|Saved Stories – None|
|FBI Increasingly Politicized Under Comey and Mueller|
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, once America’s storied crime fighting agency, is under fire for an increasing leftward politicization blamed on recent liberal directors and a bureaucracy operating with nearly unchecked power.
Once a bastion of conservative anti-communism under long-time director J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI has become one of the more liberal political agencies of government, and some critics say appears increasingly to operate outside normal constitutional controls.
The shift is the result of a bureaucratic culture that emerged in the 1990s and was fueled by its two most recent former directors, James Comey and Robert Mueller, who ran the agency for the past 16 years. Mueller headed the FBI from 2001 to 2013, when Comey took over and served until he was fired by Trump in May.
Both former directors currently are at the center of a fierce political debate over the FBI’s competency and integrity.
“People are finally tumbling to the realization that this [FBI] has become a proto-KGB,” said a former senior intelligence official with extensive experience in counterintelligence. “We’re in a constitutional crisis. These guys are playing out a silent coup against an elected official.”
President Trump castigated the FBI this week in unusually harsh tweets and comments.
Commenting on disclosures that the Justice Department’s inspector general launched an investigation of political bias by senior FBI Agent Peter Strzok working for Mueller’s Russian election meddling probe, Trump compared the FBI’s lenient approach to Hillary Clinton’s misuse of a private email server while secretary of state with the recent case of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about post-election contacts with Russia.
“Tainted (no, very dishonest?) FBI ‘agents role in Clinton probe under review.’ Led Clinton Email probe. @foxandfriends Clinton money going to wife of another FBI agent in charge,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness,” the president declared.
On Tuesday, Mueller appeared to counter the comments by leaking word he has issued subpoenas for bank records at Deutche Bank related to Trump and members of his family.
The leak produced a spate of news stories under the ongoing liberal narrative of the past year of alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, a narrative lacking hard facts.
The problem of the FBI, according to national security strategist Angelo Codevilla, is more the result of careerism and an out of control bureaucracy than liberal politicization of the ostensibly nonpartisan FBI, the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency and main domestic counterspying and counterterrorism agency.
“Im afraid that the explanation is all too simple: Bureaucratsemployees of large organizationsfigure out on which side their bread is going to be buttered,” Codevilla said. “They learn to think, feel, and do what advances their careers.”
Under President Barack Obama, the FBI suffered a string of failures that critics blame on the FBI being pressured by liberal, politically correct policies that emphasized diversity and multiculturalism of its workforce over competence and results.
The problem is evident whenever a U.S.-based terror attack or other major crime takes place and the FBI, seemingly ever on the lookout for ways to protect its reputation, puts out word to pro-FBI news reporters that the problem is less serious than it is.
That was the case shortly after several major Islamic terror attacks in the United States when Bureau officials initially put out word the attacks had no link to terrorism.
Similarly, when North Korea conducted a major cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, the FBI agent heading the probe at first said there was no foreign involvement in the hack.
In another case last June, after an anti-Trump gunmanand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) supportershot a congressman and four other people in Alexandria, the FBI sought to minimize the politics of the incident. The agent running the investigation, Tim Slater, told reporters the shooting was “spontaneous,” despite evidence the shooter had a list of targeted members of Congress.
John Guandolo, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, has criticized the FBI for caving in to pressure from Muslim groups in watering down its training of agents by limiting references to Islam and jihad, or holy war.
“I am not aware of any time in the FBI’s history when FBI leadership was so incapable of performing their duties as they are today,” Guandolo said.
“The FBI’s inability or lack of desire to aggressively pursue obvious major threats to the republicthe Marxist and Islamic movements for instanceis stunning and frightening.”
Guandolo said that instead the FBI is working with “our Islamic enemy.”
“In fact, all three of the Muslim organizations listed on the FBI’s website as ‘Outreach Partners’ are Muslim Brotherhood organizations,” he said.
Additionally, liberal left or Marxist inclinations appear to motivate some of the FBI’s key leaders.
Guandolo said FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was promoted by Comey despite internal leadership reviews that questioned his fitness.
Congressional Republicans are investigating whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton email probe.
McCabe’s wife, a Democrat, received payments of some $700,000 from a political action committee affiliated with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Clinton, during a failed bid to run for the state senate.
The president’s online criticism of the FBI was followed by comments he made Monday calling the FBI’s treatment of Flynn “very unfair” compared to how the Bureau treated Clinton during last year’s election-year investigation into the misuse of her private email server.
“I feel badly for Gen. Flynn. I feel very badly. Hes led a very strong life,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life. I think its a shame.”
The president referred to the July 2, 2016, FBI interview of Clinton regarding her use of a private email server used while she was secretary of state to send some highly classified information and the deletion of emails after published reports of the private server revealed the existence of it.
Clinton, according to the FBI summary of the interview, asserted she did not recall being given a security briefing on handling information held in Special Access Programs (SAP), the government’s most sensitive secrets. Some SAP information on drone strike targeting was found on her private email server.
Days after the FBI interview, Comey issued his now famous public statement recommending against prosecuting Clinton for mishandling classified information, despite evidence the mere presence of the secret information is a crime.
Comey also would later disclose that under political pressure for Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch he agreed not to refer to the email scandal as an investigation and instead call it a “matter.”
