Dia 20 da Administração Obama - História

Dia 20 da Administração Obama - História


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Dia 20, 9 de fevereiro de 2009

Presidente Obama em Elkhart Indiana

O presidente Obama passou à ofensiva hoje ao vender o pacote de estímulo econômico. Ele viajou para Elkhart Indiana, provavelmente a cidade mais afetada pela crise econômica. O desemprego aumentou de 4,9% para mais de 14%. Em Elkhart, o presidente declarou: "A situação que enfrentamos não poderia ser mais séria. Herdamos uma crise econômica tão profunda e terrível como qualquer outra desde a Grande Depressão. Economistas de todo o espectro alertaram que, se não agirmos imediatamente , milhões de empregos serão perdidos e as taxas de desemprego nacional se aproximarão dos dois dígitos. Mais pessoas perderão suas casas e seus cuidados de saúde. E nossa nação afundará em uma crise que, em algum momento, poderemos ser incapazes de reverter. " Texto completo

No final da tarde, o pacote À noite, o presidente deu sua primeira entrevista coletiva televisionada. Em suas observações iniciais como crítica aos oponentes do plano, ele afirmou:

"Mas, como aprendemos de forma muito clara e conclusiva nos últimos oito anos, os cortes de impostos por si só não podem resolver todos os nossos problemas econômicos - especialmente os cortes de impostos que são direcionados aos poucos americanos mais ricos. Nós tentamos essa estratégia na hora e outra vez, e isso só ajudou a nos levar à crise que enfrentamos agora ". Texto completo.

À tarde, a primeira-dama Michelle Obama continuou a percorrer os departamentos do governo, hoje visitando o Departamento do Interior, onde fez um discurso.


2,5 milhões de ilegais cruzam a fronteira com Obama, menos do que Bush

Cerca de 2,5 milhões de imigrantes ilegais se estabeleceram nos EUA durante o mandato do presidente Obama & # 8217, de acordo com estimativas divulgadas segunda-feira pelo Center for Immigration Studies, que disse que é uma melhoria em comparação com a administração Bush.

Quase 800.000 desses imigrantes ilegais chegaram nos últimos dois anos, sugerindo que o fluxo aumentou à medida que a economia melhorou e Obama reformulou as políticas de fiscalização, concentrando-se nos criminosos e relaxando as ações contra os imigrantes ilegais comuns.

Ainda assim, a população total de imigrantes ilegais permaneceu estável em cerca de 11 milhões a 12 milhões nos últimos seis anos, concluiu o relatório, descobrindo que as chegadas são canceladas pelas centenas de milhares que voltam para casa, morrem ou ganham status legal por meio de canais existentes, como casar com um americano.

Steven A. Camarota, diretor de pesquisa do centro e autor do estudo, disse que 1,5 milhão a 1,7 milhão de imigrantes ilegais chegaram de 2009 a 2013, e ele calcula, com base nos dados do Census Bureau, que mais 790.000 vieram entre meados de 2013 e maio deste ano.

Embora não seja um grande aumento, e menos do que os aumentos anuais de 500.000 a 600.000 durante o mandato do presidente George W. Bush, ele sugere uma fronteira porosa e um sistema de vistos. Na verdade, Camarota disse que é provável que o fluxo ilegal não seja cada vez mais de pessoas cruzando a fronteira terrestre com o México, mas entrando legalmente e com vistos com prazo de validade vencido.

Ele disse que isso significa que os mais novos imigrantes ilegais são menos prováveis ​​de serem mexicanos e mais prováveis ​​de serem da Europa, Ásia e África.

& # 8220Você pode ver isso como uma oportunidade perdida. De certa forma, a imigração ilegal cai naturalmente como resultado da emigração, mortes e legalização. Mas não impedimos a entrada do fluxo de massa. Acabamos de substituir todas aquelas pessoas ”, disse ele.

O debate sobre a imigração está esquentando novamente como resultado de um assassinato em San Francisco atribuído à política de santuário daquela cidade e à batalha legal de Obama para conceder status legal provisório e autorizações de trabalho para ainda mais imigrantes ilegais.

O assassinato de São Francisco mudou o foco do debate sobre a repressão, particularmente com a revelação de que o suspeito havia sido deportado cinco vezes e conseguiu voltar furtivamente para os EUA todas as vezes.

O candidato presidencial republicano Donald Trump alimentou o debate, acusando o México de enviar alguns dos piores elementos de sua sociedade aos EUA.

Os democratas dizem que Trump exagerou e que a fiscalização está à altura.

& # 8220A fronteira nunca esteve mais segura do que agora, & # 8221 Rep. Joaquin Castro, democrata do Texas, disse à NBC & # 8217s & # 8220Meet the Press & # 8221 program Sunday. & # 8220Eu sei que há muitas pessoas que não acreditam nisso, pessoas que não gostam de ouvir isso. Mas o fato é que a migração líquida com o México está em zero. & # 8221

O Sr. Camarota rebateu que um equilíbrio não é bom o suficiente. Ele disse que se os EUA estivessem cumprindo suas leis, o número de imigrantes ilegais realmente cairia.

"Dizer este enorme problema não é um problema, porque a população geral não está ficando maior é como uma pessoa obesa dizendo que não tem um problema porque não está engordando", disse Camarota. & # 8220Se simplesmente não tivéssemos permitido que novos ilegais se instalassem no país, teríamos reduzido a população em 25 ou 30 por cento desde 2009. É & # 8217s o que esses números implicam. & # 8221

Obama argumentou que os ganhos que podem ser obtidos apenas com a fiscalização estão no limite, e é hora de legalizar a maioria dos imigrantes ilegais, porque os imigrantes merecem e porque limpar a lousa permitiria que as autoridades perseguissem os maus atores entre a população atual e se concentrar em impedir futuros imigrantes ilegais.

Um projeto de lei elaborado nesse sentido foi aprovado no Senado em 2013, mas os líderes democratas, que controlavam a câmara na época, nunca o enviaram à Câmara para ação.

O presidente defendeu a legislação dizendo que os EUA não têm força de vontade para prender e deportar a maioria dos imigrantes ilegais, então eles deveriam ter uma vaga aqui.

Camarota disse que sua pesquisa mostra que há outro caminho: intensificar a fiscalização e permitir o desgaste natural para reduzir os números.

Parte da dificuldade do debate sobre a imigração reside no simples acordo sobre os fatos.

A afirmação de Castro no domingo de que a fronteira é segura foi contestada pelo deputado Raul R. Labrador, republicano de Idaho, que disse que o caso de São Francisco é prova de uma fronteira porosa.

& # 8220Nós temos um problema de imigração ilegal no país & # 8221 disse ele.

Ele e o Sr. Castro não conseguiam nem mesmo concordar sobre a definição de & # 8220amnistia & # 8221 para imigrantes ilegais. Labrador disse que estava concedendo aos imigrantes ilegais aquilo que eles quebraram a lei para conseguir - um lugar legal nos EUA.

Castro negou isso, descrevendo a anistia como um perdão geral sem perguntas - algo que ele disse não estar envolvido nas negociações atuais.


O Partido do Não: novos detalhes sobre o complô do Partido Republicano para obstruir Obama

O líder da maioria da Câmara e presidente do Comitê de Orçamento da Câmara, Representante Eric Cantor, responde a perguntas de repórteres depois de falar em um evento da Câmara de Comércio dos EUA intitulado Custos de controle: O preço da boa saúde 12 de julho de 2011 em Washington, DC.

