The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is creating a “Disinformation Governance Board” to control narratives combat whatever they deem ‘misinformation’ before the 2022 midterms and beyond.
According to Politico, the new entity will focus on “misinformation related to homeland security, focused specifically on irregular migration and Russia.”
It will be headed by Nina Jankowicz, who previously served as a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, and advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry as part of the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. She also oversaw the Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute.
Jankowicz has written two books, How to Lose the Information War and How to Be A Woman Online. In a pinned tweet pimping her newly released second book, Jankowiz lets her inner misandry loose and writes, “Men ‘burst violently into your mentions and your life like the Kool-aid man, demanding your attention, hawking opinions that they believe are unarguably, manifestly correct and indispensable.’”
As a thought experiment – what do you think the “Disinformation Governance Board” would have done with the Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 US election – which Democratic politicians and dozens of former intelligence officials swore had “all the hallmarks” of a Russian disinformation campaign – a claim which turned out to be misinformation itself?
As President Biden prepares to take the stage at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, his limited accessibility to the media has come into focus.
In his first year, Biden held half as many news conferences as former President Trump, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California. Trump also frequently spoke with the press impromptu before entering Marine One, something Biden does not do as often. Biden has held two solo news conferences so far this year, one in Washington and the other in Brussels.
Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” interviewed Steven Portnoy, president of the White House Correspondents Association, about this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner and mentioned that Biden isn’t always as accessible to the press compared to his predecessor.
“The mission of the association continues to be to advocate for reporters to be able to have those interactions with the president on behalf of the public, readers, viewers, listeners,” said Portnoy, who leads the organization hosting the event.
Portnoy also said his remarks at the dinner will be “deadly serious,” given the number of journalists killed while covering the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have said they would like to see Biden come to Ukraine to see the dire situation up close. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Ukraine and met Zelensky over the weekend. Biden hasn’t announced plans to meet in-person with Zelensky.
Amid the calls for Biden to visit Ukraine during the Russian invasion, the president recently announced that he is participating in the White House Correspondents Dinner after 4 years of former President Donald Trump skipping the gathering.
Biden is set to deliver a comedy routine rather than a formal speech, similar to the performances of past presidents at the infamous dinner. Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, is the dinner’s featured entertainer.
The main purpose of the gathering is to award scholarships to aspiring journalists and recognize the achievements of the working press covering the White House. Networks reserve tables for the dinner and often invite celebrities as guests. For example, reality TV star Kim Kardashian and her boyfriend, comedian Pete Davidson of Saturday Night Live, are expected to attend this year’s dinner.
The event is estimated to draw about 2,600 people. The most recent comparable large-scale high-profile gathering in Washington was the Gridiron Dinner, which led to over 70 COVID positive cases, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams encouraged the Washington establishment to learn from the results of the “superspreader” Gridiron Dinner, arguing that “mass gatherings that lead to mass infections cannot become our ‘new normal.'”
Organizers of the Correspondents’ Dinner are requiring a same-day negative COVID test to attend, according to Portnoy. Currently, Biden and other cabinet officials are often seen wearing masks even though indoor mask mandates have been lifted in the Washington D.C. area. The White House Correspondents Association hasn’t said if they are going to require dinner attendees to wear masks indoors at the event.
American dissidents of all stripes are ablaze with anger after The Washington Post’s most repugnant reporter, Taylor Lorenz, published yet another piece trying to ruin someone more popular than her.
Taylor Lorenz, a Washington Post columnist, wrote a Tuesday article titled, “Meet the woman behind Libs of TikTok, secretly fueling the right’s outrage machine,” revealing the identity of the user who had intended to remain anonymous. The piece linked the user’s real estate page listing her full name and home address, which the outlet later removed.
The account, which nearly has 700,000 followers, posts TikTok videos of liberals in order to spark a reaction among conservative audiences.
Lorenz reportedly contacted Libs of TikTok early Tuesday telling the account they are “being implicated as a hate campaign against LGBTQ people,” the account said. [Daily Caller]
For those not paying attention, the blazing hot Libs of TikTok account simply finds TikTok videos wherein crazed liberals and LGBTQ-ers, many of them teachers of innocent children, unabashedly reveal their deviant grooming agenda for public consumption.
