PowwerLine -> Dems hope to spin Niger ambush as Trump’s Benghazi + The Fusion collusion

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowwerLine -> Dems hope to spin Niger ambush as Trump’s Benghazi + The Fusion collusion

Daily Digest

  • Dems hope to spin Niger ambush as Trump’s Benghazi
  • The European Revolt Continues
  • Mapping the massacre
  • The Fusion collusion
  • The Ken Burns version, cont’d
Dems hope to spin Niger ambush as Trump’s Benghazi

Posted: 21 Oct 2017 04:30 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

The Frederica Wilson affair may finally be waning. President Trump’s critics are reduced to noting that, at an event celebrating fallen FBI agents, the wannabe “rock star” didn’t grandstand by claiming credit for funding the building named after the heroes, as Gen. Kelly remembered. Instead, she grandstanded by claiming credit for getting the building named for them.

The anti-Trumpers need to take a piece out of Kelly because he is able to speak up effectively for President Trump. Thus, as Charles Blow of the New York Times says, Kelly is “VERY dangerous.” Whether they can accomplish this based on Kelly’s confusion over the precise nature of Wilson’s grandstanding is another matter. It seems to me that President Trump and his chief of staff won this round decisively.

The next round likely will be fought over the ambush in Niger that resulted in the deaths that produced the ridiculous controversy over Trump’s phone call. The anti-Trumpers hope to spin the ambush as Trump’s Benghazi. A guy from USA Today (I think it was) floated this idea on Fox News’ Special Report. (He was in Charles Krauthammer’s seat. Get well soon, Charles). So, inevitably, did the ridiculous Frederica Wilson.

There is more substance to the ambush than there is to Trump’s phone call. Four Americans died and at least two reportedly were badly injured, so the matter is serious. From all that appear so far, however, the Niger ambush presents no promising lines of attack on Trump.

There are two issues here: the sending of troops to Niger and the ambush itself.

President Obama sent a few hundred U.S. troops to Niger to help that country’s government combat ISIS. President Trump added a few hundred troops to the U.S. force.

I have no view on whether sending troops to Niger was a good idea. But it was a bipartisan one. I don’t see how Democrats get any mileage out of our involvement there.

Ambushes are a fact of life. If enough troops go on enough missions, some will be ambushed. Thus, an ambush bears no resemblance to an attack on a U.S. embassy that results in the killing of a U.S. ambassador. Thankfully, decades go by without that happening.

I don’t mean to say the Niger ambush couldn’t have been prevented with better intelligence gathering and/or decision-making. I have no idea whether it could have been.

If the ambush can be attributed to faulty intelligence and/or bad decisions on the ground, that’s clearly a matter of concern. However, culpability would likely reside with commanders and/or intelligence officers in Africa. It’s difficult to believe that the president, the Secretary of Defense, top generals at the Pentagon, or top CIA officials were involved in any way that would attach blame to them.

One can imagine scenarios in which the Niger ambush might resemble Benghazi. If President Trump or Secretary Mattis received urgent pleas from folks on the ground that this type of mission was too dangerous, this would hark back to the warnings sent to Hillary Clinton about the need to beef up security at the consulate in Benghazi.

If following the ambush, advisers to Trump and/or Mattis made materially false claims about who or what was responsible for the ambush, this would parallel the false claims by Team Obama that the Benghazi attacks were the result of a video, rather than terrorism. But, to my knowledge, Trump’s team has not made such false claims. Everyone seems to agree that the ambush was carried out by ISIS in the Greater Sahara.

Attempting to gain political mileage from the Niger ambush strikes me as the worst kind of political ambulance chasing. Neither political party is above this practice, but the Democrats seem to pursue it more aggressively, or at least less meritoriously, perhaps because they know the mainstream media will back them in this enterprise.