A TIME acaba de publicar “The Party of No”, um artigo adaptado do meu novo livro, The New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. Ele revela algumas das minhas reportagens sobre o complô republicano para obstruir o presidente Obama antes mesmo de ele assumir o cargo, incluindo reuniões secretas lideradas pelo chicote republicano da Câmara, Eric Cantor (em dezembro de 2008) e pelo líder da minoria no Senado, Mitch McConnell (no início de janeiro de 2009), nas quais eles expôs sua ousada (embora cínica e política) estratégia de não lua de mel de resistência total a um popular presidente eleito durante uma emergência econômica. “Se ele fosse a favor”, explicou o ex-senador por Ohio George Voinovich, “tínhamos que ser contra”. O trecho inclui uma pepita de bônus especial de Mitt Romney zombando do Tea Party.

Mas, como dizemos no mundo das vendas: há mais! Vou postar no blog algumas das notícias e temas maiores do livro aqui no TIME.com, e vou começar com mais cenas dos primeiros dias da estratégia republicana de Não. Leia mais para ouvir o que Joe As fontes de Biden no Partido Republicano no Senado estavam dizendo a ele, alguma conversa de travesseiro sincera entre um funcionário republicano e um assessor de Obama, e um importante republicano admitindo que seu partido não queria "brincar". Vou começar com uma cena que considero um ponto de inflexão na era Obama, quando o novo presidente foi ao Hill estender a mão e o Partido Republicano a rejeitou.

Em 27 de janeiro de 2009, o líder republicano da Câmara, John Boehner, abriu sua reunião de conferência semanal com um anúncio: Obama faria sua primeira visita ao Capitólio por volta do meio-dia, para se reunir exclusivamente com os republicanos sobre seu plano de recuperação econômica. “Estamos ansiosos pela visita do presidente”, disse Boehner.

As sutilezas terminaram aí, quando Boehner voltou-se para o projeto de estímulo de US $ 815 bilhões que os democratas da Câmara acabaram de revelar. Boehner reclamou que gastaria muito, muito tarde, em muitas guloseimas democratas. Ele exortou seus membros a jogá-lo na TV a cabo, no YouTube, no plenário da Câmara: “É outro projeto de lei comum, indisciplinado, pesado e esbanjador de gastos de Washington ... Espero que todos aqui se juntem a mim na votação não!

A equipe de chicote da Cantor estava planejando uma estratégia de "reviravolta" na qual eles começariam a vazar que 50 republicanos poderiam votar sim, então que eles estavam com 30 crianças problemáticas, então que eles poderiam perder 20 ou mais. A ideia era transmitir impulso. “Você quer que os membros se sintam como, Oh, o rebanho está se movendo. Tenho que acompanhar o rebanho ”, explica Rob Collins, chefe de gabinete da Cantor na época. Assim, mesmo que uma dúzia de republicanos desertasse, pareceria que Obama não atendeu às expectativas.

Mas quando ele discursou na conferência, Cantor adotou uma estratégia diferente. “Não vamos perder algum Republicanos ”, declarou ele. Sua equipe estava atordoada.

“Nós pensamos, Uhhhhh, temos que recalibrar”, lembra Collins.

Depois, os assessores de Cantor perguntaram se ele tinha certeza de que queria ir tão longe em um galho. Zero era um número baixo. Centristas e apropriadores de grandes gastos de distritos amigos de Obama ficariam extremamente tentados a romper as fileiras. Se Cantor prometesse unanimidade e não cumprisse, a imprensa teria a história que ansiava: republicanos divididos, junção de disfunção, ainda sem noção depois de duas palmadas consecutivas.

Mas Cantor disse que sim, ele quis dizer zero. Ele temia que, se os democratas conseguissem pegar dois ou três republicanos, eles conseguiriam colocar um rótulo "bipartidário" no projeto. “Podemos chegar lá”, disse ele. “Se não chegarmos lá, podemos tentar como o inferno chegar lá.”

Pouco antes das 11 horas, a AP relatou que Boehner havia instado os republicanos a se oporem ao estímulo. O secretário de imprensa de Obama, Robert Gibbs, entregou a Obama uma cópia da história no Salão Oval, pouco antes de ele partir para Hill para defender o estímulo, uma visita sem precedentes à oposição após apenas uma semana no cargo. “Sabe, ainda pensávamos que isso era razoável”, diz Gibbs. O assessor político de Obama, David Axelrod, disse que depois que o presidente saiu, os assessores da Casa Branca comentaram sobre o insulto. E eles nem sabiam que Cantor havia jurado obter uma votação unânime - o que, em última análise, ele fez.

“Foi impressionante que tivéssemos armado isso e, antes de ouvir o presidente, eles disseram que se oporiam a isso”, diz Axelrod. “Nosso sentimento era que estávamos lidando com um desastre potencial de proporções épicas que exigia cooperação. Se alguma coisa foi um sinal de como seriam os próximos dois anos, foi isso. ”

Mas esse não foi o único sinal. Alguns outros exemplos:

• O vice-presidente Biden me disse que, durante a transição, ele foi avisado para não esperar nenhuma cooperação bipartidária nas votações principais. “Falei com sete senadores republicanos diferentes que disseram:‘ Joe, não vou ser capaz de ajudá-lo em nada ’”, lembrou ele. Seus informantes disseram que McConnell exigiu resistência unificada. “A forma como foi caracterizado para mim foi,‘ Pelos próximos dois anos, não podemos deixar você ter sucesso em nada. Essa é a nossa passagem para voltar '”, disse Biden. O vice-presidente disse que nem mesmo disse a Obama quem eram suas fontes, mas Bob Bennett, de Utah, e Arlen Specter, da Pensilvânia, confirmaram que conversaram com Biden nesse sentido.

“Então, eu prometo a você - e o presidente concordou comigo - que nunca pensei que conseguiríamos o apoio dos republicanos”, disse Biden.

• Um assessor de Obama disse que recebeu um aviso semelhante de um funcionário do Senado republicano que estava vendo na época. Ele se lembra de ter perguntado a ela certa manhã na cama: Como conseguir um acordo de estímulo? Ela respondeu, baby, não há acordo!

“É assim que ficamos inteiros”, disse ela com uma risada. “Faremos com você o que você fez conosco em 2006.”

• David Obey, então presidente do Comitê de Apropriações da Câmara, reuniu-se com seu homólogo republicano, Jerry Lewis, para explicar o que os democratas tinham em mente para o estímulo e perguntar o que os republicanos queriam incluir. “A resposta de Jerry foi:‘ Sinto muito, mas a liderança diz que não podemos jogar ’”, disse Obey. “Citação exata:‘ Não podemos jogar ’. O que eles disseram desde o início foi: Não importa o que diabos você faça, nós não vamos ajudá-lo. Nós vamos ficar de fora e reclamar. "

Lewis culpa Obey e os democratas pela virada do comitê em direção ao partidarismo extremo, mas ele não nega que os líderes republicanos decidiram não jogar. “A liderança decidiu que não havia mais jogo”, diz ele. Os republicanos reconheceram que, depois das grandes promessas de Obama sobre o bipartidarismo, eles poderiam quebrar essas promessas recusando-se a cooperar. Nas palavras do congressista Tom Cole, um deputado republicano chicote: “Queríamos o ponto de discussão:‘ A única coisa bipartidária era a oposição ’”.


Enquanto Obama ganhava milhões com a presidência, novo relatório afirma que Trump perdeu US $ 1,1 bilhão

Anos depois que os meios de comunicação de esquerda tentaram pintar o ex-presidente Donald Trump como uma ameaça maligna e gananciosa, o exato oposto foi recentemente revelado.

Dando um duro golpe na narrativa da mídia oficial do alter ego de Trump & # 8217 como o próprio diabo, a Forbes relatou na terça-feira que o ex-presidente na verdade perdeu US $ 1,1 bilhão após sua presidência, fazendo com que ele caísse quase 300 lugares de sua posição original como bilionário classificações.

1/10 Quatro anos atrás, sabíamos que a recusa de Trump em desinvestir teria consequências políticas. Agora sabemos que também teve grandes consequências financeiras.

