It’s Time to End Unclassified Threat Briefings

It’s Time to End Unclassified Threat Briefings
January 31, 2019Fred Fleitz

Originally published by National Review:

Headlines are in the news today stating that top U.S. intelligence officials “contradicted” President Trump at yesterday’s briefing of the intelligence community’s annual worldwide threat report to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The intelligence chiefs differed with President Trump and his senior officials in finding that North Korea does not plan to give up its nuclear weapons, that Iran is technically in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, and that ISIS has not been defeated. The intelligence chiefs offered other assessments that matched Trump administration policies such as stating that Russia, Iran and China plan to meddle in the 2020 elections and a strong warning that China is growing as a cyber and intelligence threat.

Since Congress is an independent branch of government and is responsible for oversight of the executive, it is entirely appropriate for our intelligence agencies to provide Congress with annual worldwide threat briefings. The problem is, when these briefings are unclassified and public, they tend to interfere with presidential foreign-policy decision-making and provide valuable information to America’s adversaries on U.S. intelligence assessments.

When the unclassified worldwide threat report said that North Korea is “unlikely to give up” its nuclear weapons, the intelligence community was not just repeating the view of the foreign-policy establishment it was telling the world that it believes the president’s North Korea policy will likely fail. This violates the U.S. intelligence community’s mandate to inform but not prescribe presidential policy. Moreover, such a public assessment is inappropriate while U.S. diplomats are engaged in negotiations with North Korea and in the run-up to a second Trump-Kim summit.
The worldwide threat briefing’s findings on Iran’s nuclear program, meanwhile, were blatantly political and misleading. For example, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said: “We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.” CIA Director Gina Haspel claimed concerning the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran: “At the moment technically they [Iran] are in compliance.”

These findings reflect the Intelligence Community’s record of bias in its assessments of rogue-state WMD programs after the Iraq War and a refusal to objectively assess Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. To reach these findings, the intelligence community had to pretend that Iran’s ongoing uranium enrichment and its efforts to develop advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges have nothing to do with nuclear-weapons development. Iran also clearly is not in compliance with the nuclear deal since it refuses to allow the IAEA to inspect military bases where it likely is engaged in nuclear-weapons work.

Haspel and Coats (and the threat report) also failed to mention that Israel found a warehouse of nuclear equipment and radioactive materials in Tehran earlier this year — that the IAEA refused to inspect so it would not have to find Iran in noncompliance with the nuclear deal.

In fact, classified and unclassified evidence that Iran has not given up its nuclear weapons program and is violating the nuclear deal is very strong. As national-security adviser John Bolton told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month: “Despite getting out of the Iran nuclear deal, despite the sanctions, we have little doubt that Iran’s leadership is still strategically committed to achieving deliverable nuclear weapons.”

America’s intelligence agencies were not created to publicly criticize or offer rebuttals to the president’s foreign-policy initiatives. They are not supposed to be a “check” on presidential decision-making — that is Congress’s role. For the U.S. intelligence community to effectively perform its role informing presidential national-security decision-making, it has to be credible and trustworthy. Public spectacles like yesterday’s worldwide threat briefing make America less safe: They undermine the president’s trust in his intelligence agencies and make him less willing to listen to or consult with intelligence officials.

Public, unclassified worldwide threat briefings by U.S. intelligence officials to Congress therefore must end. Congress could still perform its responsibility overseeing U.S. intelligence agencies by holding classified worldwide threat hearings, provided that members of Congress do not leak information from these briefings to the press.

The Age of Neo-Imperialism

The age of neo-imperialism
Former empires that aspire to be future empires threaten America

By Clifford D. May


Illustration on “neo-imperialism” by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times more >

China, Russia and Iran are very different nations in very different parts of the world but they have three significant commonalities: All once were great empires. All are now ruled by men who aspire to build great empires anew. All regard the United States as their rival and adversary.

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State also dream of empire, one that would replace the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed in 1922, and its affiliated caliphate, which was abolished two years later.

Important to note: Iran’s rulers are not seeking to build a Persian or Iranian empire. Like al Qaeda and the Islamic State, they intend to resurrect a specifically Islamic empire, albeit one dominated by Shia rather than Sunni Muslims.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran’s Islamic Revolution 40 years ago, was quite clear on this point. “Patriotism is paganism,” he said. Note that the most powerful institution he created was the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not – as you’ll sometimes hear it called – the “Iranian” Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Islamic imperialism, whether Sunni or Shia, is universalist – all conquered nations are to embrace a single theology. The same was true of Soviet imperialism – all the lands ruled by Moscow were expected to embrace communist ideology.

Vladimir Putin, by contrast, aspires only to make Russia a superpower again. He has seized territory from neighboring Ukraine and Georgia, established military bases on the Mediterranean and, in the process, facilitated the slaughter of half a million Syrians and the displacement of millions more.

Chinese President Xi Jinping envisions a “great rejuvenation.” He is investing in a military that will be capable of projecting power not just in Asia but far beyond. The regime annually steals hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property from both foreign governments and private companies. And it is using its economic muscle, through its Belt and Road Initiative, to make small nations around the world dependent and, in many cases, poorer. Mr. Xi will support autocrats who cough up the natural resources he needs, and do as they are told.

On one level, none of this should surprise us. Empires have been rising, competing, conquering, exploiting, clashing and falling throughout history. But that history was supposed to end after World War II when Europe’s colonies achieved independence, and the U.S. and its allies attempted to build a new world order — independent states that would not only peacefully coexist, but also would join an “international community.” All would abide by international laws and respect “international norms.” The UN was to be central to this effort. Its failure appears to me beyond dispute.

The European Community, established in 1957, went on to become the European Union – meant to be a “union of equals,” that would establish “subsidiarity,” the principle of making decisions as close to the people as possible, in other words mostly at the local, regional or national level.

Instead, the EU has evolved into a kind of transnational or globalist empire, a concept political philosopher Yoram Hazony explores in depth in “The Virtue of Nationalism,” his recently published and highly provocative book.

EU members have long had to acquiesce to the authority of politicians in Berlin – Germany is undisputedly first among equals — and unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

More than two years ago, a majority of Britons expressed their dissatisfaction with this arrangement. To reclaim decision-making power and sovereignty, the British government has since been attempting Brexit. EU officials, reluctant to have their empire diminished and eager to discourage other members from following Britain’s example, have made the process a nightmare.

As noted above, China, Russia and the Islamic Republic, along with the various non-state jihadist groups, see the U.S. as the biggest obstacle to their ambitions. It’s therefore in their mutual interest to diminish American power and influence, and push Americans out of the regions they seek to dominate imminently.

The EU is ambivalent about the U.S. – more so than ever in the Age of Trump. Its officials have been working hard, if not successfully, to undermine American sanctions designed to pressure Tehran into changing its most malevolent behaviors.

West Europeans also are doing not much to restrain Mr. Putin. Despite strong U.S. disapproval, Chancellor Angela Merkel supports Nord Stream 2, a natural-gas pipeline project that will increase German dependence on Russia. (On Jan. 28th, the Washington-based Fulbright Association is to award her its “Prize for International Understanding.” Remarkable, no?)

President Obama did not see the picture I’m painting. He attempted to “reset” relations with Moscow, and appease Tehran. He ignored China’s multiple transgressions. He declared victory over al Qaeda. He demanded little of the EU.

President Trump, by contrast, does appear to recognize the threats posed by revisionist, revanchist and rogue regimes, and he has taken a tougher line on EU burden-sharing. Still, the most consequential national security missions remain a long way from being accomplished.

Meanwhile, influential voices on both the left and the right are counseling retrenchment, telling him to end the “endless wars,” to “declare victory” on battlefields where victory has not been achieved, and to devote his energies to “nation-building at home.”

How is that not pre-9/11 — indeed pre-World War II – thinking? The neo-imperialists are intent on shaping a new world order, one that will be authoritarian, unfree and implacably hostile to American interests. Frustrating their ambitions won’t be easy. But the alternative, giving them free rein, would be reckless.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times. Follow @CliffordDMay on Twitter.

The Washington Times:


The Education of James Mattis

The education of James Mattis
By James Durso, opinion contributor — 12/24/18 11:00 AM EST

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned after President Donald Trump told him he would keep his promise to remove all U.S. troops from Syria. Mattis shouldn’t have been surprised, as Trump campaigned on that promise, and in March said “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.” He then put a hold on $200 million of Syria recovery funds. In April, Trump gave the Pentagon another six months, and on Thursday, eight months later, he pulled the plug.

Trump obviously didn’t know he was supposed to have “both a public and a private position” and, after telegraphing his punch for two years, he finally gave the order.

Impulsive? Not hardly.

Trump was never comfortable with America’s too-little, too-late intervention in Syria, a place Washington is not convinced is very important; we are really just there out of habit. The desultory commitment of 2,000 troops is just big enough to get in trouble, and too small to make a strategic difference. If the Pentagon thinks the “light footprint” model that worked in Afghanistan will work in Syria, a crowded battlespace hosting epic ruined cities, displaced persons, regime fighters, resistance fighters, troops from America, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah, and a few other outfits on the DL, it is malpractice of the most serious sort.

Russia, Iran, and Turkey, on the other hand, are convinced Syria is vital so they are ready to do whatever it takes. Trump saw a third costly, endless entanglement staring us in the face and opted out. Like he said, “Let the other people take care of it now.”

The real question for Secretary Mattis is: did he know in April the military couldn’t do the job in six months? If so, why didn’t he admit it then so we could have saved a few billion dollars and some lives?

It’s not clear why Mattis volunteered to be Trump’s Secretary of Defense — we’ll have to wait for the book deal and speaking tour to learn that — but he was ill-equipped to serve a President who arrived at the White House uninterested in being beholden to the ways of the national security bureaucracy, “…the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

Trump entered office without the retinue of advisors that follows most candidates, and the “Never Trump” foreign policy experts who safely protested his candidacy when he was a long shot against Hillary Clinton deprived the administration of experienced hands. Trump’s work style is non-traditional: At the Trump Organization, he dealt directly with the other bosses, like the Mayor of New York or the Chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, so why not the head guys of Turkey or Russia?

Trump built hotels and a casino — the men in that business pride themselves on knowing, to the day, years in advance, when the doors will open to paying customers. To them, “conditions based” is a luxury for people who don’t have to pay back investors, and a semi-annual update of those “conditions” is just a muddle, an exercise in goalpost shifting.

Surveying Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, Trump no doubt feels his executives in charge of the defense, diplomacy, and reconstruction subsidiaries have failed to deliver after two decades and unlimited funding. They’re not ready to go to market, so it’s time to liquidate some assets.

Thus, Mattis was faced with a boss who thinks in terms of schedules and deliverables, and return on investment (ROI), with an added obligation to keep his promises to the voters. Mattis’s instincts should have been at their most acute, but he failed to understand that Trump really was getting the U.S. out of Syria, because as he said of the “moderate” Syrian fighters “we have no idea who these people are.”

Are all flag officers fated for failure when working closely with a President? No, they are not. Many have successfully navigated politics at the highest level.

Fleet Admiral William Leahy served as FDR’s Chief of Staff; General of the Army George C. Marshall served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under President Harry Truman; General Maxwell Taylor served as the Military Representative in the Kennedy White House before becoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft served as the National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. None of these military leaders were yes-men, but they all had one critical skill: they knew how to disagree with the President of the United States and leave him happy they did so.

Mattis spent much of his time telling whoever would listen that he was at the Pentagon to protect it from the Commander-in-Chief, which is pedestrian Washington, D.C. image management, at odds with the selfless, soldier-scholar image he cultivated. Mattis the man is not the Mattis of myth.

Slow-rolling the President’s desires — such as creating the Space Force or banning transgender troops from the military — forced Trump to do what Obama did: make the critical national defense decisions in the West Wing. Not to worry, though: if the Pentagon follows @realDonaldTrump they’ll learn about them soon enough.

Mattis fell victim to the combination of the military compulsion that “the job is never done” and the national security bureaucracy’s reflex to oppose whatever Russia is doing, even if what it is doing will embroil it a quagmire like Syria.

In Syria it wasn’t just a case of a job left undone, but the inevitable mission creep. What started as a mission to defeat ISIS became a mission to expel Iranian influence from Syria, thinking that can only charitably be called hallucinatory, no matter how good those 2,000 troops are. The proponents of this idea, Mattis among them, forgot that Iran wants access to Syria more than we want them to leave and that Tehran will play dirty for as long as it takes, ergo Iran will win.

Trump’s decision to quit Syria will make Russia and Iran responsible for finishing off ISIS, which they will do with more brutal dispatch that the U.S. would have mustered — good for us. We’re off the hook for paying for Syria’s reconstruction, estimated to cost between $250 billion and $400 billion — also good for us. Jockeying by Iran and Russia, neither of whom can afford reconstruction, will cause tension between the “victors” — very good for us.

Turkey has said it will take over the fight against ISIS after the U.S. pullout, which may ease tensions between Washington and Ankara over U.S. support for the Syrian Kurds. The U.S. should ensure that Turkey gets the intelligence and airpower support it needs to not get crossways with Russian and Iranian forces (or maybe to do just that), and to demonstrate to Erdogan that Turkey’s real friend is NATO, and not Russia, China, or Iran.

Mattis did not understand, or did not want to understand, he was a political appointee, and that meant executing the policy of the elected officials. He never discerned that Trump is clearing the decks before the looming contest with China, ridding the U.S. of legacy conflicts like Syria where we won’t win, and Afghanistan where we’ve already lost.

James Durso (@james_durso) is the Managing Director of Corsair LLC, a supply chain consultancy. He was a professional staff member at the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Durso served as a U.S. Navy officer for 20 years and specialized in logistics and security assistance. His overseas military postings were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor with the Coalition Provisional Authority. He served afloat as Supply Officer of the submarine USS SKATE (SSN 578).

Ending secret science at EPA

Ending secret science at EPA 

Administrator Pruitt initiates overdue changes to bring transparency, integrity to rulemaking 

Paul Driessen 

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has proposed to end the longstanding EPA practice of using secretive, often questionable, even deceptive science to support agency policy and regulatory initiatives. His proposed rules will ensure that any science underlying agency actions is transparent and publicly available for independent experts to examine and validate – or point out its flaws.

It also responds to growing concerns that extensive scientific research in environmental, medical and other arenas cannot be replicated by other scientists, or is compromised by cherry-picked data, poor research design, sloppy analysis or biased researchers. The situation has led to calls for increased sharing of data and methodologies, more independent peer review and other actions to weed out problems. There is no excuse for hiding data when studies are funded by taxpayers or used to justify regulations. 

The situation has been especially acute at EPA. As Mr. Pruitt observed, “The ability to test, authenticate and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of the rule making process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.” 

That is particularly true for regulations that exact millions or billions in compliance costs, affect thousands of jobs, target industries and coal-fired electricity generators that regulators want to close down, or seek to replace all fossil fuel use with “renewable” energy. With the cumulative economic impact of federal regulations reaching nearly $2 trillion per year, research reform is absolutely essential. 

We need regulation and pollution control – but it must be based on solid, replicable, honest science.  

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has held hearings and championed multiple bills to address the problem. Several have been passed by the House of Representatives, only to languish in the Senate. With courts offering little or no help, Executive Branch action may be the only remaining solution. 

Deceptive, faulty science on fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) was the bedrock of the Obama EPA’s war on coal. Particulates don’t just make you sick; they are directly related “to dying sooner than you should,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson falsely told Congress. There is no level “at which premature mortality effects do not occur,” Mr. Obama’s next Administrator Gina McCarthy dishonestly testified. 

At the same time they made these claims, they were presiding over illegal experiments on humans – including people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease – who were subjected to eight, 30 or even 60 times more particulates per volume, for up to two hours, than what EPA claimed are dangerous or lethal. None of them got sick, proving that EPA’s claims were false. The agency refused to correct its claims. 

EPA took a similar stance on mercury – asserting that power plant emissions were causing dangerously high mercury levels in American children and pregnant women. In reality, US power plants account for just 0.5% of all the mercury in the air Americans breathe, and blood mercury counts for US women and children are well below even EPA’s excessively safe levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

How did EPA’s junk science, illegal experiments and heavy-handed regulations pass muster? For one thing, politics too often dictated the science. In addition, the agency paid more than $180 million over a 16-year period to institutions represented by members of its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which often rubberstamped studies and conclusions that failed integrity and transparency tests. 

