Sunday, January 29, 2017

Today's Links

In his most sweeping action since taking office on Jan. 20, Trump, a Republican, put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In a Twitter message on Sunday, Trump said the country needed "strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW." Reuters

1---Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide

2--White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Sunday defended President Trump’s order to temporarily ban immigration from seven mostly-Muslim nations -- and deflected criticism over countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan not being included in the ban. 

“These are countries that have a history of training, harboring, exporting terrorists,” Conway, counselor to the president, told “Fox News Sunday.” “We can’t keep pretending and looking the other way.”

Conway said the Obama administration and Congress essentially came up with the list of seven, citing the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015.  

A federal judge on Saturday evening issued an emergency order temporarily barring the administration from deporting people from the seven countries.

Conway argued Sunday that the Brooklyn judge who issued the order is a President Obama appointee and that the judge’s order doesn't impact the thrust of Trump’s executive order -- preventing dangerous people from coming into the country, not detaining them.

“The upside (is) greater protection of our borders, our people. That’s a small price to pay,” said Conway, arguing the ban impacts just roughly 1 percent of such travelers.

In the wide-ranging interview 10 days into the Trump administration, Conway also attempted to explain why such countries as Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were not included in the ban.

She said Trump is privy to intelligence reports that critics and others have not seen and suggested the list could change.

“They can’t have it both ways on Trump,” she said. “The president and Congress will always have information we do not."

3--With National Security Council Shakeup, Steve Bannon Gets A Seat At The Table  The politization of national security

President Trump has reorganized the National Security Council by elevating his chief strategist Steve Bannon and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, Bannon will join the NSC's principals committee, the top inter-agency group for discussing national security. The National Security Council is the staff inside the White House that coordinates decision making by the president on such matters, in coordination with outside departments including the State Department and the Pentagon.

It's an unusual decision, NPR's Mara Liasson reported. "David Axelrod, for instance, who had a similar job as Bannon in the Obama administration, never sat in on Principals meetings," she added. When such figures seen as part of the political wing of the White House have participated in broader National Security Council meetings, it's sparked sharp criticism from the national security establishment....

Bannon was extremely influential during the first week of the administration – he is said to be part of a small group inside the White House driving the flurry of executive actions this week, Mara Liasson has reported....

The NSC principals committee is defined as "the Cabinet-level senior interagency forum for considering policy issues that affect the national security interests of the United States." It's chaired either by national security advisor Michael Flynn or homeland security advisor Tom Bossert and now includes the secretaries of state, defense and the Treasury, plus the attorney general, White House chief of staff and the president's chief strategist, which is Bannon's position.

On the other hand, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend Principals Committees meetings only when "issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed," according to the presidential memorandum issued on Saturday....

Top security officials from the Obama administration are blasting the decision.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under Obama and George W. Bush, called the demotions a "big mistake" in an interview with ABC News. " I think that they both bring a perspective and judgment and experience to bear that every president, whether they like it or not, finds useful," Gates said.
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice called the move "stone cold crazy." In a sarcastic tweet, she said: "Who needs military advice or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?"

White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded in an interview with ABC News. "That's clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador," Spicer said. "We are instilling reforms to make sure that we streamline the process for the president to make decisions on key, important intelligence matters. You've got a leader in General Flynn who understands the intelligence process and the reforms that are needed probably better than anybody else."

Spicer also defended Bannon's qualifications. "Well, he is a former naval officer. He's got a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now," Spicer said

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told CBS News, "I am worried about the National Security Council. Who are the members of it and who are the permanent members? The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which a radical departure from any National Security Council in history."
McCain added that, "One person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in my view."

4--National Security Council flap continues

“Adding people to the National Security Council never really bothers me,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “My biggest concern is there are actually, under the law, only two statutory advisers to the National Security Council and that’s the Director of Central Intelligence, or the DNI, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

“I think pushing them out of the National Security Council meetings, except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake,” he added. “I think that they both bring a perspective and judgment and experience to bear that every president, whether they like it or not, finds useful

5--The 2016 presidential campaign was the first to be fought and won on the Internet.

