From 9/11 to Spygate: The National Security Deep State

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, June 14, 2018:

On September 4, 2001, Robert Mueller took over the FBI. At his confirmation hearings, fraud had overshadowed discussions of terrorism. And as FBI Director, Mueller quickly diverged from the common understanding that the attacks that killed 3,000 people had been an act of war rather than a crime.

In 2008, Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, who had been unleashed from Guantanamo Bay, carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq. Al-Ajmi had been represented by Thomas Wilner who was being paid by the Kuwaiti government.

Wilner was a pal of Robert Mueller. And when the families were having dinner together, Mueller got up and said, “I want to toast Tom Wilner. He’s doing just what an American lawyer should do.”

“I don’t know what he was doing from inside the government. I’d like to find out,” Wilner mused.

We know some of what Mueller was doing. The same official who paved the way for raiding the president’s lawyer, who illegally seized material from the Trump transition team and whose case is based in no small part on illegal eavesdropping, fought alongside Comey against surveilling terrorists. Materials involving the Muslim Brotherhood were purged. Toward the dawn of the second Obama term, Mueller met with CAIR and other Islamist groups and a green curtain fell over national security.

But the surveillance wasn’t going anywhere. Instead it was being redirected to new targets.

Those targets were not, despite the wave of hysterical conspiracy theories convulsing the media, the Russians. Mueller’s boss was still quite fond of them. Barack Obama did have foreign enemies that he wanted to spy on. And there were plenty of domestic enemies who could be caught up in that trap.

By his second term, the amateur was coming to understand the incredible surveillance powers at his disposal and how they could be used to spy on Americans under the pretext of fighting foreign threats.

Two birds. One stone.

While the Mueller purge was going on, Obama was pushing talks with Iran. There was one obstacle and it wasn’t Russia. The Russians were eager to play Obama with a fake nuke deal. It was the Israelis who were the problem. And it was the Israelis who were being spied on by Obama’s surveillance regime.

But it wasn’t just the Israelis.

Iran was Obama’s big shot at a foreign policy legacy. As the year dragged on, it was becoming clear that the Arab Spring wouldn’t be anything he would want to be remembered for. By the time Benghazi went from a humanitarian rescue operation to one of the worst disasters of the term, it was clearly over.

Obama was worried that the Israelis would launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. And the surveillance and media leaks were meant to dissuade the Israelis from scuttling his legacy. But he was also worried about Netanyahu’s ability to persuade American Jews and members of Congress to oppose his nuclear sellout. And that was where the surveillance leapfrogged from foreign to domestic.

The NSA intercepted communications between Israelis and Americans, including members of Congress, and then passed the material along to the White House. Despite worries by some officials that “that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress”, the White House “believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign.”

The precedent was even more troubling than it seemed.

Obama Inc. had defined its position in an unresolved political debate between the White House and Congress as the national interest. And had winkingly authorized surveillance on Congress to protect this policy in a domestic political debate. That precedent would then be used to spy on members of the Trump transition team and to force out Trump’s national security adviser.

National security had become indistinguishable from the agenda of the administration. And that agenda, like the rest of Obama’s unilateral policies, was enshrined as permanent. Instead of President Trump gaining the same powers, his opposition to that agenda was treated as a national security threat.

And once Obama was out of office, Comey and other Obama appointees would protect that agenda.

We still don’t know the full scope of Spygate. But media reports have suggested that Obama officials targeted countries opposed to the Iran sellout, most prominently Israel and the UAE, and then eavesdropped on meetings between them and between figures on the Trump team.

Obama had begun his initial spying as a way of gaining inside information on Netanyahu’s campaign against the Iran deal. But the close election and its aftermath significantly escalated what had been a mere Watergate into an active effort to not only spy, but pursue criminal charges against the political opposition. The surveillance state had inevitably moved on to the next stage, the police state with its informants, dossiers, pre-dawn raids, state’s witnesses, entrapments and still more surveillance.

And the police state requires cops. Someone had to do the dirty work for Susan Rice.

Comey, Mueller and the other cops had likely been complicit in the administration’s abuses. Somewhere along the way, they had become the guys watching over the Watergate burglars. Spying on the political opposition is, short of spying for the enemy, the most serious crime that such men can commit.

Why then was it committed?

To understand that, we have to go back to 9/11. Those days may seem distant now, but the attacks offered a crossroads. One road led to a war against our enemies. The other to minimizing the conflict.

President George W. Bush tried to fight that war, but he was undermined by men like Mueller and Comey. Their view of the war was the same as that of their future boss, not their current one, certainly not the view as the man currently sitting in the White House whom they have tried to destroy.

Every lie has some truth in it. Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty, his frequent claims of allegiance to American ideals, are true, as he sees it, if not as he tells it. Men like Comey and Mueller believed that the real threat came not from Islamic terrorists, but from our overreaction to them. They believed that Bush was a threat. And Trump was the worst threat imaginable who had to be stopped by any means.

What Comey and Mueller are loyal to is the established way of doing things. And they conflate that with our national ideals, as establishment thugs usually do. Neither of them are unique. Washington D.C. is filled with men and women who are registered Republicans, who believe in lowering taxes, who frown at the extremities of identity politics, but whose true faith is in the natural order of government.

