FROM Ken Dilanian
Obama Sending Special Forces to Syria Two years ago, President Obama said he would not send American troops to Syria. Today, the White House announced that fewer than 50 US Special Forces will go to the northern part of that country. But Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted it's not a change in policy. "The responsibility they have is not to lead the charge to take a hill, but rather to offer advice and assistance to those local forces about the best way they can organize their efforts to take the fight to ISIL or to take the hill inside of Syria." Ken Dilanian, an intelligence reporter in Washington for Associated Press , has more on the story.
Did the White House OK Spying on Ally Leaders? President Obama has tried to distance himself from American spying on foreign leaders. Now, US intelligence officers are pushing back, claiming the White House and the State Department signed off last summer on the targeting of phone conversations by friendly foreign leaders. That's according to Ken Dilanian, national security correspondent for the Los Angeles Times .
Russia Urges Syria to Give up Chemical Weapons Secretary of State John Kerry said today that Syria's President Assad could avert an attack by handing over all his chemical weapons to the UN in one week. Russia has urged Assad to do that, and Assad says that might be a good idea. At a White House briefing today, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken vowed to consider the option, but observed that "it's clear that this proposal comes in the context of the threat of US action… So it's even more important that we don't take the pressure off and Congress give the President the authority he's requested." Ken Dilanian is intelligence and national security correspondent for the Los Angeles Times .
Intelligence Chiefs Detail Terror Plots Foiled by Surveillance The House Intelligence Committee heard a defense of the government's sweeping surveillance program today. General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, told the committee, "In the 12 years since the attacks on 9/11, we have lived in relative safety and security as a nation. That security is a direct result of the intelligence community's quiet efforts to better connect the dots and learn from the mistakes that permitted the attacks to occur in 9/11." Ken Dilanian is national security correspondent for the Los Angeles Times .
Senate Report Scornful of Homeland Security 'Fusion Centers' In the aftermath of September 11, the Department of Homeland Security established more than 70 so-called "fusion centers" to coordinate federal, state and local efforts at counterterrorism around the country. But today, the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reported that the centers "forwarded intelligence of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections" and sometimes used "already public sources… unrelated to terrorism." Ken Dilanian is national security correspondent for the Los Angeles Times .
Obama to Send Additional National Guard Troops to the Border Just a month ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate committee the US-Mexican border "is as secure as it has ever been." Yesterday, President Obama said that 1200 National Guard troops are on their way to the area. What's changed? The National Guard will help law enforcement target the smuggling of drugs, guns and people, but not by making arrests or intervening directly. That's according to Ken Dilanian, who reports from Washington for the Tribune Company .
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.
The 'deconstruction' of the administrative state President Trump has failed to fill high-level positions in important agencies — and some people he has named want to phase out the agencies they're supposed to lead. We look at the possible consequences for delivering services and providing security — and at top aide Steve Bannon's plans for "deconstructing the administrative state."