The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: department of homeland security

'Red Flags Everywhere': New Report Shows FBI, DHS Ignored January 6 Warnings

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

A new report from the Washington Post published on Sunday detailed a deep dive into the extensive warnings the federal government received of potential violence and efforts to interfere with Congress's counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6. Despite this ample foreshadowing, the administration and law enforcement agencies were still unable or unwilling to prepare adequate defenses to keep the mob from storming the Capitol that day.

The FBI, in particular, comes off looking inept — if not driven by politically inspired cowardice or indifference.

"The FBI received numerous warnings about January 6 but felt many of the threatening statements were 'aspirational' and could not be pursued," the report found. "In one tip on December 20, a caller told the bureau that Trump supporters were making plans online for violence against lawmakers in Washington, including a threat against Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). The agency concluded the information did not merit further investigation and closed the case within 48 hours."

Donell Harvin, the head of intelligence at the homeland security office in Washington, D.C., did raise the alarm, according to the report. It explained how he "organized an unusual call for all of the nation's regional homeland security offices" — a call joined by hundreds of officials sharing their concerns. They were reportedly warning of an attack on January 6 at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol, just when the insurrection occurred. The planning was happening all over social media, after all — inspired by then-President Donald Trump's own tweets and rhetoric. Harvin reached out to the FBI and other agencies to warn them of what was coming, the report found.

He feared a "mass casualty event," according to the Post.

"While the public may have been surprised by what happened on January 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other," it said. "The red flags were everywhere."

Despite specific warnings of the exact nature of the attack that was coming — the planning of which would certainly be illegal — it appears the FBI limited itself for fear of infringing on First Amendment-protected activity. The Post also suggested that FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was often under fire from Trump, feared angering the man who appointed him by speaking out about the potential for violence.

"The FBI chief wasn't looking for any more confrontations with the president," the Post found, citing current and former law enforcement officials.

Wray remains in his position to this day.

Meanwhile, the Post reported, the Department of Homeland Security did not put out a security bulletin to alert other agencies of the dangers, despite receiving, "sobering assessments of the risk of possible violence on January 6, including that federal buildings could be targeted by protesters."

As has previously been reported, officials in the U.S. Capitol Police were aware of at least some of the danger posed by Trump supporters still angry about the election in the run-up to January 6. These warnings, however, didn't make it to Chief Steven Sund, and he failed to effectively coordinate with the National Guard to get protection for the Capitol. The Capitol Police itself was woefully under-prepared for the assault, as has been widely reported. Sund resigned following the attack, one of the few officials to face real accountability for the failures that led up to that day.


How Trump Created The ‘Border Crisis’ — And How Biden Can Fix It

In 2014, the Obama administration was faced with a surge in unaccompanied minors from Central America showing up at our border and seeking asylum. In an effort to reduce the number of kids trekking across Mexico, it created a program to let them apply for asylum in their home countries. Some 13,000 did, helping to ease the rush.

You can guess what happened next. Donald Trump became president and acted on his twin beliefs: anything that Barack Obama did was bad, and anything that helped foreigners was worse. He killed the program, and soon the number of Central American kids crossing over began to grow. By the spring of 2019, his administration was faced with its very own crisis at the border.

His Department of Homeland Security responded with harsh measures — separating children from parents in large numbers, expelling children from Central America into Mexico and forcing asylum seekers to remain for months in Mexico in squalid camps.

Today, we see another tide of Central Americans coming north, and Republicans blame President Joe Biden for enticing them. They refer to it as "Biden's border crisis," as though it suddenly exploded on January 20.

In fact, it emerged when the White House was just a gleam in Biden's eye. The increase began last spring and built steadily over the remainder of Trump's presidency. From May to October, the number of "southwest land border encounters" recorded by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol nearly tripled. In truth, it was dire conditions in their home countries that drove the migrants.

Republicans claim they were emboldened by Biden's plan to stop work on Trump's border wall — the one Mexico was supposed to pay for. That theory is implausible, because Trump added only 47 miles of barriers in places that didn't have them before.

"Only a few miles were built in South Texas, the area most prone to illegal crossings," The New York Times recently reported. "Instead, much of the construction, especially in the Trump administration's closing days, has taken place in remote parts of Arizona where crossings in recent years have been relatively uncommon."

If Biden deserves any responsibility for the recent surge, it's not because of what he did wrong but because of what he did right. Trump's fondness for systematic cruelty may have discouraged some Central Americans. But the cruelty was impossible to justify, even for an ostensibly good purpose.

Under Trump's zero tolerance policy, thousands of children were taken from their parents when the families crossed the border to exercise their right to seek political asylum. Most of the parents were sent back to their home countries. Some of the kids spent weeks sleeping on the floor in chain-link cages. Last fall, we learned the horrifying truth that the Trump administration had lost track of the parents of 545 children, making it impossible to reunite the families.

The brutality was a design feature. Trump's White House Chief of Staff John Kelly boasted that "a big name of the game is deterrence." But sometimes deterrence asks too much.

