Showing posts with label Trump White House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump White House. Show all posts

February 27, 2017

Father of Dead Hero Refuses to See Trump Asks for Investigation



Miami Herald obtained this interviewed  with the father of William “Ryan” Owens
 
 A family photo of William ‘Ryan’ Owens, who was killed in Yemen on Jan. 28, 2017. Owens was the first known U.S. combat casualty under President Trump. Courtesy of the Owens family

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article135064074.html#storylink=cpy
  

When they brought William “Ryan” Owens home, the Navy SEAL was carried from a C-17 military plane in a flag-draped casket, onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, as President Donald Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and Owens’ family paid their respects.

It was a private transfer, as the family had requested. No media and no bystanders, except for some military dignitaries.

Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming. Owens was sitting with his wife, Marie, and other family members in the solemn, living room-like space where the loved ones of the fallen assemble before they are taken to the flight line.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the President.”

It had been little more than 24 hours since six officers in dress uniform knocked on the door to Owens’ home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It was not yet daylight when he answered the door, already knowing in the pit of his stomach what they had come to tell him.
 
Now, Owens cringed at the thought of having to shake the hand of the president who approved the raid in Yemen that claimed his son’s life — an operation that he and others are now calling into question.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Owens, also a military veteran, was troubled by Trump’s harsh treatment of a Gold Star family during his presidential campaign. Now Owens was a Gold Star parent, and he said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.

Ryan and as many as 29 civilians were killed Jan. 28 in the anti-terrorism mission in Yemen. What was intended as a lightning raid to grab cellphones, laptops and other information about terrorists turned into a nearly hour-long firefight in which “everything went wrong,” according to U.S. military officials who spoke to the New York Times.

Bill Owens said he was assured that his son, who was shot, was killed early in the fight. It was the first military counter-terrorist operation approved by the new president, who signed the go-ahead Jan. 26 — six days into his term.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’

In a statement from the White House Saturday, spokesman Michael C. Short called Ryan Owens “an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.”

The White House did not address his father’s criticisms, but pointed out that the Department of Defense routinely conducts a review of missions that result in loss of life.

Bill Owens and his wife sat in another room as the President paid his respects to other family members. He declined to say what family members were at the ceremony.

Trump administration officials have called the mission a success, saying they had seized important intelligence information. They have also criticized detractors of the raid, saying those who question its success dishonor Ryan Owens’ memory.

His father, however, believes just the opposite.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” said the elder Owens, pointing to Trump’s sharp words directed at the mission’s critics, including Sen. John McCain.

“I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation,” he said. 

Next week, Ryan Owens would have turned 37. At the time of his death, he had already spent half his life in the Navy, much of that with the elite SEAL Team 6 — chasing terrorist leaders across deserts and mountains around the world. The team, formally known as DEVGRU,had taken part in some of the most high-profile operations in military history, including the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

At the time of the 2001 9/11 attacks, Owens was in SEAL training, arguably the most physically grueling and mentally grinding regimens in the military. The team, tasked with tracking terrorists and mythologized in books and movies, had once been dubbed a “global manhunting machine” by the Times.

Despite the lore surrounding the SEALS’ exploits, almost everything about them is kept secret, even their names. Bill Owens knows very little about the actions that his son participated in, but takes pride in the dozens of awards he earned during his 12 deployments. Among them: the Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Ryan joined the Navy after high school, following in his brothers’ footsteps. His brother, John, 42, was also a SEAL, and his oldest brother, Michael, 44, a Hollywood police officer, was also in the Navy for a time.

They in turn were inspired by their father: Bill Owens served four years in the Navy, then joined the Army Reserves in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Ryan was born in downstate Peoria. While in the Reserves, Bill worked for Caterpillar tractor company, until he was laid off during the recession in the 1980s. Shortly thereafter, he saw a notice in a military magazine for new recruits for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and he successfully applied.

Owens and his then-wife, Ryan’s mother Patricia, moved with Ryan to South Florida. His elder sons remained with Owens’ first wife in Illinois.

Despite the distance between them, the half-brothers were very close, Owens said. They played sports and spent many summers and holidays together. Ryan and his brothers became interested in the military at a very young age. And Ryan dreamed of becoming a SEAL.

“He was always happy,” Bill Owens said of Ryan. “Every picture you see he has a smile on his face. He just had a real positive attitude.”

He was also driven. Ryan was so determined “to be the best” his father said, that when he failed the dive phase of SEAL training, he went out and hired a private instructor to get more training on his off time, and was initially certified as a civilian.