Na verdade, a decisão de reter seus ativos custou a Trump cerca de US $ 1,6 bilhão. Vamos analisar a matemática. https://t.co/hGfzgkcPSX

- Dan Alexander (@ DanAlexander21) 6 de abril de 2021

& # 8220Da época em que ele entrou na Casa Branca em janeiro de 2017 até sua saída há alguns meses, a fortuna de Donald Trump caiu em quase um terço, de US $ 3,5 bilhões para US $ 2,4 bilhões, & # 8221 o repórter da Forbes Dan Alexander escreveu. & # 8220O S & ampP 500, entretanto, aumentou 70%. & # 8221

Alexander continuou listando uma série de propriedades que Trump possui, escrevendo que se o ex-presidente as tivesse vendido no primeiro dia, ele teria encerrado sua presidência cerca de US $ 1,6 bilhão mais rico do que é hoje. & # 8221

Ao longo da peça, Alexander criticou Trump por sua recusa em focar em seu portfólio. Em um tweet na terça-feira, o repórter escreveu: & # 8220Se ele tivesse apenas ouvido os especialistas em ética, sua presidência teria sido mais limpa e sua fortuna agora seria muito maior. & # 8221

10/10 Resumindo: a recusa de Trump em desinvestir foi um grande erro para um homem que se orgulha de sua perspicácia para os negócios. Se ele apenas tivesse ouvido os especialistas em ética, sua presidência teria sido mais limpa e sua fortuna agora seria muito maior. https://t.co/R1UGvXJKfy

- Dan Alexander (@ DanAlexander21) 6 de abril de 2021

Também deve ser observado que Trump se recusou a receber um salário durante toda a sua presidência, doando seu salário anual de $ 400.000 a vários departamentos federais.

Embora esteja claro que Trump sacrificou oportunidades para melhorar seu portfólio pelo bem do país, o mesmo não pode ser dito do ex-presidente Barack Obama. Na verdade, Obama realmente lucrou com seu cargo.

De acordo com um artigo do Business Insider de 2018, os Obama valem mais de 30 vezes seu patrimônio líquido ao entrar na Casa Branca. O patrimônio líquido atual do ex-presidente é de US $ 40 milhões. Entre 2005 e o último ano de sua presidência, Obama supostamente ganhou US $ 20 milhões com seu salário presidencial, ofertas de livros e outros empreendimentos financeiros.

Não admira que tão pouco tenha sido feito pelo país.

De acordo com um artigo da Forbes de 2017, três quartos dos $ 20 milhões de Obama & # 8217s vieram apenas de negócios de livros & # 8212 ganhando quase $ 7 milhões de & # 8220Dreams from My Father & # 8221 e quase $ 9 milhões de & # 8220The Audacity of Hope & # 8221 e & # 8220Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters & # 8221 combinados, totalizando cerca de US $ 15,6 milhões que o ex-presidente ganhou em Washington como autor.

Simplificando, Obama se concentrou mais em escrever livros com fins lucrativos do que nas questões do país. E, quando ele promulgou a política, foi redundante, como seus esforços para & # 8220curtar a diferença salarial & # 8221 ou culturalmente destrutiva, como apoiar a decisão da Suprema Corte & # 8217s 2015 sobre o casamento entre pessoas do mesmo sexo.

Por outro lado, Trump passou seu tempo no cargo trabalhando para proteger a fronteira sul, proteger a santidade da vida, estimular a economia e lançar as bases para que milhões de americanos sejam vacinados nos próximos meses.

Trump trabalhou para o país, enquanto Obama trabalhou para si mesmo e para a agenda do despertar.

A Forbes critica o ex-presidente por não lucrar com seu boom de mercado. No entanto, parece que as ações de Trump & # 8217 demonstram verdadeiramente seu caráter.

Embora a mídia oficial continuamente espancasse o ex-presidente por ser & # 8220greedy & # 8221 e motivado pela riqueza, este relatório prova o contrário.

Verdade e precisão

Estamos comprometidos com a verdade e a precisão em todo o nosso jornalismo. Leia nossos padrões editoriais.


O que é Obamagate?

A longa acusação de criminalidade do presidente dos Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, contra seu antecessor democrata, Barack Obama, ganhou um novo nome: Obamagate.

Nesta nova iteração sendo calorosamente promovida por Trump e seus aliados de direita, as autoridades de Obama nos últimos dias de seu governo conspiraram para prender o conselheiro de segurança nacional de Trump, Michael Flynn, como parte de um complô maior para derrubar o novo presidente.

A teoria da conspiração ganhou vida nova depois que o Departamento de Justiça, em uma reviravolta dramática na semana passada, moveu-se para retirar seu processo criminal contra Flynn, dizendo que o FBI não tinha justificativa para investigá-lo em suas conversas de 2016 com o ex-embaixador da Rússia em Washington.

Como parte de sua reavaliação do caso Flynn, o Departamento de Justiça divulgou uma enxurrada de registros que lançam luz sobre as deliberações do governo Obama até então desconhecidas sobre Flynn. Isso levou Trump a alegar que Flynn havia sido ilegalmente alvejado e que a decisão de investigá-lo chegou até o presidente anterior.

"O maior crime político da história americana, de longe!" Trump disse em um de uma nevasca de tweets e retuítes fazendo referência a Obamagate no domingo.

Em pouco tempo, a hashtag "Obamagate" se tornou viral, dando a uma velha teoria da conspiração uma nova reviravolta.

Questionado na segunda-feira para descrever o suposto crime de Obama, Trump apenas diria que "algumas coisas terríveis aconteceram, e isso nunca deveria ser permitido em nosso país". Ele previu novas divulgações nas próximas semanas.

Obama é um alvo favorito e frequente dos ataques de Trump. Trump aumentou a pressão sobre seu antecessor depois que Obama, em comentários que vazaram para ex-funcionários de seu governo, criticou a decisão do Departamento de Justiça de deixar Flynn fora de perigo, dizendo que "o Estado de Direito está em risco".

Ao apresentar novas alegações contra o ex-presidente, Trump também está aparentemente tentando implicar seu provável oponente neste outono, o vice-presidente de Obama, Joe Biden.

Aqui está uma cartilha sobre a controvérsia.

Origens de obamagate

Em sua essência, Obamagate é uma velha alegação com um novo nome.

Já em março de 2017, Trump alegou que Obama havia grampeado ilegalmente o empresário bilionário na Trump Tower durante a campanha para as eleições presidenciais de 2016, comparando a suposta vigilância ao escândalo Watergate da era Nixon. No ano seguinte, Trump afirmou que o FBI plantou um informante em sua campanha, apelidando a suposta conspiração de "Spygate".

A principal alegação em Obamagate é que o ex-presidente dirigiu a investigação Flynn, embora o FBI não tivesse nenhuma razão legítima para investigar o general três estrelas aposentado. Flynn, que já foi democrata, serviu como o principal oficial de inteligência militar do governo Obama antes de ser forçado a deixar o cargo e posteriormente alinhar-se com Trump.

Flynn foi investigado duas vezes em 2016 e 2017, primeiro como parte da investigação do FBI sobre os laços entre a campanha de Trump e a Rússia, e depois durante uma série de conversas que teve com o então embaixador da Rússia em Washington, Sergey Kislyak, nas quais aconselhou o Os russos devem se abster de retaliação contra as sanções do governo Obama - sugerindo que Trump os suavizaria uma vez no cargo.

ASSISTA: No caminho para a reeleição, Trump mira em Obama

Desculpe, mas seu navegador não oferece suporte a vídeo incorporado deste tipo, você pode baixar este vídeo para visualizá-lo offline.

Reunião do Salão Oval

O ponto central da teoria da conspiração Obamagate é uma reunião do Salão Oval entre Obama e sua equipe de segurança nacional em 5 de janeiro de 2017, apenas 15 dias antes de Trump assumir o cargo.

