Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Cruising the Web

As we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway this week, here is an interesting footnote about media publications of leaked information could have wrought terrible consequences for our war effort.
Six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the June 7, 1942, edition of the Chicago Sunday Tribune trumpeted news of a stunning American victory over a Japanese armada at the Battle of Midway.

"Jap Fleet Smashed by U.S.; 2 Carriers Sunk at Midway: 13 to 15 Nippon Ships Hit; Pacific Battle Rages," the front-page headlines read. And in the center of the page, an intriguing side story: "Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea."

It was a fascinating, and detailed, description of much of what American intelligence knew beforehand of the enemy's fleet and plans. Indeed, it was too detailed.

The report - 14 paragraphs long - suggested a secret U.S. intelligence coup, and became one of the biggest and potentially damaging news leaks of World War II.

The leak hinted that the United States had cracked a Japanese communications code, sparking fury in the Navy and the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It also led to a sensitive grand jury investigation whose testimony would be sealed for more than seven decades.
A naval historian and several press organizations just recently won a suit to open up the testimony in the case in which the U.S. government for the first and only time prosecuted a journalist under the Espionage Act. Our having broken the Japanese code to learn that the Japanese were planning to attack Midway was key to our victory in this turning point battle. Yet the Chicago Tribune published that information in its story on the battle.
"The strength of the Japanese forces with which the American Navy is battling . . . was well known in American naval circles several days before the battle began," the Tribune report began. "The advance information enabled the American Navy to make full use of air attacks on the approaching Japanese ships."

The story went on to describe the three parts of the planned Japanese attack: a striking force, a support force and an occupation force. It detailed how many ships were involved, and named the ships and their types.

"It was a huge scandal," Carlson, who is working on a book about the case, said in a telephone interview Thursday. "It enraged the Navy high command. It enraged the Roosevelt administration."

The story did not explicitly say a code had been broken, Carlson said.

But "any knowledgeable reader of that story would have known that [it] had to come from American cryptanalysis of the Japanese naval code," he said. "The Navy . . . thought any reasonably intelligent person reading that story would say, 'Hey, the American Navy has broken the Imperial Navy's operational code.' "
The story of how our intelligence figured out the Japanese plans is a fascinating story. We had intercepted Japanese plans for an attack but didn't know where they were going to attack.
At first, the United States was unsure where the enemy planned to attack.

Japanese communications kept referring to a location code-named "AF." The Navy guessed it was Midway, but it had to be sure. To find out, Navy Com. Joseph J. Rochefort, a code breaker, suggested a ruse. Midway was instructed to issue an emergency call in plain English saying that its water distillation plant had broken down. The report was duly picked up by enemy eavesdroppers, who radioed superiors that "AF" was running short of water, according to Costello.
The journalist who wrote the story was an Australian war correspondent for the Tribute, Stanley Johnston. He had been on the USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea and then was on a transport ship after the Lexington was sunk during that battle when the orders from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz were received about previewing an upcoming battle with the Japanese.
The dispatch wound up in the hands of the Lexington's rescued executive officer, Cmdr. Morton T. Seligman, who happened to be bunking with Johnston. "So you put him in the same room with the dispatch, and the Navy and everybody else put two and two together. Much of the content of Nimitz's dispatch appeared in Johnston's story."

Johnston landed in San Diego on June 2, and was in Chicago on June 4. When he heard about the unfolding battle, he told his editor he had some "dope" on the Japanese fleet, according to a 1942 report to the Navy and the Justice Department by former U.S. attorney general William D. Mitchell, who was handling the investigation.

Johnston was told to write the story.

"The description in the article of the Japanese Midway fleet is almost an exact duplication of the information contained in the Nimitz dispatch," Mitchell wrote, and Johnston later admitted copying a document with "some statement on it about the Japanese fleet."

Johnston almost certainly saw and copied the dispatch, Mitchell believed. But there was no proof that he knew the dispatch was secret. "The fact that it was left lying around would indicate its lack of 'secrecy,' " Mitchell wrote.

Plus, he feared a criminal prosecution could reveal further wartime secrets.

The Roosevelt administration wanted to pursue it anyhow. In Chicago, in August 1942, federal prosecutors seated a grand jury, which heard testimony.

