On this day in 1832, construction of Fort Koshkonong begins.
Recommended for reading in full:
Kathleen Parker writes One thing is clear from the Jeffrey Epstein revelations: Acosta must step down:
In a 2011 letter trying to defend himself after the cushy plea deal, Acosta wrote that he faced “a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors” by “an army of legal superstars.” He also asserted that defense lawyers “investigated individual prosecutors and their families, looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification.”
Go on, grab a hankie. Acosta also has said he feared the young accusers might not be their own best witnesses. Perhaps not. Then again, seeing girls interrogated and cross-examined by high-profile lawyers might have worked in their favor. Instead, the alleged victims were kept in the dark about the non-prosecution agreement and the records were sealed, in contravention of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
On Monday, a new 14-page federal indictment was unsealed in New York accusing Epstein of sex trafficking and abuse of underage girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., between 2002 and 2005. The details are as disgusting as they are creepy. In short, Epstein allegedly had young girls brought to his homes to perform massages and sex acts in exchange for money. After girls had been brought in, they were sometimes enticed to recruit other girls — and so it went on for years, according to the indictment.
No one has ever overestimated the power of money, and its power to corrupt is absolute. The hubris that passeth all understanding belongs to Epstein.
Pending further revelations, one thing is clear: Acosta should step down from his Cabinet position for dereliction of duty in his prior role — and because he has the spine of a mollusk. In deciding not to fully prosecute Epstein in 2007 — and then agreeing to bury the proceedings without advising the victims — he violated the law, betrayed the victims’ trust and displayed rare cowardice before justice.
Suzanne Spaulding, Devi Nair, and Arthur Nelson describe Russia’s Attacks on Democratic Justice Systems:
Russia is engaged in a determined assault on Western democracies and their institutions. At its core, this is an attack on public trust and confidence. While policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic have made important strides to combat Russian disinformation operations as they pertain to election security, little has been done to acknowledge and adequately address the threats against justice systems.
Traditionally a democracy’s judiciary is among the most trusted institution in the government. Because of this, it might seem like an unlikely target for disinformation campaigns by a foreign power. However, the judiciary is also, like elections, entirely dependent upon public acceptance of the legitimacy of its outcomes. The idea of a system built on the rule of law and justice delivered by a fair and impartial judiciary is a critical pillar of democracy and one of its greatest strengths. Erode the public’s belief in that idea, and the pillar begins to crumble.
Institutions must continue to work to live up to our ideals. But proactive steps must also be taken to safeguard justice systems in democracies like the United States and elsewhere. These systems must be actively protected from outside interference designed to undermine them. Perhaps more importantly, targeted countries need to ensure that their institutions and public are resilient in the face of adversary information operations that threaten to erode trust in democratic institutions.
The adversary most actively using disinformation to weaken democracies today is Russia. To better appreciate the threat landscape and the policies that might be considered to protect justice systems, we need to first understand how exactly Moscow uses disinformation to undermine these institutions.