Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Good morning everyone! Happy Tuesday to you!

Joining today's show are Katty Kay, Eugene Robinson, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Jim VandeHei, Jeffrey Goldberg, Secy. Jeh Johnson, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Cillizza, Chuck Todd, Robert Costa, Gen. Michael Hayden, Hallie Jackson, April Ryan, Julie Pace, Sara Eisen and more
An EgyptAir plane was hijacked while flying from the Egyptian Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria to the capital, Cairo, and later landed in Cyprus where some of the women and children were allowed to get off
EgyptAir hijacker identified, overtook plane due to ex-wife, officials say. [Breaking news update at 5:43 a.m. ET]
An Egyptian presidential spokesman said the correct name of the EgyptAir Flight 181 hijacker is Seif El Din Mustafa, an Egyptian national. Earlier, the same spokesman said an Egyptian-American dual citizen of a different name was responsible.
[Breaking news update at 5:32 a.m. ET]
Three passengers and four crew members are still on board a hijacked EgyptAir plane that was forced to land in Cyprus, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy Ateyya said Tuesday.
Officials don't know whether the hijacker really has an explosive belt, as he claimed, "but we are treating it as if it is real," Ateyya said.
An Egyptian-American dual citizen hijacked an EgyptAir flight over his ex-wife, officials said Tuesday.
Authorities identified the hijacker as Ibrahim Samaha, Egyptian presidential spokesman Alaa Yousuf told CNN.
A spokesman for the Cyprus Ministry of Transport said the incident is not related to terrorism, but rather the hijacker's ex-wife.
EgyptAir Flight MS181, en route from Alexandria, Egypt, to Cairo, was forced to land at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.
Pilot Omar El Gamal reported a threat from a passenger claiming to have an explosive belt, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said.
Aviation Ministry spokesman Ehab Raslan said he doesn't think the hijacker actually has explosives.
"I doubt that he had explosives because security has been heightened across all Egyptian airports. But we will be able to confirm later," Raslan said.
He said an Egyptian team is negotiating with the hijacker.
'Old-fashioned terrorism'
The hijacking is "a more old-fashioned type of terrorism," according to one analyst.
"It is rare these days to have these kinds of negotiations to be taking place," Sajjan Gohel, Asia-Pacific Foundation London, said.
"Many of the hostages have been released which is a very good sign."
Analyst Geoffrey Thomas from Airlineratings.com told CNN it was unclear whether the claim of an explosive device was real, "but if it is, how on earth did he get it on board?"
Our flight MS181 is officially hijacked. we'll publish an official statement now.
All flights into Larnaca airport are being diverted to Paphos airport on the southwest coast of the island, a spokesperson for the Cyprus Civil aviation authority tells CNN.
How could a hijacker overcome a passenger jet?
Passengers released
Negotiations with the hijacker have resulted in the release of all passengers, except for seven crew and five foreigners, a statement from the Egyptian ministry of civil aviation said.
A statement from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry says that there are five foreign nationals and seven Egyptian crew members aboard the hijacked EgyptAir flight.
Earlier, the ministry and EgyptAir had said there were four foreign nationals.
According the ministry, the non-Egyptian passengers include eight Americans, four Dutch, two Belgians, four Britons, one Syrian, one French and one Italian.
The statement did not specify which of these passengers remain on board.
Scores on board
The Airbus 320 EgyptAir flight, designated MS181, had at least 81 people on board, according to the ministry, before the majority of passengers were deplaned.
Tom Ballentyne, chief correspondent for Oriental Aviation, tells CNN that airline protocol would have taken this scenario into account.
"Pilots will have a special signal they can use to airport traffic control, it might be a code word or a signal they can use that will alert air traffic control that there is problem," he says.
"Pilots are instructed not to open the cockpit, so what we don't know is how he got into the cockpit"
Questionable air security
"This is different to issues of airport security that we have seen recently" the Asia-Pacific Foundation London's Gohel said.
The hijacking comes months after a Russian Metrojet passenger plane was downed over Egypt's Sinai desert. While Russian authorities insisted the plane crash was the result of terrorism, one U.S. official said it was "99.9% certain" the cause. Another said it was "likely."
