Donald Trump

Trump: It's My Free Speech Right To Inspire Violent Threats Against Court Clerk

Imagine this: You’re a clerk to a judge in a New York State court. You graduated from the Cardozo School of Law in 2010, and since then, you have worked as an associate in a New York law firm. For five years, you worked for the City of New York in its Special Litigation Unit handling law suits against the city. You have been the clerk to Judge Arthur Engoron since 2019, getting up in the morning and traveling by subway into Manhattan to your office in his chambers, or sitting beside him in court, advising him on cases, filings, motions – the constant flow of legal documents and questions that any judge in a big city court deals with constantly.

You have a good job. You enjoy working for your judge. And then one day, by the luck of the draw in the state court system, Judge Engoron gets assigned to handle People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump.

Even before Judge Engoron issued a gag order that forbade him to attack you on social media or in speeches or press availabilities, you were getting harassing phone calls and texts daily. Trump called you “Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend,” which even if true would not be a mark against you in your job, because you enjoy the right of any other citizen of New York State, or other states for that matter, to date whoever you want. But Trump hammered on it, making it sound like a charge against you, calling you “unfair” and “biased” because you happen to belong to the Democratic Party.

When the gag order was in effect, the harassment dropped off, but then the Court of Appeals temporarily lifted the gag order and Trump started in on you and Judge Engoron again. Trump took to social media, calling Judge Engoron a “psycho judge,” Attorney General Leticia James “racist” and you “corrupt.” He accused all three officials involved in the case against him of “seriously looking to DESTROY OUR COUNTRY.”

This kind of stuff would almost be laughable if there weren’t millions of people out there in America reading Trump’s rants on their phones and watching him attack you and the judge in the hallways of the courthouse and on its steps. They are his people. They believe him when he concludes his rant against you and the judge and the attorney general with his ubiquitous slogan, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump’s rants on social media and at his rallies are not just throat-clearing exercises. They are calls to action. He wants his supporters to join him in fighting the forces that in his eyes have somehow made America not great, even though every economic indicator shows that the United States is having one of the best years since the beginning of the pandemic.

All those people out there attending Trump’s rallies and reading his social media posts believe him, because they are told that everyone is lying to them but him, but Donald Trump, the man they want to vote for and put back in the White House.

So, they start in again on you and Judge Engoron, making 20 to 30 phone calls each day to your personal cellphone, because Trump and his minions have “doxed” you and revealed all your personal information, like where you live and who your relatives are and what your cell number is. Trump’s supporters have left you 30 to 50 messages a day since the appeals court lifted the gag order last week, a filing from attorneys for the New York State court system revealed last Friday. Charles Hollon, an official in the Public Safety Department’s Judicial Threats Assessment Unit, told the appeals court that approximately 50 percent of the harassing phone calls and social media posts were antisemitic.

A list of the threats and harassing phone calls and texts filed with the Court of Appeals ran to 250 single-spaced pages. The list included such threats against the life of Judge Engoron’s clerk as “I mean, honestly, you should be assassinated. You should be killed. You should be not assassin executed [sic]. You should be executed.” Another threat read, “Resign now, you dirty, treasonous piece of trash snake. We are going to get you and anyone of you dirty, backstabbing, lying, cheating American. You are nothing but a bunch of communists. We are coming to remove you permanently.” Hollon called the threats “serious and credible” in the filing, asking that the gag order against Trump be upheld.

In a filing with the Court of Appeals demanding that the gag order not be reimposed, Trump’s lawyers took the view that threats against the lives of court officials involved in the case against their client don’t matter: “At base, the disturbing behavior engaged in by anonymous, third-party actors towards the judge and Principal Law Clerk publicly presiding over an extremely polarizing and high-profile trial merits appropriate security measures. However, it does not justify the wholesale abrogation of Petitioners’ First Amendment rights in a proceeding of immense stakes to Petitioners, which has been compromised by the introduction of partisan bias on the bench.”

So, there it is. Not only does Donald Trump take the position that if you are a clerk in a New York State court, you should just suck up all the harassment and threats and stop complaining, you and the judge are in fact the reason you’re getting the threats, because both of you have introduced “partisan bias on the bench.” No evidence of bias was cited by the lawyers, because as with other statements by their client, such as that he won the presidential election of 2020, no evidence was necessary. The Trump position on the gag order, and on the cases against him in New York and Washington D.C. and Florida and Georgia, is that everything said about him or charged against him is unfair and biased, and all the evidence against him has been planted by the deep state, and he didn’t do anything wrong because he says he didn’t.

If some little clerk in New York City ends up getting pushed in front of a subway train or gunned down as she enters her apartment building, well, that’s what happens when you go up against Donald Trump.

Trump told the Court of Appeals that neither “President Trump nor his counsel ever made a statement referencing the Principal Law Clerk’s religion, appearance, or private activities.” Because all Trump and his attorneys have done is call her biased and unfair and corrupt, all the threats and harassment should be allowed to continue.

Free speech for me, death threats for the clerk and the judge and the attorney general. That is the legal position Donald Trump has taken in his filing seeking to have the stay against the gag order continued. Meanwhile, while Judge Engoron and his clerk are undergoing a tsunami of harassment and threats that took 250 single-spaced pages to list, Trump is riding around in armored Secret Service “Beast” SUV’s and traveling on his private jet, surrounded by Secret Service agents carrying M-4 automatic submachine guns, as he continues to egg on his hordes of MAGA followers.

(I have purposely omitted the name of the court clerk in the Trump trial.)

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Donald Trump And The End Of American Exceptionalism

Donald Trump And The End Of American Exceptionalism

Do you remember the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974? I didn’t remember much about it either, except for a vague recollection that there had been a military coup just before elections were scheduled to be held in May of that year. The elections were predicted to be won by Georgios Papandreou’s Center Union, a leftist party that had won elections in 1963 and 1964, the second by a large majority. The right wing in Greece was rattled by the probable election of Papandreou in1967. They were even more alarmed that his son, Andreas, who was even further to the left than his father, would have a role in a new government, so a group of generals and colonels pulled off a coup just before the elections to keep Papandreou from winning.

They ran tanks into downtown Athens, creating mass confusion and fear, and dispatched military units around the country to arrest Center Union politicians, intellectuals supporting Papandreou, the acting Prime Minister, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, and ordinary citizens who were suspected of leftist sympathies. The coup suspended most of the Greek Constitution, making possible arbitrary arrests and prosecutions without warrants or formal charges. Georgios Papandreou was arrested at his home in a nighttime raid. His son Andreas was chased from his bedroom by soldiers armed with machine guns and rifles with fixed bayonets. He was caught on the roof of his house and surrendered when one of the soldiers held a gun to the head of his 14-year-old son, George Papandreou (who would later serve as prime minister from 2009 to 2011).

There was a military coup in Cyprus in 1974, a failed military coup in Greece in 1975, a failed military coup in Spain in 1981, and martial law was imposed in Poland to put down the Solidarity movement, also in 1981.

I remember sitting here comfortably in the United States, watching all of this happen overseas from the house I had just bought on North Haven Island out in the Hamptons. In this country, a new conservative government led by Ronald Reagan had just been elected, and although Democrats were disappointed, there were no protests in the streets. President Carter and his wife Rosalyn met the Reagans under the White House portico and welcomed them into the White House on January 20, 1981, and as outgoing presidents had done before them, attended Reagan’s inauguration that day at the Capitol.

Later in the 1980’s I met an extremely wealthy woman from one of the leading countries in Europe. Her family owned a huge company that manufactured things you have probably used every day in your life. She had enough money to buy herself an island and get away from it all, if she became unhappy with the politics and behavior of her own country, which had been conquered by Hitler in World War II. Some of her own countrymen had been collaborators with the Nazi occupiers. Having watched coups in Europe and occasional political unrest in her own country, she did not trust that all would continue to be well in Europe, so where did she turn, and what did she do? She traveled to the United States each time she was pregnant and had her babies here, so that they would always have American citizenship as well as citizenship in their own country. She wanted her children to have what we have.

We didn’t have the danger of military coups and rule by junta. Our democracy was healthy. Our government was stable, with our three branches – the Executive, the Congress, and the Judiciary – going to work every day and doing their jobs, reliably if not always agreeably. Our two major political parties differed over issues, politicians occasionally got nasty with each other rhetorically, but we hadn’t had a real upheaval in this country since Richard Nixon was forced out by threat of impeachment over crimes he committed in office. Our elections were a model for the world. U.S. observers were asked by other countries to monitor their elections and help make them “free and fair,” as it was often said.

Our economy was the best in the world. Money came from all over the globe to invest in our stock market. Foreign auto manufacturers imitated U.S. companies and built cars to compete on an equal basis for sales in this country. The United Nations sat on the East River in Manhattan where attempts to settle international disputes without going to war were made every day. Foreign nations maintained embassies in Washington D.C. and U.N. missions in New York City. Our universities, major and minor both, received thousands of applications for admission from foreign students who wanted to come here to be educated so they could go home and be able to compete in the international marketplace of money and politics and ideas. Many foreign graduates chose to stay here and enrich our universities, cities, businesses, and our politics.

This was American exceptionalism – in the words of Ronald Reagan in his farewell address from the Oval Office to the American people, we were a “shining city on a hill,” a beacon of stability and creativity and freedom to the rest of the world.

Who would say that of the United States of America today? One of our two major political parties has not accepted the results of the last election and has ceased behaving like it is part of a democracy. It is making plans for a coup if the next election doesn’t go their way. Even if they win, their plans resemble a coup. Remember the description of Greece in 1967? If Donald Trump is elected in 2024, it won’t look like a win, it will look the installation of a dictator. He has said he will invoke the Insurrection Act on “day one” and will use active duty soldiers to put down demonstrations in the streets. He will use soldiers to enforce the law in any way he wants. He has said he will “go after” President Biden and his entire family. He will use the Department of Justice not to enforce the law but to bludgeon his opponents. He has said he will demand an oath of loyalty to him from anyone who goes to work in the federal government. He has promised to arrest and jail his political opponents. Using the Insurrection Act to suspend the Posse Comitatus Act, he will use the military to carry out arrests and detentions.

We could see tanks on street corners in Washington D.C. as the Greeks saw them in Athens in 1967, and that is if Trump wins. The Heritage Foundation has come up with a document with plans for a Trump administration that reads like a coup-in-place. His henchman Stephen Miller has said a Trump administration will round up tens of millions of immigrants and put them in what amount to concentration camps pending deportation under rules that suspend the normal process involved if a person is to be expelled from the United States. Spokesmen for Trump have even promised to separate children from their mothers at the border again, presumably as part of their roundup of immigrants.

We won’t be a nation of laws. We will be a nation with armed soldiers in the streets and razor-wire camps waiting to imprison anyone who opposes Donald Trump.

That is what our new American exceptionalism will look like. The beacon on our shining city will be a red light: Stop. Stop using the word “gay.” Stop the right to control your own healthcare if you are a woman. Stop the study of American history that talks about slavery and Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Stop the free marketplace of ideas. Stop voting rights. Stop free and fair elections.

The Donald Trump plan to Make America Great Again will end our democracy and replace it with a fascist state.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Markwayne Mullin

It's Getting Rough On Capitol Hill, The GOP Middle School Playground

The pushing and shoving and yelling and screaming and threats and confused gibberish began on Tuesday when former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy elbowed a fellow Republican member of Congress in the kidney in a House corridor. The Kidney-Punched-One was Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett, who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy from his speakership last month.

He compounded his crimes against good order and discipline in the House by voting to confirm Baby-Faced-Fetus-Defender Mike Johnson, who since taking control of the House, has spent most of his time attempting to downplay his links to the New Apostolic Reformation, a fringe-of-the-fringe right-wing Christian group that according to NPR, “embraces ‘the Seven Mountains mandate’ which says Christians have a duty to God to take control of the seven pillars of society: business, education, entertainment, family, government, media and religion.”

So, what was Ousted Kevin doing sucker-punching a good and reasonable man like Tim Burchett? I mean, Burchett was the congressman who after the school shooting in his own district in Nashville went to the steps of the Capitol and told reporters, “It's a horrible, horrible situation, and we're not going to fix it. Criminals are gonna be criminals. And my daddy fought in the second world war, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese, and he told me, he said, ‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘if somebody wants to take you out, and doesn't mind losing their life, there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.’” Burchett went on to opine that the Congress didn’t really have a role in dealing with gun violence other than to “mess things up.”

