Paul Pillar Lets Loose On Nikki Haley

Paul Pillar is a former CIA analyst whose articles on current events are usually calm, measured, and logical. He brings his analytical skills to clarifying the issues. I highly recommend reading him regularly. I occasionally disagree with him, although I can’t recall a time when I thought he had something substantively wrong.

Nikki Haley’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute yesterday on the nuclear agreement with Iran produced a reaction from him the likes of which I’ve never seen.

Nikki Haley, whose foreign policy experience has consisted of these past few months as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, has assumed the role of chief public trasher of the JCPOA for the administration.

Laura Rozen, whom you should follow on Twitter, says that the State Department experts on the subject were not consulted for the speech. I’d like to know who wrote it. Stephen Miller seems like a candidate, with help from some think-tank people you may see me jousting with on Twitter. (Changed from Steve)

Pillar gives the background facts of the agreement while destroying Haley’s lies.

Haley lied when she said that the JCPOA “gave Iran what it wanted up-front, in exchange for temporary promises to deliver what we want.”  The truth is that Iran had to fulfill most of its obligations first—including disposing of excess enriched uranium, disassembling enrichment cascades, gutting its heavy water reactor, and much else—before the agreement was fully implemented and Iran got even a whiff of additional sanctions relief.  There is no correspondence between reality and Haley’s assertion that the agreement was a great deal for Iran but “what we get from the deal is much less clear.”  What we get is a cementing closed (even literally, in the case of the disabling of a reactor that otherwise could have produced plutonium) of all possible pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon.  This isn’t just a promise; this is major, material, already implemented change.

As they say, read the whole thing. It’s short, to the point, and accurate.




A President Speaks

Barack Obama said that one thing might make him speak out after his presidency ended, and that was if Trump messed with DACA. He does not disappoint. This is his full statement.

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Not the Onion, edition 3,567

As if Texas needed any more grief right now!…

… Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has been involved in previous bipartisan immigration reform efforts, said he would support Trump’s plan to end DACA after a six-month delay. In a statement, Graham said the program amounted to “presidential overreach” by President Barack Obama, who created it by executive action in 2012…

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Trump is poised to “break the hearts and offend the morals of all who believe in justice and human dignity.” She called on Republicans to pursue legislation to protect dreamers “from the senseless cruelty of deportation and shield families from separation and heartbreak.”

Trump’s decision to include a six-month delay could be a bid to shift some of the political pressure and consequences over the dreamers onto congressional Republicans. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) and several other GOP leaders have urged Trump not to end the program and to let Congress pursue its own course of action.

The president and his senior advisers continued to deliberate Monday afternoon, and aides cautioned that Trump could still change his mind ahead of the announcement. Important details such as whether the administration would continue to accept DACA applications and issue renewals for two-year work permits during the six-month delay remained unresolved…

Meanwhile, leading Democrats have said privately that they think Trump has been boxed in politically. His inability to secure funding for the border wall is wearing down support among his base, these Democrats said, while his hard-line immigration rhetoric is hurting him with moderates.

When rumors about Trump’s expected actions on DACA first surfaced nearly two weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted that dreamers “are not a bargaining chip for the border wall” funding or to pay for an “inhumane deportation force.” …

Apart from bracing for fresh horrors, what’s on the agenda as we start an abbreviated work week?

North Korea Claims To Have A Hydrogen Bomb

And not just any hydrogen bomb, but one that can fit in a warhead, with variable yields.

A bunch of us are discussing this on Twitter. A few observations:

  • What they are showing is a case. We don’t know what is in it.
  • They have done five tests. None is high enough yield to be likely to be what is called a two-stage device.
  • What is possible is that they are using tritium gas injected into the pit to boost the yield.

Follow @mhanham, @atomic_pickles, @narangvipin, and @DaveSchmerler. There are others, like @ArmsControlWonk, who don’t seem to be around now.

Some good threads:

I’ll stick around in the comments and post hot takes.

Friday Evening Open Thread: Gawd Bless America


We’re gonna be out of town for a few days starting tomorrow. I plan to bring my laptop, but if you don’t see any posts from me, blame the tech gremlins.

What’s on the agenda for the not-official end-of-summer long weekend, as we get into party mode?

Voting Systems Hacked?

The answer to the question is that we just don’t know. And Congress cares not at all.

Or perhaps I should focus that to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan care not at all. Or Republicans care not at all.

The New York Times has an article about suspicious problems with voter roll books, particularly in North Carolina. It points out that it’s not clear that the problems arose from hacking, but one of the software companies involved is known to have been hacked.

This is why the screwing-around by the Republican leaders and the idiot Freedom Caucus is so evil. Not only are they threatening damage to their voters and all American citizens, but they are not dealing with things that need attention. I could provide a long list of those – fixing the problems with immigration laws, bringing police forces back to the rule of law, improving the ACA, limiting monopolies, you get the idea.

John McCain makes the point more politely to his colleagues. You can call your members of Congress.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Look for the Helpers

Apart from (doing our best) staying positive, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?

From Quartz, pretty good use of social media — “A three-day-old crowdsourcing website is helping volunteers save lives in hurricane-hit Houston”:

On the night of Sunday, Aug. 28, Matthew Marchetti was one of thousands of Houstonians feeling powerless as their city drowned in tropical storm Harvey’s deluge.

By Monday morning, the 27-year-old developer, sitting in his leaky office, had slapped together an online mapping tool to track stranded residents. A day later, nearly 5,000 people had registered to be rescued, and 2,700 of them were safe.

If there’s a silver lining to Harvey, it’s the flood of civilian volunteers such as Marchetti who have joined the rescue effort. It became pretty clear shortly after the storm started pounding Houston that the city would need their help. The heavy rains quickly outstripped authorities’ ability to respond. People watched water levels rise around them while they waited on hold to get connected to a 911 dispatcher. Desperate local officials asked owners of high-water vehicles and boats to help collect their fellow citizens trapped on second-stories and roofs…

The idea behind his project,, is simple. The map lets people in need register their location. They are asked to include details—for example, if they’re sick or have small children—and their cell phone numbers.

The army of rescuers, who can also register on the site, can then easily spot the neediest cases. A team of 100 phone dispatchers follows up with those wanting to be rescued, and can send mass text messages with important information. An algorithm weeds out any repeats.

It might be one of the first open-sourced rescue missions in the US, and could be a valuable blueprint for future disaster volunteers…