Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Look back: Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers, officially titled "Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force", was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967. In June of 1971, small portions of the report were leaked to the press and widely distributed. However, the publications of the report that resulted from these leaks were incomplete and suffered from many quality issues.
On the 40th anniversary of the leak to the press, the National Archives, along with the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential Libraries, has released the complete report. There are 48 boxes and approximately 7,000 declassified pages. Approximately 34% of the report is available for the first time.

What is unique about this, compared to other versions, is that:
  • The complete Report is now available with no redactions compared to previous releases
  • The Report is presented as Leslie Gelb presented it to then Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford on January 15, 1969
  • All the supplemental back-documentation is included. In the Gravel Edition, 80% of the documents in Part V.B. were not included
  • This release includes the complete account of peace negotiations, significant portions of which were not previously available either in the House Armed Services Committee redacted copy of the Report or in the Gravel Edition
Daniel Ellsberg knew the leaders of the task force well. He had worked as an aide to McNaughton from 1964 to 1965, had worked on the study for several months in 1967, and Gelb and Halperin approved his access to the work at RAND in 1969. Now opposing the war, Ellsberg and his friend Anthony Russo photocopied the study in October 1969 intending to disclose it. Ellsberg approached Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Senators William Fulbright and George McGovern, and others, but none were interested.
In February 1971, Ellsberg discussed the study with The New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan, and gave 43 of the volumes to him in March. Before publication, The New York Times sought legal advice. The paper's regular outside counsel, Lord Day & Lord, advised against publication, but in-house counsel James Goodale prevailed with his argument that the press had a First Amendment right to publish information significant to the people's understanding of their government's policy.
The New York Times began publishing excerpts on June 13, 1971; the first article in the series was titled "Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces Three Decades of Growing US Involvement". The study was dubbed The Pentagon Papers during the resulting media publicity. Street protests, political controversy, and lawsuits followed.
To ensure the possibility of public debate about the papers' content, on June 29, US Senator Mike Gravel, an Alaska Democrat, entered 4,100 pages of the papers into the record of his Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds. These portions of the papers, which were edited for Gravel by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, were subsequently published by Beacon Press, the publishing arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. A federal grand jury was subsequently empaneled to investigate possible violations of federal law in the release of the report. Leonard Rodberg, a Gravel aide, was subpoenaed to testify about his role in obtaining and arranging for publication of the Pentagon Papers. Gravel asked the court (in Gravel v. United States) to quash the subpoena on the basis of the Speech or Debate Clause in Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution.
That clause provides that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [a Senator or Representative] shall not be questioned in any other Place", meaning that Gravel could not be prosecuted for anything said on the Senate floor, and, by extension, for anything entered to the Congressional Record, allowing the papers to be publicly read without threat of a treason trial and conviction. When Gravel's request was reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court denied the request to extend this protection to Gravel or his legislative aide, Leonard Rodberg, because the grand jury subpoena served on them related to a third party rather than any act they themselves committed for the preparation of materials later entered into the Congressional Record. Nevertheless, the grand jury investigation was halted, and the publication of the papers was never prosecuted.
Later, Ellsberg said the documents "demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents, the violation of their oath and the violation of the oath of every one of their subordinates." He added that he leaked the Papers to end what he perceived to be "a wrongful war."

The Biggest Threat to America Comes From Within

For decades, the biased mainstream media have steadily undermined confidence in our country, portraying America as a violent aggressor rather than the champion of liberty it has always been.

As a high-profile supporter of the President who regularly jousts with liberal media personalities masquerading as journalists, I've seen and experienced this phenomenon first hand.

To feed their anti-American narrative, fake-news media outlets frequently publish unsubstantiated reports without hesitation or corroboration, such as the infamous, error-filled BuzzFeed report containing "Unverified and potentially unverifiable" claims regarding Donald Trump's visit to Russia when he was a private citizen.

Their refusal to accurately cover left-wing violence against American conservatives is just further evidence of the political agenda shaping mainstream media "News" reports, as is their continued reliance on buffoonish, partisan "Journalists" like CNN's Jim Acosta, who are really just partisan activists assigned to the White House to ask demeaning questions intended to further advance the media's anti-Trump, anti-America agenda.

To make matters worse, the media's collusion with Democrats is actively helping liberal lawmakers like incoming House Finance Services Committee Maxine Waters or Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spread their talking points uncontested in the public arena - an advantage given to no Republican.

Democrats and the destroy-Trump media have breathlessly pushed hysterical nonsense like the Trump-Russia collusion theory, but the real collusion that took place during the 2016 election was between Democrats and their media allies.

They've been colluding for years to disparage and demean American patriots, and Donald Trump represents the sort of national pride the media love to hate.

Year-End Spending Deal Contains Troubling Provisions, Busts the Budget

Tucked into the legislative text of this spending bill is language that would delay automatic cuts or sequestration of certain federal spending programs by at least one year.

The idea is that all new entitlement spending should be paid for and revenue reductions should entail spending reductions.

The way it works is simple: The Office of Management and Budget keeps a running tally of all of the deficit impact of legislation passed in a given year via a "Scorecard." If that scorecard shows a net deficit increase, this triggers an automatic spending reduction or sequestration of certain, nonexempt federal spending programs.

The Congressional Budget Office score of the version of the spending bill that passed the Senate shows that it would cause a deficit increase as a result of renewing a handful of Medicaid provisions that were set to expire.

The spending bill not only keeps the Medicaid-related deficits off the scorecard, but it also directs the current scorecard balance to be shifted into the next fiscal year; thereby delaying automatic spending cuts until at least the following year.

While the administration has been consistent in making the case for the border initiative, that spending should easily be able to fit within the swollen spending caps.

In sum, the spending bill busts the budget even more by delaying automatic spending cuts, keeping new mandatory spending on Medicaid provisions off the PAYGO scorecard, and blowing up an already inflated discretionary budget even further with additional emergency spending that is not paid for.

The Swamp Is Growing Deeper

Michael Flynn, illegally spied upon during the Trump transition, set up by the Comey FBI, then squeezed financially dry by Robert Mueller and his merry band of partisan lawyers, is the most recent swamp casualty.

You see, it's not only about stopping Trump; it's about sending a message to anyone else in Trump's orbit to disappear, lest he be next.

What happened to the border wall? Attend a Trump rally, and one of the chants is "Build that wall." Also chanted is "Lock her up," but that's not happening, either.

In my wistful dreams, Mexico uses the money to build a wall along its U.S. border, fulfilling Trump's promise to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it.

Has Mueller been told to wrap up his investigation and issue a final report on Russian collusion, as Rudy Giuliani keeps promising? Or is Mueller on a jihad to go after everyone in Trump's orbit, waiting until they jaywalk and then threatening them with personal and financial ruin if they don't flip on Trump?

If Trump doesn't fight back in the manner of which he is more than capable, the swamp waters will soon flood the White House and the hopes and dreams that his voters had in 2016.

President Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 with two simple promises: draining the swamp and building the wall.

Democrats Vs. Ordinary Catholic Guys

A judicial nominee faced questions from Senators this month about whether membership in the Knights of Columbus might impede his ability to judge federal cases fairly.

The Knights of Columbus say that no candidate for public office should have to defend his membership in a Catholic service organization.

Senators Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris raised concerns about membership in the Knights of Columbus while the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed the candidacy of Brian C. Buescher, an Omaha-based lawyer nominated by President Trump to sit on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.

In written questions sent to Buescher by committee members Dec. 5, Sen. Hirono stated that "The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California's Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage."

The Knights of Columbus! A Catholic fraternal and social service organization, to which 1.6 million Catholic men around the world belong! It was created in the 19th century because Catholics couldn't be Freemasons, and because anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant prejudice kept Catholics out of other fraternal and social service organizations.

These Democratic senators - including Kamala Harris, who is believed to be planning a run for US president in 2020 - are demonizing the K of C for - brace yourselves - endorsing what the Catholic Church teaches.

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Knights Of Columbus?

The NATO Country Where Journalism Is a Crime

Publicly critical of the atrocious human rights record of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he was targeted by the prince's henchmen - a killing exposed by Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a recent BBC interview, an Erdogan stooge named Gulnur Aybet quibbled with a finding by the Committee to Protect Journalists that Turkey was No. 1 in the dubious category of imprisoning journalists.

If you think that is thin-skinned, four years ago Turkish cops carted a 16-year-old to jail for saying during a student protest that Erdogan was a thief.

Gulen is a convenient bogeyman for Erdogan, but what made the arrests of the Sözcü journalists so pernicious is that they detest Gulen.

