en New Declassified CIA Memo Presents Blueprint for Syrian Regime Collapse <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Brad Hoff via The Libertarian Institute,</em></a></p> <p><em><a href=""><img height="352" src="" width="600" /></a></em></p> <p><strong>A&nbsp;newly declassified CIA document explored&nbsp;multiple scenarios of Syrian&nbsp;regime collapse at a time when Hafez al-Assad&rsquo;s government was&nbsp;embroiled in a covert &ldquo;dirty war&rdquo; with Israel and the West</strong>, and&nbsp;in the midst of a&nbsp;diplomatic crisis which marked an&nbsp;unprecedented level of isolation for Syria.</p> <p><strong>The&nbsp;24-page formerly classified memo entitled <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change</em></a>&nbsp;was produced in July 1986, and had high level distribution within the Reagan administration and to agency directors</strong>, including presidential advisers, the National Security Council, and the US ambassador to Syria. The memo appears in the CIA&rsquo;s latest <a href="" target="_blank">CREST release</a> (CIA Records Search Tool) of&nbsp;over 900,000 recently declassified documents.</p> <h4><u><strong>A &ldquo;severely restricted&rdquo; report</strong></u></h4> <p>The memo&rsquo;s cover letter, drafted by the CIA&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">Director of Global Issues</a> (the&nbsp;report itself was prepared by the division&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Foreign Subversion and Instability Center</em>), introduces the purpose of presenting <strong>&ldquo;a number of possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Assad or other dramatic change in Syria.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>It further curiously warns that, &ldquo;Because the analysis out of context is susceptible to misunderstanding, external distribution has been severely restricted.&rdquo; The report&rsquo;s narrowed distribution list (sent to specific named national security&nbsp;heads, not entire agencies) indicates that it was considered at the highest levels of the Reagan administration.</p> <h4><u><strong>The coming sectarian war for Syria</strong></u></h4> <p>The intelligence report&rsquo;s contents contain some striking passages which seem remarkably consistent with events as they unfolded decades later at the start of the Syrian war in 2011:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Although we judge that fear of reprisals and organizational problems make a second Sunni challenge unlikely, an excessive government reaction to minor outbreaks of Sunni dissidence might trigger large-scale unrest. In most instances the regime would have the resources to crush a Sunni opposition movement, but we believe widespread violence among the populace could stimulate large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or munity, setting the stage for civil war. </em><a href="" target="_blank">[pg.2]</a></p> </blockquote> <p>The &ldquo;second Sunni challenge&rdquo; is a reference to the Syrian government&rsquo;s prior long running war against&nbsp;a Muslim Brotherhood insurgency which culminated in the 1982 Hama Massacre. While downplaying the nationalist and pluralistic&nbsp;composition of the ruling Ba&rsquo;ath party, the report envisions a renewal and exploitation of sectarian&nbsp;fault lines&nbsp;pitting Syria&rsquo;s Sunni population against its Alawite leadership:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Sunnis make up 60 percent of the Syrian officer corps but are concentrated in junior officer ranks; enlisted men are predominantly Sunni conscripts. We believe that a renewal of communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis could inspire Sunnis in the military to turn against the regime. </em><a href="" target="_blank">[pg.12]</a></p> </blockquote> <h4><u><strong>Regime change and the Muslim Brotherhood</strong></u></h4> <p>The possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood&nbsp;spearheading another future armed insurgency leading to regime change&nbsp;is given extensive focus.&nbsp;While the document&rsquo;s tone&nbsp;suggests this as&nbsp;a long term future scenario (especially considering the Brotherhood suffered overwhelming defeat and went completely underground in Syria&nbsp;by the mid-1980&rsquo;s), it is considered one of the top three&nbsp;&ldquo;most likely&rdquo; drivers of regime change (the other scenarios include &ldquo;Succession Power Struggle&rdquo; and &ldquo;Military Reverses Spark a Coup&rdquo;).</p> <p><strong>The potential for revival of&nbsp;the Muslim Brotherhood&rsquo;s &ldquo;militant faction&rdquo; is&nbsp;introduced in the following</strong>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Although the Muslim Brotherhood&rsquo;s suppression drastically reduced armed dissidence, we judge a significant potential still exists for another Sunni opposition movement. In part the Brotherhood&rsquo;s role was to exploit and orchestrate opposition activity by other organized groups&hellip; These groups still exist, and under proper leadership they could coalesce into a large movement&hellip; &hellip;young professionals who formed the base of support for the militant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood; and remnants of the Brotherhood itself who could become leaders in a new Sunni opposition movement&hellip; </em><a href="" target="_blank">[pp.13-14]</a></p> </blockquote> <p>The Brotherhood&rsquo;s role is seen as escalating the potential for initially small Sunni protest movements to morph into violent sectarian civil war:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain&ndash;keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence&hellip; Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups&hellip;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Mistaking the new protests as a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government would step up its use of force and launch violent attacks on a broad spectrum of Sunni community leaders as well as on those engaged in protests. Regime efforts to restore order would founder if government violence against protestors inspired broad-based communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis. </em><a href="" target="_blank">[pp.19-20]</a></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The CIA report describes&nbsp;the final phase of&nbsp;an evolving sectarian war which witnesses the influx of fighters and weapons from neighboring countries.