Category Archives: International

Trump fails to defend America against Russian attacks; there is a word for that (updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s detailed indictment of twelve Russian intelligence officers for cyber attacks on the U.S. to interfere in the 2016 election offered new details of just how deeply Russian operatives have infiltrated state and local election agencies across the U.S. Mueller reveals depth of states’ election vulnerabilities.

House Administration Committee Democrats in a report released Thursday identified 18 states that congressional researchers say lack key voting safeguards, including paper trails for vote tallies and post-election audits. Drawing on months of input from election officials and cybersecurity experts, it called on Congress to approve $1.4 billion in new election security funding for all 50 states over the next decade. House Democrats list states with weakest election security in new report. You should note that no Republicans signed onto its conclusions.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a convention of secretaries of state Saturday that “though votes were note changed” in the 2016 election, “ANY attempt to interfere in our elections — successful or unsuccessful — is a direct attack on our democracy,” (emphasis added by her press office.) Homeland Security chief calls Russian hacking “direct attack on our democracy”. You should note that “President Trump has never condemned Russia over its election interference, and the White House press office statement on the indictments does not mention a Russian attack on our democracy.”

Also last week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned of an impending, potentially devastating cyber attack on U.S. systems, saying the country’s digital infrastructure “is literally under attack” and warning that among state actors, Russia is the “worst offender.” Intel chief Dan Coats says of cyber attacks, “We are at a critical point”:

Speaking at a scheduled event at the Hudson Institute, he adopted the language of former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet who, in the months ahead of the 9/11 attacks, warned that the “system was blinking red.” Coats, citing daily attacks from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, said, “Here we are, nearly two decades later, and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again.”

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A Letter to the GOP: Trump Doesn’t Know What U.S. Interests Are

By Michael Bryan

Charles De Gaulle famously said, “Nations have no friends, only interests.” Trump should listen, as he seems to have no idea that the United States has permanent interests beyond his whims. That is to say, Trump seems to believe that the interests of the United States consist only in him making “friends” with our foes, and declaring our traditional allies over historical time-scales to be ‘foes’.

Just because Trump likes Vladi Putin and Kimmy Jong Un does not change the fact that the interest of the United States consists in marginalizing and degrading the power of these dictatorial regimes, not celebrating them nor aligning with them. Our interests cannot be aligned with theirs. They are our foes for good reasons, not because past Presidents were insufficiently nice to them.

Why is it in our interest to resist the policy goals of nations like Russia and North Korea, you might ask? To begin with, they are international pariahs who murder people to maintain their power. If that weren’t enough, their national aspirations directly conflict with long-term American allies whose interests ARE aligned with our own, such as the NATO member states, the wider EU, and South Korea. If that STILL were not enough, they are economically insignificant as potential economic partners to the United States. North Korea has the GDP of a mid-sized American city, at best. Russia is a petro-state with an economy the size of Italy, but which lacks the dynamism of an Italy due to endemic corruption: Russia is basically a nuclear-armed organized crime syndicate in control of a mid-tier economy of mostly impoverished people. All that Russia has to offer is carbon energy at a time when carbon energy is in decline and the United States is largely self-sufficient in carbon energy. Plus, they attacked us and influenced our elections; they are no ‘friends’ of ours.

I am not some genius who solely can see this. Many, many Americans can and do recognize that the President is acting foolishly and embarrassing our nation before the entire world. Though many members of Congress understand this, only Democrats will act openly to oppose Trump’s follies. The Constitution makes the President the conductor of American foreign policy with the power to negotiate treaties and appoint ambassadors, but only with the concurrence of the Senate. Just as any symphony conductor would be turfed off the stage if he began to deviate too far from the sheet music, a President needs to be checked strongly if he begins to conduct foreign policy based on his own friendships and interests, and not those of the nation he serves.

President Trump has proven again and again that he is unable to recognize and operationalize the interests of the nation he serves. Congress is the only organization that can check and correct him. If they won’t do that job, then they must be replaced with a Congress that will exercise that oversight.

Don’t kid yourself. Even if you are a Republican, you must recognize that the Republican party is now acting merely as the party of Trump. A Republican-led Congress will not contain this President. The only way to contain this reckless and vain President is a vigorous oppositional Congress. Vote Democratic this year in all your Congressional races or our nation’s interests will suffer. I hope that enough of you are patriots able to recognize what has to be done.

Grand jury indicts a dozen Russian intelligence agents for DNC hack

Yet another Donald Trump conspiracy theory is thoroughly rebuked by the Russia investigation. Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller officially rebuke a major Trump conspiracy theory:

Trump has regularly cast doubt upon the idea that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by the Russians — or that it was hacked at all. At one point he even reportedly dispatched a conspiracy theorist to meet with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Pompeo is now secretary of state.)

At his first presidential debate with Clinton in September 2016, Trump added a number of other potential perpetrators, despite clear indications from the intelligence community that it was Russia.

“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t — maybe it was,” Trump said. “I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay? You don’t know who broke into DNC.”

He said something similar in the second debate, just two days after the intelligence community issued a joint statement saying it was “confident” Russia was responsible. He expanded his doubts to suggest there wasn’t any hacking.

“I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are — she doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking,” Trump said of Clinton. “Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia is because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia.”

Today, Robert Mueller said “I’ll see your idiot conspiracy theory and raise you a dozen Russian intelligence agents. (Say hello to your pal Putin for me in Helsinki).” Mueller probe indicts 12 Russians for hacking Democrats in 2016:

A dozen Russian intelligence officers have been charged with conspiring to hack Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new indictment in the probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The indictment includes charges of conspiracy by the Russian intelligence officials against the United States, money laundering and attempts to break into state election boards and other government agencies.

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Putin’s puppet and his fellow traveler enablers in Congress attack federal law enforcement, undermining the rule of law and obstructing justice in defense of ‘Dear Leader’

Not since the Army-McCarthy “red scare” hearings in 1954 (with Donald Trump’s future lawyer Roy Cohn alongside Sen. Joe McCarthy) has there been such an abusive congressional hearing that went so completely off the rails as yesterday’s joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committees hearing kangaroo court show trial “to investigate the investigators,” featuring the FBI’s counter-intelligence chief Peter Strzok, the subject of right-wing media’s wild conspiracy theories, in order to assassinate his character and attempt to discredit the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation in defense of their “Dear Leader.”

As Rick Wilson writes at The Daily Beast, Republicans Thought Peter Strzok Would Be a Punching Bag. He Just Knocked Them Out.

Those who forget the lessons of televised congressional hearings are doomed to repeat them, which is why the morning segment of the Capitol Hill show trial of veteran FBI agent and former head of the Bureau’s Counterespionage division Peter Strzok turned into a disaster for Republicans.

Donald Trump’s congressional enablers, sycophants, and political suck-ups wanted a punching bag, but Strzok instead delivered one of the rarest of moments: the full Joseph N. Welch.

Welch, the chief counsel for the U.S. Army during the infamous McCarthy hearings in 1954, had reached a breaking point. After McCarthy’s tendentious badgering reached a fever pitch, Welch delivered a famous rejoinder that ended the Wisconsin senator’s career. Watched by millions on live television, Welch went full beast-mode.

“If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so,” said Welch. “I like to think I am a gentleman, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me… You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

This morning, it was Strzok’s turn. After an hour of drama-queen badgering from Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte, Strzok issued two passionate statements that will be the takeaways from an otherwise disorganized and contentious shitshow of a hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees.

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Latest on the immigrant family separation crisis

There appears to be some confusion created by the judge’s orders in the Ms. L. v. ICE case and the Flores Settlement Agreement, that Trump administration lawyers from the Department of Justice are taking advantage of — some would say abusing, at the expense of innocent children.

Dara Lind at Vox.com explains, A new court ruling officially opens the door for Trump to separate some migrant families again:

Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California formally refused the administration’s request to modify the Flores court settlement, which governs the treatment of children in immigration custody. The Flores agreement was the court ruling that the administration had pointed to for its policy of family separation — because it couldn’t keep children detained longer than 20 days, per Flores, it had to split children from their parents while the parents were in detention.

Gee rejected the administration’s request to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep migrant families in detention facilities for as long as it took to process their cases (a process which, for asylum seekers, can take months or longer).

It’s a defeat on the second front of a legal war for the Trump administration and its “zero tolerance” policy at the US-Mexico border. In the Flores case, the administration is fighting for indefinite family detention. In a separate federal case in San Diego, it’s being stopped from resuming family separation and hounded to quickly reunite the nearly 3,000 families separated while the policy was in full effect through mid-June.

But Monday night’s ruling also makes it clear that the administration has the power to start separating some migrant families again.

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Federal judge rejects request to modify Flores Settlement Agreement

A federal judge in Los Angeles dealt the Trump administration another significant blow on Monday by rejecting its attempt to indefinitely detain immigrant children caught crossing the border illegally with their parents (in the decades-old Flores case). Judge rejects Trump administration bid to indefinitely detain immigrant children with parents:

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued an   order lambasting the Justice Department for its request to modify the 1997 [Flores] settlement agreement that set rules for how the government can deal with immigrant children in its custody. Calling President Trump’s executive order on immigrants “ill-considered,” the judge accused the administration of attempting to shift blame to the courts for a crisis of Congress’ and the president’s making.

Gee’s order came as Justice Department attorneys told a federal judge in San Diego [Ms. L. v. ICE] they would miss Tuesday’s deadline for authorities to reunite parents and children younger than 5 who were forcibly separated at the border.

Just over half the 102 children identified by the government will be reunited by Tuesday’s deadline, the attorneys told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who had previously ordered the reunifications in response to a legal action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The rest includes children whose parents were already deported, have criminal records and are unfit to care for them, Justice Department attorneys said. In the case of one 3-year-old boy, they said, authorities couldn’t find any parental records.

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