Skip to content

By: Matthew DeFour of the Wisconsin State Journal

Three of Madison’s most economically challenged areas, including the shuttered Oscar Mayer plant, could benefit from a new economic development tool created under the recently enacted federal tax law.

Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday named 120 areas of the state that could be eligible for the program, including 11 in Dane County.

The new Economic Opportunity Zones allow redevelopment in designated low-income areas with investment funds that won’t be subject to the usual capital gains tax. The designations, if approved by the U.S. Treasury Department in the next 30 to 60 days, would be in place for the next decade.

“We are excited to embrace Economic Opportunity Zones as a new tool to build on our track record of economic growth,” Walker said. “These recommendations reach communities across our state — urban, rural and tribal — that are positioned for strong and sustained growth.”

The 120 designated census tracts are located in 44 counties and include 85 in metropolitan areas and 35 in non-metropolitan areas. Milwaukee County has the most with 37.

Each census tract must have enough low-income households to be eligible. Only 25 percent of the 479 eligible census tracts in the state could be selected so Walker recommended the maximum amount allowed.

Dane County nominated 19 tracts for consideration, so having 11 selected was “very positive,” said Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership.

Some of the tracts are contiguous, so they form four distinct areas in Dane County: Madison’s North and Northeast side neighborhoods around Oscar Mayer, the Dane County Regional Airport and the Madison Area Technical College campus and part of the Capitol East corridor; a large area along the Beltline from Allied Drive to Monona, including the Alliant Energy Center and the Villager Mall; the University Research Park and the Meadowood Neighborhood on the city’s Southwest Side; and part of Sun Prairie.

The Oscar Mayer area was the highest priority in Dane County, Jadin said. The city has a development team working on attracting investment to that site and has applied for a $500,000 state grant for idle factory site redevelopment and federal funding.

Two lower-priority areas in Middleton and the Hawthorne and Lake Edge neighborhoods and area around Highland Park on Madison’s East Side were not selected. The Greenbush, Vilas, Waunona and Bridge-Lakepoint neighborhoods on the South Side and the neighborhoods near Lake Mendota on the North Side were nominated as high priorities but not recommended by Walker.

Mayor Paul Soglin said the city is pleased with the outcome, though it remains to be seen what kind of private investment will be spurred by the tax break.

“We feel we did very well,” Soglin said. “Nobody knows exactly how this is going to work. We’re going into new territory. We’ll have to take that a step at a time.”

The city did not submit all eligible areas, Soglin said. For example, the State-Langdon neighborhood qualified because it included UW-Madison student housing, but the city felt it would be “counterproductive” and “not meeting the purpose of the law” to submit that tract for consideration. The Downtown and campus area tracts were also eligible but not nominated.

The recommendations from Walker came from a working group with members from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Department of Administration and Department of Children and Families, public comment and an analysis by Chicago-based consultant Novogradac & Co., according to Walker’s office.

Economic Opportunity Zones were a concept developed in 2015 by the Economic Innovation Group, which bills itself as a bipartisan Washington, D.C., think tank founded by entrepreneurs. The concept was promoted in a bill sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, including Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.

The idea was later incorporated into the American Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) applauded Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) for his relentless and unwavering support of the fiscal interests of American taxpayers while serving in Congress. Rep. Sensenbrenner is one of the 12 lawmakers to earn a perfect score of 100 percent in CCAGW’s 2017 Congressional Ratings, making him a “Taxpayer Super Hero.” He currently has an exemplary lifetime rating of 95 percent.

The report, which CCAGW has issued since 1989, highlights the voting records of all 535 members of Congress. It identifies members whose impeccable voting records helped protect and save the taxpayers’ money, earning them the honored title of “Taxpayer Super Hero,” and cites those who consistently voted against the fiscal interest of taxpayers.

CCAGW rates members of both chambers on a 0-100 percent scale. Members are placed in the following categories: 0-19 percent Hostile; 20-39 percent Unfriendly; 40-59 percent Lukewarm; 60-79 percent Friendly; 80-99 percent Taxpayer Hero; and 100 percent Taxpayer Super Hero. The 2017 Congressional Ratings scored 93 votes in the House of Representatives and 27 votes in the Senate.

