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June 2017

Why Trump Fired Comey He believed that the FBI director misled the public to think that the president was under investigation. By Andrew C. McCarthy

At last, at least for your humble correspondent, this week’s big hearing brought clarity. I now believe President Donald Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey because he believes Comey intentionally misled the public into believing Trump was under investigation by the FBI. There is enough support for this theory that, had the president been forthright in explaining it when he dismissed Comey on May 9, there might have been considerably less uproar. Instead, Trump dissembled, as he seems hardwired to do. He thus bought himself a debilitating special-counsel investigation, despite its being increasingly patent that there is no crime to investigate.

March 20 was the big day. Understanding why requires us to go back several weeks, to January 6, the day Trump and Comey first met.

It was also the day the FBI, in conjunction with the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, issued a report called “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.” The report was based on intelligence that had been gathered over several months. But it made clear to the public that the FBI was continuing to investigate. As the agencies put it, “new information continues to emerge, providing increased insight into Russian activities.” Thereafter, the continuing investigation was widely covered in the media, often on the strength of unlawful leaks of classified information.

The agencies’ report was the reason for Trump’s introduction to Comey that day, at Trump Tower in New York City. The Bureau’s then-director, accompanied by other intelligence-agency bosses, was there to brief the then-president-elect.

In written testimony that Comey submitted this week to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he recounts his concern that the incoming president might form the misimpression that “the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.” Thus, after discussing the matter with his FBI “leadership team,” Comey came to the meeting “prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally.” He met one-on-one with Trump to deliver part of the briefing. Though the president-elect did not ask, Comey volunteered the “assurance” that Trump was not being investigated.

Three weeks later, on January 27, Trump, now sworn in as president, hosted Comey at a one-on-one dinner in the White House. Yet again, the then–FBI director assured Trump that he was not under investigation.

In light of what would come later, the context of this second assurance is striking. Trump explained that he was considering ordering Comey to investigate lurid claims made in a dossier about Trump and prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele. The president said he wanted the claims examined “to prove it didn’t happen.” That is, far from curtailing the Russia investigation, Trump was calling for additional FBI focus on Russia, where Steele alleged these salacious activities had occurred.

Comey discouraged the idea. As the former director recounted in his written testimony, he advised the president against taking steps that could create a misleading public “narrative” — in this instance, a narrative that the FBI was “investigating him personally, which we weren’t.”

With this as background, let us turn to then-director Comey’s March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

In his opening statement, he made this startling disclosure (my italics):

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

In presaging this revelation, Comey noted that it was against the “practice” of the FBI “to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations, especially those investigations that involve classified matters.” As we noted at the top, though,it had already been publicly confirmed in the intelligence agencies’ report, and it was already publicly known through media reporting, that the FBI was investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Consequently, the only apparent purpose of Comey’s irregular disclosure was to proclaim that the Bureau was probing links between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime — in particular, any “coordination” between the campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

And note Comey’s reference to the FBI’s “counterintelligence mission.” Given that it is not the purpose of that mission to investigate crimes, and that it is in fact improper to use counterintelligence authorities with the intention of building criminal cases, why would the FBI director invoke an “assessment of whether any crimes were committed”?

It had only been a few weeks since Comey cautioned Trump to avoid creating misleading narratives. Yet it was inevitable that the then-director’s explosive disclosure would fuel the narrative that Trump — who, as NBC News’s Lester Holt pointed out, was the “centerpiece of the Trump campaign” — had ties to Russia that were worthy of FBI scrutiny. In addition, Comey’s assertions invigorated the narrative that Trump had colluded with Putin to manipulate the American electoral process.

Comey’s testimony seemed, for example, to validate an explosive New York Times report (February 14) headlined “Trump campaign aides had repeated contact with Russian intelligence” — a report that Comey now describes as “almost entirely wrong.” Indeed, as our Dan McLaughlin notes, the Times reported on the March 20 bombshell under the headline, “F.B.I. Is Investigating Trump’s Russia Ties, Comey Confirms.” Even as Comey was giving his testimony, Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, tweeted (next to her “Resist” avatar), “The FBI is investigating a sitting President. Been a long time since that happened.” As Dan shows with numerous cognate examples, Comey’s announcement was understandably and predictably exploited by mainstream media outlets, which blared that Trump himself was under FBI investigation.

