Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Former Director Comey Testimony II

Here’s a fresh thread for former Director Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Update at 12:10 PM EDT

Because we can chew gum and walk at the same time, do not forget to call your senators about the attempt to jam the AHCA through the Senate!!!!!! You know what to do!

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Former FBI Director Comey Testimony

Here’s the live feed for former FBI Director Comey’s testimony.

Update at 10:34 AM EDT

I switched the live stream below to PBS’s.


An Informed Expert’s Initial Views on James Comey’s Testimony Tomorrow

Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and the editor in chief of Lawfare. He is also a friend of James Comey. Earlier this evening he shared his initial thoughts after reading the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s release of former FBI Director Comey’s prepared opening statement tomorrow. While I highly recommend the whole thing, here are the final three paragraphs that tie Wittes’ thoughts together.

But I will make three general observations based on this document alone.

First, Comey is describing here conduct that a society committed to the rule of law simply cannot accept in a president. We have spent a lot of time on this site over seven years now debating the marginal exertions of presidential power and their capacity for abuse. Should the president have the authority to detain people at Guantanamo? Incinerate suspected terrorists with flying robots? Use robust intelligence authorities directed at overseas non-citizens? These questions are all important, but this document is about a far more important question to the preservation of liberty in a society based on legal norms and rules: the abuse of the core functions of the presidency. It’s about whether we can trust the President—not the President in the abstract, but the particular embodiment of the presidency in the person of Donald J. Trump—to supervise the law enforcement apparatus of the United States in fashion consistent with his oath of office. I challenge anyone to read this document and come away with a confidently affirmative answer to that question.

Second, we are about to see a full-court press against Comey. I don’t know what it will look like. But the attack instinct always kicks in when a presidency is under siege. And Trump has the attack instinct in spades even when he’s not under siege. It is important to remember what the stakes are here. They are not about whether Comey was treated fairly. They are not about whether you like him. They are not about whether he handled the Clinton email investigation in the highest traditions of the FBI or the Justice Department. They are not about leaks. The stakes here are about whether what Comey is reporting in this document are true facts and, if so, what we need as a political society to do about the reality that we have a president who behaves this way and seeks to use the FBI in this fashion. It is critical, in other words, that people not change the subject or get distracted when others try to do so.

Finally, it is also critical—though probably fruitless to say—that we eschew partisanship in the conversation. Tomorrow, this document will be the discussion text when Comey faces a committee that, warts and all, has handled the Russia matter to date in a respectable and honorably bipartisan fashion. It is not too much to ask that members put aside party and respond as patriots to the fact that the former FBI director will swear an oath that these facts are true—and was fired after these interactions allegedly took place by a man who then told Lester Holt that “when I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” and boasted to the Russians the day after dismissing Comey that “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”


ISIL Attacks Iran

Earlier today ISIL conducted two attacks in Iran with a third being thwarted. The first was at the Iranian majlis or parliament. The second was a suicide bombing at the shrine to Ayatullah Uzma Khomeini. The BBC has the details:

Twin attacks on the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in the capital, Tehran, have killed at least 12 people and injured many more.

The assault on the parliament appears to be over, after hours of intermittent gunfire there. A suicide bomber detonated a device at the mausoleum.

Iranian officials say they managed to foil a third attack.

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed it carried out the attacks, which would be a first in Iran.

Unlike the attacks we’ve seen throughout Europe, ISIL quickly claimed responsibility.

This is significant as it indicates a directly coordinated attack, rather than actions taken by self radicalized actors on behalf of/in the name of the Islamic State. The New York Times‘ Rukmini Callimachi, who has done a magnificent job in her reporting on ISIL, breaks this down on her twitter feed:

This is a very significant point that Callimachi is making:

Brisard’s and Callimachi’s reasoning is further supported by this piece of analysis from yesterday at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group has recently expanded its campaign to recruit Iranians and disseminate its message to Persian speakers.