Erdogan is so paranoid that in Turkey, the enemy of my enemy ismy enemy.

After a recent trip to New York for a U.N. meeting, Erdogan kicked off the opening of the Turkish school year with a speech saying that other world leaders also fear the media in their countries, adding that he considers democracy and a free press incompatible.

Which means that at some point, the United States and its allies must ask themselves difficult questions: Why is his country still in the EU? Does the existence of NATO airbases on Turkish soil - bases used in the U.S. war on terror - give Erdogan carte blanche?

All of our bets on China have been wrong

Is trade conflict with China beginning to broaden into something bigger and more long-lasting? It would appear so.

Most striking is that even long-standing China doves are now echoing the language of old-guard hawks, who have long viewed trade with China as a zero-sum game.

China itself hardly qualifies as a paragon of free trade.

In a broader sense, China has not conformed to the expected Western script.

The latter is occurring because of concerns that "China is co-opting institutions such as the UN and the WTO to make them safe for authoritarianism, state-backed capitalism and other threats to a rules-based order." As the magazine notes, the Western figures leading this charge are not just anti-China trade hawks, but "Ex-doves [who] agree that 20 years of patiently cajoling China to change has not worked."

Modern China has never been a liberal democracy, but the earlier introduction of term limits for Communist Party political posts provided a check or, at the very least, introduced a degree of limited accountability, had Xi been forced to hand over the presidency to some new leader in 2022.

If the West continues to perceive China as a security threat to be managed, rather than a friend in need, it is hard not to imagine yet more tension or outright conflict, breaking out in the years ahead from the resultant fallout.

Did the Media Care When Obama Fired General Mattis?

Democrats who won't defend our southern border and who slept as Obama drew red lines with vanishing ink worry about an ISIS Obama created by a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq regaining strength and reforming in Syria and Iraq.

There was no such concern when Obama relieved Mattis as commander of CENTCOM without so much as a phone call, a factoid typical of Obama's disdain for the military, its missions, and its heroes.

There is also a belief that Mattis and Obama differed on Iran.

Obama and Mattis disagreed on goals and consequences.

Retired four-star general and Fox News analyst Jack Keane, architect of the Iraq surge that produced the victory Obama threw away, recently spoke on Kilmeade and Friends about Obama's ongoing purge of the military of officers who oppose his isolationist and defeatist policies.

The brusque Mattis apparently fell afoul of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, an Obama apparatchik.

Why? Because Mattis says things the Obama team doesn't want to hear, especially about what might well become the next theater of operations - Iran.

Trump Warns of 'Very Long' Government Shutdown, Urges 'Nuclear Option'

President Donald Trump predicted on Friday there will be a "Very long" government shutdown if the Democrats do not vote to fund the border wall.

Trump tweeted, "The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don't want Open Borders and Crime!".

The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time.

"The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option. Just this morning, several Senators put out statements confirming their opposition, and confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road," McConnell's spokesman, David Popp, said in a statement, according to NBC News.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both claimed last week during a high profile meeting with Trump in the Oval Office and multiple times since that Trump did not have the votes in the House to secure border wall funding.

The legislation passed by a comfortable margin - 217 to 185 - putting the ball back in Schumer and the Democrats' court to vote for or against border security, rather than sending legislation to Trump that did not include funding.

"They flew back to Washington from all parts of the World in order to vote for Border Security and the Wall. Not one Democrat voted yes, and we won big. I am very proud of you!".

McConnell rejects using nuclear option on wall
Senate Majority Leader 's spokesman says the Senate does not have enough votes to change its rules and pass border wall funding with a simple majority.

"The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option. Just this morning, several Senators put out statements confirming their opposition, and confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road," said David Popp, McConnell's communications director.

Popp issued his statement after several Republican senators voiced opposition to holding a procedural vote known as the "Nuclear option" to change the Senate's rules and make it easier to pass a funding bill that includes $5.7 billion to build a border wall.

ADVERTISEMENT. Trump urged McConnell Friday morning to pull out all the stops to fund the wall.

"Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done! Our Country is counting on you!" he tweeted.

Sen., who is up for reelection in 2020 in a state that Trump won by 20 points, has urged colleagues to invoke the nuclear option to lower the vote threshold vote stopping a filibuster.

Immediately announced Friday morning that they would not vote for the nuclear option.