One of the most controversial potential nominees for President-Elect Donald Trump just got more controversial. John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been listed as the possible second in command at State. He previously served as ambassador under a recess appointment because he was heavily opposed by Democrats and some career State Department officials. He can now likely add intelligence officials to his opposition. In an extraordinary interview on Fox News, Bolton dismissed the CIA report finding Russian interference with the election and hacking of emails. Instead, he suggested that the entire controversy could be a “false flag,” or a false story planted by parties in the United States. That would sound like the American intelligence community and specifically the CIA to many. (The FBI was widely criticized by the Clinton supporters for its own alleged influencing of the campaign). It is an entirely unsupported and rather unhinged suggestion, particularly from someone being considered for a high office. It could make an already hot potential nomination into a positively radioactive one.
There is an interesting criminal investigation that seems to fulfill the Washington DC adage “One week on the cover of Time, next week doing time.” The point is that sometimes press is not a good thing. That would seem the case of Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn who went on Fox News for an interview. In the course of the interview, Golsteyn appears to admit to murdering a suspect in his custody in Afghanistan. Army investigators also watch television and immediately reopened the investigation into the death of the accused Taliban bombmaker.
On this blog, we have often discussed and lamented how billions are wasted in the government, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, without the slightest accountability of officials or serious reforms. The problem is especially prominent in the military. Now, the Washington Post has acquired an internal study that found $125 billion in waste from bloated staff to needless redundancies. The response of the Defense Department in the Obama Administration was swift and firm . . . it buried the report so neither Congress nor the media would see it. It is good to see that our bureaucrats can still move aggressively when called to action.
I have previously criticized past prosecutions for stolen valor (here and here) as a threat to the first amendment. Such cases are deterred through social stigma and simple research. We have criminal laws allowing for the prosecution of those who use false claims to secure financial gain or benefits. Such is the case with former Marine Brandon Blackstone, who stole a combat veteran’s story of valor to secure a house and benefits. He is now facing 21 years in jail for his crimes in assuming the valor of Casey Owens, left, who lost both legs in combat. Blackstone served in the same unit as Owens.
Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro is dead at age 90. While many around the world spoke highly of Castro’s success in greatly reducing illiteracy and proving basic services like health care, I have long been critical of his reign and his enablers in the West. Whatever success he achieved, he did so through a brutal dictatorship that denied freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other basic civil liberties. For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, he was a defining character of our generation. The menace across the border. When we were being taught to shelter under our desks in any nuclear attack, it was his image with that of the Soviet premier that would be flashed across the screen. It was a time of utter madness and mania — on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
The election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte constitutes the lowest point for the struggling Filipino democratic system. Duterte has used profanities against President Obama, the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Pope Frances, the United Nations and others who have questioned his blood-soaked reign as president. Recently, he even compared himself to Hitler in not only refusing to stop his extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals but saying that he was prepared like Hitler to murder millions. This budding tyrant has declared that the very concept of human rights is the “anti-thesis of government.” Finally, Duterte has pledged to end military training exercises with the United States, break away from the close alliance with the United States, and rely more on China and Russia. He has even been taunting the CIA to try to oust him. For those already familiar with our checkered history of supporting dictators and even enemies of the United States, it will come as no surprise that (just as Duterte is pledging to support Russia and China and fighting the United States), our government just approved another $180 million in aid to someone widely viewed as blood-soaked, anti-American lunatic.
If you were still wondering what the thousands of dead and wounded U.S. soldiers (and billions in funds) lost in Afghanistan accomplished, your confusion is about to be exponentially increased. This week, our Afghan allies in the government pardoned one of the most ruthless terrorists in the world — a man who murdered Americans, supported throwing acid in the faces of girls and women, and stood out among the most blood-soaked terrorists in the world. He is now effectively the ally of the Afghan government and by extension the United States. The man is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the hated leader of the militant group, Hezb-i-Islami. He is better known by his popular and well-earned nickname: “The Butcher of Kabul.”