The @HouseForeign hearing on Afghanistan, featuring @SecBlinken, is getting under way a few minutes late. Blinken joining virtually. I'll be trying to tweet notable moments/statements periodically, in this thread.
.@RepGregoryMeeks says that in the discourse over the Afghanistan withdrawal, "we are seeing domestic politics injected into foreign policy." But then issues a full-throated endorsement of the withdrawal, rather than laying out what issues the hearing seeks to examine.
@RepGregoryMeeks Blinken: "The military placed on standby by President Biden was able to secure the airport and begin evacuation." We've all seen the images of the airport. "Secure" is not one of the first words that come to mind - even if they were able to maintain operational control.
@RepGregoryMeeks Interesting - Blinken praises specific members of Congress (incl several Republicans) efforts to get people out of Kabul, who had to do so b/c of State Department failures.
Blinken: "The interim government named by the Taliban falls very short of the mark that was set by the international community for inclusivity... it includes many key members who have very challenging track records."
Blinken says that an internal State Department dissent cable "did not predict the collapse of the government and security forces before our departure." But it did predict the collapse shortly "soon after" the US left.…
On the Afghanistan withdrawal, @RepKinzinger: "it's important to remind that the Trump administration failed in the setup and I think the Biden administration absolutely failed in the execution of this."
.@RepKinzinger - State Dept officials did indeed act heroically, but "they should have never been placed in a situation where they had to act heroically."
@RepKinzinger .@RepKinzinger: Does the US recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan?

@SecBlinken: It is the de facto government of Afghanistan. Those are just the facts.
Unless I missed something - which is entirely possible, so please LMK - @Ilhan is the first member of Congress to ask about the reportedly botched drone strike, intended to hit ISIS targets and instead hit an Afghan civilian and children.
.@SecBlinken responds to her: "this is being reviewed “very very carefully by others in the administration so that we understand exactly what happened, or what didn’t happen. No country on earth - no government - takes more effort, more precautions...
... , to try to ensure that anyone other than the intended terrorist target is struck using a drone, or by any other means."

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More from @AliRogin

14 Sep
Q from @MittRomney: "has the Taliban abandoned their sympathy for al Qaeda, Haqqani network - or has that relationship been severed?"

@SecBlinken: the relationship has not been severed and it’s a very open question as to whether their views and the relationship has changed...
... in any kind of definitive way. I think it’s fair to say two things: one, whatever the Taliban’s views on al Qaeda, they do know that the last time they harbored al-Qaeda and engaged in an outwardly-directed attack on our homeland, certain things followed...
... which i believe they would have an interest in not seeing repeated. (didn't we just declare that we left because we were no longer interested in committing to being able to do those "certain things?")
Read 9 tweets
29 Oct 20
National Counterintelligence and Security Center director Bill Evanina tells @nickschifrin that recent Russian + Iranian cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure may have only accessed voter information accidentally, but of course, it still has the same end result: discord.
Evanina says his concern is not that foreign actors will be able to manipulate votes. But "the concern we have is a potential ransomware attack where systems are shut down and we're unable to process votes in a timely fashion."
Evanina distances himself from DNI Ratcliffe's statement that Iran's recent misinformation campaigns were designed to hurt President Trump: "I can only comment to the actual effects and impact of last week with respect to what happened with Iran's intentions...
Read 6 tweets
27 Oct 20
New head of the US Agency for Global Media (which heads VOA, RFE/RL and others) removes the editorial protection which one former VOA director calls "the one thing that makes VOA distinct from broadcasters of repressive regimes."…
At Pack's confirmation in September '19, @SenatorMenendez specifically asked how he would protect the firewall between VOA journalists and its government board. Pack: "Well, I'm not sure about all the journalistic practices and techniques inside the agency now to do that...
... but I would look at those and try to strengthen them. I guess it comes down to that we need to say no when you get a call from some--a political person telling journalists what to do."
Read 4 tweets
14 Aug 20
THREAD: I wanted to talk/tweet about the use of “fighting” imagery when we talk about cancer, and using the term “beat” to indicate success. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about because my upcoming book employs it, right in the title: “Beat Breast Cancer Like A Boss.”
Also, I heard an excellent @BBCRadio4 piece that explores this topic in such a nuanced, thoughtful way. If this is something you’re interested in, I highly recommend you listen.…
The interviewer spoke to several people who said they found such militaristic metaphors unhelpful, for various reasons, including that fighting suggests active participation, when in fact when it comes to cancer, you’re really a passive conduit.
Read 20 tweets
30 Jun 20
During today's briefing, Kayleigh McEnany said that the president only gets briefed on intelligence "when there is a strategic decision to be made," and that he was not briefed "because there was no consensus." Former gov't briefers say that's not the bar for what's in the PDB.
Former CIA briefer @DavidPriess: “Many intelligence judgments in history have not had the consensus of every analyst who worked on it."…
Here's the definition of what's in a PDB on the Intel Community's own homepage: "A daily summary of high-level, all-source information and analysis on national security issues." (Granted, PDBs have evolved over administrations, but even this broad definition would apply here)
Read 6 tweets
11 Mar 20
At #SFRC hearing, @omarAlshogre, who suffered unspeakable horror at the hands of the Assad regime, says he remembers getting more food from prison guards on the day when Caesar's photos were released, shocking the world. "That’s why we have to speak," @omarAlshogre says.
.@omarAlshogre talks about the psychological torture he underwent. One guard would ask him once a day, "how do you want me to kill you? Be creative." Omar adds, "what's awaiting people in #Idlib is the same thing, if we don't help them."
.@RaedAlSaleh3 says his Syria Civil Defense corps (White Helmets) are motivated by the phrase in the Quran, "Whoever saves one life, it is as if they have saved humanity."
Read 5 tweets

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