Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hundreds of violations of FBI rules occurred on Comey's watch, FISA Court finds. FBI illegally shared data on Americans with private parties since at least 2009. FBI has no meaningful oversight of its use of US taxpayer dollars. We're told it 'self-polices'-Circa.com...US intel agencies conducted illegal surveillance against Americans for 5 years during Obama admin. continuing to 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," Circa.com, 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: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article152948259.html#storylink=cpMay 26, 2017, "Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties," Circa.com, 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." 





Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article152948259.html#storylink=cpy

..............

Friday, May 26, 2017

Russian bank owners sue BuzzFeed for publishing dossier with unproven claims that it schemed with Russian gov. to influence 2016 U.S. presidential election. This is second entity suing BuzzFeed for publication of the dossier-Politico, 5/26/17

.
May 26, 2017, "Russian bank owners sue BuzzFeed over Trump dossier publication," Politico, Josh Gerstein
 
"The owners of a Russian bank are suing BuzzFeed for publishing a dossier containing unproven claims that the businessmen were involved in bribing Russian President Vladimir Putin years ago and took part in an alleged Russian government scheme to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan of Alfa Bank filed the defamation lawsuit Friday in state court in Manhattan, seeking unspecified damages from BuzzFeed as well as editor-in-chief Ben Smith, reporter Ken Bensinger and editors Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs.

The suit seized on Smith admitting that at the time BuzzFeed published the dossier in January he knew aspects of the dossier were wrong and that other aspects of it were unproven. That admission indicates BuzzFeed had knowledge sufficient to meet the legal standard for libel, the court complaint says.

"The Article clearly states that the allegations contained in the Dossier were unverified and that the Dossier itself contained errors, including the repeated misspelling of Alfa's name, and could not be verified despite substantial efforts," wrote Alan Lewis and John Walsh of Carter Ledyard and Milburn, the law firm for the bank owners. "The false and defamatory statements published by Defendants of and concerning the Plaintiffs and Alfa, and the implications of those defamatory statements, were made with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard of whether they were true or false."

In a statement, BuzzFeed defended the publication of the dossier and warned of a possible chilling effect on reporters trying to explore potential connections between President Donald Trump, his election and the Russian government....

In February, BuzzFeed was sued by a Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev over claims in the dossier that he and his firms used "botnets and porn traffic" to conduct a variety of cyber operations against Democratic Party leaders. At about the time the suit was filed, BuzzFeed apologized and redacted the information about Gubarev and his companies from the document on BuzzFeed's site. However, that suit has continued. BuzzFeed recently lost a bid to move the case from a federal court in Miami to one in New York."

.........................................

Added:

Second lawsuit against BuzzFeed by Russian entity ongoing. BuzzFeed failed in attempt to dismiss charges for lack of jurisdiction. Miami fed. judge says BuzzFeed must respond to Gubarev's libel charges by June 9. Mr. Gubarev says that "no one from the newssite contacted him for his side of the story." Gubarev also has slander lawsuit pending in London against former British spy Christopher Steele-Washington Times, 5/22/17

May 22, 2017, "Federal judge rules against BuzzFeed in libel lawsuit over anti-Trump dossier," Washington Times, Rowan Scarborough 

"A federal judge in Florida ruled Monday that a libel lawsuit over the infamous anti-Donald Trump dossier will remain in her Miami courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled against a motion filed by the defendant Buzzfeed, which asked that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The news website also had sought a change of venue to New York where it is headquartered. 

Buzzfeed posted the complete 35-page dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele on Jan. 10. 

Mr. Steele accused Russian-born tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev of taking part in an elaborate illegal hacking campaign against the Democratic Party during the 2016 election. Mr. Steele said Mr. Gubarev used botnets to bombard the Democrats’ computers with porn and bugging devices. 

Mr. Gubarev, founder of server-provider and Florida-based Webzilla, called the dossier fiction and filed a libel suit against Buzzfeed. He also filed a slander suit in London against Mr. Steele, who admitted in a court filing first reported by The Washington Times that he never verified the charge information. 

The dossier was circulated in Washington by Democratic-tied Fusion GPS, which paid Mr. Steele. 

