The Challenges In Exercising Oversight Responsibility

Congress is charged with the responsibility of oversight of the Justice Department. It is part of the checks and balances that are supposed to function within our government. Congress is within its bounds when it asks for documents from the Justice Department. However, that does not necessarily mean that the Justice Department is cooperative in the process. Particularly if the Justice Department may have been coloring outside the lines in recent history.

Catherine Herridge posted a story at Fox News today about recent clashes between Congress and the Department of Justice. It is becoming very obvious that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is not a fan of Congressional oversight.

The article reports:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to “subpoena” emails, phone records and other documents from lawmakers and staff on a Republican-led House committee during a tense meeting earlier this year, according to emails reviewed by Fox News documenting the encounter and reflecting what aides described as a “personal attack.”

The emails memorialized a January 2018 closed-door meeting involving senior FBI and Justice Department officials as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee. The account claimed Rosenstein threatened to turn the tables on the committee’s inquiries regarding the Russia probe. 

“The DAG [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” the committee’s then-senior counsel for counterterrorism Kash Patel wrote to the House Office of General Counsel. “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”

A second House committee staffer at the meeting backed up Patel’s account, writing: “Let me just add that watching the Deputy Attorney General launch a sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer in retaliation for vigorous oversight was astonishing and disheartening. … Also, having the nation’s #1 (for these matters) law enforcement officer threaten to ‘subpoena your calls and emails’ was downright chilling.”

This Thursday we will finally see the Inspector General’s report. It will be interesting to see if Rob Rosenstein is mentioned in this report.

When The Press Interferes With National Security

Terrorism is a worldwide problem. As ISIS is being defeated in Iraq, its members go to other parts of the world to commit terrorist acts. Bringing down ISIS worldwide would be a major step in the direction of peace. However, not everyone is working toward that goal.

Yesterday the following video was posted on YouTube:

An article at The Conservative Treehouse that included the above video. In the video, General Tony Thomas explains how leaked intelligence foiled the capture of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The article at The Conservative Treehouse quotes a Fox News story from July 21st:

“We have absolutely dismantled his network,”  Gen. Tony Thomas, speaking of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, said at the Aspen Security Forum. “I mean everyone who worked for him initially is dead or gone. Everybody who stepped to the plate the next time [is] dead or gone. Down through a network where we have killed, in a conservative estimate, 60,000 to 70,000 of his followers, his army.”

In a wide-ranging interview moderated by Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Thomas, who leads the Special Operations Command, said his team was “particularly close” to Baghdadi after the 2015 raid that killed ISIS oil minister Abu Sayyaf. That raid also netted his wife, who provided a wealth of actionable information.

“That was a very good lead. Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,” Thomas said. “The challenge we have [is] in terms of where and how our tactics and procedures are discussed openly. There’s a great need to inform the American public about what we’re up to. There’s also great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job.”

The article mentions that the comment about a national newspaper probably refers to a New York Times article that appeared in June 2015.

I wonder how the Department of Justice would have handled this sort of leak during World War II. There is no doubt that this leak cost lives–either in America or other places around the world. A major international terrorist was allowed to escape because a newspaper wanted a headline. I understand that a free press is necessary for a representative republic such as America, but what about a responsible press?

 

When Those In Charge Choose To Look The Other Way

Mishandling classified material is a serious crime in government circles. There are severe penalties for infractions. However, it seems like the current administration is taking a vacation from enforcing those rules (other than when the rules involve General Petraeus).

Catherine Herridge has posted a story on Fox News today about documents found on Hillary Clinton’s private server. The story reports that the intelligence community has re-affirmed that two emails on Hillary Clinton’s private server were classified “top secret” when they arrived on the server.

The article reports:

The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe.

The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level. The second email is still considered classified but at the lower “secret” level because more information is publicly available about the event.

The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information.

It is time to elect and appoint people to government positions who will put America’s best interests ahead of either political party. Hillary Clinton’s private server was a serious breach of protocol that put sensitive information in the hands of people who are not friendly to America. A private server is much easier for hackers to breech than a government server with layers of security. Putting classified information on a private server was illegal and needs to be handled in a legal matter. I seriously wonder if anyone in the current administration is willing to do that. As of now we do not have equal justice under the law, one of America’s founding principles. That is a serious problem both in this case and in the future.

It’s Those Pesky Emails Again

The problem is those pesky emails again–only they are not Hillary’s. Catherine Herridge at Fox News is reporting today that at least two emails were sent to analysts at U.S. Central Command requesting that they ease off negative assessments about the Islamic State threat.

The article reports:

Those emails, among others, are now in the possession of the Pentagon inspector general. The IG’s probe is expanding into whether intelligence assessments were changed to give a more positive picture of the anti-ISIS campaign.

The former Pentagon official said there were “multiple assessments” from military intelligence and the CIA regarding the “rapid rise” of ISIS in Iraq and North Africa in the year leading up to the group’s territory grab in 2014.

Similar intelligence was included in the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB – the intelligence community’s most authoritative product — during the same time period. Yet the official, who was part of the White House discussions, said the administration kept “kicking the can down the road.” The official said there was no discussion of the military involvement needed to make a difference.

The IG probe started earlier this year amid complaints that information was changed to make ISIS look more degraded than it really was.

National security is not a game–nor is it a political issue–it is an issue that impacts all Americans. I would be somewhat sympathetic if I thought information was sanitized to prevent creating a panic, but I am not sympathetic at all to information being sanitized for political purposes. The investigation needs to proceed without being compromised by interference by the White House or those in the Obama Administration.

Preparing The Field

Unfortunately we are now living in a country where the presidential campaign is never ending. The latest example of this is the selective release of excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book “Hard Choices” by Politico. The excerpts deal with the attack on the Benghazi outpost on September 11, 2012.

Fox News posted a fact check of the excerpt by Catherine Herridge, their Chief Intelligence correspondent. Ms. Herridge provides a very logical analysis of Mrs. Clinton’s narrative.

One excerpt from the book as posted at Politico:

“There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives,” she writes. “It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.”

Note to Mrs. Clinton–no one in Benghazi had seen the video.

Fox News reports:

An independent review of more than 4,000 social media postings, conducted by a leading social media monitoring firm in December 2012, also found the YouTube video was a non-event in Benghazi.

“From the data we have, it’s hard for us to reach the conclusion that the consulate attack was motivated by the movie. Nothing in the immediate picture — surrounding the attack in Libya — suggests that,” Jeff Chapman, chief executive with Agincourt Solutions (now Babel Street), told Fox News.

Chapman said his analysts reviewed postings in Libya, including those from Benghazi, over a three-day period beginning on Sept. 11, and saw “no traffic in Benghazi in the immediate lead-up to the attack related to the anti-Islam film.”

Please follow the link to the Fox News article to read the rest of the fact-check. The upcoming release of this book is the first step in clearing the way for Mrs. Clinton to run for President. The book provides talking points for the Democrats on the investigating committee and will also make the Benghazi scandal old news by the time the election campaign is fully operational.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta