Trump Signs Executive Order

Trump Administration Unveils Indefinite Travel Ban For 8 Countries



President Trump has issued a new Executive Order imposing a stricter travel ban on citizens of eight nations. The order was issued by the president on Sunday and revises the nations listed in the two Executive Orders that implemented the travel policy earlier this year.

The new Executive Order follows a review initiated by President Trump’s Executive Order of March 6, 2017. The review found that eight countries, Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, had “’inadequate’ identity-management protocols, information-sharing practices, and risk factors” for screening entry into the United States and suspends the entry of most citizens of these countries on an indefinite basis beginning on Oct. 18. Precise guidelines under the new policy vary by country.

The original travel ban was set for 90 days for most citizens and 120 days for refugees. The current policy comes without an expiration date. A senior administration official told the Washington Post that the restrictions were “necessary and conditions-based, not time-based.”

The new list eliminates Sudan from the original travel ban due to its improved cooperation on national security and information sharing. It also adds the nations of Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

Iraq was also listed in the original travel ban, but was dropped in the March 2017 version. The current Executive Order notes, “The Secretary of Homeland Security also assesses that Iraq did not meet the baseline, but that entry restrictions and limitations under a Presidential proclamation are not warranted,” adding that nationals of Iraq may “be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the United States.”

Unlike Trump’s first travel ban, the new Executive Order contains a number of exceptions. These include legal permanent residents, dual citizens, diplomats, people admitted prior to Oct. 18, and people who have been granted asylum. There is also a provision for waivers to be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Critics of the restrictions on immigration have argued that the policy is an unconstitutional implementation of the “Muslim ban” that Donald Trump proposed during the campaign. The Supreme Court upheld most elements of the prior version of the travel ban in June. The Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on the previous policy on Oct. 10. At this point, it is uncertain whether the new policy will affect the case currently before the Court.

“The restrictions either previously or now were never, ever, ever based on race, religion or creed,’’ one senior administration official told the Washington Post. “Those governments are simply not compliant with our basic security requirements.”

Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute says that the policy will be expensive and ineffective, noting, “From 1975 through the end of 2015, zero Americans have been killed by foreign-born terrorists on U.S. soil who hail from any of the eight countries on the new executive order.” Nowrasteh adds, “Only nine terrorists from those countries have carried out an attack or actually been convicted of planning an attack on U.S. soil during that time.”

“Due to the high guaranteed cost of Executive Orders like these and the small potential security benefits, the administration should supply an excellent reason for this order along with sufficient evidence to demonstrate their claim,” Nowrasteh says. “It speaks volumes that they have not done so.”

The new Executive Order will undoubtedly face legal challenges, but the previous travel bans have survived judicial scrutiny largely intact. If the Supreme Court keeps its Oct. 10 date to hear the current travel ban case, the new immigration policy could be enacted more swiftly than its predecessors.

The New York Times May Actually Be a Bigger Intelligence Threat Than Russia

The New York Times raised its hand like an over-eager fifth grader when the question was if it was inappropriate for President Trump to share certain intelligence details or make certain remarks regarding James Comey to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

They were right, it was probably inappropriate for Trump to spill those beans so easily regarding foreign intelligence on ISIS.

Then the NYT gladly shared that the intelligence came from Israel. In May, they published Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s solicited response to their story. The reporters on that story, an 1800-odd word article ended it with a quote from Mike Pompeo, the CIA chief.

One of those reporters was Adam Goldman (on the byline). Another was Matthew Rosenberg, listed as a contributor, along with Matt Apuzzo.

Sharing the United States’ own intelligence with Russia, much less information from a foreign ally, has long been a contentious issues [sic] in American national security circles. In fact, many Republicans strenuously objected last year when the Obama administration proposed sharing limited intelligence about Syria with Russia.

One of the Republicans was Mike Pompeo, the former congressman from Kansas who now runs the C.I.A. In an appearance last year on a podcast hosted by Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official now best known for his anti-Muslim views, Mr. Pompeo said sharing intelligence with the Russians was a “dumb idea.”

