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Hometown: Arizona
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Member since: Wed Jul 16, 2008, 08:35 PM
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Journal Archives

Republicans are appeasing extremists the same way Saudi leaders do

I watched American extremists attack our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, and while their uncompromising fervor and fanaticism was shocking, it was not altogether unfamiliar to me. When the crowd erected the wooden gallows with the noose, I felt a sense of deja vu that took me a few days to pinpoint: The gallows set up outside the building reminded me of looking at Deera, or “chop chop,” square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a site for frequent public beheadings and the same place where the beheaded bodies sometimes are later crucified. This was and still is a weekly event in Saudi Arabia.

Watching domestic terrorists erect a set for public execution outside the Capitol was all the more disheartening to me because I spent a good part of my career at the CIA fighting to keep this kind of extremism from reaching our shores. And I fear that many do not grasp the potential consequences of letting this type of lawlessness stand without loud condemnation by every single member of Congress. This is not the time for equivocation or political maneuvering to remain in power. Here, we could learn something from the Saudis.

The capitulation by Saudi political leaders to Islamist extremists was born hundreds of years ago in a twisting path that is the subject of many scholarly dissertations. But what I observed as a counterterrorism officer at the CIA was that Saudi political leaders are hamstrung when they try to curb violent jihad (commonly known as “terrorism” to Americans) emanating from the kingdom. They understand that a crackdown would imperil their reign, and they are forced to recall their original bargain with Saudi extremists: A coexistence deal was hatched centuries ago between the Bedouin Saud tribe and the dogmatic and violently puritanical Wahhabi religious sect of Islam. This partnership was restated in 1901 when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was born, and then bluntly driven home with the 1979 deadly takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by a particularly virulent faction of religious extremists who believed Saudi politicians had allowed the country to degrade and become too liberal and modern. The leader of the siege, a religious extremist leader called Juhayman, was uneducated and preached his extremist views mostly to the uneducated. During the takeover, hundreds died, including Saudi government security officers and religious pilgrims. The details of this clash are also much debated, but one thing’s for sure: Saudi political leaders heeded the refresher on who called what shots in the kingdom.

And the takeover of the mosque later gave rise to Osama bin Laden, who referenced the mosque takeover and Juhayman in his own call to arms. So it’s really no surprise that the vast majority of 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Nor that the Saudis’ assistance in the global war on terrorism was tepid and on very much their own terms. Nor that, more recently, the Saudis killed an American journalist critical of the royal family. The Saudi rulers are transactional: They will do whatever they need to, with whomever they need to, to stay in power. And so the deal they hatched endures: The family holds power mostly unmolested, in exchange for endorsing Wahhabi religious extremism and its violent enforcement of the same.


Did *Certain* Politicians Commit Sedition?


The Austin City Council voted today to purchase one hotel and turn it into 60 units of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The vote to purchase a second hotel has been postponed to next week after a city council member asked for more time to gather feedback from her constituents.

Under the measure, the city will spend approximately $6.7 million from its Housing and Planning Department’s general obligation bonds to acquire one hotel and use some money from a recurring $6.5 million fund taken from the police department’s budget to provide services to the residents of the hotel. At full occupancy (which wouldn’t happen this year), services and operating costs for the hotel are expected to be about $1.6 million annually.

“In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests this summer, we made a significant cut to policing dollars and reinvested that in things like this,” said Council Member Gregorio Casar, who led the effort to cut police funding and sponsored an amendment last August that set aside $6.5 million in recurring funding to be used for permanent supportive housing and services. “That’s how we’re paying for this. That’s the only reason we’re able to do this.”

In August, the City Council voted to immediately cut over $20 million from the police department’s budget, with most of that money coming from cancelling cadet classes, reducing overtime spending, and eliminating contracts for things like license plate readers. Another almost $80 million will be taken from the police department’s budget by moving certain civilian functions out, like dispatch and the forensics lab—though that money will still be spent on those functions, just not within the department.


Investigation into US Capitol riot moves into more complicated phase

After bringing federal charges against more than 125 people accused of being part of the violent mob that stormed the US Capitol, now comes the hard part.

Law enforcement officials say they are moving from the so-called low-hanging fruit arrests and charges to more complicated cases, focusing on the extremist groups that participated in the attack.

That effort will take months to try to piece together, in part, because unlike some of the early arrests of suspects -- who gleefully posted on social media or even live-streamed their involvement -- many alleged attackers took pains to hide their identities and their involvement.


Prosecutors have said in detention hearings they are working on bringing seditious conspiracy charges -- a prospect that Washington, DC, acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin raised publicly early on.


Democratic colleagues file ethics complaint against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz after Capitol riot

Seven Democrats in the U.S. Senate have filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for his role lending “legitimacy” to false claims of election fraud ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection in the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

In a letter addressed to the Senate Committee on Ethics, the Democratic Senators argue that Cruz and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, “made future violence more likely.” The Democrats called for the committee to conduct an investigation into the two Republican senators and possibly consider “disciplinary action,” which could include the rare move of expulsion from the Senate. The Constitution also grants Congress the ability to censure its members, which is essentially just a strong condemnation from the chamber.

Leading up to the destructive Capitol riot, Cruz, Hawley and other Congressional Republicans vowed to object to the 2020 election results based on former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him. There is no evidence of widespread fraud on a level that would have affected the result. Even after a mob of Trump supporters desecrated the U.S. Capitol, Cruz objected to certifying Arizona’s electoral results and he’s been in political hot water ever since.

Cruz, whose office did not immediately return a request for comment Friday, told POLITICO that his objection “was the exact opposite of inciting violence.”


US lawmakers ask FBI to investigate Parler app's role in Capitol attack

American lawmakers have asked the FBI to investigate the role of Parler, the social media website and app popular with the American far right, in the violence at the US Capitol on 6 January.

Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House oversight and reform Committee, asked the FBI to review Parler’s role “as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States”.

Maloney asked the FBI to review Parler’s financing and its ties to Russia.

Maloney cited press reports that detailed violent threats on Parler against state elected officials for their role in certifying the election results before the 6 January attack that left five dead. She also noted numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their roles in the attack.


Uh oh, Rep. Andy Biggs. Poll says nearly half of your district suspects you played a role in Capitol

Nearly six in 10 voters in Biggs’ congressional district think he should resign if he played a role in the events that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters rioted to try to stop certification of the 2020 election results, according to a poll released on Friday.

And nearly half those polled believe he probably did.

That’s not good news for a guy whose ruby-red district offers lifelong job security for a guy like Biggs.


“He may be in big trouble in AZ05,” pollster Mike Noble, of OH Predictive Insights, told me. “In a safe district, you can almost get away with anything. However, this poll indicates that may not be the case.”


What happens after the Capitol attacks? / Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

DOJ probing sedition in connection with Capitol riot

A Justice Department “strike force” is seeking to assemble a sedition case against some of those involved in last week’s riot at the Capitol, which is now being treated as a massive crime scene, a top prosecutor said Tuesday.

The acting U.S. attorney in Washington, Michael Sherwin, said a team of his colleagues was examining whether to file those serious charges, which carry a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison.


“Just yesterday, our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors,” he added. “Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol.”


Sherwin described some of the early, less-serious charges filed against participants in the violent riots — in which five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died — as placeholders that would eventually be expanded into far graver indictments. He also said some of the conduct that has received widespread public attention — like the man who sat in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair and stole a piece of mail — only scratched the surface of the criminality that took place. Additional, nonpublic information will be “shocking” when it comes out, he said.


Trump must go: Congress or his Cabinet must remove him from office before he injures another America

Trump must go: Congress or his Cabinet must remove him from office before he injures another American


Make no mistake: The surreal scene at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday that temporarily shut down the Electoral College vote count and led to at least one death was directly brought on by Donald Trump. He’s responsible for every critically injured person, every terrorized police officer and every single broken window caused by the violent mob of his so-called supporters. The president of the United States incited this riot.

He did it over years, sowing doubt in every institution our country holds dear, including our national security agencies, which he undermined as part of some phony “deep state” conspiracy; our research facilities, whose critical recommendations on climate change and medical best practices he dismissed as overblown; and our news organizations, whose watchdog work he repeatedly challenged as “fake” because it exposed his faults.

He did it over months, spreading lies and fear about his political opponents on the campaign trail, falsely claiming Democrats on the whole — and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in particular — are socialists looking to implement universal abortion access, throw open the borders and storm into homes on the hunt for legally owned guns.

He did it over weeks, raising absolutely untrue claims of fraud over his election loss, again and again, and threatening others to back him in his fiction or face consequences.

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