Saturday, June 16, 2018

FBI IG Report: A Slap On The Wrist - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Highly anticipated report lets Hillary's protectors off easy.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz has released his 500 plus-page report, which purports to shine a light on the mishandling at top levels of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while she served as Secretary of State under former President Obama. Such mishandling included violations of Department of Justice standards and FBI protocols. The report from the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) criticized certain actions and decisions of former FBI Director James Comey, together with those of other senior FBI officials who were involved in the probe, including former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Mr. McCabe is already the subject of an earlier criminal referral from the OIG for his alleged unauthorized leaks to the media and lying to federal investigators about his media contacts. Special FBI agent Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page, an attorney who has since left the FBI, were targeted in this report for their blatantly anti-Trump text messages. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was also criticized for exercising bad judgment in connection with her infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton.

Mr. Horowitz’s report focused on process and procedures. The inspector general made clear when he launched his investigation in January 2017 that “his review will not substitute the OIG's judgment for the judgments made by the FBI or the Department regarding the substantive merits of investigative or prosecutive decisions." Moreover, this report did not address whether the Department of Justice or FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to obtain a surveillance order against former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, or the government’s reliance on former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified “dossier” in its FISA court application, which the OIG is investigating separately.

In analyzing the highly anticipated OIG report’s conclusions, it is clear that either Mr. Horowitz himself decided to pull his punches or that the final version, which had been reviewed by upper echelons in both the FBI and Justice Department before its public release, emerged in a disappointingly watered-down form. To be sure, the report faulted Comey for deviating from FBI and Justice Department procedures in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while she served as Secretary of State, thereby negatively impacting “the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.” Comey, according to the OIG report, “engaged in ad hoc decision making based on his personal views even if it meant rejecting longstanding Department policy or practice.”

Starting with Comey’s public announcement on July 5, 2016 criticizing Hillary Clinton and her staff for being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” but also announcing that the FBI was “expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case,” Comey was taken to task for insubordination and usurping the authority of the attorney general. He “upset the well-established separation between investigative and prosecutorial functions,” the report said.

Comey’s follow-up letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016 were similarly criticized. The first letter informed Congress that agents were reopening their probe into Clinton’s handling of classified material after discovering her e-mails on the laptop of Andrew Weiner, the husband of Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin. This letter was followed on November 6, 2016 by Comey’s statement that the review of the additional information had been completed and that the FBI remained convinced that charges were not appropriate. Comey acted against the advice of senior Justice Department officials in making these disclosures the way he did. The OIG report was highly critical of the FBI’s failure to take immediate action on the Weiner laptop when they first learned about it in late September 2016, rather than waiting another month so close to the election.

The criticisms of Comey's undisciplined behavior was all well and good, but it was reasonable to expect something more than the equivalent of a departmental employee review after nearly a year and a half of investigation. Hillary Clinton’s supporters will no doubt jump on the inspector general’s criticisms of Comey’s handling of the July 5th announcement and subsequent letters as proof that he improperly influenced the outcome of the election in President Trump’s favor, even if he did not do so deliberately for political reasons. However, what Comey really did was to give Hillary Clinton a Get Out of Jail Free card.

The fix was in as early as May 2016, well before the FBI interviews of Hillary Clinton and of as many as 17 other key witnesses, when Comey began the process of drafting an exoneration memo. Comey’s initial draft statement, which he shared with FBI senior leadership on May 2, criticized Clinton’s handling of classified information as “grossly negligent,” but concluded that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case based on the facts developed in the investigation. Indeed, Comey admitted in his book that “we started the Clinton investigation aware that it was unlikely to be a case that career prosecutors at the Department of Justice would prosecute.” 

If putting the cart of exoneration before the horse of investigation were not enough, Comey’s draft statement underwent various language changes over the course of the next two months, including, most importantly, changing the description of Clinton’s handling of classified information from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.” This change was critical because “gross negligence” is specifically the legal term used in stating the statutory requirement in 18 U.S. Code § 793(f) for a finding of criminal conduct. Comey’s substitution of a legally meaningless phrase, “extremely careless,” for the “gross negligence” statutory legal standard he had originally used, had the effect of prejudging the facts in Hillary Clinton’s favor. Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were involved in the edits.