"Ever since the Metrojet plane was blown up it has been confirmed that there are lapses in Egyptian security," Gohel added.
Egypt was insisting that airports were safe, and that tourists should come back. But this is going to raise a lot of questions about just how safe the country, and its air travel is, CNN's Ian Lee says.
Questions about the amount of security at the airports, have been raised, but the quality of the security.
CNN's Ian Lee and Milena Veselinovic and journalist Sarah Sirgany contributed to this report.
EgyptAir hijacked plane: Man 'demands to have letter sent to his ex-wife' after taking passengers hostage. Latest updates as flight MS181 is hijacked between Alexandria and Cairo before landing at airport in Cyprus amid suspicions of bomb on board
National Polls for the GOP has Donald Trump at 48%, Ted Cruz at 27% and John Kasich 18%. New poll shows Trump leading GOP race in California. 1,500 California voters surveyed by USC Dornsife, Los Angeles TimesA new poll conducted by USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times shows a dramatic shift in the political winds in California, with Donald Trump now leading the Republican pack.
The poll, conducted primarily by cellphone between March 16-23, includes a significant oversample of Latino voters and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
Three months ago, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the leading Republican candidate in California, but the poll now shows Trump on top, with 37 percent support. Cruz is second with 30 percent support while Ohio Gov. John Kasich trails with 12 percent.
"It seems if not reluctantly, Republican voters are coming to the conclusion that Donald Trump is going to be the likely nominee," said Mike Madrid, co-director of the poll.
Undecided voter Cyndi Webster told KCRA 3, "I was a fan of Donald Trump when he was on television doing his television show. I think he's a great businessman." But Webster explained that voting for Trump is a different story.
"Maybe he would be great for business," she said. "Politically I don't think so. So It's scary. It's scary to think of Donald Trump in office."
If Trump wins the nomination, he will likely face former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the fall.
"On the one hand we want Trump to win because we think he's the easiest candidate to beat," Democratic consultant Steve Maviglio said. "On the other hand we're scared to death that he could actually become president."
The poll also shows strong resistance to Trump within his own party. Of those Californians polled, 27 percent said they would never vote for him in November.
"Usually what you'll see is people saying, 'I would never vote for the nominee' at maybe 10 percent," Madrid told KCRA 3. "Fourteen percent would be extremely high. This is double that."
Clinton also has very high negative numbers. The poll shows 13 percent of California Democrats said they would never vote for Clinton, Madrid told KCRA 3.
"Both candidates are setting all-time highs for negative ratings in the era of modern polling," Madrid said. "In fact you could say Hillary Clinton is the most unpopular candidate running for president in the last 50 years with one exception -- and that exception is Donald Trump."
"What that tells you is that the fall campaign, if it's between Trump and Hillary, it's going to be very nasty," KCRA 3 political analyst Steve Swatt said.
A nasty campaign could trigger millions of dollars spent on negative ads.
"Trump is bringing out more voters," Swatt said. "Some (come out) to vote for him, but also some to vote against him."
With the top two candidates so polarizing to many voters, it could open the door to a potential third part candidacy.
"If we do have a third part candidate we may have a fourth party candidate," Madrid told KCRA 3. "We may see a multi-candidate field for the first time in modern history."
"The poll confirms what all of us know - that this is the strangest election in our lifetime," Eckery said.
"It might be a choice between the lesser of two evils for many people come November," Maviglio said.
"None of the above as of right now. It's scary where our country is going. That's why we come to church and pray. We're hoping God will save us," Cyndi Webster said.
California's Republican presidential primary is a hybrid system in which the statewide winner gets 10 delegates, but the bigger prize is the state's congressional districts.
Candidates are awarded three delegates for each congressional district they win, and with 53 districts in California, there are a total of 169 delegates at stake in the June 7th primary.
"For the Republicans for the first time in more than 50 years, California is in play, " Swatt told KCRA 3.
The USC/Los Angeles Times poll on Democrats in California will be released on Monday.
The media did not create Donald Trump: His rhetoric and rise are newsworthy and have demanded attention.
