Wednesday, September 16, 2015

US has trained only 'four or five' Syrian fighters against Isis, top general testifies by Spencer Ackerman in New York Wednesday September 16th, 2015 at 6:47 PM

John McCain

US has trained only 'four or five' Syrian fighters against Isis, top general testifies 

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Senators appear incredulous and call for a new plan after hearing news that US military’s $500m effort has resulted in training of only a handful of fighters
A $500m effort to train Syrian forces against the Islamic State has resulted in only a handful of fighters actively battling the jihadi army, the top military commander overseeing the war has testified.
“We’re talking four or five,” General Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, told a dissatisfied Senate armed services committee on Wednesday.
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President's Daily Brief: Delivering Intelligence to Kennedy and Johnson

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Publication: Posted new publication, President's Daily Brief: Delivering Intelligence to Kennedy and Johnson.

CIA declassifies trove of top-secret documents - CNN International

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Wall Street Journal



CIA declassifies trove of top-secret documents
CNN International
"Today's PDB in many respects is unrecognizable from what it was in the Kennedy and Johnson years," said CIA Director John Brennan at the document release event at the Lyndon B. Johnson library in Austin, Texas. "Back then, the articles were full of ...
CIA Releases Presidential Briefing Papers From John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson ErasWall Street Journal
CIA confirmed Oswald contacted Cubans, Soviets before assassination, memo showsWashington Times
Unprecedented CIA Release of Presidential Daily Briefs From 1960sABC News
U.S. News & World Report
all 116 news articles »

Land mines new threat for refugees on path to Europe

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Since Hungary completed its vast, militarized razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia, refugees and migrants seeking sanctuary in the European Union are having to contemplate alternative routes and risk walking through areas littered with active land mines.
     

CIA releases thousands of classified documents from Johnson ... 

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The document was one of 2,484 documents the CIA declassified from the Johnson and John Kennedy administrations at an event at the LBJ School in Austin on Wednesday. The trove of documents was composed of the ...

Senate Democrats to GOP: Too risky to bring U.S. prisoners into the Iran debate 

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Senate Democrats chided GOP leaders Wednesday for bringing
American prisoners in Iran into the debate over President Obama's contentious nuclear deal with the regime in Tehran,
chargingRepublicans were playing politics with anguished families and could
upend negotiations to free the four men.
Frustrated by Democratic filibusters of a resolution ...
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Two months after Chattanooga attack, many questions remain unanswered

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When a lone gunman killed five U.S. service members in a July 16 attack on two military sites in Chattanooga, the city began a search for answers — a search that continues today.
     

Poll: Public Support for Iran Deal Continues to Drop

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Public support for the Iranian nuclear deal continues to fall, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Wednesday.
Support for the deal has dropped in the poll from 56 percent in July to 51 percent this month. Opposition has increased by 4 points to 41 percent during the same time period.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll uses favorable language to describe the Iran deal in the survey question, claiming that under the agreement “International inspectors would monitor Iran’s facilities, and if Iran is caught breaking the agreement economic sanctions would be imposed again.” These claims have been questioned by critics of the deal.
But the latest poll also included a simpler version of the same question, which omitted these favorable talking points. For this question, support for the deal was even lower at 45 percent, and opposition rose to 44 percent.
According to the Washington Post, the erosion in support indicates a larger trend:
Opinions have moved from a 2-to-1 margin in support in March (59-31 support-oppose) before the final agreement was negotiated between Iran, the United States and five other world powers. Support was lower still, 45 percent, in a separate support question which included fewer details about the agreement.
A variety of public polls have shown declining support for the deal, falling as low as 21 percent approval in a Pew Research Center poll earlier this month (with 49 percent disapproving). Much of the variation in support or opposition between different polls can be traced to how the questions have been asked. Questions that include more details about the deal have generally found more support, while questions with fewer details find less support.

WB, Thales Team To Offer Watchkeeper UAV to Poland

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Poland's WB Electronics and Thales will partner to compete in Poland's contest for a tactical drone.

       

Soldiers from Slovakia training with Indiana Guard troops

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The Indiana Guard says More than 70 Slovak soldiers arrived in Indianapolis on Monday and will participate in training exercises to familiarize themselves with U.S. military tactics, techniques and procedures.
     

