1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Just Security: Journalist Watchlist Raises Specter of Civil Rights-Era Secret Surveillance

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Throughout his campaign and now his presidency, historians have drawn parallels between President Trump’s treatment of the news media and the Nixon White House’s efforts to influence coverage in its favor during Watergate.

In yet another eerie echo of that grim chapter in history, reports surfaced in March that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had compiled a watchlist and dossiers to monitor and target journalists covering migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as activists and lawyers who frequently interact with them.

Now, CBP has confirmed in a letter that it collaborated with the Mexican government and other law enforcement agencies to collect information about these individuals because the Mexican Federal Police identified them as “possibly assisting migrants in crossing the border illegally and/or as having some level of participation in the violent incursion events.”

There is much we don’t know about the CBP dossiers, but even still, their creation may violate the Privacy Act of 1974 — passed in the wake of Watergate and revelations of “White House enemies lists” and secret government surveillance programs — which generally prohibits the government from collecting detailed records on a person based on an individual’s exercise of First Amendment rights.

Revelations of domestic surveillance of journalists and others exercising First Amendment rights were in the minds of lawmakers considering the Privacy Act prior to its passage. One example was the FBI’s COINTELPRO, a secret program in which the FBI targeted various political organizations that it deemed “subversive.” Using information gathered through illegal surveillance of individuals, agents were directed to harass, intimidate, and discredit the leaders of the targeted groups.

The program ended in 1971 after activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and leaked COINTELPRO dossiers to The Washington Post. In a supreme bit of irony, noise from the “fight of the century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali — himself a COINTELPRO target — provided cover for the break-in.

Around the same time, investigative reporters revealed that the CIA had been monitoring and maintaining files on groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a prominent civil rights organization. The program was code-named “Operation CHAOS,” and it also targeted the press, including Ramparts magazine, the predecessor to publications like Mother Jones and Rolling Stone.

A 1975 presidential inquiry known as the Rockefeller Commission found the CIA’s domestic spying was in violation of its authorizing statute. The commission’s report exposed a CIA index of more than 7 million names, about 115,000 of whom were believed to be U.S. citizens. The CIA also created at least 57,000 dossiers on American citizens, most of whom were not connected to foreign intelligence activities.

Finally, there was Project Minaret, a National Security Agency (NSA) program that maintained a watchlist and tapped the overseas communications of prominent journalists and Vietnam War critics. A recently declassified NSA history of the program — which called it “disreputable if not outright illegal” — revealed that Minaret tapped the calls and cables of Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), who ultimately led the eponymous Senate committee investigating all of these programs.

Public disclosures of these watchlists and dossiers, in addition to passage of the Privacy Act, led to congressional investigations like the Church Committee and eventually a series of reforms such as passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees searches and surveillance in certain types of intelligence cases. The Justice Department also adopted guidelines that limit investigations based on First Amendment-protected political activities (though with many unfortunate exceptions).

When it comes to CBP, however, the potential for abuse through harassment and disruption of legitimate First Amendment activities could be much higher than that by the FBI, CIA, and NSA, all of which operate under some external and internal constraint.

CBP is the largest law enforcement agency in the country — and one of the largest in the world. It operates with enormous resources, discretion, and authority. Yet, despite its size and potential reach into our private lives, the public knows little about how CBP operates.

The lessons from history are clear: public controversies, such as the tumult over the Vietnam War — and perhaps the contemporary debate over immigration — can lead to overreach and secret programs that target and harass journalists and others. Collection of personal information on the exercise of legitimate First Amendment rights gives the government power to disrupt those activities, and that power can corrupt. CBP’s vast authority must be balanced by greater accountability and transparency. We need to know precisely what CBP is doing with watchlists and dossiers and whether their creation was lawful in the first place.

IMAGE: The end of a section of the border barrier stands on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border, with Tijuana in the background, on April 3, 2019 in Otay Mesa, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The post Journalist Watchlist Raises Specter of Civil Rights-Era Secret Surveillance appeared first on Just Security.

Just Security

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “trump and intelligence community” – Google News: Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week – The Washington Post

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Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week  The Washington Post

President’s tweet on Monday night appears to reference stalled ICE plan to sweep up families in major U.S. cities.

“trump and intelligence community” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Russia influence in Eastern Europe” – Google News: Russians blamed for $530M hack of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck – SiliconANGLE News

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Russians blamed for $530M hack of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck  SiliconANGLE News

Russian hackers are now believed to be behind the hacking and theft of around $530 million in cryptocurrency from Japanese exchange Coincheck in January …

“Russia influence in Eastern Europe” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Donald Trump” – Google News: Donald Trump Would Own a War With Iran – The American Conservative

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Donald Trump Would Own a War With Iran  The American Conservative

President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran. Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the …

“Donald Trump” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Putin and American political process” – Google News: Venezuela’s Collapse Frays Its Economic Ties With Russia – The New York Times

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Venezuela’s Collapse Frays Its Economic Ties With Russia  The New York Times

Russia has been a bulwark of support for Venezuela. But as that country’s economy crumbles, Russian state-owned businesses are pulling back to protect their …

“Putin and American political process” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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“Donald Trump Jr. Wikileaks” – Google News: US restores some aid to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala – WNWO NBC 24

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US restores some aid to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala  WNWO NBC 24

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration said Monday it is easing previously announced cuts in hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Central …

“Donald Trump Jr. Wikileaks” – Google News


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Palmer Report: What Neil Gorsuch just did should give Donald Trump nightmares

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When Donald Trump managed to get Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court, he certainly steered the court in a dangerously conservative direction. Basic rights are in danger across the board, and we should all be concerned. But if Trump thought that these two justices were going to turn around and vote in favor of him and the GOP on demand, he just got a rude awakening.


Earlier today Palmer Report brought you the story of how the Supreme Court ruled in a manner which torpedoed any faint hope that Donald Trump might have had of pardoning his way out of his criminal scandals. Kavanaugh voted against Trump’s interests. But hey, this was a 7-2 ruling, so perhaps he felt he had to go with the flow, since he couldn’t have changed the outcome anyway. Then came today’s other Supreme Court ruling.



The Supreme Court also voted today against the Republican Party’s gerrymandering efforts in Virginia. This was a 5-4 vote, and the swing vote in this case was – surprise – Gorsuch. So much for the notion that Gorsuch is going to simply side with Trump and the GOP on every ruling. This is a big deal, because of where this is all heading.




One way or the other, the fate of Donald Trump’s presidency – and for that matter his freedom – is going to come down to one or more rulings from the Supreme Court. The battles over his tax returns and financial records are headed there. So are the battles over which witnesses can testify before Congress. If Trump is naively expecting these rulings to go 5-4 in his favor just because there are five conservatives, today should serve as a wake-up call that that’s not how any of this works – and it should give him nightmares.


The Supreme Court is also a nightmare for the American people. Neil Gorsuch proved during his confirmation hearings that he’s far too stupid to be on the court, and Brett Kavanaugh is an alleged serial rapist with rage issues and deranged views on the issues. Neither of them is on the court legitimately. But neither of them appears interested in voting in Donald Trump’s favor just because he put them there.

Click here to help fund Palmer Report’s editorial takedown of Donald Trump!



The post What Neil Gorsuch just did should give Donald Trump nightmares appeared first on Palmer Report.

Palmer Report

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Donald Trump” – Google News: Trump: ICE to start removing ‘millions’ of ‘illegal aliens’ – New York Post

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Trump: ICE to start removing ‘millions’ of ‘illegal aliens’  New York Post

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” the president tweeted on …

“Donald Trump” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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“Crickets. They’re Gone”: Why the Mercers, Trump’s Biggest 2016 Backers, Have Bailed on Him

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
.

To judge from the recent leak of its internal poll numbers, Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign has a lot of ground to make up—and Trump family members have already been sounding alarms that Republican mega donors aren’t stepping up to close the gap. Don Jr. recently called a prominent donor and warned that Trump’s money haul is falling behind where Barack Obama was early in his reelection, while Jared Kushner has privately complained to RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel that Trump’s war chest is not as big as it should be at this point in the cycle.

“Jared doesn’t like what’s going on. He basically believes the RNC should be doing a lot better,” a former West Wing official familiar with the conversations told me. According to this official and another source, Kushner wants to recruit Mike Pence’s former chief of staff, Nick Ayers, back to Washington for a senior position at the RNC to bolster the GOP’s fund-raising. “Jared wants Nick, but Ronna would protest that,” the former West Wing official said. (The White House did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the RNC said the group “has a great working relationship with the team at the White House” and praised McDaniel for “fundraising records month after month.”)

But a large part of the problem is that Trump has lost the financial support of one of his biggest backers in 2016: the Mercers. With their ties to Steve Bannon, Breitbart, and Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah were superstars last cycle. According to half a dozen sources familiar with the reclusive family’s political activities, the Mercers have drastically curtailed their political donations in recent months and will likely not play a significant role in 2020. “They think that the administration could do so much more. They’ve been very vocal about that to the president,” a person familiar with the Mercers’ thinking told me. “It’s like they’ve disappeared,” the former West Wing official added. “Crickets. They’re gone,” a prominent Republican strategist said.

The numbers tell the story. In 2016, Robert Mercer, the former co-CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his wife, Diana, donated $15.5 million to a variety of different organizations to help elect Trump, and they put up another $1 million for the inaugural committee. They also provided substantial support to Breitbart, which at times seemed to function as an extra arm of the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported they spent more than $49 million on political activities in 2016 and that year’s election cycle. “The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution,” Steve Bannon said in 2017. In addition to the millions the Mercers pumped into Trump’s election, they spent $10 million on Breitbart News and millions more on Cambridge Analytica, the data firm cofounded by Robert Mercer in 2013.

But in 2018 the Mercers donated only $400,000 to the pro-Trump Great America PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Their total political spending dropped to $2.9 million last year. Sources said the Mercers cut back their spending because they felt scarred by the press scrutiny that followed their association with Trump. Two sources said Rebekah’s divorce from her husband is also motivating her to keep a low profile. “This whole thing did not end up well for them,” former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg told me. “They’ve been destroyed,” a former West Wing official said. A former Renaissance executive said: “Bob views all his political spending as a bad investment.” (The Mercers did not respond to requests for comment.)

Like Trump, the Mercers exploded onto the national scene from seemingly nowhere. Robert, a painfully shy computer scientist who reportedly prefers cats to people, never gave interviews. When I approached Robert at Trump’s 2016 election-night party at the New York Hilton, he smiled and walked away.

At that time, the Mercers had become so influential with Trump that they successfully installed their handpicked strategists, Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, to run Trump’s campaign in the closing months of 2016. After Trump won, Rebekah served as a senior member of the transition team. And in December 2016, Trump repaid their loyalty by making an appearance at Robert’s annual costume ball held at his Long Island mansion known as the Owl’s Nest.

But the relationship was stress tested from the beginning of Trump’s term. In March 2017, The New Yorker published an embarrassing profile of Robert Mercer, depicting him as an eccentric recluse. Five months later, Trump exiled Bannon, which drove a wedge between Trump and the Mercers, Bannon’s longtime patrons. Around the same time, Mercer’s support for Trump and Breitbart was outraging Renaissance employees and the fund’s investors, sources told me. (The hedge fund’s founder, James Simons, is among the country’s biggest Democratic donors.) In November 2017, Mercer was pushed out of Renaissance and he publicly transferred his stake in Breitbart to his daughters. A month later, the Mercers’ relationship with Bannon reached a breaking point when Bannon was quoted extensively in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury criticizing the Trump family. Rebekah issued a rare statement distancing herself from Bannon. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” it read. “Bob and Rebekah both felt so burned by Bannon and the negative publicity,” a person close to the Mercers told me.

Meanwhile, the Mercers’ investment in Cambridge Analytica was putting them in legal jeopardy. A few months after Robert left Renaissance, it was reported that the FBI opened an investigation of Cambridge in the wake of revelations that the firm appropriated private data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles. Last May, the Mercers shut the company down. “The Cambridge investigation really spooked them,” said the prominent Republican strategist.

Another factor driving the Mercers off the national stage is that Trump was never their ideal candidate, despite the millions they spent helping him, sources told me. “They never really liked Trump,” the person close to the Mercers said. During the 2016 Republican primary, the Mercers put all their cards on Ted Cruz. The source recalled that Robert invited Kellyanne Conway, who was then working for a pro-Cruz super PAC, to his Florida mansion and told her to “beat Trump!” What seemed to be most driving the Mercers was a hatred of Hillary Clinton. “Trump was just Bob’s play against Hillary,” the former Renaissance executive said. “Bob said she and her husband were murderers who would destroy the country. He thought she was an evil person and a socialist.”

Without the specter of a Clinton presidency to motivate them, the Mercers are returning to their pre-Trump private existence. Robert didn’t host a costume ball last year. But the family remains active outside of politics. For example, the Mercers’ foundation continues to donate to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, whose cofounder, Arthur Robinson, is a pro-nuclear energy climate change skeptic who does research on slowing down human aging. “They’re still supporting us at levels that are comparable to what they’ve been,” Robinson told me.

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