Appoint special prosecutor to investigate FBI, Justice Department

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionThe Washington Post reported that a former top FBI official, Peter Strzok, who had been assigned to and then removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, had “exchanged politically charged texts disparaging [President Donald Trump and supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton” and that Strzok was “also a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.” The new special counsel could also review Strzok’s texts and, more crucially, his conduct throughout 2015 and 2016.Strzok may be completely innocent of anything except an off-handed joke that the straight-laced Mueller deemed necessary to punish in a display of a “Caesar’s wife” sort of purity of purpose.But if his texts to FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal a partisan animus towards Trump or admiration for Clinton, then the bureau and the department have a huge problem on their hands and not just with Strzok and Page.When FBI Special Agent Robert Hanssen was revealed to have committed espionage against the United States, it didn’t mean that even one other member of the bureau was guilty of Hanssen’s sins, but it did require a painstaking review of all of Hanssen’s activities and inputs, as all of them had to be reconsidered in light of his treasonous behavior.If Strzok’s texts reveal deep animus towards Trump or an operational effort to tilt one or more investigations, then all of his actions have to be reviewed to assure the public’s confidence in the bureau.That one or two agents or officials of the bureau are discovered to have been acting from improper motives would be bad enough. To try and sweep those activities under the rug would be worse. Against the backdrop of other recent controversies, it would be disastrous.Step one is a quick publication of the questionable texts. All of them. The public has a right to know what the predicate for Mueller’s extraordinary action was. The public also deserves a detailed account of Strzok’s (and Page’s) duties and authorities during the years in question.If an NBA official was discovered to have purposefully thrown even one game, every game in which he had carried a whistle would be under the microscope. That’s how it works. Unless there’s a cover-up.Nevertheless, just as Hanssen was “one bad apple” who didn’t spoil the bunch, so even an out-of-bounds Strzok doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the FBI beyond him.To get to the truth, and restore confidence in federal law enforcement, better a special counsel to conduct the inquiry, bring any necessary charges and make a report – someone without ties to the president or his opponents. They do exist, such men and women. Former federal judges make excellent candidates. But we need one appointed right now.Hugh Hewitt is a Washington Post contributing columnist.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristscenter_img This is a blockbuster revelation, carrying the possibility of shattering public confidence in a number of long-held assumptions about the criminal-justice system generally and the FBI and the Justice Department specifically.The Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate Strzok’s actions as soon as possible.The Strzok report comes on heels of the widely derided Justice Department investigation into IRS discrimination against conservative groups, including the disposition of allegations against IRS senior official Lois Lerner, and after the wildly erratic behavior of then-FBI Director James Comey during 2016.Mix into this battering of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s reputations the still-murky charges and counter-charges of abuse of “unmasking” powers during the waning days of the Obama era. As a result, a large swath of responsible center-right observers are now demanding a full review of the investigation and prosecution powers wielded by the Obama-era Justice Department and FBI.Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in the National Review on Saturday that President Trump should call for a second independent counsel to investigate abuse of the counterintelligence authorities under President Barack Obama, abuses he suggests were undertaken to protect the controversial Iran deal on nuclear weapons.This is an excellent idea.last_img read more

Founders just couldn’t predict the future

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion The Constitution was written with no mention of what kind of arms were “intended,” as it is silent on what specifically constitutes speech or the press. Private citizens purchased cannons in the 18th century.Presses printed one page at a time. Should we limit freedom of the press to one-page-at-a-time presses? Speech was by mouth. Should we exclude electronic means of delivering speech as protected? Do movies and TV count under free speech?The Founders could not have dreamed of email and texting. If we are going to “stop using 18th century laws to regulate 21st century weapons” and limit our rights to the means by which they were exercised in the 18th century, why not use that same logic to limit the means by which we enjoy our other freedoms today?Now, because there was no postal service in the 18th century, I will put down my quill pen, roll this parchment, melt some sealing wax, and call my attendant to hand courier this letter to The Gazette — by horse and wagon.DAVE HARTLathamMore from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Albany County warns of COVID increaseEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census It’s hilarious, isn’t it, when people presume to know what our Founding Fathers “intended.” There’s this argument that goes around every time gun violence makes the news that the Founders had only single-fire muskets and bayonets in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment, and “Stop using 18th century laws to regulate 21st century weapons” and all that.last_img read more

North Wales

first_imgThe big issue facing the north Wales property market is the effect of regional shopping on established shopping patterns.The continued success of the Cheshire Oaks factory-shopping mall, Ellesmere Port and the recently opened Trafford Centre poses the greatest threat to retail vibrancy on the north Wales coast.In addition, Broughton Shopping Parc, to the west of Chester, just over the Welsh border, opens in July. It provides nearly 27,870 sq m (300,000 sq ft) of retail accommodation and will undoubtedly draw in business from Chester.All these centres offer a mix of shopping, including a high proportion of fashion. Their impact will be felt both on the high street and within established retail parks across north Wales.Nationally, the out-of-town market has been buoyant over the past decade, with the rental warehouse index rising by 71% between 1992 and 1997.However, the scale of this growth is far from uniform. Locations such as Wrexham have seen an increase in the region of only 35% over the same period, while Broughton has risen by 67% within 18 months. In contrast, Flintshire retail park rents have grown by 8% in the past three years.More westerly towns have suffered less. Bangor, for example, has seen a rise of around 50% in the five years to March 1997 and rents now reach about £97/sq m (£9/sq ft).Wrexham faces the stiffest challenge and has the most to lose from its proximity to Chester and particularly Broughton Shopping Parc.Llandudno, though, will retain its position as the most affluent town on the north Wales coast. This is demonstrated by Marks & Spencer’s £8m extension to the main trading store in the town, combined with its intention to continue trading from its other store on Mostyn Street.Retailing activity on the western side of the north Wales coast is focused on Bangor. The town is starting to feel the benefits of additional spend from the extended catchment area provided by improvements to the Caernarfon link road and the A5 across Anglesey.Bangor’s greatest limiting factor is the topography, which restricts the development of good-quality retail floorspace on the high street. While the Deiniol Centre has been refurbished recently, proposals to substantially improve the Wellfield Centre will be the most significant step in providing large floor plates to satisfy demand.OfficesThe office market across north Wales revolves around out-of-town business parks, which have achieved almost full occupancy rates and have additional proposals in the pipeline.This is in contrast with town and city-centre space, where take-up is very low, particularly from larger users. This is perhaps a reflection of the lack of accessibility and limited car parking. Accordingly, the A55 is a lifeline for business and office space development across north Wales.The supply of office space in out-of-town parks now exceeds 92,902 sq m (1m sq ft), principally at Chester Business Park and Park West Business Park in Chester, and St Davids Park in Ewlow.To a lesser extent, business parks at Wrexham, St Asaph, Menai, Bangor and Flint have played an important role and have drawn larger users out of town centres.Rentals, however, differ greatly. The dominant parks are achieving up to £172/sq m (£16/sq ft) and smaller parks such as St Asaph and Acorn Business Park in Flint are achieving about £75-85/sq m (£7/8/sq ft).Demand for in-town space is concentrated on smaller suites, typically 100-200 sq m (1,000-2,000 sq ft), primarily from small local businesses and professionals.A breakdown of space let in Chester city centre over the past three years shows a 65% take-up from local businesses and only 15% from national companies.In comparison, the out-of-town business parks are characterised by demand from national and international businesses. In the last three years, 78% of space has been taken by such companies. An example is MBNA, with 28,000 sq m (300,000 sq ft) at Chester Business Park.In Chester alone, prime rents achieved on business parks are 60% ahead of those achieved within the Town Centre and this is a trend continued across the north Wales market.Industrial Industrial development is more focused on two massive industrial sites at Deeside and Wrexham, which individually serve the east/west and north/south corridors, respectively.There are some piecemeal developments along the line of the A55, concentrated mostly around Llandudno Junction/Colwyn Bay, but the main focus for the regional and major occupier market is primarily Deeside Industrial Park.Over the past three years, Deeside Industrial Park has seen take-up exceeding 27,000 sq m (300,000 sq ft). With substantial land availability, demand has been met by supply, and rental levels have remained static at around £43/sq m (£4/sq ft).Rents are beginning to harden. The opening of the third Dee crossing and improvements to the Queensferry bypass will deliver continued development and rental growth.Wrexham provides about 405ha (1,000 acres) of industrial park, primarily servicing the north/south corridor. This is another Welsh Development Agency success story – it has 150 occupiers. Steady take-up is predicted, with rental levels comparable with Deeside Industrial Park.last_img read more

The outsiders

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Ingall toasts new life at Allied London

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Forlorn in the USA

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Property prices hold ground

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City’s ‘terror tax’ is a price we may all have to pay

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Planning Looking to the future

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Only girls aloud

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