Inspector General Horowitz saw no problem with this pattern of obfuscation regarding the deletion of the legally significant phrase “gross negligence” from Comey’s statement. Mr. Horowitz relied in part on opinions from prosecutors that there was not enough evidence to charge Clinton with acting in a manner that rose to a level of criminal gross negligence with respect to sending or receiving e-mails determined to contain classified information. Mr. Horowitz’s report thus concluded, “We did not identify evidence of bias or improper considerations.”  This conclusion defies common sense. Gross negligence is not the same as willful intent, which Comey and his team sought to conflate in exonerating Hillary Clinton before the investigation was concluded. Clinton was fully aware of what she was doing when she set up the private server arrangement in the first place and knowingly used it to send and receive e-mails involving official government business, which by their very nature would be expected to include classified information. It turns out that some of the e-mails were accessed by foreign parties. Hillary lied repeatedly when she first denied there were any classified e-mails on her system and then described some of the e-mails involved in the investigation as having been classified after the fact. As Comey has admitted, several e-mail chains concerned matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received by Clinton. Coupled with her agents’ destruction of thousands of e-mails that had been subpoenaed by Congress, Hillary’s conduct was criminally reckless at the very least, if not constituting willful intent to commit an act she knew was wrongful. Yet Mr. Horowitz saw no reason to doubt the sincerity of Comey's explanations for giving Hillary a free pass.

The failure to at least empanel a grand jury to compel testimony from Hillary Clinton and key witnesses was itself a complete dereliction of duty, which could have only been motivated by a desire to treat Hillary Clinton with kid gloves for improper reasons. Incredibly, however, Mr. Horowitz’s report “found no persuasive evidence… that the outcome of the investigation would have been different had Clinton been subpoenaed before the grand jury.”

Mr. Horowitz also did not deem Comey’s possible perjury in his testimony before Congress to be an appropriate subject for criminal referral. Comey testified that his decision to exonerate Hillary was not made before her interview took place, when for all intents and purposes it was. Mr. Horowitz simply took Comey’s word for what he had meant.

Inspector General Horowitz again emphasized form and process over substance in finding a “troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication” between Comey and Attorney General Lynch ahead of Comey’s July 5 press conference on Clinton and his October 28 letter to Congress. Attorney General Lynch’s infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton was discussed in the report, but mostly in the context of how it affected Comey’s decision to go rogue, so to speak, in making his July 5th announcement without prior approval from the Justice Department. As to the substance of Ms. Lynch’s decision to meet with Bill Clinton at all before his wife’s FBI interview, all Mr. Horowitz’s report had to say was that it was “an error in judgment.”

The OIG report also criticized the conduct of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who had exchanged text messages sharply critical of Mr. Trump before and after the election, for casting “a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.” The report referenced a text message on August 8, 2016, in which Strzok reassured Page that she need not worry about Donald Trump becoming president. Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page texted Strzok.  “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded. Mr. Horowitz wrote that this exchange was “not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.” The inspector general questioned whether Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia collusion investigation over following up on the Clinton e-mail-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias. Ultimately, however, he inexplicably concluded that there was no finding of “documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions” discussed in the OIG report.

Strzok should have been subject to a criminal referral for arguably violating 18 U.S.C. § 595, enacted as part of the original 1939 Hatch Act, prohibiting any public officer or employee, in connection with an activity financed wholly or in part by the United States, from using his or her official authority to interfere with or affect the nomination or election of a candidate for federal office including the president of the United States. The punishment for violation is a fine, imprisonment for not more than one year or both. Instead,  Strzok's punishment will most likely be limited to disciplinary action and possibly dismissal.

In sum, the long-awaited inspector general report on the FBI’s and Justice Department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation is as disappointing as the rigged outcome of the e-mail investigation itself.

Joseph Klein


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A necessary question for IG Horowitz when he testifies Monday - Ed Timperlake

by Ed Timperlake

Politics ultimately will take a back seat to fact-based evidence that will eventually put a lot of individuals in jail

Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general, will testify Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, defending his report. He will be praised and attacked for his work product. But the politics ultimately will take a back seat to fact-based evidence that will eventually put a lot of individuals in jail.

This first DOJ I.G. report is, at a minimum, the beginning of the end of many careers. The good news is that the I.G. report has brought many important facts to sunlight. Documented evidence of incredible danger to our Constitution – and perhaps even deeper threats to the well-being of the president – is found in the revelation of the most infamous line ever written in FBI history, re-tweeted by President Trump:

It is now known, thanks to the DOJ I.G. report, that instead of being "redacted," which is a dark line obscuring the text, the line was expunged with no traces in a turn-over of documents to Congress. This alone is evidence of a cabal in the FBI conspiring to obstruct Congress by withholding factual evidence from congressional oversight. Congress is "we the people," and the FBI is actually our creation. So when individuals with badges and guns empowered by the state threaten the future president of the United States, America is on the edge of a serious abyss of becoming a police state.

In a previous American Thinker blog, I suggested that the Secret Service be called in to investigate such a threat implied in "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."

It is not over the line to take Strzok at his word and find out exactly what he means.

I actually have some experience with the now-lost-to-history leadership of the FBI who truly lived by their motto of Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Calling in the Secret Service is not over the top based on my previous knowledge of FBI Counterintelligence teams' responsibilities in picking up credible threats to Americans. My respect for the FBI developed when I was investigating the Russian Mafia.