Burchett would seem to be right down Ousted Kevin’s alley, if it weren’t for the fact that Burchett was one of those who voted to oust Ousted Kevin. That vote earned Burchett what he called “a clean shot to the kidneys.” After McCarthy was confronted by a reporter who witnessed the incident, he denied that it happened, bragging, “If I would hit somebody, they would know I hit them.” McCarthy-ouster Burchett countered, “He just elbowed me in the kidneys ... It was deliberate. It was just a cheap shot.” McCarthy-ouster Burchett chased Ousted Kevin down the Capitol hallway and asked, “Why'd you walk behind me and elbow me in the back?”

McCarthy hit his nyah-nyah button and responded, “I didn't elbow you in the back.”

To which Burchett nyah-nyahed right back, “You got no guts, you did so.”

At which point, the bell rang, and the ouster-versus-oustee caucus went back to the middle school playground of the House floor.

Over on the side of the Capitol posing as The Greatest Deliberative Body in the World, Republican Markwayne Mullin, the junior senator from Oklahoma, was busy picking a fight with Teamster President Sean O’Brien at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. Apparently, the two men do not like each other. Last summer, Mullin challenged O’Brien to a mixed martial arts fight at a place of O’Brien’s choosing, after the Teamster chief called him a “Greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self-made. In reality, just a clown & fraud. Always has been, always will be.”

The nyah-nyahing continued back then with Teamster President O’Brien telling Mullin to “quit the tough guy act in these Senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, anytime cowboy.”

The cowboy from Oklahoma confronted O’Brien at the Tuesday hearing, telling him, “You wanna run your mouth? We can be two consenting adults, we can finish it here. This is the time, this is the place. You wanna do it now?”

O’Brien fired back, “Okay, that’s fine. Perfect. I’d love to do it now.”

“Stand your butt up, then,” Mullin challenged. “You stand your butt up, big guy,” answered O’Brien.

Mullin stood up from his seat in his shirtsleeves and took off his wedding ring, moving toward the stairs at the end of the raised dais, ready for a fight.

“No, no, sit down,” commanded Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the committee. “You are a United States Senator. Sit down.”

Meanwhile, back on the other side of the Capitol, at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins jumped all over FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Greene accused Mayorkas of being responsible for the death of several people from Dalton, Georgia, because he hadn’t stopped an immigrant smuggler “likely affiliated with the cartels” from killing them. She then turned her wrath on Director Wray, accusing him of using helicopters to track down and arrest leaders of the January 6 assault on the Capitol and “raiding their homes with flash bangs, targeting these people, watching these people, throwing them in jail for them to stay in pretrial in solitary confinement for years before they ever face trial.”

Not to be outdone, Representative Higgins confronted Wray, accusing him of fielding FBI agent provocateurs who conspired with the Proud Boys to attack the Capitol on January 6. “If you are asking whether the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was part of some sort of operation orchestrated by FBI sources and/or agents, the answer is an emphatic no,” Wray shot back.

“You're saying ‘no’”? Higgins said.

“No, there was not violence orchestrated by FBI sources or agents,” Wray replied.

“Are you familiar, do you know what a ghost vehicle is? The director of the FBI certainly should. You know what a ghost bus is?”

Wray, looking confused, replied: “I'm not sure I've used that term before.”

Higgins held up a photograph of buses he said were parked on streets near the Capitol on January 6. “It's pretty common in law enforcement. It's a vehicle that is used for secret purposes. It's painted over. These two buses in the middle, they were the first to arrive on January 6. I have all of this evidence.”

Wray looked bewildered as Higgins went on to spew more conspiracy theories some aide had pulled off the dark web, pointing to two white “ghost” buses.

Well, at least the Homeland Security hearing didn’t devolve into nyah-nyah challenges to engage in mixed martial arts fisticuffs right there in the hearing room.

I would say there may be hope yet if it weren’t for Defendant Trump. He’s bound to call on his supporters to shoot some vermin at one of his rallies before this election cycle is over.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

This Is How It Begins: Stephen Miller Planning Concentration Camps On The Border

This Is How It Begins: Stephen Miller Planning Concentration Camps On The Border

The first guy waited until he became Chancellor of Germany and used the Reichstag fire as a pretext to start rounding up enemies and building concentration camps. A front-page story in the New York Times tells us that our own Chancellor-in-Waiting, Donald J. Trump, isn’t waiting to be elected, or for a pretext. He has an SS team in place that is are already making plans to round up tens of millions of immigrants and house them in camps they plan on building “on open land in Texas near the border,” according to Stephen Miller, who Trump has appointed to be his own personal Heinrich Himmler to handle the matter of immigration if he is elected president next year.

I’ll get into the details of their plans in a minute, but what is remarkable about Trump’s blueprint for illegally rounding up immigrants and imprisoning them in concentration camps is that Stephen Miller and other close associates of Trump consented to be interviewed by the New York Times about the plans, Trump has apparently made a calculation that undocumented immigrants are sufficiently unpopular that he is running on this suff.

The use of concentration camps to intern undesirables and enemies of the state has a long and ugly history in the 20th Century. They were built by the German Empire in Southwest Africa during the Herero and Namaqua tribal genocide from 1904 to 1907. The German camps had a death rate of about 50 percent during that genocide. In 1915, Turkey used forced marches and concentration camps to kill more than a million Armenians who were considered an existential threat to the Ottoman Empire.

Hitler didn’t begin to build concentration camps until he became chancellor. In 1933, Hitler, feeling threatened by his political enemies, appointed Himmler to enact mass arrests and incarcerations of his political opponents in the German Communist and Social Democratic Parties. The first camp built on Himmler’s orders was Dachau, outside of Munich. From there, camps were built in Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald in 1936 and 1937. In 1938, new camps were constructed in Flossenburg, Ravensbruck, and Mauthausen. Himmler announced a roundup of nomadic Roma, the mentally ill, university professors, homosexuals, intellectuals, the homeless and unemployed, criminals, Freemasons, Jews, and what Himmler termed “asocials and organized elements of sub-humanity.” Czech and Austrian anti-Nazis were included after their countries were annexed by Nazi Germany.

You will no doubt note that Hitler and Himmler began their round-ups with unpopular elements of German society and expanded from there. One group after another became a target of Hitler’s plan to “cleanse” Germany of “vermin and undesirables.”

Trump got started in September, when he told a crowd at one of his rallies in Dubuque, Iowa, that if elected, he would “invoke immediately the Alien Enemies Act to remove all known or suspected gang members, the drug dealers, the cartel members from the United States, ending the scourge of illegal alien gang violence once and for all.” He also announced that he would “deny entry to all communists and Marxists to the United States.” He promised to expand his travel ban on citizens from Muslim countries to include other “undesirable” countries. He also promised to use a “massive shift” of law enforcement authorities from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives to help with immigration enforcement.

Gangs, criminals, drug dealers, illegal aliens…sound familiar?

Trump then gave an interview to Univision, the Spanish-language TV network, in which he promised to weaponize the FBI and Department of Justice against his political opponents. Referring to the Biden administration, Trump said, “What they’ve done is they’ve released the genie out of the box.” Switching quickly and referring to himself, Trump continued, “You know, when you’re president and you’ve done a good job and you’re popular, you don’t go after them so you can win an election.” Switching yet again to refer to his opponents, “They have done something that allows the next party … if I happen to be president and I see somebody who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I say, ‘Go down and indict them.’ They’d be out of business. They’d be out of the election.”

I know, his verbiage is confusing, but the Washington Post reported last week that Trump has told aides that if elected, he will appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” Biden and his family, and he will order the Department of Justice to investigate others he considers traitors, such as his former chief of staff, John Kelly, and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and former Attorney General William Barr. Trump also told Univision that he is considering the re-implementation the policy used early in his administration that separated immigrant parents from their children at the border. Stephen Miller, in his interview with the New York Times, also implied that a new Trump administration will separate families at the border.

Miller told the Times that a new Trump administration would attempt to overturn the Flores settlement, which set standards for the treatment, placement, and release of unaccompanied minors who are applying for legal status as asylum seekers. Miller said Trump will go after “Dreamers” and will seek to make deportations of any immigrants living within the borders of the U.S. “radically more quick and efficient,” by using what he called “the right kinds of attorneys and the right kinds of policy thinkers” to accomplish their goals. Miller said Trump will build “vast holding facilities” where immigrants will be held while awaiting deportation.

Miller bragged that the camps would be built using Homeland Security and Department of Defense money so that a new Trump administration will not have to go through the normal route of getting the Congress to appropriate money to cover their cost. Trump used a similar scam to get around the Congress when he took money intended for the military and built portions of his wall after he took office in 2017. Miller said that Trump will order that enforcement officials from agencies other than ICE be used to implement the planned round-ups of immigrants, including deputizing National Guard soldiers supplied by Republican states friendly to Trump and his aims.

The Guard troops would be deputized under the Insurrection Act, which allows for “temporary” suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act that makes it illegal for U.S. military personnel to be used for law enforcement purposes within the United States. In this scenario, active-duty U.S. soldiers would be used to arrest and detain immigrants in broad round-ups at workplaces, gathering places, and within businesses established by immigrant families.

The way Stephen Miller described the plans, according to the Times: “Bottom line, President Trump will do whatever it takes.”

It is incredible to contemplate that Donald Trump has put his political finger in the wind and made a determination that the plans outlined by Reichsfuhrer Miller are a winning issue for him in 2024. Even his decision to go on Univision to talk about elements of his plans is astounding. Apparently, Trump has made a calculation that he can split the Latin vote in the next election by separating Latino voters into haves and have-nots and going after the “have” vote.

But to me, the most incredible thing of all are Trump’s plans for concentration camps. In Germany in the mid 1950’s, my family was stationed about 50 miles from Dachau. Patton’s Third Army liberated Dachau at the end of the war in 1945, and after my grandfather relieved Patton of command of the Third Army, General Dwight Eisenhower put him in charge of caring for the Holocaust victims of Dachau and other camps who made their way to Bavaria to be housed in displaced persons camps that Grandpa established at former German military bases.

As a boy, I grew up with the history of Hitler’s concentration camps all around me. Grandpa had a huge photo album that was given to him by the Third Army at the conclusion of his command in 1946. It was full of photographs of what the Third Army had encountered when they liberated Dachau. Grandpa ordered the publication of a book called “Dachau Diary,” based on the writings of a Holocaust victim that were discovered scrawled on scraps of paper when Dachau was liberated. The diaries were translated into English and the book contained photos of the horrors of Dachau taken by the SS administration before the camp was liberated. Grandpa also ordered that the book be published in German so it could be distributed to German libraries and schools as a record of what the Nazis had done in the name of the German people.

Grandpa never talked about Dachau. He didn’t have to. We visited the camp near Munich, with its buildings and fences still standing. It wasn’t yet the monument to the horror of the Holocaust that it is today, but rather a living relic of Hitler’s aim to rid the German nation of Jews and anyone he declared an enemy or an undesirable. The Alien Enemies act of 1798, which Stephen Miller said Trump will invoke on the day he takes office, allows the deportation of anyone from a country with which the United States is at war. Miller told the Times the act will be used to deport “suspected members of drug cartels and criminal gangs without due process.”

When I read sentences like that in the New York Times, uttered by people who are known to be speaking for Donald Trump, I see in my mind’s eye the images of concentration camps I grew up learning about, and I see the expansion of Hitler’s list of enemies to include people considered to be mentally ill, the unemployed, the homeless, members of opposing political parties, university professors, journalists, intellectuals, homosexuals, Jews,

I see the list of Donald Trump’ enemies.

I see you and me and our loved ones.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

New York Times 'Analysis': Heads Trump Wins, Tails Biden Loses

New York Times 'Analysis': Heads Trump Wins, Tails Biden Loses

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an analysis of the results from the Tuesday elections. You would think it would be a positive piece, wouldn’t you? There were Democratic wins across the board. Abortion amendment passes in Ohio! Democrat wins governor's race in deep red Kentucky! Democrats take control of Virginia legislature, fending off move by Governor Sweater-Vest to restrict abortion! Democrats win back a seat on the Pennsylvania supreme court!

Where’s the dark cloud over those results? Well, it’s in the Wednesday Times piece by Nate Cohn in a subscriber-only newsletter called – are you ready? – "The Tilt." Here’s the title: “Tuesday Was Great for Democrats. It Doesn’t Change the Outlook for 2024.”

Of course it doesn’t! They may as well have headlined the good news for the Democrats on Tuesday, “But Her Emails!” Given Tuesday’s results, how does Cohn find a rock in the oyster instead of a pearl? Why, he starts out by putting the Tuesday election in the category of special elections, in which Democrats have had good results ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Cohn tells us that these are so called low-turnout elections, which “favor highly engaged voters,” and it’s because of this that the Tuesday results were so good for Democrats.