On global warming, EPA issued an Endangerment Finding, which claimed emissions of (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels threatened the health and welfare of American citizens. 

It reached this conclusion by looking only at studies and computer models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, while ignoring volumes of studies by independent scientists who found no such threat. EPA officials even told one of the agency’s own senior experts that his studies would not be shared with agency staff and he was to cease any further work on climate change, because his analyses “do not help the legal or policy case for this decision” that fossil fuel CO2 emissions endanger Americans. 

EPA was also a principal force behind the “social cost of carbon” scheme that supposedly calculated how much CO2-driven climate change would cost the United States and how those costs would be reduced by slashing fossil fuel use. The alleged cost of damages began at an arbitrary $22 per ton of carbon dioxide released in 2010, then climbed to an equally random $30 per ton in 2013 and $40 per ton in 2016. 

Incredibly, EPA modelers also claimed they can accurately forecast global temperatures, climate and weather, technological advances, economic development, living standards – and damages to global civilizations and ecosystems from US carbon dioxide emissions – for the next 300 years! Moreover, in the real world, the benefits of using carbon-based fuels and improving crop, forest and grassland growth via higher atmospheric CO2 levels outweigh hypothesized costs by at least 50-to-1 to as much as 500-to-1. 

Deceptive, politicized, policy-driven “science” like this pervaded EPA regulatory actions for too many years. Reaction to Mr. Pruitt’s corrective actions show how poorly informed his critics can be. 

* The changes will force researchers to reveal personal or confidential information about participants in health studies. No they won’t. Such information is not needed and can easily be redacted. 

* EPA can keep us safe from harmful chemicals only if it takes full advantage of all available scientific research. Public health and safety depend on ensuring that research and data purportedly supporting it are made public and carefully reviewed by multiple experts, to ensure accuracy and integrity. EPA will take full advantage of all available research that passes these tests. Tax-funded studies should all be public! 

* The rules will exclude studies that rely on outside funding sources which limit access to underlying data. Those studies should be excluded. The funders need to revise their policies to ensure integrity.  

* The rules will exclude so much research that they will endanger public health. Not so. The only studies EPA will likely not see is what researchers know will not pass muster, and thus do not submit. The real danger comes from research that is based on shoddy data, algorithms, models and analyses that past researchers have been able to keep secret. That is precisely what the rules will ferret out and correct. 

* Pruitt has removed scientists who receive EPA funding from participating in advisory committees. As noted above, those scientists had received millions of dollars in exchange for supporting EPA analyses, initiatives and regulations. Pruitt wants input from experts whose views can be trusted.

* Pruitt has criticized the peer review process. Too many peer reviews have been conducted by closed circles of associated scientists who rely on government grants and support regulatory decisions to maintain funding. Some refused to share data with experts who might critique their work – or worked to keep contrarian research out of scientific journals. The fact that some journals rarely require access to or review of underlying data further demonstrates why the peer review process also needs to be reformed.  

Too many past EPA policies, policy-driven research and regulations have been employed to force the nation to abandon fossil fuels that still supply 80% of US and global energy – and switch to expensive, intermittent, unreliable wind and solar energy installations that will require unsustainable amounts of land and raw materials, while destroying wildlife habitats and slaughtering birds and bats by the millions.

Those actions also killed numerous jobs and left many communities impoverished. Simply put, the danger to Americans’ health and welfare, livelihoods and living standards is regulations imposed in response to secretive, sloppy, substandard science that has ill-served EPA and the nation. 

Ethics charges against Mr. Pruitt should be evaluated with all this in mind – and while acknowledging that members of Congress who are railing against him never complained about Lisa Jackson or Gina McCarthy’s CASAC payment abuses, illegal experiments on human test subjects, false testimony about particulates, EPA-orchestrated sue-and-settle lawsuits that imposed billions in regulations while enriching environmentalist groups … and junk-science regulations that cost the United States incalculable billions of dollars, brought no environmental benefits, and impaired the welfare of millions of people. 

Pruitt’s reforms are long overdue. Honest politicians, journalists and voters will applaud him and them. Other government agencies should initiate similar science and rulemaking reforms. 

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy. 


New Lawsuit for State Department Unmasking Documents




New Lawsuit for State Department Unmasking Documents
In its final year the Obama administration may have used our nation’s spy apparatus to identify, or “unmask,” members of the Trump campaign and subsequently leaking information about them to the press.
One of the more curious details about this unlawful effort was that Obama’s U.N. ambassador was evidently engaged in unmasking and was doing so at a frenzied pace. We want to know more.
So, we have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State for “unmasking” and other records tied to Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power relating to the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:18-cv-00300)).
Unmasking refers generally to the practice of political appointees obtaining the identities of American citizens referenced in intelligence surveillance of foreign nationals.  
We sued the State Department after it failed to respond to our October 31, 2017, FOIA request seeking information about Power’s unusual unmasking requests, including:
All requests for information submitted to any Intelligence Community member agency by former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power concerning, regarding, or relating to the following:  

  • Any actual or suspected effort by the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government to influence or otherwise interfere with the 2016 presidential election.  
    • The alleged hacking of computer systems utilized by the Democratic National Committee and/or the Clinton presidential campaign. 
    • Any actual or suspected communication between any member of the Trump presidential campaign or transition team and any official or employee of the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government. 
    • The identities of U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities.  

On September 20, 2017, Fox News reported that Power unmasked over 260 persons in her last year as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an attempt to uncover associates of President Trump. She “was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016,” even seeking “information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration.”
On October 13, 2017, Power testified behind closed doors about this matter to the House Intelligence Committee. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, who also sits on the Intelligence Committee, stated that, “Her testimony is they [the unmasking requests] may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.”
Unmasking and then illegally leaking the names of Trump team members caught up in foreign intelligence gathering would have been an incredible, but unsurprising abuse by the Obama administration. Was the Clinton-DNC dossier also used as justification to abuse intelligence data and “unmask” American citizens to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Donald Trump? And why is the Tillerson State Department stonewalling our FOIA investigation into this potentially illegal conduct by its agency employees?
Separately, in a response to a FOIA request, we were told by the National Security Council (NSC) in May 2017 that the materials regarding the unmasking by Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice of “the identities of any U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team” have been removed to the Obama Library. 
We filed a separate FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Security Agency (NSA) for information about Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s communications with the two agencies concerning the alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, the hacking of DNC computers, the suspected communications between Russia and Trump campaign/transition officials, and  the unmasking of the identities of any U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice and National Security Administration (No. 1:17-cv-01002)).
Remember, if they can do it to Donald Trump and other political opponents, they can do it to you. This is why Judicial Watch is battling in court for answers now….
VA Secretary Was Misled by Staff about Veteran Prosecuted for Posting Flag
You’ve followed our coverage of the elderly veteran prosecuted for allegedly posting small American flags outside a veterans’ facility in California. This story just gets stranger the more we learn about it. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the details:

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs was misled by his inner circle about a case involving an elderly Army veteran criminally prosecuted for displaying the American Flag at a southern California VA facility, documents obtained by Judicial Watch show. After seeing a news report about the preposterous case, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin asked his chief of staff, Vivieca Wright, to check if the story was correct, the documents show. In an electronic mail to his chief of staff, Shulkin writes that if the story is accurate “we should not be pressing charges and we should do a release saying so.” Shulkin adds: “I understand that media reports do not always tell the real story.”


Incredibly, the story is real. Robert Rosebrock was federally charged for supposedly hanging a four-by-six-inch American Flag on the outside fence of a VA facility in West Los Angeles on Memorial Day in 2016. The fence is part of the “Great Lawn Gate” and marks the entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park. The public facility is part of a larger, 388-acre parcel that includes the Veterans Home of West Los Angeles. Since 2008, Rosebrock and a group of fellow veterans have assembled at the gate weekly and on Memorial Day to protest the VA’s failure to make full use of the property to benefit veterans, particularly those who are homeless.


Judicial Watch helped represent Rosebrock, who faced up to six months in jail for the ghastly offense of reportedly affixing Old Glory at a site honoring those who served their country. He was also charged with taking unauthorized photographs of both the Flag and VA police, but a judge ruledin mid-April that the charges violated the First Amendment. The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has appealed the dismissal of the two charges, however.


