Wednesday, May 31, 2017

EU's Juncker must be at the booze again, thinking he can bully President Trump or the 63 million Americans who voted for him. Juncker's drinking habits, cognac for breakfast, have caused concern at highest levels of EU. British officials predicted putting Juncker in top EU job could push Britain to Brexit-UK Telegraph, 6/26/2014

6/26/2014, "Fears over Jean-Claude Juncker's drinking," UK Telegraph, by , and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels

"Concerns about the lifestyle of European Commission's president in waiting raised by EU leaders ahead of key summit."

"Jean Claude-Juncker's drinking habits have been discussed at the highest levels by European leaders, who privately have concerns over the lifestyle of the continent’s president-in-waiting, it has emerged.

With David Cameron facing defeat in his attempt to prevent Mr Juncker being confirmed as president of the European Commission, it can be disclosed that a series of allegations about his alcohol consumption have been the subject of top-level talks.

On Thursday, as Mr Cameron...declared himself “unapologetic” over his attempt to block the former leader of Luxembourg....

Allegations have circulated around Brussels in recent years about Mr Juncker’s drinking. 

One senior diplomatic source has said he “has cognac for breakfast”....

Concerns about Mr Juncker’s lifestyle have been raised in recent meetings of EU leaders.

A European diplomat in Brussels said: “His alcohol consumption has been raised by a number of leaders since the parliament election.” 

A separate European Commission source confirmed the report.

Sources also described how Mr Juncker “chain-smoked” through a series of meetings on Thursday....

British officials indicated that giving Mr Juncker the job could push Britain towards an exit from the EU....

Mr Juncker faced more controversy yesterday after he refused to reveal his lucrative earnings from private speaking engagements after Germany’s Süeddeutsche Zeitung newspaper revealed that he is hired by at least four agencies for speaking engagements."... 

image above via:

6/29/2016, "Still sneering at Britain: Jean-Claude Juncker the boozy bully who sums up all that's rotten about the EU," Daily Mail, Geoffrey Levy


9/14/2016, "Jean-Claude Juncker denies alcohol problem during interview in which he drinks four glasses of champagne," UK Telegraph, Laura Hughes


Pres. Trump must literally pull us out of Paris climate agreement. If he just says, 'I'm not gonna sign it,' then he's fooling us, making what may be an insurmountable mistake-Rush Limbaugh, May 31, 2017

May 31, 2017, "The Treaty on Treaties and the Paris Accord," Rush Limbaugh 

"The issue is not whether President Trump signs it....Obama already has signed it. The task before President Trump is to literally pull us out of it....The treaty on treaties is the equivalent of Senate ratification. Obama’s signature is what triggers the treaty on treaties obligation to follow it, even though it hasn’t been ratified....

Trump must pull us out of it. If he doesn’t, if Trump says, “I’m not gonna sign it,” then he’s fooling us because it’s already signed, it’s already in place. And if Trump does nothing we are still bound not to undermine it as a nation. We must make every effort to accede to it. Trump needs to formally announce that he is withdrawing Obama’s consent.

Now, to withdraw, the president just needs to take an affirmative, “We withdraw Obama’s signature.” He doesn’t have to go to the Senate because we didn’t go to the Senate to have it ratified....
So in summary, the Paris Accord is not a treaty, but yet it could end up being enforced as one because of our own law called the treaty on treaties, which simply says that if we announce support in principle, that if we sign an ancillary document promising to do what we can, that is the same thing as the Senate ratifying it with two-thirds of the Senate voting....


It is a mechanism to commit the United States to things that are drastically, horribly detrimental to us without going through the constitutional process that ratifies such treaties. It substitutes verbal consent of agreement in principle, say, as the equivalent of a signature and two-thirds of the Senate voting to affirm. The American people are being told, “It’s toothless.” In fact, here’s the message that’s being used by the media to try to convince Trump to sign this....

They’re trying to say Trump could actually gain some ground with people that don’t support him by signing on to this ’cause it isn’t gonna hurt him. “It’s not gonna bother his own fans because his voters are gonna understand it’s a nothing burger. So Trump can really score some points with people that oppose him by signing on to this thing and not harm and not break a promise.”

