Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Cruising the Web

Now that some more of Hillary Clinton's emails have been released, dedicated researchers poring over them have found a couple of examples where she knowingly allowed and sent classified information over her unsecured private server. Sean Davis reports on how she sent classified information to Sidney Blumenthal, an outsider who was not part of the administration. Emails were redacted when they were published explicitly because they contained classified material.
That is because under federal law, information is classified by nature, not by marking. As a result, federal classification authorities deemed that the information was classified the very second it originated, even if it was not marked as such until August 27, 2015. Also worthy of note is the fact that Hillary’s message is the only content in the entire document that is redacted and marked as classified. This means that she was not merely a helpless, passive recipient of classified national security information; she was the originator. And not only did she intentionally originate the classified information, she intentionally disseminated it via an unsecured, unsanctioned private e-mail server.

The e-mail was classified as “confidential.” According to the 2009 Obama executive order, the “confidential” classification level “shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign team has repeatedly tried to dodge responsibility for her distribution of classified information by claiming the information was not marked at the time. However, the nature of Hillary’s secret, off-books private e-mail scheme made it impossible for government authorities to mark as classified any information that originated on Hillary’s private server, since they had no access to it. In fact, one of the newly released e-mails shows that the agency’s IT department had no knowledge of her private e-mail address and server scheme.
And there are definite reasons to worry about her sending classified info to Sidney Blumenthal, because we know that his account was actually hacked.

And Republican operative Rory Cooper notes that Hillary sent an email to George Mitchell, the Middle East envoy at the time, to use her private email to reply about discussions he was having with the Italian foreign minister.
On July 25, 2010, Clinton sent an email to Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. The subject line read “Here’s my personal email,” and only had a short message: “[Please] use this for reply– HRC.”

Mitchell emailed her back two hours later. “I talked with [Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini] again and went over the point again. He said he understands and agrees,” he began. The rest of the email is blanked out, indicating that the State Department team releasing Clinton’s emails recognized that the information it contained was classified.

The reasons listed for the email’s classification indicates that the blanked out paragraph contained sensitive information about foreign governments or the United States’ relationship with foreign government.(Link via Ed Morrissey)
But I'm sure that pointing all this out is just Republican nitpicking and no one should care about any of this, right?

And this is no surprise at this point, but it is still amazingly corrupt.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails reveal how prominently the Clinton Foundation factored into her thinking as America’s top diplomat, raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.

In one instance, Mrs. Clinton appeared to try to steer a Haiti earthquake recovery project to the foundation, according to new emails released this week as the State Department belatedly complies with open records requests for her communications during her four years in office.

Another email shows Mrs. Clinton directing a State Department employee to handle solicitation of money from Norway for a program she was about to announce in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010, and which was being run by the United Nations Foundation, another nonprofit created by Ted Turner that has close ties to her family’s operation.
Because the State Department was just an expanded opportunity to build up her family's personal money-making operation. Just imagine what she could do with the entire federal government at her disposal.

And the sleaze just keeps coming.
At least four classified Hillary Clinton emails had their markings changed to a category that shields the content from Congress and the public, Fox News has learned, in what State Department whistleblowers believed to be an effort to hide the true extent of classified information on the former secretary of state’s server.

The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May, was confirmed by two sources -- one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department's legal office, the designation was switched to "B5" -- also known as "deliberative process," which refers to internal deliberations by the Executive Branch. Such discussions are exempt from public release.

The B5 coding has the effect, according to a congressional source, of dropping the email content "down a deep black hole."

The revelations of how Hillary broke the law keep piling up.
In transferring her emails to private thumb drives, Clinton violated a slew of federal regulations, including those of her own State Department.

The State Department’s Foreign Affairs manual prohibits the storage of classified material on any external drive, stating, “the flash drive may only be used for the transfer of unclassified files.” Flash and thumb drives are treated inter-changeably by the rules.

Further, unclassified material must be on a “department owned” drive, not a personal or private sector drive.

If the information on the drive is unclassified, but still sensitive, it “must be encrypted to current standards” for transportation, according to the manual.

State Department rules also required that Clinton’s email transfer had to be approved and closely supervised by a department computer security official.

Finally, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which sets minimum government-wide standards for IT security, ordered that thumb drive restrictions be imposed if the contents were “high value,” a lower standard than classified information.

What a treasure trove of Clinton's corruption and casual disregard for national security these emails are.
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites.

