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July 2017

Still No Collusion Evidence The latest ‘bombshell’ tells us more about media bias than about election meddling By Andrew C. McCarthy

So here’s the latest big “collusion” story that has been, er, broken by the Wall Street Journal.

About ten days before he died in mid-May, an 81-year-old man who did not work for the Trump campaign told the Journal he had speculated that, but did not know whether, 33,000 of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails had been hacked from her homebrew server. The now-deceased man, “a longtime Republican opposition researcher” named Peter W. Smith, had theorized that the e-mails must have been stolen, “likely by Russian hackers.” But he had no idea if this was actually so, and he himself certainly had nothing to do with stealing them.

Smith’s desire to obtain the hacked emails, if there were any, peaked around Labor Day 2016 — i.e., during the last weeks of the campaign. This was many months after the FBI had taken physical custody of Clinton’s homebrew server and other devices containing her e-mails. It was also two months after the Bureau’s then-director, James Comey, had told the country that the FBI had found no evidence that Clinton had been hacked . . . but that her carelessness about communications security, coupled with the proficiency of hackers in avoiding detection, meant her e-mails could well have been compromised throughout her years as secretary of state.

In other words, Peter W. Smith was one of about 320 million people in the United States who figured that Clinton’s e-mails had been hacked — by Russia, China, Iran, ISIS, the NSA, the latest iteration of “Guccifer,” and maybe even that nerdy kid down at Starbucks with “Feel the Bern” stickers on his laptop.

Besides having no relationship with Trump, Smith also had no relationship with the Russian regime. Besides not knowing whether the Clinton e-mails were actually hacked, he also had no idea whether the Kremlin or anyone close to Vladimir Putin had obtained the e-mails. In short, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you whether Trump and Putin were colluding with each other because he wasn’t colluding with either one of them.

But — here comes the blockbuster info — Smith was colluding with Michael Flynn. Or at least he kinda, sorta was . . . except for, you know, the Journal’s grudging acknowledgement that, well, okay, Smith never actually told the paper that Flynn was involved in what the report calls “Smith’s operation.”


If you’re confused, I’d ordinarily suggest that you go back and read the report a time or two. But life is short and rereading would not much clarify this spaghetti bowl hurled against the wall, in the hope that some of the Flynn sauce might stick.

Flynn, of course, is the retired army general who became a top Trump campaign surrogate, and who, later and fleetingly, was President Trump’s national security adviser. As the press likes to say, Flynn was sacked over his contacts with Russia, which were the subject of an FBI investigation. What they unfailingly fail to add is that (a) Flynn was fired not because he had contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak but because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of them; (b) there was nothing inappropriate about Flynn’s having discussions with foreign counterparts during the Trump transition; (c) the FBI investigation targeted not Flynn but Kislyak, who, as an agent of a foreign power, was under FBI surveillance when he spoke with Flynn; and (d) therefore, the FBI recorded the Flynn-Kislyak communications and knew that Flynn had made no commitment to address Russian objections to sanctions imposed by President Obama (i.e., there was no quid pro quo for Russia’s purported contribution to Trump’s election).

General Flynn is loathed by Obama, who fired him as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency; by the Obama-era intelligence-agency chiefs, whom Flynn called out for politicizing intelligence reporting; and by the FBI, against whom Flynn supported an agent who was claiming sexual discrimination. The Obama Justice Department was giddy over the prospect of making a criminal case against Flynn: dispatching the FBI to interrogate him over the Kislyak conversations, and even weighing an indictment of Flynn under the Logan Act, an unconstitutional 18th-century law that bars Americans from free-lancing in foreign policy — a law that is never invoked, has never been successfully prosecuted, and would be especially ludicrous to apply to a transition official.

Flynn, whose judgment leaves much to be desired, has made himself an easy target. Putting aside whether the FBI had a good reason to interrogate him as if he were a criminal suspect, he was reportedly no more candid with the agents than he was with Pence in recounting his Kislyak conversations. He also got grubby after leaving the military in 2014, starting a private intelligence agency that cashed in paydays from outfits tied to the unsavory regimes of Russia and Turkey. There are legal issues stemming from his apparent failures to register as a foreign agent and to disclose what he was paid. In addition, Flynn’s son became so notorious for trading in conspiracy theories that the Trump transition cut ties with him — imagine how out there you’d have to be to get booted from Trump World for incendiary tweeting!