There’s a problem with this analysis, however. The election in Virginia to pick state senators and representatives was not a special election; nor was the election in Kentucky to pick a governor. Even though a late poll in the state suggested the election was a dead heat, Governor Andy Beshear beat Republican Daniel Cameron by 67,174 votes. In 2019, Beshear beat his Republican opponent, incumbent Governor Matt Bevin, by only 5,136 votes. As expected, turnout was down in Virginia from the 2021 election, when elections for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general were on the ballot. Democrats held their margin of control in the state Senate, and gained control of the House of Delegates, but according to the Washington Post, the two races that determined control of both bodies were won by Democrats by comparatively wide margins: by three percent in the race that flipped the House, and by three percent in the race that kept the Senate in Democratic control.

Cohn spent a good deal of verbiage reconciling Tuesday’s strong Democratic results with Biden’s poor showing in the Sunday Times/Siena poll that showed him trailing Trump in six battleground states. “The polls and the election results are surprisingly easy to reconcile,” Cohn wrote. “The surveys show millions of voters who dislike Mr. Biden but remain receptive to other Democrats and support liberal causes. The polls also show Democrats with particular strength among the most highly engaged voters, who dominate low-turnout elections like Tuesday’s, while Mr. Trump shows his greatest strength among the less engaged voters who turn out only in presidential races.”

He’s defending the Times/Sienna poll that Democrats don’t like because it shows their guy appears to be weak one year out from next year’s presidential election. He points to political polling before the Tuesday elections that predicted wins by Democrats. In Kentucky, polls varied, but they showed Governor Beshear ahead by two percent to eight percent. He won by five percent. In Ohio, before the election, the abortion rights amendment had about 58 percent support among probable voters. It won by 57 percent. As Teagan Goddard put it in his Political Wire blog, “There were no surprises.”

So, if Democrats did so well on Tuesday in a special election for a state constitutional amendment and in off-year elections for governor and a state legislature, why the terrible results in the Times/Siena poll last Sunday? Cohn puts it this way: “Well, the implication is that the polling shows millions of people who dislike the president but support abortion rights and other Democrats.”

Do you see what’s missing from both the Times headline on Cohn’s story and his analysis of the Tuesday results favoring Democrats?

The name Donald Trump.

Polling was accurate about Democratic support for abortion rights in Ohio, although in order to reach 57 percent of the vote on the constitutional amendment, a whole lot of Republican votes had be in there somewhere. Polls were accurate in the Kentucky governor’s race and the Virginia race to control the legislature.

Where polls get twisted is when Trump’s name is there. I think the results of the Times/Siena poll don’t show Trump’s support as much as they show questions voters have about Biden with inflation high, two brutal wars being fought overseas, and Donald Trump absolutely dominating Republicans in the presidential primary. He is not just the presumptive nominee. There isn’t anyone else Republicans are even close to supporting. So, when a poll comes down to a choice between Biden, whose strength with older Democrats appears strong but questionable among younger voters, and Trump, who has his whole party by the throat, you can see where the numbers are going to go.

Cohn’s analysis in his aptly named column, “The Tilt,” really goes wrong when he writes a column about the Tuesday election in which he, in the words of Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall, “says the results confirmed the findings of their poll.”

Tuesday’s strong results by Democrats don’t confirm a poll that says Trump is ahead in an election that is a year off in the future. Only a newspaper that spent thousands of inches trying to hang something called “Whitewater” around the neck of President Bill Clinton in the 90’s, and just as many thousands of words embroidering “But her emails” into every mention of Hillary Clinton in 2016, would see actual election results favoring Democrats confirming poll results favoring Donald Trump. I mean, there are polls and there are elections, and the only one that counts is the one where actual voters walk into a booth and mark a ballot.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Polls, Schmolls: Democrats And Abortion Rights Won Across The Board

Polls, Schmolls: Democrats And Abortion Rights Won Across The Board

Do you want to know what that is above? It’s a picture of the Gulfstream jet still waiting for Glenn Youngkin on the runway in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday morning. The Republican governor of Virginia was supposed to jump on it Tuesday night and fly to Iowa to throw his red sweater-vest into the ring of the Republican primary as the Great Savior who would lead Republicans to victory on the abortion issue that is beating the hell out of them in every election they’ve even flirted with over the last two years. Well, that didn’t happen, and here’s why:

Youngkin was supposed to be the guy who could “talk about abortion,” in the refrain we have heard again and again from Republicans, most recently last night from no less an empath than Stephen Miller, he of the plan to “put babies in cages” once Donald Trump is in office again to solve the problem of immigration on the border. Abortion wasn’t on the ballot in Virginia, but the “reasonable” abortion option pushed by Youngkin was. He promised that if Republicans took over the state Senate and House of Delegates, he would pass a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions. Yep, that was his reasonable plan, the way Republicans thought they could “get past” the issue of abortion. We’ll let women control their bodies until the end of the 15th week in their pregnancy, and then your body is ours. If it turns out the baby has birth defects, like missing its brain, you’re going to carry that baby to term whether you like it or not.

Voters in Virginia went to the polls and cast their ballots for state reps and state senators knowing that Youngkin, the stealth theocrat who didn’t quote the Bible in every third sentence of his speeches, would take away their right to abortion after 15 weeks and give it to state authorities who would have the power to enforce the new, “soft” abortion ban he was pushing.

And you know what? Virginia voters didn’t buy it. Democrats held on to their majority in the Virginia Senate and flipped the House of Delegates, and here is someone voters in Iowa or New Hampshire aren’t going to be seeing anytime soon:

In Ohio, abortion was on the ballot as an amendment to the state constitution which basically overturned the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

Yes votes: 2,186,962 56.6 percent of the vote.

No votes: 1,675,728 43.4 percent of the vote

Here’s a photo of women in Ohio celebrating the vote last night:

In Kentucky, abortion wasn’t on the ballot, but Governor Andy Beshear was, running for re-election against an extremist who supported the state’s ban on abortion with no exclusions for rape and incest. Beshear hammered on his support for abortion rights, gaining the vote of a woman from Shelbyville, who told an interviewer after she had voted for Beshear, “I think it’s a woman’s right to choose, and I don’t think politicians should be involved in that choice at all.”

Democrat Andy Beshear: 693,370 52.5 percent of the vote

Republican Daniel Cameron: 626,196 47.5 percent of the vote

Gov. Andy Beshear and Britainy Beshear on Election Night 2023

Right here in Pike County, Pennsylvania, our own Christa Caceres won a decisive victory in her race for County Commissioner. It’s a bigger win than it might seem. Right now, a company fronting for Amazon is trying to build a massive warehouse just off the Milford exit on I-84 up the hill from town, right on top of the aquifer Milford has used for its water for more than 200 years. The source is called the Milford Spring, and the town was famous during the years Milford was a resort for people traveling by train from New York and Philadelphia to escape the heat in the summers. Christa will be a reliable Democratic vote against that nightmare warehouse as the application for a building permit winds its way through the state and county bureaucracies and eventually the courts. Here’s a picture of Christa overlooking the Delaware River:

The big win for the night was in Ohio, which passed an amendment enshrining the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. Democrats who want to protect a woman’s right to control her own body will have to vote again in two years in Virginia, and two years after that, and two years after that. The Glenn Youngkins of the world are not going to give up, but neither will we.

The biggest message from Tuesday's election results was that polls don’t count. Elections count. VOTE.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Is​ The New York Times​ Doing To Biden What It Did To Hillary In 2016?

Is​ The New York Times​ Doing To Biden What It Did To Hillary In 2016?

Let’s begin with the New York Times/Siena poll, out just a few days ago. “The results show Mr. Biden losing to Mr. Trump, his likeliest Republican rival, by margins of four to 10 percentage points among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden is ahead only in Wisconsin, by two percentage points, the poll found. Across the six battlegrounds — all of which Mr. Biden carried in 2020 — the president trails by an average of 48 to 44 percent.”

Boy does that sound bad. Newspaper and cable news chryons have blared the ugly numbers for Democrats ever since the Times headlined the grim news. Who would blame them? News outlets love, and I mean just L-O-V-E bad news, and it doesn’t really matter what it is. The Maui fires in early August. Ninety-nine people died in Lahaina alone. The news showed photos of the burned-out little seaside town for days.

Newspapers and cable news love covering wars. They steadily covered Ukraine’s war against Russian invaders until Hamas terrorists attacked villages and Kibbutzim in southern Israel on October 7. You couldn’t avert your eyes from the images of the dead and destroyed homes in Israel if you wanted to. Just picking up your phone took you there. The news stayed on the Hamas slaughter for a week or so, especially as cable news could continue to show Hamas rockets being intercepted by Iron Dome missiles over southern Israel. Cable news reporters wore helmets and bulletproof vests for the first few days, then their helmets came off, followed by their flak vests as Hamas rocket barrages grew fewer in number.

And just like that, as if a switch was thrown somewhere, the news began showing scenes of Gaza from a distance with explosion after explosion from Israeli air attacks visible at night. Then as if another switch was flipped, they showed images within Gaza of the destruction wrought by Israeli missiles – blown up houses, civilians and ambulance workers carrying victims through the rubble.

Then the coverage included New York City and college campuses where demonstrations against Israel’s response to the Hamas slaughter had hit the streets. The carnage of October 7 had begun to take a back seat to the plight of the Palestinians. You started to hear demonstrators interviewed who called Israel an “apartheid state.” You heard demonstrators calling out a long-time Palestinian slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

On October 18, Israel was charged – incorrectly it turned out – with bombing the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City. Headlines screamed for days that 500 had been killed in the alleged Israeli strike. By the 18th, it was being reported that 5,000 Gazan civilians had died in Israeli bombing. On October 31, Israel hit a neighborhood in the Jabalia Refugee Camp just north of Gaza City, killing one of the Hamas commanders who was in charge of the Hamas slaughter of Israelis on October 7. First, it was reported that dozens of Palestinian civilians had been killed, then it was hundreds. By November 1, the news was almost entirely about the damage done in Gaza by Israeli bombing, and reports from the region said that at least 8,000 civilians had been killed in Gaza.

This bad news about the war filled television screens every night. The numbers of civilian dead were increasing, and the numbers were ending up in Biden’s lap. He was pushing for a humanitarian pause, but with Netanyahu in the way, it wasn’t happening. All you saw every night was more civilian dead in Gaza and world opinion beginning to turn against Israel. But Biden’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself stayed strong.

And right in the middle of all this, the New York Times decides that now would be a good time to poll Americans about what they think about Joe Biden, who is connected at the hip to Israel and the savage war people are seeing on TV every night, and Donald Trump, who has nothing to do with it. Polls are going to be taken throughout the next 12 months, and support for Biden and Trump will go up and down, but the two weeks between October 22 and November 3, when the poll was taken, was a terrible time to take a poll.

While college demonstrations were occurring all over the U.S. against the Israel-Hamas war, the Times/Siena poll was discovering, to everyone’s astonishment, that “Voters under 30 favor Mr. Biden by only a single percentage point.” This came after several polls over the summer showed that young voters were for Biden over Trump by twenty or more points. What explains that incredible drop in Biden’s support among young people? One thing, and one thing only: the Israel-Hamas war and the incredible carnage it has yielded. Biden was standing by Israel as the news showed scenes of death and destruction in Gaza every single night as the civilian body count went steadily up.

The Times/Siena poll was full of more bad news for Biden: 54 percent of Biden’s own voters thought he is “too old to be an effective president,” while only 19 percent of Trump’s voters found him too old. The poll pointed out that Biden is only four years older than Trump, but no matter, the damage was done. With right-wing media and liberal media, too, talking about Biden’s age every day, what did they expect? The way the age question was worded, it reflected Republicans’ slavish devotion to Trump no matter what, especially on the age issue. Other poll questions will be challenged in coming days, and it does not reflect a turn of the Times against Biden, but rather sloppy wording of poll questions. The same thing was true of polling in 2016, when polls were so wrong about who would win that election.

Donald Trump was busy with his legal trials and tribulations, which everyone, including the New York Times, has seen don’t affect his polling among Republicans, or make his numbers go up. Has he been asked even a single question about where he stands on Israel’s war against Hamas? I can’t think of a direct question he has answered one way or another. Wait a minute. He called Hezbollah “brilliant” at one point, but that stupid remark quickly dropped into the media memory hole.

Gone was the news about the 1,400 Israeli dead on October 7, and the fact that Hamas took 240 hostages. Gone were the scenes of Israeli dead lined up outside destroyed homes in southern Israel. Gone, in fact, was the world’s outrage at the Hamas attack. The world was on Israel’s side, it seemed, only a few days, before support for Israel was replaced with outrage at the killing of Palestinian civilians as Israel tried to kill the Hamas terrorists responsible for the attack on October 7.