“He went out on his own and became more proficient. That’s the kind of dedication and determination that he had,” his father said.

Bill Owens’ marriage to Ryan’s mother ended soon after they moved to South Florida, and Patricia, who also became a Fort Lauderdale police officer, eventually moved with Ryan and her new husband back to Peoria. She died in 2013.

Ryan spent summers and holidays with his father and brothers in Fort Lauderdale and played catcher during the school year for the Illinois Valley Central High School baseball team, the Grey Ghosts.

  Ryan dreamed of serving in the military from a very early age, his father says. In this family photo, he is playing soldier with his older brothers. Courtesy of the Owens family
A SEAL’s heartache

Standing 6-4, and weighing about 225 pounds, Ryan loved the physical part of the job and serving his country, even though it took him away from his family much of the year.

“I always kept hoping that we would eventually make up for lost time, but that’s not going to happen,” his father said.

Ryan’s military career wasn’t always filled with the adrenaline of hostage rescue missions and midnight raids. In between, there were endless hours of training and planning.

There was also the heartache of losing his military brothers. Ryan was tasked in 2011 with escorting the bodies of 17 of his fellow SEALS home following a CH-47 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, his father said.

“He came back from Afghanistan and had to go to their funerals. It’s unnerving to go through something like that. It was one of the worst days in SEAL history as far as casualties go. He didn’t talk about it,” his father said. “A lot of them, they don’t talk about it, even with their parents.”

Doomed mission

Owens and his SEAL commandos set out in the dark of night. Planning for the Yemen raid began last year during the Obama administration, but the execution was tabled because it was decided it would be better to launch the operation on a moonless night, which wouldn’t occur until after President Trump took office Jan. 20.

According to a timeline provided by the White House, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn briefed the president about the operation Jan. 25 over a dinner that included Vice President Mike Pence, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and top security aides. It was not held in the Situation Room, as had been a practice under previous administrations.

President Trump signed the memo authorizing the action the next day, Jan. 26.

  The younger Owens served under three presidents and met one of them: Barack Obama. This photo is from a visit to the White House. Courtesy of the Owens family
“This was a very, very well thought-out and executed effort,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Feb. 2 as questions first arose about the mission. He stressed that it had been thoroughly vetted and planned on Obama’s watch.

Colin Kahl, a national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, however, tweeted his contention that Spicer was mistaken.

“Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office, believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen,” he wrote on Twitter.

At the time of the firefight, Trump was not in the Situation Room, where he would have been directly involved in monitoring developments. Spicer said he kept in touch with his national security staffers, who were directly plugged in. White House officials also pointed out that, in general, counter-terrorism operations are routine and presidents are not in the Situation Room for every mission.

U.S. forces, targeting a suspected al-Qaida compound, immediately faced armed militants, a sign that their cover had been blown. The Washington Post reported that militants, some of them women, fired from the rooftops. Three other commandos were injured when an MV-22 Osprey, sent in to evacuate the troops, crash-landed. It was later destroyed by a U.S. airstrike to prevent it from falling into militant hands.

Some reports have said as many as 23 civilians, including an 8-year-old girl, were killed.

Afterward, McCain characterized the mission as a failure, and Trump responded with a series of tweets defending the Yemen action, and criticizing McCain. The rancor further escalated when Spicer later stated that McCain — or anyone — who “undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and a disservice to life of Chief Owens.”

There is no SEAL mission that is without risk, said Don Mann, a 21-year veteran Navy SEAL, now retired. Mann, the author of “Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America’s Elite Warriors,” said that if the assault team knew ahead of time that it had been compromised, the SEAL commanders on the ground had the ability to abort the raid at any time.

Some reports said that they did know, and went forward anyway.

“The SEALS, unlike other forces, make their decision on the ground and that decision — in this case — cost a life, which is very very tragic, but that’s war,” Mann said.

“These people are good human beings. It weighs heavily on them. Seeing one person die, especially a teammate or friend, is beyond comprehension.”

He said it’s natural that Owens’ loved ones would have questions about what happened, but they shouldn’t be swayed by the politics surrounding the tragedy.

“Nobody knows the truth of what happened except the person on the ground. When politicians get it, they warp it far from the truth,” he said.

Powerful hands

There were so many SEALS at Ryan’s service at Arlington National Cemetery that his father’s arm got tired from shaking so many muscled hands. At the end, before his coffin was lowered, each of the SEALS removed their badges from their uniforms and pounded them one by one into the casket. When it over, the casket was covered in gold eagle tridents.

