Is the Abedin/Weiner Laptop the Last of It?

Abedin and Clinton at the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa, November 15, 2016. (Reuters photo: Jim Young)

Abedin and Clinton at the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa, November 15, 2016. (Reuters photo: Jim Young)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, November 3, 2016:

A nagging question has been lost amid the tempest over the FBI’s revival of the Clinton e-mails investigation. As everyone knows, the file has been reopened because of a trove of e-mails found on a laptop shared by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. What we don’t know, however, is: Why has the FBI only recently learned about a computer used by Ms. Abedin?

Remember, Abedin is said to have cooperated in the Clinton e-mails investigation and sat for a lengthy interview with FBI agents. The agents asked her about her e-mail practices. Assuming they asked basic questions, as agents are trained to do, they would have methodically itemized the computers and e-mail accounts she used. Yet, the Abedin/Weiner computer, which is said to contain 650,000 e-mails (an unknown number of which are relevant to the Clinton investigation), was not acquired by the bureau in connection with the Clinton investigation. It was seized in an unrelated investigation of Weiner, reportedly involving his alleged “sexting” with a teenage minor.

Why did the FBI agents on the Clinton e-mails investigation fail to acquire and search this computer months earlier? The question becomes more pressing in light of the Washington Examiner’s report that the FBI failed to ask not only Abedin but other Clinton aides to surrender their computers, smartphones, or other communications devices.

Now, there could be a good explanation, at least in connection with some Clinton aides. If, after a reasonably thorough investigation, the FBI had found no indication that potentially classified information was transmitted or stored on a particular device, there’d be no need to seize it. Let’s say X is a Clinton staffer. Let’s also say the FBI finds that X appears only to have used her government e-mail account for official business; that X did not have an account on the clintonemail.com domain; that whenever Clinton or other government officials e-mailed X, they addressed the e-mail to X’s state.gov account; and that X was cooperative when interviewed and convincingly said she never used her private e-mail for government business. Under those circumstances, it would be reasonable not to ask for the surrender of X’s private cellphone or computers.

Let’s now consider, though, the case we actually have. Several Clinton staffers appear to have sent and received e-mails about government business on private devices and private e-mail accounts. A number of those e-mail exchanges involved classified intelligence. It seems like a no-brainer to me that these devices should have been seized and searched.

Why was this not done? There are at least four reasons, none of them good.

First, the Obama Justice Department under Loretta Lynch denied the FBI’s Clinton e-mails investigators access to the grand jury. The grand jury’s power to compel production of evidence and testimony is the source of much of the FBI’s power to convince people to be cooperative. Defanged by DOJ, investigators were forced to negotiate and cajole when they should have been able to demand. That makes it much harder to investigate. It undoubtedly drummed into the agents the message that they should not press too many requests for the voluntary surrender of items the owners would not want to part with — and no one wants to give up personal laptops and smartphones. If a request made by an agent was denied, the agent could have no confidence that the Justice Department would back him.

Second, the Good Ship Clinton overflows with lawyers. It is also very close to the Obama Justice Department (many Obama-administration lawyers were once Clinton-administration lawyers). Lawyers know that the FBI worries about being accused of violating attorney-client privileged communications. They also know that the Obama Justice Department is indulgent of extravagant claims about what the attorney-client privilege shields from disclosure. Lawyers’ devices are thus a big hassle for agents, and they no doubt shy away from asking for them unless it’s patently necessary (as it was, for example, with the laptops of Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, since those computers were used to store and vet all of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails). And when you start shying away from seeking access to the computers of important subjects (such as Mills) because you don’t want to deal with lawyer complications, it becomes much easier to rationalize not seeking the devices of other subjects. Once it is established by habit that obtaining computers is not a priority, you stop asking.

Third, it’s never good to compartmentalize an investigation. In this case, the classified e-mails investigation has apparently been severed from the Clinton Foundation investigation, as if they were completely separate and unrelated. When obviously related matters are joined together, there is a broader basis to demonstrate probable cause that evidentiary items, such as computers, are relevant and should be seized. But that advantage is lost when what should be one investigation is divided into two or more. If you are an agent investigating the classified e-mails case, you are not going to make efforts to acquire a computer that might be very relevant to the Clinton Foundation investigation but only marginally tied to the classified-information probe. When an investigation is artificially carved up, agents do not see the big picture: Things that ought to be acquired end up falling through the cracks.

Fourth and finally, there is the enervating effect of working on an investigation that agents strongly suspect is not going to result in charges. Even as the agents on the classified-information investigation gradually assembled compelling evidence, they had to know that the president and the Justice Department were very unenthusiastic about the case. President Obama talked the investigation down, going out of his way to say Mrs. Clinton would never do anything to harm national security. Justice Department officials leaked the same message to the press.

Put yourself in the shoes of FBI agents who witness things they’ve never seen before: subjects of the investigation given immunity from prosecution and then allowed to appear as lawyers for other subjects; Justice Department lawyers more accommodating of defense lawyers than of FBI agents; witnesses who lie to the FBI given immunity rather than being arrested and squeezed for cooperation. The agents see the handwriting on the wall that their hard work is going to come to nothing. An agent no doubt asks himself: “Why should I push to acquire this computer? If DOJ wanted me to have it, they’d let me subpoena it; if they wanted to make the case, some of these suspects would already be in cuffs.”

This is an understandable attitude, but it’s not an acceptable one. The FBI is not just the nation’s premier investigative agency; it is also our domestic-security service. Wholly apart from whether a computer contains evidence that can be used to prosecute a case, that computer has become a threat to national security if — as a private device that is not hardened against espionage and operates on networks that are not hardened against espionage — it is likely to contain classified information. Even if no one is indicted, the hacking or dissemination of the intelligence on the computer could damage national security.

The reports of the FBI’s investigation that have been made public indicate that there could be dozens of computers and other communications devices which may be storing classified information, but which the FBI has neither seized nor made plans to try to obtain. If that is true, it is inexplicable. That the Justice Department and senior FBI officials have adopted a theory that undermines prosecution of crimes involving mishandling of intelligence is beside the point.

It also raises another question: Is the Abedin/Weiner laptop the last one? Or will late discoveries continue to rock Camp Clinton and roil our politics?

Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Clinton’s State Department: A RICO Enterprise

Clinton is sworn in as secretary of state, February 2, 2009. (Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)

Clinton is sworn in as secretary of state, February 2, 2009. (Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, October 29, 2016:

Felony mishandling of classified information, including our nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets; the misappropriation and destruction of tens of thousands of government records — these are serious criminal offenses. To this point, the Justice Department and FBI have found creative ways not to charge Hillary Clinton for them. Whether this will remain the case has yet to be seen. As we go to press, the stunning news has broken that the FBI’s investigation is being reopened. It appears, based on early reports, that in the course of examining communications devices in a separate “sexting” investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the bureau stumbled on relevant e-mails — no doubt connected to Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s wife and, more significantly, Mrs. Clinton’s closest confidant. According to the New York Times, the FBI has seized at least one electronic device belonging to Ms. Abedin as well. New e-mails, never before reviewed by the FBI, have been recovered.

The news is still emerging, and there will be many questions — particularly if it turns out that the bureau failed to obtain Ms. Abedin’s communications devices earlier in the investigation, a seemingly obvious step. As we await answers, we can only observe that, whatever the FBI has found, it was significant enough for director James Comey to sense the need to notify Congress, despite knowing what a bombshell this would be just days before the presidential election.

One thing, however, is already clear. Whatever the relevance of the new e-mails to the probe of Clinton’s classified-information transgressions and attempt to destroy thousands of emails, these offenses may pale in comparison with Hillary Clinton’s most audacious violations of law: Crimes that should still be under investigation; crimes that will, in fitting Watergate parlance, be a cancer on the presidency if she manages to win on November 8.

Mrs. Clinton appears to have converted the office of secretary of state into a racketeering enterprise. This would be a violation of the RICO law — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1971 (codified in the U.S. penal code at sections 1961 et seq.).

Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, operated the Clinton Foundation. Ostensibly a charity, the foundation was a de facto fraud scheme to monetize Hillary’s power as secretary of state (among other aspects of the Clintons’ political influence). The scheme involved (a) the exchange of political favors, access, and influence for millions of dollars in donations; (b) the circumvention of campaign-finance laws that prohibit political donations by foreign sources; (c) a vehicle for Mrs. Clinton to shield her State Department e-mail communications from public and congressional scrutiny while she and her husband exploited the fundraising potential of her position; and (d) a means for Clinton insiders to receive private-sector compensation and explore lucrative employment opportunities while drawing taxpayer-funded government salaries.

While the foundation did perform some charitable work, this camouflaged the fact that contributions were substantially diverted to pay lavish salaries and underwrite luxury travel for Clinton insiders. Contributions skyrocketed to $126 million in 2009, the year Mrs. Clinton arrived at Foggy Bottom. Breathtaking sums were “donated” by high-rollers and foreign governments that had crucial business before the State Department. Along with those staggering donations came a spike in speaking opportunities and fees for Bill Clinton. Of course, disproportionate payments and gifts to a spouse are common ways of bribing public officials — which is why, for example, high-ranking government officeholders must reveal their spouses’ income and other asset information on their financial-disclosure forms.

While there are other egregious transactions, the most notorious corruption episode of Secretary Clinton’s tenure involves the State Department’s approval of a deal that surrendered fully one-fifth of the United States’ uranium-mining capacity to Vladimir Putin’s anti-American thugocracy in Russia.

The story, significant background of which predates Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, has been recounted in ground-breaking reporting by the Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer (in his remarkable book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich) and the New York Times. In a nutshell, in 2005, under the guise of addressing the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan (where the disease is nearly nonexistent), Bill Clinton helped his Canadian billionaire pal Frank Giustra to convince the ruling despot, Nursultan Nazarbayev (an infamous torturer and human-rights violator), to grant coveted uranium-mining rights to Giustra’s company, Ur-Asia Energy (notwithstanding that it had no background in the highly competitive uranium business). Uranium is a key component of nuclear power, from which the United States derives 20 percent of its total electrical power.

In the months that followed, Giustra gave an astonishing $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $100 million more. With the Kazakh rights secured, Ur-Asia was able to expand its holdings and attract new investors, like Ian Telfer, who also donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Ur-Asia merged with Uranium One, a South African company, in a $3.5 billion deal — with Telfer becoming Uranium One’s chairman. The new company proceeded to buy up major uranium assets in the United States.

Meanwhile, as tends to happen in dictatorships, Nazarbayev (the Kazakh dictator) turned on the head of his state-controlled uranium agency (Kazatomprom), who was arrested for selling valuable mining rights to foreign entities like Ur-Asia/Uranium One. This was likely done at the urging of Putin, the neighborhood bully whose state-controlled atomic-energy company (Rosatom) was hoping to grab the Kazakh mines — whether by taking them outright or by taking over Uranium One.

The arrest, which happened a few months after Obama took office, sent Uranium One stock into free fall, as investors fretted that the Kazakh mining rights would be lost. Uranium One turned to Secretary Clinton’s State Department for help. As State Department cables disclosed by WikiLeaks show, Uranium One officials wanted more than a U.S. statement to the media; they pressed for written confirmation that their mining licenses were valid. Secretary Clinton’s State Department leapt into action: An energy officer from the U.S. embassy immediately held meetings with the Kazakh regime. A few days later, it was announced that Russia’s Rosatom had purchased 17 percent of Uranium One. Problem solved.

Except it became a bigger problem when the Russian company sought to acquire a controlling interest in Uranium One. That would mean a takeover not only of the Kazakh mines but of the U.S. uranium assets as well. Such a foreign grab requires approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a powerful government tribunal that the secretary of state sits on and heavily influences. Though she had historically postured as a hawk against foreign acquisitions of American assets with critical national-security implications, Secretary Clinton approved the Russian takeover of Uranium One. During and right after the big-bucks Russian acquisition, Telfer contributed $1.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Other people with ties to Uranium One appear to have ponied up as much as $5.6 million in donations.

In 2009, the incoming Obama administration had been deeply concerned about the potential for corruption were Hillary to run the State Department while Bill and their family foundation were hauling in huge payments from foreign governments, businesses, and entrepreneurs. For precisely this reason, the White House required Mrs. Clinton to agree in writing that the Clinton Foundation would annually disclose its major donors and seek pre-approval from the White House before the foundation accepted foreign contributions. This agreement was repeated flouted — for example, by concealing the contributions from Telfer. Indeed, the foundation was recently forced to refile its tax returns for the years that Secretary Clinton ran the State Department after media reports that it failed to disclose foreign donations — approximately $20 million worth.

Under RICO, an “enterprise” can be any association of people, informal or formal, illegitimate or legitimate — it could be a Mafia family, an ostensibly charitable foundation, or a department of government. It is a racketeering enterprise if its affairs are conducted through “a pattern of racketeering activity.” A “pattern” means merely two or more violations of federal or state law; these violations constitute “racketeering activity” if they are included among the extensive list of felonies laid out in the statute.

Significantly for present purposes, the listed felonies include bribery, fraud, and obstruction of justice. Fraud encompasses both schemes to raise money on misleading pretexts (e.g., a charitable foundation that camouflages illegal political payoffs) and schemes to deprive Americans of their right to the honest services of a public official (e.g., quid pro quo arrangements in which official acts are performed in exchange for money). Both fraud and obstruction can be proved by false statements — whether they are public proclamations (e.g., “I turned over all work-related e-mails to the State Department”) or lies to government officials (e.g., concealing “charitable” donations from foreign sources after promising to disclose them, or claiming not to know that the “(C)” symbol in a government document means it is classified at the confidential level).

The WikiLeaks disclosures of e-mails hacked from Clinton presidential-campaign chairman John Podesta provide mounting confirmation that the Clinton Foundation was orchestrated for the purpose of enriching the Clintons personally and leveraging then-Secretary Clinton’s power to do it. Hillary and her underlings pulled this off by making access to her contingent on Clinton Foundation ties; by having top staff service Clinton Foundation donors and work on Clinton Foundation business; by systematically conducting her e-mail communications outside the government server system; by making false statements to the public, the White House, Congress, the courts, and the FBI; and by destroying thousands of e-mails — despite congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act demands — in order to cover up (among other things) the shocking interplay between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

Under federal law, that can amount to running an enterprise by a pattern of fraud, bribery, and obstruction. If so, it is a major crime. Like the major crimes involving the mishandling of classified information and destruction of government files, it cries out for a thorough and credible criminal investigation. More important, wholly apart from whether there is sufficient evidence for criminal convictions, there is overwhelming evidence of a major breach of trust that renders Mrs. Clinton unfit for any public office, let along the nation’s highest public office.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Why Weren’t Clinton’s Lawyers Prosecuted for Failing to Report Mishandling of Classified Information?

download-17National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy October 25, 2016:

I have a column just up on the website, focusing on an issue that’s been ignored: the classified-information law implications of Hillary Clinton’s transmission of classified information to her lawyers.

There has been a good deal of commentary about the fact that Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, former State Department officials under Secretary Clinton, should not have been permitted to represent Clinton as lawyers in the e-mails investigation: They were subjects of the same investigation; as former government officials, they were disqualified from advocating on Clinton’s behalf; they were barred from representing Clinton by ethical rules applicable to lawyers; and the arrangement was illegal under federal criminal law.

But let’s put all that aside for the moment. There is no doubt that Clinton willfully provided Mills and Samuelson with her e-mails, at least 110 of which (the FBI tells us) were classified at the time they were sent or received. Those include e-mails classified as top-secret and designated as “special access program.” Even if Mills and Samuelson had security clearances, the transmission of such highly classified information to them would have been illegal unless they were read into these limited-access programs and had a government-certified need to know the information.

The same is true of Clinton’s principal criminal defense lawyer, David Kendall. He reportedly has a security clearance, but that is not sufficient to make one an authorized recipient of this kind of intelligence.

On this subject, my column raises a little-noticed provision of federal law that I want to flesh out a bit more.

It is not only a criminal offense for government officials to mishandle classified information willfully or with gross negligence. It is also a felony for a persons trusted with security clearances to fail to report to the government that they have learned classified information has been removed from its authorized, secure location and transmitted to an unauthorized person or stored in an unauthorized setting.

When Clinton, Mills, Samuelson, and Kendall reviewed Clinton’s emails – beginning in mid-2014, at the State Department’s request – did they immediately report to the government that classified information had been removed from its proper government repository and stored on non-secure, non-government servers, laptops and thumb-drives?

I’m betting they didn’t. Indulge me for a moment as we consider how a failure to do so would be prosecuted.

There is no doubt that Mills and Samuelson had Clinton’s classified e-mails on their laptops. As FBI director James Comey conceded in his congressional testimony, these lawyers had copies of what was on Mrs. Clinton’s home-brew server so that, at Clinton’s direction, they could sort the supposedly private e-mails from those that were State Department-related.

Again, let’s assume they failed to report to the government that they’d learned during this review that highly classified information had been improperly removed and was being improperly stored. That’s a criminal offense, so how would the Justice Department and the FBI ordinarily go about proving it? Well, it would be straightforward as long as the government had obtained the laptop computers on which the classified information was improperly stored.

The Justice Department could easily have obtained these computers by either having the FBI seize them pursuant to search warrant, or issuing subpoenas that compelled the lawyers to surrender their laptops to the grand jury.

But what did the Obama Justice Department do? It refused to open a grand jury investigation so subpoenas could be issued; and it treated Mills and Samuelson as friendly witnesses – even lawyers – in the case, not as suspects from whom investigators typically seize evidence by warrant.

The Justice Department gratuitously gave the two lawyers immunity from prosecution in order to cajole them into turning over their laptops, promising that Mills andSamuelson would not be indicted based on any evidence found on those laptop computers. And Justice promised these computers – the incriminating evidence – would be destroyed after the FBI conducted a highly limited examination.

In a normal investigation, the government does not grant immunity when it has a solid, prosecutable criminal case against a suspect. It indicts the suspect and then, from a position of strength, negotiates a guilty plea agreement in which the suspect promises to cooperate in the investigation of other suspects in return for sentencing leniency.

But for some reason – can’t imagine what it might be – that didn’t happen in the Hillary Clinton e-mails investigation.

Clinton’s Pretense That She Didn’t Understand ‘C’ Was for ‘Classified’

hillary-clinton-secretar-state-emails-classified-information-fbi-justice-departmentNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, October 22, 2016:

So now Hillary finally knows what the “(C)” stands for in government documents: It’s Cartwright . . . as in four-star Marine General James E. Cartwright, the retired 67-year-old former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the expendable federal official against whom laws protecting classified information actually get enforced.

(C), see? Oh wait — sorry. I don’t mean to confuse Mrs. Clinton by starting this second paragraph with “(C)”. After all, as she diva-’splained to the FBI, she could only “speculate” that “(C)” must have something to do with organizing paragraphs “in alphabetical order.” Speculation was necessary, she said, apparently with a straight face, because she didn’t really know what “(C)” meant.

The question arose because the “(C)” designation — applicable to classified information at the confidential level — turned up in at least one of Clinton’s personal e-mails. Those would be the e-mails that, she repeatedly insisted, never, ever contained classified information. Or at least, that’s what she insisted until government agencies confessed that hundreds of the e-mails do contain classified information. Then Clinton’s “never, ever” tale morphed into the more narrowly tailored lie that there were no e-mails “marked classified.” Alas, that claim could not withstand examination of the e-mails, during which the “(C)” markings were found . . . whereupon the explanation underwent more, shall we say, refining. Thus the final, astonishing claim that she didn’t know what the markings meant, along with the laugh-out-loud whopper that maybe it was all about alphabetical order.

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

In case you’re keeping score: When a person being prosecuted for a crime changes her story multiple times, as if she were playing Twister (kids, ask your parents), the prosecutor gets to prove each of the evolving lies at the trial. As you’d imagine, juries grasp that the truth doesn’t need an editor. That’s why people whose explanations can’t keep up with the evidence are pretty much a lock to get convicted.

But that’s when it’s “(C)” as in Cartwright, not Clinton.

General Cartwright pled guilty this week to making false statements to FBI agents who were investigating his mishandling of classified information. The general admits to falsely concealing his communications with two journalists. They involved “Stuxnet,” a covert American–Israeli operation to infect the computer systems that controlled Iran’s main nuclear-enrichment facility. The information was top secret, regarding a crucial program. Its exposure caused diplomatic problems and threatens our spy agencies’ relationships with foreign intelligence services, which are based on the ability to keep secrets secret.

Still, compared with Clinton, Cartwright is a piker. As the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin reports, Cartwright appears to have been a “confirming” source. That is, reporters from the New York Times and of Newsweek already had the Stuxnet intelligence (from some other leaker whom the administration has not prosecuted). Cartwright merely acknowledged the information’s accuracy — and, he says, only after it had appeared in published news reports. His claimed purpose was to prevent additional intelligence from being published to the detriment of our national security. This does not excuse his conduct, but it may go a long way toward explaining why the Justice Department charged only a felony false-statement count, not a classified-information offense.

Clinton, by contrast, willfully set up a homebrew e-mail system. Given that the secretary of state’s duties preponderantly involve intelligence matters, this made it inevitable that classified information would unlawfully be transmitted and stored on non-secure servers (i.e., outside the multi-layered protection of the government’s classified communications system). Thus did the FBI find, for example, that of the 110 e-mails on Clinton’s non-secure system that were — contrary to her claims — classified at the time she sent or received them, eight involved top-secret information.

What does “top secret” mean? Under the executive order signed in 1995 by Mrs. Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton, it is information the mishandling of which “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” With such an enormous level of threat, extraordinary restrictions on access are imposed to limit the possibility of exposure. That’s why the government generally comes down like a ton of bricks on offenders, or at least offenders not named Clinton.

Even these extraordinary measures, however, are deemed insufficient when the information is designated as “SAP” (“special access program”) — as seven of Mrs. Clinton’s were. Because mishandling top-secret SAP programs could expose either intelligence-gathering efforts that are critical to protecting American lives or intelligence sources who gravely imperil themselves in order to acquire life-saving intelligence for the United States, access to such information is on an even more extremely limited “need to know” basis. Yet, Clinton made them vulnerable to everyone.

