Recent Posts by Charles Lipson

The big point everybody is missing about the FBI/CIA spy from Cambridge University

It is a sad sign of decline at Cambridge University that their latest spy is working for United States.

What is this poor world coming to?

Cambridge spies are supposed to work for the Russians.

There is tradition to uphold here, folks.

Can Putin and his minions no longer recruit idealistic socialists who hate their country?

Must they give up on entirely British universities and rely on Berkeley, Oberlin, and Evergreen State?

There is a small glimmer of continuity. At least the recruiting agencies were up to no good.

They were doing their best to infiltrate an American political campaign.

The story is here, complete with the spy’s name and picture. We know those details thanks entirely to CYA leaks from the DOJ or FBI, trying desperately to get ahead of Congressional investigations and the Horowitz report (the DOJ Inspector General).

Those details were supposed to be top secret. That the officials charged with keeping the secrets released them to protect themselves is a scandal in its own right.

On a more serious note: the house that Comey, Clapper, Brennan, and their aides built now looks increasingly like a game of jenga. The wooden blocks are being removed, though the process is moving very, very slowly because of  DOJ and FBI self-protection.

Did these guys previously work on transparency and document security for Joe Paterno’s athletic department?

But with each new block removed, the whole structure looks more and more likely to collapse.

 

Small-Town Thoughts on Mother’s Day: The Life-Long Benefits of a COMMUNITY of Caring Parents, Teachers, and Friends

So many of my lifelong friends are posting thoughts about Mother’s Day.

Some are thanking Mothers who live nearby or in another state.

Some, like me, are thinking of their departed Moms and Dads.

Those who are thanking their Mothers from my hometown of Marks, Mississippi, should add my thanks to their Mothers.

Like so many kids in close-knit communities, which includes all small towns and many urban neighborhoods, we were raised by a community of parents and grandparents with shared values and a sense of responsibility to each other. Among the first things we were taught: respect not only your own parents but others. It was a very important lesson.

If kids were doing something good, other parents would praise us–and we knew the word would get back to Mom and Dad.

If kids were misbehaving, other parents would either tell us directly or tell our parents and let them handle it. So would teachers.

If kids were doing something dangerous, every parent would step in.

Perhaps I am romanticizing the past a little, but I think my memories are largely true. We were raised not only by our own parents but as part of communities–by school teachers, by Sunday School teachers, by parents of friends, and others.

To all those Mothers and Fathers, know that you have the loving thanks of generations of children, now (I hope) growing into the same kinds of caring parents and grandparents.

Federal Bureau of . . . Incompetence? Impropriety?

The FBI, which took custody of Hillary’s server, seems to have “lost the chain of custody.”

Normally, I assume incompetence, and that’s probably true here. Probably, but not certainly.

If you want to see how much the public’s trust in the FBI has declined, just ask yourself,

  • Do you absolutely trust their explanation?
  • Do you trust it, given that you can’t trust them with the investigation of that server, its owner, or its chain of custody?”

Somebody needs to explain.

Under oath.

That would include the head of the agency at the time.

That would be Robert Mueller.

 

John McCain: Worthy of great respect, whether you like his politics or not

Few have served their country with more commitment, or paid a higher price, than John McCain.

He deserves immense respect.

That’s true no matter what you think of his politics or personality.

We need to remember that as he enters the final stages of his illness.

Nothing was more telling of his courage than his flat refusal of the North Vietnamese offer to release him before his fellow prisoners.

They did so because McCain’s father was a senior officer and Hanoi thought his release would be politically damaging to the U.S.

In my opinion:

  • He has every right to say that he does not want Pres. Trump to attend his funeral. It’s his right as a human being and, as the saying goes, it’s his funeral.
  • I don’t think it is right for him to hang on to his Senate seat if he knows he cannot return to represent his state. It’s their seat, too.

If, as Politico now reports, McCain will not be able to return to the Senate for medical reasons, he should resign his seat so his state can be represented by two sitting Senators.

I hate to say that of someone who has sacrificed so much. But this is one more sacrifice he should make.

 

Autistic Soldiers Have Special Skills Deciphering Intelligence Photos–and benefit from the chance to use those skills

The Israeli Defense Forces’ Secretive Unit 9900, which specializes in deciphering “visual intelligence,” now has 100 autistic volunteers so far (link here).

