RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
Feb. 3 to Feb. 9

Featured Investigation

Warrants to spy on American citizens under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are shrouded in mystery. The Trump/Russia probe has shined some light on this secret process: Evidence suggests the FBI withheld crucial information as it sought authority to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. 

And now John Solomon reports in the Hill that this is not the first time that the FBI has been accused of cheating on sensitive surveillance warrants. Two decades ago, the judges overseeing those requests were so concerned about FBI abuse that they demanded the bureau’s director address concerns about extensive cheating on FISA warrants. That revelation is drawing special interest because the FBI Director then was Robert Mueller, who is now leading the Special Counsel investigating Russian interference in 2016 election. Solomon reports that the ...

… court's concerns arose in 2002 and 2003 — shortly after America was stunned by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — when the FISC learned the FBI had omitted material facts from FISA warrant applications in more than 75 terrorism cases that dated back to the late 1990s. 

Most of the omissions occurred in FBI work that pre-dated Mueller’s arrival, the sources said. But the court wanted assurances the new sheriff in town was going to stop such widespread abuses. 

Mueller told the court the FBI had created a new system called the Woods Procedures — named for the FBI lawyer who drafted them — to ensure FISA warrant applications were accurate and did not omit material information, according to [former FBI counsel Trisha] Anderson’s congressional interview.

Solomon’s says that history raises an important question: 

We now know the FISA judges don’t tolerate omissions of material facts and were angry enough in an earlier time to haul the FBI director into court to make their point. .. The question now is, do the current FISC judges and Justice Department supervisors — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray among them — care the same about the integrity of the FISA process? 

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The Trump Investigations: Top Articles

Why Were Schiff and Simpson Meeting in Aspen? The Hill
Files Show Trump Moscow Tower Talks During '16 RaceBuzzFeed 
Schiff Plans Big Probe of Trump Finances and Russia, CNN
Democrats Split on Aggressively Seeking Trump Taxes, Wall Street Journal
 
Was Pro-Trump Tabloid's Exposé of Bezos Affair a Hit Job? Washington Post 
Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of ‘Extortion and Blackmail,’ New York Times

The Virginia Blackface/Rape Scandals

Virginia: Gov. Northam in Blackface and KKK Photo, Big League Politics
Gov. Does 180, Denies Being in Racist Yearbook Photo, AP, WJLA
Washington Post Held Off on Rape Account vs. Virginia's No. 2, Washington Post
On Brink of Ascent, Virginia Lt. Gov. Blasts 'Smear' of Rape Story, New York Times
College Prof Comes Forward as Lt. Gov.'s Accuser, New York Times
Virginia Democrats Reel as AG Admits Blackface in College, Townhall
Virginia GOP Lawmaker Also Has Blackface Problem, Wall Street Journal
Senators Who Blasted Kavanaugh Have Little to Say on Fairfax, Daily Caller

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

Inside Story of American Warship Doomed by Its Own Navy
ProPublica
This is a multimedia investigation drawing on more than 13,000 pages of confidential Navy records and many interviews to reconstruct the epic USS Fitzgerald crash — one of the Navy’s deadliest accidents — and show how the warship was doomed from the start by its own senior leadership. ProPublica says destroyers like the Fitzgerald are supposed to be the Navy’s linchpin against geopolitical threats, including a North Korean nuclear attack. But just two months after the crash, another destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, collided with a cargo vessel, leaving 10 more sailors dead and the Navy scrambling to explain another embarrassment.

The Veterans Killing Themselves at VA Hospitals 
Washington Post 
Nineteen suicides occurred on VA hospital campuses from October 2017 to November 2018, seven of them in parking lots, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. While studies show that every suicide is highly complex, mental-health experts worry that veterans taking their lives on VA property has become a desperate form of protest against a system that some veterans feel hasn’t helped them. The most recent parking lot suicide occurred weeks before Christmas in St. Petersburg, Fla. Marine Col. Jim Turner, 55, dressed in his uniform blues and medals, sat on top of his military and VA records and killed himself with a rifle outside the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans are 1.5 times as likely as civilians to die by suicide, after adjusting for age and gender. 

The Life Cycle of a Stolen Gun 
New Yorker/The Trace 
Gun shop burglaries rose 65 percent between 2012 and 2017, a period during which more than 32,000 firearms were stolen from gun dealers. This article reports on the efforts to find out what happened to the weapons stolen by one a North Carolina thief, who is now behind bars. Tracking such weapons is painstaking, and requires cross-referencing the serial numbers listed on reports of stolen guns with those on police reports for crimes. The reporter relied on thousands of public records and more than fifty interviews to track the guns through a network of black-market profiteers.

Over 60, and Crushed by Student Loan Debt 
Wall Street Journal 
The fastest growing group of people with student debt is also the grayest – people over 60. On average, student loan borrowers in their 60s owed $33,800 in 2017, up 44 percent from 2010. Total student loan debt rose 161 percent for people aged 60 and older from 2010 to 2017. Many of those seniors took out loans to help pay for their children’s college tuition and are still paying them off. Others took out student loans for themselves in the wake of the last recession, as they went back to school to boost their own job prospects.

Airline Mechanics Feel Pressured to Overlook Potential Safety Risks 
CBS News 
The American aviation system is experiencing an unparalleled period of safety, with only one death involving a passenger airline in the last decade. But an eight-month CBS News investigation found airline mechanics who said they feel pressured by management to look the other way when they see potential safety problems on airplanes. They said the pressure stems from an economic reality of the airline business: a plane only makes money when it's flying passengers. 

'Birth Tourism': $100K for a Chinese Born in U.S. 
Los Angeles Times  
It’s called “birth tourism,” trips by pregnant Chinese to America where ther goal is not to see Disneyland or the Grand Canyon but to give birth on U.S. soil so their children would be American citizens. The operators of at least two such outfits, which charge as much as $100,000 per person, are now the first people to face criminal charges in connection with birth tourism. Some estimate that the number of Chinese births in the U.S. at about 36,000 annually.

The White Flight From Football 
The Atlantic 
In the 2017–18 school year, 6.6 percent fewer high-school athletes participated in 11-player tackle football than in the 2008–09 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Yet parents are not holding back their kids from tackle football at equal rates. Kids in mostly white upper-income communities in the Northeast, Midwest, and West are leaving football for other sports such as lacrosse or baseball. But black kids in lower-income communities without a lot of other sports available are still flocking to football. A recent survey of 50,000 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students found that about 44 percent of black boys play tackle football, compared with 29 percent of white boys.

She Says 'Godfather of Soul' Raped Her, and He Was Murdered 
CNN 
The official report says soul singer James Brown died of a heart attack in 2006. But now more than a dozen people suspect foul play – including the doctor who signed his death certificate and a circus performer who supposedly “exaggerates, or hallucinates.” People are also questioning the death of Brown’s third wife, Adrienne, who died after plastic surgery in 1997. For this three-part series, the reporter spent two years travelling to nine states, interviewing nearly 140 people and reading read tens of thousands of pages of police and court records. Such are the doubts about Brown's death that some are calling for the opening of his crypt, which some claim is empty, so than another autopsy can be performed. A fascinating report full of characters almost as colorful as the Godfather of Soul.

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