Bill Owens doesn’t want to talk about Ryan’s wife or his three young children. There are other things that he believes should remain private. He spoke out, he says, at the risk of offending some of his family and friends.

  William Owens said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.Emily MichotMiami Herald Staff
“I’d like some answers about all the things that happened in the timeline that led up to it. I know what the timeline is, and it bothers me a lot,” said Owens, who acknowledges he didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

One aspect of the chain of events that nags at him is the fact that the president signed the order suspending the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, on Jan. 27 — the day before the mission.

Owens wonders whether that affected friendly forces in Yemen who were assisting with the raid.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to do something to antagonize an ally when you’re going to conduct a mission in that country,” he said. “Did we alienate some of the people working with them, translators or support people. Maybe they decided to release information to jeopardize the mission.”

These are only some of the many questions that Owens believes should be thoroughly examined, including the possibility that the decision to move forward with the mission was motivated by politics.

“I think these are valid questions. I don’t want anybody to think I have an agenda, because I don’t. I just want the truth.”

[McClatchy reporters Vera Bergengruen and Anita Kumar contributed from Washington.]


February 26, 2017

Kremlin Scratching Heads Concern Trump Unleashing Nuke Arms Race




  
MOSCOW — Russian politicians close to the Kremlin said on Friday U.S. President Donald Trump's declared aim of putting the U.S. nuclear arsenal "at the top of the pack" risked triggering a new Cold War-style arms race between Washington and Moscow.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump said the United States had fallen behind in its nuclear weapons capacity, a situation he said he would reverse, and he said a treaty limiting Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals was a bad deal for Washington.

Russian officials issued no reaction, with Friday a public holiday, but pro-Kremlin politicians expressed consternation about the comments from Trump, who Moscow had hoped would usher in new, friendlier relations between the two countries. 

"Trump's campaign slogan 'Make America great again', if that means nuclear supremacy, will return the world to the worst times of the arms race in the '50s and '60s," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament.

The president's remarks in the interview with Reuters were, Kosachev said in a post on his Facebook page, "arguably Trump's most alarming statement on the subject of relations with Russia."
 
Over the course of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States realized that achieving supremacy was dangerous, and accepted the doctrine of parity as the best way to ensure peace, Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page.

"Are we entering a new era? In my view we need an answer to that question as soon as possible."

During the U.S. presidential race, Trump said he would try to end the enmity that broke out between the Kremlin and Washington during Barack Obama's presidency. Russian officials looked forward to re-setting relations.


But just over a month into the Trump presidency, that prospect has receded, especially with the sacking of Michael Flynn, a leading proponent of warmer ties with Moscow, from his job as national security adviser.

Another pro-Kremlin lawmaker, Alexei Pushkov, wrote on Twitter that Trump's comments on increasing U.S. nuclear capacity "put in doubt the agreement on limiting strategic arms, returning the world to the 20th century".

He said a Cold War arms treaty laid the foundation for nuclear stability between Moscow and Washington. "That needs to be preserved. And the United States cannot achieve decisive superiority."

"Instead of trying to achieve an illusory nuclear supremacy over Russia, the U.S. administration should find a solution to the exceptionally complicated nuclear problem of North Korea," wrote Pushkov, a member of the defense and security committee in Russia's upper house of parliament.

Pushkov and Kosachev are not directly involved in decision-making on Russian defense and foreign policy, but they generally reflect the Kremlin position. 

Trump/Sessions Turn Back The Clock for Abusive-Costly Private Prisons




The Justice Department's plan to phase out its use of private prisons — the result of declining inmate populations and concerns about safety and security — ended this week without ever really taking effect. 
The reason is a new administration that has called for a crackdown on what it sees as a rise in crime. 
That crackdown could lead to more arrests, which in turn could result in more people in prison. Which, presumably, is why Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a six-month-old Obama administration directive that sought to curtail the government's use of private prisons

Image: Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice in Washington

Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a meeting with the heads of federal law enforcement components at the Department of Justice in Washington on Feb. 9, 2017. Susan Walsh / AP

Sessions said in a Feb. 21 memo that the Obama move had "impaired" the U.S. Bureau of Prison's "ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system." 
Those "needs" are not yet clear. Asked for an explanation, a Justice Department spokesman said only that Sessions' move "returns discretion to the professionals at BOP who are in the best position to evaluate their needs." 
The memo itself suggests that the attorney general is concerned about running out of available space in the 122 prisons the BOP runs itself — although current trends run opposite. 
The number of people in federal prison has been declining since 2013, and the 189,078 currently there is the lowest in a decade. That includes 21,366 people in private prisons, just 12 percent of the total population. 
Compared to the more than 2 million people estimated to be behind bars across the American justice system, the private prisons under BOP contract play a bit role in a system that contributes to one of the world’s highest incarceration rates.

So, why does Session's memo matter? 
Here are some additional points to put the issue in context: 

The relationship goes back decades 

The Bureau of Prisons first turned to privately operated prisons in 1997 to help alleviate overcrowding. The partnership grew steadily, focusing primarily on low-security inmates designated as "criminal aliens" — non-citizens who've committed a crime — with less than eight years left on their sentences. In fiscal year 2014, the contracts were worth about $639 million, up from $562 million in fiscal year 2011. 

Private prisons mostly benefit two publicly traded companies 

Those companies are CoreCivic (which until recently was known as Corrections Corporation of America), and The Geo Group. The two companies, both generous contributors to President Trump, run the majority of the BOP's contracted prisons, as well as dozens of other facilities used to detain immigrants who are in the country illegally. 
The companies' fortunes climb and fall with federal criminal justice policies. Their stocks plunged after Obama's deputy attorney general issued the phase-out memo on Aug. 18, and shot up after Donald Trump, who'd called for more private prisons, won election on Nov. 8. Since then, companies' share prices have been steadily rising — and they enjoyed a bump from Sessions' memo. 

The federal government has predicted that private prison populations will drop 

Even before the August Obama administration memo, the Justice Department saw a weakening reliance on private prisons. The memo's author, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, noted that the BOP was already cutting contracts with for-profit companies, so much so that it planned to stop sending inmates to three private prisons, shrinking the private-prison population to less than 14,200 by May 1 — less than half of what it was in 2013. 

There are a lot of documented problems with private prisons housing federal inmates 

Yates' memo followed a report by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General that said privately run prisons had more safety and security incidents — including more assaults by inmates on each other and by inmates on prison staff — than those operated by the Bureau of Prisons. The companies, GEO and CoreCivic, responded in letters that the discrepancies were attributable to the fact that they primarily housed a wide array of foreign nationals, including gang members. 

Image: Officers stand on the roof of and outside the gates at the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Miss., during an inmate disturbance at the prison, May 20, 2012.

Officers stand on the roof of and outside the gates at the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Miss., during an inmate disturbance at the prison, May 20, 2012. Lauren Wood / AP

In December, just before the Obama administration left power, the inspector general released another report, which focused on CoreCivic's prison in Natchez, Mississippi, where a May 2012 prison riot, triggered by complaints of poor conditions, ended with a correctional officer's death. The December report found the prison "was plagued by the same significant deficiencies." CoreCivic responded that it had corrected many of its problems, and took issue with some of the methods used by government auditors. 
Investigative journalists have uncovered other alleged abuses. A series in the Nation documented dozens of deaths that the magazine attributed to substandard care. And a reporter for Mother Jones went undercover as an officer at a private prison in Louisiana, vividly detailing many of the problems documented by the government audits.

by 

February 24, 2017

“I told You So” To Caitlyn Jenner, Now is Jenner Vs. TrumpVs.The Press,Medicaid and 58% of US




 That was Bloody saturday and followed by talk of impeachment,
Nixon resigned before being impeached




Vice President Mike Pence told conservatives at CPAC Thursday that the "Obamacare nightmare is about to end" and that the policy will be rolled back "despite the best efforts of liberal activists at town halls across the country." 
Caitlin Jenner is taking on Trump over his withdrawal of federal guidance regarding school bathrooms for transgender youth. 
From the New York Times: "Reduced to their weakest state in a generation, Democratic Party leaders will gather in two cities this weekend to plot strategy and select a new national chairman with the daunting task of rebuilding the party's depleted organization. But senior Democratic officials concede that the blueprint has already been chosen for them — by an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President Trump." 
Here's Alex Seitz-Wald's primer on how the DNC chair race will work. 
From the AP: "White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Donald Trump's campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election, a White House official says…. Priebus' discussion with FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe sparked outrage among some Democrats, who said that the chief of staff was violating policies intended to limit communications between the law enforcement agency and the White House on pending investigations." 
The New York Times, on Betsy DeVos: "[P]eople who have known and watched Ms. DeVos through the years — as a leading advocate of charter schools and school vouchers, a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman and a major Republican donor — warn against thinking that she will be a meek team player. She may be publicly gracious, even in the face of setbacks, they say. But in her home state, she earned a reputation as a driven, relentless and effective political fighter, using her family's vast fortune to reward allies and punish foes, and working behind the scenes to pass legislation and unseat lawmakers who opposed her." 
The Washington Post lays out the ongoing war over town halls - and how Gabby Giffords' name was invoked. 
Another Jared/Ivanka leak about their influence to help save an Obama policy, from the Wall Street Journal: "At the request of President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, language critical of a global climate deal was struck from an executive order that Mr. Trump is planning to sign soon, according to multiple people familiar with the move." 
"With each passing day, Donald Trump's Cabinet looks more like a clean-up crew," writes POLITICO. "The president's undiplomatic comments are repeatedly forcing his foreign policy and national security appointees into the awkward position of telling an anxious world that, basically, their boss didn't really mean what he said." 
From NBC's Benjy Sarlin: "Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon, the White House's much-scrutinized top two aides, lavished each other with praise on Thursday in a friendly panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference where Bannon laid out President Donald Trump's "new political order." 
POLITICO: "[A]nalysts now caution that Trumphoria in the stock market could soon crash into a harsh Washington reality." 
The Wall Street Journal: "President Donald Trump's new strategy to accelerate the fight against Islamic State will, at least initially, tweak and add a little more muscle to the existing plan, U.S. officials said. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to provide to Mr. Trump a series of recommendations for that plan in the coming days. Mr. Trump on Jan. 28 signed an order directing his new Pentagon chief to come up with a preliminary draft of the plan to fight Islamic State within 30 days." 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg said last night that I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam.

February 19, 2017

Trump Could Be The Worse Mistake Putin is Made so Far??

“The madness of Supporting a mad man is He Could Turn on You as Fast as He embraced You” *unknown




 Trump in his mind is more important than any next guy next to him





A funny thing happened in Russia this past week: President Trump’s face, once ubiquitous on the talk shows and evening news programs that tack closely to the Kremlin’s political agenda, was suddenly absent. Gone.

“Like they flipped a switch,” said Alexey Kovalev, a journalist at the Moscow Times who covers Russian state media. 
It’s not hard to guess why. Engulfed in scandal over contacts between senior aides and Russian officials, the Trump administration has sought to put daylight between itself and the Kremlin.
In a single week, Washington has complained that Russia is violating a 1987 nuclear treaty and accused the Kremlin of meddling in various foreign elections. Scandal has forced out a national security adviser sympathetic to Moscow. Trump’s tone has seemed to harden on issues like Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula.

For the Russians, it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. 
U.S. intelligence agencies released a declassified version of their report on Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. election on Jan. 6, just hours after President-elect Donald Trump was briefed by American officials. (Video: Peter Stevenson: The Washington Post/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post).

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian hackers directed by President Vladimir Putin sought to put Trump in the White House instead of Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeing the New York businessman as far friendlier to Moscow’s interests. The Kremlin denies the charge. 

If it’s true, what did it get the Russians? Moscow bristled this week when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Washington should negotiate with Russia from a “position of strength.” It could have been just another day under the Obama administration.

“There is disappointment for many people,” said Vladimir Posner, a prominent Russian television journalist who hosts an interview program on Channel One Russia. “Along with disappointment comes anger. Why did [Trump] lie to us? Why did he make us think that he wants things to get better?”

[5 times Donald Trump’s team denied contact with Russia]

Trump’s election brought euphoria to Moscow. Partly that came from the defeat of Clinton, a nemesis of Putin’s. But it also reflected the promise of a Trump administration: a chance to hammer out deals with a U.S. president who would allow Russia to consolidate power in its region and edge back toward great power status.

Some of the tough U.S. talk toward Russia reflects the fact that American military and diplomatic officials continue to reflect their standard positions — like the allegation that Russia has been violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Russia denies the charge)

February 17, 2017

100,000 National Guard Troops For Immigration Round Ups



“Hell’s Threshold," by Nadia Werbitzky(1941)

 
The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up immigrants in the U.S. illegally, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by the Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Ore., and as far east as New Orleans, La.

Almost immediately after the Associated Press published its report, the White House issued a denial. “That is 100% not true. It is false," Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One before President Trump headed to South Carolina to tour a Boeing plant later Friday.

“There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants," Spicer said. He said he couldn't deny altogether that the subject had never been discussed in the administration,  The White House has noted before that many proposals have been drafted on a range of issues, but not all are under serious consideration.
 