Mueller and Comey represent a class. And Obama and Clinton were easily able to corrupt and seduce that class into abandoning its duties and oaths, into serving as its deep state against domestic foes.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? It’s the old question of who watches the watchmen that no society has found a good answer to. And the answer is inevitably that the watchers, watch themselves and everyone else. What began as national security measures against Islamic terrorism was twisted by Obama and his deep state allies into the surveillance of the very people fighting Islamic terrorism.

Spygate was the warped afterbirth of our failure to meaningfully confront Islamic terrorism. Instead, the political allies of the terrorists and the failed watchmen who allowed them to strike so many times, got together to shoot the messengers warning about the terror threat. The problem had never been the lack of power, but the lack of will and the lack of integrity in an establishment unwilling to do its job.

After 9/11, extraordinary national security powers were brought into being to fight Islamic terror. Instead those powers were used to suppress those who told the truth about Islamic terrorism.

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Obama’s Treason: Even Worse Than We Thought

But Leftist Privilege will prevent him from ever being held accountable.

Front Page Magazine, June 7, 2018:

The Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday that “the Obama administration skirted key U.S. sanctions to grant Iran access to billions in hard currency despite public assurances the administration was engaged in no such action, according to a new congressional investigation.”

And it gets even worse: “The investigation, published Wednesday by the House Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, further discloses secret efforts by top Obama administration officials to assure European countries they would receive a pass from U.S. sanctions if they engaged in business with Iran.”

This revelation comes after the news that came to light in February, that, according to Bill Gertz in the Washington Times, “the U.S. government has traced some of the $1.7 billion released to Iran by the Obama administration to Iranian-backed terrorists in the two years since the cash was transferred.”

There is a law that applies to this situation. U.S. Code 2381 says: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

In a sane political environment, Barack Obama would be tried for treason.

Barack Hussein Obama has planted seeds that will be bearing bitter fruit for years, and probably decades, to come. He is, without any doubt, the worst President in American history. Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan? Yes, the doughface Presidents made the Civil War inevitable, but worse came later. Grant? Blind to corruption and out of his depth, but there have been worse than he as well. Wilson? That black-hearted Presbyterian bigot arguably gave the world Hitler and World War II, so he is definitely in the Final Four. Harding? Nah: his tax cuts and return to “normalcy” got the American economy, and the Twenties, roaring. FDR and LBJ gave us the modern welfare state and dependent classes automatically voting Democrat; the full bill on the damage they did hasn’t yet been presented. Nixon? A crook and an economic Leftist, who betrayed Taiwan for the People’s Republic; his record certainly isn’t good. Carter? Nothing good can be said about his four years of sanctimony and incompetence.

But there is one thing Barack Obama has on all competitors: treason.

He showered hundreds of billions of dollars on the Islamic Republic of Iran. There are those who say, “It was their money. It belonged to the Iranian government but was frozen and not paid since 1979.” Indeed, and there was a reason for that: not even Jimmy Carter, who made the Islamic Republic of Iran possible, thought that money, which had been paid by the Shah’s government in a canceled arms deal, belonged to the mullahs who overthrew the Shah. Likewise Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush all thought that the Islamic Republic was not due money that was owed to the Shah.

Only Barack Obama did.

The definition of treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran order their people to chant “Death to America” in mosques every Friday, and repeatedly vow that they will ultimately destroy the United States of America and the state of Israel. How was giving them billions and helping them skirt sanctions applied by the U.S. government not treason?

Other Presidents have been incompetent, corrupt, dishonest, but which has committed treason on a scale to rival the treason of Barack Obama?

The Iranians also operate a global network of jihad terror organizations, one of which, Hizballah, is quite active in Mexico now, with the obvious ultimate intention of crossing the border and committing jihad massacres of Americans. Obama has given a tremendous boost to these initiatives, as well as to Iran’s nuclear program, with his nuclear deal that has given the Iranians hundreds of billions of dollars and essentially a green light to manufacture nuclear weapons, in exchange for absolutely nothing.

There is no telling when the worst consequences of Obama’s aid and comfort to the Islamic Republic of Iran will be felt. But they likely will be felt in one way or another. Even as President Trump moves swiftly to restore sanctions and put Iran on notice that its nuclear activity and global adventurism will not be tolerated, those billions cannot be recovered, and the Iranians have already spent a great deal for their jihad cause.

However this catastrophe plays out, there is one man who will suffer no consequences whatsoever: Barack Obama. That’s Leftist Privilege. It’s good to be a powerful Leftist in Washington nowadays. Laws? Pah! Laws are for conservatives.

Also see:

Agents of Influence: Obama and his advisers, now seeking to shape his legacy, say they are proud they ditched the ‘Washington playbook’ and decided to stay out of the Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East. Only they didn’t. They intervened on behalf of Iran.

The Iran Deal Wasn’t An ‘Alternative To War,’ It Was A Continuation Of War

The Federalist, by Ben Weingarten, My 16, 2018:

The central narrative of the Iran Deal echo chamber run by former President Barack Obama — that it was absolutely necessary to avoid war — is plainly wrong. The Iran Deal was not the “alternative to war.” It was part of the war Iran has been waging against the West and all who refuse to submit to its Khomeinist rule since 1979.

The Khamenei-Rouhani regime merely took advantage of an Obama administration willing to appease at all costs to make Iran the “strong horse” in the Middle East, along with European partners both greedy and fearful, in order to recapitalize and rapidly expand its operations under the veneer of a Swiss cheese “verification regime.”