Like it or not, he paved his own path
When New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof agonized in a recent column that “we in the media screwed up” and “we were lap dogs, not watchdogs” in fueling the rise of Donald Trump, he sounded like a man seeking a scapegoat for profound, unsettling trends in our country.
Let’s abolish the notion that the news media collectively have somehow “created” or given an unfair boost to Trump on his road to becoming the Republican front-runner.
There’s no question that some journalists were slow to realize the Trump phenomenon was more than the ego trip of a bored billionaire. Back in August 2015, I warned in this space against dismissing Trump as a joke.
It was premature for The Des Moines Register to dismiss Trump as “the distraction with traction,” and unprofessional for The Huffington Post website to place coverage of Trump in its entertainment section, scornfully explaining that “Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait.”
Some sideshow.
The truth is that Trump became newsworthy the moment he officially declared for President and shot to a lead in the polls over his Republican rivals. His surging candidacy is potentially history-making because no nongovernment figure has ever walked in off the street, so to speak, and into the Oval Office: All 44 American Presidents first served as elected officials, military generals or cabinet members.
That rule even applies to major party nominees: The sole exception was the time in 1940 when Indiana businessman Wendell Willkie snagged the Republican nomination at a chaotic convention that included fistfights on the floor and six rounds of voting (after which Willkie got clobbered by Franklin Roosevelt).
Those who think Trump enjoys a free ride from the press usually get tongue-tied when you challenge them to identify exactly which rants, rallies, phone interviews or press conferences should have been ignored or suppressed by media — and on what basis.
Trump tends to draw a bigger audience than other candidates in part because of the endless stream of factual errors, petty personal insults, childish profanity and other detritus he brings to the public discussion. That’s a shame in a way — but there’s no part of responsible journalism that includes refusing to tell one’s audience what it wants to know about.
I’m as surprised as anybody at the public’s appetite and tolerance for Trump’s vulgarity. I never would have imagined the public would accept and even reward a candidate for President who picked a fight with the Pope; openly mocked a disabled man; boasted about who got “schlonged”; has repeatedly called for the use of torture in violation of international law, and publicly encourages enraged crowds of supporters to attack protesters.
But there are limits to what journalists can do when members of the public appear unconcerned about facts placed before them. The poet T.S. Eliot pondered a similar problem long ago, wondering if mere words had the power to heal a disturbed and dangerous world. Eliot memorably advised his fellow artists: “For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”
Media outlets have shown black protesters being beaten at more than one Trump rally with the candidate’s approval, and have reported former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke saying of Trump: “I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”
If you don’t understand or care about what’s wrong with that, I for one can’t help you.
Top journalists, notably investigative ace Wayne Barrett and Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, have excavated and published tons of findings on the dodgy deals and shady connections — including links to organized crime figures — that are part of the Trump story.
That information, along with the story of people ripped off by Trump University, Trump Mortgage and other failed business ventures by the candidate, has been properly placed before the public.
And The Times has posted the full transcript of a recent lengthy interview with Trump about foreign policy, in which he suggests helping South Korea build up a nuclear arsenal to confront its hostile neighbor to the north. The 1953 agreement that ended fighting between North and South Korea was an armistice, not a peace treaty, meaning the countries technically remain in a state of war — and the leading GOP candidate is now advocating a nuclear arms race at the world’s most hostile border.
The media, once again, have delivered timely, accurate, important information to voters before Election Day. The rest is not our business.
FBI unlocks San Bernardino shooter's iPhone and ends legal battle with Apple, for now.
Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik
Federal officials on Monday dropped their legal fight against Apple after unlocking the iPhone used by an assailant in last year's San Bernardino terror attack, leaving unsettled a vexing debate over privacy and security amid rapid advances in technology.
The move comes a week after Justice Department officials put a sudden hold on their demands that Apple assist the FBI with an announcement that an outside group had offered a way to hack into the iPhone.
Aided by the unnamed group, FBI technology experts had been at work since, testing the technique to confirm it could open the iPhone without jeopardizing its contents.