The numbers, taken by themselves, look terrible for Israel. The news yesterday was that 10,000 civilians had been killed by Israeli bombs in Gaza. Put up against the 1,400 Israelis killed in cold blood by Hamas terrorists, 10,000 seems lopsided in the extreme. But the 10,000 figure comes from Hamas-controlled Gaza hospitals, is suspected to be inflated, and we will probably never get an accurate figure.

I think the Times/Siena poll is the first time we are seeing the effect of the war on Biden’s support in this country.

Remember the way the New York Times covered the election in 2016? If Hillary Clinton got a hangnail, it was because she caught it on her “emails” Donald Trump was screaming about at every one of his rallies, which the Times was dutifully covering as front-page news. By election day, the Times still had not used the word “lie” even once to describe the daily spew that shot out of him as if from a firehose. Whole stories would be written in 2017 about the agonizing that went on inside the Times and the Washington Post and other news outlets about whether to call Trump’s false utterances lies. When they got around to counting his lies, they quickly surged into the thousands, where they are today, and still going up.

Joe Biden is going to have to live with the wars in Israel and Ukraine. They happened on his watch. But some context is needed. The context that every time Donald Trump opened his mouth in 2016, he was lying about Hillary Clinton and her emails, was missing from the Times coverage of that election. And the context of what is happening right now in Israel and Gaza was missing from the Times/Siena poll as it was taken during the last two weeks of October.

Could the ongoing bad news about the war between Israel and Hamas have anything to do with what people are thinking about Biden, who has a direct connection to the war with his support of Israel, or about Trump, who doesn’t? WTF is this? 2016 Redux at the New York Times?

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

National Emergency: What Trump Showed Us In His New York Court Appearance

National Emergency: What Trump Showed Us In His New York Court Appearance

This is the day that Defendant Donald Trump revealed his plan for the rest of his life. Today in the case brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James in a Manhattan courtroom, every syllable Trump uttered was in furtherance of getting himself elected to the presidency of the United States. He doesn’t care that he has already lost the case against him, having been declared liable for defrauding banks and insurance companies in a scheme to enrich himself. He doesn’t care what the decision by Judge Arthur F. Engoron with respect to penalties and potential loss of control of his businesses will be.

He made that clear as can be in his arrogant, dismissive testimony on the stand when questioned by Kevin Wallace, the lawyer for the New York Attorney General, or when cautioned by Judge Engoron to stop making speeches and answer the question.

Trump doesn’t care about the verdict and any penalties that might be levied by the court and the state of New York, because in his mind, when he becomes president in January of 2025, he’ll just ignore them. He won’t pay the penalties. He won’t yield control of his companies. He won’t listen and he won’t obey the judgements, because he will be president, and who’s going to say anything different? He doesn’t care about his upcoming trial for defamation in the case brought by E. Jean Carroll — the second defamation case, by the way — because he won’t abide by the verdict in the last case or this one.

Trump has already announced that when he is elected president and takes office, he is going to clean out the Department of Justice and put in an Attorney General and team of lawyers loyal to him, and he will order them to go after Joe Biden and his entire family. He will fire Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, and go after him too. He will ignore any judgement against him that has been made by a jury of 12 citizens of Washington D.C. and carried out by Judge Tanya Chutkan. If he is ordered to serve time in jail and the judgement is suspended pending appeal, he will ignore that, too. If he is fined, he won’t pay the fine. If he is ordered to do community service, he won’t do it.

The same will be true for any decision of guilt by a jury in the classified documents case in Florida. He will ignore the decision of the jury and judge in the case. If the case is still ongoing in 2025, he will have his attorney general order that it be dismissed.

He will do the same thing in the racketeering case brought against him in Fulton County, Georgia. If there is a verdict of guilty in that case, he will ignore the verdict and decline to serve any time in jail or pay any fine ordered by the judge in the case.

Donald Trump’s plan for the next 12 months is to win the election for president on November 5, 2024, and on January 20, 2025, appoint himself King of the World. If he wants to make crooked deals that enrich himself and his family with foreign countries like China and Russia and Saudi Arabia, he will make them right out in the open, and he will hold a press conference in the White House or give an interview on Fox News and say, “What are you going to do about it?”

Who is going to tell him differently? He has a 6 to 3 majority on the Supreme Court who will rule for him slavishly on any case brought against him in federal court, and in any state case that is appealed to the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter who controls the House of Representatives or the Senate. If they are controlled by Democrats, he will tell them to go pound sand. If Republicans control either house, or both houses, he will tell them what he wants them to do. If any Republican votes against him in either chamber of the Congress, he will order the Republican Party to run someone against them in a primary so that they lose their seats.

If the Congress is controlled by Democrats and will not pass the budget he wants or the laws Trump wants them to pass, he will issue executive orders and declare that his orders have the force of law by fiat. If anyone puts up an argument, legal, moral, or otherwise, that he can’t do that, he will say, in effect, what are you going to do about it?

Trump has already said that he will use the Federal Communications Commission to take the broadcast licenses of companies like CNN and NBC and MSNBC and ABC and CBS that broadcast programs he doesn’t like. The FCC does not regulate newspapers, but if he is threatening to end the broadcasting of news he doesn’t like, we should take him at his word and understand that he and his minions will be looking for ways to shut down newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. What Trump is threatening is to take on the First Amendment to the Constitution. If he does that, can arresting and jailing journalists be far behind?

Trump will fire all the senior generals in the Pentagon and appoint replacements that have sworn a loyalty oath to him. He has already said that on his first day in office as president in 2025, he will put in force his powers under the Insurrection Act and use active-duty soldiers to put down any protests against him or his policies. The Insurrection Act also temporarily suspends the Posse Comitatus Act that forbids using the military from taking part in federal law enforcement. Trump will extend the “temporarily” provision of the Insurrection Act for as long as he likes, enabling federal forces to “assist” civilian forces with law enforcement. This will give the U.S. military the power of arrest and detention.

If Trump’s military law enforcement officials fill the civilian jails, he will order that detention camps be built to hold all of those arrested for demonstrating against him and his government and its policies. If someone has the temerity to file a lawsuit against his invocation of the Insurrection Act and suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act, and the case reaches the Supreme Court, and by some miracle the court rules against Trump while his military enforcement of the law is in effect with soldiers in the streets, he will challenge the Supreme Court’s authority by saying of their enforcement powers, “Yeah, you and whose army?”

When Donald Trump says he will assert his powers under the Insurrection Act, we should believe him. When he states that on his first day in office, he will go after Joe Biden and his entire family, we should believe him. When he says he’s going to staff the Department of Justice with loyalists and use it for retribution against his enemies, we should believe him. When he says he is going to get ride of the “woke” generals in the Pentagon and promote “his” generals who will follow his orders, we should believe him.

If Donald Trump wins the presidency in 2024 and takes power in 2025 and starts carrying out the plans he has already announced, he will not allow himself to be voted out of office in 2028. The arrogant id-fueled man who testified in court today in New York City will not be denied. What we’ve seen on the stand in Manhattan is what we will get.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Israel Bombs Gaza: What Is A War Crime?

Israel Bombs Gaza: What Is A War Crime?

This is a picture of hundreds of potential war crimes, according to some who are accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.

It is a satellite photo of the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza. Imagine for a moment that you are a senior member of Israel’s Defense Forces, the IDF. This, or a satellite photo like it, is what Israel’s military officials and generals are looking at every day as Israel strikes back at Hamas for its attack on Israel on October 7.

This photo is from Google Earth, and it depicts the houses and apartment buildings and grid of streets before Israel’s aerial strike on Jabalia on Tuesday. Somewhere in that photo is the location of the Ibrahim Biari, the Hamas commander who planned the October 7 assault on Israel that killed 1,400 Israeli citizens, the great majority of whom were civilians.

Israel had intelligence that Biari, along with a number of his Hamas lieutenants, was hiding in a Hamas headquarters bunker. But where is it? Beneath which one of those houses, apartment buildings, streets and parking lots is the bunker that held him and his fellow Hamas fighters?

What do you do if you are an Israeli military official and you determine that Biari’s location is in Jabalia? As you can see by the satellite photo, practically every square inch of Jabalia is occupied by a civilian home or business or street. How do you kill your enemy in such a situation?

Right now, Israel’s army is inside the borders of Gaza, but they have not yet entered Gaza City or Jabalia or any other city or town, so Israel does not have any soldiers on the ground in Gaza they can send into the Jabalia refugee camp to kill Biari, even though on Tuesday, they knew where he was. They know that Hamas commanders, and other Hamas fighters, change their locations frequently in order to confound Israel’s intelligence services which are trying to locate them.

So, if Israel determines Biari’s location on Tuesday, but does not have the kind of special operation forces like the ones we used to kill Osama bin Laden in Jabalia or even close to it, what do they do with that information? If they don’t act on it, they know Biari will move, and they’ll have to get the intelligence to nail down his location all over again. Israel is not just seeking vengeance on this Hamas commander for the October 7 attack. They are trying to prevent him from doing it again.

Somewhere in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or on an air force base in the Sinai desert, a bunch of Israeli intelligence officers and air force targeting specialists sat down with a map like the one above, and knowing Biari’s location, they prepared an airstrike to take him out. Looking at that satellite photo, you can see with your own eyes the dilemma Israel has faced every day since Hamas launched its attack. They can see as well as you or I that no matter where their bombs hit within that grid of streets and houses, some civilians will be killed.

But was ordering and carrying out the airstrike that killed Biari a war crime because it also killed an unknown number of civilians?

The answer to that question is no. Certain facts are involved in determining whether something that happens in a war is a crime. First among them is, who is the aggressor? In this case, it was Hamas with its attack on Israeli civilians on October 7, which was a war crime under international law. When Hamas rocket launchers fired more than 5,000 missiles into Israel, each and every one of them was a war crime. When Hamas terrorists broke through the fence defending Israel from Hamas militants inside Gaza, they invaded a sovereign nation militarily, which is a war crime. When they killed civilians with AK-47’s and RPG-7 rocket propelled grenades or any other weapon, it was a war crime.

So when Israel hits back with rockets and ground troops, is that a war crime? The answer is no, because under international law, any nation attacked militarily has the right to defend itself. How Israel defends itself determines whether its forces are committing war crimes.

If you are a nation like Israel that has sophisticated weapons capable of precision targeting like smart bombs and missiles and 155 mm artillery that can fire smart rounds that are guided to hit a precision target, then you are obligated to use all that technology to the best of your ability to prevent as many civilian deaths as you can. If your troops engage in ground combat with the enemy, in this case Hamas militants, ground forces have the same obligation.

For example, if Israeli forces are being fired at from within a building they can see with their eyes, or with drones, or on satellite imagery, they can fire back with small arms or artillery or even an airstrike to defend themselves. If civilians are killed along with the Hamas fighters who were shooting at them, it is not a war crime.

Similarly, if Israel discovers that a Hamas commander like Biari is in a bunker under a parking lot or a building within Jabalia, Israel’s military is entitled to bring a precision airstrike on that area in order to kill Biari and defend themselves from Biari commanding another assault on Israel. Israel is not allowed, under international law, to “carpet-bomb” the neighborhood or city where Biari is hiding. Israel is obligated by law to use the best intelligence it has and its precision munitions to accomplish its goal.

Israel cannot do what Nazi Germany did to London and Allied forces did to Dresden and Tokyo and then to Hiroshima and Nagasaki when they leveled whole cities with bombers carrying conventional and nuclear weapons.

Here is a photo of what Dresden looked like after Allied bombing in World War II:

Here is a photo of Hiroshima after the U.S. nuclear strike:

Here is a satellite photo of the area in Jabalia before Israel’s airstrike that targeted Ibrahim Biari on Tuesday night. Take special notice of the white L-shaped building with a gray rectangle on top of it at the right of the photo:

It’s difficult to determine how many civilian buildings were hit and destroyed in the airstrike, and it is certain that several hundred civilians lost their lives along with Biari and his Hamas fighters who were in the tunnel complex beneath them.

The contrast between the World War II photos and the two satellite photos above are evidence of the difference between barbarity and what international law now defines as a nation acting in its own defense. Since before the time of Alexander the Great, armies have ravaged and destroyed cities and killed civilians in pursuit of conquering and seizing territory. For thousands of years, that is the way civilization made its way into the future, with mass death and destruction and enslavement of those conquered.

Today, we have the International Criminal Court and a set of international laws agreed to in the U.N. that attempts to police how nations fight wars. But as we can see by what Russia did in attacking Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and what Hamas did in attacking Israel on October 7, 2023, and what both Ukraine and Israel have been caused to do to defend themselves since then, we’ve got a long way to go.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Netanyahu's Excuses For Bungling Intelligence On Hamas Attack Don't Add Up

Netanyahu's Excuses For Bungling Intelligence On Hamas Attack Don't Add Up

One of the oldest public relations rules in the book is that you can’t have it both ways. Right now, Israel may be prevailing in its shooting war with Hamas, but it’s losing the propaganda war for exactly that reason.

It didn’t have to be this way. Much of the world rallied around Israel after the savage attack the terrorist group Hamas launched on Israel on October 8 that took 240 hostages and killed 1,400 Israelis, the large majority of whom were civilians, including the elderly, pregnant women, children, even babies.

For the next few days, the world recoiled in horror as reports of Hamas atrocities appeared. When Israel began launching airstrikes at what they called Hamas targets in Gaza, there were few complaints. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began massing on the border with Gaza by the tens and then hundreds of thousands, and nobody objected. President Joe Biden and other American politicians issued statements confirming their belief in Israel’s right to defend itself. NATO allies in Europe, including Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and other countries followed suit.

World leaders such as President Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as well the leaders of other countries have visited Israel to show their countries’ support.

But now, as Israeli airstrikes have surged past 7,000, the death toll of Palestinians killed in Gaza surpasses 8,000, and Israeli combat troops have entered northern Gaza and are engaged in ground combat with Hamas militants, questions have arisen about Israel’s tactics and its strategy in the war beyond its avowed aim to “wipe Hamas from the face of the earth.” It is how Israel intends to accomplish this goal that has become a major concern, even among Israel’s friends and allies.

Last week, after vetoing a U.N. resolution calling for a humanitarian pause in Israel’s attacks on Gaza so that more aid could be trucked in, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was quoted as saying that “humanitarian pauses must be considered” so that more water and food and medicine could be supplied to civilians in Gaza caught in the war between Israel and Hamas. NBC News quoted a Biden administration official saying that the administration now backed a pause “of indeterminate duration” to allow aid to reach Gaza. Israeli officials told NBC that they “hear” the calls for a pause for humanitarian aid, and it was “actively being discussed.” However, Hamas has only intermittently allowed the Gaza gate with Egypt to open for aid, and the State Department has said that Hamas has forbidden the departure of civilians from Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes, primarily on northern Gaza, have continued unabated. On Tuesday, October 24 alone, Israel conducted more than 400 airstrikes. Health officials for Hamas claimed afterwards that those airstrikes killed 700 Palestinians. Hamas casualty figures do not separate out numbers of civilian dead from Hamas militants killed, and Israeli officials regularly call Hamas casualty figures inflated. CNN reported on Saturday that a spokesman for Israel Defense Forces announced that “its warplanes hit 150 underground targets in northern Gaza overnight, striking what it called terror tunnels and underground combat spaces and killing several Hamas operatives.”

Every news channel is reporting that overnight, Israel bombed targets in the Jabalia refugee camp just north of Gaza city in an attempt to knock out a Hamas complex of tunnels and command centers under the camp. A spokesman for the IDF claimed that the strike had killed Ibrahim Biari, who was said to have been one of the senior commanders who planned the Hamas attack on October 7. Photos show at least four massive craters in Jabalia, at least one of them appearing to be more than 100 feet in diameter, and all of them at least 50 feet deep.

It is impossible to know what was there before the bombs hit, but the blast-zone is surrounded by concrete buildings, all with their fronts blown off, what had been living spaces or bedrooms open to the air. Jabalia is not what one would regularly think of as a refugee camp, with tents and makeshift structures protecting refugees from the elements. It became a space for Palestinian refugees shortly after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and the place has long since been built into what amounts to a regular city. It is one of the most densely populated cities on the planet, according to several sources.

Military experts on MSNBC are saying that the craters are of the kind left by so-called bunker buster bombs. U.S. versions of bunker busters are laser-guided munitions dropped by fighter jets that weigh as much as 4,000 pounds and carry warheads weighing 650 pounds. It is known that there are larger bunker buster munitions that weigh as much as 5,000 pounds and carry 2,400-pound warheads. MSNBC quoted a Hamas hospital official saying that “dozens” had been killed, with “hundreds” injured in the attack.

On Tuesday night, MSNBC was showing footage of damage in Gaza City from Israeli airstrikes. The damage looked like it covered whole neighborhoods, with buildings collapsed into themselves and against one another. The damage looked indiscriminate, similar to what was seen after the bombing of Aleppo, Syria, by Syrian and Russian warplanes.

Military experts on CNN and MSNBC have said again and again that nothing can be determined about the damage done by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Jabalia, and elsewhere until investigators can get into Gaza and look at evidence of what was destroyed. That is another way of saying that until then, we’re left with Israel’s reports of its airstrikes and Hamas’ reports of the casualties they caused.

The New York Times on Sunday came out with a deep dive into how Israel missed the cues leading up to the Hamas sneak attack on October 7. It ran on the front page under the headline, “Hubris and Mixed Signals as Hamas Readied Attack.” The story contains some very damning information about Bibi Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians turning down meetings with Israel’s top generals in the months leading up to the attack. With demonstrations in the streets against Netanyahu’s plan to limit the power of Israel’s judiciary, and Israeli military reservists and air force pilots threatening to resign over the issue, the Times report says that General Aharon Haliva, the head of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate, tried to meet with members of the Knesset on July 24 with a report “that the political turmoil was creating an opportunity for Israel’s enemies to attack, particularly if there were more resignations in the military. Only two members of the Knesset came to hear his briefing. One top-secret document he was prepared to share with Israel’s top parliamentary leaders said “that the leaders of what Israeli officials call the ‘axis of resistance” — Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — believed this was a moment of Israeli weakness and a time to strike.”

The Times reported Israel’s top uniformed military leader, Chief of Staff Gen. Herzi Halevi, requested a meeting “to deliver the same warnings to Mr. Netanyahu.” The Israeli Prime Minister refused to meet with him.

According to the Times, before last summer Israel had almost completely dropped its guard with respect to Hamas, choosing instead to consider that Hezbollah, backed directly by Iran, was the biggest threat the nation faced. Hezbollah had military assets all the way across Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, and had shelled and rocketed Israel occasionally for years.

“The official assessment of Israeli military intelligence and the National Security Council since May 2021 was that Hamas had no interest in launching an attack from Gaza that might invite a devastating response from Israel,” the Times reported on Sunday. “Instead, Israeli intelligence assessed that Hamas was trying to foment violence against Israelis in the West Bank, which is controlled by its rival, the Palestinian Authority.”

In the days before the Hamas attack on October 7, Israel had sent three battalions of its front-line troops north from their stations on the Gaza border north into the West Bank to deter an expected Hezbollah attack on a religious celebration by ultra-Orthodox settlers there, which along with erroneous intelligence threat assessments could explain why the Gaza border was so thinly defended by the Israel Defense Forces on October 7.

Israel thought Hamas posed such a minor threat that four senior Israeli military officials told the Times they had reduced their defenses so that “The Barrier -- a nearly 40-mile-long reinforced concrete wall above and below ground, completed in 2021 — would hermetically seal off Gaza. There was also a surveillance system at the border based almost exclusively on cameras, sensors and remote-operated ‘sight-shooter’ systems.” Because of Israel’s reduced observation of Hamas movements, training, and electronic communications, Israel’s intelligence agencies completely missed evidence of Hamas training exercises that took place out in the open in broad daylight. Hamas had even constructed a model of an Israeli village behind a bulldozed berm in Gaza where Hamas fighters practiced attacking the mock-village.

The major thing that went unexplained by the New York Times story on Sunday was this: If Israel had relaxed its intelligence gathering about Hamas to the major extent described by the Times, how did they immediately after the October 7 attack come up with so many of what they called “Hamas targets” for Israel’s air force to hit in what quickly became thousands of airstrikes? If they had lost track of Hamas intentions regarding Israel, how did they know where all those Hamas “command and control” centers were in Gaza?

Quite simply, it doesn’t add up: If Israel knew where all the “Hamas targets” were located in Gaza before October 7, wouldn’t they have been more wary of Hamas’ intentions and readied a more beefed-up defense of the Gaza border? If they didn’t suspect that Hamas was planning an attack, as Israel clearly did not, how could they have come up with so many Hamas military targets so quickly that they almost immediately began launching hundreds of nightly airstrikes on Hamas?

It seems unlikely to me that after years of considering that Hamas was not the main threat to Israel – to the extent that they were surveilling the border almost completely with cameras and preparing to defend against an attack with automated remote controlled machine guns -- that Israel was able to immediately ramp up its human intelligence capability enough to know the exact locations of Hamas military headquarters and weapons and ammunition storage locations. So, either one of two things is true: Israel knew all along that Hamas was powerful and well-supplied with troops and weapons and ammunition, and they just chose to ignore it. Or Israel had lost track of Hamas intentions and preparations for war, and because they dropped that ball, they didn’t know where Hamas was storing all its military supplies, so they just started guessing and giving “last known location” targets to its air force and launched air strikes willy-nilly all over the place hoping they would hit some of the places where Hamas is currently headquartered and keeping its military stores.

You can’t have it both ways: You can’t know where all those Hamas munitions stores were – and Israel has claimed to have targeted thousands – and not suspect that Hamas had accumulated them for the purpose of launching an attack. In a social media post on Sunday, Netanyahu tried to blame the October 7 attack on the leaders of his intelligence services and the military. Within 24 hours, he was forced to take it down. He has yet to take responsibility himself for Israel’s failure to defend itself against Hamas.

It turns out that Netanyahu was like George Bush at his Texas ranch on August 6, 2001 when he blew off a CIA report that was headlined, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” As it turned out, we did know where the al Qaeda training camps were in Afghanistan, because after 9/11 we hit them and knocked them out and had Bin Laden on the run in a matter of days. The Bush administration had just chosen to ignore the intelligence, and his mistakes caused more than 3,000 Americans to lose their lives on 9/11 and got us bogged down in one war for 20 years and in another for over ten.

Netanyahu’s mistakes cost Israel the lives of 1,400 of its citizens so far, and we won’t know the total of its military casualties for months, if not years, not to mention the number of Palestinians who will have lost their lives. I’m tempted to quote a lyric of Pete Seeger’s, so I will: When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

How Do You Cover A War That Is Occurring 5,800 Miles Away?

How Do You Cover A War That Is Occurring 5,800 Miles Away?

We are talking here of the explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital that took place on October 17, and the bombing of a Hamas tunnel complex inside the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza on Tuesday. Thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to report on such occurrences if you were not a major newspaper or television network with a bureau on the ground in the country where it happened. Twenty years ago, it would have been difficult but not impossible. The internet was there, if not as fast, and there was email, but newspapers and network news shows didn’t have much reporting online, and very few if any videos were posted.

Today, of course, is a very different story. News stories about an event as big as a bombing appear nearly instantaneously. Photos from the scene are up on X (Twitter) and YouTube just as quickly, and so are videos. But what do you do with the stories and the photos and the videos that are available now? That’s what this story is about.

Last night, in the early evening, a story came up from something called “Memo: Middle East Monitor,” which says on its banner they’ve been “Creating new perspectives since 2009 covering Africa, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, News, and Palestine.” They headlined coverage of the Jabalia bombing this way: “Egypt condemns Israeli attack on residential square in Jabalia Refugee Camp.” Here is the photo at the top of the story:

I had read several stories online from the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Associated Press, but nowhere had I seen the site of the bombing described as a “residential square,” which is defined on real estate websites and shows up on maps that identify “squares” like Foley Square and Washington Square, both in New York City, as an open area between buildings in an urban setting.

So, I went to Google Earth and Google Maps, which show maps and aerial images of places around the world differently in subtle ways. Sometimes the resolution of satellite photos is better on Google Earth than it is on Google Maps, sometimes it’s the other way around. And often one or the other will identify the location you’re looking for better than the other. Google Maps, for example, locates the center of Jabalia with a little red squiggle. Google Earth gives you an outline around the blocks covered by the Jabalia refugee camp.

From Google Earth, I could see there are two main areas of the camp. The southwestern part of the camp, where the Jabalia Refugee Camp Market is located, is a jumble of streets and tiny alleys in an area of low, tightly packed structures that look, from overhead at least, like shacks or small cinderblock houses. The area of the camp to the northeast has as its northern border a wide road marked General Beit Lahiya Boulevard, on which the Indonesian Hospital is located. That hospital appears in news stories as “close to” Jabalia, which according to the map, it is.

The northern area of Jabalia is more built up, on a regular grid of paved streets that run between larger buildings that from the satellite photo look like they might be three or four stories. Some of them have what appear to be water tanks on the roof, a common way to distribute water through a multi-story building with multiple apartments in the Middle East. I saw lots of them in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.