There are alternative remedies, such as letting more foreigners in through authorized channels. But Trump was against immigration of any sort. His administration virtually eliminated admissions for refugees, and last year, it slashed the number of green cards for legal permanent residents.

Today, the worldwide backlog of applications for green cards is at five million. Many recipients have to wait ten years or more to be admitted. Cato Institute analysts David Bier and Alex Nowrasteh reach this startling conclusion: "At no time in American history has immigration been as legally restricted as it is currently."

For the moment, the Biden administration has the task of coping with the border crisis while dismantling the inhumane practices of its predecessor. In the longer term, it could relieve pressure on the border by increasing refugee admissions and allotting more slots to the Central American countries that have produced so many migrants.

It could create a program for guest workers from Mexico and Central America, as proposed by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Biden has already moved to restore the Central American Minors Program to provide "a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the risks incurred in the attempt to migrate to the United States irregularly."

Giving people an avenue to come here legally in order to keep them from coming illegally? A crazy idea, but it just might work.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Whistleblower Reveals How Trump Unleashed Plague Of White Nationalist Terror

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

While much of the media this week has been focused (appropriately) on the revelations in Bob Woodward's interviews with Donald Trump that deliberately downplayed the virulence and lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second damning disclosure this week—a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower's complaint that intelligence assessments had been altered or shelved in order to protect Trump politically—is horrifying for much of the same reason: It revealed that Trump will manipulate information to the public allowing a plague to be unleashed on the public for his own political gain.

Read Now Show less

Whistleblower Puts DHS Nominee Wolf Under Sharp Scrutiny

A whistleblower's complaint and a tight timeline are making it increasingly unlikely that the Senate will confirm Chad Wolf as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security before the election.

Donald Trump formally sent the nomination late Thursday to the Senate after announcing his intention to appoint Wolf in a tweet last month. But Republican senators, who are fighting to keep their majority in November, appear in no rush to launch a heated confirmation that will force uncomfortable questions about whether agency actions were driven by Trump's political agenda.

Read Now Show less

New Homeland Security Report Warns Biggest Threat Is White Nationalist Terror

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A new draft report from the Department of Homeland Security warns that white supremacists are the "most persistent and lethal" threat in the United States, according to a new CNN report by Geneva Sands.

It stands in sharp contrast to the notion of terroristic threats typically portrayed by conservatives, which focuses on the threat from Muslim attackers from other countries and, more recently "Antifa" and leftist groups. The DHS report warns that although foreign terrorist groups will continue to call for attacks on the U.S., those groups "probably will remain constrained in their ability to direct such plots over the next year." But it predicts that the U.S. will face an "elevated threat environment at least through" early 2021 because of white supremacists.

Read Now Show less

Homeland Security Hid Intel Bulletin On Russian Plot Against Biden

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

According to ABC News, the Department of Homeland Security withheld publication, in early July, of an intelligence bulletin describing a Russian scheme to push "allegations about" Biden's "poor mental health."

ABC News has obtained a copy of the bulletin, titled "Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of U.S. Candidates to Influence 2020 Election." And ABC reporters Josh Margolin, Lucien Bruggeman, Will Steakin, and Jonathan Karl note that the document was submitted to the DHS' office of legislative and public affairs for review on July 7.

"The analysis was not meant for public consumption," according to the reporters. "But it was set to be distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement partners two days later, on July 9, the e-mails show."

However, an e-mail obtained by ABC News shows that DHS Chief of Staff John Gountanis intervened, asking DHS employees to "please hold on sending this one out until you have a chance to speak to" Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. And almost two months later, according to ABC News, the bulletin has yet to be circulated.

The bulletin stated that DHS analysts believed, with "high confidence," that "Russian malign influence actors are likely to continue denigrating presidential candidates through allegations of poor mental or physical health to influence the outcome of the 2020 election."

Right-wing Republican Elizabeth Neumann, who formerly served as a DHS assistant secretary under the Trump Administration but recently voiced her support for Biden in a Republican Voters Against Trump video, told ABC News, "High confidence means what it sounds like: that they are highly confident that their assessment is accurate. And they don't use that language very often."

John Cohen, a former undersecretary of intelligence at DHS under President Barack Obama, expressed concerns that the Trump Administration is blocking intelligence information for political purposes.

Cohen told ABC News, "We are hearing concerns being raised publicly that, in this administration, intelligence community reporting is being modified or blocked for political reasons — or to not anger the president. By blocking information from being released that describes threats facing the nation, it undermines the ability of the public and state and local authorities to work with the federal government to counteract the threat."

Homeland Security Chief Endorsed Fraudulent Border Wall Scheme

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on its previous endorsement of a self-funded border wall group, whose leaders were arrested on Thursday morning and charged with defrauding donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A video from July posted by Brian Kolfage — one of four men arrested on Thursday and charged with fraud — shows Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf standing next to a Customs and Border Patrol agent as she praised the self-funded wall project from the We Build the Wall group.

Read Now Show less

Former Trump Security Official Calls President “Frightening,” Endorses Biden

Reprinted with permission from Alternet


NEW: Former Chief of Staff of Trump's DHS is the newest Republican Voter Against Trump www.youtube.com

Read Now Show less