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Trump Ignores President’s Daily Brief, But Hears ‘Good News’ About Himself

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Trump is the first president in over half-a-century to forgo the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), a written intelligence document compiled primarily by CIA analysts.

President Trump—whose Fox & Friends dependence and accompanying short attention span are hardly secrets—prefers an oral briefing, “according to three people familiar with his briefings.”

The President’s Daily Brief is highly classified, and it’s impossible to know how much detail is lost in its oral translation. But former CIA Director Leon Panetta worries that President Trump will miss important context, to the detriment of national security.

“Something will be missed,” Panetta told the Post. “If for some reason his instincts on what should be done are not backed up by the intelligence because he hasn’t taken the time to read that intel, it increases the risk that he will make a mistake.”

Former CIA director Mark Lowenthal echoed Panetta’s sentiment:

You need to get immersed in a story over its entire course. You can’t just jump into an issue and come up to speed on the actors and the implications. The odds are pretty good that something will arise later on for which he has no intelligence basis for helping him work through it.

In August, VICE News reported that President Trump also twice daily requires so-called “propaganda folders,” containing “screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful.”

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

Parade Of Speakers At DNC Paint Trump As Unfit For Presidency In Every Way, From Billionaire Bloomberg To An Ex-CIA Director

Published with permission from Alternet.

A parade of speakers at the Democratic Convention painted a devastating picture of Donald Trump as the most unqualified, inexperienced and unpredictable nominee in anyone’s memory, urging Americans—including independents—to vote for Clinton or face dire consequences.

But the most unexpected and strongest critiques came from Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and self-made billionaire, who took the stage and explained why “it is imperative we elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States,” and the former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who said Trump was not stable enough to be anywhere near the helm of military power.

Bloomberg started by saying he wasn’t a Democrat, but an independent.

“I don’t believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership,” he said. “There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must united around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”

Bloomberg then dismantled Trump’s record as a successful businessman.

“Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us,” he said. “I am a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one… The richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”

Bloomberg’s critique of Trump was unprecedented thus far in the campaign—the specter of another billionaire who himself flirted with an independent run for the White House in 2016 discrediting the candidate of the major party that has long been associated with business.

“Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is. But she is the right choice—and the responsible choice—in this election,” he said. “No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president. It involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear.”

“I say to my fellow independents, your votes matter now,” Bloomberg concluded. “I am asking you to join with me, not out of party loyalty… let’s elect a sane, competent person with experience.”

Wednesday night also featured an unprecedented takedown of Trump by national security leaders, saying he should not be anywhere near the levers of military power. As a string of speakers attested to Clinton’s fitness to be commander in chief—which provoked loud anti-war chants and interruptions from Sanders’ delegates who fear her hawkish reputation—those officials said Trump must not be president.

Former CIA Director Appalled
The strongest condemnation came from Leon Panetta, the former CIA director, Secretary of Defense and White House chief of staff. As predicted, he called Clinton the “best-prepared” presidential candidate he has known from either party as protesters shouted.

But Panetta said it was “unconceivable” that Trump would ask Russia—as he did Wednesday—to hack the State Department to see what was in Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

“Donald Trump, today, once again took Russia’s side,” Panetta said. “He asked the Russians to interfere in American politics. Think about that. Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump, who wants to be president of the United States, is asking one of our adversaries to engage in hacking or intelligence efforts against the United States to affect an election.”

“As someone who was responsible for protecting our nation from cyberattacks, it’s inconceivable to me that any presidential candidate would be that irresponsible,” he continued.

Panetta’s condemnation was diluted by the anti-war protesters in the room, many of whom have been very critical of the national security state under President Obama, especially his overseas drone program that caused many civilian casualties. But it was an unmistakable and severe condemnation that was not along the more lines of more traditional convention speeches.

Obama Also Lambasts Trump
President Obama’s multi-layered and heartfelt speech was many things: a reflection on his presidency’s achievements, descriptions of Clinton as a trusted colleague and why she has the skills, values and temperament to be an excellent president, and, in contrast, why Trump does not; and a symbolic passing of the political torch to Clinton.

Obama did not spend that much time on Trump and the Republicans, but when he did he was crisp and incisive. What Republicans offered America at their convention in Cleveland last week was dark and devoid of solutions, he said.

“What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world,” Obama said. “There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.”

When Obama turned to Trump, he started on a humorous note but quickly turned serious.

“And then there’s Donald Trump,” he began. “He’s not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.”

And echoing Bloomberg, Obama said that Trump was a con man.

“Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice? If so, you should vote for him.”

And like Panetta, he said Trump should be nowhere near the military.

“Trump calls our military a disaster. Apparently, he doesn’t know the men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known… He cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, and tells the NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that they have to pay up if they want our protection.  Well, America’s promises do not come with a price tag.”

Finally, Obama said that Trump is not just a liar, but is trying to scare people into voting for him.

“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill,’” Obama said. “Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”

Most of Obama’s speech emphasized what’s positive about America, even as it struggles with many serious issues. “That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end,” he said, using the same word as Bloomberg to describe Trump—a demagogue.


Photo: Michael Bloomberg speaks during a news conference at City Hall in New York, September 18, 2013.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Benghazi Panel Continues Interviews, Surpasses Length Of 9/11 Inquiry

By Anita Kumar, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The committee investigating the fatal attacks in Benghazi, Libya, will interview several high-profile Obama administration officials this week, including former CIA Director David Petraeus and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Petraeus will testify Wednesday behind closed doors, the committee said. His appearance will be followed by Charlene Lamb, former deputy assistant secretary of state for international programs for diplomatic security on Thursday; Panetta on Friday and Jeremy Bash, former Defense Department chief of staff on Jan. 13.

The committee interviewed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic front-runner for president, in public in October.

“The American people and the families of the victims deserve to know the truth about what happened before, during and after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks, and we must do everything we can to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future,” Committee spokesman Matt Wolking said.

As of Wednesday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi has been in existence for 609 days, surpassing the length of time the 9/11 Commission took to investigate the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Instead of following the bipartisan model set by the 9/11 Commission, which brought our entire nation together after we were attacked by terrorists, Republicans created a highly partisan Select Committee with an unlimited budget to attack their political opponents,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat. “Republicans continue to drag out this political charade closer to the 2016 presidential election, and the American taxpayers continue to pay the price.”

The committee has proven more costly than permanent panels on intelligence, veterans affairs, ethics and small business, according to the Committee on House Administration, which collects monthly expenditure reports from each committee. Democrats even have a website constantly calculating the cost of the committee: more than $5.5 million as of Wednesday.

Democrats charge that the panel is “one of the longest, least productive and most partisan investigations in congressional history,” surpassing the investigations of Hurricane Katrina, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Iran-Contra and Watergate.

The Republican-controlled committee was formed in May 2014 to examine U.S. government policies that may have contributed to the attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, and the response of the Obama administration, including Clinton.

Seven other congressional committees and the bipartisan independent Accountability Review Board already have looked into the assault. Nearly all of them criticized the Clinton State Department for insufficiently addressing security issues at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

In 2015, the committee conducted interviews with 64 witnesses, including 53 who had never been interviewed by a congressional committee, according to Republicans. It has reviewed roughly 100,000 pages of documents from various departments and agencies, most of them never before seen by a congressional committee, they say.

Wolking said the committee is still waiting to receive documents from the State Department and the CIA and for witnesses to be made available for interviews. It expects to release a report with recommendations within the next few months.

©2016 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Central Intelligence Agency via Wikimedia Commons


Panetta Will Certify Gays Don’t Destroy Military

Newly-appointed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is poised to certify on Friday that gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces would not damage unit cohesion or retention or otherwise undermine the ability of the world’s most powerful military to wage war.

This comes in the wake of Congress passing and President Obama signing last December a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the policy that made it illegal for openly gay people to fight for their country. The new law requires the president, defense secretary, and service chiefs to sign off before a 60-day wait period for equality to breach the ranks.

Of course, even Barry Goldwater, conservative icon, is known to have remarked, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.” Too bad it took the GOP decades–and even then, only a few of their senators voted for repeal of DADT–to catch up with their 1964 presidential nominee on this issue.