</strong>&nbsp;Consistent with a <a href="" target="_blank">1983 secret report</a> that called for a US covert operation to utilize then US-allied Iraq as a base of attack on Syria, the 1986 analysis says, &ldquo;Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war&rdquo;:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>A general campaign of Alawi violence against Sunnis might push even moderate Sunnis to join the opposition. Remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood&ndash;some returning from exile in Iraq&ndash;could provide a core of leadership for the movement. Although the regime has the resources to crush such a venture, we believe brutal attacks on Sunni civilians might prompt large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or stage mutinies in support of dissidents, and Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war.</em> <a href="" target="_blank">[pp.20-21]</a></p> </blockquote> <h4><u><strong>A Sunni regime serving Western economic interests</strong></u></h4> <p><strong>While the document is primarily a theoretical exploration projecting scenarios of Syrian regime weakening and collapse (its purpose&nbsp;is analysis and&nbsp;not necessarily policy), the authors admit of its &ldquo;purposefully provocative&rdquo; nature (see <a href="" target="_blank">PREFACE</a>) and closes with a list desired outcomes. </strong>One provocative outcome describes a pliant &ldquo;Sunni regime&rdquo; serving US economic interests:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>In our view, US interests would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates. Business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria&rsquo;s private economy, thus opening the way for stronger ties to Western governments.</em> <a href="" target="_blank">[pg. 24]</a></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Ironically, the Syrian government would accuse the United States and its allies of covert subversion within Syria after a string of domestic bombings created diplomatic tensions during the mid-1980&rsquo;s.</strong></p> <h4><u><strong>Dirty tricks and diplomacy in the 1980&rsquo;s</strong></u></h4> <p>According to Patrick Seale&rsquo;s landmark book, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East</em></a>, 1986 was a year that marked Syria&rsquo;s greatest isolation among world powers as multiple diplomatic crises and terror events put Syria more and more out in the cold.</p> <p>The year included <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;the Hindawi affair&rdquo;</a><em class="markup--em markup--p-em">&mdash;</em>a Syrian intelligence sponsored attempt to hijack and bomb an El Al flight to Tel Aviv<em class="markup--em markup--p-em">&mdash;</em>and <a href="" target="_blank">may or may not</a> have involved Nezar Hindawi working as a double agent on behalf of Israel. The foiled plot brought down international condemnation on Syria and lives on as one of the more famous and bizarre terror conspiracies in history. Not only were Syria and Israel once again generally on the brink of war in 1986, but a string of &ldquo;dirty tricks&rdquo; tactics were being utilized by Syria and its regional enemies to shape diplomatic outcomes primarily in Lebanon and Jordan.</p> <p>In March and April of 1986 (months prior to the distribution of the CIA memo), <a href="" target="_blank">a string of still largely unexplained car bombs</a> rocked Damascus and at least 5 towns throughout Syria, leaving over 200 civilians dead in the most significant wave of attacks since the earlier &rsquo;79-&rsquo;82 war with the Muslim Brotherhood (also see <a href="" target="_blank">BBC News</a> recount the attacks).</p> <p>Patrick Seale&rsquo;s book speculates of the bombings that,<strong><em> &ldquo;It may not have been unconnected that in late 1985 the NSC&rsquo;s Colonel Oliver North and Amiram Nir, Peres&rsquo;s counter-terrorism expert, set up a dirty tricks outfit to strike back at the alleged sponsors of Middle East terrorism.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <h4><u><strong>Consistency with future WikiLeaks files</strong></u></h4> <p><strong>The casual reader of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change</em></a> will immediately recognize a strategic thinking on Syria that looks much the same as what is revealed in national security memos produced decades later in the run up to the current war in Syria.</strong></p> <p>When US cables or intelligence papers talk <a href="" target="_blank">regime change</a> in Syria they usually strategize in terms of exploiting sectarian fault lines. In a sense, this is the US national security bureaucracy&rsquo;s fall-back approach to Syria.</p> <p>One well-known <a href="" target="_blank">example</a> is contained in a December 2006 State Dept. <a href="" target="_blank">cable</a> sent from the US embassy in Syria (subsequently released by WikiLeaks). The cable&rsquo;s stated purpose is to explore Syrian regime vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exploit (in similar fashion to the 1986 CIA memo):</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Another section of the <a href="" target="_blank">2006 cable</a> explains precisely the same scenario laid out in the 1986 memo in describing the increased &ldquo;possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction&rdquo; on the part of the regime.:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING: The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like [former Vice President Abdul Halim] Khaddam and </em><em>[younger brother of Hafez] </em><em>Rif&rsquo;at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime&rsquo;s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>And ironically, Rif&rsquo;at Asad and Khaddam are both mentioned extensively in the 1986 memo as key players during a speculative future &ldquo;Succession Power Struggle.&rdquo; <a href="" target="_blank">[p.15]</a></p> <h4><u><strong>An Islamic State in Damascus?