Yes, we can all agree that trusting the Russians with our national security is a dumb idea.

Fast forward to June 2. Rosenberg and Goldman named the man the CIA appointed over Iran operations, calling him the “Dark Prince.” They didn’t just casually name the man–he was the central topic of the entire 1747-word article. They didn’t simply mention him: they named him 23 times.

A month and a half later, in a short “Reader Center” piece, they asked Amy Fiscus, “our national security editor, to explain why The Times published the name of a C.I.A. official last month.”

Why would they ask that? Because a bunch of readers wrote to “express their disappointment,” after CIA Director Mike Pompeo said naming the agent was “unconscionable.” Here’s their justification.

Before the article was published, one of the reporters who worked on it informed the C.I.A. that it would include [CIA agent’s] name — a routine check for comment that Times reporters make for the sake of fairness. The C.I.A. asked The Times not to publish his name, arguing that [CIA agent] was under cover.

Times editors and reporters covering national security frequently discuss these sorts of issues and take into account the government’s arguments against publication. We take care not to put national security or lives in danger, and we take that concern very seriously.

In this case, editors decided to publish the name because [CIA agent] is a senior official who runs operations from the agency’s headquarters outside Washington, not in the field. He is also the architect of the C.I.A.’s program to use drones to kill high-ranking militants, one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs. We believe that the American public has a right to know who is making life-or-death decisions in its name.

Let’s unpack that. The same reporters who quoted Mike Pompeo because the president told Russian officials some information that he had full authority to reveal–whether that’s a good idea or not–decided amongst themselves that it would be a good idea not to listen to Pompeo’s recommendation not to publish his agent’s name.

After checking with the CIA, “editors decided to publish the name.” They used their own justification because the New York Times apparently considers itself a higher authority on national security and safeguarding America’s secrets than the U.S. government.

This isn’t the first time they’ve done it–and in fact they justified this egregious breach by saying “we’ve done it before.”

It was also not the first time that [CIA agent’s] name has been mentioned in our newspaper. After his identity was disclosed in a 2015 article, The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, discussed the rationale in an interview with Lawfare, a website that covers national security law, and gave more insight into editors’ decision-making.

I read the interview. It’s not pretty. In 2015, NYT reporters Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo published the names of three CIA officers, including the person they profiled nicely for Iran in June.

All three men were undercover officers, a status sanctioned by Section 23 of the Central Intelligence Agency Act that indicates that the CIA does not want their identity to be public or acknowledged. The CIA accordingly asked the Times not to identify the three men by name. The Times rejected this request.

Lawfare added:

The Times’ decision almost certainly did not violate any law. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which criminalizes disclosure of the identity of covert agents, contains loopholes that likely apply here. But was the decision to publish the names appropriate? Or was it a disgrace?

Here’s the relevant part, after Baquet evaded multiple lines of questioning about specifically, why he outed the agents.

Jack Goldsmith: I interpret you as saying that you have learned from experience and that you have lost trust somewhat in the intelligence community’s representations about the importance of these secrets.

Dean Baquet: I think that is fair. The only thing I would add in their defense – because I really try to see the world from where they sit; part of my job is to see the world from where everybody sits, and then make a judgment – is that the CIA has not quite accepted that its role has changed. I don’t think they are blind or dishonorable.   My relationship with all the spy agencies has been pretty good, going back to Tenet. I think they got used to everybody saying “yes” right after September 11. And I don’t quite think they have accepted that the terrain has changed.

The NYT’s executive editor doesn’t trust the intelligence community (the same one they’ve used as anonymous sources again and again to discredit the president and his staff) to properly represent the importance of what is secret and what isn’t.

Therefore, the NYT will publish whatever it pleases no matter whose life may be endangered and whose intelligence might be compromised. Because it knows better.

I’m glad they’ve cleared that up.

The question for Americans is: do we trust the New York Times as much as they trust themselves to vouchsafe our national security?

While you think about that, I’ll give my answer. I know I don’t.

