TBR News February 1, 2018

Feb 01 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 1, 2018:”The Polish attempts to distance themselves from involvement in the German persecution of Jews are pathetic. The Poles hate the Jews far more than the Germans ever did and in numerous cases, when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, local Poles herded their Jews into barns and burn them alive. Also, when the German SS evacuated Auschwitz in 1944, they left 10,000 sick Jews behind. The Germans turned the camp over to local Polish policemen and when the Russians were approaching, the Polish guards massacred all of the remaining inmates. Since the SS were 400 miles away at the time, they could not be blamed. One can sometimes forgive sinning but never hypocrisy.”


Table of Contents

  • U.S. defends role of Lebanon army as Israel threatens to attack it
  • FBI has ‘grave concerns’ about controversial Republican memo
  • The State of the Union: A Year in Trump’s America
  • State of the Union: Trump audience figures boast questioned
  • UN urged to launch global effort to end offshore tax evasion
  • San Francisco to expunge thousands of marijuana convictions
  • US Congress: Republicans rush for the exits to imperil Trump’s midterm hopes
  • Poland’s Senate approves Holocaust bill that sparked a row with Israel


U.S. defends role of Lebanon army as Israel threatens to attack it

January 31, 2018

by Dan Williams


TEL AVIV (Reuters) – The United States pledged continued support for Lebanon’s military on Wednesday, calling it a potential counterweight to Iranian-backed Hezbollah, even as Israel said the two forces were indistinguishable and fair game in any future war.

Such a public difference of opinion between the allies was remarkable enough, but especially so as it was sounded by senior officials at the same event – an Israeli security conference.

The Lebanese Armed Forces took no part in the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. It has received more than $1.5 billion in U.S. military assistance since then and, in the last seven years, training and support from U.S. special forces too.

With Hezbollah having helped sway the Syrian civil war in President Bashar al-Assad’s favor, Israel and the United States worry that the Shi‘ite militia could now broaden its clout in its Lebanese heartland.

“We will sustain our efforts to support legitimate state security institutions in Lebanon, such as the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is the only legitimate force in Lebanon,” David Satterfield, acting assistant U.S. secretary of state, told the conference organized by Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank.

Satterfield added that the Lebanese army “could well serve as a counterweight to Hezbollah’s desire to expand its own influence there, as well as Iran’s reach in Lebanon”.

But taking the stage three hours later, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman reiterated his view that the Lebanese army was under the command of the better-equipped Hezbollah.

“As far as I‘m concerned, all of Lebanon – the Lebanese army, Lebanon and the Lebanese army – are no different from Hezbollah,” he said. “They are part of Hezbollah and they will all pay the full price” for any large-scale attack on Israel.

There was no immediate response from Hezbollah or the Lebanese military.

The Lebanese military has previously said it operates independently from Hezbollah, most recently during an operation against Islamic State at the Lebanese-Syrian border last year.

Israeli intelligence officials told Reuters last year that they believed the Lebanese army maintained autonomy even if some of its personnel cooperated with Hezbollah.

“We’re very concerned about Hezbollah developing an indigenous weapons manufacturing capability or alteration capability inside Lebanon,” Sales told Reuters at the conference.

He declined to comment on how far advanced such missile projects might be, but said the United States was trying to hinder them and other Hezbollah capabilities by using sanctions to dent the $700 million that Iran gives the militia annually.

Neither Hezbollah nor Iran has responded to such charges.

Israel has also been lobbying Russia – which has some sway over Iran and Hezbollah because of their alliance in Syria. Israeli officials said they hosted a senior Russian security delegation on Wednesday, with the missile issue on the agenda.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Heinrich


FBI has ‘grave concerns’ about controversial Republican memo

January 31, 2018

BBC News

The FBI has publicly challenged a push by Republican lawmakers to release a controversial memo which purports to show anti-Trump bias at the agency.

“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said in a statement.

A top Trump aide said on Wednesday they would release the top secret document “pretty quick”, despite the objections.

Democrats claim the memo is an attempt to discredit the FBI-led Russia probe.

“It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it,” White House chief of staff John Kelly said during an interview with Fox News Radio on Wednesday morning.

Hours later, the FBI issued a rare statement saying that it had had “limited opportunity” to review the document before the House Intelligence committee voted to release it on Monday.

“We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) process,” the FBI statement added.

What is the memo?

The four-page memo, which was compiled by staffers for the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, claims that the Department of Justice abused the surveillance programme known as FISA to unfairly target a member of the Trump campaign.

According to lawmakers who have reviewed it, the document purports to show that the agency obtained a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign aide after submitting as evidence the unproven “Russian dossier”.