Rosebrock went to trial for the flag charges and on April 18, 2017, a California U.S. District Court ruled that he was not guilty of violating federal law for displaying the two small flags. If found guilty, he would have faced up to six months in prison. More than a month before the trial, VA Secretary Shulkin’s inner circle circulated numerous falsehoods about the case, including that Rosebrock made the choice to go to court rather than pay a fine and that he faced no jail time. Gathering information for their boss, the VA officials also asserted it was “too late” to intervene in the Rosebrock case and that it was “out of our hands” because the case was old even though the trial was weeks away.


VA Deputy Undersecretary Steve Young is included in the email exchanges, which are dated March 4 and 5, 2017. In one email, Marie Weldon, director of the VA’s western healthcare network, tells Young that Rosebrock “was issued a citation from the VA Police and if he chose not to pay the fine then he elects to take it to court which is where it is now.” This is incorrect. Rosebrock had no choice to go to court because the feds were prosecuting him. Weldon adds that Rosebrock has a history of hanging even full-size flags upside down on the fence of VA property. “This was not a first offense and Rosebrock was aware of his consequences,” Weldon, who oversees the healthcare system for 1.2 million veterans, writes to Young.


In another email addressed to Weldon, Wright and Young, the director of the West L.A. VA, Ann Brown, writes: “Forgot to add—he is facing a $25 fine with NO jail time.” Less than 20 minutes later, Wright, the VA Secretary’s chief of staff, forwards the erroneous information to a redacted email address that appears to be her boss’s. Large chunks of type are redacted under federal exemptions throughout the documents, which were provided to Judicial Watch in response to a request for records about Rosebrock. A largely redacted email from Brown to Weldon, Wright and Young discloses that she “met with DOJ about 9 months ago to resolve this and we’re told…” The rest is redacted under exemptions that allow agencies to withhold deliberative process material and protect privacy. It’s unclear how much of the information made it back to Secretary Shulkin. The fact remains however, that high-level VA officials responsible for gathering facts about a case for the agency’s secretary instead circulated serious falsehoods.

Much Needed New Scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation
Will there ever be a serious investigation and prosecution of the Clinton cash machine? Maybe. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has an important update in his latest Investigative Bulletin:

Rumors have been floating up from Little Rock for months now of a new investigation into the Clinton Foundation. John Solomon advanced the story recently in a January report for The Hill. FBI agents in the Arkansas capital, he wrote, “have taken the lead” in a new Justice Department inquiry “into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.” Solomon reports that the probe “may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the foundation complied with applicable tax laws.”


Main Justice also is “re-examining whether there are any unresolved issues from the closed case into Clinton’s transmission of classified information through her personal email server,” Solomon notes.


Solomon is not alone. The Wall Street Journal is tracking the story. And earlier this month, investigative journalist Peter Schweizer cryptically told SiriusXM radio that federal authorities should “convene a grand jury” in Little Rock “and let the American people look at the evidence” about the Clinton Foundation.


Judicial Watch continues to turn up new evidence of Clinton pay-to-play and mishandling of classified information. In recent months, through FOIA litigation, Judicial Watch has forced the release of more than 2,600 emails and documents from Mrs. Clinton and her associates, with more to come. The emails include evidence of Clinton Foundation donors such XL Keystone lobbyist Gordon Griffin, futures brokerage firm CME Group chairman Terrence Duffy, and an associate of Shangri La Entertainment mogul Steve Bing seeking special favors from the State Department. Read more about Judicial Watch’s pay-to-play disclosures here.


Judicial Watch also revealed many previously unreported incidents of mishandling of classified information. Mrs. Clinton and her former State Department deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, sent and received classified information through unsecure channels. The emails and documents involved sensitive information about President Obama, the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Mexico, Burma, India, intelligence-related operations and world leaders. For documents and details from Judicial Watch on the mishandling of classified information, see here, here, hereand here.


Smelling a rat in Arkansas when it comes to the Clintons of course is nothing new, and the former First Couple are masters of the gray areas around pay-to-play. But mishandling of classified information is a serious matter. And the tax angle is intriguing, even if you’re not Al Capone. The tenacious financial expert Charles Ortel, who has been digging deep into Clinton finances for years, told us back in 2015 that there are “epic problems” with the entire Clinton Foundation edifice, which traces its origins back to Arkansas. He noted that independent accounting firms may have been “duped by false and materially misleading representations” made by Clinton charitable entities. Down in Arkansas, law enforcement may be finally catching up with Ortel’s insights.

Until next week …

President Tom Fitton


David Horowitz Freedom Center

The memo’s been released…  

…and the shocking information we’ve learned in the past 24 hours shows the worst treason in living memory – perhaps ever – in the history of our Republic.  

We now know with certainty that there’s a “state within a state” functioning inside our government with one destructive goal:  to take down the Trump administration. 

Disturbing doesn’t begin to cover it.  

So I hope you’ll scroll down to read Daniel Greenfield’s FrontPage Magazine article explaining the impact of the Left’s efforts to destroy the Trump presidency. 

David Horowitz 

David Horowitz

The memo has been released, now it’s time to release everything.

February 2, 2018 
Daniel Greenfield 

The Democrats and the media spent a week lying to the American people about the “memo.”  

The memo was full of “classified information” and releasing” it would expose “our spying methods.” By “our,” they didn’t mean American spying methods. They meant Obama’s spying methods. 

A former White House Ethics Lawyer claimed that the Nunes memo would undermine “national security.” On MSNBC, Senator Chris Van Hollen threatened that if the memo is released, the FBI and DOJ “will refuse to share information with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.” 

Senator Cory Booker howled that releasing the memo was “treasonous” and might be “revealing sources and methods” and even “endangering fellow Americans in the intelligence community.” 

The memo isn’t treasonous. It reveals a treasonous effort by the Democrats to use our intelligence agencies to rig an election and overturn the will of the voters. 

The only two “sources” 18 are Christopher Steele, who was funded by the Clinton campaign, and a Yahoo News article, that were used to obtain a FISA warrant against a Trump associate. That Yahoo story came from Michael Isikoff, the reporter who knew about Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky but suppressed it. It was based on more leaks from Steele which the FBI and DOJ chose to ignore. Steele’s identity was already well known. The only new source revealed is Yahoo News. 

No vital intelligence sources were compromised at Yahoo News. And no Yahoo News agents were killed. 

The media spent a week lying to Americans about the dangers of the memo because it didn’t want them to find out what was inside. Today, the media and Dems switched from claiming that the memo was full of “classified information” that might get CIA agents killed to insisting that it was a dud and didn’t matter. Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive. 

On Thursday, the narrative was that the memo would devastate our national security and no one should ever be allowed to read it. By Friday, the new narrative was that the memo tells us nothing important and we shouldn’t even bother reading it. The lies change, but suppressing the memo remains the goal. 

Rep. Nadler, infamous for securing pardons for Weather Underground bombers, got caught between narratives when he insisted that the memo was “overhyped,” but suggested that it “endangers national security.” “I don’t think anybody will be terribly shocked by what’s in the memo,” he told CNN.  

And requested an emergency meeting of the House Judiciary Committee – a body he will head if Democrats win the mid-term elections.  

Calling emergency meetings is not the response to an “overhyped” and non-shocking memo. 

There is no legitimately classified information in the Nunes memo. But it does endanger a number of “Americans” in the “intelligence community” who colluded with the Clinton campaign against America.  

It endangers former FBI Director Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the current FBI General Counsel Dana Boente who had previously served as the Acting Attorney General. These men and women had allegedly signed FISA applications that were at best misleading and at worst badly tainted. 

The Clinton campaign had enlisted figures in the FBI and the DOJ to manipulate an election. The coup against America operated as a “state within a state” inside the United States government.  

“The political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials,” the memo informs us. But they did not reveal on the FISA application that their core evidence came from the Clinton campaign. Sources were certainly being protected. But they were Clinton sources. 

The memo reveals that without the Steele dossier there would have been no eavesdropping on Carter Page, the Trump associate targeted in this particular case. “Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.” But the FISA application neglected to mention that its primary source had been paid by the Clinton campaign, was unverified and would continue to be unverified. 

FBI Director Comey testified that he had told President Trump that the dossier was “unverified.” Yet the “unverified” piece of opposition research was used as the basis for a FISA application. 

As Rep. Jim Jordan noted, “FBI takes ‘salacious and unverified’ dossier to secret court to get secret warrant to spy on a fellow American, and FBI doesn’t tell the court that the DNC/Clinton campaign paid for that dossier. And they did that FOUR times.” 

“There’s been no evidence of a corrupt evidence to obtain warrants against people in the Trump campaign,” Rep. Adam Schiff insisted. That’s why he tried to block the release of the evidence. 

The evidence was unverified opposition research. Its source had been paid by the Clinton campaign. Not only had Steele been indirectly working for the Clinton campaign (when he wasn’t being paid by the FBI), but he made no secret of his own political agenda to stop Trump. 

“In September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” the memo informs us. 

That’s former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr whose wife was being paid by an organization hired by the Clinton campaign to investigate Trump. Ohr then passed along his wife’s opposition research to the FBI. The evidence couldn’t be any more corrupt than that. 

Steele was passionate about Trump “not being president.” So were his handlers who ignored his leaks to the media until he “was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations-an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI.” His previous meetings, including the one that allegedly generated the Yahoo News article, were ignored. 

Tainted investigations are nothing new. Law enforcement is as fallible as any other profession. But the memo reveals a snapshot of just how many top figures colluded in this corrupted and tainted effort. 

What drove them to violate professional ethical norms and legal requirements in the FISA applications? 

Top DOJ and FBI officials shared Steele’s “passion,” and that of his ultimate employer, Hillary Clinton, to stop Donald Trump at all costs. And they’re still trying to use the Mueller investigation to overturn the election results in a government coup that makes Watergate look like a children’s tea party, 

Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is already under investigation. He’s suspected of trying to sit on the Wiener emailsuntil the election was over. This alleged failed cover-up triggered the Comey letter which hurt Hillary worse than a timely revelation would have. McCabe’s wife had financial links to the Clintons.  

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was an Obama holdover who had foolishly tried to use the DOJ to go to war with President Trump. Both Yates and Dana Boente were Obama and Holder choices. During the groundless prosecution of the former Republican governor of Virginia, Boente had declared, “No one is above the law.” We’ll see if that’s true with everyone who signed the FISA applications. 

If Boente signed false or misleading FISA applications, he should be removed as FBI General Counsel. 

The memo is only the first crack in the wall. But it’s grounds for an investigation that will expose the abuses that led to eavesdropping on Trump officials. And the motives of those who perpetuated them.  

A Washington Post piece suggested that just releasing the memo alone would allow Mueller to charge President Trump with “obstruction of justice.” That’s how badly they want to get Trump. 

A clear and simple fact emerges from the memo. 

Top figures in the DOJ and the FBI, some loyal to Obama and Hillary, abused the FISA process in the hopes of influencing or reversing the results of an election by targeting their political opponents. The tool that they used for the job came from the Clinton campaign. Using America’s intelligence services to destroy and defeat a political opponent running for president is the worst possible abuse of power and an unprecedented threat to a democratic system of free open elections.  

We have been treated to frequent lectures about the independence of the DOJ and the FBI. But our country isn’t based around government institutions that are independent of oversight by elected officials. When unelected officials have more power than elected officials, that’s tyranny.  

A Justice Department that acts as the Praetorian Guard for a political campaign is committing a coup and engaging in treason. The complex ways that the Steele dossier was laundered from the Clinton campaign to a FISA application is evidence of a conspiracy by both the DOJ and the Clinton campaign.  

It’s time for us to learn about all the FISA abuses, the list of NSA unmasking requests of Trump officials by Obama officials and the eavesdropping on members of Congress. We deserve to know the truth. 

The memo has been released. Now it’s time to release everything.  

Global Conflicts….Can We Keep Tabs On It All?


Global Conflicts: Can We Keep Tabs On It All? – Jewish Policy Center 1/31/18, 1:30 PM

J. Michael Waller • Winter 2018

With global conflicts stretching the United States toward the breaking point, many feared that the world’s only superpower in 2017 was headed over a cliff.

Flailing policies in Afghanistan stole hard-fought American military gains and had made the Taliban enemy a player again. Things became even worse in Iraq, with ISIS jihadists forming their own caliphate in the north and into Syria, and the Islamic Republic of Iran conquering much of the rest of Iraq, including co-opting the U.S.-installed government in Baghdad. Iran not only built ballistic missiles and probably an atomic bomb, but received pallets of cash from Washington in the process – and now, as we are learning, a free pass for Hezbollah as part of the deal. North Korea proved its capacity with successful ballistic missile launches and underground nuclear tests.

Communist China built militarized reefs in international waters, hacked into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management records and stole the most personal details of every American who had applied for a security clearance, and embarked on an aggressive strategic nuclear weapons upgrade. Vladimir Putin’s Russia unveiled a new generation of strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems without a peep of protest from Washington, indirectly had paid the husband and family foundation of a sitting secretary of state, shot down a Malaysian jetliner during its invasion and annexation of parts of Ukraine, and openly threatened NATO allies with subversion and destruction.



Chinese espionage and influence operations are so vast that nobody in the U.S. can seem to keep track. Russia’s aggressive intelligence collection and operations against the United States exceeded Cold War levels. Trans-national crime cartels, narcotics smuggling, human trafficking, child warriors, weapons proliferation, and other nightmares suddenly made Honduras and Peru, Uganda and Chad, Pacific Island microstates and other backwaters compelling national interests as illegal immigrants by the millions flooded the United States with impunity.

The Pentagon’s 388-page Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms didn’t even have a definition for “victory.”

Without defining victory, the United States operated almost 800 military facilities in 70 countries and territories in 2015. They ranged from giant bases like Okinawa to small “lily pads” in Burkina Faso, according to a study by American University Professor David Vine. The annual cost is estimated at between $245 and $300 billion. One of those bases, Al Udeid, Qatar, is a vital hub for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which leads most of the fight against the very terrorists that the Qatar regime is indoctrinating and funding.

Russian, Chinese, and other unfriendly interests infiltrated the leadership and bureaucracies of the great multilateral organizations created and mostly funded by the United States and its closest allies, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, both based just blocks from the White House.

This was the background to outsider Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency. Trump arrived at the White House doubly handicapped: He had trouble building a cohesive national security team and remained dogged by allegations that he or members of his inner circle had “colluded” with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election, along with some KGB hacking of electronic voting records.

The allegations seemed serious, considering the source: leaks and later public statements from senior officials in the FBI, CIA, and Director of National Intelligence. The Trump team did a poor job addressing those allegations. It offered no guiding philosophy or strategy other than to “make America great again.”

In inheriting the mess left by his predecessor, president Trump offered little concrete assurance that he would really fix things.

To this day, dozens of senior presidential posts remain unfilled in the State Department, Justice Department, and Pentagon. Trump’s first team under National Security Adviser Michael Flynn blew apart before it could assemble, with a decidedly establishmentarian figure, active duty Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, firing most of the Trump loyalists and building a team of Obama holdovers. The strong personality of Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine four-star general, provided a steady hand that favored Clinton-Obama defense experts anathema to Trump. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appointed few to carry out his bureaucratic reform objectives, relying heavily on the professional (and very ideological) foreign service and a dumpsterful of Obama loyalists.

For those in the national security and diplomatic fields – even many of his sympathizers and supporters – Trump seemed an unlikely person to come up with a coherent and workable strategy for American world leadership.

Then, days before Congress passed his promised tax reform, Trump released his first annual National Security Strategy. Brash Trumpian rhetoric that espoused vague notions of American greatness coalesced December 18, 2017 into a thoughtful, purposeful roadmap. An “America First” strategy suddenly didn’t seem so extreme, even though it was unabashedly Trumpian.


Business Experience and Personal Leadership

Trump either didn’t bother, or more likely was not prepared, to reorganize his government and appoint MAGA people to senior posts before he grew his presidential worldview. He used the theatrical power of his strong personality as a blunt instrument, yet did so with surgical precision. It was almost as if he didn’t need his (overwhelmingly unsupportive) diplomats to nuance his statements with the wishy-washy “what the president meant to say was”-type comments.