Comey also granted immunity from prosecution for two key witnesses, Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson. The immunity prevented the FBI from conducting searches for evidence. The immunity deal also required the FBI to destroy the two aides’ laptops after they were searched, a step that potentially eliminated evidence of a crime.
In October, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) revealed that Comey had decided in May 2016months before the FBI probe of Clinton was completedthat he was planning to issue a statement exonerating Clinton.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering secondthat’s no way to run an investigation,” the senators said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray in August. “The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”
An FBI source said Comey’s politically charged handling of the Clinton email probe upset many of the FBI’s agents who saw it as a disheartening indication of political bias in favor of Clinton.
Trump fired Comey in May prompting the Justice Department to create the special counsel investigation headed by Mueller, a long-time Comey associate.
The more recent disclosures that one of Mueller’s investigators, Strzok, is under investigation for anti-Trump bias is now raising new questions about the integrity of the special counsel probe and whether it too has reached a pre-determined outcome against the president.
The FBI also is under fire from Congress for refusing to provide documents to congressional investigators looking into the Democrat-funded private intelligence dossier at the center of Republicans’ investigation into the potential misuse of security agencies for political ends.
The Bureau has so far refused to provide the House Intelligence Committee with details on how it pursued salacious allegations regarding Trump and the Russians contained in the dossier produced by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said this week he is drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against Wray, the FBI chief, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for failing to disclose to Congress earlier Strzok’s political bias against Trump.
Nunes revealed Strzok was involved in the Clinton email probe in addition to Mueller’s election meddling probe and that hiding those facts from Congress was “a willful attempt to thwart Congress constitutional oversight responsibility.”
“This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committees oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier,” Nunes said. “At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.”
Security experts said it is likely that Strzok, the senior FBI counterintelligence official who specializes in Russian spying, has been the driving force behind the mainly Democratic political narrative that Russia stole the 2016 election from Clinton and gave it to Trump.
Congress wants to question him about what role the discredited Steele dossier played in the FBI’s Russian election meddling investigation.
One irony of the FBI’s zealousness on the Russian election influence probe is that for many years during the 1980s, the FBI refused to acknowledge that Moscow at the time was engaged in similar sophisticated disinformation and so-called “active measures” operations against the United States.
Under the Reagan administration, the FBI was forced to investigate and take steps to counter Moscow’s intelligence-driven influence operations.
Now it seems the FBI is convinced, despite the lack of evidence, there was a Russian conspiracy to elect Trump and it is searching for a way to prove its theory.
Observers say a major problem for the FBI today is a lack constitutional oversight and controls. Bureau leaders have created the myth that the White House or any agency cannot have any control over the FBI.
That is not true. While it would be illegal for the White House to interfere or corrupt FBI investigations, the Constitution makes clear the FBI, as an executive branch agency, is ultimately responsible to the president.
Under the Comey-Mueller bureaucracy, however, the FBI seems to regard itself as a power center answerable to no one, critics say.
According to FBI sources, FBI agents and other personnel have been told unequivocally that they are not to have any dealings with the White House, and that doing so risks career-ending measures.
As for Congress, the FBI for years also has stonewalled overseers under both Comey and Mueller.
Even routine requests for FBI documents and information have been rejected or ignored, and congressional overseers have not taken action to force the FBI to comply.
The lack of congressional oversight and administration controls have left the FBI with enormous power and little accountability.
The former intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity over concerns about FBI retaliation, said the mindset of Comey, Mueller and others of their group is that they are going to punish Trump for his criticism of the FBI.
“Mueller, Comey, and Rosenstein are going to make Trump pay for having dissed the bureau,” the former official said.
A spokesman for Mueller did not respond when asked if the special counsel probe has been tainted by Strzok’s involvement.
“Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the special counsels office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation,” the spokesman said.
An FBI spokesman defended the FBI’s handling of the issue of Islamic threat training and said the Defense Department and not the FBI was the first to refer to the Fort Hood terror attack as workplace violence.
On Strozk, FBI spokesman Andrew Ames referred to the statement on the matter.
“The matter is an ongoing investigation by the Office of Inspector General, consistent with well-established processes designed to objectively, thoroughly and fairly determine the facts regarding potential wrongdoing,” the statement said.
“The FBI has clearly defined policies and procedures regarding appropriate employee conduct, including communications,” the statement added. “When the FBI first learned of the allegations, the employees involved were immediately reassigned, consistent with practices involving employee matters.
The FBI employees are held to “the highest standards of integrity, independence and professionalism, as the American public rightly expects.”
Disclosure: The Washington Free Beacon was once a client of Fusion GPS, which produced the Steele dossier. That relationship ended in January 2017. For more information, see here.”
The post FBI Increasingly Politicized Under Comey and Mueller appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
|6:52 AM 12/6/2017 Obstruction of Justice was Coming from Inside the FBI FrontPage Magazine|
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Republicans are betting the future won’t happen. Who wants to tell them? – USA TODAY Donald Trump Jr. to face questions about Russia contacts on Capitol Hill – ABC News More charges could be coming against former Trump aide in Russia probe – CNN Legal Weed Is Coming to … Continue reading“6:52 AM 12/6/2017 – Obstruction of Justice was Coming from Inside the FBI – FrontPage Magazine”
|Doctors identify brain abnormalities in Cuba attack patients|
WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors treating the U.S. Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain the hearing, vision, balance and memory damage, The Associated Press has learned.
