Archive for August 4, 2017

Exclusive – Jeff Sessions Orders Look into ‘DOJ Slush Fund’ Payments to Leftists

August 4, 2017

Exclusive – Jeff Sessions Orders Look into ‘DOJ Slush Fund’ Payments to Leftists, BreitbartIan Mason, August 4, 2017

An internal Department of Justice memorandum obtained by Breitbart News Friday indicates Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to get to the bottom of the DOJ “slush fund” for left-wing groups he dismantled in June.

The memo asks all components of the DOJ to recount the last ten years of payments made to non-governmental organizations as third parties in settlements and provide that information to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the number three Justice official. These “cy pres” payments were a long-standing policy of having mostly corporate defendants, for example in a civil rights suit, agree to pay into charities as part of their settlement with the government to avoid further prosecution.

In recent years, especially during the Obama administration, the practice increasingly funneled funds to left-wing “community organizing” groups such as the now renamed National Council of La Raza, or “The Race,” a Latino racial advocacy group that supports mass illegal immigration. Congressional Republicans and conservative groups decried the payments for years, often characterizing the system as a “slush fund” for leftists but, since they were made under the auspices of the Department of Justice using broad, decades-old legislation, it was difficult to rein in.

Attorney General Sessions, however, put a stop to the payments unilaterally in June, issuing a department-wide memo prohibiting all payments to third parties in settlements not under three narrow exceptions, for example, genuine victim compensation. The announcement was widely heralded as a victory by conservatives.

The new memo, dated July 28, goes further, commanding DOJ attorneys to look back into the history of these settlements and report back every payment that would not meet the new standards laid down in June. Payments agreed to but not yet paid out are also to be identified. Every component is to be reported to Associate Attorney General Brand by the end of the month.

The exact long-term intent of this data collection effort could not be inferred from the memo, but the assembled information will give a much clearer picture of this practice that estimates claim may have given left-wing activists hundreds of millions of dollars wrenched from the hands of American corporations.

 

No turning-points in Trump and Netanyahu cases

August 4, 2017

No turning-points in Trump and Netanyahu cases, DEBKAfile, August 4, 2017

A whole range of media and opposition politicians were having a field day in Washington and Jerusalem over what both depicted as the imminent downfall of two targeted leaders, Donald Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu. The two cases have nothing in common except for their synchrony and the fury of the extra-judicial campaigns waged against them.

In Washington the celebration was sparked Thursday, Aug. 3 by Special Council Robert Mueller’s convening of a criminal grand jury in pursuance of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. In Jerusalem, the prime minister’s former chief of staff Ari Haro’s consent to turn state’s evidence in the long-drawn out alleged corruption probes against Binyamin Netanyahu was hailed as a “political earthquake.”

In both cases, the celebrations were premature.

Mueller will be able to subpoena witnesses to testify under oath, and is expected to summon Donald Trump JR to answer questions on his meeting with a Russian lawyer, who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, as well as president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. But this does not mean that the Mueller investigation is about to wind up any time soon. Just the opposite: grand juries take their time. They may go on typically for a year or eighteen months – or even for years. And they don’t necessarily vote to indict subjects of an investigation.

So Mueller’s step poses no immediate danger to Donald Trump’s presidency.

The media-fueled campaign for toppling Netanyahu is going into its second year, with headline chasing headline claiming one alleged scandal after another. As soon as one goes up in smoke, another takes its place.

Although a whole range of witnesses have faced police questioning in search of evidence against the prime minister – they include some of the prime minister’s friends, Arnon Milchen and Sheldon Adelson, in the case of “inappropriate gifts” – no indictment has yet transpired.

On Friday, Aug. 4, the agreement signed with his former chief of staff, Ari Haro was greeted as the last nail in the prime minister’s coffin – and not for the first time.

A court-ruled gag order covered the details of the deal. In essence, Haro was promised that in return for providing evidence against his former boss, the charges against him of promoting his private business interests while in public office will be dropped and reduced to fraud and breach of trust. Instead of jail, he would face six months of community serve and pay a fine of NIS700,000 (roughly $250,000).

A court-ruled gag order covered the details of the deal. In essence, Haro was promised that in return for providing evidence against his former boss, the charges against him of promoting his private business interests while in public office will be dropped and reduced to fraud and breach of trust. Instead of jail, he would face six months of community serve and pay a fine of NIS700,000 (roughly $250,000).

