President Trump’s defense secretary thought the idea was outrageous.
In the spring of 2020, Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, was alarmed to learn of an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the Department of Homeland Security to send as many as 250,000 troops — more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War.
With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda, had urged the Homeland Security Department to develop a plan for the number of troops that would be needed to seal the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico. It is not clear whether it was officials in homeland security or the Pentagon who concluded that a quarter of a million troops would be required.
The concept was relayed to officials at the Defense Department’s Northern Command, which is responsible for all military operations in the United States and on its borders, according to several former senior administration officials. Officials said the idea was never presented formally to Mr. Trump for approval, but it was discussed in meetings at the White House as they debated other options for closing the border to illegal immigration.
Mr. Esper declined to comment. But people familiar with his conversations, who would speak about them only on condition of anonymity, said he was enraged by Mr. Miller’s plan. In addition, homeland security officials had bypassed his office by taking the idea directly to military officials at Northern Command. Mr. Esper also believed that deploying so many troops to the border would undermine American military readiness around the world, officials said.
After a brief but contentious confrontation with Mr. Miller in the Oval Office, Mr. Esper ended consideration of the idea at the Pentagon.
Mr. Trump’s obsession with the southern border was already well known by that time. He had demanded a wall with flesh-piercing spikes, repeatedly mused about a moat filled with alligators, and asked about shooting migrants in the leg as they crossed the border. His aides considered a heat-ray that would make migrants’ skin feel hot.
Around the same time that officials considered the huge deployment to the American side of the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump also pressed his top aides to send forces into Mexico itself to hunt drug cartels, much like American commandos have tracked and killed terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the officials said.
Mr. Trump hesitated only after aides suggested that to most of the world, military raids inside Mexico could look like the United States was committing an act of war against one of its closest allies, which is also its biggest trading partner, the officials said.
In the end, rather than a vast deployment of the military to the border, the Trump administration used an obscure public health rule — which remains in effect to this day — to deny asylum and effectively shut down entry into the United States from Mexico during the pandemic. But taken together, the ideas under discussion that spring underscore the Trump administration’s view of the armed forces as a tool of the presidency that could be wielded on behalf of Mr. Trump’s domestic political agenda in an election year. And it further reveals the breach between Mr. Trump and his top military officials, who worked behind the scenes to prevent what they viewed as the president’s dangerous instincts.
Several aides to the former president did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is smart enough to see the writing on the wall, if the Democrats don't break up his social media empire, the Trump cultists will. As such, he's pulling a Google by reportedly forming a parent company where Facebook would be just one of the "brands", according to The Verge's Alex Heath.
Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment for this story.
Facebook already has more than 10,000 employees building consumer hardware like AR glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones. In July, he told The Verge that, over the next several years, “we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”
A rebrand could also serve to further separate the futuristic work Zuckerberg is focused on from the intense scrutiny Facebook is currently under for the way its social platform operates today. A former employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen, recently leaked a trove of damning internal documents to The Wall Street Journal and testified about them before Congress. Antitrust regulators in the US and elsewhere are trying to break the company up, and public trust in how Facebook does business is falling.
Facebook isn’t the first well-known tech company to change its company name as its ambitions expand. In 2015, Google reorganized entirely under a holding company called Alphabet, partly to signal that it was no longer just a search engine, but a sprawling conglomerate with companies making driverless cars and health tech. And Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc. in 2016, the same year it started calling itself a “camera company” and debuted its first pair of Spectacles camera glasses.
I’m told that the new Facebook company name is a closely-guarded secret within its walls and not known widely, even among its full senior leadership. A possible name could have something to do with Horizon, the name of the still-unreleased VR version of Facebook-meets-Roblox that the company has been developing for the past few years. The name of that app was recently tweaked to Horizon Worlds shortly after Facebook demoed a version for workplace collaboration called Horizon Workrooms.
The attorney general for the District of Columbia has announced that he is naming Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in the district’s lawsuit against Facebook.
Karl Racine made the announcement Wednesday, saying that Zuckerberg had knowledge of decisions that led to the exposure of Facebook user data.
