Homeland Security

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“At This Point It’s Country Over Party”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 1:29am in

It feels like power is slipping away from Trump and his administration, and they are trying desperately to claw it back. Meanwhile, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his team are trying to criticize the president without getting sucked into his orbit, so they can focus on moving the country forward. Continue reading

The post “At This Point It’s Country Over Party” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Facebook Live Rant by Trump Coronavirus PR Guru Deepens Fears of Election Violence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 6:12am in

Broadcasting over Facebook Live this past Sunday, public relations specialist and Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Public Affairs, Michael Caputo, painted a dramatic picture of threats and coercion by federal officials, left-wing “hit squads” who are “being trained all over the country” to prevent another Trump presidency and the deterioration of his own mental health.

Caputo’s public meltdown comes on the heels of a broader clash going on behind the scenes between officials at HHS and the CDC over coronavirus messaging, in which Caputo, along with advisor Paul Alexander and others, seek to “align” the CDC’s weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) with Trump’s pandemic messaging by altering or modifying the scientific data, or stopping the reports from coming out altogether.

The reports are used to determine who’s at the highest risk from week-to-week. According to Jennifer Kates of the Kaiser Family Foundation, they are the “go-to” resource for the public health community to obtain “scientifically vetted” information, but emails sent by Caputo’s team to CDC director Dr. Robert Redfieldin early August complain about how the agency’s reports “undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages about the outbreak.” Attempts were subsequently made to “add caveats to the CDC’s findings” and make retroactive changes to reports dealing with risks of Covid-19, which the HHS spokesman characterized as “wrongly inflated.”

One of Caputo’s recruits at HHS, assistant professor of health research at McMaster University in Canada, Paul Alexander, called for an “immediate stop” to the publication of the CDC reports, which have played an essential role in U.S. epidemic messaging since the first report on HIV in 1981, until he had personally reviewed the entire report and be allowed to make inline edits, per Politico. Alexander questioned the definition of “pediatric population” in an upcoming report that lists 18-20 year-olds in that demographic, which the professor says is “misleading” and tantamount to hit pieces on the administration.” Alexander also called on Redfield to modify two already published reports. The “CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening . . . Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear,” Alexander stated.

Caputo’s most incendiary remarks on his social media rant involve the aforementioned “hit squads,” which are supposed to unleash a civil war of sorts at the forthcoming presidential inauguration. While Caputo asserts a secret militia of left-wing radicals are in the process of staging a coup in America, efforts are underway by another Trump appointee at the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, where acting director Chad Wolff has been trying to suppress a report prepared by the agency, itself, identifying right-wing, white supremacist groups as the “primary terrorist threat” to the United States, in addition to changing the focus of intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States to interference activities by China and Iran, according to a whistleblower complaint.

 

Murphy’s Law

“Lone offenders and small cells of individuals motivated by a diverse array of social, ideological, and personal factors will pose the primary terrorist threat to the United States. Among these groups, we assess that white supremacist extremists – who increasingly are networking with like-minded persons abroad – will pose the most persistent and lethal threat.” So reads a draft of the DHS document that Chad Wolff is accused of downplaying a whistleblower reprisal complaint submitted by the former head of Homeland Security’s intelligence division, Brian Murphy. Murphy is participating in an ongoing investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence into DHS and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

In a statement following the release of the letter calling Mr. Murphy to testify before the committee, Schiff proclaimed that “senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials improperly sought to politicize, manipulate, and censor intelligence in order to benefit President Trump politically.” Schiff was a pivotal figure in the impeachment hearings of 2018 that sought to convict Trump of collusion with Russian assets to fix the 2016 election.

Caputo, himself is considered a “minor figure” in the Russiagate scandal as the individual who referred a Russian who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton to Roger Stone, whose 40-year sentence for obstruction of justice and other charges was commuted in July. Stone was one of Caputo’s 5,000+ Facebook Friends watching on Sunday.

 

There will be blood

Caputo told viewers that “they’re going to have to kill [him],” adding that he and his family have been “continually threatened” ever since joining the Administration. Nevertheless, he assured that he’s not “going anywhere,” announcing that Trump had put him in charge of a $250 million public service advertising campaign to attract more minority volunteers for clinical trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines.”

Calls for the resignation of the author of “The Ukraine Hoax” were made almost immediately by the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Patty Murray (D-WA). The question will, no doubt, be posed today at an open hearing to review the Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus response efforts by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, which has called Dr. Robert Redfield of the CDC, ASPR Robert Kadlec and Admiral Brett Giroir of the HHS to testify Wednesday morning.