Binyamin Netanyahu has been judged and convicted of bribery and corruption by Israel’s mainstream media in at least four cases, even though long police investigations have so far failed to turn up the evidence for any indictment. Haro’s testimony may, or may not. provide such evidence. But it is not unknown for the prosecution in Israel and other places to reject plea bargains.

But the headlines are not waiting, any more than they waited for proof before alleging that the national security authorities were riddled with corruption. They named names before the prosecution had a chance to bring any indictments in the alleged case of the German submarines. Day after day, the main culprit Micky Ganor was reported as having admitted to paying bribes to top figures, including the former commander of the Navy, Eliezer Merom, and implicating David Shomron, a lawyer who happens to be related to Netanyahu. The relationship was stressed in story after story.

So far, however, this egregious criminal scandal has died down. Ganor finally confessed to nothing more than tax offenses.

This did not stop Avi Gabay, the newly elected leader of the opposition Labor party, declaring that the people won’t stand for a prime minister whose “cousin is implicated in the illicit submarine deal.” Neither is an anti-Netanyahu group deterred from demonstrating week after week outside the home of the state attorney, Avihai Mandelblitt, to protest his and the prosecutor general’s failure to indict the prime minister.

But what can they do? In the final reckoning, even if all charges brought against Netanyahu turn out to be true, he like any other Israeli citizen is innocent until proven guilty.

The cases against Trump and Netanyahu may have inched forward by another step this week, but there will be many ups and downs before they are over. The last word will not be left to the media, but to the systems of justice in both the American and Israeli democracies.

Indoctrinating America’s youth against Israel

August 4, 2017

Indoctrinating America’s youth against Israel, Israel Hayom, Richard Baehr, August 4, 2017

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East ‎Reporting in America has published a new monograph: “Indoctrinating Our ‎Youth,” a case study of the bias in the high school curriculum in one U.S. city ‎when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and teaching about Islam.‎

The booklet is of interest because it helps explains a dramatic shift in the attitudes ‎toward Israel among younger Americans.‎

According to a study by the Brand Israel Group, in just six years, support for Israel ‎has dropped from 73% to 54% among U.S. college students. The drop-off in support among Jewish college ‎students has been particularly steep — from 84% to 57%. It is no great secret that the environment for pro-‎Israel students on many if not most college campuses has become quite hostile. ‎The movement to create an intersectionality of interests among various purveyors ‎of identity politics — the LGBT community, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims, among others — ‎now seems to have adopted anti-Zionism among its key tenets. The exclusion of ‎Jewish women in Chicago from various rallies because they carried rainbow flags ‎with the Star of David is typical of the increasingly fierce attempts to banish ‎anything remotely connected to Israel from the movements on the Left.‎

Elements of the organized Jewish community have been working to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement ‎on college campuses and to support, train and educate pro-Israel activists. It is ‎clearly difficult for pro-Israel students to isolate themselves from accepted ‎‎”wisdom” or belief among their peers and push back with an alternative ‎viewpoint.

But the CAMERA study reveals that the problem begins earlier than ‎college. The pattern of indoctrination and ‎pressure to adopt narratives hostile to Israel are now common in high school, if not ‎even earlier.

In a typically comprehensive, carefully footnoted ‎study, CAMERA staffers took the time to evaluate all the materials used in teaching ‎about Israel, as well as the Islamic faith, in the two high schools in Newton, ‎Massachusetts, an affluent, heavily Jewish suburb of Boston. In some cases, ‎materials had to be obtained through Freedom of Information requests. School ‎administrators did what they could to impede efforts by local ‎parents and a few local groups who pushed back after learning about the heavily ‎slanted curriculum. Promises were made about changes in the class ‎materials that proved to be false. The school system seemed committed to ‎advancing a point of view, if not just circling the wagons when challenged. ‎

One has to ask how this happened, and why. Newton, of course, is part of the ‎Boston metropolitan area, which is densely populated with colleges and ‎universities, including some of the most elite institutions in the country, if not the ‎world. Not surprisingly, given the current orientation toward Israel on campus, ‎the Newton school system relied on materials from the Outreach Center at ‎Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and invited a BDS ‎supporter from the center, Paul Beran, to conduct teacher training activities to ‎help develop the curriculum in the Newton high schools. The center also ‎mainstreamed a textbook, “The Arab World Studies Notebook,” by ‎Audrey Park Shabbas, as a resource for teachers and students. This notebook ‎was described as “replete with factual errors, inaccuracies and misrepresentations” ‎in a study by the American Jewish Committee after parents in Anchorage, Alaska, ‎complained about the book’s bias against Israel back in 2004. ‎