All that this regime verified was how deluded the progressive Western national security foreign policy establishment was with respect to Tehran’s tyranny. It showed that the establishment was willing not only to legitimize Iran’s totalitarian mullocracy, but also to commit to protecting its nuclear infrastructure and even to subject itself to speech-stifling measures barring Western leaders from speaking out against the deal.

The Iran Deal was the poisonous fertilizer from which sprung an Iran confident enough to launch an armed drone over Israeli airspace, and for the first time to directly attackIsrael with a barrage of missiles from Syria.

The defensive actions that Israel is presently taking — striking at strategically significant Iranian military sites in Syria in response to Iranian aggression, presumably preparing to grapple with Iran proxy Hezbollah and the 150,000-plus missiles pointed at it from Lebanon, and if necessary striking Iran — reflect the cost of the world’s Chamberlainian bargain that enabled this dire reality.

The godsend of the Iran Deal for the Islamic revolutionary regime made it a question of when, not if Israeli military strikes would begin, because it made Iran’s existential threat to the Jewish state infinitely more acute. Our ally’s movements, and America’s potential comprehensive efforts to counter Iran’s malign influence are the natural defensive response to the jihadist regime’s unabated advance over the Obama years.

We in the West by dint of the Iran Deal helped subsidize — as even Iran colluder, Logan Act violator, and lobbyist-in-chief John Kerry admitted — the exportation of Iran’s bloody jihad, to the tune of billions of dollars. By facilitating trade through sanctions relief consistent with Iran’s constitution, which states that its “economy is a means that is not expected to do anything except better facilitate reaching the goal [of furthering and exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution],” we have underwritten the economy-controlling Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

But it’s worse than that.

In service of the Iran Deal, we not only allegedly spiked the Project Cassandra cars-for-cocaine terror financing scheme, enabled Iran’s gas-for-gold sanctions evasion operation, and paid Iransom, but also permitted the mushrooming of a broad array of additional malign activities in our own hemisphere. Seemingly unchecked by Western law enforcement and intelligence, we allowed Iran’s proxy forces in cahoots with other criminal networks to engage in widespread drug dealing, arms smuggling, money laundering and other illicit activities generating big money for the Khomeinist regime, while posing a clear and present danger to the U.S. homeland.

To channel former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the known unknowns and unknown unknowns of what the West was willing to sacrifice so as not to scuttle its Iran Deal appeasement are likely incalculably large. Meanwhile, we encouraged the growth of a Shia Crescent and commanded Israel to lay off, putting the Jewish nation’s existence at risk. This was the worst trade in history — Israel for Iran.

In short: The Iran Deal provided the Khomeinist crocodiles with a cover of peaceful engagement for gullible useful idiots and cowardly but avaricious trading partners, while it expanded its power globally. The Obama administration ceded the Middle East to Iran and its partner Russia, and sought to elevate its Sunni jihadist counterparts, whose goals often overlap with those of the Shia, while berating our Israeli ally and subordinating the Sunni monarchies.

The Iran Deal, and the concessions made in its run-up, was not the cessation of war. It was part of Iran’s war.

The pushback we are beginning to see from the Israelis, and perhaps by the U.S. government, is merely a necessary response to Iran’s ongoing attack. This is not as the Left and Islamic supremacists will argue “neocons” (often a thinly-veiled dog whistle for Jews) rushing to war, but rather the rational reaction to Iran’s accelerating march.

Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s a formerly pro-Western, relatively liberal, relatively secular, modern nation. There is no need for invasion, occupation and re-casting of a Sharia dictatorship as a Jeffersonian democracy. Rather what is needed is a concerted set of actions to bring down the jihadist regime through means peaceful and militant, overt and covert, enabling the Iranian people to thwart the Islamic revolution.

The Iran Deal was not even a pause to war, it was the means to a far more deadly one — or from the mullah’s perspective to strengthening to such an extent that the West would not have the will to engage them, lest we open ourselves up to massive bloodshed and destruction.

Jettisoning it, snapping back sanctions, imposing far harsher ones and using every element of national power to collapse the mullocracy is the only way to reverse the gains of the jihadist march the West bankrolled.

Ben Weingarten is a senior contributor at The Federalist and senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. He is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media, a media consulting and production company dedicated to advancing conservative principles. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.

Assad’s Horror, and Those Who Enable It

hoto credit: Muhammed es Sami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Demonstrators draw picture on a wall to describe the poisonous gas attack and protest against the Assad regime’s alleged gas attack on Douma in Syria on April 08, 2018

Russia, Iran, and North Korea all play a role in the Syrian regime’s chemical attacks on its own people.

The Weekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, April 8, 2018:

Horrific images from the aftermath of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria are once again circulating online. The scene of this gassing is the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. Both the location and the timing of this apparent war crime are symbolically important. And while the immediate focus will be on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his willingness to gas his own people, any long-term solution will require understanding the role of the rogue states that enable and support him.

It was one year ago, on the morning of April 7, 2017, that the Trump administration launched punitive airstrikes against Assad’s regime at the Shayrat Airfield in response to a Sarin gas attack days earlier. Those targeted bombings were intended to send a message to Assad: Stop using banned weapons of war against your own people. Assad was undeterred.

He had failed to adhere to a previous deal, negotiated by the Obama administration and Russia, that was intended to end his chemical weapons capability. The concord was struck in the aftermath of the August 21, 2013, nerve agent attack on eastern Ghouta–the same suburb hit in the last 24 hours. The U.S. government determined that the Assad regime was responsible and “that 1,429 people were killed … including at least 426 children.”

