America doesn’t have coups or tanks in the street. But a deep state of sorts exists here and it includes national security bureaucrats who use secretly collected information to shape or curb the actions of elected officials.
Some see these American bureaucrats as a vital check on the law-breaking or authoritarian or otherwise illegitimate tendencies of democratically elected officials.
Others decry them as a self-serving authoritarian cabal that illegally and illegitimately undermines democratically elected officials and the policies they were elected to implement.
The truth is that the deep state, which is a real phenomenon, has long been both a threat to democratic politics and a savior of it. The problem is that it is hard to maintain its savior role without also accepting its threatening role. The two go hand in hand, and are difficult to untangle.
The deep state has been blamed for many things since Donald Trump became president, including by the president himself. Trump defenders have used the term promiscuously to include not just intelligence bureaucrats but a broader array of connected players in other administrative bureaucracies, in private industry, and in the media.
But even if we focus narrowly on the intelligence bureaucracies that conduct and use information collected secretly in the homeland, including the FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), and National Security Council, there is significant evidence that the deep state has used secretly collected information opportunistically and illegally to sabotage the president and his senior officials – either as part of a concerted movement or via individuals acting more or less independently.
The hard questions are whether this sabotage is virtuous or abusive, whether we can tell, and what the consequences of these actions are.
Since Trump was elected, unusually sensitive leaks of intelligence information designed to discredit him and his senior leadership have poured forth from current and former intelligence officials in the deep state.
The first major one, in February 2017, concerned a court-approved NSA wiretap of a phone conversation between Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn that concerned, among other things, the possible removal of Russia sanctions imposed by President Obama. Flynn had denied that the men discussed sanctions, and the leak revealing his lie led to his resignation.
Another major leak concerned communications intercepts during the campaign of Russian government officials discussing potentially “derogatory” information about Trump and top campaign aides. Other leaks in this vein included intercepts of Russian officials claiming they could influence Trump through Flynn, of Kislyak supposedly informing Moscow that he discussed campaign-related issues with then-Senator Jeff Sessions, and of Kislyak discussing in a communication to Moscow that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, wanted to communicate via a secure channel.
These leaks probably mark the first time ever that the content of foreign intelligence intercepts aimed at foreign agents that swept up US-person information was leaked. They clearly aimed to damage US persons – ones who happen to also be senior US government officials.
They were unlawful and, beyond that, they violated two until-now strict taboos about leaks – first on revealing the content of foreign intelligence information collected through electronic surveillance, and second on revealing the content of incidentally collected information about American citizens.
Many people, including many who are not in the Trump camp, have interpreted these leaks to violate a third taboo by marking a return to the Hoover-era FBI’s use of secretly collected information to sabotage elected officials with adverse political interests.
The comparison is plausible in light of the extensive efforts soon after the election to encourage the bureaucracy, including the intelligence bureaucracy, to resist the Trump administration, and the evidence that there was in some agencies such resistance.
But while Hoover did many awful things in quiet, neither during his reign nor at any other time in American history have we seen such a profusion of sensitive leaks from the deep state with such an overtly political aim to bring down senior leadership.
There is, of course, the possibility that the anti-Trump leaks, on their face political and unprecedented, were nonetheless justified whistleblowing, akin perhaps to leaks about illegal surveillance programs or about illegal interrogation practices at CIA black sites. Put another way, it is possible that the benefits of the leaks, considered narrowly, outweigh the evil inherent in breaching the first two taboos above.
The situation the leaks are a response to is itself extraordinary to the point of being unprecedented. The then acting attorney general of the United States, Sally Yates, believed that Flynn, the new national security adviser, was compromised by the Russians and vulnerable to blackmail, and so warned the White House, which seemed to take no steps in response to the information.
More broadly, a number of very odd circumstances suggested unusual and potentially corrupt connections between the Trump campaign and administration and the Russian government, about which the FBI had been conducting a counterintelligence investigation since the summer of 2016.
All of this came in the context of the unprecedented Russian DNC hack designed, our intelligence agencies tell us, to help Donald Trump win the election. And then once in office, Trump himself engaged in vicious and in many instances false attacks on the intelligence community and justice department investigators.
Do these unprecedented circumstances justify the unprecedented deep state leaks?
The lines crossed by the deep state leaks against Trump were thought to be absolute ones until 2017. But we have never faced a situation in which the national security adviser, and perhaps even the president of the United States, presented a credible counterintelligence threat involving one of our greatest adversaries.
Perhaps the facts will develop to give us enough clarity about the Russia-Trump connections to be able to make a better judgment along the lines of the judgment history has made about previous virtuous leaks. But perhaps we will never have clarity, and thus won’t be able to reach consensus on whether the leaks were justified.
However those matters develop, the whole ordeal has already done great damage to both the presidency and the national security bureaucracy.
As deep state officials get a taste for the power that inheres in the selective revelation of such information, and if the leaks are not responded to with severe punishments, it is easy to imagine the tools that brought down Flynn being used in other contexts by national security bureaucrats with different commitments and interests.
Even the most severe critics of Trump should worry about this subtle form of anti-democratic abuse. The big loser in all this will probably be the national security bureaucracy itself and, to the extent it is weakened, the security of the American people.
Even if it turns out that Flynn and others close to Trump were in the bag for the Russians, many people will for a long time view the anti-Trump leaks as political abuse of intelligence to harm political enemies.
This perception will be deepened by the Trump administration’s relentless and often false attacks on the integrity of the intelligence community, including its false suggestion that the original collection that incidentally captured Flynn’s communications, as opposed to the leaks of such information, was illegitimate.
The Flynn and related leaks didn’t just violate the law – they violated a core commitment the intelligence community made in after the era of Hoover not to politicize, or appear to politicize, the use of surveillance tools or the fruits of their use.
The whole intelligence collection system – which has an importance that far transcends its undoubtedly large importance in this discrete context – is vulnerable here for the simple reason that the intermixture of politics with intelligence collection is the intelligence system’s Achilles’ heel.
If surveillance comes to be seen through a domestic political lens, with domestic political winners and losers, the intelligence community will have a very hard time acting with needed public credibility. And that in turn means it will have a harder time doing what it needs to do to keep us safe.
Jack Goldsmith is Henry L Shattuck professor of law at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11 (W W Norton 2012)
Oh look, another communal meltdown over supposedly dangerous manifestations of racism at a college, this time at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. A reader writes:
I’ve been following your column for some time now and after reading about DePauw it occurred to me that the exact same pattern is happening at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo right now. A student is accused of racism over a “blackface” photo, protests occur, and within a week horribly racist flyers are found around campus. Things are now escalating fast. I don’t think this is a coincidence.
In a grown-up culture, that would be the end of it. But American colleges and universities are not grown-up cultures. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, SJWs and their administrative fellow travelers are not going to allow the opportunity to hit the fainting couches pass by:
She and her parents said they wanted to know whether she could expect emotional support and safety should Vaghefi decide to attend Cal Poly.
“This is pretty important,” Vaghefi said.
The question of what to say to minority students and their parents is one San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon said she has heard many times since the blackface photo emerged.
Harmon joined protesters at Santa Rosa Park, where they enjoyed a break from two days of lengthy marches across campus. She said she was there primarily to listen, and to weigh the possibility of a working group consisting of officials from the city, Cal Poly, Cuesta College, local business representatives and students to address the city and university’s “systemic problem with racism.”
“I have had mothers calling my office,” Harmon said. “They’re deeply concerned.”
While she acknowledged her own racial privilege as a white woman, Harmon said she would still answer yes to a person of color considering attending Cal Poly.
“The last thing we need is even less diversity on campus,” she said.
It’s like everybody just wants to be offended, and so offended that they become emotionally disabled, because that’s how they know who they are. I am offended, therefore I am. Not too long ago, to admit to being undone by the least little thing would have been seen as a sign of weakness, of feeble character. The man or woman who was able to endure all kinds of insults and threats to their lives — think James Meredith and Ruby Bridges — without desisting from their path were real heroes.
Now? The therapeutic mindset has triumphed so thoroughly that the faintest flap of a butterfly’s wing will cause an emotional hurricane within anyone who feels the air quiver. It’s the way to achieve power. René Girard foresaw that there is no limit to the violence we will inflict on each other in post-Christian culture, for the sake of protecting the supposed Victim.
Here’s why I fear and absolutely loathe the mob, especially racialized mobs. This really happened in my town. I know the identities of every white person involved (they’re all long dead), because one of them confessed on his deathbed to a friend of mine, who was shaken by the news. I do not know the name of the victim, and my attempts to discover his name went nowhere. None of this was publicly recorded.
Back in the 1940s, in my tiny Southern hometown, word reached the sheriff that a black man had been caught raping a white woman. The sheriff put out a call to some trusted white men to come help him track the rapist down and bring him to justice. The sheriff deputized two white men who showed up. They chased the black man through the woods, and upon catching him, bound him and took him back to the parish jail. There they lynched him. This was what they told themselves they had to do to protect the good order of the community.
A couple of days later, the truth came out: the black man and the white woman had been secret lovers. When they were discovered, she accused him of rape to protect herself. After his murder by the sheriff and his men, her conscience wouldn’t let her rest. She confessed all.
In their shame, the white family moved away. Of course no one — not the sheriff, nor his deputies — faced any kind of justice for their murder of an innocent man. That’s not how things worked under white supremacy.
The reason anybody alive today knows about it is because one of the murderers, as he lay dying decades ago, unburdened his conscience.
In a piece I wrote three years ago, “When ISIS Ran The American South,” I talked about what it was like to be a black person living under white supremacy, specifically in the sense of being powerless in the face of unaccountable power, a power that was eager and willing to inflict severe violence, even death, upon you. What prompted the comparison was the news that ISIS had burned a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot alive in a cage. I wrote:
No, the American South (and other parts of America where racial terrorists ran rampant) was never run by fanatical theocrats who used grotesque public murders as a tool of terror. But if you were a black in the years 1877-1950, this was a distinction without much meaningful difference.