That dossier was compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele with money financed in part from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The committee voted to release the memo earlier this week, and Mr Trump has until the weekend to decide whether to de-classify the information for public release.

Mr Trump was heard following his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night telling a Republican lawmaker that he is “100%” for releasing the document, but on Wednesday White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told CNN “there’s always a chance” that it will not be released.

But Mr Kelly was less equivocal, telling Fox News on Wednesday morning that Mr Trump “wants everything out so the American people can make up their own minds and if there’s people to be held accountable, then so be it”.

Why is it controversial?

Before the FBI statement on Wednesday, the Department of Justice had already said it would be “extraordinary reckless” to release the document.

Democrats, whose efforts to release a competing memo were blocked by the committee, claim that Mr Nunes cherry-picked highly classified information that they say could jeopardise national security.

They argue the memo is an effort to embarrass the FBI and discredit the investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, into alleged Russian meddling and possible obstruction of justice by members of the Trump administration.

But Trump officials say the memo proves his claim that he has been treated unfairly by the FBI.

FBI deputy quits ‘ahead of agency review’

After firing FBI director James Comey, Mr Trump reportedly asked his temporary replacement Andrew McCabe how he had voted in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr McCabe, who briefly served as acting agency director, resigned amid public accusations of Democratic bias from Mr Trump. He was planning to retire in March.

What is the latest reaction?

Chairman Nunes, who served on the Trump team during his White House transition, said on Wednesday it was “no surprise” that the FBI has objected to the memo’s release.

“Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DoJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies,” he said.

A top Democrat on the House committee, Adam Schiff, said that releasing the memo “increases the risk of a constitutional crisis by setting the stage for subsequent actions by the White House to fire [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller or, as now seems more likely, Deputy Attorney General Rod J Rosenstein”.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who serves on the Senate Intelligence committee, said that the Republicans are clearly trying to “undermine the special counsel’s investigation”.

“There’s no excuse for playing politics with highly classified information,” Mrs Feinstein added.


The State of the Union: A Year in Trump’s America

We’ve seen worse

January 31, 2018

by Justin Raimondo


There’s usually not a whole lot of foreign policy material in the President’s State of the Union address, at least not since the days of George W. Bush and his invocation of Doestoevskyian nihilists as a justification for world conquest. Oh, it gets mentioned, of course, but usually at the end, as the obligatory capstone to all the rhetoric about “strength,” “freedom,” and “unity” that decorates these presidential perorations. President Trump’s speech was no exception: except for talk of “reciprocal” trade agreements (who could object?), lifting budget caps on military spending (they keep talking about it, and yet there are good political reasons why it probably won’t happen), “modernizing” our nuclear arsenal (a process started under President Obama, and an extremely dangerous development), there wasn’t much substantial for a foreign policy analyst to sink his teeth into.

Well, yes, there was the North Korea section, wherein the President told us that Kim Jong Un may soon have the capacity to reach American cities with his nukes – not exactly accurate, but not totally impossible at some future date either. He brought up the horrific treatment of Otto Warmbier, the unfortunate student who was imprisoned and tortured by the North Koreans for the “crime” of stealing a propaganda poster and died of his wounds shortly after being returned to the United States. And who can forget the amazing story of Ji Seong-ho, the North Korea double amputee whose escape from that commie shithole reads like a combination of Dante’s Inferno and the Odyssey as told by Stephen King.

Although anti-interventionists oppose war on the Korean peninsula – as does any rational person, we fully appreciate the heroism – which seems almost superhuman – that got Ji Seong-ho out of that hell-on-earth.

While we were told, before the speech, to expect some pretty tough rhetoric aimed at Pyongyang, there were no threats, not a word of bombast, despite rumors of a faction within the administration pushing for a “bloody nose” first strike against the regime.

The withdrawal of Victor Cha – a longtime hardliner, head of the North Asia desk at the National Security Council under George W. Bush – as ambassador to South Korea is being touted by the usual hysterics as evidence that the Trump administration is ready to bomb Pyongyang. While Cha did indeed write an op ed piece attacking the idea of the “bloody nose” strategy being pushed by the outright lunatics in the Trump administration, he opposes the “freeze-for-freeze” concept supported by South Korean nationalists and peace groups: the idea that if the US and South Korea stop their provocative military “exercises” the North will stop testing missiles.

So Cha’s withdrawal may not have been due to a veto by Trumpian hardliners: it is just as likely to have come from objections by the South Koreans, who are now involved in forging new links with the North over the Winter Olympics.

The last US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was the victim of a knife attack by a South Korean citizen whom the BBC described as a “militant Korean nationalist,” and who was sentenced to twelve years in jail. While the then conservative South Korean government and its supporters condemned the attack, it wasn’t only Pyongyang that praised it as an “act of justice”: there was a popular backlash in which many South Koreans accused officials of engaging in “worship of America” and using the attack as an excuse to crack down on opponents of government policy.

There are currently around 30,000 US troops occupying South Korea.

More interesting than the speech itself was the reaction from the NeverTrumpers: for some reason the Democrats got no less than five responses, all of which were pretty much universally panned even by other NeverTrumpers. Their number one complaint was given voice by none other than “peacenik” Bernie Sanders, who, in a tweet, bemoaned the lack of hostility to Russia:

“How can Trump not talk about the reality that Russia, through cyberwarfare, interfered in our election in 2016, is interfering in democratic elections all over the world, and according to his own CIA director will likely interfere in the 2018 midterm elections? #BernieResponds.”

This is the Great Left Hope of the Democratic Party that people like Glenn Greenwald have been holding up (albeit tentatively and inconsistently) as somehow exempt from the Red Dawn Fever that has now become that party’s semi-official ideology.

Guess what? No one is exempt! Even the “libertarians” over at the Cato Institute have shown some disturbing signs of falling for the new cold war propaganda, although there are a few holdouts. Note here that Cato analyst Emma Ashford, given the chance to oppose the sanctions, affects an air of disinterested “objectivity.” Such “objectivity” wouldn’t suffice if the subject were, say, gay marriage. In an interview with a German media outlet she attacks Trump for questioning the Russia-gate hoax, which she, like the rest of the Washington crowd, seems to think is beyond challenge.

One year into the Trump administration and we have, on the foreign policy front, one major development: unlike practically every US President in modern times – excepting Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and (I think) Ford — Trump hasn’t started any major new wars. That might seem like some pretty thin gruel to feast on, and yet it does represent a not insignificant change in the pattern of presidential behavior. He campaigned as an “isolationist” whose “first instinct” would not be to call out the troops, and it’s fair to say he’s stuck to the spirit if not the strict letter of his “America First” doctrine.

Think of Trump as the exact opposite of George Herbert Walker Bush. Whereas the forty-first President of the United States was an arrogant aristocrat with no feeling for popular sentiment (or, indeed, for how ordinary Americans live), whose main concern was foreign policy, Trump is a plebeian in his bones who is focused on domestic policy, i.e. on improving the lives of actual Americans.

Whether his policies on immigration, taxes, infrastructure, etc., will actually succeed in doing that is beyond the purview of this column: our concern here is America’s role in the world. However, it is safe to say that as long as Trump stays focused on the economy, and as long as the economy continues its upward advance, he’ll be less inclined than ever to ruin it all with some stupid foreign adventure.

But, hey, you never know….


State of the Union: Trump audience figures boast questioned

February 1, 2018


US President Donald Trump’s boast that TV viewership for his speech to Congress this week was the “highest number in history” is under scrutiny.

Nielsen, which tracks US TV ratings, says Mr Trump’s 45.6m viewers falls short of the numbers who tuned in to other State of the Union addresses.

Nielsen says Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W Bush all drew bigger ratings for their speeches.

Twitter said Mr Trump’s speech attracted a record 4.5m tweets.

Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech,” Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

“45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history.”

But according to Nielsen data, Mr Obama’s first official State of the Union speech in 2010 attracted 48 million viewers.

Mr Clinton’s State of the Union pulled in a record 66.9 million television viewers in 1993.

Mr Bush pulled in 62.1 million in 2003, a few weeks before the Iraq War.

About one quarter of total viewers watched the speech on Fox News, which Nielsen said received a total 11.5m viewers.

The Nielsen survey comprises data from 12 television networks and does not take into account those who watched online.

CNN said that roughly an hour into Mr Trump’s speech, their video-streaming platform peaked at 321,000 simultaneous users.

It is not the first time Mr Trump’s claims about audience figures have been questioned.

He estimated that 1.5 million people attended his inauguration speech at the National Mall in Washington DC last year.

But his then-press secretary’s estimate gave Mr Trump a crowd size of around half that figure.In a 2015 profile for Rolling Stone magazine, Mr Trump asserted that his own 757 plane was bigger than the presidential jet, Air Force One.

Air Force One is 225ft (68 metres); Mr Trump’s plane is 153ft.



UN urged to launch global effort to end offshore tax evasion

Campaign group launches financial secrecy index and warns UK is still protecting overseas territories

January 30, 2018

by David Pegg

The Guardian

The United Nations has been urged by the Tax Justice Network to coordinate a global effort to end offshore tax evasion and corruption, amid warnings that the UK is continuing to insulate its overseas territories from financial transparency.

Commenting on the launch of the TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index 2018, which ranks countries on the size and secretiveness of their offshore sectors, its chief executive, Alex Cobham, said big financial centres had proven unwilling to reform voluntarily.

“The 2018 release confirms the long-term picture that the richest and most powerful countries have continued to pose the greatest global risks – with Switzerland and the US established as the key facilitators of illicit financial flows,” he said.

“If we are to end tax evasion, corruption, fraud and money laundering, the world’s major financial centres need to clean up their act. And since they are not willing to do that voluntarily, the UN should create a global convention to end financial secrecy once and for all.”

Switzerland, the US and the Cayman Islands are the biggest contributors to global financial secrecy according to the survey, which is published every two or three years.

The UK does not feature in the top 10 secrecy jurisdictions. However, the TJN warned that the country was continuing to frustrate moves towards greater transparency by protecting its overseas territories – former colonies, some of which have since become prominent tax havens – from reform.

The TJN acknowledged the UK had made progress at home, including by introducing a register of beneficial ownership for domestic companies, but said government efforts to encourage reform in Britain’s overseas territories had stalled following the 2017 general election.

“In recent years the government of the UK refused to impose more financial transparency on these territories, especially with regard to trusts,” the group said.

“To the contrary, it has actively protected them from international scrutiny, for example, by lobbying to remove them from the EU’s list of tax havens released in 2017.”

A spokesperson for HM Treasury said: “Overseas territories are separate jurisdictions with their own democratically elected governments and they decide their own fiscal matters.

“Thanks to our leadership, all of our crown dependencies and overseas territories with financial centres are committed to all global tax transparency standards, including the Common Reporting Standard that makes it harder for companies and individuals to hide their money abroad.”

The US has risen up the TJN’s ranking from third position in 2015. The group said the increase was driven by “a huge rise in their share of the market in offshore financial services”, with no comparable reduction in levels of secrecy.

The US has also declined to take part in international initiatives to combat financial secrecy, such as the automatic exchange of information between states. Instead it has adopted its own approach, imposing financial penalties on overseas financial institutions that withhold information on US taxpayers.

“There is now real concern about the damage this promotion of illicit financial flows is doing to the global economy,” the TJN said.

Offshore tax evasion: top 10 most secretive jurisdictions

  1. Switzerland (1)•
  2. U​nited StatesS (3)
  3. Cayman Islands (5)
  4. Hong Kong (2)
  5. Singapore (4)
  6. Luxembourg (6)
  7. Germany (8)
  8. Taiwan (new entry)
  9. United Arab Emirates (10)
  10. Guernsey (17)​

The Tax Justice Network ranks countries and jurisdictions on the size and secretiveness of their offshore sectors

  • Bracketed items refer to 2015 placing


Criminal Cases Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties: Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties (MLATs) are relatively recent development. They seek to improve the effectiveness of judicial assistance and to regularize and facilitate its procedures. Each country designates a central authority, generally the two Justice Departments, for direct communication. The treaties include the power to summon witnesses, to compel the production of documents and other real evidence, to issue search warrants, and to serve process. Generally, the remedies offered by the treaties are only available to the prosecutors. The defense must usually proceed with the methods of obtaining evidence in criminal matters under the laws of the host country which usually involve letters rogatory.

MLAT Treaties in Force:

The United States has nineteen Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) currently in force: Argentina, Bahamas, Canada, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom (Cayman Islands), United Kingdom, Uruguay. DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A PARTICULAR CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO FOREIGN COUNSEL.

Criminal Cases Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties:  Since the first U.S. bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) entered into force with Switzerland in 1977, our MLATs have become an increasingly important.  They seek to improve the effectiveness of judicial assistance and to regularize and facilitate its procedures.  Each country designates a central authority, generally the two Justice Departments, for direct communication.  The treaties include the power to summon witnesses, to compel the production of documents and other real evidence, to issue search warrants, and to serve process.  Generally, the remedies offered by the treaties are only available to the prosecutors.  The defense must usually proceed with the methods of obtaining evidence in criminal matters under the laws of the host country, which usually involve letters rogatory.  See also general information in Obtaining Evidence Abroad.

PROSECUTORS:   contact the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530, tel: (202) 514-0015.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE COUNSEL:  For additional information about the letters rogatory process or other non-MLAT procedures, see our judicial assistance home page and judicial assistance country specific page.  If the information you require is not available there, contact the appropriate geographic division of the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management at (202) 647-5226.

