Saturday, March 30, 2019

The West's Crimes against Persecuted Minorities in the Middle East

Nobel Peace Prize 2018 laureate Nadia Murad delivers her speech during the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 Ceremony in Oslo Town Hall, Oslo, on Dec 10, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The debate in Western Europe about the rights of returning Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists reflects a disturbing sentiment: There appears to be tremendous concern for the well-being of people who decided to leave their native or adopted countries to pledge allegiance to ISIS, the followers of which perpetrated some of the most gruesome crimes committed in this or any century.

Now that the US-supported forces in Syria have taken the last ISIS stronghold in Syria, Baghouz, and ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been defeated, its terrorists and their brides apparently long for the West again.

Few people in the West seem concerned that the reason for this longing might not be Western comforts alone, but also an ISIS command. One ISIS spokesmen, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer, recently "issued a recording calling on organization operatives in all ISIS's provinces to continue the path of jihad and expand their activities against the 'infidel nations,' particularly the United States..."

Swedish officials issued concern about returning ISIS perpetrators in curiousstatements. One, for instance, by Klas Friberg, the head of the Swedish Security Service (S├Ąpo), in January, described returning ISIS fighters as "broken people who have been traumatized by their experiences" and said that Swedish society has to "play a big role in re-integrating them".[1]

There were also questionable statements about an ISIS bride, Shamima Begum, attempting to return to Britain. In a recent interview from Syria, Begum readily admitted that she had no problem with beheadings and other atrocities committed by ISIS, because, "Islamically that is all allowed." Despite this, Richard Barret, a former director of global counter-terrorism at the UK's MI6 intelligence agency, said Begum should be "given a chance" and allowed to come home, despite her lack of remorse. He then lamented that the British government, at the initiative of Home Secretary Sajid Javid, in stripping Begum of her citizenship and not allowing her to come back to the UK, had shown "a complete lack of concern for her plight". British MP Diane Abbott said that making Begum "stateless" was "callous and inhumane".

The problem is that these same representatives of the political establishment have not shown remotely similar concern -- if any at all -- for the real victims of the ISIS terrorists; they appear to have been completely forgotten.

The real victims were the many people whom ISIS terrorists had happily volunteered to rape, torture, behead, drown, burn alive, crucify and shoot to death for sport. Yet, the horror of these victims -- Yazidis, Christians, Druze and the "wrong kind" of Muslims -- is barely mentioned in public debates about returning ISIS fighters. It is as if those victims had never existed. The only comment that keeps being repeated is the right of the perpetrators to return because they happen to be in possession of Western citizenship. One wonders, if such compassion would also have been extended today to, say, Nazis, if they had run off to kill victims abroad and then, after being defeated, asked to come back.
The West, by this disregard of ISIS's victims, is committing a double crime against them: First, by failing to speak out for and help rescue the victims at the time they were being devastated; second, by their sentimental concern for these terrorists after their hard-won defeat.

Recently, fifty Yazidi women were found to have been beheaded in the city of Baghouz. That discovery, however, did not seem to propel Western leaders to help find those thousands of Yazidis who are still missing, including many children. According to one report, 3000 women are still being held by ISIS as slaves and their likely fate is to be held in sexual slavery for the rest of their lives, unless someone rescues them. Nadia Murad, the Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was one of thousands of Yazidi women taken prisoner by ISIS and held as a slave until she managed to escape, recently wrote, "My greatest fear is that if the world still fails to act, my community – the Yazidi community – will cease to exist".

