Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Don's Tuesday Column

                THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News   4/18/2017

                     Syria, taxes and intell leaks

It is past time to provide readers with some factual observations on the scandal (slightly sidelined by Syria and North Korea) that hasn’t gone away: Abuse of the intelligence apparatus by the Obama administration to attack, shackle and neutralize political opponents. Such abuse, which goes back to the contentious and controversial Iran nuclear deal, involves both legal and illegal activities by Obama’s people in and out of the agencies; it makes Nixon’s Watergate scandal pale in comparison.
First, regarding President Trump not providing tax returns; he has no legal obligation (only tradition and his own stated goal of releasing them). It bears repeating a rather famous retort: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” I have yet to hear a substantive, relevant answer to that question, given that any issues of legality are between Trump and the IRS. I’d say release them but I could also make a case for not providing fodder for his enemies. We know from illegally leaked returns that Trump pays “huge” taxes and high rates. So what. Hillary never released her Clinton Foundation finances; nor Obama his college and law school records. Irony?
To anyone expressing umbrage over the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at the Syrian airport that launched saran gas attacks, by dictator (not “president”) Assad: “Trump Doesn’t Need Congress to Strike in Syria,” (Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg, 4/7). It was an act of war. “And, like most of America’s wars, it will never be declared by Congress…
“Every U.S. president, all the way back to the founding, has at some point used military force without first obtaining the approval of the legislative branch.” Carter cites George Washington and the Northwest Indian War; James Monroe sending forces to conquer Amelia Island, off Florida; and James Buchanan sending Marines to Nicaragua. “In 1893, U.S. forces overthrew the government of Hawaii…On the eve of World War I, Woodrow Wilson ordered the Marines into Mexico.” Ronald Reagan had Grenada; Kennedy took America to the brink of war with the Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“In 2011, the White House justified President Barack Obama’s orders to attack Libya with the remarkable argument that because U.S. forces were conducting only bombing and using missiles, the actions did not constitute ‘hostilities’ within the meaning of the War Powers Resolution of 1973—a statute requiring that hostilities end within 90 days if no congressional approval is forthcoming.” Can critics say with a straight face that these were ok, but not Trump?
Even an overview of the “Obama wiretapped Trump” narrative (having no photo of Obama attaching “alligator clips” to a phone line in Trump’s office is no refutation of the charge) cannot be confined to the relatively brief period between the election and Donald Trump’s swearing-in on January 20. We have the words and actions of Obama’s NSA adviser, Susan Rice, which must be discounted by her serial prevarications on five Sunday talk shows where she blatantly lied that the terrorist assault in Benghazi, Libya, resulted from an anti-Muslim video.
Her statements about intelligence leaks damaging to Trump’s NSA adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn, as well as her endless disclaimers that she “knew nothing about this” prior to proclaiming otherwise—will be worth lengthy hearings and pointed questions. Look up “These Are the Questions Susan Rice Needs to Answer Under Oath,” by David Harsanyi, posted on April 12 at DonPolson.blogspot.com, with links: “Why did you lie to PBS about having no knowledge of the unmasking of Trump officials or family?”
“Did you request that the identities of Trump campaign officials, transition team members, or family members be unmasked?” “Which Trump team members did you specifically ask to be unmasked, and why?” “In what way did unmasking these people have foreign intelligence value?” “In what way was this done to protect the American people?” A bombshell query: “Did anybody ask you to collect the unmasked information or disseminate it?”
As far as a timeline goes, we know a FISA warrant to “wiretap” (we all know the term means all manner of surveillance of all forms of communication) Trump’s staff was denied last summer, before being granted in October. Those denying that are ignorant, deceiving or both.
Just consider a headline from early April at The Hill: “How Obama’s White House weaponized media against Trump,” by Michael Doran. Partisans on the progressive left should really consider—before denying, diminishing and excusing the improper or illegal tactics used to delegitimize Trump—how they would react were the roles reversed. They launched a crusade to impeach Richard Nixon for far less that what it appears was done by and for Obama.
Doran described the leak on Flynn as “a felony and a violation of his civil rights. But it was also a severe breach of the public trust.” Based on his years as a national Security Council staffer, during which he read “dozens of NSA surveillance reports every day,” Doran believes that “someone in the Obama White House blew a hole in the thin wall that prevents the government from using information collected from surveillance to destroy the lives of the citizens whose privacy it is pledged to protect. It can only be described as a White House campaign to hype the Russian threat and, at the same time, to depict Trump as Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate.”
Emphasizing the real collusion that took place, Doran tweeted (I’m extending his abbreviations): “A dirty little secret in DC: Journalists knew that Obama, in the final weeks, hyped the Russia issue, because the White House communications staff pestered them daily.”

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