TREATY NEGOTIATION ISSUES:  Contact the Office of the Legal Adviser, Department of State, Law Enforcement and Intelligence (L/LEI), Washington, D.C. 20520, tel: (202) 647-5111.


9 Criminal Resource Manual 276 Treaty Requests

U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division Reading Room – Obtaining Foreign Evidence and Other Types of Assistance in Criminal Tax Cases

Internal Revenue Manual 9.13.2 International Investigations:  Treaties, Mutual Assistance Laws


The United States now has the following MLATs in force, unless otherwise noted as being signed but not in force.  This list is subject to change.  See Treaties in Force and Treaty Actions for the most recent information.

Country Entered Into Force
(or signed, not yet in force, where noted)
Antigua and Barbuda July 1, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-24 105th Cong., 1st Sess. Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2nd Sess.
Argentina February 9, 1993 Treaty Doc. 102-18, 102nd Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 102-33, 102nd Cong., 1st Sess.
Australia September 30, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-27, 105th Cong., 1st Sess. Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2nd Sess.
Austria August 1, 1998 Treaty Doc. 104-21, 104th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 104-24, 104th Cong., 2nd Sess.
Bahamas July 18, 1990 Treaty Doc. 100-17, 100th Cong. 2nd Sess. Exec. Rept. 100-30, 100th Cong. 2nd Sess.
Barbados March 3, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-23, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong. 2nd Sess
Belize January 7, 2003 Treaty Doc. 107-13

U.S. Belize MLAT Press Release

Belgium January 1, 2000 Treaty Doc. 100-16, 100th Cong., 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept. 100-29, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. Exec. Rept. 101-11, 101st Cong., 1st Sess.
Brazil February 21, 2001 Treaty Doc. 105-42 105th Cong. 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept 105-22, 105th Cong, 2nd Sess.
Canada January 24, 1990 Treaty Doc. 100-14; 100th Cong., 2nd Sess. Exec. Rept. 100-28; 100th Cong, 2nd Sess. Exec. Rept 101-10; 101st Cong., 1st Sess. XXIV ILM No. 4, 7/85, 1092-1099.

Canada Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (OAS)

Canadian Central Authorities (RCMP)

MLATs:  Investigator’s Guide to Seeking Assistance Through the Department of Justice (RCMP)

Alternative Approaches to Combating Transnational Crime

Colombia Signed August 20, 1980 (Not in Force) Treaty Doc. 97-11, 97th Cong. 1st Sess. Exec Rept 97-35
Cyprus September 18, 2002 Treaty Doc. 106-35, 106 Cong. 2nd Sess. Exec. Rept 106-24, 106 Cong. 2nd Sess.
Czech Republic May 7, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-47, 105th Cong., 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong. 2nd Sess.
Dominica May 25, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-24, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22; 105th Cong. 2nd Sess.
Egypt November 29, 2001 Treaty Doc. 106-19, 106th Cong. 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept. 106-24, 106th Cong, 2nd Sess.
Estonia October 20, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-52, 105th Cong., 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong. 2nd Sess.
European Union Signed June 25, 2003 (Not in Force)  

Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance Between European Union and United States of America (EU site)

U.S. Signs Pacts With Three European Nations

U.S. Mission to EU – U.S. Signs Accords with Sweden, Finland, Belgium  

Finland Signed December 16, 2004 (Not in Force)  
France December 1, 2001 Treaty Doc. 106-17, 106th Cong. 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept 106-24, 106th Cong. 2nd Sess.
Germany Signed October 14, 2003 (Not in Force)  
Greece November 20, 2001 Treaty Doc. 106-18, 106th Cong. 2nd Sess., Exec. Rept. 106-24, 106th Cong, 2d Sess.
Grenada September 14, 1999 Treaty Doc. 15-24, 105th Cong. 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Hong Kong SAR January 21, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-6, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22; 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Hungary March 18, 1997 Treaty Doc. 104-20, 104th Cong., 1st Sess. Exec Rept. 104-25, 104th Cong. 2d Sess.
India Signed October 17, 2001 (Not in Force) Treaty Doc. 107-3, 107th Cong., 2d Sess.
Ireland Signed January 18,2001 (Not in Force) Treaty Doc. 107-9, 107th Cong., 2d Sess.
Israel May 25, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-40, 105th Cong., 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Italy November 13, 1985 Sen. Ex. 98-25, Exec. Rept. 98-36, 98th Cong., 2d Sess.
Jamaica July 25, 1995 Treaty Doc. 102-16, 102d Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 102-32, 102d Cong., 1st Sess.
Japan Signed August 5, 2003 (Not in Force) Treaty Doc. 108-12.

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Signing of MLAT with United States

Korea May 23, 1997 Treaty Doc. 104-1, 104th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 104-22; 104th Cong. 2d Sess.
Latvia September 17, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-34, 105th Cong., 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22; 105th Cong., 2nd Sess.
Liechtenstein August 1, 2003 Treaty Doc. 107-16
Lithuania August 26, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-41, 105th Cong., 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.

U.S. Lithuania Sign Extradition MLAT Accords (June 5, 2005)

Luxembourg February 1, 2001 Treaty Doc. 105-11, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Mexico May 3, 1991 Treaty Doc. 100-13, Exec. Rept. 100-27, 100th Cong., 2 Sess., Exec. Rept. 101-09, 101st Cong. 1st Sess., XXVII ILM, No. 2, 3/88, 447.
Morocco June 23, 1993 Sen. Ex. 98-24, Exec. Rept. 98-35, 98th Cong., 2d Sess.
Netherlands September 15, 1983 TIAS 10734
Panama September 6, 1995 Treaty Doc. 102-15, 102 Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 104-3, 102 Cong., 2d Sess.
Philippines November 22, 1996 Treaty Doc. 104-18, 104th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 104-26, 104th Cong., 2d Sess.

Treaty With the Philippines on MLAT

Poland September 17, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-12, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Romania October 17, 2001 Treaty Doc. 106-20, 106th Cong. 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 106-24, 106th Cont, 2d Sess.
Russian Federation    

Fact Sheet Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Between the U.S. and Russia January 31, 2002

DOJ Overseas Prosecutorial Development

Saint Kitts & Nevis February 23, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-37, Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Saint Lucia February 2, 2000 Treaty Doc. 105-24, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22; 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines September 8, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-44, Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.
South Africa June 25, 2001 Treaty Doc. 106-36, 106th Cong., 2d Sess. Exec. Rept. 106-24, 106th Cong. 2d Sess.

South Africa Department of Justice, MLATs

Spain June 30, 1993 Treaty Doc. 102-21, 102d Cong., 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 102-35, 102d Cong., 2d Sess.
Sweden Signed December 17, 2001 (Not in Force) Treaty Doc. 107-12, 107th Cong., 2d Sess.

U.S. – Swedish MLAT

Switzerland January 23, 1977 TIAS 8302, 27 UST 2019

Swiss Division for International Legal Assistance

Swiss MLAT Fact Sheet

U.S. Embassy Bern Judicial Assistance Criminal Matters

Thailand June 10, 1993 Treaty Doc. 100-18, Exec. Rept. 100-31, 100th Cong., 3d Sess., Exec. Rept. 101-13, 101st Cong., 1st Sess.
Trinidad and Tobago November 29, 1999 Treaty Doc. 105-22, 105th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess.

Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters In Trinidad and Tobago (OAS)

Turkey January 1, 1981 TIAS 9891
United Kingdom December 2, 1996 Treaty Doc. 104-2, 104th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 104-23, 104th Cong., 2d Sess.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office MLATs

United Kingdom (Cayman Islands) March 19, 1990 Treaty Doc. 100-8; 100th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 100-26, 100th Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 100-26; 100th Cong., 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 101-8, 101st Cong., 1st Sess., XXVI ILM 536, 3/87.
United Kingdom (Anguilla) November 9, 1990 Treaty with U.K. on Cayman Islands extended to Anguilla.
United Kingdom (British Virgin Islands) November 9, 1990 Treaty with U.K. on Cayman Islands extended to British Virgin Islands.
United Kingdom (Montserrat) April 26, 1991 Treaty with U.K. on Cayman Islands extended to Montserrat.
United Kingdom (Turks and Caicos Islands) November 9, 1990 Treaty with U.K. on Cayman Islands extended to Turks and Caicos.
Uruguay April 15, 1994 Treaty Doc. 102-19, 102d Cong., 1st Sess., Exec. Rept. 102-34, 102d Cong., 2d Sess.
Venezuela Signed October 12, 1997 (Not in Force) Treaty Doc. 105-38, 105th Cong., 2d Sess., Exec. Rept. 105-22, 105th Cong., 2d Sess


San Francisco to expunge thousands of marijuana convictions

February 1, 2018


The San Francisco district attorney’s office has begun a process to expunge weed-related convictions from thousands of criminal records.

At a media conference Wednesday, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon estimated that his office will immediately dismiss 3,038 marijuana-related misdemeanors and begin reviewing another 4,940 marijuana-related felonies to be reclassified as misdemeanors.

