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SATURDAY, SEPT. 22, 2018

Rudy Mehrbani: I directed White House nominations; of course, the FBI can check Kavanaugh again

I served as director of President Barack Obama’s presidential personnel office and oversaw hundreds of appointments across the U.S. government. So I know firsthand that Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley’s claim that “it is not the FBI’s role to investigate” the allegations that Judge Brett Kavanaugh assaulted a woman when they were in high school is downright false. The FBI, which would already have performed an extensive background check on Kavanaugh in connection with his nomination to the Supreme Court, can pick up its investigation and check into the issues that the woman accusing Kavanaugh of assault has raised more quickly, more effectively and more sensitively than untrained Senate committee staffers can. Such an FBI investigation should certainly come before Christine Ford Blasey is subjected to questioning from the Senate or its staff members – not only because that’s what Ford has requested but because it’s only fair for senators to question her (or Kavanaugh) with the additional information that the FBI’s work would surely yield, and because it gets us closer to the truth.

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FRIDAY, SEPT. 21, 2018

Pick up after yourselves

As a foreign visitor to your beautiful city of Spokane, I have been distressed on recent trips by the increase of rubbish in your parks. People are discarding fast-food containers, fizzy drink bottles and even actual food. This is especially true in the eating areas and around the benches after a baseball game. Chicken bones can kill dogs!

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Prison strike got U.S. talking

In the U.S. today there are 2.2 million prisoners, 19 million felons and 70 million people total with an arrest and conviction record. The era of mass incarceration is alive and well. The Prison Industrial Complex is an $80 billion annual industry.

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Thanks to Kent Morris, carriers

As the father of a son who delivered the daily paper many years ago, I have not forgotten the effort required to make sure that the subscribers were satisfied. I want to thank all carriers for their effort and service.

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Why Trump must not declassify the Carter Page warrant

When a big, black SUV would pull up to my house at about 2 a.m., I knew it would be a while before I’d be getting back to sleep. As the CIA’s deputy director, and later acting director, in the early 2000s, I was frequently awakened via secure communications at home. But when a car showed up, it meant that something needed my official signature – usually a warrant request under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. The FBI would be asking me to sign off because the request contained foreign intelligence material, often relating to a terrorism suspect. These things typically ran 40 to 60 pages. They would contain reporting from human sources (foreign agents), technical intelligence such as intercepted communications, and open-source material. These were woven together into a request aimed at showing “probable cause” to investigate further by carrying out some kind of search.

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THURSDAY, SEPT. 20, 2018

Robert O. Work and Elbridge Colby: Without modernizing the way we fight wars, U.S. may lose the next big one

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon has a genuinely new strategy: Focus on our rivals – Russia and, in particular, China – and maintain a competitive advantage over them. If we fail to do so, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warns in his 2018 National Defense Strategy, we may lose the next big war against these nations. If that happens, say goodbye to the free and open international order the United States has built and upheld since the 1940s. So will the Defense Department take the big steps needed to implement this strategy? That’s the key question – and this is a key moment. That’s because, earlier this year, Congress gave the Defense Department its largest budget increase since 2001 – a 10 percent raise, after inflation. In return, the Pentagon must show meaningful progress in realizing this strategy.

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How else and who else?

Colin Kaepernick chose to take a stand and draw attention to the fact that our law enforcement system has been shown to use a wide range of standards when protecting our streets.

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Security vs. compassion?

Are the values of security and compassion competing values? The discussion in our country surrounding the issue of refugees often places those two desires at opposite ends. Is it fear of those beyond our borders that reinforces our movements toward security? That seems the likely catalyst in proposals for greater restrictions on allowing refugees (even highly vetted ones) into the United States.

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