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Sunday, January 29, 2017

This is Why Most Americans Voted Against trump

Another massive trump snafu.
Another stark reminder of why most Americans voted against trump.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are once again taking to the streets as a result of trump's ham-fisted idiocy.
If trump had even the least bit of common sense he would have had experts vet this idea, plan for it, and implement it in a way that at the very least would have minimized the chaotic nature of this Muslim Ban.

Despite a decade of working to help America in Iraq, Hameed Khalid Darweesh was welcomed to the United States with handcuffs. Darweesh had received a special immigrant visa on January 20 for his work as a contractor, engineer, and interpreter for the Army's 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul. But when he arrived at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday night, he was among the refugees detained upon arrival in the wake of President Donald Trump's latest executive order.

On Friday afternoon, Trump banned refugees from Syria indefinitely, suspended all refugee resettlement to the United States for 120 days, denied entry to citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations (Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen), and reduced the number of refugees to be resettled this year by more than half. After nearly 19 hours of detention and a lawsuit filed on his behalf, Darweesh was released on Saturday. Countless others remain stuck in limbo.

While Trump's executive order claims to be in the interest of "protecting the nation," experts in national security and counterterrorism who spoke with Mother Jones argue that it poses potentially disastrous immediate and long-term security threats to the nation and US personnel overseas.

"At the exact moment we need them most, we're telling these people, 'Get screwed.'"
"Not only is it immoral and stupid, it's also counterproductive," says Patrick Skinner, a former CIA counterterrorism case officer who now works at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm. "We've got military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel on the ground right now in Syria, Libya, and Iraq who are working side by side with the people, embedded in combat, and training and advising. At no time in the US's history have we depended more on local—and I mean local—partnerships for counterterrorism. We need people in Al Bab, Syria; we depend on people in a certain part of eastern Mosul, Iraq; in Cert, Libya. At the exact moment we need them most, we're telling these people, 'Get screwed.'"

Kirk W. Johnson, who spent a year on the reconstruction in Fallujah in Iraq with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), echoes Skinner's fears: "This will have immediate national security implications, in that we are not going to be able to recruit people to help us right now, and people are not going to step forward to help us in any future wars if this is our stance."

The US-led war on ISIS is but one front in a constellation of fights against extremist groups that could be hampered by Trump's decision. "The US is officially banning people in these countries at the same time we're trying to build up local support to fight ISIS," Skinner says. "It takes a long time to build trust with these people. This is like the Abu Ghraib thing. You have to start over, say, 'Okay, starting now, trust me.' How many times can you get away with that?" It also sends a message that groups like the so-called Islamic State can exploit. Elizabeth Goitein, the codirector of the Brennan Center's Liberty & National Security Program, says, "The message this projects is that America sees Muslims as a threat—not specific actors who are intent on committing terrorist acts. The message that America really is at war with Islam will be ISIS's best friend."

BuzzFeed reporters Mike Giglio and Munzer Al-Awad spoke with five current or former ISIS fighters who cited Trump's divisiveness as a factor that will weaken America. They added that his rhetoric against Muslims will help them reinforce their narrative that America and the West are fighting not just terrorism, but Islam itself. "Trump will shorten the time it takes for us to achieve our goals," said one.

Meanwhile, the very allies who have operated alongside US personnel in war zones for years—contractors and translators like Darweesh—are once again being abandoned. For the past decade, Johnson has been leading an effort to resettle Iraqi allies, many of whom, he says, face torture, kidnapping, and death after collaborating with American soldiers. It all started in 2006 when he heard from an Iraqi USAID colleague who'd been identified by a militia. The militia left a severed pig's head on his door step, along with a message saying that it would be his head next. Despite his years of helping the United States, the US government offered no help, and he had to flee the country with his wife.

"We are not going to be able to recruit people to help us right now. And people are not going to step forward to help us in any future wars if this is our stance."
Johnson discovered that there was no mechanism in place to help US allies like his colleague, and he began a personal crusade to change that. Since then, through legislation and a special immigrant visa platform, Johnson's efforts have helped thousands reach the United States, but the process is cumbersome, long, and often too late for the people who need it most. Johnson speaks of interpreters "who were having legs shot off, cut off, their wives raped, their children abducted." Some of his colleagues were even killed. And though Johnson has been critical of the process for years, now he's in the "awkward position" of defending it, because it was at least better than shutting those allies out as a matter of policy.

Skinner, Johnson, and Goitein all point out that the executive order reads as if whoever wrote it had no understanding of, or done any work with, US refugee admissions programs. Indeed, a senior Department of Homeland Security official reportedly told NBC News that career State Department and DHS officials had no input in the order, saying, "Nobody has any idea what is going on." Johnson says, "It reads as though 9/11 happened yesterday, and that 9/11 was carried out by refugees, which it wasn't, and it creates a series of policy prescriptions to solve a problem that doesn't exist, as if the stringent measures that have been put in place over the past 15 years to screen refugees don't exist."

Johnson, exasperated at the thought of US allies being turned away by the very country they spent years helping, adds, "These people who are directly and immediately impacted by this have done more to help our country than just about every breathing American has—especially the president. Shame is not a strong enough word for today. This is a disgraceful moment."

Susan Walsh/AP

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rep. John Lewis Agrees With Most Americans, Trump is Not a Legitimate President

John Lewis is considered to be one of the most honest members of the Congress, and one of the most knowledgeable. Today he commented on the Russian supported billionaire trump. As he put it, and most Americans agree, he became President because of dirty tricks on the part of trump and Putin.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said he does not believe Donald Trump is a "legitimate president," citing Russian interference in last year's election.

Asked whether he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect, Lewis said that he believes in forgiveness, but added, "it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."

When pressed to explain why, he cited allegations of Russian hacks during the campaign that led to the release of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton's campaign co-chairman, John Podesta.

"I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton," Lewis told NBC News' Chuck Todd.

Trump appeared to acknowledge this week that Russia did engage in hacking during the campaign, but he has vigorously argued that any foreign interference had no impact on the election's outcome.

The long-serving Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader also said that he would not attend President-elect Trump's swearing-in. "I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I miss since I've been in Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right."

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Trump: I don't need the CIA, I have Wiki Leaks And Julian Assange

President-elect Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of the U.S. intelligence community, suggesting the agencies he’ll count on for briefings on everything from terrorist operations to foreign military maneuvers don’t have enough evidence to back up their conclusion that Russia hacked the U.S. election campaign.
In a series of tweets starting late Tuesday evening, Trump called an alleged delay in his intelligence briefing on the hacks “very strange” and went on to quote an interview with fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who said on a Fox News opinion show that “a 14-year-old” could be responsible for breaches of Democratic Party offices last year.The president-elect’s skepticism drew expressions of disbelief from intelligence analysts.
“There is no precedent for this,” said David Priess, a former CIA officer and author of a book about presidential intelligence briefings. “No president-elect has had a public spat with his intelligence agencies. There have been hiccups before, but never publicly.
Trump’s missives come as intelligence officials prepare classified and public versions of a report on the Russian hacking for the Obama administration, and Republican Senator John McCain conducts a hearing on the breaches Thursday in Washington. They also emerged barely two weeks before Trump takes office and assumes oversight of the 17 entities -- from the National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency -- that make up the intelligence community.
"The president-elect has expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. “We’re going to sit down later this week. The president and I have been receiving, since the election, regular intelligence briefings."
That briefing on Friday will be provided by CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said on the transition’s daily press briefing call.
Intelligence briefings are typically a daily, morning ritual for U.S. presidents, prepared throughout the evening and made final just before the briefer, at times aided by the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, meets the president. Only the most senior White House staff and key Cabinet secretaries have access to the reports, which are based on a mix of human intelligence sources -- often spies risking their lives in dangerous environments -- as well as electronic eavesdropping, satellite reconnaissance and other communications intercepts.‘Hacking Defense’The intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind the hacking during the election campaign was first announced on Oct. 7. That assessment added that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” language that was interpreted as suggesting President Vladimir Putin was aware of the breaches. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the hacks.
Trump, whose skepticism over the Russian hacking accusations predates his campaign debates with rival Hillary Clinton, hasn’t backed down on his assertions that the evidence presented to him so far is underwhelming. He asked why the Democratic National Committee didn’t have a stronger “hacking defense.”“The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night. “Very strange!”
A U.S. official, who has knowledge of the matter and asked for anonymity, said there wasn’t any briefing scheduled for Tuesday. Trump said Dec. 31 that he planned to release more information about the hacking by Wednesday.
‘Less Safe’
George Little, a former spokesman for the CIA, said Wednesday on Twitter, “Let’s stare this reality square in the face: PEOTUS is pro-Putin and believes Julian Assange over the @CIA. On Jan. 20 we will be less safe,” he added, using an acronym for the president-elect of the United States.

Yet former CIA director James Woolsey downplayed the potential rift between the incoming administration and intelligence officials. Woolsey, who has advised Trump, said in meetings the president-elect came across as a "fair-minded, balanced individual."

‘Minor Blip’

“This is a minor little blip,” Woolsey said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The intelligence business is full of controversy and arguments about assumptions about ‘why did you do this’ and ‘why did you do that.”’ To those inside intelligence agencies decrying Trump’s criticism: “I’d say pull yourself together and get back to work or find a different job. Intelligence is important enough, tough enough and from time to time angry enough that it’s important not to get distracted by small matters,” he added.

President Barack Obama last week moved to sanction top Russian intelligence officials over the hack. The Obama administration also expelled 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the country, and restricted access to two Russian diplomatic compounds.
Trump has pledged to improve relations with Putin and praised the Russian leader last week for not retaliating after the Obama administration penalized Russian officials.“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump told reporters on Saturday as he arrived at a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. “When you look at the weapons of mass destruction -- that was a disaster and they were wrong, and so I want them to be sure. I think it’s unfair if they don’t know. I know a lot about hacking, and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. It could be somebody else.”
That’s despite top Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, welcoming the sanctions and warning that Russia poses a threat to national security.

‘Sycophant for Russia’
Trump’s latest comments have riled critics, who say the president-elect is too quick to discount U.S. intelligence and, now, to give credence to Assange, who made his career leaking confidential government documents.Ryan called Assange “a sycophant for Russia” in an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program on Wednesday.
“Mr. Assange is a fugitive from the law hiding in an embassy,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Wednesday on CNN. “I hope no American will be duped by him.”
Graham, who said “there’s no doubt in my mind that Russia hacked into the DNC,” said he will introduce legislation next week to impose more sanctions on Russia, not ease them as Trump at times has suggested.
“When it comes to Russia he seems to have a blind spot,” Graham said of Trump. “Don’t listen to Julian Assange on anything.”
Representative Adam Schiff, of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that Trump’s waving off intelligence resources could put the U.S. at risk.
“With every conspiracy theory-laden tweet and erratic off-the-cuff comment, the president-elect does damage to our national security, while raising new concerns about his capacity to grow into the job,” Schiff said in a statement.

Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel