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OFFICIAL M.O.A.B FOOTAGE RELEASED (Afghans React to M.O.A.B Bomb) *Compilation 2017 HD*
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Breaking! U.S. Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb on Afghanistan! “Mother of All Bombs”!
Trump Drops the ”Mother of All Bombs” in Afghanistan
WORLDS LARGEST Non-Nuclear Bomb GBU-43 B Massive Ordnance Air Blast
Published on Apr 13, 2017
Mother of all bombs GBU-43 B Massive Ordnance Air Blast.
U.S. on 04.11.2017 dropped the most powerful conventional bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar, Afghanistan.
The bomb, known in military ranks as “MOAB,” or the “mother of all bombs,” was used Thursday for the first time in combat, though it was developed in the early 2000s.
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Children of Mother of All Bomb
Boeing Delivers Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) 37,000 LB Bombs To The USAF – GBU-57
PUBLISHED: 12:52 EDT, 13 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:50 EDT, 13 April 2017
The United States has dropped its largest non-nuclear weapon after it targeted ISIS a network of caves and tunnels in eastern Afghanistan.
U.S. forces used a GPS-guided GBU-43 bomb, which is 30 feet long and weighs a staggering 21,600 pounds.
It is known as the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ – a play on ‘MOAB,’ an acronym that stands for ‘Massive Ordnance Air Burst.’
A crater left by the blast is believed to be more than 300 meters wide after it exploded six feet above the ground. Anyone at the blast site was vaporized.
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that he was ‘very, very proud’ and called the operation ‘really another successful job. We’re very, very proud of our military.’
The Pentagon is denying that the attack was a revenge strike despite the fact that it came in the same area of Afghanistan where a Green Beret soldier was killed on Saturday.
Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, of 7th Special Forces Group, was cut down by enemy small arms fire while his unit was conducting counter-ISIS operations.
The military used a GBU-43 (pictured), which weighs a staggering 21,600 pounds, and has earned the moniker ‘Mother Of All Bombs
That MOAB’s first practical test was carried out on March 11, 2003 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that he had authorized his military commanders to take actions like the one put into play on Thursday
Trump suggested he had not personally ordered the bomb strike but delegated authority to commanders in the field.
‘Everybody knows exactly what happened. So, what I do is I authorize my military … We have given them total authorization,’ he said.
The move marks the fulfilment of a 17-month-old campaign promise Trump delivered in Iowa, when he scoffed at ISIS terror forces and said he ‘would bomb the s**t out of them’ if he became president.
It also comes at a moment in the young Trump presidency when tensions are rising with Russia over its role in Syria, where ISIS has its headquarters.
Huge: The MOAB test fired in 2003 shortly before final preparations for it to be loaded onto an MC-130 attack aircraft
Then-candidate Donald Trump told an Iowa audience in November 2015 that he would fight ISIS from the air as president: ‘I would bomb the s**t out of them’
The explosion will also send a saber-rattling message to North Korea and Iran that rogue states’ nuclear-weapons ambitions could be met with brute force.
Trump said of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un: ‘I don’t know if this sends a message. It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not.’
‘North Korea’s a problem. The problem will be taken care of.’
The Department of Defense is denying that Thursday’s attack was revenge for Saturday’s death of Green Beret sergeant Mark De Alencar in the same region of Afghanistan
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that MOAB is ‘a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon’ whose use was intended to collapse underground spaces used by ISIS terrorists to move freely and attack U.S. and allied troops.
‘The United States takes the fight against ISIS seriously, and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space – which we did,’ Spicer said.
He referred reporters’ questions to the Pentagon and ignored a shouted question about whether Trump had been aware the bomb was dropped before or during the military operation.
Trump said during a November 2015 campaign rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa that ISIS was ‘making a tremendous amount of money’ because of ‘certain areas of oil that they took away’ after the Obama administration withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the s**t out of them,’ he said to wild cheers. ‘I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. … I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left.’
Trump said in 2015 that he would ‘Bomb the sh*t out of ISIS’
Preparations: This was the scene as the only other MOAB to be exploded was readied for action in 2003 in Florida. The tail rotor is part of the guidance system for it to exploded over a specified target
Mushroom cloud: This was the aftermath of the test explosion seen outside Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
The MOAB was pushed out the back door of a giant cargo plane on Thursday, flying to its target with GPS guidance. A MOAB has only been exploded once before – in a 2003 test
A specialized MC-130 ‘Hercules’ cargo aircraft released the weapon at 7:00 p.m. local time.
It was too big to drop from a traditional bomb-bay door or release from an aircraft wing, so ‘we kicked it out the back door,’ a U.S. official told Fox News.
The weapon’s sheer power produces a blast that can be felt miles away, largely because of its construction.
Engineers used an unusually thin aluminum skin to encase MOAB’s payload, in order to avoid a thicker steel frame interfering with the impact on a target.
The U.S. fast-tracked the MOAB in 2003 for use in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the Defense Department later decided that the enemy provided too little resistance to justify its deployment.
It was available to the Obama administration throughout the former president’s entire two terms, but he never deployed it in combat.
Its first practical test was carried out on March 11, 2003 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Sean Spicer announces dropping of GBU-43 bomb in Afghanistan
HOW ‘MOAB’ WORKS
Known as the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’
The U.S. military’s largest non-nuclear weapon
Each bomb costs around $16 million (£12.8 million)
Its explosion is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT and the blast radius is a mile wide
First tested by US forces in 2003
It is designed to destroy heavily reinforced targets or to shatter ground forces and armour across a large area
30 feet (9 meters) long and 40 inches (1 meter) wide
Weighs 21,000lbs (9,500kg) – heavier than the Hiroshima nuclear bomb
Leaves no lasting radiation effect
How it’s deployed:
The bomb has ‘grid’ fins that fold into the body and then open up in flight to help control its descent
It can only be deployed out of the back of a large cargo plane due to its size
The bomb rides on a pallet, a parachute pulls the pallet and bomb out of the plane
The pallet then separates so that the bomb can fall to its target
It accelerates rapidly to its terminal velocity and is partially guided to its target via satellite
It explodes six feet (1.8 meters) above the ground
The idea behind this ‘airburst’ mechanism is to spread its destructive range
The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the explosive colossus was dropped in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, making it the first time America’s largest non-nuclear weapon has been used in a combat situation.
Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said it was the first ever combat use of the bomb, which contains 11 tons of explosives.
Stump said the bomb was dropped on a cave complex believed to be used by ISIS fighters in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, very close to the border with Pakistan.
Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement about ISIS that ‘as ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense.’
‘This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against [ISIS-K].’
News reports suggest Nicholson made the decision to drop it from the sky.
He added that ‘[t]he strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.’
The ISIS faction in Afghanistan is known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-Khorasan province, or ISIS-K.
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Sec. Tillerson, Russian Minister Lavrov. News conference in Moscow. Syria. April 12. 2017
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Story 4: Trump Will Not Name Communist China As Currency Manipulator –United States Is A Currency Manipulator — Video —
A New Approach to Currency Manipulation?
How China’s devaluation impacts the U.S.
How Does China Manipulate Its Currency?
China’s Currency Manipulation
Donald Trump Economic Speech | Calls China as a Currency Manipulator | Monessen, PA | Mango News
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Why Trump Should Stop Accusing China of Yuan Manipulation
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China’s Upward Currency Manipulation Might Have To End – FX Reserves Are Falling
Tim Worstall , CONTRIBUTOR
It is a standard belief of many in the US, including the new President, Donald Trump, that China is a currency manipulator. This is true, China has indeed been manipulating the value of the yuan. However, contrary to popular belief it has, at least recently, been manipulating that value up against the American dollar, not down. This of course makes Chinese exports to America more expensive and reduces the trade deficit between the two countries. Not that simple facts tend to change many peoples’ beliefs about the economy of course.
However, this all might come to an end soon enough because China’s foreign currency reserves are falling as a result of their interventions. In fact, that those reserves are falling is the very evidence we need to show that they are intervening up, not down:
China’s foreign exchange reserves unexpectedly fell below the closely watched $3 trillion level in January for the first time in nearly six years, though tighter regulatory controls appeared to making some progress in slowing capital outflows. China has taken a raft of steps in recent months to make it harder to move money out of the country and to reassert a grip on its faltering currency, even as U.S. President Donald Trump steps up accusations that Beijing is keeping the yuan too cheap.
As we can see the general assumption in the financial markets, and the correct assumption too, is that China has been intervening to keep the value of the yuan up, not down. The major way it has been doing this being by limiting the amount that Chinese citizens can move out of the country:
Further erosion of the world’s largest stockpile may prompt policy makers again to tighten measures for controlling outflows and on companies transferring money to other countries. Authorities recently rolled out stricter requirements for citizens converting yuan into foreign currencies as the annual $50,000 foreign exchange quota for individuals reset Jan. 1.
For a capital outflow does indeed reduce the value of a currency:
China’s foreign exchange reserves fell below the $3 trillion mark for the first time in almost six years as capital continued to flow out of the world’s second-largest economy, data from the People’s Bank of China showed Tuesday.
The reserves fell by $12.31 billion from the previous month to $2.998 trillion, following a drop of $41.08 billion in December. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a $1 billion decrease in January.
The reason a capital outflow does this should be obvious. Yuan work only in China. Thus, to take money out of China you must sell yuan and buy some other form of money. That sale reduces the value of the yuan (more of something for sale does usually mean a price fall) against those other currencies. And thus the truth of those accusations of currency manipulation. As we can see the Chinese government is placing restrictions on peoples’ ability to sell yuan. This is thus manipulation which keeps the value up, not such that pushes it down.
All of which leaves us with an interesting point. The general demand is that China stop manipulating the value of its currency. OK, so, let’s insist upon that. The value of the yuan will fall, Chinese exports to America will be cheaper and we might well then see an increase in the US trade deficit. Which isn’t really what the people complaining about manipulation want, is it? But it may well be what they’re about to get.
Trump says he will not label China currency manipulator, reversing campaign promise
By Ana Swanson and Damian PalettaApril 12
During his presidential campaign Trump talked tough on China, accusing them of undervaluing the yuan. The International Monetary Fund has said that Chinese currency is “no longer undervalued”. Does China still deserve to be called a “currency manipulator”?(Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)
President Trump on Wednesday said he would not label China a currency manipulator, contradicting one of the biggest economic promises he made on the campaign trail.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he had changed his mind because China is not currently manipulating its currency, adding that he hoped to enlist China’s help on containing the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Trump also indicated that he might be open to keeping Janet L. Yellen as Federal Reserve chair after her term expires. “I like her, I respect her. … It’s very early,” he said when asking about her reappointment.
Trump was highly critical of Yellen during the campaign. He accused her of keeping interest rates low to benefit the Obama administration and said she should be ashamed of herself. But Yellen has a reputation for being slow to raise interest rates, and Trump had also professed his preference for low interest rates in the past.
“I do like a low-interest rate policy, I must be honest with you,” he told the Journal, when asked about Yellen.
The president is also “very close” to naming a vice chair and filling another open seat that governs community banking on the Federal Reserve Board, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during the interview.
In the interview, Trump also inveighed against the strong U.S. dollar, saying that the strength of the currency stemmed partially from people’s confidence in him, but that it was also hurting the economy.
“It’s very, very hard to compete when you have a strong dollar and other countries are devaluing their currency,” he said.
Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University, said it was striking that a sitting president would comment so directly on the value of the dollar.
“It could also be taken as an implicit threat to other countries that if the dollar stays strong and if U.S. bilateral trade imbalances with its major trading partners stay high or continue to expand, that he will take some sort of action,” Prasad said.
The judgment on currency manipulation was scheduled to be released in a semiannual report from the Treasury Department that is due this week.
China defies international trade rules in some respects, economists say, but devaluing its currency is not currently one of them. While China suppressed the value of its currency for years to make its products cheaper abroad and boost its exports, for the past several years it has been intervening in currency markets to prop the yuan up, which actually benefits American exporters.