In this week’s written testimony, Comey further related that he “briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and . . . told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump” (emphasis added). This was done, of course, out of the public earshot. And — mirabile dictu! — it seems to be the only detail the intelligence community and plugged-in Democrats have resisted leaking to the media.

At Thursday’s hearing, Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) noted that as late as May 18, his colleague Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Cal.) conceded to CNN that she’d seen no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. As the ranking member on two relevant committees, Feinstein has had access to intelligence unavailable to Cotton and other more junior senators. Comey, furthermore, has acknowledged that as long as he was at the FBI (i.e., until his May 9 dismissal), there was no investigation focused on President Trump.

To summarize, then, despite over a year of investigation, no evidence of collusion between Trump’s circle and the Putin regime has been uncovered — and, clearly, none had been uncovered by March 20. Moreover, whatever threads the FBI has been following are sufficiently remote from the president himself that Trump was never under investigation — a fact that, by March 20, was well known to the intelligence agencies, who made it known to Congress.

Nevertheless, a decision was made — Comey stresses, with Justice Department approval — to have Comey announce to the nation on May 20 not only that there was an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation but that it was focused on the Trump campaign’s suspected collusion with Russia, and that criminal prosecutions were a possibility. Since the existence of the counterintelligence investigation was well known, Trump had to wonder: What point could there have been in that announcement other than to cast suspicion on the Trump campaign — and, inexorably, on Trump himself?

We are not told who at the “Trump” Justice Department authorized the then-director to make this announcement. I scare-quote the president’s name advisedly. On March 20, the only Trump appointee yet installed at the Justice Department was attorney general Jeff Sessions. He was already recused from Russia-related matters and therefore presumably not consulted on Comey’s planned disclosure.

Ten days later, on March 30, Trump called Comey to complain about the “cloud” over his presidency. Naturally, it had intensified since the congressional hearing, impairing his ability to govern. On this point, Comey’s testimony addresses the president’s desire to know what the FBI could help him do to “lift the cloud.” Left unaddressed, however, is what had been done at the March 20 hearing to intensify the cloud. When, in their March 30 conversation, Comey again confirmed that Trump was not personally under investigation, the president insisted — quite understandably — “We have to get that fact out.”

In his written testimony, Comey observes that he and Justice Department leaders (again, not Trump appointees) were “reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump.” Remarkably, the rationale offered for this reluctance was fear of the uproar that would be caused if the record eventually had to be corrected — meaning: The speculative possibility that some evidence implicating Trump in Russia collusion might someday come to light, notwithstanding that (a) in all the months and months of investigating, no signs of such evidence had surfaced, and (b) as Comey explained in answering hearing questions from Senator Marco Rubio (R. Fla.), Trump had encouraged the FBI to do the Russia investigation and let it all come out.

In any event, why was this the FBI director’s call to make, rather than the president’s? If Trump is so confident about his lack of culpability in Russia’s cyberespionage that he was willing to run Comey’s “duty to correct” risk, what would have been the downside of informing the public that Trump was not under investigation — especially when any sensible person, on hearing what Comey did disclose, would assume that Trump was under investigation?

I don’t see how Trump could have handled Comey’s dismissal worse — no warning, conflicting explanations, talking him down in a meeting with Russian diplomats, savaging his reputation.

All that said, and as the former director learned painfully during the Clinton caper, the FBI and Justice Department should not make public statements about investigations unless and until they are prepared to file charges formally in court, where people get to see the evidence and have a chance to defend themselves. What possible good reason was there to alert the public that the Trump campaign was under investigation? Inevitably, that would induce the media to tell the world — incessantly — that Trump himself was under investigation.

Comey maintains, as he did in the July 2016 Clinton-e-mails press conference, that there is a “public interest” exception to the Justice Department rule against commenting on investigations. But public interest is the very reason for the no-comment rule. The point is to avoid smearing people who have not been charged with a crime. Such a smear happens only if the public is interested in the case.

More fundamentally, what is the “public interest” in misleading the public? If you know that what you are about to say is going to lead people to believe the president of the United States is under investigation (as it did), and you know for a fact that the president of the United States is not under investigation (as Comey did), why make the statement? And if it was important enough to tell Congress that Trump was not under investigation so that Congress would not be misled, what conceivable reason is there not to tell the public — especially when you must know that withholding this critical detail will make it much more difficult for the president to deal with foreign leaders and marshal political support for his domestic agenda?

The fact that President Trump was not under investigation did not get out until Trump finally put it out himself. That was in the May 9 letter that informed FBI director Comey that he was removed from office: “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

Do you suppose the desperation to tell that to the world, the exasperation over Comey’s refusal to tell it to the world, just might have been at the front of the president’s mind?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Europe: Choosing Suicide? by Judith Bergman

“We need urgent, wholesale reform of human rights laws in this country to make sure they cannot be twisted to serve the interests of those who would harm our society.” — UK Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, January 2015.

Swedish intelligence deemed him too dangerous to stay in Sweden, so the immigration authorities sought to have him deported to Syria. They did not succeed: the law does not permit his deportation to Syria, as he risks being arrested or executed there. Instead, he was released and is freely walking around in Malmö.

“It would simply never in a million years have occurred to the authors of the original Convention on Human Rights that it would one day end up in some form being used as a justification to stay here by individuals who are a danger to our country and our way of life…” — UK Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, January 2015.

After the Manchester terrorist attack, it was revealed that there are not “just” 3,000 jihadists on the loose in the UK, as the public had previously been informed, but rather a dismaying 23,000 jihadists. According to The Times:

“About 3,000 people from the total group are judged to pose a threat and are under investigation or active monitoring in 500 operations being run by police and intelligence services. The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a ‘residual risk”‘.

Why was the public informed of this only now?

Notably, among those who apparently posed only “a residual risk” and were therefore no longer under surveillance, were Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, and Khalid Masood, the Westminster killer.

It appears that the understaffed UK police agencies and intelligence services are no match for 23,000 jihadists. Already in June 2013, Dame Stella Rimington, former head of the MI5, estimated that it would take around 50,000 full-time MI5 agents to monitor 2,000 extremists or potential terrorists 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That amounts to more than 10 times the number of people employed by MI5. In October 2015, Andrew Parker, director general of the Security Service, said that the “scale and tempo” of the danger to the UK was at a level he had not seen in his 32-year career.

British politicians appear to have consistently ignored these warnings and allowed the untenable situation in the country to fester until the “new normal” became jihadists murdering children for Allah at pop concerts.

Given the prohibitive costs of monitoring 23,000 jihadists, the only realistic solution to this enormous security issue appears to be deporting jihadists, at least the foreign nationals among the 3,000 monitored, because they pose a threat. British nationals represent a separate problem, as they cannot be deported. Nevertheless, deportation has been an underused tool in the fight against Islamic terrorism: politicians worry too much about international conventions of human rights — meaning the human rights of jihadists and convicted terrorists, rather than the human rights of their own populace.

According to findings by the Henry Jackson Society in 2015 — as, unbelievably, the Home Office said it did not keep figures on the numbers of terror suspects allowed to remain in the UK by the courts — from 2005-2015, 28 convicted or suspected terrorists were allowed to stay in the UK and resist deportation by using the Human Rights Act. According to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the British Human Rights Act, individuals are protected against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. As these 28 terrorists are all from countries with poor human rights records, they get to stay in the UK by claiming they would face torture if deported to their country of origin.

Bernie Sanders: Knave or Fool? by Alan M. Dershowitz

It is clear that if Corbyn were anti-black, anti-women, anti-Muslim or anti-gay, Sanders would not have campaigned for him…. Yet he is comfortable campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn who has made a career out of condemning Zionists by which he means Jews.
Those who consider themselves “progressives” – but who are actually repressives – tolerate anti-Semitism as long as it comes from those who espouse other views they approve of. This form of “identity politics” has forced artificial coalitions between causes that have nothing to do with each other except a hatred for those who are “privileged” because they are white, heterosexual, male and especially Jewish.
Sanders then had the “chutzpah” to condemn political groups on the right for being “intolerant” and “authoritarian,” without condemning the equally intolerant, authoritarian and often anti-Semitic, tendencies of the hard Left.

Shame on Bernie Sanders. He campaigned for the British anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn, who received millions of votes from British citizens who care more about their pocketbooks than about combatting anti-Semitism. As exit polls trickled in, Sanders tweeted: “I am delighted to see Labour do so well. I congratulate @jeremycorbyn for running a very effective campaign.” There is no doubt that Corbyn and his Labour Party are at the very least tolerant of anti-Semitic rhetoric, if not peddlers of it. (See my recent op-ed on the British Labour Party and Corbyn’s association with some of the most rancid anti-Semites.)

Sanders’s support for this anti-Jewish bigot reminds me of the Jews who supported Stalin despite his overt anti-Semitism because they supported his communist agenda. Those who tolerate anti-Semitism argue that it is a question of priorities but even so, history proves that Sanders has his priorities wrong. No decent person should ever, under any circumstances, campaign for an anti-Semite.

There are two reasons why Sanders would campaign for an anti-Semite: 1) he has allowed Corbyn’s socialism to blind him to his anti-Semitism; 2) he doesn’t care about Corbyn’s anti-Semitism because it is not important enough to him. This means that he is either a fool or a knave.

It is clear that if Corbyn were anti-black, anti-women, anti-Muslim or anti-gay, Sanders would not have campaigned for him. Does this make him a self-hating Jew? Or does he just not care about anti-Semitism? The answer to that question requires us to look broadly to trends among the hard left of which Sanders is a leader.

Increasingly, the “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party and other self-identifying “progressives,” subscribe to the pseudo-academic theory of intersectionality, which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked. This type of “ideological packaging” has become code for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry. Indeed, those who consider themselves “progressives” – but who are actually repressives – tolerate anti-Semitism as long as it comes from those who espouse other views they approve of. This form of “identity politics” has forced artificial coalitions between causes that have nothing to do with each other except a hatred for those who are “privileged” because they are white, heterosexual, male and especially Jewish.

It is against this backdrop that Sanders’s cozying up to bigots such as Corbyn can be understood. Throughout the presidential campaign and in its aftermath, Sanders has given a free pass to those who are anti-Israel – which is often a euphemism for anti-Jewish. Consider, for example Sanders’s appointments to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Platform Committee last summer. Seeking to satisfy his radical “Bernie or Bust” support base, Sanders appointed James Zogby and Cornell West – both of whom have peddled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories throughout their careers. Professor Cornell West – who was a Sanders surrogate on the campaign trail – has said that the crimes of the genocidal terrorist group Hamas “pale in the face of the US-supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians,” and is a strong advocate of trying to eradicate Israel through the vehicle a campaign of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.

He has also repeatedly accused Israel of killing Palestinian babies – an allegation that echoes historic attacks on Jews for “blood libel.”


On her last day in Israel, Haley visited Yad Vashem and stated:”We must always choose sides.” Her admiration and affection for Israel were palpable. What a lovely ambassador we have in the UN….rsk
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spent Thursday, her second day in Israel, touring the country by helicopter from north to south, accompanied by IDF brass and her Israeli colleague Danny Danon, who briefed her on the state’s vast security challenges.

Haley began the day by visiting Bethlehem and an UNRWA school in the Aida refugee camp.She posted a photograph of herself with Palestinian women stating that she had the “chance to talk with girls and women about their lives, their hopes and their dreams.”

