and poor director, Comey proceeded to commit an unethical and unprofessional act in leaking damaging memos against Trump.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Kurt Schlichter:

    That towering doofus James Comey crushed the spirits of millions of democracy-hating geebos when, trapped by his own prior testimony, he was forced to admit the truth on national television. And that truth, as those of us not caught up in the whirlpool of Menschian insanity and liberal wishcasting all know, is that the whole Russia thing is a wheelbarrow of fresh Schumer squeezed out by Hillary and her minions in order to create a narrative – any narrative – that would hide the bitter truth. We rejected her, and now we’re rejecting the Russia idiocy too.

  • Scott Adams:

    Was President Trump trying to persuade Comey in any of their private conversations? Of course he was. In a political context, all conversations are about persuasion. Comey was trying to persuade Trump that Comey was a competent and capable player with no bias. Trump was expressing his preferences from a power position, which is persuasive by its nature.

    Persuasion isn’t inherently good or bad. Persuasion is a tool. It’s goodness or badness depends on the context of its use. If you believe Trump knows he and his associates were innocent of any wrongdoing, and you observe that the investigations are making the government less effective, it feels entirely legitimate for the President to persuade in a direction that is a benefit for all citizens. No one wants to waste time, money, or energy on a useless investigation. But if you think there is some wrongdoing yet uncovered, presidential persuasion would be wildly inappropriate in this case, even if technically legal.

    I haven’t seen evidence of any crimes on the Trump side, so my filter sees a president trying to remove some obstacles that are not serving him or the American public. That kind of persuasion doesn’t feel wrong to me.

  • “Trump committed no crime. Democrats need to get over it.”

    Democrats will continue to lash out and contort Comey’s testimony, but the facts speak for themselves. President Trump has not asked anyone to lie, he has not prevented anyone from performing his or her legal obligations, and he has most certainly not obstructed justice.

    Comey’s testimony was not flattering toward the president, but, as I wrote yesterday, it did more to help Trump than to hurt him. No matter how much the Democrats and mainstream media outlets try to spin a crime out of the straw that was Comey’s testimony, the facts just do not take us there.

    The president still has the advantage of being innocent. If the Democrats want to impeach Trump, they will have to keep looking. I’m sure they will.

  • 7 Big Takeaways From The Comey Hearing.” Including:

    The Conspiracy Theory That Says Trump Colluded With Russia To Somehow Steal The Election From Hillary Clinton Is Now Dead: Not only did Comey thoroughly shoot down the idea that Trump was being investigated in the Russia probe, he explicitly denied stories based on anonymous sources that said Trump colluded with the Russians. He added, “Yes, there have been many, many stories based on — well, lots of stuff but about Russia that are dead wrong.” Read it and weep, conspiracy theorists.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “Comey stated that a key New York Times report asserting Trump campaign collusion, which sparked much of the frenzy the past several months, was substantively false. On top of that, Comey testified not only that Trump didn’t try to impede the Russia investigation, he actually encouraged Comey to find out and expose whether any of Trump’s campaign ‘satellites’ (I assume that means people working for or with the campaign) engaged in wrongdoing.”
  • Lefty constitutional law scholar Alan Dershowitz says that there’s no plausible case that President Trump obstructed justice. “You can’t obstruct justice by simply exercising your power under the Constitution.”
  • Seven questions that should have been asked at the Comey hearing. Such as: “Did you also create memos for every phone call and every meeting you had with President Obama? With Attorneys General Lynch and Sessions? If you did not, why did you treat your interactions with Lynch over the Clinton email server investigation differently from your interactions with President Trump over the Russia probe?” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Random Tweet:

  • There. Now let’s sweep up all these breathless Comey memos and Trump-Russia conspiracy theories into one big crate, padlock it shut, and ship it off to that giant warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant where we never have to speak of it again.

    Obama: If if if if…

    Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

    Instead of actual content, have a silly stuttering Obama rap video from last year