I went to the NYC Organized Crime Task Force as the House Rules Committee professional staff member assigned to investigate the pernicious influence of off-shore bribes to Clinton, Inc. I traveled to New York to share leads with an interagency law enforcement task force of federal, state, and local individuals all dedicated to taking down Russian organized crime. I was told taking on the Russian mob is very dangerous. A New York reporter writing on "The Money Plane," a cargo plane leaving every week for Moscow, had been targeted for death by the Russian mob. I was also told that the FBI had uncovered the threat and had warned him because it was a real threat to a courageous journalist.

Fast-forward today to the role of some bad actors in the FBI now warning about threats. How many nasty special agents and lawyers in the FBI would have means, motive, and opportunity to turn a blind eye in passing credible threats over to the Secret Service? Even potential of that occurring is a real problem and must be investigated. Assurances of the FBI investigating their own, especially after now having hard evidence of their obstruction in withholding pertinent information from congressional oversight, cannot now be taken for granted.

Having the Secret Service investigate the FBI on all this would send a powerful message to everyone that external diligence is mandatory in cleaning up such a lack of integrity and judgment.

One FBI lawyer texted that he was "devastated" by Trump's election and declared "Viva la Resistance!" and "I never really liked the Republic anyway." The same person became the "primary FBI attorney assigned to [Russian election interference] investigation beginning in early 2017," the I.G. noted.

Congress, meet the "Resistance" that an unknown FBI lawyer has joined in spirit. Words have meaning:

Trump's success confirms the bankruptcy of representative democracy. Rather than using the democratic process as an alibi for inaction, we must show that no election could legitimize his agenda. Neither the Democrats nor any other political party or politician will save us – they just offer a weaker version of the same thing. If there is going to be positive change in this society, we have to make it ourselves, together, through direct action.
From day one, the Trump presidency will be a disaster. #DisruptJ20 will be the start of the resistance. We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear. The parade must be stopped. We must delegitimize Trump and all he represents. It's time to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and the world that sustains us as if our lives depend on it – because they do.
Finally, people empowered with badges and guns should be asked by the Secret Service exactly what they mean and whom they plan to shoot. Again, words have meaning.

The agents also suggested in text messages on Election Day that there would be riots if Trump defeated Clinton.
"You think HRC is gonna win right? You think we should get nails and some boards in case she doesn't," Agent 1 wrote.
"She better win… otherwise i'm gonna be walking around with both of my guns," Agent 5 responded. [Emphasis added.]
I suggest that the senators questioning I.G. Horowitz ask him if he made a referral to the Secret Service, and if not, why not?

Americans should be grateful for the wisdom of our constitutional checks and balances. I am always optimistic that eventually all will be well, or as said in the Space Race, "A-OK!" as a nation, but we are not safe just yet.

Ed Timperlake


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Report: U.S. withdrawal from UNHRC 'imminent' - Elad Benari

by Elad Benari

Officials say United States could quit United Nations Human Rights Council over its continued anti-Israel bias.

The United States could quit the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) soon, activists and diplomats told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.

According to these sources, talks with the United States over how to reform the UNHRC have failed to meet Washington’s demands.

A U.S. source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent” but did not provide further details.

Diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if but of when the United States retreats from the Human Rights Council, which will hold a three-week session beginning on Monday and running through July 6.

A separate U.S. official in Geneva had no information about a looming pull-out during the upcoming talks, saying, “We are still moving ahead with our engagement for the coming session.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has repeatedly blasted the UNHRC for its obsession with criticizing Israel. She publicly told the Council a year ago that Washington might leave the body unless a “chronic anti-Israel bias” were removed.

The UNHRC continuously singles out Israel for criticism, while ignoring other conflicts in the region, such as the ongoing bloody civil war in Syria.

Last March, the council passed a series of anti-Israel resolutions, including a motion condemning Israel for its construction in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and urging states and firms to avoid ties with “settlements”.

It later issued a report which offers to “advise and support” efforts to create a “blacklist” database of companies operating in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and eastern Jerusalem, so that the international community could boycott them.

The U.S. boycotted the UNHRC for three years under President George W. Bush before rejoining under Barack Obama in 2009.

Last month, the 47-member forum once again singled out Israel when it voted to establish a Commission of Inquiry to examine possible war crimes committed by Israel during the confrontations on the Gaza border.

The United States and Australia cast the only “no” votes. Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, condemned the move, while Haley condemned the vote as “another shameful day for human rights”.

Elad Benari


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Human Rights: Other Views - Part III - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home.

  • Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history's most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah?
  • As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world's rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places... The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.

In the first part of this series, as many surveys have shown, we saw how difficult it has been, and apparently remains, for many Muslims to be assimilated into non-Muslim societies.

