Law, Politics, and Partisanship

It is difficult to comment on the ongoing investigations concerning Donald Trump without getting mired in partisan politics, into the truth-destroying trap of “taking sides.” But the larger issues at stake mandate that an examination of the topic be done.

The law, and the American electoral system, should be sacrosanct. It is inevitable that one party or candidate will frequently be disappointed with the results of a ballot.  In the past, the losing side merely licked their wounds and prepared to make their case more persuasively in the next election.  The aftermath of 2016 broke that tradition.

Regardless of whether one is a Democrat or Republican, left-wing or conservative, pro-Trump or anti-, the aftermath of the 2016 campaign is troubling.

In his recent Stephanopoulos interview, former FBI Director Comey openly disclosed his family’s devotion to the Clinton campaign, including the fact that his wife and daughter participated in a protest march tied to Trump’s inauguration. If we connect this into the revelations of how utterly political and partisan the FBI had become under his watch, including the emails detailing how FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page  conspired to defeat or discredit Trump, how the DOJ squashed an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s legal issues, and the revelations that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife gained $700,000 contribution for her campaign from a Clinton-related sources, then a picture of a government agency utterly corrupted at the leadership level unfolds.  (Stephen Dinan  of The Washington Times reports that Ty Clevenger, a New York attorney, has filed a grievance with his state’s bar association on the grounds that Comey lied to Congress and allowed the destruction of evidence in the Clinton email investigation. Clevenger’s actions could result in Comey losing his license to practice law.)

Comey used what could only be called startlingly disingenuous words, such as “possible” in relation to potentially derogatory facts about Trump. It is possible that this article was written actually by a Martian and emailed to you from outer space, but the fact is it is not.

The effort to hobble the Trump Administration include the ongoing actions by special counsel. Despite a year of well-financed efforts by an investigatory team staffed with many Clinton partisans to find what now appears to be non-existing evidence of collusion, an investigation based solely on biased and faulty evidence that intentionally mislead a FISA court, no relevant information harming the president has been found.

Following the announcement that the President was not the target of a criminal investigation, we saw the unprecedented invasion of the offices of Trump attorney Michael Cohen by NY investigators now seeking a wholly different way to embarrass the president.

The reality of what we are facing is clear. Those disappointed by the results of the 2016 campaign will not shy away from breaking oaths to their offices, violating precedents, and engaging in outrageous behavior, to seek their revenge for Clinton’s loss.  In July, former CIA Director John Brennan, as noted by Zero Hedge urged federal officials to refuse to obey President Trump’s orders under certain circumstances.  Daniel Disalvo, writing for Commentary  reports that “…parts of the U.S. intelligence community are knee-deep in political activity that should be off-limits to them…”

The harm that has been done to our system of laws and governance is substantial, particularly in the aftermath of an eight year period under Obama when the FBI, Department of Justice, and other government agencies were co-opted for partisan purposes. We have seen how the Obama DOJ, throughout his tenure, ignored that which is fair and lawful in their effort to silence their opponents by misusing agencies such as the IRS.

Normally, this type of outrage would be exposed and defeated by the disinfectant of media exposure, but in this case, the biased media itself has become a co-conspirator.

Iran’s People Lose Patience with Regime

In an interview with a New York Post  reporter Eli Lake, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize wrinning human rights author, has called for the end of her nation’s regime. After years of attempting to reform the nation’s government from within, she now believes that the only way to effectuate change is through a regime change.

Ebadi had previously been  reluctant to call for the end of the regime, but now believes it is the only way to restore freedom.  She didn’t advocate for external military intervention, and called for the Iranian people to rise up.  According to Lake, her position is a rebuke to Western progressives who still pine for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to deliver on the reforms he promised in his 2013 and 2017 campaigns.

Human Rights Watch notes that “Authorities in the security apparatus and Iran’s judiciary continued to target journalists, online media activists, and human rights defenders in an ongoing crackdown, in blatant disregard of international and domestic legal standards…Iranian courts, and particularly the revolutionary courts, regularly fell short of providing fair trials and used confessions obtained under torture as evidence in court. Authorities routinely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel, particularly during the investigation period… Authorities continued to restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly and prosecuted dozens of journalists, online media activists, and trade unionists on charges of ‘acting against national security,’ ‘propaganda against the state,’ and ‘assembly and collusion to disrupt national security,’merely for exercising their legitimate rights.”

On August 29, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, the lawyer of six administrators of channels on the social media application Telegram who were close to reformists arrested before the May presidential elections, told Ilna news agency that Branch 15 of Tehran’s revolutionary court had sentenced his clients to three to five years in prison.

In sharp contrast to Barack Obama’s acceptance of the extreme Islamic government in Tehran, President Trump has sharply criticized that nation’s leadership.  In a tweet delivered while substantial protests were occurring around Iran,  he stated “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

Despite a significant attempt by the Iranian people to reform their government in the 2009 “Green Revolution,” the Obama Administration chose not to support the movement. Gil Hoffman, writing for the Jerusalem Post reports  that Israeli Deputy Minister for Public Policy Michael Oren believes  “The Obama administration’s lack of support for the Green Revolution was part of a pattern in which it did not hold Iran accountable for any provocation. It would seem it was part of a general approach that began in Obama’s first week in office in 2009 of wanting to reach a deal with Iran at pretty much any cost…. Among the Iranian provocations ignored by the Obama administration, Oren listed the crackdown on the protesters, the kidnapping of Americans, having their missile boats provocatively approach American destroyers, trying to assassinate him and his Saudi counterpart in downtown Washington, the failure to follow through on a red line Obama imposed on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad using chemical weapons and Iranian-backed Hezbollah smuggling massive amounts of cocaine into the US.