This year, find a flavorful solution to your new year’s resolutions. From breaking bad habits, to building new ones, this bold flavor has your back. So go ahead, ditch sugar. 2016 isn’t looking.
 
Four states that border Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Governors of the 11 states would decide whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized "to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States." It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any immigrants who crossed the border illegally.
  
The draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.

If implemented, the impact of the program could be significant. Nearly one-half of the estimated 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without permission live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump's executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has "committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense."

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.

Representatives for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate. The other three states did not immediately respond to the AP.

The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program that the Obama administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.

The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff's deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump's executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort would be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on to the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.

In the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush twice deployed Guard troops on the border to focus on non-law enforcement duties to help augment the Border Patrol as it bolstered its ranks. And in 2010, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced a border security plan that included Guard reconnaissance, aerial patrolling and military exercises.

In July 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border when the surge of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America overwhelmed U.S. officials responsible for their care. The Guard troops' stated role on the border at the time was to provide surveillance but not make arrests.

Associated Press

February 16, 2017

No Documentation Gen.Flynn Flying to Moscow Dining with Putin, Gifts


Chaffetz and Cummings question payments to Trump's ex-national security adviser.

 Michael Flynn, Seen as another Russian asset

The Pentagon has informed lawmakers that there are no records of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s 2015 trip to Moscow, when he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin and may have accepted unconstitutional payments from a foreign government for his attendance.

In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House oversight committee delivered Tuesday, acting Army Secretary Robert Speer confirmed that Flynn — a retired lieutenant general — filed no documentation of his trip.


In response, House oversight committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the committee, sent a letter that suggests Flynn may have inappropriately accepted payments from the Russian government or its agents in exchange for his attendance. Scrutiny is growing on Flynn’s trip and whether his payment violated the Constitution’s Emolument’s Clause, which prohibits any person holding an “office of profit or trust” in the federal government from accepting foreign payment. The prohibition has long been considered to apply for retired military officials.

The letter is addressed to Leading Authorities, the speaker’s bureau that Flynn has suggested coordinated his payment for the event. Chaffetz and Cummings ask for the company to turn over all documents pertaining to Flynn’s trip to Russia, as well as any sources of payment for his appearance. They also seek any documents about Flynn’s other appearances connected to Russia Today, the Kremlin-aligned news outlet with which he’s had a relationship.

Chaffetz’s decision to join the inquiry — initially made by Cummings on Feb. 1 — comes a day after he called for a probe of intelligence community leaks that have been damaging to the Trump White House.

He's so far resisted pressure from Democrats to investigate reports that Trump associates had routine contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Chaffetz has, however, pursued inquiries into whether Trump is in violation of his lease of the Old Post Office Building, which houses his D.C. hotel, and whether senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway violated ethics laws to hawk Ivanka Trump’s apparel line in a TV appearance from the White House.

Russian Plant in WH is Discovered-What Else is Putin up to Now?




 Putin with “Bebe”(as Trump Called him) in visit to Kremlin
Former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn looks like a Kremlin plant. Russian fighter jets are buzzing a U.S. Navy destroyer at close range. One of its spy ships is hanging out off the east coast. And last night, we learned President Donald Trump’s campaign aides were in contact with Russian intelligence officials last year. But don’t think Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing the U.S. for a fool just because solely because he despises America—there’s a lot of precedent for these tactics.

Putin’s Kremlin has been hacking and meddling in the domestic affairs of its neighbors in Europe since the 2000s, so they had a lot of practice leading up to its alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Be it the cyber attacks against Estonia in 2007, the hacking of Georgia’s government internet servers during its war against the country in 2008, the power grid hack in Ukraine in 2015 and its fake news offensives in Europe against opponents of nationalists politicians who favor the Kremlin, the Russians are pros at engineering chaos in a country’s political affairs.

Below is a brief history of how the Kremlin has masterfully meddled in its neighbors’ affairs, and how this kind of high-level destabilization is a new kind of warfare.

The Lead Up To Russia Hacking Estonia In 2007

In April and May of 2007, Russian hackers launched a series of cyber attacks that shut down dozens of government and corporate sites in Estonia for weeks. The denial-of-service attacks overwhelmed state-owned websites and commercial servers, forcing them to shut off access from outside of the country in some cases. (Russia denied any involvement.)