Judge Ungaro signed an order dismissing Buzzfeed’s argument that trying the case in Florida presented a hardship for Editor Ben Smith and other employees. 

She also ordered Buzzfeed to file an answer to Mr. Gubarev charges by June. 9. 

“Although we’re confident that the case is strong no matter where it’s tried, we like the Southern District of Florida as a venue,” said Evan Fray Witzer, one of Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys. “They have smart, no-nonsense judges who like to move cases along quickly, which is what we want. The faster this case gets to trial, the faster Mr. Gubarev’s good name and reputation can be vindicated.” 

Mr. Gubarev contends that the allegations against him that Buzzfeed posted are false and that no one from the newssite contacted him for his side of the story."


............

 

ESPN has lurched left politically and has injected victimology into its sports conversation-Jason Whitlock

.
May 26, 2017, "Former Observer sportswriter Jason Whitlock: Cord-cutting hurts ESPN, but so does its politics," Charlotte Observer, Langston Wertz, Jr.

"Former Charlotte Observer sportswriter Jason Whitlock says that, yes, cord-cutting is to blame for heavy losses in ESPN viewership. But Whitlock, a former ESPN employee now working at Fox Sports 1, also says the network’s politics are also part of the blame.

According to Nielsen data, ESPN has lost more than 11 million subscribers in the past five years. Whitlock -- who is co-host of FS1’s “Speak For Yourself” sports talk show with Colin Cowherd and Jason McIntyre -- appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Network Thursday. Carlson said ESPN was still the most powerful brand in sports, but he questioned whether ESPN was pushing politics too much.

“I think you’ve asked the right question,” Whitlock answered. “I think cord-cutting has a lot to do with their subscriber and the viewership loss. But the animosity and some of the viewership loss, I do think is a direct result of their lurch to the left (politically), and injecting progressive victimology into the sports conversation.

“If you really understand sports culture, and all the values taught in sports, from Little League, Pee Wee, on, you’re never a victim. There are never any excuses that are accepted. Every coach teaches every play from 5 years old on to 45 years old, we don’t tolerate excuses, we don’t tolerate victimology, and now so much of the conversation by the sports media, ESPN being the leader of this, is just filled with so-and-so is a victim, Colin Kaepernick’s a victim, everybody’s a victim. It’s turning traditional sports fans off.”

Whitlock said he has written and talked often about what he feels is a change in the sports landscape.

I think, again, so much of the media has moved left,” Whitlock said. “It applies to ESPN, but it also applies to all the media. Silicon Valley, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram is now in control of the mainstream media. Everyone is catering all of their content to Silicon Valley and San Francisco values.

“That’s far different than the old media which catered everything to New York traditional liberal values. The values in San Francisco, a bit more revolutionary, a bit more progressive, than a traditional New York-based media.”"




......

Republican Greg Gianforte wins Montana special election for US House. Gianforte 50.8%, Democrat Quist 43.4%. Libertarian Wicks 5.8% (93% reporting)-CNN

.
May 26, 2017, "Republican Greg Gianforte wins Montana special election, CNN projects," CNN, Lauren Fox, Bozeman, Montana

93% reporting

"US House special election results: Montana at large"

"R-Greg Gianforte 50.8%
D-Rob Quist 43.4%
Libertarian-Mark Wicks 5.8%"

"Republican Greg Gianforte has won the special election for Montana's open US House seat, CNN projects, defeating Democrat Rob Quist and capping off a whirlwind final 36 hours of the campaign that saw Gianforte being charged for allegedly assaulting a reporter. 

In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who accused the Republican of "body-slamming" him and breaking his glasses.

"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told his supporters at his Election Night rally in Bozeman. "That's the Montana way."

Saying he was "not proud" of his behavior, he added, "I should not have responded the way I did, for that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

Members of the supportive crowd shouted, "You're forgiven."

With 87% of precincts reporting, Gianforte had 181,255 votes -- or 50.6% of the vote, compared to Quist who has 156,130 votes, 43.6% of the vote, according to Edison Research.

Gianforte was considered the favorite heading into Thursday's election to fill the seat once held by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but that was before the altercation with Jacobs on Wednesday. The Gallatin County Sheriff's office later charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault.

