Extremists are taking advantage of the chaos created by the Syrian civil war — and might leave the war-torn country to carry out attacks in the West.
That’s a big worry for the Intelligence leaders testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.
“Syria has become a huge magnet for extremists,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said.
The hodgepodge of some 1,600 rebel factions operating in Syria includes groups with extremist ties, including Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which Clapper said does aspire to carry out attacks on the U.S. homeland. More than 7,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria for the battle against embattled President Bashar al-Assad. They’re coming from some 50 countries, many of them in Europe and the Middle East.
Extremists, Clapper said, are also getting training and weapons as they join with these groups in Syria. “We’re seeing now the appearance of training complexes in Syria to train people to go back to their countries and conduct more terrorist attacks,” Clapper said. “This is a huge concern to all of us.”
With this “permissive environment” for extremists, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen said, the U.S. is particularly concerned about the “potential for terrorist attacks emanating from Syria to the West.” Olsen told National Journal previously that dealing with Syria would be the primary counterterrorism focus of 2014.
The committee’s top Republican, Saxby Chambliss, wanted to know if the terrorist threat against U.S. interests overseas has increased or diminished — but the answer he got was not simple. While the ideological center of the Qaida movement remains in the FATA, or federally administered tribal areas along the porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Clapper said, its “locus for operational planning” is dispersed throughout a dozen countries, including Yemen, Somalia, and now Syria.
In Syria, Clapper said, there’s a possibility the unrest could turn the war-torn country into a “new FATA” — which he said is “very, very worrisome.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”