Michael A. Caputo, who Senator Murray called “a yes-man for President Trump with no scientific expertise,” claimed on his Facebook Live broadcast that “there are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.” He proceeded to deactivate both his Facebook and Twitter accounts soon after that. But, not before leaving his 850 viewers with a portentous warning that “the shooting will begin” when Donald Trump refuses to step down after November.

Feature photo | Michael Caputo, left, joined by his attorney Dennis C. Vacco, leaves after being interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staff investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Facebook Live Rant by Trump Coronavirus PR Guru Deepens Fears of Election Violence appeared first on MintPress News.

DHS Head Chad Wolf Adopts Language of War in Threats Against Portland Protesters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 4:05am in

Even after three months of continuous demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd, protests in Portland, Oregon continue, as demonstrators clash with police and pro-Trump groups. With no end in sight, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf sent a cryptic but threatening message to Black Lives Matter and other groups, telling ABC News that “all options continue to be on the table” as a response.

Since Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has attempted to undermine federal agents’ presence, it appears that Wolf is hinting at a military response, despite his pleas for an end to violence. Senator Tom Cotton has already demanded that Trump send in the troops to deal with the protests. The U.S. has a history of crushing domestic dissent with force. In 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four. Fifteen years later, police used helicopters to drop bombs on the black activists at the MOVE compound in Philadelphia, destroying an entire block of housing.

While these are extreme events, the phrase “all options on the table” is largely used in politics as a code phrase conveying the most extreme violence imaginable, without having to explicitly state it. The phrase was famously used by President George W. Bush throughout his administration when discussing Iran and its supposed nuclear weapons program. When asked by a reporter if “all options” could mean a nuclear attack on Iran, Bush refused to answer, simply re-stating that “all options” were on the table.

Iran is a particular target of the “all options” rhetoric, whether Republicans or Democrats control the executive branch. President Obama also continually threatened Iran with a nuclear attack throughout his presidency, stating that he was prepared to strike. In 2009, he said he wished to go down the diplomatic path but “without taking other options off the table.” Three years later, Obama again insisted that “all options” were on the table, adding that he “doesn’t bluff.” Evidently, that was false, however, as the next year, he was making the same pronouncement about his options, this time alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. All of this in an attempt to stop something which experts agree Iran was not even trying to pursue.

U.S. allies have begun to adopt the same rhetoric. Last September, a Saudi ambassador announced that “all options were on the table” with Iran, after an attack on oil processing facilities — something which Riyadh immediately blamed on Iran.

As with many other issues, the Trump administration is more explicit and forthright in its rhetoric. In 2017, Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech in South Korea highlighting the U.S.’ resolve to stop North Korea from obtaining atomic weaponry. “We hope to achieve this objective through peaceful means, but all options are on the table,” he stated, thereby strongly implying “all options” meant violence. Trump was less able to use coded language, threatening the D.P.R.K with “fire and fury” like they had never seen before.

And consider this exchange that Trump had with journalists in 2019. After announcing that “all options” were on the table for Venezuela, a reporter asked, “Are you considering a military option for Venezuela?” Trump replied, “We’re not considering anything but all options are on the table.” The reporter pressed him, asking, “Does that mean that you are considering a military—”, but Trump cut him off, stating firmly:

All options. Always. All options are on the table.”

Considering that the United States had already placed devastating sanctions on the country, killing an estimated 100,000 people and that the U.S. has sent troops to neighboring Colombia, a military attack is clearly a possibility, especially if U.S.-backed coups continue to fall flat.

Trump’s press secretaries have also used the “all options on the table” rhetoric in relation to Russia and Syria.

The phrase, therefore, is continually used against foreign enemies of the U.S. government as a way of threatening war or even nuclear annihilation without having to explicitly state it, letting the threat pass under the radar of many, and allowing for plausible deniability if challenged. The fact that government officials are beginning to use that same rhetoric against the domestic population in Portland is not a positive sign for the future of the city or the country.

Feature photo | U.S. Army Commander Col. Rafael “Pete” Pazos speaks to Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf and Sen. Martha McSally in Yuma, Arizona on January 10, 2020. Catherine Carroll | DVIDS

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post DHS Head Chad Wolf Adopts Language of War in Threats Against Portland Protesters appeared first on MintPress News.

Just Another Friday Night News Dump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/08/2020 - 12:40am in

America’s top news continues to touch on the upcoming election. The Friday night news dump was about the United States Postal Service. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist, has recently created new rules for the agency that have dramatically … Continue reading

The post Just Another Friday Night News Dump appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Homeland Security Justifies Invasion of Portland by Claiming Shields and Gas Masks are Weapons

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 3:45am in

Far from restoring order, the arrival of federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Border Patrol in Portland, Oregon has only heightened tensions, with agents attacking and arresting protesters nightly. DHS’ Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli took to social media yesterday to share images of items confiscated from demonstrators.

“Here is a shield and a couple of gas masks from a rioter arrested in Portland. Not a sign with a slogan that someone expressing their first amendment rights might carry, but preparations for violence. Peaceful protester? I don’t think so,” he wrote. Evidence that demonstrators were using inherently defensive items like shields and gas masks to protect themselves from tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper balls appeared not to convince many to drop their support of the movement. “‘The steps you take to protect yourself from the violence I perpetrate against you are the evidence that you deserve that violence’ is rarely articulated quite so plainly. At least not in public,” replied Angus Johnston of Hostos Community College (City University of New York).

The DHS justifies its invasion of Portland — over the objections of city and state officials — on the grounds that it is protecting federal property, particularly the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which has become a venue of intense struggle. “Simply put, we need to make sure [it is] not burned down, as rioters have tried to do for weeks. That’s our mission,” it stated. Yet it is far from clear whether the DHS has the legal remit to do so. Its own website notes that its mission is “striving to prevent future [terrorist] attacks against the United States and our allies, responding decisively to natural and man-made disasters, and advancing American prosperity and economic security long into the future,” none of which would be covered by protesters graffiting federal property. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government and the DHS for their actions.

Despite this, Cuccinelli has promised to expand the use of federal troops or police nationwide, including into a number of Democratic-run cities. “This is a posture we intend to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country,” he told NPR.

 

Fears over live ammo and violence against the press

Local elected officials appear far more concerned about the violence of the feds than of any damage protesters have done. The city’s mayor, Ken Wheeler, has repeatedly demanded federal agents leave the city immediately. Instead, they gassed Wheeler himself when he joined the demonstrations.

What I saw last night was powerful in many ways. I listened, heard, and stood with protesters. And I saw what it means when the federal government unleashes paramilitary forces against its own people. It is unconscionable and un-American. We are all committed to change – this must stop so the work can move forward,” he wrote.

Wheeler also raised concerns over unconfirmed reports that agents had been authorized to use live ammunition. Despite Wheeler and many other Oregon representatives’ opposition to the President’s moves, demonstrators themselves have criticized the mayor for failing to rein in his own police force, who have been no less aggressive. Despite a judge banning the use of tear gas, earlier this month, police broke the court order and declared a riot, using flashbang grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, Portland has seen 52 attacks on journalists since the nationwide protests against racist police violence began in late May, Minneapolis being the only city recording more. Not counted among the 52 is the case of MintPress contributor Wyatt Reed. Late Wednesday night, federal agents shot him in the face with pepper balls, injuring his eye. Last night, he was also hit in the knee and the hand. “For the record I was sitting by myself, well away from anyone else & nowhere near any of more militant demonstrators when these “specially trained” federal agents shot me directly w chemical weapons projectile,” he tweeted.

The current protest movement was sparked by the viral images showing the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Since then they expanded to every state in the union and to other nations. One recent Morning Consult poll found that 23 percent of police officers said they held “very” or “somewhat favorable” views of white supremacy, by far the highest proportion of over 100 identifiable groups the survey asked. President Trump has opted to confront the protests head on, rather than make concessions. If shields and gas masks are now considered weapons, it appears likely that more government escalation is on the cards for Portland.

Feature photo | Federal officers use tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on July 22, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Noah Berger | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Homeland Security Justifies Invasion of Portland by Claiming Shields and Gas Masks are Weapons appeared first on MintPress News.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 7:52am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

July 23, 2020 Jason Wilson on the protests and storm troopers in Portland • Forrest Hylton on COVID-19, repression, corruption, and drug gangs in Latin America

The President’s Personal Militia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 1:37am in

Today Trump announced that he will send federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as part of his push to advance the idea that he is a “LAW & ORDER” president. Trump insists that “violent anarchists” allied with “radical left” Democrats have launched “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” To hear the president tell it, the country is at war against a leftist enemy that is destroying us from within. Continue reading

The post The President’s Personal Militia appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

What is Going on with Russia?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 2:37am in

Media coverage of Trump’s commutation of his associate Roger Stone’s prison sentence has pushed the Russia bounty story out of the headlines. Knowing Trump’s skill at distraction, it’s hard to believe this is a coincidence. Continue reading

The post What is Going on with Russia? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

We Need Racial and Legal Equality in the US Asylum System Too

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/06/2020 - 9:00pm in

Memorial coffins at the Tijuana-San Diego border for those who died crossing. Tomas Castelazo, tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 Saturday, June...

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Mapping Corruption in the Executive Branch

The Trump administration has brought its brand of corruption and self-dealing to every agency in the federal government, and it’s hard for anyone to keep on top of it all. The American Prospect has mapped it out for you. Click on any agency building below, and unlock an extensive dossier of the activities happening inside. Continue reading

The post Mapping Corruption in the Executive Branch appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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