TSA searching digital devices on domestic flights

LATimeU.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents have increasingly searched digital devices carried by travelers on international flights, as they look for data in cellphones, laptops and other electronic gadgets that can provide clues to possible terrorist attacks.

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration demanding to know why TSA security officers also are looking at data stored in digital devices carried by passengers on domestic flights.

There's no excuse for this, but increasingly, the federal government doesn't need one.

Mon Mar 19 09:12:38 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Precipitating a Constitutional Crisis

Washington TimesMr. Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, called on the Justice Department Saturday to immediately shut down Mr. Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Sunday that Democrats and Republicans alike should move to reinstate special counsel Robert Mueller if President Trump moves to fire him.

Abusing the intelligence agencies to try to influence an election is a constitutional crisis. Abusing the special counsel statute to investigate a president on the basis of zero real evidence is a constitutional crisis. Congress attempting to usurp the Constitutional role of the President would be a constitutional crisis. The only thing here that wouldn't be a constitutional crisis would be President Trump firing a man who, legally, works for him.

That doesn't mean it would be wise to fire Mueller, but it's increasingly looking like Mueller will keep escalating until he is fired -- and he will then use the firing to claim obstruction of justice.

Mon Mar 19 09:12:38 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Propublica Retracts story on CIA head's association with torture

PropublicaOn Feb. 22, 2017, ProPublica published a story that inaccurately described Gina Haspel’s role in the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida leader who was imprisoned by the CIA at a secret “black site” in Thailand in 2002.

The story said that Haspel, a career CIA officer who President Trump has nominated to be the next director of central intelligence, oversaw the clandestine base where Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture. The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.

Our account of Haspel’s actions was drawn in part from declassified agency cables and CIA-reviewed books which referred to the official overseeing Zubaydah’s interrogation at a secret prison in Thailand as “chief of base.” The books and cables redacted the name of the official, as is routinely done in declassified documents referring to covert operations.

The Trump administration named Haspel to the CIA’s No. 2 job in early February 2017. Soon after, three former government officials told ProPublica that Haspel was chief of base in Thailand at the time of Zubaydah’s waterboarding.

So, they lied to you, and likely leaked classified information in the process. Will you name your sources so they can be punished for leaking and lying, and their credibility in future leaks or other public testimony appropriately reduced? No?

Then you are still complicit in their lies.

Mon Mar 19 09:12:38 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Now it's tripwires in Austin

Breitbart“We do believe, based upon what we’ve seen, that this was a bomb. that exploded. However, we are not believing that this is similar to the previous ones as in packages that were left on doorsteps,” the chief said while responding to reporter’s questions. “But instead, this was some type of a suspicious package that was left on the side of the road that detonated and injured these two men that were hurt earlier tonight.”

This is concerning for a number of reasons. First, it comes after a string of three explosions from packages left on doorsteps; all of those resulted in serious injuries and there were some deaths. This latest attempt also resulted in serious injuries. But the switch in tactics from explosive packages left on doorsteps to tripwires on packages left by the side of the road as soon as the word got out about the packages is significant. It means the person behind this is flexible and changes tactics based on response. He's not figuring it out as he goes, he already knows what he's doing. Second, tripwires on the side of the road are a tactic very similar to IEDs seen in Iraq and elsewhere, and indicate a possible connection to that conflict (ie, skills learned there) and an inherent randomness about the targets. Third, the lack of communication with the police to claim credit for a cause, along with the (so far) lack of reported connection between the targets, suggests this person is basically attacking at random and intends to continue doing so.

There was an arrest Sunday for someone who emailed a bomb threat to a specific location near to where the other bombs were placed. He was charged with the threat, but not (yet) with the actual bombings. More explosions Monday morning, after his arrest, means they probably don't have the right guy for the actual bombs.

And finally, there might be a second device that was found before it went off. Hopefully just a false alarm.

Mon Mar 19 08:19:20 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Teacher suspended for questioning gun control walkout

Daily WireA history teacher at a California high school who dared to question her school's participating in the hyper-political pro-gun control National School Walkout has been placed on leave.

Julianne Benzel said she opened up a discussion in her classroom about the politics of the protest and was subsequently told to stay home on Wednesday because the administration disagreed with her views.

It's only allowed to be political if you are a leftist. Anyone else, it will cost you your job.

Sat Mar 17 09:39:53 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Would they do this to Obama?

Apparently the New Yorker thinks it's funny to put a naked Trump on the cover of their magazine. Would they do the same for Obama? Of course not. It's because they're racist.

Sat Mar 17 09:39:53 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Liberal tolerance

Daily CallerMinnesota students taking part in the national gun control walkouts on Wednesday allegedly assaulted another student carrying a Trump flag.

According to CBS, the incident occurred outside of Southwest High School and Minneapolis Police are currently investigating the incident as an assault.

Daily Caller
U.S. Capitol Police have arrested a male Democratic operative for assaulting a female Interior Department communications official following a House budget hearing Thursday.

The assault happened after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke finished testifying on the department’s 2019 budget proposal before the House Committee on Natural Resources. The suspect identified himself as a reporter with American Bridge and pushed a female Interior Department communications official to the floor, chasing after Zinke, The Daily Caller News Foundation learned.

What other group of young, politically-active individuals obtained a reputation for violence and intimidation on the path to gaining control of their government?

Sat Mar 17 09:39:53 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Andrew McCabe fired!

CBS NewsFormer FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has been fired, effective immediately the Department of Justice said late Friday night. The decision comes as FBI officials recommended his firing, as they wait for a Department of Justice Inspector General report critical of him to be released.

It wouldn't have happened to a better man. The firing is richly deserved, as anyone who has been following media accounts of the Hillary email investigation and Trump-Russia investigation should know well. The officially stated reasons are unauthorized disclosure to the media -- leaking -- and "lacking candor" -- that's lying -- including under oath.

In other words, he tried to take down a president with lies and backroom politics, and he failed. He learned that if you strike at the King, you must kill him, for if you strike at the King and do not, he will surely kill you. Politically, in this case. In the old days it was a bit more literal.

Note that just being fired doesn't mean he's off the hook for whatever crimes he may have committed in the process.

McCabe has released a statement in which he whines like a bitch and blames everything on a vast right wing conspiracy to cover up a vast Russian conspiracy.

UPDATE: Conservative Treehouse identifies at least once McCabe likely lied under oath to Congress. Even if he was authorized to release information to the press as he claims, he was not authorized to lie about it.

Sat Mar 17 00:12:06 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Judge who accepted Flynn's guilty plea may have been colluding with corrupt FBI agents

The FederalistNewly discovered text messages obtained by The Federalist reveal two key federal law enforcement officials conspired to meet with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge who presided over the federal case against Michael Flynn. The judge, Rudolph Contreras, was recused from handling the case just days after accepting the guilty plea of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who was charged with making false statements to federal investigators.

So the judge who accepted Flynn's guilty plea, and who sits on the FISA court, turns out to have been friendly with Strzok and Page, the dynamic and adulterous duo at the FBI who so deftly spied on the Trump campaign after exonerating Hillary Clinton.

And the text messages revealing the collaboration were deliberately hidden from Congress according to the Federalist article.

The FederalistThe pair even schemed about how to set up a cocktail or dinner party just so Contreras, Strzok, and Page could speak without arousing suspicion that they were colluding. Strzok expressed concern that a one-on-one meeting between the two men might require Contreras’ recusal from matters in which Strzok was involved.

“[REDACTED] suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting,” Strzok told Page. “I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party.”

“Have to come up with some other work people cover for action,” Strzok added.

“Why more?” Page responded. “Six is a perfectly fine dinner party.”

So they are deliberately making up social events as cover for their nefarious collusion with a judge on the FISA court. That shows consciousness of guilt on their part, even if the judge did nothing wrong.

