Posts Tagged ‘Democratic National Committee’

Tensions Flare as Hackers Root Out Flaws in Voting Machines

August 13, 2018

Defcon hack-a-thon conference aims to help test election security, but makers of voting equipment raise doubts

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Hacker Robert Ou tries to access an AccuVote TSx voting machine at Defcon’s Voting Village on Friday.
Hacker Robert Ou tries to access an AccuVote TSx voting machine at Defcon’s Voting Village on Friday. PHOTO: ROBERT MCMILLAN
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LAS VEGAS—Hackers at the Defcon computer security conference believe they can help prevent manipulation of U.S. elections. Some election officials and makers of voting machines aren’t so sure.

That tension was front and center at Defcon’s second-annual Voting Village, where computer hackers are invited to test the security of commonly used election machines. Organizers see the event as an early test of U.S. election security and a counterpunch to potential outside interference.

On the first day of the event, which runs through Sunday, hackers were able to swap out software, uncover network plug-ins that shouldn’t have been left working, and uncover other ways for unauthorized actors to manipulate the vote.

These hacks can root out weaknesses in voting machines so that vendors will be pressured to patch flaws and states will upgrade to more secure systems, organizers say.

Yet some manufacturers and security experts believe the hack-a-thon is unlikely to uncover the type of real-world issues that would come up in an election.

“Anybody could break into anything if you put it in the middle of a floor and gave them unlimited access and unlimited time,” said Leslie Reynolds, executive director of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Election Systems & Software LLC, a leading manufacturer of voting equipment, was reluctant to have its systems tested at the conference. The company played down the expected findings from the event in a letter to customers. Hackers “will absolutely access some voting systems internal components because they will have full and unfettered access to a unit without the advantage of trained poll workers, locks, tamper-evident seals, passwords, and other security measures that are in place in an actual voting situation.”

Kathy Rogers, senior vice president of government relations for ES&S, said the letter was sent “in response to numerous inquiries by our customers as to what equipment might be at Defcon and what they might expect.”

In the letter, ES&S also warned election officials ahead of the conference that unauthorized use of its software violated the company’s licensing agreements, according to a copy of the letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Voting Village organizer Jake Braun disagreed with this interpretation of the agreements.

Some manufacturers and experts believe the hack-a-thon is unlikely to uncover the type of real-world issues that would come up in an election.
Some manufacturers and experts believe the hack-a-thon is unlikely to uncover the type of real-world issues that would come up in an election. PHOTO: MATT CAMPBELL/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

The states and vendors are making a mistake by not participating in the voting village, which amounts to a thorough security test for any machine involved, Mr. Braun said. “This is not a cyber-mature industry,” he said.

Some state and local election officials at the conference said the companies that sell voting equipment are more interested in maintaining their profit margins than improving the security of their machines.

ES&S had two employees attend Defcon to “learn about any ideas for enhancements to voting security,” Monica Tesi, a spokeswoman for the company, said. Making voting equipment available to “potential bad actors, foreign or otherwise,” could harm national security, Ms. Tesi said, adding that Defcon has no security or identity requirements and that anyone who pays the $280 registration fee can enter.

Dominion Voting, another voting machine maker, declined to comment and wouldn’t say whether it had employees present at the hacking conference.

Mr. Braun disputed the assertion that the Voting Village hacking could threaten national security, saying it would be naive to assume that Russia wasn’t already looking for voting system flaws. “I think it would be a national security threat not do so it,” said Mr. Braun. Representatives for Defcon didn’t immediately respond on Sunday when asked to comment on ES&S’s criticism of its security policies.

Election cybersecurity has been a national concern since 2016, when Russian-government hackers allegedly broke into systems at the Democratic National Committee, launched an influence campaign on Facebook Inc.’s social network, and targeted more than 20 voter registration systems, government officials say.

Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the election.

Earlier this month, senior intelligence officials in the Trump administration warned that Russia was again engaging in “pervasive” efforts to interfere in the November elections.

In March, Congress appropriated $380 million to shore up the nation’s election systems—money that has now been allocated to 50 states and five territories to pay for improved election equipment, and security training and testing, according to the Election Assistance Commission, the agency responsible for disbursing the funds.

Jeanette Manfra, a senior cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, said that security researchers at Defcon were doing important work by finding vulnerabilities in voting systems that could be used by bad actors. But she said she sympathized with concerns from election officials that the vote-hacking village could unintentionally lower public confidence in American elections—considered a chief goal of Russian interference.

“You want companies to be building more secure products, but at the same time the public doesn’t necessarily know the full picture,” Ms. Manfra said. “If all you are saying is, ‘Look, even a kid can hack into this’, you’re not getting the full story, which can have the impact of having the average voter not understanding what is going on.”

“It’s really, really difficult to actually manipulate the vote count itself,” she said.

But it’s still worth uncovering any potential security flaws in these machines, because there are plenty of others—organized criminals for example—who might want to throw an election, said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist with the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology.

