Home / News / Washington Free Beacon (page 10)

Washington Free Beacon

NJ Dem Candidate Flip-Flops on Tax Reform Repeal, Says He Doesn’t Favor Fast Repeal

A New Jersey Democrat running for Congress told local reporters he isn't in favor of a fast repeal of President Donald Trump's tax reform law, but his website says otherwise as he calls for voters to take action against the tax reform law. Andy Kim, who is running to unseat Rep. Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.) in the state's 3rd Congressional District, said he is not staunchly in favor of a fast repeal of the law if Democrats take back control of Congress during the midterm elections later this year, according to the Burlington County Times. "We need to make sure that this is a process that brings in the American people and brings in experts and is done in a very deliberative, strategic way," Kim said Tuesday following a roundtable meeting with residents and business owners. "It needs to be done in a broader way. There’s not going to be any silver bullet to this," added Kim, saying that he wouldn't support rushing changes. "It would be irresponsible for us to think there’s a simple solution to these issues." Kim's most recent position differs from his campaign website, which calls for voters to "take action to repeal the Trump tax" and then hits his Republican opponent for voting three times for tax reform. Kim has also slammed the tax reform law on Twitter several times, calling it "disastrous," "terrible," and quoting Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.), who called it a "big wet kiss to corporate donors and a deliberate slap in the face to New Jersey." "MacArthur once again stood against his state, his constituents, and even his fellow New Jersey Republicans, to vote for the disastrous Trump tax plan. Check out the coverage to see exactly why I'm running to replace MacArthur in 2018, then join me!" Kim tweeted. /1 MacArthur once again stood against his state, his constituents, and even his fellow New Jersey republicans, to vote for the disastrous Trump tax plan. Check out the coverage to see exactly why I'm running to replace MacArthur in 2018, then join me! https://t.co/R1Z9NiIYTS pic.twitter.com/pT4LqTPUon — Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) December 20, 2017 "Terrible tax bill is hurting NJ more than any other state in the country and @RepMacArthur was the only one in NJ to vote Yes. Help me replace him," Kim tweeted. Terrible tax bill is hurting NJ more than any other state in the country and @RepMacArthur was the only one in NJ to vote Yes. Help me replace him >>> https://t.co/47dyWRsb7G https://t.co/Xwj8gBfc8b — Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) March 29, 2018 "We must remind people every day that Tom MacArthur was only NJ member of Congress to vote Yes on the Tax Bill. Thank you @BillPascrell for reminding us that tax bill "is a big wet kiss to corporate donors and a deliberate slap in the face to New Jersey," Kim tweeted. We must remind people every day that Tom MacArthur was only NJ member of Congress to vote Yes on the Tax Bill. Thank you @BillPascrell for reminding us that tax bill "is a big wet kiss to corporate donors and a deliberate slap in the face to New Jersey." https://t.co/83OBUKCvd0 — Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) March 2, 2018 Kim, a former diplomat and Rhodes Scholar who advised President Barack Obama on the Islamic State, has not only flip-flopped on repealing tax reform, but has also faced scrutiny for claiming a special property tax break on his Washington, D.C. condo, worth nearly $1 million, after he had already announced he was running for the House seat in New Jersey and had registered to vote in D.C.: Kim received the tax break when he paid his bill in September 2017, even after he announced he was running for the 3rd District seat in Congress and was registered to vote as a New Jersey resident, where he was renting. Kim’s campaign has said the tax break was automatically renewed and that Kim canceled it and refunded the $687 in benefits he received before MacArthur’s campaign highlighted the oversight. "Andy Kim either lied to get himself a special tax break, or he lied about his New Jersey residence to vote in the primary," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Martin. "Either way, Andy Kim launched his campaign by attempting to deceive the people of South Jersey." The post NJ Dem Candidate Flip-Flops on Tax Reform Repeal, Says He Doesn’t Favor Fast Repeal appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Tennessee Dem Senate Candidate Echoes Pelosi, Booker: Tax Reform Bonuses Are ‘Crumbs’

Phil Bredesen, a Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate, echoed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker's (D., N.J.) talking points during a recent interview by saying the Republican tax reform law is providing "crumbs" to the middle class. Bredesen, who previously served as Nashville's mayor and later the governor of Tennessee, told the New York Times he couldn't have "swallowed morally" the Republican tax reform law that was signed by President Donald Trump back in December. "I think they did something which was clever politically, but I couldn’t have swallowed morally, which is I think they threw a few crumbs to the middle class to give these huge breaks to wealthier people and corporations and so on," Bredesen said. "And I think I would have called that out as strongly as I possibly could have." Bredesen's position on the tax cuts contrasts with the position of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), who is running for the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat. "What we need in the U.S. Senate is a senator who is going to stand with President Donald Trump," Blackburn said earlier in the month at a county Republican Party dinner in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. As of March 30, Bredesen's disclosures show he has between $88.9 million and $358 million in total investment assets between January 2017 and February, according to the Tennessean: During that same time period, the Nashville Democrat also had between $3.3 million and $20.1 million in income. The disclosure, which is required of all Senate candidates, is the first such reporting Bredesen has had to file since entering the race late last year and gives an inside view of his finances since his departure from the governor's office in 2011. But the disclosure does not encompass the entirety of Bredesen's personal wealth. Federal disclosures do not require candidates to disclose the value of their personal residence or its contents, and vehicles, including cars and planes. Like Bredesen, Pelosi is worth tens of millions of dollars and has been one of the most vocal critics of tax reform, calling the wage increases and $1,000 bonuses resulting from tax reform "crumbs" and "so pathetic." Booker echoed Pelosi last week during a town hall by calling employee benefits from tax reform "crumbs." The post Tennessee Dem Senate Candidate Echoes Pelosi, Booker: Tax Reform Bonuses Are ‘Crumbs’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Pro-Assad Regime Organization Paid Ohio Dem Dennis Kucinich $20,000

