Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: You Can Count on the CIA

… to behave just as it’s always behaved. Tea Party alumni and Saudi Arabian monarchy fan Mike Pompeo showed up at the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to thrill the #NeverIran activists with his display of America’s Big Stick(tm). But first, he needed to back up his current master’s Big Lie…

His comment suggested — falsely — that a report released by U.S. intelligence agencies in January had ruled out any impact that could be attributed to a covert Russian interference campaign that involved leaks of tens of thousands of stolen emails, the flooding of social media sites with false claims and the purchase of ads on Facebook.

A report compiled by the CIA and other agencies described that Russian operation as unprecedented in its scale and concluded that Moscow’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process and help elect Donald Trump.

But the report reached no conclusions about whether that interference had altered the outcome — an issue that U.S. intelligence officials made clear was considered beyond the scope of their inquiry…

Former U.S. intelligence officials voiced concern over Pompeo’s statement.

“This is another example of Pompeo politicizing intelligence,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. Pompeo “is the most political CIA director since Bill Casey” during the Reagan administration, the former official said. “This significantly undermines the intelligence community’s credibility.”…

Pompeo also threatened “leakers”:

… Pompeo also criticized former U.S. intelligence officials for their television appearances, implying that they violated their oaths and potentially contributed to the leaks of sensitive information.

“There are an awful lot of former CIA talking heads on TV,” Pompeo said, adding that their obligation to remain quiet about their work “far extends beyond the day you turn in your badge.”

His comment seemed to be aimed mainly at former senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration, including James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, who said in a recent interview that Russia’s interference had “cast doubt” on Trump’s win.

“Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory,” Clapper said in an interview on CNN last month. He added that he worried Trump’s perceived focus on the issue “transcends, unfortunately, the real concern here, which is Russian interference in our political process.”…

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rebuked Pompeo for his Russia comments. Wyden said in a posting on Twitter that Pompeo’s views on Moscow had “shifted with those of the president.”
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It’s All Fun & Games, Until Somebody Loses Their Kid

It’s sad (no lie!) that the New England Cosplay Association had to cancel a long-scheduled public gathering because some nitwit college kid got a permit to let Nazi wannabes swarm Boston Common. But this is serious:

Y’know, I’d have trouble picking Insane Clown Posse songs out of a general metal sound-off, but if the Very Serious Pundits could get past their bourgeois prejudices, the classic Juggalo is exactly the type of disadvantaged, Appalachian-heritage ‘Working Class White’ that they slobber over so endlessly. And it would probably cause at least one cardiac incident if this were pointed out to a roomful of Media Village Idiots…

Long Read: “How Being Wrongly Pegged as the Dallas Cop Sniper Changed Mark Hughes’ Life Forever”

Dan Solomon, at Fusion:

Mark Hughes has a sense of humor about what happened to him last summer. On July 7, 2016, Hughes was wrongly identified by Dallas Police and news organizations around the world as a suspect in that day’s sniper attack at a Black Lives Matter march in the city, and when I meet him in the office of the tax prep company he owns in nearby Arlington, Hughes asks me with a straight face: “Are you familiar with the July 7th event?” Then, pointing to his desk neighbor: “You know, he was the one who was actually doing the shooting.”

It’s hard to imagine how Hughes would have survived the past year without cracking a few jokes. Almost everything about his life has been affected by the day his photograph was emblazoned on local news, CNN, and the Dallas Police Department’s official Twitter account, with the words “This is one of our suspects. Please help us find him!” above his photo.

Hughes had seen groups like Open Carry Tarrant County, whose members—and leadership, which is white—carry long-arm rifles on the street in front of his tax-prep business, in accordance with the law. And as he made plans to attend the march he decided, for the first time, that he should do the same. Philando Castile, the Minnesota man whose shooting death had been captured on video prior to the march, had his right to carry a gun violated by the officer who shot him. Hughes decided that meant he had a responsibility to assert his own.
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Open Thread: Sixty Pounds of Something in A Forty-Pound Sack

Nope, sounds to me like Mr. Trump may just have ingested sixty pounds of something stronger than Jeff Sessions’ “demon weed”…

President Trump
told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday that his proposed border wall would have to be “transparent” to prevent Americans from being struck and killed by 60-pound sacks of drugs tossed over from the Mexican side.

“One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” Trump said. He continued:

In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.

Trump acknowledges that the scenario he paints is somewhat “crazy,” but there is a kernel of truth to it. For decades, drug smugglers have employed an arsenal of sometimes cartoonish tactics — from tricycles to narco-subs to drone delivery — to ferry their wares north of the border.

One such tool is the drug catapult — or more accurately, the drug trebuchet: a medieval-era device capable of slinging heavy objects, typically marijuana bales, across hundreds of yards…

SUNY-Albany homeland security expert Brandon Behlendorf told Wired this week that it’s nearly impossible to design a wall tall or “transparent” enough to stop a well-built trebuchet.

“They’re launching drugs not five feet from the wall, or 10 feet from the wall, where a transparent wall would help,” Behlendorf said. “They’re launching it 100 feet over the wall, 150 feet over the wall. No amount of transparency is going to help you in that context.”…

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Making Amends, Where Possible

(Tom Toles via

Margaret Sullivan, at the Washington Post, “The Intercept failed to shield its confidential source. Now it’s making amends.”:

It should have been the last place a news source would have to worry about protection and confidentiality. And indeed, the organization, funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, includes some world-class security experts.

But early last month, the site — founded by the crusading journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras — came under fire for inadvertently failing in that core mission. Now, having taken a deep look at what happened, the Intercept has adopted some reforms, and its parent company is helping a young whistleblower who has been charged under the Espionage Act…

“As the news outlet Winner is accused of leaking to, the Intercept has a unique perspective on her case and a passionate desire to see her receive a fair trial — even though we had no idea who our source was and still have no independent knowledge of the source’s identity,” Reed said in a statement Tuesday.

Helping Winner’s case will take two forms, she said.

First Look’s Press Freedom Defense Fund will pay for a law firm to support her current defense lawyers. And it will give $50,000 in matching funds to Stand With Reality, a grass-roots crowdfunding campaign intended to increase public awareness and support legal work for the young whistleblower…

Reed, who declined for legal reasons to go into detail about what happened, told me the entire staff would be retrained in best practices and that new levels of editorial scrutiny would be put in place. No staffers will be fired.

The Intercept’s founding principles are transparency and accountability, and its mission remains important.

So, it’s heartening to see the site and its parent company doing everything in their power to admit and make good on their own mistakes. And it’s important that they’ll help Winner be treated fairly at the hands of an administration that could hardly be more averse to press rights.

More detail at the link. While I’d prefer the Intercept had not fouled up in the first place, better they should do what they can to support Ms. Winner now than default to a squid-cloud of butthurt excuses. Mine is a religious faith that believes in redemption — after all, our Blogmaster used to be a Republican!


What’s on the agenda as we gear up for another day?

Triumph of the Swill

Trump’s speech in Poland yesterday hasn’t received much attention because of his other antics, which included slamming the U.S. intel community and American press on foreign soil and blaming President Obama for not responding to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, while simultaneously claiming that it’s impossible to definitively pin the interference on the Russians. Predictably, the MSM hot takes on the speech focused on the fact that Trump read it more or less successfully.

But the speech’s content deserves attention because of the worldview it reveals — a Bannonite dystopia in which white Christian countries are besieged by hordes of brown heretics. That vision flew mostly under the radar because Trump used “the West” as shorthand for white folks, and people interpret the phrase in different ways. But the message was clear and chilling if you’ve paid attention to the garbage ideology white nationalists allied with Bannon have pushed with varying degrees of success worldwide.

One thing that caught my notice in the transcript was Trump’s focus on Poland’s borders, which have been tragically erased again and again by invading armies, and a linkage with broader border security issues today. It was clear (to me, anyway) that despite a nod to NATO, the border-related fear Trump was selling in Poland wasn’t really about Putin’s revanchist ambitions but rather nonwhite, non-Christian invaders. He’s selling a parallel bill of goods here at home about our border, complete with a shameful program to demonize immigrants.

I’m not convinced Trump himself even understands the bamboozle, but it doesn’t matter. The white nationalists at home and abroad damn sure heard and were encouraged by the dog-whistles in that speech. I think the Trump-Putin meeting today will eventually lead to the announcement of a U.S.-Russian alliance to defeat the Muslim hordes, bought at the extremely low bargain-basement price of lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia, probably with Trump giving back the spy houses in the U.S. that President Obama seized to punish Putin for fucking with our election as a down payment.

That will further divide the country. Cult45 will make fap-memes featuring Aragorn’s “Men of the West” speech in Lord of the Rings to celebrate the white Christian alliance against the Muslim menace. Meanwhile, those of us who see the greatest threat to U.S. democracy in the machinations of Putin will view it (rightly) as capitulation.

In conclusion, please hurry, Mr. Mueller!

Auschwitz: The GOP Does Not Understand This “Shame” of Which We Speak

No matter how low you’ve seen them go, the Repubs can always find new depths!

I’m not embedding the video, but you can see it at Esquire, if you must. Their rebuttal:

The horrors at Auschwitz were perpetrated by a government, not a terrorist organization. It was not some outside force acting on Germany: Adolf Hitler rose to power with the assent of the German people, and his crimes were possible—and, technically, legal—because he generally enjoyed the consent of a large segment of the population. The problem with Nazi Germany was not military weakness. It was the ideological depravity of a government run on a toxic brand of right-wing nationalism that demonized foreigners and multiple subgroups within German society—but most prominently, and terribly, Jewish people.

The last time Higgins made national headlines, it was when, in a Facebook post addressed to “all of Christendom” after a terror attack in London, he had a suggestion for how to treat every “radicalized Islamic suspect.”

“For the sake of all that is good and righteous,” he wrote, “kill them all.”…

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