Home / News / Washington Free Beacon (page 5)

Washington Free Beacon

China ASAT Test Part of Growing Space War Threat

China earlier this month conducted the latest flight test of one of its newest and deadliest strategic missiles—the DN-3 anti-satellite interceptor. The test, as in the past, was masked by the Chinese military as a missile defense interceptor test. American defense officials, however, said the DN-3 is one of several direct ascent anti-satellite missiles capable of destroying most U.S. satellites. A more significant development was disclosed eight days later through intelligence made public during a Senate hearing: China is moving beyond the testing and development of space weapons and will soon deploy military units dedicated to attacking satellites and conducting space warfare. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, appearing at the annual worldwide threat briefing with U.S. intelligence leaders, said China's destructive anti-satellite weaponry "probably will reach initial operational capability in the next few years." It was the first time the U.S. intelligence community publicly commented on the growing threat posed by anti-satellite weapons from both China and Russia, arms that include direct ascent anti-satellites missiles such as China's DN-3, as well as lasers and electronic jammers that can disrupt satellite operations, and small maneuvering satellites that can grab and crush orbiting satellites. China's cyber attack forces also will be used in a future conflict to penetrate military and civilian ground control stations used to communicate and operate satellites. The threat is real and growing and could produce devastating impacts on American infrastructure that is heavily reliant on satellites for communications, transportation, and finance. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command and a space warfare expert, sees American satellites as vulnerable to attack and the space warfare from China and Russia is growing rapidly. "We have very old space capabilities, very effective space capabilities, but they are very old and not built for a contested environment," he said last year. Hyten warned that the U.S. military needs "to move quickly to respond to it." Three years ago, Air Force Lt. Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, issued a more dire warning. "We are quickly approaching the point where every satellite in every orbit can be threatened," Raymond told Congress in March 2015. The Pentagon's Defense Science Board also warned about the danger to satellites from electronic jamming in a report last year. "The estimated and projected electronic threats against satellite communication (satcom) have rapidly escalated in the last few years and will continue to increase in the foreseeable future," the board said in a report. "Under severe stress situations, jamming can render all commercial satcom and most defense satcom inoperable, except for the low- and medium-rate modes of defense extremely high frequency satcom. This reality should be considered a crisis to be dealt with immediately." Coats, in prepared testimony, said the goal of anti-satellite weapons is "to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness" in a future conflict. Both destructive and non-destructive weapons are being development. "China’s PLA has formed military units and begun initial operational training with counterspace capabilities that it has been developing, such as ground-launched ASAT missiles," Coats said. Counterspace is the military's term for space warfare operations and weaponry. American intelligence agencies assess future conflicts will include attacks on U.S. and allied satellites to "offset any perceived U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems," Coats said. Military realignments in China over the past several years "indicate an increased focus on establishing operational forces designed to integrate attacks against space systems and services with military operations in other domains," he added. One specific worry, according to the DNI, is the use of satellites dubbed "experimental" that carry out sophisticated on-orbit operations, including some that appear designed for anti-satellite attacks. "Some technologies with peaceful applications—such as satellite inspection, refueling, and repair—can also be used against adversary spacecraft," Coats said. To thwart U.S. military efforts against these growing space threats, both China and Russian have launched information operations to promote international agreements aimed at the non-weaponization of space, and the no-first-deployment of space weapons. The agreements are a deception, however. "Many classes of weapons would not be addressed by such proposals, allowing [China and Russia] to continue their pursuit of space warfare capabilities while publicly maintaining that space must be a peaceful domain," Coats said. Rick Fisher, a China military affairs expert, said Coats's statement was the first official confirmation that China has formed military units training for space warfare and specifically anti-satellite missions. "There is no formal space warfare unit in the U.S. military," Fisher added. China's space warfare units have not been discussed publicly in China but are believed to be under the command of the new Strategic Support Force, a military service-level force that is in charge of military space, cyber, and electronic warfare operations. Fisher believes that the People's Liberation Army will soon deploy air force and navy forces with weapons and sensor systems that will be used for combined armed space attacks. Additionally, the Strategic Support Force will likely control surveillance or weapons to be deployed on China's large space station in 2019. "China's space station could eventually launch small harder to detect co-orbital satellites, also mentioned by DNI Coats," he said. "And when China's PLA-controlled space program reaches the moon, perhaps in the early 2030s, we can expect the Strategic Support Force to deploy dual-use assets to benefit the PLA." The Air Force, the military service leading U.S. defenses and warfare in space, has not disclosed what it may be doing in terms of preparing for space warfare, other than discussing the need for "resiliency"—the ability to recover from satellite attacks and other hostile space operations. The Pentagon's unclassified national defense strategy made public in January makes few references to space threats. It states that the Pentagon will "prioritize investments in resilience, reconstitution, and operations to assure our space capabilities." The White House National Security Strategy made public in December, however, states clearly that the United States is prepared to go to war if American satellites are attacked. The strategy states that the United States regards unfettered access to and freedom to operate in space as "a vital interest." "Any harmful interference with or an attack upon critical components of our space architecture that directly affects this vital U.S. interest will be met with a deliberate response at a time, place, manner, and domain of our choosing," the strategy says. So far, the development of U.S. space weapons has not been discussed or disclosed in public. In 2008, a modified Navy SM-3 missile was used to destroy a falling National Reconnaissance Office satellite in low-earth orbit, a demonstration of some anti-satellite missile capabilities. China's Feb. 5 ASAT test was at least the fourth anti-satellite test and indicates the weapon is moving closer to deployment. Earlier DN-3 tests took place in October 2015, December 2016, and August 2017. The DN-3 capabilities are not fully known but defense officials believe it is capable of targeting satellite in low-earth orbit—around 1,200 miles or less—to high-earth orbit, up to 22,000 miles. Those orbits are used by military communications satellites, intelligence satellites, and GPS satellites. The post China ASAT Test Part of Growing Space War Threat appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Marine Corps Again Eases Infantry Officer Standards, This Time for Hiking

The U.S. Marine Corps has relaxed hiking standards for prospective officers seeking to graduate from the service's punishing Infantry Officer Course amid disquieting attrition rates. Marines will still be required to participate in nine hikes as part of the course, but the shift has reduced the number of evaluated hikes from six to three, the Marine Corps Times reported on Wednesday. Marines are required to pass all three evaluated hikes to graduate, whereas previously they had to pass five of the six evaluated hikes. The change is the latest easing of IOC requirements. In November, Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller quietly dropped the demanding Combat Endurance Test as a must-pass requirement to graduate from the 13-week course. A former Marine Infantry Officer, who now serves as a congressional aide, said the modifications to IOC have raised flags among service members who feared the Corps would lower standards after the Obama administration opened all military combat roles to women in 2015. The aide said the change to the hiking requirement is particularly alarming. "Hiking is such an integral part of leading your Marines, whether in training or some of the combat situations we're in, and the idea of an officer not being able to stay with his men and, in fact, lead his men from the front on a hike is beyond the pale," the aide said. "It's not just for show, we actually use those skills when we're in combat and when we're moving from position-to-position. Hiking with a full combat load is one of the truer tests of all the different physical requirements and mental fortitude requirements needed to lead a platoon." The Corps has rejected criticism claiming the changes relax service standards, arguing the adjustments more accurately reflect today's operating environment. Brig. Gen. Jason Bohm, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Training Command, told reporters on Friday "the principal driver behind" modifications to the course is to lower attrition rates, which are currently under 10 percent. Bohm said he would like those numbers at or below 5 percent. The changes, he said, are meant to make "students more successful to complete the course." "The idea that there's only one lever you can pull here—and that lever is to make graduating from IOC easier—is crazy," the former Marine Infantry Officer said. "It jeopardizes the ability of the unit to ultimately accomplish its mission and the ability of the unit to accomplish its mission without taking an unacceptable level of casualties. The stakes are too high." The post Marine Corps Again Eases Infantry Officer Standards, This Time for Hiking appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

American Populism: A User’s Guide

I've been thinking of my friend Jeffrey Bell. Jeff, who died suddenly two weeks ago at age 74, was a Vietnam veteran who shocked the political class when he won the Republican Senate nomination in New Jersey in 1978 and again in 2014. He lost both races, but those setbacks freed him for other pursuits. He was a longtime conservative who worked on the campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Jack Kemp, and who co-founded successful economic and political consulting firms as well as the nonprofit American Principles Project. Jeff was a serious and unconventional thinker. His writing is one of the best guides to the jagged, surprising, and befuddling American scene. For decades, in conversations with peers, journalists, and young people, Jeff offered his analysis and insight free of charge. Now that he's gone, I've been wondering how he might interpret the present moment, from President Trump to immigration to the Parkland shooting. It's a lot to wrap your head around. The key to Jeff's thought was his understanding of populism. His two books, Populism and Elitism (1992) and The Case for Polarized Politics (2012), are dense treatises. They examine what makes America so different from the rest of the world. They illuminate aspects of American history and politics that most opinion-makers overlook. "Plenty of books offer proposals and policies," David Brooks wrote in his Wall Street Journal review of Populism and Elitism. "Mr. Bell has given us a way of seeing." Jeff followed the roots of American exceptionalism back to the language of the Declaration of Independence. The Founders separated the United States from Great Britain by asserting the equal dignity of human beings. Their claim was not based on the movement of History or on the barrel of a gun. It was supported by the laws of nature and, most important, of "Nature's God." For most of human history, elites competed among themselves for power. With the coming of American democracy, the struggle occurred not only between elites but also between elites and the populace. Jeff identified a tradition of public resistance to the encroaching control of elites that runs from Thomas Jefferson through Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan and beyond. (We'll get to you-know-who in a second.) "Populism," Jeff wrote, "is optimism about people's ability to make decisions about their lives. Elitism is optimism about the decision-making ability of one or more elites, acting on behalf of other people." Jeff argued that populism has been misunderstood. Historians write as if populism began with the Agrarians and with William Jennings Bryan. That is a mistake because, even as he self-consciously adopted the populist label, Bryan modified and repudiated elements of what had been the populist program. In Jeff's telling, Jefferson, Jackson, Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland, and even Woodrow Wilson stood for popular property rights (including bargain-basement land sales) and the unlimited right of anyone to incorporate; a strict separation of government from business interests; strong opposition to manipulative central banking and support for the international gold standard and free trade. These parties championed the interest of the consumer, the small farmer, and the small businessman, and in cultural terms they represented the ‘out groups' of the three societies, such as the French in Canada, the Irish in America, and the Dissenters in Britain. Bryan's inflationary economics and overwhelmingly rural following gave the Republican party of William McKinley the opportunity to back hard money and open its membership to social groups it had previously excluded. The strain of populism Bell championed, which believed in the capacity of individuals to manage their own affairs, split into different strands. Franklin Roosevelt combined elite confidence in technocratic management with parts of Bryan's economic program and with Wilson's free trade and global democracy. It was such a powerful synthesis that, when Richard Nixon won in 1968, he was the first non-general to be elected president on a Republican ticket in 40 years. Bell's populism returned when the cultural consensus that had backed up the New Deal fell apart. Previously, elites and the public more or less agreed on which public evils should be combated. That changed in the 1960s when elite and popular opinion diverged. Elites and the public not only disagreed over how to fight crime, rioting, dependency, illegitimacy, drug abuse, pornography, and campus unrest. They disagreed over whether any of these things were issues at all. Social populism, then, was optimism about the ability of ordinary people to establish and enforce communal norms. After all, Jeff wrote, "The setting of community standards is at the root of all significant issues, since a public evil cannot even be defined, much less combated, unless the community has a previously established standard in the area of the life in question." What drove Ronald Reagan's two successful presidential campaigns was his belief not only in the capacity of everyday men and women to make their way in the world, but also in the collective ability of democratic peoples, rather than unelected judges and bureaucrats, to set and maintain community standards. As Reagan wrote in The Creative Society (1968), "Government must help, surely, government often must show the way, and government may coordinate. But government must not supersede the will of the people or the responsibilities of the people. The function of government is not to confer happiness but to give men the opportunity to work out happiness for themselves." The political authorities Reagan cited most often were not "modern Republicans" like Eisenhower or Nixon, but the Founders and their early populist successors. Reagan, who did not become a Republican until his mid-40s, modeled himself after FDR. From Sacramento to Washington, his success was based on his appeal to Democrats alienated by their party's elitism. "Today," he wrote in The Creative Society, "the leadership of the honorable party of Jefferson and Jackson has abandoned the dream of individual freedom, has lost its faith in the people's ability to determine their own destiny, believes only in centralized government and an all-powerful state." Jeff Bell was a theorist of Reaganism. I know it is common to deny that such a political philosophy ever existed or, if one concedes that there was such a thing, to say that it is outmoded or petrified. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Reaganism is embattled, yet survives. How could it not? The principles Ronald Reagan stood for as early as 1947, when he told Hedda Hopper that "Our highest aim should be the cultivation of freedom of the individual, for therein lies the highest dignity of man," are as immutable as the principles of 1776. Reaganism begins in the sanctity, equality, and dignity of every life and flows outward to encompass religious values, popular government over bureaucratic managerialism, and the defense of human freedom. "To me," Jeff wrote in a 2008 essay for The Weekly Standard, "Reaganism means traditionalism on social issues, supply-side tax cuts in economics, and an assertive foreign policy featuring American moral leadership on behalf of a more democratic world." To understand the Reaganite worldview, look at the "Morality in Foreign Policy" plank of the 1976 Republican platform, which Reagan supporters added over the protests of Henry Kissinger. "Honestly, openly, and with firm conviction," it reads, "we shall go forward as a united people to forge a lasting peace in the world based upon our deep belief in the rights of man, the rule of law, and guidance by the hand of God." Jeff reluctantly concluded that, while the first term of George W. Bush pressed the Reaganite social, economic, and foreign policy agenda, his second term was a failure. Despite campaigning for reelection as an opponent of same-sex marriage, Bush dropped the issue and seriously jeopardized his ties to religious conservatives with his initial pick of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court in 2005. He failed to make his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent. His push for democratic reform in places like Egypt and Lebanon was curtailed. The global war on terror narrowed to a one-front, all-or-nothing effort to save Iraq from al Qaeda and civil war. Bush's weak dollar and low-interest-rate policies contributed to the recession and financial crisis that brought Barack Obama to power. The electric rise and fall of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party revivified the populist persuasion. Palin is one of the most important political figures of the early twenty-first century because she revealed the character not only of the right but also of the left. Her following among socially conservative whites without college degrees was a harbinger of the 2016 election. So too was the virulent reaction to her on the part of elites in both parties. "The most important thing to know about the left today," Jeff wrote shortly after Palin appeared on the scene, "is that it is centered on social issues." And social liberalism, he added in a subsequent essay, is driven by elites. American voters, and not just white voters in red states, still believe they have not just the right but the democratic obligation to set standards for their communities. They remain far from ready to take at face value the assurances of judicial, media, and academic elites on how things must be, however unanimous these elites appear to be. Socially conservative Americans, black and white, regret and (my sense is) are deeply self-critical of their own frequent failure to overcome the surrounding culture and live up to the standards they believe in. But to them it does not follow that the standards should no longer exist, or (in the openly stated, nearly unanimous view of elite opinion) should no longer even be debated in politics. Palin and the Tea Party exposed the gap on social questions between elite and popular opinion as revealed in election results. That first politician to notice and exploit that gap could have a significant national future. "Swing voters in the pivotal heartland states are more conservative socially than they are economically—a mirror image of swing voters in the Northeast and Pacific Coast," Jeff wrote. The reluctance of Republican leaders to take up social conservatism, formulate an economic policy that addressed the monetary roots of stagnation, and forthrightly advocate the doctrine of morality in foreign policy bothered Jeff, even if it did not surprise him. The 2012 election, in which Mitt Romney avoided social questions in favor of a Bain consulting approach to economic management, left him pessimistic about the GOP's ability to seize a political opportunity. The presidency of Barack Obama supercharged the left by concentrating on issues of sexual autonomy and benefiting from the growing number of American voters who do not affiliate with a religion. How, Jeff asked, could the right compete? "What they should ask themselves is, can there be a conservative Barack Obama? That is, can a conservative presidential candidate be a dynamic speaker, draw huge crowds, go viral on the Internet, and launch a populist money machine capable of playing in the same league with Obama himself?" Well, yes. He showed up in 2015. "Could a genuine outsider win?" Bill Kristol asked Jeff during a conversation after the 2014 election. "Yes, yes," Bell said. "Because the political class is very unpopular. Republicans in Congress are rated even lower than Democrats in Congress. There's a lack of faith, a lack of trust, in the conventional elected politicians. That sets up a situation where you could get somebody from outside politics." And yet Donald Trump represents a challenge to Jeff's theory of populism. He confirms it in some ways and repudiates it in others. Certainly, President Trump is a populist. But of what sort? He is, to use a recent book title, the billionaire at the barricades. Yet Trump's riches do not necessarily make his populism inauthentic. "Background doesn't matter," Jeff told the Wall Street Journal when Steve Forbes ran for president in 1996. "If you are articulating views that are populist, which I define as optimism about people and their ability to make their own decisions, as opposed to letting elites do it for them." William Gladstone, one of Jeff's heroes, was the son of a wealthy manufacturer. Nor is it a contradiction for populists to back a strong executive. "Virtually every period in which populist reform was on the agenda in the United States featured a populist-inclined executive fighting a more elitist-minded legislature," Jeff wrote in Populism and Elitism. "This is true of the presidency from Andrew Jackson to Ronald Reagan and tends to be equally true of populism at the state level, such as Governor Hiram Johnson's battle for direct democracy against the corporate-controlled California legislature." One of Jeff's favorite phrases was the "policy mix." The mix was composed of economic, social, cultural, and foreign policy. Successful candidates had something to say about the entire mix, not only one part of it. And it is incredible, in retrospect, just how integrated Trump's campaign was. He slammed Clinton personally, as a representative of the swamp, among other things. But he also took up social issues such as abortion and gun rights and judges; economic issues such as supply-side tax cuts and a regulatory pause; and national security issues such as terrorism, the decline of American military power, and "weakness." Trump is a populist, but he is no Reaganite. Yes, Trump persists in his social conservatism on the life issue and on judges, celebrates the tax cut he signed into law last year, and advocates more military spending. On money, however, he is all William Jennings Bryan, favoring a weak dollar and low interest rates. He departs from Reagan on immigration, on trade (though Reagan's rhetorical free trade stance was often counterbalanced by quotas and tariffs), and on support for human rights and democracy worldwide. His rhetoric, with its reminders that our rights come from God and not from government, is Reaganite. But the scope of that rhetoric is limited. He is pessimistic about elites, for sure. But one sometimes wonders just how optimistic about ordinary people he really is. Trump supplemented—some would say occluded—the Reaganite love of freedom with a hunger for sovereignty. He catalyzed a desire for popular control over borders, production lines, and supply chains. Today, populism has not only an individual and social dimension but also a national one. This nation-state populism has more confidence in a nation's representative institutions than in international organizations and corporations to set and enforce standards of trade and migration. I'm not sure conservatives have assimilated the fact that Trump's alterations to Reaganism may have given him the edge over a crowded Republican field. Trump grasped and acted on the difference in elite and popular opinion toward our country's future more acutely and more quickly than an entire industry of political participants and observers. One reason he was able to do this, in my opinion, is elite over-reliance on polls. It's true that, on a superficial level, polls show support for immigration reform and for gun control. But polls tell you more about how people respond to a particular question than how people or legislators will reveal their preferences in the real world of space and time. Immigration and guns have joined the ranks of issues, such as climate change, where elite opinion is as unanimous as it is unavailing. Yet a quick glance at social media, and in the actual votes of actual elected officials, both Republican and Democrat, confirms that debate is ongoing and hotly contested. And social media is where Trump lives. The greatest danger to Trump's presidency, then, is not Robert Mueller or Kim Jong Un or even an economic crash. It is a sudden reversal of the approach and positions that have carried him thus far. On issue after issue, Trump has situated himself against the regnant opinion of elites in both parties. Social conservatives overlook Stormy Daniels because Trump is delivering for them on judges, life, and religious freedom; supply-siders are politely ignoring his trade position because of tax policy; working-class and rural whites back his cultural politics and opposition to Social Security and Medicare reform; nation-state populists applaud his immigration policies, withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Paris Accord, renegotiation of NAFTA, and tariffs on washers and solar panels. A turn against any member of this fragile coalition would jeopardize Trump's novel form of populism, depress enthusiasm among his base, and create openings for inter- and intra-party challenges. He hasn't done it yet. But, as my friend taught, politics is a dynamic process that veers in unpredictable directions. President Trump's future is in his hands. The fate of Reaganism is in ours. I can't tell you what will happen. All I know is that I will miss having Jeff Bell here to explain it. The post American Populism: A User’s Guide appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Soros Profited Off Major Tech Companies He Now Attacks

George Soros, the liberal billionaire financier, has ramped up his criticism of major tech companies despite investing millions into companies he has singled out such as Facebook and Alphabet, Google's parent company. Soros, who attacked the companies at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, says he is looking into ways to counter the influence of big tech. Soros has additionally said the "monopolistic behavior" of such companies—which often back liberal causes and politicians—leads to "obstacles of innovation" that have caused a number of problems. "The rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant American Internet platform companies is contributing mightily to the U.S. government’s impotence," Soros wrote in an op-ed. "These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown ever more powerful, they have become obstacles to innovation, and have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware." Over the past several years, Soros has invested millions in Facebook and other projects associated with the company. Soros also still holds thousands of shares in Alphabet. The deep-pocketed investor spent more than $10 million in 2012 acquiring a stake in Facebook and was later a part of a group of 20 billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg, Facbook's CEO, in investing in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which was launched to invest in clean energy. Soros purchased more than 350,000 shares in Facebook in the fourth quarter of 2016 while simultaneously increasing his stake in Alphabet to 20,200 shares. Soros, along with a number of other wealthy liberal donors, also provided funding in late 2016 to the International Fact Checking Network, a group used to flag "fake news" stories on Facebook that came under scrutiny by Republicans for its potential bias towards liberal causes. Soros began reducing his shares in tech companies in 2017 by selling his stakes in companies such as Apple and Snap. Soros appears to have completely divested from Facebook at the end of last year, right before publicly criticizing them. However, Soros still has thousands of shares in Alphabet. Since mid-November of last year, he increased his number of shares from 3,000 to 4,600, according to Soros Fund Management's most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The sudden Soros pivot is noteworthy given his past investments with major tech companies. Prominent members of such companies also tend to be generous backers of liberal causes, and high-ranking individuals at tech companies also helped Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign. Eric Schmidt, who recently stepped down from his position as executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, but still remains on its board, was working directly with Clinton's campaign. Detailed information on his involvement was contained within the hacked emails of John Podesta, Clinton's former campaign manager. A group that was backed by Schmidt was providing services for the campaign. While the group was never mentioned by name in any of the emails or PDF files, Schmidt provided funding to the Groundwork, a tech start up that was developed through Timshell, a company co-founded by Michael Slaby, the former chief integration and innovation officer for the Obama campaign. The Groundwork was ultimately paid nearly $700,000 by the Clinton campaign. The same memo mentioning Schmidt's involvement also spoke of "discreet conservations" with Facebook and Apple that were facilitated months before Clinton had launched her campaign. Schmidt later appeared at Clinton's election night party wearing a "staff" badge. Soros's Open Society Foundations have now said it is "examining new ways to counter the influence of big tech" and have given a six-figure grant to the Open Markets Institute, a group that uses journalism to promote greater awareness of monopolization, for "work around web platforms." Soros's foundation did not return a request for comment on his previous tech investments. The post Soros Profited Off Major Tech Companies He Now Attacks appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Indicted for Felony Invasion of Privacy

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R.) was indicted Thursday on a charge felony invasion of privacy as a scandal continues to unfold around an extramarital affair he had in 2015. In a recording obtained by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the woman Greitens had the affair with allegedly said he took a photo of her disrobed, bound, and blindfolded during a sexual encounter. She said he later used the picture to blackmail her, and while Greitens acknowledged the affair, he denied that he used the photo as blackmail. Greitens was taken to a St. Louis jail Thursday and then released, and he said on Facebook that the indictment is politically motivated. "As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was Governor. I did not commit a crime," he wrote. "With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon." He called St. Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner "a reckless liberal prosecutor" who brought the indictment to "score political points." A joint statement from state GOP leaders, including Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, said the charges are "serious" and warrant consideration. "We will carefully examine the facts contained in the indictment and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward," the statement said. "The people of Missouri deserve no less. We will begin the process of tasking a group of legislators to investigate these serious charges." Gardner said the people of Missouri "deserve a thorough investigation." "As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders," Gardner said in a statement. "They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city. Both parties and the people of St. Louis deserve a thorough investigation of these allegations." Ryan Silvey, whom Greitens appointed to the state’s Public Service Commission, said Greitens should probably resign. "He doesn’t really have a lot of deep relationships in the Legislature to begin with," Silvey said. "I don’t see how he can effectively govern in the current situation. I think that it would probably be best for the party and for the state if he were to resign." Greitens’ attorney, Edward L. Dowd Jr., said his client is "absolutely innocent." "In forty years of public and private practice, I have never seen anything like this," he said. "The charges against my client are baseless and unfounded. My client is absolutely innocent." The post Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Indicted for Felony Invasion of Privacy appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Continetti: ‘Unreasonable’ for Dems to Reject Reforming the Background-Check System

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti said Thursday that Democrats who say negotiating with the NRA is impossible are taking an unreasonable position. Chuck Todd, host of MSNBC’s "Meet the Press Daily," asked whether Congress could pass anything when opinions differ as wildly as those of Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R., Ky.). Schatz tweeted that no compromise is possible with the NRA, while Massie said guns should be legally purchasable at age 18. "Should anybody expect anything?" Todd asked. "Believe it or not, there is that one policy of fixing the background-check system, which the NRA supports," Continetti said. "And even listening to the red-meat speeches from the NRA officials at CPAC today, that was their real fix." He said the background check system has failed repeatedly and needs to be updated, and he said that compromise should not be hard to strike. "That, I think, is a policy the NRA supports that most reasonable people on either side of the issue would support," he said. "So the Schatz position is unreasonable." Todd asked whether Massie’s position is also unreasonable, and Continetti said it brought up a legitimate question about minimum ages. "There are some legal or rational concerns about that," Continetti said, pointing out that you can join the military at 18. "If you have military training, you get out at age 20—what, federal law is going to bar you?" Continetti asked. Todd said that could be addressed in the law itself, and Continetti said Congress would have to work that out. "That is the question. How is the law written and once the law is written, how do people vote on it?" he asked. "I think there, too, Massie might have some objections." The post Continetti: ‘Unreasonable’ for Dems to Reject Reforming the Background-Check System appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Ben Rhodes Announces Memoir of Time in Obama Administration Called ‘The World As It Is’

Former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes announced Thursday the release of his new book that will detail his time in the White House. The book, entitled "The World As It Is," will be released on June 12, according to his tweet. Rhodes moved up from speechwriter for President Barack Obama to deputy national security adviser. His book will cover events such as the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring, negotiations with Cuba, and the Iran nuclear deal. In 2016, Rhodes gave a now-infamous interview to New York Times Magazine in which he said that the administration had created an "echo chamber" concerning the Iran nuclear deal. Some news: I have a book coming out on June 12th: "The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House" – my story of going to work for Barack Obama's campaign at 29 and walking out the door of the White House on the last day. https://t.co/W8X2GlIcmf — Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) February 22, 2018 He was referring to a large number of "arms-control experts" who "hundreds of often-clueless reporters" relied on for information about the nuclear deal, one of the key achievements of Obama's second term. Rhodes admitted in the interview that the "experts" were just echoing the Obama administration's findings. "They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say," he said. "They literally know nothing," Rhodes said, referring to younger reporters covering the deal. The interview received criticism for Rhodes' perceived arrogance and admittance of media manipulation. Rhodes has a Masters of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. The post Ben Rhodes Announces Memoir of Time in Obama Administration Called ‘The World As It Is’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Mary Katharine Ham: Dems Trying to Ban Semiautomatic Guns ‘Would Fail Miserably’

Mary Katharine Ham on Thursday Democrats would "fail miserably" if they followed political analyst Kirsten Powers’ suggestion to restrict semiautomatic firearms. Ham said the category of "assault weapons" does not include all semiautomatic, but if Democrats did push for a ban on semiautomatics, they would lose. "If you put that to the American people, I think you'd fail, and I think that's the reason Democrats do not run on exactly that," Ham said. "Kirsten suggested it earlier, and even went to handguns. That is a thing that you can run on; I think it would fail miserably, I think it would be very bad for the Democratic Party." "I think they know that, that’s why they don't run on it, because the NRA is not some nefarious organization—it is powerful because it has a lot of people who care deeply about this right that's in the Constitution that the courts backed up," she added. Host Jake Tapper then said Democrats were unable to pass an assault weapons ban back when they did control Congress. He said, incorrectly, that Republicans had a majority in the Senate in 2013 and the assault weapons ban failed again, but he accurately pointed out that several Democrats were against the ban. But Powers brought it back to the NRA, which she said "actually is a nefarious organization," and she criticized Ham for her point that the NRA has broad support. "People always say that they have supporters. Guess what? Planned Parenthood has supporters, and you don't like Planned Parenthood, and you’ve criticized Planned Parenthood, and we’re are always hearing about how bad it Planned Parenthood is," she told Ham, saying the NRA is not "above criticism." Ham said she did not consider the NRA "above criticism," as Powers charged, but Powers went on to say they are extreme and should be treated as a group "outside the mainstream." Ham responded by saying that banning semiautomatic weapons is not mainstream. "I think the position of banning all semiautomatic weapons in this country is well outside of the mainstream, it is why Democrats don’t run on it, and it’s not because the NRA spends some money which by the way is dwarfed by a bunch of others," Ham said. Powers then said she does not support banning semiautomatics, but she did say handguns are banned in cities, which is incorrect. Ham corrected her, but Powers was still going on, and she concluded by saying she does not want to ban "all guns." Tapper asked Powers what guns should be banned. "High capacity magazines, at a minimum," Powers replied. Tapped asked "how many magazines" Powers would allow, and she did not have an exact answer. "This is all I’ll say: a high capacity gun that you can go in and mow down 17 people and kill them, I have a problem with," Powers said. Banning semi-automatic guns was a suggestion that received loud cheers at a CNN town hall the night before. Democrats have not put that on the table, although Sen. Dianne Feinstein has proposed renewing the assault-weapons ban. Democrat Rep. Dan Kildee (Mich.) said specifically Thursday that he would not support banning all semiautomatics. The post Mary Katharine Ham: Dems Trying to Ban Semiautomatic Guns ‘Would Fail Miserably’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Dem Gov. Hickenlooper: 2nd Amendment is ‘an Issue of Freedom,’ Gun Owners ‘Want to Be Left Alone’

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D.) acknowledged Thursday that the debate on gun policy is an "issue of freedom." Hickenlooper joined MSNBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press Daily" to discuss the debate on gun issues in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. Todd asked what was going to come next for the Democratic Party, pointing out that this is a cultural debate. "And guns, it’s not a policy debate, it's a cultural issue," Todd said. "It’s an issue of freedom," Hickenlooper replied. "[Gun owners] want to be left alone and live their lives, and they don't want government in Washington or in Colorado, they don't want government in Denver telling them what to do," Hickenlooper said. Hickenlooper then said "you have to go incrementally" in rural states when implementing stricter gun laws. "Universal background checks, I think is a good place to start, bump stocks" Hickenlooper said. He said machine guns have been banned for decades, and he suggested that they can get to a "line" on what qualifies as a military-grade weapon. "I think there's a line there that we're gonna get to where military-grade weapons—certainly we'll raise the age. I think we'll get to 21 years at least for military-grade weapons," Hickenlooper said. "You know, we’ll take those incremental steps first." Since the Feb. 14 shooting, a debate about guns has gained national attention. During a CNN town hall Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) discussed the previous U.S. assault weapons ban. Deutch expressed support for a ban on AR-15s, calling them "weapons of war." The post Dem Gov. Hickenlooper: 2nd Amendment is ‘an Issue of Freedom,’ Gun Owners ‘Want to Be Left Alone’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »

Mary Katherine Ham: Dems Trying to Ban Semiautomatic Guns ‘Would Fail Miserably’

Mary Katherine Ham on Thursday Democrats would "fail miserably" if they followed political analyst Kirsten Powers’ suggestion to restrict semiautomatic firearms. Ham said the category of "assault weapons" does not include all semiautomatic, but if Democrats did push for a ban on semiautomatics, they would lose. "If you put that to the American people, I think you'd fail, and I think that's the reason Democrats do not run on exactly that," Ham said. "Kirsten suggested it earlier, and even went to handguns. That is a thing that you can run on; I think it would fail miserably, I think it would be very bad for the Democratic Party." "I think they know that, that’s why they don't run on it, because the NRA is not some nefarious organization—it is powerful because it has a lot of people who care deeply about this right that's in the Constitution that the courts backed up," she added. Host Jake Tapper then said Democrats were unable to pass an assault weapons ban back when they did control Congress. He said, incorrectly, that Republicans had a majority in the Senate in 2013 and the assault weapons ban failed again, but he accurately pointed out that several Democrats were against the ban. But Powers brought it back to the NRA, which she said "actually is a nefarious organization," and she criticized Ham for her point that the NRA has broad support. "People always say that they have supporters. Guess what? Planned Parenthood has supporters, and you don't like Planned Parenthood, and you’ve criticized Planned Parenthood, and we’re are always hearing about how bad it Planned Parenthood is," she told Ham, saying the NRA is not "above criticism." Ham said she did not consider the NRA "above criticism," as Powers charged, but Powers went on to say they are extreme and should be treated as a group "outside the mainstream." Ham responded by saying that banning semiautomatic weapons is not mainstream. "I think the position of banning all semiautomatic weapons in this country is well outside of the mainstream, it is why Democrats don’t run on it, and it’s not because the NRA spends some money which by the way is dwarfed by a bunch of others," Ham said. Powers then said she does not support banning semiautomatics, but she did say handguns are banned in cities, which is incorrect. Ham corrected her, but Powers was still going on, and she concluded by saying she does not want to ban "all guns." Tapper asked Powers what guns should be banned. "High capacity magazines, at a minimum," Powers replied. Tapped asked "how many magazines" Powers would allow, and she did not have an exact answer. "This is all I’ll say: a high capacity gun that you can go in and mow down 17 people and kill them, I have a problem with," Powers said. Banning semi-automatic guns was a suggestion that received loud cheers at a CNN town hall the night before. Democrats have not put that on the table, although Sen. Dianne Feinstein has proposed renewing the assault-weapons ban. Democrat Rep. Dan Kildee (Mich.) said specifically Thursday that he would not support banning all semiautomatics. The post Mary Katherine Ham: Dems Trying to Ban Semiautomatic Guns ‘Would Fail Miserably’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Read More »