Secret Courts Guarantee Abuse

Michael Ledeen is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

I testified against the Patriot Act because I feared the abuse of secret tribunals.  I’m usually far off in my predictions, but it was obvious from the get-go that the FISA courts would be abused by the Intelligence Community, and indeed those secret courts have almost always done what the FBI and CIA asked, even when—as in the case of General Michael Flynn—the IC had to ask several times, and even when the “evidence” consisted of an unverified “dossier” produced by a political campaign.

The Intelligence Community has long considered itself a state within the American state, dating from its creation just after World War II.  Most of the time, the IC has used its power to support presidential policies—the CIA snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014, and on the McGovern campaign, and the FBI spied on the Goldwater campaign– but when a president acted against the IC’s convictions, the spooks advanced their own interests and beliefs.

No sooner had President Truman recognized the state of Israel, than the CIA swung into (illegal) action, secretly creating the American Friends of the Middle East, which brought Middle Easterners to America, published their views, and lobbied Congress, all against Israel.  In the words of Hudson’s Michael Doran, 

AFME was a remarkable instance of a CIA-confected front organization designed to counter official government policy, in this case by seeking to delegitimize Zionism in domestic American politics.

Truman quickly understood what was at stake.  “It’s become a government all of its own and all secret.  They don’t have to account to anybody.”.

It was, Truman recognized, part of a broader problem: bureaucrats who saw themselves, not mere elected officials, as the only legitimate policy makers.  “The civil servant, the general or admiral, the foreign service officer,” Truman insisted, “has no authority to make policy. They act only as servants of the government, and therefore they must remain in line with the government policy that is established by those who have been chosen by the people to set that policy.”

This enraged the president, who was also furious at the State Department’s opposition to his Middle East policies.  Yet bureaucratic action against presidential policies remained common.  As Truman discovered, the IC used “intelligence” to undermine presidential policies and advance its own.  This was demonstrated in the 1970s, when a private-sector group of analysts known as “Team B”—led by the recently-departed Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard–successfully challenged the CIA’s view of Soviet military strength, and the CIA’s conviction that we had very little to fear from the Kremlin.

Back in the Truman years, the president was able to appreciate Soviet intentions better than the IC, ironically thanks in no small part to his own intelligence operation in cahoots with Israel.  Ironically, Truman opened a secret back channel to Tel Aviv at the same time the CIA was sabotaging American cooperation with the Jewish state, via the legendary spook James Jesus Angleton, whose point of contact in Israel was Ben-Gurion’s personal secretary, Teddy Kolleck.  The two worked closely with Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, debriefing Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Empire.  Angleton, like most CIA officials, suspected the Israelis of collusion with the Soviet Union, but in time he realized this was not true.  Angleton subsequently received the text of Khrushchev’s speech about Stalin’s crimes…from the Israelis.  He was subsequently outed by CIA chief William Colby, with whom he had had many disagreements.

Bureaucratic arrogance is an ongoing problem, nowhere more than the Intelligence Community.  The problem is more grave today, with the advances in electronic snooping, the courts’ willingness to let the intelligence agencies pry into all manner of communications, and the zeal with which the media report improper leaks.  As Lee Smith recently tweeted:

They (the IC) ran a counterintelligence investigation of a former rival spy chief, Mike Flynn, a retired 3-star General. Abuse. Then they leaked intercept of his conversation with Russian ambassador. Crime. Now our 3d world press hires our 3d world spy chiefs.

Secret tribunals guarantee this sort of corruption.  Yes, there are cases where decisions on spying on Americans must be secret, but we pay a terrible price for them.  And as things stand, the snoopers have all the cards.  The game is totally rigged.

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2 in 5 Top-Ranking Liberal Arts Schools Have No Full-Time Republican Professors

In late April, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor at Brooklyn College, published a study on ideological homogeneity at liberal arts colleges in the journal Academic Questions. His findings confirm what many right-wingers have been whispering—and shouting—about for a while now: nearly 39 percent of the colleges sampled are Republican-free, in terms of faculty ideological makeup.

