DCI Brennan Testimony Before House Select Committee on Intelligence

Here’s the live feed:

Every GOP committee member has yielded their time back to Congressman Gowdy after asking a question or two that are tangential at best to the issue before the committee. Congressman Gowdy then treats DCI Brennan as if he is a hostile witness in a case that Gowdy is prosecuting. DCI Brennan is not having any of it and is not amused. Here is a great example from earlier in the hearing:



Good Reading: The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus

The Anthropoliteia website describes itself as “critical perspectives on police, security, crime, law and punishment around the world.”

For the past 31 weeks, they have been running a series “@BlackLivesMatter Syllabus.” This series “mobilizes anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice.” It is set up as a resource for college professors who teach courses that touch on such things. But it is also an outstanding resource for all of us on those subjects. Reading and other media are recommended by professors who use them in their courses, with explanation of why and how they use them. Some sample posts.

Week 30: Savannah Shange’s Key & Peele Mix Tape Because Laughter Keeps Us Honest

Week 29: Courtney Morris For Black Boys Who Look Blue

Week 26: Sameena Mulla on Missing Black Girls and Women

Week 22: Beatrice Jauregui on Humanity, Intersectionality, Inclusion

All the posts listed here.








It is Important to Bear Witness: Protestors Beaten by Erdogan’s Bodyguards

Yesterday after Turkish President Erdogan’s meetings with the President, his bodyguards decided to give a beat down to a number of protestors (Kurdish Americans, Yazidi Americans, Kurdish and Yazidi immigrants to America, Americans who are neither Kurdish or Yazidi) in front of the Turkish ambassador’s residence. VOA Turkish has the video.

Andrea Mitchell confirmed what I suspected last night:

A similar response by Erdogan’s bodyguards to protestors also took place last year.

But the event was seemingly upstaged by proceedings outside the venue, where protesters appeared to clash with Erdogan supporters, as well as the controversial Turkish leader’s security detail.

During the 2016 incident Erdogan’s security detail actually went so far as to attack their hosts at the Brookings Institute.

Later, a shoving match between what appeared to be a Brookings Institute worker and Turkish security broke out. “I am in charge of this building,” the apparent Brookings employee shouted as the two tangled. A Foreign Policy reporter and others holding cameras outside the event were also scolded by Turkish security.  One cameraman was chased across the street by Turkish guards.

In yesterday’s incident, as I would have expected in the 2016 one, the official bodyguards to President Erdogan were armed, which has been confirmed by analysis of stills from the video.

A number of folks in comments last night, as well as in comments today have asked why the DC Police responded the way they did. I think my answer in a comment from last night makes sense:

The cops did a decent job with less than lethal force. Given that the Turks who were assaulting and battering the protestors would clearly have beaten them to death if given the chance, I would not have been opposed to them escalating to lethal force. Unfortunately that is really the only thing that the guys giving out the beatings respond to.

As to why they didn’t? They had most likely been prepped by the Department of State Diplomatic Security folks and given instructions about what the rules of engagement would and would not permit. This is a diplomatic incident. And people have been severely beaten and hurt. But it is containable. Ventilating the first goon to charge the protestors when he ignored the order to stop and back off would be a major, major problem.

Given that Erdogan’s security detail were armed it is a good thing that the Metropolitan Police officers responding on site did not escalate from less than lethal to lethal responses. Doing so could have turned a group beating into a shoot out and likely a bloodbath. This would have created the conditions for an even larger rift with a NATO ally that could be exploited by the US’s competitors (Russia).

So what happens now? Under any other administration the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, working in conjunction with DC’s Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security would be working to positively identify the members of Erdogan’s security detail involved. They would then be declared persona non grata and barred from reentry into the United States. What will actually happen given the current administration I have no idea.

Update at 1:30 PM EDT

Before anyone asks why no one being threatened/beaten didn’t draw a firearm and defend themselves, the simple reason is that Washington DC has dragged out implementing the Supreme Court ruling Heller V DC. As a result it is almost impossible to get a concealed carry permit in DC. Additionally, Washington DC’s code defines self defense in the following manner:

You are entitled to claim self-defense: (1) if you actually believe you are in imminent danger of bodily harm; and (2) if you have reasonable grounds for that belief. You may use the amount of force which, at the time of the incident, you actually and reasonably believe is necessary to protect yourself (or a third person) from imminent bodily harm. This may extend to the use of deadly force if you actually and reasonably believe you are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm from which you can save yourself only by using deadly force against your assailant.

Even if the other person is the aggressor and you are justified in using force in selfdefense, you may not use any greater force than you actually and reasonably believe is necessary under the circumstances to prevent the harm you reasonably believe is intended or to save your life or avoid serious bodily harm.

Under the case law of the District of Columbia, the District is neither a “right to stand and kill” nor a “duty to retreat to the wall before killing” jurisdiction. The District case law has established a “middle ground.” 2

You should take reasonable steps, such as stepping back or walking away, to avoid the necessity of taking a human life, so long as those steps are consistent with your own safety. However, you do not have to retreat or consider retreating when you actually and reasonably believe that you are in danger of death or serious bodily harm and that deadly force is necessary to repel that danger.

 



Comey Strikes Back!

Gonna be one of those Tuesdays!

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

In the same article The NY Times also reports the White House’s response to their breaking this news.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Much more at the link!