The breakthrough came over the weekend, when the information stored on the phone was extracted, said a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He declined to say anything about the contents of the phone, other than that FBI agents were reviewing the material.
The official also remained tight-lipped about the method that was used to beat the iPhone's security barriers, as well as the identity of the group that delivered it to FBI agents. Any speculation about the effect of the breakthrough on other cases involving locked phones would be premature, he said.
The move appeared to end a historic legal showdown that pitted the demands of law enforcement investigating crimes against the rights of companies to protect their customers' privacy.
But it also raises new questions for both sides as well as the tech industry as a whole given that the government was able to get past Apple's daunting encryption through some type of hack.
“Our decision to conclude the litigation was based solely on the fact that, with the recent assistance of a third party, we are now able to unlock that iPhone without compromising any information on the phone,” U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker said in a statement after prosecutors asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to vacate an order compelling Apple's cooperation.
Apple struck a defiant tone Monday evening, saying in a statement that the “backdoor” into its phones sought by prosecutors “would set a dangerous precedent.... This case should never have been brought.”
The company also underscored the crucial questions at the heart of the case, urging “a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy.”
In legal briefs and public statements aimed at winning both in court and opinion polls, Apple executives and their attorneys forcefully opposed Pym's order, which would have compelled the technology giant to engineer a way around security measures it had built into the iPhone.
Doing so, they said, would amount to creating a master key for accessing all iPhones, which would quickly become a holy grail for hackers.
Prosecutors rebuffed Apple's doomsday scenario, insisting the case dealt only with cracking into the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife carried out the Dec. 2 attack that left 14 dead and many others wounded. Justice officials say the assault was an act of terrorism.
Despite the government's claims, the fight over Farook's iPhone was seen as a test case over whether technology companies could be forced to develop computer code to assist a criminal investigation. It took on broader implications as well about how far the government could go in forcing companies or individuals into its service.
The case revolved around the iPhone 5C issued to Farook for his job as a San Bernardino County health inspector that was found in his car after a shootout with police that left him and his wife dead.
Although FBI agents managed to piece together much about the couple, they wanted to review the contacts, messages and other information on the phone in hopes it would help answer whether the killers had accomplices, among other questions.
Worried that Farook had activated a security feature making an iPhone inoperable after 10 failed attempts to enter a four-digit security code, agents approached Apple for assistance in getting into the device.
Until the correct security code is entered, Apple's encryption software keeps the contents of the phone scrambled.
Agents wanted Apple to write a new operating system that would bypass the 10-attempt limit on the security code and other security measures.
With this done, agents then planned to use a computer program to churn through the 10,000 possible passcodes until they hit upon the right one.
When the world's most valuable company refused, Decker looked to Pym. The judge granted prosecutors' request for an order forcing Apple to help but delayed making a final decision until after the two sides had a chance to make their case. The evening before a court hearing to decide the matter, Decker's team sprung the announcement about getting help from the outside group.
On Monday, David Bowdich, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles office, issued a statement about the analysis of the phone's content.
“We promised to explore every investigative avenue in order to learn whether the San Bernardino suspects were working with others, were targeting others, or whether or not they were supported by others,” he said. “These questions may not be fully resolved, but I am satisfied that we have access to more answers than we did before.”
Apple attorneys said last week they will explore legal options to force the FBI to turn over details of the hacking method. They declined to elaborate Monday.
The fact that a way into Farook's iPhone had been discovered, the attorneys said, underscored the fears the tech giant has repeatedly expressed during its legal fight with the government: that the company must contend with constant attempts by outside parties to worm past Apple's security measures.
Technology executives and privacy advocates viewed the government's decision to end the case as a fleeting victory.
As companies make it increasingly difficult for investigators to access information on smartphones and other devices with heightened encryption and security, they expressed concern that the larger debate over balancing the needs of government and private industry remained unresolved.
“This case was never about just one phone. It was about an unprecedented power grab by the government that was a threat to everyone's security and privacy,” said Alex Abdo, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Unfortunately, today's news appears to be just a delay of an inevitable fight over whether the FBI can force Apple to undermine the security of its own products.”
Aaron Levie, chief executive of online storage provider Box Inc., said other legal skirmishes on the same issues will occur until there is “a broader conversation around the policy, regulation and laws in a digital world and what does it mean to have secure technology.”
help law enforcement with their investigations … and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.”
Stephen Larson, an attorney representing the families of several people killed in the attack, said the focus should remain on the victims.
“Our concern from Day One has been obtaining information of potentially great importance to both law enforcement and the victims of terrorism,” Larson wrote in an email to The Times. “For this to have dragged out in court battles would not have served the interests of either.”
Jeffrey Goldberg is on the show now. Page and Perspective: Jeffrey Goldberg On Obama's Foreign Policy Doctrine.
In the April issue of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg lays out "The Obama Doctrine" in an illuminating long-form cover story based on hours of interviews over several months with the president. On Wednesday, Goldberg, the magazine's national correspondent, will share his insights with his editor-in-chief, James Bennet, at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue at 7 p.m.
Goldberg's article begins with a day seen very differently by Obama critics and supporters. The "red line" on U.S. intervention in Syria, the president had said in 2012, would be Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons on civilians. Horrifyingly, the following August, Assad's army murdered more than 1,400 Syrians with sarin gas.
At the advice of Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senate hawks John McCain and Lindsay Graham, and others, air strikes had been ordered to follow through on the threat. But most of Congress did not give their blessing, and after further consideration of the consequences, Obama called them off. Doing so angered many people inside the administration and out. It was a "gamble" with nonintervention, at least in this case.
With a five-year perspective on the war in Syria, and current and upcoming challenges with other regions, Goldberg probes the president's worldview.
Obama may have a gift for flourishes of rhetoric, but his approach as commander-in-chief has veered practical. In the interview, he calls out critics who tout rose-colored versions of Ronald Reagan's and George W. Bush's foreign policies. He comments on "free riding" foreign leaders who leave it to the U.S. to intervene. And as he and Goldberg discuss Syria, Russia, ISIS, Ebola, and climate change, it is clear that the president knows he does not always react the way some think he should.
But that has been intentional. "I think that the best argument you can make on the side of those who are critics of my foreign policy is that the president doesn't exploit ambiguity enough. He doesn't maybe react in ways that might cause people to think, 'Wow, this guy might be a little crazy,'" Obama told Goldberg.
The president then broke down that tactic, used by Richard Nixon: "So we dropped more ordnance on Cambodia and Laos than on Europe in World War II, and yet, ultimately, Nixon withdrew, Kissinger went to Paris, and all we left behind was chaos, slaughter, and authoritarian governments that finally, over time, have emerged from that hell. When I go to visit those countries, I'm going to be trying to figure out how we can, today, help them remove bombs that are still blowing off the legs of little kids. In what way did that strategy promote our interests?"
This is one of the main points of the Obama doctrine: Despite contradictions, which are named in the article, the president has taken a largely realist worldview that military intervention should be avoided unless the U.S. is under direct threat. What "direct threat" means is controversial, and questions persist surrounding the administration's use of drones (CIA director John Brennan is quoted as saying he agrees that "sometimes you have to take a life to save even more lives"). But Obama is informed by lessons spanning decades of American foreign policy that have made him highly cautious about putting boots on the ground.
"You know, the notion that diplomacy and technocrats and bureaucrats somehow are helping to keep America safe and secure, most people think, 'Eh, that's nonsense,'" the president said. "But it's true. And by the way, it's the element of American power that the rest of the world appreciates unambiguously. When we deploy troops, there's always a sense on the part of other countries that, even where necessary, sovereignty is being violated."
The whole article is worth reading for an unprecedented look into how and why Obama's foreign policy came to be, and where it is likely to take us in the waning months of his presidency.
Tickets to the talk can be purchased online for $15, which also includes a 1-year subscription to The Atlantic. Seating is general admission and doors open at 6 p.m.
Former CIA chief Hayden: Clinton better prepared than ‘incoherent’ Trump. Donald Trump is a national security threat, George W. Bush’s spymaster tells Glenn Thrush in an exclusive interview for POLITICO’s ‘Off Message’ podcast.
160327-hayden-off-message-bm-1160.jpg
Earlier this month, former CIA Director Michael Hayden found himself on the not-so-hot seat at "Fox & Friends" with noted national security expert Brian Kilmeade, who asked him this: Which one of the remaining GOP candidates would he trust most on national security?
Easy. Hayden (who describes Donald Trump’s fist-in-face foreign policy pronouncements as “incoherent”) answered, “John Kasich,” whose mainstream Republican views most closely resembled his own and those of his chosen candidate, the bygone Jeb Bush.
But Hayden — spectacled spy eyes dancing behind a blank-page technocrat’s mien — knew he’d dodged a more interesting question: It doesn’t look like Kasich is going to win — so who is your second choice?
“No. 2 … in the narrowly defined national-security lane — I’m not talking about all the stuff to the right and all the stuff to the left — No. 2 right now, best prepared from Day One: Secretary Clinton,” he told me, in roundabout fashion, during a 45-minute sit-down for POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast last Friday.
Hayden is by no means a Clinton supporter (though, interestingly, he wouldn’t explicitly rule out voting for her up the line). And his praise for her is tempered by disapproval of her handling of her homebrew email server (he doesn’t buy her argument that she was following in Colin Powell’s footsteps) and Benghazi (he thinks her actions before and after the attacks — but not during them — were indefensible).
Moreover, the retired four-star Air Force general remains fiercely loyal to a national spy-and-surveillance apparatus he tamed over four decades as an affable but steely insider. True, in his new book, "Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror," he calls for greater transparency and an end to what he sees as reflexive over-classification. But he’s not exactly Frank Church. Hayden is a loyal Republican, a skeptic when it comes to the Obama administration’s softer-touch terror policy, a defender of enhanced interrogations (in principle) — and a caustic critic of James Risen, Jane Mayer, Glenn Greenwald and anybody else who spills secrets without explicit government say-so.
Yet like an increasing number of conservative national security experts, Hayden is coming to grips with the possibility that Clinton just might be a safer bet than Trump, who is on pace to represent the party of Bush, Ike and Reagan.
“Who is a larger threat,” to national stability on security matters, I asked him: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
“Donald Trump,” Hayden answered without hesitation.
“I view his current statements as erratic. … I just don’t know what it is he’s going to do,” he explained.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden talks about the 2016 elections and more with POLITICO's Glenn Thrush.
As for Clinton, she’s impressed him the few times they’ve interacted in person.
“I had two or three weeks’ overlap with her as I served for President Obama until Leon Panetta was confirmed [as CIA director],” Hayden said. “I did brief her on CIA covert actions, which is required, since she was the incoming secretary of state. She was a quick study.”
Then Hayden — who alienated congressional Democrats during his three-year CIA tenure by advocating a continuation of the enhanced interrogation program, albeit a limited one — plunged forward, a little sheepishly: “By the way, a lot of my friends will point to Benghazi and a whole bunch of other things, but this is an experienced diplomat, an experienced woman, who seems to have taken these questions seriously.”
As I was talking to the 71-year-old Pittsburgh native, Trump was sitting down for an epic 100-minute chat with two New York Times reporters that seemed to underscore Hayden’s impression of Trump as a low-information, high-testosterone gunslinger.
Tear up agreements with Saudi Arabia, Trump told Maggie Haberman and David Sanger, if they don’t start paying their way. The same holds true, he added, for deadbeats Japan and South Korea — they might want to think about building their own nukes — and why not pull U.S. troops off the tinderbox North Korean border if Seoul doesn’t cut Uncle Sam a big check? Trump touted his own “unpredictability” — you know, just like Nixon — and said “I wouldn’t want them to know what my real thinking is,” referring to the brain chess he planned to play against the Russians, Chinese, terrorists or anyone else dismissive of America’s uncontested puissance.
“Mr. Trump,” the authors concluded drily, “explained his thoughts in concrete and easily digestible terms, but they appeared to reflect little consideration for potential consequences.”