The program is working well–for the IDF, for the volunteers on the autism spectrum, and for their fellow soldiers.

The program, dubbed “Seeing Afar,” which is jointly run by the IDF and the Ono Academic College, is now in its fifth year. It includes a training course that teaches autistic youths to decipher aerial and satellite visual-intelligence images, based on their enhanced visual ability and their tendency towards patience, which allow them to explore the minutest details—an essential attribute for this role, an officer from an intelligence unit that received the volunteers has told JNS. –JNS (Jewish News Syndicate)

The job requires people in the unit to search patiently through reams of intelligence images looking, as one soldier said, “for a needle in the haystack.”

Some people on the autism spectrum seem to be especially good at that, and the IDF is integrating them into this specialized unit.

The effect on these recruits themselves seems to be very positive.

“When I first arrived here, I still felt like a civilian,” Cpl. O told JNS in an interview. Gradually, however, he began to feel like an organic part of the military.

“You search and search, and don’t find it at first. Sometimes, it feels like forever until you find it. But when you do, it certainly brings satisfaction,” said Cpl. O. “There were whole days that I couldn’t find what I was looking for. On other days, I’d locate it in every picture—six pictures in a row. On those days, I wanted to look for more! –JNS

The autism-spectrum soldiers think their skills and experience will help them enter the job market when they finish service. And the other soldiers who work with them speak of their positive experiences, with some wanting to work with autism issues after they leave the service.

Thanks to JNS for reporting a fascinating and inspiring story.

Here’s a blue-sky idea that might help these autism-spectrum soldiers when they return to civilian life–and might help doctors and patients in Israel.

Why not a test program to see if these soldiers, with some training, can do the same thing with X-Rays, MRIs, and CAT-Scans??

They have already been screened by the IDF for the general characteristics.

The fact that they stayed in the IDF photo-intelligence unit says that they have the necessary patience and visual acuity in working situations.

I wonder if they would be good at finding cancer nodules, etc.?

If they were, then the screening and training could be used in other countries for people on the spectrum.

Seems like it is worth a try, especially in “Innovation Nation.”

 

Federal Judge Sharply Rebukes Mueller Team over Manafort Investigation, saying it looks like they are on a fishing expedition to get Trump and have overstepped their authority

Judge T. S. Ellis III wasn’t buying the Mueller team’s argument and accused them flatly of lying. According to the Reuters report of pre-trial proceedings (link here):

A judge sharply questioned whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller overstepped his authority by charging Paul Manafort with crimes unrelated to Russian election interference while also suggesting that the onetime Trump campaign chairman was indicted to coerce his cooperation against the president.

U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III expressed deep skepticism Friday about whether Mueller went too far in signing a bank- and tax-fraud indictment against Manafort. Ellis questioned how Mueller could prosecute financial crimes dating back a decade without charging Manafort for his election activities.

“I don’t see how this indictment has anything to do with anything the special prosecutor is authorized to investigate,” Ellis said at a hearing on a motion by Manafort to dismiss the case.  –Reuters

Judge Ellis explicitly said that he thought

  1. The only interest Mueller had in Manafort was to get him to testify about Trump;
  2. An investigation of alleged bank fraud more than a decade old had zero to do with a legitimate investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016;
  3. Mueller’s team had overstepped its legitimate authority and would not tell him the truth about it, so he demanded to read the memo giving them authority in unredacted form (which Mueller’s team does not want to do)

Ellis ordered that prosecutors give him the full memo within two weeks, saying he’ll determine whether the explanation of why Manafort was under investigation is adequate.

Mueller’s office took over an investigation of Manafort that had been conducted by prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Ellis sits. The judge appeared impatient with Dreeben, who has argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ellis repeatedly interrupted [Justice Department attorney Michael] Dreeben as he pressed for an explanation of Mueller’s authority.

“It covers bank fraud in 2005 and 2007?” Ellis said. “Tell me how. How does that have to do with links or coordination with Russia and Trump?”

“This indictment didn’t arise from your investigation,” Ellis said. “It arose from the pre-existing investigation.” –Reuters

The judge ended his statement to the prosecutors: “I understand your argument, but it kind of invites, ‘C’mon man.’”