This all started when the Estonian government decided to relocate a six-foot-tall bronze statue in downtown Tallinn commemorating the fallen soldiers of World War II. The decision drew many ethnic Russians to the streets because they felt it was a slap in their faces. As far as the Estonian government was concerned, it was a symbol of colonialism that needed to be removed from downtown. (A little background: The Nazis occupied Estonia, along with the other Baltic nations Lithuania and Latvia, during the war. When the Soviets defeated the Nazis, they decided to stay and set up shop in the country until 1991 when the USSR fell. Roughly a quarter of the country is ethnic Russian, and Soviet imagery means a lot to them.)

In any case, the mere thought of moving the statue infuriated Moscow and is widely viewed as the motivating factor behind its hacking of the Estonian government’s internet systems.

The hack was preceded by a fake news offensive with Russian-leaning news sites claiming the Estonians cut the statue into pieces, making ethnic Russians in the country even angrier. Of course, as CNN reported, that wasn’t true at all. But the damage was already done. Ethnic Russians, who were already pissed that they were marginalized by the state (long story), had another reason to rise up against the government and develop a protectionist attitude towards Moscow.

The Estonians have since beefed up their digital security and are aiming to become what they call “a hack-proof government.” Now, no country is really hack-proof, but they’re giving it a go—having Russia as a neighbor gives them incentive to try. The U.S. would be wise to take a few lessons from the Estonian experience.

The Georgian President Became Hitler In 2008

I was in Georgia in August of 2008 when the Russians hacked into that country’s government computer systems. The hacking took place during its short, eight-day war with Russia, which was prompted by Georgian forces invading South Ossetia because they claimed the Russians were preparing to attack them first.

As far as the hack goes, David Hollis, a senior policy analyst with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and a reserve Army officer at U.S. Cyber Command, said the hacks in Georgia were concealed through third-parties, making it harder to link the attacks back to Moscow, according to Foreign Policy.

According to Hollis, Russian offensive cyber operations began several weeks before the outbreak of the more familiar kinetic operations. Russian cyberintelligence units conducted reconnaissance on important sites and infiltrated Georgian military and government networks in search of data useful for the upcoming campaign. During this period, the Russian government also began organizing the work of Russian cybermilitias, irregular hackers outside the government that would support the campaign and also provide cover for some of the government’s operations. During this period the government and cybermilitias conducted rehearsals of attacks against Georgian targets.

When the kinetic battle broke out on Aug. 7, Russian government and irregular forces conducted distributed denial-of-service attacks on Georgian government and military sites. These attacks disrupted the transmission of information between military units and between offices in the Georgian government. Russian cyberforces attacked civilian sites near the action of kinetic operations with the goal of creating panic in the civilian population. Russian forces also attacked Georgian hacker forums in order to pre-empt a retaliatory response against Russian targets. Finally, the Russians demonstrated their ability to disrupt Georgian society with kinetic and cyber operations, yet refrained from attacking Georgia’s most important asset, the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and associated infrastructure. 

By holding this target in reserve, the Russians gave Georgian policymakers an incentive to quickly end the war.

It is important to note that Georgia’s former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, won office in 2004 after leading a pro-west “Rose Revolution” that aimed for EU and NATO membership. This irked Putin and put Saakashvili in Putin’s crosshairs onward.

Hackers were even able to create a collage of Saakashvilli photos next to images of Hitler. A widespread information war ensued with Russian television broadcasting RT-style coverage placing all of the blame on for the war on the Georgian government. Walking through the streets of Batumi, a sea resort town in western Georgia, during the middle of this, I often ran into Georgians who were just as angry with Saakashvili as they were with Putin. Though the country rallied in protest against Russia’s actions, the information war against Georgia’s leadership had done its damage.

Ukraine’s Power Grids Hacked In 2015 

A quarter million people in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine lost power in December of 2015, after Russian hackers attacked its power girds, as reported by CBS News. Unable to respond, workers at the electric control center filmed the blackout with their cellphones. But the cyber attack went even further. Emails with infected attachments were sent to employees that collected their login information, leading to the loss of power at nearly 60 substations.

Russia, as usual, said, “It wasn’t me.”

The Ukrainians restored power in just a few hours, but experts told CBS News that such an attack in on U.S. power grids could take days to repair because our grids, which are automated and far more advanced, are more complicated to fix.

At any rate, the motive behind the hacks is tied to its two-year war against Kyiv in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow supports anti-government rebels. Nearly 10,000 people have died since the conflict began.

Now The Kremlin Is Hacking Europe

Just this week, French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron’s party chief, Richard Ferrand, claimed Russia is running a cyberattack against the candidate, according to France 24. The attacks, Ferrand said, are mainly targeting its databases and email boxes. Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate competing with Macron for the presidency in May, is a Kremlin darling whose National Front party has received millions in loans from Russian banks to fund party activities.

It is widely believed that the Kremlin has a vested interest in Le Pen because she wants France to leave the European Union and seeks for France to become more isolationist. This would favor Putin, who is very suspicious of the EU, NATO and other international bodies that he feels threaten Russia’s security and economic interests.

Germany and the Netherlands have also charged Russia with attempting to influence its political affairs by launching cyber attacks against left-wing candidates so that nationalist ones that favor the Kremlin have a better shot at winning.

What does all of this mean, exactly?

Russia is a exercising a multi-prong attack that doesn’t require a single missile or bullet to be fired. With cyberattacks against a sovereign nation, Moscow doesn’t have to worry about a military reaction because NATO doesn’t have clearly established protocols on how to retaliate against hacking. This is all new territory for everyone involved, including the United States.

That said, Trump is clearly losing the optics warfare game against Putin right now. If Russia can look like it placed a compromised national security advisor in the White House, what is stopping the Kremlin from trying it in Europe, where most of its leadership looks to Washington for protection against a much bigger Russia?
By

February 15, 2017

ICE Arrests Mexican Youth in Seattle from Obama Dreamer’s Program


 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have arrested an immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and later given a work permit during the Obama administration in what could be the first detention of its kind under President Donald Trump.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old with no criminal record, was taken into custody last week at his father's home in Seattle by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The officers arrived at the home to arrest the man's father, though court documents did no make clear the reason the father was taken into custody.
Ramirez, now in custody in Tacoma, Washington, was granted temporary permission to live and work legally in the United States under a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, established in 2012 by Democratic President Obama, according to a court filing. The program protects from deportation 750,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, sometimes called the "dreamers," and gives them the temporary right to work legally in the United States.
Trump, a Republican who took office on Jan. 20, has promised a crackdown on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. A move against DACA recipients like Ramirez would represent a significant broadening of immigration enforcement under Trump.
Ramirez filed a challenge to his detention in Seattle federal court on Monday, arguing that the government violated his constitutional rights because he had work authorization under the DACA program.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher who is one of the lawyers representing Ramirez, said he is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
“We are hoping this detention was a mistake,” Dettmer said.





A BROKEN PROMISE?
Another one of his lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum of the legal advocacy group Public Counsel, characterized the DACA program as a promise from the federal government's executive branch that DACA recipients would not be targeted for deportation.
"We have no reason to believe that promise will be broken. This case should not see the inside of a courtroom," Rosenbaum said.
Ramirez was in custody and unavailable for comment. Representatives for Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Emily Langley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Seattle, said the Justice Department is still reviewing the case.
U.S. immigration officers last week arrested more than 680 people in the country illegally. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the operations, conducted in at least a dozen states, were routine and consistent with regular operations. But immigrant advocacy groups and Democrats have expressed concern that the Trump administration will escalate immigration enforcement efforts in line with the president's tough stance toward illegal immigrants.
Trump campaigned on a promise to roll back Obama's executive actions on immigration, but since assuming office he has kept his public comments on DACA vague.
In an interview with ABC News last month, Trump said his administration was devising a policy on how to deal with people covered by DACA. "They are here illegally. They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody. We're going to have a very strong border," Trump said at the time.
Under DACA, the government collected information including participants' addresses that potentially could be used to locate and deport them if the program is reversed.
Ramirez was brought to the United States from Mexico in about 2001 at about age 7, according to the lawsuit. The government granted him a DACA card in 2014 and renewed it in 2016, finding that he was no threat to public safety. He has a 3-year-old son, according to the complaint.
Ramirez in his lawsuit is seeking his immediate release and an injunction forbidding the government from arresting him again. A hearing in the case has been scheduled for Friday.
According to the lawsuit, Ramirez was asleep at his father's home last Friday morning when ICE agents arrived and arrested the father. When they entered, they asked Ramirez if he was in the country legally, and Ramirez said he had a work permit, the lawsuit stated.
ICE agents took Ramirez to a processing center in Seattle and he again disclosed his DACA work permit, the lawsuit stated.
"It doesn't matter, because you weren't born in this country," one of the agents said, according to the lawsuit.
Ramirez was fingerprinted, booked and taken to a detention center in Tacoma where he was still in custody on Tuesday, Rosenbaum said.

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