“Today I’m announcing that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office proactively will be dismissing misdemeanor cases, sealing the records of those who were convicted for marijuana offenses,” Gascon said.

He said because of the time and money it takes to petition the courts, there have only been around 20 people in San Francisco and 4,885 in the state who have started the process to have their cannabis convictions reversed.

Laura Thomas, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said there are more than 1 million Californians who could benefit from having their records expunged.

The district attorney said his office was motivated to make proactive changes after more than 75 percent of San Franciscans voted to pass Proposition 64. The voter initiative not only legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older, but also allowed anyone with a past marijuana conviction to petition state courts to recall or dismiss their case.

“The voters are giving us, as elected officials and as public officials, a clear direction,” Gascon said. “They’re tired of the war on drugs, they do not believe that was the right path to follow, and now it’s up to us to ensure that we not only implement the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.”

Gascon said individuals who are eligible will not have to hire a lawyer or file any petitions as their cases “will be attended to without any action on their own.”

“The process will take no hearings,people will not have to hire attorneys, they will never have to come to our courts,” Gascon said. “Everything will be done proactively here, by the DA’s office.”

Jeff Sheehy, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, applauded the district attorney’s office for removing a “significant barrier” that people had to go through to get their convictions expunged themselves. “By proactively doing this, I think you’ve taken a huge burden off of people who, frankly, were unjustly convicted and unjustly arrested,” Sheehy said.

In order to “provide a clean slate for many Californians,” Gascon said the district attorney’s office will not only expunge conviction records, they will also expunge arrest records for those who are eligible.

The district attorney said he thinks it might take them about a year to get the work done, explaining that it will take his office time to process the felony convictions through the courts.

Under Proposition 64, certain individuals with “serious offenses,” such as murder or rape charges, would be disqualified from having their convictions expunged or reduced.

The district attorney said his office was proactively expunging the convictions as a way to “right so many of wrongs that have been caused by the war on drugs.”

“We want to address the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country, and begin to fix some of the harm that was done, not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of color and many others,” Gascon said

The tax revenue obtained from marijuana sales in San Francisco will also be reinvested in communities that were most harmed by the war on drugs.

“The promise of Prop 64 was that we would use the legalization of adult use of marijuana in order to help repair some of the damages that have been done, primarily to communities of color in this state by the war on drugs,” Thomas said.


US Congress: Republicans rush for the exits to imperil Trump’s midterm hopes

Trey Gowdy this week became the 38th Republican to announce their departure since Trump’s inauguration – and Democrats are optimistic

Febury 1, 20018

by Alan Yuhas in New York

The Guardian

Dozens of Republicans are rushing for the exits on Capitol Hill in an exodus which has dramatically raised Democratic hopes of shifting the balance of power in Washington DC.Congressman Trey Gowdy, the Republican who made headlines with a crusade to investigate Hillary Clinton, announced his retirement on Wednesday, becoming the 38th Republican to announce they would be giving up their seat in Congress since Donald Trump’s inauguration last year.

Gowdy and other Republicans cheered the president on during his state of the union address, chanting “USA” and standing to applaud his agenda.

But many of the same lawmakers have said they’ve had enough of Washington and the chaos in the White House, gridlock at work and angry voters back home.

Midterm elections in November give Democrats a strong chance of winning the 24 seats they need to seize back the House and jeopardizing the president’s agenda.

Gowdy was the second senior Republican this week to announce his retirement, after New Jersey’s Rodney Frelinghuysen, a 12-term congressman. The pair both chaired powerful committees on oversight and the nation’s finances, and follow 23 other Republicans  leaving the House to quit politics altogether.

A further 11 will step down in order to run for higher office in the Senate or as state governors and three more are leaving the Senate. In contrast, only 15 Democratic representatives and one senator are leaving Congress.

In January, Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican facing his own difficult re-election, accused two of his fellows of “running for the hills, making a very frightened assessment rather than a courageous assessment”.

They have cause for fear. Midterm elections are unforgiving even to popular presidents – Democrats lost 63 House seats in 2010, when Barack Obama’s approval rating was around 45% – and Trump is historically unpopular, only recently rising to an average of 40%.

“He’s by the far the most unpopular first-year president in the polling age,” said Matt Glassman, a Georgetown government affairs professor.. “No one wants to be embarrassed in an electoral defeat, and a lot of people don’t want to fight tooth-and-nail just to be in the minority in the next Congress.”

The retirements do not bode well, political scientists said. “That’s usually a sign that there could be impending doom,” said Terry Madonna, a professor at Franklin and Marshall College.

