PARIS--France's top constitutional court mostly upheld a new French surveillance law that would give intelligence services broad new powers to spy in France and abroad.
The court-backed provisions of the law allow a wide range of new surveillance techniques meant for the Internet age, including the collection of "metadata" about online traffic and the use of software that can monitor every keystroke on a computer. The court said intelligence services can use these tools without approval of a judge, though the government must still seek permission from an independent body created to oversee surveillance activities.
The court, known as the Constitutional Council, did strike down a provision of the law that would allow emergency surveillance without the approval of the prime minister or another minister in the government.
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[T]he question before Congress is not whether to reauthorize or prohibit the bulk telephone records program that has garnered so much attention. It is whether to reauthorize Section 215 itself. This authority was enacted after 9/11 to remedy the problem that officers conducting foreign intelligence investigations of international terrorism and espionage did not have a basic investigative tool available even in ordinary criminal investigations. The telephone records program conducted by the NSA is only one application of that authority. If Congress allows Section 215 to expire, it will not just eliminate that program; it will do away entirely with an essential investigative tool.
Khalid Al Fawwaz was sentenced today for his part in the 1998 Embassy Bombing plot. He received three life sentences and a ten-year sentence, concurrent. And Judge Kaplan added this:
The Court makes the following recommendation to the Department of Justice: The Court is mindful of the fact that defendant may have the ability to apply to the U.S. Department of Justice under the international prisoner transfer program to be allowed to serve some or all of his sentence in another nation. Although a decision on any such application, if one is made, would be up to the Department of Justice, the Court strongly recommends that any such application be denied. The defendant has been convicted of very serious crimes against American citizens. His punishment ought to be served in, and more particularly, always remain under the control of the United States of America.Now that's refreshing to hear from a federal judge.
[Defense attorney David] Bruck urged the jury to sentence the defendant [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] to life in prison without the possibility of ever being released.
"His legal case will be over for good, and no martyrdom, just years and years of punishment," the lawyer said. "All the while, society is protected."
I am reluctant to call anyone a liar based on a press report, as I have been quoted out of context a time or three myself, but if this report is accurate and in context then Bruck told the jury a bald-faced lie in open court.
Bruck knows, I know, and everyone knowledgeable in the field knows that if the jury returns a life verdict then Tsarnaev will have a right to appeal and then a right to file a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. §2255. By no stretch of the imagination will "his legal case be over for good." That is absolutely false.
Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for this crime on August 14, 1997. He was executed June 11, 2001, less than four years later. Why so quickly? What lesson is there for those seeking justice in the present day?
[T]he bigger story [in the Bergdahl case] is the extravagant price the U.S. has paid because President Obama wanted to score political points.
Readers will recall that then-Private First Class Bergdahl went missing from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. Fellow soldiers suspected desertion, though the Army conducted a risky manhunt to recover him...
The Associated Press has reported that an internal Pentagon investigation in 2010 found "incontrovertible" evidence that he had walked away from his post. Journalists also uncovered an exchange of letters in which the soldier wrote to his father "the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools," that he was "ashamed to even be american," and that "the future is too good to waste on lies." Replied father Robert: "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!"
All of this would have been known to President Obama and National Security AdviserSusan Rice when the Administration decided to swap Sgt. Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees--all top Taliban leaders--in May 2014. Mr. Obama even invited Sgt. Bergdahl's parents to a [chipper -- ed. addition] Rose Garden ceremony to announce the swap, while Ms. Rice declared on a Sunday talk show that the soldier had served his country with "honor and distinction."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that FBI Director James Comey was not invited to the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism, because they didn't want the perception that the conference "was overly focused on law enforcement tactics...."
"Certainly law enforcement is a very important role to play. That's why we had the nation's top law enforcement official in attendance," Earnest said.
"That's why we had police chiefs and other law enforcement officials from communities across the country in attendance, but the focus here is on the broader set of tools that are available to communities all across the country to protect vulnerable people who could be susceptible to violent extremist ideology that's propagated on social media," he added.
That's it, ladies and gentleman. We plan to fight Jihadist decapitation with Facebook posts about how to moderate the inequities of capitalism. If you gave me a thousand years, I could not come up with this stuff.
There is a recurrent fantasy within the Obama administration that they could get away with anything, if only that damn Fox News would shut up. Well, sometimes that could be true. But other times, it's delusional. Like when Eric Holder blamed Fox News for Islamic radicalism:
Whenever you're getting criticized by both sides, it probably means you're probably getting it right. We spend more time, more time talking about what you call it, as opposed to what do you do about it, you know? I mean really. If Fox didn't talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about, it seems to me.
Sure. It's not the beheadings, the burning alive, the selling of women into slavery, the parading of prisoners in cages that has people concerned about Islamic extremism. It's not reality, it's Fox News! But what is Holder's point? Why is the administration so allergic to acknowledging that the terrorists who are wreaking havoc are Islamic radicals?
Radical Islam, Islamic extremism; I'm not sure an awful lot is gained by saying that. It doesn't have any impact on our military posture; it doesn't have any impact on what we call it, on the policies that we put in place.
As if we had a policy in place to put these ISIS savages out of business.
The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.
"The analogy we use around [the White House] sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant," Obama told the New Yorker magazine in a January 2014 interview. The president was referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but was also suggesting in a broader sense that a number of post-9/11 offshoot terrorist organizations aren't worth the sort of war-footing mobilization that took place in the George W. Bush years.
******************************Fast forward to January 2015. The attackers at Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris would undoubtedly qualify as JV-level terrorists under Obama's new classification. But their work was enough to shock Europe and motivate more than a million people to gather behind dozens of heads of state at the unity rally Sunday.
The day was emotional and peaceful, a gesture of unity just days after Islamic extremists slaughtered 17 people.World leaders joined French President Francois Hollande, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The day also brought together an unlikely duo at the rally: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Spot any omissions? Right you are. No Obama. No Biden. No Kerry. And let's face it: No interest. That's what their boycott announces to the world.
The White House woke up this morning and expressed such regrets as it could squeak out, but I doubt a single person was convinced. Particularly revealing was this tidbit in the Washington Post story on the Press Office's damage control:
The United States was represented by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas were in Paris for weekend security meetings but did not attend the march.
No, they did not attend. Must have been having a long lunch. By the way, the American Ambassador, Ms. Hartley, is principally qualified for her post by having been an Obama bundler.
The mind-blowing portent of Obama's boycott will not be missed by our friends. Or our enemies.
Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.
The 4:20 p.m. smoke-out in the shadow of the Colorado capitol was the capstone of an Easter weekend dedicated to cannabis in states across the country. Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police reported only 130 citations or arrests over the course of the two-day event, 92 for marijuana consumption.
Well that's cool. Ninety-two pot citations with tens of thousands of smokers. That's less than one percent who so much as get charged when they make a point of publicly getting zapped. (Not that anything is likely to happen with these charges except that they'll be quietly dismissed in the bye-and-bye).
Is there a problem with telling the voters there will be strong "safeguards," then blowing (pun intended) right past them? Well, no, not if you're a druggie, or the PR outfit that does their campaign.
Wednesday's massacre, following a long string of plots foiled by police in the U.K., France and elsewhere, is a reminder that jihadism isn't a distant Middle Eastern phenomenon. There will be many more such attempts at mass murder, and authorities in the U.S. and Europe need broad authority to surveil and interrogate potential plotters to stop them.
This offends some liberals and libertarians, but imagine the restrictions on liberty that would follow if radical Muslims succeed in blowing up a soccer stadium or half a city. Men willing to execute cartoonists in Paris and 132 children at point-blank range in Peshawar in the name of religion won't shrink from using more destructive means to impose mass casualties. Better to collect metadata and surveil some people now than deal with public demand for mass Muslim arrests or expulsions after a catastrophe.
Wednesday's attack also demonstrates again that violent Islam isn't a reaction to poverty or Western policies in the Middle East. It is an ideological challenge to Western civilization and principles, including a free press and religious pluralism. The murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is merely the latest evil expression of a modern arc of Islamist violence against Western free speech that stretches back to Ayatollah Khomeini 's 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of novelist Salman Rushdie.
It's appalling that more people in this country did not understand before yesterday what the stakes are in this struggle. Instead, we made excuses for butchers, doubted our right and need to act, and lashed out at our own military, intelligence apparatus, and police. None of those agencies should be or is above scrutiny. But it's past time for looking-down-the-nose libertarians and holier-than-thou liberals to get on board with what is needed to defend the basics of Western civilization. If they prefer not to, that is their right in a free country, but their reality-challenged lectures about what they leave it to us rubes to do to protect ourselves (and them) should henceforth be ignored.