Category Archives: War Commentary

The FBI Chief

Kevin Williamson says he should be canned.

I’m no big fan of Wray (or opponent, either), but I don’t think this particular incident, that happened not long after he came into the job, justifies his firing per se. I guess if he’d come in with a writ to clean house at the FBI, it would be more justifiable. But if I were Trump, I’d put him on notice. At a minimum, if he wants to keep his job, he’d better come up, very publicly, with a clearly effective plan as to how he’s going to prevent this sort of thing from continuing to happen. After all, it’s about the fourth time they’ve screwed the pooch on this sort of thing, and dozens are dead and injured, from the Boston Marathon to south Florida.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Jeez: “Minnesota Terrorist Let Go After Telling FBI She Wanted To Join Al Qaeda And Wear Suicide Belt.”

[Update a few minutes later]

Not FBI related per se, but related: IRS resistance to tax reform (or IRS reform):

[T]he IRS is already playing games with the GOP tax reform.

Just a week after passage, the IRS rushed out guidance declaring that most taxpayers couldn’t deduct prepaid 2018 property taxes on their 2017 returns to claim that benefit before the new law kicks in. The IRS decided this with no input from the White House or other agencies. IRS bureaucrats—many of them implacably opposed to his White House and bitter over recent congressional oversight—will have plenty of opportunity to cause trouble with its interpretations of a complicated tax reform. …

The swamp is rarely drained, for the simple reason that it takes rare and extraordinary governance. It requires leaders who are willing to offend institutions and top advisers, expose internal abuse, and willingly surrender unjustifiable powers. Today’s Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are examples of what happens when those leaders follow the far more common route of succumbing to the natives.

Mr. Mnuchin’s Treasury can make the successful rollout and implementation of the Trump tax reform a priority, or it can roll to an IRS bureaucracy. That ought to be an easy call.

That’s the task for Wray as well, if he wants to take it on. He should be considered on probation until we see something positive happen. And he doesn’t have to wait for Horowitz’s report on malfeasance in the election to start to clean house with the terrorism reports.

[Update a while later]

Uh oh…Sessions is going to investigate the FBI’s failure to fully inform the FISA court on the nature of the data provided for the warrant.

[Update a while later]

End the 911 Syndrome at the FBI:

But what also sticks in my mind is a simple fact: Not one person in the federal government was fired on account of 9/11.

I’m not the only one who feels that way. During his presidential campaign, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) noted that the FBI had caught the “20th hijacker” a month before his comrades launched their deadly carnage on 9/11. “The FBI agent who caught him wrote 70 letters to FBI headquarters saying we should look at this guy’s computer — get a warrant — and they never did.” Senator Paul told CNN’s Jake Tapper in 2015. “That was a huge failure, and I never quite understood why no one was fired over 9/11. . . . And there were some mistakes. We also had a report out of Arizona of people trying to fly planes but not learning how to land them.”

As bad as those mistakes were, the Bush administration made them worse. It took 411 days for it to finally agree to form a commission to look into how 9/11 could have happened. Compare that with the six days it took to form the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The 9/11 commission ultimately did a credible job, but it was hobbled early on for lack of money. The government initially allocated only $3 million for its work, later raising it, under pressure, to $11 million. Compare that with the commission that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia in 1986. That was a tragedy that killed seven brave Americans, and we spent $50 million to find out what happened.

Since 9/11, we have seen many tragic events fueled by bureaucratic bungling, followed by a complete lack of accountability. The cycle has repeated itself over and over.

…When only small fry are let go, the complacency among upper management remains and problems are swept under the rug. Only with new blood and a fresh approach can systemic problems within a bureaucracy be addressed.

Even though he has been on the job only six months, FBI director Christopher Wray has already shown a reflexive desire to evade congressional oversight by ignoring House subpoenas to the FBI in the Steele-dossier matter. The FBI turned over the documents, after months, only when the House said it would to hold Wray in contempt of Congress. That attitude shows that Wray has little desire to cut to the heart of the FBI’s problems and may even be an accessory to them.

Congress should demand a response from Wray, immediately.

[Update Tuesday morning]

Uh oh. A judge’s order in the Flynn case may reveal more wrongdoing on the part of the FBI.

