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Westlake Legal Group > homeland security

Bob Seeley: Why the Government should listen to our allies and say: no way, Huawei

Bob Seely is the MP for the Isle of Wight. He is standing to be Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

I am delighted that this Government is both unashamedly patriotic and positive about Britain’s future and our alliances. Yet Huawei presents a threat to those alliances, as is being reported this weekend.

Huawei involvement in the roll-out of UK’s 5G network is an extraordinarily important issue. Sadly, there has been little public or Parliamentary scrutiny. US officials are in town this week in a last-ditch attempt to win UK support for their position on Huawei. They want us to say no to it.

The Fifth Generation Cellular Communications network – 5G – will be a key part of our critical national infrastructure. The US is concerned that, amongst other issues, Chinese involvement in our 5G network will damage security relationships with our closest allies, especially the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ network: US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In this instance, the US is absolutely right. We need to listen to them and other allies such as Australia. Both have banned Chinese high-tech from their 5G networks. We need to do the same to support our Western alliances and to protect our security, our people and our values.

The blunt reality is that China is a cyber risk and will remain so for years. It has a dreadful reputation for cyberattacks and intellectual property theft against Western and global institutions and firms. Huawei itself has been the subject of a US investigation for fraud and commercial espionage. In general, China is becoming more adversarial internationally and less tolerant of dissent domestically.

Sadly, the debate over Huawei is marked by dangerous levels of misunderstanding.

For example, Huawei argues that it is a private firm. In no meaningful sense is this correct. Huawei is to all intents and purposes part of the Chinese state. Allowing Huawei to build a significant role in our 5G network is effectively allowing China and the Chinese agencies access to it. To say otherwise is simply false.

It’s argued that Huawei will enable wider market provision. In reality, it’s the opposite. China openly seeks to dominate global comms. The risk is that in the next ten-to-20 years almost all Western providers such as Ericsson and Nokia will be put out of business by Chinese high-tech firms backed by tens of billions in state credit.

It’s also claimed that Huawei will be limited to the fringe of the 5G network. Untrue, say many experts. The difference between ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ does not exist in 5G to anything like the same extent as 4G. Antennas, for example, will not be ‘dumb’ bits of kit but an advanced combination of hardware and software. To be in the 5G system anywhere will be to be in the system. The assessment of technical experts from the US and other states is that the risks of allowing Chinese telecommunications equipment anywhere in 5G networks cannot be fully mitigated, despite laughable no-spy pledges.

Rob Strayer, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, has said any role for Huawei in 5G infrastructure poses an “unacceptable risk.” He has said: “If countries put unsecure and untrusted vendors into their 5G networks, in any place, we’re letting countries know that we’re going to have to consider the risk that that produces to our information-sharing arrangements with them.”

We need to build up alliances, not risk them.

There are powerful moral and ethical arguments against the use of Chinese firms. Huawei has an intimate relationship with the Chinese military and security services. China is using big data and Artificial Intelligence to build a surveillance state. In Xinjiang province, China has built the most advanced human monitoring system that the world has ever known; an actual, virtual Orwellian state.

We need public debate. The Australian Government did just that, initiating months of discussion before deciding de facto to exclude Chinese firms in its 5G network – despite pressure from Beijing and a far greater dependency on trade with their Pacific neighbour than we will ever have.

There is still time for the UK. Some members of the Cabinet and backbench MPs are privately concerned. But this issue is so new and the risks not yet fully understood that I fear we are sleepwalking into a decision we will regret in the years and decades to come.

We need to pause, and then decide to work with our Five Eyes and European and international partners to initiate new rules on privacy, high-tech co-operation and cyber laws that protect our citizens and our societies. We need to follow Australia’s example and have a wide-ranging public consultation.

We need international agreement on a common ‘trusted vendor’ status and agree that only those vendors can become primary contractors for our 5G – and for our critical national infrastructure in general. Trusted vendors would be defined as those coming from states that respect the rule of law, individual human rights, privacy and intellectual property. This rules out, de facto, high-tech from one-party states whose legal and political systems are very different from our own.

Whoever becomes chair of the Foreign or Intelligence and Security Select Committees needs to pledge to open immediate investigations into the suitability of Huawei and whether it can be seen in any sense as a ‘trusted vendor’.

We need good relations with China; there is no question about this. It is going to be a very significant voice in the next century. But we do not need to be making the world safe for its brand of surveillance authoritarianism or risking our collective and individual security. And with Chinese firms, there is risk. We have a right and a responsibility to protect our nation, our people and our values.

This Government is intent on putting our national interest first. Agreed; let’s do it. Let’s listen to Australia, the US and say “no way, Huawei”.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Daniel Hannan: Revolutionary Iran is a threat to our national security – not just regional stability. It must be confronted and defeated.

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author, and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

In 2015, MI5 uncovered an Iranian-sponsored bomb factory in Hillingdon. Police found three metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate – the explosive material used in, among other terrorist abominations, the Oklahoma bombing.

The date is important. A few months earlier, Britain, as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, had struck a deal with Iran that was meant to provide for that country’s reintegration into the world community as a non-nuclear state. 2015 was arguably the high point of the international community’s policy of constructive engagement with the ayatollahs. The bomb-making operation, in other words, was not a response to British or American provocation. It was simply an example of Iran being Iran – the world’s pre-eminent exporter of violence.

There is a tendency in Britain to think of Iran simply as a regional nuisance – a threat, no doubt, to Israel, and to some of Britain’s Arab allies, but hardly a global menace. This is fundamentally to misunderstand the way the mullahs think.

Consider the following list of countries: Albania, Argentina, Bahrain, Denmark, France, India, Kenya, Thailand. What do they have in common? Only this: they have all been on the receiving end of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, most of it masterminded by the late and unlamented Qasem Soleimani.

A strange list, no? I mean, what possible interest could the Iranian state have in, say, Argentina? In 1994, a Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires was bombed, with 85 fatalities and hundreds of injuries. The trail led back to Teheran. What were the mullahs trying to achieve? Could it have been precisely Argentina’s distance from Iran that made it attractive? That Iran’s leaders wanted to show that they could strike anywhere? That state sovereignty, territorial jurisdiction and geographical remoteness meant nothing to them?

When we think of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, we tend to overemphasise the first word and underemphasise the second. Yes, Iran’s leaders are theocrats; but, far more immediately, they are revolutionaries, committed to spreading their revolt across the world.

Like the French revolutionaries after 1789, or the Russian revolutionaries after 1917, they immediately spilled out from behind their borders, sponsoring militias and terrorist cells on every continent.

In retrospect, their intentions were clear from their first act, namely the attack on the US embassy in Teheran. It is hard, forty years on, to emphasise quite how shocking it was to make hostages of diplomatic personnel. The sanctity of legation buildings is the cornerstone of the international order. When, for example, Gen Galtieri invaded the Falkland Islands, British diplomats in Buenos Aires never seriously feared for their safety. Even during the Second World War, when barbaric dictatorships fought to destroy one another, diplomatic personnel were peacefully evacuated through neutral countries.

In refusing to recognise that norm, the ayatollahs were sending out the clearest possible signal: “Your rules don’t apply to us. We don’t recognise your notions of international law”. And so they have continued for four decades.

Their apologists in the West want to make all this about us. If only we stopped meddling in the region, they argue, there would be no blowback. If only we hadn’t backed the coup against Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, all would have been well. If we carry on intervening, we can hardly complain when we get attacked in return. This line is taken especially strenuously by Jeremy Corbyn, a former employee of an Iranian state TV station.

But it misses the nature of the regime in Teheran. Revolutionaries are precisely that – revolutionary. Their regimes depend on a degree of overseas conflict. Again like the French and Russian revolutionaries, the Iranian revolutionaries win support at home by picking fights abroad. In Leninist terms, they export their internal contradictions. Or, to borrow a metaphor from chaos theory, they drink order from their surroundings.

During the years when the West, led by the EU, sought to draw Iran back into the comity of nations, the ayatollahs continued to sponsor militias from the Balkans to the old Silk Road Khanates. They backed terrorist bombs, cyberattacks and drone shootings. The event that immediately triggered the retaliation against Soleimani was another Iranian attack on an American embassy – this time in Iraq. Those who warn us sonorously against about “the cost of escalation” should at least acknowledge the cost of non-escalation.

During the Cold War, Western leaders were careful to stress that their quarrel was with revolutionary communism, not with the peoples of Russia, East Germany or Cuba. They were clear that the problem was communism itself: that its internal logic made it expansionist and destabilising.

Precisely the same applies today. Few nations can match Persia in the depth of their civilization. But that country’s present leaders are a menace to their people, their neighbours and everyone else. They need to be confronted and defeated.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ruth Edwards: The Iran crisis should spur us to upgrade our cyber defences

Ruth Edwards is MP for Rushcliffe.

The breach of the US Embassy in Iraq and the US retaliation in assassinating Qasem Soleimani are potent symbols of the increasing tensions between Iran and the West.

There are clear, visible signs of the Government moving to protect our people and assets in the region, with Royal Navy ships being sent to protect tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. But, unseen, there will also be huge amounts of activity in Security Operation Centres across the country to step-up our digital defences.

Suppliers of Critical National Infrastructure, such as my former employer BT, often face an increase in attempted cyber security attacks at times of high international tensions.

Cyber attacks are increasingly used by nation states to continue ‘war by other means’. Ten years ago, the Stuxnet virus was deployed against Iran to damage centrifuges being used in its nuclear programme and, last year, US officials claimed to have carried out a cyber attack which degraded Iran’s ability to target tankers in the Gulf.

We know that Iran has been developing its own cyber capabilities. Malware such as the Shamoon virus, which wiped out much of the digital infrastructure of oil companies like Saudi Aramco and RasGas, has been attributed to Iranian-backed sources.

We may not have yet seen a ‘C1’ cyber-attack against the UK – that’s an attack that cripples our critical infrastructure – but the UK’s ability and willingness to deploy both hard and soft ‘cyber power’ against nation state adversaries and organised criminal groups will be crucial as we redefine our role in international affairs post-Brexit.

This year’s Security, Defence and Foreign Policy review provides an excellent opportunity to reinforce Britain’s place as a leader in international ‘cyber power’.

As well as investment in hardware – ships, jets and kinetic weapon –  the UK must prioritise investment in defensive and offensive cyber capabilities.

Yes, that means investing in the latest technologies, but it also means making sure we have enough people with the skills to defend infrastructure and businesses across the country. This is the most pressing issue.

Government research has found that 54 per cent of businesses in the UK lack the skilled people they need to protect themselves from cyber-attack. This is a global problem, with current estimates that we will have a global shortage of 1.8 million cyber security professionals by 2022.

Previous governments have rightly sought to address the shortage of talent coming through the pipeline, with initiatives such as CyberFirst encouraging young people to study cyber security at university. This has been an effective method of getting young people into the industry.

What we need now is a comprehensive strategy to help train and transfer people into cyber security roles mid-career. The £3 billion National Skills Fund, announced in the Conservative election manifesto, to help adults re-train and re-enter the workplace provides this opportunity. Sectors of strategic national importance, such as cyber security, should be prioritised.

Finally, we must project soft-power abroad. In the same way the UK helps developing countries build infrastructure through its international aid programme, we need to use our leadership in cyber security to help our friends and trading partners develop their capacity.

For example, the UK has made good progress in improving the infrastructure of the internet and making it harder for attackers to exploit, through its Active Cyber Defence Programme. It also has advanced information sharing practises between the public and private sector and has spent years developing a comprehensive strategic approach to tackling cyber threats. Helping others to build this capacity would strengthen cyber security across the world.

Cyber Power will be a defining characteristic of the ‘20s: the UK can, and must, lead in its deployment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What you may have missed about the Conservative Manifesto 5) Johnson has neither forgiven nor forgotten the Supreme Court

“After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.”

Boris Johnson has said that his favourite film scene is “the multiple retribution killings at the end of the Godfather”.

It is worth bearing that in mind when contemplating the sprawling paragraph above from the Conservative Manifesto.

Its contents are strikingly permissive – giving carte blanche to a Commission, consisting of and to be chaired by a person or persons unknown, to make recommendations on the Commons, the Lords, Westminster, Whitehall, and in particular judicial review and human rights.

On that last point, we hope it gets to grips with the relationship between Parliament and the ECHR. For if reform doesn’t come, a new Conservative Government won’t be able to get properly to grips with the full causes of London Bridge murders – and part of the terror threat.

But above all, what leaps out of this section for us is that the Prime Minister appears to have the Supreme Court and senior judges in his sights.

Johnson will not have forgotten that the Court has ruled twice against the Government – the second time when he was Prime Minister.  That it inadvertedly aided Brexit the first time round may be irrelevant to him.

He will remember Lady Hale, that spider badge – and her swipe at him over “girly swots”.  More pertinently, he will have in mind the court’s constitutionally illterate decision over prorogation.

There are two known policy routes forward if the judiciary is not simply to be left well alone.  One is to scrap the Supreme Court, revive the Law Lords and return to the status quo ante.  The other is to have Parliamentary hearings for senior judges.

Party members tilt strongly towards the first if our surveys are anything to go by.  We suspect that Johnson himself has no fixed view, but believes that Something Must Be Done.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The campaign, week five. Johnson holds his ground – and aims to end next week where he began. With getting Brexit done.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-12-05-at-16.36.15 The campaign, week five. Johnson holds his ground – and aims to end next week where he began. With getting Brexit done. War on terror ToryDiary Terrorism Tax State Schools Scotland schools North NHS National Insurance Contribution National Insurance Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour John McDonnell MP Jeremy Corbyn MP homeland security Highlights Education Economy donald trump Conservatives CCHQ Brexit Party   Source: Politico.

Lord Ashcroft’s latest General Election Dashboard, published earlier this week, found that, when it came to recent campaign events, “four in ten voters recalled nothing at all”.  Our proprietor also noted a tendency for both left and right-leaning voters to remember stories and incidents which backed up views they hold already.

This suggests that ConservativeHome’s opening position, set out when we began this series of Friday campaign summaries, has proved accurate to date: namely, that bad campaign weeks don’t usually matter in general elections – and that good and bad campaigns affect the result much less than some suppose.

Jeremy Corbyn has fought much the same operation as in 2017, doubling down and widening out on higher spending pledges, and making the centrepiece of his effort the preposterous claim that Boris Johnson plans to sell the NHS to Donald Trump.

Johnson has fought a very different campaign to that of 2017.  Admittedly, his target voters are the same as Theresa May’s were then – the “just about managings”, as they used to be called.  But his means of appealing to them have been very different.

The manifesto has been kept risk-free; the Chancellor has not been absent; TV debates have been minimised – and executed without major cock-ups (so far).  The terror attack at London Bridge didn’t derail the Prime Minister.  He seems to have got through Donald Trump’s visit without damage.

The sum of events to date is that Labour, as last time, has risen in the polls.    That is as likely to be because the party has had more media exposure than outside election time as for any other reason.  Electoral Calculus now predicts a Tory majority of 28 – well down from the 72 it recorded when we opened this series.

But the Conservatives – unlike in 2017 – have seen their ratings increase, too.  The most probable explanation is that many voters indeed believe that Britain should “get Brexit done” – and find themselves settling on that view, as polling day approaches, regardless of the day-to-day campaigning ups and downs.

If anything during the last four weeks has made a difference, it appears to have been the weakening of the third and fourth parties: the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party.  But both are still in the field and the struggle will be complex – far more so at regional and constituency level than Electoral Calculus’ headline total takes into account.

Its findings must be mediated through those local variants: in particular, the separate-but-related contests taking place in Scotland, in the Leave-backing Midlands & North, and in Remain-leaning London with its prosperous hinterland.  If Johnson can do well in all three, that majority should be higher; if does badly, it won’t be there at all.

The sum of polls suggests that the Conservatives will pull off a win.  The last five how Tory leads of ten, twelve, seven, nine and 13 points, according to Britain Elects.  As we write, there is no suggestion of Corbyn closing the gap; rather, if anything, of it opening up again.

Labour could yet close the divide for a mix of reasons: if there is large-scale tactical voting; if the vote distribution works for it; if its ground campaign is sufficiently strong; if the polls are “wrong” – and perhaps above all if there is differential turnout that favours the party.  Is all this possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.

Downing Street and CCHQ cannot afford to take the chance.  Unlike this website or other observers, they cannot afford to gamble that the campaign will end up making no demonstrable difference to anything very much.  They must claw and scrabble for every vote during the final week of this campaign.

Team Johnson that the election will be won by whoever frames the question that voters will ask themselves in the polling booth.  If it’s: “let’s get Brexit done”, then they believe that Johnson will gain his majority.  That’s where the Tory campaign began.  That’s where they want it to end.

There is a quiet sense in Number Ten that Corbyn and his team haven’t developed a framing of their own for this contest.  So expect to see the Prime Minister and company return to their theme over the weekend: break the Parliamentary logjam, get Brexit done – and then Britain can move on.

Downing Street is keen to stress what might be called the populist part of its programme for the first hundred days of a new Tory Government: more education spending, tougher sentencing, higher NHS charges for migrants.  It claims not to have tried to shape yesterday’s reporting emphasis on national insurance tax cuts.

Our nagging worry is: what about voters who may not want to get Brexit done, but are nonetheless apprehensive about Corbyn and John McDonnell’s tax plans?  Will there be nothing in the last few days to help persuade them that a Corbyn Government would plunder their wallets, risk their jobs and threaten their livelihoods?

Weeks One, Two and Three of this series saw the Conservatives doing well – so much so that in that third week we warned against unrealistic expectations.  Week Four saw Corbyn make some progress.  In this final week, Week Five, he seems to have stalled.  But there are still seven tense days to go.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group jb-4 Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine Ukraine Trump The Blog Senate Ron Johnson Richard Burr republicans joe hunter homeland security Burisma biden

There’s no indication from this WaPo story if he’s doing it at Trump’s behest or because he’s independently intent on getting to the bottom of the Burisma matter. But either way, their interests align. Here’s Trump this afternoon…

…and here’s the Post reporting on the mood among Senate Republicans today, with some reportedly “stunned” by the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky (it was a “huge mistake” to release it, said one) and others eager to steer the conversation towards the Bidens. None is more eager than Ron Johnson, reportedly.

One early divide among Senate Republicans is between the “Burr camp” and the “Johnson camp,” according to two senior GOP aides who were not authorized to speak publicly, referring to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Burr’s faction of the Senate GOP has a darker, frustrated view of Trump’s handling of Ukraine, while Johnson’s wing is more focused on probing Biden, the aides said…

Johnson, meanwhile, told colleagues he would consider investigating Biden and Ukraine and said he took those issues seriously — a position that was strongly encouraged by several allies of Trump at the lunch, according to three people familiar with the conversations. When asked for comment late Tuesday about those discussions, Johnson said in a statement, “We have and will continue to gather information and conduct oversight on alleged misconduct within government agencies.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said, “Biden is the one who threatened Ukraine’s aid, not Trump, and that has to be investigated.”

It’s a no-brainer. Investigating Biden would be “on brand” for the Trump-era GOP in that the president’s instinct whenever he’s accused of wrongdoing is to ask about the accuser’s wrongdoing. He fights, so naturally he’d want to go on offense while the Democrats momentarily have him on the defensive. Plus, Hunter Biden’s hiring by Burisma really does seem dubious from the outside, a potential case of influence peddling by bringing in the vice president’s son. And Joe Biden serving as the Obama White House’s enforcer against the Ukrainian prosecutor despite the prosecutor’s prior interest in Burisma reeks of a conflict of interest and has the appearance of impropriety. It’s not wrong to wonder if there’s evidence that Joe tried to protect Hunter.

But the catch for Johnson in investigating this is that the prosecutor in question really was corrupt according to all available reporting on the subject. And he wasn’t pursuing Burisma when Biden started twisting Ukrainian arms to drop the axe on him. Which means the likely result of the probe is … vindication for the Bidens?

From the GOP’s perspective, it probably doesn’t matter how Johnson’s investigation turns out. The point is to *have* an investigation, to crowd out some of the headlines about Trump and Ukraine and do political damage to Biden by raising suspicions about him. It’s a shrewd plan — unless, of course, it ends up ultimately benefiting progressives most of all by helping to keep the Ukraine matter in the news day after day and softening up Biden’s Democratic support to the point where he’s easy pickings for Elizabeth Warren in the primaries.

Speaking of congressional probes of Ukraine diplomacy, Pelosi reportedly wants any impeachment of Trump to focus on his approach to Zelensky about Biden rather than a kitchen-sink indictment in which Democrats bring in Russiagate obstruction, emoluments, and so on:

Inside the room, Democrats said, Pelosi (Calif.) told colleagues that keeping the inquiry narrowly focused on the Ukraine allegations could help keep the investigation out of the courts, where a slew of investigative matters have been bogged down for months — though she did not rule out ultimately including other episodes in a potential impeachment package.

The meeting included multiple members of the House Judiciary Committee, which has been probing alleged obstruction of justice, self-dealing and other matters involving Trump, though not Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). It ended without a firm decision on whether to circumscribe the probe but with consensus inside the room that narrowing the investigation, if only in terms of political messaging, made sense.

I think that’s the smart way to go, not just because it keeps Democrats out of court but because the allegation in the Ukraine matter is easy for the average voter to grasp. If Dems weren’t able to get the public excited for impeachment over Russiagate in two years of trying, they’re not going to belatedly spark enthusiasm to revisit the obstruction claims from that case now. And emoluments have never been on the public’s radar; that’s something Pelosi could place on the back burner and possibly revisit later if there’s an unusually stark case of Trump being paid by a foreign government. Emoluments would be another heavy lift in terms of public opinion, though, since Americans assume all politicians are corrupt. At worst, they’ll conclude, Trump is just a bit more obvious about it. Ukraine is Pelosi’s best bet to make the public kinda sorta “comfortable” with impeachment, in the full expectation that the effort will fail dismally in the Senate.

The post Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group jb-4-300x153 Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine Ukraine Trump The Blog Senate Ron Johnson Richard Burr republicans joe hunter homeland security Burisma biden   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine

Westlake Legal Group jb-4 Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine Ukraine Trump The Blog Senate Ron Johnson Richard Burr republicans joe hunter homeland security Burisma biden

There’s no indication from this WaPo story if he’s doing it at Trump’s behest or because he’s independently intent on getting to the bottom of the Burisma matter. But either way, their interests align. Here’s Trump this afternoon…

…and here’s the Post reporting on the mood among Senate Republicans today, with some reportedly “stunned” by the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky (it was a “huge mistake” to release it, said one) and others eager to steer the conversation towards the Bidens. None is more eager than Ron Johnson, reportedly.

One early divide among Senate Republicans is between the “Burr camp” and the “Johnson camp,” according to two senior GOP aides who were not authorized to speak publicly, referring to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Burr’s faction of the Senate GOP has a darker, frustrated view of Trump’s handling of Ukraine, while Johnson’s wing is more focused on probing Biden, the aides said…

Johnson, meanwhile, told colleagues he would consider investigating Biden and Ukraine and said he took those issues seriously — a position that was strongly encouraged by several allies of Trump at the lunch, according to three people familiar with the conversations. When asked for comment late Tuesday about those discussions, Johnson said in a statement, “We have and will continue to gather information and conduct oversight on alleged misconduct within government agencies.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said, “Biden is the one who threatened Ukraine’s aid, not Trump, and that has to be investigated.”