Accompanied by Danon and Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, she then flew by helicopter to the border with the Gaza Strip.While they were in the air, Danon told Haley that “Hamas pours its resources into arms and digging murderous terror tunnels instead of investing in a better future for the residents of Gaza. They educate their youth to hate Israel instead of providing them with the opportunity to grow and flourish.”

Noting that Haley met the family of slain soldier Hadar Goldin at the UN in February, Danon said that “Hamas is displaying appalling cruelty by holding the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul hostage in Gaza. We greatly appreciate America’s assistance with our efforts to ensure that they are returned home for a proper burial.”

She toured the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the sole passageway between Israel and Gaza for commercial goods, and was joined there by the UN’s Mideast envoy Nikolay Mladenov. Haley, along with Mladenov, inspected the opening of a concrete attack tunnel uncovered by the IDF.

Her visit was closed to the media, but the US Embassy posted a short video of the trip, including shots of Haley standing in the tunnel Hamas had dug from Gaza into Israel.

In Kibbutz Nahal Oz, she spoke with residents about their experience of living under fire from Gaza, asking mothers there how it is to live in the shadows of the missiles. In 2014, Daniel Tregerman, four, was killed by mortar fire there. One boy told her, “The children of Nahal Oz thank you. Have a nice day in Israel.”

The American diplomat then flew north, first for security briefings along the Lebanese border. She visited Kibbutz Misgav Am, received a security briefing, met with UNIFIL head Maj.-Gen. Michael Beary, and spoke to female IDF soldiers responsible for monitoring developments directly across the border.

From there she went to the Golan Heights, where she was shown an IDF field hospital treating wounded from the Syrian civil war.

Danon said that the jam-packed day was effective in showing her the challenges posed by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Haley is scheduled on Friday, her last full day in the country, to visit Yad Vashem, meet Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, and tour Tel Aviv.

UN Secretary-General Launches Slanderous Attack on Israel By P. David Hornik

At this time 50 years ago, Israel was fighting the Six Day War and conquering territories. Since then it has returned the Sinai to Egypt, withdrawn from Gaza, retained control of the Golan Heights, and created a self-governing Palestinian entity in part of the West Bank while retaining overall security control there.

This 50-year anniversary has seen a flood of statements lauding or lamenting the Six Day War and its outcomes for Israel. Statements of the former kind emphasize that the war gave Israel defensible borders, a close alliance with the United States (by showing that Israel was a regional power), and, eventually, peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

Among the best in this vein were op-eds by Michael Oren and Bret Stephens.

Statements of the latter kind bemoan Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians and describe it as a disaster that has to end — fast. And UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offers some of the most egregious remarks in this vein.

“This occupation,” Guterres writes:

… has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.

Further, he writes:

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remove a driver of violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and open the doors to cooperation, security, prosperity and human rights for all.

Let’s start with Guterres’ first claim about the alleged misery of Palestinian life since Israel took over the territory.

A few days before Guterres posted his statement, popular Israeli columnist Ben-Dror Yemini published a piece called “The truth about the occupation.” Yemini is not a right-winger; he wants Israel to eventually withdraw from most of the West Bank and separate from the Palestinians. But he also wants the discourse to be based on truth and not propaganda.

Yemini looks at some key elements of Palestinian life and compares the situations before and after the “Israeli occupation” (I use the scare quotes because Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and — except for anti-terror operations — Area A of the West Bank):

Education: Before the Six Day War in 1967, there was not a single university in the West Bank (under Jordanian rule) and Gaza (under Egyptian rule). “Today, there are more than 50 higher education institutions in the territories.”

Iowa Professor: ‘White Marble’ of Ancient Statues Supports White Supremacy By Tyler O’Neil

A University of Iowa professor argued that the appreciation of beauty inspired by the “white marble” of classical statuary supports white supremacy today.

“The equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe; it’s a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today,” Sarah Bond, assistant professor of classics, wrote in an article for the art blogazine Hyperallergic.

Bond noted that “many of the statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi created in the ancient Western world were in fact painted,” so the “white marble” seen in such art today is an accident of history, not the intended look. Marble “was considered a canvas, not the finished product for sculpture.” So it was “carefully selected and then often painted in gold, red, green, black, white, and brown, among other colors.”

The professor pointed to various excellent museum shows like the “Gods in Color” exhibit to emphasize that these statues were originally painted, not marble white.

But Bond went even further, arguing that the misconception of original statues being marble white has supported — and still supports — white supremacy. “The equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe,” the professor noted. “Where this standard came from and how it continues to influence white supremacist ideas today are often ignored.”

The professor attacked “most museums and art history textbooks” for showing “a predominantly neon white display of skin tone when it comes to classical statues and sarcophagi.” This “neon whiteness” creates “a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region.”

Bond pointed to the art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, who formed the foundation for art history. Winckelmann argued that the Apollo of the Belvedere — a Roman white marble copy of a Hellenistic bronze statue — is “the quintessence of beauty.” The classics professor suggested that Winckelmann’s preference for men over women might reveal a homosexual identity, and that his taste in art bolstered “white male supremacists.”

Bond also referenced the Dutch anatomist Pieter Camper, who measured human facial features to create the racist “cephalic index,” which was used by the Nazis to support notions of Aryan superiority.

Operating off of this history, the classics professor drew some debatable connections to modern white supremacy. She mentioned the group Identity Europa, which uses “classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority,” which seems plausible.

But then Bond smuggled in an attack on a prominent Republican congressman. White marble statuary “also continues to buttress the false construction of Western civilization as white by politicians like Steve King,” the professor argued.

Here, Bond went too far. King has been attacked for defending Dutch politician Geert Wilders and tweeting, “We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.” He later explained that his remarks were about culture and not race. Even so, liberals twisted his statements to make them seem racist.

Besides the attack on King, Bond also mentioned one example of racial disparity resulting from the misconception of classical art as idolizing “white marble.” According to the Society for Classical Studies, only 9 percent of all undergraduate classics majors were minorities in 2014, and only 2 percent of classics faculty were not white. CONTINUE AT SITE

Trump Says Qatar Funding Terror at ‘Very High Level’ as Tillerson Wants Blockade Eased By Bridget Johnson

WASHINGTON — President Trump came out swinging against Qatar during a Rose Garden press conference today after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier urged easing of the blockade against the Gulf nation and the Pentagon said the rift was negatively impacting U.S. military operations.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mauritania, and Senegal have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the kingdom of being a haven for terror financiers, while Jordan and Djibouti have downgraded relations. In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stepped up military cooperation with Qatar and may send more troops there.

“We do not, have not and will not support terrorist groups. The recent joint statement issued by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a ‘terror finance watchlist’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact,” the Qatari government said in a statement today. “Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement – a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors.”

The U.S. stages operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan from Al-Udeid airbase, the base of U.S. Air Force Central Command and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. About 10,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at the base about 20 miles outside Doha. Only Kuwait hosts a stronger U.S. military presence in the Middle East.

“While current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been interrupted or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement today. “Qatar remains critical for coalition air operations in the fight against ISIS and around the region.”

Earlier, at the State Department, Tillerson called for “calm and thoughtful dialogue with clear expectations and accountability among the parties in order to strengthen relationships.”

“We ask that there be no further escalation by the parties in the region. We call on Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors. Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence. The emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country, but he must do more and he must do it more quickly,” he said.

Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to “ease the blockade” against Qatar. “There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade. We are seeing shortages of food, families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school. We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this holy month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately,” he said.

“The blockade is also impairing U.S. and other international business activities in the region and has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the people whose livelihoods depend on commerce with Qatar. The blockade is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS.”

At a press conference this afternoon with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Trump jumped straight to Qatar in his opening remarks.

“The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level. And in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior,” Trump said, referencing his recent trip to Riyadh. “So we had a decision to make: Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism.”