In January, the largest protests against the Tehran regime spread across Iran. In contrast to the Obama Administration, the U.S. State Department’s  official position stated that “The Iranian people have been expressing their desire for dignified treatment, an end to corruption, improved transparency, and increased economic opportunities. Protestors have also demanded that the regime stop diverting the nation’s wealth to fund military adventurism abroad. Unfortunately, the government continues to imprison and kill those who are brave enough to venture into the street. It is limiting the flow of information into Iran, restricting free speech, and attempting to prevent the outside world from observing its own repression. We support these legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people, and call on the government to allow the free exchange of ideas and information. All of us should be able to enjoy the same basic economic and political freedoms, including the right to peaceful demonstration. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the deaths to date and the arrests of at least one thousand Iranians. We have ample authorities to hold accountable those who commit violence against protestors, contribute to censorship, or steal from the people of Iran. To the regime’s victims, we say: You will not be forgotten.”

U.S. State Dept. map

Humanity’s Greatest Achievement, Forgotten

Today marks the anniversary of a great and auspicious day in American history, and in the development of human rights throughout the world.  But the odds are you will see nothing about it in the nation’s media, and your children will not hear about it in their classrooms.

The British had been moving steadily to reduce both the private and community rights of their American colonies. Eventually, despite the availability of an appropriate military base within Boston, the English General Thomas Gage ordered his troops “quartered” in civilian sections of the city.  It was becoming increasingly apparent that the colonists’ liberties were being dismantled. To protect themselves from the escalating abuse, the colonists stored up ammunition as a last resort to protect themselves.

The National Archives describes what happened next: “On the evening of April 18, 1775, the British authorities, acting on information that a supply of ammunition for the local militia was being stored in Concord, sent British regular troops from Boston to confiscate the arms. Skirmishes occurred [the next day] in several places, most notably on Lexington town green and afterwards at Old North Bridge spanning the Concord River in Concord. The incidents are referred to as the Lexington Alarm and the Battle of Concord…The colonists felt wronged. They had been fired upon unjustly.”

Thus began the American Revolution, which eventually led to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Mankind would never be the same. Those documents represented the greatest single advance in human rights the world had ever seen.

But like much else in American history, this extraordinary story has been largely forgotten both in our school systems and in the media. There are significant reasons for that.

The concept of individual rights, the founding principle of America, is rather inconvenient for the prevailing left-tilting cultural leaders, who tilt towards collectivism.

Joy Pullman, writing for The Federalist, reports that: “U.S. civics education, if it exists at all, is being transformed into a political machine to push left-wing causes, undermine American government, and incite civil unrest, finds a 525-page report from the National Association of Scholars. [NAS] The ‘New Civics’ uses attractive, bipartisan-sounding words like ‘civics’ and “service learning” to trick Americans and their representatives into allowing progressive political machinery to hijack public funds and young minds, finds ‘Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics.’……A series of surveys of adult Americans from 2008 to 2011 found that college graduates tended to know less than the average American about basic government functions, although the average American failed the test with or without a college degree. ‘[W]hile college adds little to civic knowledge, it does seem to encourage graduates to identify more strongly with the Democrat and Liberal ends of the political spectrum,’ one of these reports found. Younger students are no better. Although the Obama administration replaced national civics and U.S. history exams with technology assessments in 2013, their results were consistently poor: “In 2010, the last time the history test was administered, students performed worse on it than on any other NAEP test. Less than half the eighth-graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights, and only 1 in 10 could pick a definition of the system of checks and balance.”

This is a major problem for a country like America, the NAS report notes, because America is a country founded not on blood or soil but on common consent to a particular structure of self-government articulated in the Declaration of Independence.”

In a Fox interview, columnist Charles Krauthammer  said that American students are being taught “about all of the pathologies of the United States and very little of the glories.’…Krauthammer was reacting to a Fox News Poll…in which 45 percent of voters said they were not proud of the United States. When the voters were broken down by party, just 39 percent of Democrats said they were proud of the United States…’They weren’t just out there rioting and sitting in, they went into the professions – the teaching professions, and they’ve essentially taken over…That generation of radicals runs the universities, they run the teachers’ unions, they run the curricula.”

U.S. schools should return to the days when young students were taught to proudly recite Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s epic poem:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.

 

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

 

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set today a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

 

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Photo: Minuteman statue, usagovpolicy.com pictures

Inspector General Report on McCabe

Our parent organization, the American Analysis of News and Media, Inc., was formed to provide timely and thorough news analysis to the public. Far too often, news organizations “filter” information through their own ideological lens.  On occasion, to accomplish this goal, we provide, without editorial comment, key reports issued by government agencies. We do so again today. Andrew McCabe was the former Deputy Director of the FBI.  He was fired for misconduct by Attorney General  Jeff Sessions. 

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has released its report of the investigation of the allegations against concerning former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

This the official summary of the findings:

This misconduct report addresses the accuracy of statements made by thenFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Inspection Division (INSD) and the Department of Justice (Department or DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) concerning the disclosure of certain law enforcement sensitive information to reporter Devlin Barrett that was published online in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on October 30, 2016, in an article entitled “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe.” A print version of the article was published in the WSJ on Monday, October 31, 2016, in an article entitled “FBI, Justice Feud in Clinton Probe.”

This investigation was initially opened by INSD to determine whether the information published by the WSJ in the October 30 article was an unauthorized leak and, if so, who was the source of the leak. On August 31, 2017, the OIG opened an investigation of McCabe following INSD’s referral of its matter to the OIG after INSD became concerned that McCabe may have lacked candor when questioned by INSD agents about his role in the disclosure to the WSJ. Shortly before that INSD referral, as part of its ongoing Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions by the Department and the FBI in Advance of the 2016 Election, the OIG identified FBI text messages by McCabe’s then-Special Counsel (“Special Counsel”) that reflected that she and the then-Assistant Director for Public Affairs (“AD/OPA”) had been in contact with Barrett on October 27 and 28, 2016, and the OIG began to review the involvement of McCabe, Special Counsel, and AD/OPA in the disclosure of information to the WSJ in connection with the October 30 article.

In addition to addressing whether McCabe lacked candor, the OIG’s misconduct investigation addressed whether any FBI or Department of Justice policies were violated in disclosing non-public FBI information to the WSJ.

The OIG’s misconduct investigation included reviewing all of the INSD investigative materials as well as numerous additional documents, e-mails, text messages, and OIG interview transcripts. The OIG interviewed numerous witnesses, including McCabe, Special Counsel, former FBI Director James Comey, and others.

As detailed below, we found that in late October 2016, McCabe authorized Special Counsel and AD/OPA to discuss with Barrett issues related to the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation (CF Investigation). In particular, McCabe authorized Special Counsel and AD/OPA to disclose to Barrett the contents of a telephone call that had occurred on August 12, 2016, between McCabe and the then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (“PADAG”). Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing following a story in the WSJ on October 23, 2016, that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and claimed that McCabe had ordered the termination of the CF Investigation due to Department of Justice pressure. The disclosure to the WSJ effectively confirmed the existence of the CF Investigation, which then-FBI Director Comey had previously refused to do. The account of the August 12 McCabe-PADAG call, and other information regarding the handling of the CF Investigation, was included in the October 30 WSJ article.

We found that, in a conversation with then-Director Comey shortly after the WSJ article was published, McCabe lacked candor when he told Comey, or made statements that led Comey to believe, that McCabe had not authorized the disclosure and did not know who did. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.5 (Lack of Candor – No Oath).

We also found that on May 9, 2017, when questioned under oath by FBI agents from INSD, McCabe lacked candor when he told the agents that he had not authorized the disclosure to the WSJ and did not know who did. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).

We further found that on July 28, 2017, when questioned under oath by the OIG in a recorded interview, McCabe lacked candor when he stated: (a) that he was not aware of Special Counsel having been authorized to speak to reporters around October 30 and (b) that, because he was not in Washington, D.C., on October 27 and 28, 2016, he was unable to say where Special Counsel was or what she was doing at that time. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).

We additionally found that on November 29, 2017, when questioned under oath by the OIG in a recorded interview during which he contradicted his prior statements by acknowledging that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ, McCabe lacked candor when he: (a) stated that he told Comey on October 31, 2016, that he had authorized the disclosure to the WSJ; (b) denied telling INSD agents on May 9 that he had not authorized the disclosure to the WSJ about the PADAG call; and (c) asserted that INSD’s questioning of him on May 9 about the October 30 WSJ article occurred at the end of an unrelated meeting when one of the INSD agents pulled him aside and asked him one or two questions about the article. This conduct violated FBI Offense Code 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).

Lastly, we determined that as Deputy Director, McCabe was authorized to disclose the existence of the CF Investigation publicly if such a disclosure fell within the “public interest” exception in applicable FBI and DOJ policies generally prohibiting such a disclosure of an ongoing investigation. However, we concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the CF Investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior Department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception. We therefore concluded that McCabe’s disclosure of the existence of an ongoing investigation in this manner violated the FBI’s and the Department’s media policy and constituted misconduct.

The OIG is issuing this report to the FBI for such action as it deems appropriate.

Photo credit: FBI

America’s Nuclear Posture, Part 2

Yesterday, the New York Analysis of Policy & Government presented the reasons the White House gave that mandated a review of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and international responses to to the report.  Today, we present the specific recommendations of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review:

Specifics of the Report

 The report states that “the United States will sustain and replace its nuclear capabilities, modernize NC3, and strengthen the integration of nuclear and non-nuclear military planning. Combatant Commands and Service components will be organized and resourced for this mission, and will plan, train, and exercise to integrate U.S. nuclear and non-nuclear forces to operate in the face of adversary nuclear threats and employment. The United States will coordinate integration activities with allies facing nuclear threats and examine opportunities for additional allied burden sharing of the nuclear deterrence mission…. Given the increasing prominence of nuclear weapons in potential adversaries’ defense policies and strategies, and the uncertainties of the future threat environment, U.S. nuclear capabilities and the ability to quickly modify those capabilities can be essential to mitigate or overcome risk, including the unexpected…The increasing need for this diversity and flexibility, in turn, is one of the primary reasons why sustaining and replacing the nuclear triad and non-strategic nuclear capabilities, (NC3) and modernizing  NC3, is necessary now. The triad’s synergy and overlapping attributes help ensure the enduring survivability of our deterrence capabilities against attack and our capacity to hold at risk a range of adversary targets throughout a crisis or conflict. Eliminating any leg of the triad would greatly ease adversary attack planning and allow an adversary to concentrate resources and attention on defeating the remaining two legs. Therefore, we will sustain our legacy triad systems until the planned replacement programs are deployed.”