Your daily policy cheat sheet from Wonkblog.
“Certainly for the past six months, which is the period notionally covered by the April 15 report, China has been intervening to raise the value of its currency, not to suppress it,” said Matthew Goodman, a former Treasury official who helped to label China a currency manipulator during the Clinton administration.
China was a favored target of Trump’s on the campaign trail. He often said the world’s second-largest economy was taking advantage of the U.S., and that he would respond on his first day in office by labeling China a currency manipulator. He has also said he would impose tariffs of up to 45 percent on China if the country does not negotiate better trade terms with the United States.
Labeling a country a currency manipulator triggers an investigation and can eventually lead to tariffs or other economically punitive measures.
But when Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago last week, the conversation was much more genial. The outcome of the talks was a 100-day plan to reevaluate the countries’ trading relationship, including trying to boost American exports to China.
President Trump met with China’s president on April 6, after months of criticizing China and promising big trade changes. From blasting China for currency manipulation to accusing them of “raping our economy,” here are some of his biggest blusters from the campaign trail. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
President Trump and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last week. Mr. Trump has promised to take action on Chinese trade and currency issues.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
Has the United States mismanaged the ascent of China?
By April 15, the Treasury Department is required to present to Congress a report on the exchange rate policies of the country’s major trading partners, intended to identify manipulators that cheapen their currency to make their exports more attractive and gain market share in the United States, a designation that could eventually lead to retaliation.
It would be hard, these days, to find an economist who feels China fits the bill. Under a trade law passed in 2015, a country must meet three criteria: It would have to have a “material” trade surplus with the rest of the world, have a “significant” surplus with the United States, and intervene persistently in foreign exchange markets to push its currency in one direction.
While China’s surplus with the United States is pretty big — almost $350 billion — its global surplus is modest, at 2.4 percent of its gross domestic product last year. Most significant, it has been pushing its currency up, not down. Since the middle of 2014 it has sold over $1 trillion from its reserves to prop up the renminbi, under pressure from capital flight by Chinese companies and savers.
Even President Trump — who as a candidate promised to label China a currency manipulator on Day 1 and put a 45 percent tariff on imports of Chinese goods — seems to be backing away from broad, immediate retaliation.
And yet the temptation remains. “When you talk about currency manipulation, when you talk about devaluations,” the Chinese “are world champions,” Mr. Trump told The Financial Times, ahead of the state visit of the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to the United States last week.
For all Mr. Trump’s random impulsiveness and bluster — and despite his lack of a coherent strategy to engage with what is likely soon to become the world’s biggest economy — he is not entirely alone with his views.
Many learned economists and policy experts ruefully acknowledge that the president’s intuition is broadly right: While labeling China a currency manipulator now would look ridiculous, the United States should have done it a long time ago.
“With the benefit of hindsight, China should have been named,” said Brad Setser, an expert on international economics and finance who worked in the Obama administration and is now at the Council on Foreign Relations.
There were reasonable arguments against putting China on the spot and starting a process that could eventually lead to American retaliation.
Yet by not pushing back against China’s currency manipulation, and allowing China to deploy an arsenal of trade tactics of dubious legality to increase exports to the United States, successive administrations — Republican and Democratic — arguably contributed to the economic dislocations that pummeled so many American workers over more than a decade. Those dislocations helped propel Mr. Trump to power.
From 2000 to 2014 China definitely suppressed the rise of the renminbi to maintain a competitive advantage for its exports, buying dollars hand over fist and adding $4 trillion to its foreign reserves over the period. Until 2005, the Chinese government kept the renminbi pegged to the dollar, following it down as the greenback slid against other major currencies starting in 2003.
American multinationals were flocking into China, taking advantage of its entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001, which guaranteed access to the American and other world markets for its exports. By 2007, China’s broad trade surplus hit 10 percent of its gross domestic product — an unheard-of imbalance for an economy this large. And its surplus with the United States amounted to a full third of the American deficit with the world.
Though the requirement that the Treasury identify currency manipulators “gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade” dates back to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, China was never called out.
There were good reasons. Or at least they seemed so at the time. For one, China hands in the administration of George W. Bush argued that putting China on the spot would make negotiations more difficult, because even Chinese leaders who understood the need to allow their currency to rise could not be seen to bow to American pressure.
Labeling China a manipulator could have severely hindered progress in other areas of a complex bilateral economic relationship. And the United States had bigger fish to fry.
“There were other dimensions of China’s economic policies that were seen as more important to U.S. economic and business interests,” Eswar Prasad, who headed the China desk at the International Monetary Fund and is now a professor at Cornell, told me. These included “greater market access, better intellectual property rights protection, easier access to investment opportunities, etc.”
At the end of the day, economists argued at the time, Chinese exchange rate policies didn’t cost the United States much. After all, in 2007 the United States was operating at full employment. The trade deficit was because of Americans’ dismal savings rate and supercharged consumption, not a cheap renminbi. After all, if Americans wanted to consume more than they created, they had to get it somewhere.
And the United States had a stake in China’s rise. A crucial strategic goal of American foreign policy since Mao’s death had been how to peacefully incorporate China into the existing order of free-market economies, bound by international law into the fabric of the postwar multilateral institutions.
And the strategy even worked — a little bit. China did allow its currency to rise a little from 2005 to 2008. And when the financial crisis hit, it took the foot off the export pedal and deployed a giant fiscal stimulus, which bolstered internal demand.
Yet though these arguments may all be true, they omitted an important consideration: The overhaul of the world economy imposed by China’s global rise also created losers.
In a set of influential papers that have come to inform the thinking about the United States’ relations with China, David Autor, Daron Acemoglu and Brendan Price from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Gordon Hanson from the University of California, San Diego; and David Dorn from the University of Zurich concluded that lots of American workers, in many communities, suffered a blow from which they never recovered.
Rising Chinese imports from 1999 to 2011 cost up to 2.4 million American jobs, one paper estimated. Another found that sagging wages in local labor markets exposed to Chinese competition reduced earnings by $213 per adult per year.
Economic theory posited that a developed country like the United States would adjust to import competition by moving workers into more advanced industries that competed successfully in global markets. In the real world of American workers exposed to the rush of imports after China erupted onto world markets, the adjustment didn’t happen.
If mediocre job prospects and low wages didn’t stop American families from consuming, it was because the American financial system was flush with Chinese cash and willing to lend, financing their homes and refinancing them to buy the furniture. But that equilibrium didn’t end well either, did it?
What it left was a lot of betrayed anger floating around among many Americans on the wrong end of these dynamics. “By not following the law, the administration sent a political signal that the U.S. wouldn’t stand up to Chinese cheating,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “As we can see now, that hurt in terms of maintaining political support for open trade.”
If there was a winner from this dynamic, it was Mr. Trump.
Will Mr. Trump really go after China? In addition to an expected executive order to retaliate against the dumping of Chinese steel, he has promised more. He could tinker with the definitions of “material” and “significant” trade surpluses to justify a manipulation charge.
And yet a charge of manipulation would add irony upon irony. “It would be incredibly ironic not to have named China a manipulator when it was manipulating, and name it when it is not,” Mr. Setser told me. And Mr. Trump would be retaliating against the economic dynamic that handed him the presidency.
China is No Longer Manipulating its Currency
C. Fred Bergsten (PIIE)
November 18, 2016 9:45 AM
US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to instruct his Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, just as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did in 2012. He would then presumably seek to negotiate with the Chinese to reduce their large trade surplus, which equals roughly half the total US trade deficit of about $500 billion, under the threat of limiting imports unilaterally if they failed to cooperate (and risking retaliation against US exports). A declining US trade deficit, if it could be achieved, would increase US economic growth. But China has not manipulated its currency, the renminbi, for the past two years, and even an erroneous designation would not enable the new president to take any retaliatory trade actions.
China was the champion currency manipulator of all time from 2003 through 2014. During this “decade of manipulation,” China bought more than $300 billion annually to resist upward movement of its currency by artificially keeping the exchange rate of the dollar strong and the renminbi’s exchange rate weak. China’s competitive position was thus strengthened by as much as 30 to 40 percent at the peak of the intervention. Currency manipulation explained most of China’s large trade surpluses, which reached a staggering 10 percent of its entire GDP in 2007.
China was not the only manipulator. A number of other Asian economies, including Taiwan and Hong Kong, also intervened regularly to keep from losing their competitive position to China (and thus to the United States as well). A few others, including Japan and Korea, intervened occasionally as well.
Naming a country a manipulator, however, has no significant operational consequences (which is one of the reasons it has not been done in recent years). The relevant US law, dating from 1988, requires only that the Secretary of the Treasury launch a negotiation with the indicted countries in an effort to rectify the situation. Trump and his advisors have suggested they would use a designation to impose new import restrictions against China, up to the level of the renminbi undervaluation that resulted, but they would have to invoke other US statutes to justify such action. (Regardless of manipulation, the administration might authorize the Commerce Department to apply countervailing duties against imports that were subsidized by undervalued exchange rates in China and elsewhere; this would probably run afoul of US obligations in the World Trade Organization, however, and might also be challenged domestically unless Congress explicitly authorized such treatment.)
I was among the first to call attention to the manipulation by the Chinese and others and to advocate strong action to counter it, but it must be recognized that the situation has changed dramatically over the past two years. China has experienced large outflows of private capital that have driven its exchange rate down and indeed sparked market fears of disorderly renminbi devaluations. To their credit, the Chinese have intervened heavily on the opposite side of the market: Instead of buying dollars to keep the renminbi weak, they have sold large amounts of dollars to prevent it from sliding further. Their recent intervention has promoted US competitiveness rather than undermined it. Manipulation (including by other countries) has passed largely into remission.
It would thus be factually incorrect, as well as ineffectual, for the new Trump administration to label China a currency manipulator (and the Chinese might well refuse to negotiate under such circumstances). Indeed, the White House would be running counter to the thrust of the new US currency law (although it could still label a country as a “manipulator,” even if it did not meet the terms of that law). The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 spells out three criteria for identifying a country for currency misbehavior:
a large bilateral trade surplus with the United States, which China has;
a material global current account surplus, which the Treasury Department interprets as meaning more than 3 percent of a country’s GDP, a bit more than China is now running; and
“persistent one-sided intervention” in the currency markets, to keep its exchange rate from rising, which China is clearly not conducting.
These tests would have caught China for eight consecutive years, from 2003 through 2010, but Treasury currently has placed China only on a “monitoring list” along with five others that meet at least two of the criteria or have met them in the recent past. There is always a possibility that China (and others) could resume the competitive nonappreciation of the earlier period if market pressure again pushed the renminbi upward, especially if China’s economic reforms faltered and its growth rate sank below the new target of 7 percent. So we cannot be confident that the problem has been definitively resolved.
Indeed, it would be desirable for the Trump administration to add a new tool to the US policy arsenal, to ensure the problem will not resurface, by announcing that the United States will counter any future manipulation by others with offsetting intervention of its own. If China buys $1 billion in an effort to keep the dollar artificially strong, the United States could buy $1 billion worth of renminbi to neutralize any impact of the Chinese action on the exchange rate between the two currencies. The Chinese currency and bond markets are now large enough to permit any foreseeable level of US intervention that might be needed. But simply the announcement of a policy of such “countervailing currency intervention” would almost surely deter future manipulation efforts, requiring very little if any actual activity. It should thus prolong the current remission of manipulation indefinitely. The Senate passed a bill authorizing “remedial currency intervention” in 2011, but the policy could be adopted under current law.
Trump’s economic team may decide to address a number of Chinese policies that support its exports and impede its imports, in an effort to reduce the Chinese surplus and the US deficit, as its predecessors have done for many years. There are several US statutes that provide a basis for doing so. Currency manipulation is not one of these, however, especially at the present time. The new administration should look for alternative paths to any immediate action while shoring up the country’s defenses against possible recrudescence of currency aggression in the future.
