Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: In Like Flynn

As Miss Manners would’ve told Pompeo, sometimes the rules are there to protect you from your friends. It’s certainly possible to imagine (if you squint hard enough) that a guy from one’s personal circle, well-known for his range of interests, might choose to sit in on the briefings in all innocence. Surely a man with such a storied military career would know what could not be safely repeated outside the room, immune from minor peccadilloes of money or fame…

Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.

Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.

The episode highlights a remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s tumultuous, 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power…

The concerns about Mr. Flynn’s vulnerabilities, born from misleading statements he made to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, are at the heart of a legal and political storm that has engulfed the Trump administration. Many of Mr. Trump’s political problems, including the appointment of a special counsel and the controversy over the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, can ultimately be traced to Mr. Flynn’s stormy tenure.

Time and again, the Trump administration looked the other way in the face of warning signs about Mr. Flynn…

Concerns across the government about Mr. Flynn were so great after Mr. Trump took office that six days after the inauguration, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, warned the White House that Mr. Flynn had been “compromised.”…

White House officials have said they moved deliberately both out of respect for Mr. Flynn and because they were not sure how seriously they should take the concerns. They also said the president believed that Ms. Yates, an Obama administration holdover, had a political agenda. She was fired days later over her refusal to defend in court Mr. Trump’s ban on travel for people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

A warning from Mr. Pompeo might have persuaded the White House to take Ms. Yates’s concerns more seriously. Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman, is a Republican stalwart whom Mr. Trump has described as “brilliant and unrelenting.”…

Speaking of protection from one’s “friends”, is is fair to assume that one reason Pompeo chose not to speak up about Flynn’s presence was that he hoped to avoid a fate like that meddlesome talebearer Sally Yates?



Late Night Open Thread: You Poor Naive Child…

(Ted Rall’s website)
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Back when kree8iv baby names were still a celebrity novelty, the joke was that a kid named ‘Chastity’ or ‘Purity’ was gonna end up on a stripper pole. Possibly the elder Winners should’ve picked a less Trickster-God-tempting name for their little girl…

Sure, he’ll always have the Jacobin broflakes to defend him, but when Ted Rall gives Greenwald the hairy eyeball… truly, these are apocalyptic times.



Thursday Night Open Thread: LOL Nothing Matters


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“Greatest hits of the 60s! — the 70s! — the 90s!”

Anybody ever explained to Lord Smallgloves that Glory Days describes a tragedy? Hell, Reagan never needed to figure that out, why should he?
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Open Thread: LEO Snakes on A United Plane

If there’s an opening to defend overzealous enforcement in the service of soulless corporatism, count on Ross Doubthat to rush in. Not that he was alone in his pursuit of the Worst Possible Take…



The Strikes Against Al Shayrat Air Base: Highly Detailed Security Theater With No Deterrent Effect

As night gave way to day we began to get greater clarity about exactly what happened with last night’s missile strikes against al Shayrat Air Base in Syria. It was security theater with no deterrent effect.

Davis also said that U.S. officials notified Russian forces in advance of the strike and took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.

Syrian military officials appeared to anticipate Thursday night’s raid on Syria‘s Shayrat air base, evacuating personnel and moving equipment ahead of the strike, according to an eyewitness.

Local residents say the Russian military had used the air base in early 2016 but have since withdrawn their officers, so the base is now mainly operated by Syrian and Iranianmilitary officers. There is also a hotel nearby where Iranian officers have been staying, though it was not clear whether it was damaged.

The eyewitness believes human casualties, at least within the civilian population, were minimal, as there was no traffic heading toward the local hospital.

Former National Security Adviser and ABC News contributor Richard Clarke said this attack, one of the quickest displays of force by a new president in recent history, is largely “symbolic.”

“This attack on one air base seems more symbolic,” Clarke said. “I think Secretary of Defense [General] James Mattis gave the president a list of options, this being the smallest. It was a targeted attack not designed to overwhelm the Syrian military … I think the president was trying to differentiate himself from his predecessor.”

If the purpose of the attack was not to actually reduce and degrade Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile and Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons, then there really was no purpose in the strike. It served no deterrent effect. Everyone already knows the US has the capability of striking targets from over the horizon. Given the warnings the US gave Russia, which Russia appears to have passed on to its Syrian client allowing them to move personnel and equipment and minimize/mitigate operational losses, the strike had no actual or effective strategic purpose. It doesn’t deter the Syrians from doing anything – they already knew we could do this at any time. Also, providing all these warnings seems to completely bely the President’s oft stated preference for utilizing the element of surprise. There was no surprise in last night’s attacks.

Moreover, once again the Interagency process appears to have either broken down or been ignored.

What we instead have is the use of an over the horizon strike as security theater intended to bolster the Administration’s theme of the week, not actually and effectively deter the use of chemical weapons.

And this type of security theater has significant repercussions:

Just as I suspect the North Korean missile test on Tuesday was intended not just to intimidate North Korea’s neighbors, but to give Xi Jinping additional leverage in his summit with the President today, last night’s missile strikes were partially intended to reverse that dynamic. Unfortunately they’ve also given the Kremlin a new opportunity to pursue the Putin Doctrine of showing that liberal democracy, as exemplified by the US, is not any better than, and often is hypocritically worse, than any other form of government and governance.

Reuters reports that:

Russia wants an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss U.S. missile strikes on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday, describing the action as “thoughtless”.

The ministry said in a statement that Russia was also suspending a Syrian air safety agreement with the United States, saying:

“This is not the first time the United States has resorted to such a thoughtless step, which merely exacerbates existing problems and threatens global security.”

Russia has dismissed Western accusations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Washington says was responsible for a chemical gas attack that left scores dead in the Syrian province of Idlib.

The foreign ministry said it was clear that the U.S. missile strikes were prepared before the Idlib incident.

The United States, and specifically the Trump Administration, is now going to experience having Russia try to use the UN Security Council to turn the tables over the strikes against the al Shayrat Air Base. Whoever thought that coordinating the strike with the Russians, in order to deconflict the airspace, minimize damage, and conduct a symbolic attack to demonstrate US resolve, the ability to project force (which no one doubted), and deter future attacks was a good idea just got played for a fool. Putin and the Russian government are going to use this to beat the US about the head and shoulders to achieve their own objectives in the Levant and within the global system.



Life Imitates Satire: TSA Edition

This is satire:

This actually happened:

Well that’s not creepy at all…

I have said it before and I’m sure I will say it again: 9-11 caused the US to socio-culturally suffer a mental and emotional breakdown. While lots of Americans have recovered, a not insignificant number of Americans have not.



Security Theater Open Thread: Wolverines! — Not the UM Kind

As ever, the brilliance of the Trump Administration: Getting a roomful of people with every reason to hate Islamic terrorists united in anger against… the Trump administration. Per the Detroit Free Press:

In a meeting today with Arab-Americans and Muslims in Dearborn, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stood up at one point and threatened to leave after a community advocate accused the department of targeting their communities, according to meeting participants.

The tense exchange took place during a hour-long meeting at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, where Kelly met with several Arab-American and Muslim advocates as part of a visit to metro Detroit. At a separate earlier meeting with immigrant, Latino, and Chaldean advocates, some also criticized the department for allegedly targeting minority groups…

At the meeting, Nabih Ayad, an active civil rights leader and attorney who is founder of the Dearborn-based Arab American Civil Rights League, said he pressed Kelly about executive orders from his department that target six Muslim-majority nations.

He also mentioned alleged profiling of Arabs and Muslims at ports of entry. Ayad said he asked Kelly to create a record of who gets stopped for questioning at ports of entry so there can be data to see if there is disproportionate targeting of Arabs and Muslims.

“He stood up and walked away almost,” Ayad said. “He said, I’m leaving unless you decide to stop your questions and have someone else ask a question. … He actually got out his seat.”

Ayad said he then stopped his comments and another Arab-American advocate started to speak. Ayad’s account was confirmed by two other Arab-Americans who attended the meeting. U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, who had invited Kelly to Michigan, were also at the meeting…