Trump’s national security patter is precisely the kind of vague, bombastic talk that really spooks a spook. “It’s not so much wrong or overly certain. It’s incoherent,” said Hayden, whose criticism played a part in Trump walking back his call for U.S. forces to “go after” the families of terrorists.
He deplores Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from the country — and thinks it has already aided extremist recruitment efforts (“it has made the United States less safe than it would otherwise be”). He hated the bit about ordering up hits on terrorists' families and, in general, thinks the developer-turned-pol doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. But Hayden — who admits his own culpability in providing some of the spurious “storytelling” on weapons of mass destruction that led to the invasion of Iraq — is most offended by what he sees as Trump’s indifference to fact.
Take Trump’s insistence on telling “the story about the families fleeing two days before 9/11,” Hayden says. “There is no data that supports any thread of that story. Most of the 9/11 hijackers weren’t married, none of them had families inside the United States, and there’s no evidence that any family members moved before, during, or after 9/11. It was completely made up. … [That] doesn’t seem to matter to some fraction of our electorate.”
But here Hayden makes a significant pivot: Trump, he believes, is a histrionic symptom of otherwise sensible conservative frustration with President Barack Obama’s unwillingness to make the war on terror a top priority.
And he endorses Trump’s oft-repeated call for the return of “tougher” terrorist interrogations and a wider reliance on targeted killings, though he doesn’t explicitly embrace waterboarding or “worse,” as Trump has — nor call for “bombing the shit out of ISIS,” as Trump does.
“Trump is saying we need to be tougher,” Hayden adds. “Yeah, that’s actually a fair argument. I do think we need to be tougher. I do think our tolerance for collateral damage is far too low.”
Hayden has been grappling with these issues as long as anybody, since he was barely old enough to drink. His first significant Air Force post came in 1967, as a 22-year-old officer in Colorado, tasked with sending first-generation drones on intelligence-gathering missions over North Vietnam (“No live-streaming video. It flew a pre-programmed path, we hope, took pictures along that path. We developed the wet film,” he recalls). From there, it was on to Guam, where he was tasked with synthesizing the intelligence needed to send flights of B-52s over Vietnam to flatten 3-by-1-mile “boxes” in the jungle, a point-and-pray spray of 500-pound bombs that were woefully imprecise.
He doesn’t engage deeply when I ask him to tell me what it’s like to know your work resulted in the deaths of real people. He’s more eager to address the macro — how massive technological improvements since the 1960s have made bombing exponentially more precise and made Americans less willing to tolerate the killing of civilians, even for a quantifiable military goal. “We had a higher demand for exquisite intelligence; the American tolerance, overall, for collateral damage went down, as well,” he says.
Of course, most of Hayden’s late career was spent far from the battlefield, at the center of the two major policy debates likely to dominate national security discussion for the foreseeable future — the enhanced interrogation of terror suspects and the widening scope of surveillance, electronic and otherwise.
A few hours before we spoke, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) blasted Hayden’s claim, in the book, that some enhanced interrogation techniques — especially sleep deprivation — helped shake loose valuable intelligence from terrorists. He’s battled Feinstein and her staff for years, and after engaging on the topic for a couple of minutes, he stopped in mid-sentence, glared and declared: “Frankly, I tire of this issue.”
Another thing that frustrates Hayden: The intelligence community is fighting the Feinsteins and Greenwalds of the world constrained by the anachronistic shackles of self-imposed secrecy. In the book he argues against overclassification, and not only for the usual public-interest reasons: He thinks the intelligence agencies, which have been battered publicly since 9/11, have to step out of the shadows for their own self-preservation.
Somewhat surprisingly, Hayden thinks the government needs to release greater details of its targeted killing programs, to win the public relations war and demystify a process he thinks is vital for national security.
“We very often vacate the field of argument on that by not putting sufficient data out there” that would counter a “journalistic record” focused on the deaths of innocent civilians rather than successes, he says. “There’s an instance where I actually think the government would be more well-served by being more transparent.”
For a man who has spent his life keeping secrets, Hayden has grown strikingly resigned to the idea that “crowdsourcing” has made that enterprise increasingly difficult and, often enough, pointless. He faced that very challenge in the writing of his book: The CIA censors didn’t ask him to remove any significant details, but he voluntarily struck several sections dealing with previously undisclosed covert actions. He’s not enthusiastic about the redactions and doesn’t expect them to stay secret for long.
“Everything becomes public sooner or later,” he said with a shrug.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump said he was moving forward with legal action that would, in essence, nullify the delegate selection process in Louisiana -- a state that Trump won but that might still give more delegates to his rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
However, whether there currently is any legal action is unclear and the Louisiana State Republican Party is pushing back on what it is characterizing as a miscommunication between Trump's national staff and his state team. Trump's legal threat also raises questions about whether his team fully grasps the complex rules that govern the delegate allocating process.
There are two issues at stake: the delegates selected to attend the convention to sit on the various rules committees and the exact number of delegates allocated to each candidate. The first issue, the rules committees, is particularly important because the rules governing each convention differ every election cycle.
Here, of Louisiana's six slots, pro-Cruz delegates have five of them. A candidate that has stacked the committees with delegates that are friendly to the candidate can push rules friendly to the candidates' favor.
An outlandish example: If the rules committees are stacked with delegates that are Cruz supporters, it can make rules that say that the Republican nominee must only be a senator from Texas.
Can Trump be blocked from reaching delegate threshold?
After the Louisiana primary, the state GOP had its meeting to select delegates, under "Rule 6," which says that this meeting will occur right after the state convention. The Trump campaign claimed that this meeting was held in secret, which is what gives it the legal justification for a challenge.
"Well the problem we're having here is that there was a secret meeting in Louisiana of the convention delegation, and apparently all of the invitations for our delegates must have gotten lost in the mail," Trump campaign official Barry Bennett said to MSNBC on Monday.
"There's a process to deal with this. It's in the certification process, and it's been with our legal team for most of the morning now, and we are moving forward with the complaint to decertify these delegates," Bennett went on.
However, Jason Dore, the chairman of the Louisiana Republican party, said that their meeting wasn't secret and that, in fact, both of Trump's state chairmen were in the room and present for the meeting.
Bennett later conceded to CBS News' Major Garrett that there was a campaign official in attendance at the meeting - but only because Bennett got wind of it and that the party did not go through the proper channels to notify prospective delegates, therefore giving the challenge merit. Bennett said the campaign would contest the delegate allocation process with the Republican National Committee.
The second issue is the number of delegates that each candidate is awarded, which is based on their vote totals and distributed proportionally. Even though Trump won more votes in the state, both Cruz and Trump were awarded 18 delegates in the wake of the primary because the race was close. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won five delegates, but because his campaign was suspended, those five delegates become, in essence, free agents, who support whomever they choose. As of right now, there is no indication as to which way these delegates will go.
The key point: Those delegates have not been allocated yet. But that hasn't stopped Trump from claiming that Cruz is trying to "steal" delegates.
On Sunday, Trump said to ABC, "He's trying to steal things because that's the way Ted works, OK...the system is a broken system. The Republican tabulation system is a broken system. It's not fair."
Later in the day, Trump tweeted that there is a lawsuit coming as a result of the delegate allocation. It was yet another lawsuit threat from Trump regarding Cruz -- he previously threatened to sue Cruz over his citizenship and over commercials his campaign was running highlighting Trump's past support for abortion.
Trump then seemed to forget that he used the word "steal" during a Monday radio interview with WTAQ radio in Wisconsin. When radio host Jerry Bader, a Cruz supporter, confronted him on the claim, Trump said multiple times that he wasn't using the word "stealing."
"I'm not saying stealing, Jerry," Trump said. "I'm saying this: I won the state of Louisiana. I won it. Okay?"
"Okay, if I won it, how come I end up with less delegates? I'm just saying the system is bad. I'm not saying stealing because I know they have a - you know - the have a very strange system."

When Bader read the direct quote from Trump using the word "steal," Trump said, "I don't know. I mean, maybe I did because I see what's going on," before launching into a riff about how unfair the process was.
Sunset Daily News & Sports
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Sunset Daily News
29 March 2016
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