C. Fred Bergsten is senior fellow and director emeritus of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He was the founding director of the Institute from 1981 through 2012. He was previously assistant secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and is coauthor, with Joseph E. Gagnon, of the forthcoming Institute book Currency Conflict and Trade Policy: A New Strategy for the United States.
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Trump advisor Cohn: We can absolutely get to 3% growth this
Trump’s base turns on him
Steve Bannon’s downgrade is just one of many complaints. ‘We expect him to keep his word, and right now he’s not keeping his word,’ says one campaign supporter.
Donald Trump’s true believers are losing the faith.
As Trump struggles to keep his campaign promises and flirts with political moderation, his most steadfast supporters — from veteran advisers to anti-immigration activists to the volunteers who dropped their jobs to help elect him — are increasingly dismayed by the direction of his presidency.
Their complaints range from Trump’s embrace of an interventionist foreign policy to his less hawkish tone on China to, most recently, his marginalization of his nationalist chief strategist, Steve Bannon. But the crux of their disillusionment, interviews with nearly two dozen Trump loyalists reveal, is a belief that Trump the candidate bears little resemblance to Trump the president. He’s failing, in their view, to deliver on his promise of a transformative “America First” agenda driven by hard-edged populism.
“Donald Trump dropped an emotional anchor. He captured how Americans feel,” said Tania Vojvodic, a fervent Trump supporter who founded one of his first campaign volunteer networks. “We expect him to keep his word, and right now he’s not keeping his word.”
Earlier this week, Vojvodic launched a Facebook group called, “The concerned support base of President Trump,” which quickly drew several dozen sign-ups. She also changed the banner on her Facebook page to a picture of Bannon accompanied by the declaration: “Mr. President: I stand with Steve Bannon.”
“I’m not so infatuated with Trump that I can’t see the facts,” she said. “People’s belief, their trust in him, it’s declining.”
The swiftness and abruptness of Trump’s shift from bomb-throwing populist outsider to a more mainstream brand of Republican has taken the president’s stalwarts by surprise.
“It was like, here’s the chance to do something different. And that’s why people’s hopes are dashed,” said Lee Stranahan, who, as a former writer at Breitbart News, once worked with Bannon. “There was always the question of, ‘Did he really believe this stuff?’ Apparently, the answer is, ‘Not as much as you’d like.’”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The deflation of Trump’s base threatens to further weaken a president who’s already seen his public support drop to historic lows. Frustration among the president’s allies has intensified in recent days, with many expressing worry that Bannon, the intellectual pillar of the nationalist movement that catapulted Trump to the presidency, is being pushed out.
As Bannon’s influence wanes, on the rise is a small group of Wall Street-connected advisers whose politically moderate and globalist views are anathema to the populist cause.
The palace intrigue intensified this week after Trump refused to say he still had confidence in Bannon and downplayed the former Breitbart chairman’s role in his campaign victory. And it’s feeding suspicions that the president is changing his priorities.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the president’s most vocal backers on Capitol Hill, said he’s been disheartened by the chief strategist’s isolation.
“A lot of us look at Steve Bannon as the voice of conservatism in the White House,” said King, who has known Bannon for years.
The displeasure over Bannon’s reduced status has trickled down to Trump’s grass-roots army of volunteers. Among those unsettled is Shane Bouvet, a 24-year-old campaign volunteer and blue-collar single father from Illinois who became something of a hero in the Trump movement. On the eve of the inauguration, Trump, who had read about how Bouvet trekked across the country by car so he could watch the swearing-in, gave him a check for $10,000.
Bouvet later said the gift saved the life of his father, who was battling cancer and needed the money to cover medical costs.
That day, Bouvet also was introduced to Bannon. The two spoke briefly, and Bouvet came to identify with the adviser who, like him, represented a “forgotten America” that Trump had appealed to with his blue-collar pitch. He said in an interview that he still supports the president, but is troubled by reports that Bannon is on the outs and that senior adviser Jared Kushner, a New York City real estate scion, is accumulating influence.
“I see a lot of people upset about his role,” Bouvet said of Bannon.
“I love our president,” he added. “I would tell him, follow his heart instead of whispers in his ears.”
On his South Florida-based radio show, Trump backer John Cardillo has begun to hear from listeners who are disillusioned with the rising influence of moderate staffers like Kushner and Gary Cohn, the Goldman Sachs executive-turned-Trump economic adviser.
For Cardillo, too, it’s been a letdown. During the 2016 Republican primary, he was attracted to Trump because of his insurgent streak. As a former New York City police officer, Cardillo identified with the candidate’s blue-collar style. He fell hard and got aboard the Trump train early, backing the insurgent candidate over home-state favorite Marco Rubio.
Trump voters “felt like they were voting for an anti-establishment candidate — and they’re terrified, they’re losing faith,” Cardillo said. “They’re saying, ‘Why does he have these people around him?’”
The gripes go beyond Bannon’s apparent downgrade. Many of Trump’s most stalwart supporters, including radio show hosts Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham, called last week’s bombing of Syria a betrayal of Trump’s pledge to be an “America First” commander in chief who would avoid unnecessary conflicts overseas.
Concerns about Trump’s foreign policy approach intensified on Wednesday when he backed away from his oft-repeated campaign line that NATO is “obsolete.” Instead, during an appearance with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump called the organization a “great alliance.”
Howie Carr, an influential Boston radio show host and a vocal Trump backer, said he’s been mostly satisfied with the president’s tenure so far. But he said he and his listeners weren’t on board with the Syria bombing and warned against a U.S.-led push to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“People are concerned because it’s such a morass over there,” Carr said. “I don’t think any of my listeners have any great stomach for overthrowing Assad, as odious as he is.”
Other Trump boosters worry that he’s ditching his economic agenda. They wonder why he backed off his vow to label
China a currency manipulator, and are chagrined by his reversal on his position to eliminate the Export-Import Bank.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer took issue with the premise that Trump’s switch on labeling China a currency manipulator amounted to abandoning a campaign promise.
“The president’s tough talk … on a variety of subjects was to get results for the American people. That’s what he has pledged to do, to get more jobs here, to grow more manufacturing, to keep our country safe,” Spicer told reporters. “At the end of the day, this is always about developing a better situation for the American people, and I think he’s done that.”
Still others are concerned about Trump’s lack of progress on reforming the tax code.
Larry Kudlow, a veteran economist who advised Trump’s campaign, expressed dismay that the president hadn’t yet released a tax plan. He said he was beginning to wonder whether the president is about to walk back his pledge to cut taxes.
“What is their product?” Kudlow asked. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not giving up hope. But it’s looking very shaky to me.”
Conservative economist Stephen Moore, who also advised the Trump campaign, said he’s reached out to the White House about the lack of a tax package.
“They’re all over the map,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re listening or not.”
Then there’s immigration, the issue that catapulted Trump to front-runner status. Activists are increasingly alarmed that the president has yet to follow through on his pledge to rescind protections for undocumented parents and children put in place under former President Barack Obama.
Brenda Sparks, an “angel mom” whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant, appeared onstage with Trump at an August campaign event in Phoenix. She said he promised her that he would overturn the program known Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, in short order.
While Sparks said she didn’t think it would be done immediately, “I had expected it before now.”
“I still support Trump, but I’m going to hold his feet to the fire,” she said. “He has not lived up to that promise.”
Michelle Dallacroce, an anti-immigration activist, is more pointed. Immigration is “why we voted for Donald Trump,” she said. “This could be the most elaborate reality show. I’m wondering, was this all an illusion for us, using our movement so he could get in there?”
Trump is hardly the first president to get crosswise with his supporters. After running on a promise to infuse Washington with change, Barack Obama faced sharp accusations from backers that he was moving too slowly to change the culture of the capitol. Governing, Obama learned, is a lot different than campaigning.
Not all of the president’s backers are disappointed. They point to his successful nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and his rollback of environmental regulations as early wins.
“There’s always going to be things that aren’t perfect, but it’s exciting,” said Ed Martin, a conservative leader in Missouri.
But as Trump evolves, some of his loyalists are beginning to compare him to another Republican who lost the support of the party’s base: Arnold Schwarzenegger. After being elected California governor in 2003, the former movie star took on entrenched Democratic interests, lost badly, then tacked sharply to the left.
This week, some Trump die-hards passed around a column by conservative commentator Kurt Schlichter headlined: “Trump Can’t Let His Real or His Fake Friends Turn Him into Schwarzenegger Part 2.”
Schlichter, in an interview, said conservatives are fundamentally distrustful of Republican politicians who had often misled them. He urged the president to take some immediate actions, however small, to put his supporters at ease.
“You’ve got to understand the base. It’s like dating a girl whose father cheated on her mother. She’s always going to be suspicious,” he said. “He’s got to constantly provide wins because he’s got an emotionally damaged base that’s been abused.”
Within Trump’s inner circle, a moderate voice captures the president’s ear
Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, has found an edge within the Trump administration by hiring two dozen policy experts, most with government experience. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
As power struggles and ideological battles engulfed the White House, an unlikely player is exercising new influence on the direction of President Trump’s administration.Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president, is capitalizing on his new position as director of Trump’s National Economic Council to push a centrist vision and court bipartisan support on some of Trump’s top agenda items such as tax reform and a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.The growing strength of Cohn and like-minded moderates was on display this week as Trump reversed himself on several high-profile issues — including a less confrontational approach to China, an endorsement of government subsidies for exports and the current leadership of the Federal Reserve. The president’s new positions move him much closer to the views of Cohn and others on Wall Street, not to mention mainstream Republicans and Democrats.It was the clearest sign yet that an alliance of moderates in the White House — including Cohn; senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and another influential Goldman Sachs alumna, Dina Powell — is racking up successes in a battle over ideology and control with hardcore conservatives led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who held sway at the start of the administration.In a White House short on experienced personnel, Cohn has found an edge by hiring two dozen policy experts, most with government experience. His team produced detailed proposals on overhauling the tax code, rebuilding infrastructure, cutting back financial regulations and restructuring international trade deals. He is widely considered a future candidate to be chief of staff.
From left, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Dan Scavino, assistant to the president and director of White House social media, listen during a news conference this week at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
“Cohn might be a newbie to policy and Washington, but you have to give him credit for one thing,” said Gene Sperling, who held Cohn’s job during the Obama administration. “While others seemed engaged in ideological and ‘House of Cards’-like staff warfare, he quietly and quickly focused on the first rule of governing: He hired some competent, professional staff at the NEC, and it has paid off for him.”
Cohn now finds himself in the awkward — and politically risky — position of being praised by Democrats but shunned by conservative allies of Trump who see the former Goldman Sachs executive as anathema to the values that got Trump elected.
“From a pure political perspective, I do not know if the White House appreciates how Gary Cohn is a liability with the Republican and conservative base, as well as the Republican Congress,” said Sam Nunberg, a strategist on Trump’s 2016 campaign. “The Trump White House will always be held in suspicion when you have someone who’s consolidated full economic power in the White House who is also a liberal, New York Democrat.”
Cohn has been getting flak in the conservative media as he has risen in profile. Rush Limbaugh last week called him “a very ideological liberal Democrat” and a “trader at Goldman Sachs.” He expressed concern that Cohn and his allies in the White House “are starting to have sway” at Bannon’s expense.
Cohn, who declined to comment for this article, has given thousands of dollars to candidates from both parties, including President Barack Obama and former candidate Hillary Clinton.
White House aides say Cohn has done well because Trump sees him, more than anything else, as a dealmaker. Cohn represents a bloc of White House officials who are working harder than before to court Democratic support for key parts of Trump’s agenda, having seen the Republican Party splinter during the health-care debate.
“I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican,” Cohn often says in meetings with business executives, according to two people familiar with his exchanges. “I just want to get things done.”
People who have met with Cohn in his new role said they weren’t aware of what his ideology was. He just seemed driven to forge agreements.