Evan McMullin Has Found His Brand

As any marketing exec would tell you, branding is everything.  It’s the thing that imprints a product on your mind and immediately causes you to make an association whenever you think of that product category.  It’s why we say “Coke” when we’re talking about cola, or “iPad” when we’re talking about a computer tablet.

Well, Evan McMullin seems to have decided on his brand, and guess what?  It’s #NeverTrump:

That’s right, folks.  When you order up a big, steamin’ pile of #NeverTrump, Evan McMullin wants you to think of him.  Not conservatism, or principles, or federalism, or any of that other stuff he prattled on about when he ran his quixotic presidential campaign.  Nope, he just wants you to know that he is now part of #TheResistance, and what he is resisting is Donald J. Trump.

Not Trump’s policies, mind you, but the man himself.  The tweet above pretty much spells it out.  On no planet known to man would a conservative standing on principle advocate an attorney general (acting or no) openly defying an executive order from the president.  If Sally Yates truly felt that she could not enforce the order in good conscience, her only acceptable course of action would be to resign.  As it stood,  Yates–who was on her way out the door as soon as Jeff Sessions is confirmed–only wanted to score some cheap political points to elevate her status in the Democrat Party.  McMullin, who is not a rube, understands this perfectly well–and yet here he is defending Yates in the cynical hope that his Mouse That Roared antics might raise some jack for his new Stand Up Republic PAC.

Hey, Evan–news flash:  there really are those of us out here who want to help keep the Trump administration on a conservative path.  You’ll only make that job harder if any criticism gets cast as knee-jerk opposition spewing from a bunch of #NeverTrump poseurs.  If that’s the best Stand Up Republic has to offer, let me give you a piece of free advice:  sit the hell down.

This is Not About Donald Trump. The Russian Issue Should Be Taken Seriously and Investigated

Just four years ago, the Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney, was roundly mocked by the political left for suggesting Russia was a threat to the United States. Even then the Russians were beginning systematic attempts at undermining western democracies.

Four years later, the Republicans should not reject the position they once defended just because partisans on the left have flipped their position.

This campaign season it was abundantly obvious and well documented that the Russians were trying to use social media accounts, etc. to undermine American faith in our system of elections. As I and others have documented, numerous accounts that were once “Ebola in America” accounts and similar accounts suddenly became Trump accounts. Many of these accounts had the odd habit of being most active during business hours in Moscow.

There is ample evidence the Russians hacked the DNC and they most likely hacked the RNC as well. There is ample evidence that Wikileaks operates as a de facto arm of Russian propaganda services.

This is not about Donald Trump. This is about the Russians. Both parties need to treat this seriously. I would caution Democrats that they will risk losing bipartisan support if they try to make this a partisan issue. If Democrats continue claiming the Russians handed the White House to Trump with no evidence, they will only see Republicans walk away.

If, however, both parties are willing to recognize the Russians are attempting to subvert our democracy and we have no knowledge as to their success or lack thereof, we should be able to keep a nonpartisan national security issue at that level.

Congress does need to investigate this. Frankly, Republicans should be just as worried as the Democrats. If the RNC was hacked and if Trump does stand up to the Russians, the GOP will experience what the Democrats experienced.

Both sides have a vested interest in investigating this issue outside of partisanship and should do so promptly.

Feingold Disagrees With Admirals, Wants Fewer US Subs

Two-term Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold is desperate to get his old seat back in Wisconsin, and to that end he unveiled a policy plan that he calls “Fiscal Fitness.” According to his campaign, the plan is designed to show that Feingold is serious about cutting wasteful spending in Washington. But there’s a problem with the plan.

A big problem.

In his haste to contrive “savings” for taxpayers, Feingold calls for a reduction in the U.S. Navy’s submarine force. Specifically, Feingold wants the Navy to not replace some Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines as they retire from service. The powerful submarines represent a key part of the United State’s nuclear deterrence capability, a capability that has helped prevent a nuclear conflict.

According to the U.S. Navy, there are currently 14 Ohio-class submarines in service. They are the largest submarines in the fleet and they are getting old. Very old. In fact, by the time all Ohio-class boats retire, they will have been in service longer than any other submarines in U.S. history. Concerns about safety as well as aging technology have led the Navy to plan on replacing the 14 submarines with a fleet of 12 new subs.

In his “Fiscal Fitness” plan, Feingold mocks the Navy’s plan to build 12 new submarines, insisting there is no need to build that many replacement ships. “At present, 12 submarines are slated to be produced by 2042, but the United States could reconfigure the number of missiles deployed per submarine and produce 8 submarines instead,” the plan declares.

That’s not true, according to top Navy admirals. Last year, Rear Admiral Joseph Tofalo was asked by a reporter about a plan by some Senate Democrats to reduce the number of submarines used to replace the old Ohio-class boats. The concept is identical to what Feingold is proposing in his “Fiscal Fitness” plan.

“We have to cover two oceans at once and all of the targets that go with each of these oceans,” Tofalo said before explaining that the absolute minimum number of nuclear missile subs needed is 10 – not the 8 that Feingold claims would do the job. ” The combatant commander says that number is ten, ten operational SSBNs,” the admiral said. “Eight just wouldn’t do it.”

Also last year, Vice Admiral Terry Benedict, who leads the Navy’s strategic systems programs, emphasized that the service needs all 12 replacement submarines. “Anything below the current authorized number of boats for the Ohio replacement will prevent us from meeting our national commitment requirements. We simply can’t do it,” he told a gathering of professionals.

This isn’t the first time that Feingold has blundered on defense policy. In the same plan he calls for the military to acquire more F/A-18 Super Hornets even though he repeatedly waged war on that very airplane when the military was trying to buy them in the late 1990s. On multiple occasions Feingold introduced legislation or floor amendments in the Senate that specifically called for the Super Hornet program to be cancelled.

Judging from what experts say about key defense issues, Feingold’s “Fiscal Fitness” plan appears to be election year posturing that’s just bad policy.

Feingold Praises Warplane He Repeatedly Tried to Kill

In a bid to garner more support as he runs to recapture his old U.S. Senate seat, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has begun to praise the capabilities of a warplane that he once tried to kill. In what he has dubbed his “Fiscal Fitness” plan, the former two-term Senator and ex-Obama Administration official offers a series of policy prescriptions that he claims will save taxpayers money. One of Feingold’s proposals is to kill the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which seeks to provide the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a next-generation fighter, in favor of retaining F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft.

As a Senator, Feingold repeatedly sought to cut funding for the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Using both stand-alone legislation and floor amendments, Feingold vigorously waged war on military readiness by attempting to force the military to stop buying the airplane.

“The Secretary of Defense shall terminate the F/A-18E/F aircraft program,” one Feingold bill declared.

But now that he’s back on the campaign trail, Feingold has changed his tune. Calling the F/A-18 and the Air Force’s smaller F-16 “cost-effective,” the Democratic Senator is insisting that the military not buy the newer F-35 in favor of keeping older aircraft flying. Feingold is skeptical that the F-35 will perform as advertised, and his plan calls for “Replacing this program [the F-35] with purchases of existing F-16s and F/A-18s.”

That may sound good, but it isn’t a straightforward solution. Lockheed is still building F-16s for allied nations, but Boeing, which builds the F/A-18, doesn’t build the older version of the warplane anymore; instead the company exclusively manufactures the very version Feingold repeatedly opposed in the late 1990s.

Feingold’s call for the Air Force to continue its dependence on aging but still lethal F-16 is out of step with the latest thinking by defense leaders and analysts. Recently, a Congressional committee that shared Feingold’s skepticism of the F-35 being able to live up to promises, began the process of examining whether or not the F-22 Raptor, still the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world, should be brought back into production. The Air Force, thanks to budget cuts, stopped well short of buying as many of the airplanes as experts suggested would be necessary to maintain a strong airpower edge.

Why Feingold’s plan doesn’t call for increasing F-22 purchases is unclear; it could simply be that Russ Feingold opposes new warplanes that allow the military to maintain its vaunted technological superiority. Alternatively, Feingold could have omitted the suggestion because his “Fiscal Fitness” plan wasn’t about putting forward serious policy ideas and was instead designed to look tough without actually focusing on real policy ideas.

US Air Force to Give Putin’s Russia $540 Million

The United States Air Force will continue to rely on Russian built rocket engines to loft satellites into orbit thanks to a decision by the House Armed Services Committee early Thursday morning. Originally, the Air Force wanted 9 Russian-made engines for satellite launches in the near future, but in a voice vote reported by The Hill, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado got the committee to approve the purchase of 18 engines for a total price tag of $540 million.

Why U.S. taxpayers are sending $540 million to a Russian defense company controlled (both politically and financially) by Vladimir Putin at time when Russian actions have increased tensions between the two nations is a bit complicated. A politically well-connected joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, two aerospace and defense contracting giants, currently builds rockets that are contracted with the Air Force for satellite launch missions. United Launch Alliance, as the venture is known, uses Russian engines in its Atlas V rocket.

Fortunately for taxpayers, the Air Force, and national security, ULA has competition in SpaceX, a private firm that also contracts with the Air Force for satellite launches. None of SpaceX’s rockets use Russian components. For a variety of reasons, the Air Force has decided to use both companies as contractors for satellite launches.

Not everyone is happy with the arrangement. Relying on an increasingly hostile Russia for satellite launches that are integral to U.S. national security doesn’t sit well with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) or Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), The Washington Free Beacon had an extensive write-up on Wednesday outlining their concerns.

Bizarrely, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) argued that purchasing more Russian rocket engines than necessary is important because free markets are at stake. Smith argued that SpaceX, which doesn’t use Russian engines, would “wind up without competition” if the Air Force didn’t use Russian-built engines for some launches.

The Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based think tank, argued this week that it would be downright “dangerous” if Congress banned the military from using Russian rocket engines. “Banning Russian engines bolsters Putin’s strength,” a pair of scholars wrote, suggesting that if other available means, including a slightly more expensive rocket, were used it would somehow give Russia a benefit it doesn’t already get with $540 million in taxpayer money coming its direction.

Assertions that Russian engines lead to free market competition, and banning them would strengthen Russia’s position against the U.S. are absurdities. In 2014, after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea in the Ukraine, Russia’s top space official threatened to stop the flow of rocket engines to ULA because the venture uses them for military missions.

“Russia is ready to continue deliveries of RD-180 engines to the US only under the guarantee that they won’t be used in the interests of the Pentagon,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in May 2014 according to industry website That was just two months after he was listed as the target of U.S. sanctions by the Obama White House. The month after he was listed as a sanctions target, Rogozin cheekily suggested that the U.S. start delivering its astronauts to the International Space Station via a trampoline. “After analysing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline,” he tweeted.

Reuters reported in 2014 that the Russian government owns 86% of Energomash, the engine manufacturer, and an odd middle-man arrangement has an intermediary between the manufacturer and ULA charging a multi-million markup on each engine brought into the U.S.

Foreign policy is tough business, and sometimes you find yourself with strange bedfellows, but there is no reason for Congress to cut a deal with Russia that sends over half a billion dollars to a Putin-controlled company. There is no reason for the U.S. to choose to rely on Russian rocket engines when other options are not only available, but quite viable.

DR Radio Feb. 19, 2016: Hocus SCOTUS, Apple vs. FBI & the Donald vs. the Pope

Welcome to the February 19, 2016 episode of Dead Reckoning Radio! Join host Jay Friesen in the studio as usual with the barefoot and pregnant Hadley Heath and Dr. Brian Mattson. DR Radio is a weekly podcast helping you intelligently engage with critical cultural moments from a distinctly Christian perspective.

On today’s agenda: The gaping hole left by Justice Scalia and the impact, Apple’s rejection of the FBI’s request for a backdoor and how Christians should frame the issue and the fuss over the Pope saying Donald Trump believes some “not Christian” things.

For the show notes and to subscribe to the podcast go here —->