Updated, and the headline changed, for a possible smoking gun in the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
Kasia Kovacs, “Berkeley Resumes Palestine Course,” Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2016, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/09/20/palestine-course-berkeley-reinstated-after-criticisms-violating-academic-freedom
Justin Scheck, “OPEC Chief: Cartel Won’t Cap Output at Upcoming Meeting–Energy Journal,” Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2016/09/19/opec-chief-cartel-wont-cap-output-at-upcoming-meeting-energy-journal/
Utterly unsurprisingly, recent attacks are becoming a campaign issue targeting refugees and migrants. I am completely sympathetic when AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre calls it “a shame to see people like [Donald] Trump play a game with a serious thing like refugees fleeing violence” and disgusted but not surprised when Trump advocates a profiling policy that can only be described as mindbogglingly stupid and his son uses a tired analogy to compare refugees to candy. Hillary Clinton is attempting to spin the attacks her way, saying (probably mostly correctly) “[w]e know that a lot of rhetoric we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS, because they’re looking to make this into a war against Islam rather than a war against jihadists,” but Trump is only a little unfair in “accusing Clinton of destabilizing the Middle East as secretary of State and ‘creating the vacuum that led to the founding of ISIS.’” The real elephant in the room here is a history of U.S. and western intervention—I should probably say ‘imperialism’—in the Islamic world, including an unbalanced policy favoring Israel. Clinton has certainly played a role in this, but she’s far from solely to blame, and Trump’s policies, to the limited extent we even know what they really are, can hardly be said to be an improvement.
Meanwhile, this is the view we should worry about:
Long after I returned to the U.S. after living in Jerusalem I kept thinking about soft targets. The peak-hour commuter train that took me from Westchester to Grand Central. The snaking queue outside the security checkpoint at La Guardia Airport. The theater crowds near Times Square.
All of these places were vulnerable and most of them undefended. Why, I wondered, weren’t they being attacked?
Notice the default assumption here. We are vulnerable. Therefore, it follows, we will be attacked. This is not an assumption that we are distant from zones of conflict. Rather, it is a rejection of ‘complacency’: “Things were absolutely fine until they absolutely weren’t.” Nor is it a recognition of our own culpability in expanding those zones of conflict to our own shores. Rather, it is a rationalization for 1) “allow[ing] competent and responsible adults to carry guns,” and 2) intrusive “surveillance methods.”
So here’s the question that confronts us: Do we want to live in a fearful society that accepts the risk of more armed people in the hopes that some of them will be “competent and responsible” and able to correctly react to armed attacks and that accepts invasions of privacy as necessary in order to continue a profoundly flawed foreign policy? Bret Stephens, the author of these passages, extrapolates from his time living in Israel under, as he perceives it, constant threat of attack, to the United States. He believes that “democracies rarely muster their full reserves of determination until they’ve been bloodied one time too many.” Determination, not self-examination, is, in his thinking, the required response, just as Israel refuses to reconsider its treatment of Palestinians who it evicted to make room for a “Jewish state,” and just as the U.S. refuses to reconsider imperialism.
Bret Stephens, “Life During Wartime,” Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/life-during-wartime-1474328569
Jordan Fabian, “NY attack hangs over Obama push for action on refugees,” Hill, September 20, 2016, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/296739-ny-attack-hangs-over-obama-push-for-action-on-refugees
Jonathan J. Cooper, “California governor backs rules on cow, landfill emissions,” Associated Press, September 19, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/5b1f0a6b25ee443b951ad61dd0334784/california-governor-backs-rules-cow-landfill-emissions
Guy Kovner, “Gov. Brown signs new state law curbing methane from dairy cows, landfills,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, September 20, 2016, http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6106903-181/gov-brown-signs-new-state
Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “DeVry voluntarily dials back revenue from federal student aid,” Washington Post, September 20, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/09/20/devry-voluntarily-dials-back-revenue-from-federal-student-aid/
It’s pretty hard not to get lost in the legal minutiae of the latest developments in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal but Jonathan Turley sheds some light. Basically, he treats two possibilities: “Either [Paul] Combetta did not disclose this effort [to conceal the identity of a very, very important person, presumably Hillary Clinton] in violation of his immunity deal or the Justice Department effectively removed a serious threat of indictment though the agreement.” ‘Stonetear,’ believed to be Combetta, seeking advice on how to accomplish this task on a Reddit forum, allegedly wrote that “[t]he issue is that these emails involve the private email address of someone you’d recognize, and we’re trying to replace it with a placeholder address as to not expose it.” If all this is true, and Combetta did disclose the effort or if the Department of Justice knew about the effort, then the Department is exposed as having gone to considerable lengths to avoid bringing a prosecution. If all this is true and Combetta did not disclose the effort, then apparently his immunity deal is now invalid. As Turley puts it,
It is such an amazing admission that I would like confirmation that this was not a set up. It is hard for me to believe that the FBI would give immunity to a guy who openly solicited advice on hiding information being sought as federal records — the same guy who would later destroy evidence being sought under congressional subpoena. Such a person would be at serious risk of indictment and many prosecutors would go ahead and charge while leaving open a plea bargain with cooperation. Instead, Combetta got immunity and has now refused to testify before Congress.
So either 1) the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not know of the effort to obscure (most likely) Hillary Clinton’s identity or 2) extended immunity regardless. Turley again:
The allegation could prove particularly embarrassing for FBI Director James Comey who has been criticized for opting not to seek charges despite conflicts in testimony, the deletions of email, and mishandling of classified information. If this is indeed Combetta, it is hard to believe that a contractor would come up unilaterally with the idea of changing federal records to remove the identifying information.
Immunity deals do include provisions for rescinding the agreements if a witness fails to disclose information or misrepresents facts or fails to cooperate. The Reddit material represents an extremely serious development, if true. Congress would have ample reason to investigate such an effort and enforce its subpoena authority.
Which is to say that Combetta was probably acting under instructions. Which further suggests that he would probably not have “used Bleachbit to destroy email records despite his knowledge that those records were being sought by Congress” except under instructions.
As I read all this, I’m having a hard time seeing how this scandal goes away unless the powers that be persuade Combetta to convincingly fall on his own sword, admitting to acting as a rogue even when it seems exceedingly unlikely that he did so.
Katie Bo Williams, “House panel looking into Reddit post about Clinton’s email server,” Hill, September 19, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/296680-house-panel-probes-web-rumor-on-clinton-emails
Jonathan Turley, “Stonetear’s Secret: Immunized Former Clinton Aide Allegedly Sought Advice On Removing Email Address For ‘Very VIP’ Official,” September 21, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/09/21/stonetears-secret-immunized-former-clinton-aide-allegedly-sought-advice-on-removing-email-address-for-very-vip-official