Hungarian police clash with migrants at Serbian border

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HORGOS, Serbia (AP) - Baton-wielding Hungarian riot police unleashed tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of migrants Wednesday after they broke through a razor-wire fence and tried to surge into the country from Serbia. Crying children fled the acrid smoke and dozens of people were injured in the chaos.
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Jade Helm Military Exercise Ends, With Little Fanfare and Less Paranoia 

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The military exercise in Texas and other states had fueled conspiracy theories of a plan to impose martial law, but self-appointed monitors found little to complain about.
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Corbyn's first PMQs: 'he came across as moderate' – readers' verdict 

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Eleven Guardian readers give their verdict on how Labour leader performed in his first PMQs against David Cameron
It is interesting the press present Jeremy Corbyn as the extremist, but at his first prime minister’s question time he came across as reasonably moderate. His lack of experience showed in his slow, careful and occasionally stuttered delivery but his questions were put calmly and clearly. I’m sure this will improve with each week. David Cameron, in comparison, looks angry and impassioned with his responses. I think Labour took a little bit too much care not to be seen as overly passionate and extremist. A good, careful and low-key introduction to the Corbyn era.
As a Corbyn supporter, I was admittedly nervous, I didn’t want him to fall flat on his face. I don’t think he did. I liked the idea of a calmer PMQs and taking questions from the public, especially on mental health support. I would’ve liked him to follow up a bit more, as Cameron seemed to have been briefed to mention the economy. It’s to be expected that the new shadow frontbench would be attacked today, but I’m hoping that Corbyn can continue to grow in confidence.
Jeremy Corbyn’s first PMQs was very intriguing. Using the public’s questions was a masterstroke because David Cameron had to address the question. However, David Cameron was slightly evasive claiming they need to do more for mental health issues. Jeremy Corbyn has done well to change the theatrics of PMQs and I look forward to the future encounters. Is it too early to think about the 2020 elections?
Corbyn asking the people’s direct questions is enormously refreshing, as is his demeanour, even if neither makes for good TV. This time, he was met by Cameron’s usual shallow spin, which didn’t work. Cameron is annoyingly good at striking the right tone, though, and with coaching he may adapt very well. I’m not sure that Corbyn is as able to take different tacks.
Corbyn did not look like the Hammer of the Right. Although crowdsourcing of questions was a good idea, in practice the questions were fairly well-worn, predictable, and easily addressed by an assured Cameron. The length of time Corbyn took in turn gave Cameron space to make all the points he wanted (and look like the more well-informed politician). The session did not have the feel of a government being held to account on points of detail and there was no proper follow-up on most of Cameron’s answers. Corbyn ended looking morose asking wholly depressing questions about suicide. Not a votewinner.
When I received a Labour party email asking for questions to be posed to the prime minister this week, all I could think of was: ‘Prime Minister, can you believe your luck?’ I’m not surprised my question didn’t get selected, but I feel I know the answer. No prime minister has ever had such an easy ride. Corbyn reduced one of our great constitutional conventions to the status of a daytime radio phone-in. Six questions easily brushed aside with no follow-up and no scrutiny. He’s abrogated his responsibility to lead and he looks weak.
Jeremy was my MP for ten years; I admire him enormously. Housing is THE priority to me – I live in London but am not poor enough for council housing nor from a family wealthy enough to buy me a flat – so I was thrilled by the first question! Cameron actually responded with a hint of deference, none of his usual snark. Wrong-footed? This isn’t the playground at Eton or a comedy club, people’s lives are affected by decisions MPs make, they should act like adults.
I think Jeremy looked thoughtful and considerate, asking serious questions about the issues facing people like me compared to Cameron who just made a bunch of stage-managed statements about nothing. Dave looked pretty rattled by the end of it but then he’s never faced proper opposition before. Bring it on!
Corbyn is as consistent in his public speaking as he is in his ideology; slightly unpolished, as ever, but this is all part of his charm. If reading messages from the public had come from anyone else it would have seemed gimmicky but from Corbyn it could only be sincere. The Tories were noticeably restrained but Dave’s hackneyed attack of ‘13 previous years’ seemed rather dated now. Cameron’s response to every charge was: ‘We have the fiscal competence and that’s the bottom line.’ It will be an uphill struggle to alter this narrative but Corbyn made a fairly decent attempt in his inaugural PMQs.
Jeremy Corbyn set his stall out straight away for the business of prime minister’s question time to be less frantic and more about time for proper questions. Corbyn was his usual calm and thoughtful self, approaching each question he asked the prime minister without raising his voice. David Cameron, on the other hand appeared red faced and defensive, sniping back with all too familiar rhetoric about supporting the aspirations of the people of Britain. The full-time score of JCs first PMQs was certainly 1-0 to Corbyn; it would appear that slow and steady will win the race for him. Maybe he isn’t such a national risk after all?
I have been quietly optimistic about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the promise of change to the obnoxious one-upmanship that is PMQs.
My first impression of Corbyn was how lonely he appeared on the frontbench, quietly checking his phone and not engaging with colleagues. He stood out at the despatch box with a ‘geography teacher goes to prom’ look and a delivery style not dissimilar to that of a nervous dad speaking at a wedding.
By asking questions that the general public wanted posing to the PM, Corbyn showed his commitment to engaging people in politics again, which I think is an excellent policy. Furthermore, Corbyn was using this as a vehicle to move his arguments and politics towards a more humane, empathetic discourse by focusing on people ‘on the ground’. This helped show how the Tories are out of touch with the reality that their harsh policies inflict. I’m not sure he will be able to crowdsource questions every week, but it was a good start and a refreshing change!
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Jeremy Corbyn takes part in first PMQs as Labour leader – video highlights 