“Everybody’s talking about Russians, but we have to be clear that there are other threats here,” said Mr. Hall on Friday while mingling with hackers at the Defcon Voting Village. It’s a conference room deep in the bowels of Caesars Palace—littered with voting machines, memory cards and scanners.

A few minutes later, Mr. Hall stopped talking and cast a wary eye over at two attendees who were examining a big gray vote scanning machine in the corner of the room. He was worried they might plug it in and fire up its powerful engine without supervision. “We’re OK with destructive testing of these things. I just don’t want you to hurt yourself,” he said. “There are things that will take your fingers off in there.”

Write to Robert McMillan at Robert.Mcmillan@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/tensions-flare-as-hackers-root-out-flaws-in-voting-machines-1534078801?mod=hp_lista_pos1

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House Committee to Interview Bruce Ohr and Wife, Nellie Ohr, About Steele Dossier

August 11, 2018

The House Judiciary Committee is looking to interview—and will subpoena if necessary—Justice Department (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie Ohr, along with several current and former FBI and DOJ officials.

“We plan to interview the people noted in the coming weeks and we will issue subpoenas to compel their attendance if necessary,” a committee aide wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.

The DOJ confirmed that the committee reached out to them in regard to the interviews.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte could issue orders as early as the coming week, according to the Hill. Goodlatte’s committee is part of a joint investigation with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into decisions made by the FBI and the DOJ during the 2016 election.

Bruce Ohr on March 18, 2014. (Italy in US via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0])

The committee’s interview requests come on the heels of revelations that Bruce Ohr maintained contact with former British spy Christopher Steele for more than a year after the FBI terminated ties with Steele for leaking to the media. Ohr then became Steele’s back-door conduit for feeding information to the FBI.

Ohr also attempted to reinstate Steele with the bureau and link him into special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The pair remained in contact until mid-November 2017.

The revelations are problematic because Ohr has no official role in the Russia investigation and Steele had been prohibited from collecting intelligence on behalf of the FBI. The problem is compounded by the fact that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for the same opposition research firm as Steele, Fusion GPS.

Steele authored the opposition research dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump that was used to secure a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. Many of the dossier’s claims have been debunked while the rest remain unverified.

It was the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee that ultimately paid for Steele’s work. FBI and DOJ officials who used the dossier to apply for a secret court surveillance warrant on Page failed to mention that fact to the judge.

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Peter Strzok

Ohr met with FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page shortly after meeting Steele in late November 2016. Strzok, Page, and Steele were found to be strongly biased against Trump. Congressional investigators have reviewed text messages that show Steele and Strzok were willing to take action to stop Trump from becoming president. The messages show Strzok musing about impeaching Trump days after joining special counsel Mueller’s team.

The committee is also looking to interview current and former FBI and DOJ officials James Baker, Sally Moyer, Jonathan Moffa, and George Toscas.

In January, Goodlatte reached a deal with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to interview a number of DOJ and FBI officials, including Ohr, Baker, Moyer, Strzok, Page, FBI assistant directors Gregory Brower and Bill Priestap, and FBI special agent James Rybicki. Since then, only Page, Priestap, and Strzok are publicly known to have testified.

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes referred several of the above officials to Goodlatte in a letter in late June.

Baker, Brower, Page, and Rybicky have resigned from the FBI.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/house-committee-to-interview-bruce-ohr-and-wife-nellie-ohr-about-steele-dossier_2620891.html

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Christopher Steele fed bogus Trump-Russia allegations to FBI on at least twelve difference occasions

August 5, 2018

Congressional investigators know that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the Trump dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign, kept supplying allegations to the FBI after the 2016 election — and even after he was terminated as a source by the bureau for giving confidential information to the media.

Because he had broken his agreement with the FBI, bureau procedure did not allow agents to keep using Steele as a source. But they did so anyway — by devising a system in which Steele spoke regularly with Bruce Ohr, a top Obama Justice Department official whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Steele to search for dirt on Donald Trump in Russia. Ohr then passed on Steele’s information to the FBI.

In a highly unusual arrangement, Ohr, who was the fourth-highest ranking official in the Justice Department, acted as an intermediary for a terminated source for the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. His task was to deliver to the FBI what Steele told him, which effectively meant the bureau kept Steele as a source.

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Peter Strzok

Agents made a record of each time Ohr gave the bureau information from Steele. Those records are in the form of so-called 302 reports, in which the FBI agents write up notes of interviews during an investigation.

There are a dozen 302 reports on FBI post-election interviews of Ohr. The first was Nov. 22, 2016. After that, the FBI interviewed Ohr on Dec. 5; Dec. 12; Dec. 20; Jan. 23, 2017; Jan. 25; Jan. 27; Feb. 6; Feb. 14; May 8; May 12; and May 15. The dates, previously unreported publicly, were included in a July letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to the FBI and Justice Department.

Congressional investigators have read the Ohr-Steele 302s. But the FBI has kept them under tight control, insisting they remain classified and limiting access to a few lawmakers and staff. Congress is not allowed to physically possess copies of any of the documents.