And that is not true. If he signs on to this, it is a huge promise broken. It is a huge violation of trust. It may be something insurmountable for the president and his base to sign on to this. It is not harmless....It’s a direct assault on the U.S. economy disguised as something else.

It penalizes...economic growth, targets improved standards of living as evidence of climate change, evidence of planetary destruction. It’s hideous. The president has no business even thinking about signing this. And anybody in his administration urging him to sign this has a death wish for him. Promise you that."...


Rush Limbaugh "Related Links"

Removing sentimentality from NATO: 'The proper attitude to any alliance is to keep a tight focus on the business for which it exists, while being ready to dissolve it without illusion or sentiment, never mind rancor, as situations change'-Codevilla, Nov. 2014

"The proper attitude to any alliance is to keep a tight focus on the business for which it exists, while being ready to dissolve it without illusion or sentiment, never mind rancor, as situations change... Europeans were becoming mere consumers of American provided security."

Nov. 17, 2014, "Would George Washington Mourn NATO?" Angelo M. Codevilla (click paragraphs below to enlarge)

Celebrating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy was an obligatory ritual for two generations of American statesmen. As the decades passed however, mention of it and of “our European allies” has come with decreasing conviction and increasing embarrassment. Few dispute that, today, the alliance’s formalities are a pretense likelier to get its members into trouble than to pull anyone out of it. Civilizational changes have emptied it of substance. Readjusting American strategy to take account of those changes makes far more sense than talking about “revitalizing” or “rebuilding” an alliance on bases that no longer exist.
American statesmen who treated NATO as something of an end in itself erected it into a totem. They would have done well to recall George Washington’s common sense teaching about alliances, namely that, by nature, they are expedients for particular purposes in particular situations. This means that the proper attitude to any alliance is to keep a tight focus on the business for which it exists, while being ready to dissolve it without illusion or sentiment, never mind rancor, as situations change.
- See more at:
Would George Washington Mourn NATO?


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Embarrassing all free people, McCain took the stage in Egypt in 2013 to urge release of Muslim Brotherhood members from jail. Egypt's government said McCain's campaign on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood was "Unacceptable interference in internal politics"-DW.DE, 8/7/2013

8/7/2013, US Senators McCain and Graham interfere in Egypt's internal affairs, defend Muslim Brotherhood

McCain and Graham defend Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Aug. 2013

 8/6/2013, "During their whirlwind tour of Cairo Tuesday, two top GOP senators held the most extensive meeting to date between U.S. officials and senior officials in the embattled Muslim Brotherhood."...Daily Beast, Josh Rogin

8/7/2013, "Egypt dismisses US senators' call for releases," DW.DE

"Two top US senators visiting Egypt have urged the release of detained Muslim Brotherhood members. Egypt’s interim president described their comments as "unacceptable" as foreign mediation efforts begin to be questioned.

A mediation visit by the two Republican senators appeared to have fallen short of its desired aim on Tuesday, with state newspaper al-Ahram indicating that Cairo was beginning to tire of outside involvement.

During their visit, the senators - John McCain and Lindsey Graham - called for the release of detained members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the beginning of a national dialogue to bring Egypt to democratic rule.

The comments, calling the detainees "political prisoners" and referring to the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi - who was last year elected to the post - as a "coup" were denounced by interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour. In a brief statement, Mansour described the remarks as "unacceptable interference in internal politics"...

Although the senators were asked to visit Egypt by US President Barack Obama, they did not directly represent the White House, having found themselves at odds with the White House over the response to last month’s transfer of power. A description of the overthrow as a coup is something that the Obama administration has so far avoided.

'Failure' to be announced

After the visit, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper said on Tuesday that Cairo was preparing to announce "the failure of all US, European, Qatari and UAE delegations in convincing the Brotherhood of a peaceful solution to the current crisis."

Al-Ahram also said the government - according to official sources - was preparing to designate ongoing Muslim Brotherhood protests as "non-peaceful." That distinction has been seen as a sign that the government intends to end the protests by pro-Morsi protesters, if necessary by force.

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle among the visitors to Cairo.

EU envoy Bernardino Leon met Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi on Monday after he and Burns met the day before with the Brotherhood's number two, Khairat al-Shater, in prison. [EU's] Ashton last week met Morsi himself, at the place where he was being detained."

