Saturday, December 16, 2017
Friday, December 15, 2017
Unlike Nixon, Trump will not go quietly
Pat Buchanan figures Mueller's team is investigating the wrong campaign
WASHINGTON – On Aug. 9, 1974, Richard Nixon bowed to the inevitability of impeachment and conviction by a Democratic Senate and resigned.
The prospect of such an end for Donald Trump has this city drooling. Yet, comparing Russiagate and Watergate, history is not likely to repeat itself.
First, the underlying crime in Watergate, a break-in to wiretap offices of the DNC, had been traced, within 48 hours, to the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
In Russiagate, the underlying crime – the “collusion” of Trump’s campaign with the Kremlin to hack into the emails of the DNC – has, after 18 months of investigating, still not been established.
Campaign manager Paul Manafort has been indicted, but for financial crimes committed long before he enlisted with Trump.
Gen. Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying about phone calls he made to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but only after Trump had been elected and Flynn had been named national security adviser.
Flynn asked Kislyak for help in blocking or postponing a Security Council resolution denouncing Israel, and to tell Vladimir Putin not to go ballistic over President Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.
This is what security advisers do.
Why Flynn let himself be ensnared in a perjury trap, when he had to know his calls were recorded, is puzzling.
Second, it is said Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to cut slack for Flynn.
But even Comey admits Trump acted within his authority.
And Comey had usurped the authority of Justice Department prosecutors when he announced in July 2016 that Hillary Clinton ought not to be prosecuted for having been “extremely careless” in transmitting security secrets over her private email server.
We now know that the first draft of Comey’s statement described Clinton as “grossly negligent,” the precise statute language for an indictment.
We also now know that helping to edit Comey’s first draft to soften its impact was Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. His wife, Jill McCabe, a candidate for state senate in Virginia, received $467,000 in campaign contributions from the PAC of Clinton bundler Terry McAuliffe.
Comey has also admitted he leaked to the New York Times details of a one-on-one with Trump to trigger the naming of a special counsel – to go after Trump. And that assignment somehow fell to Comey’s predecessor, friend and confidant Robert Mueller.
Mueller swiftly hired half a dozen prosecutorial bulldogs who had been Clinton contributors and Andrew Weinstein, a Trump hater who had congratulated Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to carry out Trump’s travel ban.
FBI official Peter Strzok had to be been removed from the Mueller probe for hatred of Trump manifest in texts to his FBI lady friend.
Strzok was also involved in the investigation of Clinton’s email server and is said to have been the one who persuaded Comey to tone down his language about her misconduct, and let Hillary walk.
In Mueller’s tenure, still no Trump tie to the hacking of the DNC has been found. But a connection between Hillary’s campaign and Russian spies – to find dirt to smear and destroy Trump and his campaign – has been fairly well-established.
By June 2016, the Clinton campaign and DNC had begun shoveling millions of dollars to the Perkins Coie law firm, which had hired the oppo research firm Fusion GPS to go dirt-diving on Trump.
Fusion contacted ex-British MI6 spy Christopher Steele, who had ties to former KGB and FSB intelligence agents in Russia. They began to feed Steele, who fed Fusion, which fed the U.S. anti-Trump media with the alleged dirty deeds of Trump in Moscow hotels.
While the truth of the dirty dossier has never been established, Comey’s FBI rose like a hungry trout on learning of its contents.
There are credible allegations Comey’s FBI sought to hire Steele and used the dirt in his dossier to broaden the investigation of Trump – and that its contents were also used to justify FISA warrants on Trump and his people.
This week, we learned that the Justice Department’s Bruce Ohr had contacts with Fusion during the campaign, while his wife actually worked at Fusion investigating Trump. This thing is starting to stink.
Is the Trump investigation the rotten fruit of a poisoned tree?
Is Mueller’s Dump Trump team investigating the wrong campaign?
There are other reasons to believe Trump may survive the deep state-media conspiracy to break his presidency, overturn his mandate and reinstate a discredited establishment.
Trump has Fox News and fighting congressmen behind him, and the mainstream media are deeply distrusted and widely detested. And there is no Democratic House to impeach him or Democratic Senate to convict him.
Moreover, Trump is not Nixon, who, like Charles I, accepted his fate and let the executioner’s sword fall with dignity.
If Trump goes, one imagines, he will not go quietly.
In the words of the great Jerry Lee Lewis, there’s gonna be a “whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.”
Pat Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party's candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of The American Conservative. Buchanan served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national TV shows, and is the author of 11 books. His latest book is "Nixon's White House Wars."
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 12/15/2017 06:13:00 AM
Thursday, December 14, 2017
12.13.2017 - Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. "As Chairman of the Committee with primary oversight of DOJ and the FBI, I have always supported DOJ and FBI in performing their valuable missions to keep our nation safe and to hold individuals accountable for criminal conduct. Yet I and many on this Committee now find ourselves in the very difficult position of questioning the actions of both prior and current Department and FBI leadership. You have a unique role at DOJ, in that you appointed Special Counsel Mueller and have a supervisory role over his investigation. It is therefore very appropriate for you to appear before this Committee to answer questions related to the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation, as well as its current efficacy in light of various events calling into question its impartiality."
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 12/14/2017 04:31:00 AM
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Posting or Hosting Sex Ads Could Mean 25 Years in Federal Prison Under New Republican Proposal
A related measure would open digital platforms to liability for past crimes committed by users.
Gregory Baldwin IKON Images/NewscomLooking forward to a future when federal agents monitor Tinder? We won't be far off if some folks in Congress get their way.
Under a proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R–Va.), anyone posting or hosting digital content that leads to an act of prostitution could face serious federal prison time as well as civil penalties. This is obviously bad news for sex workers, but it would also leave digital platforms—including dating apps, social media, and classifieds sites such as Craigslist—open to serious legal liability for the things users post.
In effect, it would give government agents more incentive and authority to monitor sex-related apps, ads, forums, and sites of all sorts. And it would give digital platforms a huge incentive to track and regulate user speech more closely.
Goodlatte's measure was offered as an amendment to another House bill, this one from the Missouri Republican Ann Wagner. The House Judiciary Committee will consider both bills on Tuesday.
Wagner's legislation (H.R. 1865) would open digital platforms to criminal and civil liability not just for future sex crimes that result from user posts or interactions but also for past harms brokered by the platforms in some way. So platforms that followed previous federal rules (which encouraged less content moderation in order to avoid liability) would now be especially vulnerable to charges and lawsuits.
The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, including ample numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.
Specifically, Wagner's bill would amend Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which says that websites and other online platforms should not be treated as the creators of user-posted content. What this means in effect is that these third-party platforms can't be sued or prosecuted for users' and commenters' illegal speech (or illegal actions resulting from speech)—with some major exceptions. Digital platforms do not get a pass for content they actually create "in whole or part," for instance.
As it stands, states cannot generally prosecute web services and citizens cannot sue them when user-generated content conflicts with state criminal law. Rep. Wagner's bill—like the similar and more-hyped "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act" (SESTA)—would end this state and civil immunity for digital platforms in cases of "sex trafficking" or "sexual exploitation of children."
But while that may sound like a small concession, it actually opens up a huge range of activity for liability. At the federal level, the above offenses encompass everything from the truly horrific and unconscionable (like sex trafficking by force) to things like sexting between teenagers. And at the state level, definitions can be even more varied and blurry.
Wagner's bill doesn't just stop at carving out a new Section 230 exception. It also creates a new crime, "benefitting from participation in a venture engaged in sex trafficking," and makes it easy to hold all sorts of web platforms and publishers in violation.
Any "provider of an interactive computer service" who hosts user-posted information "with reckless disregard that the information provided...is in furtherance of [sex trafficking] or an attempt to commit such an offense" could face a fine and up to 20 years in prison, the bill states. And nothing "shall be construed to require the Federal Government in a prosecution, or a plaintiff in a civil action, to prove any intent on the part of the information content provider."
So in cases like, say, Hope Zeferjohn, the teen girl convicted of sex trafficking for talking to a younger teen on Facebook about prostitution, Facebook could be facing a federal charge for participating in a sex trafficking venture.
Goodlatte's proposal, meanwhile, would work by amending the Mann Act, a century-old prohibition on transporting someone across state lines for prostitution. The new section would declare that "whoever uses or operates a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce or attempts to do so with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both." Anyone that "promotes or facilitates the prostitution of 5 or more persons" or "acts in reckless disregard of the fact that such conduct contributed to sex trafficking" could face a fine and up to 25 years of imprisonment.
Note that no actual prostitution needs to take place. An attempt—i.e., an online ad or solicitation, or what some official sees as one—is enough.
Like SESTA—which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate—this new package of proposals is presented as a way to combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking. But all it would really do is drive sex ads further underground, making it both harder to rescue victims of sexual abuse and harder for willing adult sex workers to conduct business safely, while simultaneously enabling unscrupulous attacks on web platforms, putting an insane chill on all internet speech, and opening the way for even more government prying into everyone's digital lives.
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 12/13/2017 07:50:00 AM
Monday, December 11, 2017
Bulgaria discovers it has enough bitcoins to pay off fifth of its debt
Dozens of people were arrested in May following an investigation by the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELC) into an alleged customs fraud, according to the article.
Police confiscated 213,519 bitcoins, at the time worth $500 million. The seized amount is now approximately worth a staggering $3.6 billion due to the digital currency’s bull run.
The operation involved a large-scale search of “more than 100 addresses, suspects, and vehicles,” according to SELC. Out of the 23 suspects arrested, five were Bulgarian customs officers. Police seized “equipment, devices for communication, computers, tablets, and bank documents.”
“The organized criminal group consisted of Bulgarian nationals with connections in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Romania, and Serbia,” said SELC.
According to police, the group recruited “corrupted customs officers in all involved countries with the purpose to infiltrate a virus in the customs’ computerized systems.”
“Once the virus was installed, the offenders were able to change shipments, so in the customs’ system it appeared the cargo was already checked and passed.”
SELC has suggested, “the offenders choose bitcoin as a way of investing/saving the money, because it is rather difficult to be tracked and followed.”
The world’s most valuable cryptocurrency bitcoin hit its all-time high of $18,000 last week. Its rise in value this year has been dramatic as the token was worth less than $1,000 on January 1. The combined value of all the bitcoins in circulation has already exceeded the annual output of entire economies such as Portugal and Qatar.
On Monday, bitcoin was trading at $16,669, according to CoinMarketCap.
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 12/11/2017 12:28:00 PM
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The FBI Is No Friend of Liberty and Justice
The FBI's handling of the Michael Flynn case is disturbing.
One of the unfortunate ironies of the manufactured "Russiagate" controversy is the perception of the FBI as a friend of liberty and justice. But the FBI has never been a friend of liberty and justice.
Rather, as James Bovard writes, it "has a long record of both deceit and incompetence. Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that 'the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.' This has practically been the Bureau's motif since its creation in 1908…. The FBI has always used its 'good guy' image to keep a lid on its crimes." (Bovard has made a vocation of cataloging the FBI's many offenses against liberty and justice, for which we are forever in his debt.)
Things are certainly not different today. Take the case of Michael Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who spent less than a month as Donald Trump's national-security adviser. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with conversations he had with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, between Trump's election and inauguration. One need not be an admirer of Flynn—and for many reasons I certainly am not—to be disturbed by how the FBI has handled this case.
One ought to be immediately suspicious whenever someone is charged with or pleads guilty to lying to the FBI without any underlying crime being charged. Former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew C. McCarthy points out:
When a prosecutor has a cooperator who was an accomplice in a major criminal scheme, the cooperator is made to plead guilty to the scheme. This is critical because it proves the existence of the scheme. In his guilty-plea allocution (the part of a plea proceeding in which the defendant admits what he did that makes him guilty), the accomplice explains the scheme and the actions taken by himself and his co-conspirators to carry it out. This goes a long way toward proving the case against all of the subjects of the investigation.
That is not happening in Flynn's situation. Instead, like [former Trump foreign-policy "adviser" George] Papadopoulos, he is being permitted to plead guilty to a mere process crime.
When the FBI questioned Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, it already had the transcripts of those conversations—the government eavesdrops on the representatives of foreign governments, among others, and Flynn had been identified, or "unmasked," as the ambassador's conversation partner. The FBI could have simply told Flynn the transcripts contained evidence of a crime (assuming for the sake of argument they did) and charged him with violating the Logan Act or whatever else the FBI had in mind.
But that's not what happened. Instead, the FBI asked Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, apparently to test him. If he lied (which would mean he's pretty stupid since he once ran the Defense Intelligence Agency and must have known about the transcripts!) or had a bad memory, he could have been charged with lying to the FBI.
As investigative reporter Robert Parry explains:
What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn's recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency.In other words, the Justice Department wasn't seeking information about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak–the intelligence agencies already had that information. Instead, Flynn was being quizzed on his precise recollection of the conversations and nailed for lying when his recollections deviated from the transcripts.For Americans who worry about how the pervasive surveillance powers of the U.S. government could be put to use criminalizing otherwise constitutionally protected speech and political associations, Flynn's prosecution represents a troubling precedent.
Why didn't the FBI charge Flynn with an underlying crime? It might be because his conversations with Kislyak were not criminal. McCarthy writes:
A breaking report from ABC News indicates that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians—initially to lay the groundwork for mutual efforts against ISIS in Syria. That, however, is exactly the sort of thing the incoming national-security adviser is supposed to do in a transition phase between administrations. If it were part of the basis for a "collusion" case arising out of Russia's election meddling, then Flynn would not be pleading guilty to a process crime—he'd be pleading guilty to an espionage conspiracy.
David Stockman shows that the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller themselves indicate the Flynn-Kislyak conversations contained no evidence of criminal behavior.
Flynn spoke to Kislyak to ask that Russia not escalate tensions after President Obama imposed sanctions last December for the alleged election meddling and to ask that Russia not vote to condemn Israel, via a UN Security Council resolution, for its illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. In other words, not only were Flynn's discussions with Kislyak unexceptional—presidential transition-team foreign-policy officials have spoken with representatives of other governments in the past—but the content of those discussions should have raised no suspicions. Would non-escalation of the sanctions controversy or a UN veto have undermined Obama's foreign policy? I don't see how. (True, the Obama administration abstained on the resolution, but would Obama have objected had Russia vetoed it? By the way, Russia voted for it, and the resolution passed, as it should have.)
The Flynn plea certainly does nothing to indicate "collusion" with the Russians. For one thing, the conversations were after the election. And perhaps more important, Kislyak was not looking for favors from Flynn; on the contrary, Flynn was lobbying the Russians (successfully on the sanctions—Vladimir Putin did not retaliate—and unsuccessfully on the UN resolution.) Where's the evidence of Russian influence on the Trump team? There was foreign influence, but it was from Israel, a regular meddler in the American political process. All indications are that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Trump son-in-law and special envoy to everywhere Jared Kushner to lobby the world to defeat the UN resolution. Kushner, who has helped finance illegal Israeli settlements, then directed Flynn to call every Security Council member, not just Russia.
What about the Logan Act? The Act, enacted in 1799, around the time of the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, prohibits private citizens from unauthorized "correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."
Right off the bat, the Act appears to violate freedom of speech. And as Parry writes, "That law … was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations."
Note also that only two indictments have been brought in 218 years: in 1803 and 1852. Both cases were dropped. Far more serious contacts with foreign governments have occurred.
In 1968 Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon (with help from Henry Kissinger who was working in the Johnson administration) had a representative persuade the president of South Vietnam to boycott the peace talks President Lyndon Johnson had been arranging with North Vietnam. That decision most likely prolonged the Vietnam war and resulted in combat deaths that would not have occurred. Unlike the Flynn case, Nixon's action undercut the sitting president's policy and, more important, the interests of the American people.
I hold no brief for Flynn, whose conduct while working for Gen. Stanley McChrystalin Afghanistan, his dubious efforts on behalf of Turkey's strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his apparent financial conflicts of interest are enough to make anyone cringe. But that cannot justify what the FBI did in this plea case.
Government law-enforcement agencies should not be allowed to administer credibility tests to Americans or others. If they have evidence of real offenses against persons and property, bring charges. Otherwise, leave us all alone.
This piece was originally published by The Libertarian Institute.
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 12/10/2017 12:12:00 PM
Saturday, December 09, 2017
UN and the globalist elites are pushing for a one world government with open borders and under UN rule _ Trump Says NO!
The UN Propaganda Film:
The Reality of Mass Migration:
Trump Touts Rejection of U.N. Plan to Force Mass Third World Immigration
At his speech in Pensacola, Florida Friday, President Donald Trump celebrated his decision to take America out of negotiations for the so-called “Global Compact on Migration.”
“I recently withdrew the United States from the United Nations plan for global governance of immigration and refugee policy,” Trump told the raucous crowd, calling the Global Compact a “no borders plan.”
“I heard about this recently … no borders, everyone can come in! If you don’t mind, I rejected that plan, is that OK?” Trump continued.
The plan Trump referenced was the United Nations’ (U.N.) “Global Compact on Migration,” to which the Obama administration pledged the United States participation last year. Talks began this week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on the massive United Nations (U.N.) plan to create “safe, regular and orderly migration,” from the third whole to wealthy countries in Europe and North America. On the eve of those talks, however, Trump reversed Obama’s decision and pulled U.S. negotiators.
“I told them, not only do we not want ‘no borders,’ we want the strongest borders you’ve ever seen,” Trump boasted. “America is a sovereign country. We set our immigration rules. We don’t listen to foreign bureaucrats.”
The details of the of the Global Compact are yet to be hammered out, but the outline to which the Obama administration signed on, called the “New York Declaration for Refugee and Migrants,” presents a nightmare scenario for immigration restrictionists and border security advocates.
The declaration stipulates that participating countries should drop laws criminalizing illegal entry and stop detaining illegal immigrants that are caught. Paragraph 33 “reaffirms:”
[T]hat all individuals who have crossed or are seeking to cross international borders are entitled to due process in the assessment of their legal status, entry and stay, we will consider reviewing policies that criminalize crossborder movements. We will also pursue alternatives to detention while these assessments are under way.
And later, the declaration calls for the end of all deportations, “encouraging” that “migrants who do not have permission to stay in the country of destination” leave “preferably on a voluntary basis.”
Perhaps most disturbingly to a country with as robust a tradition of free speech as the United States, the New York Declaration casts resistance to mass migration as racism, xenophobia, and illegal under international law. Paragraph 13 reads:
We recall that our obligations under international law prohibit discrimination of any kind on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Yet in many parts of the world we are witnessing, with great concern, increasingly xenophobic and racist responses to refugees and migrants.
Paragraph 14 then calls for so called “hate speech” laws to be mandatory:
Demonizing refugees or migrants offends profoundly against the values of dignity and equality for every human being … We will take a range of steps to counter such attitudes and behavior, in particular with regard to hate crimes, hate speech and racial violence.
In contrast, Trump offered an unapologetic populist-nationalist vision of national sovereignty and local governance. “America is more than a place on a map, it’s a nation, it’s a family,” he told the crowd. “Our agenda is pro-family, pro-police, pro-workers and 100% pro-American.”
Posted by Deuce ☂ at 12/09/2017 04:30:00 PM