Stop looking to government to save you

Because it’s plain that is its last priority.  Our nation’s Federal law enforcement has now spent over a year investigating politically charged claims that President Trump somehow colluded with Russia to “steal” the election away from Hillary Clinton.  (After all, how else to explain the anointed one’s failure to ascend to the throne?)

But apparently that same apparatus had no resources to spare when told specifically and repeatedly about the threat posed by Nikolas Cruz.  More than FIVE MONTHS before the troubled young man shot up a school on Wednesday, a YouTube channel owner alerted the FBI to online comments Cruz made under his own name about wanting to be a “professional school shooter.”  Today the FBI admitted it was also given very specific threat information about Cruz SIX WEEKS ago… and did NOTHING:

‘The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,’ said the FBI in a  statement on Friday.

The agency went on to state that this information, which came in over their Public Access Line, should have been classified as ‘a potential threat to life’ and the Miami field office notified about the information.

Those protocols were not followed however for reasons that are still not clear, and on Wednesday Cruz shot dead 17 people.

Maybe too many agents were busy trying to trap Trump associates.  Maybe they were all busy sending thousands of text messages to their lovers.  The truly cynical part of me can no longer dismiss the possibility some in our government allow such things to happen because the public then willingly surrenders more of their rights in an elusive quest for security from Uncle Sam.  Whatever the reason, Florida Governor Rick Scott is right to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray.  But accountability shouldn’t stop at that mostly symbolic gesture.  EVERY agent who was privy to the information that citizens had provided should be fired and prosecuted for gross dereliction of duty resulting in loss of life.

We’re constantly told we need a perpetual surveillance society, and that if we “see something, say something.”  But what good does it do to surrender our rights to privacy and accept an Orwellian panopticon if those in authority fail in their part of the devil’s bargain and refuse to protect us?

And the Left wants us to give up even more of our rights by disarming?  I think not.  In fact, it’s plain the opposite needs to occur: more citizens need to arm and train themselves.  At the same time pundits are praising the willingness of Coach Aaron Feis to give his life shielding students, they’re asking what needs to be done to prevent such tragedies.  It shouldn’t be so hard to connect the dots: train and arm willing teachers so schools stop being inviting soft targets.  No teacher who is willing to risk their life for their kids as Coach Feis did should have to face an attacker unarmed.  I saw this graphic online recently and it speaks for itself:

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Nothing in the above list is more precious than our children — our future.  The utter failure of the FBI in this case reinforces the adage that “when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”  We have a God-given right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and that includes the right to defend those things.  We may delegate some of that authority to police agencies, but one of the first things I learned as a military officer is that while you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate responsibility.  All of us, as citizens and parents, are ultimately responsible for the defense of our families and communities.  That responsibility means facing head-on the fact there is evil in this world that requires the average person to be prepared to confront it at any moment.

It also includes the responsibility to punish those we empower to act on our behalf, but who fail to do so.  There MUST be a revival of accountability — and personal responsibility, including self-defense — in this country!

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Why don’t they do something?

Once again the actions of a crazed killer are being used to push the idea of further restrictions on the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.

“Why don’t they do something,” the Left wails about Congress as they clamor for Americans to give up their right to self-protection and unilaterally disarm.

But that question could be put equally to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  You know, the agency that’s poured thousands of man-hours (not to mention taxpayer money) into looking for what appears to be non-existent evidence of “collusion” between Trump and Russia.  Why bring up the FBI?

Because they were aware of yesterday’s murdererSix months ago.

This is not a one-time observation, either.  “Known wolf” is a phrase that keeps popping up after these events:

So the real question should be this: in an age where we are closing in on ubiquitous surveillance, and authorities have unfathomable–and unConstitutional–capability to eavesdrop on our every move, why are known threats continually able to pull off such tragedies?

Why don’t they do something?

The forgotten Amendment

I’ve written before about the 10th Amendment — an essential but now mostly overlooked part of the Bill of Rights that makes clear where the bulk of authority lies within the federation known as the United States:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

A number of years ago there was a vocal national debate about “unfunded mandates” — Congressional legislation that requires States to fund the activity.  Several States (rightly) considered this encroachment on their State’s sovereign right to spend its tax revenue as it wishes.  The 1990s-era “Contract with America” produced legislation to curb the practice, but in reality it has continued unabated.

But passing laws may not be the costliest burden the Feds impose on the States:

Can states just say “no” to foreign refugees? Tennessee is testing that proposition in federal court.

Tennessee vs. U.S. Department of State is a case every state and taxpayer should watch closely in light of new FAIR research showing per-capita refugee costs running nearly $80,000 over five years.

During the Obama regime, the Federal government dumped tens of thousands of ‘refugees’ across America.  The term ‘refugee’ itself is misleading in this context.  True refugees are expected to return home at some point when the immediate crisis has passed.  But we find that hasn’t really been the case here.  Bringing refugees to the U.S. isn’t even the most cost-effective way to “do something,” as the emotional cry goes.  The Center for Immigration Studies suggests 12 refugees could be supported in countries adjacent to a crisis for what it costs to bring over and sustain ONE in the U.S.

