On This Day, Sept 21, 1989 – Powell Becomes Joint Chiefs’ Chairman

The Senate Armed Forces Committee unanimously confirms President George H. Bush’s nomination of Army General Colin Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell was the first African-American to achieve the United States’ highest military post. Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrant parents. Joining the U.S. Army after college, he served two tours in Vietnam before holding several high-level military posts during the 1970s and 1980s. From 1987 to 1989, he was national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan and in 1989 reached the pinnacle of his profession when he was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George Bush. As chairman, General Powell’s greatest achievement was planning the swift U.S. victory over Iraq in 1991’s Persian Gulf War. In 1993, he retired as chairman. Two years later, he embarked on a national tour to promote his autobiography,...

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Tillerson is Tired of Rattling Around the Halls of Empty State Department, Thinks ‘Rexit’

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump’s State Department deserves to be abbreviated to State Dept., because it is. From the moment he landed at the White House, Trump began showing diplomats the door. Whether he was convinced that understanding history, intentional law, and diplomatic skills were something that wouldn’t be needed in his regime of best-dealmakers-ever, or he was simply worried that everyone at State was contaminated with Hillary Clinton cooties, Trump emptied the department and never got around to filling slots that had previously been regarded as critical. That’s left official secretary of state and Friend of Russia Rex Tillerson with a lot of space to rattle around, and plenty of time to contemplate being back on his horse ranch (he’s the Texas-based CEO of an oil company, of course he has a horse ranch). And with White House communications turning over and Donald Trump running over the Justice Department, one of the things Rex...

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Rex Tillerson to Skip NATO Meeting, Visit Russia Instead

by Mark Sumner – On Monday, the Director of the FBI revealed that there was an active investigation into collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence. But what no one got around to asking was whether the FBI was checking for ongoing collusion between the Trump regime and his pal Vladimir. Because in the list of things you can do to show you don’t have a soft spot for Russia, item number one might be this. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China’s president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them. Chief among the items that have made people concerned about Trump’s obsequious attitude toward Russia is his frequent threats to weaken or...

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New York AG: SoS Tillerson Used Email Alias for Climate Messages While CEO of ExxonMobil

by Neapolitan – Well, isn’t this special. Bloomberg is reporting that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly used an email alias account for many years to discuss climate change matters while he was CEO of ExxonMobil in what appears to be an effort to keep sensitive communications out of the eyes of the public, Exxon’s shareholders, and, possibly, investigators. New York says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.: Wayne Tracker. Tillerson sent messages from the account to discuss the risks posed by climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a court filing about his office’s fraud investigation of the company. Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the Wayne Tracker account on the Exxon system from at least 2008 through 2015, Schneiderman said. Schneiderman made the claim in a letter Monday to Justice Barry Ostrager...

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Where’s Tillerson? Secretary of State Ducking Press Amid Reports of Being Sidelined

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘Your decision to travel without reporters sends a dangerous signal to other countries about the U.S. commitment to freedom of the press.’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will embark on his first trip to Asia next week, visiting Japan, South Korea, and China. In what some journalists are calling an unprecedented move, he will not travel with members of the press. “Not only does this situation leave the public narrative of the meetings up to the Chinese foreign ministry as well as Korea’s and Japan’s, but it gives the American people no window whatsoever into the views and actions of the nation’s leaders,” a dozen Washington bureau chiefs from major news organizations wrote in a letter to the State Department earlier this week. CNN‘s Brian Stelter reported: On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that Tillerson was looking to save money by taking a smaller...

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‘A Vote for Climate Disaster’: Senate Confirms Tillerson as Secretary of State

by Nadia Prupis – “The fight against Tillerson’s nomination revealed just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress” The U.S. Senate has confirmed former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, revealing “just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress,” as climate group 350.org put it. The 56-43 vote went largely along party lines, but got some Democratic support, including from Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Mark Warner (Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine)—the same non-Republican quartet who allowed Tillerson to advance on Tuesday. “A vote for Rex Tillerson is a vote for climate disaster,” said May Boeve, 350 executive director. “Negotiating oil deals with human-rights abusing heads of state does not qualify you to lead international diplomacy. The fight against Tillerson’s nomination revealed just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress.” “In the face of this corruption,...