An organization that supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad paid former Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich $20,000 to speak to its organization last year. The payment came out as part of the Democrat's financial disclosures since he is running for governor of Ohio. Originally, Kucinich did not list the source of the payments and referred to them as speaking fees without specifying who they came from, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The three speaking fees came to a total of $33,000. The $20,000 payment came from the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees, in El Cerrito, California. The speech was at the European Centre for the Study of Extremism in Cambridge, England. Kucinich's travel costs were also handled. Kucinich has been to Syria several times before and has met Assad. The gubernatorial candidate is against most military actions the U.S. could be involved in and repeatedly attempted to impeach former President George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq. Kucinich is in an uphill battle to claim the Democratic nomination for governor. Former CFPB head Richard Cordray is the favorite to lock down the Democratic nomination. The organization that backed Kucinich's travel and speech called on the U.S. to pay reparations after recent missile strikes on Syrian military targets and has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his actions in Syria. The post Pro-Assad Regime Organization Paid Ohio Dem Dennis Kucinich $20,000 appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

China Air Force Again Circles Taiwan in ‘Sacred Mission’

By Ben Blanchard and Judy Peng BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) – Chinese aircraft have again flown around self-ruled Taiwan in what China's air force on Thursday called a "sacred mission", as Taiwan denounced its big neighbour over what it called a policy of military intimidation. Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory, is one of China's most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island. More recently, China has been incensed by comments by Taiwan Premier William Lai that it deemed were in support of Taiwan independence, though Taipei says Lai's position remains that the status quo between Taiwan and the mainland should be maintained. In a statement on its microblog, the Chinese air force said H-6K bombers had "recently" flown a patrol around Taiwan. "The motherland is in our hearts, and the jewelled island is in the bosom of the motherland," an H-6K captain, Zhai Peisong, was quoted as saying in the statement, using another name for Taiwan. "Defending the beautiful rivers and mountains of the motherland is the sacred mission of air force pilots." Taiwan's Defence Ministry said two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island on Wednesday afternoon, passing first through the Miyako Strait, to Taiwan's northeast, then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines. Late on Wednesday, Chinese state media said the military had also conducted live-fire military drills with helicopters along its southeast coast after increasingly stern warnings by Beijing for Taiwan to toe the line, though the exercises were more low key than had been flagged in state media. China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the island's "independence separatist activities" were the biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. "No force and no person should underestimate our resolute resolve and strong ability to defend the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the office said. ‘DETERMINATION TO DEFEND' Taiwan's China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said China's military exercise – which it described as routine and small scale – as well as the Chinese air force fly-by, amounted to "military intimidation". "Our determination to defend the country's sovereign dignity will never give in to any threat or inducement of force," it said. China had said the live-fire drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China's coast but which Taiwan has controlled since 1949, when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war. Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to "provocations" by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves by the island to push for formal independence. The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against any Taiwan separatism last month. China's hostility towards Taiwan has grown since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won a presidential election on the island in 2016. China fears she wants to push for independence. Tsai says she is committed to peace and maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, but will defend Taiwan's security. Setting aside the tension with China, Tsai began a visit to the southern African nation of Swaziland on Wednesday, one of only 20 countries which maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Clare Jim TAIPEI; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Robert Birsel) Open in New Window Download Package Create New Collection Share via Email Print Date04/19/2018 06:40 Word Count576 Source News FeedsUS World IDtag:reuters.com,2018:newsml_KBN1HQ04D:6 The post China Air Force Again Circles Taiwan in ‘Sacred Mission’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

‘Pushing Back on Iran’: One Expert’s Strategy to Confront the Islamic Republic

