Monday, May 22, 2017

Will Female Genital Mutilation be permitted in America?

Religious defense planned in landmark Detroit genital mutilation case

On paper, the law seems clear: Cutting any part of a young girl's genitalia is illegal — and no custom or ritual can be used to justify it.
The law has been on the books for 21 years, unchallenged.
But in a federal courtroom in Detroit, a landmark case involving the centuries-old taboo ritual is about to put that law to the test for the first time.
And perhaps more historic, a question will be raised in the American legal system that has never been raised before: Does the U.S. Constitution allow for genital cutting, even if it's just a minor nick or scraping, in the name of religion?
Read more:
Defense lawyers plan to argue that religious freedom is at the core of the case in which two physicians and one of their wives are charged with subjecting young girls to genital cutting. All three are members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a small Indian-Muslim sect that has a mosque in Farmington Hills.
The defense maintains that the doctors weren't engaged in any actual cutting — just a scraping of the genitalia — and that the three defendants are being persecuted for practicing their religion by a culture and society that doesn't understand their beliefs and is misinterpreting what they did.
Read more:
First Amendment scholars across the country — liberal and conservative alike — are closely following the case, noting that the fate of the accused will largely rest with scientific evidence.
The key question for jurors to answer will be: Were children harmed physically? If they were, experts say, the religious freedom defense doesn't stand a chance.
But if the defense can show that it was just a nick and caused no harm, some experts believe, the defendants could be acquitted on religious grounds.

'This is new territory'

The Detroit case involves the genital cuttings of two 7-year-old Minnesota girls whose mothers brought them to a Livonia clinic for the procedure in February.
Defense lawyers have argued that the defendants are good, hardworking people with deeply held religious convictions who were involved in only mild procedures that are part of their faith.
But the government says the harm was much more severe than the defense is claiming and that there are multiple other victims. According to court documents, the two Minnesota girls had scarring and abnormalities on their clitorises and labia minora.
"It is hard for me to imagine any court accepting the religious freedom defense given the harm that's being dealt in this case," said First Amendment expert Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the nation's leading constitutional law scholars who called the religious claim in the Detroit case a "losing argument."
"You don't have the right to impose harm on others in practicing your religion," said Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine who in January was named the country's most influential person in legal education by National Jurist magazine.
Chemerinsky, who has written a leading textbook on constitutional law, said there is "no absolute right" to religion in the U.S., noting many parents over the years have fought for the right to refuse their children medical care because of religious beliefs. But those parents, many of them Jehovah's Witnesses or Christian Scientists, have consistently lost those cases, he said.
Chemerinsky believes the Detroit defendants will lose, too.
"I can't imagine any court that would say that the parents' right to practice their religion gives them the right to inflict this harm on their daughters," Chemerinsky said, adding what will ultimately decide this case is the science.
"It's going to come down to medicine, and if (the procedure) really inflicts great, lifelong harms on those who are subjected to it — that's what is going to decide this case," he said.
First Amendment attorney Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense group in California that defends religious freedom, parental rights and other civil liberties, agreed. He said while genital mutilation is a novel issue for the federal courts, the government's interest in protecting the safety and well-being of children will likely outweigh religious freedom.
"As far as case law goes, this is new territory," Dacus said. "But the courts have held in the past that religious freedom is not an absolute right. And it is subject to a state interest that is narrowly tailored."
In this case, the government's interest is in protecting children from what it has claimed is an illegal and harmful procedure.
"This issue involves the direct health, safety and welfare of minors, not just for the short term, but literally for the rest of their lives," Dacus said. "And it impacts not only their body, but also potentially their future spousal relations."
As for the defense claims that the procedure was more mild than what the government claims, Dacus noted: "There are experts who contend that even the most mild procedure is still harmful."
He continued: "The science is definitely going to come into play there. I think the procedure itself is highly suspect for surviving scrutiny."