I had the case in my hometown in mind when I wrote that. In that post, I quoted a recent report on lynchings in the American South, 1877-1950. One category of lynchings investigators identified:
Lynchings Based on Fear of Interracial Sex. Nearly 25 percent of the lynchings of African Americans in the South were based on charges of sexual assault. The mere accusation of rape, even without an identification by the alleged victim, could arouse a lynch mob. The definition of black-on-white “rape” in the South required no allegation of force because white institutions, laws, and most white people rejected the idea that a white woman would willingly consent to sex with an African American man.
In the case I’m talking about, the mob — in this case, the sheriff and his deputies, as well as the (false) accuser — did not require a dispassionate examination of the evidence in the case. The accuser’s word was enough. It was assumed by white Southern culture of the day that every black man sexually desired every white woman, and that no white woman was capable of sexually desiring a black man. Even black male desire itself was enough to merit execution; if a black man and a white woman had actually been caught in sexual congress, as in this particular case, that was even stronger evidence of rape. Or so that culture thought.
But again: white culture of that time and place was so racially paranoid that all it took was for white people to feel that a black man sexually desired a white woman for that man to be at risk of extrajudicial execution.
This is not a sin and a perversion unique to white Southern culture, 1877-1950. Nor is a different version of it unique to German culture, 1918-1945, or to a Russian version of it under the Soviets, or a Chinese version of it under Mao, or a Hutu version of it in 1994 Rwanda. It is universal in human character. The story of the Passion of Jesus Christ lays this bare. As Caiaphas, the high priest, said as an innocent man was being condemned to death, “It is better for one man to die than that a whole nation perish.” When members of the mob feel threatened, they will coalesce as a mob and justify any violence to preserve its sense of itself. This is why when Christians hear the Passion gospels during Holy Week, we are instructed to understand that every one of us is in reality a member of the Jerusalem mob chanting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
It is precisely this kind of thing that the rule of law is designed to mitigate. Human justice is imperfect (this, by the way, is why I oppose the death penalty; I believe that some crimes are so heinous that they deserve capital punishment, but I do not trust the state to be right all the time). We train ourselves to hold our passions at a distance in cases like this, and to subject them to rigorous rational inquiry. Again, it is not perfect — but what else do we have?
As longtime readers know, the way I talked myself into supporting the Iraq War still haunts me. As I’ve explained in this space before, I wanted revenge for 9/11. I should have known that Iraq had nothing to do with that mass murder; indeed, many, including the founders of this magazine, were saying precisely that. I didn’t want to listen. I took too much pleasure in my status as a victim of Arab Muslim evil. I wanted some Arab Muslims to suffer for what “they” did to me. I didn’t much care for precision in assigning guilt.
Of course I didn’t frame it that way in my own mind. Had I presented it to myself in that fashion, I might have resisted the march to the cleansing war, the war that would set accounts to right. Deep down, I didn’t want to avoid that war. I wanted the Arab Muslims to hurt and to fear as much as they had hurt us, and made us fear. It was primitive tribalism at work. I was an educated journalist working in New York City in the early 21st century, but deep down, in my heart of hearts, I might as well have been a tribesman on the plains of Africa, a Viking raider in early Europe, or any earlier iteration of crude, violent tribalism in the long human story. In fact, was this kind of thing not what drove the terrorists of Al-Qaeda to slaughter our innocents on September 11? To avenge perceived wrongs. To achieve justice. To restore honor.
Don’t get me wrong: sometimes war is just. Sometimes a grave injustice really has occurred, and needs to be set aright by violence. And so forth. But we must confront these things with deep seriousness and restraint, recognizing our own near-boundless capacity for passion-driven injustice. It is so great that even within the institutions and procedures of the rule of law, tribalism can triumph. Had that black man in my hometown been charged formally with rape and brought to trial, there is no reason to believe that he would have received a fair trial.
Still: what else do we have?
One of the greatest gifts that the Christian religion has given to the world is the idea that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That is, every single one of us is imperfect, and indeed capable of great evil, because it is in our nature. Christians know, or should know, that all of us are sinners, blinded by our passions. There are times when we have to make judgments — no society could exist without doing so — but we should approach this task with introspective humility. You never see or hear these Social Justice Warrior mobs acknowledging this. As a matter of fact, their entire philosophy banishes humility as weakness and self-loathing. Go back and look at the communications from the faculty at DePauw, the letters to colleagues I quoted in my piece. Mind you, most of the letters I quoted come from white faculty. It’s pure SJW cant, mindlessly parroted by people who wield words and ideas as weapons to gain group power. This is the antithesis of what a university is supposed to be, which is why militant progressivism represents an existential crisis in the university.
If this notion of justice supplants the older, liberal version, then we are doomed to tribal war, which will only end when one group gains the power and the will to impress its hegemony on all others, as whites did to blacks prior to the Civil Rights Era.
Is this the country we want? Do we really think justice will be achievable in a polity like that? There is nothing just about “Social Justice” as conceived by the SJWs at DePauw and other places. It makes achieving real justice impossible, because it construes “justice” as solely a function of group power. We do not have to pretend that the US system produced perfect justice in the past, or that it will ever be capable of producing perfect justice, to affirm that as flawed as it is, was, and ever shall be, it is the best thing we have.
To resist the SJWs on campus, and in corporate America, is to fight for old-fashioned liberalism. There are many aspects of liberalism I see as unsustainable, and am not sorry to see go. But the broadly liberal concept of justice, which entails the equality of individuals before the law, is perhaps the most important facet of liberalism. It is endangered now, and will be even more endangered as the educated young people corrupted by these progressive elites in college move into positions of power throughout our culture.
A society in which people believe that virtue inheres in groups; a society in which loyalty to the group is more important than loyalty to truth; a society that is emotivist (that is, one in which truth is determined primarily by feeling and sentiment instead of dispassionate reasoning) — all of these things are societies that can only be less just than what we have now.
That’s enough for tonight. I’ll stop here. I’m reading Amy Chua’s new book Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations.So far, I’m finding it very good, but actually chilling, given what we’re seeing on campuses, in corporate America, and beyond. Nobody is innocent here. Nobody — not whites, not blacks, not Hispanics or Asians, not gays, not straights, and so on — is innocent. I’ll be writing more on it in the days to come.
It’s important to me to say one more thing here. Back in the summer of 2002, I was reeling from rage over 9/11, and over the Catholic sex abuse scandal. I was so overcome by it that I had to see a dentist to get a mouthguard made for wearing at night, because I was grinding my teeth so fiercely that my wife couldn’t sleep. She was so worried about what was happening to me on the inside. I couldn’t rest. The injustices of these two catastrophic events was eating me alive. She compelled me to swallow my pride and go see a therapist.
The therapist was a Catholic, and, as it turned out, a quack. Long story. But he told me something in that first session that was offensive and painful to hear, and that I furiously rejected. But years later, I came to see that he was right.
What he told me was this: “You need to accept that under the right circumstances, you could have been flying one of those planes. You could have been Mohammed Atta.”
No effing way! I said. No way! I refused to admit that I have anything in common with that monster. What is wrong with this guy? I thought. What kind of relativist is he?
He was right about that. I do, in fact, have that capacity for evil within me. So do you. So do we all. Not too many of us are the kind of sociopaths who choose evil for evil’s sake. We first dress it up as good — as justice, perhaps. Read the final words left behind by Atta. This is a man convinced that he was acting for the sake of God, of justice, and his tribe (Muslims), against infidels, which at one point he described as “animals” to be slaughtered. It is one long rationale for mass murder as an act of high and selfless virtue.
If you don’t think you have it within you to write the same sort of testament, you don’t know yourself as well as you think you do. Nor do you know history, or the human heart. The men of my town who lynched that innocent black man slept peacefully every night for the rest of their lives — except for the man who, in his final days on this earth, confessed to his wicked deed, in preparation for meeting the great Judge. But they all escaped justice on this earth, because they were all living under a system that held the maintenance of white supremacy as justice itself.
What progressives advocated in 1964 was progress. What they advocate today is not progress, but returning to the older corruption, this time with different supremacists in power. It is still unjust. It is still evil. It always will be. The Social Justice Warriors and their fellow travelers in power at universities, in corporations, and even in government (see Mayor Harmon above), are summoning up demons that they cannot control.
The challenge that Christians among those spitefully mistreated by the power-wielders face today is in loving those who do them wrong. This is because love, in humility, is the higher justice, according to Jesus Christ. That thought is alien to fallen human nature, but it is the only thing that can set us free from our passions. Believe me, I’ve lived through that. It’s a lesson that I will have to keep learning over and over again, all the days of my life.
Truqui also spoke at length about Satan, who he described as a pragmatic foe. “The devil tempts the holy man in his holiness and the sinner in his sin,” he says.
While he is at pains to point out that he does not believe Pope Francis is possessed or vexed by the devil, he says that the devil would know that Francis would not be tempted by lust for a woman. Instead, he would prey on Francis’s sympathy for the poor, and tempt him to ignore the affluent.
The great temptation that I have faced, and do faced, is to love justice so much that I fall into contempt for the unjust, and ignore or deny my own very great capacity for blindly inflicting injustice on others. I invite you to reflect on whether this is also true for you. One thing I know is true: the kind of demonic passionate intensity that fills these SJWs and their allies can only be sustained in the absence of love and humility. They willingly annihilate their individual responsibility for the narcotic pleasures of tribal membership. For them, it is better for one innocent man to die — figuratively or literally — than for the whole nation’s idea of order come into question.
This is the logic of the lynch mob — and lynch mobs come in all kinds. You know this, don’t you?
Are governments making promises about pensions that they might not be able to keep?
According to an analysis by the World Economic Forum (WEF), there was a combined retirement savings gap in excess of $70 trillion in 2015, spread between eight major economies..
As Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, The WEF says the deficit is growing by $28 billion every 24 hours – and if nothing is done to slow the growth rate, the deficit will reach $400 trillion by 2050, or about five times the size of the global economy today.
The group of economies studied: Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, India, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
MIND THE GAP
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it illuminates a growing problem attached to an aging population (and those that will be supporting it).
Since social security programs were initially developed, the circumstances around work and retirement have shifted considerably. Life expectancy has risen by three years per decade since the 1940s, and older people are having increasingly long life spans. With the retirement age hardly changing in most economies, this longevity means that people are spending longer not working without the savings to justify it.
This problem is amplified by the size of generations and fertility rates. The population of retirees globally is expected to grow from 1.5 billion to 2.1 billion between 2017-2050, while the number of workers for each retiree is expected to halve from eight to four over the same timeframe.
The anticipated increase in longevity and resulting ageing populations is the financial equivalent of climate change
-Michael Drexler, Head of Financial and Infrastructure Systems, WEF
Like climate change, some of the early signs of this retirement savings gap can be “sandbagged” for the time being – but if not handled properly in the medium and long term, the adverse effects could be overwhelming.
While implementing various system reforms like raising the retirement age will help, ultimately the money in the system has to come from somewhere. Social security programs will need to cut benefits, increase taxes, or borrow from somewhere else in the government’s budget to make up for the coming shortfalls.
In the United States specifically, it is expected that the Social Security trust fund will run out by 2034. At that point, there will only be enough revenue coming in to pay out approximately 77% of benefits.
President Donald Trump is not the first president who has had trouble with the Deep State. Harry Truman had a major problem, too, which revolved around the resistance by the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to his decision to recognize the state of Israel.
In the matter of Israel’s recognition, Secretary George Marshall and other high-ranking officials at State and the CIA were adamantly opposed. In a series of contentious meetings as related by Clark Clifford, the State Department argued continually with Truman not to do it. It came to a point where a furious Marshall told the president that if he recognized Israel, Marshall could never vote for him again.
Such arguments are certainly not bad for our democratic form of government. A wise president welcomes and solicits advice and comments from his Cabinet. This is all part of good decision-making. The difficulty came in after Truman formally recognized Israel on May 14, 1948, for that did not end the resistance to his decision.
To his credit, once the decision was made, George Marshall let the president know that he would never agree with it but that he would not oppose it. Not so with the boys in the CIA. As Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute puts it:
The ‘deep state’ worked to reverse his decision. No sooner had Truman recognized Israel than the CIA secretly sponsored and funded the establishment of the American Friends of the Middle East. Outwardly a ‘people-to-people’ public diplomacy initiative, AFME brought influential Middle Easterners to the United States, helped them write and publish books and articles, and seeded Middle Eastern student organizations on American college campuses. It also lobbied Congress – against Israel. AFME was a remarkable instance of a CIA-confection front organization designed to counter official government policy, in this case seeking to delegitimize Zionism in domestic American politics.
Whether one agrees with Truman or not, to undermine his decision was patently wrong. He was the president. And this underhanded resistance was carried out by a CIA that was created just a year earlier by Truman himself as an organization that was to assist the office of the president by merely collecting intelligence, not undermining policy.
As to why Truman created the CIA in the first place: The CIA was to serve the president by consolidating intelligence reports from numerous sources. It was never intended to pursue its own policies. In hindsight, however, President Truman saw that he created a monster and regretted it. He came to realize that government bureaucracies sooner or later fall under the control of an elite whose belief is that the department is not necessarily accountable to the president or his Cabinet. Truman lived to see his CIA creation slip the bonds as to why it was established and become a quasi-independent entity, one that refuses to recognize the voice of its master, the president, and by extension the American people. As Truman bluntly said:
But it got out of hand. The fella …the one that was in the White House after me never paid any attention to it and it got out of hand. Why, they’ve got an organization over there in Virginia now that is practically the equal of the Pentagon in many ways. And I think I’ve told you, one Pentagon is one too many.
Now as nearly as I can make out, those fellows in the CIA don’t just report on wars and the like, they go out and make up their own, and there’s nobody to keep track of what they’re up to. They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they’ll have something to report on. They’ve become…it’s become a government all of its own and all secret. They don’t have to account to anybody.
That’s a very dangerous thing in a democratic society, and it’s got to be put a stop to. The people have got a right to know what those birds are up to. And if I was back in the White House, people would know. You see, the way a free government works, there’s got to be a housecleaning every now and again, and I don’t care what branch of the government is involved.
They don’t make Democrats like Harry Truman anymore. Or many Republicans, either.
What we have today is a State Department that is consistently pro-Arab and globalist in its reflexes, and that too often marches to its own drumbeat – a CIA whose incompetence is legendary yet does not blink in secretly meddling in the affairs of governments here and abroad, a politicized FBI and Justice Department, a radical EPA, and so on.
Harry Truman’s situation pales in compassion to Donald Trump’s. Of course, the bureaucracies of Truman’s day were midgets compared to what they have since grown into in terms of size and arrogance. In Trump’s case, highly placed people in the Deep State (FBI, CIA, and Department of Justice) actually went so far as to break the law in attempting to elect Hillary Clinton. When that failed, they continued to try to overturn the election result, which they did not approve of. That battle is still raging, and for the sake of the Republic, Trump has to be victorious
Harry Truman prevailed in the case of Israel, but his experience foreshadowed the general mindset of government bureaucracies. Part of the problem here is that when the bureaucrats undermine legitimate policy or drag their feet in its implementation, they seldom, if ever, personally pay a price for their disobedience. At most their actions are thwarted, but they live in the bureaucracy to fight another day.
As Harry Truman stated above, to have free government, every now and again, there needs to be a thorough housecleaning of the bureaucracies. This goes under the rubric of “draining the swamp,” and now it’s needed now more than ever.
At 11:15 on a Monday morning in May, an ordinary looking delivery van rolls into the intersection of 16th and K streets NW in downtown Washington, D.C., just a few blocks north of the White House. Inside, suicide bombers trip a switch.
Instantly, most of a city block vanishes in a nuclear fireball two-thirds the size of the one that engulfed Hiroshima, Japan. Powered by 5 kilograms of highly enriched uranium that terrorists had hijacked weeks earlier, the blast smashes buildings for at least a kilometer in every direction and leaves hundreds of thousands of people dead or dying in the ruins.
An electromagnetic pulse fries cellphones within 5 kilometers, and the power grid across much of the city goes dark. Winds shear the bomb’s mushroom cloud into a plume of radioactive fallout that drifts eastward into the Maryland suburbs.
Roads quickly become jammed with people on the move – some trying to flee the area, but many more looking for missing family members or seeking medical help.
It’s all make-believe, of course – but with deadly serious purpose.
Known as National Planning Scenario 1 (NPS1), that nuclear attack story line originated in the 1950s as a kind of war game, a safe way for national security officials and emergency managers to test their response plans before having to face the real thing.
Sixty years later, officials are still reckoning with the consequences of a nuclear catastrophe in regular NPS1 exercises. Only now, instead of following fixed story lines and predictions assembled ahead of time, they are using computers to play what-if with an entire artificial society: an advanced type of computer simulation called an agent-based model.
Today’s version of the NPS1 model includes a digital simulation of every building in the area affected by the bomb, as well as every road, power line, hospital, and even cell tower. The model includes weather data to simulate the fallout plume. And the scenario is peopled with some 730,000 agents—a synthetic population statistically identical to the real population of the affected area in factors such as age, sex, and occupation. Each agent is an autonomous subroutine that responds in reasonably human ways to other agents and the evolving disaster by switching among multiple modes of behavior—for example, panic, flight, and efforts to find family members.
The point of such models is to avoid describing human affairs from the top down with fixed equations, as is traditionally done in such fields as economics and epidemiology. Instead, outcomes such as a financial crash or the spread of a disease emerge from the bottom up, through the interactions of many individuals, leading to a real-world richness and spontaneity that is otherwise hard to simulate.
That kind of detail is exactly what emergency managers need, says Christopher Barrett, a computer scientist who directs the Biocomplexity Institute at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, which developed the NPS1 model for the government. The NPS1 model can warn managers, for example, that a power failure at point X might well lead to a surprise traffic jam at point Y. If they decide to deploy mobile cell towers in the early hours of the crisis to restore communications, NPS1 can tell them whether more civilians will take to the roads, or fewer. “Agent-based models are how you get all these pieces sorted out and look at the interactions,” Barrett says.
The downside is that models like NPS1 tend to be big—each of the model’s initial runs kept a 500-microprocessor computing cluster busy for a day and a half—forcing the agents to be relatively simple-minded. “There’s a fundamental trade-off between the complexity of individual agents and the size of the simulation,” says Jonathan Pfautz, who funds agent-based modeling of social behavior as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Virginia.
But computers keep getting bigger and more powerful, as do the data sets used to populate and calibrate the models. In fields as diverse as economics, transportation, public health, and urban planning, more and more decision-makers are taking agent-based models seriously. “They’re the most flexible and detailed models out there,” says Ira Longini, who models epidemics at the University of Florida in Gainesville, “which makes them by far the most effective in understanding and directing policy.”
A plume of radioactive fallout (yellow) stretches east across Washington, D.C., a few hours after a nuclear bomb goes off near the White House in this snapshot of an agent-based model. Bar heights show the number of people at a location, while color indicates their health. Red represents sickness or death.
The roots of agent-based modeling go back at least to the 1940s, when computer pioneers such as Alan Turing experimented with locally interacting bits of software to model complex behavior in physics and biology. But the current wave of development didn’t get underway until the mid-1990s.
One early success was Sugarscape, developed by economists Robert Axtell of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and Joshua Epstein of New York University (NYU) in New York City. Because their goal was to simulate social phenomena on ordinary desktop computers, they pared agent-based modeling down to its essence: a set of simple agents that moved around a grid in search of “sugar”—a foodlike resource that was abundant in some places and scarce in others. Though simple, the model gave rise to surprisingly complex group behaviors such as migration, combat, and neighborhood segregation.
Another milestone of the 1990s was the Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (Transims), an agent-based traffic model developed by Barrett and others at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Unlike traditional traffic models, which used equations to describe moving vehicles en masse as a kind of fluid, Transims modeled each vehicle and driver as an agent moving through a city’s road network. The simulation included a realistic mix of cars, trucks, and buses, driven by people with a realistic mix of ages, abilities, and destinations. When applied to the road networks in actual cities, Transims did better than traditional models at predicting traffic jams and local pollution levels—one reason why Transims-inspired agent-based models are now a standard tool in transportation planning.