In Part Two, we examined how difficult it remains to allow Syrian and other refugees even to settle into other Muslim and Arab countries, including places such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, which have taken in millions.

In this final part, we shall look at the remaining Muslim countries, which have taken in few or no refugees from the Syrian civil war. These are the richest countries in the Arab world, and the least troubled by disintegration. Many are generous in their funding for humanitarian aid, but that money is donated on the understanding that the refugees are looked after by the UNHCR and the countries they have already reached. Seeing why may be a help.

In 2014, Amnesty International published a short article, "Facts and Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement", in which it stated that "The six Gulf countries - Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain - have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees".

This conclusion was echoed Deutsche Welle, the BBC, Time magazine, CNN, the Washington Post , the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post and other media. The most detailed report, however, came from the Brookings Institution in a September 2015 article by Luay Al-Khateeb, a prominent Arab expert on the geopolitics and economics of the GCC. Al-Khateeb noted that:
"condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stance on the region's refugee crisis has reached a crescendo... they have countered criticism by asking the world to do more.
"The GCC, it is pointed out, has nonetheless given more money for refugees than any other [country]."[1]
As early as 2013, this amounted to $40 billion. Despite this generosity, the bulk of GCC aid money goes to other Muslim states, notably Egypt and Morocco, which, as noted in Part Two, have taken almost no refugees.

At this point, things become murkier. In 2015, Alex Nowrasteh, writing for Newsweek, argued that there are more Arabs and Muslims living in Arab and Muslim lands than ever before:
Many more Syrians are living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States than at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
The World Bank reports that 1,000,000 Syrians resided in Saudi Arabia in 2013, a whopping 795% increase over 2010. There were 1,375,064 Syrian migrants living in the Gulf States in 2013, a 470% increase over 2010.
Excluding Oman, the 2013 Syrian population in every Gulf State has increased dramatically since right before the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Others have also taken up cudgels on behalf of the GCC countries. Open Source Investigations, writing in December 2015, argued that the story about GCC failure to receive refugees is "a myth". Just before that, the Guardian opined that Saudi Arabia had said criticism of their refugee response was "false and misleading". The humanitarian organization HumanRefuge(e) published an article entitled "How Many Syrians Let in by the Gulf States?"

The HumanRefuge(e) post even features a map that purports to show high numbers of Syrian refugees who have been settled in Saudi Arabia.[2]

Why is there such a discrepancy between these two accounts: on the one hand, that the Gulf states have taken in no refugees and, on the other, that they have taken large numbers?

The explanation given by HumanRefuge(e), Open Source Investigations, the Saudi government and others hinges (or appears to hinge) on the fact that:
The UNHCR counts refugees using the 1951 Refugee Convention, among other protocols. Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE did not sign any UN protocols on refugees, so most refugees residing in these areas aren't counted by agencies like the UNHCR.
A clearer explanation is given by Chaker Khazaal, commenting on a 2014 report by Amnesty International:
The reason it's difficult to establish just how many refugees are being hosted by countries in the GCC is because they do not officially recognize incoming asylum-seekers as refugees. Since the GCC is not a signatory of the United Nations' 1951 Refugee Convention, they are not bound by law to provide these people with the standard treatment and rights typically afforded those seeking refuge in a new country.
Admittedly, while the Arab states of the GCC might not have officially resettled any of the Syrian refugees, it would be incorrect to say that Arab states have not received any of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced since the civil war began.
The problem is that being an official refugee and being a guest of a GCC work-sponsorship program are not one and the same. The most significant difference is that official refugees in countries that have agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention are eligible to become citizens after a certain period of time.
There are (or have been) a lot of Syrians in some of the countries in question. But these are migrant workers, not people fleeing from the civil war. Instead of treating these workers as asylum seekers entitled to the rights of resettlement and citizenship, the Gulf states are trying hard to expel them.

Saudi Arabia, for example, has experienced physical and social decline from its migrant population. Dr Khalid Mandeli (PhD from Newcastle University), a lecturer at Jeddah's King AbdulAziz University, has published a number of articles that show concerns about the impact of migrant workers living in slum areas.[3] Their presence goes back to the 1970s, when the country brought in cheap foreign labour after the oil boom and religious awakening of the period.

By 2013, the Saudi government had embarked on a "Saudization" campaign that aims to remove foreign workers in order to put more Saudis to work. The result has been alarming:
Until recently, of the kingdom's 30 million residents, more than nine million were non-Saudis. Since the labour crackdown started in March, one million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have left. And the campaign has moved into higher gear after the final deadline expired on 4 November, with dozens of repatriation flights now taking place every day. By next year, two million migrants will have gone.
In 2015, Human Rights Watch published a short report on the issue: "Detained, Beaten, Deported: Saudi Abuses against Migrants during Mass Expulsions". The report noted that:
None of the workers interviewed were allowed to challenge their deportations or apply for asylum. Saudi Arabia has not established an asylum system under which migrants could prevent their forced return to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened.
Is it plausible, however, that a country that sees foreigners as a problem and has no asylum system in place has brought in as many as two million Syrian refugees to add to their woes?

The same problem apparently lies behind the rejection of refugees in the rest of the region. Khazaal notes that:
The mass deportation of workers is considered to be a result of the region's reported attempts to prioritize giving employment opportunities to their local citizens. There is also widespread perception that Syrians wishing to seek refuge in the Gulf states are unlikely to be granted a visa in the first place.
This was confirmed by the BBC:
Although those fleeing the Syrian crisis have for several years been crossing into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in huge numbers, entering other Arab states - especially in the Gulf - is far less straightforward.
Officially, Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or work permit in order to enter a Gulf state.
But the process is costly, and there is a widespread perception that many Gulf states have unwritten restrictions in place that make it hard for Syrians to be granted a visa in practice.
In 2017, UNHCR reported on a "landmark agreement" between themselves and Kuwait to aid Syrian refugees. Good news, but it is important to read the small print. The agreement is worth $10 million and is aimed "to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in northern Iraq". But, given that Kurdistan is linguistically and culturally different from Syria, those refugees will find it hard, almost impossible, to settle there. Kuwait's money will only ease refugees living in camps.

Bahrain fits the same narrative. In March 2018 Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million "to build schools in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan". That is small help for a country already highly pressurized by the numbers of refugees it has taken. This too is not a solution.

In March 2018, the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million "to build schools" in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan (pictured above). Photo by Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images.

The UAE boasted in 2016 that is planning to take in 15,000 refugees over the following five years -- three thousand a year. But the long-term prospects of those refugees are not encouraging. Reem Al Hashemi, the UAE's minister of state for international cooperation explained that:
Ultimately, we must offer a source of hope for displaced persons that allows them to maintain dignity, return home, reintegrate themselves into their societies, and rebuild their countries and their lives. [Emphasis in original.]
Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history's most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah? To Eastern Ghouta? To Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Lattakia, Deir al-Zur, al-Raqqa, Tartus, Daraa, al-Hasakeh, al-Qamishli? In order to "maintain their dignity... reintegrate themselves... and rebuild their countries and their lives"?

This is the response from the sixth richest country in the world (taking the Emirates together)? The second richest in the Arab world (after Saudi Arabia)? Where Abu Dhabi has been described as "the richest city in the world"?

What of Qatar, ranked by Fortune magazine in 2017 as the richest country in the world per capita? Qatar houses a large number of migrant workers, mainly Pakistani and Indian, with three out of four residents male. The migrants make up 94% of the country's workforce and 70% of its total population. In January 2017, Qatar offered to house Salvadorans who may be expelled from the United States. But they would be admitted on a temporary basis only. The treatment of migrant workers by the state, however, has been strongly condemned by the European Parliament and others. A report by the BBC in 2015 gives some details.


As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world's rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places in which to live, work, and raise their families. The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.

This decline in many parts of the world will accelerate the growth of refugee and migrant populations, creating a downward spiral that will drag down even the more affluent countries. According to Paul Ehrlich, "Collapse of Civilization is a near certainty within decades". The failure of so many Islamic states and the refusal of some of the richest countries in the world to do much to help, alongside their expenditure of billions of dollars over many years to spread the radicalization of Islam and finance Islamic terrorism, is one of the greatest problems facing the modern world and challenging the democracies.

This situation theoretically calls for major intervention by the United Nations, but the UN is effectively controlled by the very countries that are causing or contributing to the problem. With the Organization of Islamic Cooperation adding to the pressures on the democracies by working in the interest of Muslim states, it is time for a response. But so far, the Western nations have shown no willingness to create one.
Denis MacEoin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies in England and is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's Gatestone Institute.

[1] Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided some $900 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians. The United Arab Emirates have donated $530 million in aid since 2012. Problematically, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' Syria Regional Response Plan has requested another $4.5 billion, to ensure basic dietary and sanitation conditions in the refugee camps.
[2] Saudi Arabia (500,00 to 2.5 m.), Kuwait (120,000), Bahrain (1,750), Qatar (19,000 to 25,000), and the United Arab Emirates (242,000).
[3] E.g. Khalid Nasralden Mandeli, "The realities of integrating physical planning and local management into urban development: A case study of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia", Habitat International 32 (2008) 512–533

Denis MacEoin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies in England and is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's Gatestone Institute.


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The Diplomatic Big Bang - Ahmed Charai

by Ahmed Charai

"The unspoken objective is to constrain the U.S., and to transfer authority from national governments to international bodies".

  • Diplomacy is changing before our eyes.
  • "The unspoken objective is to constrain the U.S., and to transfer authority from national governments to international bodies. The specifics of each case differ, but the common theme is diminished American sovereignty, submitting the United States to authorities that ignore, outvote or frustrate its priorities.... By reasserting their sovereignty, the British are in the process of escaping, among other things, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights." — Ambassador John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2017.

The Singapore summit is indeed historic. First, it is so because just a few weeks ago we were closer to a nuclear war than to even the semblance of a peace process. The way we got here is surprising, because it did not obey the usual rules.

A few days ago, during the G7 summit held in Canada, US President Donald Trump upheld his decisions on tariffs and his positions on the trade deficit. These stances followed his decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement and the Iranian "nuclear deal". It is clear that the new US administration challenged the alliances inherited from the Cold War. President Trump, a businessman, not a politician -- one of the reasons he was elected -- is asking America's trading partners just to have "free, fair and reciprocal" agreements. It is probably not all that unusual to feel affronted when asked for money or to regard the person asking for it as mercenary or adversarial. It does not always mean that this feeling is justified.

Pictured: Donald Trump and other heads of state deliberate at the G7 summit on June 9, 2018 in Charlevoix, Canada. (Photo by Jesco Denzel /Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

In short, President Trump's arguments, which sound like a leitmotif, go back to the economic aspect of things. NATO? Why should it be normal that, in order to defend Europe, the American taxpayer pays the heaviest part. Free trade? Why should America suffer a trade deficit with so many countries? Climate change? The results of the Paris Climate Change conference, COP 21, were apparently not only costly but questionable, and to critics, looked like a list of unenforceable promises that would not have come due until 2030 -- if ever.

A new paradigm is shaping up on the international scene: This is the first time that the US domestic policy is to prevail over its so-called "strategic" role -- sometimes possibly to the detriment of allies.

Ambassador John R. Bolton, before he was appointed National Security Advisor, rejected any external constraints or supranational authority -- starting with the WTO's trade dispute body, the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU):
"The unspoken objective is to constrain the U.S., and to transfer authority from national governments to international bodies. The specifics of each case differ, but the common theme is diminished American sovereignty, submitting the United States to authorities that ignore, outvote or frustrate its priorities.... While many European Union governments seem predisposed to relinquish sovereignty, there is scant hint of similar enthusiasm in America.... By reasserting their sovereignty, the British are in the process of escaping, among other things, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights."
Unfortunately, Europe is the first to suffer from this new reality. But is the European Union able to stage a showdown? Probably not. The populist wave flooding the EU countries is primarily the result of the social impacts of the fiscal policy imposed by Germany. While the US has an unemployment rate effectively past full employment, the rather sluggish growth in Europe produces a near-zero effect on this indicator. With 27 members, and because of the rule of "one country one vote," as well as a possibly outdated view of how to incentivize growth and finance pensions, Europe has been slowing down even the possibility any development on issues such as immigration or common defense. Europe is shattered, all the more that there does not seem to be any solution on the horizon.

The group called the European Union does not weigh much against the forced march of Donald Trump. The US president only believes in bilateral agreements when it comes to international relations. The use of the principle of ex-territoriality, or diplomatic immunity, has taken the agreement with Iran out of the equation. The big French and German companies have already withdrawn from it.

Diplomacy is changing before our eyes. "The Western camp," it seems, is becoming nothing more than a specter that does not rest on any on-the-ground reality.

Inevitably, each power will have to adapt, according to its own interests. As Europeans continue to cast their votes, these adjustments may, in turn, feed current divisions even more.

Ahmed Charai is a Moroccan publisher. He is on the board of directors for the Atlantic Council, an international counselor of the Center for a Strategic and International Studies, and a member of the Advisory Board of The Center for the National Interest in Washington and Advisory Board of Gatestone Institute in New York.


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Israel Moves To Thwart Growing Hamas Maritime Threat - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

A series of offensive and defensive Israeli actions are keeping Hamas off balance.

When it comes to military firsts, Israel can probably take credit for the lion’s share. Israel was the first nation to capture an intact Soviet MiG-21, the first to capture a complete intact Soviet P-12 radar station, the first to employ militarized drones in the context of a large-scale, Wild Weasel, anti-SAM operation, and the first to destroy not one but two atom bomb facilities.

On June 2, 2018 the Israel Defense Forces executed another operational first. The Israeli Air Force bombed and destroyed a Hamas underwater terror tunnel. The tunnel, which was located approximately three kilometers from the Israeli border, was constructed for the purpose of concealing Hamas movements and allowing Hamas frogmen to enter the sea from an adjacent Hamas naval base undetected.

Hamas has been trying to improve its militarized maritime program and has invested substantial resources into improving and expanding its sea assault capabilities. On July 8, 2014 a cell of five heavily armed Hamas frogmen infiltrated Israel from the sea at Zikim Beach, which is located just north of the Gaza Strip. They were quickly detected and Israeli ground and naval units were dispatched to confront them. After a running battle, all five were liquidated. An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the exchange.

While the attack was thwarted, it highlighted another danger and underscored the need to address the growing Hamas maritime threat. The frogmen were well trained and demonstrated considerable bravery. Though the cell was wiped out, the confrontation could have just as easily ended in disaster. 

In 1978, 11 PLO terrorists (the initial force consisted of 13 members but two drowned in route) landed on the Israeli coast at a beach site just north of Tel Aviv. In the ensuing hours they killed 38 Israeli civilians and wounded 71. It was the worst terrorist attack in Israeli history, surpassing the Park Hotel suicide bombing, which killed 30.

Recognizing the threat emanating from Gaza, Israel has imposed limitations on Gaza sailing zones. Currently, Gazans are not permitted to sale passed six nautical miles from shore. To ease economic burdens, Israel permits some Gaza fishermen to travel up to 10.4 nautical miles from shore. When imposing such restrictions, Israeli authorities are required to conduct a delicate balancing act, taking into account security needs and economic burdens to the local fishing industry.

Israel has also begun constructing an under-and above-water wall to thwart sea borne infiltration. The barrier, which defense ministry officials characterized as an “impregnable breakwater,” will be constructed in the vicinity of Zikim beach, the same beach that witnessed the 2014 infiltration. The barrier, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world will consist of three levels. It will have an underground component, topped by a level of armored stone and a third level of razor wire at the upper tier. Israel’s defense ministry believes that this undertaking will further undermine Hamas attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in Israel’s well-guarded but exposed coastline.

But the IDF is not merely thinking in terms of defense. As highlighted by the June 2, strike, the IDF has demonstrated that it will act preemptively and preventatively to eliminate threats to Israel’s security. On May 29, the Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas naval base destroying a quantity of what the IDF characterized as “advanced maritime weaponry.” These were underwater sea drones created for the sole purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks. They were the brainchild of Hamas engineer, Mohammed Zawahri. Zawahri was assassinated in Tunisia by unknown assailants in December 2017. In April 2018, Fadi al-Batsh, another Hamas engineer believed to be heavily involved in Hamas’s militarized drone program was killed in Malaysia under similar circumstances. Israel reserved comment on both attacks but both are widely believed to have been executed by operatives of Israel’s vaunted intelligence service, Mossad.

Hamas has demonstrated that there is no level of depravity to which it will not sink. The Islamist group has employed mortars, rockets, terror tunnels, IEDs, drones and even kite terror. The maritime threat is just another component of Hamas’s multi-tiered strategy of aggression and terrorism.

Throughout its history, Israel has had to confront a plethora of threats faced by no other nation in the world. It faces genocidal Islamist enemies, Sunni and Shia, on all fronts. As a consequence, Israel has had to excel in technological innovation to deal with the challenges.  It has also had to be at the top of its game and maintain a constant state of vigilance 24/7. Finally, Israel has had to adopt unique tactics to counter threats posed by malevolent adversaries. Defensive and offensive measures undertaken by Israel’s security forces – water barriers, covert operations, preemptive strikes – serve to keep the enemy off balance, thereby securing the safety of Israel’s citizens.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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Trump Administration Opens Office To Find Naturalization Fraudsters - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

A great first step -- but much more needs to be done.

On June 11, 2018 the Washington Times published an article, U.S. launching office to identify citizenship cheaters, reporting that the Trump administration is opening an office to identify aliens who defrauded the naturalization process by concealing material facts in filing for U.S. citizenship and seek their denaturalization.

This is an important measure and one that enhances the enforcement of immigration laws from within the interior of the United States that will plug yet another gap in the highly porous immigration system.

This, as you will see, also has serious implication for national security.

However, generally most aliens who commit naturalization fraud also committed fraud in their applications for various immigration benefits that subsequently enabled the to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Because of the huge number of applications for various immigration benefits, more than six million applications for various benefits are processed each year by the beleaguered adjudication officers employed by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), many applications are adjudicated without so much as an in-person interview, let alone a field investigation conducted to verify the information contained in the applications.

This creates an invitation for fraud on a massive scale.

The Wasington Times article draws the parallel with this new effort to uncover aliens who lie on application for U.S. citizenship to previous efforts to identify Nazi war criminals who also gamed the naturalization process in order to secure U.S. citizenship to evade prosecution for their heinous crimes against humanity.

Naturalization fraud is of particular concern because U.S. citizenship provide the aliens with the veritable “Keys to the kingdom” as I have described in a series of previous articles and in my testimony before several Congressional hearings.

Here are a few reasons why citizenship is of particular concern and how some of the vulnerabilities must be addressed.

As the Washington Times article noted, aliens who acquire U.S. citizenship may be granted security clearances.  I recently wrote an article about an April 2018 Congressional hearing on how Iranian Sleeper Cells Threaten U.S.

Immigration fraud, including naturalization fraud, enables sleeper agents from foreign countries to embed themselves in the United States in furtherance of their nefarious and often deadly goals.

Additionally, aliens who naturalize may legally change their names.  In such instances, their U.S. passports only reflect their new names.

Criminals and terrorists can thus put themselves into their own “Witness Protection Program” concealing their original identities and gaining entry into countries around the world that might be aware of their original names and would never admit them if they knew who they really were.

However, when such an individual seeks entry with a new name, a name not known to border officials in that country it is likely that he/she will be permitted to enter that country.

The solution to this problem is simple and inexpensive-  have U.S. passports reflect both names.

I raised this issue when I appeared at a Congressional hearing but no action was taken.

This is further exacerbated because many of these naturalized citizens have dual citizenship, they retain the citizenship and passports of their countries of birth.

Dual citizen terrorists and fugitives who defraud the naturalization process can travel easily around the world by using their U.S. passport to travel to an intermediate foreign country, let’s say Germany.  They then conceal their U.S. passport and travel on the passport issued to them by their county of birth to travel to another country, perhaps to engage in terror-related activities. They return to Germany.  In Germany they conceal the passport from their country of birth and return to the United States on their U.S. passport.

A review of entry stamps in their U.S. passport will make it appear that they spent several weeks in Germany when, in reality, Germany was just an intermediate destination on their way to other countries.

Alternating passports covers their tracks the way a smuggler drags branches behind him to cover his tracks in the sand in the desert.

The Trump administration must finally require that the U.S. passports issued to naturalized citizens reflects all names that these individuals have used, to thwart the tactic I have described above.

While it is encouraging that for the first time in decades we have an administration that is determined to not only secure our borders against illegal immigration but restore integrity to the immigration system to protect America and Americans.

The administration would do well to do more than simply attempt to identify aliens who secured U.S. citizenship via fraud.  Denaturalization may be an involved process.  It would be far better to uncover fraud in applications for immigration benefits that precede U.S. citizenship.

In order to qualify for citizenship, an alien must first become a lawful immigrant.  In order to become a lawful immigrant an alien may have been granted political asylum or married a U.S. citizen or lawful immigrant.

Consider this except from the official report, 9/11 and  Terrorist Travel:
Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.
In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.
Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

My recently published booklet, Immigration Fraud:  Lies That Kill also focused on the threat posed to national security by various forms of immigration fraud, including but not limited to naturalization fraud.

Let’s consider a few specific examples of terror suspects who engaged in immigration fraud.
The infamous Tsarnaev brothers Dzhokhar and his older brother Tamerlan carried out the deadly terror attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.  They and other members of their family were granted political asylum when their authorized temporary period of admission into the United States expired, and they claimed to have “credible fear” that if they were to return to their native Russia, they would face persecution or worse.

Shortly after being granted political asylum in the United States, members of the family voluntarily returned to Russia.  There had been no regime change and therefore, it must logically be presumed that they committed immigration fraud by making a false claim to “credible fear” upon which their application for political asylum rested.

However, no such investigation was launched into this obvious fraud. 

Members of the Tsarnaev family were subsequently granted lawful immigrant status making them eligible to apply for United States citizenship. 

Tamarlan was killed during the terror attack.  Although he had applied for U.S. citizenship his application was held up when information was provided by the Russian government linking him possibly to Chechen terrorists.

Dzhokhar, however became a naturalized citizen.  He is now on death row awaiting execution.

On January 23, 2018 the Justice Department issued a press releaseOhio Man Sentenced for Providing Material Support to Terrorists, Making False Statements to Authorities

That “Ohio man” was Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a native of Somalia who had become a naturalized U.S. citizen as part of his strategy to facilitate his travel to Syria.

I wrote about this case in two previous articles, A Terrorist and Naturalization Fraud and How DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations. As I noted in the first of those two commentaries, Mohamud committed fraud when he lied on his application for his U.S. passport by claiming he intended to travel to Greece when, in reality, he traveled to Syria.

Finally, on January 16, 2018 the DOJ and DHS jointly issued a press release, DOJ, DHS Report: Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign-Born. 

That press release noted that:
The report reveals that at least 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016.  An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born.  Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that:
• 254 were not U.S. citizens;
• 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and,
• 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
According to information available to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), since September 11, 2001, there were approximately 1,716 removals of aliens with national security concerns.

Clearly the Trump administration is on the right path, but more and bigger steps need to follow and follow quickly.

Nothing less than national security is at stake.

Michael Cutler


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