FROM Adam Entous
Measuring Russian meddling in 'likes' and 're-tweets' It's now common knowledge that Russia tried to influence last year's election in favor of Donald Trump. What was the role of social media? Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said that question was "crazy" — until he was warned personally by Barack Obama. Now Facebook and Twitter are under scrutiny by Congress and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Can Tech be trusted to police its advertisers? What about campaign finance rules like those for print and broadcast? We hear about digital communications, politics and freedom of speech.
New details in the Russian election hacking timeline Today's Washington Post calls Russian interference in last year's election the political "crime of the century." It was quickly traced to President Vladimir Putin. But the paper says Russia has escaped "severe consequences" because of the ways the crime has been handled by President Obama, then by President Trump. Adam Entous, who is part of the Post's investigative team, says the CIA provided intelligence on Putin's orders.
Former and current officials go on the record Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that President Trump asked two top intelligence officials to help him push back against the FBI’s investigation into ties between his campaign and Russia. Today, in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chairman John McCain read the story and asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats — one of the two officials named – about its accuracy. Citing national security, Coats declined to characterize his conversation with the President. On the other side of Capitol Hill, former CIA Chief John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee the FBI investigation was "well founded" and that Russia’s interference in the election was "brazen." Adam Entous is the Washington Post reporter who broke the story yesterday.
Pentagon Drops Effort to Build Syrian Rebel Army The Pentagon has abandoned plans to build an army from the ground up in Syria to fight against the Islamic State, which the administration calls ISIL. Dissatisfied with early efforts to do so, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters today in London that he's looking "at different ways to achieve basically the same kind of strategic objective… to enable capable, motivated forces on the ground to retake territory from ISIL." Adam Entous, national security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal , has more.
Finding Friends to Fight ISIS in Syria The US set out to train and equip some 5000 so-called "moderate" rebels in Syria, but fewer than 60 have qualified. The US demands they pledge to fight only against ISIS, not against the regime of Bashar al-Assad — even though it’s what made them rebels in the first place. Critics say the Obama Administration is failing. Some advocate renewed focus on getting rid of Assad. Others say there are no better options — and that Assad might be the best of the unacceptable alternatives.
Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Negotiations Six-party talks on Iran's nuclear program have been happening behind closed doors but, since the beginning, Israel has been spying on the conversations — and feeding the information to members of Congress to sour them on the deal. That's according to an exclusive report in today's Wall Street Journal . The reporter is Adam Entous in Jerusalem. Shortly before Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to a meeting of Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a kind of warning . "We are concerned by reports that suggest selective details of the ongoing negotiations will be discussed publically in the coming days. I want to say clearly that doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share."
Syria Scatters Its Chemical Weapons to Thwart Attack Yesterday, Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to sign a ban on chemical weapons. In Geneva today, Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister on the proposal to take control of the weapons Syria now admits it has. While Kerry has acknowledged that the US and Russia share a deep commitment to a negotiated solution, the US is insisting that the threat of force must remain. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Syrian forces are scattering the nation's chemical weapons stockpile. Adam Entous covers national security for the paper.
Obama Condemns Egypt Violence as Death Toll Climbs The United States has cancelled a bi-annual joint military exercise with Egypt in light of yesterday's deadly crackdown by Egypt's interim government on protesters and the new State of Emergency. More than 500 people were killed and 3000 injured. But the US has still not threatened to freeze $1.3 billion in American aid. In recent weeks, the US has been demonized by both Egypt's interim government and supporters of ousted President Morsi. Today, taking time off from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, President Obama denounced yesterday's violent attack , saying, "We don't take sides with any particular party or political figure." We hear from the President and from the streets of Cairo. Is violence becoming a fact of daily life?
Will Increasing Tensions with North Korea Get Out of Control? As North Korea has escalated its threats to attack the US and its neighbors, the US has responded with its own plan of action: military exercises with South Korea; B-2 bombers from Missouri dropping dummy bombs in the Yellow Sea. Now US warships with guided missiles are part of the picture—and today’s Wall Street Journal says the Obama White House is concerned about “unintended consequences.”
The FBI, the CIA and Now, the Pentagon Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says one of the women associated with former CIA Director David Petraeus exchanged tens of thousands of pages of e-mails with General John Allen, Commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, nominated to be Commander of NATO in Europe. At the White House briefing today, press secretary Jay Carney expressed the President's admiration for the job Allen had done in Afghanistan, acknowledging that "at the request of the Secretary of Defense, the President has put on hold General Allen's nomination as Supreme Allied Commander Europe pending the investigation of General Allen's conduct by the Department of Defense IG." Is the nation at risk? Is it really about the hubris of powerful men, designing women and Washington politics?
The FBI, the CIA and Now, the Pentagon The latest figure caught up in the Petraeus scandal is General John Allen , current Commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says he exchanged tens of thousands of pages of e-mail with one of the women caught up in the FBI’s Petraeus investigation. (Jill Kelley, a socialite friend of David and Holly Petraeus, told the FBI she’d been getting threatening emails. The FBI traced them to Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell and discovered that she and Petraeus had an affair. Petraeus resigned as Director of the CIA.) Have national security or military effectiveness been compromised? Is there a cover-up of the CIA’s role in Benghazi, or are routine cases of high-level hanky-panky being magnified by the politics of exposure?
Who Knew What When about the Benghazi Attack? What did the Obama Administration know — and when did it know — about the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya? Was it an opportunistic terrorist attack, rather than a protest against an anti-Muslim film that turned violent? Republicans are claiming that the President and his aides were either inept or dishonest in their public statements. Adam Entous is National Security Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal .
Obama Warns Syria against the Use of Chemical Weapons Troops and tanks swept into a town near Damascus today in another assault aimed at crushing opposition to the al-Assad regime. President Obama said the US would consider intervention if Assad attempt to use chemical or biological weapons. Adam Entous is national security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal .
60-Billion-Dollar US–Saudi F-15 Deal The Obama Administration wants to sell Saudi Arabia $60 billion worth of advanced military aircraft as part of its effort to contain Iran. It will add up to the biggest foreign arms deal in American history—if Congress approves. Adam Entous is national security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal .
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.