Immigration raids and the Logan Act: Let's start on a positive note:
In this morning's Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz offers a superb report about the way a Syrian family has been welcomed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In hard copy, the headlines said this:
"You are welcome here, and you are loved"We recommend every word, especially about the 4-year-old who's teaching the nursery rhyme.
A Pennsylvania church group helps a Syrian refugee family settle into their new lives
The Post report ends with a question from the admirable Lancaster woman who has supervised the resettlement of this family. We would answer her question like this:
Concerning local people who may not feel the same way you do: try to be as understanding toward them as you've been toward this family. Don't succumb to what Dr. King called "corroding anger."
This was a superb report in this morning's Post. Elsewhere, we found it hard to understand the Post's work. Let's consider two topics:
Hauslohner and Somashekhar wrote a puzzling news report about the arrest of 680 people in immigration actions last week. In hard copy, the headline said this:
680 in U.S. illegally are arrested in raids
On what basis were these people arrested? We found it hard to decipher the Post's report. Early on, we encountered this:
HAUSLOHNER AND SOMASHEKHAR (2/14/17): DHS, which overseas U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said Monday that approximately 75 percent of those arrested were “criminal aliens,” including some who had been convicted of crimes such as homicide, sexual assault of a minor and drug trafficking.Already, we were lost. According to the middle paragraph, the term "criminal aliens" seems to include everyone who's in the country without authorization. (People who entered the country illegally, plus those who overstayed a visa.) But in the top paragraph, we're told that only 75 percent of those arrested were "criminal aliens."
Asked to provide further clarification, a DHS official confirmed that the term “criminal aliens” includes anyone who had entered the United States illegally or overstayed or violated the terms of a visa. There are an estimated 11 million people in the United States who fit that profile.
ICE declined to provide the names and locations of those who were detained in the raids, nor would the agency say how many of the 680 people had committed serious crimes.
Who are the other 25 percent? The issue is only further confused by the comment about "serious crimes," a term which is cited again late in the piece without ever getting defined.
Already, we were caught in a muddle. As the reporters continued, so did the confusion:
HAUSLOHNER AND SOMASHEKAR (continuing directly): Field offices in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta and New York City released a total of 15 examples of people ICE took into custody last week, including one who was a “self-admitted MS-13 gang member” and one who was wanted for murder and attempted murder in Mexico. Seven had prior convictions for sexual assault or for lewd or indecent acts with a child, and three, including the gang member, had convictions for drug trafficking or distribution.In the first of those two paragraphs, it almost sounds like a fairly small number of those arrested had committed truly serious crimes. That said, the logic of that paragraph isn't clear.
ICE carried out the arrests in New York, California, Illinois, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Wisconsin. Of those, about a quarter had no prior convictions.
Meanwhile, it sounds like that puzzling 25 percent "had no prior convictions." No prior convictions for what? Unless there's something we're missing here, this work is indecipherable.
In theory, it shouldn't be this hard to read the Washington Post. That said, we had a similar problem with the featured front-page report concerning Michael Flynn.
Michael Flynn and sanctions on Russia:
Granted, events have been moving fast in this area; Flynn still hadn't resigned when this morning's hard-copy report went to print. Still and all, this passage didn't quite seem to make sense:
ENTOUS, NAKASHIMA AND RUCKER (2/14/17): Yates, then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call to be “highly significant” and “potentially illegal,” according to an official familiar with her thinking.According to that passage, Yates "suspected that Flynn could be in violation of the Logan Act," but "knew there was little chance of bringing against Flynn a case related to the Logan Act." As that third paragraph continues, the reporters try to iron out this wrinkle. We can't really say they succeed.
Yates and other intelligence officials suspected that Flynn could be in violation of an obscure U.S. statute known as the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country.
At the same time, Yates and other law enforcement officials knew there was little chance of bringing against Flynn a case related to the Logan Act, a statute that has never been used in a prosecution. In addition to the legal and political hurdles, Yates and other officials were aware of an FBI investigation looking at possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia, which now included the Flynn-Kislyak communications.
Let us say this about that:
The scent of blood is in the air. At such times, lynch mobs will form, even among those who vote the same way you do.
Unless you just enjoy running with mobs, you should continue to insist on clarity. You should also exercise appropriate skepticism, even concerning players like Yates and even concerning top reporters.
We thought that passage was a bit murky concerning Yates' thinking. Meanwhile, right at the start of this report, Post readers encountered this:
ENTOUS, NAKASHIMA AND RUCKER: The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.Granted, that opening sentence only says that Yates "believed" that Flynn "had misled senior administration officials."
The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the Russian diplomat, had told Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the information.
But why would Yates even have believed that? How could she possibly have known whether Flynn had "misled senior administration officials," including Pence?
It's possible that Pence (and Trump) were misled by Flynn, of course. It's also possible that they weren't misled by Flynn—that they all agreed to misstate the facts. Why would Yates already have formed a "belief" which would exculpate Trump and Pence? This point of puzzlement comes right at the start of this front-page report.
People are running in the streets, chasing Flynn with ropes. At such times, you're likely to hear a lot of things that don't quite make sense, even from people you may be inclined to favor.
(Needless to say, Rachel Maddow will be trying to get everyone thrown in jail.)
At a time like this, you're likely to see and hear serial leaps of logic. We'd advise you to keep your eye on the prize, with clarity preferably being a very key part of the deal.
Always room for one more: Maddow loves to dream about throwing people in jail. That includes Governor Bentley, who had a "sex scandal," as the Puritanical cable star reminded us again last week, for perhaps the ten millionth time.
Governor Bentley had a girl friend, and even talked about the enjoyment of touching her breasts! Rachel reminded us of these points again last week. She does have a bit of a problem in the general areas of 1) seeking punishment for The Others and 2) loathing the idea of Those People ever finding happiness or experiencing pleasure.
We don't admire these parts of her game. We don't think you should either.