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Benghazi, the election, and a look in the mirror

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — the current score seems to be bipolar 1, bipartisan 0 ]
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You may believe:

You may believe:

Old Hat — I was on my way to DoubleQuote Trump & Clinton

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — folks you might not entrust with your secrets ]
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I was on my way to DoubleQuote two Presidential candidates that some people wouldn’t want to entrust with secret briefings from the Intelligence Community — Trump & Clinton — citing Shane HarrisSpies Worry Candidate Trump Will Spill Secrets piece from The Beast and Brent Scher‘s Former White House Counsel: Hillary Clinton Should Not Get Intelligence Briefings at the Washington Free Beacon — old stories, both of them, but they just now clicked together for me —

But why worry, when Kristina Wong at The Hill has done it for me?

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Trump Clinton and IC briefings

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This is all old hat, of course — Wong’s piece was posted more than a month ago — but still, as she said..

Some U.S. intelligence officials are worried about providing a routine intelligence briefing to Donald Trump once he becomes the official Republican presidential nominee, according to a report.

Eight senior security officials told Reuters they were concerned that Trump’s “shoot from the hip” style could pose national security risks, as they prepare to give him a routine pre-election briefing for presidential nominees.

They also cited his lack of foreign policy experience, and his little known team of foreign policy advisers.
“People are very nervous,” one senior U.S. security official said.

However, the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss a political domestic issue, said they would not deviate from the usual “Top Secret” briefing format, to avoid any appearance of bias.

Current and formal officials also expressed concern over briefing Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to Reuters.

They cited the scandal over her use of emails when she was secretary of State and her handling of sensitive information. She is currently facing an FBI probe over whether she compromised security and broke laws over her use of a private email server for government work at State.

“The only candidate who has proven incapable of handling sensitive information is Hillary Clinton,” Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told Reuters. “If there is anyone they should be worried about it is Hillary Clinton.”

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And all of this brings me to my Totally Impractical Question — which if anything gets more interesting as the weeks go by:

If someone has loose enough lips — or email servers — to be unworthy to receive Top Secret briefings as a candidate, do they really suddenly get a whole lot more reliable, once they’re elected?

Clinton Comey?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — with a side dish of Tzipi Livni ]
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Ckinton Comey
photo credit: Greg Nash via The Hill

I’ll be socratic here, asking questions to illuminate my hunches.

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I’m seldom fully convinced by anything that comes from the left and reads the way I’d expect the left to read, and seldom convinced by anything that comes from the right and reads the way I’d expect the right to read, so I don’t take the left’s assertions downplaying H Clinton’s security behavior with reflex belief, and on the whole I’m inclined to follow John Schindler, who — both as an ex-NSA analyst and as a regular at The Observer — takes a very hard line on Clinton’s security behavior, writing just a couple of weeks ago under the title, The Coming Constitutional Crisis Over Hillary Clinton’s EmailGate.

I also follow War on the Rocks, though, and was struck a while back by a post there from Mark Stout, drawing some interesting distinctions in line with its subtitle, “A former intelligence analyst who worked at both the CIA and the State Department explains how different approaches to classifying information sits at the heart of the scandal that threatens to undo Hillary Clinton.”

Which does somewhat complicate matters, while somewhat helping us understand them.

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I’m neither an American nor a lawyer, and as someone who is generally inclined more to bridge-building than to taking sides in any case, I don’t feel qualified to debate the Comey-Clinton affair – but was interested to see emptywheel’s Marcy Wheeler, whom I take to be leftish, coming out today describing Comey’s decision as an “improper public prosecutorial opinion”. She writes:

Understand, though: with Sterling and Drake, DOJ decided they were disloyal to the US, and then used their alleged mishandling of classified information as proof that they were disloyal to the US ..Ultimately, it involves arbitrary decisions about who is disloyal to the US, and from that a determination that the crime of mishandling classified information occurred.

Comey, in turn, seems to have made it pretty clear that “Secretary Clinton or her colleagues“ were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” – specifically:

.. seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received.  These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters.

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Is there, in your views, special treatment in this matter for persons of high rank present here?

livni

And out of curiosity, if so, do you see a similar case of special treatment for persons of high rank over in the UK, known to be substantially less Israel-friendly than the US, where Scotland Yard wanted to question Tzipi Livni about alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza under her watch as Foreign Minister, and “after diplomatic talks” Livni was “granted special diplomatic immunity”?

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On the one hand, I don’t like show-trials, trials-by-press, banana courts or mob justice, and far prefer just laws justly applied – and on the other, I can understand that the scrutiny those in high office find themselves under can render them legally vulnerable in ways that may unduly influence their decision-making – and justice may be platonically blind, but is not always uniformly applied in practice. Such, it seems to me, is the human dilemma.

What say you?

Orlando Tweets Two

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — on a variety of other perspectives ]
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Once again, my point is that there’s a whole lot of going on going on, and it’s worth getting a wide-angle view.. which means multiple perspectives, including those not your own:

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Politicking:

Joshua Green, Trump seems to regard Omar Mateen as “Afghan” in the same way Judge Curiel was “Mexican”: foreign/un-American, even though both born in US
Charlene Deveraturda, The Atlantic’s ISIS Expert Graeme Wood Slams Trump For “Hurt[ing] The Fight Against ISIS” With Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Both Al-Jazeera‘s and Joshua Green‘s tweets offer us examples of DoubleQuotes thinking.

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Guns:

Program on extremism, ‘Orlando Shooter Legally Bought Guns Despite Previous Flags by FBI’
Rob Crilly, Orlando shows arc again. Hate-filled young man with access to guns picks his victims and then selects poisonous ideology to add “meaning”
Bill Maher, #Orlando Conservatives:”Don’t say it has anything to do with guns!” Liberals:”Don’t say it has anything to do with Islam!”
Maajid Nawaz, Saying this has nothing to do with Islam (libs) is as ignorant as saying this has nothing to do with guns (cons).Both need reform
Piers Morgan, Obama’s about to make the same speech he’s made about guns 20 times in his presidency. Just more pointless rhetoric, sadly.
Steven Crowder, Orlando timeline: Anti-Gay Muslim commits mass terrorism. American gun-owners condemn it. Liberals try to take their guns

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Islamic responses:

Shadi Hamid, Muslim organizations in the United States unequivocally condemned the Orlando assault
Usama Hasan, Does #Islam condemn #gays to death?

and in ISIS perspective:

Cole Bunzel, ISIS’s A’maq news agency claims Florida attack was “carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State”
Will McCants, ISIS uses term “fighter” for Orlando attacker rather than “soldier” (Paris/Brussels) or “supporter” (San Bernardino) for whatever it’s worth

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And finally, barely mentioned in the welter of opinions about Orlando — the other shoe:

JM Berger, We may have narrowly escaped having two very similar massacres on the same day, apparently unconnected
JM Berger, The fact that one was prevented and one was not is largely a trick of fate. We need robust reporting on LA incident as well

Istigkeit, approximately

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — classification, impropriety, and a concept pretty much unique to Meister Eckhart ]
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First, here’s what I call a DoubleTweet, juxtaposing two tweets for the resonance between them — and juxtaposing two thoughts for the resonance between them is about as simple a way of demonstrating the whole being greater than the sum of its parts as I can think of.

Take 1, Obama is slippery with words:

Take 2, the Europeans outbid and finesse him:

I don’t actually know if you can outbid and finesse while playing Bridge, but you can in metaphor.

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There was also a DoubleQuote that sprang to mind, but Patti Brown got to it first, so I’ll just copy her tweet here:

Lawyers — the Clintons & POTUS.

Compare philosophers, poets, native speakers, natural language processors.

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Also worth taking into consideration here:

  • Mark Stout, War on the Rocks, Were Hillary Clinton’s emails classified? Where you stand depends on where you sit:

    the uproar about the Clinton email server ignores the reality that, for very good reasons, the CIA and the State Department have different approaches to classification and classified information. These different approaches result from the different functions of the agencies.

  • Cory Bennett, The Hill, Clinton emails reveal murky world of ‘top secret’ documents:

    The watchdog [IG] said it found a number of Clinton’s emails that currently contained “classified intelligence community information.” But the State Department has said it did not consider that language classified at the time those emails were sent.

    Both sides can be correct, said several former officials.

  • And that’s enough hipbonish excitement for one post.


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