Now, Grassley says there is “no continuing justification for the FBI to keep the documents secret.” Grassley, who exercises oversight authority over the FBI, is formally challenging the bureau’s decision to keep the Ohr-Steele 302s under wraps. Grassley’s insistence has been met, unsurprisingly, with no cooperation from the FBI.

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James Comey

One small bit of the Ohr 302s has already been made public. The House Intelligence Committee, in its memo focusing on the FBI’s application to the secret FISA court to win a warrant to wiretap onetime Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, included a 16-word passage from an Ohr 302 in which Ohr described Christopher Steele’s motivation to stop candidate Trump. (Even though Ohr’s interviews with the FBI took place after the election, he apparently described things Steele told him during their contacts in the months before the election, as well as new information.) Here is the relevant portion of the House memo:

Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files — but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

After the release of the House memo, Sen. Grassley, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote to the FBI noting the existence of “numerous FD-302s demonstrating that Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr continued to pass along allegations from Mr. Steele to the FBI after the FBI suspended its formal relationship with Mr. Steele for unauthorized contact with the media, and demonstrating that Mr. Ohr otherwise funneled allegations from Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele to the FBI.”

Grassley also noted other documents of interest: In addition to the 302s, written by the FBI agents who interviewed Ohr, Ohr himself also made notes of his talks with Steele. Those notes, which were never classified, have apparently been given to Congress; in his letter, Grassley referred to “63 pages of unclassified emails and notes documenting Mr. Ohr’s interactions with Mr. Steele.”

Grassley’s argument for declassification of the Ohr-Steele 302s is that the existence of the documents is widely known. Also, some of the material in them has been included in congressional documents and reported in the press. And Ohr’s own notes of the meetings, in the possession of Congress, are not classified. So now, there is no reason for the 302s to remain classified and for the FBI to withhold copies from Congress. The ultimate goal, given Grassley’s statement that there is no reason for the FBI to “keep the documents secret,” is for the public to see them.

What would all of that show? It’s likely that the 302s and notes, if released, would show that the FBI was both still trying to get new information out of Steele after the election and that it was also trying to verify the information Steele had already provided in the dossier installments he handed over in preceding months. Remember, the FBI had already presented some of the dossier’s allegations as evidence to the FISA court. After going out on a limb like that, the bureau wanted to know if the allegations were true or not.

In a larger sense, the Ohr-Steele 302s could shed some light on how an effort — it certainly included Steele, but also others — to keep Trump from being elected morphed into an effort to keep Trump from being inaugurated and then morphed into an effort to remove Trump from office. A version of that effort is still going on, of course, even as some in Congress try to find out how it started.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/12-times-christopher-steele-fed-trump-russia-allegations-to-fbi-after-the-election

FBI Used (Illegal) Government Surveillance for Political Gain — Lied to FISA Court — And you thought this only happened in places like Russia, China

July 30, 2018

Did the FBI Lie on the Carter Page FISA Application — Seems More Certain That The FBI Has Some Corruption — Transparency Will Tell Us More

FBI at least abused the FISA process to spy on an American illegally. The FISA approval was probably void because it was based upon documents funded by Democrats — and not facts.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes claimed Sunday that the American public will be “shocked” when it sees the remaining blacked out portions of the FBI’s applications for spy warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“We are quite confident that once the American people see these 20 pages, at least for those that will get real reporting on this issue, they will be shocked by what’s in that FISA application,” Nunes said in an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo.

 

YOU BE THE JUDGE
Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a Department of Justice press conference, March 2016.

By Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

 

Nunes’ comments raise expectations about what information remains hidden behind 20-plus pages of the FBI’s fourth and final application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Page.

The Department of Justice released portions of the four FISA applications on July 20 in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. A majority of the information remains redacted because it is classified.

Nunes and his fellow Republicans on the Intelligence Committee asked President Donald Trump in a June 14 letter to declassify 21 pages from the final FISA application, which was signed by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

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Rod Rosenstein

The unredacted portions of the applications confirmed much of what has already been made public through two memos released earlier this year by Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence panel.

The applications show that the FBI relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier to make the case that Page was acting as a foreign agent of Russia during the presidential campaign. Page has vehemently denied the allegations.

The release of the FISA applications reignited debate over whether the FBI abused the FISA process by relying on the dossier to obtain the warrants.

Democrats argued that the applications showed that the FBI provided enough evidence to show FISA Court judges that there was probable cause to believe that Page was acting as a covert agent of Russia. They also asserted that the information hidden behind the remaining redactions likely provided other damning evidence against Page, including evidence that would bolster the Democrat-funded dossier. (RELATED: These 21 Pages From Carter Page FISA Should Be Made Public, House Republicans Say)

But Nunes, a Trump ally, is suggesting that is not the case.

“What’s left that’s redacted, the American people really do need to know what’s underneath there.”

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Peter Strzok: “There was no bias.”

He also insisted on Sunday that “the Left and the media” do not want additional portions of the FISAs to be made public.

“They don’t want that unredacted. They don’t want transparency for the American people,” he said.

Nunes said that he believes that the president’s lawyers are reviewing the June 14 letter to see if the 20 pages can be made public.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/07/29/maria-bartiromo-devin-nunes-interview/

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Devin Nunes: American Public Should See All FISA Background Documents Relative to Russia Probe

July 29, 2018

Image result for devin nunes, world ag conference, photos

Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said today he was completely exonerated by the release of the FBI/DOJ FISA court application.

The much redacted document, he said, clearly shows that the FBI based their request for FISA surveillance authorization in the case of Carter Page largely upon the Steele dossier — widely discredited as invalid and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Nunes said he still believes President Trump should order the declassification and release of all documents relative to the Carter Page FISA case, including the redacted part of the documents already released.

He said the American people deserve to see the documents “in the spirit of transparency.”

Nunes appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News Channel with Maria Bartiromo.

Related:

FISA warrant application supports Nunes memo

July 24, 2018

The weekend release of a highly-redacted version of the FBI’s application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to wiretap onetime Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page has renewed the argument over the Nunes memo — the brief report produced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes detailing problems in the application. From the time of the memo’s release in February, Democrats and some in the press have denounced it as a collection of lies and mischaracterizations. On Saturday night, the denouncing started again. “The only thing the newly released FISA documents show is that Republicans have been lying for months,” the lefty think tank Center for American Progress said in a typical response.

Image result for James Comey, photos

Now, however, we have both the memo and the FISA application, if in a blacked-out state. We can compare the two. And doing so shows the Nunes memo was overwhelmingly accurate. Perhaps some Democrats do not believe it should have been written, or they dispute what it included and left out, or they do not agree with its conclusions, but it was in fact accurate.

The memo comprised a short introduction followed by 13 substantive paragraphs. Here is a look at each one.

Commentary By Byron York

[Read: Devin Nunes: ‘Time to eliminate redactions’]

The first paragraph:

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a US citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

That is accurate. The second paragraph:

The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. 1805 (d)(1)) a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

That is accurate. The third paragraph:

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard, particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

That is accurate, but a reading of the last sentence, of course, depends on one’s definition of “material and relevant.” There is no doubt, however, that Nunes made a case that the information left out of the application, like the specific source of funding for the Steele dossier, was “material and relevant” to the Page case.

The fourth paragraph:

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

That is accurate. When the Nunes memo was released, there was controversy over its assertion that the dossier formed an “essential” part of the Page FISA application. But Senate Judiciary Committee staff, who reviewed the FISA application separately from the House, concluded that the dossier allegations made up the “bulk” of the application. Even a Washington Post article Sunday purporting to debunk the Nunes memo in light of the FISA application conceded that the dossier played “a prominent role” in the FISA application. Finally, the Nunes memo’s assertion, noted below, that former FBI number-two Andrew McCabe agreed that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information,” was not challenged by Democrats when the Nunes memo was made public.

The fifth paragraph:

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

That is accurate. Readers will search the FISA application in vain for any specific mention of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign funding of the dossier. For the most part, names were not used in the application, but Donald Trump was referred to as “Candidate #1,” Hillary Clinton was referred to as “Candidate #2,” and the Republican Party was referred to as “Political Party #1.” Thus, the FISA application could easily have explained that the dossier research was paid for by “Candidate #2” and “Political Party #2,” meaning the Democrats. And yet the FBI chose to describe the situation this way, in a footnote: “Source #1…was approached by an identified U.S. person, who indicated to Source #1 that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s ties to Russia…The identified U.S. person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.”

Democrats argue that the FISA Court judges should have been able to figure out, from that obscure description, that the DNC and Clinton campaign paid for the dossier. That seems a pretty weak argument, but in any case, the Nunes memo’s statement that the FISA application did not disclose or reference the role of the DNC and the Clinton campaign is undeniably true.

The sixth paragraph:

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

That is accurate. The seventh paragraph:

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News — and several other outlets — in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

Most of that is accurate. But when the Nunes memo was released, Democrats argued that the FISA application did not use the Yahoo article to corroborate the dossier, but rather — as it used other news accounts of varying reliability — to describe part of the Carter Page story. As it turned out, the application used part of the Yahoo piece in a way that suggested it was corroborating the dossier, but it also used part of it as a news account. So call the Nunes memo’s corroboration claim only partly accurate.

The eighth paragraph:

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations — an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September — before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October — but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

That is accurate. The ninth paragraph:

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling — maintaining confidentiality — and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

That is accurate. In the initial FISA application, the FBI argued that Steele had not leaked to the media. In later applications, the bureau admitted Steele had leaked but maintained that he was still credible because he only leaked after providing the dossier allegations.

The tenth paragraph:

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files — but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

That is accurate. The eleventh paragraph:

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

That is accurate, although one could argue whether the information here was really required for the FISA application; also, the “inexplicably concealed” reference is the opinion of the House committee.

The twelfth paragraph:

4) According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was — according to his June 2017 testimony — “salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

That is accurate. The thirteenth, and final, paragraph:

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

Parts of the Nunes memo, like references to the Strzok-Page texts or Bruce Ohr’s testimony, contain information that was not in the application. But that does not make it any less accurate. The bottom line is that, whatever the criticism it has received, the Nunes memo was almost entirely accurate. The release of the FISA application supports that view.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/fisa-warrant-application-supports-nunes-memo

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(The Wall Street Journal)

The FBI’s FISA Faults

July 24, 2018

The documents show the bureau relied heavily on the Steele dossier.

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© Getty Images

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The FBI over the weekend finally released its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications for warrants against former Trump aide Carter Page, and now we know why the bureau resisted disclosure. Even in heavily redacted form, the applications confirm that the FBI relied on dubious partisan evidence to justify its warrant and withheld relevant information from the court.

The applications also vindicate the criticism of the FBI’s surveillance requests that were laid out in February by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. The committee’s findings were based on a review of the FISA applications, which were still classified at the time. The main Nunes claim was that the FBI made the Steele dossier—which was commissioned by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee—“an essential” part of its initial application. The FISA documents confirm this.

More than half of the first FISA application’s 66 pages are devoted to technical matters and a history of Russian electoral interference. Of the roughly 25 pages that focus on Mr. Page, much of it reports his dealings with Russians, his response to the news that he was under investigation, and a largely redacted conclusion.

The guts of the application is titled “Page’s Coordination With Russian Government Officials on 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Influence Activities.” This is the FBI’s evidence section, and, though heavily redacted, it looks to be almost entirely dossier-related.

Its opening paragraph says that the “FBI has learned that Page met with at least two Russian officials” on a trip to Russia in 2016 and that it got this information from an “FBI confidential human source (Source #1),” who is dossier author Christopher Steele. Most of what is unredacted that follows details the dossier’s claims about these Russian meetings, with further reference to “Source #1.”

This is important given that FBI assistant director Bill Priestap told Congressional investigators in October 2017 that the FBI’s efforts to corroborate the dossier were still in their “infancy” at the time of the first application. Months later former FBI Director Jim Comey referred to the dossier as “salacious and unverified.” To date no investigator has offered public proof of the dossier’s most damaging claims. Yet on the basis of an uncorroborated document commissioned by a rival presidential campaign, the FBI accused a U.S. citizen of being an “agent of a foreign power” who should be wiretapped.

Mr. Nunes also reported that the FBI did not inform the FISA court that the dossier and trusted “source” (Christopher Steele) were paid by the Clinton campaign. And sure enough, nowhere do the FISA applications mention the words Clinton, Democratic National Committee, Fusion GPS (the Clinton-financed oppo research firm that hired Mr. Steele), or Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson.

Several convoluted footnotes refer to “Source #1” (Mr. Steele) and a “U.S.-based law firm” (Clinton firm Perkins Coie), as well as an “identified U.S. person” (Mr. Simpson) who was “likely” interested in discrediting Mr. Trump. These obscure references are quickly followed by another footnote in which the FBI says that, despite that motivation, it is confident that “Source #1” is “credible.” So the FBI was vouching for this partisan source.

It’s true that the first application doesn’t mention any names. But it does refer to “Candidate #1” (who is clearly Donald Trump ), “Candidate #2” ( Hillary Clinton ) and “Political Party #1” (Republicans). The FBI had an obligation to tell the court that the dossier and its “credible” source had been retained and paid for by “Candidate #2” and “Political Party #2” (Democrats), but it didn’t. By the way, Mr. Comey signed three of these applications, yet he claimed on his recent book tour that he “still” didn’t know who paid for the dossier.

The FISA documents also confirm that the FBI cited a Sept. 23, 2016 story in Yahoo News to buttress its Steele dossier information with the court—even though Mr. Steele was also the source for the Yahoo News story.

Democrats insist that the FBI used the Yahoo story only to describe Mr. Page’s response to the investigation, not for corroboration. The applications show otherwise. The FBI cites the Yahoo News story after its dossier-evidence section, noting that the story said that “intelligence reports” and a “well-placed Western intelligence source” had also made claims like those in the dossier. But the “reports” were the dossier, and the “Western intelligence source” was Mr. Steele.

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Our media friends are dismissing all this as no big deal because they say Mr. Page’s history of personal Russian dealings justified his surveillance in any case. Yet so far no one has produced evidence that Mr. Page was anything but an innocent abroad who liked to boast about his contacts. He certainly was a minor figure in the Trump campaign.

And that still doesn’t justify the FBI’s use of uncorroborated partisan smears as part of its application. At best the FBI appears to have played fast and loose with the facts to stretch the ethical boundaries of the FISA statute. At worst the FBI dissembled to target a man because they wanted to unleash a counterintelligence campaign against a presidential campaign. Either one tarnishes the FBI’s reputation.

Democrats and their media allies won’t admit any of this because they are invested in the narrative that Russian meddling elected Donald Trump. But two years of investigation later we’re still waiting to see evidence of that. What the FISA applications show is that the FBI did abuse its surveillance powers. There’s still more to learn, and Mr. Trump should declassify and release everything that can be safely disclosed.

Appeared in the July 24, 2018, print edition.

Christopher Wray and Jeff Sessions must clean up FBI corruption or quit

July 23, 2018

A U.S. government agency weapon­ized to target political opponents. The FBI’s application to the FISA Court was largely based on the “Steele Dossier,” a document paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

By Adriana Cohen
Commentary
Boston Herald
Monday, July 23, 2018

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COMEY’S SUCCESSOR: FBI Director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are sitting squarely in the crosshairs of history.

They must rise to the call of duty and clean up the corruption we are seeing unfold at the FBI or they must tender their resignations and be replaced by real leaders who will do what is necessary to restore public trust in our unraveling justice system.

A powerful government agency that — like the IRS under former President Barack Obama’s watch — was unmistakably weapon­ized to target political opponents.

The recent shocking revelations that underhanded FBI officials misled the FISA court to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page, an unpaid, low-level volunteer, as a bridge to spy on the Trump campaign and transition team is beyond alarming; it’s flat-out corrupt — police-state tactics seen, ironically, in places like Russia.

You know, that nation Democrats belatedly came to see as the evil empire ever since Donald Trump became president.

Yesterday Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to Judicial Watch and Tom Fitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, A Scam!”

Here are the facts. The feds had Carter Page and his contacts with Russians on their radar for years prior to the 2016 election. If there was any criminal wrongdoing on his part, why isn’t he in custody by now?

Because he didn’t commit any crimes. Page was simply a ruse used by the unscrupulous “Deep State” to derail the current administration at any cost.

Voters know that Americans are allowed to communicate with Russians, do business with Russians and visit Russia. Scores of Americans have done just that, including the Clintons, who raked in millions from Kremlin-backed entities. Again, if hapless Carter Page has broken any laws why is he a free man?

It’s become increasingly evident former FBI Director James Comey worked with the DNC, the Clinton cabal, former CIA Director John Brennan and other Trump-hating officials to attack Trump. They abused their power and should be subject to a special counsel investigation — not the other way around.

It’s time for Wray and Sessions to act, or they’ll be remembered as those who contributed to the unraveling of our justice system by standing on the sidelines.

Adriana Cohen is a nationally syndicated columnist and Boston Herald radio host. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16.

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/adriana_cohen/2018/07/christopher_wray_and_jeff_sessions_must_clean_up_fbi#.W1YO1ZqWLLk.faceboo

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Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, told Fox News on Monday that a “corrupt” FBI made an improper application to the FISA Court to illegally surveil Carter Page.
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Democrats Attempt to Turn Social Media Censorship Hearing into Russia Probe

July 18, 2018

During a hearing relating to censorship on social media platforms, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly denied the existence of any social media censorship and attempted to turn the hearing towards talk of Russian election interference.

As representatives from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Democratic members of the committee repeatedly denied that censorship of conservative voices does not exist on social media and spent much of their opening statements discussing the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 election and attacking President Trump for his comments at the Helsinki Summit.

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Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) began his opening statement saying: “In terms of today’s hearing, the majority would rather focus on made up threats, fabricated, phony and inflated threats instead of the real threats that are facing the United States of America so today we resume consideration for the entirely imaginiative narrative that social media companies are biased against conservatives. Companies I should add, whose platforms were used to spread vicious Russian propaganda which helped to elect Donald Trump President.”

Raskin continued: “This hearing was called as a follow up to the one we conducted in April on the content filtering practices of social media platforms, so to be clear the majority intends to pick up where it left off with Diamon and Silk when we last met and to dedicate one of the last working days before the five-week August recess to this conservative fantasy instead of to the long list of real and pressing issues facing America beginning with the crisis caused yesterday by President Trump’s abject humiliation before the eyes of the world in his cooperation with Vladimir Putin and in his choosing of Putin’s narrative over that of the U.S. intelligence community and the U.S. law enforcement community.” Raskin stated: “The majority would have us believe this conspiracy theory about anti-conservative bias despite the fact that the Republican party controls every elected component of our federal government.”

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Zoe Lofgren

Raskin was not the only Democrat to disagree with the claim that conservatives are censored across social media, in fact, nearly every Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee seemed to agree with this viewpoint. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said later in the hearing:”This is such an interesting hearing, I think, motivated by a sense of persecution on the part of Republicans and conservatives that somehow [feel] they’re unfairly treated. There’s been no evidence whatsoever [that] I have seen, or the majority has been able to provide that there’s any bias whatsoever.”

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Jerrold Nadler

Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) called for a motion to investigate the findings of Robert Mueller’s special counsel rather than continue the hearing relating to social media. Nadler stated:

Before I begin my questions I have a motion at the desk. Mr. Chairman, on July 10th 2001, the Phoenix field office of the FBI forwarded a memorandum to the headquarter to advise the bureau of an effort by Osama Bin Laden to send associates to the United States to enroll in civil aviation courses. In the words of former CIA director George Tenet, ‘the system was blinking red.’ For a host of complicated reasons, the Bush administration did not follow up adequately, and two months later on September 11th in my district, the world trade towers fell. Mr. Chairman, last Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian nationals for hacking into the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and several state election systems. This indictment is a remarkable piece of forensic work. With the aid of the intelligence community, the special counsel can name the specific Russian military intelligence officers at the keyboard on a given day. And in the words of Director Coates, a distinguished former Republican Senator and President Trump’s handpicked Director of National Intelligence, ‘our digital infrastructure is literally under attack’ by the Russian government as we speak.

Yesterday in Helsinki, President Trump said he does not believe it. He sided with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community, and he continues to undermine the American law enforcement by claiming on the world stage that our laws are meaningless, the work of investigators has been worthless and that no one should take this special counsel seriously. This is a catastrophe in the making. If we do not take any action, the American people may not trust the outcome of the next election… our nation is under attack, accordingly under committee rule 3B and house rule 11G2A, I move that the committee do now go into executive session for the purposes of discussing the evidence in our possession that speaks directly to the special counsels indictment and to the President’s apparent submission to the Russian government.

These actions continued throughout the hearing, with Democrats regularly attempting to derail the discussion into talks of Russian collusion and president Donald Trump’s recent comments at the Helsinki summit.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News

https://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/07/18/democrats-attempt-to-turn-social-media-censorship-hearing-into-russia-probe/

Ocasio-Cortez draws ire from Democrats: ‘Meteors fizz out’ — Called ‘clueless’ by critics

July 17, 2018

Frustrated Democratic lawmakers are offering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez some advice: Cool it.

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Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political world with her upset primary victory last month over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the head of the House Democratic Caucus and a rising star within the party.

But while the improbable win made Ocasio-Cortez an overnight progressive superstar, a number of House Democrats are up in arms over her no-holds-barred approach, particularly her recent accusation that Crowley, who has endorsed her candidacy, is seeking to topple her bid with a third-party run.

Some legislators are voicing concerns that Ocasio-Cortez appears set on using her newfound star power to attack Democrats from the left flank, threatening to divide the party — and undermine its chances at retaking the House — in a midterm election year when leaders are scrambling to form a united front against President Trump and Republicans. 
The members are not mincing words, warning that Ocasio-Cortez is making enemies of soon-to-be colleagues even before she arrives on Capitol Hill, as she’s expected to do after November’s midterms.“She’s carrying on and she ain’t gonna make friends that way,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). “Joe conceded, wished her well, said he would support her … so she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.”

“She’s not asking my advice,” he added, “[but] I would do it differently, rather than make enemies of people.” 

Asked if Ocasio-Cortez is, indeed, making enemies of fellow Democrats, Pascrell didn’t hesitate. 

“Yes,” he said. “No doubt about it.”

 

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) offered a similar message, saying success in the 435-member House comes slowly — and hinges largely on the ability of lawmakers to forge constructive relationships with other members. Alienating more senior lawmakers within your own party, he warned, will only stifle the ability of Ocasio-Cortez to get anything done — even despite her newfound celebrity.

“Meteors fizz out,” Hastings said. “What she will learn in this institution is that it’s glacial to begin with, and therefore no matter how far you rise, that’s just how far you will ultimately get your comeuppance.” 

He added: “You come up here and you’re going to be buddy-buddy with all the folks or you’re going to make them do certain things? Ain’t happening, OK?”

The criticism highlights a broader debate among House Democrats, who have wallowed in the minority for the past eight years and are still reckoning with the unexpected ascension of Trump to the White House. The discussion has featured animated internal disagreements over how — and when — to realize generational change at the top of the party, as well as ideological conflicts between liberals and centrists over how best to broaden the party’s regional appeal and retake power under the bombastic Trump administration.

Those questions have been revisited with the rise of Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist whose grass-roots campaign hinged on a promise to eschew corporate interests and discard the machine-politics approach she’s accused Crowley and the Democrats of adopting. In the eyes of her progressive supporters, Ocasio-Cortez is a breath of fresh air who will help in the fight for their ideals. 

“There is a need for progressive members in the caucus to raise the bar in terms of what we want and what we’re willing to do to get it,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who called Ocasio-Cortez to congratulate her on her victory. “And that involves a lot of risk, and that involves stepping on toes.”

Ocasio-Cortez scored a resounding victory over the 10-term Crowley, winning almost 58 percent of the vote, and the musically inclined Crowley quickly conceded the race on election night with a dedicated rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”  

Yet New York’s archaic election laws have complicated the contest, as write-in votes on a third-party line — the Working Families Party — will likely result in Crowley’s name being on the ballot in November. 

The revelation led Ocasio-Cortez last week to take to Twitter with accusations that Crowley retains hopes of upsetting her bid and returning to Congress next year. 

“So much for ‘Born to Run,’ ” she tweeted.

Crowley quickly responded, also on Twitter, noting that he can remove his name from the ballot only by dying, moving out of the district or running for a separate office he has no intention of holding — a dynamic he equates with election fraud.

“Alexandria, the race is over and Democrats need to come together,” Crowley said. “I’ve made my support for you clear and the fact that I’m not running.”

Corbin Trent, spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, downplayed the divisions, dismissing the episode as “one tweet” that’s been blown out of proportion.

“It’s a dead issue,” Trent said Monday by phone. “The election’s over.” 

Trent said there’s been no direct communication between Ocasio-Cortez and Crowley since the blowup, but suggested a conversation is “imminent.” 

Crowley’s office declined to comment on Monday.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are seething that Ocasio-Cortez would attack Crowley so publicly after securing her victory.

“Once an election is over and you win, why are you still angry?” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “I think it’s a lack of maturity on her part, and a lack of political acumen, for her to be that petty.

“We as Democrats better figure out who the real enemy is. And it’s not each other.”

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), a former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, was more gentle, though he still lamented the tone of the post-primary debate, attributing it to inexperience on the part of Ocasio-Cortez.

“When it comes to courtesy and decency, and especially the way — the class way — in which Joe Crowley has conducted himself and every overture that he’s made, I think she would be wise to rethink some of the things that she’s saying,” he said.

Separately, a number of Democrats are also going after Ocasio-Cortez for her decision to endorse a handful of progressive candidates challenging sitting Democratic lawmakers, a list that includes Clay and Reps. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Adam Smith(D-Wash.), as well as Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Ocasio-Cortez has defended that decision, saying she’s merely endorsing other liberal candidates “who uplifted & acknowledged my own campaign before anyone else would.”

Some Democrats have rushed to her defense, arguing that primary endorsements are a healthy part of the democratic process — even when you’re bucking incumbents in your own party.

“Look, I took on Pelosi. I’m all for having fights and doing what needs to be done,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) following the 2016 elections. “As long as you’re doing that with sportsmanship and class, then I think it’s fine. 

“Let’s have a fight.”

Grijalva noted that he’s backed primary challenges to sitting Democrats, most recently in endorsing the liberal candidate hoping to unseat Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.).

Still, Grijalva acknowledged that such endorsements could make life tougher on Ocasio-Cortez when she arrives on Capitol Hill.

“The rules [she’s adopted] might not apply in terms of the protocols and the niceties of incumbents here in the House,” Grijalva said. “But once you’re in the middle of the work and you have an agenda to promote, you might need their help.”

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http://thehill.com/homenews/house/397333-ocasio-cortez-draws-ire-from-democrats-meteors-fizz-out
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Ocasio-Cortez criticizes ‘occupation of Palestine,’ but admits she’s no expert

Democratic congressional candidate says she recognizes Israel’s right to exist, called ‘clueless’ by critics

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigning for Zephyr Teachout in New York City, July 12, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigning for Zephyr Teachout in New York City, July 12, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the “occupation of Palestine” during a television interview, but stumbled when pressed to explain what she meant.

Appearing July 13 on PBS’s “Firing Line,” Ocasio-Cortez, 28, admitted that she was “not the expert” on the issue, drawing accusations that she was “clueless.”

Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, upset 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in last month’s primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which straddles Queens and the Bronx. Although she has commented infrequently on foreign affairs, in May she called the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israeli troops at the Gaza fence a “massacre.”

On “Firing Line,” host Margaret Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez “What is your position on Israel?” Ocasio-Cortez responded, “I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist.” She added: “I am a proponent of a two-state solution.” The candidate said her previous position on the Gaza clashes “is not a referendum on the State of Israel.”

“The lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer – if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx, unarmed, if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico – I just look at that [Gaza] incident more through just, as an incident, and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores,” she said.

“Of course the dynamics there, in terms of geopolitics … is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest,” Hoover replied.

Israel and its supporters have noted that among those killed in Gaza were members of the Hamas terrorist group, which encouraged its followers to breach the border fence. Hamas has acknowledged that at that May demonstration, 50 of the 61 killed were its members.

“Yes,” Ocasio-Cortez conceded, adding, “But I also think that what people are starting to see at least in the occupation … of Palestine [is] just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.”

When Hoover, a former aide to President George W. Bush, asked Ocasio-Cortez to clarify what she meant, Ocasio-Cortez paused and answered: “I think what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.”

After Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez to expand on her comments, the candidate said: “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” and “I just look at things through a human rights lens and I may not use the right words … Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night.”

Her comments on Israel have prompted criticism from the right and left.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing a great service. Her argument is twofold: Israel a colonizing occupier of Palestine, and that she doesn’t know anything about the conflict,” wrote Seth Mandel, op-ed editor of the New York Post, on Twitter. “Accurate: those who think this have no idea what they’re talking about. At least she’s honest.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bashes Israel while admitting she is clueless about what is going on there. She simply toes the far-left, radical agenda. Elected Democrats are endorsing this when they endorse her.”

Asad Abukhalil, a professor in political science at California State University, Stanislaus, lamented that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about a two-state solution and support for Israel’s right to exist are “a sign that you have become an already mainstream Democratic candidate.”

“‘Israel’s right to exist’ is a euphemism for Israel’s right to occupy Palestine,” Abukhalil added. “@Ocasio2018 should have known that.”

Although the Democratic Socialists of America endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Ocasio-Cortez has not discussed her position on the boycott.

Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has called Ocasio-Cortez the “future of our party.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/397333-ocasio-cortez-draws-ire-from-democrats-meteors-fizz-out