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March 9, 2017

Wikileaks Stokes Controversy

Wikileaks dumped an extraordinary batch of information Tuesday that appeared to offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the CIA. Some national security experts say this latest leak suggests that we have another Edward Snowden — someone on the inside with access to America’s most sensitive information.

Wikileaks dumped an extraordinary batch of information Tuesday that appeared to offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the CIA. Some national security experts say this latest leak suggests that we have another Edward Snowden — someone on the inside with access to America’s most sensitive information.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer observed that while we’re having a national debate on vetting for people coming from Yemen, perhaps we also need a debate about the quality of vetting for government contractors who work with sensitive intelligence.

Here’s the other problem: Most Americans know we live in a dangerous world and they have been satisfied to let the people charged with keeping us safe do what they have to do. It likely means we would be troubled if we knew everything that was done in the defense of our country.

But in the age we live in, where authoritarian governments routinely abuse their authority, the idea that democratic governments abuse their power will reinvigorate the debate about how much we are willing to trust government — especially when it comes to the things these reports suggest.

Right now we are living through a huge controversy over what is called “the deep state.” A group of left-wing ideologues embedded in the most sensitive national security agencies are seemingly conducting an effort to thwart the duly elected president of the United States. Cloaked in secrecy, they are leaking classified information — or at least what they purport to be classified information — in a selective way to hurt the administration.

Serious people who care about national security are raising questions about whether we can trust those individuals with the ability to turn on your phone or TV set and listen in on your conversations.

Putting that aside, there were a lot of raised eyebrows in Washington Tuesday by one particular disclosure. Consider this excerpt:

A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the “fingerprints” of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices…

The documents also suggest that one of the agency’s divisions — the Remote Development Branch’s UMBRAGE Group — may have been cataloguing hacking methods from outside hackers, including in Russia, that would have allowed the agency to mask their identity by employing the method during espionage.

In other words, the CIA had the ability to hack a computer network and make it look like another country did it. If the report is accurate, then how do we know the claim that the Russians hacked the DNC is actually true?

How do we know that it wasn’t a deep state operation that resulted in all the controversy during the campaign and now in order to destroy the Trump administration?

More importantly, how is any normal citizen supposed to learn the truth?

Congressional oversight used to be the safeguard. But as the government has massively expanded, we saw how Congress was unable to get any form of justice on the clear abuses that occurred at the IRS — abuses that did not involve top secret intelligence information.

Rebellion on the Right

As we reported yesterday, the Republican leadership plan to replace Obamacare is not only being resisted by Democrats (there isn’t one Democrat who is likely to vote for any Obamacare repeal plan), but it is taking increasing fire from the Right.

Several conservative organizations, including Club for Growth, Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, announced their opposition to the bill. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and members of the House Freedom Caucus came out against it as well.

As the day went on, Speaker Paul Ryan and others tried to clarify that congressional rules will not permit all of the reforms everyone wants in one bill. While the reconciliation process avoids the Senate’s 60-vote rule, that process has strict limits. As the Heritage Foundation explains:

Budget reconciliation is the favored vehicle for repeal because it is not subject to a Senate filibuster… However, certain Senate rules restrict what can be included, making a complete repeal of Obamacare through reconciliation unlikely.

Ryan is making the case that this is just the first step in a series of actions. But it does appear that the leadership will have to make concessions to get conservatives on board. Will that result in the loss of some GOP moderates? A very delicate balancing act is underway that will provide a real test of Speaker Ryan’s leadership skills, as well as those of President Trump.

Speaking of Presidential Leadership…

Kudos to President Trump! He is sticking to his pledge to pro-life voters to defund Planned Parenthood. The New York Times reported this week that the president attempted to forge a compromise. In a statement, the president wrote:

As I said throughout the campaign, I am pro-life and I am deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of non-abortion services such as cancer screenings. Polling shows the majority of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, even those who identify as pro-choice. There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.

Sadly, Planned Parenthood flatly rejected the president’s offer. The organization is zealously committed to destroying innocent unborn babies AND forcing you to pay for it with your hard-earned tax dollars.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards shot back, “Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion — a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings.”

I couldn’t disagree more with Richards’ claim that abortion is a “necessary service.” In a medical emergency, doctors can induce labor or perform emergency c-sections. Abortions are only performed for one reason — to guarantee a dead baby. Why would that ever be “necessary”?

What Kind of State?

While Western elites and left-wing radicals clamor for a Palestinian state, Palestinian leaders are once again demonstrating why they cannot be trusted with a state. Last month, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sports announced that it was naming a youth camp after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist.

But Mughrabi is not just your typical jihadist. She led an attack in 1978 known as the “Coastal Road Massacre.” Thirty-seven Israelis were killed, including 12 children.

During a recent visit to Australia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was confronted by demands for the creation of a Palestinian state. He responded, “What kind of state will it be? A state that calls for Israel’s destruction? A state whose territory will be used immediately for radical Islam?”

Why would Israel, the United States or any civilized person support the creation of a new state when its would-be leaders celebrate murderers and terrorists? The last thing the Middle East needs is another radical Islamic state.

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