Posted tagged ‘U.S. Congress’

Does Judge Orrick Think President Obama ‘Fundamentally Transformed’ Executive Orders?

April 28, 2017

Does Judge Orrick Think President Obama ‘Fundamentally Transformed’ Executive Orders? PJ MediaAndrew C. McCarthy, April 28, 2017

Protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse where a federal judge will hear arguments in the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities Friday, April 14, 2017, in San Francisco. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick has scheduled a hearing on Friday on San Francisco’s request for a court order blocking the Trump administration from cutting off funds to any of the nation’s so-called sanctuary cities. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

William H. Orrick III is a Democrat campaign bundler and left-wing political activist. He has been known as “Judge Orrick” since 2013, when President Obama managed to get him on the federal bench — with the assistance of Republicans Senators Jeff Flake (Arizona), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Susan Collins (Maine). All other Republicans opposed Orrick’s nomination, except Bob Corker (Tennessee) who failed to vote.

It was as Judge Orrick that the San Francisco-based social justice warrior issued a 49-page decision this week. His decision purported to invalidate President Trump’s executive order (EO) on federal funding for “sanctuary” jurisdictions — cities, counties and other municipal subdivisions that refuse to cooperate in federal immigration-law enforcement.

I say “purported” because Orrick’s screed is a ruling about nothing. The Trump Justice Department had argued that the EO did nothing to alter pre-existing law. Though Orrick tendentiously disputed this construction of the EO, he admitted that his opinion “does nothing more than implement” the Justice Department’s view. He further conceded that his ruling had no effect on the administration’s power to enforce conditions Congress has placed on federal funding (i.e., the very conditions Trump incorporated in the EO by telling his subordinates they could only act “to the extent consistent with law”). Meanwhile, the administration has not endeavored to strip any federal funding from any sanctuary jurisdictions.

So, in effect (or should we say, non-effect?), nothing has happened and nothing has changed. The ruling’s sole achievement is a fleeting star turn for its author. Actually, make that another star turn: In 2015, Judge Orrick thrilled the Democrat-media complex by carrying water for the National Abortion Federation, which wanted an injunction against a whistleblower’s release of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials selling baby parts — oh, sorry, I mean “fetal tissue.”

The ruling is instructive, though, as a measure of how politicized the judiciary has become. Consider the matter of executive orders.

Orrick’s opinion includes the following remarkable passage (at p. 16):

Government counsel explained that the [Executive] Order is an example of the President’s use of the bully pulpit and, even if read narrowly to have no legal effect, serves the purpose of highlighting the President’s focus on immigration enforcement. While the President is entitled to highlight his policy priorities, an Executive Order carries the force of law. Adopting the Government’s proposed reading would transform an Order that purports to create real legal obligations into a mere policy statement[.] [Emphasis added.]

Can it be that, after eight years of Obama’s usurpation of legislative power, judges have forgotten what proper executive orders are?

Contrary to Obama’s practice and Orrick’s apparent belief, executive orders do not carry the force of law — at least not presumptively. They are supposed to be policy statements that give presidential guidance to subordinate executive officials. That is because the president has no unilateral authority to decree law — it is for Congress to write the laws; the executive branch just enforces them.

Now, we have to qualify these principles with caveats like “presumptively” and “unilateral” because there are special situations in which executive orders may have the force of law. These occur when Congress delegates legislative authority to the president — a dubious practice but, alas, a familiar one.

Take, for example, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Under the IEEPA (which is codified in sections 1701 et seq. of Title 50, U.S. Code), the president is empowered to declare a national emergency due to a foreign threat to the United States, and to decree regulations and prohibitions on financial transactions pertinent to the threat, particularly transactions between Americans and hostile foreign powers.

But absent congressional authorization, presidents may not make pronouncements that have the force of law. In general, executive orders do not “create real legal obligations.” They can be said to create duties only in the sense that subordinate officials are supposed to obey directives from a superior. But that is a chain-of-command obligation, not a legal duty. Cabinet secretaries get fired if they defy presidential orders; they do not get prosecuted or sued. Legally, such defiance does not trigger a presidential obligation to terminate a subordinate – the president may fire executive branch officials for any reason, or no reason, for they serve at the president’s pleasure. Consequently, the president’s executive orders do not have the “force of law” even with respect to the subordinate government officials the president is legally authorized to direct. As for the rest of us, the president has no authority to impose legal obligations on us; only Congress may do that.

Judge Orrick seemed mystified by the notion that an executive order could be “a mere policy statement,” or a hortatory rendering of a president’s “policy priorities.” When the Justice Department’s lawyers explained — as if explanation were needed — that these were, in fact, the purposes of the EO, Orrick strangely claimed that Justice was reading the EO “narrowly.” (Apparently, “narrowly” is Ninth Circuit-speak for “accurately.”) Orrick then suggested that this “narrow” reading couldn’t possibly be what was intended by the president — i.e., that there was no way the EO could possibly mean what it says. Why? Because if it was just about announcing policy, the judge theorized, there would be no reason to issue an EO. From this asinine premise, Orrick leapt to the conclusion that Trump must instead be up to something sinister: a sweeping withdrawal of federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions, heedless of any conditions Congress has attached to funding programs.

To the contrary, stating policy preferences and priorities is one of the basic and desirable reasons for issuing executive orders. It is an effective, transparent manner of communicating administration objectives to the executive branch and the public. It is not enough to say that Donald Trump is not the first president to use EOs this way. This is what EOs are for.

