FROM Roy Gutman
The plot thickens in Syria Secretary of State John Kerry said last year that Syria's Assad regime helped create ISIS — to distract the US by aiding alternative enemies in the region. Defectors from his regime now claim Assad has even attacked his own facilities — using agents he sent to infiltrate both Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Donald Trump insists that, “Syria is fighting ISIS,” hinting at closer US relations with Syria -- and with Russia, Assad's ally in bombing so-called “moderate” rebels. We look at the possible consequences of changing American policies in the Middle East, where nothing ever is what it seems to be.
The battle over Aleppo brings new pleas for intervention Rebel forces in Syria won a rare victory this month by getting some food to 300,000 starving citizens trapped by constant bombing in the city of Aleppo. The US reportedly looked the other way while moderates teamed up with a former affiliate of al Qaeda. Nevertheless, a crisis of massive proportions is still growing. America's Holocaust Museum, is among those demanding action. President Obama's legacy has already been called into question. But, despite speculation that Russia's involvement is timed to the US election, the Trump and Clinton campaigns have had very little to say.
Presidential Transition and Accountability The Senate Armed Services Committee report says "abusive" interrogation techniques were not the work of a few low-level "bad apples" at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. Top Administration officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Air Force General Richard Myers and Condoleezza Rice, signed off on water-boarding and other practices some call torture. All committee members from both parties agreed that was wrong. Vice President Cheney says he personally approved those practices , and calls them effective — and legal.
New Reports Raise Questions About Bush's Iraq Legacy With a month left in office, the Bush Administration is getting reviews and voicing its own assessments of the past eight years. An unpublished official history of the Iraq reconstruction says it was crippled before it began and bungled in execution. John McCain and other Republicans signed a unanimous Senate report that so-called "abusive" interrogation techniques in the war on terror were not the work of a few low-level "bad apples" at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, but that top Administration officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Air Force General Richard Myers and Condoleezza Rice, signed off on water-boarding and other practices some call torture. Now, Vice President Cheney says that's true . Should he and others be praised for protecting the country or investigated for possible crimes?
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?
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."
Cover-up or witch hunt?: The latest on the WH ties to Russia Less than two months into his Presidency, Donald Trump is struggling to get his agenda under way, making it harder himself with tweets that dominate public attention. Meanwhile, important questions are going unanswered: why have staff members and the Attorney General lied about contacts with Russian officials?