Archive for March 4, 2017

Did the Obama Administration Try Stacking the Deck Against Trump at the Justice Department?

March 4, 2017

Did the Obama Administration Try Stacking the Deck Against Trump at the Justice Department? Weekly StandardMark Hemingway, March 3, 2017

Amid Thursday’s over-hyped brouhaha about Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador, a curious detail emerged. In Sessions’ recusal memo, it was explained who at the Justice Department would be handling any investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. “Consistent with the succession order for the Department of Justice, Acting Deputy Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente shall act as and perform the functions of the Attorney General with respect to any matters from which I have recused myself to the extent they exist,” reads Sessions’ official statement on the matter.

Except that if the Obama administration had its way, Dana Boente wasn’t supposed to be the U.S. attorney to handle these matters in the event that Sessions recused himself. On February 10, USA Today reported the following:

Seven days before he left office, President Obama changed the order of succession without explanation to remove Boente from the list. Obama’s order had listed U.S. attorneys in the District of Columbia, the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of California.

Why would the Obama administration make this eleventh-hour change to the line of succession at the Justice Department? “At the time, I was told it was done in consultation with Trump transition,” Gregory Korte, the USA Today reporter who wrote the story quoted above, told me Thursday. “Looking back, that’s clearly not the case.”

In fact, it seems like it was quite obviously not the case. The man Obama placed at the head of the line of succession is D.C.’s U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, who is quite cozy with President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder. He is a former senior adviser to Holder, and he stayed on to work under Obama’s next AG Loretta Lynch before Obama appointed Phillips D.C.’s U.S. attorney in 2015. But Phillips goes way back with Holder—Holder first hired Philips in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1994. It’s also safe to say that the AG offices in the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of California are not hotbeds of Trump supporters.

It looks like the Obama administration was hoping that the reins of power here would unknowingly default to someone unfriendly to Trump in the event Sessions was forced to recuse himself—or even resign, as so many Democrats breathlessly demanded Thursday. (It’s worth noting that Sessions’s claims that he was already considering recusing himself from the Russia investigations because of his role on the campaign seem pretty sincere. Reuters reported last Sunday that the White House was considering the need for Sessions’s recusal long before the teacup tempest about Sessions failing to disclose minor encounters with the Russian ambassador.)

This might seem far-fetched, except to say that the leak-coordinated campaign by former Obama officials to undermine Trump seems to be very real, per the reporting of Lee Smith. Indeed, the New York Times reported Thursday, “In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government.”

 

Lt. Col. Shaffer on wiretapping: This is Soviet behavior

March 4, 2017

Lt. Col. Shaffer on wiretapping: This is Soviet behavior, Fox News via YouTube, March 4, 2017

(Please see also, Trump Goes Nuclear with Claim Obama Wiretapped him During Election [Updated] and my parenthetical comment there. — DM)

 

Pat Condell – What I Know About Islam

March 4, 2017

Pat Condell – What I Know About Islam via YouTube, March 4, 2017

(Condell observes, at about three minutes into the video, that if Muslims would interpret the Qu’ran themselves, instead of relying on “Islamic scholars” to do it for them, Islam would be a different and better religion than it is now.  Isn’t that what Muslim reformers are trying to do? In Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali complained that it was considered a grave sin to question the wisdom and interpretations of Islamic scholars. In Heretic, she explained the need to reform Islam and to abandon the teachings of such Islamic scholars.

Why do Islamic Scholars who oppose Islam, e.g., Robert Spencer et al, side with the Muslim scholars who favor authoritative interpretations and hence claim that there can be no Muslim reformation?– DM)

 

 

France’s Fatal Attraction to Islam

March 4, 2017

France’s Fatal Attraction to Islam, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, March 4, 2017

Instead of fighting to save what is savable, French opinion-makers are already writing the terms of surrender.

By hybridizing cultures and rejecting Christianity, France will soon end up not even teaching also Arabic, but only Arabic, and marking Ramadan instead of Easter.

Instead of wasting their time trying to organize an “Islam of France”, French political leaders, opinion makers and think tanks should look for ways to counter the creeping Islamization of their country. Otherwise, we may soon be seeing not only a “Grand Imam de France”, but also lashes and stonings on the Champs Élysées.

Two years ago, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, suggested converting empty churches into mosques, to accommodate the growing Muslim community in abandoned Christian sites. Now, many people in France seem to have taken the idea so seriously that a report released by the foundation Terra Nova, France’s main think tank that provides ideas to the governing Socialist Party, suggests that in order to integrate Muslims better, French authorities should replace the two Catholic holidays — Easter Monday and Pentecost — with Islamic holidays. To be ecumenical, they also included a Jewish holiday.