Fri Mar 16 13:49:08 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reforming the FISA court results in business as usual

The FederalistIn June 2015, Congress adopted modest reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) — the federal statute that allows the Department of Justice to obtain an ex parte order from a secret court to wiretap suspected terrorists and foreign agents, including American citizens. Recognizing the risk of government abuse inherent in such one-sided proceedings, Congress directed the FISA court to create a roster of attorneys willing to appear as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, to challenge the DOJ’s application for a surveillance warrant...

Although 5 attorneys were named to the roster of available amici curiae, the FISA court has rarely sought their assistance. In 2015, the FISA court appointed amici curiae in only four instances of the approximate 1,000 applications it considered, but in 2016, the FISA court used amicus curiae just one time, while handling more than 1,500 applications. (Statistics for 2017 are not yet available.)

Appointing one of those attorneys should be mandatory, not optional. And they should be required to write a year-end summary of their work, for public consumption, speaking in aggregate without naming names. We need to know what the FISA court is authorizing so we can have a proper public debate on government surveillance of Americans.

But it gets worse:

(Read More...)

Fri Mar 16 10:10:03 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Diverse Feminist Engineers At Work

I meant that as a joke, but it turns out to be true. The project executive is named Leonor Flores and uses feminine pronouns.

It should be noted I'm not ascribing blame here. I don't know who screwed up. But somebody did, and that's why it's important for standards in engineering to remain "can get the right answer" rather than "diversity and inclusion".

Apparently the company has done shoddy work before.

ReasonSpecifically, DOT did not document key decisions to (a) accept and review applications received after the published deadline; (b) advance projects with lower technical ratings instead of more highly-rated projects, and its procedures were inconsistent with DOT’s internal guidelines; and (c) change the technical ratings of lower-rated projects selected for funding to the highest technical rating category.

Asking politicians to make decisions about engineering kills people.

Fri Mar 16 09:10:03 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Grassley, Graham call for second special counsel

Sessions has already appointed a prosecutor to work with the Inspector General, but it's not known who or what they are doing.


Fri Mar 16 09:10:03 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Broken Window Fallacy

KXANState figures show the spending that came in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey generated jobs in construction, retail and other sectors, giving a surprising boost to the Houston-area economy.

The Houston Chronicle reports that billions of dollars in insurance payments and federal disaster aid came to the region following Harvey’s arrival in August. People spent the money at retailers to replace damaged household goods and hired contractors to repair homes.

Someone tell the press, it's only been a thing since 1850.

Fri Mar 16 09:10:03 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama dropped fugitives from NICS system

Daily CallerThe Justice Department under Barack Obama directed the FBI to drop more than 500,000 names of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, acting FBI deputy director David Bowdich testified Wednesday.

Why would Obama do something like this? He's generally anti-gun, so why would he allow fugitives -- indicted criminals with outstanding warrants -- access to guns?

The same reason he ordered the FBI, DOJ, and ATF to order gun stores to allow criminals to buy guns in Operation Fast and Furious (which we will likely be seeing in the news, as AG Sessions has recently authorized the release of more documents that the Obama DOJ was withholding). Those criminals, committing crimes with guns, possibly even committing high-profile mass murders, become fodder for his political policy of gun control.

Just as adding thousands of elderly Americans and financially-challenged soldiers to the NICS list fit his political policies of not letting normal, law-abiding Americans have guns.

Thu Mar 15 15:24:53 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

FBI disciplinary office recommends firing McCabe

Washington PostThe FBI office that handles employee discipline has recommended firing the bureau’s former deputy director [Andrew McCabe] over allegations that he authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misled investigators when asked about it, leaving Attorney General Jeff Sessions to decide whether he should fire the veteran official just four days before his expected retirement date, people familiar with the matter said.

Much as McCabe deserves to be fired (and then prosecuted and jailed), I can't help but think this is bait for Mueller to invoke obstruction of justice charges. That said, you can't let that sort of thing paralyze you. Fire him.

