For Encounter Books’ “Close Encounters” video interview series, I spoke with the eminent Hoover Institution classicist, historian and National Review Online contributor Victor Davis Hanson on a wide range of subjects from the decline of the American academy to Middle East policy, North Korea, the Mueller special counsel and the assault on the Trump presidency from all sides and much more.
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Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.
In Part II of my in-depth interview with Andy, we discussed Russiagate, the pervasive unethical and at times lawless behavior of law enforcement and the intelligence community with respect to Donald Trump and Russia versus Hillary Clinton and her e-mail server, the apparently limitless mandate of Robert Mueller’s special counsel, obstruction of justice and much more.
Gen. Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director, has inadvertently revealed the ultimate subtext for the political establishment’s antagonism towards President Trump.
He writes in a recent New York Times editorial:
When asked for counsel these days by officers who are already in government, especially more junior ones, I remind them of their duty to help the president succeed. But then I add: ‘Protect yourself. Take notes and save them. And above all, protect the institution. America still needs it. [Emphasis mine]
This is the buried lede in an essay adapted from Gen. Hayden’s forthcoming book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies.
The focus of his piece is that we are moving into a new “post-truth era,” making it impossible for intelligence agencies to do their job.
But as I show in a new piece at The Federalist, this premise masks the true animating factor behind the words and deeds of the national security and foreign policy establishment in relation to President Trump from the 2016 campaign on.
The establishment has served under presidents before who have not been, to put it politely, paragons of truth and virtue — sometimes to the great detriment of our national security.
What really differentiates the current president from his predecessors is his willingness to speak one major inconvenient truth: The world has gotten progressively more dangerous and chaotic under establishment leadership in the post-Cold War era, in particular under the Obama-Clinton administration.
Calling out this failure, and challenging the worldview that has led to the actions that caused it, is what these individuals cannot abide because it represents an attack on their power, influence and credibility.
“[A]bove all, protect[ing the institution” is a sentiment that would suggest those in our bureaucracies would condone all manner of actions that undermine our constitutional order.
And what have we seen over the last two years in the national security and foreign policy establishment, as well as our justice system?
Is it a bigger threat to republican government when American citizens are hypothetically better represented, or when noncitizens in actuality dilute their representation?
This is a question at the core of an emerging controversy I touched on recently over a seemingly trivial query the Department of Justice has urged the Census Bureau to reinstate on the 2020 Census: Are you a U.S. citizen?
Former Obama attorney general Eric Holder has now joined 17 state attorneys general in expressing his outrage over the potential reinstatement of this citizenship question in the census by way of a characteristically deceptive and hyperbolic column penned for popular consumption in The New Republic.
I systematically debunk Holder’s arguments in a new piece at The Federalist.
You can find my related twitter thread beginning below:
Is it a bigger threat to republican govt when Americans are hypothetically better represented, or when noncitizens in actuality dilute their representation? Dems led by Eric Holder and 17 Resistance state AGs want to prioritize noncitizens over you. https://t.co/B8un91xNTA THREAD
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) March 1, 2018
Do Americans have a right to know who is living among them? The Trump Department of Justice says yes, but Democrats are revolting when it comes to the reinstatement of a simple question on citizenship in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.
For The Federalist I explore the emerging controversy over this issue, which is critical because population count (including noncitizens) impacts (i) the apportionment of seats in the U.S. house, (ii) the relative power of each state in the electoral college, (iii) the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funds and (iv) the drawing of potentially every political district in the country.
I also touch on the broader lack of transparency on citizenship in government data, and why it is in the political class’s interest to shield the truth from Americans — truth that hurts its narrative and threatens its agenda.
I’ve summarized my piece in a shareable Twitter thread that begins below:
Trump DOJ wants to reinstate a basic question on citizenship in the census. In their immigration intransigence, Left is revolting. THREAD on the emerging controversy over a potential change affecting $bns of tax dollars and every leg district in America https://t.co/5bEDxJcwx4
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) February 1, 2018
Read the whole thing here.
Amazingly, therein we find the below nugget on the Justice Department’s subsidizing of Catalist in connection with its failed litigation efforts over North Carolina’s election rules:
The Justice Department also pumped untold thousands of dollars into a database run by a company called Catalist. This database has been populated with data provided by the Democratic National Committee, unions, and other liberal organizations and is used to help them win elections. Catalist’s infrastructure and database are expensive to maintain, but fear not, the Justice Department, in the North Carolina trial and elsewhere, has provided federal tax dollars to its expert witnesses so that they could purchase Catalist’s proprietary data. Yes, federal dollars were used to fund a database that will be used next year to try to win the 2016 election for Democratic candidates.
