Is Amnesty a Civil Right?

Eric Holder says that amnesty for illegal immigrants is “civil and human right.” On the Senate floor, Jeff Sessions brings an appropriate level of indignation to that illogical claim. Sessions said, in part:

Obama administration officials have gone so far as to describe amnesty as a civil right. That is an argument against the very idea of a nation-state….How could this possibly be, that the Attorney General of the United States of America would assert that people have a constitutional right to enter unlawfully and be given amnesty? … The actual legal rights that are being violated here today I suggest are the rights of the American citizens.

Here is the whole thing:

If you don’t believe in national sovereignty, if you don’t believe that a country is entitled to have a border, then it makes sense to say that a non-citizen has a civil (i.e., legal) right to enter the country and remain forever, regardless of any laws to the contrary. Otherwise, Holder’s proposition–which I think accurately reflects the thinking of the Obama administration–is nonsensical.

Incident at Wafa Hospital

The IDF has posted the illuminating video below (it’s posted here), explaining that “Hamas has turned Wafa Hospital into a command center and a rocket-launching site. Hamas has fired at Israel and at IDF forces from the hospital. As a result, the IDF repeatedly conveyed warnings to the hospital staff and urged civilians to leave the area. Hamas continued firing from the hospital. In response, the IDF targeted specific sites and terrorists within the hospital grounds. Secondary explosions can be seen, confirming IDF intellgience about the site.”

Inside the IRS, part 5

William Henck has worked inside the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. We posted his personal account, including his testimony to a retaliatory audit conducted by the IRS against him, this past February in “Inside the IRS.” We followed up with subsequent posts including part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Yesterday we learned that the IRS disseminated the following announcement by email:

Gary Gray, Deputy Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration), recently announced his plans to retire, effective August 31st, 2014, after 34 years of Federal service. Gary joined the Office of Chief Counsel in January 1999 as Assistant Chief Counsel (General Litigation) and later served as Assistant Chief Counsel (Collection, Bankruptcy and Summonses) before assuming his current position in 2007. Prior to joining the Office, from 1984-1999, he was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, where he ultimately held the position of Assistant Chief, Appellate Section, Tax Division. From 1980-1984, Gary was a Captain in the Army JAG Corps.

Over the past 30 years, Gary has been a driving force in the development of the law with respect to IRS collection and information gathering and the defense of the Government’s interests in bankruptcy. As the principal reviewer of bankruptcy appellate matters while at the Tax Division, Gary played a key role in nearly every significant bankruptcy case decided by the Courts of Appeal during his tenure, arguing many of the cases personally. Since coming to the Office of Chief Counsel, Gary has been a critical part of the implementation of new legislation, the development of new collection processes, and the defense of IRS collection actions in the Tax Court. His hard work, critical eye, and collaborative spirit have been a model for Chief Counsel attorneys and managers and his contributions will be sorely missed.

The IRS also announced Gray’s replacement, Fred Schindler. Schindler achieved notoriety in connection with the famous IRS Anaheim conference that brought the IRS’s lavish spending on itself to public notice. Politico reported that Schindler was placed on administrative leave following the conference and, according to congressional sources, slated for termination.

The IRS message continues with the announcement of Schindler’s appointment:

We are pleased to announce that Fred Schindler will assume the role of Deputy Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration) effective September 1st, 2014. Fred joined the Office of Chief Counsel in 1998 as an attorney in the General Litigation Division and later served as Assistant to the Branch Chief, Special Counsel, and Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel in the Collection, Bankruptcy, and Summonses Division. In 2006 Fred was selected into the IRS Executive Development Program. He served as Director, Collection Policy, in the Small Business/Self Employed Operating Division from 2006 through 2010, and as Director, Implementation Oversight, in the Affordable Care Act Office from 2011 until rejoining Counsel in October 2013 as Counselor to the Associate Chief Counsel (P&A).

Bill Henck comments:

I don’t know Mr. Schindler personally, but others have told me that he is a good attorney and a good person. Maybe a subsequent investigation exonerated him regarding the Anaheim conference. However, this appears to be one more example of the arrogance displayed by IRS chief counsel management. They rammed through his selection to a Senior Executive Service position without any explanation regarding his role at the conference. They did it because they can.

Bill adds:

It is highly unusual for a replacement to be named in the same e-mail announcing someone’s retirement. For whatever reason, they decided not to go through the usual selection process.

I called IRS public affairs this morning put in a request for comment by noon today. I was asked to submit my inquiry by email with contact information. I have confirmed receipt of my message by the IRS public affairs office; the IRS has so far declined to comment. I will update this post if I hear back from the IRS.

IRS experts say Lois Lerner’s hard drive was just scratched

The IRS’s claim that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was irreparably damaged always seemed laughable to attorneys who (like John and me) have been involved in disputes over electronic discovery, as well as to IT professionals and their trade association. Now we learn, via Byron York, that IRS’s own IT professionals dispute this claim:

Top IRS officials told congressional investigators that Lois Lerner’s hard drive — the one containing emails that could shed light on the IRS targeting scandal — was irreparably damaged before it was destroyed completely in 2011.

But now, investigators have had a chance to talk to the technical experts inside the IRS who actually examined Lerner’s computer, and the experts say the hard drive in question was actually just “scratched,” and that most of the data on it was recoverable.

However, the IRS wasn’t willing to take “yes” for an answer; not when there might well be incriminating evidence to be concealed:

The IRS computer experts also told the committee that they had recommended seeking outside help in recovering the data from Lerner’s computer — something IRS management declined to do.

I agree with David Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who says, “to now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS.”

According to Byron, House investigators have also learned that at least for some period of time, Lerner’s computer was listed as “recovered” in an internal IRS IT tracking document. The committee says IRS experts were not able to say whether “recovered” meant that the hard drive had actually been saved or whether it had met some other fate. But “recovered” in ordinary usage would seem to mean a fate less fatal than that which IRS witnesses have asserted.

Clearly, the IRS hasn’t been leveling with Congress. Naturally, its failure to do so only fuels the investigation. This suggests that the IRS perceives a need to cover up wrongdoing that extends considerably further than that which has already been uncovered.

Most likely, the wrongdoing extends further not just in scope, but also in terms of people behind it.

The terrible cost of thwarting Hamas

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz has just posted his column today on the state of the war with Hamas to this point. Here is one point you may not see advertised in our own media:

The real battle is taking place in those Gaza border neighborhoods — Shejaiya, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and others — where thousands of Israeli solders are searching, house to house, for the tunnel entrances. Dozens of openings have been found — multiple entrances to the underground passages that also have multiple exits on the Israeli side. Time after time, Hamas gunmen have sought to surprise the Israeli soldiers by rising out of the earth from these openings, and firing. They’ve been largely unsuccessful. Ten Hamas gunmen were shot dead attempting the feat from one tunnel opening inside a mosque on Sunday, military sources said — just one of numerous such incidents.

Israel says some 210 Hamas fighters have been killed; more than 20 have been captured and are providing intelligence on the tunnels.

David adds:

But Israel is paying a heavy price. Soldiers have been killed in booby-trapped buildings. Six, maybe seven died when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile in Shejaiya. They are fighting off kidnap attempts. They report being charged by Gaza children as young as 13 wearing suicide-bomber belts laden with explosives. The losses are mounting. “We’re in a war,” said Col. Uri Gordin, commander of the Nahal Brigade, on Tuesday.

And this should also be noted:

Hamas is using every dirty trick in the book. Everybody now knows what Israel has said for years — that Gaza’s terrorist government hides its rockets in schools, fires from next to mosques, buries its ammunition under homes, sets up its command and control centers in hospitals. We all now also know that when its rockets are found in schools run by UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), UNRWA gives them back to Hamas (and the US keeps on funding UNRWA).

Most despicably, Hamas warned civilians in Shejaiya not to heed Israeli pleas to leave the area — from where over 150 rockets have been fired, and numerous tunnels dug — ahead of the bitter fighting that has raged there since Saturday night; hence the awful scale of civilian casualties. The Hamas fighters, meanwhile, were lying in wait underground, preparing to ambush the Israeli ground forces.

And this as well:

It’s a sad day when the EU — possibly shaken by the sight of all those militant Muslims leading the anti-Israel protests on its streets — appears to better understand what we’re up against than does the US government…”

Indeed it is.

Whole thing here.

The steep price of Israel’s Gaza pullout

As always, once the serious fighting starts, Israel is receiving most of the blame for the current battle in Gaza. And in an important sense, Israel actually is to blame. Had it not pulled out of Gaza, it would not now be fighting this war.

This war, like the several before it, is the entirely predictable consequence of Israel’s inability to police Gaza. As a result of the pullout, Hamas is able to obtain rockets, establish sites from which to fire them, build tunnels from which to send terrorists into Israel, and so forth.

To protect itself from rocket attacks and terrorist infiltration, Israel must periodically fight bloody battles, in which, inadvertently, it inflicts civilian casualties. And each time it fights Hamas, Israel finds that Hamas has more sophisticated equipment.

This time, Hamas has been able to land a missile close enough to Israel’s international airport to provide at least a pretext for Western airlines to suspend, for a time, much of the air traffic into Israel. One of these days, as David Goldman suggests, Hamas may well have missiles that can defeat Israel’s defense systems and inflict vast damage upon major Israeli population centers.

Israel, in sum, continues to pay a big price for pulling out of Gaza.

What has Israel gained? Its soldiers no longer have to patrol this cesspool and incur the casualties that doing so entails. And Israeli taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for occupying Gaza. But it is the proper role of soldiers to endure the dangers associated with protecting the civilian population, and the proper role of the civilian population to foot the bill.

Israel hoped by withdrawing from Gaza to gain favor with the West. This was always a pipe dream. As Evelyn Gordon points out, all Israel bought itself from the West, including the Obama administration, is the acknowledgement that it has the right to defend itself from attacks launched out of Gaza provided that it does so without inflicting civilian casualties — an impossibility in any war.

Where does Israel go from here? Reoccupying Gaza seems out of the question. Israel will have to settle for destroying Hamas’ infrastructure to the maximum extent possible in a military operation of limited duration.

There should be no ceasefire. Israel should go about its work and then pull out when ready to do so. Missile attacks on Gaza can continue post-pullout, if they are deemed necessary.

Finally, Israel needs to internalize the lesson of Gaza: never again cede land to the Palestinians.

The cessation of international flights into Israel alone should be enough to establish this “never again” proposition. As Shmuel Rosner put it on Twitter, Israel can’t afford to have its sole air bridge to the world be at the mercy of a terrorist organization’s whims.

Hamas and Fatah are already too close to Israel’s population centers and its airport. To invite them closer would be folly.

Marie Harf explains

State Department spokesman Marie Harf makes me barf. Harf is the deputy to State Department spokesman Jen Psaki; Psaki makes me barf too, even though her name lacks the clue of the perfect rhyme. Together the two of them give the catastrophic foreign policy of the Obama administration a lighter than air, Valley Girl kind of twist. With them we can smile through the apocalypse.

In the video below, Harf speaks up for the United Nations organization whose good works in Gaza include the return of Hamas missiles found in UN schools to Hamas authorities. The Times of Israel reports that more missiles were found in another such school yesterday. What are they teaching them in those schools anyway?

AP State Department reporter Matthew Lee grills Harf on the internal contradictions of Harfism.

Video via Adam Kredo/Free Beacon.