In late March, IS published a rare video in Persian in which it called on Iran’s Sunni minority to rise up against the Shi’a-dominated Iranian establishment. The video was dismissed by Iran’s state broadcaster as “nonsense” and an attempt by the group to cover up mounting losses in Iraq.

Since then, IS has published four issues of its online propaganda publication Rumiyah in Persian. Rumiyah, whose title means Rome in Arabic in an allusion to prophecies that Muslims would conquer the West, is already published in several languages, including English, Russian, French, and Indonesian.

Iran has deployed senior military advisers and thousands of “volunteers” in the past six years to help regional ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battle an armed insurrection that includes IS and other Islamist fighters as well as groups supported by Turkey and the United States.

IS advocates a radical Salafi version of Sunni Islam and regards Shi’a as heretics, and controls parts of Iraq and Syria under what it describes as a “caliphate.”

This attack is significant for several reasons. The first is that even as ISIL is being squeezed on the ground, with the long delayed start of the operation to clear ISIL from Raqqa finally seeming to be under way and operations to finish driving ISIL from Mosul coming to a completion and other parts of northern Iraq well under way, we are seeing an increase of ISIL related attacks well outside of the self proclaimed caliphate. This makes a certain logical sense. It allows ISIL, or those that objectively (have formally joined/under direct ISIL control) or subjectively (consider themselves to be in solidarity with, but haven’t formally joined/not under direct ISIL control) ISIL, to demonstrate that they are still relevant and have significant operational capability even as they lose more and more ground in Iraq and Syria. To a great extent this was always going to be part of the potential negative effects of the US’s strategy of degrading and reducing ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The more successful Operation Inherent Resolve is, the more ISIL inspired and/or directed terrorist activity would be seen well away from the actual declared caliphate in the Levant.

Read more

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Live Feed: Deputy AG Rosenstein, Acting FBI Director McCabe, DNI Coats, and DIRNSA Rogers Testimony

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will soon come to order for the day and hear testimony from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Coats, Acting Director of the FBI McCabe, and Director of the National Security Agency ADM Rogers.

Expect a great deal of, at least, Admiral Rogers testimony to deal with Monday’s news about attempted Russian hacking of election systems and the officials who oversee them. Also keep an eye out for what both the Democrats and the Republican members are asking about. If the GOP members quickly move to and stick with questions about unmasking then there is a coordinated, predetermined strategy similar to what we saw a few weeks ago in the House Select Committee on Intelligence’s hearing to try to shift the narrative to something less damaging and more advantageous to the GOP and the President. Given that Senator Burr has already said a focus will be on renewing the FISA Act later this year, this may be an easy move to make.

Here’s the live feed:

I’ll be back shortly with a brief piece on the terrorist attacks in Iran and later today/tonight with a piece on the Russian active measures campaign against Qatar.

The 73rd Anniversary of D-Day

Today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day.

Here is the lost, but now found, D-Day documentary:


From the Unwritten Record blog:

The First D-Day Documentary

This post was written by Steve Greene. Steve is the Special Media Holdings Coordinator for the Presidential Libraries System. Previously, he was the audiovisual archivist for the Nixon Presidential Materials.

Despite being cataloged, described, and housed at the National Archives for decades, the films created by the U.S. Military during World War II still hold unexpected surprises.

In a recent search for combat moving image footage to complement the Eisenhower Library’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings, I identified four reels of a documentary on the landings prepared by the “SHAEF [Supreme Headquarter Allied Expeditionary Forces] Public Relations Division.”

These reels were assigned separate, nonsequential identifying numbers in the Army Signal Corps Film catalog, suggesting that the Army did not recognize them to be parts of single production. Rather than offering the perspective of a single combat photographer, the reels shifted perspective from the sea, to the air, to the beaches, suggesting careful editing to provide an overview. The 33 minutes of film were described on a shot card as “a compilation of some of the action that took place from D Day to Day Plus 3, 6-9 June 1944.” The production, with no ambient sound, music or effects, includes a single monotone narrator and gives the impression of a military briefing set to film.

This film is probably the first film documentary of the events of the first four days of the D-day assault, created within days of the invasion.

