That’s Unfortunate – NBC Reported White House Had to Choose Between Brittany Griner or Paul Whelan, Biden Chose Griner – Then NBC Changed Report

That’s Unfortunate – NBC Reported White House Had to Choose Between Brittany Griner or Paul Whelan, Biden Chose Griner – Then NBC Changed Report

Just an ancillary side note to the U.S-Russia prisoner exchange.

According to an original article from NBC, the negotiations for the prisoner swap included an exchange for either LGBTQ+ hero Brittany Griner or U.S. former marine Paul Whelan.

The Russians would swap either U.S. citizen for the return of arms dealer Viktor Bout; however, the White House would have to decide which American they wanted in return.  The White House decided there was greater benefit to getting LGBTQ+ hero Brittany Griner returned, and left Paul Whelan in a Russian prison.

[ NBC Report – Archived Version LINK ]

Obviously, this context of the NBC report makes the Biden administration look bad.

A political and ideological decision within the selection of the Biden administration preference.   Realizing this, perhaps after contact from the White House, NBC stealth edited their story after publication in order to eliminate the political problem.

[ Current NBC Version ]

In the original version: “the Kremlin gave the White House the choice of either Griner or Whelan — or none.”

In the stealth revised version: “the Kremlin ultimately gave the White House the choice of either Griner or no one after different options were proposed.”

Even with the modified and carefully worded changes, it looks like Joe Biden chose the trans basketball player over the former U.S. marine, which, given the arc of history, does seem to make sense.

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These 7 Trump-Critical GOP Senators Have No Plan To Deal With Unconstitutional, Election-Altering Censorship

Seven Republican U.S. senators who slammed former President Trump for suggesting that new censorship revelations warranted a reconsideration of the 2020 presidential election results have no plan to address the First Amendment-violating censorship Trump was reacting to in “The Twitter Files.”

More and more evidence is exposing how our corrupt FBI brazenly violated the Constitution by dictating to social media monopolies what speech to censor from public and private discourse ahead of the 2020 election. Yet GOP senators are more preoccupied with Trump talking about altering the Constitution than they are with the deep state committing actual violations of it.

After revelations uncovered that Twitter colluded with the Biden campaign to censor content in the lead-up to the election and misused its “hacked material policy” to annihilate the Hunter Biden laptop story, Trump posted to Truth Social:

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

Trump clarified his comments on Monday, saying that he does not want to terminate the Constitution, but that there was “‘MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION’” that has been “irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG.”

Instead of devising a plan to reckon with the 2020 election’s many issues or at least ensure election interference does not occur again, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mike Rounds and John Thune of South Dakota, John Cornyn of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Mitt Romney of Utah flew into hysterics over the former president’s social media post. 

Murkowski decried Trump’s comments as “a betrayal of our oath of office” and “an affront to our Republic.” Cornyn stated that the former president’s remarks were “irresponsible,” and Romney called Trump a “RINO” (“Republican in name only”). Thune condemned the president’s comments and added that it is a “golden opportunity” for 2024 rivals “to create some contrast.” 

McConnell, who is responsible for sabotaging GOP chances for a Senate majority, used the controversy to jab at Trump’s bid for the presidency: “Anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of the United States.”

The Federalist asked all seven of these Trump-critical senators if they have a plan to remedy the unconstitutional and illegal censorship of voters and news during the 2020 election, or if they have a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Not one of them responded.

The “Twitter Files,” a collection of internal Twitter employee communications revealed to independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss by new Twitter CEO Elon Musk, exposed a coordinated effort to weaponize Twitter — one of the most influential social media platforms for American political discourse — against President Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 election. 

In the months leading up to the Big Tech company’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story, Twitter employees were building relationships with Biden’s presidential campaign. “By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: ‘More to review from the Biden team.’ The reply would come back: ‘Handled.’” Taibbi wrote.

The “Twitter Files” revealed how Twitter inappropriately labeled the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story a violation of their “hacked materials policy.” The Twitter team had no proof the laptop story was “hacked,” but the narrative was successfully peddled by corrupt former intelligence heads and partisans in the corporate media who insisted — without evidence — that the story was “Russian disinformation.”