A similar shift was playing out for epidemiologists. For much of the past century, they have evaluated disease outbreaks with a comparatively simple set of equations that divide people into a few categories—such as susceptible, contagious, and immune—and that assume perfect mixing, meaning that everybody in the affected region is in contact with everyone else. Those equation-based models were run first on paper and then on computers, and they are still used widely. But epidemiologists are increasingly turning to agent-based models to include factors that the equations ignore, such as geography, transportation networks, family structure, and behavior change—all of which can strongly affect how disease spreads. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, for example, the Virginia Tech group used an agent-based model to help the U.S. military identify sites for field hospitals. Planners needed to know where the highest infection rates would be when the mobile units finally arrived, how far and how fast patients could travel over the region’s notoriously bad roads, and a host of other issues not captured in the equations of traditional models.
In another example, Epstein’s laboratory at NYU is working with the city’s public health department to model potential outbreaks of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that can lead to catastrophic birth defects. The group has devised a model that includes agents representing all 8.5 million New Yorkers, plus a smaller set of agents representing the entire population of individual mosquitoes, as estimated from traps. The model also incorporates data on how people typically move between home, work, school, and shopping; on sexual behavior (Zika can be spread through unprotected sex); and on factors that affect mosquito populations, such as seasonal temperature swings, rainfall, and breeding sites such as caches of old tires. The result is a model that not only predicts how bad such an outbreak could get—something epidemiologists could determine from equations—but also suggests where the worst hot spots might be.
In economics, agent-based models can be a powerful tool for understanding global poverty, says Stéphane Hallegatte, an economist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. If all you look at are standard metrics such as gross domestic product (GDP) and total income, he says, then in most countries you’re seeing only rich people: The poor have so little money that they barely register.
To do better, Hallegatte and his colleagues are looking at individual families. His team built a model with agents representing 1.4 million households around the globe—roughly 10,000 per country—and looked at how climate change and disasters might affect health, food security, and labor productivity. The model estimates how storms or drought might affect farmers’ crop yields and market prices, or how an earthquake might cripple factory workers’ incomes by destroying their cars, the roads, or even the factories.
The model suggests something obvious: Poor people are considerably more vulnerable to disaster and climate change than rich people. But Hallegatte’s team saw a remarkable amount of variation. If the poor people in a particular country are mostly farmers, for example, they might actually benefit from climate change when global food prices rise. But if the country’s poor people are mostly packed into cities, that price rise could hurt badly.
That kind of granularity has made it easier for the World Bank to tailor its recommendations to each country’s needs, Hallegatte says—and much easier to explain the model’s results in human terms rather than economic jargon. “Instead of telling a country that climate change will decrease their GDP by X%,” he says, “you can say that 10 million people will fall into poverty. That’s a number that’s much easier to understand.”
Given how much is at stake in those simulations, Barrett says, users always want to know why they should trust the results. How can they be sure that the model’s output has anything to do with the real world—especially in cases such as nuclear disasters, which have no empirical data to go on?
Barrett says that question has several answers.
First, users shouldn’t expect the models to make specific predictions about, say, a stock market crash next Tuesday. Instead, most modelers accommodate the inevitable uncertainties by averaging over many runs of each scenario and displaying a likely range of outcomes, much like landfall forecasts for hurricanes. That still allows planners to use the model as a test bed to game out the consequences of taking action A, B, or C.
Second, Barrett says, the modelers should not just slap the model together and see whether the final results make sense. Instead, they should validate the model as they build it, looking at each piece as they slot it in—how people get to and from work, for example—and matching it to real-world data from transit agencies, the census, and other sources. “At every step, there is data that you’re calibrating to,” he says.
Modelers should also try to calibrate agents’ behaviors by using studies of human psychology. Doing so can be tricky—humans are complicated—but in crisis situations, modeling behavior becomes easier because it tends to be primal. The NPS1 model, for example, gets by with built-in rules that cause the agents to shift back and forth among just a few behaviors, such as “health care–seeking,” “shelter-seeking,” and “evacuating.”
Even so, field studies point to crucial nuances, says Julie Dugdale, an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Grenoble in France who studies human behavior under stress. “In earthquakes,” she says, “we find that people will be more afraid of being without family or friends than of the crisis itself.” People will go looking for their loved ones first thing and willingly put themselves in danger in the process. Likewise in fires, Dugdale says. Engineers tend to assume that when the alarm sounds, people will immediately file toward the exits in an orderly way. But just watch the next time your building has a fire drill, she says: “People don’t evacuate without first talking to others”—and if need be, collecting friends and family.
The evidence also suggests that blind, unthinking panic is rare. In an agent-based model published in 2011, sociologist Ben Aguirre and his colleagues at the University of Delaware in Newark tried to reproduce what happened in a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire. The crowds jammed together so tightly that no one could move, and 100 people died. Between the police, the local paper, and survivors’ accounts, Aguirre’s team had good data on the victims, their behavior, and their relationships to others. And when the researchers incorporated those relationships into the model, he says, the runs most consistent with the actual fire involved almost no panic at all. “We found that people were trying to get out with friends, co-workers, and loved ones,” Aguirre says. “They were not trying to hurt each other. That was a happenstance.”
The NPS1 model tries to incorporate such insights, sending its agents into “household reconstitution” mode (searching for friends and family) much more often than “panic” mode (running around with no coherent goal). And the results can sometimes be counterintuitive. For example, the model suggests that right after the strike, emergency managers should expect to see some people rushing toward ground zero, jamming the roads in a frantic effort to pick up children from school or find missing spouses. The model also points to a good way to reduce chaos: to quickly restore partial cell service, so that people can verify that their loved ones are safe.
If agent-based modelers have a top priority, it’s to make the simulations easier to build, run, and use—not least because that would make them more accessible to real-world decision-makers.
Epstein, for example, envisions national centers where decision-makers could access what he calls a petabyte playbook: a library containing digital versions of every large city, with precomputed models of just about every potential hazard. “Then, if something actually happens, like a toxic plume,” he says, “we could pick out the model that’s the closest match and do near–real-time calculation for things like the optimal mix of shelter-in-place and evacuation.”
At Virginia Tech, computer scientist Madhav Marathe is thinking along the same lines. When a Category-5 hurricane is bearing down, he says, someone like the mayor of San Juan can’t be waiting around for a weeklong analysis of the storm’s possible impact on Puerto Rico’s power grid. She needs information that’s actionable, he says—”and that means models with a simple interface, running in the cloud, delivering very sophisticated analytics in a very short period of time.”
Marathe calls it “agent-based modeling as a service.” His lab has already spent the past 4 years developing and testing a web-based tool that lets public health officials build pandemic simulations and do what-if analyses on their own, without having to hire programmers. With just a few clicks, users can specify key variables such as the region of interest, from as small as a single city to the entire United States, and the type of disease, such as influenza, measles, Ebola, or something new. Then, using the tool’s built-in maps and graphs, users can watch the simulation unfold and see the effect of their proposed treatment protocols.
Despite being specialized for epidemics, Marathe says, the tool’s underlying geographic models and synthetic populations are general, and they can be applied to other kinds of disasters, such as chemical spills, hurricanes, and cascading failures in power networks. Ultimately, he says, “the hope is to build such models into services that are individualized—for you, your family, or your city.” Or, as Barrett puts it, “If I send Jimmy to school today, what’s the probability of him getting Zika?”
So it won’t just be bureaucrats using those systems, Barrett adds. It will be you. “It will be as routine as Google Maps.”
He changed his story about the FBI and the Clinton Foundation, lying about his lies.
The Justice Department’s inspector general has referred Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., for a possible false-statements prosecution. It was big news this week. But the story of how the FBI’s former deputy director lied to investigators, repeatedly, is mainly of interest to him. It is the story of what he lied about that should be of interest to everyone else.
He lied about leaking a conversation in which the Obama Justice Department pressured the FBI to stand down on an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
The report concludes that the former deputy director “lacked candor,” the standard for internal discipline at the FBI, from which McCabe was fired. It is a charge similar to those spelled out in the federal penal code’s false-statements and perjury laws. Specifically, the report cites four instances of lack of candor; more comprehensively, McCabe is depicted as an insidious operator.
About two weeks before Election Day 2016, the then–deputy director was stung by a Wall Street Journal story that questioned his fitness to lead an investigation of Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ nominee. McCabe’s wife had received $675,000 in donations from a political action committee controlled by the Clintons’ notorious confidant, Virginia’s then–governor Terry McAuliffe — an eye-popping amount for a state senate campaign (which Mrs. McCabe lost). It was perfectly reasonable to question McCabe’s objectivity: The justice system’s integrity hinges on the perception, as well as the reality, of impartiality.
The reporter on the story, Devlin Barrett (then with the Journal, now at the Washington Post), soon had questions for the Bureau for a follow-up he was working on: Back in July, according to Barrett’s sources, McCabe had instructed agents to refrain from making overt moves that could alert the public that Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ nominee, was yet again on the FBI’s radar — this time, owing to a probe of the Clinton Foundation.
Barrett’s call came in just as the Bureau was dealing with the controversy over Director James Comey’s reopening of the Clinton emails investigation. Comey convened a meeting of the FBI’s leadership team to discuss reviewing emails, some of which were classified, that had been found on the private computers of Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband Anthony Weiner (who had been “sexting” with a minor). Because he was out of town, McCabe telephoned in to the meeting. He was humiliated, however, when Comey instructed him to get off the call. The director and his chief counsel were concerned about the perception of pro-Clinton bias.
After stewing for a few hours, McCabe got in touch with his special counsel, Lisa Page — the FBI lawyer now infamous, along with her alleged paramour, FBI agent Peter Strzok, for thousands of text messages, many bracingly partisan and anti-Trump. McCabe instructed Page to rebut Barrett’s story with a leak. Specifically, she was to tell Barrett about a tense conversation on August 12, 2016, between McCabe and a high-ranking Obama Justice Department official. The leak would show that McCabe, far from burying the Clinton Foundation investigation, had defended the FBI’s pursuit of it.
The bulk of the IG report documents McCabe’s mendacity: He dishonestly denied knowledge of the leak he had ordered, covered his tracks by deflecting blame, and — when he finally admitted his role — falsely suggested that Comey had been aware and approving of his actions. McCabe lies to his boss, he lies to his fellow agents, and he lies — under oath — in interviews conducted by the FBI’s internal investigators and the IG. Even when he changes his story, McCabe lies about the lies.
The IG’s referral triggers the very real possibility of an indictment. If that leads to a trial, a jury probably won’t find McCabe as sympathetic as his media boosters do. Exhibit A: According to the IG, right after the Journal published Barrett’s follow-up story incorporating the leaked information, McCabe called up the heads of the FBI’s New York and Washington field offices to ream them out over the leak that McCabe himself had orchestrated!
The release of the IG’s findings left President Trump unable to contain himself. He tweeted:
This is as foolish as it is unhinged. In his raging contempt for Comey, Trump misrepresents the report, which relates that McCabe deceived the former director, and that Comey’s convincingly corroborated, clear-stated denial of McCabe’s version of events helped the IG get to the bottom of the mess. Moreover, the IG’s account of McCabe’s chicanery is so daunting, the only defense he is likely to mount is that any prosecution of him is politically driven by a revenge-minded chief executive, not based on evidence weighed by non-partisan prosecutors. The president is playing right into his hands. As we’ve observed, again and again, it is maddening that a president so conspicuously pro-law-enforcement, by constantly bloviating about investigations, keeps making cases harder to prosecute.
Still, all that is secondary. Lost in the coverage of McCabe’s audacious fraudulence (complete with the smug, blame-everyone-but-me Washington Postop-ed in which he, of course, “take[s] full responsibility”) is the more significant matter of why this debacle happened.
Yes, McCabe shouldn’t have leaked, and it is even worse that he wouldn’t own up to it. But what was his leak about?
The tense conversation McCabe had on August 12, 2016, was with a Justice Department official the IG report identifies only as the “Principal Assistant Deputy Attorney General (PADAG).” That post was then held by Matthew Axelrod, top aide to Sally Yates, Obama’s deputy AG eventually fired by Trump for insubordination. Lisa Page told the Wall Street Journal that the PADAG was “very pissed off” because the Justice Department had learned that the FBI’s New York office was “openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe.”
Yup, the campaign stretch-run was upon us, and the oh-so-non-partisan Obama Justice Department was fretting that Mrs. Clinton could be toast if the public heard about yet another criminal investigation.
We have collusion all right: the executive branch’s law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus placed by the Obama administration in the service of the Clinton campaign
In point of fact, the FBI was not openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation. In congressional hearings, Director Comey had been asked if there was such an investigation, but — consistent with Justice Department policy — he refused to confirm or deny its existence. Indeed, the reason McCabe’s leak caused such consternation was that, by acknowledging the investigation, he violated this policy. But on July 12, McCabe pointedly told Axelrod that the FBI was not using overt measures that require Justice Department approvals; it was being discrete. That is what DOJ policy requires — not that law-enforcement activity be suspended during campaign season, but that investigators avoid open and notorious tactics that could prejudice a candidate in the minds of voters.
Discretion, however, was not good enough for the Obama Justice Department. As the Journal recounted, officials there considered the Clinton Foundation probe “dormant” and were angry that the Bureau was still “chasing” it.
Is McCabe the hero of the piece that he portrays himself to be? In a footnote, the IG report states that the “PADAG” concedes the accuracy of the Journal’s account of his conversation with McCabe, though he rejects the FBI “spin” creating a “totally unfair” impression of “political interference” — yes, perish the thought. Yet, however steely-spined he may have seemed to Axelrod, McCabe did issue a “stand down” order — at least according to agents down the chain of command, the Journal reported.
The Obama Justice Department “guidance” about the Clinton Foundation probe reminds us of their approach to the Clinton emails caper — call it a “matter” not an investigation; do not use the grand jury; instead of subpoenas, try saying “pretty please” to obtain evidence; do not ask the co-conspirators hard questions because they’re lawyers so that might infringe attorney–client privilege; let the witnesses sit in on each other’s interviews; let the suspects represent each other as lawyers; if someone lies, ignore it; if someone incriminates himself, give him immunity; have the attorney general meet with the main subject’s former-president husband on the tarmac a few days before dropping the whole thing; oh, and don’t forget to write up the exoneration statement months before key witnesses — including the main subject — are interviewed.
With the Clintons, though, enough is never enough. Obama Justice Department officials, figuring they were only a few days from succeeding in their quest to become Clinton Justice Department officials, decided to try to disappear the Clinton Foundation investigation, too.
After nearly two years of digging, there is still no proof of Trump-campaign collusion in Russian election-meddling. But we have collusion all right: the executive branch’s law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus placed by the Obama administration in the service of the Clinton campaign. To find that, you don’t need to dig. You just need to open your eyes.
Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.
Against a backdrop of 2017’s escalating tensions and threats of attack, North Korea’s announcement that it is suspending all nuclear and missile tests seems a dramatic change of course.
On the face of it, in the words of Donald Trump: “This is very good news for North Korea and the World.”
Leaders in Japan, South Korean and China have all welcomed the announcement as a positive step towards denuclearisation on the peninsula.
That may be true but it’s also a shrewd move by Kim Jong Un. Look carefully at what he is saying.
State TV announced: “As of 2018, 21 April, we suspend all nuclear and ICBM tests. To transparently carry this out, we will shut down the northern nuclear test site.”
This is a freezing of tests, he is not giving up his weapons or promising to scrap warheads he may already own.
More importantly, the bulletin began with a list of military progress under the dictator.
“We have accomplished sub-critical nuclear tests, underground nuclear tests, miniaturisation of nuclear weapon, and the objective of developing large size nuclear weapons and its delivery system,” it said.
This not only presents him as a successful and protective leader to his people, but it reminds the world that he is now the head of a nuclear-armed state and so comes to next week’s Inter-Korean summit in a position of strength.
The decision to make the announcement now rather than waiting until the talks is also no coincidence.
It avoids any risk of making him look weak with speculation he was pressurised into make the concession at the summit, which would undermine him at home and abroad.
The shock announcement instead makes it appear as if he is taking the diplomatic process seriously.
Most telling, though, is Mr Kim’s declaration that as a powerful state “the whole party and country” should concentrate on “socialist economic construction”, in what he called the party’s “new strategic line”.
For years, the impoverished North has pursued a “byungjin” policy of “simultaneous development” of both the military and the economy.
By signalling the military period is now complete or extremely developed, he is again underlining his success to his people. The reality is that international sanctions are biting and the North Korean population cannot be fed with nukes.
In order to ensure the continuation of his regime, he has to feed his people and improve the economy. This is no doubt a guiding factor behind his change of strategy.
While this announcement can be cautiously celebrated as progress, it is a grave mistake to think Kim Jong Un is backing down.
Over the last year he’s bolstered his arsenal and conducted North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test to date, if anything, he is now coming to the negotiating table with a stronger hand.
GPS tracking devices on cars; private detectives following suspects to the grocery store; secretly-snapped photos of people out to lunch with friends: Such descriptions sound like they come from a spy movie, but they are actually actions carried out by so-called “welfare detectives” in Switzerland.
In an attempt to thwart suspected fraud in Switzerland’s social welfare system, particularly among those claiming disability benefits, the country’s parliament approved a law in March allowing for sweeping surveillance in cases of suspected fraud.
“This is an affront to rule of law in Switzerland,” Dimitri Rougy told DW.
Rougy is part of a small committee of regular citizens who heard about the law and banded together to develop a campaign that demands the legislation be put to a popular vote.
The group has until early July to accumulate 50,000 signatures backing a referendum on the issue before it can appear on a ballot — a herculean task, but one they are willingly take on, with the help of the internet.
“The online collection of signatures for initiatives and referendums changes the rules of the game for direct democracy,” Daniel Graf told DW. The digital activist not only founded the political initiative website “Wecollect” ,where the campaign is based, but also is one of the referendum campaign’s leaders.
Author Sibylle Berg (L) and political activist Dimitri Rougy (R) kicked of the campaign at a rally in Bern
What’s in the law?
The law that Rougy and Graf enables both state insurers and private insurance companies to hire private detectives to investigate cases of suspected fraud.
These detectives would be legally allowed to film, record audio and take images of the person they are investigating without getting permission from a court. Within the confines of the law, the use of drones would also permitted — even without court permission.
Insurance companies will, however, need to secure permission from the court to install GPS tracking systems on the cars of those they are investigating.
According to Swiss newspaper TagesWoche, the Swiss state disability insurance (IV) uses welfare detectives more frequently than private insurers. Across Switzerland, IV monitored 270 cases of suspected fraud in 2016 using detectives and uncovered uncover abuse in two thirds of the cases.
Proponents of the law argue that it saves millions per year by cutting down on abuses within the system and that concerns about widespread surveillance are overblown, while those who oppose it argue that it amounts to a massive invasion of privacy.
The referendum campaign against the law is unique in that it was launched not by a political party, union or NGO, as is usually the case, but by a small group of people who feared the impact of such a law.
Political activist Rougy and “Wecollect” founder Graf were joined by author Sibylle Berg, IT expert Hernani Marques and lawyer Philip Stolkin.
The seemingly disparate partners were united by two things — their opposition to the welfare surveillance law and Twitter.
“We made a plan and set a goal. If 5,000 people promised us that they would gather signatures, then we would officially launch the referendum campaign. We were overrun with approval and support — from all sides,” Rougy told DW.
The law doesn’t only target those receiving disability benefits, it also encompasses health, accident and unemployment insurance as well. With nearly all Swiss paying into the system and receiving some form of insurance benefits, all residential Swiss are affected.
“This is ultimately about the question of whether we want to live in a society of mistrust,” he added.
Shaking up the system
Although support from major political parties is starting to roll in, the grassroots campaigners have already signaled a massive shift in Swiss politics.
In the nearly three weeks since their campaign launched, over 10,000 people have pledged their support online — downloading a PDF of the required signature form, printing it out and then mailing it in.
“I think it’s important for Switzerland to see that as a small group without money or anything else, it’s possible to push for change in Swiss politics, Rougy said.
He doesn’t think the success of online campaigns will suddenly mean there will be more citizen-launched referendums, because they still require a mass mobilization of people on the ground and substantial funding. Still the support their campaign has garnered is a sign of hope for the team that that Switzerland’s direct democracy system is working.