That philosophy has led Cohn to show enthusiasm for ideas such as a new tax on carbon — a Democrat-friendly idea which would raise revenue to ease tax reform, a top presidential priority, while also helping to curb carbon emissions. The idea is ridiculed by many conservatives on Capitol Hill, and the White House rapidly distanced itself last week after word leaked that senior officials were studying the concept.
“I think the National Economic Council has done a terrible job,” said Larry Kudlow, who was one of Trump’s top economic advisers during the campaign. “It’s the NEC’s job to put a plan together and show the president options and make decisions. So far, I would say they are way behind the eight ball.”
But even as the legislative agenda struggles to gain momentum, Cohn and his allies are having a clear impact on the president’s thinking. In the past week, Trump reversed his earlier statements and said he supported the Export-Import Bank, would not declare China a “currency manipulator” and said flattering things about Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet L. Yellen.
Conservatives took aim at the Ex-Im Bank and the Fed throughout much of Obama’s term, while Trump, as part of his tough trade rhetoric, promised to go after China’s currency practices on Day One of his administration.
Cohn’s stature among the top advisers is notable because he is one of the few who played no role in the campaign. Cohn, who grew up in a middle-class family and struggled in a number of schools because of dyslexia, graduated from American University and took a job with U.S. Steel in Ohio. During a trip to New York, he coaxed a well-dressed senior Wall Street executive into sharing a cab with him to the airport, acting as if he knew financial markets (he knew virtually nothing), according to an interview he gave author Malcolm Gladwell. Cohn schmoozed his way into his first Wall Street job and then climbed the ranks, eventually becoming Goldman’s president and chief operating officer.
While friends say he loves his new job, they say Cohn also holds the traditions of Washington in low regard.
At a recent dinner with friends in New York, he called Washington a “s—show,” according to a person familiar with the exchange.
Cohn has not tried to shirk his past at Goldman Sachs or hide his lavish lifestyle. He recently had drinks at the Four Seasons with Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, and shortly after the failure of the House GOP health-care legislation, he went on vacation in the Bahamas.
If he is able to deflect the growing criticism from hardcore conservatives, White House officials say Cohn will have a strong future as a Trump adviser given his experience and the deep bench of experts he has established.
This includes DJ Gribbin, an infrastructure expert, and Shahira Knight, a former congressional aide on tax policy who joined the White House from Fidelity Investments.
Other top members of the team include Kenneth Juster, who is slated to play a top White House role in international negotiations; Jeremy Katz, a former White House official in the George W. Bush administration; and Ray Starling, who works on agriculture issues and was formerly the general counsel for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
While Cohn has met with lawmakers from both parties and executives from numerous companies in his role, he rarely telegraphs what the White House plans to do.
One exception came last week, when — during a gathering of chief executives — he went into great detail about how the U.S. air-traffic-control system needed to be reworked.
He quickly moved through a technical discussion on why the United States should scrap its land-based radar system and adopt a global-positioning system, suggesting he had already devoted time to the topic. He said their approach would save 25 percent of the jet fuel consumed each year.
“We are going to cut flight times down fairly dramatically,” he told the executives. “We are going to cut the experience down. We are going to cut tarmac time down.”
His penchant for dealmaking has even attracted the admiration of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a tough fiscal conservative and longtime critic of government spending. Cohn, working to fulfill Trump’s pledge to spend billions to rebuild infrastructure, has toyed with an idea that would pair $200 billion in taxpayer money with $800 billion in additional funds, mostly from private investors.
“You’ve got to give these Goldman Sachs guys credit,” Mulvaney said this week on CNBC about Cohn’s plan. “They know how to lever up.”
Bannon was previously a US Navy officer, a Goldman Sachs banker, a radio host, a research director, a film producer and then a media executive. He was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, serving on the destroyerUSS Paul F. Foster as well as at the Pentagon. After his military service, he worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Department. When he left the company, Bannon held the position of vice president. In 1993, he was made acting director of the Earth-science research project Biosphere 2. In the 1990s, he became an executive producer in the Hollywood film and media industry and has produced 18 films since 1991.
In 1990, Bannon and several colleagues from Goldman Sachs launched Bannon & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in media. In one of Bannon & Co.’s transactions, the firm represented Westinghouse Electric which wanted to sell Castle Rock Entertainment. Bannon negotiated a sale of Castle Rock to CNN, which was owned by Ted Turner at the time.Instead of a full adviser’s fee, Bannon & Co. accepted a financial stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld, which was in its third season. Bannon still receives cash residuals each time Seinfeld is aired.Société Générale purchased Bannon & Co. in 1998.
In 1993, while still managing Bannon & Co., Bannon was made acting director of the Earth-science research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. Under Bannon, the closed-system experiment project shifted emphasis from researching human space exploration and colonization toward the scientific study of earth’s environment, pollution and climate change. He left the project in 1995.
Bannon persuaded Goldman Sachs to invest, in 2006, in a company known as Internet Gaming Entertainment. Following a lawsuit, the company rebranded as Affinity Media and Bannon took over as CEO. From 2007 through 2011, Bannon was the chair and CEO of Affinity Media.
Bannon was a founding member of the board of Breitbart News, an online far-right news, opinion and commentary website which, according to Philip Elliott and Zeke J. Miller of Time, has “pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right“.
In March 2012, after founder Andrew Breitbart‘s death, Bannon became executive chair of Breitbart News LLC, the parent company of Breitbart News. Under his leadership, Breitbart took a more alt-right and nationalistic approach toward its agenda. Bannon declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” in 2016. Bannon identifies as a conservative. Speaking about his role at Breitbart, Bannon said: “We think of ourselves as virulently anti-establishment, particularly ‘anti-‘ the permanent political class.”
In 2016, Ronald Radosh claimed in The Daily Beast that Bannon had told him earlier, in a book party on November 12, 2013, that he was a Leninist, in that “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment”. While Snopes considers this claim unproven, other media such as Time magazine and The Guardian have reported or discussed it.
In a 2014 speech to a Vatican conference, Bannon made a passing reference to Julius Evola, a twentieth-century, Nazi-linked Italian writer who influenced Mussolini‘s Italian Fascism and promoted the Traditionalist School, described by a New York Times writer as “a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.” In referring to the associated views of Vladimir Putin, who is influenced by Evola follower Aleksandr Dugin, Bannon stated “We, the Judeo-Christian West, really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as Traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism.” He has likewise quoted French anti-Enlightenment writer Charles Maurras approvingly to a French diplomat.
On November 15, 2016, U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island released a letter to Trump signed by 169 Democratic House Representatives urging him to rescind his appointment of Bannon. The letter stated that appointing Bannon “sends a disturbing message about what kind of president Donald Trump wants to be”, because his “ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well documented”; it went on to present several examples of Breitbart News’ alleged xenophobia. Bannon denied being a white nationalist and claimed, rather, that he is an “economic nationalist.”
On November 18, during his first interview not conducted by Breitbart Media since the 2016 presidential election, Bannon remarked on some criticisms made about him stating that “Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.” The quote was published widely in the media.
Trump responded to the ongoing controversy over Bannon’s appointment in an interview with The New York Times by saying “I’ve known Steve Bannon a long time. If I thought he was a racist, or alt-right, or any of the things that we can, you know, the terms we can use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him.”
Bannon and other advisors watching Trump sign an executive order.
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon shake hands with WH Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at 2017 CPAC
Several days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Bannon told an American newspaper, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this: the media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
At the end of January 2017, in a departure from the previous format of the National Security Council (NSC), the holder of Bannon’s position, along with that of the Chief of Staff, were designated by presidential memorandum as regular attendees to the NSC’s Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level senior interagency forum for considering national security issues. The enacted arrangement was criticised by several members of previous administrations and was called “stone cold crazy” by Susan E. Rice, Barack Obama’s last national security adviser. In response, White House spokesman Sean Spicer pointed to Bannon’s seven years experience as a Navy officer in justifying his presence on the Committee.
In February 2017, Bannon appeared on the cover of Time, on which he was labeled “the Great Manipulator”. The headline used for the associated article was “Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?”, alluding to Bannon’s perceived influence in the White House. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Bannon analogized his influence to that of “Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors“.
Bannon was removed from his NSC role in early April 2017 in a reorganization by National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, who Bannon had helped select. Some White House officials said Bannon’s main purpose of serving on the committee was as a check against former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn, who had resigned in February 2017 for misleading the vice president about a conversation with the Russian operatives. Hence, with Flynn gone, Bannon was no longer needed. Bannon reportedly opposed his removal from the council and threatened to quit if president Trump went forward with it, although Republican megadonor Rebekah Mercer urged him to stay. The White House said Bannon had not attempted to leave, and Bannon said any indication that he threatened resignation was “total nonsense”. Bannon had only attended one NSC meeting.
Bannon has been married and divorced three times. He has three adult daughters.
His first marriage was to Cathleen Suzanne Houff. Bannon and Houff had a daughter, Maureen, in 1988 and subsequently divorced.
Bannon’s second marriage was to Mary Louise Piccard, a former investment banker, in April 1995. Their twin daughters were born three days after the wedding. Piccard filed for dissolution of their marriage in 1997.
Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness in early January 1996 after Piccard accused Bannon of domestic abuse. The charges were later dropped when his now ex-wife did not appear in court. In an article in The New York Times Piccard stated her absence was due to threats made to her by Bannon and his lawyer:
Mr. Bannon, she said, told her that “if I went to court he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty” … Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, she said, “threatened me,” telling her that if Mr. Bannon went to jail, she “would have no money and no way to support the children.” … Mr. Bannon’s lawyer … denied pressuring her not to testify.
Piccard and Bannon divorced in 1997. During the divorce proceedings, Piccard alleged that Bannon had made antisemitic remarks about choice of schools, saying that he did not want to send his children to The Archer School for Girls because there were too many Jews at the school and Jews raise their children to be “whiny brats”. Bannon’s spokesperson denied the accusation noting that he had chosen to send both his children to the Archer School.
Bannon’s third marriage was to Diane Clohesy; they divorced in 2009.
Jared Corey Kushner (born January 10, 1981) is an American real estate investor and developer, publisher, and senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. Together with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon he formed Trump’s leadership team. Kushner is said to be President Trump’s most trusted advisor, showing “unwavering loyalty” to his father-in-law.
He was principal owner of the real estate holding and development company Kushner Companies and of Observer Media, publisher of the weekly, on-line New York Observer. On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named to be a Senior White House Adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. As a result, Kushner resigned as CEO of his family’s real estate company and as publisher of the Observer. He also divested “substantial assets”.
Kushner was raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish family in New Jersey. He graduated from the Frisch School, a private, coed yeshiva high school, in 1999. According to a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, he was an honors student and a member of the debate, hockey, and basketball teams while at Frisch.
According to Forbes, in 2017 Jared Kushner and his parents had a personal fortune of around $1.8 billion. Kushner is a real estate investor, and has increased the Kushner Companies’ presence in the New York City real estate market as a principal in his family’s real estate company. His father, Charles Kushner, was arrested on charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign donations, and witness tampering in 2004, and was eventually convicted on all charges (by the then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie) and sentenced to two years in federal prison.
Kushner Companies purchased the office building at 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007, for a then-record price of $1.8 billion, most of it borrowed. However, following the property crash in 2008, the cash flow generated by the property was insufficient to cover its debt service, and the Kushners were forced to sell the retail portion in the building to Stanley Chera for more than $1 billion and bring in Vornado Realty Trust as a 50% equity partner in the ownership of the building.
In 2015, Kushner scored spot No. 25 on Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 list ranking the most influential young people in business.
At age 25, Kushner purchased the New York Observer, a weekly New York City newspaper, for $10 million, using money he says he earned during his college years by closing deals on residential buildings in Somerville, Massachusetts, with family members providing the backing for his investments.
After purchasing the Observer, Kushner published it in tabloid format. Since then, he has been credited with increasing the Observer‘s online presence and expanding the Observer Media Group. With no substantial experience in journalism, Kushner could not establish a good relationship with the newspaper’s veteran editor-in-chief, Peter W. Kaplan. “This guy doesn’t know what he doesn’t know,” Kaplan remarked about Kushner, to colleagues, at the time.  As a result of his differences with Kushner, Kaplan quit his position. Kaplan was followed by a series of short-lived successors until Kushner hired Elizabeth Spiers in 2011. In December 2011, the New York Post reported that the Observer expected to become profitable for the first time. Spiers left the newspaper in 2012. In January 2013, Kushner hired a new editor-in-chief, Ken Kurson. Kurson had been a consultant to Republican political candidates in New Jersey and one-time member of Rudy Giuliani‘s unsuccessful 2008 presidential primary campaign.
According to Vanity Fair, under Kushner, the “Observer has lost virtually all of its cultural currency among New York’s elite, but the paper is now profitable and reporting traffic growth … [it] boasts 6 million unique visitors per month, up from 1.3 million in January 2013″. In April 2016, the New York Observer became one of only a handful of newspapers to officially endorse United States presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Republican primary, but the paper ended the campaign period by choosing not to back any presidential candidate at all.
Kushner stepped down from his newspaper role in January 2017 to pursue a role in President Donald Trump’s administration. He was replaced by his brother-in-law, Joseph Meyer.
Jared Kushner had been a life-long Democrat and had made major donations to its candidates for years before reportedly undergoing an “ideological conversion” and supporting the 2015–16 Trump campaign. Kushner has had no prior involvement in campaign politics or in government before his father-in-law, Trump’s, campaign.
Trump presidential campaign
From the outset of the presidential campaign of his father-in-law Donald Trump, Kushner was the architect of Trump’s digital, online and social media campaigns, enlisting talent from Silicon Valley to run a 100-person social-media team dubbed “Project Alamo”. Kushner has also helped as a speechwriter and was tasked with working to establish a plan for Trump’s White House transition team should he be elected. He was for a time seen as Trump’s de factocampaign manager, succeeding Corey Lewandowski, who was fired in part on Kushner’s recommendation in June 2016. He has been intimately involved with campaign strategy, coordinating Trump’s visit in late August to Mexico and he was believed to be responsible for the choice of Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate. Kushner’s “sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign” has been described as “the locus of his father-in-law’s presidential bid”.
According to Eric Schmidt, “Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election, Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources.” Eric Schmidt said, “Jared understood the online world in a way the traditional media folks didn’t. He managed to assemble a presidential campaign on a shoestring using new technology and won. That’s a big deal. Remember all those articles about how they had no money, no people, organizational structure? Well, they won, and Jared ran it.”Peter Thiel said “If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer.”
On July 5, 2016, Kushner wrote an open letter in the New York Observer addressing the controversy around a tweet from the Trump campaign containing allegedly antisemitic imagery. He was responding to his own paper’s editorial by Dana Schwartz criticizing Kushner’s involvement with the Trump campaign. In the letter, Kushner wrote, “In my opinion, accusations like “racist” and “anti-Semite” are being thrown around with a carelessness that risks rendering these words meaningless.”
The Washington Post, New York Times and numerous other national news authorities explain Kushner was an influential factor behind the firing of New Jersey governor Chris Christie as head of the transition team, as well as the dismissal from the Donald Trump transition team of anyone connected to Christie. A source familiar with the Trump campaign explained that “Jared doesn’t like Christie. He’s always held [the prosecution of his father, Charles Kushner] against Christie.” Kushner told Forbes that the reports that he was involved in Christie’s dismissal were false: “Six months ago Governor Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together. The media has speculated on a lot of different things, and since I don’t talk to the press, they go as they go, but I was not behind pushing out him or his people.”
Senior Advisor to President Trump
Japanese PM Shinzō Abe, Jared Kushner, Ivanka, and President Trump, November 17, 2016
Trump put Kushner in charge of brokering peace in Israeli–Palestinian conflict as well as making deals with foreign countries, although in what way he is in charge is unclear. Furthermore, after Donald Trump became President-elect, Kushner and his wife met with Japanese Prime Minister and other Japanese officials while his wife was conducting a licensing deal between her namesake clothing brand and a Japanese government-owned company. His wife sat in on a meeting between her father, then President-elect Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In February 2017, his wife Ivanka Trump was a surprise attendee at the Chinese Embassy’s New Year’s party. In late March 2017 he was also given the new role of leading the “White House Office of American Innovation”.
On January 20, 2017 Cohn took office as Director of the National Economic Council (NEC) in President Donald Trump‘s administration, a position which did not require Congressional confirmation. By February 11, 2017, The Wall Street Journal described Cohn as an “economic-policy powerhouse” and The New York Times called him Trump’s “go-to figure on matters related to jobs, business and growth”. With the confirmation of Trump’s December 12, 2016 nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, being held back by Congressional hearings, Cohn filled in the “personnel vacuum” and pushed “ahead on taxes, infrastructure, financial regulation and replacing health-care law”. Had Cohn stayed at Goldman Sachs, some believed he would have become CEO when Lloyd Blankfein vacated that office. His severance package at Goldman Sachs amounted to $285 million. Additionally, Cohn sold a stake valued at $16 million in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank as of 2017.
Cohn supports reinstating the Glass-Steagall legislation, which would separate commercial and investment banking.
Cohn started his career at the U.S. Steel home products division in Cleveland, Ohio. After a few months, he left U.S. Steel and started his career as an options dealer in the New York Mercantile Exchange. He taught himself the basics of options by reading about it in the days between meeting the hiring manager and joining the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Cohn was recruited by Goldman Sachs in 1990. In 1996, he was named head of the commodities department and in 2002, he was named the head of the entire Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division (FICC) division. In 2003, he was named co-head of Equities and in January 2004, Cohn was named the co-head of global securities businesses . He became President and Co-Chief Operating Officer and director in June 2006.
In late 2009, Cohn led a delegation from Goldman Sachs to meetings with the government of Greece, which included proposals (that were not adopted) to push debt-due dates far into the future, “much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards.” Goldman Sachs had been scrutinized for creating or pitching products used by Greece to “obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels”.
In 2010, Cohn testified to Congress on the role of Goldman Sachs in the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Cohn testified: “During the two years of the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs lost $1.2 billion in its residential mortgage-related business. We did not ‘bet against our clients,’ and the numbers underscore this fact.”
In February 2015, Cohn hosted the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. As host, Cohn asked questions of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., while Cook was on stage.
Cohn’s salary at Goldman Sachs was US$22 million in 2014. He received $21 million in 2015.
He received a severance package worth around $285 million – mostly in stock – from Goldman Sachs upon leaving to join the administration of Donald Trump.
Personality and work style
Critics of Cohn attribute to him an arrogant, aggressive, abrasive and risk-prone work style. They see his “6-foot 3-inch & 220lbs” as intimidating, as he might “sometimes hike up one leg, plant his foot on a trader’s desk, his thigh close to the employee’s face and ask how markets were doing” According to former Bear Stearns Asset Management CEO Richard Marin, Cohn’s arrogance is at the root of the problem.
When you become arrogant, in a trading sense, you begin to think that everybody’s a counterparty, not a customer, not a client.
“He’s a trader. He has that whole feel in his body and brain and fingertips.”
Ovitz sees Cohn’s toughness as a “positive” value, explaining that a high ranking executive can’t be “all peaches and cream.”
Donna Redel, who was Chairman of the Board of the New York Mercantile Exchange when Cohn worked there as a silver trader, remembers Cohn as “firm,” “strategic” and “driven.” Martin Greenberg, her predecessor, said Cohn “was tough,” and added that “Gary got in with the right people, worked his ass off and used his head.”
In 2009, the Hillel International building at Kent State University was named the Cohn Jewish Student Center in recognition of a gift from Cohn and his wife. It is the first Hillel building built directly on the campus of a state university.
Cohn has been a supporter of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities and has supported Harlem RBI since 2011. At that time, Harlem RBI was given the chance to build its own charter school. Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees and Harlem RBI director Rich Berlin asked Cohn if he could help them raise the capital they needed to build the school.
In December 2012, Cohn attended the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief which raised money for the Robin Hood Relief fund to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
On June 17, 2013, Cohn was honored at the annual “Bid for Kids” gala in order to raise funds for Harlem RBI and the DREAM charter school. Cohn said in an interview that Harlem RBI is a project that is “very near and dear to his heart.”
Cohn has written editorials in prestigious journals and newspapers. In March 2014, he wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, discussing “The Responsible Way to Rein in Super-Fast Trading.”
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IN JANUARY, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decade long escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.
This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”
Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.
The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.
But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.
Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?
All of these toxic ingredients were on full display yesterday as the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts and salacious private conduct. The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.
FOR MONTHS, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton, and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”
It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decadeslong international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.
Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.
Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing. Any doubt about that is now dispelled. Just last week, Chuck Schumer issued a warning to Trump, telling Rachel Maddow that Trump was being “really dumb” by challenging the unelected intelligence community because of all the ways they possess to destroy those who dare to stand up to them:
And last night, many Democrats openly embraced and celebrated what was, so plainly, an attempt by the Deep State to sabotage an elected official who had defied it: ironically, its own form of blackmail.
BACK IN OCTOBER, a political operative and former employee of the British intelligence agency MI6 was being paid by Democrats to dig up dirt on Trump (before that, he was paid by anti-Trump Republicans). He tried to convince countless media outlets to publish a long memo he had written filled with explosive accusations about Trump’s treason, business corruption and sexual escapades, with the overarching theme that Trump was in servitude to Moscow because they were blackmailing and bribing him.
Despite how many had it, no media outlets published it. That was because these were anonymous claims unaccompanied by any evidence at all, and even in this more permissive new media environment, nobody was willing to be journalistically associated with it. As the New York Times’ Executive Editor Dean Baquet put it last night, he would not publish these “totally unsubstantiated” allegations because “we, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by.”
The closest this operative got to success was convincing Mother Jones’s David Corn to publish an October 31 article reporting that “a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” claims that “he provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”
But because this was just an anonymous claim unaccompanied by any evidence or any specifics (which Corn withheld), it made very little impact. All of that changed yesterday. Why?
What changed was the intelligence community’s resolution to cause this all to become public and to be viewed as credible. In December, John McCain provided a copy of this report to the FBI and demanded they take it seriously.
At some point last week, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies decided to declare that this ex-British intelligence operative was “credible” enough that his allegations warranted briefing both Trump and Obama about them, thus stamping some sort of vague, indirect, and deniable official approval on these accusations. Someone — by all appearances, numerous officials — then went to CNN to tell them they had done this, causing CNN to go on-air and, in the gravest of tones, announce the “Breaking News” that “the nation’s top intelligence officials” briefed Obama and Trump that Russia had compiled information that “compromised President-elect Trump.”
CNN refused to specify what these allegations were on the ground that they could not “verify” them. But with this document in the hands of multiple media outlets, it was only a matter of time — a small amount of time — before someone would step up and publish the whole thing. Buzzfeed quickly obliged, airing all of the unvetted, anonymous claims about Trump.
Its editor-in-chief Ben Smith published a memo explaining that decision, saying that—- although there “is serious reason to doubt the allegations” — Buzzfeed in general “errs on the side of publication” and “Americans can make up their own minds about the allegations.” Publishing this document predictably produced massive traffic (and thus profit) for the site, with millions of people viewing the article and presumably reading the “dossier.”
One can certainly object to Buzzfeed’s decision and, as the New York Times notes this morning, many journalists are doing so. It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where it’s justifiable for a news outlet to publish a totally anonymous, unverified, unvetted document filled with scurrilous and inflammatory allegations about which its own editor-in-chief says there “is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” on the ground that they want to leave it to the public to decide whether to believe it.
