Saturday, September 30, 2017

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Remember how Republicans said that Hillary Clinton using private email showed she should never hold a government office that requires a security clearance again because her data was hopelessly compromised by our enemies and would assure that if elected she would be blackmailed?

Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, Ivanka Trump, and several other top Trump regime officials have been using private email for months now.  The NSA warned them immediately that this was a hideously bad idea.  They ignored the NSA and did it anyway.

The briefings came soon after President Donald Trump was sworn into office on Jan. 20, and before some top aides, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, used their personal email and phones to conduct official White House business, as disclosed by POLITICO this week.

The NSA briefers explained that cyberspies could be using sophisticated malware to turn the personal cellphones of White House aides into clandestine listening devices, to take photos and video without the user’s knowledge and to transfer vast amounts of data via Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth, according to one former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the briefings.

The briefings were held in the White House Situation Room because of the sensitivity of the topics discussed, according to that official and three other former officials familiar with such briefings, which have been given to each incoming administration.

The officials said White House aides also were told they should assume that foreign cyberspies had already penetrated their personal email systems to some degree and used that access to vacuum up everything not just on their own computers and phones but those of their contacts.

The NSA briefers told the Trump aides that using their personal devices for work, including passing files and emails from one system to the other, could give cyberspies access to their work computers and email, too, the officials said.

If Kushner did not adhere to the security precautions, it could lead to a significant security breach, the officials said, given his access to President Donald Trump and unique portfolio of responsibilities. Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law, is the president’s point man on China, Syria, Middle East peace, and Afghanistan, along with innovation, infrastructure and other issues.

Jared is probably one of the top five or 10 targets in the U.S. government because of his access to the president and because of the portfolios he’s been given,” said Richard Clarke, a former top cybersecurity advisor to three presidents. “It’s a pretty safe bet that his personal devices have been compromised by foreign intelligence services. And therefore there is some risk that meetings he attends are compromised too.”

 Even setting aside the caustic levels of irony that would come from the NSA calmly telling Trump's son-in-law that his private email just might be compromised by the Russians, the fact that Kushner and the rest of Trump's inner circle continued to do exactly what they warned America that Clinton could never be allowed to do is just hysterically funny and sad.

But that's life in 2017 now, isn't it.

Paying The Price

Trump regime Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was the victim of another Friday Night Firing­­ as he was forced to tender his resignation over spending close to $400,000 on charter jets to travel the country with.  The reality is though that the jet issue was the excuse Trump needed for the real reason to cut Price's throat and bleed him out: Price's multiple failures to shepherd Obamacare repeal through the Senate.

Price’s lack of goodwill with Trump and other senior administration officials ultimately doomed his chances of survival, even though many administration officials believed the furor would blow over when news first broke that Price spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private jets.

By early this week, however, it became clear that the growing firestorm over Price’s travel was only getting worse. A number of officials in the White House said HHS had badly handled the response to the controversy — and was caught off guard by the facts. And it was hard to find a power player in the White House who would defend Price to the president.

POLITICO published five stories over the last 10 days that revealed Price had spent more than $1 million in taxpayer money on travel since May, including overseas flights on military aircrafts and more than two dozen domestic trips on private planes.

Other media outlets amplified the revelations, with cable news frequently running damaging chyrons and reporters peppering Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the growing scandal throughout the week. 
The president grew more angry, fuming to West Wing aides about the optics of a member of the administration spending so lavishly. The almost daily drip of revelations — including that Price took a government-funded private jet in August to get to a Georgia resort where he and his wife own land — further incensed the president.

Meanwhile, Trump was intensely frustrated by his unsuccessful health care push and associated Price with the failure, several aides said. He joked at a rally in July he would fire Price if he didn't get the votes for the Obamacare repeal.

While the White House has weathered a steady stream of mini-scandals since Trump took office, this one was different, according to administration officials, because it made Price look like the kind of creature of Washington that the president had railed against on the campaign trail.

Trump himself blasted Price on Friday for what he suggested was frivolous spending in light of the administration’s efforts to impose fiscal conservatism on the federal government.

“I've saved hundreds of millions of dollars,” the president told reporters on Friday when he was asked if he had lost confidence in Price. “So I don’t like the optics of what you just saw.”

The notion that Trump "saved" taxpayer anything, considering his own travel budget for 2017 is rapidly approaching the amount of money that Barack Obama spent on taxpayer travel for all eight years of both terms combined is utterly ridiculous, as is Trump punishing any of his cabinet members for charter jet use (he's leaving that to WH Chief of Staff John Kelly).

No, the real reason is somebody's head had to roll for failing to repeal Obamacare, and I'm betting the leaks to Politico over the last 10 days concerning Price's travel came from somebody who wanted Price gone.

My guess is somebody in the White House.  After all, leaks and firing are now common occurrences in the Trump regime as the failures keep piling up.

Botas Anaranjadas En La Noche

The Trump regime is mostly too incompetent to deliver relief supplies to islands, for example, but the one part of the machinery that is working brilliantly is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, our good friends at ICE.  They know exactly where to go and exactly how to find undocumented immigrants and round them up, as their latest raids earlier this week deliberately targeted sanctuary cities in blue states with almost ruthless efficiency and flawless execution.

Fifty immigrants across the state were among nearly 500 nationwide arrested for federal immigration violations in an operation that targeted so-called sanctuary cities and, in the case of Massachusetts, a state that had not fallen in line with President Trump’s aggressive deportation policies. 
In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said its four-day “Safe City” operation, which ended Wednesday, was “focused on cities and regions where ICE deportation officers are denied access to jails and prisons to interview suspected immigration violators or jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not honored.” 
About two-thirds of the immigrants arrested nationwide are wanted on criminal charges, ICE said. According to figures provided by ICE, 30 of those arrested in Massachusetts had criminal records, and the other 20 did not.

Local municipalities including Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville have declared themselves sanctuary cities for immigrants, establishing policies that forbid law enforcement officials from assisting their federal counterparts in enforcing immigration laws. 
In July, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that local law enforcement cannot hold a person who is wanted solely for immigration violations, a decision that provided legal support for sanctuary cities in the Commonwealth. 
In the statement from ICE, Massachusetts was the only state singled out. Other areas targeted in the “Safe City” operation were cities and counties. They included Santa Clara County, Calif., and Cook County, Ill., which contains Chicago, and seven cities: New York; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Denver; Baltimore; and Portland, Ore. 
“We have always done these kinds of operations historically, for the decades past, including the last administration,” said Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for ICE. He went on to say that this operation was distinctive in that “this is focused on areas that have . . . self-proclaimed they are not going to cooperate with ICE.”

He said the decision by the state SJC had led to the state’s inclusion among those areas.

They want people scared in sanctuary cities and in smaller blue states like Massachusetts  They want people to know that being a sanctuary city means nothing to ICE, and I would expect more raids like the Orwellian "Operation Safe City" to continue in these places specifically.

As the raids continue and get worse, the goal will be to turn immigration advocates and the people they protect against local governments who won't be able to stop ICE, and I don't see any reason why it won't continue to work as long as Trump remains in charge.

To once again paraphrase Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope, "Fear will keep the sanctuary cities in line. Fear of this ICE force."

The orange jackboots in the night will keep coming I suspect for a long time as long as Trump can be motivated to crack down by revenge.
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