“The referendum was introduced so that minorities and under-represented groups could defend against decisions made by parliament. Should this happen more often, it shows only one thing, namely, that Swiss democracy lives. And that’s a good thing.”
James Comey has admitted that there is a deep state but claimed that it was actually a ‘deep ballast’ against corruption.
The fired FBI director said there is a group of people in law enforcement, intelligence and the military who work for what they see as the interests of America.
Comey described the group as ‘unchangeable’ and said no single president could change them because they are so embedded in the bureaucracy.
He said the group was not a ‘deep state conspiring against the elected leadership of our government’ because they were trying to do the right thing.
Comey made the admission on the first day of his nationwide book tour to promote his memoir, ‘A Higher Loyalty’, which sharply criticizes Donald Trump.
At Barnes & Noble in New York’s Union Square on Wednesday evening, Comey was met with protests inside and outside the store from pro and anti-Trump protesters, one of whom shouted: ‘You’re going to get locked up’.
Speaking to the crowd, Comey said: ‘There is a deep state in this sense. There is a collection of people, CIA, NSA, FBI in the United State military services who care passionately about getting it right, who care passionately about the values we try to talk about.
‘No matter how they vote or how they talk at home, try desperately to do the right thing. That is deep, that is unchangeable actually.
‘No president at a single term could screw it up. It would take generations to change the culture of the United States military in its essence, federal law enforcement, of intelligence community. It would take generations, and that should comfort us.
‘There is a ballast, there is deep ballast in America. There is not a deep state conspiring against the elected leadership of our government.
‘In fact the adherence to values and the loyalty to the nation makes all of those people who are the ballast of this country desperately want the elected leadership of this country to succeed.’
Comey continued his attacks on Trump and said that he had developed a thick skin to the tweets from the President, which include calling him a ‘slimeball’.
Comey said: ‘What we face today is a situation where lying has become so normal that when I wake up in the morning and see the President of the United States has called for my imprisonment, I actually shrug – shrug, I’m not kidding.
‘Then I stop myself and say wait a minute, that shrug means you’re becoming numb to something that is not OK, that is not normal’.
Comey was asked if he was worried Trumpism will still be around after Trump leaves office and said that he hoped the passions for issues like the effects of globalization would remain.
But he said: ‘What I hope goes away is the derogation and the avoidance of those values which I think are so important to us, the rule of law the most important among them, and that we can have disagreements about policy about policy without hating each other and without having to tear down the values that are the core of this country.
‘I don’t expect political passions will leave the scene but what should leave the scene is the anger and the derogation of our values’.
In a lighter moment Comey revealed that his children want Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights to play him in the movie of his life, even though Comey thinks the actor is too short.
Motioning to his height, 6ft, 8in, Comey, who stood alone on stage during the hour long appearance, said: ‘You know what the problem is, a lot of camera angles would have to be used’.
This is a country of 325-million people. If two guys getting tossed out of a coffee shop is news, then things in Donald Trump’s America must be going pretty damned well.
But if the story were only meaningless trash, it would just be typical of American journalism. But it’s pernicious trash meant to advance a false left-wing narrative, which is — oh yeah! — typical of American journalism. In fact, this particular story is a textbook example of why our journalism needs reform.
American journalism is a largely Democrat affair. About 7% of journalists identify as Republicans. About 28% identify as Democrats. About 50% identify as independents but they are lying and are also Democrats. Although many news outlets don’t permit their reporters to donate to political campaigns, of those reporters who did donate in the last election, 96% donated to Hillary Clinton.
Now. Ever since Barack Obama diverted attention from his failed presidency by race baiting, the majority of Democrats have come to feel that America is a racist country. (The majority did not feel this way before Obama. Strange, no?).
Furthermore, black voters vote Democrat by huge margins so it stands to reason the America-is-racist narrative is a winner for the Democrat party.
So journalists are Democrats and Democrats believe America is racist and the America-is-racist narrative helps Democrats. Thus incidents that can be spun to make America look racist will make the news.
Which reminds me of an old joke. Two black men walk into a Starbucks in Philadelphia — Starbucks, a leftist company that is unlikely to encourage old-fashioned racism — Philadelphia, a multi-racial city where a Starbucks would be serving people of all colors all day every day without incident. But these two jokers, according to their own version of events, refused to follow the store rules and make a purchase. They were asked to leave by the manager, Holly, a “social justice feminist.” When they refused, she called the police and calmly reported, “I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” The police arrived and likewise asked the guys to leave and they refused to obey the police. So they were taken out in cuffs, though never charged.
The usual puerile race-mongers showed up to protest and call for boycotts. The usual puling apologies, firings and Soviet-style re-education followed. And it’s news.
Only it’s not news. It’s two guys in a nation of 325-million getting turfed from a coffee shop for acting like entitled jerks and then refusing to obey law enforcement. Or if it is news, the news is this: Democrats in journalism suffering from groupthink and operating on confirmation bias cover a non-story which enhances their own delusions.
And so we all get the idea that America is racist. But I would like to suggest a different narrative. America is not racist. There are simply too many Democrats in American journalism. And they should stop acting like buffoons.
A fortnight ago, Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party won enough seats in the Hungarian parliament to rewrite his country’s constitution.
To progressives across the West, this was disturbing news.
For the bete noire of Orban’s campaign was uber-globalist George Soros. And Orban’s commitments were to halt any further surrenders of Hungarian sovereignty and independence to the European Union, and to fight any immigrant invasion of Hungary from Africa or the Islamic world.
Why are autocrats like Orban rising and liberal democrats failing in Europe? The autocrats are addressing the primary and existential fear of peoples across the West — the death of the separate and unique tribes into which they were born and to which they belong.
Modern liberals and progressives see nations as transitory — here today, gone tomorrow. The autocrats, however, have plugged into the most powerful currents running in this new century: tribalism and nationalism.
The democracy worshippers of the West cannot compete with the authoritarians in meeting the crisis of our time because they do not see what is happening to the West as a crisis.
They see us as on a steady march into a brave new world, where democracy, diversity and equality will be everywhere celebrated.
To understand the rise of Orban, we need to start seeing Europe and ourselves as so many of these people see us.
Hungary is a thousand years old. Its people have a DNA all their own. They belong to a unique and storied nation of 10 million with its own language, religion, history, heroes, culture and identity.
Though a small nation, two-thirds of whose lands were torn away after World War I, Hungarians wish to remain and endure as who they are.
They don’t want open borders. They don’t want mass migrations to change Hungary into something new. They don’t want to become a minority in their own country. And they have used democratic means to elect autocratic men who will put the Hungarian nation first.
U.S. elites may babble on about “diversity,” about how much better a country we will be in 2042 when white European Christians are just another minority and we have become a “gorgeous mosaic” of every race, tribe, creed and culture on earth.
To Hungarians, such a future entails the death of the nation. To Hungarians, millions of African, Arab and Islamic peoples settling in their lands means the annihilation of the historic nation they love, the nation that came into being to preserve the Hungarian people.
President Emmanuel Macron of France says the Hungarian and other European elections where autocrats are advancing are manifestations of “national selfishness.”
Well, yes, national survival can be considered national selfishness.
But let Monsieur Macron bring in another 5 million former subject peoples of the French Empire and he will discover that the magnanimity and altruism of the French has its limits, and a Le Pen will soon replace him in the Elysee Palace.
Consider what else the “world’s oldest democracy” has lately had on offer to the indigenous peoples of Europe resisting an invasion of Third World settlers coming to occupy and repopulate their lands.
Our democracy boasts of a First Amendment freedom of speech and press that protects blasphemy, pornography, filthy language and the burning of the American flag. We stand for a guaranteed right of women to abort their children and of homosexuals to marry.
We offer the world a freedom of religion that prohibits the teaching of our cradle faith and its moral code in our public schools.
Our elites view this as social progress upward from a dark past.
To much of the world, however, America has become the most secularized and decadent society on earth, and the title the ayatollah bestowed upon us, “The Great Satan,” is not altogether undeserved.
And if what “our democracy” has delivered here has caused tens of millions of Americans to be repulsed and to secede into social isolation, why would other nations embrace a system that produced so poisoned a politics and so polluted a culture?
“Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the march,” writes The Washington Post: “Democracy as an ideal and in practice seems under siege.” Yes, and there are reasons for this.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” said John Adams. And as we have ceased to be a moral and religious people, the poet T. S. Eliot warned us what would happen:
“The term ‘democracy’ … does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces you dislike — it can be easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and he is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler and Stalin.” Recall: Hitler rose to power through a democratic election.
Democracy lacks content. As a political system, it does not engage the heart. And if Europe’s peoples see their leaders as accommodating a transnational EU, while failing to secure national borders, they will use democracy to replace them with men of action.
President Trump is eager to go head-to-head with the DNC which filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit on Friday against several parties, including the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization – alleging a “far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.”
Hours after the Washington Post broke the news of the lawsuit, Trump tweeted “Just heard the Campaign was sued by the Obstructionist Democrats. This can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC server that they refused to give to the FBI,” referring to the DNC email breach. Trump also mentioned “the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails.”
Just heard the Campaign was sued by the Obstructionist Democrats. This can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails.
The “Pakistani mystery man” is a clear reference to former DNC CHair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s longtime IT employee and personal friend, Imran Awan – whose father, claims a Daily Caller source, transferred a USB drive to the former head of a Pakistani intelligence agency – Rehman Malik. Malik denies the charge.
Of note, the DNC would not allow the FBI to inspect their servers which were supposedly hacked by the Russians – instead relying on private security firm Crowdstrike.
Meanwhile, the “Wasserman Schultz Servers” Trump mentions is likely in reference to the stolen House Democratic Caucus server – which Imran Awan had been funneling information onto when it disappeared shortly after the House Inspector General concluded that the server may have been “used for nefarious purposes.”
The server may have been “used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information,” an IG presentation said. The Awans logged into it 27 times a day, far more than any other computer they administered.
Imran’s most forceful advocate and longtime employer is Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who led the DNC until she resigned following a hack that exposed committee emails. Wikileaks published those emails, and they show that DNC staff summoned Imran when they needed her password. –DCNF
Imran Awan, his wife Hina Alvi and several other associates ran IT operations for at least 60 Congressional Democrats over the past decade, along with the House Democratic Caucus – giving them access to emails and computer data from around 800 lawmakers and staffers – including the highly classified materials reviewed by the House Intelligence Committee.
Napolitano: He was arrested for some financial crime – that’s the tip of the iceberg. The real allegation against him is that he had access to the emails of every member of congress and he sold what he found in there. What did he sell, and to whom did he sell it? That’s what the FBI wants to know. This may be a very, very serious national security situation.
Last July, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer claimed to Laura Ingraham that the Awan IT staffers were sending sensitive information with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Among those with whom Rep. Carson has been involved as a guest speaker, panelist, fundraiser, recipient of funds, etc., are: the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a number of its chapters across the country; the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); the Muslim American Society (MAS); and the Brotherhood’s new proto-political party, the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO). –Center for Security Policy
The DNC lawsuit, filed on Friday, asserts that the Russian hacking campaign – combined with Trump associates’ contacts with Russia and the campaign’s public cheerleading of the hacks – amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the election that caused serious damage to the Democratic Party.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement…
“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,”
“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,”
Unfortunately for the DNC, which has now exposed itself to an aggressive discovery phase, their case holds no water according to Law And Crime;
Here’s the problem: several pages of quotes and factual allegations in the beginning of the document are wholly uncited, at least in that section of the document.
Another section of the document, “general allegations,” does cite information through footnotes — some 107 of them. However, the records cited are almost exclusively news reports from sources such as the New Republic, the New York Times, ABC, CNN, Politico, the Washington Post, Fox News, Business Insider, Slate, and other media outlets. Ferretting out exactly what was reported by those outlets is not difficult.
The DNC’s lawsuit shoves what ultimately is fourth-hand information to a federal judge to be taken as fact in support of this conclusion:
Through these communications, the Trump Campaign, Trump’s closest advisors, and Russian agents formed an agreement to promote Donald Trump’s candidacy through illegal means.
Has the DNC just created all the rope it needs to hang itself?
Having just returned from a week in China in which I had the opportunity to talk directly—and listen!—to all of its leaders beneath President Xi Jinping, I came away even more worried about the future of the relationship between the United States and China than I had been. While almost every day brings another tweet or announcement in the war of words, I see the current “phony war” as the proverbial calm before the storm. In one line, my bet is that things will soon get worse before they get worse.
A tariff war between the world’s largest economy and its leading economy would do serious damage to both. But economic damage from a trade war is not the most significant risk posed by current trends.
If Thucydides were watching, he would say that China and the United States are right on script sleepwalking towards what could be the grandest collision in history. Thucydides, of course, was the historian of classical Greece who explained the driver that led Athens and Sparta to the war that destroyed both. Thucydides’s Trap is the term I coined to make vivid his insight about the dangerous dynamic that occurs when a rising power (like Athens or China) threatens to displace a ruling power (like Sparta or the United States). As Henry Kissinger has noted, this concept provides the best lens available for looking through the noise and news of the day to understand the underlying forces at work. The past five hundred years have seen sixteen cases in which a rising power threatened to topple a ruling power from its position of predominance. Twelve ended in war.
On the trade front, President Trump is serious about confronting China. In his view, this is the only way to force the country to make major changes in the way it does business with the United States. For him, the threat of a costly tariff war is essential, since he believes he is playing an economic version of what Cold War strategists called “nuclear chicken.” Under conditions of “mutual assured destruction”—MAD—both nations had nuclear arsenals that could destroy the other after absorbing its best first strike. Thus, if competitive moves up an escalation ladder ended in war, then both would lose catastrophically. But since both nations understood this, each knew that there was nothing for which its opponent could rationally choose to go to nuclear war. If one could maneuver the other into a situation in which it had to choose between yielding on a specific matter and war, then it could have its way. Finding himself approaching just such a fork in the road when the United States discovered the Soviet Union sneaking nuclear-tipped missiles into Cuba in 1962, President Kennedy chose to run what he believed was a one-in-three chance of nuclear war to make his Soviet counterpart, Khrushchev, back down.
President Trump’s threat of a mutually destructive tariff war is part of his response to what he sees as decades in which China has been making Americans choose between risking a trade war, and letting China get away with “rape,” as he put it in the campaign. They have been stealing American firms’ intellectual property, forcing American firms that wanted to enter their market to transfer proprietary technologies to Chinese competitors, subsidizing those competitors, and then dumping excess production. In Trump’s tweets, one can sense an admiration for the Chinese bravado. Indeed, he blames his predecessors even more than he does their Chinese counterparts—since they allowed the Chinese to get away with outrageous behavior rather than standing up for America. Facing off with China would, of course, require taking risks—even risks of a trade war. But In his view, that is the president’s job.
It is noteworthy that in calling out China’s abuses of the global trading system, Trump has struck a responsive chord. After decades of overlooking Chinese violations because they were a “developing country,” the pendulum has now swung. When reliable Trump critics like the leading evangelist of a “flat earth” (Tom Friedman) declares that on trade with China “Trump is right,” and the leading herald of globalization (Fareed Zakaria) declares “China is a trade cheat,” it does not take a weatherman to know that the tide of conventional wisdom has turned.
Trump’s tweets and tariffs have gotten China’s leaders’ attention. After the first meeting of the two presidents at Mar-a-Lago and Xi’s royal welcome of Trump in Beijing, they had hoped that their cocktail of flattery, pomp, and ceremony would suffice. No more. At this point, if the United States will tell them what it will take to resolve the dispute, they are ready to make significant concessions. For example, in the last face-to-face meeting between senior officials, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin gave China’s economic czar Liu He Trump’s demand that China cut $100 billion off its $375 billion bilateral trade deficit in 2018. The Chinese immediate response was “impossible.” But while I was in China, I offered my view that this was not actually all that hard. Indeed, I gave Vice Premier Lie He—who was a student at the Kennedy School two decades ago—three ways to do this, the easiest of which would be for China to simply buy $100 billion of Alaskan gas and Texan-Louisianan oil for delivery as soon as the infrastructure for delivery is in place.
Chinese leaders worry, however, that the threat of tariff war to coerce changes in established practices is just one front in what may become a wider economic war. They read the Trump administration’s veto of Broadcom’s purchase of the fourth largest semiconductor producer, the American-based Qualcomm as the first shot in increasing restrictions of Chinese purchase and investments in U.S. technology companies and startups. And in seeing this as a harbinger of what’s to come, they are indeed correct.
Beneath their general unease is an even deeper fear about a fundamental shift in the way Washington thinks about China and how the United States should relate to it. For four decades, Republican and Democratic administrations alike saw China as a “partner” or “strategic partner.” But the Trump administration now publicly calls China a “strategic rival” or “adversary.” Obama, Bush, and Clinton pursued a strategy of engaging China and welcoming its integration into the global economic and security order the United States has led for seventy years. The Trump administration has declared that effort a “failure,” and the admission of China into the WTO a “mistake.” Instead, it has shifted to a new strategy it calls “confrontation,” “competition,” and “rivalry.”
Initially, China’s America watchers put this down to just Trump being Trump. But they are coming to the view that while Trump’s language may be more colorful than that of others, this fundamental reassessment of China has now engulfed the entire Washington political class and national-security community. As one Chinese interlocutor put it, all of Washington seems to have done a “backflip.” They pointed to the recent cover story of The Economist that shouted: “How the West got China wrong,” and the Foreign Affairs article by the architect of Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, Kurt Campbell, arguing that all American policymaker’s “fundamental assumptions” about China and American policy towards China “have turned out to be wrong.” Another Chinese official posed what he meant as a rhetorical question. Who, he asked, gave Trump’s tariff announcement the biggest shout out? When I confessed I did not know, he told me: Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer.
Considering all these factors, despite the conciliatory words from President Xi in his speech at the Boao conference last week, recurring hopes for a quick resolution to the tariff war and return to business as usual seem to me unfounded. Indeed, my bet is that what we have known as “business as usual” in relations with China is now forever in our rearview mirror. We have moved into new, uncharted terrain in which the dangers are greater than the opportunities.
As we think about how much worse it could become, hard as it is to believe, prudence requires that we consider whether these two nations could even stumble from a trade war to a real war with bombs and bullets. To stimulate our imaginations, we should again consult Thucydides. Xi and Trump almost seem to be competing to see who can best exemplify the role of the leader of the rising and ruling powers. Xi’s rendition of the rising power’s confidence, growing ambitions, increasing assertiveness, and arrogance in his “Made in China 2025” plans to dominate ten major sectors (including advanced manufacturing, the Internet Plus, driverless cars, and AI) would make the Athenian leader Pericles blush. The alarm, anxiety, and even angst of a Washington that is awakening to discover a Chinese juggernaut that is not only rising, but has risen to rival—and in many arenas surpass—the United States echoes the “fear that this instilled in Sparta” of which Thucydides wrote.
In this dangerous dynamic, misperceptions are magnified, miscalculations multiplied, and risks of escalation amplified. Recent American history provides instructive clues about two slippery paths from the emerging trade conflict with China to a real shooting war: Pearl Harbor and the Korean War. In the first, to punish Japan for its military aggression against its neighbors in the 1930s, the United States initially imposed an embargo on exports of high-grade scrap iron and aviation fuel to Japan. When these failed to stop its aggression, Washington ratcheted up its sanctions to include essential raw materials such as iron, brass, and copper—and, finally, oil. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s August 1941 embargo proved to be the proverbial straw. Eighty percent of Japan’s oil came from the United States. Japan depended on that imported oil to fuel its military operations and keep its manufacturing plants humming. Without understanding what it had done, the Roosevelt administration’s actions thus forced Japan to choose between capitulation and conflict. Viewing this as a mortal threat, Japan’s ambassador told Washington on December 2, 1941, “The Japanese people believe . . . that they are being placed under severe pressure by the United States to yield to the American position; and that it is preferable to fight rather than to yield to pressure.” In desperation, Japanese leaders approved a plan to deliver a preemptive “knockout blow” at Pearl Harbor. The designer of the attacks, Admiral Yamamoto, told his government, “In the first six months to a year of war against the United States and England I will run wild, and I will show you an uninterrupted succession of victories.” But he also warned them: “Should the war be prolonged for two or three years, I have no confidence in our ultimate victory.”
The Korean War of 1950 stands as a sharp reminder of great powers’ vulnerability to the impact of third party provocations. Could North Korea’s Kim Jong-un trigger a war between the United States and China? If that seems inconceivable, then consider what his grandfather did. In January, 1950, war with China had no place on the American agenda. That option had been considered during the Chinese Civil War but decisively rejected—since it would mean sending American troops to fight on the Asian mainland. In 1950, Mao had just lead China’s Communists to victory in a long bloody civil war and was focused on consolidating control of his country. The thought of war with a nation that had an economy fifty times his size, a monopoly of nuclear weapons, and had just dropped atomic bombs on Japan five years earlier to end World War II was unthinkable.
But in June 1950 North Korea launched a surprise attack on South Korea. In just three months it stood on the verge of success in seizing the peninsula. At the last minute, the United States came to the rescue. Gen. Douglas MacArthur and two divisions of U.S. forces still in occupied Japan landed in Korea and rapidly fought the North Koreans back up the path they had come down. Without properly considering the consequences, they crossed the 38th Parallel—the dividing line between the two Koreas—and were driving toward the Chinese border expecting to unify the country before Christmas. But then, out of the blue and to McArthur’s astonishment, they awoke one morning to find themselves under attack by three hundred thousand Chinese. These were soon reinforced by a half million additional troops who beat the Americans back down the peninsula to the 38th Parallel where the United States sued for peace. Most of the fifty thousand Americans who died in this war were killed by Chinese; and most of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese fatalities came at the hand of Americans.
With the prospect of a summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un in late May, most of us are hoping for a minor miracle. But if as most experts expect this summit fails, what then? Kim will resume preparations for the final series of ICBM tests that will give him a credible threat to strike San Francisco with nuclear weapons. If Trump does what he has repeatedly pledged to do and orders cruise-missile attacks on the ICBM launch pads to prevent the tests, then North Korea is likely to retaliate with barrages of rockets raining down on Seoul killing tens of thousands of its citizens. The U.S. and South Korean forces will respond by attacks on North Korean rockets and missiles to prevent further strikes on the capital. At that point, the second Korean War will have begun. Since tens of thousands or more Americans would die in this war, it is hard to imagine an American president ending it with the Kim regime in place. But as China has repeatedly warned, Beijing will never accept a unified Korea that is a U.S. military ally. That line was drawn in blood when Mao led China into the Korean War.
In sum: is war between the United States and China inevitable? Certainly not. Even on the historical record, as noted earlier, four of the sixteen cases ended without war. Moreover, there are significant differences between the U.S.-China rivalry and previous cases—not the least of which is that we can learn lessons from both the mistakes and successes of statesmen of earlier eras. Am I expecting the current conflict over tariffs to end with bombs or bullets? No.
But have we entered a period of fundamental reassessment of the challenge posed by a nation that is rivaling and even surpassing the United States in many domains? Will that reassessment lead to substantial changes in the ways in which Americans and Chinese do business—including trade, investment, supply chain management, and technology and IP sharing? Will the central geostrategic question of this era be whether these two great nations can construct a new form of great-power relations that meets the essential requirements of each without war?
A Chinese half blessing and half curse says: may you live in interesting times. In the current struggle to invent what Xi Jinping has called a “new form of great-power relations,” we do.
Graham T. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the former director of Harvard’s Belfer Center.
WASHINGTON – An internal CIA review in 2011 cleared U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice to head the agency, Gina Haspel, of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes depicting the harsh interrogation of an al Qaeda suspect, according to a memorandum that the CIA declassified and released on Friday.
The spy agency released the memo in response to demands by U.S. lawmakers for more details on Haspel’s career and as part of its effort to bolster her nomination. Haspel’s bid to be the first woman CIA director faces scrutiny on Capitol Hill due to her involvement in a discontinued interrogation program that many regarded as using torture.
“I have found no fault with the performance of Ms. Haspel,” Michael Morell, then the CIA’s deputy director, wrote in the December 2011 memo.
“I have concluded that she acted appropriately in her role” as chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, the head of CIA spy operations, Morell wrote.
At issue was a decision that Rodriguez has said he made in November 2005 to destroy videotapes showing the waterboarding of CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah who U.S. officials believed at the time – incorrectly – was a top-level al Qaeda operative.
Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning. Zubaydah’s role in al Qaeda was later found to have been overstated.
CIA officials have long said that Haspel drafted a cable from Rodriguez ordering agency officers in the field to destroy the tapes, and that she believed Rodriguez was going to clear it first with the agency’s director at the time, Porter Goss.
At the time the cable was sent, Haspel worked in CIA headquarters outside Washington, D.C. Published accounts have said she was chief in 2002 of a base in Thailand where detainees were interrogated, but arrived there after Zubaydah’s waterboarding.
The memo appears to support the CIA version of events.
Haspel “drafted the cable on the direct orders of Mr. Rodriguez; she did not release that cable. It was not her decision to destroy the tapes; it was Mr. Rodriguez’s,” Morell wrote.
Rodriguez has said he ordered the tapes destroyed out of fear that, if leaked, they could put CIA officers at risk.
In a statement earlier this week, Rodriguez said he took full responsibility for destroying the tapes.
“I was under the impression that the chain of command did not think it was illegal to destroy the tapes but that no one wanted to make the decision at the time,” Rodriguez said.
Haspel, who is now the agency’s No. 2 official, is due to appear at a May 9 hearing on her confirmation before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Haspel has the backing of the committee’s Republican chairman, Richard Burr, but several Democrats have expressed concern about the nomination.
“It’s completely unacceptable for the CIA to declassify only material that’s favorable to Gina Haspel, while at the same time stonewalling our efforts to declassify all documents related to her involvement in the torture program,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. “Senators and the public need to know more about her record.”
Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for Senator Mark Warner, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said release of the memo was “a good step, but it was only one step. Senator Warner will continue to press the CIA to declassify additional documents and material regarding Ms. Haspel’s background.”
Reporting by Warren Strobel; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Leslie Adler
Just heard the Campaign was sued by the Obstructionist Democrats. This can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Wendy Wasserman Schultz Servers and Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails.
The “Pakistani Mystery Man” is Imran Awan, who worked as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s email server administrator in the House of Representatives. Nearly his entire family then joined the payroll of other Democrats, until they worked for 1 in 5 House Democrats and had — as the House inspector general called it — the ‘keys to the kingdom‘ and ability to access any file.
1. Imran worked for Debbie Wasserman Schultz since 2004 and had the passwords to her devices
A September 30, 2016, presentation alleged Imran Awan and his family members were logging into the servers of members who had previously fired him, funneling data off the network, and “suggests steps are being taken to conceal their activity.”
The Awan group’s (the Awan family) behavior mirrored a “classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization,” and they continued even after orders to stop, the briefing materials allege. The presentation especially found problems on one server, that of the House Democratic Caucus, an entity similar to the DNC that was chaired at the time by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra.
3. The Awan group was left on the House computer network until February 2, 2017 — days after Donald Trump’s inauguration
Police then banned the Awan group from the network. The Committee on House Administration put out a statement saying, “House Officials became aware of suspicious activity and alleged theft committed by certain House IT support staff.” As of Feb. 2, 2017, no official House body has ever publicly provided any information about the case. But the IG repor, TheDCNF obtained shows theft was not the primary issue being warned about.
Authorities took the disappearance as evidence tampering, they said. Becerra can’t discuss the incident because of an ongoing criminal investigation, he said.
5. Wasserman Schultz declined to fire Imran despite knowing he was suspected of cyber-security violations, even though she had lost her job as DNC chair after its anemic handling of its data breach
Her office claimed Imran could work on “websites and printers” without accessing the network. Watchdog group FACT has filed an ethics complaint saying this was impossible, and a cybersecurity publication called the judgment negligent.
She flew to Pakistan with cardboard boxes of possessions, FBI agents said in an affidavit. They approached her at the airport, but she refused to talk to them. They found $12,000 in cash but let her board anyway, writing they do “not believe that Alvi has any intention to return to the United States.”
8. Prosecutors arrested Imran at the airport after he began liquidating assets
Imran and his wife had wired $300,000 to Pakistan after allegedly both cashing out a federal retirement account and taking a second mortgage under allegedly false pretenses. The FBI arrested Imran at the airport, and he was charged with bank fraud. Democrats have claimed the case is therefore about bank fraud, but prosecutors imply in court papers the bank fraud occurred because The Awans learned they were under investigation for other activities. “Based on the suspicious timing of that transaction, Awan and Alvi likely knew they were under investigation at that time,” prosecutors wrote of the money moves.
Imran’s lawyer is a former aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Wasserman Schultz’s brother is a US Attorney for the District of Columbia prosecutor, who’s handling the case.
The FBI never interviewed the associate. TheDCNF traveled in Pakistan and established from numerous sources that alleged Imran traveled that country with an entourage of Pakistani government agents, and he routinely boasted about mysterious political influence.
10. Nearly Imran’s entire family was on the House payroll at high salaries, despite most of them having no training in IT — Democrats failed to vet them
Among the red flags in Imran’s brother’s Abid’s background were a $1.1 million bankruptcy; six lawsuits against him or a company he owned; and at least three misdemeanor convictions, including for DUI and driving on a suspended license, according to Virginia court records.
Rao Abbas was added to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and Ted Deutch’s payroll shortly after court paperwork showed Abid owed him money.
12. Money from an Iraqi political figure
Imran and Abid operated a car dealership referred to as CIA that took $100,000 from an Iraqi government official who is a fugitive from U.S. authorities, according to a business partner’s testimony in a civil lawsuit. After Imran was banned, another email address that belonged to him, [email protected], appeared to still be active and invoked the name of a “national security and foreign affairs” specialist for Rep. Andre Carson, an intelligence committee member.
13. The cybersecurity investigation started after allegedly falsified invoices caught administrators’ attention, and The Awans’ lawyers blamed members.No one has been charged for “unauthorized access” or falsified invoices, and Imran’s court date has been postponed five times. It is now scheduled for May 4 2018.
14. The Awans’ relatives, colleagues and tenants say they would ‘do anything for money’