Trump’s Leaner White House Payroll Projected To Save Taxpayers $22 Million by Adam Andrzejewski ,

If the White House payroll is a leading indicator of the president’s commitment to shrink government then voters have a reason to cheer. Projected four-year savings on the White House payroll could top $22 million. Savings come from President Trump’s refusal to take a salary as well as big reductions in other areas including the absence of czars, expensive “fellowships,” and spending on FLOTUS staff.

On Friday, the Trump administration released their annual report to Congress on White House Office Personnel. It includes the name, status, salary and position title of all 377 White House employees. (Search the recent Trump administration payroll data – and last two-years of the Obama administration – posted at OpenTheBooks.com.)

Here are some key findings:

There are 110 fewer employees on White House staff under Trump thanunder Obama at this point in their respective presidencies.
$5.1 million in payroll savings vs. the Obama FY2015 payroll. In 2017, the Trump payroll amounts to $35.8 million for 377 employees, while the Obama payroll amounted to $40.9 million for 476 employees (FY2015).
Nineteen fewer staffers are dedicated to The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). Currently, there are five staffers dedicated to Melania Trump vs. 24 staffers who served Michelle Obama (FY2009).
Counts of the “Assistants to the President” – the most trusted advisors to the president – are the same (22) in both first-year Trump and Obama administrations. In the Trump White House, Steven Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Omarosa Manigault, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and 17 others make salaries of $179,700. In Obama’s first-year, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and twenty others held the title with top pay of $172,000.
The highest compensated White House Trump staffer? Mark House, Senior Policy Advisor, has a salary of $187,500. Mr. House is “on detail” from a federal agency which allows him to exceed the top pay-grade of $179,700. In Obama’s Administration (2009), David Marcozzi earned $193,000 “on detail” from Health and Human Services.

Our review of the Trump White House payroll confirms five staffers dedicated to First Lady Melania Trump. Highly criticized for her twenty-four assistants, advisors, schedulers, directors, deputies, advance aides, associates, social and press secretaries and other helpers, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s staff was only slightly larger than Laura Bush’s staff of eighteen.

These five White House employees serving First Lady Melania Trump include:

Lindsay Reynolds, Chief of Staff to the First Lady ($179,700);
Stephanie Grisham, Director of Communications for the First Lady ($115,000);
Anna Niceta, Social Secretary ($115,000)
Timothy Tripepi, Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations for the First Lady ($115,000);
Mary-Kathryn Fisher, Deputy Director of Advance for the First Lady ($77,000).

Starting in 2009, President Obama came under fire for hiring special initiative czars. We found no evidence of “czars” on Trump’s payroll. Examples of these White House czars included Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner ($172,000), Director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois ($98,000), White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion Jr ($158,500), and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle ($158,500).

CNN’s Fake News Machine Daniel Greenfield

In April, media types were crowing that CNN had brought in Eric Lichtblau who had been, in the Washington Post’s words, at “the forefront of the New York Times’s reporting on the relationship between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.” It was “an investment in investigative reporting and the sprawling Russia story”. It didn’t take long for the investigative investment to sprawl badly.

Lichtblau has resigned from CNN in a growing scandal over a Fake News story about a Trump associate.

“Eric will guide our coverage and thinking,” Lex Haris, executive editor of CNN Investigates, had boasted. “And when he’s onto a investigation, he’ll still be reporting and writing too.”

Not for long. And Haris has joined Lichtblau on the unemployment line after the Fake News scandal.

CNN Investigates had been announced after President Trump’s inauguration. Its hit pieces had followed the same pattern as the Scaramucci attack that would be its undoing. Go after a personality tipped for a job with the new administration. CNN Investigates had previously targeted Monica Crowley and Sheriff Clarke with plagiarism accusations. But this time around, CNN’s anti-Trump unit had made a big mistake.

Unlike K-File’s petty harassment of Trump associates, the Scaramucci hit piece came from the heavier hitters poached by CNN from mainstream media papers who were supposed to bring down Trump.

The men behind the disaster were no lightweights. Thomas Frank had been nominated for a Pulitzer. Eric Lichtblau had shared a Pulitzer for bashing the Bush administration over, of all things, surveillance. Their names were all over CNN hit pieces tying to tie Trump to an impeachable Russian scandal.