For all the resources expended, the Justice Department’s entire case was built on speculative claims. Not able to produce a single eligible voter who was or would be unable to vote, the plaintiffs relied on hypothetical statistical arguments to claim that the turnout of black voters would be “suppressed” because they might use early voting and same-day registration slightly more than white voters, and because black voters are “less sophisticated voters.” DOJ experts actually made the borderline-racist argument that “it’s less likely to imagine” that black voters could “figure out or would avail themselves of other forms of registering and voting.” That’s a shameful way to enforce a law that was used to protect real victims of real discrimination in the Deep South.
Luckily, reality trumped racialism:
The White House’s “Countering Violent Extremism” summit is barely underway, yet the message is already clear: the conference is politically correct — and far worse — a charade.
And that is a charitable interpretation.
Its sponsors are engaging in intentional obfuscation (e.g., saying “violent extremism” is the enemy), as well as peddling ineffective and ill-considered policy proposals (more community “empowerment”). The conference will effectively aid and abet America’s increasingly ascendant jihadist foes.
Reviewing the Obama administration’s summit preview, here are its 10 most disturbing aspects:
1. Contrary to its big government ethos, the Obama administration asserts that national security should be driven by the people, not the state.
According to the White House preview [emphasis mine]:
Really at the core of our approach is that the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism. It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach. It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat. They know their citizens best. They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence. And so our approach is to really embrace and empower what local communities can do. So we’ve been working with our federal partners and our local partners to put in place this approach over the past couple of years.
Again, this is not about government, especially the federal government. The federal government doesn’t have all the answers. This is about building a comprehensive network to fight back against violent extremism. And we are explicitly recognizing the role that civil society plays, the private sector plays, and that families, et cetera, can play in countering violent extremism.
Who knew the Obama administration had so much respect for and faith in civil society?
Yet of course, this faith turns out to be dangerously misplaced as…
2. The groups the president wants to empower are those who may pose the biggest threat.
As Patrick Poole noted in an extensive report for TheBlaze:
In December 2011, the White House issued the “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” – the local partners, of course, being Islamic organizations, including those cited by the Justice Department as working to aid foreign terrorist organizations. All national security and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level would now have to consult these groups and rely on “local partners” as a matter of policy. And as made clear in Salam al-Marayati’s Los Angeles Times op-ed, Islamic groups complaining about counter-terrorism policies or training would disrupt government efforts to “counter violent extremism” gave them an implicit veto over counter-terrorism policies. [Los Angels Times link added for context]
Why should we care about this 2011 report?
A senior Obama administration official noted in previewing the summit that the report details the very efforts the administration will be hawking during the three-day event.
Local partners such as the Council on American-Islam Relations — an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Hamas funding trial in history — has advised members of the Muslim community not to work with the FBI, and religious leaders to lawyer up as opposed to working together with law enforcement when it comes to potential jihadists. On the eve of the summit, CAIR is reportedly calling for the Department of Justice to “protect those who act in good faith to prevent violent extremism by engaging with [Muslims] considering it in order to dissuade them.”
A partner of perhaps higher standing is the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), a group linked to numerous jihadis and jihadi-sympathizers, that is reportedly the primary liaison between the Muslim community and law enforcement in countering violent extremism. The Boston program will be one of the three held up as a success story during the summit, despite the ISB’s Islamic supremacist efforts.
Looking to the heart of Muslim communities, according to the Mapping Sharia project, imams in over 80 percent of 100 randomly surveyed representative mosques in America recommended the study of violence-positive texts. The correlations with these texts are disturbing, as illustrated below:
In Pew’s extensive 2011 report on Muslims in America, 21 percent of those polled indicated there was a great deal or fair amount of “support for extremism among Muslim American;” 19 percent did not indicate that “suicide bombing/other violence against civilians is justified to defend Islam from its enemies;” only 70 percent indicated that they viewed Al Qaeda “very unfavorably.”
As leaked Department of Homeland Security documents reveal, the second highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by our government reside in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn’s population is 96,000, and it has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans of any city in the country.
In light of these figures, and the fact that jihadist groups worldwide claim they are at war with America, having committed over 25,000 attacks in the name of Allah since Sept. 11, 2011, one must ask, what exactly is the rationale behind leaving self-policing to Muslim communities when these are the very places from whence jihadists spring?