Fully 36 of Clinton’s e-mails fell into the “secret”-information category. That designation applies when information “could be expected to cause serious damage to national security” if transmitted or stored in an unauthorized manner. “Serious” is not as weighty as “exceptionally grave,” but it is, well, serious. That’s why people usually get prosecuted for compromising it.

Unlike Cartwright, Clinton did not just communicate with a couple of reporters who already knew the information in question. She made previously concealed intelligence massively vulnerable to capture by foreign intelligence agencies and hackers. On this point, the FBI’s rationalization that it found no evidence of capture is meaningless. As the FBI director conceded, competent cyber-thieves do not leave traces of their intrusions.

That brings us back to “(C),” the designation that applied to at least seven of Clinton’s e-mails at the time she sent or received them, and that now covers thousands more because government intelligence agencies adjudged them too sensitive to disclose publicly. Again, “(C)” does not really stand for “Cartwright” or indicate alphabetical ordering. It is, instead, the designation for “confidential” information that, if mishandled, could “cause damage to the national security.” This means its mishandling is a significant offense, even if the damage is not likely to be “exceptionally grave” or “serious.” That’s why its compromise often results in prosecution, or at least severe sanctions such as termination of employment or loss of security clearance.

In light of General Cartwright’s prosecution for lying about his mishandling of classified information, it is worth revisiting Mrs. Clinton’s representation to the FBI that she did not know what “(C)” meant.

For four years, Clinton was secretary of state, a job in which classified information is stock-in-trade. On starting her tenure, Clinton signed a document acknowledging that she had “received a security indoctrination concerning the nature and protection of classified information.” In the last paragraph, right over her signature, Clinton acknowledges that she has been provided with the aforementioned executive order signed by her husband in 1995 — the one that explains, in painstaking detail, what classified information at the confidential level is.

Naturally, when later asked about it by the FBI, Clinton denied any recollection of this security indoctrination. Yet in her memoir, Hard Choices, Clinton vividly recounts receiving thorough training to guard against the omnipresent danger of espionage. Indeed, she recalled that, when she traveled, she and her staff would leave “BlackBerrys, laptops — anything that communicated with the outside world — on the plane, with their batteries removed to prevent foreign services from compromising them.” Further, based on the training she’d gotten, she took to reading intelligence information

inside an opaque tent in a hotel room. In less well-equipped settings we were told to improvise by reading sensitive material with a blanket over our head.

These mountains of documents she scrutinized involved such matters as the Snowden leaks, the NSA program, the Libyan civil war, Mubarak’s fall and the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise, the Saudi role in 9/11, the Iraqi nuclear and missile programs, the Benghazi siege, the arming of “rebels” in Libya and Syria, the deterioration of Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and on, and on. And that’s not the half of it. Before heading the State Department, she spent eight years in the U.S. Senate, most of that time as a member of the Armed Services Committee. It was wartime, and the major national controversies centered on classified information. She therefore had to pore over intelligence that, for example, supported the Iraq invasion, was derived from interrogations, measured the success of the “surge,” and so forth.

If there is one thing Clinton has emphasized in her presidential campaign, it is her “readiness.” Whether she was on Capitol Hill or at Foggy Bottom, she wants you to know, she was never the phone-it-in type. She did all her homework, and then some.

Well, in those classified documents she studied lo those dozen years, the “(C)” designation is ubiquitous. It often appears numerous times in a single document — even on a single page. Yet, despite spending a decade-plus as a daily, top-level consumer of classified information, Clinton looked a room full of FBI agents and federal prosecutors in the eye and told them she didn’t know what the “(C)” designation meant.

Mrs. Clinton has told many preposterous lies, but that has to be the most outrageous of the lot.

Unlike Clinton, Cartwright was not a deft political climber. He maneuvered himself into President Obama’s good graces by siding with the White House on military planning for Afghanistan, in the process double-crossing his former patrons, including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. As these things tend to go in Gomorrah-by-the-Potomac, Cartwright’s detractors engineered a smear campaign against him — rumors of an alleged affair — that led Obama to renege on a promise to elevate him to Joint Chiefs chairman. So by the time he got jammed up on the Stuxnet leak, he was alone, without allies to bail him out.

When you’re expendable, it’s amazing how zealous law enforcement can be. Remember Clinton’s case, in which the Justice Department refused to open a grand-jury investigation or issue subpoenas to compel production of evidence? Remember how Justice gave immunity to any Clinton ally who wandered near jeopardy? With that in mind, get a load of the self-congratulatory press release Justice issued after Cartwright pled guilty:

We conducted a thorough and independent investigation included collecting tens of thousands of documents through subpoenas, search warrants and document requests, and interviewing scores of current and former government employees.

As these columns have observed, the Justice Department and FBI conduct themselves very differently when they are trying to make a case rather than not make a case.

“No, no, no,” they counter, “we treat everyone equally.” In fact, the FBI makes a cameo appearance in the Cartwright press release to state a solemn vow (my italics):

The FBI will continue to take all necessary and appropriate steps to thoroughly investigate individuals, no matter their position, who undermine the integrity of our justice system by lying to federal investigators.

Really? No tolerance for lying? Well then:

Hillary Clinton said she did not know what “(C)” meant.

Hillary Clinton told the FBI she could not recall any training regarding how classified information was to be handled, and yet she wrote extensively about it in her memoir, and — as a condition of getting access to such information — she signed a government declaration attesting that she had gotten precisely such training.

And speaking, as the FBI did, of “the integrity of our justice system”: Hillary Clinton swore in an affidavit, filed in federal Freedom of Information Act litigation, that she had directed that “all my e-mails . . . that were or potentially were federal records” — meaning: anything related to State Department business — “be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.” This affidavit was filed in August 2015: seven months after her homebrew server system became a public controversy — seven months to review the facts before making these sworn representations to a federal court. Contrary to what she stated, the FBI found that thousands of Clinton’s work related e-mails were not provided to the State Department, and at least three of these withheld e-mails contained classified information.

Moreover, in sworn testimony before the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton not only repeated the false claim that she had provided the State Department with “all of my work-related emails.” She further represented to the Committee that, in segregating what was work-related from what was purportedly private, her lawyers “went through every single email.” Plainly, this is not true.

This week, after General Cartwright’s guilty plea, the Justice Department and the FBI thumped their chests and told us that if any government official, no matter how powerful, mishandles classified information and then lies about it, that official will be prosecuted — at least for the false statements.

Well . . . how about it?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Also see:

Fact-Checking: Hillary’s’The FBI Has Exonerated Me’ Claim

clinton-email-photo_wide-9fd68d210255d74891d319485750b4b54178a9f9-s900-c85PJ Media, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 26, 2016:

It’s amusing to listen to flacks for Hillary Clinton, a pathological liar, plead with Lester Holt that he must play activist debate moderator, ready to pounce on Donald Trump’s misstatements. The Clinton campaign, when not reviewing immunity agreements, has put out a “Seven Deadly Lies” script in hopes of enticing Mr. Holt to go all Candy Crowley this evening.

Personally, I’d far prefer no moderator to an activist one. Correcting the adversary’s misstatements and turning them to one’s advantage is the debater’s skill – you’re not supposed to need the moderator’s help, you’re supposed to show us you can handle it on your own.

When I was a prosecutor, it was par for the course for defense lawyers to misstate the record in closing arguments to the jury. To leap out of one’s chair and scream, “objection” when this happened was both unsatisfying and risky. Usually, the most you’d get would be a tepid admonition from the judge that “the jury’s recollection of the evidence” – not the lawyers’ – is what matters. But if the judge did try to correct the record, there was always the danger that the judge would either get it wrong (in which case the prosecutor is in the awkward position of having to correct the judge and thus make the defense lawyer look good), or appear to be bullying the defense lawyer – which could engender the jury’s sympathy.

I always preferred to let the lawyers say what they wanted to say. I knew I’d get my turn to rebut. In so doing, I’d not only be able to show the jury that the defense lawyers had made misleading arguments; it would also be the perfect opportunity to argue that people only try to spin you when they know the truth destroys them – which became the launch point for repeating my three or four best facts. That is, the adversary’s falsehoods didn’t hurt me; they were a chance for me to make them look bad while reinforcing my own case.

In any event, I don’t know how interested people are in Mrs. Clinton’s favorite “deadly lie,” the fact that Trump has been disingenuous in claiming he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A number of us pointed this out during the GOP primary campaign (see, e.g., here), to no effect. Moreover, Clinton voted for the Iraq war and then became part of the withering Democratic campaign to undermine it. To me, that seems a lot more consequential than Trump’s comparatively uninformed and irrelevant meanderings on the subject. (By “comparatively uninformed and irrelevant,” I mean that Clinton, by comparison, (a) was a member of the Senate serving on the Armed Services Committee, who was thus keenly aware of the alarming intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein; and (b) famously accused General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker of lying about progress in Iraq after the surge.) It seems to me that Clinton’s harping about Trump’s stance on Iraq only calls attention to her own wavering – which even many Democrats have rebuked.

One lie I would like to see fact-checked, though, is Clinton’s repeated one – which she’s certain to rehash this evening, namely: The FBI’s year-long investigation “exonerated” her of wrongdoing in the email scandal.

In point of fact, the FBI merely drew the conclusion that Clinton should not becharged with a crime. Even if we assume for argument’s sake that this was a valid conclusion (in fact, it is hugely suspect), finding that someone should not be indicted is far from exoneration.

In Mrs. Clinton’s case, FBI Director James Comey expressly found that Mrs. Clinton and her underlings “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Comey also took pains to point out that, under Mrs. Clinton’s leadership, “the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.”

Finally, Comey observed that, by recommending against the indictment of Mrs. Clinton, he did not mean:

to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity [i.e., being “extremely careless” with “very sensitive, highly classified information”] would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.

“Security and administrative sanctions” in this context often means, at a minimum, the loss of one’s security clearance and, very likely, the loss of one’s job. A conclusion that one’s conduct would, under ordinary circumstances, render one unable to review classified information or work in a high-level government position is not exactly an “exoneration.”

Hillary Clinton’s inevitable “exoneration” claim should be fact-checked. It will be good for Donald Trump if he is up to the task, rather than waiting on help from Lester Holt.

Obama’s Conflict Tanked the Clinton E-mail Investigation — As Predicted

pic_giant_096416_obama-hillary

Hillary couldn’t be proven guilty without proving the president guilty as well.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 26, 2016:

‘How is this not classified?”

So exclaimed Hillary Clinton’s close aide and confidante, Huma Abedin. The FBI had just shown her an old e-mail exchange, over Clinton’s private account, between the then-secretary of state and a second person, whose name Abedin did not recognize. The FBI then did what the FBI is never supposed to do: The agents informed their interviewee (Abedin) of the identity of the second person. It was the president of the United States, Barack Obama, using a pseudonym to conduct communications over a non-secure e-mail system — something anyone with a high-level security clearance, such as Huma Abedin, would instantly realize was a major breach.

Abedin was sufficiently stunned that, for just a moment, the bottomless capacity of Clinton insiders to keep cool in a scandal was overcome. “How is this not classified?”

