This is your weekly intelligence briefing. We’ll gather the headlines each week, put a little context to them, link to further reading, and pass along to you so you can sound smarter at parties.
A Quick Note to Our Readers:
These weekly briefings have taken a distinctly political tone. This was not our intention when launching the site, nor is it our intention to focus solely on political matters. However, given the current state of affairs in the Federal Government, the most important news of the week continues to come from Washington. Our goal is to provide information in a clear way, and to highlight not only the most important news of the week, but also things our readers may have missed.
With that said, the actions taken by the Trump Administration this week are certainly worthy of our, and your, full attention. Their actions cannot be overlooked, and as such, the entirety of this piece will focus on these actions. Thank you for your understanding. We sincerely hope that in the near future we’ll be able to focus on a broader spectrum of ideas, and not have to keep reporting on the tyranny that is infesting the United States Government.
The Trump Administration’s Ban On Muslims
On Friday January 27th the President signed an executive order effectively banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the United States. The ban prevents citizens of any of the seven countries from entering the U.S. for next 90 days, including refugees, students and permanent U.S. residents with green cards. While the initial proposal put forth by the Department of Homeland Security did not include green card holders, it was later overwritten by Steve Bannon, the President’s Chief Strategist. The order does give preference to Christian refugees from the affected countries.
Travelers were stopped at airports across the globe and were denied entry into the U.S. Students, permanent residents of the U.S. and more were detained in airports throughout the U.S. One of the affected travelers was an Iraqi translator who worked with the U.S. government and troops in Iraq. Another detainee was a five year old boy, who was held for hours before being released to his parents.
Protests ensued at many major U.S. airports, including JFK and Dulles International, where lawyers gathered, working pro bono on a Saturday night, to help those who had been detained. Legal efforts were led by the ACLU, who were granted a stay by a federal judge in Brooklyn, barring officials from sending detainees back to their home countries. The courts did not make a decision on the legality of the executive order, and does not require officials to release the detainees into the U.S.
The order has triggered negative reactions across the globe, including from those in the intelligence community and the United States’ allies in the Middle East. Foreign intelligence officers have questioned the order, noting that delicate foreign policy allegiances will be upended by the decision. Iraqi lawmakers are pushing for their government to retaliate with a ban on U.S. citizens, while Iranian Shiite Militias who are helping fight the Sunni-backed Islamic State, have called for American citizens to be removed from their country.
Experts have pointed out that, of the Terrorist acts committed on U.S. soil since 9/11, none have come from the countries listed in the ban.
Every terror attack on U.S. soil has been carried out by U.S. citizens or legal residents.
Trump Drops Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence; Gives Breitbart Seat at Table
Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council this week, giving Chief Strategist Steve Bannon a permanent seat at the table, and making the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Direct of National Intelligence optional attendees. The NSC is the President’s principal forum for matters of national security and foreign policy. The decision to give Bannon a permanent seat at the table has come under harsh criticism from those in the national security community.
The Joint Chiefs and Director of National Intelligence will now only attend meetings that pertain directly to their areas of focus. The decision making process to determine who will be invited to meetings remains unclear. This move leaves Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, and General Michael Flynn, Trumps National Security Advisor, as his two top aides in national security decision making. Flynn has a checkered military past, including perpetuating half-truths and conspiracy theories.
Bannon became infamous for a whole host of reasons, all centered around his overt racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. He recently came under fire for asserting that the media “Should keep its mouth shut”. No one in the Trump Administration appears to have Trump’s ear more so than Bannon, whose former publication is a far-right website the traffics in conspiracy theories and unapologetically racist themes.
Hashtag Activism Gets Results, Sort Of
The hashtag #DeleteUber surged to a trending spot on Twitter Saturday night as protestors showed disdain for the company’s decision to continue operating at JFK International Airport while taxi companies were striking in solidarity with those affected by the Muslim ban. Tweeters encouraged others to delete Uber in favor of its top ride-sharing competitor, Lyft, who also continued to operate Saturday night. Both companies removed their surge pricing feature, which makes rides more expensive when demand exceeds the supply of available drivers.
It’s unclear if protestors were aware of Lyft’s decision to continue operating at JFK, but the anti-Uber stance runs deeper than just Saturday night’s events. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is a member of President Trump’s economic advisory council, and has pledged to work with Trump on matters of economic importance.
Lyft CEO Logan Green seized on the opportunity created by Uber. Lyft announced it would donate $1 million to the ACLU. This is not Uber’s first dance with public outrage, as the company has made a habit of digging itself out of PR nightmares since its creation.