But even if one believes there is no such case where that is justified, yesterday’s circumstances presented the most compelling scenario possible for doing this. Once CNN strongly hinted at these allegations, it left it to the public imagination to conjure up the dirt Russia allegedly had to blackmail and control Trump. By publishing these accusations, BuzzFeed ended that speculation. More importantly, it allowed everyone to see how dubious this document is, one the CIA and CNN had elevated into some sort of grave national security threat.
ALMOST IMMEDIATELY after it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind, but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things. Worse still, the document was filled with amateur errors.
While many of the claims are inherently unverified, some can be confirmed. One such claim — that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August to meet with Russian officials — was strongly denied by Cohen, who insisted he had never been to Prague in his life (Prague is the same place that foreign intelligence officials claimed, in 2001, was the site of a nonexistent meeting between Iraqi officials and 9/11 hijackers, which contributed to 70% of Americans believing, as late as the fall of 2003, that Saddam personally planned the 9/11 attack). This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the FBI has found no evidence that [Cohen] traveled to the Czech Republic.”
None of this stopped Democratic operatives and prominent media figures from treating these totally unverified and unvetted allegations as grave revelations. From Vox’s Zach Beauchamp:
Meanwhile, liberal commentator Rebecca Solnit declared this to be a “smoking gun” that proves Trump’s “treason,” while Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas sounded the same theme:
While some Democrats sounded notes of caution — party loyalist Josh Marshall commendably urged: “I would say in reviewing raw, extremely raw ‘intel’, people shld retain their skepticism even if they rightly think Trump is the worst” — the overwhelming reaction was the same as all the other instances where the CIA and its allies released unverified claims about Trump and Russia: instant embrace of the evidence-free assertions as Truth, combined with proclamations that it demonstrated Trump’s status as a traitor (with anyone expressing skepticism designated a Kremlin agent or stooge).
THERE IS A REAL DANGER here that this maneuver can harshly backfire, to the great benefit of Trump and to the great detriment of those who want to oppose him. If any of the significant claims in this “dossier” turn out to be provably false — such as Cohen’s trip to Prague — many people will conclude, with Trump’s encouragement, that large media outlets (CNN and BuzzFeed) and anti-Trump factions inside the government (CIA) are deploying “Fake News” to destroy him. In the eyes of many people, that will forever discredit — render impotent — future journalistic exposés that are based on actual, corroborated wrongdoing.
Beyond that, the threat posed by submitting ourselves to the CIA and empowering it to reign supreme outside of the democratic process is — as Eisenhower warned — an even more severe danger. The threat of being ruled by unaccountable and unelected entities is self-evident and grave. That’s especially true when the entity behind which so many are rallying is one with a long and deliberate history of lying, propaganda, war crimes, torture, and the worst atrocities imaginable.
All of the claims about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and ties to Trump should be fully investigated by a credible body, and the evidence publicly disclosed to the fullest extent possible. As my colleague Sam Biddle argued last week after disclosure of the farcical intelligence community report on Russia hacking — one which even Putin’s foes mocked as a bad joke — the utter lack of evidence for these allegations means “we need an independent, resolute inquiry.” But until then, assertions that are unaccompanied by evidence and disseminated anonymously should be treated with the utmost skepticism — not lavished with convenience-driven gullibility.
Most important of all, the legitimate and effective tactics for opposing Trump are being utterly drowned by these irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity. Right now, Trump’s opponents are behaving as media critic Adam Johnson described: as ideological jelly fish, floating around aimlessly and lost, desperately latching on to whatever barge randomly passes by.
There are solutions to Trump. They involve reasoned strategizing and patient focus on issues people actually care about. Whatever those solutions are, venerating the intelligence community, begging for its intervention, and equating their dark and dirty assertions as Truth are most certainly not among them. Doing that cannot possibly achieve any good, and is already doing much harm.
Just when you think things can’t get crazier with Donald Trump, they do! With these latest developments from the CIA and from U.S. representatives, we are seeing the early signs of an all-out war between the president-elect and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Recent comments from Sen. Chuck Schumer during a recent interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC reveal everything you need to know about what is currently happening behind the scenes in Washington D.C. “When you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday getting back at you,” Schumer said. “Even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, it is being really dumb.”
Did anyone else catch the fact that with that Schumer is essentially saying that if Trump dares to challenge the CIA, it will retaliate against him? Of course, if you know the true history of the CIA, you know that their reputation is incredibly low as it is, because they create clandestine operations that overthrow democratically elected leaders. They sabotage governments, they sabotage policies, they work for global elites and they torture people. They are known for doing god-awful things in secret, and getting away with it because of their power.
Following Schumer’s hints that the CIA would retaliate against Trump, former CIA Director James Woolsey announced that he is quitting Trump’s transition team. Many people questioned why he was there in the first place. He is a neo-conservative who pushed for war in Iraq, blamed Iraq for 9/11, and was a key member of the Project for the New American Century. Woolsey is also adamantly against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and when I confrontedhim about Operation Mockingbird in 2011, he lied through his teeth.
This all comes as a “hyped up” Senate hearing on alleged Russian hacking failed to lead to any concrete evidence. While there was no evidence presented confirming that the Russian government was involved in the U.S. election, they did provide information on some Ukrainian malware code, which could have been purchased by anyone anonymously online.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper added to the fear campaign on Thursday, when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and said that the alleged Russian interference went far beyond a cyberattack.
“While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted,” Clapper told the committee.
In addition to all of the disinformation, we’re learning that the FBI is blaming Russia when they haven’t even examined the DNC servers, and instead relied on a report produced by a DNC contractor.
What we’re seeing is very clear. We’re seeing the CIA, a clandestine group that has committed horrible atrocities all over the world in secret, versus Donald Trump, a very strong personality who has not backed down. There will be a confrontation, and we will be covering exactly what happens when these two forces collide.
What do you think about this story, and what elements do you think are being overlooked or ignored? Let us know in the comments section!
Trump Dossier Spotlights Russian History of ‘Kompromat’
Diplomats, politicians and bureaucrats have been embarrassed by leaks of compromising material
Unverified allegations in a dossier on President-elect Donald Trump include a claim that Russian officials obtained evidence that could potentially be used for blackmail. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on Wednesday.PHOTO: DRUZHININ ALEXEI/ZUMA PRESS
By NATHAN HODGE and THOMAS GROVE
Jan. 11, 2017 4:46 p.m. ET
MOSCOW—The public airing of a dossier Tuesday on President-elect Donald Trump casts a spotlight on Russia’s dark art of kompromat, the practice of collecting compromising material on prominent individuals for the purposes of blackmail.
Mr. Trump has dismissed the reports. “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday. “One last shot at me.”
President-elect Donald Trump says allegations made about him in an unverified dossier prepared by ex-British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, are completely fabricated. WSJ’s Jason Bellini breaks down what we know about the material and the person behind it. Photo: Getty.
The Kremlin has denied any link to the dossier, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the reports “pulp fiction,” according to Russian news agencies.
Kompromat, a contraction of the Russian phrase “compromising materials,” has a rich history in Russia dating back to the Soviet era. Diplomats, politicians and bureaucrats have all been embarrassed by leaked videos or other material.
While blackmail is by no means unique to Russia, the deployment of kompromat is a regular feature in the country’s bare-fisted domestic politics.
Early last year, the pro-Kremlin television network NTV aired hidden-camera footage of Mikhail Kasyanov, leader of the opposition party Parnas. The footage appeared to show Mr. Kasyanov carrying on an affair with another party member and gossiping about other opposition politicians.
Mr. Kasyanov declined to comment on the video and the use of hidden cameras. The footage, aired ahead of parliamentary elections in September, made Russia’s embattled opposition appear fractured, divided and insignificant. His party didn’t win enough votes to be represented in parliament.
Footage aired last year on a pro-Kremlin network appeared to show opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov carrying on an affair. Mr. Kasyanov, shown here in December, declined to comment.PHOTO: SHCHERBAK ALEXANDER/ZUMA PRESS
Valery Solovyov, a political analyst and historian at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, said the Russian government has a long history of collecting dossiers on dissidents, potential adversaries and political opponents.
“Of course the Kremlin collects compromising material,” he said. “The tradition goes back to the Soviet KGB, and now that material is collected through special services and journalists.”
Journalists, particularly ardently pro-Kremlin TV channels, were used during protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2010-2012 to accuse opposition figures of nefarious deeds, such as collaborating with the U.S. Department of State, then headed by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Journalists collected kompromat on the opposition as well as distributed materials given to them.
Mr. Solovyov, however, said that only a smattering of the compromising material collected is used against others. Less still comes to light publicly, he added.
“If it is quality and reliable, then it’s best for secret blackmail,” he said.
Kompromat, which might seem the stuff of B-grade spy thrillers, is also used as a tool in diplomatic squabbles with other countries. Western diplomats posted to Russia are trained to avoid sexual entrapment: A married diplomat caught in an extramarital affair, for instance, could be blackmailed into revealing secrets.
The U.S. State Department formally lodged a complaint in 2009, when the Russian-language website Komsomolskaya Pravda posted footage of a man it claimed to be an American diplomat visiting a prostitute. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said at the time the diplomat was the “subject of a smear campaign using the Russian press,” using a fabricated video.
In a country with a rich history of surveillance as a tool of political repression, where security services are feared and respected, kompromat carries a particular resonance.
The fear of surveillance is ingrained in the habits of many Russians, whether or not they are actually being monitored. Russians often have a morbid humor about hidden cameras and it isn’t unusual to hear the phrase, “This isn’t a conversation to have over the phone”
To some Russians, the attention around the Trump dossier is playing out like a Russian political drama. Yuri Skuratov, Russia’s former top prosecutor, said he doubted that the Trump dossier was real.
“This is nothing more than a political act,” he said. “It’s written ideally for the losing side of the election. This is all hype, and for the American reader it tries to explain why Trump suddenly started to have good ties with Russia.”
Mr. Skuratov himself was a victim of compromising material after he began looking into charges of corruption by then-president Boris Yeltsin and his associates. In 1999, a video was aired in which someone who resembled him was filmed in bed with two women. The next year he was dismissed from his position by the country’s upper house of parliament.
The former prosecutor maintains the man in the video wasn’t him.
“It was done in order to take me away when I started to investigate corruption of Yeltsin and his circle,” Mr. Skuratov said. “It was done to get me fired and away from the investigation.”
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I’d say my preview of President Obama’s ISIS speech held up quite well, right down to his abundant first-person references to himself. As anticipated, he continues to view the Islamic State as primarily a domestic political problem. His primary objective is to move the narrative away from his hideous behavior over the summer, from his endless parties and golf outings to his disastrous “I have no strategy” gaffe. On Wednesday night, President Obama declared war on his bad poll numbers.
If there’s one thing I didn’t anticipate, it was Obama’s delusional stroll into his “recovery” fantasies near the end of the speech. That’s perfectly consistent with Operation Get My Poll Numbers Out Of the Basement, but I didn’t think he’d be quite so blatant about it. He’s basically trying to argue people out of scoring his domestic policies so poorly when pollsters call them. Meanwhile, back here in the real world, the workforce continues to collapse, the last unemployment report was an “unexpected” disaster, and within 12 hours of Obama’s speech, jobless claims had soared far beyond expectations for the week. The “unmatched universities” Obama boasted of are crushing students with skyrocketing tuition debt burdens, and churning out people with expensive degrees who can’t find a job. “Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades” despite Barack Obama’s best efforts.
And then you hit the really outer-space “what the hell is he talking about?” passages, which went beyond spin into the kind of outright delusion that makes you wonder about Barack Obama’s mental health. For a warm-up act, he touted Yemen and Somalia as examples of highly successful drone-strike terrorist containment, marking the first time anyone on Earth has advanced Yemen and Somalia as examples of political stable tranquility. “We’re going to turn northern Iraq into Somalia!” isn’t exactly an inspiring battle cry.
That’s nothing compared to Obama’s take on Russian adventurism, Syrian chemical weapons, and ebola:
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America — our scientists, our doctors, our know-how — that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people — or the world — again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.
I don’t know what to say about any of that, except that the alternate universe he’s describing sounds better than the one in which Russia still has over a thousand troops in Ukraine, ebola is “spreading like wildfire and devouring everything in its path” (as the Liberian defense minister told the UN Security Council yesterday), and Bashar Assad is still dumping chlorine gas on Syrian villages. Certainly Americans are playing a pivotal role in the effort to contain the ebola outbreak, but what the heck does that have to do with ISIS? His other examples of how everything is going swell are actually things he shouldn’t have mentioned, especially if Syria and its Russian patron are going to end up as “partners” in fighting the Islamic State.
I notice Obama stubbornly insists on calling the enemy “ISIL,” which is even starting to get on the New York Times’ nerves. If there was anyone you’d expect to bow to Barack Obama and adopt his preferred nomenclature without complaint, it’s the NYT, but here’s part of their write-up of Obama’s speech:
In a speech to the nation from the State Floor of the White House, Mr. Obama said the United States was recruiting a global coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militants, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He warned that “eradicating a cancer” like ISIS was a long-term challenge that would put some American troops at risk.
“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr. Obama declared in a 14-minute address. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq,” he added, using an alternative name for ISIS. “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Besides the clumsy sound of “ISIL,” the problem with that nomenclature is that it stands for “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” The “Levant” is a far larger area than what ISIS has already conquered – it’s basically the entire eastern coast of the Mediterranean, stretching from Turkey all the way down to Egypt. Here, take a look at this map and tell me if one of the names appearing roughly in the middle of the Levant jumps out at you. Hint: it’s a nation Barack Obama is famously cool towards, having once stated that he thinks it should be considerably smaller than it is now.
Using the name “ISIL” implicitly acknowledges this al-Qaeda group’s territorial ambitions, where as “ISIS” is a more technically accurate and limited description of where they are right now. I look forward to renaming them The Islamic State of Nowhere, but even Obama’s ostensibly tough speech last night conceded that’s a few years off at best. It’s funny that Obama incessantly argues, as he did again last night, that ISIS isn’t really “Islamic,” but he’s comfortable with rhetorically conceding their claim to “the Levant.”
As for the meager policy component of Obama’s speech, it’s just more of what he’s already doing. We’ll drop more bombs, and give more weapons to the “moderate” Syrian rebels (hopefully not the ones who sell captured American journalists to ISIS death squads for cash!) Obama spent much effort reassuring his base that ground troops will never, ever be deployed in combat roles. He repeated his new poll-tested “degrade and ultimately destroy” slogan with comical intensity, a bit of rhetorical mouthwash designed to rinse out the taste of his earlier “manageable problem” gaffe. He gave himself another pat on the back for killing Osama bin Laden, but then tried to portray his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan as successes, rather than the disasters they are. His Iraq pullout is what paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State, and the only question in Afghanistan is whether the Taliban are back in power before Obama leaves office.
Where does Obama get the authority for this years-long campaign? Not from Congress, that’s for sure. In the age of the Imperial Presidency, the rubber-stamp legislature is not to be consulted on such matters. Instead, Obama will invoke the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force given to President George Bush – you know, the same one President Obama said he wanted to repeal last year, back when he was still dismissing ISIS as the “junior varsity” of al-Qaeda. Barack Obama 2014 just told Barack Obama 2013 to get bent. It should be noted that some congressional representatives from both parties are quite happy to be left out of the new war against ISIS… but there are also representatives from both parties who are very angry at Obama for circumventing them,
There was, unsurprisingly, no admission of error in Obama’s speech. He admits no mistakes, therefore her learns nothing. A lifetime of such arrogance made him the man he is today, and his country has suffered greatly for it, both in our domestic economy and our standing abroad.
Update: Man, it looks like Obama’s tough speech and commanding leadership really wowed the Turks. They’ve already announced that they will not allow attacks on ISIS to be launched from their air bases, and will not participate in any combat operations against the Islamic State. So George Bush, who put together a massive international coalition and properly sought the very same congressional authorization Obama is still leaning on today, was a unilateralist cowboy, while the pitiful man who has squandered American prestige around the world is the great internationalist who was going to make the whole planet love and respect us.
Update: There has been considerable merriment about a flash poll of the MSNBC audience – the people who screamed themselves hoarse for years on end damning Bush as a unilateral cowboy and unitary executive – saying by a margin of 88-12 that Obama does not need congressional authorization to take military action against ISIS. I know that sounds funny if you take the “anti-war” movement at all seriously, but you shouldn’t. There was never much of an anti-war movement. There was an anti-Bush movement, period. The Senator who made a big deal about voting against authority for Bush to take action is now using the very same authority he voted against to take action as President, and his very pliable followers are perfectly happy with that. It’s not so much hypocrisy now as dishonesty then.
Update: As for those “moderate” Syrian rebels Obama’s strategy relies on arming more heavily, a commander in the heavily “vetted” Free Syrian Army has admitted his group has been collaborating with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Back to the old strategic drawing board!
Update: Russia has warned that American air strikes against ISIS in Syria would violate international law, as reported by the BBC:
“The US president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the US armed forces against Isil (IS) positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich was quoted as saying.
“This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”
Syria also repeated its warning that the US had to co-ordinate with the Syrian government before launching air strikes on its territory.
“Any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian government would be an attack on Syria,” National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar said on Thursday.
Last month Syria offered to help the US fight Islamic State, however the US ruled that out.
Our debonair internationalist “America is nothing special” Nobel Peace Prize-winning Citizen of the World President didn’t bother checking with anyone beyond his team of White House toadies before making that speech last night, did he?
Republicans Expand Edge as Better Party Against Terrorism
GOP also holds advantage as party better able to keep country prosperous
by Frank Newport
PRINCETON, NJ — The Republican Party has expanded its historical edge over the Democratic Party in Americans’ minds as being better able to protect the U.S. from international terrorism and military threats. At this point, 55% of Americans choose the GOP on this dimension, while 32% choose the Democratic Party. This is the widest Republican advantage in Gallup’s history of asking this question since 2002.
The latest update on this 12-year trend comes from Gallup’s Sept. 4-7 Governance poll, finished just days before President Barack Obama’s speech to the nation Wednesday night, in which he outlined his plans for addressing the challenges presented by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other international threats.
Republicans have held a perceptual edge on this question in all but two of the 12 years that it has been asked — 2007 and 2012. The GOP’s edge has been significant in many of the other years, although the 19-percentage-point gap measured in 2002, which was previously the largest, is eclipsed by this year’s 23-point Republican edge.
The strong Republican advantage this year is most likely related to the increasing news coverage of ISIS and its beheadings of two American journalists. Although the Obama administration has initiated air attacks against terrorist positions in Iraq, the president’s widely quoted comments that he had “no strategy” for dealing with the issue may help explain why Americans have become less likely to say the Democrats could better protect the U.S. from terrorism and military threats.
Republicans Have Edge as Party Better Able to Keep Country Prosperous
In addition to the GOP advantage on matters of security, Americans also give the Republican Party an edge as the party better able to keep the country prosperous, with 49% choosing the Republicans and 40% the Democrats.
This is one of Gallup’s oldest measures of relative party strength, and, as might be expected, it has produced widely differing results over the years, mirroring changes in the relative strength of the two parties more broadly.
Democrats held sway as the party better able to keep the country prosperous through most of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s — a time when Democrats were the strong majority party in Congress.
Republicans gained the upper hand on the measure during the Reagan years, but the two parties moved closer together, with ups and downs, during the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations.
Democrats moved ahead during the George W. Bush years, in particular during his second term.
The pattern has been sharply mixed during the Obama years, with the Democrats holding an edge in 2009 and 2012, but the Republicans having at least a slight edge in the other years.
The current nine-point GOP edge on this measure is up from 2013, but similar to where it was in 2010 and 2011.
Implications for Midterm Elections
While these measures are by no means perfect predictors of how well a party will do in a midterm election year, the Republican Party’s strength this year does not bode well for Democratic chances to outperform already low expectations.
Gallup has a long trend on the “prosperous” question, and the chart shows the two parties’ standings on this dimension in September before each of last five midterm elections, along with the outcome of the House vote in the corresponding year.
There is a clear relationship between these perceptions and the outcome of midterm elections, with the president’s party losing substantial seats when it has a deficit as the better party for economic prosperity, even though each election has its own unique dimensions. These results are thus best seen as providing an estimate of the direction of an election, rather than any precise outcome.
The president’s actions internationally and domestically in the coming weeks, and the actions or lack thereof on the part of Congress during the short time it will be in session before the elections, could both affect the election’s dynamics. But the historical pattern suggests that the GOP’s current edge as the party better able to keep the country prosperous and safe from terrorism would translate into gains in the midterm elections — if Americans’ perceptions of the two parties stay pretty much as they are now over the next two months.
Survey Methods Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 4-7, 2014, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
Obama lays out plan to ‘eradicate cancer’ of Islamic State fighters
President Obama vowed to “destroy” Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorists in a prime-time address Wednesday that sought to restore eroding public confidence in his leadership and ability to safeguard national security.
The president announced a “systematic campaign of airstrikes” against fighters with ISIS “wherever they exist,” signaling U.S. targets will expand from Iraq to Syria. [READ FULL TEXT OF OBAMA’S SPEECH.]
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are,” Obama said during the 15-minute address from the White House. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against [ISIS] in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Obama said he will send 475 additional U.S. armed services personnel to Iraq to reinforce that country’s military and ask Congress to approve a program allowing the Pentagon to train and equip moderate rebels inside Syria battling both ISIS and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
“America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Obama declared. “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, [ISIS] through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”
The orders are a significant escalation in the fight against ISIS, which over the past month has executed two American journalists its members had kidnapped. The group released grisly videos of the journalists being beheaded by an ISIS member with a British accent, a move intended to win the group new members and scare the American public.
Obama acknowledged the ISIS terrorists were “unique in their brutality” and said the killing of the U.S. journalists was representative of their “acts of barbarism.” He also said the intelligence community believed thousands of foreign fighters have taken up arms alongside ISIS and could return to their home countries.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found 94 percent of voters surveyed were aware of the executions, and six in 10 support a U.S. military campaign against the group.
The president acknowledged that “many Americans are concerned about these threats” and said that, left unchecked, ISIS could pose a threat not just to the region but to the United States.
But Obama pledged the United States would meet the threats “with strength and resolve.”
The speech marked a dramatic shift for a president largely elected on the promise to end the Iraq War. Obama has sought to use his second term to end American engagement in Afghanistan, the longest-running war in U.S. history.
Speaking on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that ushered in those conflicts, Obama took pains to say he would not commit U.S. ground troops to the new fight. He compared the new engagement against ISIS to fights in Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has used drones and government partners to attack suspected terrorists.
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Obama said. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”
He said the campaign “will be waged through a steady, relentless effort” that relies on air power and partner forces on the ground, not U.S. soldiers.
He also urged patience, saying it would take time to “eradicate the cancer” of ISIS.
According to a senior administration official, the White House is still reviewing plans for the strikes within Syria, although Obama has decided definitively he will launch them.
“We will take action on the Syrian side of the border to degrade [ISIS],” the official said. “But we’re not going to telegraph our punches.”
Wednesday’s speech was seen as pivotal for Obama, and he addressed the nation just nine weeks before midterm elections in which Republicans are favored to take over control of the Senate.
Democrats have blamed Obama for their political troubles, pointing to polls showing wavering confidence in his leadership. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 47 percent of respondents feel the U.S. is now less safe than it was before 9/11, the highest number since the terror attack.
The administration sought before the speech to win support from Congress for authority to arm Syrian rebel groups, a move aimed in part at ensuring shared responsibility for the conflict and presenting a united U.S. front abroad.
Obama stressed his administration was working hard to bring in international support for the mission and said allies within Iraq and Syria would ultimately be responsible for their own security.
On Wednesday, France said it would participate in airstrikes against ISIS, if needed, and Germany announced it was sending lethal aid to Kurdish fighters. Saudi Arabia has offered to host a U.S. training facility to assist the moderate Syrian opposition.
Obama called on Congress in his address to grant the Pentagon additional authority to run that training site, saying the U.S. “must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like [ISIS].”
But the administration’s request has already divided Capitol Hill, and efforts to include it as part of a stopgap spending bill led Republican leaders to punt a vote on measure to next week.
The president argued he had the legal authority to pursue his military strategy without additional congressional action, though he also encouraged any bid by Congress to explicitly authorize or fund the mission.
“I believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together,” Obama said. “So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”
Congressional leadership has balked at that opportunity so far, wary of a controversial vote weeks before the midterm elections. Memories of last year’s botched attempt to secure authorization for strikes against Assad also loom large.
The authority to launch the expanded military campaign, the White House says, comes partially from 2001 legislation authorizing the use of military force against those responsible for or assisting those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In a speech just over a year ago, Obama pledged to “refine, and ultimately repeal” that authorization.
“We believe that he can rely on the 2001 [authorization] as statutory authority for the military airstrike operations he’s directing against [ISIS] for instance,” the official said. “And we believe again that he has the authority to continue these operations beyond 30 days consistent with the war powers resolution because the operations are authorized by statute.”
President Obama on Wednesday authorized a major expansion of the military campaign against rampaging Sunni militants in the Middle East, including American airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of 475 more military advisers to Iraq. But he sought to dispel fears that the United States was embarking on a repeat of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a speech to the nation from the State Floor of the White House, Mr. Obama said the United States was recruiting a global coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militants, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He warned that “eradicating a cancer” like ISIS was a long-term challenge that would put some American troops at risk.
Other U.S. Airstrike Campaigns
President Obama said that military strategy against ISIS will resemble U.S. efforts in Somalia and Yemen, where airstrikes and other operations have been reported since 2002. The scale of U.S. airstrike operations in Pakistan was much larger, though it has tapered in recent years.
For all of Mr. Obama’s efforts to reassure the public, his remarks were a stark acknowledgment of the threat posed by the militants, whose lightning advance through Iraq and Syria and videotaped beheading of two American journalists have reignited fears of radical Islamic terrorism.
The president’s remarks, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, will thrust the United States into a civil war in Syria that he had long sought to avoid, and will return a significant American military presence to Iraq, not quite three years after the last American troops withdrew.
President Obama telephoned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to request Saudi support in training and equipping Syrian rebels opposed to ISIS.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners. Earlier on Wednesday, he called King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to enlist his support for the plan to step up training of the Syrian rebels.
Mr. Obama is acting as polls show rapidly shifting public opinion, with a large majority of Americans now favoring military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, even as they express deep misgivings about the president’s leadership,
Mr. Obama is also facing difficult crosscurrents on Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers, initially reluctant to demand congressional authorization of military action, have begun agitating for a vote, even as some Democrats warn of a stampede to war.
On Wednesday, Senate Democratic leaders prepared legislation on the narrow issue of authorizing the American military to train the Syrian rebels. House Republicans appeared ready to follow their lead.
The surge of activity means Congress is likely to weigh in on the military action before the midterm elections in eight weeks. Former Vice President Dick Cheney further roiled the political atmosphere on Capitol Hill when he gave a speech on Wednesday blaming Mr. Obama’s “arbitrary and hasty” withdrawal of troops in 2011 for the chaos in Iraq.
Senator Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and a political ally of Mr. Obama, rejected Mr. Cheney’s critique, saying, “We want to be careful that we don’t engage ourselves for a long period of time in a long-term war involving the vulnerability of our troops.”
Mr. Obama’s speech amounted to a strategy for a problem he has long said would defy an American remedy: sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in countries with deeply disaffected minorities and no history of democratic government.
Among the questions that Mr. Obama did not answer: How will the United States and its allies reinvigorate a moderate Syrian opposition that has been marginalized by more extremist forces? And how can the United States act against ISIS in Syria without benefiting President Bashar al-Assad?
While Mr. Obama said that Mr. Assad had lost his legitimacy to govern Syria, he did not call again for his ouster. Instead, he spoke of strengthening the moderate rebels to give them a seat at the table in a political settlement with the Assad government.
Administration officials indicated that airstrikes in Syria could still be weeks away, while American surveillance planes continue to gather intelligence on the location of ISIS targets.
They also tried to manage expectations about whether the United States could truly destroy ISIS. Wiping out a group whose roots go back to the start of the Iraq war is a formidable challenge, a senior official said in a briefing for reporters, speaking on the condition of anonymity under White House ground rules.
“What we can do is systematically roll back the organization, shrink the territory where they’re operating, decimate its ranks, cut off its sources of support in terms of funding and equipment, and have the threat methodically and relentlessly reduced,” he said.
Islamic State Flag Meaning: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
1. It’s Known as the ‘Black Standard’
The Islamic State flag is historically known as the “Black Banner” or “Black Standard.”
There have been multiple versions throughout history.
Its earliest incarnation can be traced to the advent of Islam in 7th century C.E., where Muhammad allegedly spread his teachings under the Black Standard. He adopted this banner custom from the ancient Romans, who conquered the world under the Aquila, or eagle, banner.
Mohammed may have even adopted the eagle name, as early accounts of his conquest cite that he referred to his banner as “the banner of the eagle” also.
As various sects of Islam developed throughout the coming centuries, the Black Standard began to stand for various eschatological ideologies.
Today it is mostly identified with extremist Sunnism and jihadism.
2. The Arabic Text is Called the ‘Shahada’
The above Arabic text seen on the Islamic State flag is that of an Islamic creed called theShahada, which translates to “testimony.” The testimony confirms that Islam is a monotheistic religion and that Muhammad was its one true prophet. According to Wikipedia, the Shahada directly translates to:
There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.
The Shahada is the most commonly used statement of faith for Muslims, and in Sunnism it is the first Pillar of the Five Pillars of Islam. The other four are:
2. Salat: ritual prayer five times a day
3. Zakat: giving 2.5% of one’s savings to the poor and needy
4. Sawm: fasting and self-control during the holy month of Ramadan
5. Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if one is able
3. The Symbol is the ‘Seal of Muhammad’
Below the Shahada is the Seal of Muhammad, or the Khatam an-Nabiyyin.
It is alleged to be a relic of the founder of Islam, although its authenticity has been debated. (Similar to the Shroud of Turin.)
Regardless of its authenticity, the Seal of Muhammad was adopted by jihadists for use on flags in 2006.
Their design of the seal is based on sealed letters of Muhammad’s to the Heads-of-State, which were allegedly found in Ottoman era transcripts of Muhammad’s letters. (See below.)
Like the Seal of Muhammad, the Letters-to-the-Heads-of-State’s authenticity is highly debatable.
4. The Flag Plays Into ‘End of Days’ Eschatology
In Islamic apocrypha, the Black Standard plays into Armageddon stories as the heralding flag of the Mahdi, or the prophesied redeemer of Islam.
There is no mention of the Mahdi in Quran, but stories say that the Mahdi‘s coming is supposed to coincide with the second-coming of Jesus.
5. The Main Goal of the Mahdi is to Establish an Islamic State
The Mahdi is storied to be the leader of the war against the anti-Christ, and with a company of chosen men will lead a war against him and his army in one, apocryphal battle. After beating the anti-Christ, Jesus will return.
Segment 0: Santorum Bows Out Gracefully–Suspends Campaign–Romney Pulls Attack Ads and Will Be Republican Presidential Nominee–Movement Conservatives, Libertarians and Tea Party Patriots Not Supporting Another Big Government Progressive NeoCon–Mitt Romney–Third Party Time–Videos
Santorum drops out of the Race! 4/10/2012 OFFICIAL
Full Speech – Rick Santorum suspends his campaign for president
Mitt Romney: “Today Was A Good Day For Me”
Romney Pulls Attack Ads Against Santorum
Mitt Romney PA Attack Ad: Rick Santorum
Romney moderate and progressive to severely conservative flip-flop
Still Voting For Mitt Romney?
2012 Romney Campaign Ad Attacking Santorum on Sotomayor, E-Verify, and Immigraton Reform
mirror on the 2012 ads: Dishonest Romney? Erratic Gingrich? Fake Santorum? Radical Obama?
Mitt Romney, Presumptive Nominee?
Neocon Glenn Beck Endorses Mitt Romney
GBTV: Rick Santorum drops out
Glenn Beck: Ron Paul is the closest to our Founding Fathers
Reality Check: What Happens To Santorum’s Delegates?
Rick Santorum suspends campaign!!!!!!!!!!!!! Drops out of presidential race
Ron Paul Campaign Issues Statement About Rick Santorum Leaving Presidential Race
Ron Paul 2012- OWNS FOX “Word-Bender” Jeff Michael- LA, California
Ron Paul 2012 – Who Can You Trust?
Ron Paul – Three of a Kind
Ron Paul Ad – Life
Ron Paul Ad – Plan
Ron Paul VS Mitt Romney: And Then There Were Two
Ron Paul: “I’m trying to save the Republican party”
Ron Paul Texas Ad – Money Bomb April 15
Ron Paul: Neocons Are Not Conservatives
Congressman Ron Paul, MD – We’ve Been NeoConned
Chinese Troops Invade the Heart of Texas – Ron Paul
“…In a surprise decision Tuesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) will announce that he is suspending his presidential campaign, The Huffington Post’s Jon Ward has learned and several otheroutletshave reported.
The Pennsylvania Republican had taken a break from the campaign trail for several days to tend to his ailing daughter, Bella. He had pledged to continue campaigning through the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. But the combination of his daughter’s sickness and recent poll numbers showing him possibly losing his home state apparently prompted the early departure. …”
Segment 0: Etch A Sketch President and Big Government Progressive Neocons–No More Games–No More Unbalanced Big Government Budgets–No More Bailouts–No More Unemployment–No More Wars-No More Phony Conservatives–Videos
The Four Etch A Sketch Candidates For President
Big Government Progressives
Ron Paul – Three of a Kind
Ron Paul Ad: Etch A Sketch
Ron Paul: I’ll Unite Republicans & Democrats to Cut Spending
Ron Paul Ad – Plan
Newt Gingrich: Serial Hypocrisy
Ron Paul Ad – Betrayal
New Ron Paul Ad – BIG DOG
Romney: The Etch A Sketch Candidate
Rick Santorum Reacts To Romney Adviser Etch-a-Sketch Comments
Newt – Etch-A-Sketch and Ice Bucket Speeches
Mitt Romney: Some Things You Can’t Shake Off
Still Voting For ‘Mitt Romney’?
Rockefeller Owns Romney and Gingrich
“…Aired May 23, 1966. Mitt’s Romney’s father was George Romney, Governor of Michigan. He was a progressive, establishment Rockefeller Republican who viciously opposed to the Conservative wing of the party led by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. This is very apparent in the video as they praise Senator Jacob Javits, an arch-liberal Republican who led the effort to legalise abortion.”
Mitt Romney reacts to ‘Etch A Sketch’ comment
George Romney Brainwash interview on WKBD-TV
“This is a video of an interview done in 1967 on WKBD-TV (channel 50) by Lou Gordon of former Michigan Governor George Romney (father of presidential candidate Mitt Romney) in which he made the comment that he was brainwashed and changed is mind and stated that he is now against the war in Vietnam.”
George Romney was brainwashed and Mitt Romney was etch a sketched.
Both were big government progressive neocons.
Ron Paul: Neocons Are Not Conservatives
Congressman Ron Paul, MD – We’ve Been NeoConned
Chinese Troops Invade the Heart of Texas – Ron Paul