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Friday, July 01, 2016

AG Lynch said meeting with Bill Clinton was unplanned, social and did not touch on the email investigation. (Wink - Wink) She suggested Clinton walked uninvited from his plane to her government plane both of which were parked on a tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Lynch to Accept F.B.I. Recommendations in Clinton Email Inquiry, Official Says

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in Phoenix on Tuesday. A private meeting at the city’s airport between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political uproar. Nancy Wiechec/Reuters 

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch plans to announce on Friday that she will accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, a Justice Department official said. Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.

The Justice Department had been moving toward such an arrangement for months — officials said in April that it was being considered — but a private meeting betweenMs. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable.

Republicans said the meeting, which took place at the Phoenix airport, had compromised the independence of the investigation as the F.B.I. was winding it down. Some called for Ms. Lynch to recuse herself, but she did not take herself off the case — one that could influence a presidential election.

Ms. Lynch plans to discuss the matter at a conference in Aspen, Colo., on Friday. The Justice Department declined to comment. The official who confirmed the discussion did so on the condition of anonymity because the internal decision-making process is normally kept confidential.

The F.B.I. is investigating whether Mrs. Clinton, her aides or anyone else broke the law by setting up a private email server for her to use as secretary of state. Internal investigators have concluded that the server was used to send classified information, and Republicans have seized on the matter to question Mrs. Clinton’s judgment.

For the Justice Department, the central question is whether the conduct met the legal standard for the crime of mishandling classified information.

Ms. Lynch said that the meeting with Mr. Clinton was unplanned, largely social and did not touch on the email investigation. She suggested that he walked uninvited from his plane to her government plane, both of which were parked on a tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

“He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that,” Ms. Lynch said at a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, where she was promoting community policing. “That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.”

That did not mollify Republican lawmakers, who said the meeting raised questions about the integrity of the government’s investigation.

“In light of the apparent conflicts of interest, I have called repeatedly on Attorney General Lynch to appoint a special counsel to ensure the investigation is as far from politics as possible,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement on Thursday.
The meeting created an awkward situation for Ms. Lynch, a veteran prosecutor who was nominated from outside Washington’s normal political circles. In her confirmation, her allies repeatedly sought to contrast her with her predecessor, Eric H. Holder Jr., an outspoken liberal voice in the administration who clashed frequently with Republicans who accused him of politicizing the office.
Ms. Lynch has said she wants to handle the Clinton investigation like any other case. Since the attorney general often follows the recommendations of career prosecutors, Ms. Lynch is keeping the regular process largely intact.
Her reassurance that she will not overrule her investigators, however, is significant. When the F.B.I. sought to bring felony charges against David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director, for mishandling classified information and lying about it, Mr. Holder stepped in and reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. That decision created a deep — and public — rift.
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The F.B.I. is expected to make a recommendation to the Justice Department in the coming weeks, though agents have yet to interview Mrs. Clinton. While some legal experts said they believed that criminal indictments in the case were unlikely, the investigation continues to cast a shadow over Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, seized on the private encounter, describing it in a radio interview as a “sneak” meeting and saying it exposed the rigged nature of the process.
Even some Democrats criticized the meeting. “It doesn’t send the right signal,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said in response to a question on CNN’s “New Day.” While he said he believed that Ms. Lynch was an independent prosecutor, “I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
Beyond the day-to-day workings of the Justice Department, there is precedent for explicitly relying on career officials to make politically charged decisions. When the Justice Department was considering whether to recommend sanctions against former Bush administration lawyers who approved waterboarding, Mr. Holder relied on his most senior career prosecutor to make the decision. No sanctions were recommended.

Fear is the Mother of All Gods: A History of Disbelief Epicurus,Lucretius,Aristotle,Cicero and Seneca


Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Empire Strikes Back - Finally!

250 ISIS fighters reportedly killed in US-led coalition airstrikes on convoy near Fallujah (VIDEO)

ISIS convoy hit by US air strike near Fallujah, Iraq © Stahlgewitter Syrien

US defense officials claim at least 250 Islamic State fighters were killed and around 40 trucks destroyed in a series of US-led airstrikes near the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was a key Islamist stronghold before being recently liberated by Iraqi forces.

US-led coalition aircraft hit about 40 vehicles in an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) convoy south of Fallujah on Wednesday, according to reports. US military officials told Reuters that the convoy was largely destroyed and at least 250 militants were killed.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, however, and warned that the preliminary estimate may change.

Combat footage that surfaced online shows dozens of completely gutted civilian trucks, minivans, and SUVs that were allegedly part of an Islamic State convoy. Some were apparently transporting heavy weapons or ammunition.

Fallujah, which is located some 60 kilometers from Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, had been under the control of Islamists since 2014. Top Iraqi officials declared full victory over IS in the city in mid-June after a nearly five-week offensive, but due to the back-and-forth nature of the struggle, urban fighting still continued for more than one week more.

Iraq finally declared Fallujah fully liberated last week after government troops entered the al-Julan neighborhood in the northwestern part of the city, which had been IS’ last remaining stronghold.

The US-led coalition, which first launched air strikes on the Islamists in Iraq last August, claims to have destroyed 565 IS targets in 106 air raids over the last week.

The unexpectedly swift victory in Fallujah has raised questions about how many militants had actually been occupying the city. Colonel Chris Garver, the US-led anti-IS operation’s spokesman, said on Wednesday that Iraqi estimates suggest that the Islamic State group suffered more than 1,000 casualties.
During the battle for Fallujah, some IS units engaged Iraqi forces in street-to-street fighting, but some preferred to fall back. The terror group “was not monolithic” in Fallujah Garver said, as cited by the Military Times.
“Some people fought harder than other people did. Some people tried to melt away,” he noted. In “different neighborhoods, you get a different answer.”
Once Fallujah is fully free of Islamic State fighters and mines, the Iraqi government aims to concentrate on launching an offensive to take back terrorist-controlled Mosul, the country’s second largest city.
The Russian Air Force has been striking IS targets from its Khmeimim air base since autumn 2015 to help the Syrian Army gain ground in its four-year war on terror.
In May, Moscow suggested that Russian and US forces plan and conduct joint airstrikes against the Islamists, but has so far received no response to the offer. Instead, Washington asked Moscow not to target Al-Nusra Front – which is Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria – for fear that members of the “moderate opposition” could also be hit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in June.
Before the ceasefire, much of Islamic State's manpower was eliminated in hundreds of combat sorties, which also targeted the terror group's supplies, oil refineries and convoys.