Self Inflicted Wounds II: Blinded, Deafened, and Definitely Dumb

In the street of the blind, the one eyed man is the guiding light

Genesis Rabbah (300-500 CE)

Five days before the inauguration I wrote:

Last week Yediot Ahronot reported, now confirmed by Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post, that Israel’s Intelligence Community has itself been warned to be careful sharing and transferring information and intelligence with the White House during the next Administration.

The concern is that any information and intelligence shared after the transition  will wind up with the Russians and the Russians would likely provide it to the Iranians (and the unspoken bit here for the Israelis is the Iranians would share it with the Syrians and Hezbullah). That this information quickly leaked from the Israelis is not an accident or a coincidence. It was intended to leak in order to provide the same message to our other allies and partners: that anything shared with the incoming Administration’s White House team may wind up with Russia. Through the Israeli leak the US’s other allies, partners, and clients have now been warned. This includes the other four members of the Five Eyes Intelligence alliance, the rest of our NATO allies, and other allies and partners. They have all been put on notice that the US Intelligence Community thinks that the incoming President, Vice President, their strategy, policy, and communication advisors, the incoming National Security Advisor and his deputies, and the rest of the incoming White House team cannot be trusted with classified information.

The Israelis have now had their worst fears confirmed.

SAN FRANCISCO — Two Israeli intelligence officials confirmed to BuzzFeed News Tuesday that Israel had shared specific intelligence with the US regarding ISIS plots to smuggle explosive laptops onto planes, under the unique intelligence-sharing agreement the two countries maintain.

“There is a special understanding of security cooperation between our countries,” they said. “To know that this intelligence is shared with others, without our prior knowledge? That is, for us, our worst fears confirmed.”

The officer previously spoke to BuzzFeed News in January, when he said that Israeli officials had specific concerns about what Trump would share with Russian officials. Israel, he added, routinely shared intelligence that included sources of information and asset names, he said — the type of information that could endanger the lives of those providing the raw intelligence.

“There has to be trust for this sort of arrangement. I cannot speak for Israel’s entire security apparatus, but I would not trust a partner who shared intelligence without coordinating it with us first,” said the officer.

A second intelligence officer, who spoke to BuzzFeed News via encrypted app and also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Israel had shared specific intelligence with the US regarding an active threat to US-bound planes. Speaking to BuzzFeed News via a military base in northern Israel, he said Israeli intelligence officers were “boiling mad and demanding answers” as to whether Israel’s military would continue its current intelligence-sharing agreement with the US.

One of the reasons that this is so problematic is that by disseminating this information we have made it much, much harder for Israel to conduct human intelligence operations within ISIL’s demesne in Syria. This puts their assets (human sources) at risk – both Israeli and non-Israelis working with the Israelis in Syria. It makes getting this information and intelligence harder. It makes it less likely that Israel will continue to share timely, sensitive information with us. And our other allies and partners are now going to be less likely to share timely, sensitive information with us as well.

“It’s a big deal, and we want to make sure sensitive information is handled properly,” a European diplomat told CNN, adding that the country represented by the diplomat would not cut communications with the US entirely but could potentially reassess what information is transmitted at the political level.
The diplomat — who spoke to CNN on the condition that neither their name nor country were identified — said allied agencies could explore ways to share specific information through channels used only by military and intelligence officials.
Although pulling back “is something we could envision,” the diplomat said, “we’re not going to cut the cord.”
My concluding thoughts from January are even more relevant now:

…the US will have its ability to see and hear seriously restricted starting next Friday. We won’t be blind, as we’ll still have our own capability, but our vision will be significantly dimmed and our hearing significantly dulled. This will make managing and mitigating the foreign, defense, and national security problem sets that we are currently facing, let alone the ability to anticipate future ones, much more difficult. And this includes the ongoing Russian active measures, influence, and cyber operations directed at us, at our allies, and at our partners.

 



Live Feed: LTG McMaster’s Press Conference

LTG McMaster, the Assistant to the President-National Security Advisor (APNSA), is scheduled to hold a press conference at 11:30 AM EDT. As BettyC wrote this morning, the President’s 7 AM tweets seem to have completely undercut the statements of LTG McMaster, his senior deputy Dina Powell, and Secretary of State Tillerson from late yesterday afternoon/early yesterday evening. I would expect that this morning’s press conference will be a further attempt to redirect and conduct crisis communications to manage these reports rather than to create further crises.

Here is a link to the (now correct) live feed:



The Gator Nation’s Long National Nightmare is Over: They Have Identified the Naked Shark Mounter

From The NY Daily News:

A freaky fish humper who got naked, straddled a dead shark and smiled for a photo is a former New York City cop, a Florida sports reporter claims.

People have been speculating on the man’s identity in recent days as the astonishing photo went viral online.

David Pingalore, the sports anchor for WKMG-TV in Orlando, said Friday he was contacted recently by a man who knows the former Finest and provided more photos of the man — clothed and not.

“This guy lives in upstate New York,” Pingalore said of the mystery man in the picture. “That photo was taken two years ago off the shores of Long Island.”

Pingalore said his source is a friend of the mystery man who while on vacation in Florida happened to be watching his newscast about the photo.

The source sent Pingalore the other photos of the cop to help disprove the theory that Florida Gators football coach Jim McElwain is the mystery man.

“The man that is naked on the shark is afraid for his life because he believes bounty hunters — I’m not making this up — and people with shark people, whatever, those people would be called.”

So New York Police Department Man!

Tweet with NSFW picture below the fold.

Open thread!

Read more