TriggerFinger


91% of IRS cash seizures were from innocent people

Washington Post quoted by TaxProfThe IRS pursued hundreds of cases from 2012 to 2015 on suspicion of structuring, but with no indications of connections to any criminal activity. Simply depositing cash in sums of less than $10,000 was all that it took to arouse agents' suspicions, leading to the eventual seizure and forfeiture of millions of dollars in cash from people not otherwise suspected of criminal activity.

The IG took a random sample of 278 IRS forfeiture actions in cases where structuring was the primary basis for seizure. The report found that in 91 percent of those cases, the individuals and business had obtained their money legally.

So, the uncomfortable question.

When are they going to get the money back?

Sat Apr 08 11:25:27 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Intel community stonewalling leak investigation

Daily CallerThe intelligence community is stonewalling the investigation into who illegally leaked classified information about Trump associates to the press, lawmakers told Fox News.

“Our requests are simply not being answered,” one House Intelligence committee source told Fox News. “The agencies are not really helping at all and there is truly a massive web for us to try and wade through.”

A source in the Senate Intelligence Committee had a similar story.

“Any information that will help find the wide extent on the unmasking and surveillance is purposely not being provided,” the source said.

Note that while the NSA is cooperating, apparently, the CIA and FBI are not. Both of the latter agencies are headed by Obama holdovers and are refusing to appear before Congress. It's time for James Comey and Mike Rogers to be replaced.

And if it wasn't Susan Rice calling the shots, who was it? As National Security Advisor, she reports to Obama directly. Her name is on the unmasking requests (possibly along with more names). If she wasn't calling the shots, there's only one person who could give her orders.

Sat Apr 08 10:25:27 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Hillary emails will not be released until 2020

I'm not sure what to make of the recent State Department announcement that the remainder of Hillary Clinton's 100,000 unreleased emails will not be released until October 2020. On the one hand they are delaying the release by a lot. On the other hand, it's more of a drip-drip-drip thing, with about 2,000 emails released each month from now until the October before the next presidential election.

Is this good or bad for Hillary's chances in that election?

I don't know.

Sat Apr 08 09:25:27 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Trump nominee Gorsuch confirmed with Reid Option

Dallas NewsJudge Neil M. Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, filling the seat on the court left vacant for more than a year after the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia last year.

Gorsuch, 49, was confirmed 54-45, almost exactly along party lines. 51 Republican senators voted for him, as did three Democrats: Sens. Joe Donnelly, of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin, of West Virginia. All three Democrats represent states that voted for President Donald Trump in the presidential election.

It would have been 55-45, but one of the Republicans was absent. That's actually fairly promising. Presuming the missing Republican would have voted for Gorsuch, a Supreme Court nominee getting 55 votes is a lot better than, say, 51. Or 50 with a tiebreaker from the VP.

When the next vacancy comes up, it seems likely the vote will be significantly closer.

Fri Apr 07 14:11:40 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Chutzpah

The HillPresident Trump's claim that former national security adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime is “authoritarianism," according to a former national security adviser to President Obama.

Ben Rhodes dismissed the controversy swirling around Rice over the "unmasking" of Trump officials in intelligence reports. He said such requests have long been routine in the White House.

I've seen it said that the definition of chutzpah is the person who, on trial for killing his parents, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. This case is only slightly less blatant than that.

You see, the above quoted words were written in defense of Susan Rice by Ben Rhodes, one of her aides, a recipient of the unmasked intelligence information, and given his role in the creation of an Iran deal echo chamber, likely the person (or one of those people) who actually leaked that information to the press.

In short, he's defending himself by accusing the Trump administration of authoritarianism.

What's the definition of authoritarianism? Well, one part of it is using national-security intelligence infrastructure to spy on your political opponents.

Ben, I strongly advise you to go home and wait for the knock on your door. It probably won't come at midnight, and it won't be authoritarianism. It will be justice.

Fri Apr 07 11:32:12 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ways and Means Committee calls on Trump to fire Koskinen

Trump's resistance to firing Koskinen continues to make no sense to me, unless you just figure that he never saw the scandal on TV and thus doesn't know what the big deal is.

Fri Apr 07 10:32:12 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

US launches cruise missiles at Syrian airfield

NBC NewsThe United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria's use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, the U.S. military said.

Not sure what to make of this, other than the obvious, that Trump wants to underline that things have changed in the field of US foreign policy.

I hope we didn't just drop a bunch of bombs on empty tents. Or, you know, Russian troops "supporting" Syria from that airfield.

There's a reason that the Constitution reserves the power to declare war to Congress, and the lack of respect Obama had for that rule is now going to bear fruit under Trump.

UPDATE: Since Susan Rice's credibility is on the line regarding why she requested unmasking of intelligence information related to the Trump team lately, it's worth noting that Susan Rice assured NPR in January that Syria had no chemical weapons.

Fri Apr 07 10:30:48 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Truck-based terror attack in Sweden

BorepatchLooks like trucks are getting to be the preferred method of attack in Europe. The known details are that a hijacked beer truck was driven into pedestrians earlier today in the Drottninggatan shopping district in Stockholm.. Current death toll is 3. No word on the identity of the driver.

No one needs a gun to commit violence. Even mass murder is readily achievable with tools available to anyone living in a modern industrial society. The reason it doesn't happen all that often is that modern societies have evolved social mechanisms to discourage people from committing mass murder.

That's why it's dangerous to import people from societies that have evolved social mechanisms that encourage mass murder.

Fri Apr 07 10:29:20 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Connecting the dots

Susan Rice unmasked the Trump names. Her aide, Ben Rhodes, who is infamous for creating a media "echo chamber" to support the Iran deal, was part of "a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn's criedibility". Flynn is one of those US persons who Rice requested be unmasked.

Ben Rhodes and Susan Rice should both testify under oath and behind closed doors before Congress on this matter. Rhodes should be asked what he knew, how he found out, and who he told. Susan Rice should be asked the same questions.

And they should both be asked what Obama knew and when he knew it.

Fri Apr 07 09:32:12 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Senate invokes the Reid Option to confirm Gorsuch

Some formalities remain, but the rules have been changed.

I've noticed some media commentators saying this decision "will come back to bite [the Republicans]". That's a clear and simple example of media bias. This rule change vote is a clear example of the Democrat's use of the Reid Option to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominees and thus pack the courts for Obama coming back to bite them.

Thu Apr 06 12:29:54 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What did Obama know and when did he know it?

The Washington TimesAll these months, it turns out, it was his right-hand hatchet gal and exposed serial prevaricator Susan Rice who was behind the scenes in his administration working all the levers of the most powerful espionage machine on planet Earth to spy on Mr. Obama’s political enemies.

What is so astonishing about the revelation that Ms. Rice was the one unmasking Donald Trump and his campaign before, during and after he won the presidency is that it doesn’t get any closer to Barack Obama himself.

Ms. Rice was Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, one of his closest aides. They spoke all the time. She worked directly for him. Here she was spying on Mr. Obama’s political enemies while in daily contact with him at the very height of the most contentious presidential election in memory. You don’t think she and the president discussed this?

Of course they discussed it. The question is whether those discussions can be proven, and Susan Rice will take the fall herself, or whether Obama will go to jail personally.

Thu Apr 06 11:32:04 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rotary Club goes anti-gun

The what? who? where? club passes an anti-gun policy. Never heard of them, so I'm obviously not at risk for attending any of their events by mistake.

Thu Apr 06 10:32:04 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Too late to hold back from the Reid Option

The HillSen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Tuesday said he would not support a future Democratic Senate majority's use of the so-called "nuclear option" to confirm Supreme Court nominees.

The only valid response to this claim of future responsible behavior is "Too late." The Democrats used the Reid Option to pack the courts under Obama. The payback will be delicious, and must inflict a Great and Terrible Punishment upon the Democrats for their abuse of power. Then, and only then, can we consider a truce.

Thu Apr 06 09:32:04 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

BOOM

TabletMagIn a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

Wed Apr 05 15:18:13 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Oh dear god

The Clintons are trying to push Chelsea for President in 2020. Are they really that desperate? I guess so.

Wed Apr 05 09:05:58 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The WashPost tries to defend Rice

Washington PostThere is precisely zero evidence that Rice used this information — assuming the reports are true — for anything other than her own official purposes or did anything unholy.

Actually there is a lot of evidence of exactly that. From the large number of requests for unmasking, to the long duration (going back a full year to the beginning of the primary process), to Rice's two-week-old denial that she knew anything about it, to Rice's general untrustworthy nature (see Benghazi), to the wide dissemination of the unmasked identities throughout the Obama Administration, to the leaks themselves. Rice's fingerprints are on a number of those things directly.

Washington PostUnmasking is not leaking, and as our own Karen DeYoung notes, Rice couldn't have names unmasked without permission from the relevant intelligence agency — a system in place to prevent political abuses.

Clearly, that system failed in this case. Rice had the authority to unmask. She did so (a lot). It appears, in hindsight, that those requests to unmask were improper. If that in itself is not specifically illegal, it should be. In the absence of specific laws against abusing intelligence information to interfere with a candidate for president and/or the actual president-elect's transition team, laws must be put into place, and surely there are some general purpose laws that would serve well enough in the meantime.

Admittedly, we don't know whether Rice is the actual leaker. The actual leaker will likely face multiple 10-year prison sentences, under existing law regarding leaking of US identities in incidentally-collected intelligence information.

But we know she took deliberate steps to make it easier to leak the information and harder to identify the leaker. We know from Farkas and other commentary that the administration was doing that deliberately to make it possible to leak the intelligence information even after they left the White House. That makes it a political strategy and that means Rice was very likely involved in both formulating and implementing it. That seems like it would make her vulnerable to RICO, too.

The claim that, hey, maybe she had job-related reasons to request all these unmaskings is stretched thin indeed when used to cover all of the activity within the Obama administration on this issue.

The identity of the leaker(s?) matters, because each of them is guilty of a felony and needs to spend 10 years in prison writing "I will not abuse intelligence information for political purposes" on license plates. But the identity of the conspirators matters too. After all, Watergate brought down the President, even though he didn't break into the hotel personally.

Tue Apr 04 12:55:19 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Senator Grassley demanding infornation on FBI plan to pay for opposition research

Washington ExaminerSen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey demanding the story behind the FBI's reported plan to pay the author of a lurid and unsubstantiated dossier on candidate Donald Trump. In particular, Grassley appears to be zeroing in on the FBI's deputy director, Andrew McCabe, indicating Senate investigators want to learn more about McCabe's role in a key aspect of the Trump-Russia affair.

McCabe is the same person whose wife got $600,000 from a Hillary Clinton ally as a campaign donation, not to mention the same person who was in charge of investigating Hillary's email server. Remind me again which party is for campaign finance laws?

Tue Apr 04 09:25:07 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What did Obama know and when did he know it?

The Daily Caller reports that Susan Rice ordered spy agencies to produce "detailed spreadsheets" of Trump and his transition team's contacts. Their sources say the conversations involved no illegal activity and that the results of the wiretaps were distributed to broadly to various high level political appointees. The reports go back at least a year before the 2016 election (when the political primaries were just starting in November 2015, presumably).

Unanswered questions: were other prominent primary candidates also spied on?

Ben Rhodes was also involved. You may remember him from his role in selling the Iran deal to the complacent press with blatant lies designed to create an echo chamber.

Also, Obama's Deputy Defense Secretary Evelyn Farkas is on record at MSNBC that she was urging officials to gather as much intelligence on Trump while Obama was still in office as possible.

Daily CallerMichael Doran, former NSC senior director, told TheDCNF Monday that “somebody blew a hole in the wall between national security secrets and partisan politics.” This “was a stream of information that was supposed to be hermetically sealed from politics and the Obama administration found a way to blow a hole in that wall.”

Doran charged that potential serious crimes were undertaken because “this is a leaking of signal intelligence.”

“That’s a felony,” he told TheDCNF. “And you can get 10 years for that. It is a tremendous abuse of the system. We’re not supposed to be monitoring American citizens. Bigger than the crime, is the breach of public trust.”

Waurishuk said he was most dismayed that “this is now using national intelligence assets and capabilities to spy on the elected, yet-to-be-seated president.”

“We’re looking at a potential constitutional crisis from the standpoint that we used an extremely strong capability that’s supposed to be used to safeguard and protect the country,” he said. “And we used it for political purposes by a sitting President. That takes on a new precedent.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that people need to go to jail for this.

UPDATE: Worth noting. The Daily Caller is using a named source not an anonymous one. Former US Attorney Joseph DiGenova.

Tue Apr 04 08:27:15 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Terror attack in St Petersburg

Zerohedge has more details. So far, 10 dead and 50 injured. A second device was found but did not detonate. Officials are not ruling out terrorism. (Since the targets are clearly civilian, it pretty much counts as terrorism no matter what; the question would be which terrorists and whether the attacker was acting alone).

Mon Apr 03 11:46:01 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Identify of intel unmasker now known by Nunes

Fox NewsThe U.S. intelligence official who “unmasked,” or exposed, the names of multiple private citizens affiliated with the Trump team is someone “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world,” a source told Fox News on Friday.

Intelligence and House sources with direct knowledge of the disclosure of classified names told Fox News that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., now knows who is responsible -- and that person is not in the FBI.

That nixes that narrative that this was all a counterintelligence investigation.

Fox News"Unmasking is not unprecedented, but unmasking for political purposes ... specifically of Trump transition team members ... is highly suspect and questionable,” an intelligence source told Fox News. “Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong. After Trump was elected, they decided they were going to ruin his presidency by picking them off one by one."

If the speaker of the above has direct knowledge of this, that's devastating.

Mon Apr 03 11:30:36 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Did Susan Rice request that the Trump team identities be unmasked?

Mike CernovichSusan Rice, who served as the National Security Adviser under President Obama, has been identified as the official who requested unmasking of incoming Trump officials, Cernovich Media can exclusively report. The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.

If true... Rice is a top Obama official and political appointee. If she did this for political purposes she must be charged and convicted.

UPDATE: Bloomberg now reporting the same thing.

Note that Rice is a known political operative: she was front-and-center pushing the lies about Benghazi being a "protest" rather than an attack during the 2012 election.

The Bloomberg story does continue to try to claim that Trump's tweets about Trump Tower being wiretapped are somehow not vindicated by this. That's BS. Trump was wiretapped. We are all being wiretapped by the NSA. That's life under Obama (and if we're being honest, under prior presidents, too -- it just got a lot worse under Obama).

UPDATE: CIA wanted Nunes' source removed from NSC a few weeks ago, coincidentally when attention paid to the unmasking started to heat up.

Mon Apr 03 09:35:41 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Clinton and aides retained security clearances after leaving State Department

I'd imagine that retaining a security clearance for a period of time is not entirely unusual, though that shouldn't allow a staffer who has left to retain active access to classified materials. I imagine it would be more like an expiration date. Certainly people "write their memoirs" after retiring pretty often and seem to retain some access for research purposes. To the extent that is a normal practice, I don't necessarily mind.

To the extent that applies to Hillary Clinton and her completely-insecure personal email server, it's insane.

Sun Apr 02 10:31:06 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Ghost in the Shell

The live-action remake did well. It honored the original anime, make certain plot points clearer, delivered CGI that was convincing if not completely flawless, and was all around a successful remake that I can recommend highly.

Sun Apr 02 09:31:06 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Definitely playing hide the motivation

Irons in the Fire points to a claim by the UK police: "There is a possibility we will never understand why he did this" and wonders whether they are really this stupid or if they are trying to hide the motivation.

Obviously, they are trying to hide the motivation. The Mayor of London, presumably in charge of the Metropolitan Police who are conducting the investigation, is a Muslim and has strong incentives to hide any hints of his own religion being tied to this attack. And it appears that police who don't like the coverup are leaking evidence to the press:

Guardian It is continuing to look at whether Masood was prompted by online propaganda by Islamic State, which has claimed he was a “soldier”, or whether he had some other sense of grievance... Police are investigating media reports that Masood checked his encrypted messaging service WhatsApp – or even sent a message – just before the attack, which hinted at others being involved. The police statement confirming that he was a lone actor does not appear to support suggestions that he had been in touch with an accomplice.

So, yeah. ISIS claims him as a soldier. He had an encryption app on his phone and sent a message immediately before the attack. Police arrested 11 people after the attack (even if they subsequently released 8, that's a lot of people connected to an attack for a "lone attacker"). But the police can't add one and one to get two.

Sat Apr 01 11:27:19 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Liberal press insanely disappointed the VPOTUS is not having an affair

Look at all the complaints. The Clintons may have brought public shame upon the nation by their trashy behavior in the White House, and Obama kept up a steady flow of communist propaganda, but to the press, respectable behavior in a politician is just boring.

Sat Apr 01 10:27:19 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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