It’s a no-brainer. Investigating Biden would be “on brand” for the Trump-era GOP in that the president’s instinct whenever he’s accused of wrongdoing is to ask about the accuser’s wrongdoing. He fights, so naturally he’d want to go on offense while the Democrats momentarily have him on the defensive. Plus, Hunter Biden’s hiring by Burisma really does seem dubious from the outside, a potential case of influence peddling by bringing in the vice president’s son. And Joe Biden serving as the Obama White House’s enforcer against the Ukrainian prosecutor despite the prosecutor’s prior interest in Burisma reeks of a conflict of interest and has the appearance of impropriety. It’s not wrong to wonder if there’s evidence that Joe tried to protect Hunter.

But the catch for Johnson in investigating this is that the prosecutor in question really was corrupt according to all available reporting on the subject. And he wasn’t pursuing Burisma when Biden started twisting Ukrainian arms to drop the axe on him. Which means the likely result of the probe is … vindication for the Bidens?

From the GOP’s perspective, it probably doesn’t matter how Johnson’s investigation turns out. The point is to *have* an investigation, to crowd out some of the headlines about Trump and Ukraine and do political damage to Biden by raising suspicions about him. It’s a shrewd plan — unless, of course, it ends up ultimately benefiting progressives most of all by helping to keep the Ukraine matter in the news day after day and softening up Biden’s Democratic support to the point where he’s easy pickings for Elizabeth Warren in the primaries.

Speaking of congressional probes of Ukraine diplomacy, Pelosi reportedly wants any impeachment of Trump to focus on his approach to Zelensky about Biden rather than a kitchen-sink indictment in which Democrats bring in Russiagate obstruction, emoluments, and so on:

Inside the room, Democrats said, Pelosi (Calif.) told colleagues that keeping the inquiry narrowly focused on the Ukraine allegations could help keep the investigation out of the courts, where a slew of investigative matters have been bogged down for months — though she did not rule out ultimately including other episodes in a potential impeachment package.

The meeting included multiple members of the House Judiciary Committee, which has been probing alleged obstruction of justice, self-dealing and other matters involving Trump, though not Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). It ended without a firm decision on whether to circumscribe the probe but with consensus inside the room that narrowing the investigation, if only in terms of political messaging, made sense.

I think that’s the smart way to go, not just because it keeps Democrats out of court but because the allegation in the Ukraine matter is easy for the average voter to grasp. If Dems weren’t able to get the public excited for impeachment over Russiagate in two years of trying, they’re not going to belatedly spark enthusiasm to revisit the obstruction claims from that case now. And emoluments have never been on the public’s radar; that’s something Pelosi could place on the back burner and possibly revisit later if there’s an unusually stark case of Trump being paid by a foreign government. Emoluments would be another heavy lift in terms of public opinion, though, since Americans assume all politicians are corrupt. At worst, they’ll conclude, Trump is just a bit more obvious about it. Ukraine is Pelosi’s best bet to make the public kinda sorta “comfortable” with impeachment, in the full expectation that the effort will fail dismally in the Senate.

The post Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group jb-4-300x153 Ron Johnson’s Homeland Security Committee may investigate the Bidens and Ukraine Ukraine Trump The Blog Senate Ron Johnson Richard Burr republicans joe hunter homeland security Burisma biden   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings?

Westlake Legal Group UFO Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings? us navy UFOs The Blog stonewalling mark walker homeland security aliens

It’s less than two weeks until the big Storm Area 51 event, but not all the news about UFOs (oh, sorry… UAPs) is taking place out in the desert of Nevada. As we previously discussed, the NAVY has put new protocols in place for military pilots to record encounters with anomalous craft in our airspace and are supposedly tracking and investigating all such instances. But why don’t we know more about it than the three videos they’ve released so far and the eyewitness testimony of a half dozen or so pilots?

That’s what Congressman Mark Walker (R – North Carolina) wants to know. And as the ranking member of the House Intelligence and Counterrorism subcommittee, he’s in a position to find out. He’s asking the Navy for answers and claims that they’re dragging their feet in supplying his committee with answers. (Politico)

Navy Undersecretary Thomas Modly responded in a brief letter on July 31 that “the Department of the Navy takes these reports very seriously and continues to log sightings and fully investigate the accounts,” according to a copy provided to POLITICO.

But Walker said he is discouraged by the Navy’s seeming unwillingness to provide his committee with more data about the so-called unidentified aerial phenomena — the term the Pentagon prefers over the more traditional “unidentified flying objects,” or UFOs. He has expressed concern publicly that the craft could pose a threat to U.S. forces or territory.

“While I am encouraged the Under Secretary of the Navy confirmed that UAP encounters are fully investigated, there is frustration with the lack of answers to specific questions about the threat that superior aircraft flying in United States airspace may pose,” Walker told POLITICO in a statement.

Walker isn’t going the full little gray alien route… at least not yet. (Never go the full little gray alien route.) He’s asking if the Navy is aware of any activity by the Russians, the Chinese, or anyone else native to this planet that might explain the seemingly impossible flight characteristics of these objects being reported. Even more intriguing is his demand to know whether or not the Navy is aware of any “physical evidence” to substantiate the claims.

We’ve been hearing rumors of supposed physical evidence in the form of exotic materials that could be proven to have originated beyond our planet, but they’ve all been coming from sources like Robert Bigelow or the To The Stars Academy (TTSA). To my knowledge, nobody from the United States government has fessed up to having any such materials. (Not that such a lack of admission proves anything, of course.)

As far as the Navy goes, their spokesperson said that they are “ready” to accommodate any requests from the committee, but they haven’t received any new requests for updates on this issue. Does Walker have his wires crossed or did the request get lost in the shuffle? Or, as he seems to suggest, are they defying a congressional request? He’s asking for some pretty sensitive material if we’re looking at this as a case of potential threats our military isn’t prepared to deal with. But at the same time, shouldn’t the public know if that’s the case, providing the disclosure doesn’t reveal any of our own national security secrets?

If you want some spicy reading material on a related subject, a retired, decorated intelligence officer for the 21st Air Force, Military Airlift Command, just released a book where he claims that an extraterrestrial alien was shot and killed on an Air Force base in New Jersey in 1978. Supposedly multiple people saw the body and some spooks from Wright-Patterson showed up and took it back to their base. Make of that what you will.

The post Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings? appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group UFO-300x159 Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings? us navy UFOs The Blog stonewalling mark walker homeland security aliens   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings?

Westlake Legal Group UFO Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings? us navy UFOs The Blog stonewalling mark walker homeland security aliens

It’s less than two weeks until the big Storm Area 51 event, but not all the news about UFOs (oh, sorry… UAPs) is taking place out in the desert of Nevada. As we previously discussed, the NAVY has put new protocols in place for military pilots to record encounters with anomalous craft in our airspace and are supposedly tracking and investigating all such instances. But why don’t we know more about it than the three videos they’ve released so far and the eyewitness testimony of a half dozen or so pilots?

That’s what Congressman Mark Walker (R – North Carolina) wants to know. And as the ranking member of the House Intelligence and Counterrorism subcommittee, he’s in a position to find out. He’s asking the Navy for answers and claims that they’re dragging their feet in supplying his committee with answers. (Politico)

Navy Undersecretary Thomas Modly responded in a brief letter on July 31 that “the Department of the Navy takes these reports very seriously and continues to log sightings and fully investigate the accounts,” according to a copy provided to POLITICO.

But Walker said he is discouraged by the Navy’s seeming unwillingness to provide his committee with more data about the so-called unidentified aerial phenomena — the term the Pentagon prefers over the more traditional “unidentified flying objects,” or UFOs. He has expressed concern publicly that the craft could pose a threat to U.S. forces or territory.

“While I am encouraged the Under Secretary of the Navy confirmed that UAP encounters are fully investigated, there is frustration with the lack of answers to specific questions about the threat that superior aircraft flying in United States airspace may pose,” Walker told POLITICO in a statement.

Walker isn’t going the full little gray alien route… at least not yet. (Never go the full little gray alien route.) He’s asking if the Navy is aware of any activity by the Russians, the Chinese, or anyone else native to this planet that might explain the seemingly impossible flight characteristics of these objects being reported. Even more intriguing is his demand to know whether or not the Navy is aware of any “physical evidence” to substantiate the claims.

We’ve been hearing rumors of supposed physical evidence in the form of exotic materials that could be proven to have originated beyond our planet, but they’ve all been coming from sources like Robert Bigelow or the To The Stars Academy (TTSA). To my knowledge, nobody from the United States government has fessed up to having any such materials. (Not that such a lack of admission proves anything, of course.)

As far as the Navy goes, their spokesperson said that they are “ready” to accommodate any requests from the committee, but they haven’t received any new requests for updates on this issue. Does Walker have his wires crossed or did the request get lost in the shuffle? Or, as he seems to suggest, are they defying a congressional request? He’s asking for some pretty sensitive material if we’re looking at this as a case of potential threats our military isn’t prepared to deal with. But at the same time, shouldn’t the public know if that’s the case, providing the disclosure doesn’t reveal any of our own national security secrets?

If you want some spicy reading material on a related subject, a retired, decorated intelligence officer for the 21st Air Force, Military Airlift Command, just released a book where he claims that an extraterrestrial alien was shot and killed on an Air Force base in New Jersey in 1978. Supposedly multiple people saw the body and some spooks from Wright-Patterson showed up and took it back to their base. Make of that what you will.

The post Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings? appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group UFO-300x159 Is the Navy stonewalling Congress on UFO sightings? us navy UFOs The Blog stonewalling mark walker homeland security aliens   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Border victory: U.S. and Guatemala sign agreement on asylum-seekers

Westlake Legal Group CaravanG Border victory: U.S. and Guatemala sign agreement on asylum-seekers The Blog President Trump Kevin McAleenan homeland security Guatemala border control asylum

President Trump’s very good week ended with a surprise announcement on an agreement with Guatemala on asylum-seekers. Late Friday afternoon, President Trump summoned the White House press pool to the Oval Office. He, along with Enrique Degenhart, the Guatemalan minister of government, and acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan announced that a deal has been reached for Guatemala to be a safe third country for migrants seeking asylum en route to the U.S. southern border.

The agreement offers a safe harbor in Guatemala for those who are determined to have legitimate asylum claims. Central Americans arriving in caravans at the U.S. southern border have overwhelmed the American system for those seeking asylum, most specifically Salvadorans and Hondurans. The new system should be in effect in August.

On a call with reporters Friday, McAleenan said the agreement with Guatemala would “be up and running in August,” after the two governments had completed several steps to ratify the deal. Under the agreement, Salvadorans and Hondurans would need to seek asylum in Guatemala, McAleenan said.

“If you have, say, a Honduran family coming across through Guatemala to the U.S. border, we want them to feel safe to make an asylum claim at the earliest possible point,” he said. “If they do instead, in the hands of smugglers, make the journey all the way to the U.S. border, [they would] be removable back to Guatemala.”

President Trump voiced support for such an agreement with Guatemala, as a previous attempt failed.

“We’ve long been working with Guatemala, and now we can do it the right way,” Trump said Friday. He claimed the agreement will put “coyotes and the smugglers out of business.”

He added: “These are bad people.”

This is a sensible move, especially in terms of trying to ease the burdens of overcrowding at the border. The Trump administration sees it as a way to shrink the number of migrants arriving and making asylum claims. It is a step in the right direction, especially given the non-stop complaints from President Trump’s opponents and social justice warriors about conditions at detention facilities. It just makes sense that migrants file a claim in the first country they come to once they are outside of their own.

Last week a deal fell through with Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales. He was to sign it but the country’s Constitutional Court is on summer recess, therefore unable to issue approval of such an agreement. President Trump, unhappy about the delay, threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala. And, just like that, there is now a deal. At least a tentative agreement, pending any legal challenges to the designation as a safe third country. If those traveling to the U.S. border don’t first apply for asylum in Guatemala, they will not be eligible for asylum in America. They will be sent back to Guatemala, though, not to their home country.

Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, described the document signed by the two countries as a “safe third” agreement that would make migrants ineligible for protection in the United States if they had traveled through Guatemala and did not first apply for asylum there.

Instead of being returned home, however, the migrants would be sent back to Guatemala, which under the agreement would be designated as a safe place for them to live.

“They would be removable, back to Guatemala, if they want to seek an asylum claim,” said Mr. McAleenan, who likened the agreement to similar arrangements in Europe.

The Spanish text of the deal was released late Friday, calling it a “cooperative agreement regarding the examination of protection claims”, instead of “a safe third country”. This appears to be a decision made by President Morales to get around a court ruling that blocks him from signing such an agreement with the United States without the approval of his country’s congress. Morales leaves office in January and some running to replace him grumble that the next president should be the one making an agreement, not Morales.

Critics point to the dangerous conditions in Guatemala and say that the country can’t provide safe conditions or a fair system of protection for the migrants.

But critics said that the law clearly requires the “safe third” country to be a truly safe place where migrants will not be in danger. And it requires that the country have the ability to provide a “full and fair” system of protections that can accommodate asylum seekers who are sent there. Critics insisted that Guatemala meets neither requirement.

They also noted that the State Department’s own country condition reports on Guatemala warn about rampant gang activity and say that murder is common in the country, which has a police force that is often ineffective at best.

Asked whether Guatemala is a safe country for refugees, Mr. McAleenan said it was unfair to tar an entire country, noting that there are also places in the United States that are not safe.

It may not be perfect but the agreement is a start. Anything, at this point, to ease the burdens and chaos on our southern border is a win.

The post Border victory: U.S. and Guatemala sign agreement on asylum-seekers appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group CaravanG-300x159 Border victory: U.S. and Guatemala sign agreement on asylum-seekers The Blog President Trump Kevin McAleenan homeland security Guatemala border control asylum   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com