Then there is the issue of what the American people want.  Since World War II, the U.S. has been incredibly generous and compassionate toward others by historical standards.  But even that big heart has limits when the public starts to perceive their leaders putting foreigners ahead of U.S. citizens.  A contributing factor in the election of Donald Trump was increasing resentment of the number of immigrants (legal AND illegal) and ‘refugees’ pouring into America.

It’s good to see the 10th Amendment being cited in a challenge.  But here’s another angle that might not be as obvious: at a time when the ballooning national debt already threatens the contractual obligations the government has to various citizens through programs like Social Security, etc, how much tolerance should there be for the government to spend scarce resources on non-citizens?  As it now stands, the country’s fiscal resources are a zero-sum game (excessive printing of currency notwithstanding); every dollar spent on foreign and refugee aid is a dollar taken from Americans — and largely against their will, as current polls show.

The States are the final bulwark against the Federal Government.  Only acting in concert can they tell Uncle Sam “you’ve exceeded your mandate — get back in your box.”  Here’s hoping the current lawsuit, along with the progress toward a Convention of States, brings that reckoning a little closer.

The Senate weighs in

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today released an interim report of their ongoing investigation into how the Department of Justice and FBI handled the discovery that Hillary Clinton used an unauthorized personal email server, through which a considerable number of classified emails flowed.  Per the interim report, the committee’s investigation is looking into the following questions:

Whether, and the extent to which, any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s investigation;

Whether, and the extent to which, the Obama Department of Justice or White House influenced the FBI’s investigation; and

Whether, and the extent to which, any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s actions with respect to President Trump.

Unlike the brief House Committee memorandum released a few days ago, this 25-page report uses extensive footnotes to document the material from which their conclusions are drawn.  As it points out, the release of thousands of text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page raise many questions.  The entire report is available here.  While noting the Senate Committee continues to investigate the matter, this interim report concludes (emphasis added):

The information available to the Committee at this time raises serious questions about how the FBI applied the rule of law in its investigation of classified information on Secretary Clinton’s private email server. We know that:

• The FBI did not use a grand jury to compel testimony and obtain the vast majority of evidence, choosing instead to offer immunity deals and allow fact witnesses to join key interviews.

• There were substantial edits to Director Comey’s public statement that served to downplay the severity of Secretary Clinton’s actions, and that the first draft of the memo was distributed for editing two months before key witnesses were interviewed.

• Director Comey stated that he had not consulted with the Justice Department or White House, when text messages suggest otherwise. We have text messages in which two key investigators discuss an “insurance policy” against the “risk” of a Trump presidency,and “OUR task.”

• Messages discuss “unfinished business,” “an investigation leading to impeachment,” and “my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”

• Senior FBI officials—likely including Deputy Director McCabe—knew about newly discovered emails on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner for almost a month before Director Comey notified Congress.

• Over the period of at least four months, the FBI did not recover five months’ worth of text messages requested by DOJ OIG and two Senate committees; however, when pressed, (The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General) was able to recover missing texts in less than one week.

It’s a mark of how divided our nation is that what is known so far hasn’t raised a bipartisan cry for major reform of the DOJ and FBI, including greater accountability for the secretive FISA Court process.  When our criminal justice agencies act as they have in this instance, it’s a clear and present danger to the liberties of every citizen, regardless of party affiliation.
The question now is whether accountability will make a comeback as a result of these current investigations.  Stay tuned.

Do they even listen to themselves?

Showtime’s “Homeland” series takes a few swipes at the Trump administration in an interview with ITK, as reported by The Hill.  In the process, they show either an inability to connect the dots, or a belief the rubes in the heartland can’t:

Each year, the team behind “Homeland” takes a weeklong research field trip to Washington to prep for the espionage thriller’s upcoming season. But this time around, when Showtime’s crew touched down in D.C. two months after President Trump’s inauguration, the mood was different…

In preparation for production, the “Homeland” team started asking what recourse intelligence officers and National Security Agency workers had if “they see an administration going off the rails.”

Gansa says he found “there was a strange sort of new alliance that was taking place between the intelligence community and the fourth estate, which we found interesting.”

After admitting they wouldn’t be pursuing a storyline about a ‘paranoid president’ had Her Hillariness been installed in 2016, they then backtrack on what they’ve just said:

Asked what Trump might take away from this season, Gansa replies, “I doubt he’d learn one thing. I think he might be amused just to watch an administration convinced that there was something called the ‘deep state’ aligned against her. Clearly that’s a fear that the Trump administration feels every day.”

Well gosh, when the stars of a hit TV series are deliberately pushing the message the President is paranoid, while noting in the real world there’s “a strange sort of new alliance… between the intelligence community and the fourth estate (the media),” I can’t imagine why the Trump administration might be concerned about a Deep State working against him.

Can you?

The Nunes memo

President Trump agreed to the declassification of the House Intelligence Committee memo.  What follows is the text, with certain information and names highlighted in red:

*************************************************************************************

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update
On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §,1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard—particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.