The AJC found the book to be riddled with “overt bias and unabashed ‎propagandizing,” such as depicting Israel as the aggressor in every Arab-‎Israeli war, and praising Muslim conquerors throughout the ages for their ‎‎”gentle treatment of civilian populations.”‎

The CAMERA analysis makes clear that the high schools presented a picture ‎of the Arab-Israeli conflict in which Arabs had no agency, but were always victims ‎of displacement and occupation. The Palestinian Arabs were shown as the ‎indigenous people, dating back to the Canaanites, and the Jews the modern ‎interlopers as a result of the Zionist movement and then European guilt over the ‎Holocaust, leading to the 1947 partition resolution at the United Nations. Palestine Liberation Organization heads Yassar Arafat ‎and Mahmoud Abbas were depicted as leaders who have always sought peace but were stymied by Israeli intransigence ‎and reluctance to share the land. The dispute was always about land, not ‎religion. ‎

Discussion of terrorism as a political tool is almost entirely absent from the ‎materials, and when mentioned, it is explained away as a ‎product of frustration that the plight of the Palestinians was being ignored by the ‎world.

The teachings about Islam naturally soft-pedal the violent history during the Prophet Muhammad’s time, the meaning of jihad, and the growing strength of radical and ‎violent movements within the religion in recent decades. The real threat today is ‎always virulent Islamophobia. ‎

In Newton, there was significant pushback against the school system, though some ‎major Jewish institutions seemed fearful of rocking the boat. But in the time ‎between the complaints by the Anchorage parents and the brouhaha in Newton, a ‎large number of school systems have adopted the textbook, and similarly biased ‎supplemental readings, maps and films, as their blueprint for teaching about the ‎conflict and the region. Thousands of high school history teachers have been ‎introduced and trained in presenting the materials. Other than Anchorage and ‎Newton, there are few instances where parents objected in other locales. Tulsa, ‎Oklahoma, is one of these. ‎

The author of the “Arab World Studies Notebook” has bragged about its wide ‎distribution and influence. ‎According to a Jewish News Service report, “Shabbas has claimed that the Notebook has been distributed to more than ‎‎10,000 teachers, and ‘if each notebook teaches 250 students a year over 10 ‎years, then you’ve reached 25 million students.’‎”

JNS quotes Curriculum Watch’s Dr. ‎Sandra Alfonsi as saying that “the most important statistic is the number of workshops that Shabbas has ‎given to instruct teachers in how to use the book. She has conducted hundreds of such three-day ‎teacher-training sessions.”

Further, JNS reports, “Shabbas’ website names 211 schools where she ‎ran teacher workshops from 2000-2006. Other years are not listed.”

In essence, an entire generation of high school students has been exposed ‎to this propaganda, with virtually no alternative views offered, nor any ‎critical analysis of the bias in the textbook. ‎

CAMERA’s monograph is an important first step in providing such a critical ‎commentary on the textbook and other materials that are now in wide use. ‎Hopefully, both parents and the organized Jewish community will show ‎more sustained interest in battling this insidious corruption of the ‎curriculum, which has but one goal: to create a new generation of ‎Americans far less favorably disposed toward Israel.

 

Richard Baehr is the co-founder and chief political correspondent for the American Thinker and a fellow at the Jewish Policy Center.

Slush Fund Look Back Memo from AG Sessions

August 4, 2017

https://www.scribd.com/document/355531871/AG-Prior-Settlement-Look-Back-Memo-1

Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network

August 4, 2017

Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, August 4, 2017

Al Jazeera is not just another news organization like CNN, Fox News or the BBC, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera, he claimed. -“By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television. “Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”

Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.

Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Al Jazeera’s support for terrorism goes far beyond on-air cheerleading. Many of its employees have actively supported al-Qaida, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Concerns over the network’s consistent pro-terrorist positions prompted several Gulf States to demand that Qatar shut it down in June.

Sheikh Said Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government information office, called such demands “a condescending view [that] demonstrates contempt for the intelligence and judgment of the people of the Middle East, who overwhelmingly choose to get their news from Al Jazeera rather than from their state-run broadcasters,” Al-Thani wrote in Newsweek.