Multiple intelligence sources who spoke to The Washington Times, solely on the condition of anonymity, said concerns about the movement of the North Korean information through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server are twofold.

First, spy satellite information is frequently classified at the top-secret level and handled within a special compartment called Talent-Keyhole. This means it is one of the most sensitive forms of intelligence gathered by the U.S.

Second, the North Koreans have assembled a massive cyberhacking army under an elite military spy program known as Bureau 121, which is increasingly aggressive in targeting systems for hacking, especially vulnerable private systems. The North Koreans, for instance, have been blamed by the U.S. for the hack of Sony movie studios.

Allowing sensitive U.S. intelligence about North Korea to seep into a more insecure private email server has upset the intelligence community because it threatens to expose its methods and assets for gathering intelligence on the secretive communist nation.

“While everyone talks about the U.S. being aware of the high threat of hacking and foreign spying, there was a certain nonchalance at Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in protecting sensitive data that alarms the intel community,” one source familiar with the email review told The Times. “We’re supposed to be making it harder, not easier, for our enemies to intercept us.”

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Iran's Rouhani is already rejecting the UN Security Council resolution. Unbelievable that Obama and the UN are pushing forward while Iran is quite public about how it will still do what they want to do regardless of any agreement.
Now Rouhani — the supposed moderate in whom Obama has placed his trust—has says he looks at the commitments laid out in the Security Council resolution in an à la carte manner. It’s not just a matter of Iran deciding unilaterally that it will not abide by international commitments with regard to missiles. It is not too late for Congressmen affirming the deal to gaze into the crystal ball of what weak inspection and verification mechanisms as well as a lackluster Iranian commitment to abide mean. Tehran is gambling on American partisanship and Congressional venality. Alas, for Iran, it’s a winning bet.

This is scary stuff.
Foreign spy services, especially in China and Russia, are aggressively aggregating and cross-indexing hacked U.S. computer databases — including security clearance applications, airline records and medical insurance forms — to identify U.S. intelligence officers and agents, U.S. officials said.

At least one clandestine network of U.S. engineers and scientists who provide technical assistance to U.S. undercover operatives and agents overseas has been compromised as a result, according to two U.S. officials.

The Obama administration has scrambled to boost cyberdefenses for federal agencies and crucial infrastructure as foreign-based attacks have penetrated government websites and e-mail systems, social media accounts and, most important, vast data troves containing Social Security numbers, financial information, medical records and other personal data on ­millions of Americans.

Counterintelligence officials say their adversaries combine those immense data files and then employ sophisticated software to try to isolate disparate clues that can be used to identify and track — or worse, blackmail and recruit — U.S. intelligence operatives.

Digital analysis can reveal “who is an intelligence officer, who travels where, when, who’s got financial difficulties, who’s got medical issues, [to] put together a common picture,” William Evanina, a top U.S. counterintelligence official, said in an interview.

Peter Wehner advises us to not "forget the non-Trump GOP field." There are several very worthwhile candidates in the race.
I say all this to remind readers that while Donald Trump is a political phenomenon right now – he’s certainly doing better and showed more staying power than I anticipated — the rest of the field is extremely impressive, the best since 1980, and I am among those in the public policy/“reform conservative” world who will do what I can to assist their efforts. I persist in my belief that a modernizing agenda, built around the conservative reform of our public institutions, is right for this moment, and an antidote to Trumpism.

Whoever emerges out of the non-Trump field is impossible to know just now – but here’s what we do know: Whoever emerges will be vastly better, less erratic, more responsible, more conservative and more electable than the man leading the polls right now. I only hope that starting five months from now, Republican primary voters see that as well.
These are acts of war. I'd like to think we were responding appropriately.

Ross Douthat has a typically perceptive column about anti-tax sentiment among Republican voters. There are different groups within the party who have different opinions about taxes and why they want tax cuts and what types of cuts they want.
Then the average Republican voter has a different perspective still: He or she may have imbibed a little Robert Bartley or bought into the alleged “47 percenter” problem, but those kind of ideological speculations are less important than the immediate tax sensitivity that comes with life in the modern American middle class. This prototypical Republican voter, who might be pulling in $45,000 working a trade or $95,000 running a small business (or vice versa), isn’t necessarily being soaked by the federal income tax, but he or she remains an anti-tax voter because even small tax fluctuations year to year feel like an immediate threats to the ability to save, to plan, to expand or preserve a business, to buy a home and put money away for college and think about retirement and generally preserve their peace of mind. And in some cases — perhaps 45 percent of the G.O.P. electorate, depending on the polling — the supply-side element in Republican thinking is irrelevant to this voter’s perspective; instead, he may think of himself as being squeezed from both sides, by the tax-evading rich and the work-avoiding poor alike.