"US senators ruffle Egypt." image AP 


Comment: In Dec. 2013, Egypt declared Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. So-called "top Senator" McCain's name would rarely be in the news again if he were a democrat. His main function is to make the Republican Party look ridiculous. 



Mrs. Merkel: President Trump is only one man. 63 million of us are behind him because he's the only US politician to allow us to conceive of an American interest separate from the 'international community.' We want to be friendly with everyone and help whenever we can, but, as other countries are, we must be allowed to care about our own country first-Julius Krein, Sept. 7, 2015 (Your reaction suggests you thought our bondage to you was permanent)

9/7/2015, "Traitor to His Class," Julius Krein, Weekly Standard 

"Nothing is more terrifying to the elite than Trump’s embrace of a tangible American nationalism....

The critical question, however, is not the source of Trump’s popularity but rather the reason his popularity is so shocking to our political culture. Perhaps Trump’s candidacy threatens a larger consensus that governs our political and social life, and perhaps his popularity signifies a profound challenge to elite opinion....
What differentiates Trump is not what he says, or how he says it, but why he says it. The unifying thread running through his seemingly incoherent policies, what defines him as a candidate and forms the essence of his appeal, is that he seeks to speak for America. He speaks, that is, not for America as an abstraction but for real, living Americans and for their interests as distinct from those of people in other places. He does not apologize for having interests as an American, and he does not apologize for demanding that the American government vigorously prosecute those interests.

What Trump offers is permission to conceive of an American interest as a national interest separate from the “international community” and permission to wish to see that interest triumph."...


Added from Diana West:

8/18/2015, "Trump: Giving Voice to the American "Subconscious"," Diana West

"To say the Media-Political Complex has really lost its cool over Donald Trump, also every marble, is barest understatement....

Before Trump, the American "subconscious," circa 2015, would never "originally think" a US border was possible, let alone a wall; immigration restriction was possible, let alone a halt; immigration law enforcement was possible; the deportation of illegal families was possible; restoration of American citizenship as a privilege, not a stolen good, was possible; jobs for Americans were possible; and the rest. Donald Trump, bless him, has changed the American subconscious, giving voice to Americans long conditioned into silence by this same Media-Political Complex. And there is nothing, but nothing, they can do about it now."


Germany relies on coal to back up intermittent output of wind and solar. Lignite coal (brown coal) is indigenous to Germany and supplies most of its power. Germany also exports coal to other countries. German CO2 increased by 0.8% in 2015-Institute for Energy Research, Oct. 24, 2016

Oct. 24, 2016, "France and Germany Turn to Coal," Institute for Energy Research

"Many of France’s nuclear units are down for inspection. As a result, coal and natural gas generation has more than doubled. Last month, generation from fossil fuels was the highest in 32 years in France and nuclear generation was the lowest since 1998. As a result, French month-ahead power prices escalated to near the highest levels since 2009.

Germany is replacing its nuclear units with renewable energy (wind and solar) as part of its energy transition, the so-called Energiewende. It is using mainly coal to back-up its intermittent renewable energy and as a result, it has increased its coal-fired generation. Due to the higher cost of wind and solar units, residential electricity prices have escalated and are 3 times that of the United States.


France is heavily dependent on nuclear power for its electricity generation. It generated almost 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy in 2015, followed by hydroelectric power that generated about 10 percent. In 2015, fossil fuels represented only a 7.5 percent share and renewable energy (excluding hydro) had a 6.1 percent share....

But this, year, France’s nuclear regulator ordered safety checks on a number of its reactors, and those safety checks are taking longer than expected. France’s nuclear generation began dropping early this year and took a major decline in April that has continued into September. Its nuclear reactors produced 26.6 terawatt-hours of electricity in September, the lowest amount since August 1998. 

Since April, generation from coal and natural gas increased to compensate for the reactors off-line, and in September, they produced 4,132 gigawatt-hours, or 11 percent of the total.[i]

France has seven fewer reactors available than at the same time last year. France’s nuclear regulator ordered safety checks on 18 of its 58 units to rule out potential anomalies on steam generators. Six reactors, however, are expected to be back on-line this month.