During last Friday’s posting of the “Twitter Files,” Taibbi informed the public that he had “no evidence” Twitter employees were following censorship orders from the government when they shut down the laptop story. But new information suggests a government link after all. In a “Twitter Files Supplemental” on Monday, Taibbi reported that Twitter Deputy General Counsel and former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker was fired by Musk for “Vetting the first batch of ‘Twitter Files’ — without knowledge of new management.”

Before becoming Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel, Baker played an instrumental role in fabricating the Russian collusion hoax, acting as the Clinton campaign’s “go-to, speed-dial contact” for promulgating the now-debunked conspiracy that Trump colluded with the Kremlin. “Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann picked Baker to give junk intelligence about a purported connection between President Donald Trump and the Russian Alfa Bank,” reports The Federalist’s Tristan Justice. 

Taibbi’s “Twitter Files Supplemental” suggests Baker was running interference behind Musk’s back, which could have easily included, for example, protecting his old colleagues at the FBI by removing evidence of their potential role in the censorship. 

The idea that the FBI wasn’t involved in the suppression of the story on Twitter seems unlikely given that last week Special Agent Elvis Chan confirmed that the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency met weekly with Big Tech companies to encourage censorship ahead of the 2020 election. We also have confirmation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that Meta took orders from the FBI to suppress the laptop story. 

The “Twitter Files” revealed that Twitter suppressed day-to-day content at the behest of the Biden campaign, and it eliminated the biggest story in the lead-up to the 2020 election (potentially with FBI input) using the false, Democrat-contrived accusation that the story was “Russian disinformation.” This kind of election interference operation only becomes more influential when Election Day is turned into election season, as significant numbers of voters may cast their votes before unjustly suppressed information reaches their ears.

Polls show that 1 in 6 Biden voters would have changed their minds if they’d known about the several throttled news stories that were unfavorable to Biden, including the story about his son’s laptop. Unfortunately, these seven prominent GOP Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would rather criticize Trump than address Big Tech and FBI election interference and devise a plan for how to ensure election integrity in the future.


Evita Duffy is a staff writer to The Federalist and the co-founder of the Chicago Thinker. She loves the Midwest, lumberjack sports, writing, and her family. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1 or contact her at evita@thefederalist.com.

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White House Swaps Arms Dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA Player Brittany Griner – MbS Was Intermediary

White House Swaps Arms Dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA Player Brittany Griner – MbS Was Intermediary

Brittany Griner (32) was held in Russian prison after a conviction for drug possession.  Viktor Bout (55) was held in American prison after a conviction for illegal arms sales, supporting terrorists and money laundering.  In a prisoner exchange that took place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at Abu Dhabi airport, WNBA player Brittany Griner and Russian dealer Viktor Bout walked past each other on the tarmac.

NOTE: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) negotiated the deal.  Yesterday, in federal court the U.S. dropped a lawsuit against MbS for the Khoshoggi killing.  The case was dismissed.  The timing is transparent.

The Biden administration gets a popular transvestite hero of the LGBTQ+ community, while Vladimir Putin gets a Russian born global arms dealer nicknamed “the merchant of death.”  All things considered, the exchange priorities sound about right.

(Joe Biden) – “Moments ago, standing together with her wife, Cherelle, in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner.  She’s safe.  She’s on a plane.  She’s on her way home.

After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.  This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time.  We never stopped pushing for her release.

It took painstaking and intense negotiations, and I want to thank all the hardworking public servants across my administration who worked tirelessly to secure her release.” (read more)

Video Below.

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(Reuters) – […]  Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both traditional U.S. allies, are members of the OPEC+ oil producers alliance that includes Russia and have resisted Western pressure to help isolate Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Their mediation reflects efforts to show their ties with Russia are of benefit to Washington, which had accused Gulf oil producers of siding with Russia when OPEC+ agreed in October to cut oil output targets over U.S. objections. (more)

“And then I told him he had to stand on the tarmac and hit a three-point shot to save his johnson”… 

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Joe Biden: Brittney Griner an ‘Incomparable Athlete,’ Who ‘Represents the Best of America’

Joe Biden: Brittney Griner an ‘Incomparable Athlete,’ Who ‘Represents the Best of America’

President Joe Biden on Thursday celebrated the news that his administration had successfully secured the release of WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia.

“Brittney is an incomparable athlete,” Biden said, noting she was a two-time Olympic Gold medalist for the United States.

Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport by Russian officials for possession of cannabis vape cartridges.

“She represents the best about America — just across the board, everything about her,” Biden said.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: Cherelle Griner (L), wife of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced her release from Russian custody, at the White House on December 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Griner was released as part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Biden was joined by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Cherelle Griner (L), wife of WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced her release from Russian custody, at the White House on December 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Biden administration secured Griner’s release after they agreed to exchange her freedom for the release of Viktor Bout, a convicted international weapons dealer.

Viktor Bout sits while waiting for his verdict at the detention room at a criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009. The Russian arms dealer who once inspired a Hollywood movie is back in the headlines with speculation around a return to Moscow in a prisoner exchange for U.S. WBNA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Viktor Bout sits while waiting for his verdict at the detention room at a criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, August 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

The news of Griner’s release surprised Americans advocating for the release of ex-U.S. Marine Paul Whelan from Russia, who has been detained for nearly four years.

FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2019, file photo, Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018, stands in a cage as he waits for a hearing in a court room in Moscow, Russia. The Moscow City Court on Monday June 15, 2020, convicted Paul Whelan on charges of espionage and sentenced him to 16 years in maximum security prison colony. Whelan has insisted on his innocence, saying he was set up. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko. File)

In this August 23, 2019, file photo, Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested for alleged spying, stands in a cage as he waits for a hearing in a court room in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Biden tried to ward off criticism by noting that “this was not a choice of which American to bring home.”

“Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s,” he said.

He promised to keep working for Whelan’s release, admitting the family would likely have “mixed emotions” about the news of Griner’s release.

“We’ll keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release. I guarantee that,” he added. “I say that to the family: I guarantee you.”

The White House argued Thursday during the daily briefing with reporters that there was only one choice, “Bring Brittney home or no one.”

“She is an important role model, an inspiration to millions of Americans particularly the LGBTQI+ Americans and women of color,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

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Tom Cotton: People Will Die Because Biden Traded ‘Merchant of Death’ for Brittney Griner

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) predicted on Thursday that leftist President Joe Biden’s decision to trade imprisoned basketball player Brittney Griner for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “merchant of death,” would result in people dying as rogue states interpreted the move as open season to arrest Americans.

Cotton’s remarks came in an appearance on the SiriusXM Patriot program Breitbart News Daily hosted by Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow.

Biden announced and the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Griner and Bout were both free.

“As a result of the efforts made, we managed to agree with the American side to arrange an exchange of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. The Russian citizen has been returned to his homeland,” the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed.

Biden said he personally spoke to Griner in a post on Twitter.

Asked by Alex Marlow if people would die as a result of Viktor Bout being released from prison, Sen. Cotton answered in the affirmative.

“I think they will because, again, Viktor Bout is known as the merchant of death for a reason,” Sen. Cotton said. “It’s not like he’s going to retire to the Black Sea and peacefully live out his golden years in a quiet retirement. [Russian leader] Vladimir Putin wanted him out for a reason.”

Sen. Cotton also noted that his release would likely embolden the abduction and potential killing of more Americans.

“I also think that more Americans will be detained, in some cases unjustly detained, in the future because they realize that Joe Biden – at least as long as he is president – will give away the farm in return for any American citizen,” Sen. Cotton said.

Griner was arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia in August for possession of cannabis, prompting international outrage. American officials and activists condemned the Putin regime for sentencing Griner for so long on non-violent charges, an apparent political move to leverage her detention for Moscow’s benefit.

Bout was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for arms trafficking, aiding terrorist organizations, and conspiring to kill Americans. A notorious arms dealer with a lengthy career of aiding international terrorists, Bout was arrested in a sting operation in which American DEA officials posed as potential buyers tied to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terrorist organization. The DEA officials explicitly stated they wanted to weapons to kill Americans, to which Bout allegedly replied, “we have the same enemy.”

Bout’s release comes two months after Biden similarly agreed to free Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, nephews of Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro arrested trying to traffic 800 kilograms of cocaine into New York. The cocaine reportedly belonged to the FARC.

Notably absent from the prisoner swap was Paul Whelan, a former Marine wrongfully imprisoned in Russia on unsubstantiated spying charges.

Sen. Cotton lamented that no reports indicated at press time that Whelan had been part of the prisoner swap deal, questioning why his release, given his totally unjustified imprisonment, was not a priority.

Elsewhere in the interview, Sen. Cotton condemned Biden for his “incredible appeasement of Vladimir Putin.”

“Viktor Bout has the blood of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocents around the world on his hands,” Sen. Cotton noted. “Don’t get me wrong, Brittney Griner was wrongly detained and used as a negotiating chip with the Biden administration and we should have been engaged in efforts to try to secure her release.”

“But to exchange her, who – to be fair – did violate the laws of a foreign country to which she was traveling, in return for one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers is folly to the greatest degree,” Sen. Cotton lamented.

“What does Joe Biden think is going to happen now?” he continued. “Every time someone wants to get their arms traffickers or their drug dealers out of American prison, all they have to do is arrest an American on some trivial charge and sentence them to nine years and Joe Biden is going to come running with the keys to the prison to release people who are justifiably in prison.”

Breitbart News Daily broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

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Brittney Griner Released in Prisoner Swap for Notorious Russian Arms Dealer Viktor Bout

Former WNBA star Brittney Griner was reportedly released by Russia in a prisoner swap for a notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a US official.

In February, Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball champion, was arrested by Russia and pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis vape cartridges at an airport near Moscow.

Possessing seven grams or more carries criminal penalties in Russia. Those can include up to two years of “corrective labor.” Yet Griner was charged with smuggling cannabis into Russia, which holds a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Griner was sentenced to nine years.

In order to obtain Griner’s release, President Joe Biden authorized Bout to be released from prison and returned him to Russia. Bout will escape 25 years of federal prison time. Bout has served just half the time in prison he received in 2011.

Since Thursday the prisoner swap had reportedly been negotiated.

Rumored as a potential prisoner worth exchanging in August, critics of the deal said Bout should remain behind bars because he is one of the most dangerous criminals in the world: Breitbart News reported on Bout’s history:

Nicknamed the “’of Death,’ Bout is a flamboyant arms dealer in his mid-50s with Russian military training. He became a billionaire by raiding the armories of the collapsing Soviet Union in the early 90s and using old Soviet cargo planes to transport his black-market weapons to conflict zones around the world.

Bout’s criminal genius has been hailed by every international law enforcement agency that went after him. He was smart enough to mix his weapons shipments with more legitimate cargoes, posturing as a humanitarian who just wanted to sell cheap food to starving Africans. Meanwhile, he was selling guns to every bad actor from al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, to both the Taliban and its enemies in Afghanistan.

Bout was bagged in Thailand in 2008 while trying to sell weapons to Colombian terrorists who were actually CIA agents in disguise. He was not just selling his murderous Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) customers a few pistols — the deal included “800 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), 30,000 AK-47 firearms, 10 million rounds of ammunition, five tons of C-4 plastic explosives, ‘ultralight’ airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers and unmanned aerial vehicles.’

The prisoner swap notably left behind Paul Whelan, an American and former Marine jailed in Russia for nearly two years under “espionage” charges in 2018. Whelan’s total sentence is 16 years.

Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, stands inside a defendants' cage as he waits to hear...

Paul Whelan, a former US marine accused of espionage and arrested in Russia in December 2018, stands inside a defendants’ cage as he waits to hear his verdict in Moscow on June 15, 2020. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Critics have slammed the Biden administration for allowing an American veteran to remain imprisoned in Russia while a famous basketball star was freed in the prisoner swap.

When CBS News asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday if U.S. negotiators were “actively engaged” in swapping for both Whelan and Griner, Blinken brushed off the possibility but stated he was still trying to bring Griner home.

“The other side gets a vote in this. It’s not just what we want. It’s what they’re prepared to do,” Blinken said. “One way or another, one day or another, we’re going to see that through,” he added about Whelan.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.

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Why Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ Matter

Why Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ Matter

Mostly because the evidence confirms all my priors.

Elon Musk’s release of emails relating to Twitter’s 2020 presidential election censorship efforts confirms that big political media, Big Tech companies, and former intelligence officials were part of a ratf—ing operation in 2020. It confirms that the social media platform suppressed unfavorable stories to benefit one party, dispelling the notion that the platform acted as a neutral arbiter. It confirms that claims of “dis-” and “misinformation” are often used by censors to quash inconvenient news and debate. And the reaction from political journos to these revelations confirms there are no regrets.

We haven’t even seen all the emails. Not that we need a Ron Klain email demanding Twitter suspend the New York Post’s account to know what happened. Coordination doesn’t necessitate explicit instructions from a political Svengali. People know what to do without being told. Partisans coalesce around talking points and groupthink metastasizes. This happens all the time on both sides. It happened when journalist Matt Taibbi was reporting on the Twitter files the other night, and virtually every big left-wing account dropped nearly the same rhetoric and framing to smear him.

What we learned was that plenty of Twitter higher-ups knew the company’s rationale for killing a major news story right before an election was hopelessly rickety.

“I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe,” wrote communications official Trenton Kennedy about the Hunter story. “Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?” then-Vice President of Global Communications Brandon Borrman asked.

But then, General Counsel Jim Baker, one of the Democrats who helped run the Russia collusion swindle on Americans (who was fired Tuesday for vetting the first batch of released emails without telling management), responded that it was “reasonable for us to assume that they may have been [hacked] and that caution is warranted.”

All they needed were 51 former intelligence officials, including known perjurers like Jim Clapper and John Brennan, to claim the Hunter Biden story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” They passed this deceitful claim to the unscrupulous “journalist” Natasha Bertrand, then at Politico. From there, the story was repeated endlessly by gullible reporters and/or willful hacks. And Twitter had its justification.

They would never be able to hide the story, but they could undercut the public’s trust in the newsworthy aspects. If more voters believed that Joe had known about his son cashing in on the family name or that there was circumstantial evidence that the former vice president was a beneficiary of those shady Chicom and Ukrainian deals, it could have mattered. And, after the media had convinced themselves that the Hillary Clinton email scandal — a completely legitimate story — had handed the election to that orange fascist, they would never let journalism get in the way again.

Now, if journalists had gotten their hands on a laptop containing pictures of Don Jr. weighing out 21 grams of crack with a, um, “sex worker,” there is not a social media platform or major media outlet in the universe that would have banned the story. And if that laptop had contained circumstantial evidence linking the Republican presidential candidate to a 10 percent cut of that Burisma cash it would have dominated the news — and rightfully so.

Yet, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump and Glenn Kessler are still arguing that their newspaper couldn’t pass along the story without doing its own independent verification. When I noted that The Washington Post did not make a habit of handing over data and sources to competing newspapers, Bump responded: “You didn’t know that other outlets won’t run a report on a Post scoop without confirming it themselves? You seem surprisingly underinformed about how actual journalism works, which I suppose isn’t really a surprise.”

Am I? Because media outlets, including The Washington Post, run scoops from other organizations all the time and simply credit the competing outlet. It would have taken Bump only a few minutes to pursue his own archives to find dozens of such examples. This has not only been the norm since I started in the business more than two decades ago, but since journalism was invented.

Of course, the Hunter story — with receipts, hard evidence, and on-the-record witnesses — had far more journalistic substantiation than virtually any of the anonymous one-source Russia-collusion “scoops” that Bump and The Washington Post peddled for years. Though, to be fair, some of those stories, like Jeffrey Goldberg’s “Losers and Suckers” story or The New York Times’s Russia “bounty” story — which WaPo columnists shared as irrefutable and unimpeachable — seemingly pulled their sourcing from the ether.

That’s not to say that major outlets didn’t talk about the Hunter story. They did. Quite a bit. Rather than deploying reporters to gather evidence to either verify or debunk specifics, reporters ran process stories to discredit the reporting. The New York Times ran an anonymously sourced piece highlighting the supposedly nagging “doubts” in the New York Post’s newsroom over the veracity of the emails. NBC’s Ken Dilanian reported that the Feds were examining “whether alleged Hunter Biden emails are linked to a foreign intel operation.” (What was the outcome?) Left-wing activists Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny wrote about “How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge” and “Inside the campaign to ‘pizzagate’ Hunter Biden” — which, as with most of their writing, amplifies fringe positions to discredit genuine stories. The Washington Post’s preposterous “explainer” ignored the most revelatory aspects of the reporting and instead asked rhetorical questions like, “What does the Biden campaign say?” and “What does Hunter Biden say?” and “How do we know the email is authentic?” (Their answer: “We do not.”) The Post had never treated a scoop that confirmed their narrative from another major left-wing outlet in this way. And, of course, all the emails would be authenticated.

Others have made a big deal over the fact that Trump was president when all this happened (true) and that Twitter hadn’t engaged in any First Amendment violations (probably true). So what? Limiting speech during a presidential campaign is still an illiberal and unethical act, even if it is legal. And entrenched state interests — intelligence officials, for example — can work to undermine the political process in numerous ways. Not long ago, Mark Zuckerberg told Joe Rogan that Facebook had limited the Hunter Biden story because of warnings from the FBI about “misinformation.” In better times, the news of a giant, rent-seeking company censoring a political story at the behest of the Feds would set off blaring alarms among outlets that fashion themselves the bulwarks of democracy.

Now, I have no clue if the Hunter story would have turned the 2020 election, and neither do you, but it would be truly refreshing if those dismissing the Twitter files would simply admit that they believe Donald Trump, and Republicans in general, are existential threats to “democracy,” and so journalistic ethics and free expression ideals need to be shelved for the greater good. It’s an illiberal position, sure, but an honest one.


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Why Isn’t Homeland Security Monitoring A Muslim-Only Immigrant Shelter At The US Border?

In October, U.S. Border Patrol caught another nine border-crossing immigrants who were on the FBI’s terrorism watch list, adding to the already record-breaking 98 during the just-ended fiscal 2022 and 14 during the prior fiscal year.

Those 121 suspected terrorist border crossings should strike President Joe Biden’s homeland security establishment and the general public as a “system blinking red” moment, to requote the infamous 9/11 Commission Report line about failures to act on threat information.

But my recent fact-finding trip to Mexico’s first and only shelter that expressly caters to U.S.-bound Muslim immigrants indicated Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sees no blinking red lights amid this current mass-migration border crisis.

In June 2022, the San Diego-based Latina Muslim Foundation noticed significant enough numbers of U.S.-bound travelers from the Islamic world to justify opening the Albergue Assabil/Mesquijta Taybah shelter in a two-story, 8,000-square-foot former nightclub in Tijuana just two blocks from the border wall, which all who stay there intend to bypass one way or another. The shelter serves as a waystation for 30 to 140 immigrants at a time coming from Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Chechnya, and other regions in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia where terrorist organizations operate.

Latina Muslim Foundation Director Sonia Garcia told me she is concerned that Islamic terrorists may use her Tijuana shelter and does her best to ferret them out during interviews. She’ll even call in Mexican law enforcement authorities to investigate deceptive and suspicious persons. Mexican authorities recommended that she reject two of them for shelter assistance on terrorism grounds.

The Albergue Assabil/Mesquijta Taybah shelter in Tijuana

Albergue Assabil/Mesquijta Taybah shelter, Tijuana, Mexico (Photo by Todd Bensman)

“I’m not the person who is going to hide the reality of what people do, regardless of their religion,” Garcia said. “Just because they are Muslims, [we] are not going to let them come to the United States or Mexico to hurt people. That’s it. We’re not into that. We’re just here to help people.”

In ordinary times, when a historic-sized mass migration crisis is not raging, clientele like hers would bring the shelter more attention from law enforcement. That’s because, for more than 15 years, American homeland security has officially tagged U.S.-bound immigrants from such countries as “special interest aliens.” The SIA tag is supposed to trigger bilateral law enforcement and counterterrorism screening with Mexico to investigate them further.

Mexico Collaborates When Manageable

As noted in my book “America’s Covert Border War, The Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration,” Mexico’s collaboration with the United States on counterterrorism has been extensive and to great effect — in non-crisis times when human flows are manageable.

Mexican intelligence often runs the names of special interest aliens through American security databases and allows U.S. officers into detention facilities to interview many of them — before they can cross. Mexican customs officers working in Mexican airports also run identities of arriving special interest aliens through U.S. databases. Mexico has proven sensitive to U.S. requests that it deport the identified extremists to their home countries before they can reach the southern border.

A recent Milenio newspaper investigation based on leaked classified Mexican Ministry of National Defense documents revealed a variety of cases where Mexican and American intelligence agencies working together discovered Islamic terrorists in Mexico in 2015, 2016, and 2017 — a number of them in Tijuana. Some were working on behalf of the Islamic State. The Milenio story details extensive Mexican collaboration with American intelligence agencies on these cases, for example on a January 2017 investigation of an Algerian in Mexico that resulted in the dismantling of an ISIS cell in Algeria.

Between 2014 and 2018, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration identified 19 suspected terrorists in its territory and deported them all, undoubtedly at American behest.

U.S. Not Inquiring About Shelter

But nothing is normal now with the crisis. Garcia told me the Americans have never called asking about any of the terror-watch-listed immigrants caught crossing the border, except early on when Afghans started showing up and the U.S. consulate in Tijuana came to interview them.

Garcia said she would be happy to provide the Americans with all information the shelter maintains about every person who stays overnight if they ever call.

Outside the Assabil/Mesquijta Taybah shelter in November

Outside the shelter, November 2022 (Photo by Todd Bensman)

“If somebody’s on the [FBI] list and they want to find out if they came from the shelter, well, they’re welcome to come to the shelter and ask us,” she said. “We have no problem in giving the information or in hiding the information, no. If he is on the watch list and he came into the shelter, well it’s very good because we’ll give [the Americans] the information. We’re not hiding the information.”

The Mexicans are no more proactive about her guests, she said, beyond when she calls them in. Outside her facility recently, several young Chechen men described journeys in which they flew to Mexican airports on Russian passports and were never delayed or interviewed.

Is this a replay of unseen red lights blinking amid a massive crush of millions of immigrants overwhelming both the Americans and the Mexicans?

Going to ‘Blow Something Up’

“Eventually these guys are going to go in and blow something up and it’s going to be a huge scandal,” said former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, when I described my findings. “You’d think we’d learn something from 9/11. I would think that this is a DHS concern about monitoring who is making their way to our country. If I were the ambassador, I’d be very curious about this shelter, like who is there and what kind of people are trying to come into our country.”

So too would retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent James G. Conway, who led post-9/11 counterterrorism programs in Mexico for years and vetted thousands of special interest aliens. After all, in no other single shelter would SIAs planning border crossings congregate as they do in this one.

“I would be all over this place,” Conway said. “The fact that terrorist organizations are based in some of those countries and want to bring harm to the United States, and that this shelter that specifically caters to citizens from special interest countries two blocks from the U.S. border is helping to funnel them into the United States, should certainly be a concern to law enforcement and the intelligence community.”

Covert Operations

It is possible that both the Americans and Mexicans are running covert operations in and around the shelter. But that’s doubtful too, according to two intelligence community sources who told me it wasn’t on the radar.

“If the Mexicans see that we don’t care about something, then the Mexicans won’t care,” Landau said. “They’re not going to knock themselves out if they see we’re not going to knock ourselves out. I can’t blame them.”

Infamously, the George W. Bush administration — up until Sept. 10, 2001 — didn’t seriously consider intelligence reports that terrorists would ever fly planes into buildings.

Does the Biden administration not believe terrorists could cross the southern border amid the current chaos and could get through to do harm? 


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