In the end, no one was indicted. The testimony was sealed, and remained so until December.
Lucky for us the Japanese never seemed aware of the story.
"They never heard of the article," he said. The Japanese did soon change their code, but not because of the leak. They changed it because it was due to be changed."
Imagine what would have happened today. The reporter would have tweeted links to his story and it would have been retweeted and commented on by thousands of people within a few hours. The Japanese would have read it and have known that their code had been cracked. It all reminds me of the classic SNL skit of a press conference on the eve of the Persian Gulf War.

SNL Desert Storm Press Conf (3 34) from Wendy Hall on Vimeo.

That's how top secret information on cracking the Japanese code would play out today.

Is this any surprise?
Top lawyers with at least four major law firms rebuffed White House overtures to represent President Trump in the Russia investigations, in part over concerns that the president would be unwilling to listen to their advice, according to five sources familiar with discussions about the matter....Among them, sources said, were some of the most high-profile names in the legal profession, including Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly; Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Paul Clement and Mark Filip of Kirkland & Ellis; and Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell.

The lawyers and their firms cited a variety of factors in choosing not to take on the president as a client. Some, like Brendan Sullivan, said they had upcoming trials or existing commitments that would make it impossible for them to devote the necessary time and resources to Trump’s defense.

Others mentioned potential conflicts with clients of their firms, such as financial institutions that have already received subpoenas relating to potential money-laundering issues that are part of the investigation.

But a consistent theme, the sources said, was the concern about whether the president would accept the advice of his lawyers and refrain from public statements and tweets that have consistently undercut his position.

“The concerns were, ‘The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen,’” said one lawyer close to the White House who is familiar with some of the discussions between the firms and the administration, as well as deliberations within the firms themselves.
As a result he ended up with the lawyer who represents his businesses as his attorney. Of course this lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, doesn't have any experience with the sort of allegations that Trump could possibly be facing. Assuming that this report is true (and we can be skeptical about anonymous leaks from law firms - they could be from a secretary or file clerk for all we know), why would any lawyers want to defend a client who at any moment might resort to Twitter to totally contradict the defense they will have spent hours and hours researching and writing briefs to argue just as he did to the DOJ lawyers for the Supreme Court case. And then there is the toxicity of being associated with Trump.
Another lawyer briefed on some of the discussions agreed that the firms were worried about the reputational risk of representing the president. One issue that arose, this lawyer said, was “Do I want to be associated with this president and his policies?” In addition, the lawyer said, there were concerns that if they took on the case, “Who’s in charge?” and “Would he listen?”

Yeah, what lawyer would take on a client who won't promise not to live-tweet the testimony of an opposing witness? I can't even.

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After three terror attacks, is this the leader that the British want for their country?
Jeremy Corbyn addressed a rally attended by 300 members of an extremist group linked to the leader of the London Bridge attacks.

He addressed an anti-Israel protest where Islamists from Al Muhajiroun chanted about their support for Osama Bin Laden and shouted slogans calling for Israelis to be gassed. Two were dressed in mock suicide bomber outfits.

Khuram Butt, one of the three Borough Market murderers, was a supporter of Al Muhajiroun and an associate of its leader Anjem Choudary, the jailed hate preacher....

Details of Mr Corbyn’s attendance at the infamous demonstration in May 2002 are a blow to the Labour leader just 24 hours before the polls open.

The Mail can also reveal that he and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell both voted against the counter-terrorism law used to ban Al Muhajiroun and criminalise its members and leaders....

Details of the demonstration were found on the communist Weekly Worker website. It described the ‘ultra- reactionaries’ of Al Muhajiroun chanting ‘Skud, Skud Israel’ and ‘Gas, gas Tel Aviv’ , along with declarations of support for Al Qaeda.

And then there is the Labour Party shadow home secretary Dianne Abbott whom Corbyn had to shove off the day before the election.
Jeremy Corbyn was humiliatingly forced to ditch shadow home secretary Diane Abbott on the eve of the General Election today - as he desperately fought to limit damage from her latest interview shambles.

Mr Corbyn said his counter-terrorism chief was 'unwell' and would be temporarily replaced by Lyn Brown - a little-known politician who previously quit his frontbench complaining that his leadership was 'untenable'.