The European Revolt Continues

Posted: 21 Oct 2017 03:20 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

The Czech Republic’s parliamentary election represented yet another rebellion against Europe’s political elites. The winning party, ANO, is considered centrist and won nearly 30% of the vote. Its leader, Andrej Babis, is a billionaire and has been described as a Czech Donald Trump. The Associated Press reports:

The centrist ANO movement led by populist Andrej Babis decisively won the Czech Republic’s parliamentary election Saturday in a vote that shifted the country to the right and paved the way for the euroskeptic billionaire to become its next prime minister.

With virtually all votes counted, the Czech Statistics Office said Saturday that ANO won in a landslide with 29.7 percent of the vote.
In a blow to the country’s traditional political elite, four of the top five vote-getting parties Saturday were ones that have challenged the traditional political mainstream.

The Pirate Party finished third in the voting, which should tell us something. Expressing the condescending attitude that voters across Europe are rejecting, the AP tells us that “Some [parties] have exploited fears of immigration and Islam….” Of course, immigration can never be a legitimate issue, rather it is simply a matter of “exploiting fears.” But immigration skepticism is a majority view: “Like most Czech parties, ANO also rejects accepting refugees under the EU’s quota system.”

A second story, this one from Germany, illustrates what so many Europeans are rebelling against Germany: Full Censorship Now Official.

A new German law introducing state censorship on social media platforms came into effect on October 1, 2017. The new law requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. Social media companies are obliged to delete or block any online “criminal offenses” such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint — regardless of whether or the content is accurate or not.

We all know where employees of social media companies are most likely to detect “libel” or “incitement,” especially when they are trying to avoid a 50 million euro fine. A recent case illustrates what the German government has in mind:

Meanwhile, the district court in Munich recently sentenced a German journalist, Michael Stürzenberger, to six months in jail for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking the hand of a senior Nazi official in Berlin in 1941. The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of “inciting hatred towards Islam” and “denigrating Islam” by publishing the photograph.

Europeans can’t revolt fast enough, or thoroughly enough.


Mapping the massacre

Posted: 21 Oct 2017 08:05 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

A New York Times team including Malachy Browne, Drew Jordan, Nicole Fineman and Chris Cirillo has produced a video that maps a timeline of the Las Vegas massacre: “The shots began at 10:05. Twelve bursts of gunfire later, police broke down Stephen Paddock’s door at the Mandalay Bay. Using forensic analysis, The Times mapped 30 videos that show a vivid picture of what happened that night.” The Times has posted the video here and also made the video embeddable. I have posted it below.

The Times does not specifically address the controversy surrounding the alterations in the timeline regarding Jesus Campos. Rather, the video maps his activity in the corridor during the massacre.

We remain far from a definitive account of the massacre. It remains a riddle wrapped inside an enigma.


The Fusion collusion

Posted: 21 Oct 2017 06:51 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

If we were ever to get to the bottom of actual collusion in the course of the 2016 election, it would be that of the Democrats with the Fusion GPS smear outfit. Kim Strassel’s Wall Street Journal column updates the story of the appearance of two Fusion GPS principals before the House Intelligence Committee. In “The case of Fusion GPS,” I noted the intention of company witnesses to claim the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to maintain their silence. They refuse to tell the committee who paid for the infamous Trump Dossier or whom their clients were. Kim now reports that they proceeded to do just that on Thursday. In the heart of her column Kim explains:

[Fusion GPS is] the firm behind the infamous “dossier” accusing Donald Trump of not just unbecoming behavior but also colluding with Russia. Republicans are investigating whether the Fusion dossier was influenced by Russians, and whether American law enforcement relied on that disinformation for its own probe.

But Fusion’s secret weapon in its latest operation is the Democratic Party, whose most powerful members have made protecting Fusion’s secrets their highest priority. Senate Democrats invoked a parliamentary maneuver in July to block temporarily Mr. Browder’s public testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, has been engineering flaps to undercut and obstruct Mr. Nunes’s investigation. Democrats on the House Ethics Committee have deep-sixed what was meant to be a brief inquiry to clear Mr. Nunes so as to keep him sidelined.

Then there is the intel committee’s meeting this week. Despite the spin, forcing Fusion to appear was Republicans’ only recourse after months of stonewalling. Fusion’s letter ludicrously claimed that Mr. Nunes’s subpoenas were invalid, which essentially forced the committee to show otherwise. It was a question of authority.

Florida Rep. Tom Rooney put the Fusion attendees through a series of questions not out of spite but to clarify finally just what topics the firm is refusing to talk about. The Fifth Amendment doesn’t provide protection against answering all questions. It only protects against providing self-incriminating evidence. It is therefore revealing that Fusion took the Fifth on every topic—from its relationship with British spook Christopher Steele, to the history of its work, to its role in the dossier.

The untold story is the Democrats’ unprecedented behavior. Mr. Rooney had barely started when committee staffers for Mr. Schiff interrupted, accused him of badgering witnesses, and suggested he was acting unethically. Jaws dropped. Staff do not interrupt congressmen. They do not accuse them of misbehavior. And they certainly do not act as defense attorneys for witnesses. No Democratic lawmakers had bothered to come to the hearing to police this circus, and Mr. Rooney told me that he “won’t be doing any more interviews without a member from the minority present.”

Private-sector lawyers also tend not to accuse congressmen of unethical behavior, as Mr. Levy did in his letter to Mr. Nunes. But Fusion’s legal eagle must feel safe. He’s former general counsel to the Senate’s minority leader, Chuck Schumer. He has also, I’m told by people familiar with the committee’s activities, more than once possessed information that he would have had no earthly means of knowing, since it was secret committee business. Consider that: Democratic members of Congress or their staff providing sensitive details of an investigation to a company to which the committee has given subpoenas.

You’d think all this would be big news in the context of the hysteria over alleged collusion of the Trump campaign with the Russian. A special counsel with a virtually unlimited mandate to torment President Trump, his family and his associates past and present have left the Fusion GPS/Trump Dossier matter untouched. The hysteria over alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia appears to be little more than a pretext for the Mueller operation.

NOTE: Mollie Hemingway has much more here.


The Ken Burns version, cont’d

Posted: 21 Oct 2017 06:20 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

I watched all 18 hours of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick/Geoffrey Ward documentary The Vietnam War. Ten years in the making, it draws on enormous resources to fix our history in falsity. It seeks to endow the war as portrayed by the antiwar left with the status of the authorized version. A credulous consumer of the antiwar literature of the era, I began to get a clue around about the time the NVA had its tanks rolling toward Saigon in 1975. Burns affords us access to views expressed by our Vietnam vets featured in the documentary ranging all the way from A to B.

Burns, of course, has the suffocating cultural apparatus of the left to support his documentary. Today’s Star Tribune, for example, includes an article on documentary producer Lynn Novick’s appearance with featured documentary talking head Tim O’Brien at Macalester College. Who has the will or knowledge to “resist”? Operating in good Orwellian fashion, the Burns crew seeks to control the future by controlling the past and demonstrate that those who control the present control the past.

Knowledgeable students of the war have begun to talk back. The purpose of this series has been to draw attention to their work. Stephen Morris’s Weekly Standard essay “The bad war” makes an important contribution, as does the two-part essay by Mac Owens that I noted here earlier this week. I quoted Yale’s Professor Charles Hill’s unamused view of the Ken Burns version here. In his ten years working on the documentary Burns somehow never got around to interviewing a vet like Minneapolis attorney Tim Kelly, who speaks for the many expressing simple pride in their service. I quoted Tim in my “Notes on the Ken Burns version.”

City Journal has now posted Mark Moyar’s essay “A warped mirror.” Moyar is a leading scholar of the war. Despite the documentary’s pretense to fairness and detachment, Moyar finds that it “promote[s] an agenda, in ways glaringly obvious to veterans though not readily apparent to those too young to have lived through the war. Burns and Novick wish to show that America fought a war that was unnecessary and unwinnable, and that it did so out of national hubris.” Moyar’s essay embeds useful links (such as this one to John Del Vecchio’s critique) and adds valuable perspective to the literature on the documentary.


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