More at the link.

Here’s the US Army Europe’s Military Band playing at the 70th anniversary festivities:

Here’s a 70th anniversary air drop over France:

The President doesn’t seem to have made any formal remarks, but he did issue a commemorative tweet!

Here’s President Reagan’s 40th anniversary remarks:

And President Obama at the 70th anniversary:

The United States Versus the United States: Climate Change Edition

Shortly after the President announced on Thursday that the US was pulling out of the Paris Agreement* a number of states, as well as cities, quickly announced they were going to actually work to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. These ranged from large states like California to small states like Connecticut. By doing so they’ve essentially created a shadow coalition within the US to abide by the agreement and meet its outcomes. While we’ve all seen Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto’s tweets contradicting the President’s remarks and defying him in regards to what Pittsburgh will actually do, Massachusetts Republican governor has now stated that Massachusetts will also follow California’s lead and become part of the unofficial US state and municipal alliance adhering to the agreement.

There are two interesting dynamics going on here. One is recognizing what Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti stated that:

Cities and states are already where most of the action on climate is. Our message is clear to the world: Americans are with you, even if the White House isn’t.… Trump’s move is going to have unintended consequences of us all doing the opposite of what the president wants. It will in many ways greatly backfire.

Even more specifically 2o states have greenhouse gas reduction/emission reduction targets. As a matter of policy, law, or both. There are also regional and state carbon and renewable fuel initiatives. Additionally, 160 mayors across the US have agreed to join the California led effort as can be seen in this map from The LA Times (because the image is truncated you can’t see Hawaii, which has reduction targets too).

(Map 1: State’s with emission targets and cities that will adhere to the Paris Agreement)

Or this better state by state image that includes the actual emission targets:

(Map 2: State Emission Targets)

The other dynamic is the relative economic power of the states and the cities that are going to be part of the unofficial coalition to adhere to the Paris Agreement. California, as is often remarked on, is currently the equivalent to the 8th largest economy in the world (if it were an independent country). New York would be tied for 14th. Massachusetts for 29th, Illinois 20th, etc. California and New York individually, let alone working together, have a tremendous amount of economic power. And a lot of that economic power is regulatory. When two of the four state economic powerhouses combine with a lot of other economically strong states and 120 municipalities ranging from mega city to regionally large metropolitan area, a lot of economic power is being wielded. Corporations, from auto makers to energy providers to appliance makers, that wish to do business in California, New York, and their allies are going to have to meet the standards that those states and municipalities set. Given the amount of money to be made from doing business in those places they will meet the standards that will be set. As a result, even if other economically powerful states like Texas and Florida choose to ignore the Paris Agreement it won’t make much difference. They’re going to get the same goods and services designed to pass muster in the California led coalition to adhere to the Paris Agreement whether they like it or not.

In many ways what we’ve seen emerge over the past several days is an example of federalism done right. This isn’t an attempt to thumb a state’s nose at a Federal law or regulation by making a legal case rooted in a bizarre reading of the 10th Amendment and the fringe theories of libertarian fundamentalist lawyers holding sinecures at think tanks to create a 21st Century form of nullification. Rather it is a coalition of states and municipalities stating that they will use the economic power that exists because of their size, pool it with those of like minded states and municipalities, and let the power of the market work its magic. This is not only how federalism was intended to work, it is also how properly designed and functioning governments and markets are supposed to work. Both function best, and are at their best, when they are transparent, have predictable, clear, and enforced rules and regulations. What California and its allies are doing is to create that dynamic in regard to environmental governance, rules, and regulations. As a result we get the United States that will adhere to the Paris Agreement as opposed to the The United States choosing not to.

* It is important to note that the process and procedure for pulling out of the Paris Agreement is not quick. Once formal notice is given it will take three years. So it won’t actually happen until after the next Presidential election. As a result, and has been so often the case with his executive orders, the President’s announcement on Thursday was almost completely symbolic messaging to his base with the added bonus of pissing off the Europeans.