Few people are more repugnant than Taylor Lorenz, who once falsely accused billionaire Marc Andreeson of using the “r-slur” in a Clubhouse room, and whose age is humorously difficult to pin down. Mere weeks ago, Lorenz had a meltdown over “online harassment” in an interview with MSNBC, then pressured the channel into deleting the interview.
Lorenz may be repulsive, to say the least. She certainly courted, assiduously, all the hatred coming her way. But there is a bigger story here. This incident is a case study in how the ruling regime uses cutout “NGOs” and “hackers” to target dissidents for annihilation. It wasn’t Taylor Lorenz who doxed Libs of TikTok. Lorenz is a used-up cocktail waitress for the regime. She’s far too talentless to achieve such a feat. Instead, it was a motley crew of regime actors.
The original doxer of the woman behind Libs of TikTok was an Antifa Twitter user named @karmaonesixone who gloated last weekend about using sleuth work to uncover the account’s original tweets and name.
Another Twitter user, Travis Brown, promoted and confirmed @karmaonesixone’s work, then went on to unearth and reveal even more information about the woman behind LibsofTikTok.
In the Washington Post, Taylor Lorenz herself credits Brown for confirming Libs Of TikTok’s identity.
On Saturday, software developer Travis Brown (who is working on a project with support from Prototype Fund, an organization that backs open-source projects) unearthed the account’s Twitter history and posted a thread detailing information about its profile changes.
Who is Travis Brown? In essence, a man paid by the German government to target, dox, and harass the international left’s ideological enemies.
Brown is the creator of the so-called “Hate Speech Tracker,” a program whose explicit purpose is to aid Antifa extremists in tracking and archiving statements by its enemies, and find “connections” between them to aid in doxxing.
WHAT SOCIETAL CHALLENGE DOES YOUR PROTOTYPE ADDRESS?
Many right-wing extremist movements are currently developing on social media, e.g. B. GamerGate, conspiracy theory movements like QAnon and militant movements like the Proud Boys in the USA. Members of these movements often delete their content, change their username, and get banned (often temporarily) from social media platforms. This makes it harder to resist their actions. For example, prominent far-right accounts on Twitter and Facebook have developed a well-documented pattern of distributing controversial and extremist content to their followers and then deleting it before moderators have a chance to respond. This is how they radicalize their audience while minimizing the risk of their platforms losing funding or moderate supporters. Archiving is an important element in counteracting this behavior and in many cases has led to prominent victories against the extreme right.
The Hate Speech Tracker is a set of composable software tools that enable people affected by harassment and hate speech on social media to record and share information about their experiences. Blacklists for Twitter and other social media platforms can be commented on and shared privately, connections between extremist-run accounts can be identified and cases of hate speech can be archived.
WHO IS YOUR TOOL AIMED AT?
The early versions of this project were mainly used by anti-fascist researchers and organizations. Although these specialists represent the primary user group of the project, the tools should also be available to a broader, less specialized user base.
“As such, we prohibit the use of Twitter data in any way that would be inconsistent with people’s reasonable expectations of privacy. By building on the Twitter API or accessing Twitter Content, you have a special role to play in safeguarding this commitment, most importantly by respecting people’s privacy and providing them with transparency and control over how their data is used.”
“We want people to feel comfortable to create a separate and, if they choose, pseudonymous identity on Twitter. If you intend to associate any information about a Twitter user with an off-Twitter identifier, we require that you get express, opt-in consent from the user before making the association.
For example, you could get this consent if the user shares their Twitter handle directly with you as part of a signup process for your service. In situations in which you do not have a user’s express, opt-in consent to link their Twitter identity to an off-Twitter identifier, we require that any connection you draw be based only on information that a user would reasonably expect to be used for that purpose. If a user would be surprised to learn that you are using information they provided to link their Twitter account to an identity off of Twitter, don’t do it.”
Brown also openly admits to using certain tactics on Twitter that “probably” violate the ToS.
This isn’t some one-off fluke. Much like Brandy Zadrozny, whom Revolver profiled in 2020, Travis Brown exists as a small part of a much larger ecosystem.
