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AP: AG Barr has appointed a special counsel in investigation of Russia probe

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William Barr AG

This story has been updated to include Sen. Lindsey Graham’s statements

U.S. Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that in October he had appointed Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel under the same federal statute that oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller during the initial probe into claims of Russian election interference.

Furthermore, he told The AP that Durham’s investigation into the origins of that initial Russia probe has been tightening its scope to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane.

This relates to text messages of two FBI agents assigned to the probe in which they criticized President Donald Trump and for which Mueller removed them from the probe’s team. Republicans have claimed that these texts, which were publicized in December 2017, are proof that Mueller’s Russia probe was politically motivated against Trump.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after Attorney General William Barr notified the committee that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham with the powers and authority of a special counsel.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday in a press release that he agreed with Barr’s decision to appoint Durham as a Special Counsel in the investigation related to the “Department of Justice and FBI’s conduct in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”

Graham said that ‘based on hearings we held in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is obvious the system failed and the FISA Court’s rebuke of the Department of Justice and FBI was more than warranted.”

The chairman stated that the only way to restore credibility to the DOJ and FBI “after this disgraceful episode, people have to be held accountable – either through criminal prosecution or administrative action.” 

“I have complete confidence that Mr. Durham is the right man at the right time to be appointed special counsel,” Graham said. “I hope his work product will help restore confidence in the Department of Justice and FBI after the debacle called Crossfire Hurricane.”

RELATED: Graham: Durham investigation report expected after election

Additionally, Barr has provided extra protection to Durham, The AP also reported, giving him the authority of a special counsel to complete the work without being easily fired.

Under federal regulations, according to The AP, a special counsel can only be fired by the U.S. attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, or conflict of interest. On top of that, an attorney general must document such reasons in writing.

For more on the story, read The AP’s full story here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden Administration Relies on Discredited Reports to Claim Imminent Famine In Gaza

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Follow Steve Postal: @HebraicMosaic

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Despite sounding an alarm that northern Gaza would face an impending famine, an organization backtracked on its own analysis mere months later. USAID, and likely the State andDefense departments, relied on the research from this organization to pressure Israel on what was portrayed as an impending famine in northern Gaza.

On March 18, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) issued a report stating that famine with “reasonable evidence” would occur from March to July in the northern Gaza Strip, “with expectations that it will imminently emerge by May.” On May 31, FEWS NET followed up with a second report stating that it “…finds it is possible, if not likely, that all three IPC thresholds for Famine (food consumption,acute malnutrition, and mortality) were met or surpassed in northern Gaza in April. But on June 4, The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Famine Review Committee (FRC) reviewed the FEWS NET analyses, and found them severely flawed on several accounts. Interestingly, according to a former IDF spokeswoman, FRC is at a higher, review level of the same organization as FEWS NET, so in June the organization essentially reviewed its own work.

Reliance by the Biden Administration. The Biden administration relied on the work of FEWS NET/FRC to chastise Israel on Gaza’s “imminent” famine. Sonali Korde, Assistant to the Administrator of USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, admitted such reliance explicitly in in an April 23 press briefing:Assessments on famine are based on a very rigorous methodology that is undertaken by the IPC, the Integrated Phase Classification, which is the expert body that both collects and reviews data. So, we will wait for their determination. But over a month prior, the March 18 FEWS NET report (or a March 18 FRC report) was likely the “heart-wrenching assessment” of “food security experts” that USAID Director Samantha Power cited that same day as evidence “that Famine is imminent in Northern Gaza.” In an apparent reference to the March 18 FRC report, on March 19, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that “according to the most respected measure of these things, 100 percent of the population in Gaza is at severe levels of acute food insecurity.  That’s the first time an entire population has been so classified.

The ”risk of famine” canard continued to be peddled by the Biden administration. In the above-mentioned April 23 press briefing, Ambassador David Satterfield, the Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues stated that “the risk of famine throughout Gaza is very high, especially in the north. Israel must do everything possible to facilitate efforts to avert famine in Gaza. This followed an unnamed State Department official telling Reuters that “While we can say with confidence that famine is a significant risk in the south and centre but not present, in the north, it is both a risk and quite possibly is present in at least some areas. Additionally, in an April 4 press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder stated that “Secretary Austin again raised the need for a rapid increase of aid coming through all crossings in the coming days, particularly to communities in northern Gaza that are at risk of famine.

But while apparently captivating USAID, State, and Defense,FRC burst its own bubble through its June criticism of earlier FEWS NET analyses:

Analysis based on “assumptions and inference.” The FRC conceded that FEWS NET relied on “major gaps in publiclyaccessible evidence, including direct and indirect evidence for food consumption and livelihood change, nutritional status, and mortality…” and had “relied on multiple layers of assumption and inference, beginning with food availability and access in northern Gaza and continuing through nutritional status and mortality.” In other words, FEWS NET did not have the facts to support its assertion that a famine was imminent. FRC admitted that as much, stating that “While the use of assumptions and inference is standard practice in IPC generally, the limitations of the available body of evidence and the extent of its convergencefor northern Gaza in April leads to a very high level ofuncertainty regarding the current food security and nutritional status of the population.

Analysis did not factor in shipments to bakeries or contracted/commercial trucking. The FRC also noted that the FEWS NET analysis excluded 940 metric tons of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast delivered by WFP [the United Nations’ World Food Program] to bakeries in northern Gaza.Additionally, the FEWS NET analysis excluded the contributions of private commercial and contracted trucking, whose deliveries comprised “…about 1,820 [metric tons] (low estimate) and 3,850 [metric tons] (high estimate) in the month of March and for about 2,405 [metric tons] (low estimate) and 4,004 [metric tons] (high estimate) in the month of April 2024.” FRC estimated that if the FEWS NET analysis incorporated these food sources, the estimated caloric availability in the area would have increased from what FEWS NET estimated as only 59-63% of the population’s needs in April, versus 75% to 109%, and even 157% if a higher estimate was used. FRC stated that FEWS NET could have taken such sources of food into account “for a more thorough analysis.”

The Biden administration relied on flawed and incomplete research to make an unsubstantiated claim that Israel was putting Gaza at risk of famine. Rather than take a “guilty until proven innocent approach,” the Biden administration must allow Israel to defeat Hamas.

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