“I decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding — they have to end that funding — and its extremist ideology in terms of funding,” he continued. “I want to call on all of the nations to stop immediately supporting terrorism, stop teaching people to kill other people, stop filling their minds with hate and intolerance. I won’t name other countries, but we are not done solving the problem.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Loretta Lynch, Swamp Thing By Daniel John Sobieski

Arguably, the most interesting part of the testimony of James Comey, the cowardly lion of the criminal justice system, before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday is not that President Trump was cleared of even a smidgeon of corruption and obstruction of justice but that President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, is up to her eyeballs in both. As the Daily Caller reports:

Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, pressured former FBI Director James Comey to downplay the Clinton email server investigation and only refer to it as a “matter,” Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Comey said that when he asked Lynch if she was going to authorize him to confirm the existence of the Clinton email investigation, her answer was, “Yes, but don’t call it that. Call it a matter.” When Comey asked why, he said, Lynch wouldn’t give him an explanation. “Just call it a matter,” she said….

Earlier in his testimony, Comey said Lynch instructed Comey not to call the criminal investigation into the Clinton server a criminal investigation. Instead, Lynch told Comey to call it a “matter,” Comey said, “which confused me.”

Comey cited that pressure from Lynch to downplay the investigation as one of the reasons he held a press conference to recommend the Department of Justice not seek to indict Clinton.

Comey also cited Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton as a reason he chose to hold the press conference, he said, as he was concerned about preserving the independence of the FBI.

This is far worse than President Trump asking Comey in a private conversation to wrap up the Flynn investigation after Flynn was dismissed as National Security Adviser. This was a director order by Comey’s immediate superior to align his rhetoric with the Clinton campaign spin. This is what Comey did, calling it a “matter” and not a criminal investigation, which is the only thing the FBI does. Couple this submissive compliance to an order to help the Clinton campaign with their spin with the meeting on the tarmac between Lunch and Bill Clinton, the husband of the target of that criminal investigation, and you have an obvious case for charging Lynch with obstruction of justice.

If Comey was concerned about preserving the integrity of the FBI, he wouldn’t have leaked the memo of his private conversation with President Trump to the New York Times through a third party. That memo, prepared on a government computer by a government employee on government time, is the property of the U.S. government and the U.S. taxpayer. Its unauthorized dissemination is a clear violation of the Federal Records Act and executive privilege. Comey was charged to find leakers, not be the leaker-in-chief.

Just as he didn’t have the authority to leak the memo, he didn’t have the authority to go before the American people and declare that the multiple felonies committed by Hilary Clinton while she was Secretary of State were not prosecutable due to lack of intent. Not only was he wrong on the law, which does not require intent, but his job is to gather evidence not to recommend prosecution or not. If Comey wanted to preserve the independence of the FBI, he wouldn’t have held the press conference giving Hillary Clinton a pass. He would have thrown the evidence on Lynch’s desk and told her to do her job. He bailed both Clinton and Lynch out and gave the Clinton campaign a boost.

Lynch ordered Comey to drop the word “investigation.” Did she also order him to drop the investigation itself and take the hit for doing so? Questions still remain as to why Comey did not attend the final Clinton interview, why the interview was not recorded, why Clinton was not under oath, and why obvious follow-up questions were not asked. It would seem that Comey, perhaps at the order of Lynch, was doing everything that would benefit the Clinton campaign.

Let us not forget another example of the tangled web woven between the FBI and the Clinton campaign — the relationship between Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. As Caherine Herridge of Fox News reported:

Peter Smith Monsters of Faith, the Faith of Monsters

I don’t want searches outside public events. I don’t want concrete barriers to prevent mad Muslims mowing down pedestrians. I don’t want to hear another smug sophist prattling about lethal refrigerators. What I want is a logical, reasoned response to an evil, growing menace.

A good big ‘un will always beat a good little ‘un is an adage mostly applied to boxing. And it is mostly true. Correspondingly, family units and small communities are vulnerable to raiding bands of pillagers. Cities are vulnerable to sieges by armed forces. Weaker nations are vulnerable to stronger ones.