The congressional race in Montana pitted two diametrically opposed candidates against one another. Gianforte: an articulate millionaire and tech entrepreneur who sold his company RightNow Technologies to Oracle in 2012 for $1.8 billion. Quist: a first-time candidate and Montana folk singer who'd amassed moderate Montana fame in the 1970s as a member of the Mission Mountain Wood Band. 

The early crowd of voters at Gianforte's rally were standing by the candidate, unfazed by the events of the previous 24 hours. 

"We whole-heartedly support Greg. We love him," said Karen Screnar, a Republican voter who had driven all the way from Helena to support Gianforte. Screnar said she and her husband have known Gianforte for the better part of a decade. After Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault, Screnar said she was only "more ready to support Greg." 

"We've watched how the press is one-sided. Excuse me, that's how I feel. (They're) making him their whipping boy so to speak through this campaign," Screaner said. "There comes a point where, stop it." 

Her husband, Terry, chimed in that he believed Gianforte was "set up."

Meanwhile in Missoula, Quist who had a live band on stage at his rally, with some supporters dancing, a crowd made of young, college-aged voters as well as older liberal Missoulans."...




.................

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump and delegation at the Vatican, Pope spoke to Melania in Italian-Daily Mail

.



















"After they emerged from their talks, Francis was grinning from ear to ear as he met other members of the first family. 

'What do you give him to eat?' he asked Melania Trump in Italian, referring to the president's hulking size. 'A lot of Pizza?''

'Pizza!?' a delighted Melania responded, laughing. 

The Pope blessed a rosary in her hand before greeting Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other U.S. officials."...


............

Devout Muslim mass murderer of children at UK concert is son of Libyan refugees who are believed to have returned to their Libyan homeland. Abedi grew up in tight-knit Libyan community in Manchester, recently traveled to Libya. Ariana Grande has canceled remaining dates of her 'Dangerous Woman' tour-Mark Steyn

.
"Few of us have gotten things as disastrously wrong as May and Merkel and Hollande and an entire generation of European political leaders who insist that remorseless incremental Islamization is both unstoppable and manageable....Poland and Hungary and Slovakia do not have Islamic terrorism because they have very little Islam. France and Germany and Belgium admit more and more Islam, and thus more and more terrorism. Yet the subject of immigration has been all but entirely absent from the current UK election campaign." Killer Abedi is the son of Libyan refugees.
 
May 23, 2017, ""Dangerous Woman" Meets Dangerous Man," Mark Steyn, Steyn on Britain

"The pop star Ariana Grande has canceled the remaining dates of her "Dangerous Woman" tour following the murder of 22 fans (at the time of writing) and the injury of dozens more at her concert in Manchester. The Manchester Royal Infirmary reports that half the victims brought to the hospital overnight are children. The killer was a suicide bomber. Theresa May says the police believe they know his identity. The usual, predictable details will follow. [UPDATE: He's Salman Abedi, the Manchester-born son of Libyan refugees and another "known wolf".]

As The Independent's headline has it:

"There's only one way Britain should respond to attacks such as Manchester. That is by carrying on exactly as before." 

That's not actually the "only" way Britain could respond, but it seems the way to bet, judging from the responses of the political class. "Carry on" is a very British expression....Her Majesty's viceroy declines to let his eye be caught by these vulgar attention-seeking jihadists....

Easier said than done, alas. A couple of hours ago, as I write, the Arndale shopping center in Manchester was evacuated, somewhat chaotically, with hundreds of customers stampeding for the exits lest they be the cause of The Independent's next carry-on editorial.

The Arndale was the scene of the last big terror attack - in 1996, when the IRA totaled it. Two hundred people were injured, but nobody died, and you don't have to be a terror apologist like Jeremy Corbyn to find the bad old days of Irish republicanism almost quaint by comparison. A few weeks ago the BBC reported that "approximately 850 people" from the United Kingdom have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis and the like. That's more volunteers than the IRA were able to recruit in thirty years of the "Troubles", when MI5 estimated that they never had more than a hundred active terrorists out in the field. This time maybe it's the exotic appeal of foreign travel, as opposed to a month holed up in a barn in Newry.

