September 10, 2019

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is not happy.

Falwell told The Hill on Tuesday that he is now sharing information with the FBI, alleging a "criminal conspiracy" was orchestrated against him by former board members of the conservative, evangelical university. He said his former colleagues stole emails that were school property and shared them with reporters in an effort to damage his reputation and wrest control of the university from him.

The accusations come just a day after Politico published a sweeping story filled with anonymous sources, at least one whom used a burner phone to communicate, who said they were uncomfortable with some of Falwell's real estate ventures and workplace behavior. The story cited the internal emails Falwell and his attorneys alleged were stolen.

In the piece, the employees and board members told Politico that Falwell had instilled a culture of fear on campus that even seeped into the town of Lynchburg, Virginia, where the school is located. Those who spoke to Politico anonymously did so out of fear of retribution, which — in light of Falwell allegedly getting the FBI to investigate his critics — looks like it may have been a smart move. Read more at Politico and The Hill. Tim O'Donnell

September 24, 2018

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday it would seek "deadly and unforgettable" revenge against those responsible for an attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, including 12 guard members.

Tehran has accused Gulf Arab nations allied with the U.S. of supporting the gunmen in Saturday's assault, and Revolutionary Guard acting commander Gen. Hossein Salami again promised vengeance Monday. "You have seen our revenge before," he said in a televised speech before a funeral service for some of the attack's victims. "You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating, and you will regret what you have done."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pushed back Sunday on comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani linking the United States to the attack, suggesting it was provoked by Tehran's own policies. "I think what Rouhani needs to do is he needs to look at his own home base," she said on CNN's State of the Union. "He's oppressed his people for a long time," she continued. "I think the Iranian people have had enough, and that's where all of this is coming from."

The attack was claimed by both the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement, an Iranian separatist group, and, without any evidence, the Islamic State. It targeted officials gathered on a viewing stand in the southwestern city of Ahvaz during an annual event held to remember the start of Iran's 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Bonnie Kristian

November 25, 2017

The Egyptian military conducted airstrikes against Islamic State affiliate hideouts in the Egyptian desert Saturday in response to Friday's attack on a Sufi mosque in the Sinai province which killed 305 people, 27 of them children.

The attack, committed by extremists who reportedly carried an ISIS flag, is the deadliest such incident in Egypt's recent history. ISIS has not publicly claimed responsibility.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had promised to retaliate with "brute force," and the bombing reportedly targeted the attackers' vehicles. Cairo did not give details on the number or location of the air raids. Bonnie Kristian

December 28, 2016

The Obama administration is in the process of finalizing a package of economic sanctions against Russia, The Washington Post reported Tuesday evening, in promised retaliation for the Kremlin's attempts to interfere in the American presidential election. The response is also expected to include diplomatic censure and covert cyber reprisal, and a formal announcement of Washington's reaction could come before the new year.

Because the retaliation package will be implemented via executive order, of chief concern to the current administration is securing the measures against modification by President-elect Donald Trump, who has taken a friendly stance toward Moscow and rejects allegations of Russian hacking (as does Russia herself). "Part of the goal here is to make sure that we have as much of the record public or communicated to Congress in a form that would be difficult to simply walk back," a senior administration official told the Post.

The executive order is also on shaky legal ground given that the Democratic National Committee, the primary hacking victim, is not a government body, and the hacks did not result in "harm to critical infrastructure or the theft of commercial secrets," the two categories for which a 2015 executive order claimed presidential response authority following cyberattacks. To make this response legal, explains Zachary Goldman, a New York University law professor with expertise in terrorism and security, the White House will "need to engage in some legal acrobatics to fit the DNC hack into an existing authority, or they need to write a new authority." Bonnie Kristian

May 25, 2016

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel has "played a lead role in bankrolling" Hulk Hogan's lawsuits against Gawker, the first of which ended with a $140 million judgment against Gawker over its publishing of a sex tape starring the wrestler and his friend's wife, Forbes reported Tuesday night, citing "people familiar with the situation." Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, also held personally liable by the Florida jury, speculated to The New York Times earlier Tuesday that perhaps someone in Silicon Valley was funding the Hogan lawsuits and a group of new ones against Gawker and some of its writers, all brought by Los Angeles lawyer Charles Harder.

"If you're a billionaire and you don't like the coverage of you, and you don't particularly want to embroil yourself any further in a public scandal, it's a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases." Denton said. Unlike the rich and famous in New York and L.A., he reasoned, Silicon Valley's elite isn't used to the glare of tabloid press. And Thiel would seem to have a motive for revenge; Gawker Media's defunct Valleywag site outed him as gay in 2007, and in 2009 he said, "Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of al Qaeda," with the "psychology of a terrorist." Thiel did not respond to Forbes' request for comment, and Forbes notes that "it is not illegal for an outside entity to help fund another party's lawsuit."

Thiel is maybe the only person in Silicon Valley who supports Donald Trump, but "regardless of his politics, this news should disturb everyone," says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. "People talk a lot about the dominance of the 1 percent or in this case more like a tiny fraction of the 1 percent. But being able to give massive political contributions actually pales in comparison to the impact of being able to destroy a publication you don't like by combining the machinery of the courts with anonymity and unlimited funds to bleed a publication dry. We don't have to go any further than Donald Trump to know that the incredibly rich often use frivolous litigation to intimidate critics and bludgeon enemies." You can learn more in the Forbes report below. Peter Weber

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