It’s the most specific finding to date about physical damage, showing that …
|Russias Terrifying Nuclear-Armed Doomsday Train: Everything You Need To Know|
The Kremlin shuts down a really bad idea.
In 2013, the Russian military announced it would bring back rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles. In other words, trains with big nukes crammed inside, capable of darting around Russia, raising their launchers and firing at a moments notice. It was called Barguzin and would begin testing in 2019.
That was the idea. In December 2017, the Russian government put the Barguzin project on hiatus, saving the world from the specter of doomsday trains roaming Siberia. The ostensible reason the weapon is too expensive, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the governments paper of record.
The Barguzin project was a revival of a retired leg of the Soviet Unions ground-based nuclear triad. While the Soviets had nuke-equipped submarines and nuclear-armed bombers, its ground-based component had nuclear missiles mounted on huge trucks, inside underground silos and on trains. The Soviet military first signed the order for the creation of rail-mobile ICBMs in 1969, but the launchers came later.
Recommended: The M4: The Gun U.S. Army Loves to Go to War With
|Poland’s former military intelligence head detained|
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish military police say they have detained a former head of Poland’s military counterintelligence services for further questioning over alleged illegal cooperation with Russian security services in 2010.
Gen. Piotr Pytel denies the cooperation was illegal. The case relates to Poland’s and NATO’s agreement with Russia’s …
|The Army Has a New Way to Take on Russia or China in a Ground Fight|
And its pretty slick.
Our recent conflicts against less sophisticated threats allowed for more open-hatch operations. A commander would be up out of the hatch using his own senses. Operations against a near-peer using artillery, drones and other sophisticated weapons would likely be more closed-hatched operations. This technology will enable him to have more capability in closed-hatched scenarios, Klager said.
The Army is testing emerging next-generation ground combat vehicle sensors using computer algorithms and artificial intelligence to identify, target and destroy enemy tanks, drones and incoming fire, service officials said.
The technologies now being tested, currently in prototype form, are being engineered for the yet-to-be-built future fleet of Army Next Generation Combat Vehicles to surface in coming years. Equipping Army combat vehicles with an ability to conduct mechanized vehicle operations in a massive, full-scale ground war against a near-peer adversary is a fundamental priority in the rationale for creating this technology.
The concept is to use what Army weapons developers call multi-function sensors which not only help vehicle crews find and destroy enemy targets at greater distances – but also simultaneously provide 360-degree cameras around the exterior of a vehicle to more quickly locate threats or enemy attacks.
The new sensor technology, to integrate and test on actual vehicle platforms by next year, is designed to increase situational awareness by using algorithms and computer automation to help soldiers find targets or areas of combat significance; technologies include more narrow-beam thermal sights for long range targeting along with closer-in, vehicle-surrounding electro-optical cameras able to quickly detect approaching enemy drones and incoming fire, Gene Klager, Deputy Director, Ground Combat Systems Division, Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, told Warrior in an interview. Klagers unit is part of the Armys Communications, Electronics, Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC).
We are developing algorithms for infrared search and track – we have a passive way to detect and track we would then hand off the target location to a countermeasure system, Klager said.
|Counterterrorism expert named to lead FBI in Indianapolis – Kokomo Tribune|
|“Its catastrophic: Europe allies reject Trumps expected Jerusalem pronouncement|
U.S. allies in Europe are warning that the move could further disrupt relations between Palestinians and Israelis and spark unrest in the region.
|Israel’s Super Secret Nuclear Weapons Program: Everything You Need to Know|
Israel does not confirm nor deny having nuclear weapons. Experts generally assess the country as currently having approximately eighty nuclear weapons, fewer than countries such as France, China and the UK.
Israels first land-based nuclear weapons were based on Jericho I missiles developed in cooperation with France. Jericho I is believed to have been retired, replaced by Jericho II and -III ballistic missiles. Jericho II has a range of 932 miles, while Jericho III, designed to hold Iran and other distant states at risk, has a range of at least 3,106 miles. The total number of Israeli ballistic missiles is unknown, but estimated by experts to number at least two dozen.
In a private email leaked to the public in September of 2016, former secretary of state and retired U.S. Army general Colin Powell alluded to Israel having an arsenal of 200 nuclear weapons. While this number appears to be an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Israel does have a small but powerful nuclear stockpile, spread out among its armed forces. Israeli nuclear weapons guard against everything from defeat in conventional warfare to serving to deter hostile states from launching nuclear, chemical and biological warfare attacks against the tiny country. Regardless, the goal is the same: to prevent the destruction of the Jewish state.
Recommended: The M4: The Gun U.S. Army Loves to Go to War With
|Israel Has a Submarine That Could Destroy Entire Nations (Armed with Nuclear Weapons)|
And this is everything we think we know about it.
Whatever the missile, a 932-mile range gives it the abilityjust barelyto strike the Iranian capital of Tehran, as well as the holy city of Qom and the northern city of Tabriz, from a position off the coast of Syria. (Irans pursuit of nuclear arms is likely the main and enduring driver of Israels second strike capability.) That isnt an ideal firing position, and its been seventeen years since the missiles first flight, so its also reasonable to assume that the weapons range has been extended to the point where it can launch against Tehran and even more Iranian cities from a relatively safe location.
Israels submarine corps is a tiny force with a big open secret: in all likelihood, it is armed with nuclear weapons. The five Dolphin-class submarines represent an ace in the hole for Israel, the ultimate guarantor of the countrys security, ensuring that if attacked with nukes, the tiny nation can strike back in kind.