Space Transportation Conference

I’m tweeting about it, which is a better way of rapid updating than blogging, and it gets a lot more views. So…

[Update a while later]

Meanwhile, SpaceX will be testing elements of BFR next year.

Also, the failed center corefirst stage that they failed to expend from the previous Falcon 9 launch couldn’t be safely recovered, so the Air Force scuttled it with an air strike.

Yes, as per comments, I screwed up in the middle of listening to a talk on launch regulations at the same time.

Obama’s Shame

Probably not a great post title, because he has none, but Roger Simon has thoughts on the different responses of Trump versus Obama to Iranians seeking freedom:

The students and others marching in the streets to overthrow these tyrants desperately wanted America’s help, specifically the support of our “oh-so-liberal-progressive” president. they shouted, “Obama, Obama, are you with us or are you with them?”

Obama was silent.

I can’t think of a moment I was more disgusted by the acts (inaction actually) of an American president. What did he stand for? What did we stand for?

Well, who knows? What we do know is he wanted to deal with Iran his way — whether to get the glory for himself or for other even less attractive reasons we will never know. He was secretly communicating with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei even before he took office, hinting at accommodation.

He wanted an Iran deal and he got it, the Iranian people and the U.S. Constitution be damned. (I have met several of the student demonstrators from that period who spent years being tortured in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Their faces resembled Picassos of the Cubist Period. They were the lucky ones. Their brothers and sisters just disappeared.)

Obama was silent for those students and millions of other decent Iranians. He wanted his deal so much that, as we know, he sent still more millions to the mullahs in cash, so they could use those dollars in any untraceable manner they wished — such as funding Hezbollah and the Houthis.

And speaking of Hezbollah, we all know now, due to reporting about Project Cassandra by Josh Meyer at Politico, that Obama was so determined to make his creepy deal that he acceded to the mullahs’ demand to pull the FBI off a detailed investigation of the Hezbollah thugs’ extensive involvement in the U.S. drug trade. Are we sick yet?

I was sick at the time. He gets one thing wrong, though: His colleagues were never “liberals.” They were simply leftists purloining the term, and they have no problem with fascism, as long as it’s a fascism they find sufficiently anti-Western.

[Sunday-morning update, from Phoenix]

Say you want a revolution?

During some demonstrations, crowds chanted “Seyed Ali shame on you, let go of power” and “Sorry Seyed Ali, it’s time to go.” In Tehran, protesters faced a mural of Mr. Khamenei and shouted “Death to you.” Openly targeting Mr. Khamenei, who is considered God’s representative on Earth, is a crime that carries the death penalty.

In a number of cities, demonstrators have expressed nostalgia for the last monarchical rulers of Iran, the Pahlavi dynasty, by evoking the name of its founder Reza Shah. Many Iranians consider Reza Shah to be the father of modern Iran and his era is associated with a time of economic prosperity. . . .

Here are some slogans being chanted at the protests, translated into English:

“We don’t want an Islamic Republic, we don’t want it, we don’t want it.”

“They are using Islam as an excuse to drive people crazy.”

“Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic.”

“Reformists, hard-liners, Game is over.”

“We are all Iranians, we don’t accept Arabs.”

“We are getting poor and clerics are driving fancy cars.”

“Reza Shah, Rest in Peace.”

“We will die but we will take Iran back.”

“Come out to the streets Iranians, shout for your rights.”

“Death to the Revolutionary Guards.”

While seeing the mullahs overthrown would be almost forty years overdue, seeing the tears of Obama and Valerie Jarrett would add a little extra frisson.

[January 2nd update]

An Iranian revolution of national dignity:

After nearly four decades of plunderous and fanatical Islamist rule, Iranians are desperate to become a normal nation-state once more, and they refuse to be exploited for an ideological cause that long ago lost its luster. It is a watershed moment in Iran’s history: The illusion of reform within the current theocratic system has finally been shattered. Iranians, you might say, are determined to make Iran great again.

Their movement is attuned to the worldwide spirit of nationalist renewal. From the U.S. to India, and from South Africa to Britain, political leaders and the voters who elect them are reaffirming the enduring value of the nation-state. Iran hasn’t been immured from these developments, as the slogans of the current protests indicate. No longer using the rights-based lexicon of votes and recounts, Iranians are instead demanding national dignity from a regime that for too long has subjugated Iranian-ness to its Shiite, revolutionary mission.

It’s notable, for example, that protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me.” Put another way: The people are tired of paying the price for the regime’s efforts to remake the region in its own image and challenge U.S. “hegemony.” Some have even taken to chanting “Reza Shah, Bless Your Soul,” expressing gratitude and nostalgia for the Pahlavi era, which saw the modern, pro-Western nation-state of Iran emerge from the shambles of the Persian Empire.

Trump’s message would seem to fit just fine with this mood.

[Afternoon update]

[Bumped]

For some reason, former Obama officials want us to ignore the protests in Iran.

Gee, what reason could that possibly be?

[Wednesday-morning update]

Wow, even Leon Panetta is criticizing Obama’s pussilanimity (and that’s putting it kindly) in 2009.

[Update a few minutes later]

Are the Iranian regime’s days numbered?

I hope so. Of course, everyone’s days are numbered, the only issue is the size of the number.

[Bumped again]

[Update a while later]

Meanwhile, the quislings at the NYT regret that the protesters won’t pay attention to the government’s call for calm.

[Update a couple minutes later]

More thoughts on Obama’s and the media’s perfidy from The Federalist:

The initial coverage of these historic protests—or in some cases, the lack of it—was scandalous. The New York Times’s Thomas Erdbrink, in particular, veered into revolting Walter Duranty territory. Looking back at the paper’s coverage of Iran, it’s unsurprising.

“For many years,” the reporter wrote only last month, “many Iranians were cynical about their leaders, but that is changing thanks to Trump and the Saudi crown prince.” Every unfiltered report from Iran told a different story.

Actually, thanks to Trump, the Times’ coverage swerved unconvincingly from “The protests are only small and and not worth your attention’” to “These protests are about economic woes and have nothing to do with political disputes and are not worth your attention” to the “Violence is the protesters’ fault because they won’t listen to the regime’s calls for calm.” All of this is particularly offputting when you consider how hard some in the media worked to make the Iran deal a reality.

You don’t say.

[Thursday-morning update]

The brittle Iranian regime faces a new revolt:

Considering the context, 2018’s Iranian public outrage rates as double dismal. In the last nine years the Iranian regime has not moderated, as the Obama Administration contended it would. Rather, the mullah regime has fossilized, dishing out the same violent, repressive, rip-off poison it dished nine years ago.

But here’s a difference that’s dangerous for the ayatollahs. In 2018 the robed dictators know they are a brittle fossil, ripe for collapse. Why? Well, Donald Trump is the U.S. president, not a Barack Obama-type supplicant who fervently believes a nuclear weapons deal with Iranian militants is the ultimate in peacenik presidential legacies.

The result of the dismal domestic political and economic morass and the presence of the Trump Administration: Iran’s dictators enter 2018 thoroughly shaken.

Yup. As with the Soviet Union in 1981, there’s a new sheriff in town.

[Friday-morning update]

What a Soviet dissident thinks about Iran:

In an interview this week, Sharansky told me Macron’s response to the Iranian unrest reminded him of the appeasement crowd during the Cold War. It was the kind of thinking that led former president Gerald Ford to refuse a meeting with the Soviet author of “The Gulag Archipelago,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

“It reminds me of the arguments against Reagan,” Sharansky told me. “All those battles we thought we already won, we have to fight them again.”

Yup.

[Bumped, again]

The Steele Dossier

The Democrats are beating a hasty retreat from it:

Which brings us to a remarkable aspect of the op-ed: If Simpson and Fritsch have evidence of criminal or otherwise corrupt Trump-Russia contacts, why don’t they just tell us what it is. Why do they write a lengthy column caterwauling about how the Republican-controlled committees are supposedly withholding the information they’ve provided? We are not talking about classified information here; we are talking about Fusion’s own investigation. They say the Republicans refuse to release their testimony. Why wait for the Republicans? There’s nothing stopping Simpson and Fritsch from fully disclosing what their testimony was. Why don’t they tell the story instead of complaining about its not being told?

Could it be that the story is not what they purport it to be?

That would be the way to bet.

[Update a while later]

The FBI wasn’t worried about the tarmac meeting, they were worried about the whistleblower who refused to cover it up.