She recovered quickly enough, though. The FBI records that the next thing Abedin did, after “express[ing] her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym,” was to “ask if she could have a copy of the email.”

Abedin knew an insurance policy when she saw one. If Obama himself  had been e-mailing over a non-government, non-secure system, then everyone else who had been doing it had a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Thanks to Friday’s FBI document dump — 189 more pages of reports from the Bureau’s year-long foray (“investigation” would not be the right word) into the Clinton e-mail scandal — we now know for certain what I predicted some eight months ago here at NRO: Any possibility of prosecuting Hillary Clinton was tanked by President Obama’s conflict of interest.

As I explained in February, when it emerged that the White House was refusing to disclose at least 22 communications Obama had exchanged with then-secretary Clinton over the latter’s private e-mail account, we knew that Obama had knowingly engaged in the same misconduct that was the focus of the Clinton probe: the reckless mishandling of classified information.

To be sure, he did so on a smaller scale. Clinton’s recklessness was systematic: She intentionally set up a non-secure, non-government communications framework, making it inevitable that classified information would be mishandled, and that federal record-keeping laws would be flouted. Obama’s recklessness, at least as far as we know, was confined to communications with Clinton — although the revelation that the man presiding over the “most transparent administration in history” set up a pseudonym to conceal his communications obviously suggests that his recklessness may have been more widespread.

Still, the difference in scale is not a difference in kind. In terms of the federal laws that criminalize mishandling of classified information, Obama not only engaged in the same type of misconduct Clinton did; he engaged in it with Clinton. It would not have been possible for the Justice Department to prosecute Clinton for her offense without its becoming painfully apparent that 1) Obama, too, had done everything necessary to commit a violation of federal law, and 2) the communications between Obama and Clinton were highly relevant evidence.

Indeed, imagine what would have happened had Clinton been indicted. The White House would have attempted to maintain the secrecy of the Obama-Clinton e-mails (under Obama’s invocation of a bogus “presidential communications” privilege), but Clinton’s defense lawyers would have demanded the disclosure of the e-mails in order to show that Obama had engaged in the same misconduct, yet only she, not he, was being prosecuted. And as most experienced criminal-law lawyers understand (especially if they’ve read a little Supreme Court case known as United States v. Nixon), it is an argument that Clinton’s lawyers would have won.

In fact, in any other case — i.e., in a case that involved any other unindicted co-conspirator — it would be the Justice Department itself introducing the Obama-Clinton e-mails into evidence.

As noted above, the FBI told Huma Abedin that the name she did not recognize in the e-mail with Clinton was an Obama alias. For the agents to do this ran afoul of investigative protocols. The point of an FBI interview is for the interviewee to provide information to the investigators, not the other way around. If agents give information to potential witnesses, the government gets accused of trumping up the case.

But of course, that’s only a problem if there is actually going to be a case.

In this instance, it was never going to happen. The president’s involvement guaranteed that . . . so why worry about letting Abedin in on the president’s involvement?

Abedin was startled by this revelation. No wonder: People in her lofty position know that direct presidential communications with high-ranking officials who have national-security and foreign-policy responsibilities are presumptively classified.

To convey this, and thus convey the legal significance of Obama’s involvement, I can’t much improve on what I told you back in February. When the Obama Justice Department prosecuted retired general David Petraeus, the former CIA director, for mishandling classified information, government attorneys emphasized that this top-secret intelligence included notes of Petraeus’s “discussions with the president of the United States of America.”

Petraeus pled guilty because he knew the case against him was a slam-dunk. He grasped that trying to defend himself by sputtering, Clinton-style, that “the notes were not marked classified” would not pass the laugh test. As I elaborated in the February column, when you’re a national-security official engaging in and making a written record of policy and strategy conversations with the president, the lack of classified markings on the documents you’ve created

[does] not alter the obvious fact that the information they contain [is] classified — a fact well known to any high government official who routinely handles national-defense secrets, let alone one who directly advises the president.

Moreover, as is the case with Clinton’s e-mails, much of the information in Petraeus’s journals was “born classified” under the terms of President Obama’s own executive order — EO 13526. As I’ve previously noted, in section 1.1(d) of that order, Obama issued this directive: “The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security.” In addition, the order goes on (in section 1.4) to describe other categories of information that officials should deem classified based on the damage to national security that disclosure could cause. Included among these categories: foreign relations, foreign activities of the United States, military plans, and intelligence activities.

Abedin knew, as the FBI agents who were interviewing her surely knew, that at least some of Obama’s pseudonymous exchanges with Clinton had to have crossed into these categories. They were born classified. As I said in February, this fact would profoundly embarrass Obama if the e-mails were publicly disclosed.

Hundreds of times, despite Clinton’s indignant insistence that she never sent or received classified information, the State Department has had to concede that her e-mails must be redacted or withheld from public disclosure because they contain information that is patently classified. But this is not a concession the administration is willing to make regarding Obama’s e-mails.

That is why, as I argued in February, Obama is trying to get away with the vaporous claim that presidential communications must be kept confidential. He does not want to say “executive privilege” because that sounds too much like Nixon. More important, the only other alternative is to designate the e-mails as classified. That would be tantamount to an admission that Obama engaged in the same violation of law as Clinton.

Again, this is why the prosecution of Mrs. Clinton never had a chance of happening. It also explains why, in his public statements about the matter, Obama insisted that Clinton’s e-mailing of classified information did not harm national security. It is why Obama, in stark contrast to his aforementioned executive order, made public statements pooh-poohing the fact that federal law forbids the mishandling of any intelligence secret. (“There’s classified, and then there’s classified,” he said, so cavalierly.) He had to take this position because he had himself effectively endorsed the practice of high-level communications through non-secure channels.

This is also why the Justice Department and the FBI effectively rewrote the relevant criminal statute in order to avoid applying it to Clinton. In his public statements about Clinton, Obama has stressed that she is an exemplary public servant who would never intentionally harm the United States. In rationalizing their decision not to indict Clinton, Justice Department officials (in leaks to the Washington Post) and the FBI director (in his press conference and congressional testimony) similarly stressed the lack of proof that she intended to harm the United States.

As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, however, the operative criminal statute does not call for proof of intent to harm the United States. It merely requires proof of gross negligence. This is entirely lawful and appropriate, since we’re talking about a law that can apply only to government officials who have a special duty to preserve secrecy and who have been schooled in the proper handling of classified information. Yet the Justice Department frivolously suggested that applying the law exactly the way it is written — something the Justice Department routinely tells judges they must do — would, in Clinton’s case, potentially raise constitutional problems.

Alas, the Justice Department and the FBI have to take that indefensible position here. Otherwise, Clinton would not be the only one in legal jeopardy.

I will end with what I said eight months ago:

To summarize, we have a situation in which (a) Obama knowingly communicated with Clinton over a non-government, non-secure e-mail system; (b) Obama and Clinton almost certainly discussed matters that are automatically deemed classified under the president’s own guidelines; and (c) at least one high-ranking government official (Petraeus) has been prosecuted because he failed to maintain the security of highly sensitive intelligence that included policy-related conversations with Obama. From these facts and circumstances, we must deduce that it is possible, if not highly likely, that President Obama himself has been grossly negligent in handling classified information.

That is why the Clinton e-mail scandal never had a chance of leading to criminal charges.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

DEADLIEST LIE: Without ‘Lone Wolf’ Lie, U.S. Could Have Stopped Nearly EVERY ATTACK

lone-wolf-terror-attack-sized-770x415xt

PJ Media, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 21, 2016:

Some time ago, the invaluable Patrick Poole coined the term “known wolf,” sharply shredding the conventional Washington wisdom that “lone wolf” terrorism is a major domestic threat.

Pat has tracked the phenomenon for years, right up to the jihadist attacks this weekend in both the New York metropolitan area and St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Virtually every time a terror attack has occurred, the actor initially portrayed as a solo plotter lurking under the government’s radar turns out to be — after not much digging – an already known (sometimes even, notorious) Islamic extremist.

As amply demonstrated by Poole’s reporting, catalogued here by PJ Media, “lone wolves” –virtually every single one — end up having actually had extensive connections to other Islamic extremists, radical mosques, and (on not rare occasions) jihadist training facilities.

The overarching point I have been trying to make is fortified by Pat’s factual reporting. It is this: There are, and can be, no lone wolves.

The very concept is inane, and only stems from a willfully blind aversion to the ideological foundation of jihadist terror: Islamic supremacism.

The global, scripturally rooted movement to impose sharia — in the West, to incrementally supersede our culture of reason, liberty, and equality with the repressive, discriminatory norms of classical Islamic law — is a pack. The wolves are members of the pack, and that’s why they are the antithesis of “lone” actors. And, indeed, they always turn out to be “known” precisely because their association with the pack, with components of the global movement, is what ought to have alerted us to the danger they portended before they struck.

This is willful blindness, because of the restrictions we have gratuitously imposed on ourselves.

The U.S. government refuses to acknowledge the ideology that drives the movement until after some violent action is either too imminent to be ignored or, sadly more often, until after the Islamic supremacist has acted out the savagery his ideology commands.

The U.S. government consciously avoids the ideology because it is rooted in a fundamentalist, literalist interpretation of Islam. Though it is but one of many ways to construe that religion, the remorseless fact is that it is a mainstream construction, adhered to by tens of millions of Muslims and supported by centuries of scholarship.

I say “the U.S. government” is at fault here because, contrary to Republican campaign rhetoric that is apparently seized by amnesia, this is not merely an Obama administration dereliction — however much the president and his former secretary of State (and would-be successor) Hillary Clinton have exacerbated the problem.

Since the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, the bipartisan Beltway cognoscenti have “reasoned” (a euphemism for “reckless self-delusion”) that conceding the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihadist terror — which would implicitly concede the vast Islamist (sharia-supremacist) support system without which the global jihadist onslaught would be impossible — is impractical.

But how could acknowledging the truth be impractical?

Especially given that national security hinges on an accurate assessment of threats?

Bipartisan Washington “reasons” that telling the truth would portray the United States as “at war with Islam.” To be blunt, this conventional wisdom can only be described as sheer idiocy.

We know that tens of millions of Muslims worldwide, and what appears to be a preponderance (though perhaps a diminishing one) of Muslims in the West, reject Islamic supremacism and its sharia-encroachment agenda. We know that, by a large percentage, Muslims are the most common victims of jihadist terror. We know that Muslim reformers are courageously working to undermine and reinterpret the scriptural roots of Islamic supremacism — a crucial battle our default from makes far more difficult for them to win. We know that Muslims, particularly those assimilated into the West, have been working with our law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies for decades to gather intelligence, infiltrate jihadist cells, thwart jihadist attacks, and fight jihadist militias.

None of those Muslims — who are not only our allies, but are in fact us — believes that America is at war with Islam.

So why does Washington base crucial, life-and-death policy on nonsense?