This all seems terribly dated, does it not? Vikings sacking British monasteries, Muslim armies at the walls of Constantinople, storm troopers sweeping over the Maginot Line, are all relics of past times?

In fact, the difference between then and now is not the advent of a new moral age. Bad guys are as numerous as ever. If you for a moment doubt that, those in Israel don’t. If you think Israel is a special case think of the heady aspirations of North Korea and Iran, not to mention the “junior varsity” upstarts. And, without wishing to add to Russian fear-mongering, Ukraine and the Baltic states have reason to be anxious.

The difference between then and now is purely logistical. Enemies have to cross borders and sometimes open seas. Standing against them are the good guys; disciplined defence forces armed with advanced weaponry, allied across enlightened Western countries. They are ‘the thin red line’ between us and pillage, rape, massacre and enslavement. We can sleep peacefully in our beds.

Hold on, enemies within don’t have to breach borders or engage the thin red line. They are an entirely different kettle of fish. What do you do if the bad guys are on the inside?

The advice that British police give citizens is to “run and hide” from terrorists. Good advice when you’re not armed and armed police at the very (amazing) best will take eight minutes to turn up and kill the assassins, as in the London attack on June 3. Be aware, they should add as part of their advice, “knife, gun, bomb and truck wielding assassins might take only seconds to kill you.”

Why we are concerned but not quaking? Yes, as I said, we have the police and army if needed, but also we have each other. We can rely upon each other. Not to defend us but to be like us. Hardly anyone in our street is a criminal or assassin. Moreover, to the extent criminals and assassins are among us they are not glued together as a cohesive force. Suppose they were? Suppose that the 23,000 known Islamic extremists in the UK and their support networks, their fellow travellers, and fair-weather brothers and sisters, were glued together by a common ideology and purpose?

Be afraid. They are glued together by an extremely widespread perverted and extremist view of their ‘noble faith’. Mind you, how tens upon tens of thousands of Islamic scholars and hundreds of millions of ordinary Muslim folk could get it all so wrong I must leave to your vivid imagination. It is beyond sense that this for example – “fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness” (9:123) – could be a given any kind of threatening interpretation. And those dastardly conservatives dispute the validity of Islamophobia. Really!

School bans U.S. Marine grad from commencement for wearing dress blues By Victor Skinner

Crown Point High School officials refused to allow graduate Jacob Dalton Stanley to wear his Marine dress blues to the Class of 2017’s graduation ceremony Tuesday at the Star Plaza Theatre.

According to the Times of Northwest Indiana:

Stanley, who graduated in December and joined the U.S. Marines, completed boot camp Friday and flew home for his high school graduation. He practiced with his classmates during the day and was reportedly told by high school Principal Chip Pettit that he would not be able to wear his uniform during commencement.

Stanley wore his uniform anyway, and school officials would not allow him to receive his diploma at the ceremony. His name was listed on the graduation program, but officials did not read his name among the graduates.

Stanley’s classmate, graduate Leann Tustison, told the Times the school’s decision to block the newly minted Marine was “absolutely ridiculous.

“He’s in the military putting his life on the line for us,” Tustison said.

“It’s unacceptable that he was not allowed to walk across the stage. If he wants to walk across the stage in his uniform that he worked so hard for and earned, he should have the right to do that. That’s his achievement. They honored other people’s achievements whether they were in triathlon or other activities,” she continued.

“If his achievement is joining the armed forces, he should have been able to do that. The students were outraged. There were some students who were going to walk in solidarity with Jake. It was a disgrace.”

Numerous other students who spoke with the news site agreed with Tustison.

“It was despicable that he wasn’t allowed to wear his uniform. We should be proud of that as Americans. He should have been able to wear his military uniform,” Crown Point graduate Jessica Janda said.

Folks online overwhelmingly sided with Stanley, and lashed out at school officials for the decision.

Stanley declined to comment about the situation, but issued a statement through the 9th Marine Corps District, Naval Station Great Lakes, according to NBC Chicago.