Haunting scenes of children gasping for air during the suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma earlier this month have prompted calls to punish Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. Often lost in the fury over the attack, however, is the fact that Assad's war machine is entirely dependent on Iran (and, to a lesser extent, Russia). No country has done more over the past seven years to back the Assad regime's brutality than the Islamic Republic. It has provided billions of dollars annually and thousands of fighters to help the Syrian government defeat rebel forces. Tehran's malevolent influence extends beyond Syria, as part of the Iranian regime's effort to achieve preeminence in the Middle East. American Enterprise Institute scholar Kenneth Pollack believes the United States needs to "adopt a more confrontational policy toward Iran" to thwart this effort. He recently published a comprehensive strategy to do just that. The strategy, titled "Pushing Back on Iran," is divided into six essays, each focusing on a different aspect of his robust but realistic proposal. After the Douma attack, one can foresee the destruction that an Iranian-dominated Middle East would cause. It is time for the United States to counter Iran's expansion across the region to protect its interests and its allies. In this spirit, I have summarized Pollack's strategy below. While I have some criticisms and additions, which I intersperse throughout the summary, the strategy's framework is one the United States should seriously consider adopting. Why Push Back on Iran? Pollack explains that he supported past attempts by U.S. presidents—including Barack Obama—to engage with Iran's leadership. "The failure of all of these bids to reach out to Iran, Obama's in particular, is my first rationale for backing a tougher line with Tehran," writes Pollack. "After all of these overtures, it is clear that the men who run Iran's foreign policy have no interest in a better relationship with the United States. They continue to define the United States as their enemy, and they treat us accordingly." But why focus on Iran? Plenty of governments do not like the United States. Two factors make Iran different and worthy of a major pushback effort, according to Pollack. First, Tehran "actively threatens America's interests and allies in the Middle East." Pollack notes that Iran is determined to destroy Israel and backs terrorist organizations that seek the same goal. When Washington does not sufficiently address these issues, less capable allies that "often exaggerate the extent of the Iranian threat" can "overreact and tackle problems that are beyond their ability in ways that make the situation worse, not better" (e.g., Saudi Arabia's ongoing war in Yemen). The second factor is that, as the Middle East is undergoing fundamental changes with an unclear outcome, Tehran "is actively struggling to push the transformation of the [region] in directions that best suit its interests, most of which do not suit the United States or the people of the [region]." Iran "backs virtually anyone willing to employ violence to subvert the status quo and/or fight the United States and its allies," working hard to "push an evolving Middle East into greater fragmentation and strife so that it will be less threatening and more subservient to Tehran." The Strategy Pollack lists the key assumptions that "inform [his] approach to pushing back on Iran." First, Iran will not ignore a more confrontational U.S. strategy, but rather "look for ways to counterattack." In the past, Tehran has used terrorism, unconventional warfare, and cyber attacks against the United States and its allies. Second, allies are critical. Because Iran is a serious threat and the American public will only tolerate a limited commitment of resources to this effort, allies need to contribute. Additionally, with more allied support, "the more tools [the United States] will have available to employ against Iran and the more protection [this country] will have from Iran's inevitable responses." Third, Washington's "ultimate goal should be to diminish Iranian influence in the Middle East," rather than regime change (more on this later). There are two categories under which the United States should look to push back on Iran: "(1) places where they are vulnerable and where we can cause more harm to them than they can to us, or (2) places where our allies are vulnerable and need help to fend off an Iranian challenge." Pollack argues that Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and the Persian Gulf are areas that meet one or both of these criteria, while the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and Lebanon are areas where Washington "should be thinking more in terms of defense than offense as part of a strategy of pushing back on Iran." Pollack is correct, tragically, that Lebanon is somewhat of a lost cause—the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Tehran's chief proxy force, dominates the country's political system and is more powerful than the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Realistically, the United States will not be able to dislodge Hezbollah's influence anytime soon. But Pollack should have added that Washington can still foster tangible effects. It can at least reconsider supporting the LAF with money, weapons, and training given the military's relationship with Hezbollah. It can find ways to strengthen United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, adopted in 2006 to end the war between Hezbollah and Israel, to demand that Hezbollah disarm and that the Lebanese government exercise control over all Lebanese territory. And it can make the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon more effective and accountable as it ignores Hezbollah's arms buildup near Israel's border. These proposals would fit into a broader effort to counter Iran's aggression in the Middle East. Pollack adds that the United States should "actively develop its capabilities to wage both cyber and unconventional warfare in Iran, but hold off on actively doing so," at least for now. Washington would develop "the capability to pursue regime change should [the United States] wish to do so—and hold it in reserve as a deterrent." Delving into the strategy's details, "Syria is the ideal place for the United States to take on Iran," according to Pollack. In an interesting paradox, Iran's victories in Syria have "created a new kind of vulnerability for Tehran." Iran is pouring resources into Syria when its economy is struggling and its regime is increasingly unpopular at home. Moreover, Iran has no good option to leave. "If the war in Syria burns on, Iran is likely to remain committed, and if the war escalates, Tehran is more likely to double-down again than it is to fold." Syrian oppositionists are still fighting, so Iran will keep fighting. "In effect, the Iranians have gotten themselves into the same sort of situation that the United States got itself into in Vietnam in the 1960s and the Soviets got themselves into in Afghanistan in the 1980s," argues Pollack. "The Iranians are caught in a war that is more costly than they want to bear, but is too important for them to want to leave." To exploit this, Pollack proposes that "the right American response is to make sure [Iran is not] left alone to complete the pacification of Syria anytime soon—that their foes are armed, trained, and supplied to allow them to persevere and to keep bleeding the Iranians and their allies," writes Pollack. "This is precisely the strategy the United States pursued with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Soviets (and Chinese) pursued with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in the 1960s and '70s." In Syria, this means providing "covert" assistance to a wide variety of Syrian opposition groups—weapons, training, money, and other supplies, "probably provided from clandestine bases in Jordan and Turkey." Pollack notes that this strategy means arming "all but the absolute worst Syrian opposition figures." Critics argue we would be strengthening Sunni jihadists, to which Pollack responds, "Americans endlessly make the mistake of assuming that … once someone takes on an extremist mantle he can never give it up. That once you go jihadist, you never go back. This belief flies in the face of every bit of evidence we have." Moreover, the more this country is involved with the Syrian opposition, the better able it will be to help moderate elements over extremist ones. Pollack could have added that Shiite Iran's sectarian and otherwise destabilizing foreign policies—not to mention Tehran's willingness to work with Sunni jihadist groups when it is convenient—produce Islamic State fighters and other Sunni terrorists rather than stop them. Any comprehensive proposal to fight jihadists in the Middle East is doomed to fail unless it includes an effort to counter Iran and the Syrian regime it steadfastly supports—key forces that drive disillusioned Sunnis to take up arms. Pollack writes that Tehran will likely respond to his strategy with violence. That may be dangerous, but not acting out of fear of Iranian reprisals would be far worse. "If we allow them to deter us from pursuing what is in our interest, then we are done," he warns. "Iran will have won, and we had best find ways to live with a Middle East increasingly dominated by Tehran. Confronting Iran means running these risks and absorbing a certain number of costs." In Iraq, Iran is the most influential foreign power, with formidable tools to wield that influence. But Iran's hold on Iraqi political and military institutions is not absolute, and many Iraqis do not want Iranian domination. "The key limit to Iranian influence is therefore Iraqi strength and, at least among its Arabs, unity," writes Pollack. "Whenever Iraq is weak and divided, Iran can wield enormous influence.… When Iraqis feel strong and united, they do not need Iran because they do not fear one another." Assuming the United States does not want to exert its influence like it did during the surge of 2007–2008, Washington must "play the long game, building up Iraq piece by piece, bringing Iraqis together, empowering their government to better their lives, and finding constructive ways to resolve differences." The broad contours of a strategy to meet this objective would be: security assistance, including "a residual American military presence, preferably on the order of about 10,000 troops for the next 5–10 years"; economic assistance "in virtually every aspect of its macro-economy"; diplomatic assistance; and political guidance to help foster "national reconciliation, formal or informal, that in turn produces a new power-sharing agreement to [include] all of Iraq's fearful communities." The United States must be prepared to respond with "immediate cyber, covert, or direct military strikes against discreet Iranian military targets" if Iran responds to this strategy by targeting American personnel in Iraq. Regarding the nuclear issue, Pollack says he was deeply disappointed with the deal the Obama administration struck in 2015. Pollack is critical of the agreement but believes it averts a crisis in the short term. With this in mind, he argues for a three-step approach toward the JCPOA. The United States "should remain committed to the JCPOA, but ensure that it is strictly enforced. For now, it is useful and the best that we have." The United States needs "to pursue the other aspects of [my] strategy. Doing so is not only critically important to reduce Iran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East, but can also help create leverage for a follow-on agreement to the JCPOA.… I suspect that Iran could be convinced to accept changes to the framework governing its nuclear program if it faced the loss of its regional position and key regional allies." The United States should "offer Iran a follow-on agreement to the JCPOA.… That agreement ought to look very much like what the Trump administration is pushing for: It should eliminate the sunset clauses or push them much farther into the future. It should institute new procedures for inspections to diminish Iran's ability to delay or prevent them. It should eliminate the more dangerous aspects of Iran's research and development on nuclear energy. And it should probably limit Iran's pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles." Notably, Pollack is critical of President Donald Trump's approach to the JCPOA, arguing we should not withdraw from the deal. Leaving the agreement now would likely cause more harm than good, but there is no doubt Trump's threat to withdraw, which the world saw as genuine, is what prompted the Europeans to begin negotiating a side deal with the United States to address Trump's justified concerns about the accord. And there is evidence the Europeans have made concessions to bolster some of the deal's many shortcomings. Pollack should give Trump credit here, though it would not make sense for Washington to scuttle the deal after the Europeans met the Americans partway. Pollack's final essay addresses the prospect of regime change, and he states his argument up front: "I don't believe that regime change should be the primary goal of such a strategy or a direct aim of U.S. policy at present, although I think the U.S. needs to recognize a change in the regime in Iran is probably going to be necessary over the long term since the clerical regime continues to define itself as America's enemy and to act aggressively in ways consistent with that self-identification." In other words, regime change is a long-term goal, not a concrete strategic objective—at least for now. Pollack argues that regime change in the short term would likely require an American invasion and potentially a long-term military occupation. Short of that, a deliberate policy of regime change through cyber attacks, covert action to stir up domestic unrest, and other tactics would lead Iran to escalate significantly. Even if such escalation is tolerable, regime change, Pollack argues, is unnecessary to achieve the objectives he has defined. "It is entirely possible for the United States to accomplish the objectives of a pushback strategy without overthrowing the regime, and adding actions meant to overthrow the regime would undoubtedly cause Iran to fight back far harder against the strategy across the board." Instead, the United States should keep regime change "as a deterrent," Pollack writes. Washington "should always hold in reserve the option of going after the Iranian regime hammer and tong to deter it from unconstrained retaliation for American actions elsewhere" and if we determine that "Iran intended to break out of the JCPOA and try to acquire nuclear weapons." In sum, Pollack proposes the United States should "wage an Afghan Mujahedeen-style covert war against Iran in Syria, strengthen Iraq so that it can stand independent of Iran, broker a power-sharing agreement in Yemen to extract our [Gulf Cooperation Council] allies and help evict the Iranians, develop covert and cyber tools against Iran itself but hold them in reserve, all while looking to preserve but supplement the JCPOA." This strategy is comprehensive but has a glaring omission: sanctions and other forms of economic warfare, which have been Washington's most commonly deployed tool to hurt Iran. Pollack only mentions sanctions in relation to the nuclear deal, but does not make them a coordinated aspect of his strategy. Surely Pollack recognizes the need for harsh sanctions for at least Iranian terrorism and human rights violations. Perhaps he made a conscious choice to focus on military and political tools rather than economic ones, but sanctions should play a prominent role in any strategy toward Iran (especially as the country is struggling through a currency crisis). Pollack's proposal is in many ways a long-term containment strategy to stifle Tehran's expansionist foreign policy, awaiting the "break-up or the gradual mellowing" of the Islamic Republic's power, as George Kennan prescribed for confronting the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Active containment and deterrence lead to pushback, which, over time, may lead to the removal of a murderous, anti-Semitic regime from this world. The proposal is robust, practical, and smart. And despite certain changes that I would make, President Trump would be wise to seriously consider the strategy with his national security team. The post ‘Pushing Back on Iran’: One Expert’s Strategy to Confront the Islamic Republic appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Counterspy Official: Snowden Leak Damage Increasing

Damage to U.S. electronic intelligence-gathering capabilities caused by renegade National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has increased over the past year, a senior U.S. counterintelligence official disclosed on Wednesday. Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, also said President Trump could expel additional Russian intelligence officers still operating in the United States to further punish Moscow for election meddling. Additionally, Evanina said during a speech at a Washington think tank that the federal government is conducting a long-term damage assessment of the 2015 cyber attack against the Office of Personnel Management carried out by China. The OPM data breach compromised sensitive records of more than 22 million federal workers, including people who provided personal information as part of applications for security clearances. The counterintelligence official also blamed unspecified government "policymakers" for the failure during the Obama administration to conduct counterintelligence operations aimed at the Russian cyber and influence operations during the 2016 presidential election. On Snowden, Evanina said counterintelligence officials are finishing the seventh intelligence community damage assessment regarding the theft of some 1.7 million NSA top-secret documents. The assessments are highly classified and have been read by only a handful of senior U.S. officials, he said. Snowden fled his NSA job in Hawaii in 2013 for Hong Kong and later Moscow after downloading classified documents and providing them to reporters in what he said was an effort to expose improper NSA surveillance of Americans. A House Intelligence Committee report in 2016 called the Snowden disclosures "the largest and most damaging release of classified information in intelligence history." The vast majority of the stolen documents had nothing to do with programs impacting Americans' personal privacy interests, and most compromised military, defense, and intelligence programs and assisted American adversaries, the report said. The NSA contractor used his network access as a computer system administration to download the documents, and is currently living under Russian government protection. "I will say that the amount of Snowden-related intelligence has not slowed down," Evanina told a gathering at the Aspen Institute. "This past year we had more international Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever, but probably 98 percent of them were in Der Spiegel or the Guardian," he said. "Very few of these issues have been picked up by U.S. media. But our assessment is they are more damaging now." The disclosures have affected intelligence collection capabilities and were spread by what Evanina said is a "consortium of people." The people include reporters and researchers who analyzed and interpreted the contents of the documents and revealed new, often-arcane details about electronic spying. Foreign adversaries have then accessed the documents and the analysis of them posted online to defeat NSA tools and techniques for spying. "The more our adversaries are informed by that, the more difficult it is to collect," Evanina said. "There has been no drop-off in Snowden-related damage but there has been less interest [by U.S. media]," he said. Evanina said journalists such as Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, initial recipients of Snowden documents, put together a network of scientists who are studying stolen NSA malware. The researchers have discovered how it works and how to defeat it. The seventh damage assessment was described by Evanina as "really technical" about what material has been released. The documents stolen by Snowden are now in the hands of journalists who are releasing it piecemeal after technical studies are conducted and the journalists determine who sees the material. "Now you have world class scientists looking at some of these apps and capabilities from our collection capabilities that are being re-engineered