Morning Musings

  • The Washington Post: “Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed a directive that bars intelligence officials from talking to the media about their area of expertise without permission. But it took a month for the press and civil liberties groups to notice.” Not sure why this is news, but there you have it.
  • In somewhat related news, former CIA and NSA Chief Michael Hayden will pen a weekly column for The Washington Times, “Inside Intelligence.”
  • Export Controls I: A Yank, a Brit, and a Syrian, face serious federal charges for allegedly conspiring to illegally export laboratory equipment, including items used to detect chemical warfare agents, from the United States to Syria. The indictment, unsealed yesterday, involved numerous federal agencies. The indictment, embedded below, details most of the case. Judging from what these fellows were attempting to export, items of rather low dollar value compared to other export control cases, the indictment is a good example that export control enforcement efforts is ongoing and that no item too small. 
  • IC On The Record (and another item the media and the Left civil liberties group yet to notice):  Director of Civil Liberties and Privacy Report, NSA’s Implementation of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Section 702.
  • Export Controls II: The CEO of a Pennsylvania engineering and manufacturing firm – Hetran, Inc. – is in a little hot water for, among other things, allegedly manufacturing a horizontal lathe for use by some interesting characters in Iran. This case appears to follow a usual transshipment pattern that includes a series of fake companies in Dubai and the UAE, en route to Iran. According to the Justice Department press release, the horizontal lathe, or peeling machine, is used in the production of high grade steel orbright steel,” a product used, among other things, in the manufacture of automobile and aircraft parts. Hetran’s website features a Department of Commerce “Export Achievement Certificate“. I doubt it was awarded for their compliance program.
  • The bad idea of civilian trials for radical Islamic jihadists terrorists, not to be outdone by the really terrible idea of de-classifying CIA interrogation memos, keeps hitting snags. Someone should ask SPSCI Senate overseers if they have been in contact with the defense lawyers. Both seem eager to have the CIA interrogation memoranda released. Why not have the court appoint someone with the proper clearances and have these document reviewed en camera? I was involved with a case a few years ago, not involving radical Islamic jihadists, but classified reports that will likely never see the light of day. However, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia arranged for an officer of the court to review certain classified materials. The judges also had access.
  • The Norwegian government may open an investigation into the brutal torture and death by the Russian government of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer working for Bill Browder’s Hermitage Capital. If you want some of the U.S. background on the case, I penned an item for the World Export Compliance Journal (available here): The Magnitsky List: a trend-setter process in global human rights and compliance law? Judging from recent activities by various human rights organizations, as well as statements by Bill Browder, the Magnitsky effort has gone global. As it should. On the money trail alone, there are likely links to this case right here in the Western Hemisphere. Why? Because there are plenty of nations willing to cooperate with Russia. Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and even Brazil, come to mind. In the U.S. Congress, the Magnitsky matter continues to make its way into legislation. For example, in March, the House of Representatives approved the Ukraine Support Act that included language urging President Obama to  expand the list of 18 Russian officials and others involved in Magnitsky’s death. A Senate bill includes similar language.
  • The Cuban regime continues to use former U.S. government contractor Alan Gross as a negotiating tool to secure embargo-easing concessions from the United States. According to Israel’s Arutz Sheva: Cuba’s Foreign Minister “reiterated his government’s interest in having high-level officials meet with their U.S. counterparts to discuss terms of a resolution. Rodriguez emphasized that Cuba would place no preconditions on such a negotiation.” The thing is, the Cuban regime already placed preconditions on Mr. Gross’s release when they arrested him and tried him on trumped-up espionage charges. Where is the Left denouncing Gross’s inhumane treatment in solitary confinement, that include lights on 24 hours a day? You guessed it, [cue the crickets chirping].  It is the Castro regime. For the Left, including several Members of Congress, the Cuban Communists can do no wrong. They’d rather beat up on the CIA. Cuba should really give this up. They have lost and have bigger challenges on the immediate horizon

US v Rinko et al

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