Specific weapons systems

“The United States currently operates 14 OHIO-class SSBNs and will continue to take the steps needed to ensure that OHIO SSBNs remain operationally effective and survivable until replaced by the COLUMBIA-class SSBN. The COLUMBIA program will deliver a minimum of 12 SSBNs to replace the current OHIO fleet and is designed to provide required deterrence capabilities for decades.

“The ICBM force consists of 400 single-warhead Minuteman III missiles deployed in underground silos and dispersed across several states. The United States has initiated the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program to begin the replacement of Minuteman III in 2029. The GBSD program will also modernize the 450 ICBM launch facilities that will support the fielding of 400 ICBMs.

“The bomber leg of the triad consists of 46 nuclear-capable B-52H and 20 nuclear-capable B-2A “stealth” strategic bombers. The United States has initiated a program to develop and deploy the next-generation bomber, the B-21 Raider. It will first supplement, and eventually replace elements of the conventional and nuclear-capable bomber force beginning in the mid-2020s.

“The B83-1 and B61-11 gravity bombs can hold at risk a variety of protected targets. As a result, both will be retained in the stockpile, at least until there is sufficient confidence in the B61-12 gravity bomb that will be available in 2020.

“Beginning in 1982, B-52H bombers were equipped with ALCMs. Armed with ALCMs, the B-52H can stay outside adversary air defenses and remain effective. The ALCM, however, is now more than 25 years past its design life and faces continuously improving adversary air defense systems. The Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) cruise missile replacement program will maintain into the future the bomber force capability to deliver stand-off weapons that can penetrate and survive advanced integrated air defense systems, thus supporting the long-term effectiveness of the bomber leg.

“The current non-strategic nuclear force consists exclusively of a relatively small number of B61 gravity bombs carried by F-15E and allied dual capable aircraft (DCA). The United States is incorporating nuclear capability onto the forward-deployable, nuclear capable F-35 as a replacement for the current aging DCA. In conjunction with the ongoing life extension program for the B61 bomb, it will be a key contributor to continued regional deterrence stability and the assurance of allies.”

Cost

 “…even the highest of these projections place the highpoint of the future cost at approximately 6.4 percent of the current DoD budget. Maintaining and operating our current aging nuclear forces now requires between two and three percent of the DoD budget. The replacement program to rebuild the triad for decades of service will peak for several years at only approximately four percent beyond the ongoing two to three percent needed for maintenance and operations. This 6.4 percent of the current DoD budget required for the long-term replacement program represents less than one percent of the overall federal budget. This level of spending to replace U.S. nuclear capabilities compares favorably to the 10.6 percent of the DoD budget required during the last such investment period in the 1980s, which at the time was almost 3.7 percent of the federal budget, and the 17.1 percent of the DoD budget required in the early 1960s.”

Enhancing Deterrence with Non-strategic Nuclear Capabilities

 Existing elements of the nuclear force replacement program predate the dramatic deterioration of the strategic environment. To meet the emerging requirements of U.S. strategy, the United States will now pursue select supplements to the replacement program to enhance the flexibility and responsiveness of U.S. nuclear forces. It is a reflection of the versatility and flexibility of the U.S. triad that only modest supplements are now required in this much more challenging threat environment.

These supplements will enhance deterrence by denying potential adversaries any mistaken confidence that limited nuclear employment can provide a useful advantage over the United States and its allies. Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow’s perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict. Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow’s first-use of nuclear weapons. Russia demonstrates its perception of the advantage these systems provide through numerous exercises and statements. Correcting this mistaken Russian perception is a strategic imperative.

To address these types of challenges and preserve deterrence stability, the United States will enhance the flexibility and range of its tailored deterrence options. To be clear, this is not intended to, nor does it enable, “nuclear war-fighting.” Expanding flexible U.S. nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression. It will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely.

Consequently, the United States will maintain, and enhance as necessary, the capability to forward deploy nuclear bombers and DCA around the world. We are committed to upgrading DCA with the nuclear-capable F-35 aircraft. We will work with NATO to best ensure—and improve where needed—the readiness, survivability, and operational effectiveness of DCA based in Europe.

Additionally, in the near-term, the United States will modify a small number of existing SLBM warheads to provide a low-yield option, and in the longer term, pursue a modern nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM). Unlike DCA, a low-yield SLBM warhead and SLCM will not require or rely on host nation support to provide deterrent effect. They will provide additional diversity in platforms, range, and survivability, and a valuable hedge against future nuclear “break out” scenarios.

DoD and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will develop for deployment a low-yield SLBM warhead to ensure a prompt response option that is able to penetrate adversary defenses. This is a comparatively low-cost and near term modification to an existing capability that will help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable “gap” in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities.

Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Modernization

 Today’s NC3 system is a legacy of the Cold War, last comprehensively updated almost three decades ago. It includes interconnected elements composed of warning satellites and radars; communications satellites, aircraft, and ground stations; fixed and mobile command posts; and the control centers for nuclear systems.

 While once state-of-the-art, the NC3 system is now subject to challenges from both aging system components and new, growing 21st century threats. Of particular concern are expanding threats in space and cyber space, adversary strategies of limited nuclear escalation, and the broad diffusion within DoD of authority and responsibility for governance of the NC3 system, a function which, by its nature, must be integrated. In light of the critical need to ensure our NC3 system remains survivable and effective, the United States will pursue a series of initiatives. This includes: strengthening protection against cyber threats, strengthening protection against space-based threats, enhancing integrated tactical warning and attack assessment, improving command post and communication links, advancing decision support technology, integrating planning and operations, and reforming governance of the overall NC3 system.

Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure

 Over the past several decades, the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure has suffered the effects of age and underfunding. Over half of NNSA’s infrastructure is over 40 years old, and a quarter dates back to the Manhattan Project era. All previous NPRs highlighted the need to maintain a modern nuclear weapons infrastructure, but the United States has fallen short in sustaining a modern infrastructure that is resilient and has the capacity to respond to unforeseen developments. There now is no margin for further delay in recapitalizing the physical infrastructure needed to produce strategic materials and components for U.S. nuclear weapons. Just as our nuclear forces are an affordable priority, so is a resilient and effective nuclear weapons infrastructure, without which our nuclear deterrent cannot exist. The U.S. must have the ability to maintain and certify a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal. Synchronized with DoD replacement programs, the United States will sustain and deliver on-time the warheads needed to support both strategic and non-strategic nuclear capabilities by:

› Completing the W76-1 Life Extension Program (LEP) by Fiscal Year (FY) 2019; › Completing the B61-12 LEP by FY2024; › Completing the W88 alterations by FY2024; › Synchronizing NNSA’s W80-4 life extension, with DoD’s LRSO program and completing the W80-4 LEP by FY2031; › Advancing the W78 warhead replacement one year to FY19 to support fielding on GBSD by 2030 and investigate the feasibility of fielding the nuclear explosive package in a Navy flight vehicle; › Sustaining the B83-1 past its currently planned retirement date until a suitable replacement is identified; and, › Exploring future ballistic missile warhead requirements based on the threats and vulnerabilities of potential adversaries, including the possibility of common reentry systems between Air Force and Navy systems.

The United States will pursue initiatives to ensure the necessary capability, capacity, and responsiveness of the nuclear weapons infrastructure and the needed skills of the workforce, including the following:

› Pursue a joint DoD and Department of Energy advanced technology development capability to ensure that efforts are appropriately integrated to meet DoD needs.

› Provide the enduring capability and capacity to produce plutonium pits at a rate of no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030. A delay in this would result in the need for a higher rate of pit production at higher cost.

› Ensure that current plans to reconstitute the U.S. capability to produce lithium compounds are sufficient to meet military requirements.

› Fully fund the Uranium Processing Facility and ensure availability of sufficient low enriched uranium to meet military requirements.

› Ensure the necessary reactor capacity to produce an adequate supply of tritium to meet military requirements.

› Ensure continuity in the U.S. capability to develop and manufacture secure, trusted strategic radiation-hardened microelectronic systems beyond 2025 to support stockpile modernization.

› Rapidly pursue the Stockpile Responsiveness Program established by Congress to expand opportunities for young scientists and engineers to advance warhead design, development, and production skills.

› Develop an NNSA roadmap that sizes production capacity to modernization and hedging requirements.

› Retain confidence in nuclear gravity bombs needed to meet deterrence needs.

› Maintain and enhance the computational, experimental, and testing capabilities needed to annually assess nuclear weapons.

Photo: Unarmed Minuteman missile launch, DoD

America’s Nuclear Posture

According to the White House “Over the past decade, despite United States efforts to reduce the roles and numbers of nuclear weapons, other nuclear nations grew their stockpiles, increased the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and—in some cases—pursued the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other nations. Meanwhile, successive United States administrations deferred much-needed modernization of our nuclear weapons, infrastructure, and delivery systems.”

Since the end of the first Cold War, the U.S. reduced its nuclear stockpile by over 85 percent and did not deploy any new nuclear capabilities.  Despite that, international adversaries, including Russia, China, and North Korea have significantly enhanced their nuclear arsenals, and Iran has made considerable progress in building an intercontinental missile capability.

In response to those developments, the Administration issued a new “Nuclear Posture Review” (NPR.)

The growing problem has been highlighted by Putin’s recent test of its “Sarmat” missile, a hypersonic rocket, and its growing arsenal of Iskander short range nuclear missiles, which violate nuclear arms agreements.  (The New START treaty, signed by President Obama in 2010, gave Russia the lead in nuclear weapons for the first time in history.)

China, too, is undertaking formidable increases in its nuclear weapons capabilities.  The National Interest notes that “technical developments are likely to propel China to undertake a significant nuclear buildup in the coming years. The first of these is China’s acquisition of a viable nuclear triad for the first time… China has now deployed a sea-based deterrent in the form of the JIN-class (Type 094) nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs). China has already commissioned four JIN-class SSBNs and will build at least another one of these vessels. Each Jin-class SSBN has twelve missile tubes and carries JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which have a range of 7,500 kilometers…[also] China is MIRVing its traditional land-based ballistic missiles. According to press reports, earlier this year China tested its DF-5C missile using ten MIRVed warheads. It is also believed to be MIRVing its older DF-5B, with somewhere between three and ten warheads.