</strong></u></h4> <p>While the 1986 CIA report makes a case in its concluding paragraph for &ldquo;a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates&rdquo; in Syria, the authors acknowledge that the collapse of the Ba&rsquo;ath state could actually usher in the worst of all possible outcomes for Washington and the region: &ldquo;religious zealots&rdquo; might seek to establish &ldquo;an Islamic Republic&rdquo;. The words take on a new and special importance now, after the rise of ISIS:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Although Syria&rsquo;s secular traditions would make it extremely difficult for religious zealots to establish an Islamic Republic, should they succeed they would likely deepen hostilities with Israel and provide support and sanctuary to terrorists groups. </em><a href="" target="_blank">[pg.24]</a></p> </blockquote> <p><em><u><strong>What continues to unfold in Syria has apparently surpassed even the worst case scenarios of intelligence planners in the 1980&rsquo;s. Tinkering with regime change has proven itself to be the most dangerous of all games.</strong></u></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="687" height="403" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Asia Assad family Ba’ath Central Intelligence Agency Excessive government Foreign Subversion and Instability Center Hafez al-Assad Hafez al-Assad’s government Iraq Israel Libertarian Institute Middle East Middle East Middle East Muslim Brotherhood national security National Security Council Politics Politics of Syria Reagan Administration Saudi Arabia Syria Syrian Civil War Syrian government Syrian intelligence US embassy in Syria War Mon, 27 Feb 2017 04:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 589005 at Maine Drops 9,000 From Food Stamps After Refusal To Comply With Work Requirements <p>Republican Governor Paul LePage dared to begin <strong>enforcing Maine&#39;s volunteer and work requirements for food stamp (SNAP) recipients to keep their benefits</strong>. The end result was <strong><em>more than 9,000 non-disabled adults getting dropped from the program</em></strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img height="321" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><em>As CNS News&#39; Eric Schiener reports, </em></a>a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesman tells the Associated Press that <strong>12,000 non-disabled adults were in Maine&rsquo;s SNAP program before Jan. 1 - a number that dropped to 2,680 by the end of March...</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>The rules prevent adults, who are not disabled and do not have dependents, from receiving food stamps for more than three months unless they work at least 20 hours a week, participate in a work-training program, or meet volunteer guidelines for 24 hours out of the month. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Any one of those three minimums getting met will result in an individual to retain their SNAP food benefits.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said the goal of the requirements is to encourage people to find work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;If you&#39;re on these programs it means you are living in poverty and so the more that we can help incentive people on that pathway to employment and self-sufficiency the better off they&#39;re going to be,&quot; Mayhew told the Associated Press.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>In Maine, once someone loses their benefits, they cannot regain assistance for three years.</strong></p> <p><a href="">Patriot Chronicle points out,</a> in Maine, 9,000 able-bodied people who are supposedly too poor to feed themselves couldn&rsquo;t seem to handle that. In addition, those who lose their benefits in such a manner can&rsquo;t reapply for assistance for three years.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Liberals have sold government dependence so deliberately well, that even doing 24 hours of approved volunteer work a month for a capable adult became too much for more than 9,000 people.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Either the Liberals have truly brain washed the voting masses into droning zombies, or they&rsquo;re really not that needy for food. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Either way, the taxpayers who work hard for their paychecks, can feel some satisfaction at knowing they won&rsquo;t have to support as much mediocrity as they used to.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">As we noted previoulsy,</a> thanks to many years of accelerated growth in the program under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, <strong>1 in 7 Americans now participate in the food stamp program.&nbsp; </strong>There are, however, very <a href="" target="_blank">large differences from state to state</a> in how much the food stamp program has expanded. If we look at growth in the program from the year 2000 to 2015, we find growth varying from 641 percent growth in Nevada, to 54 percent growth in Wyoming:</p> <div class="ds-1col file file-image file-image-png view-mode-wide_player clearfix"> <div class="img img-responsive"><img height="968" src="" width="600" /></div> </div> <p>Regionally, the areas of the country with the <strong>most growth are the South and West:</strong></p> <div class="ds-1col file file-image file-image-jpeg view-mode-wide_player clearfix"> <div class="img img-responsive"><img src="" style="width: 601px; height: 442px;" /></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="250" height="155" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Behavior Department of Health and Human Services Economy of the United States Ethics Federal assistance in the United States Food security in the United States Food stamp Snap Social Issues Stamp Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Volunteering Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 589004 at Citizen Militia Experiences Explosive Growth Following The Last Election <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Daniel Lang via,</em></a></p> <p><em><a href=""><img height="314" src="" width="484" /></a></em></p> <p><strong>Until the 1990&rsquo;s, civilian run volunteer militias weren&rsquo;t all that common in the United States.</strong> They were the fringe of the fringe in our culture. But after Waco and Ruby Ridge, their ranks swelled and they became a common subject in the news and in pop culture.</p> <p>Their numbers fell again under President Bush, and then grew to new heights under President Obama.</p> <p><strong>It&rsquo;s an obvious pattern. </strong>Conservative militias multiply like crazy under Democratic presidents, and for good reason. When Democrats take the reigns of government, they always threaten to restrict gun ownership. They then decline under Republican administrations, when conservatives don&rsquo;t feel as threatened.</p> <p>However, there may be a new trend emerging. CBS Atlanta <a href="">recently did a piece on a militia called the Three Percenter Security Force </a>(which obviously showed them in slightly negative light, given the source).</p> <p><script type='text/javascript' src=';;playerWidth=630;playerHeight=355;isShowIcon=true;clipId=13125889;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=fixed'></script></p><p><a href="" title="CBS46 News">CBS46 News</a></p> <p>The organization is run by Marine Corps veteran Chris Hill, who says that their membership has grown from a few dozen, to roughly 400 members since November.</p> <p><strong>The Marine told CBS that the militia would protect the Second Amendment under any administration, and that &ldquo;The government or law enforcement agencies, disarming people, it&rsquo;s a constant threat.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>That doesn&rsquo;t sound very different from the stated objectives of any conservative militia that has emerged since the 90s. So why is this militia&rsquo;s membership growing so drastically during the early stages of a Republican administration? What&rsquo;s different this time? The answer may lie in how the Left has responded to Trump being elected. According to Hill:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;The level of violence I see coming from these protests is alarming, I think that creates more of a need for people like us to be there,&rdquo;</strong> Hill said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hill says, just as anti-Trump supporters have a right to organize and protest, his group&nbsp;wants to show their presence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;We have a duty to protect, our&nbsp;freedom, our liberty, our constitutional Republic.&rdquo; </strong>Hill said. &ldquo;That responsibility can&rsquo;t be deferred to you know Congress.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>So radical leftists and conservative militias are experiencing explosive growth at the same time, and neither of them are afraid to present themselves in the streets of America. </strong>While I do support the rights of militias, I have to say that <em><strong>this probably won&rsquo;t end well.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="484" height="314" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Congress Gun politics in the United States Military Militia Percenter Security Force Politics Politics President Obama Republican administration United States Marine Corps War Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 589003 at America's Border Patrol Budget: Spot The Obama Difference <p>President Trump&#39;s crackdown in <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em>illegal </em></strong></span>immigration means more wall-building, more ICE agents, and a notably bigger budget for the border patrol program. As the following chart shows, that would be an extreme departure from the stagnant spending on our nation&#39;s borders by President Obama.</p> <p>As<a href=""> Statista&#39;s Dyfed Loesche notes,</a> the overall enacted budget for the U.S. Border Patrol program has risen steadily since the 1990s... until 2011 - when President Obama appeared to kill any further spending...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="422" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="">Statista</a></em></p> <p>Of course this budget entails spending for patrolling on all national borders. But it is perhaps noteworthy that the <a href=""><strong>number of deportations plunged under president Obama</strong></a>...Under President Obama, the peak was reached in 2012 when almost 410,000 illegal immigrants were deported but it dipped in 2013, falling to 368,644.</p> <p><a href="" title="Infographic: Deportations from the U.S. Dip in 2013 | Statista"><img alt="Infographic: Deportations from the U.S. Dip in 2013 | Statista" height="428" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="">Statista</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite a<strong> <a href="">surge in the number of immigrants during the same period</a></strong><a href=""> </a>of border patrol budget constraint...</p> <p><a href="" title="Infographic: Level of Migration to the United States Not Unprecedented | Statista"><img alt="Infographic: Level of Migration to the United States Not Unprecedented | Statista" src="" style="height: 428px; width: 601px;" /></a></p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="">Statista</a></em></p> <p>Probably just a coincidence... <em><strong>or was that the plan all along?</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="697" height="364" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Business Business Donald Trump Illegal immigration Illegal immigration to the United States Politics Politics Politics of the United States President Obama Social Issues Statista United States United States Border Patrol Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:38:20 +0000 Tyler Durden 588996 at Welcome Aboard... But First US Marshals Will Scan Your Retina <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Jeffrey Tucker via The Foundation for Economic Education,</em></a></p> <p><strong>For some 15 years, airport security has become steadily more invasive. </strong>There are ever more checkpoints, ever more requests for documents as you make your way from the airport entrance to the airplane. Passengers adapt to the new changes as they come. But my latest flight to Mexico, originating in Atlanta, presented all passengers with something I had never seen before.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We had already been through boarding pass checks, passport checks, scanners, and pat downs. At the gate, each passenger had already had their tickets scanned and we were all walking on the jet bridge to board. It&rsquo;s at this point that most people assume that it is all done: finally we can enjoy some sense of normalcy. </span></p> <p><strong>This time was different. Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again). </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><u><em><strong>Like everyone else, I complied. What was my choice? </strong></em></u>I guess I could have turned back at the point, decline to take the flight I had paid for, but it would be unclear what would then happen. After standing there for perhaps 8 seconds, the machine gave the go signal and I boarded. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I talked to a few passengers about this and others were just as shaken by the experience. They were reticent even to talk about it, as people tend to be when confronted with something like this. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>I couldn&rsquo;t find anyone who had ever seen something like this before.</strong> I wrote friends who travel internationally and none said they had ever seen anything like this. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I will tell you how it made me feel: like a prisoner in my own country. It&rsquo;s one thing to control who comes into a country. But surveilling and permissioning American citizens as they leave their own country, even as they are about to board, is something else. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Where is the toggle switch that would have told the machine not to let me board, and who controls it? How prone is it to bureaucratic error? What happens to my scan now and who has access to it? </span></p> <p><strong>The scene reminded me of movies I&rsquo;ve seen, like Hunger Games or 1984. It&rsquo;s chilling and strange, even deeply alarming to anyone who has ever dreamed of what freedom might be like. It doesn&rsquo;t look like this. </strong></p> <h3><u><strong>Why Now?</strong></u></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I&rsquo;ve searched the web for some evidence that this new practice has been going on for a while and I just didn&rsquo;t notice. I find nothing about it. I&rsquo;ve looked to find some new order, maybe leftover from the Obama administration, that is just now being implemented. But I find nothing.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Update</strong>: a reader has pointed me to <a href="">this page </a>at Homeland Security:</span></em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection&rsquo;s (CBP) border security mission, the agency is deploying new technologies to verify travelers&rsquo; identities &ndash; both when they arrive and when they leave the United States &ndash; by matching a traveler to the document they are presenting. CBP&rsquo;s goal is to enhance national security and protect a traveler&rsquo;s identity against theft through the use of biometrics.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Biometric information (such as finger, face, or iris) measures a person&rsquo;s unique physical characteristics. CBP incorporated fingerprints for biometric identification and verification in 2004, and is now testing facial and iris imaging capabilities to help improve travelers&rsquo; identity protection, the integrity of our immigration system, and our national security.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>I happened to be on the &quot;one daily flight&quot; that gets exit scanned.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Another change has to do with new rules for Homeland Security just imposed by the Trump administration. They make deportation vastly easier for the government. I have no idea if these rules are the culprit for intensified emigration checks. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What people don&rsquo;t often consider is that every rule that pertains to immigration ultimately applies to emigration as well. Every rule that government has to treat immigrants a certain way also necessarily applies to citizens as well. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chandran Kukathas is right when </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">he says</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that &ldquo;controlling immigration means controlling everyone.&rdquo; </span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Regulating immigration is not just about how people arrive, but about what they do once they have entered a country. It is about controlling how long people stay, where they travel, and what they do. Most of all, it means controlling whether or not and for whom they work (paid or unpaid), what they accept in financial remuneration, and what they must do to remain in employment, for as long as that is permitted. Yet this is not possible without controlling citizens and existing residents, who must be regulated, monitored and policed to make sure that they comply with immigration laws.</span></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To be sure, there might have been some tip off that security officials received that triggered these special measures for this flight only. Maybe they were looking for something, someone, in particular. Maybe this was a one-time thing and will not become routine. </span></p> <p><strong><span style="font-weight: 400;">The point is that it happened without any change in the laws or regulations. Whatever the reason, it was some decision made by security. It can happen on any flight for any reason. And who is in charge of making that decision? </span></strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On the plane, finally, my mind raced through the deeper history here. Passports as we know them are only a little over a century old. In the late 19th century, the apotheosis of the liberal age, there were no passports. You could travel anywhere in the world through whatever means you could find. Nationalism unleashed by World War I ended that. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>And here we are today, with ever more controls, seeming to follow Orwell&rsquo;s blueprint for how to end whatever practical freedoms we have left. </strong>And we are going this way despite the absence of any real crisis, any imminent threat? The driving force seems to be this: our own government&rsquo;s desire to control every aspect of our lives. </span></p> <p><u><strong>Think of it: there might be no getting out of the country without subjecting yourself to this process. It&#39;s a digital Berlin Wall. This is what it means to put &ldquo;security&rdquo; ahead of freedom: you get neither. </strong></u></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="201" height="132" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Access control Airport security Foundation for Economic Education Mexico national security Nationalism None Obama Administration Obama administration Over Trump Administration Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 588999 at Truth... Hurts <p>What a difference one word can make...