Carrying on in Germany, Angela Merkel pronounced the attack "incomprehensible". But she can't be that uncomprehending, can she? Our declared enemies are perfectly straightforward in their stated goals, and their actions are consistent with their words. They select their targets with some care. For a while, it was Europe's Jews, at a Brussels museum and a Toulouse school and a Copenhagen synagogue and a Paris kosher supermarket. But Continentals are, except for political photo-ops on Holocaust Memorial Day, relatively heartless about dead Jews, and wrote off such incidents as something to do with "Israeli settlements" and "occupation" and of no broader significance.

So they moved on to slaughter 49 gays in a nightclub in Orlando - the biggest mound of gay corpses ever piled up in American history and the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11. But all the usual noisy LGBTQWERTY activists fell suddenly silent, as if they'd all gone back in the closet and curled up in the fetal position. 

And those Democrats who felt obliged to weigh in thought it was something to do with the need for gun control...

So they targeted provocative expressions of the infidel's abominable false religion, decapitating a French priest at Mass and mowing down pedestrians at a Berlin Christmas market. But post-Christian Europe takes Christianity less seriously than its enemies do, and so that too merited little more than a shrug and a pledge to carry on.

So they selected symbols of nationhood, like France's Bastille Day, Canada's Cenotaph, and the Mother of Parliaments in London. But taking seriously assaults on your own nation's symbols would require you to take your nation seriously, and most western citizens are disinclined to do so. As the great universal talismanic anthem of the age has it, "Imagine there's no countries/It's easy if you try..."

So the new Caliphate's believers figured out that what their enemy really likes is consumerism and pop music. Hence the attacks on the Champs-Élysées and the flagship Åhléns department store in Stockholm, and the bloodbath at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris and now at Ariana Grande's "Dangerous Woman" tour. 

In the decade since the Canadian Islamic Congress launched their "flagrant Islamophobia' lawsuits over my book, various comrades such as Ezra Levant and Douglas Murray have noted, correctly, that a principled commitment to free speech has always been a minority concern - and an even smaller minority with respect to free speech about Islam. As the most learned imam John Kerry put it with respect to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, there was "a sort of particularised focus and perhaps even a legitimacy – not a legitimacy, but a rationale..." Those cartoonists, they were all wearing short skirts and asking for it.

Conversely, most other western citizens believe that, to invert Trotsky, if you're not interested in Islam, Islam won't be interested in you. Ariana Grande was eight at the time of 9/11, and most of her fans even younger. They have passed their entire sentient lives in the age of Islamic terror, yet somehow assume it's something compartmentalized and sealed off from them.  

"Dangerous Woman" is meant to be an attitude, nothing more - an edgy pose in a pop culture that lost any edge long ago; a great T-shirt, like the ones last night scavenged from the merchandising stands and used to bandage the wounded. It must come as a shock to realize there are those who take your ersatz provocations as the real thing, and are genuinely provoked by them.

"Carrying on exactly as before", as The Independent advises, will not be possible. A few months ago, I was in Toulouse, where Jewish life has vanished from public visibility and is conducted only behind the prison-like walls of a fortress schoolhouse and a centralized synagogue that requires 24/7 protection by French soldiers; I went to Amsterdam, which is markedly less gay than it used to be; I walked through Molenbeek after dark, where unaccompanied women dare not go. You can carry on, you can stagger on, but life is not exactly as it was before. Inch by inch, it's smaller and more constrained.

And so it will prove for cafe life, and shopping malls, and pop concerts. Maybe Ariana Grande will be back in the UK - or maybe she will decide that discretion is the better part of a Dangerous Woman's valor. But there will be fewer young girls in the audience - because no mum or dad wants to live for the rest of their lives with the great gaping hole in your heart opening up for dozens of English parents this grim morning. And one day the jihad will get lucky and the bomb will take with it one of these filthy infidel "shameless" pop whores cavorting on stage in her underwear. You can carry on exactly as before, but in a decade or two, just as there are fewer gay bars in Amsterdam and no more Jewish shops on the Chaussée de Gand, there will be less music in the air in western cities. Even the buskers, like the one in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens today serenading a shattered city with "All You Need Is Love", will have moved on, having learned that it's a bit more complicated than that. 

