Tag Archives: intelligence

Trump Wants More Control Over Intel Agencies

Mother Jones

Here’s a tidbit from the AP about how President Trump might “seize the reins” of the intelligence community:

Officials have expressed an interest in having more raw intelligence sent to the president for his daily briefings instead of an analysis of information compiled by the agencies, according to current and former U.S. officials. The change would have given his White House advisers more control about the assessments given to him and sidelined some of the conclusions made by intelligence professionals.

Trump seems like the kind of guy who could do his own analysis of raw intelligence. They should give it a try. What could go wrong?

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Trump Wants More Control Over Intel Agencies

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Who Was Devin Nunes’ Secret White House Source?

Mother Jones

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Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for Devin Nunes to recuse himself from further involvement in the Russia probe. This comes after Nunes’ bizarre unveiling of supposed evidence that the Obama White House really did surveil Trump aides during the transition. Nunes still hasn’t shown his evidence to anyone, and it appears increasingly likely that it doesn’t really show anything at all. Nor will he tell us who he met with on the White House grounds to procure his evidence. Here is Michael Isikoff:

The Schiff statement came as panel staffers speculated on the possible identity of Nunes’ White House source, focusing on Michael Ellis, a lawyer who worked for Nunes on the intelligence panel and who was recently hired to work on national security matters at the White House counsel’s office. A White House official and spokesman for Nunes declined to comment on whether Ellis was involved in providing information to Nunes, as did a spokesman for Schiff. White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted that White House officials were not aware of Nunes’ secret trip to meet his source and referred all questions to Nunes’ office.

Democrats have been furious that Nunes has yet to describe precisely the classified intelligence he has seen. Nor has he shared any documents with others on the House intelligence panel. Nunes, for his part, defended his previously undisclosed trip to the White House grounds, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he had to view the classified documents in an executive branch location because the intelligence community had not yet provided them to Congress.

Michael Ellis is a former editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review and a longtime “promising young conservative.” Sadly, he’s not related to the Ellis side of the Bush family, which would have been great.

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Who Was Devin Nunes’ Secret White House Source?

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British, Dutch Passed Along Intel About Meetings Between Trump Team and Russia

Mother Jones

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The New York Times reports today on new revelations about contacts between the Trump team and Russia during the last month of the Obama administration:

American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — and associates of President-elect Trump, according to three former American officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence. Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Mr. Trump’s associates.

Some of this is coming to light as a result of deliberate efforts by outgoing Obama officials:

Mr. Trump has accused the Obama administration of hyping the Russia story line as a way to discredit his new administration. At the Obama White House, Mr. Trump’s statements stoked fears among some that intelligence could be covered up or destroyed — or its sources exposed — once power changed hands. What followed was a push to preserve the intelligence that underscored the deep anxiety with which the White House and American intelligence agencies had come to view the threat from Moscow.

….Some officials began asking specific questions at intelligence briefings, knowing the answers would be archived and could be easily unearthed by investigators….At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low level of classification to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government….There was also an effort to pass reports and other sensitive materials to Congress.

….Throughout the summer…European allies were starting to pass along information about people close to Mr. Trump meeting with Russians in the Netherlands, Britain and other countries….But it wasn’t until after the election, and after more intelligence had come in, that the administration began to grasp the scope of the suspected tampering and concluded that one goal of the campaign was to help tip the election in Mr. Trump’s favor. In early December, Mr. Obama ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full assessment of the Russian campaign.

As the story acknowledges, it’s still unclear what all these meetings were about, but “the Russians, it appeared, were arguing about how far to go in interfering in the presidential election.”

This has the feel of a scandal that will pass into urban legend without anyone ever knowing for sure what actually happened. It’s pretty obvious at this point that something happened, but with every new disclosure it seems as if the truth drifts a little farther out of reach. Unless someone has a smoking gun tape somewhere, it’s not clear if this story will ever get resolved.

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British, Dutch Passed Along Intel About Meetings Between Trump Team and Russia

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Leaked DHS Doc Says Trump’s Seven Countries Aren’t Very Dangerous

Mother Jones

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Remember those seven countries that President Trump singled out for a travel ban? He asked the Department of Homeland Security to check them out and explain why they deserved to be on a no-entry list. Here’s what he got:

Oops. “Rarely implicated” means a grand total of six people out of 82. That’s one per year since 2011. And not one terrorist plot per year, either. One “terrorism related offense” per year. In many of these cases, it’s probably a material support charge for sending a hundred bucks to some warlord back home.

This comes via the AP, which got this comment:

Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen on Friday did not dispute the report’s authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government’s intelligence.

“While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you’re referencing was commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing,” Christensen said. “The … report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete.”

I have a feeling that once the “interagency sourcing” is finished, there might be a different spin on these numbers. This is very definitely not what the boss wants to hear.

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Leaked DHS Doc Says Trump’s Seven Countries Aren’t Very Dangerous

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Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have Tripled With the Rise of Trump

Mother Jones

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The number of anti-Muslim hate groups in America tripled last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog organization that tracks political extremists. Between the beginning and end of 2016, the number of anti-Muslim groups increased from 34 to 101—by far the largest spike since SPLC began tracking the category in 2010.

The surge coincides with a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes last year, a level of violence not seen since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Documenting hate crimes is challenging (both in terms of legal definition and incidents that may go unreported), and most hate groups don’t release membership statistics—two reasons why SPLC views the number of anti-Muslim groups as an important metric.

Notably, the steady rise in these hate groups began around the launch in mid 2015 of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Though the Syrian refugee crisis and terrorist attacks from Paris to Orlando may have fueled some increase in Islamphobia, Trump’s repeated invocation of the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” and move as president to ban immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries has clearly fanned the flames.

“The rise in anti-Muslim groups in the last year I think demonstrates just how much the presidential campaign influenced the radical right in the US,” says Ryan Lenz, a senior writer for the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “We have not seen this level of anti-Muslim rhetoric in quite some time, and Trump has done the lion’s share of infusing the anti-Muslim movement in the US with energy, which had been waning for years.”

Breitbart News, the far-right publication formerly led by Trump senior strategist Stephen Bannon, has written dozens of stories about Muslim “rape gangs,” the supposed threat of Sharia law in the United States, and alleged conspiracies by the Council on Islamic Relations, a moderate civil rights organization that Breitbart characterizes as a “front group” for terrorists.

Until stepping down from Brietbart News in August 2015 to lead the Trump campaign, Bannon hosted a Sirius XM radio show, Breitbart News Daily, where he conducted dozens of interviews with anti-Muslim extremists. One of Bannon’s guests on the show, Trump surrogate Roger Stone, warned of a future America “where hordes of Islamic madmen are raping, killing, pillaging, defecating in public fountains, harassing private citizens, elderly people—that’s what’s coming.”

Bannon also said on his show that George W. Bush’s statement after 9/11 that “Islam is peace” was “the dumbest” comment Bush made during his presidency. Bannon told listeners that the United States and Europe are engaged in a “global existential war” and suggested that a “fifth column” of Islamist sympathizers has infiltrated the US government.

Since his election, Trump has tapped several leaders with track records marked by anti-Muslim views. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s now ex-national security adviser, has described Islam as a “malignant cancer” and tweeted that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” As a student at Duke University, senior Trump advisor Stephen Miller co-founded the Terrorism Awareness Project, which promoted “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” And Trump’s CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, has embraced apocalyptic views of Islam.

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Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Have Tripled With the Rise of Trump

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