Israels first nuclear weapons were completed by the early 1970s, and deployed among both free-fall aircraft bombs and Jericho ballistic missiles. The 1991 Persian Gulf War, which saw Iraqi Scuds and Al Hussein ballistic missiles raining down on Israeli cities, led Tel Aviv to conclude that the country needed a true nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nukes to give the countrys nuclear deterrent maximum flexibilityand survivability.
Recommended: The M4: The Gun U.S. Army Loves to Go to War With
|In Defense of Rosensteins and Wrays Responses to Trump|
I wrote Monday morning about costs within the Justice Department when its leaders stay silent in the face of the Presidents caustic attacks on the departments independence and integrity. I mentioned in particular the silence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. I concluded:
Since I wrote these words, Wray and Rosenstein spoke in ways that are widely seen as a response to the President and a defense of the Justice Department and FBI workforces. On Monday, Wray sent an emailto FBI employees in which he stated that he was inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice demonstrated around the bureau. It is truly an honor to represent you. Wray urged the FBI to continue to keep focused on our critical mission, and concluded: Keep calm and tackle hard. And yesterday, Rosenstein stated in remarks at a Criminal Division ceremony that: In this department, Justice is our name. And justice is our mission. Justice is not just about winning a particular case, or sending a particular person to prison. It is about a fair and impartial process.
Neither Wray nor Rosenstein mentioned Trump by name. But both statements were rightly interpreted as responses to Trumps attacks. I assume they were interpreted this way within the DOJ and the FBI as well.
Are these responses adequate? Susan probably represents many in thinking not. She says:
Rosenstein and Wray are engaged in a much more difficult and delicate balancing act. They are dealing with a President who is attacking the integrity of the Justice Department and the FBI in a truly unprecedented fashion at a time when many of the Presidents associates, and probably the President himself, are under investigation by the Justice Department and FBI. And indeed, the Presidents attacks on the department and FBI are probably designed to discredit that investigation. Against this background, Rosenstein and Wray face at least three important challenges.
First, they have to defend the Justice Department and FBI in a way that maintains their personal credibility with the President. This is an admittedly slight consideration. Taken alone, it might not count for much, and one might think that the two men should simply stand on principle, stand up to the President openly and be fired. But there are at least two other considerations that cut the other way.
The second consideration is the impact on the Justice Department if Trump cans Rosenstein and especially Wray. If these men more openly defied the President and he fired them, it is hard to see how the department and FBI, or the Trump investigation, would strengthened. The more likely consequence would be that the Justice Department and FBI would be thrown into further disarray than they already have been due to the many unfortunate events of the last year, ranging from Comeys firing to Rosensteins uneven performance to Sessions utter failure to stand up for the Justice Departments integritydisarray all exacerbated a great deal, of course, by the Presidents destructive tactics. One might even think that Trump would benefit from such a course of action and would look for an excuse to fire one or both. (I acknowledge that it is a hard question when to stand on principle and when notBen and Ihave debated this question in an analogous context.)
I am largely persuaded by this second consideration, but the difficulty of Rosensteins and Wrays predicament comes into yet clearer focus when one considers that the Mueller investigation is now under relentless attack for being biased, out of control and vindictive. I cannot yet assess the reality of these charges. Even the appearance of bias here is deadly because, as I once wrote in an analogous context, Muellers work will be judged not just through the legal lens, but also through the political lens, and its success will stand in part on political factors. In this light, it is important to remember that Rosenstein and Wray are deeply responsible for the Mueller investigation. Rosenstein appointed Mueller and, under the pertinent regulations, retains significant authority over Muellers investigation. Wray is leading the FBI, which is obviously heavily involved in the investigation. For legal and political reasons, they thus must be scrupulous in not being, or appearing, biased against the President.
Rosenstein and Wray thus find themselves in a wholly unprecedented situation and very awkward position. For reasons I outlined Monday, they must defend their workforce from the Presidents unprecedented attacks. But they must do so in ways that do not compromise the Mueller investigation or their role in it. The President deepens their dilemma every time he attacks the Justice Department and the FBI. Indeed, Trump certainly senses this, even if he does not fully understand ithis attacks on law enforcement invariably help him by making Muellers and Rosensteins and Wrays jobs in connection with the investigation harder and more political.
Against this background, the general statements by the two men in the past two daysstatements which were formally neutral even as they unambiguously underscored the integrity of the Justice Department and FBI in ways that were widely seen as responses to Trumpis about the most that we, or their workforces, can reasonably expect.
|German Foreign Minister Unironically Calls for Solution to the Jerusalem Problem|
German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel does not support President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to the Washington Post. “We all know the far-reaching impact this move would have,” he said in an interview. “Germany’s position on this issue remains unchanged: A solution to the Jerusalem problem can only be found through direct negotiations between both parties. Everything which worsens the crisis is counterproductive.”
Leaving aside Gabriel’s conventional pro-Palestinian policy analysis, maybe he could have chosen his words more carefully?
And maybe European governments might want to sit this one out? The Washington Post goes on to say that word of President Trump’s announcement “dominated European news coverage Wednesday, especially in countries such as Germany, France, and Britain where anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in recent yearspartially due to an escalation of tensions between Israel and Palestinians.”
That’s one way of looking at it, we suppose. Reporters never waste an opportunity to blame Israel for Europe’s troubles. Another way of looking at it is that rising European anti-Semitism has coincided with rising European Islamism, rising European secularism hostile to Jewish particularity and ritual, and rising European nationalism of the kind that led to the murder of six million European Jews less than a century ago. The Boycott Divest Sanctions movement, the spearhead of global efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel, is also strong on the continent, where goods made in Jewish communities in the West Bank are required to carry a warning label. Little surprise that Jews are leaving places like France in record numbers.
Jewish migration from Germany is relatively stable, but that may be because there are so few Jews left in Germany to begin with. Still, Josef Schuster, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told Bild last July that “In some districts in major cities, I’d advise people not to identify themselves as Jews.”
Minister Gabriel might want to advise his government to spend less time on a “Jerusalem problem” that exists mainly in the heads of diplomats, and more time on an anti-Semitism problem that affects the lives of German Jews every day. Just a thought.
The post German Foreign Minister Unironically Calls for ‘Solution to the Jerusalem Problem’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
|Doctors identify brain abnormalities in Cuba attack patients|
Doctors treating the U.S. Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain the hearing, vision, balance and memory damage, The Associated Press has learned.
|Tillerson touts good opportunity for Mideast peace despite criticism of U.S. policy shift on Jerusalem|
The secretary of state said at NATO headquarters that President Trump remains very committed to the Middle East peace process.
|The Early Edition: December 6, 2017|
Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
President Trump plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, marking a seismic change in U.S. policy and amid warnings from Middle East leaders, who have highlighted the potential for violence and the threat the decision could pose to Israel-Palestine peace efforts. Mark Landler and David M. Halbfinger report at the New York Times.
Trump’s speech announcing the policy change will be delivered at midday today, the president informed his counterparts in the Middle East of his decision yesterday and, according to an adviser to the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Abbas told Trump that he would not “accept” the policy change and warned him that he was “playing into the hands of extremism.” David Nakamura, Loveday Morris and Anne Gearan report at the Washington Post.
A timetable for the U.S. Embassy relocation is not expected to be set out in the speech and the president is expected to sign a waiver delaying the move, however Trump informed the Palestinian and Jordanian leaders yesterday of his plans to relocate the mission, which has been met with calls for protests by the rival Palestinian factions – Abbas’s Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas group. Sam Fleming, Erika Solomon and Ilan Ben Zion report at the Financial Times.
The embassy relocation will be delayed to address logistical and security challenges, administration officials said yesterday, adding that the delay would allow them to identify and construct a new facility in Jerusalem. Trump is also expected to say that the specific boundaries of Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations, Felicia Schwartz, Dion Nissenbaum and Rory Jones report at the Wall Street Journal.
Trump administration officials described the forthcoming policy decision as a “recognition of reality” that Jerusalem has long been the seat of the Israeli government, with one senior administration official saying that it “seems clear now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal” as the location of the mission has not changed the dynamics of the peace negotiations over the past two decades. Jeremy Diamond and Nicole Gaouette report at CNN.
“Such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims and the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the Saudi King Salman as telling to Trump during a phone call yesterday, Trump also spoke the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Netanyahu who avoided directly mentioning the change in U.S. policy during a speech in Jerusalem, Julian Borger and Peter Beaumont report at the Guardian.
The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be the “kiss of death to the two state solution” and a declaration of war in the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic representative to the U.K., Manuel Hassassian, said today, Reuters reports.
The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem warned U.S. government employees and family members from traveling in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank, and advised U.S. citizens to consider their own safety when traveling. Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.
No country currently has an embassy in Jerusalem and leaders across the world have expressed concern about the Trump administration’s plan. Al Jazeera provides a breakdown of the various reactions.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on the U.S. to bring forward its proposals on the Middle East peace process “as a matter of priority” in light of the U.S. policy announcement, Johnson made the comments yesterday alongside the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and said that the U.K. would have to “wait and see” what Trump says in his speech today. The AP reports.
The repercussions of Trump’s announcement, and what to look for in the speech, are examined by Adam Taylor at the Washington Post, noting that a decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital but not to move the embassy would have subtly different implications than a decision to relocate the embassy and recognize Jerusalem.
The recognition of Jerusalem is a sensitive issue steeped in historical and religious divisions, the policy change may have potentially serious ramifications for the region, and Trump’s decision has reportedly surprised Arab leaders amid a changing dynamic in the Middle East – with some arguing that the announcement would undermine the developing relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel in their rivalry against Iran. Ishaan Tharoor provides an analysis at the Washington Post.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without advancing peace talks raises tensions rather than improving chances of making a deal between Israel and Palestine, and the move demonstrates how Trump has been pandering to his base at the expense of diplomacy and peace. The New York Times editorial board writes.
The U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem at this point would “unnecessarily put lives at risk,” incite violence from the Hamas terrorist group, and draw the ire of Sunni Arab states at the time when Israel needs their cooperation to counter Iran. Eliora Katz offers the Zionist case against the decision at the Wall Street Journal.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital would be a “catastrophe,” creating “enormous and new insoluble problems without addressing the real issues that beset the city,” Nicholas Blincoe writes at the Guardian.
Jerusalem is “unmistakably Israel’s capital” and U.S. recognition of this fact would be a “great American moment,” even if it results in violence. Shmuel Rosner writes at the New York Times.
Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank requesting documents and data about people and entities affiliated with Donald Trump, according to an individual briefed on the matter, however Ty Cobb, the White House chief lawyer handling the Russia investigation, said that the reports about the subpoena were “false.” Jenny Strasburg reports at the Wall Street Journal.
“No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources,” Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow said yesterday, a spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment on the matter. Arno Schuetze and Karen Freifeld report at Reuters.
Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee today in a closed-door session, he will be questioned on financial relationships with Russia and his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 at Trump Tower. Katie Bo Williams and Olivia Beavers report at the Hill.
Trump Jr. asked Veselnitskaya whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation at their June meeting, Veselnitskaya said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, she also contended that she did not work for the Russian government and was not carrying messages from government officials. Ken Dilanian and Natasha Lebedeva report at NBC News.
The British publicist Rob Goldstone who arranged the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting will testify before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, perhaps as earlier as next week, according to sources familiar with the matter. Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju report at CNN.
The confirmation of K.T. McFarland as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore has been “frozen” following questions about her knowledge of Trump campaign aide Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December 2016, McFarland submitted written responses in July to questions posed by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) about the transition period and Russian contacts and denied knowledge of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.
Justice Department prosecutor and key member of Mueller’s team, Andrew Weissmann, said he was “so proud and in awe” of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on the day she was fired by Trump for refusing to defend the travel ban, providing ammunition to conservatives who contend that Mueller’s investigation has been compromised by partisan prosecutors. Jonathan Easley reports at the Hill.
Democrats have been engaged in efforts to defend Mueller following attacks from Trump allies and the revelation that Weissmann showed apparent anti-Trump sentiments, with lawmakers pushing for two bills seeking to protect Mueller from being fired. Elana Schor and Kyle Cheney report at POLITICO.
The claim that Vice President Mike Pence has been completely unaware of Russia connections has been tested by court filings unsealed last week in relation to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Elizabeth Landers, Kevin Liptak and Jeff Zeleny explain at CNN.
The anti-Trump bias of top F.B.I. official and Mueller team member Peter Strzok warrants a review but does not undermine the Mueller investigation, Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have set up checkpoints across the capital of Sana’a and consolidated their control yesterday, having killed the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday, the Houthi gains and Saleh’s death marking a possible turning point in the conflict which has seen Iran backing the Houthis and a Saudi-led military coalition intervening to try and reinstate the internationally-recognized president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Mohammed al-Kibs and Margherita Stancati report at the Wall Street Journal.
The Saudi-led coalition carried out 25 air strikes on Houthi targets overnight as the Houthis tightened their grip on Sana’a, the BBC reports.
Saleh’s son Ahmed Ali Saleh said he would “confront the enemies of the homeland and humanity” in a statement yesterday railing against the Houthis and their Iranian backers, Ahmed Ali’s intervention signaling that he may be the Saleh family’s last chance to win back influence in the conflict. Sami Aboudi and Noah Browning report at Reuters.
Saleh’s nephew and senior military commander Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh was also killed this week, a statement from Saleh’s party said yesterday. Reuters reports.
The Defense Secretary Jim Mattis noted yesterday that the humanitarian situation in Yemen is likely to get worse following the death of Saleh, Idrees Ali reporting at Reuters.
The U.S. military flew a B-1B bomber over South Korea in an apparent show of force as part of U.S.-South Korea largescale joint military exercises that began on Monday, the BBC reports.
China’s foreign ministry called for restraint after the B-1B bomber flew over South Korea, Reutersreporting.
North Korea has not demonstrated its “reentry capability,” “remote targeting, or the miniaturization required to do this,” South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said today, doubting North Korea’s nuclear capability but acknowledging that they have developed their program at “a pace that’s far faster than many of us have expected.” Mick Krever reports at CNN.
Russia is “ready to deploy” its channels for conducting dialogue with North Korea, the R.I.A. news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov as saying yesterday. Vladimir Soldatkin reporting at Reuters.
South Korea will develop a weaponized drone unit for reconnaissance missions and to monitor North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile sites, a South Korean official confirmed yesterday. Bryan Harris reports at the Financial Times.
The U.S. cannot rely on Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Xi has used the crisis to undermine American credibility by tolerating North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. Daniel Nidess writes at the Wall Street Journal.
TILLERSON IN EUROPE
The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Brussels yesterday and received chilly reception from European diplomats, the E.U.’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini welcomed Tillerson in a matter-of-fact tone, warned the Trump administration about the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and reinforced Europe’s support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Gardiner Harris reports at the New York Times.
Tillerson and Mogherini discussed joint efforts under the Iran nuclear agreement to “hold Iran fully compliant with the terms of that deal and fully enforce that agreement,” Tillerson said in a statement yesterday, making the comments ahead of Congress’s forthcoming decision whether to re-apply sanctions on Iran. Al Jazeera reports.
“While we don’t have any wins on the board yet, I can tell you we’re in a much better position to advance America’s interests around the world than we were 10 months ago,” Tillerson told senior U.S. diplomats and embassy staff in Brussels yesterday, he also sought to reassure European foreign ministers that the U.S. remains committed to transatlantic ties. Robin Emmott reports at Reuters.
Tillerson called on European allies to help with efforts to curb Iran’s expansionism and its missile program, Mogherini said that the E.U. would be willing to work with the U.S. but that it would be dependent on Washington abiding by the provisions of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Laurence Norman and Julian E. Barnes report at the Wall Street Journal.
Tillerson’s encounter in Europe was awkward, demonstrating how Trump has become a destabilizing for E.U. policymakers and amid speculation over the future of Tillerson’s position. David M. Herzenhorn writes at POLITICO.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed eight and injured 16 others in the Syrian city of Homs yesterday, Reuters reporting.
Russian long-range bombers struck Islamic State group target in Syria’s Deir al-Zour province, Russian news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying yesterday, Reuters reporting.
Fewer than 3,000 Islamic State militants remain in Iraq and Syria, the spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the terrorist group, Col. Ryan Dillon, said yesterday. Ahmed Aboulenein reports at Reuters.
The major combat against Islamic State group is practically over, however Syria and Iraq are braced for a wave of terrorist violence, which explains the lack of a celebration over the gains against the extremist group. Tamer El-Ghobashy, Mustafa Salim and Louisa Loveluck observe at the Washington Post.
U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 33 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between December 1 and December 3. [Central Command]
Al-Qaeda’s “No. 2 leader” Omar bin Khatab was killed in a joint U.S.-Afghan operation, along with several other al-Qaeda operatives, the U.S. military command in Afghanistan confirmed yesterday. Sayed Salahuddin and Dan Lamothe report at the Washington Post.
Kirstjen M. Nielsen was confirmed to lead the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) yesterday, Nielsen was the deputy to John Kelly – now the White House chief of staff – when he led the D.H.S., Nick Miroff reports at the Washington Post.
The meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) ended abruptly yesterday, raising the possibility that the G.C.C. is “effectively dead,” Al Jazeera explains, also referring to comments calling for the G.C.C. to be restructured.
An Islamist plot to kill the British Prime Minister Theresa May was foiled by MI5 and the British police and the two suspects will appear in court today on charges of terrorism offences. David Bond reports at the Financial Times.
|Time names the #metoo movement as 2017 Person of the Year|
Time Magazine’s Person of the Year isn’t just one person but millions of victims of sexual harassment and assault.
|Silence Breakers named Time magazine’s Person of the Year|
The anti-harassment #MeToo movement has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
|‘War Cry’ enters New Brooklyn comics with a bang|
Looking for a zany new superhero comic, War Cry might just answer your call.
|Cuomo attacks GOP for tax bill that ‘cripples’ high-tax states|
Cuomo said New York and California continue to be the largest donor states to the federal government.
|22 Russian athletes appeal to have Olympic bans lifted|
The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it has registered appeals by 22 Russian athletes.
|Sleeping straphanger ripped off for phone, license, and charge cards|
See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.
By Julianne McShane
Bay Ridge—Dyker Heights
Nodded, and robbed
A punk stole a man’s iPhone 7, driver’s license, and debit and credit cards when he was sleeping on the N train between the Bay Parkway and Eighth Avenue stops on Dec. 3.
The man told police that he got on the train at Stillwell Avenue at 3 am, and missed his stop at Bay Parkway because he fell asleep. He woke up at Eighth Avenue by 4 am, when he realized his phone — along with the accompanying wallet case and the aforementioned cards — was missing.
A lout stole a little more than $700 from a Ridge man’s purloined debit card at an ATM on 18th Avenue at some point after Nov. 13.
The thief snagged the cash at the corner of 65th Street, according to a police report.
A lowlife stole $300 in cash plus a woman’s debit card, two credit cards, and driver’s license from her child’s stroller after she left it briefly to drop off her child at daycare on Ridge Boulevard on Nov. 30. The theft occurred at some point in the 10-minute window between 7:40 and 7:50 am, when the woman briefly abandoned her childless stroller when she left it on the sidewalk at 71st street, according to the report.
Out of order
A no-goodnik stole a little more than $1,000 via money order after a Ridge man mailed it to his landlord from his Fourth Avenue home at some point after June 5.
The man mailed the money from his home between 72nd and 73rd streets after 10 am on the June day, he reported to police on Dec. 1. But a lout cashed the money order soon after he mailed it, he said.
Left it, lost it
A miscreant stole from a man’s wallet, citizenship card, two credit cards, and one debit card from his unlocked car parked on 14th Avenue at some point between Nov. 26 and 29.
The man parked the car at 81st Street at 4 pm on the 26th and returned at noon on the 29th to find the items gone, according to the report.
— Julianne McShane
|Thief robs Downtown hotel, but drops stolen cash trying to outrun cops|
See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.
By Colin Mixson
Brooklyn Heights–DUMBO–Boerum Hill–Downtown
A thief robbed a Duffield Street hotel at gunpoint on Dec. 4, taking cash.
An employee told police that the suspect waltzed into the hotel between Willoughby and Fulton streets at 4:15 am, holding what looked like a gun inside his pocket and snarling, “Give me the money, or I’ll shoot.”
The thief fled with two cash registers containing $1,500, but cops were quick on the scene and a foot chase ensued along Prince Street that resulted in the perp making his escape, but leaving his ill-gotten gains for cops to recover, according to police.
Some goon stole a man’s phone on Pacific Street on Dec. 01, after the crook forced the victim into giving up his passcode.
The victim, 15, told police he was between Third and Fourth avenues at 4:31 pm, when the suspect snatched his phone and barked, “Enter your passcode, or I will f— you up.”