The NPR  Review notes that “While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction. They have added new types of nuclear capabilities to their arsenals, increased the salience of nuclear forces in their strategies and plans, and engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior, including in outer space and cyber space. North Korea continues its illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities in direct violation of United Nations (U.N.) Security Council resolutions. Iran…it retains the technological capability and much of the capacity necessary to develop a nuclear weapon within one year of a decision to do so. There now exists an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors. These developments have produced increased uncertainty and risk. This rapid deterioration of the threat environment …must now shape our thinking as we formulate policy and strategy, and initiate the sustainment and replacement of U.S. nuclear forces.”

War on the Rocks believes that “the most controversial element of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review has been the push to deploy a low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead.”

Response to the NPR from potential adversaries has been, as expected, negative. According to China’s Xinhuanet publication, “China firmly opposes the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) published by the United States Department of Defense…The U.S. document presumptuously speculated about the intentions behind China’s development and played up the threat of China’s nuclear strength….”

Russia’s reaction was reported by the Memri news service  “The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is primarily concerned by what it described as “Washington’s no-limits approach” of nuclear weapons. “[The U.S.] might use nuclear weapons in ‘extreme circumstances,’ which are not limited to military scenarios in the new U.S. doctrine. Moreover, even military scenarios are presented so ambiguously that it seems like the U.S. planners may view practically any use of military capability as a reason for delivering a nuclear strike against anyone they consider an ‘aggressor’.”

Tomorrow: Specifics of the NPR

Photo: USAF, B-52

Fighting Social Media Censorship

Conservatives are constrained in their attempts to overcome the censorship of social media sites.

Strict devotion to the First Amendment, and opposition to internet regulation prevents them from advocating for government intervention or oversight. Unlike their opponents on the left, they do not believe that any form of speech should be subjected to government control.

The issue is of crucial importance. There is little doubt that the internet is a decisive force in the 21stcentury American politics.  The Pew Research Center  found that 62% of American adults get news from social media. An NYU research project notes that “Our study of search engines suggests that they systematically exclude… certain types of sites in favor of others… giving prominence to some at the expense of others.”

The internet research organization Can I Rank reports that Google “search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a “Left” or “Far Left” slant…Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results…the Google algorithm itself may make it easier for sites with a left-leaning or centrist viewpoint to rank higher in Google search results compared to sites with a politically conservative viewpoint.”

The issue began to garner an even greater degree of note when, as reported by Lifesite “Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai scolded Twitter…for censoring conservative users of its platform…’ The company has a viewpoint…and uses that viewpoint to discriminate…to say the least, the company appears to have a double standard when it comes to suspending or de-verifying conservative users’ accounts as opposed to those of liberal users…’”

In 2016, writes Robby Soave in the New York Post, “Twitter…formed the Orwellian-named ‘Trust and Safety Council’ to propose changes to the company’s use policies… practically none of the 40 people chosen to be part of the council are all that concerned about free speech…”

Some have taken to the courts for relief reports Max Greenwood in The Hill. Political consultant Roger Stone has filed a lawsuit against internet giant Twitter, an institution that has been noted for harassing conservative accounts. Twitter gained a great deal of notoriety when one of its employees cut off President Trump’s account. Twitter has openly “purged” conservative accounts on occasion. Similarly, You Tube and its parent corporation Google have been sued by the right-leaning educational site PragerU for censoring its online videos. The blatant nature of You Tube’s bias can easily be discerned by the organization’s use of an extreme left-wing group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, to decide what constitutes “offensive” speech.

Selwyn Duke proposes in The Hill using antitrust laws, but that runs into conservative objections as well.  “I may object to such things. But here’s the issue: if antitrust laws are unjust, eliminate them. But if we’re going to have them, they should be applied where most needed. As for Google, most people admit it’s ‘a de facto monopoly.’ The breakup of AT&T’s Bell System was mandated in 1982. That came even without Bell denying service to people, blocking their calls or hiding their phone numbers based on the content of their conversations.”

There may be another alternative. Conservatives rightly objected to the dangers of government control inherent in classifying internet providers as “common carriers.”  But, traveling a path as precise as threading a needle, a modified version of the common carrier concept could be applied without the overlay of government control that proponents of the concept maintain is necessary for the more physical world of trains and planes.  That highly modified common carrier concept could warrant—without any other government intrusion, regulation, or oversight– that monopolistic internet giants such as Twitter and Google treat all users equally.

This article, written by Editor-in-Chief Frank Vernuccio, originally appeared in the Washington Times. 

Dept.of Commerce photo

The Fiction That Is “Net Neutrality”

A guest article by Alex Bugaeff

We hear the term “Net Neutrality” from time to time, but many avoid it as a technical area that they wouldn’t understand. It’s simple, really. It has to do with whether the internet will be controlled by government or left open to the forces of the marketplace.

Information flows through the increasingly busy internet “highway” system. Each new internet innovation, such as video gaming, streaming movies and huge blocks of statistical data, requires more and more of the “highway’s” capacity. That capacity becomes stressed from time to time.

Think of it as the Los Angeles interstate highway network – the more lanes they add, the more cars clog them up. Creating restricted lanes, like HOV lanes, does little good. The government transportation planners impose rule after rule to no avail and public transportation companies lobby to maximize their own interests, the driving public be damned.

Internet policy analysts have defined two sides to the internet control question that roughly correspond to the two sides in the LA traffic condition. On one side, analysts implement government regulation – the equivalent of transportation planners. On the other, they have grouped the existing major private sector players – mostly big internet service providers.

The private companies had been making the rules for the most part, until February, 2015. They engaged in practices such as “throttling” – the slowing of the streams of some sources of data in favor of other sources. Throttling can be compared to hot and cold water faucets with these big companies turning the handles to allow a greater or lesser flow from each, depending on which temperature is of greater benefit at the time.

Such private control of data through the internet has resulted in complaints from small players and government advocates. The small players complain that throttling and other such practices are unfair to those who have little marketplace clout. Government advocates complain that control of such a large and important segment of the economy by big business risks the government losing control.

Prior to 2015, the internet was open and operating freely, albeit in a rough-and-tumble fashion at times. Then, after the Congressional election of 2014, the Obama Administration tried to take complete control. The President ordered the FCC to implement the regulations found in Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. Those regulations had been designed to reign in the monopoly that Bell Telephone had on landline phone circuits. Though outmoded, those regulations gave control of the internet to government.

The White House named this order “Net Neutrality” in an attempt to put a benevolent face on this takeover of internet operations. They claimed that the big companies were stifling innovation and that the regulations would impose a level playing field for the small service providers. The implementation of Title II had the effect of freezing in place the rules which benefitted the big companies and gave the FCC (and its Obama appointees) the power to enforce government regulations as a form of public utility.

In fact, the term “Net Neutrality” appears nowhere in the law or regulations and has no legal definition. It is a fiction designed to serve a larger purpose – government control of communications and internet commerce. So, the 3-2 vote of the FCC after Trump took office merely returned the internet to open and competitive business. Innovation is once again unfettered by government bureaucracy.

And, lest anyone suggest that the big service providers will dampen creativity, one need only look at the development of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to see how the entrepreneurial spirit thrives in the internet world despite the supposed entrenched corporate interests.

A Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration both from the University of California, Berkeley, launched Mr. Bugaeff on a 40 year career in school and governmental consulting and teaching, during which he wrote and published over 100 manuscripts and technical manuals privately for his clients. Along the way, he continued the serious study of early American political history, concentrating on the original letters and writings of the Founders.

U.S. Commerce Dept. Photo

Syrian Crisis a Danger to World

The dangers in Syria may be even more serious than most believe. As tensions escalate over a chemical attack on civilians, the region moves closer to direct conflict between Israeli and Syrian forces, and, most troubling, a potential clash, whether on purpose or accidentally, between American and Russian militaries. The use of outlawed weapons has been a “red Line’ issue for the United States, although President Obama ignored his own ultimatum, and chose instead to believe what turned out to be insincere Kremlin promises to eliminate Bashar al-Assad’s illegal weaponry.

CBS News reports that “Syrian opposition activists and rescuers said …that a poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma near the capital of Damascus killed at least 40 people. The alleged attack has been denied by the Syrian and Russian governments. Russia is Syria’s closest ally and has a major military presence in the country. Reports of the latest attack, which appeared to target civilians and young children, could not be independently verified.”

The BBC  reports that “The Syrian-American Medical Society said more than 500 people were brought to medical centres in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region, near the capital Damascus, with symptoms “indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”, including breathing difficulties, bluish skin, mouth foaming, corneal burns and “the emission of chlorine-like odour”.

Moscow, which denies that the Syrian government is responsible, seeks to be the dominant player in the region for a number of reasons it deems critical. Its economy depends heavily on selling energy to Europe, and a controlling position in the Middle East renders this easier. Additionally, in keeping with even pre-Communist Russian goals, it seeks access to warm-water ports for its navy, which Putin has strengthened significantly.  Assad’s willingness to allow the Kremlin to use Tartus as a major naval base is a key interest. Finally, as Moscow’s position in the area has strengthened, Turkey’s ties to NATO have weakened. Removing the Ankara government from the alliance would be an extraordinary military and diplomatic victory for Putin.

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Thomas Joscelyn  notes that “Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them.  [chemical weapons.] Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces.,,It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007…In March, the U.N. issued a report on North Korea’s active “prohibited military cooperation projects…stretching from Africa to the Asia-Pacific region, including ongoing ballistic missile cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic and Myanmar, widespread conventional arms deals and cyberoperations to steal military secrets.”

The level of tension can be seen in the statements of world leaders. President Trump called Assad “an animal” for his treatment of his own civilians.  In a tweet, he stated “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price..”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed “deep concern”  over reports of chemical weapons being used. A statement from his spokesperson  Stéphane Dujarric  notes that the “Secretary-General called on all parties to cease fighting and restore the calm that had been in place and adhere fully to Security Council resolution 2401, adopted in February and which called for a ceasefire across Syria.  ‘While the UN is not in a position to verify these reports…the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation… Mr. Guterres explained that … he has received reports indicating sustained airstrikes and shelling on Douma that have killed civilians, destroyed infrastructure and damaged health facilities. There has also been shelling on Damascus city, reportedly killing civilians…Since 11 March, some 25,000 people have reportedly left East Ghouta, seeking shelter in the rural Damascus villages of Dweir, Adra and Herjelleh.

A separate release  from the UN reports mass evacuations from Syrian cities. “In Idlib Province alone, some 1.5 million people were now displaced in various locations, making it “the biggest refugee camp on earth in many ways,” said Mr. Egeland, who is the Senior Adviser to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Mr. Egeland also provided details about the destruction of Raqqa city, once the stronghold of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremists, saying that it was even worse than in Aleppo and Homs, two other once-vibrant Syrian cities that have seen massive destruction over the course of the seven-year conflict.”

There is a clear and troubling trend that is becoming increasing apparent, and exceedingly dangerous.  In Europe, Russia has deployed short range Iskander nuclear missiles, in violation of agreements that were signed between President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It has also invaded neighboring Ukraine, and now occupies Crimea. In the Middle East, it supports the use of outlawed weapons by its Syrian client state. Similarly, it has transferred weapons to Iran, which, through proxies, is directly threatening U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

All this occurs as Putin’s massive arms buildup nears completion, and when American forces, following the Obama disinvestment period, leaves U.S. armed forces at their lowest level of strength in decades.

Moscow’s influence in the Middle East, its intimate alliance with unscrupulous governments in Tehran and Damascus, and its confidence in the capabilities of its strengthened armed forces renders the region a flashpoint for a war that spread far beyond the region.

Citizens Group Rates Congressional Spending

Citizens against Government Waste (CCAGW) has issued its latest analysis of how carefully (or not) members of Congress spent your tax dollars.

The organization rates members on a 0-100 percent scale. “Members are placed in the following categories: 0-19 percent, Hostile; 20-39 percent, Unfriendly; 40-59 percent, Lukewarm; 60-79 percent, Friendly; 80-99 percent, Taxpayer Hero; and 100 percent, Taxpayer Super Hero.”

CCAGW rates just one Senator, Steve Daines (R-Mont.),with a perfect record, while eleven Representatives (Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) received a similar rating. The organization gave 30 Senators and 39 Representatives an absolute zero rating.

CCAGW also analyzed ratings based on party affiliation and House membership in the Republican Study Committee. The averages were: Senate Republicans – 88 percent, up 10 percentage points from 78 percent in 2016; Senate Democrats, including Independents – 2 percent, down 13 percentage points from 15 percent in 2016; House Republicans – remained the same at 87 percent; House Democrats – 3 percent, down 3 percentage points from 6 percent in 2016; House Republican Study Committee – 91 percent, up 1 percentage point from 90 percent in 2016.

CAGW gave Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) its March 2018 “Porker of the Month” for giving incorrect information about tax reform. According to the organization. In a joint You tube video with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) claiming that workers would not benefit from the portion of the legislation reducing the tax burden on corporations. The group noted that “Just minutes after Congress passed the tax law on December 20, 2017, Sen. Warren was proved wrong.   Companies began announcing that they were giving $1,000 bonuses to all of their employees.  Other companies raised their minimum wage to $15 per hour, while others beefed up benefit packages and retirement plans.  More than 400 companies and four million American workers have seen and felt direct benefits from the tax law.”

The group also reviews spending-related “victories” and “losses.”

Victories

House

Passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. H.R. 1, which would overhaul the tax code by lowering the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, providing tax cuts to every individual income level, simplifying the tax filing system, doubling the standard deduction, and repealing the Obamacare individual mandate, passed by a vote of 224-201.

Passage of the American Health Care Act. H.R. 1628, which would make broad changes to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by repealing the individual and employer mandates, as well as most of the Obamacare taxes, passed by a vote of 217-213.

Rollback of Obama-era Regulations through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The House passed 15 CRA bills to repeal burdensome regulations issued in the waning months of the Obama administration that would have strangled the economy and cost businesses and individuals billions of dollars.

Senate

Passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. H.R. 1, which would overhaul the tax code by lowering the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, providing tax cuts to every individual income level, simplifying the tax filing system, doubling the standard deduction, and repealing the Obamacare individual mandate, passed by a vote of 51-48.

Rollback of Obama-era Regulations through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The Senate passed 14 CRA bills to repeal burdensome regulations issued in the waning months of the Obama administration that would have strangled the economy and cost businesses and individuals billions of dollars.

Rejection of Unregulated Drug Importation. During consideration of S. Con. Res. 3, the fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget resolution, an amendment offered by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, which cannot be guaranteed to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration, was rejected by a vote of 46-52.

Losses

House

Across-the-Board Cuts to Appropriations Bills. CCAGW rated six amendments to make across-the-board spending reductions in appropriations bills, all of which failed. For example, an amendment offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to cut 1 percent across-the-board during consideration of H.R. 3354, the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill, was rejected by a vote of 156-260.

Dismantling of the Davis-Bacon Act. CCAGW rated four amendments to prohibit funding for the implementation of the Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements, all of which failed. For example, an amendment offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to prohibit funding for enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act at the Department of Homeland Security during the consideration of H.R. 3354, the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill, was rejected by a vote of 173-240.

Defunding the Essential Air Service Program. During consideration of H.R. 3354, the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill, an amendment offered by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) to decrease funding for the Essential Air Service program by $150 million, was rejected by a vote of 140-280.

Senate

Rejection of the American Health Care Act. H.R. 1628, which would make broad changes to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by repealing the individual and employer mandates, as well as most of the Obamacare taxes, was rejected by a vote of 49-51.

Rejection of a Balanced Budget by 2024. During consideration of S. Con. Res. 3, the FY 2017 budget resolution, an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to gradually reduce the budget deficit to reach a surplus in FY 2024, was rejected by a vote of 14-83.

Rejection of $1 Million in Committee Cuts. During the consideration of H. Con. Res. 71, the FY 2018 budget resolution, an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to require the Senate Health, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to cut spending by $1 million over 10 years, was rejected by a vote of 33-66.

Photo: U.S. Congress