“Based on the evidence we gathered in this case over the past two years and the District’s investigation more generally, it’s clear Mr. Zuckerberg knowingly and actively participated in each decision that led to Cambridge Analytica’s mass collection of Facebook user data, and Facebook’s misrepresentations to users about how secure their data was,” Racine said in a statement to Law & Crime. “The evidence further demonstrates that Mr. Zuckerberg also participated in misleading the public and government officials about Facebook’s role. Under these circumstances, Mr. Zuckerberg should be held liable for his involvement in the decisions that enabled the exposure of millions of users’ data – and that’s why we’re adding him to our complaint.”
“Protecting the Data of Half of the District’s Residents”
It’s the first time a U.S. regulator, including an attorneys general office, specifically named Zuckerberg in a complaint, according to Racine’s office.
“My office filed our lawsuit in 2018, and since then, we’ve reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents produced in litigation and completed a wide range of depositions including former employees and whistleblowers,” Racine said on Twitter. “This lawsuit is about protecting the data of half of all District residents and tens of millions of people across the country. We’ve taken our obligation to investigate wrongdoing very seriously—and Facebook should take its responsibility to protect users just as seriously.”
The state attorney general's office Monday defended its actions after St. Peter's Health in Helena said three different public officials "threatened" hospital doctors last week over the care of a COVID-19 patient.
The patient had requested to be treated with ivermectin, a drug not approved for use against the disease.
"St. Peter’s Health can confirm that several providers were contacted by three different public officials last week regarding the treatment of a patient in our care. These conversations were deeply troubling to our physicians and staff because they were threatened and their clinical judgment was called into question by these individuals," a hospital spokesperson said in a statement emailed Monday.
The hospital did not name the elected officials in its statement, but Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen's office confirmed his participation in a conference call with hospital executives last week.
A spokesperson for the attorney general disputed the hospital's characterization of the events — which included the Attorney General’s Office dispatching a Montana Highway Patrol trooper to the hospital — as threatening or questioning the medical treatment recommended by doctors.
“The Department of Justice initiated an investigation into very troubling allegations made by the family of a patient at St Peter’s Hospital. After hearing of the allegations and the ensuing investigation, Attorney General Knudsen contacted a board member who set up a telephone conference with hospital executives," spokesperson Kyler Nerison said in the email late Monday. "No one was threatened or had their clinical judgment questioned while the Department of Justice was trying to get to the bottom of the serious allegations that the hospital was mistreating a patient and violating her rights and her family’s rights. The investigation is ongoing.”
In a response to the attorney general’s statement, the hospital again said late Monday that doctors were “harassed and threatened.”
“St. Peter’s works closely with public officials and regulatory agencies, and we occasionally receive inquiries about patient care and patient rights. Last week, several of our providers and care team members who are working tirelessly at the bedside were harassed and threatened by three public officials,” spokesperson Andrea Groom wrote. “These officials have no medical training or experience, yet they were insisting our providers give treatments for COVID-19 that are not authorized, clinically approved or within the guidelines established by the FDA and the CDC. In addition, they threatened to use their position of power to force our doctors and nurses to provide this care.”
After his office was contacted by the responding trooper last week and informed of what the trooper learned after gathering statements, Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher said he found no criminal offense that needed investigating.
St. Peter’s has dealt with a surge of COVID-19 patients, reaching a record-high number of people hospitalized with the virus earlier this month. The hospital, and others around the state, have reported increased hostility against health care workers over requests for treatment and enforcement of measures like mask use and visitor restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus within facilities.
- All 21 people aboard a jet bound from Houston to Boston have survived with at worst minor injuries after the plane clipped a fence on takeoff and crash landed, flames engulfing the wreckage.
- The full House January 6th Committee has unanimously referred former Trump advisor Steve Bannon to a full House vote on criminal contempt charges expected on Thursday.
- Japan's Mount Aso has erupted, prompting officials on the southern island of Kyushu to issue warnings for ash and pyroclastic flows near the mountain.
- Congressional Democrats will drop President Biden's plan for universal free community college as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continue demanding infrastructure bill cuts.
- The EPA has announced a major new initiative to study and regulate industrial chemicals called PFAS that are increasingly in use by manufacturers that could pollute areas for decades.