'A very minor nick'

Michigan State University law professor Frank Ravitch, who specializes in law and religion, said the only way the doctors could win based on freedom of religion is to show that there is a "more narrowly tailored way" to meet the government’s "extremely strong interest" in protecting the young women.
"It is theoretically possible that if the procedure really was just a nick that does not cause lasting damage and does not harm sexual health or sensitivity for the young women, allowing the nick, but nothing more, could be more narrowly tailored than an outright ban," Ravitch said. "It would also keep the practice from going underground, which could lead to more serious mutilation."
That philosophy — preventing more serious mutilation — was at the heart of a controversial stance taken years ago by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2010, the AAP came under fire for changing its policy on female genital cutting by recommending that doctors be allowed to ceremonially nick the clitoris of girls at the requests of parents. The goal was to prevent girls from being subjected to more harmful forms of genital mutilation either overseas or in secretive procedures in the U.S.
In the statement, the AAP's Committee on Bioethics wrote: "It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual (clitoral) nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm."
Within weeks of issuing the statement, after facing mounting pressure from advocacy groups, the AAP went back to its original position in banning all forms of genital cutting.
The ‘nick’ philosophy, however, was revisited last year by two American doctors, who in a study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics suggested allowing parents to have their daughters' genitals nicked to prevent sending the girls overseas for more harmful procedures.
The authors wrote: “We are not arguing that any procedure on the female genitalia is desirable. … We by no means condone oppression. … However, in order to reduce the prevalence of the extensive forms of FGA, we propose a compromise solution that is ethical, culturally sensitive and practical.”

'They didn't commit the crime'

Mary Chartier, one of the defense lawyers in the Detroit case, has faith in the jury system. She believes that fair-minded jurors will be seated in this case — which she says has "inflamed passions" — and will conclude that the defendants didn't do what the government says they did.
Moreover, she said, jurors will see that the procedure at issue is a religious one that is constitutionally protected.
"Will jurors have an initial bias on what happened here? They probably will. ... But most jurors will really want to do what's right," Chartier said. "I think we can convince 12 people that they did not violate the law. ... They just didn't commit the crime."
Chartier is representing Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, of Farmington Hills who is accused of letting another doctor use his Livonia clinic to carry out genital cutting procedures. That physician is Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Livonia, a former emergency room physician at Henry Ford Health System who was fired from her job following her April 10 arrest in the federal case.
The third defendant is Attar's wife, Farida Attar, 50, who is accused of holding the hands of at least two victims during the cutting procedures to comfort them.
All three defendants are members of the Dawoodi Bohra sect, which is known for practicing female circumcision on girls for religious reasons. The defendants are accused of secretly subjecting girls to the procedure, and then trying to cover up the acts when they were discovered and encouraging others in their religious community not to cooperate with authorities — or to lie to them — if questioned about genital mutilation.
Chartier said while multiple constitutional arguments will be made — freedom of religion being just one of them — one of the most significant points the defense will make is "what the procedure actually is."
"We know there is female genital mutilation. No one is saying it doesn't exist. But what we're saying is this procedure does not qualify as FGM," Chartier said.
"And even if it did, it would be exempt because it would violate their First Amendment rights. They believe that if they do not engage in this then they are not actively practicing their religion."
Chartier said the 1996 law that is being used to prosecute this case is "unconstitutionally vague and overly broad."  She believes parental rights are being violated, arguing parents have the right to raise their children as they deem fit.
She also believes the statute violates the constitution's equal protection clause in that it treats men and women differently. Specifically, it prohibits female circumcision but allows male circumcision.
"Male circumcision is allowed, which is much more invasive than the very minor religious procedure (that defendants practice)," said Chartier, who believes the religious freedom argument will stick.
"Jurors will listen carefully and they will follow the law," she said. "This country was founded on religious freedom. That's what the core of this country is."
Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, believes the male circumcision versus female cutting argument does not raise a valid equal protection argument. He offers several reasons.
Male circumcision has health benefits, such as helping prevent disease and cleanliness. By comparison, he said, "there is no good medical reason" for female genital cutting.
Male circumcision does not affect a man's ability to enjoy sex as an adult. However female circumcision can curb a woman's sexuality and can make sex painful and childbirth difficult.
Sedler said when it comes to the constitutional right to parent, a ban on male circumcision — which is practiced by Jews and Muslims — wouldn't stick because the procedure has not been deemed harmful by the medical community and there are medical and aesthetic benefits to it.
Nagarwala's lawyer, Shannon Smith, declined comment for this article. But in court, she has repeatedly argued that her client's actions were "completely a religious practice."

'It's blind faith'

According to health agencies and human rights organizations, the reasons for practicing female genital mutilation vary from one region to another, though many experts stress it’s more about tradition and rite of passage than religion.
A United Nations advocacy group for women’s health says: “FGM is a cultural rather than a religious practice. In fact, many religious leaders have denounced it.”
According to the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the UN Population Fund, which advocates for women's reproductive health, here are among the top reasons cited for genital cutting:
  • Sociological and cultural reasons, where the procedure is seen as part of a girl’s initiation into womanhood and a key part of a community’s culture. FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. 
  • Sexual control, with the goal being to curb a woman’s sexuality to avoid premarital sex or having affairs once she’s married.
  • Social norm. The pressure to conform and not be rejected by a community is a big motivator for genital mutilation. 
  • Hygiene.In some communities, the female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed for hygiene or aesthetic reasons.
  • Religion. Although genital cutting is not endorsed by any religion, some believe the practice has religious support and is a religious requirement, as do the Dawoodi Bohra. 
For Mariya Taher, who grew up in the Dawoodi Bohra community and underwent genital cutting when she was 7, the religious argument for the procedure has no basis. Neither does the "it's just a nick" philosophy, she said.
"They keep throwing that argument — that 'we are not mutilating,' " said Taher, noting one of the barriers to ending genital cutting is convincing people in her community that religion doesn't require it.
"The religious administration of this community is in India. They have been emphasizing that this is (required) ... they're trying to claim that there is a religious connection to it,"  said Taher, noting many Bohras are afraid to question the directive.
"It's blind faith," she said. "There are a large number of people who are afraid of being excluded. They might not want (cutting) to happen, but others have pressured them. And there's a lot of fear of social ostracism."
But resistance is growing.
Taher, 34, who is now a social activist in Cambridge, Mass., working to end genital mutilation worldwide, is among several Bohra women who have publicly denounced the practice. She views all forms of genital cutting — even the so-called ritual nick  — as oppressive and a form of child abuse that has negative physical, emotional and sexual consequences.
Many Bohra communities across the U.S., including the Detroit chapter, also have urged their members not to practice it because it's illegal in the U.S. and their religion requires them to follow the laws of of the land.
"I hope this is an opportunity for more awareness and education on this issue,"  said Taher, who sees progress, but believes the problem is still more widespread than the numbers show.

'The doctor made her cry'

Prosecutors have argued that the federal genital mutilation law is clear: It prohibits "knowingly circumcis(ing), excis(ing) or infibulat(ing) the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of any other person who has not attained the age of 18 years."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward has argued repeatedly in court that the defendants knew what they were doing was illegal, but did it anyway. She has called their crimes "heinous" and argues the harm was severe.
According to court documents, in interviews with authorities, the two Minnesota victims described the genital cutting procedures as painful.
One girl said that she got a shot, screamed, and "could barely walk after the procedure, and that she felt pain all the way down to her ankle." The other said she was "laid on an examining table with her knees near her chest and legs spread apart," that she was "pinched" in the genital area, that it "hurted a lot" and that there was "pain and burning."
Both girls were told to keep the procedures a secret, court records show. One said "the doctor made her (friend) cry."
"According to some members of the community who have spoken out against the practice, the purpose of this cutting is to suppress female sexuality in an attempt to reduce sexual pleasure and promiscuity," a Homeland Security Investigations special agent wrote in an April 20 court filing.
Especially egregious, authorities have argued, is that this procedure was carried out by a doctor who took an oath to do no harm. 
"She knew that this was illegal but did it anyway," Woodward has said of Nagarwala, stressing: "As a medical doctor, she is aware that female genital mutilation has no medical purpose."
Contact Tresa Baldas:


Why didn't the DNC allow the FBI to see their computers and why did the FBI allow that? Here is a chronology to keep for further reference.