The president had hybridized the bully pulpit. He merged fellow populist Theodore Roosevelt’s style, when “bully” meant “beautiful” or “wonderful” – two of Trump’s favorite adjectives – with the modern sense of using intimidation or psychological force.

The foreign policy establishment hated it. But key players around the world loved his personal power and rhetoric, and strong sense of purpose. Instead of rallying his own diplomats, message-shapers, and others, Trump empowered foreign leaders who shared his interests to do the work on their own.

He showed the same trait in empowering U.S. military commanders waging the war against ISIS. The president delegated authority to the commanders themselves, with a simple order: Destroy the enemy.

This sense of empowering underlings, plus allies, coalition partners, and other sovereign powers that shared specific interests with America, became a core of Trump’s national security strategy. It was as if he had borrowed from his come-from-behind presidential campaign in a crowded field and used his simple and personal forcefulness to throw his opponents off-track and empower those with shared interest. He let his own personality generate tens of millions of dollars of free media to keep his costs down and let others carry his message.

It was as if he already had the key to regaining America’s dominance around the world for pennies on the dollar.

Trump’s strategic worldview coalesced in two major speeches: his “drive them out” address in Riyadh last May; and his “defense of Western civilization” speech last July in Warsaw. In each speech, Trump singularly exercised brash but carefully calibrated leadership. He alienated friends, nominal friends, and allies on purpose in order to force them to deal on his terms, while empowering the people and countries he wanted to empower.

Standing in the Saudi capital before assembled world Muslim leaders, Trump ripped into individuals, governments, and regimes that directly or indirectly supported Islamist political indoctrination, subversion, and violence. He told Muslim leaders again and again to identify the Islamists and “drive them out.” That speech, and substantial behind-the-scenes politicking, sparked a remarkable transformation.

Suddenly, some of the worst challenges the U.S. faced in attacking jihadist ideology started to recede. The Wahhabi regime of Saudi Arabia took the lead in driving jihadist ideologues out of mosques, schools, political and administrative positions, and more. Allied with other Gulf states, the Saudis began a common purge, quickly isolating and squeezing the only Arab holdout – the rival Wahhabi regime of Qatar – which continued to support the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamists and jihadist terrorists of various stripes, and the Islamist Erdogan regime in Turkey and the Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ultimately, the Saudi response to Trump’s December announcement that the U.S. would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was muted. Ditto for Egypt, Kuwait, and the UAE. The embassy move to Jerusalem, taboo for decades, for fear of alienating important Arab countries, wasn’t such a big deal after all. This effort was,


no doubt, worked behind the scenes by adept diplomacy among the U.S., Israel, and Arab countries, but the expenditures were minimal and with great effect.

Trump’s Warsaw speech supported the efforts of Poland and a few other Central European countries to save their civilizations from foreign refugee invasions that would retard their demographics and ruin their national identities. No longer were Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic isolated under German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s satisfied thumb. Trump supported their courage more strongly than he endorsed Britain’s exit from the European Union. And he didn’t shrink from his critics. Indeed, he seemed to derive more energy from their opposition.

This was leadership. Many found it shocking, and branded the president a reckless rogue. Donald Trump, a new president who had never governed beyond his family business, virtually isolated from Congress and the federal bureaucracy and with an administration in disarray, was guiding the United States through countless crises and challenges that had seemed to be without end.

Empowerment and Leverage

Trump spelled out much of his approach in his national security strategy. He had a simple formula. He made a vision statement, based on American founding principles and placing the well-being of all American citizens first. He explained his approach or business model. He prioritized. He delegated. He expected others to share responsibility. He challenged and empowered others. He offered respect to all, rallying competition but demanding fair play. He would tolerate no nonsense. He set out a new kind of American leadership in the world. He wasn’t going to try to save every failed state. Countries that can’t or won’t lift themselves up with some help, he explained, would be left to fail. Or the private sector could do the work without burdening the American taxpayer.

Decentralization is one of the keys. Washington cannot – and will not – try to manage everything any more. Successive interventionist administrations, Democrat and Republican, had tried to lead the world through management, Trump reasoned. They became so complacent leading the world’s only superpower that they stopped seeing the subversive and military threats around them until too late. Then they would jump into a conflict or war for lack of foresight and integration of all elements of statecraft. Again and again and again. With no plan for victory.

Citing the American founders, Trump noted in his strategy that every human being has a God-given right to be a sovereign individual. Every person has a role to play if they wish. Governments answer to the people, not vice-versa. Nations, too, are sovereign. In Trump’s words, “peace, security, and prosperity depend on strong, sovereign nations that respect their citizens at home and cooperate to advance peace abroad.” There’s a mutuality, a reciprocity here, just as in business, but also a sense of fair play. Governments had to earn their place by how they respected their citizens and cooperated with the rest of the world.

This is not globalism. And it certainly is not isolationism.

Allies, in Trump’s view, don’t need to be a burden. They should be assets. “Allies and partners magnify our power,” the National Security Strategy says. “We expect them to shoulder a fair share of the burden of responsibility to protect against common threats.” Alliances and partnerships will be voluntary and mutually reinforcing: “We are not going to impose our values on others. Our alliances, partnerships, and coalitions are built on free will and shared interests. When the United States partners with other states, we develop policies that enable us to achieve our goals while our partners achieve theirs.”

This is businesslike statecraft. This is an economizing approach. It requires fewer diplomats, bureaucrats,


lawyers, troops, and tax dollars. It allows the United States to look after its interests by empowering and expecting others to do the same, and working with those who share our own interests.

Defeat and Destroy

To President Trump, winning is mandatory. It is not a matter of military power. It is a matter of mindset. His strategy repeatedly states that the United States and its allies and partners should “defeat” all enemies and “destroy” jihadist terrorists and ideologues. America’s diplomats must become less complacent and more outgoing: “We must upgrade our diplomatic capabilities to compete in the current environment and to embrace a competitive mindset.” As part of what he called “information statecraft,” Trump said “We will improve our understanding of how adversaries gain informational and psychological advantages across all policies. The United States must empower a true public diplomacy capability to compete effectively in this arena.”

“We need our allies to do the same,” Trump said, about modernizing and improving, “and affirm the political will to win.”

Asymmetric vision

As laid out in the National Security Strategy, Trump understands asymmetric warfare better than previous American presidents. According to his strategic vision, the nation’s adversaries are strong because they study our institutions, processes, philosophy, and actions, to look for our weak points. Here is some of what he said:

• “Adversaries target sources of American strength, including our democratic system and our economy.”

• “Adversaries studied the American way of war and began investing in capabilities that targeted our strengths and sought to exploit perceived weaknesses.”

• “Russia aims to weaken U.S. influence in the world and divide us from our allies and partners.”

• “Through modernized forms of subversive tactics, Russia interferes in the domestic political affairs of countries around the world.”

• These approaches “enable adversaries to attempt strategic attacks against the United States – without resorting to nuclear weapons – in ways that could cripple our economy and our ability to deploy our military forces.”

• America’s “adversaries and competitors become adept at operating below the threshold of open military conflict and at the edges of international law. Repressive, closed states and organizations, although brittle in many ways, are often more agile and faster at integrating economic, military, and especially informational means to achieve their goals.”

• “Repressive leaders often collaborate to subvert free societies and corrupt multilateral organizations.” • “They employ sophisticated political, economic, and military campaigns that combine discrete actions.”

• “They are patient and content to accrue strategic gains over time – making it harder for the United States and our allies to respond.”


• “Such actions are calculated to achieve maximum effect without provoking a direct military response from the United States. And as these incremental gains are realized, over time, a new status quo emerges.”

• “The United States must prepare for this type of competition. China, Russia, and other state and non-state actors recognize that the United States often views the world in binary terms, with states being either ‘at peace’ or ‘at war,’ when it is actually an arena of continuous competition. Our adversaries will not fight us on these terms. We will raise our competitive game to meet that challenge, to protect American interests, and to advance our values.”

He didn’t say it plainly in his strategy, but Trump shows that he views world politics as constant political and psychological warfare. That type of conflict is cost-effective and can keep competition below the military tripwire. However, the best political and psychological warfare is backed with the threat of overwhelming destruction. In the words of the National Security Strategy, “We must convince adversaries that we can and will defeat them – not just punish them if they attack the United States.”

This is a real integrated approach to American national interests. American leaders should do what is best for the nation and the people. Not for other nations and people. That criterion alone slashes the U.S. global presence, while maximizing the economic benefit for American workers, businessmen, and investors. America finds allies and partners valuable, but only those with shared goals, a shared material burden, and the will to win. That cuts the burden even further.

Weak and emerging friends and partners who accept American help must earn their own place in the value chain so they can be sovereign and self-sufficient, or at least mutually beneficial to the United States, thus slashing the American burden even more. Those who will not implement sensible policies to prosper must fall by the wayside and accept charity from others. Re-vamping intelligence collection and analytical capabilities for long-term strategic purposes to anticipate events, cuts expenses by reducing the need for costly reactive policies. The same is true for those who would harm us.

Just when it seemed as if American global power was falling off the precipice, a brash and novice president found a way to prioritize national interests and economize the instruments of statecraft. Much of Donald Trump’s strategy recognizes and accepts the status quo. What’s revolutionary is his vision to regain American supremacy, build alliances, and defeat adversaries without bankrupting the country. If he starts appointing people fit for the job who share his views, he can make America great again.

J. Michael Waller, Ph.D., is Vice President for Government Affairs at the Center for Security Policy, and a founding editorial board member of Defence Strategic Communications, the scholarly journal of NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. Page 6 of 6

Cut Spending- give Savings to Defense

America’s Alarmingly Archaic Arsenal – WSJ 1/4/18, 10:09 AM

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America’s Alarmingly Archaic Arsenal

The U.S. nuclear deterrent has kept the peace for years. If it withers, it will keep the peace no longer.


Jan. 3, 2018 7:04 p.m. ET

The Trump administration’s recently unveiled National Security Strategy is an excellent and overdue statement of intent. But unless it is ruthlessly prioritized, political and budgetary realities will make it little more than a wish list. And in regard to nuclear weapons, it hardly departs from the insufficient Obama -era policy of replacing old equipment rather than modifying each element of the nuclear triad to meet new challenges.

National survival depends on many factors: the economy, civil peace, constitutional fidelity, education, research, and military strength across the board. Each has a different timeline and resiliency. Nuclear forces, on the other hand, may have a catastrophically short timeline combined with by far the greatest immediate effect.

Alone of all crucial elements, the failure of America’s nuclear deterrent is capable of bringing instant destruction or unavoidable subjugation, as the deterrent’s unarrested decline will lead to either the opportunity for an enemy first strike or the surrender of the U.S. on every foreign front and eventually at home.

Believers in total nuclear abolition fail to recognize that if they are successful, covert possession of just a score of warheads could mean world mastery. And though they, like everyone else, are routinely deterred (from telling off the boss or driving against the flow of traffic), they fail to extend their understanding to nuclear deterrence. They seem as well not to grasp that whereas numerical reduction from tens of thousands of warheads would reduce the chances of accident, below a certain point it would tempt an aggressor by elevating the potential of a successful first strike. Nor do they allow that Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran—which have through their conduct of war and in suppressing their populations callously sacrificed more than 100 million of their own people—subscribe to permissive nuclear doctrines and thresholds radically different from our own.

The Obama administration understood nuclear rejuvenation to mean merely updating old systems rather than changing the architecture of the deterrent to match Russia’s and China’s programs, as well as advances in technology. Given that short of abject surrender the sole means of preventing nuclear war is maintaining the potential to inflict unacceptable damage upon an enemy and/or shield one’s country from such damage, what are our resources, and against what are they arrayed?

The “nuclear triad” commonly referred to is rather a pentad, its land, air, and sea legs joined by missile defense and the survivability of national infrastructure. America’s land leg comprises static, silo-based missiles, which (other than in the potentially catastrophic launch-on-warning posture) are vulnerable not only to nuclear strike, but, with soon-to-come millimeter accuracy, even to conventional warheads. Russia, China, and North Korea have road-mobile missiles (and Russia, additional rail-based ones), making their land legs more survivable and in the case of tunnel systems—of which we have none and China has 3,000 miles—unaddressable and uncountable.

The U.S. air leg consists of ancient bombers and outdated standoff cruise missiles, both vulnerable to Russian and Chinese air defense, along with only 20 penetrating bombers, the B-2. To boot, the planes are concentrated on only a handful of insufficiently hardened bases.

Our sea-based nuclear force, the least-vulnerable leg, for many years included 41 ballistic-missile submarines, SSBNs. These dwindled to 18, then 14, and, with the new Columbia class set to enter service beginning only in 2031, a planned 12. A maximum of six at sea at any one time will face 100 Russian and Chinese hunter-killer subs. At the same time, the oceans are surrendering their opacity to space surveillance and Russian nonacoustic tracking. Even a deeply running sub disturbs the chemical and sea-life balance in ways that via upwelling leave a track upon the surface.

Russia is moving to 13 SSBNs with high-capacity missiles that carry many maneuverable warheads; China, with 4 SSBNs, is only beginning to build. A possible new dimension is Russia’s announced, but as yet unseen, autonomous stealth undersea nuclear vehicle, capable of targeting the high percentage of U.S. population, industry, and infrastructure on the coasts.


We have no such weapon and Russia presents no similar vulnerability.

American ballistic-missile defense is severely underdeveloped due to ideological opposition and the misunderstanding of its purpose, which is to protect population and infrastructure as much as possible but, because many warheads will get through, primarily to shield retaliatory capacity so as to make a successful enemy first strike impossible—thus increasing stability rather than decreasing it, as its critics wrongly believe. Starved of money and innovation, missile defense has been confined to midcourse interception, when boost-phase and terminal intercept are also needed. Merely intending this without sufficient funding is useless. As for national resilience, the U.S. long ago gave up any form of civil defense, while Russia and China have not. This reinforces their ideas of nuclear utility, weakens our deterrence, and makes the nuclear calculus that much more unstable.

Beyond these particulars are the erosion of the American nuclear-weapons complex and the larger defense-industrial base; the dangerous mismatch of nuclear doctrines and perceptions; the sulfurous fuse of North Korea and Iran; Russian “tactical” nuclear weapons that outnumber U.S. counterparts 10 to 1; Russian programs suggesting that it is working toward the capacity for nuclear “breakout”; 2,600 currently deployed Russian strategic warheads as opposed to America’s 1,590; and consistent and brazen Russian treaty violations.

The addition of China as a major nuclear power now presents an analogy to the three-body problem in physics, in which three variables acting upon one another create an unpredictable and unstable system. That is but one reason why China must either be brought into an arms-control regime with the U.S. and Russia or forced by its refusal to show its hand for all the world to see. It is inexplicable that the U.S. government and arms-control enthusiasts have both failed to address the fact that China, the third major nuclear power, is totally unconstrained.

All the above is only a précis of a long-developing peril that, though difficult to see upon the surface, day by day strengthens the chances of Armageddon or capitulation. The only way to face it is objectively and without fear, and the only solution (requiring just a tiny fraction of gross domestic product) is to correct the shortcomings and right the balances.

America’s powerful deterrent has kept the nuclear peace all these years. If it withers, it will keep the peace no longer. The nuclear problem has no adequate superlatives. As great as all other concerns may be, they must yield to it. For the force to be confronted is the breaker of nations and the destroyer of worlds.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, is author of “Paris in the Present Tense” (Overlook, 2017).

Appeared in the January 4, 2018, print edition. Page 3 of 4

America’s Alarmingly Archaic Arsenal – WSJ 1/4/18, 10:09 AM

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The dangerous world of Donald Trump





 My column on the Trump National Security Strategy



From: Cliff May <>

Subject: FYI: My column on the Trump National Security Strategy

Date: December 27, 2017 at 10:25:17 AM EST

The dangerous world of Donald Trump

The president and his national security team address a “wide range” of national security threats


By Clifford D. May



A National Security Strategy is less a plan of action than an attempt to prioritize. Who, in the president’s judgment, most threatens America? What means do we have and what capabilities must we develop to defend the homeland and protect our freedoms? 

President Obama issued his last NSS in 2015. It struck me then as an odd document and, in retrospect, it seems odder still. Regarding the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, it offered such boilerplate as: “Our commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is rooted in the profound risks posed by North Korean weapons development and proliferation.” In the end, of course, Mr. Obama did nothing as the threat metastasized. North Korea may now have as many as 60 nuclear weapons.