Written by Alain Christnacht and Marc-Olivier Padis, the study, “The Emancipation of Islam of France,” states: “In order to treat all the denominations equally, it should include two important new holidays, Yom Kippur and Eid el Kebir, with the removal of two Mondays that do not correspond to particular solemnity”.

Thus, Easter and Pentecost can be sacrificed to keep the ever-elusive multicultural “peace”.

Terra Nova’s proposal was rejected by the Episcopal Conference of France, but endorsed by the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which would also like to include the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in the calendar. The idea of replacing the Christian holidays was also sponsored by the Observatory of Secularism, an organ created by President François Hollande to coordinate secularist policies. The Observatory of Secularism also proposed eliminating some Christian holidays to make way for the Islamic, Jewish and secular holidays. “France must replace two Christian holidays to make way for the Yom Kippur and Eid,” said Dounia Bouzar, a member of the Observatory.

1800In his recent book, Will the Church Bells Ring Tomorrow?, Philippe de Villiers notes the disappearance of churches in France, and their replacement by mosques. Pictured above: On August 3, 2016, French riot police dragged a priest and his congregation from the church of St Rita in Paris, prior to its scheduled demolition. Front National leader Marine Le Pen said in fury: “And what if they built parking lots in the place of Salafist mosques, and not of our churches?” (Image source: RT video screenshot)

“France is no longer a Catholic country”, wrote Frederic Lenoir, editor-in-chief of Le Monde des Religions. The newspaper Le Figaro wondered if Islam can already be considered “France’s prime religion.” Instead of fighting to save what is savable, French opinion-makers are already writing the terms of surrender. That is the meaning of Terra Nova’s proposal.

A similar shocking idea came from another think tank, the Montaigne Institute, which provides ideas to another presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron. In its report, written by Hakim El Karoui, the Montaigne Institute proposed the creation of a “Grand Imam of France“, no less, as if Paris and Cairo would have the same historic roots. Macron recently apologized for French colonialism, feeding a defeatist sense of guilt that fuels Islamic extremists in their demands.

The Montaigne Institute has also suggested teaching Arabic in public schools. This idea was also sponsored by Jack Lang, president of the Institute of the Arab world, who stated, “the Arab world is part of us”. By hybridizing cultures and rejecting Christianity, France will soon end up not even teaching also Arabic, but only Arabic, and Ramadan instead of Easter.

If the goal is accommodating Muslims in the French Republic instead of assimilating them, why not ban pork in the schools, avoid sensitive subjects such as the Crusades and the Holocaust, separate men and women in swimming pools, call cartoonists to “responsibility,” and allow Islamic veils in the public administration? In fact, all these things are taking place in France today. And the result is not “emancipation,” but religious segregation.

It is in this Apartheid that Islamic extremists grow and permeate hearts and minds. France’s director-general of intelligence, Patrick Calvar, has been clear: “The confrontation is inevitable,” he said. There are an estimated 15,000 Salafists among France’s seven million Muslims, “whose radical-fundamentalist creed dominates many of the predominantly Muslim housing projects at the edges of cities such as Paris, Nice or Lyon. Their preachers call for a civil war, with all Muslims tasked to wipe out the infidels down the street”.

The Socialist front-runner for the Presidential elections, Benoit Hamon, to whom the Terra Nova’s report was directed, even justified the disappearance of French women from the cafés in Muslim-majority areas: “Historically, in the workers’ cafes, there were no women,” he said.

Instead of wasting their time trying to organize an “Islam of France”, French political leaders, opinion-makers and think tanks should look for ways to counter the creeping Islamization of their country. Otherwise we may soon be seeing not only a “Grand Imam de France”, but also lashes and stonings on the Champs Élysées.

Hizballah lists targeted Israeli “nuclear sites”

March 4, 2017

Hizballah lists targeted Israeli “nuclear sites”, DEBKAfile, March 3, 2017

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Our military and counterterrorism sources draw a straight line from Hizballah’s latest stance and the newfound aggressiveness displayed this week by the Palestinian extremist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

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Hizballah’s latest round of threats against Israel reached a new peak Thursday, March 2, with the release of a videotape claiming to expose nine locations allegedly tied to the production and assembly of Israel’s nuclear weapons, DEBKAfile reports. The Lebanese Shiite terror organization said it possessed precise missiles for wiping out Israel’s nuclear infrastructure and attached addresses to all its targets.