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Highlights from prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, as Jeremy Corbyn makes his debut as leader of the opposition. Corbyn acts to end the ‘theatrical’ nature of prime minister’s questions by tabling a series of questions to David Cameron submitted by the general public. The new Labour leader asks the prime minister in a non-confrontational way about the housing crisis, cuts to tax credits and mental health
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The Guardian view on Jeremy Corbyn’s PMQs debut: a very reasonable start | Editorial 

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The Labour leader’s new approach to prime minister’s questions is long overdue, but there have been false dawns and good intentions before
New leaders often say they want to change prime minister’s questions. But Jeremy Corbyn went one better on Wednesday by actually trying to do it. The new Labour leader’s PMQs debut was relentlessly rational and unaggressive. He started with a little speech about his election (a less indulgent Speaker than John Bercow would have told him to get to the point) and finally asked the prime minister six crowdsourced questions on subjects from housing to mental health. Mr Corbyn’s approach gave him an immediate tonal advantage over David Cameron, who had to respond in a similarly measured and respectful way. What’s more, the Labour leader managed to sustain it. The result was a remarkable parliamentary quarter of an hour. It was as though, in those few exchanges, the most theatrical moment in the Commons’ week had suddenly been transformed from the usual rugby match brawl into a game of crown green bowls.
For Mr Corbyn, the upshot was a much-needed breathing space. Since winning the Labour contest last Saturday, he has had a baptism of fire, with swirling controversies about his media handling, his shadow cabinet picks, some basic policy switches and his failure to sing the national anthem at the Battle of Britain commemorative service. So a lot was riding on Mr Corbyn’s PMQs performance. He could not afford to fail. In the event, he did much better than that. But it would be premature to suppose that his leadership has turned a corner yet.
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Corbyn's Labour is a party without a point, led by a rebel with a cause 

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What Jeremy Corbyn needs, beyond a spin-doctor and a mini-break, is to surround himself with thinkers; being ‘against the cuts’ is not an idea
New Times indeed. After the non-story of the non-singing, we see Jeremy Corbyn calmly asking David Cameron questions that the public emailed in: a good enough, if ultimately unsustainable, tactic. No one died, though the odd Blairite corpse may have twitched slightly. He kept his nerve, and good on him. After two days of tetchiness, the public saw the much-discussed decency. Some will have been surprised to see he is not an actual terrorist.
Those who support him see this as politics of hope. Those who don’t see only the politics of delusion. I still feel that he is on a zero-hours contract and knows it. But we all enjoy the bursting of the Westminster bubble and the fact that those “in the know” are currently flummoxed. The chaos is thrilling but it is not however to be mistaken for radicalism.
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Corbyn isn’t the target. The Tories hope to destroy Labour for good | Matthew d’Ancona 

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The Conservatives’ seeming civility masks a greater ambition: to plant a blue flag in the vacant centre ground
Even as Westminster reeled from the news of Jeremy Corbyn’s thumping victory on Saturday, Nick Hurd, the Tory MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, tweeted his congratulations to the new Labour leader. To this, however, he appended a warning: “Caution my party against complacency. Cocky Tory always a bad look.”
It certainly is. Hurd’s wisdom is very much his own but his father, Douglas, could not have put it better. Of course, human nature being what it is, part of the collective Tory psyche at present resembles a cross between the Munchkin scene in The Wizard of Oz and Ali’s final attack on Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle. In moments of candour, Conservatives can scarcely contain their inner festivities. I mean: what did you expect?
This is no time for Tories freshly stuffed with grouse, bread sauce and game chips to tear into the new leader
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J. Edgar Hoover stature - Google Search

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Steve Bell on a new era of politics – cartoon 

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An imposing wax-like figure of J. Edgar Hoover just got downsized at the FBI

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J. Edgar Hoover, who served as director of the FBI for 48 years, is seen at graduation ceremonies for the bureau in July 1971. (Harvey Georges/AP)
The ultimate G-man just got busted down to storage.
A wax-like, life-size figure of J. Edgar Hoover, which was recently installed among other memorabilia in the FBI’s New York Field Office, has been removed because of objections from bureau personnel.
The decision to oust Hoover, who was the FBI’s director for 48 years and served under 10 presidents, is something of a cultural moment for the bureau. Once revered among FBI agents, Hoover is no longer universally admired at the crime-fighting organization he built.
“There are no plans to display him again,” said Michael P. Kortan, assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.
A new generation of agents and other employees dislike the history he represents, which includes secret campaigns to spy on and discredit political enemies, anti-war activists and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.
Women were also unwelcome in Hoover’s bureau. By 1928, four years after he became acting director, all three female agents had resigned, and it wasn’t until May 1972, the year Hoover died,that women were once again hired as special agents.
“Hoover was not a monster. He was an American Machiavelli. He was astute, he was cunning, and he never stopped watching his enemies,” wrote Tim Weiner in “Enemies: A History of the FBI.” “He was a masterful manipulator of public opinion. He practiced political warfare and secret statecraft in pursuit of national security, often at the expense of morality.”
Current FBI Director James B. Comey has invoked Hoover’s toxic legacy to warn new agents about the exercise of their powers.
In a speech earlier this year at Georgetown University, Comey said he makes new agents and analysts study the FBI’s relationship with King and visit his memorial so they can ponder the mistakes of the past. Comey also said that he keeps a letter on his desk of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s approval of Hoover’s baseless request to wiretap King.
“The reason I do those things is to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them,” Comey said. “So we must talk about our history. It is a hard truth that lives on.”
FBI officials said sending Hoover to New York at first seemed like a harmless idea. The figure — a jowly, stern-faced Hoover, dressed in a dark suit — was originally on display at FBI headquarters in the District, which is named after Hoover, but it had been in storage for some years.
The figure had been all but forgotten until FBI officials in New York decided they wanted to add to their museum collection.
An FBI spokeswoman in New York said that in exchange for the Hoover mannequin, the office sent to D.C. a $60,000 replica of the Wall Street bull, which was confiscated during a white-collar crime investigation.
Hoover was hauled north in a rental truck Some agents seem happy to see him, posting a picture on Facebook of themselves surrounding the wax figure and grinning happily.
“Among the few former agents alive who worked in the bureau [back then], there are some, I’m sure, who still think he was the epitome of good law enforcement and someone who stood as a bulwark during the Cold War [and] kept the bad guys under control,” said Betty Medsger, author of “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.” “There are other former agents who wonder how they ever endured the crazy environment he created.”
Hoover was taken down after senior managers recently conferred and decided it was time for him to go. His days of greeting visitors on the 28th floor, where FBI management sits, over.
The New York Field Office, in a 2014 nationwide FBI survey, received high marks for working well with “employees of different backgrounds.”
“He will likely go back into storage,” Kortan said. The FBI declined to allow The Post to photograph Hoover and also wouldn’t provide an image.
And who or what will taken his place in the collection amid the vintage guns and counterintelligence gear?
“We are in the process of updating and changing it,” said Kelly Langmesser, spokeswoman for the FBI in New York. “It’s a moving puzzle.”

Adam Goldman reports on terrorism and national security for The Washington Post.
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An imposing wax-like figure of J. Edgar Hoover just got downsized at the FBI - Washington Post

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An imposing wax-like figure of J. Edgar Hoover just got downsized at the FBI
Washington Post
Current FBI Director James BComey has invoked Hoover's toxic legacy to warn new agents about the exercise of their powers. In a speech earlier this year at Georgetown University, Comey said he makes new agents and analysts study the FBI's ...