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:



Open Thread: When Someone Tells You What They Are…



Late Night Opposite-of-Nostalgia Open Thread: GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

“Out of the loop” worked as an excuse for VP ‘Poppy’ Bush during the Iran-Contra investigation. “In a(n Alzheimers) fog” worked for Reagan. But that was twenty-five years ago, Bush was (however crooked & compromised) smart, and Reagan was popular. “Mike Dense”, as he was known back in Indiana, isn’t even popular with the guy who gave him his current job.



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.

 



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: A Millipede’s Worth of Dropped Shoes

(Walt Handelsman via GoComics.com)
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Remember when there was such a thing as a “slow news day”?

“CNN Contributor, former Cruz comms director, DeMint speechwriter” asks…



Tuesday Night Open Thread: Running the Country Like One of His Companies

Sticking his name on the facade in gilt letters, letting his cronies loot whatever they can pry loose, and preparing to walk away from his creditors. John Cassidy, in the New Yorker:

Donald Trump has built his political career on his reputation as a successful businessman, so it seems fair to assess his recent performance as President as if he were a C.E.O. running U.S.A., Inc. The report card isn’t pretty. Indeed, if Trump were the chief executive of a public company, the firm’s non-executive directors probably would have been huddled in a crisis meeting on Tuesday morning, deciding whether to issue him a pink slip…

Perhaps the most worrying sign for Trump came from U.S.A., Inc.,’s corporate headquarters, in Washington, D.C., where Paul Ryan, the company’s head of product development, who is widely regarded as a key Trump ally, expressed concern about the latest turn of events. While not referring to Trump directly, Ryan said in a statement that “protecting our company’s secrets is paramount.”

To be sure, I am stretching the corporate analogy here—Ryan said “our country’s secrets,” not “our company’s secrets”—but it brings out an important point. Most major corporations wouldn’t put up with Trump-like behavior. They have well-established rules and procedures for dealing with a C.E.O. who has gone rogue. If a firm’s board of directors sees the boss acting erratically and seriously undermining the firm’s long-term interests, it can step in and find a replacement. (At the very least, it can issue a reprimand and launch an internal inquiry to find out what has gone wrong.)

Politics doesn’t work like that, of course. More than sixty million Americans voted for Trump, and removing him from office would be a monumental undertaking. In light of Trump’s disclosures of classified information to Russia, some legal experts argued on Monday night that Congress could impeach him for violating his oath of office, in which he pledged to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”—but that seems a long way off. Despite the latest statements from Ryan, Corker, and others, the G.O.P.’s leaders have come nowhere close to publicly supporting such a move…

THANKS EVER SO MUCH, REPUBS!



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!