Brown’s doxxing operation isn’t an independent venture. He is backed by the Prototype Fund, a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, an “independent not-for-profit organization.” The notion that the foundation is “independent” is, of course, a lie. OKFG receives funding directly from the the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
In other words, the German government directly financed the doxing of Libs Of TikTok and Taylor Lorenz’s calculated attempt on behalf of the Washington Post to destroy her life.
Prototype, by the way, doesn’t just fund doxing operations. It funds the mass arrival of “asylum-seekers” into Europe.
It backs the perpetual post-2016 campaign against “fake news.”
Is there something about “trans voices”? You bet there’s something about trans voices!
The same organization that paid to dox Libs Of TikTok is also paying to teach male-to-female transgenders how not to sound like Barry White.
Prototype doesn’t limit itself to online flame wars. It also takes an interest in real wars, funding an archive to gather alleged eyewitness reports of atrocities in the Syrian Civil War.
“Syrian Archive” acts vague about what position it takes on the war, but its website leaves no room for doubt: This is an organization that exists to blame Bashar Assad, and by extension Russia, for chemical attacks (chemical attacks that in at least one case turned out to be a hoax). In fact, its anti-Russia orientation is so obvious that in the last few weeks it has pivoted to warning about imminent chemical attacks in Ukraine:
The same German government-backed organization that is targeting political dissidents in the West is also funding the transgender mania and the foreign policy priorities of the Western elite. In many ways, Prototype resembles Bellingcat—an “NGO” funded by the United Kingdom that played a key role in amplifying the Russia collusion narrative, targets “far-right” domestic dissidents, and promoted the Syria gas attack hoax. In 2021, The Grayzone revealed that Bellingcat took UK intelligence money to run overseas influence operations intended to “weaken Russia.”
America unsurprisingly loves this tactic as well. In February, the hacker collective Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoS) leaked hacked materials from GiveSendGo that doxed donors to the Canadian trucker convoy. As we previously observed, DDoS is basically a de facto government operation:
In 2020, the Trump Department of Homeland Security claimed that DDoS is a “criminal hacker group.” Despite that, it enjoys IRS non-profit status. DDoS’s high-profile hacks have, almost without exception, targeted domestic dissidents against the regime, or its international enemies, rather than the regime itself. Besides doxing every GiveSendGo donor, DDoS’s other targets include Gab, Parler, local police departments, Russia, Myanmar, and right-wing chat groups online.
So much for speaking truth to power. By all accounts, DDoS speaks power to truth.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, DDoS’s leader is the “chronically ill” “they/she” transgender freak show Emma Best. DDoS almost certainly works hand in hand with serious criminals, if it is not an outright criminal organization itself. Yet nobody is shutting down financial support for DDoS or seizing its assets. While Julian Assange awaits trial and, in all likelihood, life in prison for embarrassing the security state and the Hillary Clinton campaign, “Emma” Best (they/she) faces no serious efforts to stop his activities whatsoever. And why would he? He is among the most heroic tranissaries rendering an invaluable service to the Globalist American Empire.
The actual hacker who claims credit for hacking GiveSendGo is Aubrey Cottle, who is the co-founder of the old “Anonymous” hacking collective.
In late February, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hillary Clinton called for Anonymous and other hacker groups to launch more cyberattacks on Russia. Does anybody think for even a moment that the CIA and other agencies aren’t “encouraging” such behavior behind the scenes?
This isn’t a new idea. Back in 2013, Anonymous carried out operations against the Assad government in Syria.
So, what’s the takeaway from all this? When you see such “hacker groups” operate, they are not operating independently. They exist within an ecosystem where regime stakeholders can use cut-outs to do their dirty work. During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the merc–, ahem, private military contractor Blackwater served a similar function for combat zones: Flexibility and plausible deniability. Now, the same goes for civil society. Nominally, the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of its allies protect freedom of speech, and the government explicitly doxing its own citizens for dissent is unlikely to be popular. Rather than have government employees directly target dissidents (which does happen on occasion), it is much easier to quietly enable cutout “civil society organizations,” NGOs, and more — all funded by government yet insulated from any kind of accountability — to do the dirty work.