Five locations topped the list, starting with the nuclear reactors at Dimona in southern Israel and Nahal Soreq on the Mediterranean coast. “Revealed” next are three secret locations for the production, assembly and storage of nuclear missiles and warheads. Kfar Zacharia near Beit Shemesh in the Jerusalem Hills, defined as the main depot for the Jericho Series I, II and III, of three-stage ballistic missiles, which can reach ranges of up to 6,000 km.

Two others were a factory in Beer Yaakov near the central Israeli town of Ramleh, the alleged production site for nuclear warheads; and the “Galilee Wing-20” plant at the Tefen Industrial Park, 17km from the town of Carmiel, a facility where the Rafael Advanced Defense System Authority was said to mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles and prepare them for launching.

The video stresses that Hizballah now possesses precise missiles able to pinpoint and destroy every single facility.

Just two weeks ago, Nasrallah “advised” Israel in an aggressive speech, to dismantle its large ammonia tank in Haifa and the nuclear reactor in Dimona before they were hit by Hizballah rockets and caused massive casualties. He and his associates have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that their Lebanese terrorist group has acquired weapons capable of deterring Israel as well as the capability to catch Israeli intelligence unawares by “surprises.”

In previous articles, DEBKAfile accounted for the heightened bellicosity of Hizballah’s leaders by the permission Bashar Assad recently granted Hizballah to launch missiles against Israel from Syrian soil as well as from Lebanon.

Our military and counterterrorism sources draw a straight line from Hizballah’s latest stance and the newfound aggressiveness displayed this week by the Palestinian extremist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

Thursday, March 2, Hamas spokesmen stated that the group would no longer exercise restraint in responding to the heavy Israeli air and artillery strikes that are conducted in retaliation for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Henceforth, it would conduct a policy of “military position for military position” – meaning that for every Hamas position destroyed by Israel, the Palestinian extremists would swipe at a comparable Israeli military site.

The new Hamas posture challenged Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman”s strategy of holding the Hamas government of Gaza responsible for any attacks coming from the Palestinian enclave – whether the work of Hamas or the extremist Salafis running loose there.

On Feb. 27, the Israeli Air Force smashed five Hamas targets in the northern, central and southern regions of the enclave after a rocket from Gaza exploded in Israel. The IDF did not respond to the rocket fired subsequently at the Hof Ashkelon region. But then, after a round of fire from Gaza to shoot up IDF military engineering equipment, the IDF knocked over two small Hamas look-out positions in the north.

Hamas had in fact given the defense minister an ultimatum:  either exercise restraint, or continue the policy of massive retaliations for every rocket coming from the Gaza Strip – at the risk of a fresh round of fighting with Hamas. Lieberman appears to have settled for the first option for the time being.

Ex-CIA Officer Abandoned by Obama: Without Trump Admin, ‘I Would Be Spending Tonight in an Italian Prison’

March 4, 2017

Ex-CIA Officer Abandoned by Obama: Without Trump Admin, ‘I Would Be Spending Tonight in an Italian Prison’, BreitbartJohn Hayward, March 3, 2017

sabrina-de-sousa-cia-reuters-photo-640x480REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Former CIA case officer Sabrina De Sousa thanked the Trump administration for intervening to save her from extradition to Italy and imprisonment in a statement on Friday.

“I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the Trump administration for all their efforts on my behalf. Without their support I would be spending tonight in an Italian prison,” said De Sousa, in a statement quoted by Fox News.

“The Obama administration and former CIA Director John Brennan abandoned De Sousa the last seven years, and in six weeks, the Trump team made her freedom possible,” Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) told Fox News.

Hoekstra was one of De Sousa’s strongest champions and an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s conduct in her case. He laid out her case and castigated Obama for abandoning her, along with a healthy dose of criticism for the governments of Italy and Portugal, in a Tuesday op-ed and Fox News:

Originally convicted in absentia in 2009 by the Italian legal system, America, until recently, has done very little to defend and support Sabrina and her family since. They have lived under the shadow of these convictions for years. Now she’s on her way to face punishment in Italy.

Roughly eighteen months ago Sabrina took a risk returning to Portugal. During her trip, Sabrina was arrested and instructed not to leave.

Portugal has detained her ever since.

The Obama administration did nothing for seven years following Sabrina’s conviction. They did nothing while she was detained in Portugal.  Meanwhile, President Obama released prisoners from GITMO. The White House handed out pardons. Not a finger was lifted to assist Sabrina.

CIA Director Brennan visited Portugal twice in 2016. Sources in the Portuguese intelligence community indicate that Sabrina’s case was never even discussed.

De Sousa, 61, was working undercover for the CIA in Italy when Egyptian cleric Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, a.k.a. Abu Omar, was plucked from the streets and returned to Egypt in an “extraordinary rendition” operation. He was believed to have been involved in a plan to bomb a bus full of school children in Milan.