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="448" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><em>Source:</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="687" height="513" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American studies Application software Chess rating system Conservatism in the United States Microsoft Word Motion Picture Association of America film rating system Politics of the United States Religion Software Technology The Heritage Foundation Townhall Writing Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 588997 at Intellectual Intolerance - Stunning Speech From Stanford University Provost Exposes "The Threat From Within" <p><strong>In a remarkable - for its honesty and frankness - statement on the intellectual rot within America&#39;s Ivory Towers,</strong> <a href="">Stanford University Provost John Etchemendy</a> lay bare the challenges that higher education face in the coming, increasingly divisive, years.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The Threat From Within</strong></span></h3> <p><strong>Universities are a fundamental force of good in the world. </strong>At their best, they mine knowledge and understanding, wisdom and insight, and then freely distribute these treasures to society at large. Theirs is not a monopoly on this undertaking, but in the concentration of effort and single-mindedness of purpose, they are truly unique institutions. If Aristotle is right that what defines a human is rationality, then they are the most distinctive, perhaps the pinnacle, of human endeavors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>I share this thought to remind us all why we do what we do &ndash; why we care so much about Stanford and what it represents.</strong> But I also say it to voice a concern.<strong> Universities are under attack, both from outside and from within.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The threat from outside is apparent. Potential cuts in federal funding would diminish our research enterprise and our ability to fund graduate education. Taxing endowments would limit the support we can give to faculty and the services we can provide our students. Indiscriminate travel restrictions would impede the free exchange of ideas and scholars. All of these threats have intensified in recent years &ndash; and recent months have given them a reality that is hard to ignore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>But I&rsquo;m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country &ndash; not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines &ndash; there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we&rsquo;ve built around ourselves.</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration. </strong>It will be more damaging because we won&rsquo;t even see it: We will write off those with opposing views as evil or ignorant or stupid, rather than as interlocutors worthy of consideration. We succumb to the all-purpose ad hominem because it is easier and more comforting than rational argument. But when we do, we abandon what is great about this institution we serve.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It will not be easy to resist this current.<strong> As an institution, we are continually pressed by faculty and students to take political stands, and any failure to do so is perceived as a lack of courage. </strong>But at universities today, the easiest thing to do is to succumb to that pressure. What requires real courage is to resist it. Yet when those making the demands can only imagine ignorance and stupidity on the other side, any resistance will be similarly impugned.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The university is not a megaphone to amplify this or that political view, and when it does it violates a core mission.</strong> Universities must remain open forums for contentious debate, and they cannot do so while officially espousing one side of that debate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>But we must do more. We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one&rsquo;s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.</strong></u></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I fear that the next few years will be difficult to navigate. We need to resist the external threats to our mission, but in this, we have many friends outside the university willing and able to help. But to stem or dial back our academic parochialism, we are pretty much on our own.<u><strong> The first step is to remind our students and colleagues that those who hold views contrary to one&rsquo;s own are rarely evil or stupid, and may know or understand things that we do not.</strong></u> It is only when we start with this assumption that rational discourse can begin, and that the winds of freedom can blow.</p> </blockquote> <p>We wish John well in his future endeavors as we are sure there will be a groundswell of hurt feelings demanding his resignation for dropping another truth bomb on their safe space.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="318" src="" width="492" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="492" height="318" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Education Fail Reality Stanford University Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 588998 at White House Launches Surprise Phone Checks On Staffers To Find "Leaker" <p>In yet another ironic twist, the process (including random phone checks overseen by White House lawyers) by which Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks from The White House has been <a href="">leaked to Politico</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="305" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>The push to snuff out leaks to the press comes after a week in which President Donald Trump expressed growing frustration with the media and the unauthorized sharing of information by individuals in his administration, and as<a href=""> was leaked to Politico...</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he <strong>reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories</strong>, according to sources in the room.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>Upon entering Spicer&rsquo;s second floor office, staffers were told to dump their phones on a table for a &ldquo;phone check,&quot; to prove they had nothing to hide.</strong></u></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone checks included whatever electronics staffers were carrying when they were summoned to the unexpected follow-up meeting, including government-issued and personal cell phones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably, <strong>Spicer explicitly warned staffers that using texting apps like Confide</strong> - an encrypted and screenshot-protected messaging app that automatically deletes texts after they are sent - and Signal, another encrypted messaging system; was a<strong> violation of the Federal Records Act, </strong>according to multiple sources in the room.</p> </blockquote> <p>Spicer <strong>also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media</strong> - so much for that.</p> <p><strong>It&#39;s not the first time that warnings about leaks have promptly leaked</strong>.<a href=""><em> The State Department&#39;s legal office issued a four-page memo warning of the dangers of leaks -- that memo was immediately posted by the Washington Post.</em></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><a href=""><img height="353" src="" width="500" /></a></em></p> <p><a href=""><br /><em>As a reminder, the costs of being caught are severe...</em></a></p> <p>First, there&rsquo;s the prohibition against <a href="">disclosure of classified information</a>. This is the obvious one, since any publication of classified material to an unauthorized party is illegal. Under the Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. &sect; 798, a person guilty of this can end up in prison <strong>for 10 years and face a fine</strong>. If the leaks involved classified information that was sent to members of the press, the source could end up behind bars if they&rsquo;re caught. Opponents of&nbsp;<strong>Hillary Clinton</strong> argued that she violated this with her handling of emails on a private server, but the FBI determined they did not have a strong enough case to prosecute.&nbsp;As&nbsp;<em></em> contributor&nbsp;<strong>Philip Holloway</strong> wrote, the information regarding Flynn&rsquo;s wiretapped phone calls is Signals Intelligence (SIGINT),&nbsp;<a href="">which is highly classified</a>, so if one of the &ldquo;current and former U.S. officials&rdquo; is identified, they could be in trouble.</p> <p class="qualified qualified-1"><strong>The form of the leaks could also determine whether additional charges appropriate</strong>. If information was merely spoken to a reporter, that&rsquo;s one thing, but if actual files or physical materials were transferred, then <a href="">18 U.S.C. &sect; 641</a>&nbsp;could kick in. That law says that anyone who steals or provides for another person&rsquo;s use &ldquo;any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency&rdquo; is guilty of a crime. <strong>If a source of a government leak turned over a physical record, they could face 10 years in prison and a fine for it.</strong></p> <p>In addition to laws against revealing certain information, if the President discovers a source behind a leak, they could face additional charges if they lie about it. <strong>Besides perjury, which applies to anyone who lies under oath,&nbsp;false statements or covering up material facts in a federal investigation, either by the Department of Justice of Congress, <a href="">can lead to five years in prison</a>.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="615" height="313" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 20th century in the United States cell phones Congress Department of Justice Department of Justice Department of State Donald Trump Espionage Act FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Government Leak News leak Online chat Politics Security Signal Signals Intelligence Software Text messaging White House White House Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:19:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 589002 at Trump Nominee For Navy Secretary Withdraws <p>Another Trump nominee for a critical government role has decided to withdraw. After two prior Trump nominees,&nbsp; Army Secretary choice Vincent Viola and Labor nominee Andy Puzder, both removed themselves from consideration for their appointed role in recent weeks citing insurmountable opposition or conflicts, moments ago financier Philip Bilden, a senior advisor at HarbourVest Asia and President Trump’s pick to lead the Navy, was said to become the third Trump appointee to withdraw his nomination.</p> <p>"Philip Bilden has informed me that he has come to the difficult decision to withdraw from consideration to be secretary of the Navy," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement Sunday evening. He added that "this was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests." </p> <p>Bilden's vast financial holdings, many of which he earned in Hong Kong, would have made it difficult for him to survive the scrutiny of the Office of Government Ethics, USNI News reported. </p> <p>Bilden, who built his career in Hong Kong with the investment firm HarbourVest, was a surprise pick for the Navy post but had been Mattis’ preferred candidate. Yet like billionaire investment banker Vincent Viola, who withdrew his nomination to be secretary of the Army earlier this month, Bilden ran into too many challenges during a review by the Office of Government Ethics to avoid potential conflicts of interest, the sources said.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Bilden's withdrawal leaves Mattis with just Air Force Secretary nominee Heather Wilson, a former New Mexico Republican congresswoman, in line for a top political post. Her Senate confirmation has not yet been scheduled. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bilden served as an intelligence officer in the Army Reserve from 1986 to 1996 and is on the board of directors of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation and the board of trustees of the Naval War College Foundation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Some background. According to <a href="">USNI</a>, Financier Philip Bilden has withdrawn himself from consideration to be the next Secretary of the Navy.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Sources in the White House and the Navy told USNI News that Bilden’s extensive financial holdings would likely not meet the Office of Government Ethics standards to serve in the position. In order to serve he would have to divest much of his foreign holdings, USNI News understands. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The White House is scheduled to make the announcement this evening. Bilden was formally nominated as Navy Secretary on Jan. 25 after back-and-forth reports in the media as to whether he or former congressman Randy Forbes would get the job. The White House called Bilden “a highly successful business leader, former Military Intelligence officer, and Naval War College cybersecurity leader [who] will bring strategic leadership, investment discipline, and Asia Pacific regional and cyber expertise to the Department of the Navy” in its statement announcing Bilden’s selection. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bilden served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1986 to 1996 after attending Georgetown University on an ROTC scholarship. In 1996 he moved to Hong Kong for business and resigned his commission. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In recent years, he had been involved with the Navy through serving on the Board of Directors of the United States Naval Academy Foundation and the Board of Trustees of the Naval War College Foundation. Additionally, one of his sons graduated from the Naval Academy and another is currently a midshipman there, and the White House statement noted that he comes from “a military family with four consecutive generations of seven Bilden Navy and Army officers.” </p> </blockquote> <p>In a statement, Defense Sec Mattis added that he'll make a recommendation in the coming days to Trump for a leader who can guide Navy and Marine Corps.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="600" height="441" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Air Force Andrew Puzder army Asia Pacific Bilden Navy Board of Trustees Donald Trump Georgetown University Hong Kong James Mattis Labor Mexico Military Intelligence Naval Academy Naval War College Foundation navy Nomination office of Government Ethics Philip M. Bilden Politics Senate U.S. Army Reserve U.S. Naval Academy Foundation U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission United States United States Marine Corps United States Naval Academy Foundation United States Naval Institute United States Navy United States Secretary of Defense United States Secretary of the Navy Vincent Viola White House White House Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:08:14 +0000 Tyler Durden 589011 at Index Investing Unmasked: 96% Of Stocks Are Garbage <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Daniel Drew via,</em></a></p> <p>Warren Buffett released his <a href="" target="_blank">annual letter</a> over the weekend, in which he praised Jack Bogle as his &quot;hero&quot; for promoting index investing. The irony is that investors would have been better off buying Berkshire shares. Over the last 10 years, Berkshire stock is up 139% while the S&amp;P 500 is up 71%. The real question is why Buffett just doesn&#39;t tout his own stock rather than promote index investing. He tries to explain himself:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;Charlie and I prefer to see Berkshire shares sell in a fairly narrow range around intrinsic value, neither wishing them to sell at an unwarranted high price - it&#39;s no fun having owners who are disappointed with their purchases - nor one too low.&quot;</p></blockquote> <p>Buffett is doing something every skilled salesman does: managing expectations. Buffett&#39;s own performance is compared against the S&amp;P 500, and what better way to win that game than by putting a floor under the Berkshire price with the promise of share buybacks and then putting a ceiling on the stock by promoting index investing? <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The real secret is Buffett is talking his book by not talking it: Rather than tell investors to buy Berkshire at any price, he tells people to invest passively through an index, which leads to the very market inefficiencies that he profits from</strong></span>.</p> <p>The great appeal of index investing is its low fees, but like buying a cheap pair of shoes that falls apart after 6 months, investors will find that index investing is the most expensive thing they ever did. Vanguard promotes its rock bottom expense ratios, but what is not published is market impact costs that are incurred when the fund rebalances. Since these rebalances are often announced ahead of time, they are extremely vulnerable to <a href="" target="_blank">front running</a>. Christophe Bernard, PhD Senior Scientist at Winton Capital Management, estimates that front running costs index investors 0.20% per year. That&#39;s 4 times the official expense ratio of Vanguard&#39;s S&amp;P 500 ETF.</p> <p>In his <a href="" target="_blank">latest research</a>, finance professor Hendrik Bessembinder discovered that 58% of stocks don&#39;t even outperform a Treasury bill. This study was based on 26,000 stocks from 1926 to 2015. <strong>Just 4% of stocks accounted for all of the $31.8 trillion in gains during this period. That means 96% of stocks were complete garbage</strong>. Even worse, <a href="" target="blank">shares of unprofitable companies outperform their profitable counterparts</a>, which is why you have a marketplace that is dominated by Twitters and Teslas.</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Index investing means buying a box of garbage stocks sprinkled with a few hope and glamour stocks whose price gains are solely a result of underperforming fund managers grasping for quarterly bonuses and retail investors juicing up their portfolios in a doomed attempt to catch up on their retirement targets</span></strong>.</p> <p>While mom and pop buy a Vanguard index with their $500,000 and get front run all day by proprietary traders, the capitalist televangelist Warren Buffett will continue to actively trade billions while preaching the miracle of buy and hold investing.</p> <p><img alt="Warren Buffett" border="1" src="" style="width: 502px; height: 361px;" title="Warren Buffett" /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="497" height="330" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Buy and hold Contrarian investing Economy Exchange-traded fund Finance Front Running Index fund Investment Money S&P 500 Short Warren Buffett Warren Buffett Sun, 26 Feb 2017 23:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 588995 at