Frelinghuysen and several other Republicans face changing districts back home. In 2000, he had such an iron grip on his seat that film-maker Michael Moore tried to run a ficus tree against him – anything to field a competitor. However, in the 2016 presidential election, Trump won the district by just one point.

Democrats’ hopes to retake the House, where they need 24 seats, have risen with each retirement. They are prioritizing 23 Republican-held districts that Clinton won in 2016, but are on the defensive in 12 districts that Trump carried. Although Republicans have only a two-seat hold of the Senate, this year’s races are in states that give Democrats little chance for success. Even to retake the House, polls suggest Democrats need an unusually large “wave” election, like Republicans had in 2010 and 1994.

But the retirements eliminate a typical advantage that incumbents enjoy in re-election races. According to the Brookings Institution, 49 representatives retired before the 1994 wave, when Republicans took 54 seats; 28 retired before Democrats took 30 seats in 2006; and 32 retired before Republicans won 63 seats in 2010.

This November, there could be as many as 40-50 competitive seats. Democrats have already mobilized voters for special elections, mass protests and marches. That means tougher, more expensive races around the country for Republicans.

Madonna said political polarization has reached an new extreme in modern US history, in part thanks to self-sorting voters and gerrymandered districts. “These are men and women who essentially don’t like each other and don’t trust each other,” he said. “They get weary of it especially when nothing gets done.”

Over Trump’s first year, Republican leaders struggled to paper over internal divisions over the budget, immigration and healthcare, and the president has frequently disrupted their efforts.

“He appears to be making the same mistakes this January that he made last January,” said Peter Woolley at Fairleigh Dickinson University, listing staff turnover, erratic statements, and poor coordination with would-be allies in Congress.

“This is a president who does not appear to be growing into the job,” Woolley said.

Madonna said Trump “is in a sense trapped in the middle” between hardliners in Congress, a dwindling group of moderates – many of whom are retiring – and Democrats. Last fall Trump expressed his reluctance to negotiate with Democrats when he endorsed Roy Moore, a Republican candidate accused of child molestation.

On Tuesday night Trump acknowledged that he will need Democratic votes for deals on immigration and infrastructure. “As he tries to reach out more and more, he’s going to find out that he may lose House Republicans,” Madonna said.

The president’s difficult hand could change over the next few months, Woolley said: the stock market’s record strength may yet dissipate, and North Korea remains a major political and security risk.

“There are some serious things that could still happen,” he said. “We’re a long way from knowing for sure.”


Poland’s Senate approves Holocaust bill that sparked a row with Israel

Poland’s upper house has passed a contentious law that could punish anyone who accuses the country of complicity in the crimes of Nazi Germany. Israel has condemned the legislation as “offensive and wrong.”

February 1, 2018


The upper house, which is controlled by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, passed the controversial Holocaust bill by 57-23 with two abstentions, despite demands by Israel that it be changed.

Those found guilty under the legislation could receive a fine or a three-year prison sentence for using the term “Polish death camp” to refer to concentration camps built on Polish soil by Nazi occupiers. Accusing Poland of involvement in the Third Reich’s atrocities would also be illegal.

Defending Poland against ‘insults’

The Warsaw government insists the new law is designed to defend Poland’s reputation following widespread historical inaccuracies, but says that scientific research into the war will be exempted.

We have to send a clear signal to the world that we won’t allow Poland to continue being insulted,” Patryk Jaki, a deputy justice minister, told reporters in parliament.

Thursday’s Senate approval follows a similar blessing by the lower house of parliament last week.

Israel concerned about Holocaust denial

The contentious law has caused a diplomatic spat with Israel, which complained that it could deny the responsibility of some Poles in crimes against Jews, even in cases where their guilt has already been proven.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the weekend that the Jewish-majority state had “no tolerance for the distortion of the truth and rewriting history or denying the Holocaust.”

Ahead of the Polish vote, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, debated amendments to its own law on Holocaust denial, so that denying or minimizing the involvement of the Nazi’s helpers and collaborators will also be a crime.

Poland ignored calls from Washington to drop the bill, amid worries that it “could undermine free speech and academic discourse.”

President likely to sign

Polish President Andrzej Duda now has 21 days to sign or veto the bill, but declared earlier this week: “We absolutely can’t back down; we have the right to defend the historical truth.”

Nazi Germany occupied Poland from September 1939 until 1945 when Soviet forces liberated the country.

Poland suffered immense losses under Nazi occupation with an estimated 1.9 million non-Jewish civilian deaths. Its Jewish community of 3.2 million, one of Europe’s largest at the time, was nearly decimated. According to Yad Vashem, only 380,000 survived.


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