A reunião aconteceu um dia depois que o FBI decidiu encerrar formalmente sua investigação sobre as ligações suspeitas de Flynn com a Rússia, antes de decidir mantê-la aberta após saber sobre suas ligações interceptadas para Kislyak.

Altos funcionários da inteligência informaram Obama sobre suas descobertas sobre a intromissão nas eleições russas. No final da reunião, o presidente pediu ao diretor do FBI James Comey e à procuradora-geral adjunta Sally Yates para ficarem. Juntando-se a eles estavam o vice-presidente Joe Biden e a conselheira de segurança nacional Susan Rice.

Como Yates relatou durante uma entrevista em 2017 com a equipe do conselheiro especial Robert Mueller, Obama começou dizendo "ele soube das informações sobre Flynn" e suas conversas com Kislyak sobre as sanções à Rússia.

Isso era novidade para Yates, que, como oficial número 2 do Departamento de Justiça, supervisionava o FBI, mas não fora informado a respeito.

Como Comey disse mais tarde ao Comitê de Inteligência da Câmara, ele alertou o diretor da CIA John Brennan assim que soube das ligações de Flynn. Brennan, por sua vez, informou Obama.

Yates e Rice mais tarde relataram o que Obama disse na reunião. De acordo com Yates, embora Obama tenha dito que não queria detalhes da investigação, ele perguntou "se a Casa Branca deveria tratar Flynn de maneira diferente" durante os dias restantes do governo.

Yates não se lembrou da resposta de Comey à pergunta. Em um e-mail para si mesma no último dia de Obama no cargo, Rice lembrou que Obama reiterou na reunião que "nossa equipe de aplicação da lei precisa proceder como normalmente faria de acordo com o livro."

Yates e outros ex-oficiais defenderam a investigação Flynn. No entanto, o fato de a reunião na Casa Branca ter ocorrido um dia após o FBI estar se preparando para encerrar a investigação de Flynn, e Obama estar ciente das ligações de Flynn para Kislyak, levou Trump, comentaristas de direita e os advogados de Flynn a alegar que o A investigação de Flynn sobre suas ligações para Kislyak constituiu uma conspiração anti-Trump que atingiu os mais altos escalões do governo Obama.

"Então, a coisa toda foi orquestrada e montada dentro do FBI, (ex-diretor de inteligência nacional James) Clapper, Brennan e na reunião do Salão Oval naquele dia com o presidente Obama", disse Sydney Powell, o advogado de Flynn, à Fox News no domingo.

Registros recentemente desclassificados do FBI do caso Flynn que foram entregues aos advogados de Flynn forneceram alimento adicional para os promotores da teoria da conspiração.

Em uma nota manuscrita amplamente citada, um alto funcionário do FBI refletiu se o objetivo de entrevistar Flynn durante suas ligações para o embaixador russo era "fazê-lo ser demitido" ou fazê-lo mentir.

Desmascaramento de Flynn

A teoria da conspiração Obamagate alimenta outra alegação: o desmascaramento politicamente motivado da identidade de Flynn durante o período de transição de Trump.

Os analistas de inteligência dos EUA rotineiramente "mascaram" a identidade de pessoas dos EUA cujas comunicações são acidentalmente coletadas durante a coleta de informações sobre autoridades estrangeiras. As conversas de Flynn com Kislyak foram aparentemente ouvidas durante uma interceptação de rotina das ligações de Kislyak.

Oficiais de segurança nacional autorizados que buscam entender a inteligência subjacente podem pedir à Agência de Segurança Nacional para "desmascarar" a identidade de um indivíduo.

Esta é uma prática comum. Mas Trump e seus aliados há muito acusam ex-funcionários do governo Obama de desmascarar ilegalmente a identidade de Flynn para fins políticos.

Esta semana, Richard Grennell, um aliado próximo de Trump que atua como diretor interino da inteligência nacional, revelou os nomes de mais de uma dezena de funcionários de Obama que solicitaram o desmascaramento da identidade de Flynn durante as semanas finais do governo.

A lista inclui uma série de funcionários do governo Obama que Trump há muito vê como seus inimigos - Brennan, James Clapper, diretor de inteligência nacional e Comey.

Perspectivas para uma investigação

Desde que começou a Obamagate, Trump tem pressionado os republicanos no Congresso a investigarem Obama. Essa perspectiva é altamente improvável.

"Se eu fosse um senador ou congressista, a primeira pessoa que ligaria para testemunhar sobre o maior crime e escândalo político da história dos EUA, pela FAR, seria o ex-presidente Obama", tuitou Trump na quinta-feira. "Ele sabia de TUDO. Faça isso @LindseyGrahamSC, apenas faça. Chega de Sr. Cara Bonzinho. Chega de conversa!" Trump tweetou na quinta-feira.

Mas o presidente do Judiciário do Senado, Lindsey Graham, um confidente de Trump, diz que não está interessado em arrastar Obama para o Congresso.

"Não acho que seja hora de eu fazer isso", disse Graham ao Politico. "Eu não sei se isso é possível."

Mas Graham prometeu chamar funcionários da administração de Trump enquanto seu comitê investiga as origens da investigação Trump-Rússia.

De sua parte, Biden e outros democratas descartam Obamagate como uma tentativa descarada de Trump de desviar a atenção das crescentes críticas ao tratamento da crise do coronavírus.


Administração Obama se prepara para motins no dia da eleição

Um novo livro do autor David Shimer mostra como o governo Obama temia que Moscou alterasse os bancos de dados eleitorais, desacreditasse a vitória de Clinton e levasse Trump a desencadear motins.

Adam Rawnsley

Ron Sachs-Pool / Getty

No dia da eleição de 2016, altos funcionários do governo Obama estavam preparados para o caos. Agências policiais federais planejaram a possibilidade de tumultos na sequência de um resultado eleitoral contestado e uma equipe especial da Casa Branca se preparou para a possibilidade de que hackers russos estivessem prestes a alterar os dados do eleitor em um punhado de distritos importantes.

“A hipótese de trabalho era que Clinton iria vencer, e que [Trump] iria então incitar as pessoas à violência, alegando que o sistema estava fraudado”, de acordo com Amy Pope, ex-vice-conselheira de segurança interna.

Celeste Wallander, a maior especialista em Rússia no Conselho de Segurança Nacional na época, se perguntou o que aconteceria com uma porção de material comprometedor ainda não divulgado que hackers russos roubaram - tanto de republicanos quanto de “pessoas que poderiam servir no governo Clinton. ” Moscou o usaria em uma operação de influência pós-eleitoral contra o Time Hillary?

Essas revelações e outras estão incluídas em um novo livro obtido pelo The Daily Beast e com lançamento previsto para esta semana. O livro, Rigged: América, Rússia e cem anos de interferência eleitoral encoberta, é de autoria de David Shimer, um candidato ao doutorado em Oxford e um companheiro em Yale, e detalha a história de um século de operações secretas para interferir nas eleições. É baseado em entrevistas com mais de 130 jogadores importantes, incluindo oito ex-diretores da CIA, 26 ex-conselheiros de Barack Obama, 11 ex-conselheiros de Donald Trump e um ex-general da KGB.

O livro traz notícias sobre a história de interferência eleitoral secreta - incluindo os esforços da CIA para derrubar o governo de Slobodan Milošević em 2000 - e investiga profundamente a forma como o governo Obama lidou com a interferência nas eleições presidenciais de 2016 e a falta de foco de Trump na Casa Branca Interferência russa nas eleições atuais.

A imagem que emerge é de uma administração Obama dividida tanto quanto à natureza da ameaça da interferência russa e como responder a ela. Os conselheiros mais graduados de Obama se fixaram na possibilidade de que os hackers russos alterassem as contagens de votos ou os bancos de dados de registro no dia da eleição e temeram que qualquer retaliação antes disso desencadeasse uma escalada. Mas outro grupo de funcionários - aqueles com mais experiência em lidar com Moscou - viu uma catástrofe já ocorrendo em lixeiras vazadas de e-mails democratas e considerou uma resposta mais firme como crucial para evitar mais escalada.

Quase quatro anos após a ainda debatida eleição de 2016, vários ex-funcionários da campanha de Clinton e de Obama dizem no livro que o foco estreito do governo na ameaça cibernética aos sistemas eleitorais às custas de um esforço mais amplo para conter a campanha de influência da Rússia estava mal orientado.

“É para lá que vai toda a sua energia e é para onde vão seus avisos aos russos”, disse o ex-presidente da campanha de Clinton e conselheiro de Obama, John Podesta, a Shimer. “Eles foram para a interferência direta ao invés desta interferência indireta. Acho que foi um erro. ”

Em sua defesa, funcionários do governo Obama entrevistados para o livro como Susan Rice, Anthony Blinken e John Brennan, apontaram para um fluxo constante de reportagens diárias indicando que os hackers russos estavam investigando e penetrando nos sistemas eleitorais em todo o país. Em agosto, de acordo com o relatório de Shimer, a comunidade de inteligência emitiu avisos de que os hackers russos eram capazes de invadir alguns sistemas eleitorais e alterar os votos.

A possibilidade de uma escalada russa contra os sistemas eleitorais dominou o pensamento do governo e a decisão final de adiar a retaliação. “Se fizéssemos isso, poderia ter tido consequências muito desconhecidas, em termos de se a Rússia teria dobrado ou triplicado durante a campanha”, disse Brennan a Shimer. Os EUA eram vulneráveis, de acordo com Brennan, porque os hackers russos “poderiam ter feito coisas tanto quanto as listas de eleitores, eles poderiam ter feito coisas quanto às contagens”.

Mas os mais céticos em relação às intenções russas, como Victoria Nuland e Celeste Wallander, sentiram que esses argumentos deixavam Moscou fora do gancho pelos danos que já estava causando no verão de 2016 e apenas provocavam mais travessuras.

Nuland told Shimer she had sounded the alarm bells about Russian intentions for the upcoming election as early as spring of 2016 and called for the administration to use “light deniable countermeasures” against Moscow in July.

As the debate raged on how and whether to impose costs on Moscow throughout the summer, Obama’s National Security Council drew up a menu of options that the U.S. could use to push back against Russia’s nascent interference and deter further operations. The options, Wallander told Shimer, included “sanctions, information revelations, quiet private messages, louder public messages, disruption operations,” among other measures.

The option of retaliating in kind and deploying an American disinformation campaign against Russia, however, was “rejected almost immediately,” according to Blinken.

Rice claimed that retaliation against Russia was a foregone conclusion from the beginning and the only question was whether any pushback would be more productive before or after the election. And the Obama administration had drawn up a list of harsh countermeasures to use against Moscow in the event Russia tampered with the vote, according to the book.

But some officials don’t believe that the administration gave enough consideration to countermeasures while the Russian influence operation was playing out. Senior Obama officials—convinced that a Clinton victory was inevitable and focused on election network security—decided to shelve the committee’s options and wait until after the election. Wallander and White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel ignored the brushoff and instead wrote their own, more highly classified memo in August 2016 outlining ways to punish Russia through revelations about Putin’s ill-gotten wealth, vacations, and associates.

In the book, Shimer argues that the Obama administration’s narrow focus on protecting election systems at the expense of ignoring a raging influence campaign represented a profound misunderstanding of how election interference has historically been practiced. The history of covert electoral meddling, the book argues, includes efforts to both change vote tallies and influence the opinions of voters.

That’s how the U.S. and Soviet Union had historically carried out electoral interference throughout much of the Cold War. But the book also reveals that the CIA carried out one last operation to meddle in a foreign election before it turned its back on the practice.

Former President Bill Clinton told Shimer that he authorized a covert campaign in 2000 to oust Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic during the country’s elections that year.

“I didn’t have a problem with it,” because Miloševic—who later died while on trial in the Hague for genocide—was “a stone-cold killer and had caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people,” Clinton said. The former president defended the effort by characterizing it as a more restrained influence operation. The CIA, Clinton argued, “did not rig the vote nor knowingly lie to the voters to get them to support the people we hoped to win.” He blessed the effort because, he said: “There’s a death threshold, and Milošević crossed it.”

The operation, briefed to and approved by congressional leaders of both parties, involved “millions of dollars” handed out to Serbian opposition figures at meetings outside the country, according to former CIA officer John Sipher, whom Shimer interviewed for the book.

Three former Obama administration CIA directors quoted by Shimer ultimately cited Obama’s unwillingness to escalate against foreign adversaries to the administration’s pulled punches in the summer and fall of 2016.

Former CIA directors Leon Panetta and David Petraeus, as well as deputy director Mike Morrell, pointed to Obama’s unwillingness to forcefully respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons as contributors to the Kremlin’s belief it could interfere in the election without facing significant costs.

“That was a message of weakness, and I think Putin read it as weakness, and read it as an opportunity to be able to not only do Crimea, but to go into Syria without having anyone stop him from doing that, and thirdly then going after our election institutions as well,” Panetta is quoted as saying in the book. “I think he felt that he would be able to do it and to get away with it.”

Dennis Blair, Obama’s first director of national intelligence, was equally critical of his former boss’s handling of the Russian operation. “We needed to impose penalties and I think we needed to give a lot more information to people as to what’s going on, and it was derelict not to.”

As for the 2020 elections, former Trump administration National Security Council officials told Shimer that the president still remains hostile to acknowledging that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. One anonymous senior adviser is quoted saying Trump interprets the subject of Russian interference in 2016 as an attack on his legitimacy that causes him to go “off the reservation.”

The book also reveals that planning for the possibility that hackers could attack election systems in November doesn’t appear to be a high priority for the Trump administration Elaine Duke, Trump’s former acting homeland security secretary, told Shimer that it’s a subject that “is definitely not consuming a lot of time operationally” in the White House.


Obama, Fox News and the Free Press

Former President Barack Obama stood up for a free press in his first political speech of the 2018 campaign season, but he engaged in a bit of revisionist history when it came to his administration’s dealings with Fox News.

“It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like,” Obama said in a Sept. 7 speech in Illinois. “I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people.”

The Democratic president did more than complain. His administration at times took action against the cable network. The Obama Justice Department surveilled one of Fox News’ reporters, and a White House spokesman acknowledged excluding Fox News from interviews.

And while he may never have called Fox News “enemies of the people” — a phrase President Donald Trump has used repeatedly for the media at large — Obama did say that its “point of view” was “ultimately destructive” to the U.S.

Here are some of the times when the Obama White House took aim at Fox News.

Obama Snubs Chris Wallace

On Sept. 20, 2009, Obama appeared on five Sunday talks show – NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC and Univision to talk about health care. But he did not appear on “Fox News Sunday.”

The snub came less than two weeks after Fox Broadcasting Network did not carry the president’s joint address to Congress on health care. The Sept. 9, 2009, speech was carried by the Fox News Channel, but not the Fox network — which aired an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance,” from 8 p.m. às 21h00 that night.

Robert Gibbs, the Obama White House press secretary at the time, complained about it during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” prior to the speech.

When it came time to schedule Obama for the post-speech Sunday talk show circuit, Fox News was the only major Sunday show that did not have Obama as a guest.

Then-White House spokesman Josh Earnest deflected questions about why Obama would not appear on “Fox News Sunday” by saying: “We figured Fox would rather show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ than broadcast an honest discussion about health insurance reform.”

“They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington,” Chris Wallace, anchor of “Fox News Sunday,” said about White House snub.

Obama did not appear on “Fox News Sunday” until his last year in office.

White House Labels Fox News Illegitimate

Anita Dunn, who was then the White House director of communications, told the New York Times in an interview on Oct. 11, 2009, that Fox News was not a legitimate news organization.

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” Dunn told the Vezes. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

She also said, when asked about snubbing “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, “we’re not going to legitimize them as a news organization.”

White House Willing to ‘Exclude Fox News’ from Interviews

In October 2009, the Obama administration and Fox News got into a public dispute over whether the Treasury Department intentionally attempted to exclude Fox News from on-camera TV interviews with the administration’s so-called “pay czar,” Kenneth Feinberg.

A Treasury Department spokesman described the dispute as a miscommunication – “much ado about absolutely nothing” – that ended with Fox News interviewing Feinberg on camera for the Oct. 22, 2009, nightly news. Fox News reported that the administration “failed in its attempt to exclude Fox News” only after “the Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks consulted and decided that none of their reporters would interview Feinberg unless Fox News was included.”

Whatever the intent, White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged that the Obama White House had a history of freezing out Fox News.

A day after the Feinberg flap, Talking Points Memo quoted Earnest as saying, “This White House has demonstrated our willingness to exclude Fox News from newsmaking interviews, but yesterday we did not.”

Obama Calls Fox News ‘Destructive’

Obama may never have called Fox News “enemies of the people,” but he did say that its “point of view” was “ultimately destructive” to the U.S.

Em um Pedra rolando magazine interview in 2010, Obama compared Fox News to William Randolph Hearst and his style of so-called “yellow journalism.” He called its point of view “ultimately destructive for the long-term growth” of the U.S.

Rolling Stone: What do you think of Fox News? Do you think it’s a good institution for America and for democracy?

Obama: [Laughs] Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.

Obama Justice Department Labels Fox News Reporter ‘Co-conspirator’

In 2010, when investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea, the Obama Justice Department collected Fox News reporter James Rosen’s telephone and email records and tracked his movements at the State Department, according to the Washington Post.

o Publicar, which broke the story in 2013, wrote that it had obtained a court affidavit that showed the Justice Department used security badge access records to track Rosen’s visits to the State Department, traced his calls to a department security adviser suspected of sharing classified information, and obtained a search warrant to seize two days’ worth of emails with the department official.

In the affidavit for a search warrant, FBI agent Reginald Reyes said there was evidence that Rosen — the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News — broke the law. Reyes described Rosen as “either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”

“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin told the Washington Post.

In a statement, Michael Clemente, Fox News’ executive vice president of news, said the news organization was “outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter.”

On its website, Fox News ran Clemente’s statement along with supportive quotes from journalists and editorial board writers from major news organizations, including the New York Times.

“With the decision to label a Fox News television reporter a possible ‘co-conspirator’ in a criminal investigation of a news leak, the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news,” the New York Times editorial board wrote.

o Publicar report on the Justice Department’s investigation involving Rosen came not long after the Justice Department seized two months of telephone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press. Gary Pruitt, the AP’s chief executive officer, called the action “unconstitutional.”

The actions taken in the cases involving Fox News and the AP went to a larger issue of the Obama administration’s aggressive prosecutions of leaks.

“Under the Obama administration, charges were brought against at least eight government employees or contractors accused of leaking information to the media, and several journalists were snared in the process through subpoenas to testify or surveillance of their records,” the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote last year. “After public outcry, the Department of Justice released revised standards for subpoenaing reporters.”


The Obama administration’s troubling history of politicizing intelligence

For months, the Obama administration has been avoiding the conclusion that the Assad government used chemical weapons in its armed struggle to suppress its citizens. As recently as yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rebuffed the notion, saying "suspicions are one thing evidence is another."

Today the White House finally conceded the point. "Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent Sarin," the administration wrote in a letter to Congress.

But even now, the White House is insisting it needs to gather the facts and called for a U.N. investigation, a convenient method of continuing to stall on Syria.

The letter goes on to say that "given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient — only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making and strengthen our leadership of the international community." It endorses a "comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what took place." (The U.N. has already deployed a team to Cyprus to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, but so far they have been denied entry into the country, and a full-throated investigation remains unlikely.)

The world’s best intelligence services are generally acknowledged to include those of Israel, Britain, France, and the United States, yet for months we alone are unable to establish whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria. As technical assessments have traditionally been the strong suit of American intelligence, it is curious that we alone among the major intelligence assessors were unable to determine whether chemical weapons had been employed.

The governments of Britain and France informed the United Nations they have credible evidence that Syria has more than once used chemical weapons. They took soil samples from the suspect sites and subjected them to rigorous testing, interviewed witnesses of the attacks in Homs, Aleppo and Damascus, and became convinced nerve agents were used by the government of Syria.

"To the best of our professional understanding, the [Syrian] regime used lethal chemical weapons against gunmen in a series of incidents in recent months," General Itai Brun, chief of the research division of Israel’s army intelligence branch, said Tuesday.

Even the government of Syria acknowledged that chemical weapons were used, though they unconvincingly claimed the chemical weapons were used by the rebels and refused entry to U.N. investigators.

Our European allies have said they believe the Syrian government "was testing the response of the United States." Until today, the response of the United States has been to avoid coming to a conclusion.

General Brun made that public statement while Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was in Israel. Hagel’s reaction? He claimed the Israeli government didn’t share that information with him. But the Obama administration’s secretary of defense didn’t double back to get the information. He didn’t strengthen deterrence by reiterating the president’s "red line" that any chemical weapons use by the Assad government would bring U.S. retaliation. He expressed a complete lack of curiosity on the subject, saying "suspicions are one thing evidence is another."

Hagel has now been forced to backtrack. "As I have said, the intelligence community has been assessing information for some time on this issue, and the decision to reach this conclusion was made in the past 24 hours," Hagel said, "and I have been in contact with senior officials in Washington today and most recently the last couple of hours on this issue." Hagel added that "we cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime." Hagel’s statement taken together with the "varying levels of confidence" modifier included in the White House’s letter to Congress means that the Administration is still avoiding a conclusion they will surely want an intelligence community consensus with a very high level of confidence (something rarely achieved).

Because if it should be "proven" that the Assad government has used chemical weapons, it will either force the president’s hand to intervene in Syria, or the president will be revealed to have made threats he declines to back up. Instead, the administration has chosen to conclude that the intelligence is inconclusive.

It would be deeply inconvenient for the president of the United States to have to go to war in Syria when he placidly assures the American public that the tide of war is receding. U.S. intervention grows even more inconvenient since our unwillingness to help the rebels has led them to take help from quarters we disapprove of — are we to fight alongside the al Nusra front, which we (rightly) characterize as a terrorist organization with al Qaeda links?

It is a problem of the president’s own making, of course: He took a strident stand that any chemical weapons use would be a "game changer" precipitating American military involvement. This president likes to look tough on the international scene — even when he’s leading from behind he’s taking all the credit. So we have policies designed to showcase Obama as a commanding commander in chief. In order to keep him from having to make good on his threats, the administration has taken to relying on intelligence assessments as his opt-out.

The Syria evasion is of a piece with Obama administration deflections of other intelligence conclusions that would force a change to their policies: Iran and North Korea.

With regard to the Iranian nuclear program, President Obama gave a speech (at AIPAC, no less) insisting that he would not settle for containment of a nuclear-armed Iran he would prevent it. Since then, the secretary of defense and the director for national intelligence have both testified to Congress their strong belief that Iran "has not decided to make a nuclear weapon." In so carefully parsing their language, they are attempting to remove from consideration the evidence of Iran’s capability to build a nuclear weapon in order to assert as more important Iran’s intent.

What neither the secdef (then Leon Panetta) nor the DNI acknowledged is that assessing intentions is the most difficult part of intelligence work and requires a supple and deep understanding of the politics of other governments — something we are unlikely to have about a country with complex political dynamics unhindered by institutional constraints and in which we have not had a diplomatic or economic presence for 34 years.

The Obama administration is unconcerned that other countries who have

at least as good an intelligence operation directed at Iran as we do don’t share our confidence that Iran hasn’t made the decision to proceed. When challenged on the divergent assessments, now Secretary of Defense Hagel explained there might be "minor" differences between the U.S. and Israel on the timeline for Iran developing nuclear capacity. The Obama administration’s generous timeline is a function of them "knowing" that Iran hasn’t decided to proceed.

With regard to the North Korean nuclear test and military provocations, President Obama insisted he would not reward bad behavior (even as Secretary Kerry visiting Seoul offered negotiations). Lieutenant General Flynn, director of the defense intelligence agency, which is the arm of U.S. intelligence most focused on assessing military capabilities, testified before Congress that in DIA’s judgment, North Korea already has the ability to mate nuclear warheads to long-range missiles. The administration’s response? The President denied the conclusion in a nationally-televised interview. The director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper, also gave interviews explaining that DIA’s conclusions are "not the consensus view of the intelligence community."

This is what the politicization of intelligence looks like: politicians turning their eyes away from information that is inconvenient to their agenda. It’s always a bad idea.

For months, the Obama administration has been avoiding the conclusion that the Assad government used chemical weapons in its armed struggle to suppress its citizens. As recently as yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rebuffed the notion, saying "suspicions are one thing evidence is another."

Today the White House finally conceded the point. "Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent Sarin," the administration wrote in a letter to Congress.

But even now, the White House is insisting it needs to gather the facts and called for a U.N. investigation, a convenient method of continuing to stall on Syria.

The letter goes on to say that "given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient — only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making and strengthen our leadership of the international community." It endorses a "comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what took place." (The U.N. has already deployed a team to Cyprus to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, but so far they have been denied entry into the country, and a full-throated investigation remains unlikely.)

The world’s best intelligence services are generally acknowledged to include those of Israel, Britain, France, and the United States, yet for months we alone are unable to establish whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria. As technical assessments have traditionally been the strong suit of American intelligence, it is curious that we alone among the major intelligence assessors were unable to determine whether chemical weapons had been employed.

The governments of Britain and France informed the United Nations they have credible evidence that Syria has more than once used chemical weapons. They took soil samples from the suspect sites and subjected them to rigorous testing, interviewed witnesses of the attacks in Homs, Aleppo and Damascus, and became convinced nerve agents were used by the government of Syria.

"To the best of our professional understanding, the [Syrian] regime used lethal chemical weapons against gunmen in a series of incidents in recent months," General Itai Brun, chief of the research division of Israel’s army intelligence branch, said Tuesday.

Even the government of Syria acknowledged that chemical weapons were used, though they unconvincingly claimed the chemical weapons were used by the rebels and refused entry to U.N. investigators.

Our European allies have said they believe the Syrian government "was testing the response of the United States." Until today, the response of the United States has been to avoid coming to a conclusion.

General Brun made that public statement while Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was in Israel. Hagel’s reaction? He claimed the Israeli government didn’t share that information with him. But the Obama administration’s secretary of defense didn’t double back to get the information. He didn’t strengthen deterrence by reiterating the president’s "red line" that any chemical weapons use by the Assad government would bring U.S. retaliation. He expressed a complete lack of curiosity on the subject, saying "suspicions are one thing evidence is another."

Hagel has now been forced to backtrack. "As I have said, the intelligence community has been assessing information for some time on this issue, and the decision to reach this conclusion was made in the past 24 hours," Hagel said, "and I have been in contact with senior officials in Washington today and most recently the last couple of hours on this issue." Hagel added that "we cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime." Hagel’s statement taken together with the "varying levels of confidence" modifier included in the White House’s letter to Congress means that the Administration is still avoiding a conclusion they will surely want an intelligence community consensus with a very high level of confidence (something rarely achieved).

Because if it should be "proven" that the Assad government has used chemical weapons, it will either force the president’s hand to intervene in Syria, or the president will be revealed to have made threats he declines to back up. Instead, the administration has chosen to conclude that the intelligence is inconclusive.

It would be deeply inconvenient for the president of the United States to have to go to war in Syria when he placidly assures the American public that the tide of war is receding. U.S. intervention grows even more inconvenient since our unwillingness to help the rebels has led them to take help from quarters we disapprove of — are we to fight alongside the al Nusra front, which we (rightly) characterize as a terrorist organization with al Qaeda links?

It is a problem of the president’s own making, of course: He took a strident stand that any chemical weapons use would be a "game changer" precipitating American military involvement. This president likes to look tough on the international scene — even when he’s leading from behind he’s taking all the credit. So we have policies designed to showcase Obama as a commanding commander in chief. In order to keep him from having to make good on his threats, the administration has taken to relying on intelligence assessments as his opt-out.

The Syria evasion is of a piece with Obama administration deflections of other intelligence conclusions that would force a change to their policies: Iran and North Korea.

With regard to the Iranian nuclear program, President Obama gave a speech (at AIPAC, no less) insisting that he would not settle for containment of a nuclear-armed Iran he would prevent it. Since then, the secretary of defense and the director for national intelligence have both testified to Congress their strong belief that Iran "has not decided to make a nuclear weapon." In so carefully parsing their language, they are attempting to remove from consideration the evidence of Iran’s capability to build a nuclear weapon in order to assert as more important Iran’s intent.

What neither the secdef (then Leon Panetta) nor the DNI acknowledged is that assessing intentions is the most difficult part of intelligence work and requires a supple and deep understanding of the politics of other governments — something we are unlikely to have about a country with complex political dynamics unhindered by institutional constraints and in which we have not had a diplomatic or economic presence for 34 years.

The Obama administration is unconcerned that other countries who have
at least as good an intelligence operation directed at Iran as we do don’t share our confidence that Iran hasn’t made the decision to proceed. When challenged on the divergent assessments, now Secretary of Defense Hagel explained there might be "minor" differences between the U.S. and Israel on the timeline for Iran developing nuclear capacity. The Obama administration’s generous timeline is a function of them "knowing" that Iran hasn’t decided to proceed.

With regard to the North Korean nuclear test and military provocations, President Obama insisted he would not reward bad behavior (even as Secretary Kerry visiting Seoul offered negotiations). Lieutenant General Flynn, director of the defense intelligence agency, which is the arm of U.S. intelligence most focused on assessing military capabilities, testified before Congress that in DIA’s judgment, North Korea already has the ability to mate nuclear warheads to long-range missiles. The administration’s response? The President denied the conclusion in a nationally-televised interview. The director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper, also gave interviews explaining that DIA’s conclusions are "not the consensus view of the intelligence community."

This is what the politicization of intelligence looks like: politicians turning their eyes away from information that is inconvenient to their agenda. It’s always a bad idea.


U.S. celebrates as President Obama vows new era

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Barack Obama launched his presidency before an estimated 1.5 million people on the National Mall on Tuesday with somber yet confident tones, saying the country will overcome its serious economic and international challenges.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden watch the inaugural parade outside the White House.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real," Obama said in his inaugural address. "They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met."

Obama's tempered optimism, however, was bookended by celebration in the Mall and across the country for the inauguration of the country's first African-American president.

"This is America happening," said Evadey Minott, a Brooklyn, New York, resident who witnessed the inauguration.

"It was prophesized by King that we would have a day when everyone would come together. This is that day. I am excited. I am joyful. It brings tears to my eyes." Read reactions of people at inauguration, parade

Obama's address came before a crowd that had been building since 4 a.m. Tuesday down the National Mall. People sang, danced and waved flags as his swearing-in approached. See the inauguration of Obama »

Many in the crowd seemed moved as Aretha Franklin belted out a rousing version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" before Joe Biden was sworn in as vice president. See, zoom in on satellite image of inauguration crowd

Wearing a navy suit and red tie, Obama repeated the oath of office, his hand on the same Bible used in President Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration.