Unfortunately, the world has stood by passively for nearly five years, since August 2014, when the Yazidi genocide by ISIS went into in full swing. Some of these terrorists are already back in the West or on their way there. One Yazidi teenage girl, who had been sold into slavery by ISIS, managed to escape to Germany, where she was horrified to discover that her former captor, who had beaten and raped her, was also living in Germany:
"I know you, he said. And where you live and who you live with. He knew everything about my life in Germany... The last thing I expected was to meet my IS captor and that he would know everything about me."
It appears to be dawning on some of the mainstream media outlets, at least in the UK, that Britain's inaction on behalf of the persecuted Middle Eastern minorities makes its government look horrendous. The Sunday Times recently wrote of the UK government:
"The Home Office has repeatedly failed to give sanctuary in Britain to a fair proportion of Christians, Yazidis and Druze, according to figures obtained under freedom of information laws by Barnabas Fund, which helps persecuted Christians overseas. 
"The finding that it appears to discriminate in favour of Muslisms [sic] risks embarrassing the government which has begun a review, ordered by the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, into the global persecution of Christians.
"When he announced the review on Boxing Day, Hunt cited estimates of about 215m [million] Christians suffering persecution around the world and suggested Britain had not been generous enough."
That is putting it mildly. According to the Sunday Times, of the 4,850 Syrians accepted in 2017 by the Home Office, 4,572 were Sunni Muslims; only 11 were Christians. According to figures for the second quarter of 2018, of the 1,197 Syrians accepted into the UK, 1,047 were Sunnis and 10 were Christians. There was no mention at all of Yazidis, despite the genocide committed against them in 2014, when ISIS terrorists stormed the predominantly Yazidi city of Sinjar in northern Iraq and proceeded to destroy Yezidi shrines and murder, abduct and rape the Yazidis. 200,000 people fled Sinjar and around 50,000 took refuge on Mount Sinjar. To this day, Yazidi refugees are still living there in tents and in unimaginable poverty, waiting for help from a world that has completely forgotten them.

Unfortunately, the rot at the core of Britain's Home Office seems so deep, it is doubtful that it can be shamed into anything. According to The Times, the Home Office recently refused asylum to an Iranian who converted from Islam to Christianity on the grounds that Christianity is supposedly not a peaceful religion:
"Immigration officials wrote to the man citing violent passages from the Bible to prove their point. They said that the Book of Revelation was 'filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence'. The Church of England condemned the 'lack of religious literacy' shown by the immigration officials, after the man warned he might now face persecution in Iran for his faith".
Across the Western world, the political and media classes put on a daily show of pretending to care about human rights, while letting down persecuted minorities -- including many Muslim women. As Asra Nomani wrote:
"One of our greatest challenges here in America is that progressives don't always stand with the progressive Muslims because in the interest of freedom of religion and civil liberties and political correctness, they don't want to offend cultural choices by Muslims. I know that people have gone to these interfaith sessions at different mosques and they see that the women end up in the basement, but they don't want to challenge anyone because they think, 'Oh, well this is your way.'"
It is long overdue for everyone to start calling out this posturing for the moral narcissism it is and to demand from their politicians and the establishment media, who seemingly never tire of proclaiming their commitment to human rights, to begin providing some to the countless real victims waiting to be helped.

Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

[1] Integrating former ISIS fighters in Sweden is not going very well. In a recent study of 29 male returned ISIS fighters, 13 were suspected of or had been convicted of committing crimes in Sweden after their return. The crimes included committing severe physical abuse, money laundering, dealing in stolen goods, extortion, theft and drug offenses.