From the point of view of a Republican primary strategy, the (still-inchoate) Trump message is aimed squarely at this 45 percent, and then more broadly at weakening the effective alliance between middle class anti-tax sentiment and donor self-interest/supply-side orthodoxy.

But from the point of view of the Republican Party’s positioning vis-a-vis the wider electorate, the mere possibility that the party could be riven from within on taxes ought to be a signal — the latest of many — that too much of the G.O.P.’s tax agenda is being set by factions at the commanding heights of the party who are out of touch with what’s going on below them, let alone in the electorate as a whole.
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You know who else didn't know about Clinton's private email address? The State Department IT staff.

John Hinderaker provides a case story about how the Obama administration stonewalls a FOIA request for three years.

Ed Rogers is enjoying seeing Debbie Wassermann Schultz grovel as she evades Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders' protests that it is wrong for the DNC to limit the number of debates and they're rigging the process for Hillary.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the current chair of the Democratic National Committee, unilaterally decided that the Democratic presidential candidates will only have four primary debates, and now some of the Democratic candidates are pushing back. Last week, Martin O’Malley sharply criticized the decision, calling it a “rigged process.” And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thinks the idea of limiting the debates “is dead wrong” and that he had “let the leadership of the Democrats know that.” So why is Rep. Wasserman Schultz refusing to budge, even as she is being publicly taken to task? If there was ever a year where “rigging” the process could backfire, 2016 could be it.

This is Washington machine politics at its best — or maybe its worst. In a year when others are struggling to distance themselves from Washington and politics as usual, Team Clinton is doing what they do best and engaging in blatant, self-serving manipulation. Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s desire to hang onto some semblance of power is well-known, and it’s almost embarrassing. She was mostly disowned by the Obama White House a long time ago. She was never a Clinton favorite either, but her desperation to continue her vanity project as DNC chair has given the Clinton Empire the opening to manipulate her by having fewer debates....

In Washington, watching the doomed grovel is a spectator sport. Even a confirmed cynic might feel a pang of pity. But what choice does Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz have? If she has any chance of being thrown a bone by the Clinton Empire, she has to do its bidding. And for Hillary Clinton, rigging the deal — explicitly or otherwise — is certainly more appealing than going through a competitive process and taking the risks associated with unscripted events. Heaven forbid.

As I’ve written before, the Clinton campaign is one that has to avoid crowds and the media, and the latter obviously includes live debates with opponents. Letting Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz prove her loyalty as a fixer is consistent with the predictable Clintonian modus operandi, even if it is misguided.

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Michael Isikoff looks at several lawsuits against Trump or his businesses that could be problematic for him as the campaign continues.
Kathleen Meese, an upstate New York schoolteacher, plunked down $25,000 five years ago for “Gold Elite” courses at Trump University — a for-profit educational outfit owned by Donald Trump that promised prospective students it would teach them how to “make a killing” in the real estate market.

But Meese later complained to New York state regulators she was conned. Her Trump University instructor — supposedly an “expert” who was “handpicked” by Trump — turned out to be a failed businessman who had filed for bankruptcy and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, according to court records.

Her Trump University “mentors,” who she was told would counsel her about real estate deals, were unreachable; their phone numbers disconnected, she asserted. Even a promised photo session with Trump never materialized. What she got instead: a photo of herself with “a cardboard cutout” of Trump, she says.

“Donald Trump received $25,000 of my money,” Meese wrote in a sworn affidavit filed with the New York attorney general’s office, reviewed by Yahoo News. “For $25,000, I have a lifetime membership to nothing!”

Meese is one of more than 150 former Trump University students whose complaints are the basis for a $40 million lawsuit against Trump brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The number of complainants — all potential witnesses against Trump — has more than tripled since Schneiderman first brought the case two years ago, according to state officials. The suit, still active in the New York courts, accuses Trump of pocketing $5 million in profits while running “an unlicensed, illegal educational institution” that “intentionally” misled students and engaged in a “pattern of deceptions” that included false advertisements, “bait and switch tactics” and other “misrepresentations and fraudulent practices.”
That's not quite the straight-shooting reputation that Trump is putting forth.

