NRAngst Open Thread: The Elephant in the House (And the Senate, Too)

Ask any of us who works in national security what to do about ISIS, and we’d have no problem pitching you ideas. Even if we lack expertise in the topic or don’t work directly on it, we’d still have opinions and thoughts, because we’ve been swimming in a sea of articles, op-eds, books, hearings, programs, and overall research and debate for years. But ask us about right-wing extremism, a violent ideology that’s killed more Americans than ISIS in the last decade, and most of us would pause — either because we were unaware of the problem or, worse, we were afraid to speak openly about it…

Over the last decade, individuals and groups fueled by this virulent ideology have committed 71 percent of the known politically or religiously inspired killings in our country — that is, 274 of the 387 Americans murdered by extremists. Reports now indicate it was part of the recent murder of 17 school children and teachers in Florida, just as it was part of mass shootings that have happened everywhere from California to Charleston. It has not just hit inside the US, but has struck many of our closest allies, both causing near-tragedies and horrible massacres. It is not a new threat; it has killed hundreds of Americans in past decades. But it is growing in power and influence, worrisomely being stoked by foreign nations like Russia that wish our nation harm. It is a clear, present, and proven danger to the United States. Yet we find it awkward to talk about.

There are many reasons why we have a hard time acknowledging the deadly threat from the cluster of groups that gather inside our country under the hateful flags of white nationalism, white supremacy, anti-government militia, and Neo-Nazism. One reason is to avoid appearing too partisan, a desire to be even-handed. There is irony in that we seek to avoid appearing biased, even when the threat espouses bias to the point of justifying hating and even killing their fellow Americans. So, after each episode of right-wing violence, we avoid talking about it, even to the point of reaching in the opposite direction. For instance, after these groups united to march on Charlottesville, culminating in the killing of a young woman, major U.S. papers ran more op-eds condemning the counter-protesters, who have yet to commit a mass killing, than those who committed the crime…

We also have to admit that we are quiet about right-wing extremist violence out of calculation. The cost-vs.-gain equations that shape our choices are simply different from other topics. Compare the professional benefits to the potential risks of publishing an article, creating a college course, writing a book or dissertation, organizing a conference, hosting a speech, creating a university or thinktank project, funding a foundation program, etc., on right-wing extremism. It is not just that there is no great profit in it. It is that every one of these endeavors would be far more difficult, and would likely create far more headaches for us and our bosses, than a similar project on pretty much any other topic in our field.

This isn’t to say there aren’t fantastic researchers on this topic; there are many, who have valuably shaped much of what we know about the issue. But we in the rest of the field must acknowledge that they’ve chosen a more professionally risky path than most of us, even though the very object of their study has killed more Americans over the last few years than essentially any other problem we are working on…



Breaking News: The US Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Goes To War With The House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence

Apparently the secondary position of the Lajes Protocol has failed.

Back in February when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair, Congressman Devin Nunes, was going all in on his memo, Jullian Assange tried to contact Sean Hannity over twitter to provide him with text messages from Senator Warner. Despite texting a Sean Hannity parody account that was put up when Hannity’s twitter service was temporarily interrupted, the texts managed to make it into the hands of Fox News. No one was quite sure how they got them. Unfortunately for Fox, Hannity, Assange, Nunes, and everyone else screaming conspiracy, Senator Warner, the ranking member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had notified his senate committee colleagues about the text messages, which were with a lawyer who represents a Russian oligarch that Warner was seeking information from.

The NY Times is now reporting that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has now concluded that the texts messages got to Fox News not by way of Ecuador’s most unhygienic house guest, but from the Republican majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Nunes, Jack Langer, did not dispute that the committee had leaked the messages, but called the premise of this article “absurd.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan, declined to comment. In his meeting with the senators, Mr. Ryan made clear that he heard their complaints but noted that he did not run the committee himself, the officials briefed on the encounter said.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were briefed on their conclusions in recent weeks and on the meeting with Mr. Ryan.

In a joint statement, Mr. Burr and Mr. Warner acknowledged the meeting with Mr. Ryan and said they had not requested that the speaker take any specific action.

I want to highlight something important; specifically Speaker Ryan’s statement that “he did not run the committee himself”. This is quite true. However, Congressman Nunes holds the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence because Speaker Ryan keeps him in that position. It is solely within the Speaker’s discretion to keep Congressman Nunes as chair, or even as a member of the committee, or to remove him. The Speaker may not run the committee, but he clearly wants Congressman Nunes in that position. And this isn’t the first time Speaker Ryan has run interference for Congressman Nunes. He did the same thing when the FBI and DOJ had concerns about providing the Strzok/Page texts that are part of the DOJ IG’s investigation into the FBI’s actions during their probe of Secretary Clinton’s server and emails. Which also quickly leaked from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This whole mess is in the hands of two men: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA). It could all be put to bed very quickly, but Speaker Ryan, for whatever reason, clearly does not want the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to function properly or to follow the rules of classification/declassification. The real question here is why.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.



Early Morning Nuclear War Open Thread

Vladimir Putin gave a talk today. What I am picking up from Twitter is that it was mostly about improving social conditions in Russia, but Putin seems to have though he needed to get into the “My button is bigger than yours” discussion.