That was what they had been hired for.

CNN claimed that Lichtblau had been “reporting on Comey for more than a decade.” And Frank was busy rolling out fresh grist for the Trump-Russia mill. One Frank article on CNN breathlessly claimed, “One week, three more Trump-Russia connections.” CNN was riding the impeachment train to Moscow.

And yet Lichtblau’s tenure at CNN quickly became troubled. An early June piece denied that Comey had told President Trump that he was not under investigation.

“Comey expected to refute Trump,” was the headline. The headline didn’t hold up. An awkward correction was appended conceding that its premise had been discredited by Comey’s testimony.

The sources were, as usual, anonymous. The Fake News story was full of “a source tells CNN” and “another source said” attributions. Seventeen of them.

The hodgepodge of anonymous sources read like a bizarre fairy tale or mystery novel.

Was “the source said” the first anonymous source? Was “a source adds” the second anonymous source? Or a third anonymous source? Was “a source” the same as “one source” who claimed to be “familiar” with Comey’s thinking?

“This source” seemed to be different than “one source.” But what about “another source”? And the “sources”?

Islamic Relief Fails a Whitewash by Samuel Westrop

Even if the Canadian branch of Islamic Relief claims not to have directly funded these Hamas groups, its own accounts reveal grants of millions of dollars to its parent organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, which oversees the movement of money to a number of Hamas fronts.

Islamic Relief branches also receive money from several terror-linked Middle Eastern charities, including those established by Sheikh al Zindani, whom the US government has designated a “Global Terrorist.”

Islamic Relief did not much care for the exposé. Reyhana Patel, a senior figure at its Canadian branch, first persuaded the Post to bowdlerize the article by removing some of the sourced material and adding sentences in defense of Islamic Relief.

On May 20, a Muslim cleric, Nouman Ali Khan spoke at a fundraising event in Toronto for Islamic Relief, one of the largest Muslim charities in the world.

Khan preaches that prostitutes and pornographic actors are “filth” and that “you have to punish them … They’re not killed; they’re whipped. And they’re whipped a hundred times.” Khan has also declared that God gives men “license” to beat unfaithful wives, and that Muslim women are committing a “crime” if they object to the religious text that he says permits this abuse.

Muslim cleric Nouman Ali Khan says that God gives men “license” to beat unfaithful wives, and that Muslim women are committing a “crime” if they object to the religious text that he says permits this abuse. (Image source: Rossi101/Wikimedia Commons)

Before the event took place, this author had written about Khan and Islamic Relief in the National Post, with the help of colleagues at the Middle East Forum.

Islamic Relief did not much care for the exposé. Reyhana Patel, a senior figure at its Canadian branch, first persuaded the Post to bowdlerize the article by removing some of the sourced material and adding sentences in defense of Islamic Relief.

Patel then published in the Post a response that denounced our research as “false… one-sided and unsubstantiated.”

Really? In a rather major failing, she failed even to address Nouman Ali Khan’s presence at the Islamic Relief event.

Instead, she boasted of her own humanitarian goodness and attacked the Middle East Forum (MEF) as an “anti-Muslim think tank” that “uses some of its resources to paint a negative picture of Islam and Muslims.” MEF has always, in fact, argued the very opposite. It believes that if radical Islam is the problem, then moderate Islam is the solution. This very maxim can be found in dozens of articles on its website. MEF supports a number of moderate Muslim groups working to challenge extremism, and encourages others to do the same.

It is old habit of Islamists to accuse anti-Islamist activists of being anti-Muslim, because it allows them misleadingly to conflate Islam and Islamism. That obfuscation severely inhibits the work of moderate Muslims trying to free their faith from the grip of these extremists.

Patel’s only reference to the charges of Middle East Forum, in fact, appears to be a deliberate misquote. She writes that MEF “labelled Islamic Relief Canada a ‘terrorist organization which regularly gives platforms to preachers who incite hatred against women, Jews, homosexuals and Muslim minorities.'” Islamic Relief does indeed regularly give platforms to such preachers — Nouman Ali Khan is just one example in the weekly pattern of this charity and its branches across the world.

But MEF did not claim that Islamic Relief was a “terrorist organization.” I wrote that it was “financially linked with a number of terrorist groups.” Islamic Relief branches have, for example, indeed given money to several groups in Gaza linked to the designated terrorist group Hamas. These include the Al Falah Benevolent Society, which the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre describes as one of “Hamas’s charitable societies.” And even if the Canadian branch of Islamic Relief claims not to have directly funded these Hamas groups, its own accounts reveal grants of millions of dollars to its parent organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, which oversees the movement of money to a number of Hamas fronts.

Islamic Relief branches also receives money from several terror-linked Middle Eastern charities, including those established by Sheikh al Zindani, whom the US government has designated a “Global Terrorist.”

Although MEF believes that Islamic Relief is financially linked to terror, no one wrote that the charity itself is a terrorist organization. Others, however, are less circumspect. In 2014, the United Arab Emirates designated Islamic Relief as a terrorist organization. And in 2016, the banking giant HSBC shut down Islamic Relief’s bank accounts in the United Kingdom “amid concerns that cash for aid could end up with terrorist groups abroad.”

Perhaps Reyhana Patel hoped that by smearing the Middle East Forum, and telling her readers about her love of “diversity … tolerance and inclusion,” she could sell Islamic Relief as a force for good. The charity’s regular promotion of hate preachers and financial links to terrorist groups, however, says otherwise.

And is Patel herself really so dedicated to supporting peace and tolerance? Her social media posts and a short-lived career as a journalist suggest not. Patel has a history, it seems, of attacking organizations that oppose religious extremism. In 2014, Patel wrote an article condemning Student Rights, an British organization that works to expose homophobia, racism and other forms of extremism on campus. Without seriously addressing the group’s research, Patel described the organization as “sensationalist and misleading.” Sound familiar?

Patel has also defended gender-segregation imposed by Muslim student groups at Britain’s public universities, and then complained that Muslim women who oppose this misogynistic behavior “seem to want to discredit and deamonise [sic] me.”

Palestinians: Mohammad Dahlan, the New Mayor of the Gaza Strip? by Khaled Abu Toameh

Dahlan will be functioning under the watchful eye of Hamas, which will remain the real de facto and unchallenged ruler of the Gaza Strip. Hamas is willing to allow Dahlan to return to the Palestinian political scene through the Gaza Strip window. But he will be on a very short leash.

Dahlan’s presence in the Gaza Strip will not deter Hamas from continuing with its preparations for another war with Israel.

Dahlan will find himself playing the role of fundraiser for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while Hamas hides behind his formidable political shoulders.

Mohammed Dahlan is an aspiring Palestinian with huge political ambitions. Specifically, he hopes to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Knowing this, Abbas expelled him from the ruling Fatah faction in 2011. Since then, Dahlan has been living in the United Arab Emirates.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that has controlled the Gaza Strip for the past decade, used to consider Dahlan one of its fiercest enemies.

As commander of the notorious Preventive Security Service (PSS) in the Gaza Strip in the 1990s, Dahlan was personally responsible for the PA’s security crackdown on Hamas. On his instructions, hundreds of Hamas activists were routinely targeted and detained.

The enmity was mutual; Dahlan too considered Hamas a major threat to him and the PA regime in the Gaza Strip.

Dahlan’s contempt for Hamas knew no limits. On his orders, Hamas founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin was placed under house arrest.

Two other senior Hamas officials, Mahmoud Zahar and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, were repeatedly detained and tortured by Dahlan’s agents. At one point, Dahlan ordered his interrogators to shave the two men’s beards as a way of humiliating them.

During and after its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas targeted Dahlan’s PSS and loyalists. Some were killed or incarcerated, while many others were forced to flee the Gaza Strip to Egypt and the West Bank. For many years, Dahlan was at the top of Hamas’s most wanted fugitives. No longer.

Erstwhile enemies, Dahlan and Hamas today have a common foe: Mahmoud Abbas. They seem about to join forces to repay him for the humiliation they have suffered at his hands.

Dahlan has long sought revenge for Abbas’s decision to expel him from Fatah and prosecute him on charges of murder and embezzlement. Dahlan will never forgive Abbas for dispatching security officers to raid his Ramallah residence and confiscate documents and other equipment. On that day, Dahlan slunk out of Ramallah.

Dahlan found refuge in the United Arab Emirates, a wealthy Gulf country whose rulers seem very fond of him. He receives millions of dollars from his Gulf hosts. Until today, Abbas regards Dahlan, who was once an intimate associate, as his main enemy.

Exile has been good for Dahlan. Thanks to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, Dahlan has amassed enough power and money to become a major player in the Palestinian arena.

In the past few years, he has succeeded in building bases of power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, largely with the cash that he has been providing to his loyalists and others.

More importantly, Dahlan has succeeded in building a personal relationship with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who also seems rather partial to him. While this relationship has alienated Abbas, Hamas sees it as an opportunity to rid itself of its increased isolation in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’s predicament has been exacerbated by the continued Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip, specifically the closure of the Rafah border crossing, and a series of punitive measures taken by Abbas in recent weeks.

Fatwas and False Impressions The Islamic Fiqh Council’s Incitement to Violence by A. Z. Mohamed

The Islamic Fiqh Council (IFC) aims, in part, to: “Prov[e] the supremacy of Islamic Fiqh over man-made laws,” and “tak[e] measures to counter suspicions raised against Islam, as well as problems and observations designed to either spread skepticism about the rulings of Islamic Shari[a] or degrade their importance.”

The judge also seems not to be familiar with the Quran or Islamic history, such as its conquest of Persia, Turkey (the Christian Byzantine Empire), all of North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Eastern Europe and southern Spain.

Judge Browning is not alone in his lack of familiarity with the background of Islam and this stunning “disconnect” in the West. It is high time for Americans to cease ignoring the words and deeds of Islamists — whether in the U.S., Canada, South America, Australia, North Africa or Europe.

A recent conference in Saudi Arabia served to underscore the misguided stance of many officials in the United States who deny the connection between Islam and violence, particularly when it comes to terrorist acts committed on American soil.

The conference, “Ideological Trends between Freedom of Expression and the Rulings of the Sharia,” was held in Mecca, March 19-21; organized by the Islamic Fiqh Council (an affiliate of the Muslim World League), and sponsored by Saudi King Salman ibn Abdul Aziz. The event illustrated the impossibility expecting Islamic governments to protect genuine human rights.

One of its participants, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, Secretary General of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the gathering served as an important contribution to his group’s efforts “to promote the true image and lofty teachings of Islam, which call for affection, beneficence, tolerance, coexistence and harmony.” Both the content of the conference and the background of its initiators, however, indicate the opposite.

“Humans are free to have their blood, money and honor preserved and remain free except from worshipping God Almighty” said Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Mecca Region Governor and adviser to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, referring to the Quran at the opening ceremony. The operative word is “except.” What that means is that all people must submit to the will of Allah and that Islam is the only true religion.

This assertion is mild in comparison to the workings of the Islamic Fiqh Council itself, however. It has not only been characterized since its inception by hatred, intolerance and extremism, but is behind the 1990 assassination of an imam in Tucson, Arizona, which Mideast expert Daniel Pipes called “One of the first killings on U.S. soil connected to the Islamic religion…”

Founded in 1978 and made up of a select group of Muslim jurists and scholars, the IFC aims, in part, to:

“Prov[e] the supremacy of Islamic Fiqh over man-made laws,” and “tak[e] measures to counter suspicions raised against Islam, as well as problems and observations designed to either spread skepticism about the rulings of Islamic Shari[a] or degrade their importance.”

Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Views from Central Europe “We are not going to take part in the madness of the Brussels elite.” by Soeren Kern

Many so-called asylum seekers have refused to relocate to Central and Eastern Europe because the financial benefits there are not as generous as in France, Germany or Scandinavia. In addition, hundreds of migrants who have been relocated to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which rank among the poorest EU countries, have since fled to Germany and other wealthier countries in the bloc.

“It needs to be said clearly and directly: This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, on our traditions.” — Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

“I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. That is a historical experience for us.” — Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, referring to Hungary’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699.

The European Union has initiated legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to comply with a controversial order to take in thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The so-called infringement procedure, which authorizes the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the European Union, to sue member states that are considered to be in breach of their obligations under EU law, could lead to massive financial penalties.

The dispute dates back to September 2015, when, at the height of Europe’s migration crisis, EU member states narrowly voted to relocate 120,000 “refugees” from Italy and Greece to other parts of the bloc. This number was in addition to a July 2015 plan to redistribute 40,000migrants from Italy and Greece.

Of the 160,000 migrants to be “shared,” nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe were ordered to take in around 15,000 migrants. Although the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the agreement, they were still required to comply.