U.S. lawmakers on key national security committees rushed back to Washington to start hearings on Tuesday on President Obama’s plan to strike Syrian government targets following allegations that nerve gas attacks late last month killed more than 1,400 people in outlying Damascus neighborhoods held by enemies of Bashar Assad’s regime, the New York Times reported.
President Obama on Tuesday morning voiced a firm belief that Congress would ultimately back a measure permitting the use of armed force against Syria, the Associated Press reported. He told reporters during a meeting with congressional leaders that he could accept legislative alterations to his proposed language for allowing an attack.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to receive testimony on Tuesday from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Times reported. Five senior White House national security officials on Monday spoke with 127 House Democrats in a single telephone exchange, and a bipartisan group of 83 legislators took part in a closed-door meeting on Sunday.
“The debate is shifting away from ‘Did [Assad] use chemical weapons?’ to ‘What should be done about it?’” Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House intelligence committee, told the Times after Monday’s session.
“The United States will not go it alone,” Kerry reportedly said in the telephone exchange, addressing concerns that a potential U.S. military move against Syria would lack adequate backing from other governments.
Majority and minority leaders from the defense, foreign relations and intelligence panels of both chambers could meet on Tuesday with Obama at the White House in response to an invitation from the president.
Meanwhile, an initial team of 50 CIA-backed rebel operatives has begun moving into Syrian territory, Obama reportedly said in a meeting with Republican Senators John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). Still, a fear of inadvertently arming extremist opposition elements has continued to hold off U.S. weapons deliveries initially authorized for resistance forces in June, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice is expected to further discuss the Obama administration’s Syria planning with McCain and Graham, the lawmakers told the Times.
Elsewhere, a Western-backed Syrian rebel group on Tuesday said a medical specialist has entered Turkey with records linking Assad’s regime to an alleged March 19 chemical strike in the village of Khan al-Assal near Aleppo, Reuters reported. Assad’s government and the resistance have each blamed the other side for the incident.
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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.”