The Man From Rule X: The House Intelligence Chair Invokes Long-Overdue Power To Override Agencies On A Public Release

download-2Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the move by the House Intelligence Committee to release the four-page memo on alleged FBI abuse.  The FBI has objected that “omissions” have made the memo “inaccurate.”  However, that does not sound like a classification defense. Indeed, a long-standing objection is that the intelligence agencies classify material that is embarrassing or damaging to the agency politically.  Since the memo reportedly deals with the use of the dossier for a FISA warrant, it would seem possible to draft a memo that did not compromise methods and sources.  We will soon likely know, according to reports that President Donald Trump has reviewed the document and decided to release it.  He is ultimately the final word on classification status in the Executive Branch.

Here is the column:

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Two Fans In New Zealand Are Sued Under New Law For Encouraging Singer Lorde Not To Do Israeli Concert

250px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg660px-flag_of_israelsvgWe recently discussed the striking down of one of the state laws barring contractors who support the boycotting of Israel.  In New Zealand, however, a similar law is in effect and a pro-Israel group is suing two people for simply encouraging pop singer Lorde not to hold a planned concert in Israel.  The lawsuit demonstrates the danger to free speech in these laws, which seeks to punish people for their political views, association, and speech.  As many on this blog know, I generally oppose any laws that curtail free speech and view the solution to bad speech to be better speech — not criminalized speech.  This has nothing to do the merits of the boycotts; only the means used to oppose such views.  I have not problem with fans or promoters suing Lorde over a cancelled concert if they lost money.  This goes to the right of people to boycott a country due to their personal or political views.

 

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Schiff Accuses Nunes Of Altering Memo Before Submission To Trump For Possible Release

440px-Adam_Schiff_115th_official_photo The plot thickened last night over the anticipated release of a four-page memo from the House Intelligence Committee.  California Rep. Adam Schiff (D) publicly accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) of giving President Trump a “secretly altered” version of the memo to review for possible release.  The Schiff allegation raises an interesting issue under the House that could theoretically warrant judicial review (though the outcome is far from certain).  The Committee staff is arguing that the changes were minor edits, including grammatical changes.

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Federal Court Strikes Down Kansas Law Against Israeli Boycotters

download660px-flag_of_israelsvg1A District Court judge in Kansas has handed down a major free speech victory this week in striking down the state law requiring all state contractors “to certify that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel.” We have previously discussed these laws and my view that they impinge upon the first amendment.  The laws include making victims of natural disasters attest that they do not support a boycott of Israel as well as similar bans on student groups.  Now the Kansas law has been struck down as a denial of free speech by District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree.  It is the Koontz case that we previously discussed.

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Report: Wray Opposes Release of Nunes Memo

440px-Chris_Wray_official_photoAccording to Bloomberg, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the White House he opposes the release of controversial four-page memo from the House Intelligence Committee.  What is notable about the report is that the objection is allegedly due to what Wray views as a false and inaccurate narrative. However, that should not be a reason alone to classify and withhold a document under Rule X.

 

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The State of The Union and the State Of American Politics Of Division

imagesPresident Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address covered a wide array of domestic and international issues. At eighty minutes, it was long of the longest such speeches.  Putting the policies aside, Trump’s delivery last night was one of his strongest. Indeed, while many have objected to the content, it was a much better delivery than his inauguration in my opinion.  CBS News is reporting that 75 percent of Americans watching approved of the speech.

However, most of us in the Beltway were watching the awkward tension between the members, including the absence of boycotting members and at least one incident of loud booing from the Democratic members.  Rep. Luis Gutierrez was shown walking out as members chanting “USA, USA.” (He later remarked  “Whoever translated it for him from Russian did a good job.”) Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led most Democrats out of the door immediately after the President finished and most Democrats did not applaud for most of the speech.  I have been previously critical of a Republican member protesting during the State of the Union\ and a serious breach of tradition by Associate Justice Sam Alito.

Here is my column in the Hill newspaper on the controversy.

 

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Poland Moves To Criminalize Claims Of Polish Culpability In Nazi War Crimes

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