But a week earlier, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash detailed Al Jazeera’s connections to terrorists and terror incitement in a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Al Jazeera violates a 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution that called on member states to counter “incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism,” Gargash charged.

The network has given a platform to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mohammed Deif, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and others, Gargash wrote.

“These have not simply been topical interviews of the kind that other channels might run; Jazeera has presented opportunities for terrorist groups to threaten, recruit and incite without challenge or restraint,” Gargash wrote.

Al Jazeera Incites Terrorism

Al Jazeera took credit for the wave of Arab Spring revolutions in early 2011. Network host Mehdi Hasan noted in a December 2011 column that Al Jazeera gave a regional voice to the irate Tunisian protesters who ousted their dictator that they would not have otherwise had.

Faisal Al-Qassem, host of Al Jazeera’s show “The Opposite Direction,” boasted that television, not the Internet or Facebook, was responsible for the revolutions. Al Jazeera’s influence during the Arab Spring and the subsequent revolutions is a factor in the effort by Qatar’s Gulf neighbors to clip its wings.

Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi used his widely viewed Al Jazeera a program to incite the masses against their dictators.

“We salute the [Tunisian] people, which has taught the Arab and Islamic peoples … the following lesson: Do not despair, and do not fear the tyrants, and more feeble the than a spider-web. They quickly collapse in the face of the power of steadfast and resolute peoples,” Qaradawi said in a Jan. 16, 2011 Al Jazeera broadcast. “The tyrants never listen and never heed advice, until they are toppled.”

He likewise called on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down on his program later that month.

“There is no staying longer, Mubarak, I advise you (to learn) the lesson of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” Qaradawi said referencing Tunisia’s toppled dictator.

A month later, Qaradawi issued a fatwa calling for the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Libya still has not recovered from the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011.

Qaradawi urged the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after demonstrations began in Syria that March, sparking the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Even before the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera acted as a platform for violent terrorists.

Qaradawi’s endorsement of suicide bombings aired on Al Jazeera. The network also glorified a female Palestinian suicide bomber whose 2003 attack killed 19 people at an Arab-owned restaurant in Haifa as a “martyr.”

It also broadcast a 2006 speech by al-Qaida leader Abdel Majid al-Zindani at a pro-Hamas conference in Yemen, even though the United States and United Nations already had designated him as a terrorist. Proceeds from the conference benefited Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and the widow of slain Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi also attended.

“What is our duty towards this righteous jihad-fighting people, the vanguard of this nation? What is our duty? What is our obligation? ” al-Zindani asked. “The Hamas government is the Palestinian people’s government today. It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine.

“I don’t have it in my pocket right now, but I am making a pledge, and as you know, I keep my promises. So I’m donating 200,000 riyals. What about you? What will you donate? Go ahead.”

Defector Alleges Qatari Intel Runs Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is not just another news organization like CNN, Fox News or the BBC, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera with financing systems from Personalmoneystore.com, he claimed. -“By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television. “Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”

Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.

Its short-lived affiliate, Al Jazeera America (AJAM), aired pro-Palestinian propaganda. During the 2014 Gaza crisis, AJAM host Wajahat Ali pushed Hamas’ talking pointsabout the territory’s population density without a single reference to how the terrorist group used mosques and civilian buildings to launch rockets.

“I think it is simply providing one side of a story. It doesn’t rise to Soviet propaganda, but it certainly is propaganda for one side,” Temple University journalism professor Christopher Harper told the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 2014.

Muslim Brotherhood Shapes Al Jazeera Narrative

Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Most of them agreed that ‘loyalty’ [to a group] had come to supercede ‘qualifications,’ and that journalists with no Muslim Brotherhood background had to choose one of two options: [either] adapt to the new work conditions and swear loyalty to the representative of the supreme guide [of the Muslim Brotherhood’ at Al Jazeera, or leave,” Shawkat wrote, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Around the same time, a top UAE official complained to American diplomats that Qatar had acquiesced to Al Jazeera staff who were “linked to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and jihadists,” a State Department cable noted.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “said although the Qatari royal family finances Al Jazeera, the people ‘controlling’ it were the same ones financing Osama bin Laden, Hamas, and Iraqi jihadists,” the cable said.

Numerous Al Jazeera employees resigned in 2013 in protest over the channel’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood orientation. Former Al Jazeera journalist Fatima Nabil charged that she and her colleagues “had the feeling that the channel is partisan in favor of political Islam, and in most cases selectivity is exercised in broadcasting the text messages [of viewers] on the channel, and even more so in the selection of guests and interviewees.”

The Qatari government controls the network’s coverage, former Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Fawzi, arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013 on terrorism charges, told the Washington Times this year. Al Jazeera actively worked with Brotherhood members in Egypt, Fahmy claimed.

Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour allegedly supported a secret Muslim Brotherhood group in the UAE that aimed to stir up unrest and chaos, Egypt’s Youm 7reported. Qatar provided fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood with passports and money. Abdulrhaman Khalifa bin Sabih, the former leader of the secret Muslim Brotherhood organization in the UAE, told Youm7 that an Al Jazeera employee named Mohammed al-Mukhtar al-Shankiti trained him to use social media to spread demonstrations and unrest in the Emirates.

Al Jazeera reportedly enabled the secret Muslim Brotherhood group to link with foreign media and communicate with them because they lacked the means to do so on their own.

Al-Arabiya recently noted that Mansour emphasized the commonalities between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida during a 2015 interview with then Jabhat al-Nusra (Now called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) leader Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, as evidence of his Brotherhood sympathies.

Al-Arabiya claimed that Al Jazeera’s organizing the interview with al-Joulani served the purpose of improving his image so he can take over after Assad falls, and that it proved a Qatari connection with the Nusra leader.

Emails seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan also show the importance al-Qaida gave to Al Jazeera. One email noted that while other networks were hostile to the terrorist group, it could not afford to turn Al Jazeera into an enemy.

“Although sometimes it makes mistakes against us, their mistakes are limited. By clashing with it, it will be biased and damage the image of the Muslim Mujahidin,” bin Laden wrote under the alias “Zamarai.”

Alleged al-Qaida Members on Al Jazeera’s Staff

Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief and Syrian native Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan – identified in a leaked National Security Agency PowerPoint as a member of both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood – helped Al Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour secure the interview with Joulani. Zaidan denies belonging to al-Qaida. He met with bin Laden several times after 9/11.

Zaidan, however, periodically writes for a website connected with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Numerous emails retrieved from bin Laden’s compound showed that al-Qaida viewed Zaidan as an asset. Al-Qaida leaders discussed what they wanted to ask Zaidan, including a 2010 email in which an al-Qaida leader said he hoped to use Zaidan to talk Al Jazeera into running a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Zaidan isn’t the first Al Jazeera journalist accused by the U.S. government of belonging to al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sami Muheidine Mohamed al-Haj worked in Al Jazeera’s Doha newsroom in 2000. He also served as a money courier for al-Qaida under the cover of his employment with Al Jazeera and a beverage company.

Pakistani authorities captured al-Haj in December 2001 because his name appeared on a watch list, and turned him over to U.S. forces in January 2002. U.S. authorities transferred al-Haj to Guantanamo Bay for questioning, including for information about Al Jazeera’s contacts with bin Laden.

A leaked Guantanamo Bay file describes al-Haj as a member of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida.

He belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council and was involved in plans to distribute weapons to terrorists in Chechnya. A photo showed Al-Haj in Al Jazeera’s Kandahar, Afghanistan office with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

Another email captured in the raid on Bin Laden’s compound describes an Al Jazeera cameraman referred to as “Siraj” as a member of the al-Qaida linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who was imprisoned in Iran. The LIFG maintained a network inside Iran in the 2000s.

Networks have their biases. But none comes close to Al Jazeera’s persistent role as the biggest promoter of terrorist propaganda next to social media.

Jeff Sessions warns government leakers: You ‘will be prosecuted’

August 4, 2017

Jeff Sessions warns government leakers: You ‘will be prosecuted’, Washington ExaminerKelly Cohen, August 4, 2017

(How about those who publish the leaked material? — DM)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled a new Department of Justice crackdown on leaks. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Justice Department is ramping up steps to investigate and prosecute government leakers, a day after transcripts of President Trump’s calls with two foreign leaders were leaked to the Washington Post.

“Criminals who would illegally use their access to our most sensitive information to endanger our national security are in fact being investigated, and will be prosecuted,” he said in a press conference.

Sessions stressed that his department doesn’t confirm or deny specific investigations, but made it clear there are many more leak investigations ongoing today than there were less than a year ago.

“Since January, the department has more than triple the number of active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the last administration,” he said. “And we’ve already charged four people with unlawfully disclosing classified material or with concealing contacts with federal officers.”

Sessions also stressed repeatedly that a way to solve the problem is to change the culture in government, which routinely leaks classified information.

“This culture of leaking must stop,” he said.

Sessions was joined by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina from the Justice Department headquarters on Friday in Washington.

Trump, who has criticized Sessions in recent weeks, said he wanted Sessions to crack down on the leaks that have plagued his administration since he took office. The attorney general told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last week that he has “not been happy with the past prosecutions and investigations of criminal leaks.”

The Washington Post released the transcripts of Trump’s calls in late January with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and noted the transcripts had notes indicating the National Security Council had classified them. The full transcripts, the Post said, were “produced by White House staff” and based on records kept by White House notetakers.

US Senate passes bill to stop ‘sick’ Palestinian terror salaries

August 4, 2017

Congressmen unequivocally condemn official Palestinian salary-for-terror policy, as the Taylor Force Act passes a key hurdle.

By: Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

August 3, 2017

Source: US Senate passes bill to stop ‘sick’ Palestinian terror salaries

US lawmakers denounced on Thursday the Palestinian Authority’s “sick” policy of paying salaries to terrorists and their families after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Taylor Force Act — which conditions $300 million of annual aid from the US on the PA ending the policy.

The committee approved the act by a 17-4 vote on Thursday morning, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the committee’s chairman, announced.

 Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the principal aim of the bill, which will now return to the Senate for a vote during the fall session, was to prevent the PA from providing financial incentives for acts of terrorism.

“If you’re a young Palestinian, maybe the best thing you can do for your family in terms of income is to become a terrorist,” Graham said. “That’s sick.”

The act is named in memory of Taylor Force — a former US Army officer and veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars who was murdered in Tel Aviv in a Palestinian stabbing attack in March 2016. The 28-year-old Force, a Vanderbilt University graduate student, had been visiting Israel as part of a school-organized spring break trip.

“This is a big day for the Taylor Force family,” Graham said at a press briefing following the vote. “This bill will cut off all funding to the PA until they change their laws which reward terrorism, which reward people for killing a young man like Taylor Force. I don’t want his death to be in vain.”

 Corker said that the legislation “will force the Palestinian Authority to make a choice: either face the consequences of stoking violence or end this detestable practice immediately.”

Corker added that interviews with several Palestinian prisoners had shown that part of their motive for engaging in terror was to “ensure that they did something egregious enough to at least get a five-year sentence, where the payment is stepped up.”

“That’s sick. That’s sick,” Corker emphasized.

Both Corker and Graham pointed out that Force’s murderer, Bashar Masalha, had been lauded as a hero by Palestinians after he was shot dead by an Israeli police officer at the scene of the stabbing spree. “I cannot look the Taylor Force family in the eye and say that giving the PA money is an investment for peace, or for the American taxpayer,” Graham said.

 Corker said that the Foreign Relations Committee’s debate had resulted in a “better bill.”

“It’s crisp, it’s surgical, it’s intended to change the behavior of the Palestinian Authority, but not hurt the Palestinian people,” Corker said.

US Jewish leaders warmly welcome the passage of the bill by the committee. “The act passed with strong bipartisan support, and we hope that it’ll be taken up by the full Senate once they return from the summer recess,” Nathan Diament — executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center — told The Algemeiner after the vote.

Six Democrats were among the 17 senators who voted in favor of the act: Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Menendez (NJ), Christopher Coons (DE), Tim Kaine (VA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Ed Markey (MA). “If you look at this group, they come from across the spectrum,” Diament observed. “You have Cardin and Menendez and Coons who are fairly centrist, but you also have Markey and Kaine, who are more on the left.”

 Four senators, all Democrats, voted against the act: Cory Booker (NJ), Chris Murphy (CT), Tom Udall (NM) and Jeff Merkley (OR).

Diament said that if the Palestinians “do what they are supposed to do,” the current flow of aid to the PA can be preserved. “It’s in their hands, that’s what people need to understand,” he noted.

Criticism of the act for not being extensive enough came from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which said that US humanitarian aid ostensibly meant for hospitals and public utilities can still seep back into PA coffers, thereby indirectly funding the terror payments. The ZOA said that it would campaign against any further amendments to the legislation that would weaken the conditions on US funding for the PA.