The teen duly complied, and the brute absconded with his $900 iPhone 8, cops said.
Two thieves robbed a 15-year-old boy on Livingston Street on Dec. 1.
The victim told police he was strolling with a friend near Flatbush Avenue at 3:45 pm, when some goon pressed an unknown object against his back, while an accomplice went through his pockets, pulling out his debit card and smart phone.
The crooks fled with their ill-gotten stuff, and a police search came up short, cops said.
Some crook beat and robbed a straphanger waiting at the DeKalb Avenue subway station on Dec. 1.
The victim told police he was standing on the Manhattan-bound platform at the station near Flatbush Avenue Extension at 3:20, when the crook snatched the phone from his hand and gave him a shove, before fleeing into the station with three other men.
Cops arrested a man who stole someone’s headphones inside a Main Street building on Dec. 1, before threatening with a pair of scissors.
The victim told police he forgot his headphones in the building between Water and Front streets at 8:30 am, and returned to find them in the suspect’s possession.
The 29-year-old suspect allegedly refused to hand the $300 headphones back, and at one point brandished a pair of scissors, shouting, “Come in and get them,” according to police.
Cops busted the suspect on robbery charges later that day, and recovered the victim’s valuables from the suspect’s backpack, according to police.
|Dastardly duo jumps a man, steals his cash, and cuts him when he resists|
See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.
By Julianne Cuba
Fort Greene–Clinton Hill
A pair of louts stabbed a guy and stole his cash on Myrtle Avenue on Nov. 28, police said. The 63-year-old victim told police he was walking near Washington Park at about 10:30 am when the two nogoodniks came up to him, and the first put his hand on his shoulder and then removed $152 in cash from his pocket, according to authorities. The second malefactor then tried to knife him when he told the baddies he had no more money, but he put up his hand to block the blade and wound up getting cut, officials said. The ruffians then threw him to the ground, and he hit his head, police said.
A jerk broke into a woman’s Saint James Place home on Nov. 30 and stole her jewelry and electronics, police said.
Some baddie broke into the apartment through the front door between Greene and Gates avenue sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 and swiped a Macbook Pro, diamond earrings, $100 bills, gold rings, and a speaker worth a total of $3,050, according to authorities.
Bye bye bike!
Some weasel stole a woman’s keys and the CitiBike she was using on Willoughby Street on Nov. 24, police said. The woman told police she dropped her keys somewhere with the key ring attached and used it to access the bike for unlimited usage near Hall Street at about 4 pm, when she later got an email that she was still getting charged for someone using the bike, officials said.
In the blink of an eye
A goniff swiped a woman’s wallet from her purse as she was on a G train near Lafayette Avenue on Nov. 28, police said. The scofflaw must have reached inside the 39-year-old woman’s purse and grabbed her wallet aboard the Church Avenue-bound green bullet after she got on at the Classon Avenue station, police said. The woman hopped off near Fulton Street when she realized her bag was opened and her wallet with her driver’s license, five credit cards, BJ’s card, and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association card worth a total of $45 was missing, officials said.
Dropped and gone
Some sneak stole a woman’s wallet at a DeKalb Avenue hospital on Nov. 29, police said. The 27-year-old said she dropped her wallet in the medical center near Willoughby Street at about 2 pm, with her Dominican Republic identification card, United States resident card, and two credit cards inside, and later got a call from one of the credit card companies that some baddie was charging them, according to authorities.
— Julianne Cuba
|Reefer badness: Two men busted for smoking marijuana on the street|
See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.
By Colin Mixson
Patrolmen at the 78th Precinct busted two men for allegedly smoking pot on separate occasions late last month.
One officer was near Prospect Place and Carlton Avenue at 1 am on Nov. 20, when he spotted a man smoking a joint on the street, cops said.
Police pinched another alleged pot smoker on Wykoff Street between Nevins Street and Third Avenue at 9:25 am on Nov. 25, after a patrolmen spotted him with a joint in his hand, according to police
Both men were arrested and charged with criminal possession of marijuana, cops said.
Cops busted a 16-year-old boy suspected of stealing a man’s phone inside a Hanson Place shopping center on Nov. 22, and then threatening to shoot him when he demanded its return.
The victim, 60, told police he stopped inside the mall between Hanson Place and Atlantic Avenue to charge his cell at 3:50 am, when the suspect approached him and started up a conversation.
As the pair spoke, the alleged crook slyly unplugged the man’s phone from the charger and slid it into his pocket, but he wasn’t slick enough and the older fellow called him out on it, cops said.
Not willing to hand over his illicit catch, the suspect reached into his waistband and the told victim he’d shoot him, according to police.
He didn’t get far after that, and New York’s Finest booked him that night on a robbery charge, cops said.
Police arrested two men, ages 45 and 53, accused of busting into a Fifth Avenue pizza joint on Nov. 22.
The suspects allegedly made numerous attempts to force their way into the pie spot between 10th and 11th streets at around 3:45 am, before finally breaking open the front door and letting themselves inside, cops said.
The pair hung around for a few minutes, but didn’t take anything and soon fled, according to police.
Someone from the restaurant reported the break in at around 2 pm, and investigators made short work of tracking down the suspects, who were arrested on attempted burglary charges later that day, cops said.
|Assassins killed Panama Papers journalist with text message bomb|
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s car exploded last month as she was driving near her home in Malta.