I am currently reading Douglas Murray's fine book, The Strange Death of Europe, which lays out, unsparingly, the central illusion of the last half-century - that you could demographically transform the composition of hitherto more or less homogeneous nation states on a scale no stable society has ever attempted, and that there would be no consequences except a more vibrant range of local restaurants. Mrs May declared this morning on the steps of Downing Street that she had held a top-level security meeting, or what they call in Britain a "COBRA", which sounds like something scary enough to do battle with SPECTRE; in that sense, it's a very butch acronym for a bit of bureaucratic furniture labeling (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A). 

But I'll bet the mood around the table was one of fatalism and resignation, outside a few micro-adjustments to the budget of counter-terrorism agencies and the number of CCTV cameras and the amount of security checks at "sensitive" "high-value" targets like department stores, and theatres, and restaurants and football grounds and pubs and chip shops and...

But the arithmetic is not difficult: Poland and Hungary and Slovakia do not have Islamic terrorism because they have very little Islam.  

France and Germany and Belgium admit more and more Islam, and thus more and more terrorism. 

Yet the subject of immigration has been all but entirely absent from the current UK election campaign. 

Thirty years ago, in the interests of stopping IRA terrorism, the British state was not above preventing the internal movement within its borders of unconvicted, uncharged, unarrested Republican sympathizers seeking to take a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool. 



  
It's just a fact of life - like being blown up when you go to a pop concert.

All of us have gotten things wrong since 9/11. But few of us have gotten things as disastrously wrong as May and Merkel and Hollande and an entire generation of European political leaders who insist that remorseless incremental Islamization is both unstoppable and manageable. 

It is neither--and, for the sake of the dead of last night's carnage and for those of the next one, it is necessary to face that honestly. 

Theresa May's statement in Downing Street is said by my old friends at The Spectator to be "defiant", but what she is defying is not terrorism but reality. So too for all the exhausted accessories of defiance chic: candles, teddy bears, hashtags, the pitiful passive rote gestures that acknowledge atrocity without addressing it - like the Eloi in H G Wells' Time Machine, too evolved to resist the Morlocks.

As I asked around Europe all last year: What's the happy ending here? In a decade it will be worse, and in two decades worse still, and then in three decades people will barely recall how it used to be, when all that warmth and vibrancy of urban life that Owen Jones hymns in today's Guardian is but a memory, and the music has died away, and Manchester is as dull and listless as today's Alexandria. If Mrs May or Frau Merkel has a happier ending, I'd be interested to hear it. If not, it is necessary not to carry on, but to change, and soon - before it's too late." image above from Mark Steyn

......................

Abedi’s parents were Libyan refugees to UK but are believed to have returned to Libya in 2011: 

May 24, 2017, "Salman Abedi named as the Manchester suicide bomber--what we know about him," UK Telegraph,

 
Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.

A school friend told The Times: "He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago."

Abedi born in Manchester and grew up in tight-knit Libyan community that was known for its strong opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime....

[Abedi] had worshipped at a local mosque that has, in the past, been accused of fund-raising for jihadists.

Abedi’s older brother Ismail had been a tutor at Didsbury mosque’s Koran school....

Born in 1994, the second youngest of four children, Abedi’s parents were Libyan refugees who fled to the UK to escape Gaddafi.

His mother, Samia Tabbal, 50, and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Tripoli but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Whalley Range area of south Manchester where they had lived for at least a decade....

His (Abedi's) trips to Libya, where it is thought his parents returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow, are now subject to scrutiny including links to jihadists....

At the Abedi family home in Elsmore Road, a non-descript red-brick terrace, neighbours told how Abedi had become increasingly devout and withdrawn.

Lina Ahmed, 21, said: They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely. A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic. 

“He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’

A family friend, who described the Abedis as “very religious”, said most of the family had returned to Libya, leaving only Salman and his older brother Ismail behind.

“They have not been there for quite a while. Different people come and go,” said Alan Kinsey, 52, a car-delivery driver who lives across the street. Mr Kinsey’s wife, Frances, 48, a care worker, said she believed that the parents had left before Christmas and just one or two young men had been living in the property.

Mr Kinsey said a huge flag, possibly Iraqi or Libyan, had been hanging from their house. “There was a large Iraqi flag hanging out the window but we never thought anything or it,” added Mr Kinsey, “We thought it was about football or a protest at home or something.”

Neighbours woke up to the reality that the quiet young man next door had blown himself up, murdering at least 22 innocent victims."...

.........................

From CBS News link in Mark Steyn article:

"The bomb wielded by Abedi was designed to kill and maim as many people as possible; many of the survivors suffered shrapnel wounds and ball bearings were found at the scene.

There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn't try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concertgoers flooded out of the arena...to cause maximum carnage.".....







....................

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Former CIA chief Brennan answers, "No, sir," when asked before House committee today if he's heard of any attempts to stop or stall Flynn investigation-Daily Caller

.
Former CIA chief Brennan answers, "No, sir," when asked if he's heard of any attempts to interfere with Flynn investigation. Brennan still has the highest security clearance.

May 23, 2017, "Brennan Shoots Down Claim Trump Tried to Kill Flynn Probe," Daily Caller, Richard Pollock

"Brennan was President Barack Obama’s CIA Director from March 2013 to the end of his administration on January 20, 2017. He retains the nation’s highest security clearance and it is common for former intelligence community (IC) leaders to stay in touch with former colleagues.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat and ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, raised the issue of alleged Trump attempts to drop the investigation of Flynn in Tuesday’s hearing.

"“In respect to a number of allegations made recently that the president or his aides may have sought to enlist the help of members the IC [intelligence community] or Director Comey himself to drop the Flynn investigation,” Schiff said. “Have any members of the IC shared with you their concerns that the president was attempting to enlist the help of people within the intelligence community to drop the Flynn investigation?”
 
No sir,” Brennan replied.

Brennan did not limit his answer to his time as Obama’s CIA chief as he did in other responses to the committee, but confidently described his remarks to apply to the present day."...



.............
 



Defendant BuzzFeed fails in attempt to have libel charges against it in anti-Trump dossier case dismissed. Miami fed. judge says BuzzFeed must respond to Gubarev's libel charges by June 9. Gubarev also has slander lawsuit pending in London against former British spy Christopher Steele-Washington Times, 5/22/17

.
May 22, 2017, "Federal judge rules against BuzzFeed in libel lawsuit over anti-Trump dossier," Washington Times, Rowan Scarborough

"A federal judge in Florida ruled Monday that a libel lawsuit over the infamous anti-Donald Trump dossier will remain in her Miami courtroom. 

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled against a motion filed by the defendant Buzzfeed, which asked that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The news website also had sought a change of venue to New York where it is headquartered.

Buzzfeed posted the complete 35-page dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele on Jan. 10.

Mr. Steele accused Russian-born tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev of taking part in an elaborate illegal hacking campaign against the Democratic Party during the 2016 election. Mr. Steele said Mr. Gubarev used botnets to bombard the Democrats’ computers with porn and bugging devices.

Mr. Gubarev, founder of server-provider and Florida-based Webzilla, called the dossier fiction and filed a libel suit against Buzzfeed. He also filed a slander suit in London against Mr. Steele, who admitted in a court filing first reported by The Washington Times that he never verified the charge information.

The dossier was circulated in Washington by Democratic-tied Fusion GPS, which paid Mr. Steele.

Judge Ungaro signed an order dismissing Buzzfeed’s argument that trying the case in Florida presented a hardship for Editor Ben Smith and other employees.

She also ordered Buzzfeed to file an answer to Mr. Gubarev charges by June. 9.

“Although we’re confident that the case is strong no matter where it’s tried, we like the Southern District of Florida as a venue,” said Evan Fray Witzer, one of Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys. “They have smart, no-nonsense judges who like to move cases along quickly, which is what we want. The faster this case gets to trial, the faster Mr. Gubarev’s good name and reputation can be vindicated.”

Mr. Gubarev contends that the allegations against him that Buzzfeed posted are false and that no one from the newssite contacted him for his side of the story."




.........