Just a few weeks later, in September 2013, the U.S. and Russia agreed to “special procedures” for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.” Secretary of State John Kerry claimed in 2014 that the agreement had worked, saying “we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out” of Syria. That obviously wasn’t true, or at least highly misleading, as Assad retained the capability to regenerate and use certain weapons.

And now—one year after the U.S. attempted to punish Assad with airstrikes, and in the same neighborhood that was terrorized in 2013— the Syrian regime has seemingly struck again.

Many details concerning this most recent attack remain to be confirmed. But the world has already learned some valuable lessons regarding the behavior of rogue actors when it comes their pursuit and use of banned weapons.

There is no real question that Assad has continued to use chemical weapons even after he agreed to give them up. As the State Department was quick to note yesterday, the U.S. has concluded that he was responsible for the April 4, 2017, Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun—the same incident which prompted the Trump administration’s bombing. And both the U.S. government and the UN have found that Assad’s goons used other chemical weapons, namely crude chlorine bombs, more than once. While some of these bombs struck areas held by jihadi rebels, they have also indiscriminately killed civilians.

Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them. Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In fact, the Assad-Putin-Khamenei axis has a legion of online apologists who argue that the high-profile chemical weapons assaults aren’t really the work of the Syrian “president” at all. This noxious advocacy on behalf of mass murderers is readily available on social media.

It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.

In March, the U.N. issued a report on North Korea’s active “prohibited military cooperation projects…stretching from Africa to the Asia-Pacific region, including ongoing ballistic missile cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic and Myanmar, widespread conventional arms deals and cyberoperations to steal military secrets.”

The U.N. traced a number of visits by North Korean officials to Syrian soil, finding that “multiple groups of ballistic missile technicians” have been inside Syria. Citing intelligence received from a “Member State,” the U.N. explained that these “technicians … continued to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzah, Adra and Hama.” The Assad regime tried to deflect this accusation by claiming the North Koreans were in town simply for “training athletics and gymnastics.”

But the U.N. documented additional suspicious details, including previously unknown illicit shipments and transfers. The U.N. investigative body’s “investigations into several cases of hitherto unreported arms shipments and cooperation with front companies of designated entities between 2010 and 2017 showed further evidence of arms embargo and other violations, including through the transfer of items with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons” programs.

In one such transfer, the North Koreans provided the Assad regime with “special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons” programs. U.N. member states also interdicted suspicious shipments, including bricks and tiles that may be used as part of a chemical weapons program. Although the U.N. found these specific materials weren’t banned, a member state noted that they “can be used to build bricks for the interior walls of [a] chemical factory.”

The U.N. found it especially suspicious that North Korean front companies were doing business with the Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which oversees Assad’s chemical weapons development.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 271 SSRC staffers in the aftermath of the April 2017 Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Treasury explained that the SSRC is “the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.” And the sanctioned SSRC employees “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012.”

Therefore, the U.N.’s conclusion that North Korea has been working with the SSRC is especially noteworthy.

The U.S. and its allies will continue to face daunting challenges when it comes to restraining rogue nations and their pursuit of banned weapons. As Syria’s ongoing work on chemical weapons shows, such proliferation concerns often involve multiple rogue states. Assad’s chemical weapons attacks inside Syria are principally his own doing, but not solely. He has friends outside of Syria who are willing to help.

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Also see:

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Hayward: Free Syrian Army, Once the Great ‘Moderate’ Hope, Joins Turkey to Attack Kurds

Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 6, 2018:

Turkey has conducted its “Operation Olive Branch” military incursion into Syria in concert with the Free Syrian Army, which has helped Turkish forces take control of several villages in the Afrin region.

This is an uncomfortable development for U.S. policymakers because both the Kurds and Free Syrian Army were considered battlefield allies of the United States in the war against the Islamic State, and the FSA was seen as the model white-hat rebel group when the Obama administration and intervention-minded Republicans were desperately seeing “moderate” forces in the Syrian rebellion to support.

In fact, as recently as last spring, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) strongly urged increased support for the Free Syrian Army as part of the U.S. strategy for stabilizing Syria while holding the regime of dictator Bashar Assad at bay.

McCain has long been prominent among those convinced the Free Syrian Army was America’s best bet for a terrorist-free moderate rebel group to arm and support, a step he felt the Obama administration was much too reluctant to take while Russia was busy shipping arms to the Syrian regime.

He made a surprise visit to the Turkey-Syria border in 2013 to meet with FSA leaders who wanted American heavy weapons, up to and including anti-aircraft weapons, and American air support against FSA adversaries such as Hezbollah. At the time, the FSA claimed to be running perilously low on munitions, which does not seem to be a problem now that they are fighting on Turkey’s behalf against the Kurds.

McCain has not responded well to contrary arguments about the FSA, as when he reportedly stormed out of the room during a 2014 presentation by Syrian Christians who said there were Islamist fighters among the FSA’s ranks.

There was a good deal of confusion surrounding support for the Free Syrian Army in the Obama administration, which occasionally seemed uncertain about what kind of support it was sending them. Critics complained effective support for moderate rebel groups was announced too late, after too much dithering, and was delivered too long after it was finally announced. The aid program that eventually materialized was an unserious disaster.