Because it is in the thrall of the enemy. The “war on Islam” propaganda is manufactured by Islamist groups, particularly those tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

While we resist study of our enemies’ ideology, they go to school on us. They thus grasp three key things:

(1) Washington is so bloated and dysfunctional, it will leap on any excuse to refrain from strong action;(2) the American tradition of religious liberty can be exploited to paralyze our government if national defense against a totalitarian political ideology can be framed as hostility and persecution against an entire religious faith; and

(3) because Washington has so much difficulty taking action, it welcomes claims (or, to be faddish, “narratives”) that minimize the scope and depth of the threat. Topping the “narrative” list is the fantasy that the Islamist ideological support system that nurtures jihadism (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood and its tentacles) is better seen as a “moderate,” “non-violent” partner with whom we can work, than as what it actually is: the enemy’s most effective agent. The stealth operative that exploits the atmosphere of intimidation created by the jihadists.

In other words, in proceeding from the premise that we must do nothing to convey the notion that we are “at war with Islam” — or, in Obama-Clinton parlance, in proceeding from the premise that we need a good “narrative” rather than a truth-based strategy — we have internalized the enemy’s worldview, a view that is actually rejected by our actual Islamic allies and the vast majority of Americans.

The delusion comes into sharp relief if one listens to Hillary Clinton’s campaign bombast. Robert Spencer incisively quoted it earlier this week:

[W]e know that a lot of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists, people who number maybe in the maybe tens of thousands, not the tens of millions, they want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause, by turning it into a religious conflict. That’s why I’ve been very clear. We’re going after the bad guys and we’re going to get them, but we’re not going to go after an entire religion and give ISIS exactly what it’s wanting in order for them to enhance their position.

Sheer idiocy.

Our enemy is not the mere “tens of thousands” of jihadists. (She’s probably low-balling the number of jihadists worldwide, but let’s indulge her.) It is not merely ISIS, nor merely ISIS and al-Qaeda — an organization Mrs. Clinton conveniently omits mentioning, since it has replenished, thanks to Obama-Clinton governance and despite Obama-Clinton claims to have defeated it, to the point that it is now at least as much a threat as it was on the eve of 9/11.

ISIS and al-Qaeda are not the sources of the threat against us. They are theinevitable results of that threat.

The actual threat, the source, is Islamic supremacism and its sharia imposition agenda.

The support system, which the threat needs to thrive, does indeed include tens of millions of Islamists, some small percentage of whom will inexorably become violent jihadists, but the rest of whom will nurture the ideological aggression and push the radical sharia agenda — in the media, on the campus, in the courts, and in the policy councils of government that they have so successfully influenced and infiltrated.

Obviously, to acknowledge that we are at war with this movement, at war with Islamic supremacism, is not remotely to be “at war with Islam.” After all, Islamic supremacism seeks conquest over all of Islam, too, and on a much more rapid schedule than its long-term pursuit of conquest over the West. Islamic supremacism is not a fringe movement; it is large and, at the moment, a juggernaut. But too much of Islam opposes Islamic supremacism to be confused with it.

Moreover, even if being at war with Islamic supremacists could be persuasivelyspun as being “at war with Islam” — i.e., even if we were too incompetent to refute our enemies’ propaganda convincingly — it would make no difference.

The war would still be being prosecuted against us. We have to fight it against the actual enemy, and we lose if we allow enemies to dupe us into thinking they are allies. We have to act on reality, even if Washington is too tongue-tied to find the right words for describing reality.

The enemy is in our heads and has shaped our perception of the conflict, to the enemy’s great advantage. That’s how you end up with inanities like “lone wolf.”

The Mulish Stupidity of Clinton-Obama Counterterrorism

trumphillary-treasonNational Review, by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, September 19, 2016:

As Rich notes, Hillary Clinton is essentially accusing Donald Trump of treason on the theory that his rhetoric aids and abets ISIS in recruiting Muslims because it affirms their narrative a war between Islam and non-Muslims. This is as stupid as would be a claim that Mrs. Clinton is guilty of treason – as opposed to mere idiocy – because, by refusing to acknowledge the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihadist terror, she and her policymaking cohort blind us to the motivation, objectives, and strategies of our terrorist enemies.

As I have previously recounted, when I prosecuted the Blind Sheikh’s terrorist cell in the mid-Nineties, the defense lawyers for the jihadists – who sounded just like today’s anti-anti-terrorist progressives – claimed that their clients had been lured into terrorist activity by U.S. government policy and by the enticements of a government informant who spouted Islam-against-the-world rhetoric. In response to this fatuous contention, we put a very simple question to the jury: “What would it take to turn you into a mass-murderer?” What policy could be so bad, what rhetorical us-against-them flourishes so inspiring, that a person would join the terrorist cause and commit acts of barbarism?

When a person with a modicum of common sense considers such a question, he or she knows that there could be no such policy. There is no controversial policy or figure that could cause a person to become a terrorist – not Gitmo, not harsh interrogation tactics, not Bosnia, not Abu Ghaib, not torched Korans, not anti-Muslim videos, not Donald Trump … or George Bush … or Dick Cheney … or Bill Clinton … or Pope John Paul II (the latter two of whom jihadists plotted to kill in the mid-Nineties).

Of course, all of these policies and people are exploited pretextually by jihadists in order to justify themselves and to play the West like a fiddle. But it’s all a side show. A person joins the jihad only if the person adopts jihadist ideology. A person is moved to commit mass-murder – an act that requires depraved indifference to the lives and the humanity of his targets – because there is no ideology as powerful as religious ideology, as the notion that God Himself has commanded the aggression because the infidels offend Him by their infidelity.

As I argue in today’s column, the roots of this fervor are found in Islamic scripture, which Islamic supremacists construe literally. Jihadists and their recruits care no more about Donald Trump’s bluntness (including his occasional over-the-top offensiveness, like threatening to kill the families of terrorists) than they do about Hillary Clinton’s inane, self-congratulatory nuance. In fact, regardless of which of them wins the presidency, jihadists will want to kill him or her, as they have wanted to kill all American presidents regardless of party. No matter who wins the presidency, jihadists will target America for mass-murder attacks, and will pretextually blame their actions on either Trump policies or Clinton policies, just as they blamed Bill Clinton’s, George Bush’s, and – yes – Barack Obama’s policies.

Perhaps the only thing more sadly hilarious than watching the political class tie itself in knots over whether a bomb should be called a “bomb” and whether a terrorist attack should be called a “terrorist attack” is Clinton’s claim that ISIS is rooting for Trump to be elected president. Newsflash: Jihadists don’t give a flying fatwa who wins American elections, or even whether there are American elections.

Islamic supremacists and their jihadist front lines are in the business of killing Americans and supplanting our constitutional republic with sharia. To claim that they care about our elections is to exhibit ignorance about who they are, who they think we are, and what they seek to achieve.

This is obviously news to Mrs. Clinton, but there is no point in speculating about what causes jihadist terror. As I explain in today’s column, the cause is Islamic supremacist ideology rooted in a fundamentalist, literalist construction of Islamic scripture. We know this not because I’ve figured it out and am letting you all in on the big secret. We know it because our enemies have explained themselves in the bluntest of terms.

In an essay called “The Caliphate’s Multi-pronged War” for the current (35th Anniversary) issue of The New Criterion, I described a recent edition of ISIS’s Dabiq magazine. The issue, called the “Break the Cross” edition, included a feature that should be required reading across the West. It is called, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You.” It asserts, among other things:

Your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, as we have been commanded to hate the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah [the poll tax for dhimmis]—for those afforded this option—and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims.

Even if you were to stop bombing us . . . we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then as we would stop fighting any disbelievers who enter into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.

That is what causes terrorism, and it will continue to cause terrorism until the animating ideology of Islamic supremacism has been acknowledged, confronted, and marginalized to the point that influential Islamic authorities universally teach that the call to jihad in Islamic scripture is no longer operative in the modern world. That’s got nothing to do with Donald Trump … or, for that matter, with Hillary Clinton.

WARNING: Twitter Warns Twitter World that My Post on Clinton-Obama Counterterrorism MAY BE UNSAFE!

The Response to This Weekend’s Terror Attacks Showed Willful Blindness in Real Time

New York City firemen near the site of the bombings in Chelsea, September 18, 2016. (Retuers photo: Rashid Umar Abbasi)

New York City firemen near the site of the bombings in Chelsea, September 18, 2016. (Retuers photo: Rashid Umar Abbasi)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 19, 2016:

In the all too familiar pattern, things are going boom, Americans are under attack, and the American political class is already busy playing the “See No Jihad” minuet.

In a rational world, where our highest imperative would be to understand the threat that confronts us rather than to find the least offensive way of describing it, it would be patently, undeniably obvious that we are targets of international terrorism fueled by Islamic supremacist ideology. Nevertheless, the political class can only bring itself to say this kicking and screaming, and only if there is no other plausible alternative — which basically means a terrorist caught in the act while wearing an ISIS T-shirt.

That is because Islamic supremacism is a mainstream interpretation of Islam. The political class has convinced itself that uttering the plain truth would be condemning all of Islam, meaning all Muslims — notwithstanding that no one sensible claims Islamic supremacism is the only way of interpreting Islam, and, in fact, jihadist battalions kill more Muslims than non-Muslims.

Speaking forthrightly would also undermine a fiction the political class inanely believes is essential to social cohesion: The notion, oft-repeated by President Obama and Hillary Clinton, that Islam is part of the fabric of American life, as native in our history as apple pie and Judeo-Christian culture.

Islam, of course, is an alien belief system. That doesn’t make it bad per se. Our society is a melting pot and many things alien to it have blended their way in, making us more vibrant, dynamic, innovative, and successful. Clearly, though, not everything alien is benign and welcome.

Many Muslims embrace the Western culture of reason, liberty, and equality, and they flourish in our society, to which they are a real asset. Nevertheless, nothing is more alien and hostile to our society than Islamic supremacism — which, at its core, is sharia supremacism. Its adherents resist assimilation and seek to impose a totalitarian system that suppresses liberty and is systematically discriminatory against non-Muslims, women, apostates from Islam, homosexuals, and other groups.

Because we are trapped in a politically correct fantasy world in which terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and Islam is innately American, the political class can never admit that obvious jihadist attacks — such as those that just occurred in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota — are international terrorism. Indeed, we are in a state of such self-parody that, this weekend, it somehow became “intemperate” and “un-presidential” to conclude that attempts (some successful) to detonate IEDs — as in, improvised explosive devices, a.k.a. bombs — were in fact bombings.

The playbook has become so tired. Nothing can be considered terrorism, even a mass-casualty attack with the objective of intimidating a civilian population or government (the legal definition of terrorism) unless and until there is convincing evidence connecting it to a known terrorist organization — usually ISIS or al-Qaeda. It is acceptable, you see, to label as “terrorism” an attack connected to these organizations because the political class has pronounced them as non-Islamic (even anti-Islamic), since they do not adhere to the imaginary, relentlessly benign Islam that the political class has dreamt up and designated as the one and only “true” Islam.

Thus, when a terrorist attack happens, the first thing we must do is worry about evil, divisive haters (we know who we are) who dare presume to call it a “terrorist attack.” After all, they could stoke a “blowback” — i.e., “hate crimes” against Muslims, committed mainly by the white racists with which America teems.

This reaction stems from the political class’s designated representatives of the Islamic community in the United States. These are Islamist-activist groups, mostly sprung from the Muslim Brotherhood — CAIR being the most notorious. In point of fact, said groups are not representative of most Muslims in the West. In reality, they are hostile to pro-American Muslims, especially those who oppose sharia encroachment and favor a peaceful solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in which Israel’s right to exist is acknowledged.

Still, the Islamists, aside from being well funded by overseas sources, are loudest and leftist. Therefore, they are the ones who receive the political class’s sympathetic attention. Indeed, over the last two decades (and particularly in the Obama years), they have become government consultants who instruct policymakers on how to think about, and talk about, terrorism.

Here is reality: The enemy that unifies the terrorist siege against the U.S., Israel, and the West is Islamic supremacist ideology, which aims to bring the world under sharia dominion. This ideology is far more important than ISIS and al-Qaeda because it is what created ISIS and al-Qaeda. It was the catalyst before those jihadist organizations existed, and it will be around when they are gone — for as long as we fail to take it on without apology and discredit it in the light of day.

The attacks spurred by this ideology, like those carried out this weekend, are international terrorist attacks, regardless of whether the operatives who execute them are affiliated with or inspired by a designated international terrorist organization. There are no “homegrown” attacks because the ideology is alien. There are no “lone wolves” because the wolves are part of a huge pack — a fundamentalist Islamic anti-Western movement that has millions of adherents, some percentage of which will always be willing to take up arms and kill for the cause.

Pro-American Muslims need us to help them discredit the fundamentalists. We cannot do this without openly acknowledging — as, for example, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has courageously done — that the roots of jihadist aggression are Muslim scriptures. This must not be obscured by political correctness. The scriptures in question must be acknowledged and reinterpreted in a manner that confines them to their historic context and nullifies a literal interpretation of them in modern life.

If we don’t confront the animating ideology and its stealth supporters with every bit as much energy as our police pursue the murderous jihadists, we lose. Winning begins with cashiering political correctness, with speaking openly about, and understanding, what we are up against.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Obama’s Cash-for-Jihad Program

(Dreamstime image: Dmitry Rukhlenko)

(Dreamstime image: Dmitry Rukhlenko)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 17, 2016:

The Obama State Department is convinced that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and his regime’s cronies are financing terrorism. How come? Well, because they conduct business in cash.

In fact, in its most recent annual report on state sponsors of terrorism, State frets “that 60 percent of all business transactions [in Syria] are conducted in cash and that nearly 80 percent of all Syrians do not use formal banking services.” This has created a “vast black market,” the components of which are exploited by “some members of the Syrian government and the business elite . . . in terrorism finance schemes.”

Interesting thing about that: There are only three countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism — Syria, Sudan, and Iran. That last one is worth highlighting. Iran, after all, is not just the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism; it is also the world’s leading state sponsor of . . . Syria — providing it with lots of that cash the State Department is so concerned about.

Oh, I nearly forgot: Iran also happens to be the jihadist regime that President Obama just gave $1.7 billion to . . . in cash.

Or should I say, at least $1.7 billion.

It is hard to decide what is the most appalling thing about Obama’s $1.7 billion payoff to the mullahs: the ransom for the release of American hostages, which has predictably induced Tehran to take more hostages; the pallets of untraceable currency loaded on multiple planes of the national airline regularly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to arm Assad and facilitate terror; the withdrawals from a shadowy Treasury Department fund structured in a manner designed to conceal that money was being transferred to Iran. The transaction is so shocking, one can easily forget that it is just the latest in a long series of payoffs.

The payoffs were made in Obama’s pursuit of legacy adornment — the nuclear deal with Iran he coveted at any cost. Beginning in January 2014 and continuing for a year and a half — the period during which the president was quietly folding at the negotiation table on every bold campaign-trail vow to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — the administration released $700 million per month in escrowed oil funds to the jihadist regime.

In congressional testimony last week, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) did the math: That’s $11.9 billion. But that, literally, may not be the half of it. In July, U.S. government officials told the Associated Press that Iran had repatriated a sum approaching $20 billion in the half-year following implementation of the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA).

Is that $20 billion from the JCPOA in addition to the pre-JCPOA $11.9 billion in oil revenues? Is it in addition to the $1.7 billion “settlement of a failed 1970s arms deal” (a.k.a. the ransom for American hostages)? The “most transparent administration in history” is not saying. But as Dubowitz runs the numbers, the “worst-case scenario” is that Iran has gotten its mitts on $33.6 billion — and “worst” assumes that we know about every shady backroom deal, which seems unlikely.

That staggering figure would amount to about 8 percent of Iran’s entire annual GDP. Whatever the true amount is, were the billions transferred in cash?

Remember, when the news first broke of the $400 million cash payment on the same day our hostages were released, the president looked us in the eye and told us he had to pay the mullahs that way — he couldn’t wire the funds or send a check because, owing to his professed respect for sanctions in American law, there is no banking relationship between the U.S. and Iran. As I explained at the time, this was simply false: The cash transfer violated the sanctions every bit as much as a check or wire transfer would have. Plus, the sanctions allow for presidential waivers, so Obama could easily have wired the money. He sent cash only because he chose to send cash.

So if the administration loaded up planes with $1.7 billion in foreign currency for the settlement/ransom, was a similar method used in connection with the $11.9 billion in escrowed oil funds? How about the $20 billion in JCPOA sanctions relief? Again, the administration won’t say — apparently relying on a nonexistent privilege of confidentiality in international relations to justify withholding such information from Congress and the public.

One sadly hilarious aspect of this spectacle is the administration’s tortured claims about Iran’s use of its Obama windfalls. The White House and State Department grudgingly admit that they cannot know for certain how much Iran has diverted to the terrorist activities that the administration even more grudgingly admits Iran continues to underwrite. But rest assured, Obama strongly suspects that very little money makes its way to the jihad, since Tehran must prioritize paying down crushing debt and repairing crumbling infrastructure.

How ridiculous. It is pointless to track how particular dollar streams are spent by a terrorist regime. Iran had crushing debt and crumbling infrastructure before Obama started lining its pockets; yet it was committed to exporting revolutionary jihad, so it spent its sparse resources on terrorism anyway. Consequently, if the new dollars Iran is reeling in are ostensibly spent on infrastructure or debt, the dollars that would otherwise have been spent on those activities are freed up for terrorist activity.

The logic is unassailable: Because money is fungible, not a thin dime can safely be given to an entity that supports terrorism. In the case of Iran, however, we need not rely on logical deduction; we know Iran is channeling funds to the jihad. As the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Saeed Ghasseminejad reports, the Iranian regime requires the transfer to its military of funds it receives from settling legal disputes with foreign countries and companies. That means, for example, that the $1.7 billion settlement that Obama paid when the hostages were released has gone to the IRGC.

That brings us back full-circle to the State Department’s annual report on state sponsors of terrorism. As the report explains, the IRGC, through its notorious Qods Force, “is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.”

To summarize: The Obama administration explains that when a terrorist regime like Syria prefers to conduct business in cash, that markedly increases the likelihood that its funds will be used to finance terrorism. Concurrently, Obama is providing exorbitant sums to Iran, the world’s worst terrorist regime, and going out of his way to transfer it in the form of cash. And under the Iranian regime’s dictates, a goodly portion of that cash is going directly to the component of the Iranian government that oversees its prodigious international terrorism operations.

Not to worry, though — it’s not like they’re threatening our naval vessels, humiliating our sailors, massing Hezbollah forces on Israel’s border, or chanting “Death to America,” right?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

***

Obama Is Right to Veto Bill Enabling Suits against the Saudis

President Obama with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, April 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

President Obama with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, April 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

Relations between governments are best handled through diplomacy, not legal proceedings.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, September 14, 2016

Why, when the Republican-controlled Congress is finally willing to fight President Obama to the point of forcing and potentially overriding a veto, do they pick an issue on which Obama is right?

In a grandstanding exhibition, Congress has enacted legislation that would enable private litigants — the most sympathetic imaginable, the families of 9/11 victims — to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Obviously, even if it is sued successfully, the Saudi government is never actually going to pay any judgments. More to the point, legislation of this kind will spur other countries to enact laws allowing their citizens to sue the United States — and maybe even criminal laws allowing the arrest of current and former American government officials (including military personnel) — for actions taken in defense of our country and pursuit of our interests.

Since we have interests throughout the world and a military that acts globally (and lethally), our nation has far more to lose than most nations by playing this game. Consequently, while I get the populist zeitgeist, it is disappointing to see people who ought to know better claiming that a veto would represent Obama’s prioritizing of Saudi interests over American interests. It would do nothing of the sort.

Moreover, the fervor for this legislation is indeed ironic for Republicans who complain — quite justifiably — that Obama regards international terrorism as a law-enforcement matter to be pursued in the courts. The judiciary is no more proper a forum for conducting diplomacy than it is for dealing with a national-security challenge.

Relations between the United States and any other sovereign, including the Saudi regime, ought to be managed by the political branches — in particular, the executive — in whom the Constitution vests responsibility. They should not be subject to litigation overseen by politically unaccountable courts. Legal cases can be unpredictable due to the differences in the predispositions and skill levels of the individual judges and litigators. That is not a problem in the vast run of private lawsuits, since the appellate process sorts out most errors. But it can be a huge problem in international relations, on which hinge alliances and intelligence-gathering arrangements on which our security depends.

That, of course, is why countries mutually grant their officials diplomatic immunity, which bars prosecution of even serious crimes committed by diplomatic personnel. It is why a country’s diplomatic installations are considered its sovereign territory even on foreign soil — such that violating them — as, for example, Iran did to our embassy in 1979 — is an act of war. These norms often work injustices in individual cases, but it is imperative that we preserve them.

To be clear, I have no sympathy for the Obama administration’s concerns about enraging the Saudi regime. We should be enraging them. I doubt if anyone was more vigorous than I in arguing that there should be full disclosure of the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks — including the publication of previously sealed pages from a congressional report. The United States should stop pretending that the Saudis are a reliable counterterrorism ally. We should be exposing and condemning the regime’s enforcement of barbaric sharia corporal penalties, as well as sharia’s systematic discrimination against women, apostates, non-Muslims, Muslim minorities, and homosexuals.

As I’ve previously argued, there is also no reason why the Obama administration could not negotiate with the Saudis in an effort to create a fund to compensate 9/11 victims. The Saudis would of course be resistant, but we have cards to play in such a negotiation. Plus, the Saudis might well prefer to appear magnanimous in contributing to a fund than suffer the indignity of being found culpable for 9/11 in legal proceedings. It may not work, but it is worth trying.

Furthermore, there is no restriction, and should be none, on civil lawsuits against individual Saudi citizens and entities that are complicit in terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks. We should be more aggressive in prosecuting Saudi entities, including “charities,” that provide material support to terrorism — an imperative President Obama has slackened on in the name of appeasing Islamists.

Nevertheless, a foreign government is not like a private litigant, and has historically not been treated as such. Real security depends on maintaining the international system of sovereign states that respect each other’s sovereignty. It is the transnational progressives who envision a post-sovereign world in which unelected judges and international organizations call the tune, undermining the prerogatives of nationhood and democratic self-determination. (See, e.g., my review in The New Criterion of Justice Stephen Breyer’s The Court and the World.) Why would Republicans want to contribute to that effort?

Obviously, the bipartisan legislation is popular: We would all like to see the 9/11 families made as whole as possible (though their losses can never really be fully compensated). And we’d like to see the Saudis get their well-deserved comeuppance as a leading sponsor of jihadist terror.

A great deal of long-term damage, though, can be done by something that, however fleetingly popular, sets a terrible precedent. This is a wrong-headed bill, and President Obama is right to veto it.

 Andrew CMcCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Yes, Congress Has the Power to Impeach Hillary Clinton

impeach-hillary-clinton-congress-has-powerNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy — September 6, 2016

For months, I have been arguing that Hillary Clinton should be impeached. It is all well and good to prosecute a former government official for any crimes she has committed. Indeed, the Constitution expressly provides for criminal prosecution in addition to impeachment. Nevertheless, for the Framers — and, if we had common sense, for us — the imperative was to deprive a corrupt person of any further opportunity to abuse government power. Whether the official should also be convicted and sent to prison was not unimportant but, in the greater scheme of things, decidedly secondary.

Interestingly, the main pushback I received upon positing this argument was not that Mrs. Clinton is undeserving of impeachment. That, of course, is a measure of the seriousness of her high crimes and misdemeanors: the e-mail scandal; the reckless mishandling of classified information that has surely exposed our national-defense secrets to hostile powers; the mass destruction of thousands of government records after Congress asked for them; the obstruction of government investigations; the serial lies to Congress and the public; the shocking failure to provide security for Americans stationed in Benghazi and the failure to attempt to rescue them during a terrorist siege; the lies to the American people and to the families of murdered American officials about the cause of the attack; the trumping up of a prosecution against the video producer scapegoated for the Benghazi attack; the Clinton Foundation corruption involving the sale of influence for donations, the favors done for shady benefactors at the expense of national security, and the use of the State Department as an arm of the Clinton pay-to-play enterprise.

No, the main objection to impeachment is the claim that, because the former secretary of state does not currently hold public office, there is nothing from which to remove her. Hence, as a non-incumbent who merely seeks the nation’s highest office — after proving herself manifestly unfit in a subordinate office — she is said to be immune from impeachment. How could she be impeached from the presidency, the question is posed, if she is not president? How could she be removed from an office she does not hold based on offenses not committed while wielding presidential power?

These questions and the non-incumbency theory behind them fundamentally misconstrue the constitutional remedy of impeachment, which is not limited to removal from power but includes disqualification from future office. Moreover, their premise is wrong: The proceeding against Clinton would not be a presidential impeachment; it would be an impeachment based on her abuses of power as secretary of state, which would have the constitutional effect of disqualifying her for the presidency.

The Constitution does not limit impeachment to incumbent officials. Article I endows the House of Representatives with the “sole Power of Impeachment” — i.e., the power to file articles of impeachment. It further empowers the Senate with “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” Significantly, in prescribing the standard for conviction in the Senate, Article I, Section 3 states that “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present” (emphasis added).

Note carefully: The Constitution does not say the impeached person must be a current officeholder. As we shall see, that makes perfect sense: The point of impeachment is to deny power to any person — not necessarily an incumbent official — whose high crimes and misdemeanors have demonstrated unfitness for a high public trust.

Read more

Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Also see:

Multiple Outrages in Clinton-Obama Benghazi Obstruction

obama-hillary-benghazi-casketsNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 30, 2016:

As Ian reports, it has now come to light that Hillary Clinton attempted to destroy about 30 emails related to the 2012 Benghazi massacre. They were recovered by the FBI, notwithstanding the use by Mrs. “Like With a Cloth or Something” of an advanced software program – “BleachBit” – in a willful effort to erase the contents of her servers so thoroughly that no one would be able to recover her emails (many of which were government records, which it is a felony to hoard and destroy).

Obviously, these emails were kept from the congressional committees that investigated the Benghazi massacre. Mrs. Clinton was also clearly trying to shield them from discovery by defense lawyers in the prosecution of the lone terrorist the Obama administration has thus far charged (in connection with an attack that involved scores ofjihadists whom Obama promised to “bring to justice”).

The depth of Mrs. Clinton’s misconduct regarding the unlawful e-mail system and the obstruction of investigations into a terrorist attack in which four Americans were killed is breathtaking – as is the media’s indifference to it. As I’ve repeatedly argued, Clinton ought to be impeached. How much more contempt for Congress does she need to exhibit before some dim memory of self-respect moves lawmakers to take some action?

Nearly as reprehensible, however, is the Obama administration at large. Evidently, it has just today gotten around to telling a United States court that these 30 emails have never been disclosed, even though they have been sought for years, the Justice Department has known the FBI had them for months, and the State Department, too, has to have known they were in the possession of the administration as it litigated Freedom of Information Act claims yet said nothing.

Just as astounding: In making their grudging disclosure today, administration lawyers claimed that they needed another month (until the end of September) to review the emails so that classified information could be redacted before they are disclosed.

Mind you: Mrs. Clinton told us there were no government-business related emails on her servers and certainly no classified information. It turned out there were tens of thousands of government-related emails, with thousands containing classified information. Clinton lawlessly withheld these emails for years, and the executive branch has known about them for months. Indeed, the FBI director told Congress and the public that the FBI went through a painstaking process with intelligence agencies to determine which of the recovered emails had classified information in them. And yet, despite all that, the State Department has the audacity to tell a federal judge that it needs another 30 days to review less than three dozen emails?

Seriously?

When I was a federal prosecutor, neither I nor any of the government lawyers I worked with would have had the nerve to look a federal judge in the eye and make such a mind-blowing request. We’d have been too worried about what we’d say when the judge inevitably asked, “Why am I just hearing about this now?” – and ordered us to produce affidavits from every government official potentially involved in the delay while all these investigations and FOIA requests regarding Benghazi were underway.

The judge, in this instance, is Amit P. Mehta. Judge Mehta has stellar academic qualifications. But he is also a 45-year-old Obama appointee who has been on the bench for less than two years. This is a political case, and the most politicized administration in history has just essentially asked a judge to play ball. So far, Mehta is putting up some resistance, telling the administration it has a week to explain why the review and disclosure of so few emails should take so long. But let’s be real: A week is considerably more time than he should have given the administration to produce the long overdue emails, not to rationalize why more time is needed to produce them.

Does anybody care how outrageous this is?

Also see:

Of Course There Should Be an Ideological Test in Immigration

immigration-ideological-test-islamists-can-be-denied-admission-b

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 20, 2016:

Imagine an American government official, interviewing an alien seeking admission to our country from, say, Syria:

U.S. official: “Will you support the United States Constitution?”

Syrian alien: “Well, sure, except that I believe the government should be overseen by a caliph, who must be Muslim and male, and who must rule in accordance with Islamic law, which no man-made law may contradict. None of this ‘We the People’ stuff; Allah is the sovereign. Non-Muslims should not be required to convert to Islam, of course, but they must submit to the authority of Islamic law — which requires them to live in the second-class status of dhimmitude and to pay a poll tax for that privilege.”

“I also believe women must be subservient to men, and that men are permitted to beat their wives if they are disobedient — especially if they refuse sex, in which they must engage on demand. There is no such thing as marital rape, and proving non-marital rape requires testimony from four male witnesses. Outside the home, a woman should cover herself in drab from head to toe. A woman’s testimony in court should be worth only half of a man’s, and her inheritance rights similarly discounted. Men should be able to marry up to four women — women, however, are limited to marrying one man.”

“Oh, and Muslims who renounce Islam should be put to death . . . as should homosexuals . . . and blasphemers . . . and adulterers — at least the ones we don’t let off with a mere scourging. The penalty for theft should be amputation of the right hand (for highway robbery, the left foot is also amputated); and for drinking alcohol, the offender is to be scourged with 40 stripes.”

“There are a few other odds and ends — you know, jihad and whatnot. But other than that, will I support the Constitution? Sure thing.”

U.S. official: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second. That’s not supporting the Constitution. That would be destroying the Constitution.”

Syrian alien: “Yeah, maybe so. But it’s my religion.”

U.S. official: “Oh, your religion. Why didn’t you say so? I thought you were spouting some anti-American political ideology. But as long as you say it’s your religion, no problem. C’mon in!”

This conversation is impossible to imagine because . . . it would be honest. In the decades-long onslaught of radical Islam against the United States, honesty went out with the benighted notions that we should “know thine enemy” and, God forbid, train our national-security agents in that enemy’s ideology, methods, and objectives.

In our alternative universe, you are not supposed to remember that there is an American constitutional framework of liberty, popular sovereignty, and equality before the law.

You are not supposed to realize that aliens are expected to exhibit fidelity to this constitutional framework as a precondition to joining our society.

You are not supposed to know that there is an Islamic law, sharia, that has far more to do with governance, economics, warfare, civil rights, domestic relations, criminal prosecution, and fashion than it does with spiritual life.

And you are absolutely not supposed to grasp that sharia is antithetical to the Constitution, to the very foundational American principle that the people may make law for themselves, live as they see fit, and chart their own destiny.

You are not supposed to connect the dots and ask, “Well, how is it conceivable that any sharia-adherent alien could faithfully pledge allegiance to our Constitution?”

So, instead, we shrug our shoulders, mumble something about “freedom of religion,” and bury our heads back in the sand — as if the structure of government and the decision of which limb to smite for which larceny had anything to do with religion in a free society that rejects the establishment of any state religion and separates spiritual from political life.

Sharia is not religion. Sharia is a totalitarian societal structure and legal corpus that anti-American radicals seek to impose. Yes, their motivation for doing so is their interpretation of their religion — the fundamentalist, literalist construction of Islam. But that does not make sharia itself a matter of “religion” in the Western sense, even if vast numbers of Arab Muslims — for whom there is no cognizable separation of mosque and state — say otherwise. If Karl Marx had said, “The workers must control the means of production because God says so,” that would not have transmogrified the tyranny of Communism into the “freedom of religion.”

Two things flow from this.

The first involves immigration. As we’ve previously demonstrated, there is no constitutional prohibition against considering religion in deciding which aliens to allow into the United States — immigration is a privilege, not a right; and our Constitution is security for Americans, not a weapon for aliens to use against Americans.

Nevertheless, even if there were a constitutional bar against “religious tests,” sharia is not religion. There are no constitutional constraints against excluding aliens on grounds of anti-American political ideology. Excluding anti-Americans from America is common sense and was regarded as such for much of our history. In a time of radical Islamic threat to our national security, Donald Trump is right to propose that aliens from sharia-supremacist areas be carefully vetted for adherence to anti-constitutional principles.

Leftists — those notorious disciples of the Framers — claim this is unconstitutional. When shown it is not, they claim that it is against our “tradition” — being, you know, big fans of American tradition. When shown that this is not the case either, when shown that our history supports ideological exclusion of anti-Americans, leftists are down to claiming, “It is not who we are” — by which they always mean it is not who they are, and who they would force the rest of us to be.

A short lesson in how we got to be who “we” are. In the last decades of the Cold War, it became progressive dogma that the Soviet Union was forever, that it was an empire we could do business with, arrive at a modus vivendi with. The real evil, the Left decided, were the anti-Communists — it was their provocations against the Soviets, not the Soviets themselves, that could trigger Armageddon. Therefore, they reckoned, we needed to do away with all this overheated nonsense about how Communists seek the violent overthrow of the United States. That, to the Left, was just a bunch of ideological mumbo-jumbo that nobody ever really took seriously (even if Bill Ayers hadn’t gotten the memo).

One major consequence of this conventional wisdom was the campaign waged by leading Democrats to eliminate radical ideology as a basis for excluding aliens. They championed laws decreeing that “mere” radical ideology, in the absence of some provable connection to violent action, should not bar radicals from entering our country. Thus, the “principle” that America must not vet would-be immigrants for anti-Americanism is not derived from the U.S. Constitution, from our traditions, or from who “we” supposedly are. It stems from the Left’s conviction that Communist ideology was not a real threat to America.

Then, about 14 months after the Soviet Union collapsed, jihadists bombed the World Trade Center. They have been attacking us ever since. See, however you come out on the question of whether Communists really posed a violent threat to our national security, there cannot be such a question with respect to radical Islam. The front line of that movement is the mass murderers, not the professors. With radical Islam, the threat of violence is not an abstract academic proposition. It is our reality.

What’s more, we know from hard experience, and from observing Europe’s new reality, that the threat is not just the jihadists. Equally important are the sharia-supremacist ideologues who seek to forge autonomous enclaves where sharia becomes the de facto law, and where jihadist radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, and training have safe haven. Our legitimate worries are not limited to the trained jihadist who infiltrates today; they include the sharia supremacist who will get his hooks into young Muslims and turn them into the trained jihadists of tomorrow.

The second thing to consider is Islam. As Robert R. Reilly unfolded in his essential book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, there is an Islamic tradition of rational inquiry, deeply influenced by Greek philosophy, that has been overwhelmed for nearly a millennium by the fundamentalist tradition. The rationalists may be out-muscled, but they are not dormant. They are Muslims who embrace Western culture, reject the imposition of antiquated sharia as a system of law and governance, and challenge the premises and the aggression of the fundamentalists. They are Muslims who, I can attest, help us infiltrate terror cells and prevent attacks. They are Muslims who fight in our armed forces, work in our intelligence services, serve in our police departments, and thrive in our economy.

We do not have to exaggerate their numbers to recognize that these Muslims exist and that they are our allies — that they are part of us. To appreciate their value and their contributions to our society, we do not need to pretend that they typify Islam as it is lived in Syria, Saudi Arabia, or the no-go zones of Paris.

If we want to win the crucial ideological component of radical Islam’s war against us, we should be empowering these pro-Western Muslims rather than inviting the sharia-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood into our policy-making councils. Like protecting our nation, empowering pro-Western Muslims requires an immigration system that welcomes those who will support our Constitution, and turns away those who would sweep it aside.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Also see:

McCarthy: Obama’s Iraq Policy Did Not Create ISIS

isis militants in RaqqaOur challenge in the Middle East is that sharia supremacism fills all vacuums.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Au. 13, 2016:

The early Cold War wisdom that “we must stop politics at the water’s edge” has never been entirely true. In endeavors as human as politics, no such altruistic aspiration ever will be. But Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s adage does reflect a principle critical to effective national security: The United States is imperiled when partisan politics distorts our understanding of the world and the threats it presents.

We’ve been imperiled for a long time now. The most salient reason for that has been the bipartisan, politically correct refusal to acknowledge and confront the Islamic roots of the threat to the West. It has prevented us from grasping not only why jihadists attack us but also that jihadists are merely the militant front line of the broader civilizational challenge posed by sharia supremacism.

Inevitably, when there is a profound threat and an overarching strategic failure to apprehend it, disasters abound; and rather than becoming occasions for reassessment of the flawed bipartisan strategy, those disasters become grist for partisan attacks. From 2004 through 2008, the specious claim was that President Bush’s ouster of Saddam Hussein created terrorism in Iraq. Now it is that President Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” as Donald Trump put it this week.

The point here is not to bash Trump. He is hardly the first to posit some variation of the storyline that Obama’s premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq led to the “vacuum” in which, we are to believe, the Islamic State spontaneously generated. Indeed, this narrative is repeated on Fox News every ten minutes or so.

The point is to try to understand what we are actually dealing with, how we got to this place, and what the security implications are. There is no denying that American missteps have exacerbated a dangerous threat environment in the Middle East to some degree. It is spurious, though, to suggest that any of these errors, or all of them collectively, caused the catastrophe that has unfolded.

The problem for the United States in this region is Islam — specifically, the revolutionary sharia-supremacist version to which the major players adhere. There is no vacuum. There never has been a vacuum. What we have is a bubbling cauldron of aggressive political Islam with its always attendant jihadist legions.

The question is always: How to contain the innate aggression? The fantasy answers are: (a) let’s convert them to Western democracy, and (b) let’s support the secular democrats. In reality, the region does not want Western democracy — it wants sharia (Islamic law), even if there is disagreement about how much sharia and how quickly it should be imposed. And while there are some secular democrats, there are far, far too few of them to compete with either the sharia-supremacist factions or the dictatorial regimes — they can only fight the latter by aligning with the former. At best, the secularists provide hope for an eventual evolution away from totalitarian sharia culture; for now, however, it is absurd for Beltway Republicans to contend that ISIS emerged because Obama failed to back these “moderates” in Iraq and Syria.

The fact that top Republicans use the term “moderate” rather than “secular democrat” should tell us all we need to know. They realize there are not enough secularists to fight either Bashar Assad or ISIS, much less both of them. For all their justifiable ridiculing of Obama’s lexicon, Republicans invoke “moderates” for the same reason Obama uses terms like “workplace violence” — to obscure unpleasant truths about radical Islam. In this instance, the truth is that the “moderates” they claim Obama should have backed include the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-Western Islamist factions, including al-Qaeda. Of course, if they told you that, there wouldn’t be much bite in their critique of Obama’s infatuation with the Muslim Brotherhood . . . and you might even start remembering that, during the Bush years, the GOP couldn’t do enough “outreach” to “moderate Islamists.”

The Middle East is aflame because of sharia supremacism and the jihadism that ideology always produces. That was the problem long before there was an ISIS. The Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria, like other Middle Eastern dictatorships, kept sharia supremacism in check by alternatively persecuting Islamist insurgents, turning them against each other, or using them to harass Israel and the West. In Iran, to the contrary, the shah was overthrown by a revolutionary Shiite jihadist movement that he failed to keep in check.

Bush, with what started out as bipartisan support, ousted the Iraqi regime without any discernible plan for dealing with Iran, Syria, and the wider war — delusionally calculating that Iran might actually be helpful because of its supposedly keen interest in Iraqi stability. Iran, of course, went about the business of fueling the terrorist insurgency against American troops. Saddam’s fall unleashed the competing Islamist forces that continue to tear Iraq apart. The thought that we could democratize the culture was fantasy; far from taming sharia supremacism, the government we birthed in Baghdad was converted by the Iran-backed Shiite parties into a mechanism for abusing Sunnis. Naturally, the Sunnis turned to their own sharia supremacists for their defense.

It is fair enough to argue that Obama should not have pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq just as the security situation was badly deteriorating in 2011. But a big part of the reason that Democrats thrashed Republicans in the 2006 midterms, and that Obama was elected in 2008, was mounting American opposition to maintaining our troops there. Critics, moreover, conveniently omit to mention that (a) the agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw our troops on a timeline unrelated to conditions on the ground was made by Bush, not Obama, and that (b) Bush reluctantly made that agreement precisely because Iraqis were demanding that Americans get out of their country.

The war became unpopular in the United States because it seemed unconnected to U.S. security interests: so much sacrifice on behalf of ingrates, while Iran exploited the mayhem to muscle in. There was no public appetite for a long-range U.S. military presence. What would be the point, when Bush had given the increasingly hostile Iraqi government the power to veto U.S. military operations to which it objected, and had agreed that our forces would not use Iraqi territory as a base of operations against Iran, Syria, or any other country? (See 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, articles 4 and 27.) This was not post-war Europe or Japan, where the enemy had been vanquished. Most Americans did not see the point of further risking American lives in order to stop anti-American Shiites and anti-American Sunnis from having at each other, as they’ve been doing to great lethal effect for 14 centuries.

ISIS (now, the Islamic State) got its start as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the primary culprit (along with Iran) in the Iraqi civil war. ISIS thus long predates Obama’s presidency. Furthermore, the oft-repeated GOP talking-point that al-Qaeda in Iraq was defeated by the Bush troop surge is a gross exaggeration. Our jihadist enemies could not be defeated in Iraq, because Iraq was never their sole base of operations. Since we’ve never had a strategy to defeat them globally, we were never going to do more than temporarily tamp them down in Iraq. They were always going to wait us out. They were always going to reemerge, in Iraq and elsewhere.

One of the places in which they regrouped was Syria. That made perfect sense, because Syria — the client of al-Qaeda’s long-time supporter, Iran — was always a waystation for jihadists seeking to fight American and Western forces in Iraq. Meanwhile, there was an internal Syrian uprising against the Assad regime. To be sure, the revolt had some secular components; but it was thoroughly coopted by the Muslim Brotherhood (as analyst Hassan Hassan comprehensively outlined in Foreign Affairs in early 2013).

Notwithstanding the Republicans’ ISIS myopia, it was not the only jihadist presence in Syria — not even close. Al-Qaeda still had a franchise there (al-Nusrah), along with several other tentacles. Importantly, in its rivalry with breakaway ISIS, al-Qaeda has adopted the Muslim Brotherhood approach of ground-up revolution — the antithesis of the Islamic State’s top-down strategy of forcibly expanding its declared caliphate and implementing sharia full-scale.

As Tom Joscelyn perceptively explained in 2015 congressional testimony, al-Qaeda is attempting to spark jihadist uprisings in Muslim-majority countries while appealing to local populations with fundamentalist education initiatives. Like the Brotherhood, al-Qaeda leaders now preach a gradualist implementation of sharia, which is more appealing to most Middle Eastern Muslims than ISIS’s inflexibility and emphasis on sharia’s barbaric hudud penalties (mutilation, stoning, scourging, etc.). Understand: Al-Qaeda is just as anti-American as it has ever been. In Syria, however, its shrewd approach has enabled the network to insinuate itself deeply into the forces that oppose both Assad and ISIS. So has the Brotherhood.

These forces are the “moderates” that Republicans, apparently including Trump, claim Obama failed to support, creating the purported “vacuum” out of which ISIS emerged. The charge is doubly specious because Obama actually did provide these “moderates” with plenty of support. The GOP rap on Obama is that he failed to jump with both feet into the Syria civil war and take the side of “moderates.” But jumping in with both feet, at the urging of Beltway Republicans, is exactly what Obama did on behalf of the “moderates” in Libya. How’d that work out?

Our challenge in the Middle East is that sharia supremacism fills all vacuums. It was this ideology that created ISIS long before President Obama came along. And if ISIS were to disappear tomorrow, sharia supremacism would still be our challenge. It is critical to be an effective political opposition to the Obama Left. But being effective means not letting the political part warp our judgment, especially where national security is concerned.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Here is another good opposing view: