The Sussmann indictment and the Alfa Bank saga: A focused timeline

The most tangled web.

At Just the News, John Solomon reported a few days ago that according to the Justice Department’s IG, the FBI is still ignoring its own procedures in handling FISA surveillance applications.

Some of Solomon’s opening points:

“The FBI’s Woods Procedures are designed to ensure FISA applications are ‘scrupulously accurate’ and require agents to document support for all factual assertions contained in them,” Horowitz reported. “However, our audit found numerous instances where this did not occur.” 

Horowitz first flagged 29 applications in March 2020 that had problems including 209 errors. 

Twenty-nine applications in one month is not a small or inconsequential number of applications.  Keep in mind, this was still in Donald Trump’s presidency.  What readers think they may have done to clean out the Augean stable of D.C. bureaucracy, even Trump was not able to achieve, more than three years into his term.  It’s always useful to remember how much of the D.C. “establishment” was pulling against him the entire time he was in office.  FBI officials who ignored or gun-decked the Woods Procedures, as a slew of them did in 2016 under Obama, were likely to be prominent among them.

This timely observation from Solomon is by way of introducing a focused timeline that I hope will illuminate how very widespread and entrenched the scope of what John Durham has been investigating will turn out to be. Continue reading “The Sussmann indictment and the Alfa Bank saga: A focused timeline”

War comes home: Russia v. Turkey; Jet shootdown; Rebels attack Russian helos with U.S. TOW missiles

Peace in our time.

Shootdown porn. (Image via rebel video on YouTube)
Shootdown porn. (Image via rebel video on YouTube)

The war in Syria is metastasizing, as long predicted by this author and others.  It’s perilously close to a direct confrontation of Turkey and Russia in combat — a situation that didn’t start with the warplane shootdown today, but rather seems to have culminated in it.  The ground picture in the area of the shootdown is the key.

What we know for sure today is that Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft, which the Turks say was violating their air space.  The Turks report that an F-16 fighter pair took out the Russian aircraft.

It also appears that Russian helicopters sent on a rescue mission for the Su-24 air crew were destroyed.  If a video posted by Syrian rebels (below) is valid – assuming it shows something the rebels pulled off today (24 November) – it looks like the rebels used TOW missiles to attack the Russian helos while they were on the ground at the Su-24 crash site.

These rapid-fire events raise questions that will not be answered at a leisurely pace.  The basic question is what Russia and Turkey will do now.  But there is also the question of “why now?”  Turkey has been closely tracking Russian air activity for weeks.  The two air forces have interacted at dangerous levels before; the Aviationist has a good summary here.  But today, instead of warnings and sword-rattling, the Turks shot the Russian aircraft down. Continue reading “War comes home: Russia v. Turkey; Jet shootdown; Rebels attack Russian helos with U.S. TOW missiles”

‘Boots on the ground’: Saigon on the Euphrates, on steroids

Vietnam was just a warm-up.

Brain trust. (Image: AP, Pablo Martinez Monsivais via nola.com)
Brain trust. (Image: AP, Pablo Martinez Monsivais via nola.com)

Regular correspondents of this space may have wondered why I haven’t been writing more recently about the events in Iraq and Syria.  (Or Afghanistan, for that matter.)

The short answer is: because it’s too depressing to watch the Obama administration repeating every mistake of Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam, but from a posture of greater weakness, greater foolishness, and – bonus! – apparent hatred for the United States.

Who wants to write about that?

We’ve reached the point at which there is nothing positive or hopeful to say.  I think most readers realize that, even if they can’t fully articulate what the problems seem to be.  Obama is quite literally doing nothing right, in his political-military approach to these hot spots of the Middle East.  There’s nothing in his policy to work with. Continue reading “‘Boots on the ground’: Saigon on the Euphrates, on steroids”

Syria: You know this isn’t about Assad anymore, right?

It’s on.

Putin confers with his senior military officials. (Image: Kremlin/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin via Newsweek)
Putin confers with his senior military officials. (Image: Kremlin/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin via Newsweek)

As Russia and Iran move in more overtly on Syria, it’s important to understand that their objective is not to prop up a weak, dependent Bashar al-Assad.  Doing that is a convenience.  Assad functions now as a fig leaf for the real objective of his long-time patrons: establishing effective control of the territory of Syria.

The Western media will probably keep saying, by rote, that Russia and Iran are supporting Assad – just as they will keep saying that the U.S. coalition is battling Islamic State.  But there’s a reason for the “why this summer; why right now” behind Russia’s seemingly sudden strategic move on Syria.  And it’s not the superficial motives being attributed to Russia or Iran.

There are two interlocking catalysts for Russia’s decision to intervene actively, just at this moment.  One is the U.S.-Turkey partnership “against ISIS,” which became active in late July, and immediately resulted in Turkey attacking not ISIS, but Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Continue reading “Syria: You know this isn’t about Assad anymore, right?”

Obama demonstrates geostrategic incomprehension in webcast with Jewish groups

Uncomprehending.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the march. (Image: AFP via Der Spiegel)
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the march. (Image: AFP via Der Spiegel)

There was a lot to reject in the comments made by President Obama on Friday to the leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, in a webcast sponsored by JFNA.  That’s putting it in the mildest possible way.

But we can gain invaluable perspective from focusing on one particular passage in the Q&A session.  It illuminates everything else that’s going on, and exposes the brittle emptiness of Obama’s rhetoric – because it betrays the anachronism of his view of the Middle East and Israeli security.  It’s as if Obama doesn’t realize it’s not 2009 anymore.

The topic is the security relationship of the U.S. with Israel: how strong it is, and how it can be reenergized.  Here’s Michael Siegal, Chairman of Jewish Federations of North America, asking Obama the question (from the White House transcript emailed after the webcast, which the Chicago Sun-Times has here): Continue reading “Obama demonstrates geostrategic incomprehension in webcast with Jewish groups”