Langbert sampled 8,688 tenure track Ph.D.-holding professors from the top 51 liberal arts schools, according to the 2017 U.S. News and World Report list. He used only full-time, tenure track faculty (full, associate, or assistant professors) and excluded all part-time professors (adjunct, visiting, and emeritus). Langbert then matched these names with voter registration records, using only colleges in states where voter registration information is public.

He also excluded 101 professors—a little more than one percent of the total sample—from the analysis, because they were registered as members of minor parties (cue big-L libertarian weeping).

He found “a D:R ratio of 10.4:1 across all liberal arts departments if the military colleges are included and 12.7:1 if the military colleges are excluded.” Unsurprisingly, the hard sciences—engineering, chemistry, physics, and mathematics—had more even ratios of Democrats to Republicans than fields like sociology, english, religion, and anthropology. Communications ranked highest in terms of ideological homogeneity skewed toward the left.

Langbert could not find a single Republican with an “exclusive appointment” to gender studies, Africana studies, or peace studies. In total, he found more than 800 departments that did not employ a single Republican, and only 225 that did—so around 78 percent of departments did not contain a single full-time professor who identifies as Republican.

Of course, some schools are outliers: Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic college with under 400 students, has an impressive 33 full-time faculty who identify as Republican. West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, two military schools, also have high percentages of Republican-leaning faculty; and Claremont McKenna College and Kenyon College are also outliers in terms of their relatively high amount of ideological diversity.

This issue isn’t something that’s popped up recently; the trend has looked this way over time, and studies done in the U.K. show similar trends. Langbert writes, “More than a decade ago, Stanley Rothman and colleagues provided evidence that while 39 percent of the professoriate on average described itself as Left in 1984, 72 percent did so in 1999.”

All of this is not to say that professors should convert to Republicanism, or that the world would be made better with political homogeneity in the other direction (quite the contrary). But liberal bias seeping more deeply into the institutions that control credible scholarship, and into the institutions tasked with churning out the next generation of thinkers, is cause for concern.

“Political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility,” writes Langbert. “Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases [for example] cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant.”

This should be cause for concern for anyone who cares about fostering intellectually rigorous environments where young people can test out their most wild, contrarian, and (sometimes) abrasive beliefs, all while being fiercely challenged by their intellectual opponents and course material. It’s difficult to create that ecosystem when faculty seemingly agree on everything.

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Pesticide makers’ representatives want more poisons in our food

<a href='url to photographer'/>Federico Rostagno via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>” />
<p><em><a href='url to photographer'>Federico Rostagno</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a></em></p>
<p>                    Read more articles from the DC Report <a href=here.

DC ReportThe proposed farm bill could nullify bans by Arkansas and other states on dicamba, the pesticide that damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres of soybeans across the country.

The House Agriculture Committee whose members have received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the pesticide industry since 2012, approved the bill, H.R. 2, on a voice vote. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, the committee chairman and the recipient of $117,000 from the pesticide industry and its trade association, CropLife America, hopes to bring the bill to the full House in May.

“Part of this process on timing on the floor will be dictated by how well I’m able to sell this to my colleagues,” Conaway said.

Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council said the bill would overturn Supreme Court rulings and prohibit local governments from adopting pesticide laws that are more protective than federal rules.

“It appears to be retroactive,” said Olson, director of the council’s health program.

Dicamba has been around for decades, but its use was limited because the chemical evaporates easily, particularly at higher temperatures, and drifts, damaging plants in field that have not been sprayed with the chemical.

In 1974, another pesticide, Roundup, containing glyphosate, was introduced and became one of the world’s most widely used pesticides. That overuse led to weeds like pigweed becoming resistant.

Three chemical companies, Monsanto, DowDuPont and BASF, developed what they claimed were “low-volatility” versions of dicamba that didn’t evaporate so easily. Monsanto genetically altered soybeans and cotton to better tolerate dicamba, an approach it had also used for Roundup.

In 2017, farmers planted dicamba-tolerant crops on 26 million acres, but the new versions of dicamba also drifted, damaging neighboring soybean fields, vegetables and orchards. The worst damage was in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

States such as Arkansas, Missouri and Minnesota have banned or limited its use.

Monsanto claims the damage was because farmers didn’t follow directions on the pesticide label in spraying. The company sued Arkansas regulators, claiming the ban was based on “unsubstantiated theories regarding product volatility that are contradicted by science.”

Local restrictions on pesticides were upheld in a 1991 unanimous Supreme Court decision.

“States’ historic powers are not superseded by federal law unless that is the clear and manifest purpose of Congress,” wrote Justice Byron R. White.

The high court ruled that the federal law regulating pesticides, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, did not preempt local governments regulating pesticides.

The case, Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier was about Casey, Wis., a town of 404 in rural northwest Wisconsin that required permit to apply pesticides on public lands, aerial spraying of private lands, and private land that could have public uses. Landowner Ralph Mortier challenged the town’s 1985 ordinance.

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What is Elizabeth Warren up to with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe?

Here’s a bit of legislative mystery which has mostly flown under the radar. It involves a piece of legislation introduced in the Senate in March which would clear the way for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusettes to restart construction on a massive casino complex located south of Boston. Nothing too unusual about the bill, really, since native tribes have been pushing to develop casinos and generate tribal revenue for decades. But this bill was sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Since Warren represents Massachusetts (and the bill was co-sponsored by the state’s junior senator as well) that might not sound controversial either. But when you look a bit closer into Warren’s legislative history and the legal troubles the tribe has encountered, it all gets a bit strange. (Washington Times)

She’s never been a gambling fan, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren is pushing federal legislation to help deliver a casino to a tribe with a checkered past as she struggles to neutralize her “Pocahontas” problem.

Her bill, introduced in March with fellow Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Edward Markey, would allow the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to build a $1 billion gaming resort about halfway between Boston and Cape Cod even though a federal court blocked the project in 2016.

The Senate bill and its House companion have drawn cheers from tribal leaders eager to resume construction on the lavish complex while stirring resentment among locals irritated at the prospect of Congress big-footing the ongoing Interior Department review.

As the linked article reminds us, Warren is an unusual choice to sponsor a bill supporting a new casino. She opposed a 2011 state measure which expanded casino gambling in the state and supported a failed attempt to repeal the law in 2014. She’s also been an activist seeking to help people with gambling addictions. In that light, this new effort seems like a total flip-flop on the question of casino gambling.

So is this just an effort to make nice with Native Americans after her “cultural appropriation” problems? (She still refuses to take a DNA test to settle the matter.) Perhaps, but this particular tribe might not be the best one to hitch her wagon to, if you’ll pardon the phrase. This casino project has been in trouble from day one. Many of the locals opposed the project and went to court to try to stop it. Also, the required federal stewardship of the tribal lands where it’s being constructed was challenged when a federal court rejected the Interior Departments decision to take the land into trust, saying that they could only do so for lands owned by tribes which were recognized prior to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. That wound up shutting down construction on the casino complex three years ago.

Further, the Mashpee Wampanoag were one of the tribes caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandals more than a decade ago. Their leadership got into hot water over charges ranging from embezzlement and illegal lobbying to campaign finance law violations. So why is Warren so interested in making nice with this particular tribe? Perhaps she’s just trying to send a signal to Native Americans across the country to convince them that she’s got their backs. But that’s not exactly a driving voting block for national elections and every time she generates another headline having anything to do with Native Americans it brings up her past issues with claiming that heritage to gain advantages in her younger days.

It almost seems as if there has to be more to this story than what we’re hearing. But at least thus far it looks like nothing more than a tone-deaf political maneuver.

The post What is Elizabeth Warren up to with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Nanny-State Journalists

The editorial board of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper is so angry at a social media video of a white high school kid saying obnoxious racist things that it wants the state to intervene:

In the case of the most recent video, the school system is claiming there is “little” it can do, given that the incident happened off campus and not during school hours.

Our question: Is that really the case? Is the school system claiming it has virtually no power over non-criminal behavior of its students off campus?

That may be the district’s current policy, but we’re not so sure it should be.

The person allegedly shown in the video reportedly plays on a Chiles athletic team. Are we really saying that he is supposed to waltz into practice – perhaps with African American teammates – as if nothing happened?

This isn’t how it works in the real world. If a staff member of this newspaper was videoed doing these things, he would immediately face termination, whether “on the clock,” “on the premises” or not.

Should a student be treated differently? Perhaps. But it’s worth discussion.

No, it’s not.

For one, there’s a significant legal difference between a private business and a public school.

For another, public schools around the country are struggling over what degree of discipline (including expulsion) to apply to students who misbehave in school itself (see here, for example). Why on earth would the editorial board want to add to the schools’ burden by making them responsible for disciplining kids outside of the school’s custody, off school grounds?

Third, it would probably be unconstitutional. According to the ACLU:

In the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the ACLU successfully challenged a school district’s decision to suspend three students for wearing armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. The court declared that students and teachers do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

The First Amendment ensures that students cannot be punished for exercising free speech rights, even if school administrators don’t approve of what they are saying.

And that’s on school grounds. How much greater is the liberty for students to say obnoxious things when they are off school grounds?

Fourth, if the schools were somehow to be empowered to discipline students for activity outside of school, where would it stop? What guidelines would the schools use? This would be ripe for abuse by administrators. We can all agree that some redneck clod riding around talking about shooting black people with a BB gun and using racist slurs crosses an important line. But where should the other lines be drawn? One kid’s free exercise of religious speech is another kid’s idea of bigotry. If a kid attends the Westboro Baptist Church on the weekend, and participates in its protests, and that fact comes to the attention of his school principal, should that be a cause for discipline? What is he is a black Muslim and follower of the anti-white, anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan, and participates in public advocacy for Farrakhan’s cause? Should that kid be punished for that?

Is this really what the Tallahassee Democrat wants to see debated?

It is really depressing when journalists, the kind of people who ought to be defending the First Amendment and the protection it gives even to repulsive speech, instead urge the state (in this case, the public school system) to consider punishing students who exercise that speech in ways of which the journalists strongly — and in this case, correctly — disapprove.

The reader who sent this editorial to me comments:

The high school in question is in an affluent area, and their students are known around town for having high rates of drug and alcohol use. Evidence of this is certainly available on students’ social media, but there isn’t any push for punishing them or their parents for this illegal activity that takes place off school grounds and outside school hours. If public schools are going to punish students for unacceptable behavior, who gets to define what it is?

And what does “rooted out” mean? Suspension? Expulsion? There are plenty of disruptions that occur on school buses and during the school day that don’t result in severe enough penalties to prevent them from happening over and over again. But this admittedly reprehensible conduct completely outside the school environment means the schools have “work to do”? Don’t they have enough dealing with the problems in school during the school day? In just the last few weeks I’ve heard of a suicide attempt and incidents of theft at “nice” public middle schools, and a fistfight breaking out between girls in the middle of class in another well-regarded public high school.

Finally, as anyone who has ever raised a teenager knows, they will do things their parents raised them specifically not to do. For all the paper knows, this child’s parents abhor his behavior — but the newspaper’s superior morality is sufficient to condemn them without, as they admit, knowing what goes on their home. The only thing my 13-year-old and I agreed on this whole week was what horrible ideas these are!

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Judge questions Justice Department motives in Manafort indictment

May 4 (UPI) –A federal judge in Paul Manafort’s financial case challenged prosecutors Friday, questioning if the indictment’s aim is to help Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The hearing in Alexandria, Va., federal court was requested by the defense’s …

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Federal appeals court says DEA rule on cannabis extracts will stand after challenge

DENVER – A federal appeals court panel this week rejected an appeal by a hemp industry consortium and a Denver law group that had challenged the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Final Rule classification of cannabis derivatives as Schedule I drugs. The Denver …

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