Written by: Diana West 
Saturday, May 20, 2017 12:23 PM  

June 14, 2016: The Washington Post reports "Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee." On what did the paper base this claim? The Post cites "committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach." 
These "security experts" are with CrowdStrike, a private cyber security firm hired and paid by the DNC.
While reading the following chronology, it is important to bear in mind that the FBI has never examined the DNC computer network because the DNC prohibited the FBI from doing so. Also, that the FBI, under former Director Comey, not to mention President Obama and the "Intelligence Community," thought this was perfectly ok.
In the June 14, 2016 story, DNC chief executive Amy Dacey explained to the Post what happened after she received a call from "her operations chief" about "unusual network activity" noticed by the IT team in "late April."
That evening, she spoke with Michael Sussman, a DNC lawyer who is a partner with Perkins Coie in Washington. Soon after, Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor who handled computer crime cases, called [CrowdStrike president Shawn Henry], whom he has known for many years.
I highlight "that evening" "DNC lawyer" "Perkins Coie" "Crowdstrike" and "many years" to highlight the political nature of this chain of damage control. Dacey spoke with Sussman, the DNC lawyer, that evening -- instead of say, the FBI cyber crime unit that day. As a Perkins Coie partner, Sussmann is with the leading Democrat law firm: Perkins Coie has produced an Obama White House Counsel; a lawyer to ferry that copy of Obama's "birth certificate" from Hawaii to the White House; and it has represented the DNC, Democrats in Congress, Obama's presidential campaign, and, at that moment in June 2016, the Clinton presidential campaign.
With all of those Democrat interests in mind, the DNC and Perkins Coie choose to turn to CrowdStrike. Who, what is Crowdstrike? Here is one hair-raising theory. It is a fact that CrowdStrike's Moscow-born co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, a globalist, interventionist and swampist think tank, which gave Hillary Clinton its Distinguished International Leadership Award in 2013.
The political nature of the DNC's choice of a politically connected cyber-security firm itself is not too surprising; what is five-alarm-shocking, though, is that the FBI has never verified the firm's "Russian hacking" findings. 
June 22, 2016: John Ashe dies of his throat being crushed by a barbell at his home shortly before appearing in court with co-defendant Ng Lap Seng in a fraud case. As New York Post reports: "Seng was identified in a 1998 Senate report as the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally funneled through an Arkansas restaurant owner, Charlie Trie, to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration."
July 10, 2016: DNC staffer Seth Rich, whose title is reported as "voter expansion data director," is murdered in the street near his home in Washington, DC. The police will attribute his murder to robbery, although nothing was stolen from Rich. His murder remains unsolved. 
Here, thanks to William Craddick of Disobedient Media, is the crime report which tells us that three of the officers at the scene were wearing body cams.
July 12, 2016: Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton
July 22, 2016: It is three days before the start of DNC convention, and Wikileaks starts releasing 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments from the Democratic National Committee. The emails document the DNC's efforts to sink Bernie Sanders' primary run against Hillary Clinton. DNC chairman Wasserman Schultz will resign over the election-meddling scandal within the week. 
July 23, 2016: A spate of Trump-Putin stories begins to appear about now, including FP's Julia Ioffe's piece titled, "Is Trump a Russian Stooge?" A deflection to "Russian hacking" from DNC primary-rigging is immediately apparent, at least on the Left: "So what was once dismissed out of hand -- that the DNC was actively working against the Sanders campaign -- is now obviously true, but not a big deal." 
July 25, 2016: Sanders supporters boo DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the stage at national convention event over Wikileaks revelations of DNC collusion in Hillary Clinton's favor. W-S resigns from the DNC on July 28, 2016.
August 1, 2016: Peter Schweizer publishes "From Russia with Money," a stunning report on Clinton cronyism and corruption detailing multiple and profitable connections between Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, John Podesta, and Russia. (More info on Podesta and his Russian business dealings will follow from Wikileaks.) Hillary-tanked MSM ignore evidence of "Russian influence" on Clinton and Podesta both.
On or about August 9, 2016: During an interview (video above), Julian Assange brings up the recent murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich while discussing the great risks Wikileaks sources take. Wikileaks will contribute $20,000 to what grows to more $125,000 in reward money for information leading to arrest of the murderer(s) of Seth Rich. According to private investigator Rod Wheeler, no one has come forward to try to claim the money.
September 5, 2016: Washington Post reports DNI James Clapper is leading an investigation into Russian efforts to "sow distrust" in the presidential election and U.S. institutions.
The Kremlin’s intent may not be to sway the election in one direction or another, officials said, but to cause chaos and provide propaganda fodder to attack U.S. democracy-building policies around the world, particularly in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