The case against Omar turned out to be thin. He was interrogated — he says “tortured” — by the Egyptians and released, then he was convicted in absentia by Italy for “criminal association for the purposes of international terrorism” and given a six-year sentence. He has never actually served time in an Italian prison for this conviction.

One might argue that De Sousa bears no responsibility for the Egyptian government’s conduct in the case, but the maddening truth of the case is that she did not even have anything to do with his rendition. She has documentary evidence in the form of phone records that she was over a hundred miles away when the operation occurred. She and 25 other Americans, mostly CIA employees, were convicted in absentia by an Italian court.

As Newsweek chronicles, De Sousa was en route to visit her mother in India in October 2015, having long since left the employ of the CIA, when she was detained at the Lisbon airport. To her astonishment, she ultimately found herself in a Portuguese prison awaiting extradition to Italy for what remained of a five-year prison sentence. Her mother, sadly, passed away while she was detained in Portugal.

She says she was scapegoated for the operation, which she has been highly critical of, expressing puzzlement that everyone from President George W. Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to the Egyptian government was so eager to move against Omar. In one interview, she suggested the “ambition” of the CIA station chief to impress his superiors might have played a role.

According to the Washington PostItalian law enforcement somehow became convinced De Sousa was secretly the head of CIA operations in Milan rather than a case officer and that Omar’s rendition was “close to the hearts” of both De Sousa and the CIA chief in Rome.

Rep. Hoekstra compared De Sousa’s case to President Obama’s abandonment of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who played a crucial role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In his Fox News op-ed, he lambasted everyone from Italy and Portugal to Bush and Obama administration officials for allowing De Sousa to suffer, even though everyone knew she was merely “a political pawn in a much larger dynamic.” He bluntly accused the Italian government of cowardice for going after De Sousa instead of the high-ranking Bush administration officials — possibly including former President Bush himself — who actually authorized and executed the rendition of Abu Omar.

Hoekstra told Newsweek about his campaign to get help for De Sousa from the Trump administration:

He had a number of friends in the national security apparatus from his time on the House Intelligence Committee—people like Michael Flynn, the recently departed White House national security adviser, fellow former Representative Mike Pompeo, now director of the CIA, and former Senator Dan Coats, the new director of national intelligence. And it didn’t hurt that he had chaired Trump’s Michigan campaign.

“I just said this was terrible that she should go to jail for something that was approved by the National Security Council and probably President Bush himself,” Hoekstra said. “They recognized this had to be a front-burner issue,” he said. “The optics” were bad. “You don’t want a CIA case officer sitting in an Italian jail.”

Hoekstra said he kept administration officials apprised of De Sousa’s situation “in real time” as the day, and then hour, for her extradition grew near. “I was convinced that Wednesday morning she would be transported back to Lisbon and onto a plane to Italy,” he said. And so was she. Her husband, a retired Department of the Army employee who had joined her in Portugal, packed her suitcases with only the light clothing she had. “It was warm here,” she said, “and I dreaded freezing in Milan.”

Newsweek described De Sousa as “bitter at Obama administration officials” because they did not invoke diplomatic immunity to defend her (she was nominally a State Department diplomat while on CIA assignment to Milan). She even sued Hillary Clinton’s State Department for abandoning her to suffer “significant emotional, professional and economic harm, including, but not limited to, possible criminal or civil liability.”

Years later, she felt compelled to officially disclose she had been working for the CIA as well as the State Department, which did not please the CIA. She has flatly accused Obama and his CIA director, John Brennan, of throwing her “under the bus.”

It turns out that one of the things De Sousa has been doing since escaping from her legal entanglements in Italy is reading Newsweek because she used her Twitter account on Friday to swiftly dispute a nameless Obama official’s claim that she was not abandoned by the previous administration:

The arrangement reached by the Trump administration involved reduction of her sentence, so there was no longer any reason for Portugal to extradite her to Italy, and the 11-year-old warrant against her is finally nullified.

“I had an arrest warrant issued against me 11 long years ago that prevented me from seeing members of my immediate family in Europe,” she told Fox News. “Finally, I can rest with the assurance there is no warrant hanging over my head.”

“In six short weeks, the Trump administration has given me more hope and support than I ever received in the past eight years from the Obama Administration or the CIA, my former employer. I had feared that the country I signed up with in good faith to serve had abandoned me,” De Sousa said.

Cartoons and Video of the Day

March 4, 2017

Via LATMA-TV

 

H/t Power Line

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H/t Vermont Loon Watch

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H/t Vermont Loon Watch

protesters

 

via e-mail from The Daily Signal

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