“We applaud and wholeheartedly thank Rep. Sensenbrenner for his tireless work on behalf of the taxpayers while serving in Congress,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “His courageous votes to cut wasteful spending and make government more accountable should serve as an example to other members, challenging them to make good on promises to protect the fiscal interests of American taxpayers.”

“We have no doubt that Rep. Sensenbrenner will continue to help lead the effort to eliminate government waste and bring fiscal sanity to Washington,” added Schatz. “His constituents should be very proud of him.”

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

By: David Kroman of Crosscut

What was once a first-of-its-kind jail diversion program between Seattle police and local case workers may soon land on the desk of President Donald Trump, a man known more for his threats to execute drug dealers than his willingness to find new solutions to an out-of-control opioid epidemic.

But first-term Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is finding support on both sides of the aisle for funding the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD) in the 2019 federal budget.

“It’s got the attention of Republicans because LEAD is a program that offers social services to people instead of incarcerating them,” Jayapal, a Democrat, said in an interview Tuesday.

LEAD first began in Seattle in 2011 as a response to racially disproportionate drug-related arrests. While post-arrest diversion programs are common in courts across the country, LEAD was unprecedented in that police officers would not make an arrest right away, avoiding the messy and often harmful bureaucracy of the criminal justice system.

Instead, officers connect low-level offenders — such as drug possession or prostitution — with case workers. What makes LEAD even more unique is that the diversion does not come with the same level of requirements as drug courts. The only thing required of a participant is an intake assessment, and if a drug user continues to use, they won’t be arrested.

It’s a program in the same “harm reduction” arena as needle exchanges for heroin users, built on the idea that assistance need not come with a sobriety requirement and that society’s hope for a person may not always align with the current reality. Or, as public defender and LEAD founder Lisa Daugaard likes to say, that “better is better.”

Another unique aspect of the LEAD program was that from the beginning, its success has been contingent on collaboration with the criminal justice system. In addition to a wide range of business, neighborhood and advocacy groups, Daugaard worked closely with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and City Attorney Pete Holmes as well as with local law enforcement to make it a reality.

In the years that have followed, data has shown the program to be effective at keeping people out of jail and reducing recidivism. Participants are more likely to find housing and/or a job, and to come away with a positive view of local enforcement. The program was highlighted in a recent Frontline documentary as a new approach to the opioid epidemic.

As a result, LEAD has already begun to spread, and is currently or soon to be operating in 25 cities from Portland, Oregon to Huntington, West Virginia. An additional 36 cities are either developing programs or exploring the idea.

But this expansion has not come with the aid of the federal government. Now, both Daugaard and Jayapal are optimistic that could change, thanks to the broad support from communities who have seen it work. “They have a significant issue in their state and they’re hearing from law enforcement that this approach is effective,” said Daugaard.

Jayapal, for her part, has been interested in LEAD since her time as a state senator in Olympia. After she was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2016, she was appointed to the House Judiciary Committee, which gave her an opening. “When I came it was just a natural thing for me to work on, being on the judiciary committee” she said.

This past September, she sent a letter to the chair of the House Appropriations Committee requesting $2.5 million for the program in the 2019 budget. At that time, she only had the support of fellow Democrats.

But by December, Republicans started coming on board, including Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), whom Jayapal pegged as a Republican with an interest in criminal justice reform. She also collected signatures from Republicans Walter Jones, David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Mike Johnson. With that support, she sent another letter re-stating the call for the $2.5 million on March 13.

The proposal also has some traction in the U.S. Senate: In a March 15 letter sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, 12 Democrats included LEAD as one of a number of proposals aimed at reducing opioid-related arrests. No Republicans signed the letter.

Daugaard concedes that $2.5 million isn’t anywhere near enough to run the program country-wide. But what’s important, she says, is what it symbolizes. “We’re not talking about a level that would support implementation of LEAD nationwide, so I don’t want to overstate [the funding’s] significance,” she said. “The significance here is really about a paradigm shift… The further down the road you go, the harder it is to turn back.”

Jayapal is genuinely optimistic about the funding’s chances, in part because it’s such a small amount of money. “I think that the chances are pretty good,” she said. “Then the question becomes, can we expand our understanding of LEAD? Can we get it into the main conversation as a practical solution to the opioid crisis?…I do think Republicans have an appetite for this.”

David Bowdich
Acting Deputy Director
Statement Before the House Judiciary Committee
Washington, D.C.
March 20, 2018

Chairman Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, members of the committee, it is my privilege to appear before you today as the Deputy Director of the FBI.

On February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a former student allegedly shot 17 innocent people and caused significant physical and emotional harm to countless others. This tragedy abruptly ended the lives of kids who had their lives and dreams ahead of them, and stole from their families the right to watch their children grow into adulthood. As you know, the alleged perpetrator of this unspeakable violence is in custody and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder by the state of Florida.

To the victims, families, and friends of those who were killed or injured on that day: Director Wray and I and the rest of the FBI extend our deepest sympathies to you. Though nothing can be said to undo the hurt and loss you all feel, please know the FBI continues to work closely with our state and local law partners in Florida to ensure that justice is served.

Unfortunately, as was disclosed by the FBI shortly after this terrible incident, the FBI did receive two separate tips that we now know were related to the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz. As the FBI Director has made clear, the FBI could have and should have done more to investigate the information it was provided prior to the shooting. While we will never know if any such investigative activity would have prevented this tragedy, we clearly should have done more.

Our investigation continues into exactly what the FBI learned prior to February 14, 2018, and what we did and did not do in response.

To summarize the results of our investigation to date, let me walk the Committee through the relevant timeline as we understand it.

It is important to know the FBI receives tips from the public through our Public Access Line, or PAL. The PAL is the FBI’s central contact center for all calls, electronic tips, and public leads made to the FBI’s 56 field offices. The access line is responsible for receiving and vetting information from the public, then disseminating it to the field as actionable tips and leads for special agents and intelligence analysts. To understand the volume of leads we receive, during 2017, the PAL handled approximately 765,000 calls and 735,000 e-mail tips.

On September 25, 2017, the FBI received an e-mail tip from a person in Mississippi who indicated that a person, unknown to him, posted on his YouTube page the following text: “Im going to be a professional school shooter.” The posting was from the username “Nikolas Cruz.”

In response to this tip, the PAL opened what the FBI calls a “Guardian” lead and assigned it to the FBI’s Jackson Field Office in Mississippi. Upon receipt of the Guardian lead, an FBI special agent, along with a local task force officer, visited the tipster and interviewed him on October 2, 2017. At the time of this interview, the agent was provided a copy of a “screen shot” of the subject post.

The agent conducted searches of both FBI databases and open sources. Believing the true identity of the poster could not be determined, the Guardian lead was closed on October 11, 2017, with no other investigative activity.

A few months later, on January 5, 2018, at 2:32 p.m., the FBI received another tip by way of a call to the PAL. The caller identified herself as a close friend of the Cruz family. The caller provided the following information about Cruz:

  • Statements about Cruz harming himself and others;
  • References to ISIS;
  • That he had threatened his mother with a rifle;
  • That he had purchased several weapons;
  • That he wanted to kill people and was going to explode;
  • That he was mutilating small animals; and
  • That the caller was concerned that Cruz might shoot up a school.

The caller also noted that Cruz was 18 years old but had the mental capacity of a 12- to 14-year-old. She indicated that she was very concerned and had contacted the Parkland Police Department, and wanted someone to look into this matter.

Upon finishing the call, the FBI operator conducted a search of FBI databases and found the closed Guardian lead out of Mississippi. The operator then consulted with her supervisor and the matter was closed. The information received was never forwarded to a field office or to any of our State or local partners for further review or action. 

As FBI officials learned of the Parkland shooting incident, FBI personnel conducted a search of its holdings and discovered the two tips.

Please know the FBI is committed to maximum transparency in all that we do on behalf of the American people. While I cannot fathom the agony, horror, and anger of the parents of these young people who were robbed of their futures, I do again want to express our sorrow and remorse to the family members.

When we make mistakes, we will not hide them, and we are committed, with your help, to doing whatever is necessary to correct our mistakes and prevent tragedies like this one from being repeated.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.

FOX News

Senator Jeff Flake warned President Donald Trump against firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, saying that "no one" wants to see impeachment proceedings.

Flake, an Arizona Republican who is often critical of the president, said firing Mueller would "create a Constitutional crisis."

Mueller is investigating possible Russian collusion in Trump's election victory, and is currently probing the former businessman's real estate firm.

"Congress cannot preempt such a firing," Flake said on Twitter. "Our only constitutional remedy is after the fact, through impeachment."

Flake added that neither he nor anyone else wants to see Trump or Congress go through what they did two decades ago.

In late 1998, the House filed impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton on allegations of perjury.

The Senate, of which Flake is now a member, acquitted Clinton on all charges in early 1999.

Three members of the committee tasked with considering Clinton's impeachment remain in Congress today: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Graham has also called a potential Mueller dismissal an impeachable offense.

Additionally, the seat of one key Republican member of the Judiciary Committee at the time, Republican Rep. James Rogan of California, is now held by Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) - the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, probing Russian interference.

Schiff beat Rogan in the 2000 elections in a historically expensive contest.

By: Evie Blad of Education Week

An Obama administration directive with the aim of driving down disproportionately high school discipline rates for black and Latino students took center stage at a congressional hearing on school safety Tuesday. 

That guidance, issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education in 2014, includes a call for schools to ensure that they are not involving law enforcement in routine disciplinary issues. It also put schools on notice that they may be in violation of civil rights laws if their disciplinary policies lead to disparately high discipline rates for students of color, even if those policies were written without discriminatory intent.

The Broward County, Fla., district—where the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed 17—created a 2013 agreement with law enforcement agencies whose officers work in its schools to clarify when to involve officers in student discipline and to set up a diversionary program, called PROMISE, as an alternative to student arrests. That program was held up as a model by the Obama administration as it encouraged schools to rewrite their discipline policies.

Some Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime asked Wednesday whether the accused shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, should have been arrested at Stoneman Douglas when he was a student there. If he had been arrested, the infraction may have shown up on a criminal background check before he bought a gun or confirmed to the FBI that he was a possible threat, the lawmakers said. They cited news reports that said the suspect was frequently disciplined at school and was known for disturbing behavior, like killing small animals, but they did not name a specific offense he should have been arrested for.

"The question needs to be asked why Cruz was never placed under arrest, either at school or at home," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, the chairman of the subcommittee. "He clearly had a violent past, a past that is properly handled by law enforcement."

He spoke a few hours after the most recent school shooting at a high school in Great Mills, Md.

Sensenbrenner also listed concerns about Cruz that did not relate to school discipline. He noted that the Broward County sheriff's office had been called to the suspect's home dozens of times and a tip passed on to a deputy who worked at the school that Cruz may be planning a school shooting. He also called out the failure of the FBI to investigate a tip from a caller who feared Cruz may one day be a school shooter, and noted that the school had once recommended he be involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation.

Democrats on the committee said critics of Obama-era discipline guidance were trying to use it as a scapegoat and a distraction from the need for new gun laws. They said the guidance had helped make critical progress for black and Latino students, who are often disciplined at higher rates than their white peers in school. And they criticized loopholes in the background check system that may have allowed the suspect to buy a gun, whether or not he had an arrest on his record.

"The issue of school discipline is a worthy topic of discussion, so long as it is constructive and not intended to undermine progress in reforming disciplinary policies that have been racially biased and counterproductive for a long time," said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the subcommittee. "Unfortunately, some individuals are advancing the charge that reforms to these policies contributed to the Parkland shooter not having been stopped. To use a horrible mass shooting as a pretext to halt progress in these much-needed reforms is offensive."

Criticism of the discipline guidance predates the Parkland school shooting

Critics of the Obama-era discipline guidance have pushed for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to revoke or revise it since she took office. DeVos has said she is reviewing the document. After Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, questioned the guidance, the White House listed it as one of the items DeVos will review as leader of a  task force on school safety. In a recent 60 Minutes interview, DeVos would not say if racial disparities in school discipline rates are caused by systemic racism. 

The guidance calls on schools to explore the underlying causes for discipline disparities, like implicit bias that causes teachers to perceive behavior differently depending on a student's race, inconsistently applied policies, and vaguely worded school rules against infractions like "defiance" that may be interpreted subjectively and applied differently by different teachers.

But critics, like Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Max Eden, say schools have rushed to comply with the guidance by limiting the use of suspensions, creating unsafe and disruptive learning environments. School officials fear federal investigations if their suspension rates are uneven, Eden told the subcommittee Wednesday. In some districts that have made such changes, teachers have complained that they are unprepared for new discipline policies or that they don't know how to deal with disruptive students, he said.

"When teachers have their hands tied in handling classroom disruption, student learning suffers," Eden told the subcommittee.

Civil rights groups and organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus have spoken out in support of the guidance in recent weeks, fearing that it may be revoked. Black and Latino students are too often disciplined and arrested at school for minor, non-violent infractions, they say. They cite incidents like a  2015 viral video of a South Carolina girl who was violently dragged from her desk by a school police officer and arrested in math class after she refused to surrender her cell phone. A classmate who recorded the interaction was also arrested for "disturbing a school."

"To put it simply, neither the purpose nor the letter of the federal school discipline guidance restricts the authority of school personnel to remove a child who is threatening student safety," Kristen Harper, a former Education Department official and policy director for Child Trends, told the committee.

The guidance does not prohibit schools from referring students to police, she said. Rather, it recommends that schools "establish procedures and train school personnel...how to contact law enforcement when warranted." And calls in the guidance to address disparate discipline rates echo previous court decisions, which have flagged schools for policies that affect one student group more heavily than the other.

"There is no conflict between our obligation to prevent discrimination based on race and our obligation to keep children safe in school," Harper said. "We can and must do both."

Harper called on Congress to provide resources for schools to help create positive learning environments and to help support students with emotional and behavioral concerns.

Broward County's school discipline plan

Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie has been pushubg back against criticisms of his district's discipline plan. He's emphasized that it focuses on non-violent behaviors.

That plan includes a matrix that recommends or mandates certain responses for various student behaviors. For some behaviors, schools could opt to enroll students in the PROMISE diversionary program as an alternative to a law enforcement referral.

The district has no record of Cruz committing an infraction that might have placed him in the PROMISE discipline program while he was in school, Runcie said in a statement submitted to the committee. The matrix allows staff to consult with law enforcement on the first offense for a variety of behaviors, including a major fight, hazing, sexual misconduct, an assault that causes injury, the threat of such an assault, and battery.

"The District's position with the PROMISE program and school discipline reform efforts, in partnership with local law enforcement, has always been explicitly clear— that there is no intent to limit or tie the hands of law enforcement in doing their jobs in addressing school safety," Runcie's statement said.

Eden acknowledged that the Broward County program was created by the district's own volition before the Obama directive was put into place, but he said many districts have adopted similar approaches to student discipline since the 2014 guidance. 

He also acknowledged that the guidance doesn't explicitly prohibit or limit student arrests.

"My issue is that this policy of explicitly trying to push these numbers down can inhibit the good and fair judgment of school resource officers to issue arrests where they may be warranted, and those arrests then feed into the system in a way that could have been constructive in this case," Eden said.

Questions about Cruz's disciplinary, mental health, and emotional history will likely be answered in coming months. A school safety bill recently signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, established a state commission with subpoena power to investigate the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. And, at Runcie's recommendation, the school district has hired an outside consulting agency to conduct a review of Cruz's history with the district and the policies that were in place while he was a student. 

By: Gary Douglas of WFAW

5th District Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner held a Town Hall Meeting Saturday afternoon in Jefferson. Unlike many recent meetings, it went rather smoothly…

LISTEN HERE

Issues included Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, guns, and President Trump. He was also in Sussex, yesterday, and that was his last scheduled Town Hall for this winter.

It almost seems like half a lifetime ago, but only a half-decade has passed since James Clapper lied to Ron Wyden about the NSA's domestic collections. Wyden pointedly asked Clapper during an intelligence committee hearing whether or not the NSA was collecting "any type of data at all" on American citizens. Clapper gave two answers, both untrue: "No, sir" and "Not wittingly."

A couple of months later, the first Snowden leak -- detailing massive amounts of call data being captured in the Section 215 dragnet -- undid Clapper's careful, under-oath lies. Since then, nothing has happened. The DOJ refused to investigate Clapper for lying to his oversight. Clapper exited office a few years later, becoming a go-to national security expert for a variety of news programs. He has since offered a variety of excuses for lying, but none of them are particularly good.

As of March 12, the clock has run on perjury charges. James Clapper has violated federal law and gotten away with it.

Clapper, director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, admitted giving “clearly erroneous” testimony about mass surveillance in March 2013, and offered differing explanations for why.

Two criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress have five-year statutes of limitations, establishing a Monday deadline to charge Clapper, who in retirement has emerged as a leading critic of President Trump.

Some members of Congress had called for charges to be brought against Clapper, but they seemed based more on Republicans' newfound distrust for the "Deep State" than an honest desire to see a federal lawbreaker brought to justice. One of the reps, however, has held steady in his calls for Clapper's prosecution for the entirety of the last half-decade: James Sensenbrenner.

"Political consideration should not affect the Department of Justice from pursuing this matter,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said ahead of the deadline. “Complete and truthful testimony is imperative for Congress to conduct effective oversight. It is clear from the evidence and Director Clapper’s own admission that he lied.

Both the DOJ and James Clapper have refused to comment on the issue. Presumably, both entities are happy the deadline came and went without further development. The "no comment" responses allow both to avoid discussion of the DOJ double standards. But this non-prosecution shouldn't pass without notice.

Jesselyn Radack, a defense attorney who represents Snowden and fellow NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, however, takes a dim view of Clapper being let off the hook.

“It shows that government officials in positions of power can lie with impunity to Congress and the American people about outrageous abuses, but when ordinary citizens like Reality Winner reveal the truth about the same abuses, they face espionage charges and prison," Radack said, referring to the NSA contractor charged last year for sending the Intercept a report on Russian attempts to hack election systems.

Most people who lie to Congress won't have the luxury of exiting their current positions gracefully before popping in cable newsrooms all over the nation. But Clapper is one of the special ones -- the ones who won't be held accountable because the government takes care of its own, especially when dubious, Congress-approved surveillance programs are in the mix.

By: Ben Weigarten of The Federalist

If we are a nation of laws and not of men, and if we believe in equal justice for all and special privileges for none, then our government has a funny way of showing it. As the Washington Examiner reports, the five year statute of limitations on perjury and/or false statement charges that could have been brought against former Obama administration Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper have now expired.

Clapper’s offending statements made in March 2013 concerned his denial of any National Security Agency (NSA) bulk data collection program, which was soon after exposed by Edward Snowden.

While giving congressional testimony under oath, Clapper responded untruthfully to a question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden about whether the NSA “collect[ed] any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.

“No, sir,” he asserted. “Not wittingly.”

Clapper would later admit in a written statement that his response was “clearly erroneous,” and that he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” the provision covering the NSA’s bulk metadata collection. During an MSNBC interviewhowever, he suggested that his statement during congressional testimony was the “least untruthful” he could make in the face of a “When are you going to … stop beating your wife kind of question.”

bipartisan cadre of officials would press for charges to be brought by the Justice Department under two administrations, to no avail.

Predictably, in spite of the media’s supposed devotion to truth in defense of our democracy (to this author’s dismay, never our republic), and its historic sensitivity to the concealment of civil-liberty infringing acts of the state, nary a peep has been raised regarding the Justice Department’s unwillingness here to mete justice.

Why did the Justice Department sit on its hands?

Liberal constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, writing in a January 2018 editorial anticipating this outcome, suggests that in Washington, D.C. “perjury is not simply tolerated, it is rewarded. … In a city of made men and women, nothing says loyalty quite as much as lying under oath.” Buttressing his argument, Turley cites a 2007 study indicating that dating back to the 1940s, all of six people have been convicted of perjury or related charges for lying to Congress.

In the run-up to the Justice Department’s decision to bring no charges, Republican Sen. James Sensenbrenner, the author of the original Patriot Act, stated, “Political consideration should not affect the Department of Justice from pursuing this matter.”

That Sensenbrenner invokes the scepter of politics here raises a big red flag about the state of our system of justice.

Consider the counterexample to the longtime Obama DNI chief in President Trump’s short-time National Security Advisor.

Prior to President Trump’s inauguration, then-deputy attorney general Sally Yates suggested that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may have violated the Logan Act — a law against private citizens engaging foreign officials to influence and/or undercut extant policy in disputes with the U.S., under which no American has ever been successfully prosecuted — over conversations Flynn had with foreign counterparts, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Trump transition period.

Mere days after Flynn assumed office, then-acting attorney general Yates directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to interview Flynn, purportedly pursuant to her Logan Act concern. What Flynn said during this conversation would serve in large part as the basis for his prosecution under the Robert Mueller special counsel.

Flynn made several remarks that allegedly conflict with evidence the federal government collected in surveilling the conversations of foreign officials, including the aforementioned Kislyak. According to Flynn’s guilty plea, he made false statements and/or omissions regarding:

  1. A conversation with Kislyak asking him to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia”
  2. Calls made to foreign officials regarding an anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution on which the Obama administration abstained rather than seeking to defeat — the Mueller team alleged Flynn directed counterparts to vote against or delay the resolution, while Flynn allegedly claimed he simply asked for his counterparts’ position on it
  3. Documents filed with the Foreign Agents Registration Act in connection with a project undertaken by Flynn’s then-consulting company during the 2016 campaign season for the benefit of the Republic of Turkey

Taken as a whole, some of Flynn’s words and actions may have been ill-conceived or reflected poor judgment, though calling foreign counterparts during a transition period is certainly reasonable and customary. But charges were not brought against any of the actions themselves. Rather, Flynn pled guilty solely to process crimes.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy makes a compelling case that the use of the Logan Act as the basis for the investigation into Flynn that teased out such crimes in and of itself was unjustifiable, not only because of the “highly dubious” nature of the law itself, but because of the guidelines FBI Director James Comey had set with respect to non-pursuit of charges relating to Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Beyond whether Flynn should have been investigated in the first place, several months after Flynn submitted his guilty plea, the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reported that then-FBI Director Comey in a March 2017 meeting with lawmakers claimed that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe Flynn had lied to them or that inaccuracies in his answers were intentional.

The judge presiding over Flynn’s case was recused shortly after the guilty plea was submitted, replaced by a new judge who has asked the Mueller special counsel to produce for Flynn’s team the evidence “favorable to” Flynn and “material” to Flynn’s “guilt or punishment.” Sentencing has been postponed until May.

Whether this means Flynn may ultimately have reason to vacate his guilty plea or not, the process alone has served as a punishment, not only in at least indirectly costing Flynn his job, but also in tarnishing his career and financially crippling him.

In sum, under the pretext of a law under which no American has ever been prosecuted and as part of a special counsel based on a counterintelligence investigation under which contrary to rules and regulations no crime was specified, a national security advisor pled guilty to process crimes largely based on a conversation with FBI officers which the bureau at the time actually deemed truthful or at worst unintentionally inaccurate — all under a process that has destroyed Flynn’s life.

Clapper has faced no repercussions for lying under oath.

Is the Justice Department adhering to a double standard?

Both men served at the highest levels of the intelligence community (IC) in the Obama administration, with Flynn leading the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Clapper heading the DNI. Flynn challenged the administration in which he served, and the prevailing views within its national security and foreign policy apparatus, specifically over ISIS.

The DIA issued a classified report in 2012 foretelling the rise of a Sunni jihadist-led Islamic State across parts of Iraq and Syria. While the Obama administration was arguing that al-Qaeda was “decimated,” and “on the run,” Flynn’s DIA was predicting the growth of a new jihadist state led in part by Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Flynn told The New York Times in 2015: “This particular report, this was one of those nobody wanted to see … It was disregarded by the White House … It was disregarded by other elements in the intelligence community as a one-off report. Frankly, at the White House, it didn’t meet the narrative.”

In February 2014, a month after President Obama called ISIS the “JV team,” Flynn told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ISIS would likely “attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain safe havens in Syria.” Here again, Flynn’s assessment proved accurate, but in conflict with what the administration he served was communicating, to its political detriment.

Obama fired Flynn soon after, citing his “chaotic” approach to management, his “aggressive push for changes” within the DIA, and “temperament issues.”

During the 2016 election, Flynn jumped on the Trump train. Those in the national security and foreign policy establishment must have been aghast. Hundreds of such prominent individuals who had served administrations across the political aisle signedletters opposing then-candidate Trump. One can imagine their horror in seeing Flynn on the stage yelling “Lock her up” with respect to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and serving as the right hand man for the candidate seemingly repudiating everything for which they stood.

As former President George W. Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen observed following Flynn’s appointment, ex-Obama administration officials lamented the selection of Flynn as National Security Advisor above all other appointments. None of this can be said of Clapper, who remained steadfastly loyal to the institutions he served, and has frequently challenged Trump.

It was Clapper’s DNI that oversaw the intelligence assessment made in conjunction with the NSA, FBI and Central Intelligence Agency asserting that Russia had sought to help Trump in the 2016 election, to the president’s great consternation.

Clapper has stated that President Trump’s rhetoric on Russia “poses a peril to this country,” and that Vladimir Putin is “handling” President Trump like an “asset.” He has suggested that the firing of FBI Director Comey was tantamount to obstruction, and suggested in front of a foreign audience that Watergate pales in comparison to Russiagate.

Clapper has also expressed fears over the president’s access to nuclear codes and questioned his fitness for office.

He espouses these critical views as a paid contributor for Trump’s chief media adversary in CNN, an outlet to which we now find out Clapper may have leaked information on his classified briefings with then-President-elect Trump and President Obama on the Steele dossier in early 2017.

Flynn flouted the political establishment in the most flagrant of ways. Clapper has remained a member in good standing.

Could this in part explain the disparate treatment of these two IC fixtures by a Justice Department still in large part comprised of individuals averse to the anti-establishment president under whom they serve?

To the degree to which politics influences legal decisions made regarding high-ranking government officials — as Sensenbrenner implies — it perverts a justice system that no man is supposed to be above. Our political system and its institutions lose their legitimacy when officials are judged according to different standards. The law must be applied fairly and equally if it is to have any meaning at all. Moreover, to the extent to which the law is a deterrent, if not applied fairly and equally, it may incentivize future misbehavior among individuals who believe they will be protected by being “team players.”

Of all of the things that cause a loss of confidence in and respect for our political system, perhaps the most pernicious is the idea that the game is rigged. The only way to change this perception is for our justice system to demonstrate it is grappling with it through consistent principled action.

By: Brendan Cullerton of WDJT

Wisconsin Republicans showed a mix of support for former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and hope for President Donald Trump's pick to replace him, Mike Pompeo, after Trump fired Tillerson Tuesday morning.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, released a statement, saying "I welcome my good friend, Mike Pompeo, as the next Secretary of State. Mike is razor-sharp, a dedicated patriot, and possesses the type of experience that makes him an outstanding choice to be our next top diplomat."

Sen Ron Johnson, R-WI, serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that will hold a confirmation hearing on Pompeo in April. He sent a statement saying, “Secretary Tillerson served his country admirably in a very difficult job, and I have a great deal of respect for him.”  I look forward to meeting with Director Pompeo to discuss his nomination and learn more about his plans for running the State Department.”

UWM Professor Mordecai Lee said the shift in leadership will dramatically change how the state department operates.

"There's going to be the president, and the secretary of state, sort of really together," Lee said. "And then there's going to be the state department, and the state department is going to have policies, and the president and the secretary are going to have policies, and they might not even jive. In other words, they're sort of cutting the state department out of the action."

Lee says he thinks foreign governments will soon question whether state department foreign agents accurately reflect the views of u-s leadership.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, tweeted out that "The chaotic revolving door in the Trump Administration continues to undermine our national security abroad and here at home."

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, said Pompeo is "an experienced and poised leader, which makes him an excellent choice for Secretary of State. I congratulate him and look forward to his speedy confirmation by the Senate.”