U.S. intelligence officials described the covert influence campaign here as “ambitious” and said it is also designed to counter U.S. leadership and influence in international affairs.  
October 7, 2016: Washington Post: "US government officially accuses Russia of hacking campaign to interfere with elections." The story reports on a joint statement released by the DNI and DHS. The paper only quotes this much:  
“The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the two agencies. “. . . These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Also of October 7, 2016: The Washington Post releases Access Hollywood/Trump tape, although the published story is dated October 8, 2016. 
Also on October 7, 2016: Wikileaks releases the first cache of Podesta emails.
October 17, 2016: Julian Assange accused a "state party" of severing his internet connection.  
October 19, 2016: Hillary Clinton turns the DHS-DNI statement into "17 intelligence agencies" during a debate with Donald Trump: 
CLINTON: We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election.
I find that deeply disturbing. And I think it is time —
TRUMP: She has no idea whether it is Russia, China or anybody else.
CLINTON: I am not quoting myself. I am quoting 17, 17 — do you doubt?
TRUMP: Our country has no idea.
October 20, 2016: At National Review, Fred Fleitz writes
First of all, only two intelligence entities – the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – have weighed in on this issue, not 17 intelligence agencies.
Fleitz goes on to quote from the same joint DNI-DHS statement the Post cited so sparingly. The disclosures ... 
are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europa and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.
Fleitz, formerly with the CIA, writes: "Saying we think the hacks `are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts' is far short of saying we have evidence that Russia has been responsible for the hacks." 
October 22, 2016: Gavin McFadyen died of lung cancer in London on October 22, 2016 at the age of 76. According to a May 2017 Fox News report, Gavin McFadyen was Seth Rich's Wikileaks' contact.
Around November 9 or 10, 2016: According to the April 2017 book Shattered, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and chairman John Podesta gather campaign staff in Brooklyn to set the post-election defeat narrative: Hillary's unsecured email sever was major over-reported story of the campaign, and Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign. 
December 9, 2016: Washington Post writes:
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
December 14, 2016: Former UK Amb. to Uzbekistan and Wikileaks associate Craig Murray tells the Daily Mail that he flew to Washington in September 2016 to receive emails from one of Wikileaks' sources. Both the DNC emails and the Podesta emails, Murray said, came from inside leaks, not hacks. "He said the leakers were motivated by 'disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.' "
December 22, 2016: The Washington Post reports CrowdStrike links Russian hacking of the DNC to Russian hacking of the Ukrainian military. Said CrowdStrike's Alperovitch: 'The fact that [these hackers] would be tracking and helping the Russian military kill Ukrainian army personnel in eastern Ukraine and also intervening in the U.S. election is quite chilling." 
This new Russian hacking claim will be widely and loudly debunked by British, Ukrainian and other sources. 
December 29, 2016: DHS and FBI release a joint report entitled "Russian Malicious Cyber Activity." The FBI, to repeat, has not examined the DNC servers to verify Crowdstrike's findings of "Russian hacking," but President Obama goes ahead orders sanctions on Russia and expels 35 diplomats anyway! 
Russia does not respond in kind, which intensifies an air of unreality about the whole exercise. It all feels stagey.   
January 10, 2017: For the first time, then-FBI Director James Comey publicly addresses the DNC-Russian hacking story, affirming that the FBI has not had direct access to the DNC servers or (bonus!) John Podesta's personal devices, despite "multiple requests at different levels." 
Comey told the Senate committee, "Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the orginal device or server that's involved ..." but no worries! "A highly respected private company eventually got access and shared with us what they saw there."
Right then and there, President-elect Trump should have planned to ask Comey to resign over this single act of rank incompetence (or corruption). 
March 15, 2017: According to Daily Mail, "CrowdStrike's Alperovitch cancels interview with VOA, the news outlet that first reported CrowdStrike had misstated data ..."  
Also in March of 2017 and also according to Daily Mail, CrowdStrike is stonewalling :
CrowdStrike's co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch and its president Shawn Henry turned down an invitation to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the U.S. election.
'They declined the invitation, so we're communicating with them about speaking to us privately,' said Jack Langer, a spokesperson for House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes.
"Speaking to us privately..." 
(A request: Could Republicans please roll over, pull the trigger and put us out of their misery?) 
Also in March 2017: In a May 16, 2017 interview with Sean Hannity, private investigator Rod Wheeler says that in March, when he began his investigation into the murder of Seth Rich on behalf of the Rich family, he called the DCPD but didn't hear back from anyone for two to three days. Wheeler says he learned from the family on May 15 that during that March interim, a high-ranking official at the DNC got the information about his query and called the Rich family "wanting to know why I was snooping around." (Who in the DCPD called the DNC official and why?)
In this same interview, Wheeler adds that Seth Rich was having problems at work, and that the person he was having problems with was the same DNC official who called the father.
March 20, 2017: Then-FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Rogers appear before the House Intelligence Committee. 
HURD: Have you been able to -- when did the DNC provide access for -- to the FBI for your technical folks to review what happened?
COMEY: Well we never got direct access to the machines themselves. The DNC in the spring of 2016 hired a firm that ultimately shared with us their forensics from their review of the system.
HURD: Director Rogers, did the NSA ever get access to the DNC hardware?
ROGERS: The NSA didn't ask for access. That's not in our job...
HURD: ... So director FBI notified the DNC early, before any information was put on Wikileaks and when -- you have still been -- never been given access to any of the technical or the physical machines that were -- that were hacked by the Russians.
COMEY: That's correct although we got the forensics from the pros that they hired which -- again, best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves, but this -- my folks tell me was an appropriate substitute.
Again, this shocking dereliction alone is enough to justify Comey's removal -- plus a thorough investigation into exactly how it was that DNC/CrowdStrike was able to thwart an FBI investigation -- and why Director Comey, not to mention why Barack Obama and on down, went along with all of it
Smells, the whole thing, the whole gang, to high heaven. 
April 5, 2017: Alana Goodman of the Daily Mail reports CrowdStrike has "quietly retracted" key portions from its debunked Ukrainian report "after the firm was found to have relied on inaccurate data posted online by a pro-Putin 'propaganda' blogger."
Too bizarre --
The errors prompted both the Ukrainian military and a prominent British think tank to issue public statements disputing CrowdStrike's data.
The Daily Mail quotes cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr, who, as the paper puts it, explained that "this is part of  'a pattern' for [Crowdstrike], and raises concerns about its credibility."
'They just found what they wanted to find…they didn't stop for a moment to question it, they didn't contact the primary source,' added Carr. 'This is like an elementary school-level analysis.'
Note: It is this same "elementary school-level analysis" that remains the basis of the DNC-"Russian hacking" story!
This is outrageous and alarming on multiple levels. To begin with, if a private firm claims that a foreign power has cyber-attacked a leading political organization critical to the functioning of the US national election process, how does the US government not become involved to investigate to ensure that any actions the US government may take in response -- sanctions, expulsions, to take the real- world example -- to that foreign attack are based on verified findings?
It does not seem possible that the DNC has the authority to rebuff the FBI in a case of a purported foreign strike -- unless the fix is already in. I mean, imagine a private eye putting off the FBI, saying, don't worry, we've got that Rosenberg spy ring covered, and we'll keep you fully apprised.
It's not really all that different. 
There's more.
The Daily Mail:
There remain unanswered questions about the sequence of events which led to the secrets of the DNC being laid bare. 
The DNC said it originally hired CrowdStrike in late April last year after discovering suspicious activity on its computer system indicating a 'serious' hack. 
That's right. See entry for June 16, 2016 above. 
But according to internal emails, CrowdStrike was already working for the DNC to investigate whether Bernie Sanders campaign staffers had gained unauthorized access to its voter database. 
That five-week investigation appeared to have wrapped up on April 29, 2016. ...
"Already working for the DNC" in this timeframe of still-undisclosed anti-Bernie collusion means, in effect, already working in support of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign against Sanders. Great source for non-partisan and official intelligence. 
And check this out: voter data base, Bernie Sanders staffers. Seth Rich's job at the DNC has been reported as "voter expansion data director." Related? Should the Seth Rich chronology go back to alleged dirty tricks in December 2015 involving yet another data breach?
Yes, my head hurts, too. But out of this giant headache may emerge some clear truths. In the meantime, it is extremely notable that Twitter talk of supression of the investigation into or even discussion of whether Seth Rich was a DNC source for Wikileaks and murdered as a result is coming not only from the MSM, but hard Left and Democrat "data" professionals.
Take, for example, Andrew Therriault, former "Director of Data Science" for the DNC. Zero Hedge reports that Therriault tweeted and deleted the following tweet calling Seth Rich "an embarassment" -- ten months after his murder.
More recently, Therriault retweeted Rob Flaherty's tweet (below), which includes a link to a petition against the advertisers of WTTG,  which re-introduced the Seth Rich story this past week.
Flaherty, too, is a Democratic operative, data pro, Hillary Clinton supporter, and works for the lavishly Soros-funded PAC, Priorities USA.   
The petition, by the way, written by another hard left activist, Karl Frisch of Allied Progress, announces a boycott of WTTG advertisers unless they pull their WTTG advertising until the news station retracts their developing Seth Rich story.
Think there are some high stakes hiding in the tall Swamp grass? Just keep saying "Russian hacking," "Russian hacking." Everything will be just fine.
To be cont'd.

Video of Times Square attack by auto...does the look like a drunk driver.

Security camera video montage raises questions in deadly Times Square crash

During Saturday morning’s episode of “Pure Opelka,” host Mike Opelka asked the radio audience to weigh in on a budding controversy swirling around Thursday’s deadly car crash in New York City’s Times Square.
Initial media reports have ruled out “terrorism” in the deadly crash. However, questions have been raised about the explanation/motive attached to the crash.
Opelka referenced a video sent to him by “one of the smartest people I know,” he said. The clip is a video compilation stitched together from security cameras gathered from buildings in Times Square.
After posting a forty-five second excerpt from the full video, Opelka asked his audience and Twitterfollowers, “Well, is there anything to the speculation about the Times Square crash?”
Watch the short clip. (Content warning: graphic and violent images)
Local NYC newspapers and mainstream media reports have claimed Richard Rojas, the suspect in the crash, is a man with two previous DUI convictions and might have been hoping to be killed by police.
Rojas has been charged with murder in addition to other charges. An NYPD traffic agent said Rojas stated “I wanted to kill them all,” after he was arrested at the scene.

Samantha Powers holier-then thou meme falls to historical analysis. Syria is on Obama's plate. All of a sudden she finds conscience!

Top Obama official Samantha Power gets brutal lesson in self-awareness after criticizing Trump’s Saudi arms deal

Top Obama official Samantha Power gets brutal lesson in self-awareness after criticizing Trump’s Saudi arms deal
Samantha Power tried to criticize President Donald Trump for signing an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, but Twitter quickly reminds her of Obama-era Middle East sins. (Anthony Behar-Pool/Getty Images) 

Samantha Power, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Barack Obama, received a lesson in self-awareness over the weekend.
Power took to her Twitter account Saturday to criticize a $110 billion arms deal that President Donald Trump inked with Saudi Arabian King Salman on the same day. Power seemed to oppose the deal arguing that Trump just agreed to provide arms to a country that has killed innocent civilians in Yemen, a country that borders Saudi Arabia to its south.
“For a country whose attacks on civilians in Yemen — and inability to learn from mistakes — have been devastating to human life,” Power wrote on Twitter.
In her tweet, Power appeared to appeal to a moral high road, but Twitter users weren’t so convinced.
In fact, the response to Power’s tweet was filled mostly with tweets slamming the former Obama official for being a hypocrite. Not only did Obama ink many arms deals with the Saudis, one user pointed out, but the Obama administration also “watched hundreds of thousands of Syrians die and did nothing.”
Indeed, the Obama administration offered the Saudis more than $115 billion worth of arms during their eight years in the White House — almost $5 billion more than the deal that Trump inked Saturday — according to a Reuters report last year.
Others piled on, noting the destruction many Obama-era policies likely had in the Middle East: