On the menu today: Kamala Harris tells Guatemalan migrants, “If you come to our border, you will be turned back. Do not come”; in May 2020, the intelligence division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory “made a strong case for further inquiry into the possibility the virus seeped out of the lab”; the DOJ scores a significant win against Russian hackers; and my thanks to generous readers.
Kamala Harris Begrudgingly Emphasizes Border Enforcement
Remember a few months ago, when the White House declared that it wouldn’t use the word “crisis” to describe the situation at the border, and then large institutions in the mainstream media knuckled under to pressure from pro-amnesty activists and declared they wouldn’t use the term “crisis” or “emergency,” either? And then President Biden screwed up and called it a crisis anyway?
Is there any doubt that the White House sees the situation as a crisis, when Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Guatemala, stands next to Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei, and declares, “If you come to our border, you will be turned back. . . . Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border”?
Boy, we’ve come a long way from her 2017 declaration, “An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal,” haven’t we?
And while Biden and Harris would contend that they never promised an end to U.S. immigration enforcement, that is not the perception which their campaign-trail rhetoric created over the past few years. Some Guatemalans are reacting as if they were invited by the new administration and now they’re having the door slammed shut in their faces. Courtney Subramanian, the White House correspondent for USA Today who was the pool reporter on Harris’s trip, reported that, “The route was mostly cleared except for security and military. Pool did spot one group along the boulevard in front of a public building that included signs that read: “Kamala, Trump won” and “Kamala, mind your own business!”
And while Harris’s meeting with President Giammattei went smoothly, a few days ago, Giammattei did an interview with CBS News where he pretty much blamed the Biden administration for the surge in migration:
The change of administrations in Washington was exploited by human traffickers, known as “coyotes,” who ferried thousands of children to the U.S.-Mexico border within days of President Biden formally rescinding the Trump-era family separation policy. Giammattei wants American lawmakers to toughen federal laws against traffickers and is ready to extradite them to face charges.
. . . “We are not on the same side of the coin. It is obvious,” he added, explaining later that “we are in agreement on the ‘what’” of the immigration crisis, “which is something. We are in not agreement on the ‘how.’”
During a bilingual interview with CBS News conducted Friday at the nation’s presidential house, he was asked if Guatemalans are leaving his country now that Mr. Biden is president and Donald Trump is out of office.
He said the change in government led to a change in message: “The message changed to, ‘We are going to reunite families and we are going to reunite children.’”
When that happened, “The very next day the coyotes here were organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
Given the uptick in migration, “We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving,” Giammattei said.
Biden, Harris, and the immigration- and foreign-policy team around them operated in denial on this issue throughout 2020 and into 2021, and it’s still not clear that they’re completely in touch with reality. When Candidate Biden and Candidate Harris promised to cease all border-wall construction, immediately end family separation, suspend all deportations for 100 days, “end prolonged detention,” “end workplace raids,” and create a path to citizenship for everyone currently living in the U.S. illegally, Central American migrants and the coyotes interpreted that as “The border is open.” It doesn’t matter if they never spoke those specific words; this was the conclusion that the migrants came to because Biden and Harris never wanted to talk about enforcing immigration laws on the campaign trail. In 2019, then-candidate Harris declared her intent to use executive orders to end deportations and create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
How angry can you be at Central American migrants for believing Harris meant what she said?
This morning, Axios reports that, “The number of migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year is already the most since 2006 — with four months left to go, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.” This is indeed a crisis, it is a crisis that has not been alleviated even though the media show only intermittent interest in it, and it is a crisis that will continue until the summer heat makes the journey north unbearable.
‘The Wuhan Labs Are the Prime Suspects, As They Have Been from the Beginning’
Today, Senator Tom Cotton appears on the home page, concluding that, “Perhaps the world will never know conclusively where this virus originated; it has become a cliché to say so. But we already know a lot, and it all points toward a deadly combination of Chinese negligence and malevolence. The American people deserve our best answer, and for that we must go to the source: The Wuhan labs are the prime suspects, as they have been from the very beginning.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that in May 2020, a study on the origins of COVID-19 prepared in May 2020 by the intelligence division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory “made a strong case for further inquiry into the possibility the virus seeped out of the lab.”
One more thought on the Chinese government’s otherworldly secrecy and intractable opposition to an independent, external review of what is known and recorded about the start of the pandemic: There’s a fairly wide consensus that the Chinese official statistics on the impact of COVID-19 in China are not accurate. According to the Chinese government, no variant of COVID-19 has touched the country in any significant way.
But even if you believe the official statistics, the pandemic in China grew from 571 cases on January 22, 2020, to more than 76,000 cases on February 22, 2020. (And then, in China’s telling, the virus more or less just stopped spreading.) In that span, the number of deaths grew from 17 to 2,442. (On April 17, China adjusted its death toll to 4,632, and it contend only four people in a country of over 1 billion people have died from COVID-19 since.) A virus that kills more than 4,000 people in a short span is a really big deal. Any government, even the most ruthless and draconian, would want to get to the bottom of how the pandemic started, if for no other reason than to protect the ruling class and to minimize disruption to the economy that creates the wealth the rulers enjoy.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken keeps emphasizing that a full and transparent investigation “is profoundly in China’s interest to do this, as well.”
Indeed, Mr. Secretary, why does the Chinese regime seem so adamantly opposed to doing something that is profoundly in its own interest?
Is Beijing acting like a regime that is hell-bent on finding out how this whole calamity started? Or is it acting like a regime that already knows how this whole calamity started and wants to make sure no one else finds out?
DOJ Gets Back Some of the Colonial Pipeline Ransom
We don’t often get to celebrate wins against Russian hackers, so heck of a job, Department of Justice!
The Department of Justice today announced that it has seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at approximately $2.3 million. These funds allegedly represent the proceeds of a May 8, ransom payment to individuals in a group known as DarkSide, which had targeted Colonial Pipeline, resulting in critical infrastructure being taken out of operation.
“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful tools we have,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco for the U.S. Department of Justice. “Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine, and today’s announcement demonstrates that the United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises. We will continue to target the entire ransomware ecosystem to disrupt and deter these attacks. Today’s announcements also demonstrate the value of early notification to law enforcement; we thank Colonial Pipeline for quickly notifying the FBI when they learned that they were targeted by DarkSide.”
While today’s development is to be cheered, it also highlights some of the challenges. Notice: U.S. authorities are announcing only the seizure of funds (in fact, of funds they did not want Colonial to pay in the first place); there is no announcement of arrests. In that sense, it is reminiscent of the Mueller investigation’s ballyhooed indictments of Russian hackers: The stark reality is that, even if our intel officials can identify members of DarkSide, the chance that any of them will ever see the inside of an American courtroom is remote, to say the least.
It is great that the Bureau had the capability, on this occasion, to track down proceeds of a crypto-currency arrangement of the kind that hackers orchestrate precisely because it is so hard to trace. But investigators have not been able to capture all of the funds involved in this ransom transaction, and the limited (but significant) success here will not necessarily translate into success in similar investigations.
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