FROM Ken Dilanian
Can a defeated ISIS keep its brand alive? In less than three years, the Islamic State extended its so-called Caliphate in Syria and Iraq to cover some eight million people. Now, Kurdish and Arab militias, advised by US Special Forces, are wrapping up the remains of Raqqa. The city is now in ruins, no longer the capital of the Islamic State that drew thousands of militants to the Middle East. But students of ISIS say almost 40 so-called "provinces" still exist in other parts of the world, including Southeast Asia -- and Africa. That may explain the ambush deaths of four American soldiers in Niger, and the Trump Administration wants to weaponize drones to kill ISIS recruiters. In the meantime, almost 6000 fighters have returned to their home countries. Will they help a deadly ideology to survive?
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 .
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
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.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.