Such a policy of course is only baffling if you are of the belief that jihad is an Islamic tenet, and that Islamic supremacist ideology is what animates the vast majority of the world’s “violent extremists.”
But of course…
3. According to the administration there is no profile of a “violent extremist.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, author most recently of books including “Bullies” and “Primetime Propaganda” has a new book out this week titled “The People Vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration.”
In the book, Shapiro makes the case that the Obama administration has effectively acted as a criminal cabal, necessitating criminal prosecution by individual Americans in lieu of impeachment.
We spoke with the combative author yesterday to discuss the prospect of criminal prosecution against the president, the IRS scandal including its personal impact on Shapiro, President Obama’s illegal arming of terrorists, the prospect of the president granting in effect mass amnesty to illegal immigrants and much more.
Below is our interview, conducted via phone, and edited for clarity and links.
Why should Blaze readers pick up this book?
Shapiro: Because this is a book that not only details all of the problems and scandals inside the Obama administration, but makes the charge that these are criminal problems, not merely political ones, and explains how we can remedy these issues without resorting to impeachment which is an insufficient remedy.
To that end, you are likely familiar with Andy McCarthy’s new book, in which he makes the case for impeachment. One question related to that is, why criminal prosecution over the impeachment route?
Shapiro: Two points: First is, it’s important to start seeing the Obama administration as a criminal enterprise. It’s really the only way to understand what it is that they’re doing. What impeachment says this is a political problem. This is not a political problem, this is a criminal problem. And detailing it in those terms, in terms of what laws have been broken, is important to understanding exactly who these folks are, and what they’re doing, and exploiting their power. That’s number one. Number two: even Andy makes the case for impeachment but then he doesn’t actually call for impeachment. In the book he says, “Sure we should go ahead and, you know, theoretically the president is guilty of all these crimes and he should be impeached, but then he doesn’t say, “Well, okay so let’s go ahead with impeachment,” because everybody understands, including Andy, that impeachment comes with certain political costs that people are simply not willing to undertake. Impeachment is “pie in the sky.”
In the entire history of the United States we’ve impeached a grand total of 19 people in the House, and we’ve convicted a grand total of eight people in the Senate. And the country has been around for nearly 240 years. You’re talking approximately basically one actual impeachment every thirty years. And this particular solution is supposed to remedy all of the problems with the Obama administration? And even if you were to impeach President Obama, how does that change the honeycombed criminality of the entire administration? Joe Biden takes over and it’s the exact same thing. The whole point here is to change the system of government under which we live. It’s not enough to simply impeach individual officers, it’s not simply enough to impeach one person every thirty years. This requires a broad change in how we view government, and how we treat government when it acts criminally because if the only solution is impeachment, they’re going to get away with an awful lot of criminal activity.
How practically would this work? Typically, I would assume that American citizens wouldn’t have standing to bring a case against the president. Lay out the mechanics for us.
Shapiro: Well actually under RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] standing is significantly less of a problem. So you just have to find somebody who is damaged by the criminal conspiracy. So for example, let’s take a couple very practical examples. Can the family of Brian Terry sue the Obama administration for Brian Terry’s death in Fast and Furious? Right now, the answer is basically no, because suing the executive branch is considered unpalatable, and under RICO law it’s questionable as to how high up the chain you can sue. What I propose is changing the RICO law so that you could sue the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States and you wouldn’t have to have direct – what RICO requires is criminal enterprise – meaning everybody has to have the same goal, and everybody has to have participated in the creation of this enterprise towards that goal. That’s a very different standard from, “There has to be a direct piece of paper from President Obama to Eric Holder, and one from Eric Holder to the folks pushing Fast and Furious saying, “You will smuggle these weapons across the border in violation of American law.”
So RICO is significantly broader. It was designed to go after the Mafia, specifically in cases where the Mafia did have plausible deniability. So in that case, clearly Brian Terry’s family has standing, they would be able to sue in what I propose in a RICO case against the Obama administration, and they would be able to win damages against individual officers of the United States.
Same thing would happen with regard to the four folks who died in Benghazi. Their families could sue the Obama administration for negligent homicide for example if RICO was broadened to include negligent homicide which it should be…or violations of the Arms Export Control Act, which is what I have suggested also happened in Benghazi.
The finding of standing is actually not that difficult in most scandals because most scandals actually damage somebody. So my friend Jeremy Boering from Friends of Abe should be able to sue the Obama administration under RICO for violations of IRS law. That’s what I’m proposing.
We recently published an article on the Justice Department’s most dangerous division that you’ve never heard of, based on a stunning chapter from John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky’s new book, “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”
On Tuesday we caught up with Mr. von Spakovsky, a former FEC appointee and counsel to the assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in connection with the release of the book to discuss a variety of topics from “Fast and Furious,” to “Pigford,” immigration, the damage done to national security by the DOJ and more.
His response to the question as to who President Obama might pardon at the end of his tenure (hint: it could be a mass pardon that includes the release of serious criminals), was perhaps most shocking of all.
Below is a transcript of our interview, conducted via phone, with slight edits for clarity and links.
Why should every American read this book?
von Spakovsky: Well because the Justice Department is the most powerful federal agency we have domestically. If a federal prosecutor targets you or your business, they can destroy your business, they can throw you in jail. I mean, they have enormous power. And when you have someone who’s willing to abuse that power, it’s extremely dangerous to the freedom and liberty of Americans.
The book sort follows the arc of Eric Holder’s life and tracks his politicization and then how that manifested itself both in the Clinton White House and now throughout the DOJ today. Is there one key takeaway or set of takeaways you’d hope each reader comes away with?
von Spakovsky: The key thing to understand is that what drives Eric Holder, unlike prior Attorneys General of both parties, is not the interests of justice, but it’s politics and ideology. And because of that, he has completely politicized the enforcement of federal laws.
And one of the elements in your book that you speak to is just how far reaching the tentacles of the DOJ spread, and I think you say it’s the largest law firm in the country. Give people a sense as to the size and scope of the powers of the Department of Justice and what areas of society it touches
von Spakovsky: Sure. They’ve got a 27 billion dollar budget. They’ve got more than a 100,00 employees, and they aren’t just lawyers, but they also are responsible, for example, for the FBI. The FBI’s part of the Justice Department, and so is the ATF — Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Also they run all of the federal prisons across the country, and they have this huge program in which they give federal money to state and local police and other agencies all across the country. So really, their fingers are spread throughout the entire law enforcement system from the local cops all the way up to the Feds, including the FBI.
What in your view is the one most dangerous example of lawlessness that exists in the Department of Justice today?
von Spakovsky: I think it’s what the House of Representatives held him [Attorney General Holder] in contempt for the first time in American history – and that was Operation Fast and Furious. That was probably the most reckless law enforcement operation the Justice Department has ever conducted because it actually has led to the death of not just an American agent, but apparently, literally, hundreds of people in Mexico.
Can you walk readers through the key highlights or the key bullet points as to why the concept of gunwalking and the way it was implemented was so lawless and so far reaching in its criminality?
von Spakovsky: The standard way the Justice Department rolls out a drug cartel or a mob organization is, they start with the lower level folks, they arrest them, but then they give them a choice where they will be willing to basically turn in the people above them. And what they do is they roll out the organization starting out at the bottom, getting all the way to the top. But to do that, you’ve got to be willing to catch the lower level people with drugs, or guns, or whatever it is, and arrest them. And in this case, they sold guns to straw purchasers for the drug cartels, but then didn’t arrest them, and most importantly, didn’t follow the guns as they passed through the levels up to the highest levels of these cartels so that they could arrest the folks at the top. They just basically lost track of them as soon as they had been purchased. It wasn’t just reckless, it was “felony stupid” as Chairman [of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee] Issa of the House of Representatives has said.
The cruel irony of what happened to Maria Conchita Alonso this past week lies in the following: Here was a woman descended from Communist Cuba, who emigrated to the United States from Communist Venezuela, only to find herself a victim of the more insidious totalitarianism of a monolithic Leftist artistic establishment.
For those unfamiliar, Maria Conchita Alonso is a Cuban-born, Venezuelan-raised actress who had the temerity to endorse a conservative gubernatorial candidate in California. Even worse, in an interview she said she supported candidate Tim Donnelley’s views on immigration, using the term “illegal” to describe immigrants who were here…well…illegally.
The penalty for her thought crime? Alonso was compelled to “resign” from her role in a Spanish-Language version of the “Vagina Monologues” set to run in San Francisco’s Mission District in mid-February.
Eliana Lopez, the producer of the show, and herself a fellow Venezuelan actress, said “We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately…Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe.”
Stated differently, here was a Hispanic woman telling another Hispanic woman that her views on Hispanic immigration were too odious to be given sanction by a role in a performance. Apparently not all wise Latina women are born equal.
Maria Conchita Alonso is just the latest in a series of victims of the Left’s fatwa against anyone who does not hew to the party line in recent years.