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‘Hostile Takeover’: Oil & Gas Industry Now In Charge of US Foreign Policy

by Jon Queally – Confirming Rex Tillerson, Republicans on Senate Foreign Relations Committee “just knowingly handed our international climate diplomacy over to a rogue oil mogul” In a vote strictly along party lines, Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State on Monday. Despite unified opposition from Democrats on the committee and a campaign by climate action and corporate accountability groups, Tillerson’s confirmation now passes to the full Senate where the Republican majority is nearly certain to finalize his appointment. Those who opposed Tillerson most aggressively responded to Monday’s vote by calling Republicans “spineless” and promised that the confirmation would only serve to further unify climate activists and the broader anti-Trump movement. “The Senators voting to confirm Rex Tillerson have clearly left their spines at home. Instead of standing up to a historically unpopular President, they’re letting Trump hand...

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5 Things You Need to Know About Rex Tillerson (VIDEO)

by Andrew Satter and Carolyn Kenney – President-elect Donald Trump has nominated former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state, despite the fact that he has no formal government or foreign policy experience. Here are five things you need to know about Rex Tillerson. Andrew Satter is the Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. Carolyn Kenney is a Research Associate with the National Security and International Policy team at the Center. Reprinted with permission from The Center for American Progress

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Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil Ties Endanger the Climate and National Security

by Cathleen Kelly – The direct link between climate change threats and the duties of the secretary of state is strong. As droughts, floods, heat waves, and other symptoms of a warming world increase both in number and intensity—throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, and the United States—the next U.S. secretary of state will face urgent pressure to curb climate change and manage the effects of a warming planet that can no longer be avoided. Failure to do so will damage the global economy and destabilize an already wobbly security landscape, with potentially dire consequences for U.S. national security interests. The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former* ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications. Foreign policy...

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‘Supervillian’ Rex Tillerson Also Runs This Tax-Hating US-Russian Oil Company

by Jon Queally – Leaked documents show Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State is director of subsidiary based in Bahamas. In response to the revelations, Duncan Meisel, an organizer with the climate action group 350.org, used his personal Twitter account to offer one explanation as to why Tillerson might be heads one of the world’s most maligned oil companies while also running a Russian-affiliated subsidiary based in a notorious tax haven:Documents leaked to a German newspaper reveal that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next Secretary of State, has been the quiet director of a U.S.-Russian oil firm registered in the Bahamas, one of the world’s key tax havens. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which received the documents from the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Germany, registration papers show “Tillerson was appointed in 1998 as a director of Exxon Neftegas, an ExxonMobil...

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Trump Nominating Rex Tillerson Secretary of State

by Ed Krayewski – Exxon-Mobil CEO could become an advocate for liberalization and cooperation as top diplomat. President-Elect Donald Trump announced this morning on Twitter that he intended to nominate Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the position of secretary of state, calling him “one of the truly great business leaders of the world.” Tillerson has been the CEO of Exxon-Mobil since 2006, and has been with Exxon-Mobil for 41 years, joining as a production engineer. He was expected to retire from the company by March. Tillerson has often spoke about technological progress bringing the U.S. closer to an era of energy abundance. “We face an urgent need to learn the appropriate policy lessons to fully leverage this historic moment,” he said in public remarks in 2014. “We need new policies designed for this new era of abundance not policies based on the fear of scarcity.” In 2012, Tillerson spoke to the...

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Snowden: Petraeus Leaked ‘Far More Highly Classified’ Info Than I Did

by Andrea Germanos – In exclusive interview with Yahoo! Global News, NSA whistleblower also points to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who lied to Congress, as example of two-tiered justice system Former Gen. David Petraeus, who is on President-elect Donald Trump‘s expanding list for secretary of state, leaked “far more highly classified” than Edward Snowden did—and did so for no public benefit—yet spent no time in prison. The points were underscored by the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower himself in a face-to-face interview in Moscow with Yahoo! Global News anchor Katie Couric, published online Monday. The former CIA head pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2015 for leaking highly classified information, including identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, and information from conversations with the president via “black books” with his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. Some observers, including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, have already pointed...

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Five Horrifically Bad Foreign Policy Ideas That Should Disqualify John Bolton From Being Secretary of State

by Eric Boehm – Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is reportedly on the Trump administration’s short list for secretary of state. Even though no official announcement has been made, Bolton’s consideration is already drawing rebukes from libertarian-minded Republicans like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who on Tuesday called Bolton’s foreign policy views “unhinged.” Paul’s spot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee gives him significant sway over the nomination of Bolton—or anyone else—as secretary of state, but you don’t have to share Paul’s skepticism about America’s interventionalist foreign policy to be terrified by the prospect of having Bolton in charge of the State Department. Here’s a brief reminder of some of the terrible things Bolton has done (or wanted to do) in the realm of foreign policy. We only included five of the worst examples, but share your own not-so-fond memories of Bolton’s disastrous ideas in the comments below. 1. Bolton was a...

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Report: Hillary Wants Joe Biden For Huge Role In White House

by Oliver Willis – A new report indicates that Vice President Joe Biden’s long tenure in Washington, D.C. may not be over just yet if Hillary Clinton has anything to do with it. According to Politico, the Clinton brain trust is considering offering Biden one of the most important roles in her administration if she wins the election. “Joe Biden is at the top of the internal short list Hillary Clinton’s transition team is preparing for her pick to be secretary of state, a source familiar with the planning tells POLITICO. This would be the first major Cabinet candidate to go public for a campaign that’s insisted its focus remains on winning the election, and perhaps the most central choice for a potential president who was a secretary of state herself.” The report indicates that a formal offer of the position has not been discussed yet between Biden and Clinton. Biden...

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Hillary Clinton Broke Government Transparency Rules While Secretary Of State, Report Finds

by LAUREN C. WILLIAMS – Hillary Clinton ran afoul of a federal record keeping law meant to help government agencies be more transparent when she used a private email server to conduct official business, according to a new State Department compliance report given to lawmakers Wednesday. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that while the State Department suffers from “systemic weaknesses…that go well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state,” Clinton’s office — as well as that of her predecessors — have been recalcitrant in managing cybersecurity risks. The OIG investigated the cybersecurity practices of five former state secretaries: Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. But the agency singled out Clinton for her exclusive use of a private email server. “Sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such...

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Hillary Clinton Deserves a Huge Amount of Credit For the U.S.-Cuba Breakthrough

by Scan – With so much distressing news at home and abroad these days, it sure is nice to see inspiring headlines like “Obama calls for change and freedom in Cuba” and “Obama: Time to bury ‘last remnants’ of Cold War in Americas“. I mean this with all sincerity: Thanks, Obama! Barack Obama will go down in history as the president who finally thawed relations with our close island neighbor after more than a half century, and he absolutely deserves credit for this continent-changing accomplishment. But a president never works alone, and there was someone working for him throughout his first term who was instrumental to bringing forth this tremendous achievement. It was his first Secretary of State, and she’s currently running to succeed him. In December 2014, just after the president announced that full diplomatic relations with Cuba would be restored, Bloomberg View published a fascinating behind-the-scenes account entitled “Hillary Clinton Secretly...

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DOJ Clears Hillary Clinton on Email Deletion & Private Server

by Frank Vyan Walton – And now for something you probably won’t here about much in the MSM. “There is no question that Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision – she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server,” Department of Justice lawyers told a judge.U.S. Justice Department lawyers told a federal court Wednesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account was not against the law, nor was it illegal for her to unilaterally determine which messages were considered work-related and necessary to return to the State Department for record keeping. Of course that’s not the narrative we’ve been fed for months, one that the GOP has been gloating over… Former Vice President Dick Cheney described former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s handling of her private email through a private server as “sloppy...

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Hillary Clinton and the Tale of Two Phones

Democratic candidate faces falling poll numbers as FBI investigates private email server It was supposed to be so much easier for Hillary Clinton. She had years to prepare for her moment. She had the team in place, the money raised and the vast network of supporters that is the back bone of team Clinton. They’ve run for president a combined three times, so they know what they are doing. But her falling poll numbers are now inviting serious competitors to think about jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination. So what happened? Simply, it’s the tale of two phones. When she was secretary of state, Clinton says she simply didn’t want to carry two phones. She chose to use a private server stored in her New York home instead of the official government email. That is highly unusual. The reason it usually isn’t done is pretty simple: the...

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Jeb Bush Accuses Hillary Clinton Of Ruining Iraq, Seems To Be Forgetting Someone

by JAMESON PARKER – Jeb Bush has two problems and he’s failing spectacularly at solving either one. On the one hand, he has a George W. Bush-shaped millstone around his neck. He may enjoy his brother’s political connections (and certainly his fundraising lists), but being the brother of the guy who is almost universally considered one of the worst presidents in a generation – and some argue quite a bit longer – doesn’t make things easy. Nobody is thrilled about putting another Bush in office after we just spent eight painful years digging ourselves out of the last one’s hole. The other challenge is that Hillary Clinton is far more qualified than Jeb, has more experience both with working with Congress and foreign nations, and is far more popular. To fight Clinton, Bush seems to be doing the worst possible thing: Making the race about Iraq. Jeb Bush is planning to...

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In This 1 Minute Statement, John Kerry Gets Painfully Real With Israel (VIDEO)

by KERRY-ANNE – As Israel and her advocates on The Hill continue to poison Obama’s historic nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a stern threat: quit undermining the deal, or Israel will end up “being more isolated… and more blamed.” Despite claims that Israel is America’s greatest ally, it is difficult to imagine another state in the world conducting such overt hostility to U.S. foreign policy. First, there is the behind the scenes work to undermine the policy among American lawmakers.  These efforts were spearheaded by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. The Israeli ambassador coordinated efforts to rally conservative and Democrat lawmakers against the deal. Hopes were vested in former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez leading the charge against the deal in the Senate; but corruption allegations forced him to resign from his post. So Dermer...

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New York Times is Sorry it Screwed up Correcting a Story, not Sorry it Screwed up the Story

by Laura Clawson – Twice in the last few months, a hot, breaking New York Times story on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address while secretary of state has gone from “wow, that looks terrible for Hillary Clinton” to “wow, that looks terrible for the New York Times” in the day or so after its initial much-hyped publication. And judging by public editor Margaret Sullivan’s review of the latest f-up, the Times isn’t planning on changing its ways to avoid future embarrassments. In March, Michael Schmidt wrote in the Times that Clinton “took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act”—except that the Federal Records Act didn’t start requiring that until after she had left the State Department. Late this past Thursday night, the Times went up with a story, written by Michael Schmidt and Matt...

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House Passes Bill That Would Limit Due Process For Accused Terrorists

by JUSTIN SALHANI – The House of Representatives has passed a law that would allow the Secretary of State the ability to deny passport to anyone who has aided a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) and revoking the passport to U.S. citizens who have aided such groups. H.R. 237, also known as the FTO Passport Revocation Act of 2015, has about a 37 percent chance of passing the senate, according to govtrack.us. Proposed by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), H.R. 237 reads: “the Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport to any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).” According to the bill, the Secretary of State may also “revoke a passport previously issued to any individual” who meets the...

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Fox News’ Own Guest Just Destroyed Fox’s Hillary ‘Emailgate’ Talking Points (VIDEO)

by WENDY GITTLESON – Every once in a while, Fox News accidentally allows someone on the air who hasn’t read their talking points, or at least they refuse to adhere to them. This is exactly what happened on Sunday when their own cyber expert defended Hillary Clinton in the so-called email scandal. If you aren’t familiar with emailgate, Hillary Clinton received official emails on a personal server instead of on the government server while she was Secretary of State. As with Benghazi, Republicans and Fox (as if there’s a difference) are desperately trying to turn it into a major scandal. There are several problems with that: her predecessors did the same thing; Americans don’t give a rat’s hiney; and at least according to Fox’s cyber security expert, it was the smart thing to do. Fox’s tech expert, Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson was on Fox & Friends on Sunday. Fox & Friends...

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Alabama Secretary Of State: It’s Time To ‘Forgive People’ For Voter Suppression And ‘Move On’

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – Just weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the violent clashes in Selma that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, lawmakers introduced a bill to restore that law’s power to protect voters against discrimination. Alabama’s newly sworn in Secretary of State John Merrill told ThinkProgress at a DC conference on Wednesday that he believes the new law should not cover his state, saying it’s time to “forgive people” for past voter suppression and “move on.” Civil rights groups and some lawmakers are already sharing concerns that Alabama — whose racially motivated redistricting case led to the gutting of the law in the first place — is not covered by the new version of the Voting Rights Act. But Merrill said he agrees with the authors of the bill that his state should not fall under the updated coverage formula. “I feel good...

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Oregon Will Soon Have The Nation’s First Openly Bisexual Governor

by KAY STEIGER – The state of Oregon will make history this week when it swears in the current Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) as governor, making her the governor in the country to be openly bisexual. Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), who had just been reelected to his fourth term in November, resigned on Friday amid questions about the improper influence his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, may have had over the distribution over contracts distributed in the state. Though the 67-year-old governor repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing, he said in a statement Friday that his resignation would be effective Feb.18. Because the state of Oregon doesn’t have a lieutenant governor like most other states, the secretary of state will succeed Kizhaber. Brown wrote about her bisexuality in a 1992, when she was serving in the state’s House of Representatives. “I believe it was during my early 30’s that I figured...

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