France is also faced with the lowest hydropower output in 10 years, which is exacerbating the tight supply situation. Hydropower levels are down 25 percent so far this October compared to last year.

The change in generation has caused prices to spike. The French next-month contract is trading at a premium of 24.90 euros ($27.42) per megawatt-hour to Germany. The price rose to a seven-year high of 68.15 euros ($74.82) per megawatt-hour on October 7. Day-ahead electricity jumped as much as 18 percent to 77 euros ($84.54) per megawatt-hour–the highest since April 2013.


Unlike France, Germany is much more reliant on renewable energy and fossil fuels for its electricity generation than on nuclear power.

That is because Germany decided to retire its nuclear units and promote renewable energy instead after the tsunami hit Japan’s nuclear reactors in Fukushima. While Germany gets 27.3 percent of its generation from non-hydroelectric renewable energy, it is also heavily dependent on coal and natural gas for base-load power and to back up its intermittent wind and solar power, generating over 50 percent of its power from fossil fuels....

Germany’s plan is to shutter all of its nuclear units by 2022 and to have renewable energy provide 40 to 45 percent of its generation by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050[ii]—up from 30 percent in 2025. 

Replacing nuclear power with renewable energy has proven difficult, however, mainly due to the intermittency of wind and solar power. When wind and solar are not available to generate electricity, German power buyers turn to coal. In fact, Germany opened over 10 gigawatts of new coal fired power plants over the past 5 years.[iii]

Germany has over 20 gigawatts of lignite-fired electric generating capacity operating as of the beginning of 2015,[iv] generating about 25 percent of its electricity last year.[v] Lignite, also called brown coal, has the highest carbon dioxide emissions per ton when burneda third more than hard coal and three times as much as natural gas.[vi] It is Europe’s most abundant and least-expensive domestic fuel, especially when located close to power plants. Germany also uses hard coal, which generated about 18 percent of its electricity.[vii]

Germany’s coal-fired generation last year declined by just a half percent and because its electricity demand remained essentially flat, the relatively inexpensive coal-fired power not needed domestically was exported–mostly to Austria, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland.[viii] Germany’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions includes renewables replacing coal as well as its nuclear power, but its coal-fired generating industry refuses to go away.

Despite the large increase in solar and wind power, Germany is likely to miss its 2020 target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels.[ix] In fact, its carbon dioxide emissions increased last year by 0.8 percent.[x]


Coal is not going away in France and Germany as both countries need it to keep the lights on when nuclear units in France are down for inspection and as Germany’s energy transition brings in intermittent renewable energy to replace its retiring nuclear units. Coal, particularly lignite coal, is indigenous to Germany and supplies the majority of its power despite the dramatic growth in Germany’s wind and solar power industry."

"[i] Bloomberg, France Burns Coal Like It’s 1984 as Prices Jump on Atomic Woes, October 18, 2016,
[ii] Clean Air, Germany Replaces Nuclear with Coal, GHGs Skyrocket,
[iii] Carbon Counter, Why Germany’s nuclear phase out is leading to more coal burning, June 6, 2015,
[iv] In July 2015, Germany announced that it would mothball 2.7 gigawatts of the oldest lignite-fired capacity to meet its 2020 climate goals.
[v] Energy Information Administration, Germany, August 2016,
[vi] Scientific American, Can Germany Ditch Coal?, January 20, 2016,
[vii] Bloomberg, Germany Gives Dirtiest Coal Plants Six Years for Phase Out, July 2, 2015,
[viii] Energy Post, The German conundrum: renewables break records, coal refuses to go away, March 24, 2016,
[ix] EU Observer, Can Germany phase out coal power?,
[x] BP, Statistical Review of World Energy 2016,"


Monday, May 29, 2017

BBC 'climate' headlines unwittingly make the point: 5/27/17, 'World awaits Trump decision on Paris deal,' and 5/28/17, 'Trump keeps world waiting on Paris deal.' The unwitting point: US taxpayers can no longer bear the burden of being responsible for the entire world, whatever the issue may be. Nor should anyone. The US wants friendly relations with everyone and to help whenever we can, but we can't be expected to be responsible for 'the world'

BBC headlines, May 27 and May 28, 2017, referencing expectations of massive US taxpayer funding of so-called Paris "climate change" deal (on top of billions of US taxpayer dollars already diverted to alleged global CO2 danger which, even if it exists, is controlled by Communist China--as everyone knows):

May 27, 2017, "Climate change: World awaits Trump decision on Paris deal," BBC


May 28, 2017, "Climate change: Trump keeps world waiting on Paris deal," BBC

Added: Even "UN Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] tells the BBC the Paris agreement won't crumble regardless of US position."...

"Antonio Guterres: "The agreement doesn't collapse if a country leaves the agreement." 5/28/17. image from BBC video  


Trump said US strongly supports NATO but expects partners to pay their fair share. Also: 'We've defended borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross'-Trump address to joint session of Congress, Feb. 28, 2017

Excerpts from full Trump speech to Joint Session of Congress, 2/28/17, provided by The Hill: "We've defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross -- and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate."

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.... 

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world -- friend or foe -- will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free....I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future. 

For too long, we've watched our middle class shrink as we've exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries. 

We've financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit -- and so many other places throughout our land. 

We've defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross -- and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate. 

And we've spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled. 

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet....The quiet voices became a loud chorus -- as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. 

Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first...because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need. 

Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.... 

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop. 

And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity. 

Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.... 

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?...

To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform. 

Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.  It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism. 

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.
And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.

We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path.  My job is not to represent the world.  My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict -- not more."...image via Daily Mail 
Feb. 28, 2017


Perfumed parasites at GOP affiliated Think Tanks learned by March 2016 that the gravy train had ended: "Those very elegant papers it published and conferences it held may have been good and smart, but they didn’t really matter...Instead, everyone who’s been prominent for the last 15 to 20 years finds themselves getting pushed out.” William J. Bennett, Washington Post, 3/15/2016

US voters aren't withdrawing from the world by any means. We're withdrawing from profiteering foreign policy "experts." 

3/15/2016, "Rubio’s demise marks the last gasp of the Republican reboot," Washington Post, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, West Miami, Fla.

""Those very elegant papers it published and conferences it held may have been good and smart, but they didn’t really matter,” said William J. Bennett, a conservative talk-show host and former education secretary in Ronald Reagan’s administration. Instead, everyone who’s been prominent for the last 15 to 20 years finds themselves getting pushed out.”...
Years of carefully laid plans to repackage the Republican Party’s traditional ideas for a fast-changing country came crashing down here on Tuesday when Sen. Marco Rubio suspended his campaign for the presidency after a crippling defeat in his home-state primary. 
Since Mitt Romney’s devastating loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee and leading voices at think tanks, editorial boards and Capitol Hill symposiums have charted a path back to the White House based on inclusive rhetoric and a focus on middle-class issues.
Nobody embodied that vision better than Rubio, a charismatic standard-bearer for conservative orthodoxy who readily embraced the proposals of the right’s elite thinkers. The senator from Florida spoke urgently and eloquently about raising stagnant wages and eradicating poverty. He had an immigrant’s tale to match the rhetoric. And on foreign affairs, he was a passionate defender of the GOP’s hawkish tilt.
But Rubio’s once-promising candidacy, as well as the conservative reform movement’s playbook, was spectacularly undone by Donald Trump and his defiant politics of economic and ethnic grievance. The drift toward visceral populism became an all-consuming rush, leaving Rubio and others unable to adjust.
Rubio’s fall comes weeks after others who advocated for conservative reforms, such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, dropped out of the race, and  as the donors and institutions who have long supported hawkish fiscal and foreign policies find themselves scrambling to hold onto the consensus that has shaped the GOP for decades.

For many of them, Trump represents a threat to the traditional order of the party and its platform. He does not support overhauling Social Security — a key plank for Romney and GOP congressional leaders — and he was a vocal critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq in its aftermath, setting him apart from much of the party’s high command.
Rubio, whose ascent was propelled by a network of powerful players for years, was supposed to be the candidate best positioned to stop Trump and prevent a Republican rupture....
.......... ..........
Following Romney’s defeat in an election many Republicans thought they should have won, party leaders concluded the only way to regain the presidency would be to engage the growing and diverse electorate that President Obama had won over twice. The RNC drafted an “autopsy” that recommended bolstering appeals to women and minority voters, while reform conservatives drafted their own manifesto.

Rubio had been building his base among these Republicans since January 2011, when he began his Senate term. He joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and began to speak at think tanks and meet with scholars, most of them former staffers from George W. Bush’s administration. He hired a number of them for his own staff.

During his breaks in the Senate, Rubio would often tell colleagues how he was reading papers sent to him from former Republican officials or how he was about to have lunch with another bold-faced name from the Bush years. On his computer, he kept a “drop box” of related policy files compiled by his advisers....

Rubio followed a similar path with foreign-policy hawks as they began to look for a favorite ahead of the 2016 contest: a flurry of meetings and op-ed articles and, most critically, solidarity on the issues as they bubbled up.

Although Rubio entered 2015 hobbled with parts of the GOP base because of immigration, he carried goodwill among those two constituencies that were driving the Republican establishment: the reformers and
and the hawks.

“The critique was there: The Republican Party was out of touch,” said Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former George W. Bush speechwriter. “But the breakdown occurred because we got into a cycle where policy
didn't matter at all. Policy was not just secondary, but it was almost not even in the
conversation. And when people tried to interject policy — whether it was Rubio or Bush or others — there was just no appetite for it. It didn’t catch on.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said that Rubio campaigned in a way that quickly became obsolete.

“Rubio was prepared, much like Jeb Bush,
for a reasonable dialogue in Washington policy language, offering positions that reflect 40 years of national security and foreign-policy experts. All of that disappeared. The market didn't care, Gingrich said. 

Rubio’s hawkish foreign policy footing, thought to be an asset, was challenged. Trump’s claims of being “militaristic” even though he was
inclined against intervention muddled how voters perceived the candidates, disassociating American power with the hawkish ideology of Rubio and the Bush orbit. Trump’s denunciations of George W. Bush’s decision to go into Iraq did not make the hawkish cause any easier."...


Saturday, May 27, 2017

FBI illegally shared data on Americans with unauthorized persons since at least 2009. FISA court finds hundreds of violations of FBI rules under Comey. FBI operates as independent state, has no timely oversight, claims to police intel agencies conducted illegal surveillance against Americans for 5 years during Obama admin. through late Oct. 2016-McClatchy

May 26, 2017, "Secret court rebukes NSA for 5-year illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens," McClatchy, Tim Johnson, via Miami Herald

May 26, 2017, "Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties,", John Solomon and Sara Carter

"The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks....

Then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party. 

Read more here: 26, 2017, "Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties,", by John Solomon and Sara Carter"The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks....Then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.
For instance, a ruling declassified this month by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) chronicles nearly 10 pages listing hundreds of violations of the FBI’s privacy-protecting minimization rules that occurred on Comey’s watch.

The behavior the FBI admitted to a FISA judge just last month [April 2017]ranged from illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight the bureau promised was in place years ago.

The court also opined aloud that it fears the violations are more extensive than already disclosed. 

“The Court is nonetheless concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI is engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported,” the April 2017 ruling declared.

The court isn’t the only oversight body to disclose recent concerns that the FBI’s voluntary system for policing its behavior and self-disclosing mistakes hasn’t been working.

The Justice Department inspector general’s office declassified a report in 2015 that reveals the internal watchdog had concerns as early as 2012 that the FBI was submitting ‘deficient” reports indicating it had a clean record complying with spy data gathered on Americans without a warrant.

The FBI normally is forbidden from surveilling an American without a warrant. But Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Act, last updated by Congress in 2008, allowed the NSA to share with the FBI spy data collected without a warrant that includes the communications of Americans with “foreign targets.”

But the FISA court watchdogs suggest FBI compliance problems began months after Section 702 was implemented.

The FBI’s very first compliance report in 2009 declared it had not found any instances in which agents accessed NSA intercepts supposedly gathered overseas about an American who in fact was on U.S. soil.

But the IG said it reviewed the same data and easily found evidence that the FBI accessed NSA data gathered on a person who likely was in the United States, making it illegal to review without a warrant.

“We found several instances in which the FBI acquired communications on the same day that the NSA determined through analysis of intercepted communications that the person was in the United States,” the declassified report revealed.

It called the FBI’s first oversight report “deficient” and urged better oversight.

FBI officials acknowledged there have been violations but insist they are a small percentage of the total counterterrorism and counterintelligence work its agents perform. 

Almost all are unintentional human errors by good-intentioned agents and analysts under enormous pressure to stop the next major terror attack, the officials said.

Others fear these blunders call into the question the bureau’s rosy assessment that it can still police itself when it comes to protecting Americans’ privacy 17 years after the war on terror began....

“No one on the Hill wants to look like we are soft on terrorism when you have increasing threats like Manchester-style attacks. But the evidence of abuse or sloppiness and the unending leaks of sensitive intelligence in the last year has emboldened enough of us to pursue some reforms,” a senior congressional aide told Circa, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media. “Where that new line between privacy and security is drawn will depend on how many more shoes fall before the 702 renewal happens.”...

One of the biggest concerns involves so-called backdoor searches in which the FBI can mine NSA intercept data for information that may have been incidentally collected about an American. No warrant or court approval is required, and the FBI insists these searches are one of the most essential tools in combating terrorist plots.

But a respected former Justice Department national security prosecutor questions if the searching has gotten too cavalier. Amy Jeffress, the former top security adviser to former Attorney General Eric Holder, was appointed by the intelligence court in 2015 to give an independent assessment of the FBI’s record of compliance.

Jeffress concluded agents’ searches of NSA data now extend far beyond national security issues and thus were “overstepping” the constitutional protections designed to ensure the bureau isn’t violating Americans’ 4th Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“The FBI procedures allow for really virtually unrestricted querying of the Section 702 data in a way the NSA and CIA have restrained it through their procedures,” she argued before the court in a sealed 2015 proceeding.
“I think that in this case the procedures could be tighter and more restrictive, and should be in order to comply with the Fourth Amendment,” she added.

The court thanked Jeffress for her thoughtful analysis but ultimately rejected her recommendation to impose on the FBI a requirement of creating a written justification why each search would help pursue a national security or criminal matter....

That was late in 2015. But by early 2017, the court became more concerned after the Obama administration disclosed significant violations of privacy protections at two separate intelligence agencies involved in the Section 702 program.

The most serious involved the NSA searching for American data it was forbidden to search. But the FBI also was forced to admit its agents and analysts shared espionage data with prohibited third parties, ranging from a federal contractor to a private entity that did not have the legal right to see the intelligence....

The court’s memo suggested the FBI’s sharing of raw intelligence to third parties, at the time, had good law enforcement intentions but bad judgment and inadequate training.

“Nonetheless, the above described practices violated the governing minimization procedures,” the court chided.

A footnote in the ruling stated one instance of improper sharing was likely intentional. 

“Improper access” to NSA spy data for FBI contractors “seems to have been the result of deliberate decision-making,” the court noted.

The recently unsealed ruling also revealed the FBI is investigating more cases of possible improper sharing with private parties that recently have come to light.

The government “is investigating whether there have been similar cases in which the FBI improperly afforded non-FBI personnel access to raw FISA-acquired information on FBI systems,” the court warned. 

The ruling cited other FBI failures in handling Section 702 intel, including retaining data on computer storage systems “in violation of applicable minimization requirements.” 

Among the most serious additional concerns was the FBI’s failure for more than two years to establish review teams to ensure intercepts between targets and their lawyers aren’t violating the attorney-client privilege. 

“Failures of the FBI to comply with this ‘review team’ requirement for particular targets have been focus of the FISC’s (FISA’s?) concerns since 2014,” the court noted.

The FBI said it is trying to resolve the deficiencies with aggressive training of agents.

That admission of inadequate training directly undercut Comey’s testimony earlier this month when questioned by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. 

“Nobody gets to see FISA information of any kind unless they've had the appropriate training and have the appropriate oversight,” the soon-to-be-fired FBI director assured lawmakers.

The struggle for the intelligence court and lawmakers in providing future oversight will be where to set more limits without hampering counterterrorism effort.