Trump's comparisons of his flip-flops and support for Democrats to Ronald Reagan's conversion from being a Democrat to a Republican is truly offensive.

Finally, CNN yields to common sense and amended their rules for their debate which might have kept Carly Fiorina out of the debate.

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Frank Bruni writes that the biggest threat to Hillary is John Kasich. I'm always suspicious when liberals tell us who they think would be the biggest challenge for their side. There are things I like about Kasich and I liked him a lot when he was in the House. But other aspects of his record give me pause. I don't like the sanctimonious way he talks about why he took the Obamacare Medicaid money. But I can imagine Democrats really getting worried about a Kasich-Rubio or Rubio-Kasich ticket.

Well, that's a relief. Washington State University has decided not to ban words like "male," "illegal alien," and "people of color." Students will not, as originally planned, students won't be punished for using the disfavored words.
One professor, Selena Lester Breikss, a women's studies professor, had said she would punish students for using male/female pronouns, including "but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment and — in extreme cases — failure for the semester."

The other two professors, Rebecca Fowler and John Streamas, had said they would knock points off student's grades for using terms they find oppressive.

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Michael Barone explains why Warren Harding wasn't as bad a president as he's often portrayed. Barone links to a NYT piece by Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh. I read Amity Shlaes excellent biography of Calvin Coolidge this summer and learned a lot about Harding's presidency that I hadn't known and came to think much better of him, particularly his efforts to cut the size of the federal budget after the budgetary explosion of Wilson's presidency. I highly recommend Shlaes' book about Coolidge which gave a well-rounded of that president about whom little was known except that he didn't talk much in public. There was a lot more to him.

Cheers to Jonathan Alter for his article about "Why liberals should learn to love charter schools." Hear, hear.

Joy Pullmann notes that there are some "border hoppers" that liberals don't love. Not ones who cross the country's borders, but those who don't live in Washington, D.C. and register in D.C. public schools.
Washington DC’s attorney general recently sued a married couple, alleging they had illegally enrolled their three children in well-regarded local public schools despite living outside the District, and demanding more than $224,000 in back tuition. Reached by the Washington Post at home, Alan Hill, the father named in the lawsuit, sounded bewildered: “We are in the middle of this process and still trying to understand it.”

“The issue of nonresidents enrolling in D.C. public schools is often heated, particularly as students compete for a limited number of seats in highly sought-after schools,” the Post reports. “Parents often talk of sitting on wait lists for schools while they see drivers with license plates from neighboring states lining up to drop off their children.”

Clear across the country in Berkeley, California, the local school district also combats illegal enrollees at the behest of annoyed residents. Framed by poorer-performing school districts—most notably Oakland, a high-violence locale—Berkeley Unified School District has proven to be irresistible to parents desperately seeking a better life for their kids despite their inability to pay district housing prices.
It's also happening in Philadelphia but, as Pullman points out, these aren't communities that care about other people jumping their borders.
Here’s the irony: Berkeley, Philadelphia, and Washington DC are “sanctuary cities,” where local law enforcement or other government bodies have openly declared they won’t enforce illegal immigration laws—at least, not against foreign citizens. The University of California-Berkeley is a national leader in openly enrolling and providing tax-sponsored tuition writeoffs and other supports to illegal immigrants. So while these city governments welcome illegal foreign immigrants to, among other things, enroll their kids in local schools (the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that public schools must educate illegal immigrants), those same local schools are prosecuting U.S. citizens for doing the same thing.
They could fix some of these problems with school choice, but that would mean going against teacher unions so don't hold your breath.
Several studies by Randall Reback, an economics professor at Barnard College and fellow at Columbia University, have found that opportunities such as open enrollment across district lines and charter schools increase home prices in poorer areas. This is because home prices are tied to school-district quality, even for people who don’t have children. This is a less-obvious way wealthy people ensure that their kids attend decent schools without having to appear so snobbish and exclusive as to enroll the kids in private school.

In other words, it’s more accurate to think of local public schools not as “free” schools that are or can be substantially the same, but as “local clubs” that are as expensive and exclusive as the people paying for them, Reback said. Take away some of the exclusivity, he said, and you equalize the price.

“We find that choice increases the population density and the income of the types of people moving into the less popular, poorer districts, because they know they now have the option of transferring to the next district over,” Reback said.

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