Thu Mar 15 10:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Opposition Donor Research

Investors' Business DailyBut, according to a new book by progressive journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn, "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and Donald Trump's Election," not only did Fusion do opposition research, something every campaign does, it also did aggressively hostile opposition donor research.

"In 2012, then-President Obama had an 'enemies list' on his campaign website with the names of Mitt Romney's biggest donors," noted PJ Media's Debra Heine.

Remember how much of the IRS scandal was focused on getting information about the donors to the Tea Party non-profits?

Thu Mar 15 09:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Reserve police officer and politician has negligent discharge in classroom

Daily WireOn Wednesday, as left-wing activists held nationwide gun control rallies which also opposed the notion of arming teachers, news broke that a reserve police officer in California accidentally discharged his firearm in a classroom injuring three students.

Math teacher Dennis Alexander, who is also a reserve police officer for the Sand City Police Department and a Seaside councilman, was trying to show his class on Tuesday how to "disarm someone and was checking if the weapon was loaded," NBC News reported

Teaching students how to disarm someone? Really? The teacher here sounds, frankly, like an idiot, and a classic example of why police officers (and politicians!) should not be the "only ones" allowed access to firearms.

If you really feel the need to teach your students how to disarm someone, that's a perfect application for one of those blue training guns, and absolutely not for a real gun with live ammunition anywhere nearby.

Thu Mar 15 09:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Clock Boy lawsuit dismissed

Daily CallerU.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay dismissed the lawsuit Ahmed “Clock Boy” Mohamed brought against the Irving Independent School District Wednesday, after he was wrongfully arrested for bringing a device to school that resembled a bomb.

The device at issue was a homemade clock, not a bomb.

The outcome is correct, but I want to quibble with the language a little bit.

Ahmed was not "wrongfully arrested"; he was properly arrested for making terroristic threats by constructing a fake bomb and bringing it to school with him. Pictures of the device are available.

Thu Mar 15 09:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Security Theater

LATimesPilots and flight attendants are subject to random drug and alcohol tests at the completion of every trip sequence. This is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration's Anti-Drug and Alcohol Misuse Regulation and has been implemented by every U.S. airline.

If the concern was safety, shouldn't the breathlyzer test be administered before the flight?

Thu Mar 15 09:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Regulation for bump stock ban moves forward

The BlazeThe Department of Justice on Saturday submitted regulation to formally ban the devices, which modify semi-automatic rifles to fire like fully-automatic rifles. The devices were used in the Las Vegas massacre last October, which left nearly five dozen dead and more than 800 others injured.

I object to this regulation on the following grounds:
1) It does not conform to the law. The law says a machine gun fires multiple times for a single operation of the trigger. A bump stock device fires one shot per trigger pull, and merely automates that trigger pull based on the user applying continuous pressure with their free hand.
2) It violates my "nothing for free" policy. Gun control advocates should be required to give gun rights advocates something for every piece of legislation or regulation they put in place. There are lots of silly, stupid, small things we can get rid of in trade for this sort of thing.
3) It's only been used in crime a very few times. Possibly only once.
4) Anyone using one of these devices is explicitly trading volume of fire for accuracy of fire. That's usually a trade that unarmed civilians should want.
5) It appears to ban possession as well as trade and manufacture. That's problematic; taking people's property is always more objectionable than preventing new manufacture alone.

All that said, there's is at least one bright side to this. The very fact that the regulation does not conform to the law it claims to enable may allow for a legal challenge later, once passions have died down. THere's not much benefit to agitating that this isn't being done properly now when the strategy may be to challenge it later on that basis.

All that said, I don't think we should be giving the other side anything for free, so until someone can explain what we get from this, I'm opposed.

Thu Mar 15 09:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did House Speaker Paul Ryan campaign for Democrat Connor Lamb?

Thu Mar 15 09:55:28 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Walking out of school for gun control

The FederalistParents across the country are being urged to let their children participate in the National School Walkout on March 14. Yet, few parents (and kids!) understand the walkout’s true mission. At my children’s elementary school in Northern Virginia, school officials are telling parents the walkout is meant to memorialize the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Yet, according to the National School Walkout website, the real mission of the walkout is to demand Congress pass more restrictive gun laws. The website specifically states: “Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation … Congress must take meaningful action … and pass federal gun reform legislation.”

The adults in charge of this astroturf operation should be ashamed of themselves. Any teachers or school administrators involved in it should be fired. Abusing authority over children to push for a political cause surely violates the 1st Amendment, and even more so using school time, facilities, and funds in the effort.

UPDATE: Oh look, a lawsuit.

Wed Mar 14 11:37:37 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Warren refuses to pledge to serve her full Senate term if elected

The HillMassachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) on Saturday said she is not running for president, but refused to pledge to serve out a full six-year term in the Senate if reelected in 2018.

If she doesn't plan to serve out her full term, why elect her? If she wins in 2018, she will have two years in office before running for President in 2020. Is two years really enough? Especially when she will spend that whole time running for president?

Wed Mar 14 11:37:37 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Right needs another Tea Party

The FederalistNow that Donald Trump is president, the Right doesn’t appear to be starting any movements or marches or rallies — when they really should be. Just because there’s a Republican in the White House doesn’t mean the Right should stop working to get issues in front of the public.

I know, I know, there are a ton of right-leaning groups out there working on these issues behind the scenes. I’m talking about starting a national conversation, like the Tea Party did. No, they didn’t force President Barack Obama to spend less, but they fired up enough Americans to give Republicans a historic win in the House of Representatives in 2010 and multiple governorships and state legislatures across the country. Tea Parties left the rallies and started working to get people elected — and less spending is a pretty simple and broad message.

Fundamentally, she's right. When Republicans have control of Congress and the White House, they need to advance the ball on their policy agenda, because majorities are always fleeting. And while Republicans typically have "real grass roots" instead of astroturf on issues such as gun control, the ready-made professional movement is how legislation gets passed. Just look at how feckless Congress is without that; stuff barely moves even with all three houses in Republican hands and the only thing the Republicans know how to do is pass a tax cut. We need policy wins, and to deliver those, we need to harness public opinion through current events.

School shooting? "Arm teachers to defend our kids!"
Illegal immigrant commits murder? "A border wall will save lives!"

Yes, the left will likely always have an advantage here, because we have jobs and they have paid protestors. We managed to get it done with the Tea Party despite that. Imagine what a Tea Party could accomplish without Obama's IRS in the way and Republicans in Congress and the White House. Maybe we can make it happen.

Wed Mar 14 10:37:37 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The Seychelles meeting

The left is reaching very, very far with this one. They are trying to sell it as some sort of superspy thing; the Russians collude with Trump to win the election, and then Trump sends a secret representative to meet with one of their representatives to set up a back channel to talk to Russia. But Trump just won the election; he doesn't need a "back channel" to talk to Russia. He can just pick up the phone and talk to their ambassador directly. Unless what Trump wants to talk to the Russians about is so secret and evil that the NSA would read about it due to their spying on the Russian ambassador and be compelled to do... something, who knows what.

So far as I can tell, it appears to be a tissue of allegations held together by one fact: a meeting between a Trump supporter, some potential middle eastern clients of his firm, and a Russian happened. The rest of the apparent Mueller claims about a "back channel" are not supported by publicly known evidence, and are denied under oath by Prince. And, yet again, we have a minor campaign figure who makes big claims that seem to fall under the label of self-promotion. There's a large credibility gap there.

And Prince makes the cogent point that the intelligence here could only have come from SIGINT and unmasking.

So my take is that the people responsible for the intel and unmasking abuses have chosen to leak this information and their justification for it to the press in order to spin the story ahead of the IG report which will reveal it.

Wed Mar 14 09:37:37 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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