Posted tagged ‘Media and Trump’

Leakers and Journalists Are Destroying Our Republic

May 26, 2017

Leakers and Journalists Are Destroying Our Republic, PJ MediaRoger L. Simon, May 25, 2017

(Please see also, Alan Dershowitz: Civil Liberties Threatened With Kushner Probe. Is there a “probe,” if so, what is it about and is Kushner a target? –DM)

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Points of focus that pertain to Kushner include: the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation; his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and Kushner’s own contacts with Russians, according to US officials [ i. e. leakers] briefed on the probe.
There is no indication Kushner is currently a target of the probe and there are no allegations he committed any wrongdoing. [bolds mine]

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Leakers and journalists are tied together like drug dealers and junkies.

Unfair analogy?  Maybe a bit, but people who live “respectable middle-class lives” can be just as dangerous, more dangerous, ultimately, than the murderous El Chapos of the world and that’s pretty bad. Only the other day some U.S. intel people or person leaked to the New York Times about the Manchester terrorist, causing news to be reported that could have instigated more Islamist child murders.

We have an epidemic of leaking in our society unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime. It’s approaching Plague level — but with no vaccine in sight.

The latest, at this typing, is that Jared Kushner is under investigation by the FBI.  Here’s the headline at CNN of an article signed by no less than four authors (it takes a village) –Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Gloria Borger: “FBI Russia investigation looking at Kushner role.”

Uh-oh.

Who leaked that and what did they tell them about the president’s son-in-law? Has Jared been selling us out to Putin?  It certainly sounds that way.

Well, not really. Look no further than the second and third paragraph and you discover:

Points of focus that pertain to Kushner include: the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation; his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and Kushner’s own contacts with Russians, according to US officials [ i. e. leakers] briefed on the probe.

There is no indication Kushner is currently a target of the probe and there are no allegations he committed any wrongdoing. [bolds mine]

In other words, there’s no there there other than leaks that continue to pour out, even after the installation of the supposedly confidential investigation by Special Counsel Mueller. How repellent and, frankly, illegal is that? Has Mueller launched a leak probe of his own? He should.

For its part, CNN (as a kind of low-rent, ineffectual  Pravda)  is just cooperating in a smear job that was apparently instigated by their colleagues at frequent leak conduit NBC.  They are joined by The Hill, which, almost simultaneously, tweeted: “Jared under FBI scrutiny in Trump-Russia investigation: report.”  Note the weasel word —  report.

How would you describe these denizens of the Fourth Estate capable of this sort of sleazy behavior? ” Schmucks with Underwoods,” as was said of screenwriters in the old days of Warner Brothers? In this case, of course, the schmucks have laptops. (In those old Warner days, writers like Faulkner and Fitzgerald populated the studios.  Haven’t seen anywhere near that level of talent at  The Hill and CNN or anywhere in our media of late. But perhaps I missed something.)

So these great literary geniuses — the scions of Woodward and Bernstein (aka people who can pick up the phone) — and the leakers have a co-dependent relationship, both convincing themselves that what they are doing is for the betterment of humanity. (That’s what Hans Vaihinger called the Philosophy of As If.)  Of course, the leakers, assuming they are from our intelligence agencies, have all signed contracts swearing up and down  not to do the very thing they have done, in some cases, in all probability, multiple times. Moreover — in their putative attempt to “save the republic” (or their own jobs or get vengeance) — we have no idea whether they are telling the truth, a half-truth or no truth at all about what they are leaking. Or whether the journalists are reporting those leaks with even a modicum of accuracy.  That’s how thoroughly these symbiotic morally narcissistic partners believe in their own “goodness” and how little they really care about what the American people think or do.

So what do we do about this state of affairs in a democratic republic, assuming we are serious about having one?

Quite simply, the leakers need to go to jail with the proverbial key thrown away.  That is the only way this leaking will stop and it must stop. Prosecutions should have started months ago.  It’s hard to understand why it’s taken so long. Let’s hope we have indictments soon.  Like tomorrow.

Regarding journalists, they need an entirely new code of ethics. Unfortunately, any reader of Evelyn Waugh (not to mention anybody with a pulse) knows just how unlikely that is. It’s high time for the consumers of news to fight back tooth and nail. Anytime we see or hear the term “anonymous source” or someone “authorized to speak” only confidentially, something so common now there’s almost no reporting without it, often six or seven instances within one article or broadcast, we should simply turn off the television or throw the newspaper into the garbage, never to buy another copy.  If you’re reading it on the Internet, just click off.  You could say that’s propaganda, not journalism.  But it’s not even good propaganda.  It’s junk, information pollution, worse than 1970s smog. It also lowers your IQ five points every time you’re exposed.  You don’t need it.

And if you ever see or hear the word “Russia” again,  feel free to run screaming from the room like the subject in an Edvard Munch painting.<

A Coup by Any Other Name

May 24, 2017

A Coup by Any Other Name, Power LineScott Johnson, May 24, 2017

In the post “Trump agonistes” last week I noted what I saw in the news stories that have created the consuming controversies of the past few weeks: hostile officials inside the executive branch of the government seeking the removal of Donald Trump from office. They are powerful. They lack any qualms about abusing their positions. They are determined. And they have the invaluable assistance of the Democrats’ mainstream media adjunct.

With malicious intent, “current officials” inside the intelligence agencies with access to top secret information, for example, have passed it on under the cloak of anonymity to their friends in the mainstream media. Even “former officials” — i.e., former Obama administration officials — have gotten in on the act. (The source of their information is neither revealed nor apparent.)

The subversion of an incumbent Republican president by the intelligence community in the permanent government is an old story, as is the role of the mainstream media. President Trump’s death struggle with his invisible opponents, however, has arrived early in his first term in office.

Victor Davis Hanson amplifies and elaborates on the contribution of the mainstream media angle in his long, indispensable NRO column “A coup by any other name?” We are thinking along the same lines; one section of Dr. Hanson’s column is headed “Trump agonistes.”

Here is the salient point regarding the media: “The effort to remove the president is conducted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the wire services, and the major networks. And we have seen nothing like it in our time. In the last six months, Americans have been told quite falsely so many untruths about the Trump administration by their news agencies that for all practical purposes, there is no such thing as a media as we once knew it.”

We wend our way inevitably to this destination: “We are now watching insidious regime change, aimed at removing the president of the United States not because of what he has done so far, but because of his personality and what he might do to the Obama agenda — and because for a variety of cultural reasons, our elite simply despises his very being.”

I would add as a footnote that Christopher Roach’s “Tales of a coup: What Trump can learn from Gorbachev” makes a good companion to the Hanson column.

If the President Is Not the Subject of a Criminal Investigation, Then Say So

May 19, 2017

If the President Is Not the Subject of a Criminal Investigation, Then Say So, PJ Media, Andrew C. McCarthy, May 19, 2017

Succeeding Louis F. Freeh in Washington, DC. Robert Mueller named special prosecutor for Russia probe, Washington DC, USA – 17 May 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Thus, to the extent it involves the president, the investigation announced to the public is a counterintelligence probe. That matters because it would mean the president is not a criminal suspect. A counterintelligence probe is not intended to build a criminal prosecution. It is intended to collect information. Its purpose is to uncover the actions and intentions of foreign powers to the extent they bear on American interests.

To this point, after months of congressional and intelligence-community investigations, there appears to be no evidence, much less strong proof, of a crime committed by Trump. But Democrats calculate that the assignment of a prosecutor implies that there must be an underlying crime — an implication that Sen. Graham’s comments reinforce. That is why they pushed so hard for a special counsel. It fills a big hole in their narrative. They can now say, “What do you mean no crime? They’ve appointed a prosecutor, so there must be a crime — collusion, obstruction, Russia … it’s a crime wave!”

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Well is he, or isn’t he?

Almost everything in a counterintelligence investigation is classified. And much of what goes on in a criminal investigation is secret, kept confidential by investigators and prosecutors. But there is one thing that need be neither classified nor otherwise concealed from the American people: the status of the president.

Is the president of the United States the subject of a criminal investigation?

If he is not, then the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller owe it to the country to say so. There is no reason to be coy about it. In fact, because a president under criminal suspicion would be crippled, his inability to govern detrimental to the nation, it is imperative to be forthright about his status.

Instead, political games are being played and the public is forming an impression — which I strongly suspect is a misimpression — based on semantics. There is no guaranteed outcome in an investigation, but the government should not be able to keep from us the precise nature of the investigation when it involves the president and when the fact that there is an investigation has already been disclosed publicly.

We’ve been told that the main investigation, the one that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has appointed special counsel Mueller to conduct, is a counterintelligence investigation. That is what former FBI director James Comey revealed (with the approval of the Justice Department) in House testimony on March 20:

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. (Emphasis added.)

In appointing Mueller on May 17, Rosenstein issued an internal Justice Department order stating:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including (i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump[.]

Thus, to the extent it involves the president, the investigation announced to the public is a counterintelligence probe. That matters because it would mean the president is not a criminal suspect. A counterintelligence probe is not intended to build a criminal prosecution. It is intended to collect information. Its purpose is to uncover the actions and intentions of foreign powers to the extent they bear on American interests.

Yet the New York Times reports that Rosenstein, in briefing the Senate Thursday:

 … affirmed that the Justice Department’s inquiry was focused on possible crimes.

This portrayal of the purported “focus” of the investigation was echoed by several senators, including Republicans Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn.

To be clear, I don’t believe Graham and Cornyn are trying to create a misimpression. To the contrary, I think they are hoping to scale back high-profile congressional hearings about the controversy. Hearings that are paralyzing the administration and frittering away the legislative time needed to push forward the Trump agenda of addressing Obamacare’s ongoing collapse, tax reform, border enforcement, the confirmation of executive officials and judges, and so on.

Yet, listen to Sen. Graham:

You’ve got a special counsel who has prosecutorial powers now, and I think we in Congress have to be very careful not to interfere.

What he means is that once a Justice Department investigation gears up, Congress should back off. But his choice of words would lead any reasonable person to infer: “Ah-hah! Now we have a serious criminal investigation. People are going to be prosecuted.”

On the Democrats’ part, this conflation of intelligence and criminal investigations is quite intentional.

If the probe of Trump’s campaign is about crimes (rather than intelligence about Russia), then they move much closer to the ultimate goal of impeachment, to say nothing of the immediate goals of derailing Trump’s agenda and reaping an electoral windfall in 2018.

This has been one of my main objections to the appointment of a special counsel. To this point, after months of congressional and intelligence-community investigations, there appears to be no evidence, much less strong proof, of a crime committed by Trump. But Democrats calculate that the assignment of a prosecutor implies that there must be an underlying crime — an implication that Sen. Graham’s comments reinforce. That is why they pushed so hard for a special counsel. It fills a big hole in their narrative. They can now say, “What do you mean no crime? They’ve appointed a prosecutor, so there must be a crime — collusion, obstruction, Russia … it’s a crime wave!”

In advancing this storyline, Democrats have gotten plenty of help from the FBI and the Justice Department.

In his March 20 testimony, Comey elaborated:

As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

With due respect, this is a heavy-handed way of putting it. As is well-known throughout the FBI and Justice Department, it is not permissible to use counterintelligence investigative authority to conduct what is in reality a criminal case. It is true enough that if, in the course of a counterintelligence probe, FBI agents incidentally discover that crimes have been committed, they are not required to ignore those crimes. But the agents do not go into a counterintelligence probe with an eye toward collecting criminal evidence. If the point is to build a criminal case, you do a criminal investigation.

Rosenstein’s clumsily worded order also contributes to the confusion. The Comey testimony cited by Rosenstein made it clear that there is a broad investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that examining the nature of links and coordination — if any — between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime is just a part of it. Rosenstein’s order, by contrast, describes the investigation as if its sole focus is ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. For the life of me, I don’t understand why he framed it that way; he could simply have referred to “the investigation confirmed by” Comey and left it at that. Why would the Trump Justice Department gratuitously highlight the notion of Trump-Russia ties when, so far, none have been proved?

Moreover, Rosenstein’s memo goes on to explain that Mueller’s investigative jurisdiction includes any “matters” that arise out of the investigation. This is unavoidable: it needs to be clarified that the special counsel has authority to prosecute any crimes he may stumble upon while conducting the counterintelligence investigation. But the expression of this happenstance reinforces the notion that crimes have been committed.

And of course, crimes may well have been committed … but not, so far as we know, by Trump.

We might think about the main investigation, the counterintelligence investigation, as the mother ship. Attached to it, but not part of its core, are barnacles. There is the investigation of Michael Flynn, which is known to be a criminal probe — there is a grand jury issuing subpoenas, which is not something that happens in a counterintelligence investigation. There have also been suggestions of a barnacle, potentially criminal in nature, related to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, related to shady dealings with Ukrainian pols tied to Putin, in the years prior to the campaign.

Evidence of this (potentially) criminal activity came to light because the FBI and Justice Department were conducting the main counterintelligence investigation. Consequently, the activity comes within the special counsel’s jurisdiction — he is authorized to investigate and prosecute it. But this does not convert the main investigation into a criminal investigation. It is still a counterintelligence investigation.

So notice the cynical game: the public statements of the FBI, the Justice Department, and Democrats exploit the fact of the counterintelligence investigation as a basis for saying that agents are investigating Trump. But they are not investigating him as a criminal suspect — the subject of the counterterrorism investigation is Russia; Trump is relevant only to the extent that people connected to his campaign may have ties to Russia.

In tandem, the public statements of the FBI, the Justice Department, and Democrats exploit the fact that the activities of Flynn and Manafort are part of the investigation in order to describe the investigation as “criminal.” But the criminal aspects of the investigation are tangential to the main event, Russia and any potential ties to Trump, which is not criminal.

See the trick? Trump is part of the investigation, the investigation is part criminal, ergo: Trump must be a criminal suspect.

Such word games should not happen.

No one appreciates more than I do the importance of discretion in official public announcements about investigations. But when officials choose to make highly unusual public acknowledgments that an investigation is taking place, they should never create a misimpression. If they have done so, however inadvertently, they must clarify the record.

It is very simple, if President Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation, the Justice Department owes it to the American people, and to Trump, to say so. If he is not the subject of a criminal investigation, they should say so — and they should cease and desist suggestions to the contrary.

A Coup Attempt, Not a Constitutional Crisis

May 19, 2017

A Coup Attempt, Not a Constitutional Crisis, PJ MediaDavid P. Goldman, May 18, 2017

Trump won by calling attention to the errors of his opponents and by dominating the news cycle. He played continuous offense. At the White House, by contrast, Trump has appeared cautious in stating his foreign policy goals, and defensive in responding to attacks on his performance and propriety. The policy issues that stood out clear during the campaign and helped Trump outflank the Republican Establishment have become fuzzy, especially after the firing of Gen. Flynn.

With the policy issues out of focus, Trump has lost control of the news cycle, and risks letting the news cycle control him. His opponents won’t succeed in dislodging him. But they have succeeded in distracting Trump from his policy agenda.

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A ranking Republican statesman this week told an off-the-record gathering that a “coup” attempt was in progress against President Donald Trump, with collusion between the largely Democratic media and Trump’s numerous enemies in the Republican Party. The object of the coup, the Republican leader added, was not impeachment, but the recruitment of a critical mass of Republican senators and congressmen to the claim that Trump was “unfit” for office and to force his resignation.

It’s helpful to fan away the psychedelic fumes of allegation and innuendo and clarify just what Trump might have done wrong. Trump will not be impeached, and he will not be harried out of office. But he faces a formidable combination of media hostility—what the president today denounced as a “witch hunt”—and a divided White House staff prone to press leaks. The likely outcome will be a prolonged dirty war of words that will delay Trump’s domestic agenda and tie down his loyalists with the chores of fire-fighting.

One thinks of Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians. Trump was elected by campaigning against the Republican Establishment as well as Obama, ridiculing their policy blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan and questioning their credibility. In the flurry of personal attacks, the underlying policy issues have faded into the background, and that gives the initiative to Trump’s enemies.

Nothing that has been alleged, much less proven, about President Trump comes close to the threshold for impeachment, as Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University’s law school explained in a May 17 comment in The Hill. Even if Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Gen. Michael Flynn, Prof. Turley notes, “Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily” illegal. The charge of obstruction of justice presumes that there is an issue before the bar of justice, but as Turley adds, “There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.”

The appointment of respected former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into allegations of Russian interference in the November 2016 election strongly suggests that the Trump team feels it has nothing to fear from a thorough review. In this case Trump’s detractors appear to be bluffing. Press reports of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian diplomats and businessmen appear to reflect the sort of conversations that every presidential campaign conducts with important foreign governments. It is not clear that Russia was responsible for the delivery of embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks, moreover. Pro-Trump media report that DNC staffer Seth Rich was Wikileaks’ source. Rich was murdered on a Washington street in July 2016, and a counter-conspiracy theory is circulating about his death.

Then there is the alleged leak of highly classified intelligence on the laptop bomb threat to airliners, of which Wall Street Journal editors intoned, “Loose Lips Sink Presidencies.” Exactly what the president told the Russians is under dispute, but the salient fact in the case is that presidents and cabinet members frequently leak classified information without prompting the condemnations that piled up on Trump. Obama’s then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta leaked the role of Pakistani physician Shakil Afridi in locating Osama bin Laden’s lair, and President Obama himself revealed that Seal Team 6 had killed Osama, making the unit a subsequent  target for terrorists. Apart from inadvertent leaks, the Obama administration deliberately leaked British nuclear secrets to Russia, over bitter protests from London.

Why did Obama get a pass while Trump got the bum’s rush? Apart from the antipathy of the major media to a candidate who campaigned against them, there is the hostility of the intelligence agencies. That, the Wall Street Journal editors said, is Trump’s own fault: “Mr. Trump’s strife and insults with the intelligence community were also bound to invite blowback,” their May 17 editorial scolded. “In that case the public leaks about Mr. Trump’s actions, if true, will do more damage than whatever he said in private.”

The Journal editors imply that disaffection in the intelligence community is the result of Trump’s obstreperousness, but the source of the dispute is policy and accountability. Trump’s first national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was fired by Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for claiming that U.S. intelligence agencies bore some responsibility for the emergence of ISIS. The CIA funded Sunni rebels against the Assad regime including many from a branch of al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front, in its campaign to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump has shifted America’s priority to stopping the bloodshed in Syria rather than forcing out al-Assad, and is willing to work with Russia to achieve this—provided that the result doesn’t give undue influence to Iran, a senior administration official explained.

A shift to peacemaking and the limited possibility of a regional deal with Russia away from the covert war operations of the CIA under the Obama administration represents a major policy change. It threatens the credibility of Sen. McCain, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and the Republican Establishment, not to mention the CIA officials who made their careers on collaboration with Syria’s Sunni rebels.

During the campaign, candidate Trump delivered an effective message that he would abandon the costly and unpopular nation-building campaigns of his predecessors and focus instead on America’s own security. He attacked not only Obama but the George W. Bush administration and the Republican Establishment which had fostered a failing policy in the region.

Trump won by calling attention to the errors of his opponents and by dominating the news cycle. He played continuous offense. At the White House, by contrast, Trump has appeared cautious in stating his foreign policy goals, and defensive in responding to attacks on his performance and propriety. The policy issues that stood out clear during the campaign and helped Trump outflank the Republican Establishment have become fuzzy, especially after the firing of Gen. Flynn.

With the policy issues out of focus, Trump has lost control of the news cycle, and risks letting the news cycle control him. His opponents won’t succeed in dislodging him. But they have succeeded in distracting Trump from his policy agenda.

In Clear Attempt to Sabotage U.S. Relations, Intel-Leakers Tell Media What Trump Did NOT Tell the Russians

May 18, 2017

In Clear Attempt to Sabotage U.S. Relations, Intel-Leakers Tell Media What Trump Did NOT Tell the Russians, The Jewish PressJ. E. Dyer, May 18, 2017

The way to get ahead of this severe problem for the rule of law and the proper functioning of government is for Trump to have the leakers identified, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.  It’s obvious that Congress is paralyzed by sheer sclerosis, starting with terror of the media.  It’s also obvious that there are so many Obama holdovers left in the federal bureaucracy, it will be hard for the Trump administration to find people who can be trusted.

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{Originally posted to the author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s time to call a halt to the leak problem from the U.S. intelligence community.  This is beyond a “leak problem.”  It is spilling over into outright sabotage of America’s national interests, all in the quest to bring President Trump down.

After yesterday’s story by the Washington Post was repudiated by H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, and Dina Powell, McMaster made additional comments Tuesday morning to clarify exactly how false the story was.

The gist of the original story was that President Trump, in speaking to the visiting Russians last week about an ISIS “laptop plot,” revealed highly classified details that would have allowed the Russians to determine what the source of some of the intelligence was.  The WaPo article made reference to the sensitive intelligence of a foreign ally, and to Trump disclosing the city in which the intel was gained. (N.B. — WaPo could only have gained this impression from people who weren’t there, but who are bound by oath to not reveal exactly the sort of intelligence they allege Trump revealed.)

This morning, McMaster stated in no uncertain terms that not only did Trump not make these disclosures — Trump didn’t even know the source of the intelligence, or the city it was obtained in.  Thus, the president could not possibly have exposed the information as alleged in the WaPo piece.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday said President Trump did not jeopardize intelligence assets by revealing highly sensitive information to Russian officials, adding that Trump did not know where the intel came from. …

McMaster said Trump could not have endangered national security because he did not even know the source of the information he discussed.

“The president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from,” he said. “He wasn’t briefed on the source.”

There is nothing unusual about this latter point.  Presidents are selective about when and why the source of intelligence matters to them.  Most of the time, they have too many other things to think about to probe the matter.  They understand the scope and general nature of national capabilities, but it’s only in very specific cases that they care about sources — or that their officials highlight sources to them, for some reason.

In this case, General McMaster made clear that Trump didn’t know the details WaPo‘s source alleges he exposed, and therefore, he couldn’t have exposed them.

This is good news.  Bottom line:  Trump didn’t expose sensitive information about intelligence sources and methods.  (Keep that in mind.  Trump has not exposed anything.)

But the leakers who ply the mainstream media with sensitive national intelligence in order to defame Trump have now come out to expose that information themselves.

In the New York Times this morning, an article alleged that Israeli intelligence was the source, citing “a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information.”  The NYT article then went on to blithely speculate about how that disclosure could damage U.S. relations with Israel — and, my goodness, just before Trump’s first visit there as president, to boot.

Hard on the heels of the NYT piece, the Wall Street Journal came out with one stating even more categorically that the source was Israel.  Just so you won’t miss it, apparently, the authors made “Israel” the very first word of the story:

Israel provided the U.S. with the classified information that President Donald Trump shared last week with Russian officials, according to officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

The intelligence came from a particularly valuable source of information about the Islamic State terrorist group’s ability to build sophisticated explosives that could evade aviation-security measures and be placed on aircraft, these officials said. The source of the information was developed before Mr. Trump’s election in November, they said.

And, of course, the WSJ piece goes on to speculate about how this will damage U.S.-Israeli relations.  Both pieces (NYT and WSJ) also allude to the damage it will do to America’s intelligence partnerships with all our allies.

Apparently, the news choreographers behind this orchestrated leak campaign think we’re stupid.  Trump didn’t cause this damage.

They did.

If you don’t think at this point that there’s a “deep state” or “shadow government” trying to sabotage Trump, well, bless your heart.  The actors in the deep state — if it’s actually true that Israel is the source of the intelligence about the “laptop plot,” and that they had direct knowledge of that — have just committed an indisputable felony by telling that to the media.

If America’s relations with Israel, and with our intelligence partners in general, are damaged out of this, it’s the leakers who are at fault.  That could not be established more clearly.

I don’t want you to forget that it’s the responsible officials in the government who are at fault here.  The media complicity is disgusting, but the clear felony is what the government officials did.

It’s the same felony they committed, in fact, by revealing national intelligence information about monitoring the Russian ambassador’s phone calls, and unmasking Michael Flynn.  But in this case, the sanctimonious chatter about “damage to national interests” is on a larger scale.  And the potential for such damage is indeed great.  The leakers have created that potential.

The way to get ahead of this severe problem for the rule of law and the proper functioning of government is for Trump to have the leakers identified, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.  It’s obvious that Congress is paralyzed by sheer sclerosis, starting with terror of the media.  It’s also obvious that there are so many Obama holdovers left in the federal bureaucracy, it will be hard for the Trump administration to find people who can be trusted.

Adam Kredo had a must-read post on that at the Washington Free Beacon on Monday.

Trump administration insiders likened the problem to a game of whack-a-mole, a children’s game in which players must hit a group of moles as they pop out of their holes.

“The problem is that the Obama administration left holdovers all over the government, so you get rid of one Obama loyalist and the replacement is another Obama loyalist,” said one national security insider close to the Trump administration.

But there appear to be trustworthy officials still in DOJ and the FBI.  Fear of how the media and Democratic leaders will spin it must not stop Trump from identifying the leakers and prosecuting them.  I think Trump will have to reach past the major MSM outlets to make his case to the people.  But there is a legitimate, law-based case to be made, and a path of law to follow.  Revealing national secrets and imperiling national interests is what the leakers have done — not the president.

Pretending that going after those leakers might be illegitimate, as Trump’s opponents are likely to do, would be a supreme exercise in self-deceit, at best.  At worst, it would clearly be the argument of a faction with only evil intentions, determined to destroy the rule of law and thwart the legitimate operation of government.

The Anonymous Sources of Washington Post and CNN Fake News

May 18, 2017

The Anonymous Sources of Washington Post and CNN Fake News, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, May 18, 2017

Media fake news is everywhere.

No, the new health care bill does not treat rape as a pre-existing condition and Republicans did not celebrate its passage with beer. 

The latest media outrage is driven by a Washington Post story about intelligence disclosures based on claims by anonymous sources. The Post’s big hit pieces are mainly based on anonymous sources.

Its latest hit piece runs a quote from, “a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials.” That’s an anonymous source quoting hearsay from other anonymous sources.

This isn’t journalism. It’s a joke.

Last week, the Washington Post unveiled a story based on “the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House.” The fake news story falsely claimed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign.

Rod had a simple answer when asked about that piece of fake news. “No.”

So much for 30 anonymous sources and for the Washington Post’s credibility.  But the media keeps shoveling out pieces based on anonymous sources and confirmed by anonymous sources while ignoring the disavowals by those public officials who are willing to go on the record.

The Comey memo story is based on, according to the New York Times, “two people who read the memo.” And then “one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.”

And his dog.

The supposed memo contradicts Comey’s own testimony to Congress under oath.

The Times hasn’t seen the memo. No one has seen the memo except the anonymous sources that may or may not exist. The media’s fake news infrastructure relies heavily on anonymous sources. And anonymous sources are the media’s way of saying, “Just trust us.”

The question is why would anyone trust the media?

Comey fake news is popular on the left because it is convinced that he is the key to reversing their election defeat. Recently CNN got its fake news fingers burned with a story claiming that the former FBI Director had asked for more resources for the Russia investigation before he was fired.

Where did CNN get its story from? Anonymous sources. Or, as the story put it, “two sources familiar with the discussion.”

Sources “familiar with the discussion” is up there with “a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials.” And their neighbor’s dog who barks exclusively to CNN.

Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe both shot down CNN’s fake news.  CNN’s headline was, “New Acting FBI Director Contradicts White House on Comey.” Its fake news was referenced only as, “Amid reports that Comey had asked for more resources for the Russia investigation, McCabe testified that he believed the bureau had adequate resources to complete the job.”

CNN did not acknowledge that the fake reports had come from it. It phrased it in passive and vague language. And it left out a crucial part of McCabe’s response. “When we need resources, we make those requests here. So I’m not aware of that request and it’s not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources. That said, we don’t typically request resources for an individual case. And as I mentioned, I strongly believe that the Russian investigation is adequately resourced.”

CNN didn’t just push fake news. It covered up its crime. And it’s the cover-up that proves the crime.

Media outlets like CNN and the Washington Post often knows that they’re pushing lies. WaPo’s fact checkers shot down the claim that rape is a pre-existing condition. But the paper ran a piece titled, “I Was Raped. Thanks to Republicans, I Could Be Denied Insurance.” The editors know quite well which of these pieces will have more of an impact.

But the Post has a dozen stories mentioning the Comey resources fake news.

The Washington Post isn’t in the news business. After its takeover by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, it’s in the business of manufacturing viral Trump hit pieces. It got a viral fake news hit with its lie that Press Secretary Sean Spicer was hiding in the bushes to avoid them. There was an equally snarky correction issued that was largely irrelevant. Having manufactured a piece of fake news fit for a Saturday Night Live skit, the Post then dutifully reported  on the Saturday Night Live skit featuring its fake news item.

In the past there would have been a world of difference between the Washington Post and Saturday Night Live. Today they are part of the same lefty echo chamber. The media, all the various parts of it, is now one big influence operation. The machine works by developing and taking fake news attacks viral. WaPo and SNL are in the same business. There isn’t even much of a stylistic difference.

The Washington Post’s “Trump fired Comey because he’s taller” could easily have come from Saturday Night Live, The Onion or the Daily Show.

The truly damning epitaph of American journalism is that there isn’t much of a difference. Saturday Night Live isn’t doing comedy and the Washington Post isn’t doing journalism. They’re both manufacturing viral Trump attacks.

Getting your news from the Washington Post is as worthless as getting it from Saturday Night Live.

While more respectable papers like the Post and the Times occupy the top rung of the fake news ladder, CNN has become the National Enquirer of Trump bashing. No story is too petty or fake to get airtime or site space. Recent examples that have gone viral include, “Is the President Afraid of Stairs” and “President Gets 2 Scoops of Ice Cream, Everyone Else 1.”

CNN’s fake news is constantly being shot down by the facts. But it just doubles down on its lies.

“We will not insult your intelligence by pretending it’s legitimate. Nor will we aid and abet the people trying to misinform you,” CNN’s Don Lemon had blustered when trying to suppress the Rice spying story.

CNN insults the intelligence of its viewers every minute that they watch it. It offers up a stream of misinformation while trying to suppress legitimate news. Much of this misinformation takes the form of spreading lefty fake news memes whether it’s rape as a preexisting condition or Republican beer.

And even when corrections appear, they exist only for the purpose of plausible deniability. The original fake news gets rolled into multiple news stories, blog posts and editorials that never get updated or corrected.

And even if they were to be, the damage would be done. That’s the way fake news works.

CNN and the Washington Post are throwing mud and assuming that some of it will stick. And even when it’s officially corrected, it still sticks around. Months later, the Post site still carries an uncorrected reference to the AP fake news story which claimed that Trump had threatened to invade Mexico even after it had been denied by both governments and had been pulled for being unverifiable.

It’s a safe bet that rape as a preexisting condition and Comey’s Russian resources will also stick around.

“Applying the fake news label is an attack on the truth. It’s reckless and corrosive to democracy, and elected officials attempt to deliberately and systematically erode the credibility of news organizations because they object to factually accurate reporting,” the CEO of the Washington Post insisted last month.

But it’s the media that is reckless and corrosive to democracy. It has eroded its credibility with fake news. Factually accurate reporting has become too difficult and unrewarding. The idea of waiting months or years for an investigation to pay off is alien to the nanosecond news cycle. That’s why every fake Trump scandal is the new Watergate. And fake news is constantly being manufactured.

News organizations are throwing away their credibility to reverse the results of a democratic election. And it’s not only their own credibility that they are throwing away. The marketplace of ideas was based on reason and objectivity. Without them, there was no longer a public square we could all live in.

Media bias began to corrupt the marketplace. But bias meant the selective reporting of facts. Falsehoods could creep in. But generally the media would not just casually run stories that were completely false. It would happen from time to time. But it wouldn’t be a constant practice.

And then a tipping point was reached.

Historians of journalism will argue over when the dam broke. Was it the age of Obama or of Trump? But the day arrived. The sun rose over the CNN Center in Atlanta, the K Street digs of the Washington Post and the offices of other media organizations. And it was no longer a question of selective reporting. We were no longer arguing about the injection of opinion into news stories or journalistic double standards.

The age of fake news had arrived. We no longer have a free press. All we have is a fake press.

Not Satire | Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great.

May 17, 2017

Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great, Washington Post

(More wisdom from WaPo. Let’s put Trump in a sound-proof cage so he can’t damage the entire world. Please see also, Is Trump Derangement Syndrome curable? — DM)

President Trump is scheduled to depart Friday on his first international trip as president, with scheduled visits in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, and the Vatican, followed by attendance at meetings of NATO in Brussels and the G7 alliance in Sicily. Talking to reporters this morning, national security adviser H.R. McMaster brushed off questions about Trump’s sharing of classified information with Russian officials, focusing instead on the trip’s purpose to “highlight the need for unity among three of the world’s great religions” and further “an agenda of tolerance.”

But less than two hours after McMaster spoke, the New York Times reported this afternoon that Israel is the ally whose intelligence Trump inappropriately shared with Russian officials. Although Israel would not confirm the report, it would, if true, vindicate the fears of Israeli intelligence officials who warned, even before Trump took office, that intelligence shared with the United States could be leaked to Russia, and potentially passed on to Iran.

Here’s the upshot of all this: Trump’s trip must be canceled. Our national security, our relationships with allies, and the security of the world are at risk due to the president’s erratic behavior and inability to adhere to basic norms of both democracy and diplomacy.

Even for a capable president, Trump’s itinerary would represent an ambitious agenda. In Trump’s hands, though, it’s fraught with the perils of tweets, statements, misstatements, boasts or other inappropriate Trump outbursts that could trigger or intensify geopolitical and religious tensions. Beyond politics, the idea that Trump is capable of promoting even an iota of religious tolerance is almost too absurd to even address.

In short, the trip is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

First, and most crucially, revelations about Trump’s conduct over the past 24 hours have rightly spooked our allies. After yesterday’s blockbuster Post article exposing Trump’s cavalier sharing of classified information with Russian officials, the White House has not taken a single step to reassure them, such as publicly acknowledging Trump’s conduct and promising it won’t happen again.

Instead, the White House’s efforts at damage control have only made matters worse. The White House hasn’t meaningfully denied the story; it has only denied that Trump did anything wrong. Today, after Trump tweeted that he had an “absolute right” to share “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety” with Russian officials, McMaster seemed to acknowledge that the story was indeed true, but that what Trump did was “wholly appropriate.”

But  Trump’s loose lips may have endangered the life of an intelligence source and that person’s family, and it certainly is already damaging our relationships and crucial intelligence-sharing arrangements with allies, according to Stephen Tankel, a defense and national security expert writing at The Post’s Monkey Cage blog.

What’s more, the story is alienating allies. “If it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters, that would be highly worrying,” a senior German lawmaker told the Associated Press. A second European official warned that Trump’s actions may complicate intelligence-sharing with the United States. And by undermining allies’ trust in his ability to keep sensitive information secret, Trump is putting obstacles in the way of the counterterrorism fight. Because Trump is prone to off-the-cuff remarks, even a single misstep during his trip abroad (particularly as he is trying to engage in diplomacy) could further inflame these relationships.

Second, Trump’s justification by tweet this morning — that “I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism” — reveals his utter lack of understanding of who precisely our allies are in the fight against ISIS. (Or, worse, it perhaps reveals a desire to realign those alliances.)

“The idea that Russia is going to be a responsible partner in the future of Syria is belied by years and years of facts on the ground,” Sen. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat, said at a panel at the Center for American Progress this morning. “We have been trying to get the Russians to be a meaningful partner inside Syria, and they end up doing more damage than good.” On his trip abroad, Trump could further alienate Middle Eastern allies simply by continuing to press his view that Russia could be an ally in the fight against ISIS.

Third, McMaster’s own admission to reporters today that “the president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from,” which was intended as a rationale, only demonstrates further why Trump cannot be trusted with any sensitive information, classified or not. And it further proves he’s winging it in nearly every setting, whether it’s Twitter, television interviews or meetings with foreign leaders.

Trump will be winging it during his trip to Israel, too — and in the polarized Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even seemingly small missteps relating to issues like the status of Jerusalem can set off violence. It’s not an exaggeration to say that lives are at stake. On this front, other warning signs of Trump’s lack of preparedness are in full view: Trump’s team has managed, over the past several days, to alarm Israeli officials with bizarre lapses in basic protocol and erratic statements on Trump’s own policy positions, including on the question of whether the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Given Team Trump’s lack of preparedness and expertise in the White House and State Department, it’s not unreasonable to expect that further gaffes of this nature are possible during his trip abroad.

That brings us to the final reason why this trip is quite possibly the most ill-conceived misadventure in the history of American diplomacy. Trump, McMaster told us this morning, will give a speech in Saudi Arabia about Islam and religious tolerance.

It is virtually unfathomable that Trump, whose first months in office have been dominated by his (disguised) effort to keep Muslims out of the United States, could give a speech anywhere in the Muslim world on Islam and have it be well-received. Trump, after all, once told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the Koran teaches “a very negative vibe.”

It’s hard to imagine Trump exercising sufficient self-control to emerge from an eight-day trip overseas without incident. He can barely go 24 hours without incident under normal circumstances. The best way to prevent more Trump damage is to keep him home.