Read more



Breaking: Armed Dalton High School Teacher In Custody For School Shooting

So much for good guy’s with guns…

From WGNO:

DALTON, GA. – An armed teacher has been arrested after shots were fired at a high school in a small town in northern Georgia.

The Dalton Police Department reported that “shot or shots” had been fired at Dalton High School just after 11:15 a.m. on the department’s official Twitter account.

Minutes later, DPD added that the armed suspect was barricaded inside a classroom at the school and urged parents not to come to the school.

Students were transported to the Northeast Georgia Trade Center for pickup, according to the DPD.

At 11:23 a.m., the department tweeted an update that read “The teacher is in custody.”

No students were harmed, and no children were in danger during the incident, according to the DPD.

This is obviously going to be a fast changing story as more information becomes available, especially in regard to the teacher’s motives and the actual events.

Stay frosty.

Open thread!



A Well Regulated Militia: In This Case Not So Much…

The Oath Keepers have decided that they are going to start providing security at America’s schools, or as I suspect the schools that are not in inner city areas of America, until local, state, and Federal officials can secure them against potential mass shooters.

Imagine if every school campus in the United States had its own volunteer security officer: a former police officer or military veteran equipped with an assault rifle.

That’s the dream of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.

 In the wake of the February 14 massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school, Rhodes is calling on members of his far-right anti-government militia group to serve as unpaid and unaccountable armed school guards — whether teachers and students like the idea or not.

Rhodes wants the military and police veterans who make up Oath Keepers’ membership to volunteer for unpaid, rotating shifts at schools of all levels, and colleges, throughout the country. He and two other representatives of the fringe militia community will hold a webinar Monday night where they plan to encourage Oath Keepers to station themselves at schools “to protect the children against mass murder, and to help train the teachers and staff.”

“I think it’s essential,” Rhodes told TPM in a Monday phone call. “It’s part of our responsibility to do what we can.”

“And what we can do is be outside of schools so that we’re closer if an attack happens, or when one happens,” Rhodes continued. “We’ll be there to be a fast response.”

An Oath Keeper in Indiana apparently got the party started.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) –

An Oath Keeper armed with a handgun and AR-15 is standing watch outside of a local high school.

On Friday, Mark Cowan began his watch at North Side High School. He’s armed with a handgun and is keeping an AR-15 rifle nearby, in the front seat of his car.

He said he plans on standing at the school every day.

Cowan is a member of a group called Oath Keepers of Indiana, a “non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’,” according to their website. 

Cowan said the Indiana Oath Keepers have about 100 members who are watching high schools across Eastern Indiana in the wake of a deadly shooting in Florida more than one week ago. He told ABC21 that although students and parents were not made aware of the Keepers standing guard, they have informed local police.

Cowan said he’s ready to risk his life to protect the children.

“These are kids. Ain’t none of those kids in there allowed to carry a gun to protect themselves,” he said. “There’s one school resource officer… take a look at the size of this school, look at the size of your school where you’re at. One officer ain’t enough.

“If somebody comes to this school or another school where we’re at, that school shooter is going to know, we’re not going to play games… You come to kill our kids, you’re dead.”

Local school officials aren’t too thrilled.

The Public Information Officer for Fort Wayne Community Schools Krista J. Stockman said they take the security of their schools very seriously.

“We understand he has a right to be out there,” Stockman said, “as he is not on our property, but we do not believe it adds to the safety of our students. At North Side, as at all of our schools, we have security procedures in place. In addition, at North Side, we have armed police officers in the building every day.”

Is Mr. Cowan a good guy with a gun? You be the judge:

Fort Wayne’s NBC has learned that Cowan has been convicted of misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury.

We uncovered that he was charged in an altercation with another person.

Fort Wayne’s NBC reached out to Cowan for an on-camera interview. He declined but did talk to our team over the phone.

Cowan says he was protecting his family and says the man he hit had already hit one of his grandsons and was about to hit the other.

A misdemeanor battery conviction does not prevent him from carrying a firearm.

Well then, no potential issues here at all.

I’ve been studying, researching, analyzing, and writing about these folks since the early 1990s and this is not likely to end well. In pretty short order one of these fine outstanding citizens will take it upon himself to start actually policing who is coming and going to and from the school. By policing I mean questioning anyone they think looks sketchy who is approaching or leaving the school. Teachers, staff, students, parents, vendors and delivery drivers, and legitimate visitors. And by sketchy I mean anyone who is darker than a manila file folder. Something like this:

(Just so there’s no confusion in case Speaker Boehner visits Indiana on vacation, he’s somewhere between creamsicle and orange peel.)

(Speaker Boehner Colar Swatch)

Things will get interesting when someone decides to do the sane thing and ignore the Oath Keeper or Oath Keepers. When that happens we’ll see if they’re hanging out adjacent to schools to provide an extra set of eyes and ears or whether they expect that everyone needs to respect their authoritah! If I was a betting man, I’d put money on the latter, not the former. Local officials need to nip this in the bud really quickly. Otherwise they’re going to have a vigilante force that feels empowered by inaction on their hands. And that is not going to end well at all.

ETA at 11:55 PM EST:

The minute that one of these fine folks actually provides unofficial armed response he or she would be in violation of the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act. The minute they set foot on school property armed in response to what they think is an attack or any other problem, they’ve broken that law. There’s no exception for members of the Oath Keepers.

Stay frosty!

Open thread!