Senior Labour figures said Ms Abbott had been 'diagnosed with a serious, long-term condition'.

The move came after Ms Abbott was left floundering yet again when she was asked about a key report on terrorism in an interview on Monday night....

Ms Abbott hit the headlines last month after struggling to explain the costings for labour's plan to recruit 10,000 new police officers.
At one point during the notorious interview with LBC radio she suggested the plan would cost £300,000 – meaning the officers would be paid just £30 each. She then said it would be £80 million. The actual forecast cost is £300 million.

MPs on both sides say concern about Ms Abbott's competence have been raised frequently by voters on the doorstep, prompting the Tories to target her in the campaign.
Read the text of her interview on the report about how to protect London from terrorism that was done for the mayor last fall. She clearly has no idea what was in the report and can just answer in non-generic evasions like saying "I think that physical resilience is important." But she seems to have no idea about any of the 127 recommendations in the report. And this was the woman Corbyn was proposing to put in charge of a Labour Party's counterterrorism efforts. Again, not the headlines a party leader wants the day before the election when terrorism is one of the top issues. The fact that the polls have narrowed the Conservatives' lead against these shambaholic Labour leaders from when May called for the election is a sign of her weakness.

Theodore Dalrymple, a psychiatrist and writer who has worked in British prisons and in sub-Saharan Africa, writes about how Britain's efforts to accomodate what are anticipated as the demands of Muslims are actually communicating weakness to those who are radicalized.
we have gone in for what a Dutch friend of mine calls “creative appeasement.” Authorities make concessions even before, one suspects, there have been any demands for them. Thus, a public library in Birmingham, one of the largest known to me, has installed women-only tables, a euphemism for Muslim women only. Whether there was ever a request or demand for sex-segregated seating from Muslims is probably undiscoverable; truth seldom emerges from a public authority. But the justification would almost certainly be that without such tables, Muslim women would not be able to use the library at all....

My female Muslim patients who had grown up in Britain told me that the school inspectors had never intervened when their parents prevented them from attending school, often for years. On the other hand, white working-class parents were bullied by those inspectors when their refractory 15-year-old daughters refused to go. A few years ago it came to light that police in Rotherham had for decades systematically turned a blind eye to the mass sexual abuse of children—at least 1,400 victims—by Muslim men. This type of willful neglect by the authorities came as no surprise to me. On the contrary, it is precisely what I would have expected.

From all this the terrorists surely draw a great deal of comfort. It gives them the impression of living in a weak society that will be easy to destroy, so that their acts are not in the least nihilistic or pointless, as is often claimed. They perceive ours as a candle-and-teddy-bear society (albeit mysteriously endowed with technological prowess): We kill, you light candles.
Does anyone anticipate this changing any time soon?

But then there are some guys who are true heroes. What an amazing story!
Roy Larner, 47, was with pals in a pub when they burst in, attacking revellers with 12in blades and chanting “Islam, Islam!” and “This is for Allah”.

He has now been hailed the Lion of London Bridge, a nod to his club’s Lions nickname – with his friends since delivering him a tongue in cheek present of a “Learn to Run” book – a nod to the brave man’s refusal to hide from the knife-wielding terrorists.

Roy was knifed eight times before the jihadis fled the Black & Blue restaurant and bar.

He fearlessly shouted back and fought them single-handedly — saving countless lives as he gave staff and other drinkers time to escape.

He told The Sun from hospital: “They had these long knives and started shouting about Allah. Then it was, ‘Islam, Islam, Islam’.

“Like an idiot I shouted back at them. I thought, ‘I need to take the p*** out of these b******s’.”

“I took a few steps towards them and said, ‘F*** you, I’m Millwall’. So they started attacking me.

“I stood in front of them trying to fight them off. Everyone else ran to the back.

“I was on my own against all three of them, that’s why I got hurt so much.

“It was just me, trying to grab them with my bare hands and hold on. I was swinging.

“I got stabbed and sliced eight times. They got me in my head, chest and both hands. There was blood everywhere.

“They were saying, ‘Islam, Islam!’. I said again, ‘F*** you, I’m Millwall!’

“It was the worst thing I could have done as they carried on attacking me....

Roy told how he braved the attackers’ blades to stop them massacring other drinkers.

He said: “All three were on me. I couldn’t hold them back. Two got past me and I was one-on-one.

“He kept slashing and hacking away at me. They were stabbing and slashing at me as I waved my arms for 20 or 30 seconds.”

“Everyone inside was running around in panic. A few tried to get out the back and others hid under tables or behind counters.

“The men then smashed open the door where I was standing. The three of them stood together.”

After the trio’s rampage at the venue they left to attack neighbouring pubs, until police marksmen gunned them down.

Roy, who fearlessly followed them outside, recalled: “They ran out of the pub and legged it.

“I went outside and saw them head towards The Wheatsheaf pub.

“Then from nowhere I heard gunshots and saw all three go down.

“I didn’t think of my safety at the time. I’d had four or five pints — nothing major.

“I can handle myself. But I was out with an old person and it was out of order.

“It wasn’t until I was in a police car that I realised I was in a bad way. I’d been sliced up all over.”

He was taken to St Thomas’s Hospital in critical condition and had surgery to wounds on his head, fingers and chest.
Millwall should give him permanent passes to all their games.

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Ah, the continued success of Obamacare.
One of the five remaining co-ops created out of Obamacare has requested rate hikes of 30 percent, New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

Minuteman Health, which operates in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, is requesting the rate hike due to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and the risk-adjustment program.

Tom Policelli, CEO of the company, said that most of the increase, about two-thirds, was due to the risk-adjustment program and about one-third was due to the expansion of Medicaid.

There are roughly 20,000 customers on the exchange who will feel most of the burden of the rate increase.

"This is a shadow tax on a very small population, and will likely make individual coverage too expensive for many," the company explained.

"What's going to drive rates higher is not medical costs," said Policelli. "What's going to drive rates higher is unintended results of policy decisions."
Democrats are hoping that the Republicans will be the ones to pay for their failure to provide subsidies for health insurance companies. They figured they could get away with just having the president spend the money without any Congressional authorization and never anticipated a Republican in office to block that plan.
Obama administration officials knew they were on shaky ground in spending billions of dollars on health insurance subsidies without clear authority. But they did not think a long-shot court challenge by House Republicans was cause for deep concern.

For one thing, they would be out of office by the time a final ruling in the case, filed in 2014, was handed down. They also believed that a preliminary finding against the administration would ultimately be tossed out. Finally, they figured that President Hillary Clinton could take care of the problem, if necessary.

Well, they are out of office, Mrs. Clinton is not president and the uncertain status of the cost-sharing payments now looms as the biggest threat to the stability of the insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. A dubious decision made by the previous White House has handed the current administration a powerful weapon to wield against the health care legislation that it despises.

“The administration should not have found an appropriation where none existed,” said Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who has studied and written about the issue. “The Obama administration argument that the Affordable Care Act included an appropriation for the cost-sharing payments never held water.”

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer agreed with that assertion last year. She ruled that the Obama administration had no explicit authority to pay as much as $130 billion over 10 years to insurance companies to cover out-of-pocket health costs for millions of lower-income Americans obtaining insurance on the new health exchanges. At the same time, she found that the Republican-led House had the standing to sue the administration — a potentially far-reaching decision that many constitutional law experts predicted would be overturned on appeal, causing the suit to be dismissed.

Then November’s election upended all the calculations. Donald J. Trump won, and his interest in defending the executive branch against the House lawsuit was nonexistent given his antipathy for the health care law.

But neither he nor congressional Republicans were in any hurry to drop the appeal initiated by the Obama administration because that would mean the subsidies would be immediately cut off, throwing the health insurance market into turmoil. Instead, the lawsuit has been essentially suspended and the payments have become a new bargaining chip in Washington. The administration is essentially doling them out on a month-to-month basis while Republicans struggle to come together on their own health care replacement plan....

While some Democrats acknowledge that the Obama administration left the law vulnerable to attack with the way it funded the subsidies, they say it is Republicans who will now pay politically if the program collapses on their watch.

“This would put their hands on the bloody knife,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who is heading the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
I have a feeling that we will be debating this for the next year and a half until the 2018 election - are the Democrats to blame for writing a terrible bill or are the Republicans to blame for not funding the shoddy plan?

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Tiana Lowe takes on the "Do as I say, Not as I Do" Climate Alarmists.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio asserted that “climate change is a dagger aimed at the heart of New York City” while castigating President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords, yet when pressed to explain why he travels twelve miles daily from Gracie Mansion, the official mayoral residence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, to a gym in Park Slope, Brooklyn, flanked by an entourage of SUVs, de Blasio responded with a totally coherent and logically sound rationale: “I wish my life was like everyone else’s, but it’s not, for obvious reasons. But again, the issue is not cheap symbolism here. The issue is, are we going to take action? Are we going to change the way things are done?”

You couldn’t possibly criticize Al Gore either. After all, his 20-bedroom Memphis mansion is just a part of his laborious strides to “live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible,” as he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. Describing Trump’s move as “reckless” and “indefensible,” Gore clearly finds climate change to be so imminently life-threatening that he had to share (sell) his television network for $500 million to Al Jazeera, aptly described by Jim Geraghty as “owned and funded by the Qatari royal family, which enjoys the world’s third-highest oil and natural gas reserves.”

Sure, scientists have repeatedly touted investments into research into alternative and nuclear-energy sources as our best bet to reduce anthropogenic climate change, but why focus on the boring details or “cheap symbolism” when embracing a plan which would cost the average American family a mere extra $30,000 over the next ten years while reducing projected global warming by 2100 by a whopping one-fifth of a degree Celsius!

The WSJ has some suggestions of questions that the Senate Intelligence Committee should ask James Comey tomorrow.
The politically savvy Mr. Comey has a knack for speaking in congenial forums such as the clubby Senate Intelligence Committee he’ll address Thursday. By contrast he is refusing to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee—where he came under a grilling in May, days before he was fired—though there is no bar to him testifying more than once.

Circa News is also reporting (and we have confirmed) that Mr. Comey is refusing to answer seven questions sent to him in a letter from Judiciary on May 26. The bipartisan request is from Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, as well as the chairman and ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

The questions are aimed at discovering how the contents of Mr. Comey’s famous “memo” to himself came to be splashed across the press. This still private memo reportedly says President Trump asked Mr. Comey to back off an investigation into former National Security AdviserMichael Flynn, and its contents surfaced in the New York Times not long after Mr. Comey was fired—courtesy of an unidentified Comey “associate.”

The Judiciary letter asks if Mr. Comey created other memos about interactions with Justice Department officials or Mr. Trump; if he shared the contents of his memos with people inside or outside the Justice Department; if he retained copies of the memos, and if so to turn them over to the committee.

We’re told Mr. Comey replied via email that he didn’t have to answer the questions because he is now a “private citizen.” But that same private citizen will be opining in front of a national TV audience before a committee investigating serious questions of law and intelligence. Mr. Comey shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which of his memos he sends to Congress and which he can keep for his memoirs. If Mr. Comey wrote those memos while FBI director, as his talkative pals claim, the memos are government work product and he has a duty to provide them to investigators.

The “private citizen” excuse is useful in that it exposes that Mr. Comey’s main goal will be providing testimony against Mr. Trump while reviving his own reputation. Tip for Thursday viewing: Notice if Mr. Comey answers questions selectively, ducking those he doesn’t like behind the cover of Robert Mueller’s special-counsel investigation.

The Intelligence Committee shouldn’t let him get away with it. If Mr. Comey wants a public stage to tell his side of the Trump story, fair enough. But he should also be required to provide actual copies of his memos (if they exist), disclose with whom he shared them, and where they are now stored. He should also tell the country if President Trump was a target of the Russia investigation while he supervised it at the FBI.

Oh, and someone should also ask Mr. Comey if it’s true, as the Washington Post has reported, that the FBI probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails was triggered by a phony document provided by Russian intelligence. The point of this Congressional oversight is to help the public understand how Russia tried to meddle with American democracy, and Mr. Comey’s duty didn’t end with his dismissal.
These are the questions that Comey refused to answer from the Senate Judiciary Committee. They're all reasonable questions about the memo he wrote himself and whom he discussed or shared it with. And they're bipartisan questions with signed by both the chairman Charles Grassley and the ranking member Dianne Feinstein. Someone on the Intelligence Committee should just go down that list and ask him while he's testifying under oath tomorrow.