The FBI told Circa in a statement, "As indicated in its opinion, the Court determined that the past and current standard minimization procedures are consistent with the Fourth Amendment and met the statutory definition of those procedures under Section 702."

Jeffress, however, warned in her 2015 brief of another dynamic that will pose a challenge too, an FBI culture to use a tool more just because it can.
“These scenarios suggest a potentially very large and broad scope of incidental collection of communications between a lawful target and U.S. persons that are not the type of communications Section 702 was designed to collect,” she told the court in a written memo.

And when questioned at a subsequent hearing, Jeffress observed: I don’t think that the FBI will voluntarily set limits on its querying procedures, because law enforcement agencies tend not to take steps to restrict or limit what they can do, for obvious reasons.”"


Added: 5/26/17 McClatchy article on this topic doesn't mention FBI specifically until last two sentences, including: "The court document also criticized the FBI’s distribution of intelligence data, saying it had disclosed raw surveillance data to sectors of its bureaucracy “largely staffed by private contractors.”" 

May 26, 2016, "Secret court rebukes NSA for 5-year illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens," McClatchy, Tim Johnson, via Miami Herald

"U.S. intelligence agencies conducted illegal surveillance on American citizens over a five year period, a practice that earned them a sharp rebuke from a secret court [FISA court] that called the matter a “very serious” constitutional issue.

The criticism is in a lengthy secret ruling that lays bare some of the frictions between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and U.S. intelligence agencies obligated to obtain the court’s approval for surveillance activities.

The ruling, dated April 26 and bearing the label “top secret,” was obtained and published Thursday by the news site Circa

It is rare that such rulings see the light of day, and the lengthy unraveling of issues in the 99-page document opens a window on how the secret federal court oversees surveillance activities and seeks to curtail those that it deems overstep legal authority.

The document, signed by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, said the court had learned in a notice filed Oct. 26, 2016, that National Security Agency analysts had been conducting prohibited queries of databases “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the court.” 

It said a judge chastised the NSA’s inspector general and Office of Compliance for Operations for an “institutional ‘lack of candor’” for failing to inform the court. It described the matter as “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.” 

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, and is a constitutional bedrock protection against intrusion. 

Parts of the ruling were redacted, including sections that give an indication of the extent of the illegal surveillance, which the NSA told the court in a Jan. 3 notice was partly the fault of “human error” and “system design issues” rather than intentional illegal searches.

The NSA inspector general’s office tallied up the number of prohibited searches conducted in a three-month period in 2015, but the number of analysts who made the searches and the number of queries were blacked out in the ruling.

The NSA gathers communications in ways known as “upstream” and “downstream” collection. Upstream collection occurs when data are captured as they move through massive data highways – the internet backbone – within the United States. Downstream collection occurs as data move outside the country along fiber optic cables and satellite links. 

Data captured from both upstream and downstream sources are stored in massive databases, available to be searched when analysts need to, often months or as much as two years after the captures took place.

The prohibited searches the court mentioned involved NSA queries into the upstream databanks, which constitute a fraction of all the data NSA captures around the globe but are more likely to contain the emails and phone calls of people in the United States.

Federal law empowers the NSA and CIA to battle foreign terrorist actions against the United States by collecting the electronic communications of targets believed to be outside the country. 

While communications of U.S. citizens or residents may get hoovered up in such sweeps, they are considered “incidental” and must be “minimized” – removing the identities of Americans – before broader distribution.

The court filing noted an NSA decision March 30 to narrow collection of “upstream” data within the United States. Under that decision, the NSA acknowledged that it had erred in sweeping up the communications of U.S. citizens or residents but said those errors “were not willful.” Even so, the NSA said it would no longer collect certain kinds of data known as “about” communications, in which a U.S. citizen was merely mentioned.

The NSA announced that change publicly on April 28, two days after the court ruling, saying the agency would limit its sweeps to communications either directly to or from a foreign intelligence target. That change would reduce “the likelihood that NSA will acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with one of the agency’s foreign intelligence targets.” 

The court document also criticized the FBI’s distribution of intelligence data, saying it had disclosed raw surveillance data to sectors of its bureaucracy “largely staffed by private contractors. 

The “contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests,” it said, adding that the bureau discontinued the practice on April 18, 2016." 

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