A man was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand over the past three months, police said on Thursday.
Sources familiar with the case gave the suspect's age as 19 and said he is Jewish and holds Israeli and U.S. citizenship. A police spokesman said the suspect's motives were still unclear to investigators.
U.S. federal authorities have been investigating a surge of threats against Jewish organizations, including more than 100 bomb threats in separate waves over the past three months against Jewish community centers (JCCs) in dozens of states.
The suspect has lived in Israel many years. The army refused to draft him after finding him unfit for service. The suspect's motive is unknown, but police accuse him of hundreds of incidents involving threats to institutions around the world, including Israel, over a period of two or three years.
Some five computers were confiscated as well as other equipment, including antennas he used to and allowed him to use other people's network to commit the alleged crimes. This initially threw off the police and it led them to question others whose network were used. Eventually, the police created a profile of the suspect and the technology to find him. Police say that he attempted to grab the gun of an officer that came to his home to arrest him.
This challenges the narrative, especially since Trump took heat for suggesting it might be premature to assume the hoaxing was attributable to neo-Nazis.
Yikes. Not exactly "I believe it is peace for our time".
The NY Times coverage includes this crystallization of the conventional wisdom regarding the motivation of the reigning NoKo thugs:
But classified assessments of the North that the Obama administration left for its successors included a grim assessment by the intelligence community: that North Korea’s leader, Mr. Kim, believes his nuclear weapons program is the only way to guarantee the survival of his regime and will never trade it away for economic or other benefits.
The assessment said that the example of what happened to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the longtime leader of Libya, had played a critical role in North Korean thinking. Colonel Qaddafi gave up the components of Libya’s nuclear program in late 2003 — most of them were still in crates from Pakistan — in hopes of economic integration with the West. Eight years later, when the Arab Spring broke out, the United States and its European allies joined forces to depose Colonel Qaddafi, who was eventually found hiding in a ditch and executed by Libyan rebels.
Lest you marvel at the capability of the NSA, one clue as to the NoKo thinking came from their own media. Here is the BBC from last September:
Might Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi explain Kim Jong-un's determination to get his own nuclear arsenal?
The lynching of the Libyan leader after he had renounced nuclear weapons and the hanging of the Iraqi president have been cited by the North Korean media as the rationale for their own country's determination not to be put off by sanctions despite the poverty there.
As it is sometimes put: Gaddafi gave up the bomb and lost his head. Saddam was toppled because he did not have it.
After Pyongyang's last nuclear test in January, a commentary in North Korea's media said: "History proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasured sword for frustrating outsiders' aggression."
It continued: "The Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and the Gaddafi regime in Libya could not escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations for nuclear development and giving up nuclear programmes of their own accord."
Pretty subtle, but we managed to crack the code. Of course, inscrutable hints were dropped even back in 2011:
SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean statement that Libya’s dismantling of its nuclear weapons program had made it vulnerable to military intervention by the West is being seen by analysts as an ominous reinforcement of the North’s refusal to end its own nuclear program.
North Korea’s official news agency carried comments this week from a Foreign Ministry official criticizing the air assault on Libyan government forces and suggesting that Libya had been duped in 2003 when it abandoned its nuclear program in exchange for promises of aid and improved relations with the West.
Calling the West’s bargain with Libya “an invasion tactic to disarm the country,” the official said it amounted to a bait and switch approach. “The Libyan crisis is teaching the international community a grave lesson,” the official was quoted as saying Tuesday, proclaiming that North Korea’s “songun” ideology of a powerful military was “proper in a thousand ways” and the only guarantor of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media
Russia scandals have bloodied the Trump administration. But it carries dangers for those reporting it
Let me skip to the conclusion:
Hypothesize for a moment that the "scandal" here is real, but in a limited sense: Trump's surrogates have not colluded with Russians, but have had “contacts,” and recognize their political liability, and lie about them. Investigators then leak the true details of these contacts, leaving the wild speculations to the media and the Internet. Trump is enough of a pig and a menace that it's easy to imagine doing this and not feeling terribly sorry that your leaks have been over-interpreted.
If that's the case, there are big dangers for the press. If we engage in Times-style gilding of every lily the leakers throw our way, and in doing so build up a fever of expectations for a bombshell reveal, but there turns out to be no conspiracy – Trump will be pre-inoculated against all criticism for the foreseeable future.
The press has to cover this subject. But it can't do it with glibness and excitement, laughing along to SNL routines, before it knows for sure what it's dealing with. Reporters should be scared to their marrow by this story. This is a high-wire act and it is a very long way down. We might want to leave the jokes and the nicknames be, until we get to the other side – wherever that is.
Loss of credibility for the Opposition Party is certainly one possible problem. Andrew McCarthy notes another - we are poised somewhere along a continuum which runs from "OMG, Trump stole the election, thank Heaven Obama launched an investigation" to "There was never anything there, how can we tolerate the deployment of the full investigatory weight of the US Government in an attempt to find dirt on an Obama rival?".
Where we end up may well make history. OK, a lot of that has been made recently, but still - even more history.
The failing NY Times circles back to Towergate. I trust neither Trump nor the Opposition Party, but Trump is not tweeting on this right now (or is he?!?) so we poke at whatever is in front of us:
WASHINGTON — President Trump has no regrets. His staff has no defense.
After weeks of assailing reporters and critics in diligent defense of their boss, Mr. Trump’s team has been uncharacteristically muted this week when pressed about his explosive — and so far proof-free — Twitter posts on Saturday accusing President Barack Obama of tapping phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
The accusation — and the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the former national intelligence director, James R. Clapper Jr., emphatically deny that any such wiretap was requested or issued — constitutes one of the most consequential accusations made by one president against another in American history.
As to Comey, his 'emphatic denial' has been made to reporters or their sources, not the public, and seems to include a critical caveat. This is from earlier NY Times reporting:
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.
Trump's claim insinuates that the FBI broke the law? Taken absolutely literally, I suppose so - Obama can't legally order such a wiretap since it requires a court-issued warrant. But can Obama pound the table and demand his underlings apply for such a warrant, even on thin (dare we say 'Trumped-up?) evidence? Of course he can.
But why would he? Suppose it wasn't Obama himself but an Obama loyalist such as AG Lynch giving the orders. Maybe in addition to slow-walking the Hillary email 'investigation' Ms. Lynch made a bold effort to spin NSA intel about stray Russian chatter into political gold. If one day we learn that she ordered her team to apply for warrants against Trump and/or his associates, does that exonerate Obama? If we learn that the DoJ applied for warrants against Trump's associates but not Trump himself does that mean Trump's accusation was wrong, even though Trump would inevitably be captured as an "incidental collection" on the tapped lines of the people he regularly spoke with?
The original Times piece presents other puzzles:
It is not clear why Mr. Comey did not issue a statement himself. He is the most senior law enforcement official who was kept on the job as the Obama administration gave way to the Trump administration. And while the Justice Department applies for intelligence-gathering warrants, the F.B.I. keeps its own records and is in a position to know whether Mr. Trump’s claims are true. While intelligence officials do not normally discuss the existence or nonexistence of surveillance warrants, no law prevents Mr. Comey from issuing the statement.
Well, the FBI certainly ought to know what warrants they requested and what taps they implemented. But could the DoJ team on its own initiative apply for a warrant (criminal or FISA) without a request from the FBI? I have no idea and the Times sheds no light here. All that is clear is that Comey could deny this himself, but hasn't.
All that said, today's Times piece certainly captures Team Trump backpedaling from Trump's Saturday Tweetstorm. But as to concluding that neither Trump nor his associates were targeted by a lawful (although possibly an over-reaching) lawful warrant, well, I don't know why people would be sure that we know it didn't happen. Or did.
As to whether Trump should resolve this by asking the DoJ for a review of their warrant requests - OMG, wouldn't that potentially be interference with an ongoing investigation?
Snopes "fact-checks" a rhetorical turn by HUD Secretary Ben Carson:
Did Ben Carson Liken Slavery to Immigration?
The retired neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate made a controversial comment about immigration and slavery in his first address as HUD secretary.
OK, Carson provoked outrage with this:
That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.
Clearly Carson understood they were slaves, but immigrants?!?
Carson presents a defense and Snopes weasels towards a 'guilty' verdict:
“I think people need to actually look up the word immigrant. Whether you’re voluntary or involuntary, if you come from the outside to the inside, you’re an immigrant. Whether you’re legal or illegal, you come from the outside to inside, you’re an immigrant. Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants but they still had the strength to hold on.”
(For what it’s worth, “immigrant” is typically defined as “a person who migrates to another country,” with the word “migrate” implying a voluntary action. Standard English usage does not classify the forcible abduction and involuntary transportation over national boundaries of human beings, lacking any choice or intent to live in their new location, as a form of “migration.”)
Closing with a parenthetical aside? Weird. But I can help!
John Kennedy, a name still familiar to Democrats and progressives, wrote a pamphlet in 1958 titled "A Nation Of Immigrants". Later (8/4/1963) it became a NY Times guest editorial. In his usage, everyone (except Native Americans) is an immigrant from somewhere else:
Just about every nation in the world, to some extent, admits immigrants. But there's something unique about America. We don't simply welcome new immigrants, we don't simply welcome new arrivals, we are born of immigrants. That is who we are. Immigration is our origin story. And for more than two centuries, it's remained at the core of our national character. It's our oldest tradition. It's who we are. It's part of what makes us exceptional.
After all, unless your family is Native American, one of the First Americans, our families—all of our families—come from someplace else....
So life in America was not always easy. It wasn't always easy for new immigrants. Certainly, it wasn't easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.
I should add that Obama showed some consistency. Back in a naturalization speech in 2012 he said this:
We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means -- we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else -- whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.
Lest you think Obama stands alone in remembering JFK's construction, here is a Jan 29 2017 post from the reliably progressive Daily Kos:
We are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are Native American, you have ancestors who came here from somewhere else.
But this country has a checkered past when it comes to immigration and the treatment of those who do not look or worship like the majority of Americans.
There are Chinese, Irish, Japanese, the children of slaves brought here against their will, and others. Chinese immigrants came here to build the transcontinental railroad. They looked different, they ate different foods, and had different customs. From 1850 on, discriminatory laws were enacted against them. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The Irish were the victims of stereotyping—as alcoholics, or as being controlled by the ward bosses. The Japanese were forced into internment camps during World War II, a black mark on our nation’s history that we should never forget, and never allow to happen again. The treatment of African Americans in this country has been horrendous. Volumes have been written on this, so you would think at this point in our history we would be living in a world where race did not matter. But we don’t.
Believe it or not, 48 comments and none denouncing his equation of slavery and immigration. Selective sensitivity?
Wikileaks does a filedump of CIA hacking techniques. Folks looking for a tie-in to the Trump scandals can start here:
Another program described in the documents, named Umbrage, is a voluminous library of cyberattack techniques that the C.I.A. has collected from malware produced by other countries, including Russia. According to the WikiLeaks release, the large number of techniques allows the C.I.A. to mask the origin of some of its cyberattacks and confuse forensic investigators.
Wikileaks: CIA 'Stole' Russian Malware, Uses It to ‘Misdirect Attribution’ of Cyber Attacks
"Russian" hacking? It could have just as easily been the CIA
Oh, brother. So when the Intelligence Community concluded that Russian hackers took down the Hillary and the DNC it coulda maybe been a CIA op? What's this now, an anti-Hillary faction plotting (with an election-eve boost from Comey!) to halt the Hillary Express?
Go long paranoia - lefties will be freaking out about this.
Of course, there’s nothing particularly controversial about the CIA accumulating malware. Prior to the publication of the so-called “Vault 7” files, it was widely accepted that the CIA—like the National Security Agency—frequently uses hacking tools, including those not created by American coders. Any number of cybersecurity experts familiar with attacks by “state actors” would have gladly admitted as much, even before the WikiLeaks release.
While reporting in December that a U.S. cybersecurity firm was “highly confident” that Russia was behind the DNC attack, the Daily Dot noted that, “Attribution with regards to cyberattacks is difficult and often problematic,” adding: “Malware can be stolen; it can be re-packaged and sold on the black market; and it can be used as well to throw off investigators.”
That these new CIA documents help illustrate how nebulous cyberthreat attribution can be is a good thing. But ultimately, they offer no proof that the CIA had any hand in hacking the Democrats.
Jeff Sessions has recused himself from investigating the Russian ties to the Trump campaign.
A helpful WaPo timeline is here. The second in command, Dana Boente (who was Acting AG after Ms. Yates was fired) is presumably in charge of deciding whether to appoint a Special Counsel.
It's an amusing detail but let me highlight this solid shoe-leather reporting by the Lichtblau, Shear and Savage of the failing NY Times:
Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, cast doubt on Mr. Sessions’s explanation that he had met with the Russian ambassador because of his duties as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that was beyond the panel’s jurisdiction.
“I’ve been on the Armed Services Com for 10 years,” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever. Ambassadors call members of Foreign Rel Com.”