When Obama took the podium, however, the jubilant crowd grew somber and quiet, hanging on his every word. There was only scattered applause -- punctuated by an occasional "That's right" or "Amen." Watch Obama say Americans chose hope »

Obama thanked those who sacrificed so much so "a man whose father, less than 60 years ago, might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

He promised to end petty squabbles on Capitol Hill, bring "old friends and former enemies" into the fold, and invoked the Bible, saying, "The time has come to set aside childish things." Watch Obama's speech »

He also vowed to leave Iraq to its people, responsibly, and to finish forging "a hard-earned peace" in Afghanistan. To Muslims, he promised "a new way forward, based on mutual interest," and to terrorists, he leveled a threat: "You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." Watch two-pronged message »

The challenges are daunting, he said, but anyone who underestimates this nation has forgotten about its past perseverance. Rate Obama's speech

"Greatness is never a given. It must be earned," he said.

His words resounded with spectators and revelers who let out deafening cheers after his address. Spectator L.J. Caldwell likened Obama to some of the most heroic figures of the civil rights movement.

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"When you think back, Malcolm [X] fought, then we come a little further. Rosa Parks sat, then come up a little further, and [the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] spoke. Then today, President Obama ran and we won," said Caldwell, of Somerset, New Jersey.

Celebrations weren't limited to Washington. Across the country, friends and strangers gathered on the streets and in schools, bars and auditoriums to witness Obama's inauguration, united in their hope that he will deliver on his promise of change.

In New York's Bronx borough, students huddled in the halls of a school to watch the ceremony on a projection screen.

"They were cheering they were clapping they were in awe because everything we had talked about, they were able to see," teacher Marta Rendon said. Read reactions of people across the country

Leaders around the world offered their congratulations. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the United States expressed "its resolve to have an open, new, strong and caring America."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Obama is "the hope of our time." Read reactions from across the world

After Obama's address, hundreds of thousands remained on Washington's National Mall as Obama entered the Capitol and signed his first documents as the 44th president of the United States. Among those were his Cabinet nominations. The Senate approved most of those nominations later in the day. Watch Obama's grand entrance »

Obama then lunched with lawmakers at the Capitol's Statuary Hall, telling them, "What's happening today is not about me. It is about the American people."

Later, Obama's motorcade carried him past barricaded crowds along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. He and his family watched the rest of the parade in a reviewing stand outside the White House. The president and first lady then began the rounds of 10 official inaugural balls scheduled over the course of the evening. Read about the first couple dancing the night away »

Many said before the festivities that they did not have tickets and would be happy to catch a mere glimpse of the nation's first African-American president. Some spectators were more than a mile from the swearing-in ceremony, watching on giant TV screens erected along the National Mall.

At St. John's Episcopal Church, where the Obamas kicked off a packed day, 9-year-old Laura Brueggeman waited with her mother, Wendy, and father, Jeff, of Bethesda, Maryland. The affable crowd tried to let shorter onlookers and children to the front for better views.

"I want to see Obama. I think that would be really cool. I could tell all of my friends that I got to see him," the youngster said.

Security was tight in Washington. However, no arrests related to the inauguration were reported as of Tuesday evening, an FBI spokesman said.

The ceremony also drew celebrities like Dustin Hoffman, Denzel Washington and Steven Spielberg.

"It's beyond the dream. We're just here feeling it with the throngs of people. It's amazing grace personified," Oprah Winfrey said, sitting next to actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Obama and congressional leaders formally bade farewell to Bush, and the now-former president took a presidential jet to Midland, Texas, shortly afterward. Watch Obama bid Bush farewell »

As Obama and his wife, Michelle, made their way to the White House, they stepped out of their limousine amid another round of boisterous hoorahs.

The first couple beamed as they walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, waving to the throngs kept back by police barriers. They walked a few blocks before returning to their vehicle to finish the two-mile parade that took them to the White House.

"I have a sneaky suspicion that Barack and Michelle will be out and about on the streets of Washington [during his term]. . You'll see them again," said Tracy Miller, who was watching the Obamas.

After arriving at the White House, Obama and his family watched the rest of the inauguration parade from a reviewing stand. Watch Obamas take in the parade »


Not Inherently a Regulator

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Mr. Obama entered office in January 2009 determined to make his mark by passing bold new laws, not by tinkering with rules. Rahm Emanuel, his first chief of staff, and other top aides mapped out an ambitious two-year agenda that included a health care overhaul, new banking laws, a remake of the federal student loan program, infrastructure spending and stricter limits on pollution.

The new president had a skeptical streak when it came to the value of regulation, influenced by his friend Cass R. Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor who had long argued that the government should more rigorously assess the benefits of new regulations. Mr. Obama liked that idea so much that he named Mr. Sunstein to lead the White House office that oversees rule-making.

“The president is not somebody who is intuitively or inherently a regulator,” said Howard Shelanski, who followed Mr. Sunstein in that role in mid-2013. He said Mr. Obama conveyed a simple message: “‘If we can get a good result without regulating, let’s do that.’”

But after eight years of a Republican administration, many Democrats were eager for the government to lean more forcefully on the levers of regulatory power, and officials within the federal bureaucracy felt emboldened.

The White House did resist some ideas. It shut down efforts by Lisa Jackson, Mr. Obama’s first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to increase the regulation of ozone, a decision that environmentalists viewed as a betrayal.

But other rules were allowed to proceed. Kate Hanni, an advocate from Napa, Calif., for the rights of airline passengers, had tried for years to persuade the government to address a series of incidents in which flight delays left passengers trapped for hours on planes that had already left the gate, often in cabins with stinking toilets, weak air-conditioning and no food. The Bush administration put Ms. Hanni on a task force consisting mostly of airline executives, which concluded in the fall of 2008 — over her forceful and repeated objections — that the public was best served by allowing the airlines to make their own decisions.

Weeks after the task force released its report, Ms. Hanni was invited to Washington in December 2008 to meet with Robert S. Rivkin, the head of Mr. Obama’s transportation transition team. Democrats in Congress had introduced legislation to address the issue, but Mr. Rivkin asked Ms. Hanni if she would support new regulations instead. She would back anything enforceable, Ms. Hanni said.

Over the course of the next nine months, Mr. Rivkin and his team of career regulators at the Department of Transportation developed rules prohibiting planes loaded with passengers from sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours.

In meetings with Ray LaHood, Mr. Obama’s first transportation secretary, and his staff, airline representatives argued for flexibility, saying rigid timelines would only increase flight cancellations. They chafed at the regulators’ willingness to see the benefits but not the costs.

Sharon L. Pinkerton, an executive at Airlines for America, the industry’s main trade group, recalled Transportation Department regulators suggesting that “unquantifiable, unidentifiable benefits” would “outweigh the costs” of new rules for the airlines.

“What are we supposed to do with that?” she asked later in an interview.

But Mr. LaHood had himself experienced long waits on the runway during frequent trips home to Illinois. Just days before Christmas in 2009, he announced a Passenger Bill of Rights, which for the first time levied fines of up to $27,500 per passenger on airlines that leave domestic flights stranded for more than three hours. He challenged the major carriers to provide their service “in a way that is halfway convenient” for their customers.

His department, Mr. LaHood said in a recent interview, had a new sense of purpose, independent of any specific directive from the White House.

“They had other fish to fry,” Mr. LaHood said of senior officials at the White House. “We didn’t want to wait around for Congress to take five, 10 years to do this. We could do this by rule and regulation, so we were pretty much off to the races.”

Other agencies were moving too. Em seu segundo ano, os burocratas trabalhando em todo o governo concluíram 96 regras principais, mais do que em qualquer ano subsequente.


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