Donald Trump mastered the art of dominating the news cycle simply by posting a Tweet that was so outrageously compelling that it went viral the moment it was posted. The journalists at Drudge, Alex Jones, Breitbart and WND plus radio talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage with their enormously large and loyal national radio audiences, plus Sean Hannity almost alone on Fox News for his unwavering support of Trump, were the backbone of the alternative media support Trump received from the beginning of his campaign. Trump voters in Middle America in 2016 turned off MSNBC and CNN—some even turning off Fox News itself—as most established radio and television news personalities persisted in questioning Trump, if not outright ridiculing his candidacy....

What seemed clear in the summer of 2015 was that the bi-coastal mainstream media heavily favored Hillary to win, even to the point of suppressing bad news that might negatively impact Hillary’s candidacy, while promoting any news that might cause Trump trouble. But the point, which should have been obvious to all experienced political operatives, was that Trump had managed to dominate all news coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. Whether the audience loved or hated Trump, the only thing the American public wanted to talk about during the summer of 2015 was Trump. The news dominance Trump was commanding was rivaled in modern times only by the sensation Barack Obama caused when he first came on the national scene

6--Who's telling the truth?? 325,000 people entered US yesterday and 109 were detained for further questioning

Among the more vocal defenders of Trump were top aide Kellyanne Conway, who on Sunday emphasized the importance of having safe borders, suggesting that the small number of people who were inconvenienced by the order was worth it to keep the country safe. She said 325,000 people "from overseas came into this country just yesterday through our airports."

"You're talking about 300 and some who have been detained or are prevented from gaining access to an aircraft in their home countries," Conway said on "Fox News Sunday." "Thats 1 percent. And I think in terms of the upside being greater protection of our borders, of our people, it's a small price to pay." She also echoed Trump and insisted the immigration order was not a Muslim ban, even as some Democratic lawmakers have argued the opposite. 

"These seven countries, what about the 46 majority-Muslim countries that are not included? Right there, it totally undercuts this nonsense that this is a Muslim ban," Conway said.   "This is a ban on prospective travel from countries, trying to prevent terrorists in this country, from countries that have a recent history of training and exporting and harboring terrorists."...

As noted earlier, Priebus also clarified the order, saying it doesn't affect green card holders. "We didn't overrule the Department of Homeland Security, as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn't affect them," Priebus said on NBC's "Meet The Press." But Priebus noted if a person is traveling back and forth to one of the seven countries included in that order, that person is likely to be "subjected temporarily with more questioning until a better program is put in place."
"We don't want people that are traveling back and forth to one of these seven countries that harbor terrorists to be traveling freely back and forth between the United States and those countries," he said. He clarified that it is up to the "discretionary authority" of a Customs and Border Patrol agent whether people traveling back and forth to these seven countries receive extra questioning. Priebus then added that other countries may need to be added to the executive order in the future.

"But in order to do this in a way that was expeditious, in a way that would pass muster quickly," he said, "we used the 7 countries that have already been codified and identified." He said the order was "done for the protection of Americans, and waiting another three days, waiting another three weeks is something that we don't want to get wrong."

Priebus' bottom line: Trump won't apologize for keeping Americans safe: "President Trump is not willing to get this wrong," Priebus said, "which is why he wants to move forward quickly and protect Americans.... So we apologize for nothing here." 

7--Trump Backs Away From Syria Safe Zone Order

Signed Executive Order Omits References to Planning

8--Outrage About Trump Exposes "Librul" Hypocrisy

Trump order yesterday introduced a temporary ban on visa holders and visa issuing to citizens of seven Middle East countries. These countries are: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Outcries on social media and in various papers ensued. People went to airports to protest. TV was there to spread the news.

But it is nothing new that the citizens of these countries are targeted with U.S. visa restrictions. It was Obama who had introduced such in 2015 and 2016. The Trump order links directly to them. It does not name any country but refers to them as "countries designated in Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 consolidated appropriations act."

In 2011 Obama stopped processing Iraqi visa requests for six month. That move was quite similar to Trump's current one. Where was the outcry in 2001? In 2011, 2015 and 2016? Is it only bad when Trump restricts visits for certain people from certain countries?

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