Attorney general Merrick Garland is showing unnecessary deference to his predecessor and former president Donald Trump, according to one conservative columnist.
President Joe Biden's attorney general has expressed concern for voting rights and continued disinformation about Trump's election loss, but Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said he must take action to preserve democracy and undo the previous administration's corruption.
"To be blunt," she wrote, "the desire to appear nonpartisan should not prevent the Justice Department from holding the department and the prior administration accountable for its actions."
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has sent a letter of concern about the so-called audit still underway in Maricopa County, Arizona, which some Trump supporters believe will restore the former president to the White House, but Rubin said that's not enough.
"Letters of 'concern' are helpful, but has the department demanded that the operation cease or even that Arizona officials answer questions?" she wrote. "Without putting Republicans engaged in such activities on notice of potential liability, they have no reason to halt their attempts to undermine the 2020 election."
Rubin said GOP voting restrictions must be fought with force.
"The department must demonstrate — not just promise — its desire to be aggressive, creative and uncompromising in attempting to strike down Jim Crow-style laws and end fraudulent audits," Rubin wrote. "With or without new lawyers, the Justice Department needs to put Garland's fine words into action."
Israel's new Foreign minister Yair Lapid on Monday vowed to improve relations with US Democrats while ending "hostile" ties with Europe he accused Benjamin Netanyahu of cultivating.
The centrist broker who forged an unlikely coalition deal to unseat the hawkish former prime minister told foreign ministry staff that under Netanyahu's 12-year-rule Israel had "abandoned the international arena".
"Our relationship with too many governments has been neglected and become hostile," Lapid, a 57-year-old former television presenter, said.
"Shouting that everyone is anti-Semitic isn't a policy or a work plan, even if it sometimes feels right."
After coming to power in 2009, Netanyahu has strained relations with former US president Barack Obama, a Democrat, before forming a tight bond with his Republican successor Donald Trump.
"The management of the relationship with the Democratic Party in the United States was careless and dangerous," Lapid said.
"I've warned against it more than once, but the outgoing government took a terrible gamble, reckless and dangerous, to focus exclusively on the Republican Party and abandon Israel's bipartisan standing."
He added: "We find ourselves with a Democratic White House, Senate and House and they are angry. We need to change the way we work with them."
The new Israeli foreign minister said he had spoken with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and that both agreed to "build relations based on mutual respect and better dialogue".
Lapid succeeds Gabi Ashkenazi, a former army chief-of-staff, who became chief diplomat in 2020 as part of a power-sharing deal between the Netanyahu camp and opposition parties.
Lapid also said he would work to improve Israel's standing internationally as well as ties with Europeans leaders, adding that he had "exchanged messages" with French President Emmanuel Macron and spoken to the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
He also vowed that Israel "will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb" and said he was opposed to a revived nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that could see the United States rejoin the accord.
And one month after a deadly 11-day war broke out between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas militants, Lapid reaffirmed that "Israel has every right to defend itself."
© 2021 AFP
In a guest editorial for the New York Times, former U.S. Marine veteran Elliott Ackerman warned Republican lawmakers that their refusal to agree to an investigation of the Jan 6th insurrection at the Capitol has the potential to tear the U.S. military apart.
According to Ackerman, the last two elections have been contested with Democrats saying in 2016 that Russia gave Donald Trump a helping hand and Trump in 2020 claiming election fraud without any evidence. the difference in 2020, he added, is that the president helped incite the Capitol riot which, eventually, resulted in a call for the military to intercede to bring about order.
The danger, the former Marine explained, is "if mass protests become the norm, then police and military responses to those protests will surely follow. This is a new normal we can ill afford."
What worries Ackerman is that the military has traditionally been removed for internal U.S. politics and he claims there is a risk they will become a tool of whomever controls the White House as commander in chief and a war within the ranks may break out along political divides.
"If this trend of increased military politicization seeps into the active-duty ranks, it could lead to dangerous outcomes, particularly around a contested presidential election," he wrote. "Many commentators have already pointed out that it's likely that in 2024 (or even 2022) the losing party will cry foul, and it is also likely that their supporters will fill the streets, with law enforcement, or even military, called in to manage those protests. It is not hard to imagine, then, with half of the country claiming an elected leader is illegitimate, that certain military members who hold their own biases might begin to second guess their orders."
He added, "This might sound alarmist, but as long as political leaders continue to question the legitimacy of our president, some in our military might do the same."
Using his experience overseas as a reference point, Ackerman noted that the U.S. government needs to restabilize and that a Capitol riot insurrection commission is needed to get to the truth.
"Consensus on anything in Washington is hard to come by these days, but there is a common interest here: Both parties will certainly agree that if they win the next election, they won't want the other side to contest it," he advised.
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