The Lorenz dox job exposes how this ecology operates. This is not simply the story of a deranged attention whore who went too far. This is a story of how the new Stasi operates: Energy flows from governments, to non-profits, to hackers, and finally to aged out journalists publishing hit pieces on dissidents in Jeff Bezos’s paper of record.
By understanding this system, it becomes possible to stop it. The most obvious fix is the most blunt: Break off the billions in government funding that enable these shadow operations of left-wing radicalism. But that isn’t the only fix. Revolver will further explore this NGO ecosystem in the weeks and months to come. Stay tuned.
Attorney generals from 21 states have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration seeking to end the mandatory mask mandate for airlines.
In the suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the attorneys general argue that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which established the mask policy, has overstepped its statutory authority and is also acting in violation of state laws that require notice and public comment periods regarding such regulations.
In addition, the suit argues that similar mandates and restrictions handed down by the CDC, including the agency’s eviction moratorium as well as shutting down the entire cruise line industry, were previously tossed out by federal courts.
The Biden administration implemented the travel mandate Feb. 1, 2021, shortly after coming into office. It has not been updated since, and no public comment has been allowed on the policy at any point. The CDC and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced an extension of the mandate March 10 until at least April 18, despite the CDC recently relaxing mask guidance and all 50 states ending their indoor mask mandates.
Airplanes remain one of the safest indoor environments an individual can be from an air quality standpoint, due to the hospital-grade air filters used on the overwhelming majority of American commercial flights to recycle air. The U.S. Senate recently voted to end the transportation mask mandate themselves, but the bill faces little prospect of passing a Democrat-controlled House or being signed by President Joe Biden.
All of the 21 Ags are Republicans.
States that have filed suit are: Florida, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The suit states, in part:
The CDC’s mask mandate, Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs, 86 Fed. Reg. 8,025 (Feb. 3, 2021), tracks a similar pattern. It has been seven months since the Supreme Court’s decision in Alabama Association of Realtors II made clear that the CDC cannot issue economywide mask mandates. More recently, even lockdown States like California have announced the end of their mask mandates. Still, the CDC unabashedly leaves its mandate intact.
Faced with a government that displays outright disdain for the limits on its power—especially when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic—Plaintiffs seek vacatur of that mask mandate and a permanent injunction against its enforcement.
Last week, the CEOs of 10 major airlines sent a letter to President Biden demanding that his administration “sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international pre-departure testing requirement and the federal mask mandate.”
The letter was signed by the CEOS for American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, Alaska Airlines, Atlas Air, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and UPS Airlines.
“The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19. Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that ‘COVID-19 need no longer control our lives,’” the CEOs wrote.
“The pre-departure test requirement, imposed to slow the introduction of variants into the U.S., has outlived its utility and stymies the return of international travel,” the letter continued. “ The United Kingdom (UK), the European Union, and Canada have recognized this reality and lifted travel restrictions. The U.S. inconsistency with these practices creates a competitive disadvantage for U.S. travel and tourism by placing an additional cost and burden on travel to the U.S.”
The airline execs took aim directly at the mask mandate.
“The science clearly supports lifting the mask mandate, as demonstrated by the recently released CDC framework indicating that 99 percent of the U.S. population no longer need to wear masks indoors,” the CEOs said.
The White House on Wednesday formally asked Congress to vote on $10 billion in humanitarian, economic and security aid for Ukraine and Central European allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to The Hill.
“Given the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine, I anticipate that additional needs may arise over time,” wrote Office of Management and Budget acting director Shalinda Young in a Thursday letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, adding that she also anticipates “additional funding will be needed to support the covid-19 response” as well.
“This funding request is based on the Administration’s best information on resource requirements at this time, and we will remain in touch with the Congress in the coming weeks and months as we assess resource requirements beyond these immediate needs.”
The funding request includes assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defenses, as well as protect its electrical grid from disruption.
Originally, the Biden administration asked for $6.4 billion for Ukraine in order to boost programs at the State Department and Pentagon in response to the crisis. The figure quickly ballooned to $10 billion (or roughly one border wall) so the US can help train Ukraine’s military, provide food and humanitarian aid, and boost cybersecurity defenses, among other things.
The funding would also help enforce Biden’s recent actions against Russia – including $659 million for a task force to enforce sanctions on Russian oligarchs who have evaded them. $91 million would go to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which can chase offshore companies and trusts.
According to Young, the funds should be authorized as part of an appropriations bill that Congress is expected to approve before a March 11 government funding deadline.
An additional $22.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds was also requested.
Lawmakers have been scrambling to hammer out a widely sought and repeatedly delayed long-term deal to fund the government. While talks have progressed, disagreements remain, according to the Washington Post.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a “snag” in talks over Ukraine assistance, attacking Democrats for trying to source the money from sums they already planned to apportion for the Pentagon. A day later, dozens of Republicans questioned whether additional coronavirus aid is necessary, arguing that the Biden administration has not fully accounted for existing spending, including the $1.9 trillion package adopted last year. -WaPo
While lawmakers have eight days to finalize emergency spending measures and come up with a broader government deal, they can also buy themselves time with yet another stopgap.
Without the funds, Young warned of significant consequences – including a “constrained” Pentagon and several agencies which would be prevented from carrying out efforts to combat Covid-19 (faster than it’s already disappearing on its own?).
Another Sunday, and Biden’s national security adviser is at it again making the rounds on the big network news shows, warning the Russian invasion will invade Ukraine “any day now” – at this point a familiar refrain we’ve heard for multiple weeks running…
“We cannot perfectly predict the day, but we have now been saying for some time that we are in the window, and an invasion could begin, a major military action could begin by Russia in Ukraine any day now — that includes this coming week, before the end of the Olympics,” Jake Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
This latest round of breathless White House proclamations and predictions of the Russians are coming! began in earnest Friday afternoon when the administration told reporters that Putin has made the decision to launch a large military offensive.
Multiple countries have now followed Washington’s lead in drawing down embassy and diplomatic staff from Ukraine to get people “out of harm’s way” – with the latest over the weekend being Australia. This is what the alarmism and panic emanating from the White House has wrought…
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has ordered the evacuation of the Australian embassy in Kyiv, warning the situation in Ukraine has reached a dangerous stage.
Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, says the government has directed the departure of embassy staff to a temporary office in Lviv, with the buildup of Russian troops on the border.
“The situation is deteriorating and is reaching a very dangerous stage,” Morrison said on Sunday.
This is the latest in a growing list of countries withdrawing embassy personnel including Israel, the UK, the Netherlands, Latvia, Japan and South Korea.
But the all-important and central question that’s not being asked is once again: what’s the view from Kiev? What is the Ukrainian government’s reaction to the latest White House statements on the crisis? How about the President of Ukraine himself?
Kiev is not too happy, and is demanding prooffrom US intelligence backing the new dire allegations that Russia is poised to go in:
“There has been too much information about a full-scale war with Russia – even specific dates have been announced. We understand there are risks. If you have any additional information regarding the 100 percent guaranteed invasion of Ukraine by Russia on 16 February, please give it to us,” Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters on Saturday.
Naturally, Ukraine’s leaders are trying to calm the panic which Washington pronouncements and the Western media echo chamber have created…
Zelensky said he did not believe in the danger of a full-scale war at the moment. “I have to speak to the public with real information at hand. We receive information from many sources. We also have an intelligence service. I don’t think that it’s any worse than the intelligence services of other countries,” he noted.
And a fresh report from NBC News taken from the streets of Kiev suggests that many common Ukrainian citizens, too, can see through the hype:
Now, as the West warns a fresh attack is a “distinct possibility” as soon as next week, many in Kyiv aren’t convinced.
“I don’t believe that Russia is going to invade Kyiv. The situation is wound up from both sides,” Oleksandr Bovtach, 55, told NBC News. “The West and Putin are playing each other’s nerves.”
Although some are wary of an invasion, few are preparing for that possibility.
Despite repeated warnings from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the U.S. is driving the rise of tensions at Ukraine’s eastern border, the U.S. Air Force has deployed four B-52 bombers with nuclear capabilities to the U.K., where one official acknowledged that the deployment is at least partially connected to Russia’s recent military activities.
Two B-52 Stratofortress aircrafts arrived at Royal Air Force Fairford on Thursday, with two more following. The bombers integrated with other NATO members’ forces en route to Fairford, according to the Air Force, including “British Typhoon aircraft and Portuguese F-16s currently assigned to NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing mission.”
The U.S. military downplayed the deployment, saying it was a “long-planned Bomber Task Force mission,” but one U.K. defense source told The Telegraph, “Is this aligned to current tensions? Yes and no.”
According to The Telegraph, a former British intelligence official noted that the Pentagon could launch air strikes from Fairford as it has before.
“From Fairford they could operate against a range of targets: troop concentrations in southern Russia and Belarus, Moscow/St. Petersburg, even the naval bases in the White Sea,” the former official told the outlet. “In 1991 they hit Baghdad from Fairford, flew on to Diego Garcia, refueled and rearmed, bombed Baghdad again on the way back, and returned to Fairford.”
The bombers sent from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota are capable of carrying precision-guided and nuclear weapons.
As the bombers arrived in the U.K., President Joe Biden warned in an interview with NBC News that American citizens in Ukraine and Russia should leave immediately while the U.S. State Department issued a notice that it would not be able to evacuate Americans in the event of military action by Russia.
“We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world,” Biden told Lester Holt. “Things could go crazy quickly.”
“That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another,” the president added.
The U.S. has claimed Russia is poised to potentially launch an invasion of Ukraine, with tanks reaching Kyiv within 48 hours of beginning an attack at the border.
Russia’s military has been conducting exercises near the border for two days after having assembled troops there in recent months. Russian officials deny having plans to attack Ukraine and have called on the U.S. to guarantee that Ukraine, a former Soviet state, will not be permitted to join NATO and for the alliance to withdraw troops from Eastern European countries, as well as other security assurances. The U.S. has rejected those demands.
In addition to the B-52 bombers, the U.S. is deploying 1,700 troops to Poland, while British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace arrived in Moscow Friday for diplomatic talks.
In discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on Russian to pull back its military presence at the Ukrainian border and de-escalate the situation.
“You first have to prove to me that we are the ones who created this tense situation,” Lavrov said. “The West is trying to make a tragedy out of this, while, increasingly, it’s similar to a comedy.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters Friday that negotiations with the West are ongoing and that he will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron in the coming days for further diplomatic talks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that it may be time to rebrand the failed “Build Back Better” legislation by, among other things, renaming it, adding that President Joe Biden appears to be “open” to the idea.
“Sure,” she responded when asked if a name change was a possibility during her daily press conference.
The $1.8 trillion legislation, which the administration pushed for months last year, died after the president himself failed to convince two members of his own party to sign off on it. And while Manchin has signaled that he is open to discussing aspects of the measure, he recently declared the bill “dead” as a package.
While Manchin opposed the legislation from the outset, he nevertheless remained open to discussing it until December, when reports said he angrily denounced the legislation and the administration after Biden and Democratic leaders began attacking him when he would not hop on board.
White House staff had given Manchin a heads-up on Thursday that the president was soon to put out a statement accepting a delay in the Build Back Better Act and that it was going to mention the West Virginia senator by name. Manchin objected, asking that either his name be left out or that he not be alone because his family had already been the target of abuse and he didn’t want to be singled out.
But the statement went out anyway, and contained only Manchin’s name. The senator then snapped at White House aides and told them that he was done negotiating. The West Wing interpreted that as meaning that current talks were done but could pick up again next year.
But Manchin meant that he was totally walking away — which he said publicly a few days later on Fox News Sunday, in a move that blindsided and outraged the White House.
The senator appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and dropped the bombshell that he would not support the Build Back Better plan.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there” he said to host Bret Baier who was on after former host Chris Wallace stepped away from the show last week.
“You’re done – this is a no,” the host said.
“This is a no, on this legislation,” the senator said. “I have tried everything I know to do.”
“This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with. He knows I’ve had concerns and the problems I’ve had and, you know, the thing that we should all be directing our attention towards the variant, a Covid that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects in different ways, it’s affecting our lives again,” he said.
Asked about the legislation again last week by a reporter, Manchin snapped: “What Build Back Better bill? It’s dead.”
In a column posted to the American Enterprise Institute website, senior fellow Marc A. Thiessen put the onus for the bill’s failure directly on Biden’s refusal to consider any Republican negotiating points, preferring to try and go it alone with just a thin Democrat majority in the Senate:
In June, after Republicans and Democrats reached agreement on an infrastructure framework, Biden threatened to veto the deal if Congress did not first pass his massive Democrat-only Build Back Better social spending bill. Then, he issued an extraordinary eight-paragraph statement walking back his veto threat, promising not to link the two bills. Then he broke his word and urged members of his own party to take the infrastructure bill hostage as leverage to pass Build Back Better.
Biden blames Republicans for his failure to pass Build Back Better. But what killed that bill was his failure to compromise with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and other like-minded Democratic lawmakers. Manchin explained the reason he decided to oppose the bill is that “it hasn’t shrunk.” Biden won’t compromise with his own party’s moderates, much less Republicans.
A major special forces raid believed part of a mission to kill or capture terrorists happened overnight in al-Qaeda held Idlib province of northwest Syria. Eyewitnesses observed helicopter gunships and jets active in the area of the village of Atmeh near the Turkish border for over two hours, including gunfire on the ground, in what’s being called the biggest such raid since the 2019 killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Despite Pentagon spokesman John Kirby hailing the mission as “successful” in an early Thursday statement, citing “no US casualties” – already international reports are saying multiple civilians were killed in what’s already looking like a botched raid.
“U.S. special forces carried out what the Pentagon said was a large-scale counterterrorism raid in northwestern Syria early Thursday. First responders at the scene reported 13 people were killed, including six children and four women,” The Associated Press reports.
“Residents said helicopters flew overhead and U.S. forces clashed with gunmen for more than two hours around a two-story house surrounded by olive trees,” AP detailes. “They described continuous gunfire and explosions that jolted the sleepy village of Atmeh near the Turkish border, an area dotted with camps for internally displaced people from Syria’s civil war.”
Initially there was speculation that it could be connected with last month’s large-scale ISIS prison break from a Kurdish SDF guarded facility in northeast Hasakeh province. It led to over 120 US-backed SDF members killed after two weeks of running battles in the area of the prison, with possibly a few hundred ISIS terrorists having escaped.
As soon as last night’s Idlib operation commenced, it involved overwhelming American firepower, but with reports of resistance from militants on the ground. “A journalist on assignment for The Associated Press and several residents said they saw body parts scattered near the site of the raid, a house in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province,” AP continues.
An Iraqi intelligence official in contact with the U.S.-led coalition said Thursday’s target was a high-ranking militant leader whose identity will be released by the White House later in the day. Information suggests he may be al-Baghdadi’s successor, the current IS leader known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the official added. He spoke on condition of anonymity to divulge sensitive information.
A subsequent White House statement early Thursday confirmed the target was the head of ISIS, namly the aforementioned Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi:
Biden’s statement says the Islamic State commander has been “taken off the battlefield” – presumably killed. But that many civilians were slaughtered in the process will be a major area of scrutiny as the administration attempts to cast this as a “successful mission”.
It proves further embarrassing for Turkey, given it directly backs the main Islamist factions in Idlib, which has become a terror safe-haven. It must also be recalled that the CIA and allied intelligence servicesactually helped Islamic fighters – included al-Qaeda in Syria – capture Idlib from Syrian government forces in the first place in 2015.
Video began emerging in the overnight hours confirming that a major US operation was underway, reportedly involving elite Delta Force commandos…
Local journalists and monitors who reportedly visited the location of the raid observed the following: “The top floor of the house was almost totally destroyed in Thursday’s raid, with the ceiling and walls knocked out.” Some photographs of the aftermath have been published to Al Jazeera.
“Blood could be seen on the walls and floor of the remaining structure, which contained a wrecked bedroom with a child’s wooden crib on the floor,” the AP report notes. “On one damaged wall, a blue plastic children’s swing was still hanging. The kitchen was blackened with fire damage.”
“As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.” -Hunter Thompson