The buildings at the edge of the blast-zone in Jabalia – and I looked at more than 30 photos of them – appear to be three to five stories. You can count the stories from the sides of the buildings that were blown out by the blasts. Several photos, like this one, show three taller buildings in the background that look to be eight stories tall, as shown here:

I started looking on Google Earth for sites that might be described as open areas between buildings, like parks or gathering places or parking lots. There are several of them in the northern area of Jabalia. They show up as tree-filled parks, or dirt lots, or what appear to be paved parking lots.

If you look to the right of the photo, you’ll see a large concrete slab that must be 20 feet across. In the foreground, you’ll see smaller, broken slabs with irregular shapes. They could be slabs of a concrete parking lot that were picked up and thrown away from the center of the crater shown in the photo, which is the largest of four craters that appear in all the different photos.

Here is another photo of this crater from further away. The leaning slab appears at the center of the photo:

It looks to me that the vantage point was a street that formed one side of the square. A damaged taxi is parked on the right, and the yellow CAT earthmover in the foreground looks to have driven on level ground to the position where it appears to be pushing debris to the left.

Tracy pointed out that the slabs could have been floors in apartment buildings, and that is possible. It appears that the men at the top right are standing atop the ruin of a building. The slab could have been the roof of that building that fell from left to right as the building collapsed. Looking further, I found a part of a floor from another apartment building. It is in the right center of the photo, the slab with a little square cut out on its left edge.

If you look above and to the left, you can see the building it may have come from: the little cut-out could have fit around the vertical wall shown in the open front of the building. The slab of floor at the center would have fallen down from the building as the front row of the apartments were destroyed by the blast. But the bigger, irregular slab leaning down into the crater at the center of the photo looks more like it was part of a paved area that collapsed when the blast sent material into the air from the center of the crater at the right.

Which brings up the nature of the weapon used in this bombing. Israel has said that the target was a Hamas commander, Ibrahim Biari, whom a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces described as an architect of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Biari was said to be hiding in a tunnel complex under the Jabalia refugee camp. Israel made use of what appears to be at least three and possibly four bunker-buster bombs in the attack.

Israel is known to have two types of U.S. supplied bunker buster bombs: The 2,000-pound GBU-31v3, and the 5,000 pound GBU 28, said to have four times the penetrating power of the earlier version they were supplied with. The different types of bunker buster bombs may explain the two sizes of craters. One appears to be 100 feet or more across, and nearly as deep. The other ones are about half as deep and half as wide, as shown in this BBC photo, with the largest crater in the foreground and two more visible in the background:

All of the bunker buster bombs are laser guided, which means they are dropped from a jet aircraft and guided to their target with a laser that “paints” the target from the aircraft. The bomb’s guidance system follows the laser to the target.

The bombs are fitted with a delay fuse, so that the bomb explodes not on impact with a concrete surface, but after it travels through the concrete and into the earth below, so the bomb goes off beneath the surface instead of on top of it. The point of a bunker buster is for the blast to go down and to the side beneath the earth. That’s what destroys bunkers or tunnels. A conventional high explosive warhead on a missile or artillery shell explodes upon impact, and all the blast goes up and out to the sides, producing the kind of craters we have seen in photos of misfired Russian 155 artillery rounds that landed in agricultural fields and left craters about 8 to 10 feet in diameter and about four feet deep.

Some bunker buster bombs have more sophisticated fuses that have accelerometers that can detect delays in the penetration of the warhead and set off the explosion after it has penetrated one or two floors of a building, for example, instead of going off when it first hits a concrete roof. That sort of bomb could have been used in the Jabalia bombing and would have blasted through the concrete floors of apartments before going off when it finally reached the bottom floor and penetrated its concrete slab. Or the bombs could have hit the surface of a parking lot, gone through the concrete and earth, and then exploded several meters below the surface of the earth.

Until and unless an inspection can be made of the site of the bombing, we won’t know whether Israel sent its bombs into what the Middle East Monitor called a residential square, an open area between buildings, or directly into buildings beneath which Israeli intelligence had identified as being above the tunnel they were trying to hit.

This is what you do when you can’t be on the scene. In this case, there has been no reporting from the scene of the explosion that describes the area where the bombs hit. In the case of the Al-Ahli Hospital, we could see that the warhead, whatever it was, and whoever fired it, hit a parking lot and not the hospital itself, and the hospital building was not damaged.

With the Jabalia bombing, we can see the craters left by the bombs, and we can see the damage done to apartment buildings around them, but we cannot know for sure whether the bombs hit a parking lot or directly landed on apartment buildings.

Either way, people were killed. One of them, according to Israel, was the Hamas commander who engineered the massacre on October 7. Other Hamas fighters were killed, too, according to the Israeli spokesman for the IDF. But innocent civilians were also killed in the collateral damage from the bunker buster bombs. Enlarging the satellite photos on Google Earth, I could see cars driving down streets in Jabalia and occasional pedestrians. People live there. They have lives, just like people have lives in Bakhmut and Mariupol and Kherson and Kharkiv in Ukraine, all cities that have been heavily bombed by Russia. And Ukrainians died in those bombings. I remember way back at the beginning of the war in Ukraine covering the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, publishing photos of a bomb crater in an open area between wings of the hospital. One photo showed a pregnant woman being escorted out of the door to the hospital, gripping her bulging stomach with both hands. She died a few days later.

It is a sad fact of these terrible wars that innocent people die. As I cover these wars from thousands of miles away, going over the photographs of destruction and the maps and the satellite photos and details of the weapons and how they work, one of the hardest jobs I have is remembering the human cost of war. The blood of the dead is the most expensive thing in any war, beyond the physical damage left by bombs and bullets. Please remember that with me.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Another Day, Another Massacre: 18 Dead And 13 Wounded In Maine

Another Day, Another Massacre: 18 Dead And 13 Wounded In Maine

Dear readers, I ask you: how many of these stories have I written about mass shootings in my Substack column? I lost count some time ago and cannot remember the last one. Was it the shooting in Nashville, when a 28-year-old gunman killed three nine-year-old children and three adults at a private school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church using two AR-15 rifles, one of them configured as a pistol with a folding stock so it could be easily concealed? Or was it Uvalde, when 19 children and two adults were killed at the Robb Elementary School by an 18-year-old who had bought two AR-15 rifles soon after he reached the age when it is legal to buy such firearms in Texas?

I know I wrote about two more mass shootings in Texas, one at a private home in Cleveland, when five were killed by a shooter with an AR-15 rifle, and the other at an outlet mall in Allen, when a shooter killed eight and wounded seven using, once again, an AR-15 rifle.

And now I’m writing about last night’s mass-shooting in Lewiston, Maine. Robert Russel Card, age 40, is the man police suspect of killing seven people in a bowling alley and eight people in a bar and wounding 13, again using an AR-15 rifle. Three of the wounded died later in a hospital. He is described as a sergeant in the Army Reserves and a “trained firearms instructor.” He has not been captured by the police and is at large as I write this, described as armed and dangerous.

I think the first story I wrote about a mass killing was in 1998, about the school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, when two boys, age 13 and 11, used rifles taken from the home of one of their grandfathers to kill four of their fellow students and a teacher, shooting at them from a hill overlooking the schoolyard when the kids were at recess. I wrote the story for the New York Times op-ed page. What astounded me about the shooting was the fact that both boys had been taken to so-called practical shooting courses by their parents, where participants were taught to shoot and move in a tactical military fashion using human silhouette targets.

At that time, it had been 30 years since I had fired a rifle on a shooting rage at a human silhouette target. I did it during marksmanship training at West Point, using first an M-14 and then an M-16, the military progenitor of the AR-15 rifle used by nearly every shooter in every mass shooting in recent years.

The M-14 was a big, unwieldy rifle with a wooden stock that weighed 10 and a half pounds when loaded with its 20-round magazine. The M-16, which the Army had begun using in Vietnam, was smaller, had a composite stock and a shorter barrel and weighed only seven and a half pounds and used a magazine carrying 30 rounds of ammunition. The M-14 fired a 7.62 mm bullet and had a sharp kick that would leave you with a bruise on your shoulder after a few hours of shooting it. The M-16 fired the much smaller 5.56 mm bullet and had almost no recoil at all. It was easier to carry, easier to shoot, and was just as accurate as the M-14 had been.

I’m telling you all this because every time I type “AR-15,” what I’m doing is using the designation for a weapon that was designed for and is still in use by the military for combat. It is, therefore, a machine invented and manufactured for killing human beings, which is what I was being trained to do when I first fired an M-16 at a human silhouette target at West Point in 1965.

Firearms training was a serious business. There was such a priority on safety that we initially fired the M-16 for most of a day using single bullets which we hand-loaded and fired on command by the range officer. Then we were issued magazines, which we loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition and fired with the fire selector set on single-shot for at least a couple of days. Later, we were taught to fire the M-16 with the selector set on three-round bursts and then full-automatic, enabling you to empty the magazine of all 30 rounds with a single pull of the trigger.

I used to get criticized by gun enthusiasts when I called an AR-15 rifle “military grade,” but their criticism was bullshit. The AR-15 is identical to an M-16 with only one difference: It does not have a selector switch enabling burst and full-auto fire. The AR-15s are manufactured for single-shot fire, but it is well known that many of them can be easily altered to fire on full-auto by purchasing a kit at a gun show or on the dark web. We don’t know if the gunman in Maine had altered his AR-15 to shoot on full-auto, but as an Army Reserve sergeant and a firearms instructor, he would certainly have the know-how to do it.

But it doesn’t matter whether the AR-15 used by the shooter in Maine had been illegally altered. Even in its legal form, the weapon is as deadly as they come. The bullet fired by the AR-15 is the same bullet fired by the Army’s M-4 carbine, the modern replacement for the M-16. It shoots with an extremely high muzzle velocity, and when the bullet hits the human body, it is designed to penetrate the skin and immediately tumble as it goes through the body, shredding muscles, bones, and organs. It is designed to kill, and last night, bullets fired from yet another AR-15 did just that in Maine.

It is madness that I am describing for the umpteenth time the AR-15 rifle, its military history, how deadly it is, and yes, how it has become ubiquitous. There are estimated to be more than 20 million of these terrible things in private hands in this country, and they are the weapon of choice for people who are looking to kill a lot of people very quickly. And yet, you can walk into a gun store in every state in the union but the ten that ban the sale of the AR-15 and buy one.

Wait. Make that nine states that ban the gun, because a federal judge in California last week ruled in a case involving the AR-15 that the state’s ban on sales of the weapon violates the Constitutional right to bear arms. That decision is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but if upheld, would apply to the laws in all 10 states that ban sales of the gun.

The Supreme Court has upheld a law in Illinois banning the sale of the AR-15, but it did so temporarily on its so-called shadow docket, meaning a case involving the legality of the AR-15 for sale and ownership will eventually reach the Supreme Court and be heard on its merits. If the doctrine put forth by Justice Clarence Thomas in his Bruen decision holds – that gun laws today cannot differ materially from those in place in 1791 – well, we can already see which way the court will rule.

If the Supreme Court rules that because the Founders thought owning a flintlock musket was pretty cool, and that every American should have the right to buy, own, and shoot an AR-15, we will be seeing each other again in these online pages when yet another AR-15, or more likely, many AR-15s are used in more and more mass shootings.

It’s madness, sure, but it’s our madness because citizens of this country have elected the politicians who put the jurists on the court who make these things legal, and the same voters put the legislators in their seats who refuse to pass laws to make AR-15s illegal.

I pray that one day, my grandchildren will look back and wonder what their country was thinking when their grandfather and his generation allowed such deadly guns to be sold to anyone who wants one. The saddest thing is, right now, I don’t have an answer for them.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Juicy Columns -- Like This Gift From Meadows -- Keep Landing On My Doorstep

Juicy Columns -- Like This Gift From Meadows -- Keep Landing On My Doorstep

Case in point: ABC News is reporting that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has been granted immunity by Special Counsel Jack Smith and is ratting out his former boss, Donald J. Trump. After the Georgia plea deals of Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, and earlier yesterday, Jenna Ellis, is it possible to get any better? What could be next? Testimony about Trump laughing off his loss to Joe Biden and contemplating ways to turn Stop the Steal into a cash cow?

Actually, that testimony might be on the horizon after we learn more about what Meadows has told Special Counsel Smith during three meetings he had with prosecutors earlier this year.

Listen to this from ABC’s breaking news about the Meadows immunity deal: “Sources said Meadows informed Smith’s team that he repeatedly told Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election that the allegations of significant voting fraud coming to them were baseless, a striking break from Trump's prolific rhetoric regarding the election.”

The ABC report continues, “According to the sources, Meadows also told the federal investigators Trump was being ‘dishonest’ with the public when he first claimed to have won the election only hours after polls closed on November 3, 2020, before final results were in. ‘Obviously we didn't win,’ a source quoted Meadows as telling Smith's team in hindsight.”

Wait. There’s more: “Meadows privately told Smith's investigators that -- to this day -- he has yet to see any evidence of fraud that would have kept now-president Joe Biden from the White House, and he told them he agrees with a government assessment at the time that the 2020 presidential election was the most secure election in U.S. history.”

Thunk. That is the sound of my jaw hitting the little piece of my desk in front of my keyboard.

And the thunkscontinue. ABC reports that its reporters have found numerous assertions about the 2020 election in Meadows’ 2021 book, The Chief’s Chief, that “appear to be contradicted by what Meadows allegedly told investigators behind closed doors.”

Meadows, in other words, who in meetings with Smith’s prosecutors detailed the grift behind Trump’s denials that he lost the 2020 election, has been part of the grift himself, profiting off the lies he and Trump told by publishing a book that knowingly repeats some of those lies.

Another thunk: After spending the month of November and part of December in 2020 passing along allegations of fraud in the election Trump lost, “Meadows said that by mid-December, he privately informed Trump that Giuliani hadn't produced any evidence to back up the many allegations he was making, sources said. Then-Attorney General Bill Barr also informed Trump and Meadows in an Oval Office meeting that allegations of election fraud were ‘not panning out,’ as Barr recounted in testimony to Congress last year.”

That little burst of truth telling got Barr fired, but not Mark Meadows, who stuck around for the whole thing, right up until Jan. 6. On that ignominious day, testimony to the January 6 Committee by his assistant, Cassidy Hutchinson, revealed that when White House Counsel Pat Cippolone rushed into Meadows’ office and told him, “The rioters have gotten into the Capitol, Mark. We need to go see the President now,” Meadows responded calmly, while staring at his phone, “He doesn't want to do anything.” Cippollone told Meadows, “Something needs to be done, or somebody is going to die and this is going to be on your effing hands.” By that time, Trump had already sent out a tweet essentially telling his followers that Vice President Mike Pence was a coward.

"They're literally calling for the VP to be effing hung," Cipollone told Meadows. “You heard him, Pat,” Meadows replied, still staring at his phone. “He thinks Mike deserves it.”

ABC News reports that part of what Meadows told prosecutors confirms what others, such as his assistant, Cassidy Hutchinson, have already testified to. Sources told ABC that Meadows confirmed a widely-circulated story that while the assault on the Capitol was ongoing, Trump took a call from Kevin McCarthy, who urged him to do something to calm the situation. Meadows confirmed that Trump told McCarthy, “I guess these people are more upset than you are, Kevin.”

Meadows was in the West Wing during the entire time the assault on the Capitol was underway and can doubtlessly provide more information to prosecutors about what Trump was doing and who he spoke to in his private dining room just off the Oval Office as he watched the Capitol assault on TV. It is obvious from the ABC report that Meadows has more information on Trump’s statements after he lost the election and what meetings he had and with whom about his attempts to overturn the election. The testimony Meadows can give about Giuliani alone would be voluminous, and the same goes for others who met with Trump in Meadows’ presence, such as John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and others.

Meadows is still facing trial on racketeering charges brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Anything Meadows tells prosecutors in Washington under a grant of federal immunity could be used against him at trial on state charges in Fulton County, so you can definitely expect that Mark Meadows will cop a plea there, too.

Splat. That’s the sound of Mark Meadows’ teardrop falling in Georgia.

Click. That’s the sound of me locking my front door so the pile of gift columns doesn’t break it down.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

"Before The Next Teardrop Falls": Jenna Ellis Makes Courtroom Confession

"Before The Next Teardrop Falls": Jenna Ellis Makes Courtroom Confession

Jenna Ellis, the lawyer who in 2020 described herself as part of Donald Trump’s “elite strike force team,” has reached a plea deal with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Georgia and will plead guilty to a felony she committed when she worked to help Trump overturn the election results in Georgia. She was charged with soliciting a public officer to violate his oath to the people of Georgia. She pleaded guilty to a single felony count of aiding and abetting false writings and statements.

Ellis is the third Trump lawyer to plead guilty to committing crimes in the racketeering case against Trump and 18 other co-defendants. The other lawyers are Sidney Powell, who pleaded guilty last Thursday, and Kenneth Chesebro, who entered a plea of guilty the following day, on the morning his trial was set to begin. Another co-defendant, Scott Hall, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to interfere in the performance of official election duties in the Coffee County theft of election data.

In her guilty plea, Ellis agreed to complete three to five years of probation, to pay a $5,000 fine, to do100 hours of community service, and to write a letter of apology to the people of the state of Georgia. Ellis tearfully read her letter of apology aloud to the judge this morning, beginning by introducing herself “as an attorney who is also a Christian, I take my responsibilities as a lawyer very seriously, and I endeavor to be a person of sound moral and ethical character in all of my dealings.”

Except when it came to helping her hero Donald Trump steal the election of 2020 , apparently.

Previously, like Powell and Chesebro before her, Ellis recorded on video a lengthy “proffer,” giving prosecutors details of the facts she will be able to testify to when she is called to give evidence against her co-defendants, including Trump.

Prosecutors read aloud the indictment against Ellis, including portions that detailed how she wrote memos for Trump about how Vice President Pence could go about overturning the election results on January 6, 2021, when he presided over the certification of electoral ballots in the Congress. The indictment also outlined how she had traveled with fellow Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia, where she gave false information about the election to state lawmakers, urging them to use their powers to overturn the election results in their states in favor of Trump. Ellis has already been sanctioned by a Colorado judge for the false statements she made about the election, and in court today, she admitted to making more false statements on behalf of Trump.

She claimed she made the statements “in a reckless state of mind,” and in her apology stated that she had “relied on lawyers with many more years of experience than I to provide me with true and reliable information.” She went on to say that she had failed to do “due diligence” and check her facts. In other words, as a “Christian” lawyer, Jenna Ellis blamed her failures on other lawyers, said she had been “misled” by them, and said she no longer believed the lies she told about Trump being the winner of the 2020 election. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” Ellis said in her apology letter.

One lawyer who would seem to have “misled” Ellis is Rudy Giuliani. Another would seem to be John Eastman, and yet another may be Jeffrey Clark. None of these men will probably be sleeping very comfortably tonight, thinking of the testimony she is set to give against them, not to mention Donald Trump, the client on whose behalf she, Powell, and Chesebro told all their lies.

Donald Trump’s friends, lawyers, campaign workers, and go-fers are discovering, one after another, that their loyalty to the former president ends at the jailhouse door.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Israel And Gaza: The Cold Calculus Of A Ground Invasion

Israel And Gaza: The Cold Calculus Of A Ground Invasion

Sixteen days after suffering the loss of 1,400 of its citizens to the surprise daybreak attack by Hamas terrorists out of Gaza, Israel is facing a terrible dilemma: Do they go into Gaza with ground troops, and if so, how hard? Even after counting the bodies of the dead and enduring their funerals and hearing the stories of rape and torture and point-blank murder of young children and babies, deciding what kind of retribution you will exact on your enemies and how much is not an easy decision. As President Biden reminded the Israelis a week ago, our country made some very bad decisions after the terrorist attack on 9/11 that took more than 3,000 American lives. Due to those decisions, we went on to lose more than twice that many Americans in the wars we waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we caused the deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqi and Afghan civilians.

Military historians use phrases like proportional response to describe what is seen as the correct way to react to attacks by an enemy, especially when the targets of the attack involve civilians. In World War II, Nazi Germany was accused of war crimes when the entire French village of Oradour-Sur-Glane, 643 civilians in all, were massacred by a German Waffen SS company after partisans had captured and killed a Waffen SS Sturmbannfuhrer and bombed resupply trains headed north to reinforce German defenses along the French coast after the Allied invasion at Normandy. Two hundred and forty-seven women and 205 children were locked in a church, and the Germans set it on fire with an incendiary grenade. When the women and children tried to escape through windows and doors, they were machine-gunned by SS soldiers. Those not killed by bullets burned alive in the church.

So, the question for Israel is, what is a proportional response to the massacre of 1,400 Israelis, the great majority of them civilians, by Hamas on October 7? Israel is already rocketing and bombing the Gaza strip with so-called smart weapons capable of hitting pin-point targets on the ground. Israel says it is targeting Hamas weapons stores, headquarters, and places Hamas fighters are known to use as platforms to launch missiles into Israel. Hamas announced today that more than 5,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in strikes by Israel since October 7, with 463 people killed last night alone in Gaza since Israeli airstrikes have increased recently. Casualty figures in Gaza are controlled by Hamas, and the New York Times reported today that Hamas has refused to back up its claims that more than 400 civilians were killed last week when a missile struck the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City.

Experts are now saying that the missile that struck the hospital was fired at Israel by Islamic Jihad fighters and blew up in the air over the hospital. Examination of the damage such as I did using photographs last week, shows that the explosion occurred in the hospital parking lot and that no damage was done to the hospital itself. The Times reports that American intelligence agencies now estimate that between 100 and 300 Palestinians were killed. The truth of what happened with the hospital explosion will never be known, because Hamas has done away with any fragments of the weapon that exploded, claiming falsely that it “vaporized” in the explosion. Experts say that it almost never happens that an explosion does not leave behind evidence that can be examined.

Do you see how quickly this war is devolving into “he-said, she-said” style charges and counter-charges in the fog of the war between Hamas and Israel? What is not foggy, however, is the fact that Hamas slaughtered 1,400 Israelis on October 7, and ever since, Israel has been hitting what it calls Hamas targets in Gaza with many, many airstrikes every day.

And now what? Israel has massed more than 300,000 of its troops and tanks and artillery on its border with Gaza in contemplation of a ground assault that has yet to happen. It was reported yesterday that President Biden has asked Israel not to go into Gaza on the ground until there has been more time to arrange for the 200 hostages Hamas is holding to be released and more humanitarian aid to be trucked into Gaza. National security spokesman John Kirby held a press conference at the White House today and said that the U.S. is not “dictating terms” to Israel’s military and telling them what to do or not to do to defend Israel, but the White House would not confirm or deny that Biden has asked Netanyahu to delay a ground invasion of Gaza.

These are delicate matters for both countries. Netanyahu, whose political career is said to be in ashes because of his failure to protect Israel from the Hamas attack, does not want to be seen as failing to exact an adequate revenge. The U.S. does not want to be seen as blindly backing everything Israel is doing, especially if a ground assault were to result in heavy civilian casualties. Every military estimate of what would result from a ground invasion of Gaza predicts that it would cost a huge number of civilian casualties. Israel runs the risk of losing the support it now enjoys on the international stage after suffering so many civilian losses in the Hamas attack. The U.S. runs an equivalent risk if Israel ends up invading Gaza and many civilians die.

The calculus for any sort of military action such as that which Israel is contemplating is grim in the extreme. If Israel launches an all-out invasion of Gaza on the ground, complete with infantry, tanks, artillery, and air support, thousands will die, both Hamas fighters and Palestinian civilians, while Israel’s military losses will be limited. If instead Israel were to decide on a limited invasion of some kind – say, leaving its tanks out of Gaza and using small units of infantry to move house-to-house looking for hostages and killing Hamas fighters, they know the number of Israeli military casualties will be much higher, while fewer Hamas militants would be killed. The number of civilian Palestinian dead would also be lower.

Every military action is a trade-off. The savage reality of war is that you trade the dead bodies of your own soldiers for a greater toll on the enemy, creating what is called a kill-ratio. This is just a blind estimate, but in any Gaza invasion, Israel would probably be looking for a 10 to 1 kill ratio, losing one Israeli soldier for every ten Hamas dead. But no matter the size of the invasion, Israel will lose hundreds if not thousands of its soldiers.

The final question is, in return for what? Israel has always used the slogan birthed by the Holocaust, “never again,” as the starting point for its own defense. Today, Israel speaks of Hamas in Gaza in terms of “once and for all,” as in ridding themselves of the threat from Palestinian terrorists forever.

Israel tried that strategy when they invaded Lebanon in 1982 in an attempt to drive the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from its strongholds around Beirut. This is a rough distillation, but it didn’t work. PLO leader Yasir Arafat left Beirut and moved his headquarters to Tunisia, and Israel occupied West Beirut for a few months. Over the next three years, Israel did a phased withdrawal of its troops and formed what they called an Israeli Security Zone south of the Litani River in Lebanon, finally pulling out of Lebanon altogether. But read today’s headlines. Hezbollah is shelling and rocketing Israel from southern Lebanon, and Israel is retaliating almost daily.

There is no such thing as “once and for all” in the Middle East. I have written before at length about the thousands of years of war in the Cradle of Civilization. Three religions claim ownership of holy sites in Jerusalem, where many wars have been fought. But the thousands of years of wars pre-date all three religions, and if history teaches us anything at all, wars in that region will outlast them, as well.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Joe Biden

What Makes Age An Asset For Joe Biden And Me -- And The Nation

I don’t go down the stairs the way I used to. When I was a cadet at West Point and lived on the fourth floor of the barracks, I used to balance myself by skimming my hand lightly along the banister while pointing the toes of my leather-soled lace-up shoes and skiing down the stairs, never touching a stair tread with my heels until I reached the landing, then continuing my sole-skiing down the next set of stairs until I got to the ground floor. I could go down four flights in a matter of seconds.

Today, after I woke up from the nap I take every afternoon, I sort of stumbled with a death grip on the banister from one step to another, clunking down the stairs from the second floor in our house, landing my heels hard enough on each stair to shake the one above and below it. If I moved a little faster, it would sound like I was falling.

You should see me when I walk our dog Ruby three blocks up the street to Walgreens every morning to get the paper. I know exactly what I look like. I look like the old Italian-American men I used to see in the South Village when I walked home from the Voice office every day. All of them – every single one – leaned forward a little with their heads turned up so they could see ahead of them, as if they were walking into a snowstorm, and their feet slapped the sidewalk, each step catching them as if from falling forward. I remember walking in New York City as a young man. Hell, I remember walking through the city when I was 60. I could make it from Houston Street to Chinatown in a few minutes. When I was walking with another person or in a small group, I would have to consciously slow down so I didn’t get ahead of them.

Well, you’re older, you might say. What do you expect? I’ll tell you what I expect. I expect people not to make fun of me the way people make fun of Joe Biden, who is only five years older than I am, for the way he walks, as he did leaving the stage after making remarks to the press during his visit to Israel last week. I’m not talking about Fox News talking heads and Republican critics in Congress, who would point fingers at Biden for the way he spoons up his soup, if they dined with him.

I’m talking about you, fellow Democrats, who I see quoted daily in stories about Biden’s age. I hear it in emails from friends, and I see it in comments from my readers of this column. One reader the other day, commenting on Biden’s visit to Israel, said he was “way way too much of a stumble bum to deal with matters of truly earth-shaking importance.” The commenter then called him a “stupor hero,” and went on to remind us that “old and mentally fragile people are very gullible. That’s why romance scams are so successful in this demographic.”

To which my reply would be, at least Joe Biden is capable of romance, unlike a certain opposition candidate who when he was president made news if he even touched the hand of his spouse, and nearly every time he was seen holding her hand, he was steadying himself going down the stairs from Air Force One.

President Biden is 81, and I’m 76, by the way, so you could say that I’m prejudiced when it comes to what has become known as the “age issue.” Biden’s age, in comparison to that of his chief rival, shouldn’t be an issue at all. Biden is only four years older than Donald Trump, and as we have seen repeatedly, Trump has issues when it comes to walking across a stage, going down stairs, or famously at a West Point graduation a few years ago, negotiating a gently-sloping non-skid ramp down from a platform after handing out diplomas to a few hundred graduating cadets. Not to mention his habit of constantly repeating himself and occasionally slurring his words.

But enough of Trump’s manifest frailties. I’m not here to talk about age as a deficit. I’m here to talk about growing older as a benefit of enormous consequence. In the case of Joe Biden, I think of his age as an investment of years of experience, knowledge, and judgement. Consider the steady hand and years of experience at international relations with which Biden has handled Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and now the war of terror by Hamas against Israel. Compare it to the way at age 49 he handled the hearings for the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leaving aside what we have learned about Thomas since that time, do you think at age 81 Biden would handle Thomas’ lies and the screeching from Republicans the same way?

Let me tell you something about being 76 years old. There is no way on earth that I could write the column I’m writing today at 49 years old, even given the fact that when I was that age, I had been a writer for 28 years. I don’t pretend to know the reason that living for 27 more years on this earth gives you certain powers and abilities while taking away others, but it does. Part of it is what you have experienced in the interim – the way you’ve lived your life, or failed at it; the things you’ve seen; the people you’ve met; the joys you have shared and the tragedies you have endured.

The things you go through in your life add up, and let me tell you this: They make you stronger, not weaker, even as you lose a step walking the dog or thinking of a word in a sentence. From what I have seen of Biden as president, he hasn’t lost a single step in either his judgement or empathy, the two elements of one’s life that become stronger with age and are most important if you have a job like his.

I couldn’t do the job he does as president, but I can do the job that I have better than at any time in the 56 years I’ve been doing it, and way down in my creaky bones, I know the same is true of him.

Go get ‘em, Joe. Slap your feet and lean forward when you walk; grip that handrail coming down the steps from Air Force One. And hold onto the hand of your wife Jill with every scintilla of love that’s between you. Aches and pains may come with being 81 years old, but love and empathy make you stronger. I wouldn’t want to go up against you trying to manage a war or a campaign for president. I haven’t got enough years under my belt yet, but I’m catching up to you as fast as life will let me.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

With Chesebro Plea After Powell, Fani Willis Is On A Roll

With Chesebro Plea After Powell, Fani Willis Is On A Roll

Now we know what Fani Willis and her team of prosecutors were doing while newspapers and cable TV chryons were headlining that Sidney Powell’s co-defendant, Kenneth Chesebro, had not copped a plea deal with prosecutors. Willis and her team were videotaping Chesebro’s proffer of written, electronic, and oral information he could provide to prosecutors in return for a sentence of three to six years of probation, community service, and a fine for pleading guilty to a single felony charge in Georgia. Chesebro had faced seven counts involving his participation in a scheme to organize fake electors to file falsified electoral ballots for Donald Trump with the National Archives and the President of the Senate in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election on January 6, when the Congress met to certify electoral ballots and declare Joe Biden winner of the 2020 election.

Willis has faced criticism ever since she empaneled an investigatory grand jury to look into what laws were broken by Trump and his compatriots in Georgia as they attempted to overturn the results of the state’s presidential election, won by Joe Biden. Willis was foundering, critics said, taking too much time on witnesses who refused subpoenas and had to be sued to get their testimony.

Then in August, when Willis finally brought her indictment against Trump and 18 co-defendants, critics said it was all just too much. How does she expect to get 19 defendants into one courtroom and run a prosecution against them? It was too unwieldly, many said, an overreach by a publicity-hungry local prosecutor trying to burnish her reputation by going after the former president, who was already facing indictment by the Special Counsel for committing many of the same crimes.

Then the Kraken cracked, and 24 hours later, so did the heretofore loyal Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro.

Reading the 98 pages of the indictment of Trump and his 18 co-defendants, it’s hard to keep up with Chesebro, he was so busy sending emails, calling co-conspirators, and meeting with John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani and members of the Trump reelection team. After Trump lost more than 60 of his legal challenges to results of the election in battleground states, something had to be done.

And then came John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro to the rescue with their Hail Mary scheme to put together slates of fake presidential electors for Trump in Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia and use them to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College ballots in Congress on January 6, 2021. The fake electoral ballots had to be signed in the states by December 14, when the real electors met and cast their ballots for Biden. Then the fake electoral ballots had to be filed with the National Archives, and transmitted to the President of the Senate -- Vice President Mike Pence -- in time for the meeting of the Congress.

Busy, busy, busy were Ken and Rudy and John and Donald. From the Fulton County indictment:

Act 39: “A memorandum was written by KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO to James R. Troupis, an attorney associated with the Trump Campaign, and advocates for the position that Trump presidential elector nominees in Wisconsin should meet and cast electoral votes for DONALD JOHN TRUMP on December 14, 2020, despite the fact that DONALD JOHN TRUMP lost the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Wisconsin.”

Act 47: “KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO stated in the e-mail that certain individuals associated with the Trump Campaign asked him ‘to help coordinate with the other contested States, to help with logistics of the electors in other States hopefully joining in casting their votes on Monday.’”

Act 49: “On or about the 10th day of December 2020, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an email with attached documents to Arizona Republican Party Executive Director Greg Safsten and others. The documents were 'to be used by Trump presidential elector nominees in Arizona for the purpose of casting electoral votes for DONALD JOHN TRUMP on December 14, 2020, despite the fact that DONALD JOHN TRUMP lost the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Arizona. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

Act 50: “KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an e-mail to Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brian Schimming with proposed language for documents to be used by Trump presidential elector nominees in Wisconsin for the purpose of casting electoral votes for DONALD JOHN TRUMP on December 14, 2020, despite the fact that DONALD JOHN TRUMP lost the November 3, 2020, presidential election in Wisconsin.”

In Acts 51 through 53, Chesebro sent emails with proposed fake elector documents to officials in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia furthering the fake elector scheme.

Act 58: “KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an e-mail to Jim DeGraffenreid and stated that ‘the purpose of having the electoral votes sent in to Congress is to provide the opportunity to debate the election irregularities in Congress, and to keep alive the possibility that the votes could be flipped to Trump.’”

In Acts 59, 60, and 61, Chesebro sent more fake elector documents to members of the Trump campaign to be used by fake electors in Georgia and other states.

In Act 64, Chesebro conspired with Giuliani and a member of the Trump campaign to ensure that the media was not notified of a meeting of Trump fake electors in Wisconsin.

In Act 69, Chesebro sent the same package of suggested electoral ballot documents to co-defendant Michael Roman with the proviso that the documents were to be used in the Nevada fake elector scheme.

Act 70: “KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an e-mail to RUDOLPH WILLIAM LOUIS GIULIANI with the subject ‘PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL Brief notes on President of the Senate strategy.’ In the email, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO outlined multiple strategies for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, the day prescribed by law for counting votes cast by the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from Georgia and the other states. In the email, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO stated that the strategies outlined by him were ‘preferable to allowing the Electoral Count Act to operate by its own terms.’” (Its “own terms” being following the law and living up to the full meaning of how elections are certified in the Constitution.)

In Acts 71 and 72, Chesebro conspired with Giuliani and Roman to further the fake elector scheme in Georgia.

In Act 94, Chesebro was the recipient of an email from John Eastman laying out a strategy to avoid having the fake elector scheme considered in a hearing by the judiciary committee on the constitutionality of the Electoral Count Act. They were afraid a hearing might raise issues the Trump campaign did not want to bring up about their scheme to interfere with the Electoral College, especially if their scheme ended up before the Supreme Court.

Act 109: “On or about the lst day of January 2021, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO sent an email to JOHN CHARLES EASTMAN and unindicted co-conspirator Individual 3, whose identity is known to the Grand Jury. In the e-mail, KENNETH JOHN CHESEBRO outlined strategy for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, the day prescribed by law for counting votes cast by the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from Georgia and the other states.”

Act 124: Another memo from Chesebro to Giuliani and Eastman on Jan. 4, 2021, outlining “multiple strategies for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”

Listening as Chesebro’s plea deal was read aloud in Fulton County court on Friday morning, all the names outlined above in the indictment rang out loudly: TRUMP, GIULIANI, EASTMAN, ROMAN. The criminality of the fake elector scheme was mentioned multiple times. Chesebro was asked again and again if he understood the charges against him and the criminal count to which he was pleading guilty. Of course he did. Chesebro, bless his black little conspiratorial Republican heart, is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

After prosecutors outlined the plea deal and Chesebro pled guilty, his lawyer, Scott Grubman, tried to suggest that because his client had pleaded guilty to only one count, somehow that proved he wasn’t a key player in the fake elector scheme. The plea deal “proves that he was not and never was the architect of any sort of fake elector plan or anything like that,” Grubman told reporters. This was after Grubman and his client had spent the last two months trying to come up with a strategy to defend against the “Acts” in the indictment I’ve outlined above. The strategy they ended up with was pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against any and all co-defendants, up to and including Donald John Trump.

The Washington Post reported today that Grubman said he would be surprised if Chesebro were to be called as a witness in cases against his co-defendants because, “He [Chesebro] didn’t snitch on anyone. He simply decided it was time for him to put this behind him and go on with his life.” And maybe, just maybe, Chesebro knew he did the crime and didn’t want to do the time.

With prosecutors and judges in other cases against Trump facing doxing, harassment of their spouses and families by Trump himself, and death threats from Trump followers, you have to wonder how Chesebro thought that pleading guilty to crimes he committed on behalf of Trump and offering to testify against the former president and others is going to allow him to “go on with his life” as if nothing happened.

Chesebro is applying to the court to allow him to serve out the time of his probation in Puerto Rico, where he has taken up residence. I guess he thinks that putting 1,038 miles of ocean between himself and Mar a Lago will keep the boogeyman and his minions away.


Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.