Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Last Call For E-Mailing It In

At this point we've gone so far around the bend on the irony meter that the leading bit has become negative.

Senior Trump administration staffers including Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon have active accounts on a Republican National Committee email system, Newsweek has learned. 
The system ( is the same one the George W. Bush administration was accused of using to evade transparency rules after claiming to have “lost” 22 million emails.
Making use of separate political email accounts at the White House is not illegal. In fact, they serve a purpose by allowing staff to divide political conversations (say, arranging for the president to support a congressional re-election campaign) from actual White House work. Commingling politics and state business violates the Hatch Act, which restricts many executive branch employees from engaging in political activity on government time. 
But after then-candidate Donald Trump and the Republicans repeatedly called for “locking up” Hillary Clinton for handling government work with a private server while secretary of state, the new White House staff risks repeating the same mistake that dogged the Democrat’s presidential campaign. They also face a security challenge: The RNC email system, according to U.S. intelligence, was hacked during the 2016 race. “They better be careful after making such a huge ruckus over the private email over at the State Department,” says former Bush administration lawyer Richard Painter. 
(The White House has not responded to queries about the system. Newsweek will update if and when it does.) 
It’s not clear whether or how Trump staffers are using the RNC email addresses. If they are using them, they are subject to the “Disclosure Requirement For Official Business Conducted Using Electronic Messaging Accounts," a law, 44 U.S.C. 2209, that went into effect in 2014. If White House staffers have already used the RNC emails system for White House work, they must copy or forward those communications into the government system within 20 days.

The Disclosure Requirement was passed to prevent presidents from shielding communications that fall under the Presidential Records Act of 1978. The last time White House staffers used the same RNC email system, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) described it as an attempt to circumvent transparency. CREW Director Melanie Sloan charged in 2007 that the Bush White House was using the RNC email system because “they don’t want anyone ever to be able to come back and see what was going on behind the scenes.”

And the Bush email mess in 2007 was pretty huge, with 22 million emails that, you know, vanished into thin air never to be seen again.  Now the Trump regime is happy to start getting away with doing that all over again.

Oh, and The Donald is still using an unsecured Android phone these days.

I'm sure it's not a problem, I mean Russia already knows 100% of what Trump is doing, so it doesn't really matter if they've got a bead on the thing 24/7 right?

Good thing we didn't elect the lady with the private email system.

Pompeo And Circumstances

Kansas GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo was easily confirmed on Monday as the Trump regime's new CIA Director, including by more than a dozen Senate Democrats.

The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's pick for CIA director, on Monday night. 
The vote was 66-32 in favor of confirmation, with Pompeo picking up some Democratic backing. The only Republican in opposition was Sen. Rand Paul. 
The vote was held open longer than normal in an effort to let Senators delayed by the storm in the Northeast reach Washington, but it was gaveled closed before Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal could arrive.

Vice President Mike Pence swore in Pompeo, a Kansas congressman, after the vote at the White House.
"I just want to remind our colleagues that our country continues to face incredible threats, and they are not hitting the pause button," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said in a statement issued before he voted in support of Pompeo. "The President needs his national security Cabinet, and particularly his CIA Director at his side, a Cabinet position integral to keeping our country safe." 
Pompeo's view on electronic surveillance and torture drew the ire of some Democrats.
But Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist from Vermont, cited Pompeo's support for the broad collection of metadata in his vote against the CIA nominee. 
"What we are talking about is the United States government having in many ways more information about us than we may even understand about our own life," Sanders said. "In many ways, it sounds to me like we are moving toward an Orwellian society."

Who voted for Pompeo?  Our old red state Dem friends Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp of course, but also blue state Dems like Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar and Brian Schatz.

Who voted against?  Bernie and Rand Paul.  Go figure.  If you were expecting the CIA to start poking around in Trump's Russia connections, well with pro-torture Pompeo now in charge, the agency's rank and file just got bought off by Trump this week.

The Trump administration is preparing a sweeping executive order that would clear the way for the Central Intelligence Agency to reopen overseas “black site” prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before former President Obama shut them down. 
President Trump’s three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” and obtained by The New York Times would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that Mr. Obama put in place in response to policies of the Bush administration. 
If Mr. Trump signs the draft order, he would also revoke Mr. Obama’s directive to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all wartime detainees in American custody – another step toward reopening secret prisons outside of the normal wartime rules established by the Geneva Conventions. 
And while Mr. Obama tried to close the Guantánamo prison and refused to bring new detainees there, the draft order directs the Pentagon to continue using the facility “for the detention and trial of newly captured” detainees – including not just more suspected members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban, like the 41 remaining detainees, but also Islamic State detainees. It does not address legal problems that might raise.

So the Trump regime's back in the torture game, guys.  And Dems did nothing to stop it.  We could have closed Gitmo under Obama years ago, but Dems screwed Obama over on that too.  Now Trump will make sure America tortures suspects for no actual law enforcement, legal, or moral reason.

Oh well.  At least we didn't elect that awful Hillary, right?

New tag: Mike Pompeo.  I figure we're going to need it.

Ride The Pipeline, Baby!

Good thing we didn't elect that harridan as President, or she might have betrayed us on Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipeline projects.  Not like the guy we currently have in office.

President Trump signed five more executive actions Tuesday in a blitz of executive power meant to speed approvals of high-profile energy and infrastructure projects, including two controversial pipeline projects in the upper Midwest.

Trump signed two presidential memoranda intended to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, but also signed three more longer-term and sweeping directives requiring American-made steel and changing the process of approving and regulating future pipeline and infrastructure projects.

"This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible, permitting process," Trump said in an Oval Office signing ceremony that has already become a trademark of his short presidency.

In reversing the Obama administration policy to disapprove the Keystone pipeline, Trump emphasized that the construction isn't a done deal. "It's something that subject to a renegotiation of terms by us," he said. "We'll see if we can get the pipeline built. A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs."

Keystone XL became a lightning rod for Obama's energy policy, with the administration taking seven years to make a decision before ultimately killing it over environmental concerns. Environmental groups reacted quickly and vociferously, promising legal action and White House protests.

"President Trump will live to regret his actions this morning," said Michael Brune of the Sierra Club, promising "a wall of resistance the likes of which he never imagined"

Good luck with that Mike.  Hey, I seem to remember environmental groups like the Sierra Club being quite upset with Clinton back in June because she wasn't good enough.

While the former secretary of state has laid out a climate change agenda that goes further than President Barack Obama's, for many environmental activists, Sanders' ambitious plan to combat climate change served as a rallying point.

With little regard for the opposition to curbing climate change from Congressional Republicans, Sanders unveiled a plan that would tax carbon emissions, ban offshore drilling, and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Environmental activists cheered when Sanders stated onstage at an early Democratic debate that climate change was the biggest threat facing the US today. The Sanders campaign itself criticized Clinton's climate plan as vague.

Groups that endorsed Clinton saw a swift backlash from some members who believed that Sanders' plan was more comprehensive.

Some League of Conservation Voters Action Fund supporters threatened to withhold future donations after the group endorsed Clinton in November. While climate group 350 action did not endorse a candidate, some of its members tracked both the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, peppering them with tough questions about climate change on the campaign trail.

Friends of the Earth Action endorsed Sanders early in the 2016 race after Clinton failed to say that she would not approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial pipeline that would have funneled oil from Canadian tar sands to the Gulf coast. The group aired pro-Sanders ads in several early primary states. Clinton eventually came out against the pipeline.

The Sierra Club decided earlier this year against endorsing a candidate to avoid taking a side in the rift between environmental activists during the Democratic race.
But with the Democratic primary wrapping up, top climate activists suggest that the ideological gulf between Clinton and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — who has claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax — will be more than enough to motivate "climate voters" to support the former secretary of state. 

How'd that work out, guys?

Well, now you have Trump.  Good job on that, environmental groups! You sure showed her!


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