Whether reluctantly as with Obama, or eagerly as with McCain, plans for zero-footprint Syrian intervention kept circling back around to the Free Syrian Army, despite persistent warnings it contained some unlovely people and outright terrorists. One reason for this default support is that many of the other options for American support were Kurdish groups or members of Kurdish-dominated umbrella organizations, which was problematic because U.S. policymakers wanted to avoid conflict with the Turkish and Iraqi governments. Going all-in on the Kurds would inevitably bring accusations that America was supporting Kurdish nationalists, separatists, or terrorists (as Turkey would have it).

To this very day, Turkey denounces American support for the Kurds as direct support for terrorists, no different in principle from shipping arms to the Islamic State, which is something the Turks also charge America with doing when they are especially upset. It may come as some small consolation to know that everyone involved in the Syrian quagmire accuses everyone else of supporting terrorism, and they quite frequently have a point, since even the better rebel groups have been known to cooperate with powerful terrorist forces like al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front from time to time. It is difficult for outside powers to be certain that a weapon given to a white-hat moderate rebel today will not be handed over, voluntarily or involuntarily, to a terrorist or war criminal tomorrow.

In a 2013 profile of the Free Syrian Army, the BBC noted it was a “loose network of brigades rather than a unified fighting force,” with very little operational control exercised by appealing and high-minded spokesmen like Brigadier General Salim Idris.

Brigades aligned with the Free Syrian Army and its spinoff organizations retained “separate identities, agendas and commands.” The BBC noted that some of them “work with hardline Islamist groups that alarm the West, such as Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.”

Deutsche Welle recalls that, a few weeks ago, a delegation from the Free Syrian Army came to Washington and argued that if the CIA did not resume military aid frozen by the Trump administration, its “moderate” forces would have no choice but to look elsewhere for support. Virtually overnight, the FSA signed up with Turkey to work as mercenaries in its war against the Syrian Kurds, which DW notes is difficult to square with the FSA’s nominal mission of battling the tyranny of Bashar Assad on behalf of the Syrian people. It also argues against viewing the FSA as the kind of staunch moderate ally who can be entrusted with American weapons as they fight a noble battle to liberate Syria from cruel dictatorship.

“The Free Syrian Army practically doesn’t exist,” DW quotes Mideast expert Kamal Sido telling a German broadcaster. “The Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen hiding various names, and if you look at the names, at these groups’ videos, you’ll find they are radical Islamist, Jihadist groups.”

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution contributed the observation that nearly 80 distinct factions now identify themselves with the FSA brand, and while some are moderate in outlook, others are hardline Islamist radicals. The group as a whole is moving inexorably into the orbit of radicals, and Islamist patrons like Turkey’s Erdogan, simply because they tend to be better-armed and more ruthlessly effective on the battlefield.

If such groups ever succeeded in overthrowing Assad, they would likely either replace him with an Islamist tyranny or turn their guns against their erstwhile moderate allies – which is essentially what the FSA is doing to the Syrian Kurds right now. At this point, with Russian and Iranian support firmly behind Assad, his ouster seems unlikely, so the “rebels” are largely fighting for concessions at the negotiating table and perhaps a degree of autonomy to run their own little fiefdoms within postwar Syria. Every proposal to arm Syrian groups must carefully consider what those groups actually intend to fight for.

It should also consider how they fight. Syrian Kurds are protesting the brutality of the Turkey-FSA invasion of Afrin, which threatens to push even further into Syria, as President Erdogan has openly called for American troops to get out of his way.

Over the weekend, video footage surfaced that appears to show Free Syrian Army fighters fondling and abusing the corpse of a female Kurdish fighter killed in the Afrin operation. One of them described the woman’s body as “the spoils of war from the female pigs of the PKK,” which is the violent Kurdish separatist organization in Turkey. The Turks insist that all Syrian Kurdish militia forces are allied with the PKK, including those directly supported by the United States.

The Free Syrian Army high command promised to investigate the incident and hold those involved accountable, “if it is verified in accordance with Sharia law and our principles.” The use of Islamic law to decide whether clearly heinous activity constitutes a war crime is not what the Western world should be looking for in a “moderate” ally.

Conversely, the Turks and their allies accuse the Kurds of fighting dirty and allying themselves with the brutal Assad regime, and Kurdish forces have been blamed for civilian deaths from a rocket barrage that struck a refugee camp near the Turkish border on Monday.

Syria is a bloody mess, and white hats are hard to find, but the hellish conundrum is that failure to intervene unleashed a refugee wave that threatens to drown Europe, not to mention a humanitarian disaster within Syria that should be utterly intolerable to the civilized world. The Free Syrian Army clearly is not the easy answer that so many people have so desperately wanted it to be for the past five years. They proved it by joining a Turkish operation that may soon put the lives of American troops at risk and threaten the future of NATO.

Also see:

Civilians in Northern Syria Flee to Caves as Turkish Invasion Barrels On

Russian-Turkish axis in Syria faces meltdown

Syrian Kurds: Russia Pressured Us to Give Afrin to Assad ‘One Day’ Before Turkish Attack

Why Obama Really Spied on Trump

Obama had to spy on Trump to protect himself.

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Sept. 20, 2017:

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

Last week, CNN revealed (and excused) one phase of the Obama spying operation on Trump. After lying about it on MSNBC, Susan Rice admitted unmasking the identities of Trump officials to Congress.

Rice was unmasking the names of Trump officials a month before leaving office. The targets may have included her own successor, General Flynn, who was forced out of office using leaked surveillance.

While Rice’s targets weren’t named, the CNN story listed a meeting with Flynn, Bannon and Kushner.

Bannon was Trump’s former campaign chief executive and a senior adviser. Kushner is a senior adviser. Those are exactly the people you spy on to get an insight into what your political opponents plan to do.

Now the latest CNN spin piece informs us that secret FISA orders were used to spy on the conversations of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.  The surveillance was discontinued for lack of evidence and then renewed under a new warrant. This is part of a pattern of FISA abuses by Obama Inc. which never allowed minor matters like lack of evidence to dissuade them from new FISA requests.

Desperate Obama cronies had figured out that they could bypass many of the limitations on the conventional investigations of their political opponents by ‘laundering’ them through national security.

If any of Trump’s people were talking to non-Americans, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) could be used to spy on them. And then the redacted names of the Americans could be unmasked by Susan Rice, Samantha Power and other Obama allies. It was a technically legal Watergate.

If both CNN stories hold up, then Obama Inc. had spied on two Trump campaign leaders.

Furthermore the Obama espionage operation closely tracked Trump’s political progress. The first FISA request targeting Trump happened the month after he received the GOP nomination.  The second one came through in October: the traditional month of political surprises meant to upend an election.

The spying ramped up after Trump’s win when the results could no longer be used to engineer a Hillary victory, but would instead have to be used to cripple and bring down President Trump. Headed out the door, Rice was still unmasking the names of Trump’s people while Obama was making it easier to pass around raw eavesdropped data to other agencies.

Obama had switched from spying on a political opponent to win an election, to spying on his successor to undo the results of the election. Abuse of power by a sitting government had become subversion of the government by an outgoing administration. Domestic spying on opponents had become a coup.

The Democrat scandals of the past few administrations have hinged on gross violations of political norms, elementary ethics and the rule of law that, out of context, were not technically illegal.

But it’s the pattern that makes the crime. It’s the context that shows the motive.

Obama Inc. compartmentalized its espionage operation in individual acts of surveillance and unmasking, and general policies implemented to aid both, that may have been individually legal, in the purely technical sense, in order to commit the major crime of eavesdropping on the political opposition.

When the individual acts of surveillance are described as legal, that’s irrelevant. It’s the collective pattern of surveillance of the political opposition that exposes the criminal motive for them.

If Obama spied on two of Trump’s campaign leaders, that’s not a coincidence. It’s a pattern.

A criminal motive can be spotted by a consistent pattern of actions disguised by different pretexts. A dirty cop may lose two pieces of evidence from the same defendant while giving two different excuses. A shady accountant may explain two otherwise identical losses in two different ways. Both excuses are technically plausible. But it’s the pattern that makes the crime.

Manafort was spied on under the Russia pretext. Bannon may have been spied on over the UAE. That’s two different countries, two different people and two different pretexts.

But one single target. President Trump.

It’s the pattern that exposes the motive.

When we learn the whole truth (if we ever do), we will likely discover that Obama Inc. assembled a motley collection of different technically legal pretexts to spy on Trump’s team.

Each individual pretext might be technically defensible. But together they add up to the crime of the century.

Obama’s gamble was that the illegal surveillance would justify itself. If you spy on a bunch of people long enough, especially people in politics and business, some sort of illegality, actual or technical, is bound to turn up. That’s the same gamble anyone engaged in illegal surveillance makes.

Businessmen illegally tape conversations with former partners hoping that they’ll say something damning enough to justify the risk. That was what Obama and his allies were doing with Trump.

It’s a crime. And you can’t justify committing a crime by discovering a crime.

If everyone were being spied on all the time, many crimes could be exposed every second. But that’s not how our system works. That’s why we have a Fourth Amendment.

Nor was Obama Inc. trying to expose crimes for their own sake, but to bring down the opposition.

That’s why it doesn’t matter what results the Obama surveillance turned up. The surveillance was a crime. Anything turned up by it is the fruit of a poisonous tree. It’s inherently illegitimate.

The first and foremost agenda must be to assemble a list of Trump officials who were spied on and the pretexts under which they were spied upon. The pattern will show the crime. And that’s what Obama and his allies are terrified of. It’s why Flynn was forced out using illegal surveillance and leaks. It’s why McMaster is protecting Susan Rice and the Obama holdovers while purging Trump loyalists at the NSC.

The left’s gamble was that the Mueller investigation or some other illegitimate spawn of the Obama eavesdropping would produce an indictment and then the procedural questions wouldn’t matter.

It’s the dirty cop using illegal eavesdropping to generate leads for a “clean” case against his target while betting that no one will look too closely or care how the case was generated. If one of the Mueller targets is intimidated into making a deal, the question of how the case was generated won’t matter.

Mueller will have a cooperative witness. And the Democrats can begin their coup in earnest. It will eventually turn out that there is no “there” there. But by then, it’ll be time for President Booker.

There’s just one problem.

If the gamble fails, if no criminal case that amounts to anything more than the usual investigational gimmick charges like perjury (the Federal equivalent of ‘resisting arrest’ for a beat cop) develops, then Obama and his allies are on the hook for the domestic surveillance of their political opponents.

With nothing to show for it and no way to distract from it.

That’s the race against the clock that is happening right now. Either the investigation gets results. Or its perpetrators are left hanging in the wind. If McMaster is fired, which on purely statistical grounds he probably will be, and a Trump loyalist who wasn’t targeted by the surveillance operation becomes the next National Security Adviser and brings in Trump loyalists, as Flynn tried to do, then it’s over.

And the Dems finally get their Watergate. Except the star won’t be Trump, it will be Obama. Rice, Power, Lynch and the rest of the gang will be the new Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell.

Once Obama and his allies launched their domestic surveillance operation, they crossed the Rubicon. And there was no way back. They had to destroy President Trump or risk going to jail.

The more crimes they committed by spying on the opposition, the more urgently they needed to bring down Trump. The consequences of each crime that they had committed spurred them on to commit worse crimes to save themselves from going to jail. It’s the same old story when it comes to criminals.

Each act of illegal surveillance became more blatant. And when illegal surveillance couldn’t stop Trump’s victory, they had to double down on the illegal surveillance for a coup.

The more Obama spied on Trump, the more he had to keep doing it. This time it was bound to pay off.

Obama and his allies had violated the norms so often for their policy goals that they couldn’t afford to be replaced by anyone but one of their own. The more Obama relied on the imperial presidency of executive orders, the less he could afford to be replaced by anyone who would undo them.  The more his staffers lied and broke the law on everything from the government shutdown to the Iran nuke sellout, the more desperately they needed to pull out all the stops to keep Trump out of office. And the more they did it, the more they couldn’t afford not to do it. Abuse of power locks you into the loop familiar to all dictators. You can’t stop riding the tiger. Once you start, you can’t afford to stop.

If you want to understand why Samantha Power was unmasking names, that’s why. The hysterical obsession with destroying Trump comes from the top down. It’s not just ideology. It’s wealthy and powerful men and women who ran the country and are terrified that their crimes will be exposed.

It’s why the media increasingly sounds like the propaganda organs of a Communist country. Why there are street riots and why the internet is being censored by Google and Facebook’s “fact checking” allies.

It’s not just ideology. It’s raw fear.

The left is sitting on the biggest crime committed by a sitting president. The only way to cover it up is to destroy his Republican successor.

A turning point in history is here.

If Obama goes down, the left will go down with him. If his coup succeeds, then America ends.

***

DID SUSAN RICE SPY ON TRUMP OFFICIALS FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD?

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When Great Institutions Lie

So long as institutions pay no price for the exploitation of their name by agenda-driven members, they will not rein in their members.

Front Page Magazine, by Caroline Glick, Sept. 8, 2017:

Over the past week, two major US institutions have produced studies that discredit their names and reputations as credible organizations. Their actions are important in and of themselves. But they also point to a disturbing trend in the US in which the credibility of important American institutions is being undermined from within by their members who pursue narrow partisan or ideological agendas in the name of their institutions.

The political implications of this larger trend were clearly in evidence in the 2016 presidential election. From a larger, long-term sociological perspective, if the current trend is not reversed the implications for American society will likely be long lasting and deeply destructive.

The first study was produced by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. It dealt with the Obama administration’s policies regarding the war in Syria and specifically the acts of mass murder undertaken by the Assad regime. Authored by Cameron Hudson, a former Obama administration national security official who now serves as the director of the museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, the report absolved the Obama administration of all responsibility of the bloodbath in Syria.

As reported by Tablet magazine, the paper argued that “a variety of factors, which were more or less fixed, made it very difficult from the beginning for the US government to take effective action to prevent atrocities in Syria.”

The paper’s claim was based on “computational modeling and game theory methods, as well as interviews with experts and policy-makers.” It argued that had then-president Barack Obama not ignored his own redline and actually responded with force to the regime’s 2013 chemical weapons attack at Ghouta, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

In the last months of the Obama administration, Obama appointed several of his loyalists, including his deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, to positions on the board of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Rhodes was one of the architects of Obama’s Syria policy.

After sections of the report were released to Tablet and the report was posted on the museum’s website, its findings were angrily rejected by prominent Jewish communal leaders and human rights activists.

For instance, literary critic Leon Wieseltier told Tablet, “The first thing I have to say is: Shame on the Holocaust Museum.”

He added, “If I had the time I would gin up a parody version of this that will give us the computational- modeling algorithmic counterfactual analysis of [then-US assistant secretary of war] John J. McCloy’s decision not to bomb the Auschwitz ovens in 1944. I’m sure we could concoct the f***ing algorithm for that, too.”

Wieseltier was exactly right. A mathematical model is based on inputs and outputs. If you input specific data, you will get specific consequences. From an academic perspective, the study’s findings are worthless.

In the wake of the firestorm the report provoked, the museum pulled the study from its website and canceled its scheduled formal presentation on September 11.

But the damage that the Holocaust Memorial Museum did to its reputation by producing and publishing a transparently false, politically motivated report is not something that can be mitigated by pulling it from its website.

As some of the Jewish communal leaders who spoke to Tablet suggested, the Holocaust Memorial Museum diminished its moral authority as an institution by publishing a report clearly produced to rewrite recent history in a manner that absolved the Obama administration of all responsibility for the mass murder in Syria.

While distressing, the impact of the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s action is limited to a historical falsehood. The goal of the second study published this week by an esteemed institution is to distort and indeed block discussion about a problem that is ongoing.

This week, Stanford University’s Research Group in Education and Jewish Studies published a report which purports to show that there is no significant antisemitism on US college campuses and that Jewish students do not feel threatened by antisemitism.

The Stanford’s conclusions fly in the face of a massive body of data, collected by researchers over the past decade, which all show the opposite to be the case. If the Stanford study is believed, it will discredit the work of hundreds of professional researchers and academics, journalists and Jewish and academic leaders throughout the US.

But that’s the thing of it. The Stanford study is utter nonsense.

As the researchers, led by Associate Professor of Education of Jewish Studies Ari Kelman, made clear in their report, their study is the product of interviews with a deliberately chosen, nonrepresentative group of 66 Jewish students from five California campuses who are not involved in Jewish life.

The researchers said that they deliberately chose only Jews who aren’t involved in Jewish life on campus, since they make up the majority of Jewish students on campuses. The researchers claimed that reports on campus antisemitism are generally distorted, because they generally highlight the views of the minority of students who deeply involved in Jewish life at their universities. Their views, the researchers said, are different from the views of Jews who aren’t involved.

There is certainly a valid argument to be made for researching the views of uninvolved Jewish students about antisemitism on campus. But the researchers didn’t do that. They didn’t survey a random, and therefore statistically meaningful sample of uninvolved Jews.

They went to great length to ensure that the “uninvolved” Jewish students were their sort of “uninvolved” Jewish students. As they wrote, “We screened students with respect to their activities in order to determine whether or not they fit our general criteria so as to minimize those with vastly different definitions of ‘involvement’ than ours.”

Armed with their painstakingly selected, nonrepresentative 66 Jewish students, Kelman and his team concluded that all the researchers who have conducted statistically relevant studies of Jewish students on US university campuses are wrong. There isn’t a problem with antisemitism on campus. All the Jewish students the researchers spoke with felt perfectly safe on their campuses as Jews.

This academically worthless finding, published under the Stanford University letterhead, would be bad enough. But the fact is that this finding is the least sinister aspect of the study.

The real purpose of the “study” was to use this deliberately selected group of students to shut down debate on the most prevalent and fastest growing form of antisemitism on campuses: anti-Zionism.

The survey found that their interlocutors “reject the conflation of Jewish and Israel.”

“They chafe at [the] assumption that they, as Jews, necessarily support Israeli policies. They object to the accusation that American Jews are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, and they express similar discomforts with the expectation that all Jews should be Zionists.”

At the same time, they really don’t like Israel much at all. The survey’s Jewish students “struggle with Israel,” whose actions “generally often contradict their own political values.”

Here we begin to see the ideological purpose of the pseudo-academic Stanford study.

First things first. The uninvolved students who think that Israel’s actions “generally often contradict their own political values” told Kelman and his colleagues that they are offended by “the accusation that American Jews are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.”

And this makes sense because that accusation is self-evidently a form of antisemitism. Like antisemites who accuse Jews of killing Jesus, antisemites on campuses is ascribe responsibility for the alleged “crimes” of the Jewish state to American Jewish students in California.

So by “chafing” at the allegation, the students his researchers deliberately selected acknowledged that they are offended by antisemitism.

But then, helpfully, they agreed with the researchers that antisemitism isn’t antisemitism.

The study went on to explain that its student correspondents have been intimidated into silence by the “tone of campus political activism in general, and around Israel and Palestine specifically.”

That tone, they said, is “severe, divisive and alienating,” and the students wish to avoid paying “the social costs” of involvement.

So a study involving a deliberately selected, nonrepresentative sample of Jewish students who acknowledge that they don’t think much of Israel still found that the atmosphere of the debate about Israel is so wretched that Jews who might otherwise have wished to participate are too scared to speak their minds.

Somehow, the researchers managed to ignore this obvious finding. Instead of paying attention to the elephant in the room, Kelman and his team pretended the elephant was a dishwasher.

They concluded the problem isn’t the antisemites.

Kelman told Tablet that in addition to being “turned off” by people who blame them for Israel – that is, antisemites, “they’re similarly turned off by the assumptions of people in the Jewish community that all Jews will get behind the actions of the State of Israel.”

In other words, the antisemitism of the students who accuse them of responsibility for Israel’s policies because they are Jews is just as bad as the attempts by pro-Israel students to get them involved in defending Israel – a place Kelman’s deliberately unrepresentative sample doesn’t care for very much.

By conflating pro-Israel Jews and antisemitic Israel- bashers, the Stanford researchers give cover for continued antisemitism on campus.

As they explain things in the name of their unrepresentative Jewish students, attacking Jews as Jews is just part of a legitimate, if alienating, debate about Israel where Israel’s defenders are as bad as its opponents.

Students who call for Israel’s annihilation and demand that Jews not defend Israel’s right to exist, are not antisemites for wanting to kill more than 6 million Israeli Jews and attacking anyone who doesn’t share their genocidal view. They are just partisans in a legitimate debate.

BDS supporters who wish to wage economic and cultural war on Israel and Israeli Jews just because Israel exists aren’t antisemites. They are just advocates of a legitimate policy preference.

Anti-Israel activists who attack any American Jews who profess support for Zionism aren’t antisemites. They, like pro-Israel students, are just engaging in an unpleasant but entirely legitimate debate.

By publishing their findings under Stanford’s name, Kelman and his associates are using Stanford’s brand to give credence to their pseudo-academic research whose transparent and pernicious goal is to end public debate about antisemitism on college campuses while keeping Jewish students intimidated into silence.

Whereas the Holocaust Memorial Museum was rightly excoriated for its willingness to have its institution hijacked for narrow partisan ends that distort the historical record, media reports of the Stanford pseudo-study have been respectful. This is deeply troubling. So long as institutions pay no price for the exploitation of their name by agenda- driven members, they will not rein in their members. And over time, the American public’s faith in its national institutions will continue to diminish, to the detriment of the US as a whole.

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