How have we gotten to the point where courts presume bad faith from the proper use of executive orders, and simultaneously imply that a normal executive order would have the force of law?

Of course, we are dealing with a “progressive” partisan here, so throw logic out the window. Can there be any doubt that, if Donald Trump were to issue an executive order that actually purported to create legal benefits and duties (like Obama administration directives on immigration did), Judge Orrick would write an equally indignant opinion about how executive orders must not have the force of law?

The irony is that Judge Orrick essentially did what he falsely accused President Trump of doing. Trump did not use his constitutional authority to issue executive orders as a pretext for usurping congressional power; but Orrick did use his constitutional authority to issue judicial opinions as a pretext for usurping executive power.

U.S. Considers Re-Imposing All Sanctions on Iran, Dismantling Nuke Deal

April 19, 2017

U.S. Considers Re-Imposing All Sanctions on Iran, Dismantling Nuke Deal, Washington Free Beacon, , April 19, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during a parade on the occasion of the country’s Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. Photo credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

Obama administration officials, while selling the nuclear deal to Congress, vowed that Iran would roll back its nefarious activities if it received relief from sanctions.

Tillerson informed Congress this has not happened. After receiving billions in cash assets and other economic relief, Iran invested heavily in its military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which continues to meddle in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and a host of other countries.

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The Trump administration is considering re-imposing a massive set of economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama administration as part of the landmark nuclear agreement that gave Tehran billions in economic support, according to U.S. officials who told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran’s military buildup and disregard for international law could prompt U.S. reprisal.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress in a letter sent Tuesday that Iran is complying with requirements for its nuclear program imposed under the nuclear accord. However, Tillerson emphasized that Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Tehran’s malign activities across the Middle East and elsewhere have prompted the Trump administration to place all aspects of the nuclear agreement under critical review, which is viewed by some as a first step to nixing some controversial aspects of the accord, including the massive sanctions relief package.

U.S. officials familiar with the review told the Free Beacon that Iran’s continued support for terrorism has become a sticking point for the Trump administration as it reviews the agreement and the previous administration’s policy toward Iran.

“I think the key is what comes next,” one senior White House official familiar with the interagency review told the Free Beacon. “The question of ongoing sanctions relief will be critical—Iran has already gotten significant economic benefits from the nuclear deal and we need to take a hard look at what Iran is doing with the resources that continue to flow in.”

The Trump administration has been paying close attention to Iran’s ongoing military buildup, including its continued work on ballistic missiles and other offensive weapons aimed at interfering with U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf region.

“Yesterday was the annual Army Day celebration—also known as Death to Israel day—and they paraded some pretty serious new hardware through the streets,” the White House official disclosed. “That has to be a significant concern.”

The White House’s national security apparatus will closely monitor Iran’s behavior as it makes a decision about re-imposing sanctions lifted by the Obama administration.

Tillerson’s emphasis on Iran’s terror operation is “a first step, but we have to remain focused on the threat Tehran poses to America and our allies,” the official said.

Obama administration officials, while selling the nuclear deal to Congress, vowed that Iran would roll back its nefarious activities if it received relief from sanctions.

Tillerson informed Congress this has not happened. After receiving billions in cash assets and other economic relief, Iran invested heavily in its military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which continues to meddle in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and a host of other countries.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson told Congress. “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

“When the interagency review is completed, the administration looks forward to working with Congress on this issue,” Tillerson wrote.

Mission accomplished in Syria

April 12, 2017

Mission accomplished in Syria, Israel Hayom, Clifford D. May. April 12, 2017

(Accomplished or just begun? — DM)

Congress should send Trump the legislation it is now considering, seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran in reprisal for its continuing support of terrorists, its missile tests and its maintenance of more than 35,000 troops in Syria, including its own, those of its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and Shiite fighters recruited from Iraq and Afghanistan. Suspending Iran’s deal with Boeing/Airbus would be useful, too. Only the willfully credulous believe that Iran’s theocrats won’t use such aircraft for illicit military purposes.

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If you’re still unsure about whether U.S. President Donald Trump did the right thing when he launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base last week, consider the alternative.

He knew that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad had yet again used chemical weapons to murder Syrian civilians, women and children prominent among them. He knew that Iran and Russia had enabled this atrocity, as they have many others. He knew he had two choices.

He could shrug, instruct his U.N. ambassador to deliver a tearful speech calling on the “international community” to do something, and then go play a round of golf. Or he could demonstrate that the United States still has the power and the grit to stand up to tyrants and terrorists, thereby beginning to re-establish America’s deterrent capability.

In other words, this was what Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz would call a no-brainer. (Well, loosely translated.) A mission was accomplished. Do harder missions lie ahead? Yes, of course. But I suspect Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have made that abundantly clear to the new president.

We now know for certain that Russia failed to live up to its 2013 commitment to ensure that Assad surrendered all his illegal chemical weapons under the deal it brokered. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acerbically questioned whether that was the result of complicity or incompetence or whether Russia allowed itself to be duped by Assad.

The strike ordered by President Trump was not “unbelievably small” — then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s description of the punishment then-President Barack Obama decided not to impose in response to Assad’s earlier use of chemical weapons. It was big enough to make clear that American diplomats are again carrying big sticks. (For Obama to insist that diplomacy and force are alternatives was patently absurd.)

Conveniently, Trump was dining with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the strikes occurred. It’s fair to speculate that Xi is today thinking harder about American requests to rein in Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator whose drive to acquire nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the American mainland has become what Tillerson called an “imminent” threat.

Having passed his first major national security test, Trump is now obliged to demonstrate firmness and consistency. What plans might the Pentagon have on the shelf to respond to further provocations? The next round of Tomahawk missiles could permanently ground Assad’s air force. That would make it easier to then establish no-fly zones. If such measures do not alter the calculations of Assad and his Iranian and Russian patrons, consideration could be given to leveling his defense, intelligence and command-and-control centers as well.

Another idea under discussion: setting up safe havens, or, to use a better term, “self-protection zones,” for those fleeing the Syrian regime and various jihadist forces, Sunni and Shiite alike. Israel and Jordan could help the inhabitants of such areas adjacent to their borders defend themselves. The Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis could contribute to the cost. Might this lead to the partition of Syria? Most likely, but it’s difficult to imagine a “political solution” that would not include such readjustments.

All this, while useful and perhaps even necessary, should be seen as insufficient. Syria is a major humanitarian catastrophe but only one piece in a much larger geopolitical puzzle. Sooner rather than later, the Trump administration needs to develop what Obama refused to contemplate: a comprehensive and coherent strategy to counter the belligerent, imperialist and supremacist forces that have emerged from the Middle East and are now spreading like weeds around the world.

The Islamic State group will of course need to be driven off the lands on which it has attempted to establish a caliphate. After that, its terrorists will have to be hunted, along with those of al-Qaida, wherever they hide (e.g., Egypt where, over the weekend, they bombed two Coptic Christian churches).

But — and this is crucial — accomplishing these missions must not serve to further empower Iran’s jihadist rulers, who dream of establishing an expanding imamate, the Shiite version of a caliphate.

Most immediately, Congress should send Trump the legislation it is now considering, seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran in reprisal for its continuing support of terrorists, its missile tests and its maintenance of more than 35,000 troops in Syria, including its own, those of its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and Shiite fighters recruited from Iraq and Afghanistan. Suspending Iran’s deal with Boeing/Airbus would be useful, too. Only the willfully credulous believe that Iran’s theocrats won’t use such aircraft for illicit military purposes.

That the United States cannot solve all the world’s problems was one of Trump’s campaign themes. But the implication is not necessarily, as some of his supporters hoped, that he would turn a blind eye to all atrocities and threats not already within America’s borders.

In the last century, most Americans recognized, in some cases with enormous reluctance, that there was no good alternative to doing whatever was necessary to rout the Nazis and communists, enemies whose goal was to kill off the democratic experiment.

In this century, jihadists and Islamists harbor the same ambition. We can attempt to appease them. We can try to make ourselves inoffensive to them. We can keep our hand extended, hoping that in time they will unclench their fists. Or we can decide instead to plan for a long war that will end with the defeat of these latest enemies of America and the rest of the civilized world. If Trump has grasped that within his first 100 days, he’s not off to such a bad start.

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?

April 5, 2017

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, April 5, 2017

The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

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Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Timesreported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

Obama Did Wiretap Trump: It’s Like Putting Together a Russian Nesting Doll

March 26, 2017

Obama Did Wiretap Trump: It’s Like Putting Together a Russian Nesting Doll, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, March 26, 2017

(Please see also, We Need an Independent Investigation of the Trump Leaks Mystery Now. — DM)

No matter how many dolls are hidden in the nest — Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch — it is undeniable that they all fit under the big one — Obama. It was he who authorized the surveillance and multiagency distribution of intelligence — in Bob Woodward’s reading, “highly classified gossip” — about political opponent Trump and his team — invading their privacy in violation of the law. If you were inclined to want Americans to lose faith in their intelligence community and media you couldn’t have done a better job than they did themselves. The Russians didn’t have to do a thing.

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Matryoshkas are Russian nesting dolls. Inside each doll are several others, smaller but identically shaped characters, until you get to the smallest one inside. Studying what we have learned of the timeline — and we still don’t have the entire story — we see Wikileaks, the smallest, at the core, and Obama as the largest piece in what is the most historically outrageous misuse of the people and institutions of government for partisan advantage.

Wikileaks

During the campaign, Wikileaks posted a number of email messages from the DNC — largely Podesta, but Hillary as well. The communications (not well reported, but, in any event, more embarrassing tittle tattle) had been on unsecured accounts, poorly guarded and easily accessed because of carelessness on the part of the Hillary team. Assange, who published them, denied the source of this information was Russian hackers. This now has been confirmed by the heads of our intelligence community, but the Clinton camp claim that the Russians did it set the stage for the notion that her opponent was the favored candidate of the Russians.

Apart from the fact that our intelligence services have denied the claim, there are a number of reasons to believe that the Russians would have preferred Hillary to Trump. For one thing, Russia is in terrible financial shape and relies on its sales of oil and gas to Europe to stay afloat. Is it sensible to believe that the Russians would prefer Trump, who made clear he wanted to vastly increase U.S. oil and gas production, over Hillary, who gave every indication of keeping it down and the worldwide price of oil and gas higher? (I can’t imagine — for the same reason — that Iran and OPEC wouldn’t prefer her as well.) Why you do suppose the Russians have been funding “green” groups in Europe — and possibly here — who oppose fracking?

Secondly, for eight years Russian businesses and businessmen closely aligned with Putin pumped millions into the Clinton Foundation slush fund, paid her husband a half-million dollars for a single speech, and got in return a substantial portion of our uranium assets when, as Secretary of State, Hillary okayed their purchase. Finally, John Podesta, chair of Hillary’s presidential campaign wasclosely aligned with Russian interests. His brother was hired by the Russians to lobby for the uranium sale. He was on the board of a company closely aligned with Putin.

As the crack investigative reporter Richard Pollock notes:

John Podesta, national chairman of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, may have opened himself up to a Russian “influence campaign” designed to temper his views of the Kremlin, The Daily Caller News Foundation (TheDCNF) Investigative Group has learned.

Influence campaigns are conducted by many governments — including the United States — with the aim of influencing decision makers in other countries to realign their geopolitical worldviews more closely to the influencing country.

Some national security experts interviewed by The DCNF wonder if Podesta may still be a target of Russian influence. They trace the campaign back to his company board membership, in which one-third of the board were top Russian businessmen with direct ties to the Kremlin.

The last time Podesta talked negatively about Russia was Dec. 18, 2016, when he charged in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview the 2016 election was “distorted by the Russian intervention.”

The former Clinton national campaign chairman has since been silent, even as other former top Clinton aides, such as Robby Mook, Brian Fallon and Jim Margolis have repeatedly aimed high-decibel rhetoric at President Donald Trump about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential race.

[snip]

Podesta’s silence is particularly striking, according to retired Air Force Col. James Waurishuk.

“We haven’t heard very much from Podesta lately, particularly on the subject of Russia’s interference in the elections,” Waurishuk told the DCNF. He served on the National Security Council and worked on “information operations” for military intelligence.

The suggestion is that he’s staying out of it because the Russians want this chatter about their influence silenced.

In any event, Russia has now been cleared of the claim, yet in the recesses of the dimmer voters’ minds the charge remains a cogent explanation of why their candidate lost the election.

The National Security Agency and the FISA

The NSA engages in global monitoring for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. It does by passive means (signals Intelligence) and active means like physically bugging systems and through subversive software. It assists and coordinates SIGINT elements at other government organization like the DIA.

Domestic communications can be intercepted under two circumstances: in the first instance to protect us against sabotage or international terrorism or sabotage. In such a case, when authorized by the president through the attorney general, it can be done without a court order provided that it is for only one year and only to acquire foreign intelligence information and there is real likelihood that a U.S. person is a party to the communication. Even then it must be done in such a way to minimize the impact on the U.S. person. The attorney general must report such surveillance under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and report their compliance to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Surveillance can also be done on a court order from FISA when the attorney general persuades the court that there is probable cause (i.e. a reasonable suspicion) that the target is a “foreign power” or an “agent of a foreign power” and the minimization requirements for information pertaining to U.S. persons will be followed. Such orders may be approved for 90 days,120 days, or a year.

FISA court authorization is almost always granted. Reliable reports indicate that the Obama administration sought authorization in July of last year when Trump appeared a likely opponent (the application is still secret) and it was denied. These reports also state that a pared-down application was sought in October and granted by the court. We have no idea on what basis the Department of Justice sought these warrants nor who the purported target was.

From the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, we learned this week that Trump team’s conversations were caught in the surveillance, that for over nine months this was never reported to his committee. Moreover, it is public knowledge that three days before the inauguration in January, for no legitimate purpose, President Obama authorized wide distribution of the surveillance reports to 16 other agencies, the names of U.S. persons involved in the conversations were not redacted, the contents were of no intelligence value and they were widely leaked — a perfectly predictable consequence of spreading the raw data so widely in contrast to normal redaction and dissemination patterns. Suspicious minds like mine think may well be to further hamper the incoming administration by leaks designed to embarrass members of his team. Nunes also reported the post-election spying “had nothing to do with Russia.”  By January 20, for example, the New York Times reported that Trump had been wiretapped.

We learned this week from Nunes’ work that the investigation is continuing.

On his own Mike Rogers, head of NSA, met privately with Trump shortly after the inauguration. We have no details of their discussion, but my guess is he told him what had happened and how. At the moment, Rogers appears to be the sole white hat in our intelligence network. But he may not be the only one, which, I think, would mean a number of former Obama officials have to be looking for lawyers.

Tom Lipscomb, a former reporter and online friend, thinks the white hats in the intelligence community fed the truth about the wiretapping directly to Trump so he could weed out from their ranks the Obama confederates. Like him, I think the Trump tweet that he was wiretapped was smart. He’s giving “fair warning to what is coming,” and the claims that Trump was engaged in some “crazy conspiracy” are evaporating just as had the earlier nonsense that he and the Russians were conspiring via Wikileaks.

Christopher Steele and John McCain

Christopher Steele is a former British intelligence agent of dubious character and credibility. He had been hired early by the Clinton camp to dig up dirt on Trump. When Hillary ended that agreement, unnamed Republicans engaged him to continue, and when they stopped paying him, the FBI — for as yet unexplained reasons — took him up. His “dossier” is preposterous, based on accounts to his aides from unnamed and thus unverifiable sources. In the rare instance when they provide recognizable details, they have been proven false. As incredible as the “dossier” was, it was used to tar Trump with salacious nonsense and to further encourage the ridiculous notion that he and his team were Russian agents.

There are three different versions of how John McCain, a bitter #NeverTrumper always seeking media cuddles and enamored by globalization, came to get the dossier — he says, in December.  In one version, he got it from a member of the McCain Institute, in other published accounts he dispatched someone abroad to get it, and in a third he first heard of it from a former British ambassador while at a meeting in Halifax. That he’s offered various tales in itself suggests some dissembling on his part. Nevertheless, he concedes he widely distributed the scurrilous dossier to the media and members of Congress. He was either a useful dupe of those determined to bring down Trump or a willing partner of theirs. Right now, he’s flailing about abroad, attacking the president and moaning that Trump hasn’t yet met with him.

The Media

John Nolte, writing for the Daily Caller, highlights how it is apparent that the media knew of the spying operation and later covered it up:

“Of course the media knew what the Obama administration had done. First off, when they thought the news would hurt Trump, the national media publicly reported on the fact that the Obama administration had spied on Team Trump. It was only after that knowledge became a liability for Precious Barry that the media pretended otherwise. In other words, they LIED.”

Jim Geraghty at National Review cites a specific example of the media-leaker waltz:

On January 12, the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote:

According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. Was its spirit violated? The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is a leak of classified information. Michael Flynn was not, as far as we know, a target of any U.S. government surveillance. He was one of the figures whose conversations was “incidentally” recorded, presumably as part of the regular monitoring of Kislyak.

People within the U.S. government are not supposed to take the information that is incidentally recorded and then run to David Ignatius because they don’t like the American citizen who was recorded. That’s not the purpose of our domestic counterintelligence operations. Even if Flynn had violated the Logan Act — which, as we all know, no one has never been prosecuted for violating — there are legitimate avenues for dealing with that, namely going to law enforcement and a prosecutor.

(Invoking the Logan Act in this circumstance is particularly nonsensical, because the interpretation Ignatius floats would criminalize just about any discussion between a presidential candidate, a president-elect or his team and any representative of a foreign government on any matter of importance. If you ask a foreign official if his country would make a concession on Issue X in exchange for a U.S. concession on Issue Y, BOOM! Call out the SWAT teams, we’ve got a Logan Act violation!)

There are a lot of reasons not to like Michael Flynn, but that doesn’t change the fact that somebody broke the law and leaked classified information in an effort to get him in trouble. That is wrong and that is illegal, and Nunes is right to point out we’re going down a dangerous road when information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies about American citizens starts getting strategically leaked for partisan purposes.

No matter how many dolls are hidden in the nest — Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch — it is undeniable that they all fit under the big one — Obama. It was he who authorized the surveillance and multiagency distribution of intelligence — in Bob Woodward’s reading, “highly classified gossip” — about political opponent Trump and his team — invading their privacy in violation of the law. If you were inclined to want Americans to lose faith in their intelligence community and media you couldn’t have done a better job than they did themselves. The Russians didn’t have to do a thing.

WATCH: Devin Nunes Confirms Surevillance Of Trump Transition team – FULL PRESS CONFERENCE

March 24, 2017

WATCH: Devin Nunes Confirms Surevillance Of Trump Transition team – FULL PRESS CONFERENCE via YouTube, March 22, 2017

(Please see also, Will Smoking Gun Documents Vindicate Trump? –DM)

Reports On Creation Of Muslim Brotherhood Lobby In U.S. To Prevent Trump Administration From Designating The Movement A Terrorist Organization

March 17, 2017

Reports On Creation Of Muslim Brotherhood Lobby In U.S. To Prevent Trump Administration From Designating The Movement A Terrorist Organization, MEMRI, March 16, 2017

(As I understand the Muslim Terrorist Designation Act, passage would impair CAIR and other Islamist organizations in America previously supported by the Obama administration and its “countering violent extremism” program. That would be a good thing. — DM)

Introduction

Following Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency, the issue of designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a terrorist organization resurfaced. During and after his presidential campaign, Trump’s Middle East advisor Walid Phares repeatedly stated that the new president would act for the passage of a bill doing so. For example, following Trump’s September 2016 meeting with Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Phares told the Egyptian daily Al-Watan that Trump had promised Al-Sisi that he would promote a bill that is already before Congress that designates the MB a terrorist organization.[1] After the election, Phares reiterated these remarks to the press.[2]

It should be mentioned that in November 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) announced that they had introduced a bill designating the MB a terrorist organization.[3] In January 2017, Cruz tweeted that he and Diaz-Balart had reintroduced the bill on this matter: “Proud to introduce Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act w @MarioDB [Mario Diaz-Balart]. It’s time to call the enemy by its name.”[4]

Ted Cruz’s tweet

In light of this bill, and in light of statements by Trump administration officials about its intent to promote it, the MB began preparations to confront the bill and prevent its passage. Launching a widespread informational media campaign, including the hiring of U.S. lobbying and legal firms, outreach to the press in the U.S., and dissemination of informational content aimed at improving its image in the West, particularly in the U.S., the MB attempted to convey that it is not a terrorist organization, but rather an ideological movement whose methods of operation are peaceful.

On the other hand, the Egyptian regime has been working to persuade the new U.S. administration that the MB is indeed a terrorist organization, as well as an umbrella organization for other terrorist outfits. In addition it was reported that Egyptian intelligence too had hired an American lobbying firm to improve the image of the Egyptian regime in the U.S.[5] Egyptian parliamentary representatives met in January 2017 with U.S. members of Congress to impress upon them the necessity of designating the MB as terrorist. Another visit by an Egyptian parliamentary delegation was scheduled for January but has apparently been postponed to April. Additionally, the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, which is close to the regime, has in recent weeks been criticizing Western media, particularly The New York Times, for providing a platform for the promotion of MB ideas. The Egyptian press in general expressed criticism of the regime for failing to sufficiently counter the MB’s media campaign.

This report will review MB media efforts to counter U.S. legislative and legal moves to designate it a terrorist organization, efforts by the Egyptian regime and official media to prove that it does indeed engage in terrorism, and claims by Egyptian writers that the regime is not doing enough to combat the MB’s campaign in the West.

MB Works To Create U.S. Lobby

In fact, already in November 2016, immediately after Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections, the movement began preparing to counter U.S. moves to designate it terrorist. The Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies, which belongs to the MB and operates from Turkey under the directorship of Amr Darrag, who served as minister of planning and international cooperation in the administration of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, published a document by Dr. Badr Shafi’i on November 26 with recommendations for the movement on how to deal with America’s intent to promote a terrorist designation of the MB. The recommendations include: Appointing elements within the movement to supervise these steps and make contact with experts on international relations; contacting politicians, clerics, and countries that could sympathize with the MB in order to improve its image in Congress; establishing a legal-media team and hold ties with members of Congress; hiring a U.S. law firm and public relations teams; and establishing a substantial Islamic lobby in the U.S., while strengthening ties with movements opposing Trump’s policy.[6]

Recommendations published by the Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies (Eipss-eg.org, November 2016)

In January and March 2017, the institute published two more documents by Shafi’i that also dealt with this issue, in which he reiterated his recommendations.[7]

In addition, in recent months, the Arab press in general, and the Egyptian press in particular, reported on MB efforts to prevent the Trump administration from listing it as a terrorist organization. Thus, for example, MB sources outside of Egypt told the daily Al-Shurouq that the global MB organization was conducting widespread activity to this end. According to these sources, the movement was being assisted by the governments of Turkey, Tunisia, and Morocco, and by the governments of countries where the MB has substantial parliamentary blocs such as Kuwait, Jordan, and Algeria. The sources also disclosed that the movement’s steps, not only in Egypt but in 82 countries around the world, as well as its contacts with members of Congress and senior U.S. writers and civil society organizations, are meant to prevent the decision.[8]

Evidence of these moves could be seen in comments by London-based MB official Mohamed Soudan, who said in late January that MB elements were speaking to American politicians, State Department officials, members of Congress, and academics, in order to explain the nonviolent history of the movement since its establishment in 1928.[9]

In other statements to the media, Soudan said that most of the MB’s contacts in the U.S. were done via a public relations firm, and added: “We will defend our history and the movement’s future with all possible legitimate and legal means.” According to him, the MB will not sit idly by but rather operate on all fronts and conduct meetings with all American parties in order to prevent a U.S. decision designating it a terrorist organization.[10]

On February 5, the Saudi website Elaph reported that the MB had signed a contract with an American lobbying firm, paying it $4.8 million to help it establish ties with Trump administration officials in order to improve its image in U.S. media. According to the report, the contract included organizing meetings with Trump administration officials, submitting documents on Egyptian government mistreatment of the movement and its members, publishing articles in American media, and providing platforms for movement officials in American print and TV media. Elaph added that elements close to the Obama administration had helped the movement sign the contract with this firm, whose officials include figures close to Obama’s election campaign  and to Hillary Clinton. According to Elaph, the firm employs dozens of former White House and State Department staffers who have extensive ties to members of Congress and political and strategic research centers in the U.S.[11]

Furthermore, former MB official Tareq Abu Al-Sa’ad claimed that as part of its efforts to improve its image in the U.S., the movement relies on specific American families who are members of the MB and have close ties to the U.S. administration. He mentioned a family which he said has ties to American officials and research institutes, as well as other MB officials that are expected to contact human rights organizations to help improve its image in Washington.[12]

One example of the MB’s efforts on this front is a New York Times article by Gehad Al-Haddad, a former Egyptian MB spokesman who was arrested in 2013 and is currently incarcerated in Tora Prison in Egypt. Gehad is the son of Essam Al-Haddad, an aide to former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.[13] In the February 22 article, titled “I Am a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Not a Terrorist,” Al-Haddad rejected claims that the MB was a terrorist organization, stating that its ideology stems from the Islamic interpretation based on social justice, equality, and rule of law. He stressed that despite the Egyptian regime’s hostility, the movement always fought for the weak in society and that it believes in democracy and pluralism, adding that during the Mubarak era, it even worked together with democratic movements to prevent him from bequeathing the presidency to his son Gamal. He added that the MB opposes violence and has always operated peacefully, and that violent movements that are said to have grown out of the MB actually left the movement because it could not accept their violent methods.[14] Elements close to the movement said it had chosen Gehad Al-Haddad to pen the article because he had held close ties with U.S. officials during Morsi’s presidency.[15]

Al-Haddad’s New York Times article (New York Times, February 22, 2017)

Another New York Times article on February 20, by Declan Walsh, argued that a terror listing for the MB, which has millions of followers, could have negative consequences, especially for countries where MB-linked parties are in power or are prominent in Parliament, with serious implications for domestic politics, American diplomacy and the broader fight against Islamist extremism.  It stated further that marginalizing this movement could mean discouraging some of its moderate branches that have won wide praise for their democratic engagement, while empowering jihadist groups. Moreover, the proposed designation would reaffirm Trump’s embrace of Egyptian President Al-Sisi, who has faced severe international criticism for Egypt’s dismal human rights record in recent years and its ruthless persecution of the MB.

It should be mentioned that on February 23, Al-Masri Al-Yawm quoted Mohamed Soudan as saying that the MB had managed to convince Congress to not designate it a terrorist organization. The report quoted Soudan as saying that the global MB organization had managed to hold contacts with administration and Congress officials and had used documents to convince them that the MB was not and would never be involved in terrorist attacks, and that it routinely issues condemnations for attacks that take place in most countries of the world.”[16] However, the following day Soudan denied the statements attributed to him by Al-Masri Al-Yawm, and posted an article from the Egyptian daily Al-Misriyyoun on his Facebook page with the comment: “I know nothing of this statement and these comments, and I don’t know where they (Al-Masri Al-Yawm) got this fiction.”[17]

Al-Sisi Regime Responds To MB Media Campaign

The Egyptian regime does not seem to working as intensively to promote the U.S. Congressional bill to designate the MB terrorist as the MB is to prevent such a designation. In January 2017, Mohamed Al-‘Orabi, former Egyptian foreign minister and current member of the Egyptian parliament’s foreign relations committee, and Ahmed Al-Fadaly, head of the Independent Party Current, attended President Trump’s inauguration, and also met with members of Congress and administration officials. They presented President Trump with a memo demanding quick action to designate the MB as terrorist. Al-‘Orabi said during the visit that the Egyptian parliament would soon launch a widespread campaign to advance this issue.[18]

However, besides this visit, and MP statements about their intentions to act on the matter, no actual measures are reported to have been taken to promote the U.S. Congress’s anti-MB bill.

In mid-January 2017, it was reported that a delegation on behalf of the Egyptian parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee would travel to the U.S. later that month to meet with members of Congress and deliver a report on “the MB’s violent and terrorist acts.” Tarek Radwan, a representative of the committee, said that attempts were being made to arrange a meeting between the delegation and Sen. Cruz and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.[19] The visit, however, apparently never took place. On March 6, it was reported that delegation would visit the U.S. in April.[20]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, asked by the daily Al-Watan whether he had discussed the designation of the MB as terrorist during his late February 2017 visit to the U.S., responded: “I did not address this matter, but I told [U.S. officials] that it was important to note that the MB provides the philosophical and religious basis for radical ideology, and that we cannot combat terrorism [solely] by designating [organizations] in different ways, since all terrorist organizations are interconnected. Thus, [for example] even if ISIS is eliminated, new groups will continue to spring up as long as the source of radical ideology exists.” Shoukry added that the U.S. officials had grasped his point, that he was following the efforts of several members of Congress on the issue, and that the issue remains controversial.[21]

Egyptian Daily: New York Times Supports Terrorism, Slandered Egypt

In contrast to Egyptian officials, the daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, which is close to Egyptian authorities and intelligence apparatuses, dealt extensively with the issue of designating the MB as terrorist, publishing a number of articles attacking the organization. It also criticized the U.S. media, particularly The New York Times, stating that it was enabling MB terrorism. On February 23, the day after The Times published Gehad Al-Haddad’s op-ed, Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ published an article titled “New York Times Supports MB Terrorism, Publishes Article by Gehad Al-Haddad…”[22] On February 24, it published an article titled “Questionable MB Plot to Slander Egypt in Western Media… Islamist [elements]: Organization Spending Millions of Dollars to Spread Its Poison.”[23]

On March 2, Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ published an article headlined “New Disgrace for New York Times: Paper Refuses to Publish Article Proving MB Terrorism; [Egyptian-American journalist and researcher] Michael Morgan after His Article Was Rejected for Publication…: ‘The Paper Has Become an [MB] Movement Platform and the U.S. Will Pay the Price.”[24]

Another Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’  article, published March 12, stated: “Since the onset of the June 30 [2013] revolution that ousted the MB regime, The New York Times has specialized in improving the MB’s image and slandering Egypt.” It quoted Islamic affairs expert Ahmed ‘Atta as saying that the MB International Organization secretary-general Ibrahim Munir Mustafa had paid global media outlets, chiefly the Times, $50 million to continue its attacks on Donald Trump because of Trump’s anti-MB stance.[25]

Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ February 24 article attacking the New York Times

Egyptian Journalists To Al-Sisi Regime: Be More Decisive In Countering MB Media Campaign

Several Egyptian writers criticized the regime’s inertia in the face of the MB’s media campaign. On February 22, Al-Ahram columnist Ahmed ‘Abd Al-Tawab wrote that the MB’s media campaign shows that the movement fears being designated a terrorist organization. He wrote that it is “Egypt’s responsibility” in this matter, “due to its decades-long experience with MB crimes, to provide the Trump administration with information and historical and current evidence that will help it combat the movement on the legal, political, and cultural levels, in accordance with the human rights [principles] that the MB endangers…”[26]

Al-Ahram writer Muhammad Salmawi also wrote of the need for Egypt to step up its activity vis-à-vis the U.S. on the MB issue. In an article titled “The Voice of the MB – and Our Silence,” Salmawi wrote of his surprise  at Egypt’s feeble reaction to Gehad Al-Haddad’s New York Times article. The MB, he said, realizes that the way to influence American society is through public relations and lobbying firms, and the Egyptian regime needs to do likewise: “Those who follow the American press at this time cannot help but notice the intense campaign to improve the MB’s image and cleanse them of any blood spilled now or in the past in the name of Islam. This campaign has a specific goal – to stop the Trump administration from designating the movement a terrorist organization, thus fulfilling one of [Trump’s] campaign promises. To this end, the campaign twists facts with reckless abandon, made possible by the absence of an opposing viewpoint that could have corrected the erroneous information and responded to [the MB’s] notorious lies. How much longer will we remain silent in light of a campaign that has raised its voice and spread throughout the American media since the onset of the June 30, 2013 revolution?

“Last week I read the article by the former official MB spokesman [Gehad Al-Haddad], penned from his Egyptian prison cell and published by The New York Times. I was surprised that some of the few [Egyptian writers] who addressed this matter settled for pondering how such a message was smuggled out of prison in Egypt… The problem is not how it was leaked, but how we could not deliver a similar message [in Western media]…

“How easy it is to criticize security measures that allow messages to be smuggled out of Egyptian prisons and given to newspaper offices… in New York. How easy it is to step up measures against all the prisoners [as a result]. But the MB continues to be heard in the American press – while our position cannot be found in the international arena…

“First, we must examine how the other side managed to gain such a noticeable presence in Western media – and such an examination is not difficult. The ongoing publication of pro-MB positions in Western media, and [this media’s]  disregard for the Egyptian popular will, stems not from some global plot against us or global sympathy with the mother movement that birthed all the groups that accuse others of heresy – but mostly from [the MB’s] accurate grasp of how to operate vis-à-vis American social institutions, and of the active role played by large PR firms in society – whether in the press, the media, in Congress, or elsewhere…

“The way to actively operate in the U.S. is by arriving at an understanding with these large institutions – whether during a presidential or congressional campaign, or in the fight to influence decision-making circles by means of the press and media, or by means of members of Congress. Such a campaign is undoubtedly costly, but losing is costlier still…”

Salmawi, who is known for his antisemitic views,[27] added: “The Jewish lobby in the U.S. has already understood the power of the PR institutions and the influence they wield over American society on all levels. Using this and other methods, they control the political decision[-makers] in the U.S. The MB and the other international elements that fund them have [also] understood this. Is it not time for us to understand what our enemies already have?!”[28]

* C. Meital is a research fellow at MEMRI; H. Varulkar is Director of Research at MEMRI.

 

[1] Al-Watan (Egypt), September 20, 2016.

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 11, 2016.

[3] Cruz.senate.gov, November 4, 2015.

[4] Twitter.com/SenTedCruz, January 10, 2017.

[5] Rassd.com, March 5, 2017.

[6] Eipss-eg.org, November 26, 2016.

[7] Eipss-eg.org, January 28, March 3, 2017.

[8] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), February 8, 2017.

[9] Aa.com.tr, January 31, 2017.

[10] Elaph.com, February 5, 2017; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 23, 2017.

[11] Elaph.com, February 5, 2017. Elements in Egypt affirmed the reports about the MB’s efforts to form a lobby. Gamal Al-Minshawi, an Islamic affairs researcher and former official in Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, told the daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ that the MB pays millions of dollars to foreign newspapers and news sites for positive coverage. Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017.

[12] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 17, 2017.

[13] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017. It should be mentioned that in 2007-2012 Al-Haddad was director of the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative in Egypt. Washingtontimes.com , September 18, 2013.

[14] New York Times (U.S.), February 22, 2017.

[15] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017. It should be mentioned that after Al-Haddad’s article was published, a website close to the MB reported that Egyptian prison authorities had penalized him by placing him in solitary confinement. Rassd.com, February 27, 2017. MB associates also said that Al-Haddad and other MB prisoners manage to smuggle writings out of prison with the help of their lawyers, but an Egyptian security source said that Al-Haddad did not pen the article himself, and that smuggling such writings out of prison was impossible. Al-Watan (Egypt), February 23, 2017; Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017.

[16] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 23, 2017.

[17] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), February 24, 2017; Facebook.com/FreedomJusticeFrMohamedSoudan, February 25, 2017.

[18] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), January 20, 2017; Al-Watan (Egypt), January 22, 2017.

[19] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), January 12, 2017.

[20] Motamemservice.com, March 6, 2017.

[21] Al-Watan (Egypt), March 10, 2017.            `

[22] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 23, 2017.

[23] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017.

[24] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), March 2, 2017. Michael Morgan is an Egyptian-American researcher at the London Center for Policy Research, who promotes the designation of the MB as a terrorist organization.

[25] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), March 12, 2017.

[26] Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 22, 2017.

[27] In an article he published in the French-language Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Hebdo, titled “Look for the Jews,” Salmawi criticized  the French law criminalizing antisemitism and Holocaust denial, stating that it does not forbid denying crimes against humanity but only crimes against six million Jews who “allegedly” suffered a holocaust during World War II. He also wrote that whoever wants to understand the connection between the Monica Lewinsky affair in the U.S., the trial against “French thinker” Roger Garaudy (who was convicted in 1998 of Holocaust denial) and the barring of Holocaust denier David Irving from several countries needs to “look for the Jews.” Al-Ahram Hebdo, Egypt, February 4-10, 1998.

[28] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 5, 2017.