Book Review: 'The Right Side of History' by Ben Shapiro

Extending Judeo-Christian values and the Greek gift of reason

By John R. Coyne Jr.
March 20, 2019
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“This book is about two mysteries,” writes Ben Shapiro, editor in chief of the Daily Wire. “The first mystery: Why are things so good? The second mystery: Why are we blowing it?”
All available data prove that we are living in the most open and prosperous nation the world has known. This is still the nation in which all citizens of every race and religion from anywhere in the world can rise just as high and far as their talents and abilities will carry them. We are, Mr. Shapiro believes, the end product of more than 3,000 years of the efforts of people who accepted Judeo-Christian values and the Greek gift of reason, the combination of which led naturally to the concept of democracy.
Mr. Shapiro gives us a necessarily selective but solid overview of those centuries, touching on the theories, thoughts, philosophers, movements and religions that shaped our world and culminated in our nation, until very recently routinely referred to by political men and women as “the hope and envy of the world.” But perhaps not so much just now.
As Mr. Shapiro points out, and as our politics reflect on a daily basis, with media large and small providing an increasingly ubiquitous megaphone, “We are so angry at each other right now. That anger is palpable. Where did it come from?”
Mr. Shapiro, who has experienced first-hand the real and vicious mindlessness of that anger by mobs of protesters on campuses like Berkeley where he’s invited to speak — he’s reportedly the country’s most requested campus speaker — believe it’s the result of “the destruction of a common vision. We used to believe in the Founding vision. We used to see each other as brothers and sisters, not ‘the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent’ or ‘the privileged vs. the victims.”
“We weren’t enemies. We were a community, forged in fire and tethered together by a set of values stretching back to the Garden of Eden — a community of individuals working to understand the values of each other as images of God, a community of individuals who believed in our own capacity to change ourselves and the world around us.”
Without question, there has been a fracturing, with a new politics of identity and entitlement being pushed and encouraged by an unusually hostile media and by cynical and opportunistic politicians with no scruples chasing votes.
In this strongly written survey of Western thought and cogent statement of democratic principle, Mr. Shapiro provides an analysis of our current crisis, its causes and potential cures, advocating a return to the basic values upon which our civilization was built.
“It took Western civilization three thousand years to get here — we can lose it all in one generation unless we begin shoring up our foundation,” he writes.
How do we do that? In his case, he writes, he and his wife began by teaching their two children the values passed down to them by their own parents and through generations of parents before them.
“We will do our best to teach them what made our civilization great — and what makes our civilization great still. It is our job to reconnect with both the word of God and with the philosophy of reason and individual liberty — two words that are, after all, inextricably intertwined.”
To underscore the importance of educating our children, he quotes Ronald Reagan: “‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.’”
Mr. Shapiro concludes with a reflection on the larger meaning of the parent/child relationship and a strong note of hope: “I think that the history of Western civilization shows that our parents live on in us when we learn the lesson they teach us, when we recognize their wisdom even as we develop our own, we become a link in the chain of history. Our parents never die so long as we keep the flame of their ideals alive, and pass that flame along to our children.”
• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).

Friday, March 29, 2019

When Prosecutorial Discretion Is Woke

Throwing out charges against Jussie Smollett is consistent with the social-justice narrative that a hate hoax can be true in a deeper sense.

Heather Mac Donald
March 28, 2019

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Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Cook County prosecuter Kim Foxx in February.

The expunging of the 16-count felony indictment against actor Jussie Smollett for faking a hate crime against himself is being treated as a manifestation of Chicago-machine politics, whereby the politically well-connected enjoy a different standard of justice than everyone else. Feminist attorney Tina Tchen, the former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, had contacted Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx about the case on behalf of a member of Smollett’s family. But the dismissal of a seemingly watertight case, based on the sworn confessions of Smollett’s two co-conspirators and reams of physical evidence, represents more than celebrity justice. It is rather the latest example of the incursion of academic identity politics into the workings of government.

Had Smollett been a straight white male who had staged his own attack by fake Antifa Trump antagonists, he would most certainly still be facing a trial and the prospect of prison time. But Foxx is a leading figure in the recent national wave of progressive local prosecutors who came to power by playing race politics. She campaigned on the Critical Race Theory credo that the criminal-justice system is endemically biased. She inveighed against the so-called school-to-prison pipeline and promised to reduce racial disparities in prosecutions. Last month, she dismissed aggravated battery charges against a 16-year-old student who had attacked two Chicago police officers; the Chicago police union argued that her dismissal of the charges fit a pattern of favoring offenders over police officers. Foxx operates in a cultural milieu that holds that the fact that a hate crime is a hoax is less important than the fact that it could have been true. Prosecuting Smollett could have sent another black man to prison. Is there a race-based system of justice here?

Dismissal of a case usually follows the process of deferred prosecution. Only after the defendant has accepted responsibility, stayed out of trouble for at least six months, and made restitution will charges be vacated. Jussie Smollett not only denied responsibility; he also proclaimed that his innocence has been vindicated. The state’s attorney’s office cited 16 hours of “community service” that Smollett performed at the headquarters of—predictably—Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition as an indication of his goodwill and rehabilitation. He spent time in the PUSH store, “encouraging visitors to purchase PUSH gear,” and offered marketing tips, Jesse Jackson said. Smollett gave advice to the Rainbow PUSH membership team. Smollett’s lawyer denied that any community service was required as a condition of the dismissal of his charges.

Kim Foxx campaigned on improving transparency in the Chicago criminal-justice system, but the actions of her office in the Smollett case have been opaque. Prosecutors announced preemptively that the record in the case would be sealed, but there is virtually no precedent for immediately sealing a criminal case involving an adult, even if a defendant is found not guilty. Defendants typically must file a motion to seal their case, and the police are given the opportunity to contest the motion. Why did Foxx’s office rush to bury the details of Smollett’s apparent hoax? They have now reportedly reversed the decision to seal the records, but only after an outcry from the media.

Volunteering for the Chicago Police Department’s Explorers Program would have been a better way for Smollett to have made restitution. The Chicago PD devoted copious resources to finding Smollett’s alleged assailants, interviewing more than 100 individuals and laboriously constructing a timeline of the alleged attack from public and private cameras. At least 12 detectives worked full-time trying to hunt down Smollett’s fictitious white supremacist lynch mob; such valuable shoe-leather detective work could have been better spent trying to solve Chicago’s real shootings, many of which are witnessed, though those bystanders rarely cooperate. But the political fever around “hate” in Trump’s America is a more pressing political concern than garden-variety drive-bys, especially since both the victim and the perpetrator in those shootings are almost invariably black. Where is the advantage to the social-justice narrative in investing resources just to prosecute more black people?

Not surprisingly, Smollett is still availing himself of the rhetoric of academic victimology, vowing to “fight for the justice, equality, and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.” His attorney dodged a press question about whether he would sue the police department; let’s hope that Smollett’s narcissism overwhelms any prudence on the part of his legal team and he reopens the case to public scrutiny.

Before Foxx, there was Maryland’s State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, another product of the racism-industrial complex. Mosby brought inflated charges against six Baltimore police officers for the death of drug dealer Freddie Gray and was rebuked by a judge for her prosecutorial overreach. Though the criminal investigators in the Obama Justice Department concluded that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative against Ferguson, Missouri officer Darrell Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown was a fabrication, the civil rights attorneys in the Justice Department went ahead and issued a tendentious report accusing the Ferguson Police Department and court system of racism anyway.

More and more law school graduates, steeped in Believe Survivors ideology and critical race theory, will enter positions of power in the criminal-justice system in the coming years. Whether they erode our expectations of political neutrality in favor of “social justice” remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however: the dismissal of the Smollett indictment will encourage more such social justice-inspired hate-crime hoaxes, which will continue to find a credulous audience in the media and among academic and political elites.

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the bestselling books The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture and The War on Cops.

Today's Tune: Creedence Clearwater Revival -The Royal Albert Hall Concert (1970)

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bards of the Working Class

March 29, 2019

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Fifty years ago, one of the greatest rock bands in history overwhelmed the American music scene. They released three hit albums in a single year. They toured incessantly. They left an indelible mark on rock music. Their songs are still featured on the radio, in commercials, and in movies. And they weren’t British. I write of Creedence Clearwater Revival, who, though they didn’t write “We’re an American Band” (that honor goes to Grand Funk Railroad), exhibited the most important qualities of the quintessential American rock group. Indeed, in many respects, the band, also known as Creedence or CCR, represents the kind of hard-working, blue-collar music that should serve as a soundtrack for main street conservatism.
CCR’s meteoric rise was anything but expected—indeed, it took 10 years for them to enjoy commercial success. Younger Fogerty brother John, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook met in 1959 while attending high school in El Cerrito, California. They formed a band called The Blue Velvets and began playing with elder Fogerty brother Tom. In 1964, they signed with Fantasy Records, though the group was derailed when John and Doug received draft notices in 1966. The two enlisted in the Reserves to avoid conscription. When they were discharged in 1968, they renamed the band Creedence Clearwater Revival, the “revival” being the members’ commitment to each other and to an older-school type of rock and roll. Their first eponymous album had a couple of minor hits, both covers: “Suzie Q” and “I Put a Spell on You.”
1969 would be the band’s breakout year. CCR’s three albums that year that all went platinum: Bayou CountryGreen River, and Willie and the Poor Boys. The albums included such well-known radio staples as “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner,” and “Fortunate Son,” the last still a favorite of any film sequence regarding the Vietnam War. There isn’t a weak song on any of these records, all of which offer a distinctly Southern, working-class feel, despite the band’s California origins. CCR toured constantly, hitting the Atlanta Pop Festival in July and Woodstock in August, though they didn’t appear in the popular Woodstock film or soundtrack. In November, they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Their success continued into 1970 with the release of Cosmo’s Factory, a number one record. It featured “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Up Around the Bend,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” among other greats. Pendulum, also released in that year, offered another top 10 hit in “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” Unfortunately, tensions between the Fogerty brothers reached a tipping point, and Tom departed at the end of 1970. CCR’s final album, Mardi Gras, released in 1972, peaked at number 12, but was a critical failure. A Rolling Stone reviewer called it “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.” In October, the band broke up and never formally reunited. They never will—Tom died in 1990. John Fogerty had success as a solo artist, particularly with the chart-topper Centerfield in 1985.
Much of CCR’s popularity can be attributed to their mastery of short rock-and-rollers with catchy lyrics: “Rollin, rollin’, rollin on a river,” or “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate son.” More deeply, however, their “roots rock” leaned heavily on the inspiration of Little Richard, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry, updating these influences for a late 1960s and early 1970s audience. This served as an important contrast to the dominant streams of popular rock music of the time. CCR was neither psychedelic nor heavy. There are no paeans to “free love” in their musical corpus. Some of their songs have political overtones (“Fortunate Son,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain”) or the weight of Vietnam (“Run Though the Jungle”), but the lyrics contain no calls for revolution. Rather, one hears about the plights of working joes trying to make it. In “Ramble Tamble,” Fogerty croons:
There’s garbage on the sidewalk,
Highways in the backyard,
     Police on the corner,

Mortgage on the car,
Mortgage on the car.
Move, Down the road, I go.
Other songs mourn going on welfare and getting drafted for Vietnam (“Wrote a Song for Everyone”), working in a chain gang (“Midnight Special”), and government incompetence and corruption (“Who’ll Stop the Rain”). Indeed, one wonders if the hippies who bought so many of CCR’s records were paying close attention to John Fogerty’s lyrics, which sometimes seemed an indictment of a thankless, godless ’60s youth culture. In “Don’t Look now,” he sings:
Who will make the shoes for your feet?
Who will make the clothes that you wear?
Who’ll take the promise that you don’t have to keep?
Don’t look now, it ain’t you or me
Don’t look now, someone’s done your starvin’
Don’t look now, someone’s done your prayin’ too.
Asked about the song, Fogerty lamented, “We’re all so ethnic now, with our long hair and shit. But, when it comes to doing the real crap that civilization needs to keep it going…who’s going to be the garbage collector? None of us will. Most of us will say, ‘That’s beneath me, I ain’t gonna do that job.’”
Perhaps CCR’s spiritual potency can also be attributed to how their music honors particular American places. Songs like “Born on the Bayou” and “Cotton Fields” memorialize Southern life and culture. Even “Lodi,” a song about a man who gets stuck in the small agricultural city in California’s Central Valley, is an acknowledgment of the difficulties and loneliness of small-town life. Americans who appreciate CCR sense that the band’s songs were written for them.
CCR sought to conserve what was best about the original rock-and-roll sound, while directing it at the social and cultural upheaval of their time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes Creedence as both “progressive and anachronistic…. An unapologetic throwback to the golden era of rock and roll…. Their approach was basic and uncompromising, holding true to the band members’ working-class origins…. Creedence Clearwater Revival became the standard bearers and foremost celebrants of homegrown American music.” In a political climate where technocratic, global elites are contrasted with flyover country deplorables who cling to guns and religion, CCR’s music offers traditionalist Americans a soundtrack for our commitment to preserving a distinctly American way of life. As CCR sings, “keep on chooglin.”
Casey Chalk is a student at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College. He covers religion and other issues for TAC.

Brennan the Menace

March 28, 2019
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Former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
John Brennan was nervous.
Under intense questioning by Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) in May 2017, Brennan squirmed and stammered and twirled his pen as Gowdy demanded to know why the former CIA chief concluded in mid-2016 that the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Russians to manipulate the outcome of the presidential election.
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that, um, revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the, uh, Trump campaign that, um, I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it, uh, raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain cooperation of those individuals,” Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee.
He rambled on: “I don’t know whether or not such ‘collusion,’”—Brennan used air quotes—”and that’s your term, existed. I don’t know. But I know there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the [FBI] to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”
Not exactly a convincing explanation—and Gowdy was having none of it.
It was clear that Gowdy, who left office this year, already suspected Brennan largely had relied on the infamous Steele dossier as the primary source for his claims about Russian election activity.
Gowdy asked Brennan directly whether the CIA had relied on the dossier.
“No,” Brennan answered. “It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence information that we had. It was not in any way used as a basis for the intelligence community’s assessment that was done. Uh, it was, it was not.”
Brennan was referring to the January 6, 2017 report authored by the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency about Russia’s meddling in the election. The report claimed, based on information from multiple sources, “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
Brennan’s report earned explosive headlines and commentary from the Trump-hating media just days before Trump would be sworn in as president. But the report was always thin gruel to fortify such a damning accusation; the substance of the document runs about 12 pages with plenty of white space, irrelevant images and a graph of the social media footprint of news outlets such as Russia Today and CNN. More than two years later, portions of the report remain “highly classified.”
Did Brennan Lie to Congress?
Now, there are questions about Brennan’s truthfulness in that testimony. On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted that “a high-level source tells me it was Brennan who insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report . . . Brennan should be asked to testify under oath in Congress ASAP.”
This seems plausible, despite Brennan’s public denials: A two-page summary of the dossier’s most explosive allegations was attached to the Intelligence Committee report and discussed during private briefings with both President Obama and Trump in early January 2017.
Brennan himself is backpedaling on his “corpus” of evidence: “I suspected that there was more than there actually was,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough earlier this week. “I still point to things that were done publicly or efforts to try to have conversations with the Russians that were inappropriate. But I’m not all that surprised that the high bar of criminal conspiracy was not met.”
(The clip is worth a watch. You’d think a CIA director would know how to lie better than that.)
But Brennan’s “oops, my bad” routine doesn’t exactly square with his behavior over the past three years. He was not a bit player in the Trump-Russia collusion hoax—some suspect Brennan was one of the masterminds behind the entire operation from the start, sowing the groundwork for Russian election interference claims.
In early August 2016, shortly after the FBI opened up a counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign, Brennan started circulating top-secret intelligence to President Obama and his senior aides.
“The material was so sensitive that Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad,” according to a lengthy June 2017 article in theWashington Post. “The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid.”
Brennan convened a working group of high-ranking White House officials including former Vice President Joe Biden. He arranged for meetings between former FBI Director James Comey and top lawmakers so they could be briefed on Brennan’s secret information. In December 2016, Brennan’s CIA completed another secret assessment, without agreement from all 17 intelligence agencies, that concluded the Kremlin intervened in the election to help Trump win, and again briefed top Senators in a closed-door briefing.
Not exactly the actions of someone with mere “suspicions” about Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Time to Declassify the 2017 Report
Brennan’s post-election conduct has been even more egregious and borderline seditious. Now an MSNBC contributor, Brennan has been a reliable spinner of Trump-Russia fairy tales.
He opened a Twitter account in December 2017, just as Nunes’ committee was closing in on the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, and has since used it threaten the president and warn his more than 600,000 followers about the danger that Trump poses to the country. Brennan has called Trump a traitor, insisted that the country’s “future is in jeopardy” and suggested that the Russians “have something personally” on the president.
Contrary to his recent recantations, Brennan has repeatedly assured Americans that Trump’s day of reckoning over election collusion was forthcoming. “Disaster looms!” he tweeted last December. “Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash. The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy,” he wrote in the New York Times in August 2018. As late as March 5, Brennan predicted Mueller would file more grand jury indictments, perhaps even against Trump’s family members.
For two years, Brennan has tried to finish what he failed to do while in office: Doom the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Senator Paul should follow through on his threat to have Brennan appear before a public congressional committee as soon as possible. President Trump should authorize the immediate declassification of Brennan’s January 2017 Intelligence Community report to determine whether any of the evidence included political opposition research authored by a British operative and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Then the American people can decide who is the real traitor.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Only 2016 Campaign That Deliberately Colluded With Russians Was Hillary Clinton’s

March 28, 2019

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For more than two years, the campaign, presidential transition, and official government administration of Donald Trump operated under a cloud of suspicion that they had engaged in a treasonous conspiracy to steal the 2016 election from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Trump and his top associates were accused of collusion and of conspiring with the Russians to subvert American democracy.
The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency publicly declared Trump to be guilty of treason, an offense punishable by death. The former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the country’s premier law enforcement agency, intimated that the president had illegally obstructed justice.
In the end, none of it was true. After a nearly two-year-long investigation that issued 2,800 subpoenas, interviewed 500 witnesses, and used nearly 300 wiretaps and pen registers, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that there was no evidence of collusion by Trump or his associates.
But that doesn’t mean 2016 was free of Russian collusion. To the contrary, there is clear evidence that a 2016 presidential campaign willfully and deliberately colluded with Russians in a bid to interfere with American elections. It wasn’t Trump’s campaign that colluded with shady Russia oligarchs and sketchy Russian sources to subvert American democracy: it was Hillary Clinton’s.
In fact, the entire Russian collusion conspiracy that held the nation hostage for more than two years was the brainchild of a foreign national who was working on behalf of a sanctioned Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin. At the same time he was telling the media that Trump was the undisclosed agent of Russia, that foreign national was lobbying the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to ease up on his Russian benefactor.
As it turns out, the DOJ official being lobbied was the spouse of one of that foreign national’s co-workers at the firm that hired the two of them to foment Russian hysteria on behalf of the Clinton campaign. And in a twist almost too absurd for even the most bizarre Franz Kafka novel, that firm was itself working on behalf of a Russian billionaire’s corporation that had been charged by U.S. federal prosecutors with illegally evading U.S. sanctions.

Concocting a Giant Setup

That foreign spook-turned-international political provocateur was none other than Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous and utterly debunked Steele dossier that ignited a domestic firestorm after it was briefed to president-elect Trump in January 2016 and subsequently published in full by BuzzFeed. His Russian benefactor at the time was Oleg Deripaska. His co-conspirator at DOJ was Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie Ohr received more than $40,000 for her work for Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign-sponsored opposition research firm that just so happened to be working on behalf of Prevezon, a company owned by Russian billionaire Denis Katsyv, during the 2016 campaign.
The curious Clinton campaign collusion connections don’t end there. Somehow it gets worse. The Russian attorney for Prevezon, which later settled charges of laundering money and violating sanctions in exchange for $5.9 million in fines paid to the DOJ, was none other than Natalia Veselnitskaya, who arranged the Trump Tower meetingwith Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, a meeting that was alleged to be proof-positive that the Trump campaign had illegally colluded with the Russians during the 2016 campaign.
Unlike the fabulist musings of Steele, who by his own admission colluded with Kremlin officials as he prepared and disseminated his anti-Trump dossier, the Clinton-Russian connections are not the delusions of a deranged conspiracy theorist. They are documented and verified facts which for some reason escaped the attention of the scores of journalists and investigators who purported to root out any and all instances of foreign collusion during the 2016 election.

How It All Went Down

Fusion GPS was hired in April 2016 by the Clinton campaign’s law firm to do opposition research against the Trump campaign after it became clear that Trump would be the Republican presidential nominee. The campaign expenditures to Fusion GPS were never disclosed in campaign finance reports.
At the same time, it was also working on behalf of Prevezon, a company owned by Kremlin-connected Russian oligarch Denis Katsyv, in the company’s battle with U.S. prosecutors over Magnitsky Act sanctions against the company. Shortly after Fusion was hired to work for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, it retained the services of Steele and directed him to dig up dirt on connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. The series of reports and memoranda prepared and peddled by Steele collectively became known to the public as the so-called Steele dossier.
Nellie Ohr, wife of top DOJ official Bruce Ohr, was also hired by Fusion GPS to assist with its Russia-related anti-Trump research. And it was Ohr who later became the secret conduit between Steele and the FBI after Steele’s status as a confidential human source for the FBI was terminated when the bureau learned he had lied about his contacts with the news media.
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Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr
Natasha Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney for Prevezon with whom Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson worked directly, just so happened to be responsible for setting up the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that was touted as evidence that the Trump campaign was going out of its way to collude with corrupt Russian officials in order to take down Hillary Clinton. Veselnitskaya met with Simpson both before and after the meeting, although both claim that they never discussed that meeting, only the Prevezon matter.
However, information Veselnitskaya provided during the Trump Tower meeting — the “dirt” which was promised to the president’s oldest son — was actually produced by Fusion GPS, raising questions about the claims that Simpson and Veselnitskaya never discussed the Trump Tower meeting with each other. Veselnitskaya was indicted by federal authorities early this year for obstructing justice during the course of the same Prevezon litigation that she and Fusion GPS worked on together.

Steele Brokering Russian Access to U.S. Officials

In addition to funneling unverified allegations from his dossier to the FBI and the media, Steele also repeatedly intervened with Ohr, the DOJ official, on behalf of Oleg Deripaska. Transcripts of Ohr’s congressional testimony show that Steele referred to Deripaska as “our favorite business tycoon” and tried several times to broker a meeting between Deripaska and DOJ.

Although Deripaska was prohibited from traveling to the United States, he used diplomatic cover to enter the United States at least twice in 2016, once in June and again in September. Federal agents interviewed him in New York during his September visit,according to Deripaska’s attorney andregistered foreign agent Adam Waldman.

The relationship between Steele and Deripaska’s team continued well past the election into 2017, when Waldman offered himself to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) as the middleman between Steele and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Waldman’s offer to Warner to broker access to Steele came to light when secret, encrypted text messages between Waldman and Warner were published by Fox News in February 2018.

Waldman also previously registered as a foreign agent for former Russian minister Sergey Lavrov. Federal records show that his formal lobbying on behalf of the Russian politician ended on May 31, 2017. Separate federal filings required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that Waldman collected nearly $1.1 million from Deripaska in 2016 and 2017.

Project Much, Mrs. Clinton?

It is beyond dispute that the Clinton campaign and the DNC funded an opposition research firm that was working on behalf of a company owned by a Kremlin-connected Russian oligarch. To dig up dirt on alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, that firm then hired a foreign national who was working on behalf of another Russian oligarch. At the same time he was providing his unsubstantiated allegations of Trump campaign malfeasance to federal authorities, that same foreign national was trying to get those same federal officials to allow that sanctioned oligarch entry to the United States.

Meanwhile, the Russian attorney whose presence at a Trump Tower meeting with top Trump campaign officials was taken as proof-positive of collusion was also secretly meeting with the founder of the firm used by the Clinton campaign and DNC to allege that it was the Trump campaign that was improperly communicating with the Russians. And if that weren’t enough, the most salacious allegations in the infamous dossier that was a primary basis for secret federal surveillance of a political campaign were sourced to various anonymous officials with the Kremlin.

So there was absolutely Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign. There was absolutely a presidential campaign eager to deploy Russian information against its opponent. There was absolutely foreign interference in the 2016 election from one of America’s top geopolitical adversaries.

As the Mueller investigation reportedly concluded, though, there was no illegal conspiracy within the Trump campaign to collude with the Russians to subvert our democracy. There was collusion, alright, but it was committed by the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Sean Davis is the co-founder of The Federalist.