The 2015 NSS also asserted: “We have made clear Iran must meet its international obligations and demonstrate its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei no doubt found that amusing.

Though well into his second term, Mr. Obama couldn’t resist the temptation to criticize his predecessor: “We must always resist the over-reach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear. Moreover, we must recognize that a smart national security strategy does not rely solely on military power.” There also were such platitudes as: “A strong consensus endures across our political spectrum that the question is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead into the future.” 

Last week, President Trump delivered his National Security Strategy,” an attempt to “rethink the policies of the past two decades—policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.”

It begins to address “an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats that have intensified in recent years.” The phrase used to capsulize the new approach is “principled realism,” which is to be guided “by outcomes, not ideology.”

In my judgment, it’s a coherent, clear-eyed, and comprehensive document, one that falls well within the conservative tradition, recognizing the importance of maintaining an American-led liberal capitalist world order. 

Yes, America’s national interest comes first but that does not preclude a global perspective as some feared based on the use of “America First,” a phrase harkening back to the isolationists of the late 1930s. The Trump NSS declares: “A strong America is in the vital interests of not only the American people, but also those around the world who want to partner with the United States in pursuit of shared interests, values, and aspirations.”

America’s sovereignty is not to be surrendered – not to the U.N. or other transnational organizations dominated by despotic regimes. “America’s values” – not “universal values,” because, truthfully, there’s no such thing – should be regarded as forces that “make the world more free, secure, and prosperous.”

Comforting as it might be to think we live in a global village, in reality we are surrounded by an encroaching global jungle where only the fittest survive. Our goal, therefore, must be to strengthen America, economically and militarily; to “overmatch” any adversary or combination of adversaries, “to ensure that America’s sons and daughters will never be in a fair fight.”

Military power and diplomacy are not in conflict but rather mutually reinforcing: “Overmatch strengthens our diplomacy and permits us to shape the international environment to protect our interests.”

Adversaries are not friends whose legitimate grievances we’ve failed to address. They need to be persuaded that “they cannot accomplish objectives through the use of force or other forms of aggression.” That requires substantial financial investments which, in turn, requires increased “economic prosperity” which should be seen “as a pillar of national security.”

A dynamic economy also provides us with more effective economic weapons. That, too, gives diplomats a better hand to play and, sometimes, may allow us to prevail without resorting to kinetic means.

President Trump’s NSS identifies North Korean and Iran as “rogue regimes.” The former “seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons.” The latter “supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction.” 

Russia and China are “revisionist powers” that intend “to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests.” And then there is the “long war” we have to fight against transnational jihadi groups and the criminal syndicates with whom they’ve been making common cause.

A National Security Strategy, no matter how well thought-out, is only a blueprint. Policies and “priority actions” need to be implemented to be useful. “Peace through strength” doesn’t come cheap. 

Almost a year into Mr. Trump’s first term, the military remains under-resourced and too many key national security positions remain unfilled. Others are occupied by bureaucrats who have no intention of furthering this White House’s agenda. Perhaps most astonishingly, there remain many holdovers from the previous administration who are undermining policies they disfavor.

All that and more should be dealt with early in the New Year. For now, it’s sufficient to get the new administration’s priorities and broad policy principles down on paper, to better understand the world according to President Trump and his national security advisors – a seasoned, pragmatic team led this year by H.R. McMaster, Nadia Schadlow and Dina Powell.

Unlike President Obama who believed the arc of history bends toward justice, the current occupant of the White House believes history’s arc will be bent toward tyranny by America’s enemies – unless we grab it firmly and bend it ourselves.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.



The Washington Times:








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Syria Turns Into Iranian Base


Steven Emerson, Executive Director October 8, 2017
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Hizballah’s Nasrallah Escalates Threats as Syria Turns Into Iranian Base

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
October 8, 2017


A recent speech by Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah contained unusually aggressive statements, calling for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel, and claiming that a future war would lead to Israel’s “demise.”

Nasrallah said Israeli Jews should “leave and return to the countries from which they came so they are not fuel for any war that the idiotic [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government takes them to… They will have no secure place in occupied Palestine.”

The speech echoed rhetoric recently espoused by the Iranian regime and its military officials, who said Tel Aviv would be “destroyed” if Israel made “a mistake,” and that Israel would not survive for more than 25 years.

“Israel should remain silent and count down the days to its death, because any minor mistake would lead to its demise as fast as lightning,” said Iranian army commander Maj.-Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi.

These threats contain two messages.

The first message is a reaffirmation of the Shi’ite axis’s jihadist, ideological, long-term commitment to Israel’s destruction. The second message is more immediate; it is an attempt to deter Israeli decision makers from trying to stop Iran and its proxies from taking over Syria.

Iran, together with its chief agent Hizballah and several other Shi’ite militias, are helping the Assad regime complete its victory in Syria, with the assistance of Russian airpower. This is a victory made possible by the mass murder and terrorization of Syria’s Sunni population, and the ensuing mass movement of refugees out of the country.

The upsurge in war-like rhetoric towards Israel is a signal of growing Iranian-Hizballah confidence, fuelled by their victories in Syria.

Radical Shi’ite forces – armed, funded, and commanded by Iran – are moving into the vacuum left behind by ISIS. Tehran’s objective is to turn Syria into another Lebanon; a heavily armed outpost from which Iran can launch attacks against Israel.

So far, the international community has shown no interest or willingness to stop this development from happening.

Despite the latest bluster, Nasrallah made sure to issue his statements from the safety of his Lebanese bunker – an indication he still fears Israel’s powerful reach.

Nasrallah and his Iranian masters have good reason to remain fearful of Israel, for it is the only state that has both the capability and determination to challenge their takeover of Syria.

There have been a series of reported Israeli precision strikes on weapons production centers and arms smuggling attempts in Syria. One strike reportedly targeted the Assad regime’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) weapons facility, where chemical, biological, and advanced ballistic missiles are developed and manufactured.

The targeted facility may have been where Iran tried to hand over powerful weapons to Hizballah.

Israel is running a low profile campaign against the dangerous buildup of Hizballah’s weapons arsenal. These are arms that are produced in Iran and Syria, and trafficked to Lebanon. This Israeli campaign is a thorn in the side of the Shi’ite axis.

There is a wider Israeli warning here: Jerusalem has no intention of sitting on the side and watching Syria turn into an Iranian-Hizballah base.

Israeli leaders are issuing their own warnings, making it clear that provocations by the Shi’ite axis can lead to devastation.

“The next conflict, if it erupts, will have a completely different character. Our enemies will try first to strike our population centers and civilian infrastructure. And if our red lines will be breached, the other side must know in advance that it is going to pay very heavy prices,” said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

In addition, Israel has stated it will not tolerate an approach to its border by Iranian or Hizballah forces operating in Syria.

Sunni states like Jordan and Saudi Arabia are equally disturbed by events in Syria. But Israel is the only regional state with the ability to stop the Iranian game plan.

Only time will tell whether the world continues to turn a blind eye to the radical Shi’ite entrenchment in Syria, and leave Israel to deal with this mess by itself.

Meanwhile, recent comments by the head of the Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, serve as a timely reminder of the fact that the Iranian nuclear program remains a threat. The nuclear program is only temporarily dormant.

“Iran continues to possess a vision of having a significant nuclear capability, leading to a military nuclear ability,” said Mossad chief Yossi Cohen in recent days.

“Iran continues to act with increasing aggression in activating military forces and operations in the Middle East, closer to our border than ever, in the Lebanese and Syrian arenas [which are] as one. Iran continues to support Hizballah, and recently, it is increasingly supporting Hamas. Iran continues to transfer advanced and precise weapons to terrorist organizations in our area,” the Mossad chief said.

The Mossad conducts “thousands of operations, some complex and daring, in the heart of enemy states,” Cohen added.

This not-so-cold war between Israel and the Iranian axis looks set to continue. Lines are being drawn in Syria by both sides. Israel’s lines are purely defensive, while Iran and its agents are following a belligerent, encroaching agenda, which threaten to destabilize the entire region.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

Related Topics: Yaakov Lappin, Hizballah, Abdolrahim Mousavi, Syrian civil war, threats against Israel, Shi’ite axis, weapons manufacturing, Iran, Avigdor Liberman, Yossi Cohen, Mossad

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