by our adversaries," he said. Since 2013, when Snowden made off with the documents, thousands of articles have been written on the documents containing "really sensitive" information but that accounts for only about 1 percent of the documents he took, Evanina said. "So we don't see this issue ending anytime soon," he said. On Russian intelligence expulsions, Evanina said the U.S. government may oust additional Russian spies—after some 90 intelligence officers were declared persona non grata over the past two years. Trump in March ordered 60 Russian intelligence officers operating under cover as diplomats to leave the United States. The expulsions were carried out in response to Moscow's role in a clandestine nerve agent attack in England against former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter. Officials said at the time that the 60 spies were among 100 suspect intelligence operatives. In December 2016, then-President Obama expelled 35 Russians in response to Moscow's election meddling. "Right now we sent 60 back, a total of 90 over the last couple of years," Evanina said. "But I think there are still a handful left and I know there are, and I think the White House is holding them out as potential sanctions in the future, if activity continues." Asked why no counterintelligence activities were conducted to thwart the Russian election meddling in 2016, Evanina said, "we've got to separate counterintelligence activity from policy—two separate things." "The counterintelligence world has worked against the Russian intelligence services here in the U.S. and has probably been more vibrant in the last three years than ever because of the activity of the Russians," he said. "That is separate from a policy decision to do something in retaliation and that's the world I don't live in. We can tell our policymakers what we see from a counterintelligence perspective, where we surveil people to, what the collection is and what their intent is. But the policy decision is made by a different group of people." Evanina said the FBI has been "overburdened" with work against the Russians in the past four years, not only with the election meddling but with other hostile intelligence activities. Former CIA Director John Brennan disclosed last weekend that then-President Obama refused to launch a cyber action against Russia during the 2016 election over fears Moscow would step up its election interference. Asked why Russia carried out the election interference, Evanina said Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government and intelligence services regard the U.S. democratic system as "the No. 1 threat" to Russia. "They will do anything they can to jeopardize our ability as a democracy that's vibrant and leads the world, to include the most fundamental process, our electoral process," he said, adding that American capitalism is also a Russian target. Asked if the Russians have compromised Trump, Evanina declined to comment. But he said the Russians attempted to penetrate both the Trump and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns during the election. "We have assessments and intelligence on both of those but they would not be in the unclassified realm," he said. On the OPM hacking case, Evanina said counterintelligence officials have obtained copies of the massive federal records—5 petabytes, or 5 million gigabytes of data—and have begun assessing the damage from the theft. Evanina said all 21 million federal employees have been notified about the breach that was "potentially by a foreign actor." Other U.S. officials have said China conducted the OPM hack and that Beijing plans to use the information for future cyber attacks and for artificial intelligence-based spying. "This is not a two-year issue; this is going to be 20 years in the making," he said. "This data is your most sensitive secrets that potentially an adversary is going to have in 20 years." The loss of the OPM data also could impact the children of security clearance applicants since details about offspring are part of the application process. "This is a big problem and we hope to get a damage assessment done as quickly as we can." Earlier this month, Michelle Van Cleave, former National Counterintelligence Executive, said the Obama administration weakened strategic counterintelligence efforts by downgrading the position she held in renaming the office the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, now headed by Evanina. "The national head of counterintelligence was rebranded director of a security and CI center, his duties further dissipated by the fixation on leaks and insider threats driven by the grievous harm done by Snowden, Manning, et al," Van Cleave said. "Gone was any dedicated strategic [counterintelligence] program, while elite pockets of proactive capabilities died of neglect," she said. A spokesman for the counterintelligence center said the name change did not diminish Evanina's counterspy authority. The post Counterspy Official: Snowden Leak Damage Increasing appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Revealed: Dream Democrat Agenda Includes Reparations

A wealthy Democratic donor club plotting the future of the liberal movement hopes to be fighting for reparations by 2022, according to a document obtained by the Washington Free Beacon from the Democracy Alliance's fall conference this week in Atlanta. The desire was stated in the invitation for a Monday reception during the biannual conference, which was attended by top Democratic Party officials such as DNC chairman Tom Perez, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, and Reps. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) and Mark Pocan (Wis.). The reception, "Way to Win: 2022 Victory Party," was presented as a look forward at what's possible if Democrats can be effective in coming elections. "It's 2022 and we are celebrating policy victories across the nation: Medicare for All and Free College, and next on the agenda is Reparations," the group projected, according to an invitation to the event. "Take a ride in our time machine to hear from the true political geniuses who made this happen," it says. Democracy Alliance Reception Invitation The group further predicts that the successful implementation of universal health care and free college will lead to more sweeping election victories, including the governorship in Texas and its electoral votes in the 2024 presidential election. "Because we’re governing with gusto, we’re seeing victories up and down the ballot—including winning a governorship in Texas and putting 38 electoral votes in grasp by 2024," it says. "Stop in 2020 and 2019 when local power builders turned Arizona and Florida solidly blue and established Virginia as a progressive governance juggernaut." The event was headlined with a speech by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who the group predicted would "set the course for a new wave of leaders." She was pictured on the night of the event with McAuliffe, who was also a featured speaker at the conference and is considering a run for president in 2020. Abrams has not publicly backed plans for universal health care or free college tuition, both policy positions supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). She has also not come out in support of reparations, a policy proposal that even Sanders has come out against. Representatives for the DNC, which had a substantial presence at this week’s conference, did not respond to a request for comment on whether it thinks a push for policies such as reparations would be politically wise for the party. The Democracy Alliance is the left's biggest donor club and has been embraced in recent years by party leadership. Its donor conferences have featured appearances by Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi and prominent Democratic senators such as Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.). The "2022 Victory Party" event was cohosted by a number of prominent liberal groups such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Collective PAC—a collection of entities with a mission to build "black political power"—and the Women Donors Action Network, which seeks to leverage the power of progressive women donors. The Solidaire Network, a group of wealthy liberal donors who foster protest and direct action, was also involved with the event. The Solidaire Network joined forces with two other liberal groups to form a "resistance" fund that combats "immediate threats" to "immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, black people, LGBTQ communities, and all people of color" and push back against Republicans. The Center for Popular Democracy, a New York-based progressive advocacy group, was also a cohost. The Center for Popular Democracy's sister organization, the Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, leads a massive $80 million anti-Trump network that spans across 32 states. Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chair of the DNC, last year publicly threw his support behind the network. "This national network, led by working class people of color and immigrants, will supply the power and the fight we need to resist the Trump administration's all-out assault on American values," Ellison said. "I look forward to standing with CPD Action's leaders in the streets and in Congress to win real progressive change." The Center for Popular Democracy, which has partnerships with more than 50 left-wing activist groups across the country, is also funded by the Democracy Alliance, whose members each vow to steer hundreds of thousands in funding to approved groups of the secretive donor network. Neither the Democracy Alliance nor any of the event cohosts responded to requests for comment. The post Revealed: Dream Democrat Agenda Includes Reparations appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Employers Call on Trump to Rescind Ambush Rules

Management attorneys and trade groups are petitioning the Trump administration to reverse President Obama's rule changes that drastically sped up the timeline of union elections. The National Labor Relations Board, a top federal labor arbiter that oversees union election procedures and settles workplace disputes, is reviewing the so-called Ambush rules adopted in December 2014. The standing rules force employers to respond to a union petition within 8 business days and eliminated a 25-day waiting period in between the election process. Management-side attorneys say the dramatic increase in the timeline hurts the ability of companies to respond to union campaigns that in some cases have been years in the making. "It deprives employers, especially small employers, of their due process rights," said Michael Lotito, a management-side attorney at Littler Mendelson. The initial gap in time is the most damaging for companies, many of which may not have access to counsel. Under the new rules, employers must respond to petition with their entire position statement within the first eight days—any issue not included in that initial document is considered waived. "The current rules have some serious structural problems and these employers face enormous time pressure," Lotito said. "This is shocking for a small employer that has probably never dealt with a federal agency before. It is a major, major, major undertaking." Unions have traditionally held an advantage in NLRB secret-ballot elections because they are unlikely to petition for an election they do not think they can win. Labor groups prevailed in 69 percent of union elections in 2017, on par with historic rates, though it is a sharp uptick from unions' 64 percent win rate in 2013, according to the NLRB. The election timeline, however, is moving at a much faster pace. The median wait-time fell from 38 days before the rules took effect to 23 days in 2017, a 40 percent decrease. National Retail Federation spokesman David French said the Obama rules tilted the scales of procedure in the union's favor, depriving workers of the ability to be fully informed about the effects of unionization. He also objected to updates that force companies to give union officials personal information about employees, including their email addresses. "This is one of the most unnecessary rules to come from the previous NLRB, and it is substantially undermining the principle of fair union elections. Workers have been denied the opportunity to hear from both sides of the debate and have lost their right to privacy," French said. "We urge the NLRB to rescind this rule or, at the very least, make significant changes to restore the basic rights of workers and employers in union elections." Reversing the rule could deal another major blow to President Obama's legacy on labor issues. Republicans gained their first majority on the board in a decade in the closing months of 2017 and reversed a number of the Obama board's most controversial decisions, including overturning decisions to allow micro-units and give labor regulators oversight of employee handbooks. Obama vetoed Republican attempts to block the agency from implementing the new rules in 2015, saying the revisions were needed to "streamline a democratic process that allows American workers to freely choose to make their voices heard." The agency debuted the rules with a training seminar at the headquarters of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ in March 2015. Some opponents to the Obama-era guidelines emphasize that they do not see election procedures as cut-and-dry as some of the Trump board's other labor rulings. While labor watchdogs were happy to see the Republican members restore previous longstanding precedent that was tossed out by Obama appointees, many want to see the Trump board make reforms of their own to board procedure. The new rules applied the quick timelines to union certification campaigns, but excluded elections to kick unions out of a workplace. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation wants to see the board adopt reforms to ease procedures for decertifying union representation, saying the 2014 change "complicates the decertification process for individual decertification petitioners and makes it harder to file for an election." It also called on unions to hold regular recertification elections to give current employees a say in representation, as well as lift delay tactics unions use to prevent such votes from taking place. "The current procedural requirements for filing those petitions are unduly burdensome on individual employees," the foundation said in a comment to the agency. "The reforms the Foundation proposes will advance the policy and purpose of the Act—employee free choice—by allowing employees full information and time to make representational decisions." The board has received more than 6,500 comments on the election rules. There is no timeframe for when it will release a new rule, though advocates are hopeful reforms can be introduced in 2018. The post Employers Call on Trump to Rescind Ambush Rules appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Booker Takes Shot at Dems Calling for Trump’s Impeachment Before Mueller Probe is Complete

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) took a shot at Democrats Wednesday for calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump before special counsel Robert Mueller concludes his Russia investigation, saying they "undermine" their positions as Democrats. MSNBC's "All In" host Chris Hayes asked Booker whether he thought that Trump was a "criminal." "I'm one of those folks that says let's go where the evidence leads and right now we have a special counsel that is doing a thorough investigation," Booker said. "Let's not get ahead of our skis. Let's make sure we support the special counsel's investigation. If the president, like he says he has nothing to worry about, he should be backing off on the rhetoric, backing off on the things he's doing to undermine the investigation and let it take its course." He went on to say it is "politically perilous" how Democrats are getting ahead of the investigation, prompting Hayes to asked Booker whether he is referring to Democrats calling for Trump's impeachment. "Yeah, look I think that we undermine our position as Democrats if we are reaching out now for impeachment, which is just going to whip up more of the political divisions, the political debates," Booker said. "I'll take criticism for that, but it's OK. We need to have sober minds, fact-based conclusions, conclusions drawn from evidence as presented." Booker said if they protect the special counsel and the investigation, they will be able to get all the facts to make the correct decision. Booker didn't single out any Democrats during his interview, but Democratic Reps. Al Green (D., Texas) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) have been vocal about their calls for impeachment. Waters praised Democrats last month during a MSNBC interview for being "very responsible" in waiting for Mueller's investigation to be over before calling for his impeachment, but she contradicted herself at the end of the interview by calling for Trump's impeachment. She has been one of Trump's most outspoken critics and has called for his impeachment dozens of times, including a eulogy at a funeral of a civil rights activist last September. Green has filed articles of impeachment twice, but both failed to get past the procedural stage by wide margins. Another person who has been vocal about impeaching Trump is liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who has spent tens of millions and sent thousands of impeachment guides to independent and third-party candidates running in the 2018 midterm elections to inform them of what it sees to be Trump's impeachable offenses. "As a candidate seeking elected office, it is important for you to understand this subject, which is too often misunderstood," the guide read. "Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country, and his actions have already superseded the threshold for impeachment as originally conceived by our nation’s Founding Fathers." Steyer and some of the other Democrats who have called for impeachment have forced House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) to distance themselves from the impeachment campaign. The post Booker Takes Shot at Dems Calling for Trump’s Impeachment Before Mueller Probe is Complete appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Pro-Assad Regime Organization Paid Dennis Kucinich $20,000

An organization that supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad paid Dennis Kucinich $20,000 to speak to their organization last year. The payment came out as part of the Democrat's financial disclosures since he is running for governor of Ohio. Originally, Kucinich did not list the source of the payments and referred to them as speaking fees without specifying who they came from, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The three speaking fees came to a total of $33,000. The $20,000 payment came from the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees, in El Cerrito, California. The speech was at the European Centre for the Study of Extremism in Cambridge, England. Kucinich's travel costs were also handled. Kucinich has been to Syria several times before and has met Assad. Kucinich is against most military actions the U.S. could be involved in and repeatedly attempted to impeach former President George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq. Kucinich is in an uphill battle to claim the Democratic nomination for governor. Former CFPB head Richard Cordray is the favorite to lock down the Democratic nomination. The organization that backed Kucinich's travel and speech called on the U.S. to pay reparations after recent missile strikes on Syrian military targets and have praised Vladimir Putin for his actions in Syria. The post Pro-Assad Regime Organization Paid Dennis Kucinich $20,000 appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »