The Intercept

Colapso do governo Temer ressuscita Diretas Já após 33 anos

19 May 2017 - 5:05pm

Uma reunião na calada da noite, em uma residência oficial, com um investigado que se gaba de comprar juízes, procurador e de manter bom relacionamento com um deputado preso em Curitiba a custa de pagamento mensal pode ser tudo, menos uma conspiração de via única, como querem fazer crer os aliados resilientes de Michel Temer, na véspera chamado de ex-presidente em uma série de atos falhos de jornalistas e colegas cometida ao longo da quinta-feira (18).

Pois uma coisa é a consequência jurídica do áudio (obstrução de Justiça? Prevaricação? Prova de corrupção?), até aqui resultante na abertura de inquérito determinada pelo STF. Outra é a consequência política. Quem, dos aliados que emprestavam a cara e os votos para as reformas temerárias, ousará posar ao lado de um presidente que se encontra na surdina com investigados para ouvir relatos sobre como escapar da Justiça?

A pergunta parece óbvia, mas segue em aberto.

Após denúncias contra Temer, manifestantes fazem protesto por Diretas Já em Brasília.

Foto: Igo Estrela/Getty Images

Fato é que, desde a revelação do áudio, o Brasil parece ter voltado algumas décadas na própria História, quando uma multidão tomou as ruas no movimento pelas Diretas Já, um apelo pelo direito de eleger seu próprio presidente, entre 1983 e 1984.

Era um tempo de mobilização que gerou a força política para a emergência de lideranças e a elaboração da Constituição de 1988 – Carta que, nas palavras de deputado Ulysses Guimarães, o “Senhor Diretas”, teria cheiro de amanhã, e não de mofo. A Constituição Cidadã, como ficou conhecida, seria um marco na garantia dos direitos individuais, da liberdade de expressão, da proteção das minorias.

Curioso observar o protagonismo político de três décadas atrás e os de agora (aparentemente, fora do quadro partidário, não temos uma voz à altura de Osmar Santos e Sócrates, e o jogador de futebol mais articulado da atualidade é Felipe Melo, apoiador de Bolsonaro e entusiasta da política de distribuição de porrada em manifestantes).

O que ninguém poderia imaginar é que o Brasil voltaria às ruas em apoio às eleições diretas no mesmo dia em que os netos de Tancredo foram enquadrados pela Justiça.

A emenda Dante de Oliveira, que levaria o país às urnas, foi rejeitada, mas do Colégio Eleitoral emergiu Tancredo Neves (PMDB), apoiado pelas mesmas lideranças das Diretas, em oposição ao situacionista Paulo Maluf (PSD), que anos depois entraria na lista da Interpol.

Tancredo nunca assumiu o poder. Um tumor indevidamente tratado em meio ao processo eleitoral o levou à internação às vésperas da posse. Ele morreu no mês seguinte. Coube a José Sarney, figura ambígua com um pé no antigo regime e alçado a vice por situacionistas antimalufistas, o trabalho de costurar a transição do primeiro governo civil, após 20 anos de ditadura militar, até a primeira eleição geral para presidente – aquela que levou Fernando Collor ao posto, mas essa é outra conversa.

O que ninguém poderia imaginar até pouco tempo atrás é que, mais de 30 anos depois, o Brasil voltaria às ruas com cartazes em apoio às eleições diretas. Por ironia, no mesmo dia os netos de Tancredo, o senador Aécio Neves (PSDB-MG) e sua irmã, Andrea, foram enquadrados pela Justiça.

O primeiro foi afastado do cargo após pedir dinheiro ao dono da JBS e usar como intermediário um primo e operador, preso pela PF. A irmã também está presa, o que gerou foguetório no sindicato de jornalistas de Minas Gerais, há anos determinados em denunciar as perseguições da família aos profissionais de imprensa do estado.

Novamente um vice alçado a chefe do Executivo sem voto popular

Na mesma frente, não há figurão do PMDB, o partido fiador da transição democrática e das bases de apoio a todos os governos desde a reabertura, que não enfrente acusações de corrupção na Justiça, a começar pelo presidente da República – novamente um vice alçado a chefe do Executivo sem voto popular.

Longe dos holofotes, José Sarney, ex-senador maranhense eleito pelo Amapá, é ainda hoje uma espécie de oráculo do partido. Emplacou inclusive um filho no Ministério do Meio Ambiente. Foi ele quem classificou a delação da Odebrecht como tiro de metralhadora ponto cem. Convém ouvi-lo nas horas de aperto.

Morto em abril, o compositor cearense Antonio Carlos Belchior consagrou na voz de Elis Regina sua música mais conhecida. Falava, em plena ditadura, da dor de perceber a própria geração reproduzir os passos dos pais, mesmo tendo feito tudo o que fizeram.

Apesar do novo velho impasse político, porém, já não somos os mesmos – nem os filhos nem os netos dos antigos protagonistas, conforme assegura o noticiário sobre os herdeiros de Tancredo.

Manifestantes pedem Diretas Já durante protesto na avenida Paulista, em São Paulo.

Foto: Victor Sá

A geração que promete colocar na rua a versão 2.0 das “Diretas Já” tem a chance de tirar de debaixo do tapete, e em meio às balas de borracha disparadas nos grandes centros, uma série de acordos determinantes desta espécie de passado contínuo vivido pelo país.

O Brasil das costuras políticas pacíficas jamais acertou as contas com seu passado autoritário, e o resultado são as bases de uma sociedade ainda marcadamente violenta, arrogante, excludente e tomada de fossos entre representantes e representados, sobretudo quando reformas como a Trabalhista e da Previdência são impostas pelos primeiros sem o devido debate com os segundos – e sem a legitimidade das urnas, que se manifestou, em 2014, por outra agenda (abandonada, frise-se, inclusive por Dilma Rousseff).

Aos poucos, a expressão “Diretas Já” volta, assim, ao debate público. “A crise não apenas exige a remoção de Temer do governo como a convocação imediata de eleições para o Executivo”, escreve o ex-secretário de Estado de Direitos Humanos (governo FHC) Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro em artigo na página A3 da Folha de S.Paulo, um dos mais prestigiados espaços de opinião do jornal. “O desmantelamento das conquistas da Constituição de 1988 e da política de Estado dos direitos humanos, promovido de forma acelerada pelo governo, deve ser interrompido”, pediu o jurista.

A releitura do apelo ao voto direto para presidente em pleno 2017, que exige uma emenda à Constituição, é sintomática dos buracos abertos por quem deveria pavimentar a transição do país ao estabelecimento pleno das conquistas políticas.

The post Colapso do governo Temer ressuscita Diretas Já após 33 anos appeared first on The Intercept.

Feds Hunted Down An Undocumented Immigrant Using Controversial Phone Tracker

19 May 2017 - 4:33pm

As part of a dramatic uptick in the arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants promised by President Trump, the Detroit News reports that FBI and ICE agents used a powerful, secretive device to find Rudy Carcamo-Carranza, a 23-year-old restaurant worker living in Michigan.

State, local, and federal law enforcement agencies have fought to conceal the details of how they use devices that impersonate the cellular communication relays widely deployed by private companies like Verizon and AT&T.  The fake relays, often referred to as Stingrays, after the leading brand of such devices, can trick mobile phones into disclosing their locations, and in some cases can apparently extract the content of voice and text communications. Stingrays can be used across broad geographic areas, or as in the case of Carcamo-Carranza, to pinpoint a single person. According to an affidavit filed by the FBI’s Violent Gang Task Force and obtained by the Detroit News, federal agents hoped that “locating the target cellular device will assist law enforcement in arresting Carcamo-Carranza” on the basis that he was guilty of “unlawful re-entry after deportation.” The Detroit News notes that despite the involvement of the Violent Gang Task Force, Carcamo-Carranza’s “only brushes with the law involve drunken driving allegations and a hit-and-run crash.” Police were able to find Carcamo-Carranza’s cell number after browsing his Facebook private messages, obtained with an earlier warrant. The affidavit briefly acknowledges that cell phones other than the targeted phone could be inadvertently swept up in the Stingray’s dragnet.

Nathan Wessler, an attorney and technology expert at the ACLU, told The Intercept that documents show ICE has been purchasing Stingray devices for years, and presumably been putting them to use. But this case, said Wessler, is “the first time I’m aware of [Stingray] use in an actual immigration enforcement operation.”

The post Feds Hunted Down An Undocumented Immigrant Using Controversial Phone Tracker appeared first on The Intercept.

Imprensa ensaia operação abafa diante de suposta estabilidade econômica evocada por Temer

19 May 2017 - 4:21pm

A manchete de hoje da Folha de S.Paulo – “Temer afirma que não renuncia; áudio sobre Cunha é inconclusivo” – causou desalento a uma grande parcela da população que anseia por ver Eduardo Cunha e Michel Temer na mesma vala comum da história. A Folha tem razão quando diz que não se pode concluir que Temer tenha incentivado a compra do silêncio de Cunha com base no trecho noticiado pelo Globo, mas erra ao escolher, diante da infinidade de maus feitos revelados, destacar isso.

Capa da Folha de São Paulo desta sexta-feira (19).

Reprodução

Na quarta-feira (16), uma nação perplexa assistira a Willian Bonner e Renata Vasconcellos iniciarem o Jornal Nacional com um trecho bombástico da reportagem de O Globo:

Bonner: “O dono da JBS grava conversa como presidente Michel Temer…”

Renata: “Diz ao presidente que paga pelo silêncio de Eduardo Cunha e Lúcio Funaro na Prisão.

Bonner: “E Temer responde: ‘tem que manter isso, viu?”

O áudio divulgado ontem, contudo, revelou que a conversa não havia sido exatamente assim. A fala “tem que manter isso, viu?” vem depois de Joesley Batista dizer: “eu tô de bem com o Eduardo, ok?”.

A Folha não comete erro de informação ao cravar que, especificamente no que se refere à anuência de Temer sobre a propina de Cunha, o áudio é inconclusivo. Tudo bem que a informação é um tanto relativa. Afinal, o que é conclusivo para um pode não ser para outro (vide as redes sociais de coxinhas e petralhas). Mas, vá lá, que o trecho seja inconclusivo. Isso justifica a manchete?

De tudo que há no áudio, de todas as notícias avassaladoras do dia de ontem, o mais relevante era, de fato a dubiedade de um trecho?

De tudo que há no áudio, de todas as notícias avassaladoras do dia de ontem, o mais relevante era, de fato a dubiedade de um trecho? Uma breve espiada nas edições impressas da concorrência sugere que não. O Globo: “‘NÃO RENUCIAREI’: em gravação, Temer ouve dono da JBS relatar crimes”. O Estado de S.Paulo: “STF manda investigar Temer; presidente diz que não renuncia”.

Então o que houve? Deu a louca na Folha? As pistas para se buscar uma resposta estão lá mesmo, na primeira página do maior jornal do país, nas duas chamadas de maior destaque. Primeira: “No país, 2,9 mi estão em busca de emprego há mais de 2 anos”. A segunda: “Bolsa tem pior queda desde 2008; dólar à vista sobe 8,7%”. Em outras palavras, como diz o bordão neoliberal, “é a economia, estúpido”.

Não é de hoje que o jornal e boa parte da imprensa ensaiam fechar com o governo Temer como o menor dos males. No dia 13 de agosto do ano passado por exemplo, em pleno sabadão, a Folha se saía com a seguinte manchete: “Governo vê indícios de melhora na arrecadação”.

Mas voltemos à capa da edição de hoje. Não foi um pouco demais apelar para a economia em meio a uma tormenta do calibre da atual? Seria, talvez, apenas um editor tresvariado, a pressa do fechamento, um caso de cegueira momentânea, causada pelo brilho da careca de Henrique Meirelles? Ao que parece, não.

Destaques da homepage da Folha de São Paulo na manhã de sexta-feira (19)

Reprodução

Durante toda a manhã e até o começo da tarde, a manchete no site da Folha vinha oficiosa qual um Pravda tropical: “Planalto desconfia que gravação de Joesley foi editada e envia áudio de Temer a perito”. Linha finda do título parte 1: “Conversa desperta suspeita, mas não leva a conclusão”. Parte 2: “Temer afirma que não acreditou nas declarações”. É ou não é um belo serviço de relações públicas?

Mas, bem, pelo menos o restante da grande imprensa manteve algum decoro e seguiu apertando o governo, certo? Não exatamente.

Mas, bem, pelo menos o restante da grande imprensa manteve algum decoro e seguiu apertando o governo, certo? Não exatamente. Pela manhã, o site do Estado já havia mudado o foco da política para a economia: “Após dia de tensão no mercado, dólar abre em queda e Bolsa tem leve alta”. O site de Veja, com todo o seu conservadorismo, resistiu um pouco mais. Pela manhã, continuava a bater no moribundo presidente “Ótimo, diz Temer, ao ouvir de Joesley estratégia para barrar investigações”. O lapso petralha, contudo, não duraria muito. Pouco depois do meio dia, o capital havia voltado ao comando da casa dos Civita: “Bolsa sobe e dólar opera em queda após abalo no governo Temer”.

Em mares revoltos, façamos, portanto, um resumo da rota que nossa brava imprensa vinha tentando traçar para si. Folha se colocava como porta voz do governo. O Estadão, de uma hora pra outra, circunscrevia a tensão como pertencente ao “mercado”. Veja passava a retratar a hecatombe política como um “abalo no governo Temer”. Ironicamente, portanto, a mídia escrita tradicional estava pendurada em O Globo, que, às 12h43, seguia apegado ao furo e trazia, em seu site, a seguinte manchete: “Dono da JBS relata tentativa de barrar investigações; Temer responde ‘ótimo, ótimo’”.

No início da tarde, nova reviravolta. Foram divulgados os vídeos da delação premiada de Joesley Batista, assim como o pedido de abertura de investigação sobre Temer, feito ao Supremo pelo procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot. Diante do agravamento da crise, ficou impraticável manter os panos quentes da estabilidade econômica e a imprensa voltou a fustigar o governo. A patacoada matinal, contudo, deixou a impressão de que há um punhado de editores tentando desesperadamente enxugar a enxurrada de fatos que inunda a nação e transforma o futuro, incluindo Bolsa e dólar, num oceano de incerteza.

The post Imprensa ensaia operação abafa diante de suposta estabilidade econômica evocada por Temer appeared first on The Intercept.

As Trump Travels to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s D.C. Lobbying Surge Is Paying Off

19 May 2017 - 2:32pm

An examination by The Intercept of lobbyist disclosures filed with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act shows that Saudi Arabia has greatly expanded its spending on influence peddling during the past two years. Since 2015 the kingdom has expanded the number of foreign agents on retainer to 145 individuals, up from 25 registered agents during the previous two-year period.

Perhaps not coincidentally, President Trump, who less than a year ago vilified Saudi Arabia’s influence over the American political establishment, is now marching to the Saudi lobbyists’ tune.

The selection of Saudi Arabia as the first foreign nation Trump will visit as president when he embarks on his maiden overseas trip is just the latest example of Trump changing his behavior to embrace a country responsible for widespread human rights violations, a growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and the export of an intolerant form of Islam.

Gone are the days when Trump mocked a prominent member of the Saudi royal family for wanting to “control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money,” openly alleged that the kingdom was behind the September 11 terror attacks, and demanded that the U.S. receive free oil for protecting the Saudi elite. During his trip this week, Trump is expected to give an address that backs the Saudi government as a strong Muslim ally and a partner in the fight against extremism.

The Saudi lobbying expenditures, totaling over $18 million, eclipse other established interest groups in Washington. For perspective, lobbying heavyweight Google employs 74 registered lobbyists and spent $7 million over the same two-year period on federal influence.

Like others seeking to influence the U.S. government, Saudi Arabia invests in lobbyists with close connections to both major political parties. They include a wide array of former Democratic and Republican elected officials, retired government officials, and even former journalists.

Republicans lobbying for the Saudis include former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. Lott was deeply involved in the White House hiring process, according to reports, and now three former Lott staff members work for Trump. Coleman chairs the Republican dark money outfit American Action Network, which has helped flood the airwaves with campaign commercials help vulnerable House GOP incumbents.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia also paid large fees to the Podesta Group and the Glover Park Group. The Podesta Group is run by Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta. The Glover Park Group was founded by alumni from President Bill Clinton’s administration.

The expansive Saudi lobbying team has attempted to shape the debate on issues as varied as whether the victims of the September 11 attack may file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, arms deals used for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen, and Trump’s upcoming trip to Riyadh this weekend.

Ed Rogers, the chairman of the BGR Group, a lobbying firm on a $500,000 annual retainer from the Saudi government, hailed the trip in a column for the Washington Post on Tuesday, calling the chosen destinations for Trump’s travel “opportune settings for this administration to make a bold statement to the world that the United States is stronger and more committed than ever to leading.”

Arabia Now, a website and social media network operated in part by a Republican digital media firm retained by the Saudi Embassy, began quickly producing content to promote the trip almost as soon as it became public. “With the recent announcement by President Donald Trump that Saudi Arabia will be the first destination of the Trump administration’s inaugural foreign visit, the White House has affirmed the enduring partnership between Saudi Arabia and America,” blared the website on Monday.

Fahad Nazer, a registered Saudi lobbyist, used his Twitter feed to help unveil a new website, hashtag, and logo to promote Trump state visit. The site features a countdown clock for Trump’s visit along with options for promoting pictures and positive stories about the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Previous disclosures show that consultants tapped by the Saudi government have contracted digital agencies that specialize in native advertising, a marketing technique that presents sponsored content into a news format.

And of course influencing the general public isn’t the only goal of Saudi lobbyists. FARA filings show they also inundate members of Congress and federal officials with meetings, dinners, and emails.

The Glover Park Group and several lobbyists from Brownstein Hyatt Farben Schreck, including a former top aide to former Speaker John Boehner, made 350 contacts over a short period of several weeks with Congress over the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The contentious legislation, which allows the families of terror victims to bring state sponsors of terrorism to court, was strongly opposed by the Saudi government but passed last year over President Obama’s veto.

Saudi Arabia mobilized a massive lobbying effort against JASTA, and also marshaled the support of former military leader leaders and executives from U.S. firms with business interests in Saudi Arabia, including Dow Chemical and Boeing, to protest the bill.

After passage of JASTA, filings show that Saudi lobbyists arranged all-expense paid luxury trips for veterans to travel to Washington to lobby for amending and defanging the law.

Numerous veterans who participated in the effort say they were misled by the Saudi lobbyists, who denied Saudi Arabia was involved in the advocacy campaign. As part of the same campaign, identical letters to the editor and letters to lawmakers against JASTA, supposedly written by military veterans, copied the same language over and over again, a pattern that suggests the letters were written by the lobbyists.

For the upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, Saudi lobbying priorities may veer towards securing an increased military partnership with the Trump administration, particularly regarding the Saudi war against Yemen. Axios is reporting that Jared Kushner has met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the sale of munitions for the war, as well as a Saudi commitment to buy $110 billion in U.S. weapons over a 10-year period.

Soon after Trump was elected, Qorvis MSLGroup distributed a newsletter touting the warm relationship between the newly-elected president and Saudi leaders. In the same packet distributed to reporters, the newsletter proclaimed that Saudi Arabia is “leading international efforts to rehabilitate the health sector in Yemen and provide life-saving care to injured and ill Yemenis.”

International observers paint a starkly different picture. The war in Yemen has resulted in more than 8,000 casualties, mostly civilians. Medical facilities have been repeatedly attacked by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes. The ongoing assault on the country has raised the risk of more than 14 million running out of food, and cholera outbreak has already killed at least 34 people.

Moreover, the disclosed records are only the tip of the iceberg of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to influence U.S. politics. Saudi donations to think tanks, universities, and political foundations are not covered by the FARA law. And Trump’s sprawling business empire and network of associates provides other opportunities for establishing relationships. Not long after Trump’s election victory, Saudi’s lobbyists began booking rooms in the Trump International Hotel in Washington. And last month Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer at the Trump Organization, signed on to work with Squire Patton Boggs, a firm retained to lobby on behalf of the Saudi Kingdom.

The post As Trump Travels to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s D.C. Lobbying Surge Is Paying Off appeared first on The Intercept.

Meet the Pastor Running as a Progressive Republican to Get Big Money Out of Politics

19 May 2017 - 2:04pm

The Republican Party wasn’t always an organization dominated by the ultra-wealthy. While today most of its federal representatives in Congress are trying to pass a gigantic tax cut for the rich disguised as a health care bill, it was once a party that liberated American slaves, established the Environmental Protection Agency, and broke up enormous business monopolies.

That’s the GOP that 42-year-old Arkansas pastor Robb Ryerse is trying to revive. He is the first Republican to be endorsed by Brand New Congress, a grassroots group started by former Bernie Sanders staffers to encourage Democrats and Republicans who have never served in office before to run for Congress.

Ryerse is running in the primary to unseat incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Womack, who has served in Congress since 2011. The district is heavily Republican; in 2016 Womack won with 77 percent of the vote. That makes the district essentially a one-party state: all of the serious political competition happens within the Republican Party.

In an interview with The Intercept, Ryerse explained why he is trying to unseat Womack and how the Republican Party needs to change to become relevant to the lives of ordinary Americans.

“I grew up as a third-generation pastor and after pastoring in churches up North for about ten years I went through kind of a spiritual crisis and needed to be part of a church that was welcoming of all people, a church that accepted that people have doubts and questions and that’s not a threat to faith. So my wife and I moved our family to northwest Arkansas where we started a church called Message Fellowship,” he explained. “I’m the kind of person who believes in big ideas that are daring enough that they might work and starting a new kind of church was kind of a new kind of idea. The reason I’m running for Congress is because I’ve had this kind of big daring idea that I can’t get out of my head. And that’s that we’ve gotta change the way we do politics in America.”

To Ryerse, the current Republican Party isn’t living up to the legacy of the historic one. “The Republican Party used to be known for who it was for, and now it’s known for who it’s against,” he lamented.

But he believes that Republicans can get back on the right track if they look to their past. “You could look at President Reagan signing immigration reform, you could look at Richard Nixon helping establish needed environmental protections, you could talk about Dwight Eisenhower talking about the military-industrial complex, I think there’s lots of examples if you kind of look back at Republicans who really were on the right side of history in a number of ways.”

He described his opponent Congressman Womack as a “good man” but said he has failed to represent the district adequately. He cited a letter Womack wrote to former Secretary of State John Kerry suggesting Syrian refugees were a threat to the people of Arkansas as one of the things that pushed him to run.

“It was one of those fear-mongering kind of ‘We don’t want those people in our town’ kind of letters. And that was one of those things that really kind of planted a seed for me, like, ‘Wow, here’s someone who’s not representing the really just and generous things that are happening in our district,'” Ryerse reflected. “And I think Arkansans deserve someone who will listen to them and represent them better and who will be an independent voice on their behalf.”

Ryerse wants to see a Republican party that strikes a more accepting tone on immigration. “I think the wall is both a terrible waste of money as well as a symbol that just does not reflect what America’s values are. Ronald Reagan talked about our country being a shining city on a hill. The wall doesn’t communicate that kind of optimism that kind of welcoming. I think in terms of helping Republicans see that, I think Republican leadership who are really passionate on the immigration issue really need to dial back the fearmongering and the dehumanizing of people,” he stated.

In this undated photo provided by Bran New Congress Rob Reyerse, who is running in the primary to unseat incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Womack, attends his announcement dinner with friends, congregation members, and community members.

Photo: Brand New Congress

On health care, Ryerse thinks that Republicans have faltered by coalescing around a health care bill with approval ratings barely over 20 percent.

“It would’ve taken just three more independent Republicans in Congress to stop the bill that passed the House a couple of weeks ago. And I would’ve voted against it. I would’ve been one of those independent Republicans that would have voted against that bill,” he explained. “In terms of what we need going forward, I think we need a plan that provides health coverage for all people. I think Obamacare was in some ways a step in the right direction but at the same time it kind of offends my Republican sensibilities to have people being forced to buy insurance to be punished in their taxes if they don’t. I think it’s far better to just have a public option that makes affordable health insurance available to all people. We’ve got to make sure that everybody in the country is covered.”

While it would be hard to find a single Republican in Congress who endorses a public option, it’s actually fairly popular among Republican voters, 51 percent of whom told a Kaiser poll last year that they support offering such a plan to Americans. Part of the reason for this gap between public opinion and public policy is the influence of money in the party, which Ryerse wants to tackle.

“I think the influx of so much money has helped to really cause the toxic nature of our system and has really worked to corrupt the party establishment,” he told us. “I am working with Brand New Congress and we’re not taking special interest money, we’re not taking big PAC money, corporate money. We are being supported, my campaign is being supported by average citizens who believe and who donate. I think that’s the way it needs to be. I think when we’ve got politicians who are beholden to big corporations and big donors is what happens is the very thing we have, whether Republicans or Democrats they put party ahead of people and we end up with the mess we’ve got now.”

With freedom from the need to fundraise from the Kochs and the fossil fuel industry, Ryerse also realizes the threat of climate change. “My faith tradition teaches that God has given us this world to enjoy and steward,” he proclaimed. “We need to take action on climate change. We need to make sure we are investing in green energy.”

On social issues, Ryert sounded notes closer to Republican orthodoxy, describing himself as a supporter of the 2nd amendment and gun rights, as well as pro-life. But while many pro-life Republicans have sought to criminalize abortion, Ryerse has a different approach.

“I don’t think that criminalization of abortion has been proven to reduce the number of abortions,” he said, offering alternatives to reduce the number of abortions without punishing those who have them. “We’re actually seeing over the last eight years with an increase in funding for health care and education and fighting poverty we’re seeing abortion levels at their lowest rate that they’ve ever been even before Roe v. Wade so I think that’s the path to be on.”

The post Meet the Pastor Running as a Progressive Republican to Get Big Money Out of Politics appeared first on The Intercept.

U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed Men Who Had Nothing to Do With Al Qaeda, According to Relatives

19 May 2017 - 12:14pm

On the afternoon of April 23, an American drone flying over the remote Al Said area of Yemen’s Shabwah province observed a group of men gathering to eat lunch at a security checkpoint.

Mansoor Allahwal Baras, a former Yemeni Army lieutenant in his late thirties, was chief of the checkpoint, and his younger cousin Nasir, 23, was also stationed there. Khalid, another cousin Nasir’s age, was home on vacation from Malaysia, where he was studying English and aiming for his bachelor’s degree. A car full of five others joined them — local militants, but familiar to the Baras men — and they sent someone else to fetch lunch.

As the drone hovered over them, the men did not panic or flee. For many in the region, the buzzing sound of American drones in the sky has become part of the rhythm of daily life.

But then the drone unleashed its payload of missiles, and in an instant, the impromptu gathering was transformed into a nightmare of heat, smoke, and shrapnel. All eight men were killed.

Mansoor’s nephew, Ammar Salim Farid Alawlaqi, heard the explosion from his home nearby, but he didn’t know who had been killed until a cousin called shortly after to tell him what had happened. By some accounts, a second missile had struck his relatives as they went to aid the others.

“We went to the cemetery and found Mansoor, Khalid, and Nasir, all but pieces of flesh [so] that we were not able to tell their appearances,” Alawlaqi told The Intercept in a phone interview. “It was a shock no human can accept and there’s anger at the U.S. government.”

The day after the strike, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the U.S. had killed “eight Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists.” Pentagon officials later added that a key AQAP leader, Abu Ahmed Al Awlaqi, had been among those hit.

This photo supplied by Ammar Salim Farid Alawlaqi shows Mansoor Allahwal Baras, killed in an April 23 drone strike, with a phrase attributed to the Prophet Muhammad that reads, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is in grief, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. We belong to Allah and to Him we return.”

Photo: Ammar Salim Farid Alawlaqi

Alawlaqi, a 27-year-old grocer whose aunt was married to Mansoor, gave his own account of what transpired that day, saying that neither his uncle nor the two young men with him were connected to any militant group. What’s more, Alawlaqi says that the five others killed were not current members of AQAP. The man the Pentagon called an AQAP leader was known to Alawlaqi as Muhammad Awad Barasane. He said that Barwane had been with AQAP and then with the Islamic State’s Yemeni branch, but that he had left both groups.

The strike in Al Said was one of the roughly 250 attacks carried out by the United States in Yemen, a campaign that is now alleged to have killed as many as 1,200 people since 2010, up to 200 of them civilians, according to figures kept by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. President Trump appears to be outpacing Obama in Yemen, with more than 80 strikes since January and a disastrous Special Forces raid that killed 25 civilians, including 10 children. The Trump administration has also lifted Obama-era rules limiting when strikes can take place for certain parts of Yemen. So far, there have only been a small number of alleged civilian casualties in drone strikes under Trump, but Alawlaqi’s account of who was killed on April 23 raises questions about the people that the military is targeting as terrorist threats.

The Pentagon did not respond to questions about the strike and the alleged civilian casualties. While Alawlaqi’s version of events could not be independently confirmed, it would not be the first time that the United States has misunderstood the social dynamics of the remote Yemeni provinces it is bombing, where perceptions of militant groups are often fluid and have more to do with tribe and family than international terrorism.

Alawlaqi’s relatives didn’t avoid the militants, he said, because they were known as local tribesman. “To be honest, the five people in the car had past links to [terror groups], but they had quit this movement two years ago,” he said.

“Relationships between people in the community are about tribe and kinship,” he said, “according to their tribal relationships, people tend to invite each other to eat and talk, regardless of political affiliation.”

The sound of a drone overhead also wasn’t a warning sign. “The drones here are hovering 24 hours nonstop, whether day or night. Sometimes they disturb people sleeping with their annoying buzzing noise,” Alawlaqi said. “But it has become so routine for the general public, people don’t check whether it’s hovering above them or not.”

Alawlaqi told The Intercept that even if the militants were “wanted by the Americans, they have no right to target them while among innocent people.”

He believes the strike must have been based on bad intelligence. “When someone is wanted, they need to have enough evidence,” he said.

After the strike, a few local government representatives came to pay respects to the families of those killed. But Alawlaqi has heard nothing from the U.S. government.

Yemen as a whole is caught in the grip of a massive humanitarian crisis. A U.S.-backed Saudi military campaign in the impoverished country has led to massive civilian casualties, as well as food shortages and disease epidemics. Despite growing international outcry over the conflict, no political solution seems to be in sight, as the Saudi-led alliance has repeatedly committed itself to extirpating the Yemeni Houthi rebel movement at all costs. Even in areas like Shabwa, where many Yemenis are fighting the Houthis, when it comes to American counterterrorism operations, there is a sense that civilian populations are being lumped together with terrorists, in order to justify military operations.

“What hurts is that there’s a deliberate stereotyping, categorizing people under these [militant] currents,” Alawlaqi said. “If the population of this area is estimated at 20,000 people, and the militants are no more than 150 people, how can they treat all the population as though they are under the militants’ control?”

The post U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed Men Who Had Nothing to Do With Al Qaeda, According to Relatives appeared first on The Intercept.

Video of Julian Assange Speaking After Sweden Halts Rape Investigation

19 May 2017 - 11:33am

Updated: 12:37 p.m.

As my colleague Glenn Greenwald reports, Sweden’s top prosecutor, Marianne Ny, said on Friday that she has “discontinued” an investigation into allegations that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, raped a woman in Stockholm in 2010, and withdrawn an international warrant for his arrest.

Detained for 7 years without charge by while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.

— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017

Assange responded to the news in a 10-minute statement delivered from a balcony at Ecuador’s embassy in London, where dozens of reporters had assembled.

He began his remarks by calling the Swedish decision “an important victory for me, and for the U.N. human rights system.” But, he added: “it by no means erases seven years of detention without charge — in prison, under house arrest and almost five years here in this embassy, without sunlight.”

“Seven years without charge, while my children grew up without me. That is not something that I can forgive; it is not something that I can forget.”

He went on to say that the decision was also “an important vindication.” But, he added, he remains under threat from the United States.

“At this point, all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted,” Ny had said in her statement earlier in the day. Ecuador’s decision to grant Assange political asylum in its embassy in London nearly five years ago, shielding him from extradition, Ny said, had also made it impossible for her to formally notify the Australian of the charges against him.

“If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately,” Ny added.

The end of the investigation thrilled Assange’s supporters, but dismayed others, including his accuser.

At last the masks are off. Sweden dropped charges that it never dared lay upon Assange. Free Julian now! Or show your ugly face Big Brother

— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) May 19, 2017

Lawyer for #Assange's accuser: "It's a scandal that suspected rapist can escape justice and thereby avoid the courts. My client is shocked."

— esther addley (@estheraddley) May 19, 2017

Assange still faces arrest in Britain, however, for failing to surrender to a court in London in 2012, when he lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden and took refuge in the embassy. The Metropolitan Police Service in London said that its officers would be “obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.”

A more serious concern for the WikiLeaks founder is the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently called arresting Assange “a priority,” and the Justice Department has reportedly reopened discussions about bringing charges against Assange for publishing government secrets.

Asked at an earlier news conference in Stockholm about the WikiLeaks founder declaring that the end of the investigation was “a victory,” Ny said, “It is possible that he still hasn’t had time to read through the entire decision.”

Writing about the Swedish news conference for Motherboard, Kim Zetter reported:

During the press conference Ny asserted that the US had applied absolutely no pressure on Swedish prosecutors about the case. Asked after the conference if they had received any communication or inquiries from the US government about the case, Isgren and Ny said that at the end of March, they received an email from someone purporting to be from the FBI seeking information about the case. They said the inquiry was vague and they simply directed the person to the prosecutor’s web site for public information about the case.

Asked who the FBI person was, both said they had no memory of the name and had deleted the email. They asserted that because the email did not have anything to do with advancing the case, they had no reason to retain it.

The WikiLeaks founder was originally wanted for questioning on accusations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion brought by two Swedish women in 2010. He strenuously denied those allegations, casting them as part of a politically motivated plot to stifle his work by distorting the circumstances of what he called consensual sex. Three of the four counts were dropped in 2015 when statutes of limitations expired on all but the rape allegation.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in an opinion released in late 2015 that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom” since the legal case against him began in 2010. The Ecuadorean embassy, where Assange has resided since losing his appeal against extradition to Sweden in 2012, is surrounded by British police officers 24 hours a day.

The post Video of Julian Assange Speaking After Sweden Halts Rape Investigation appeared first on The Intercept.

Sweden Withdraws Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange, but he Still Faces Serious Legal Jeopardy

19 May 2017 - 8:02am

Swedish prosecutors announced this morning that they were terminating their seven-year-old sex crimes investigation into Julian Assange and withdrawing their August 20, 2010, arrest warrant for him. The chief prosecutor, Marianne Ny, said at a news conference this morning (pictured below) that investigators had reached no conclusion about his guilt or innocence, but instead were withdrawing the warrant because “all prospects of pursuing the investigation under present circumstances are exhausted” and it is therefore “no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence.”

Photo: Maja Suslin/AP

Almost five years ago – in June, 2012 – the UK Supreme Court rejected Assange’s last legal challenge to Sweden’s extradition request. Days later, Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and two weeks later formally received asylum from the government of Ecuador. He has been in that small embassy ever since, under threat of immediate arrest from British police if he were to leave. For years, British police expended enormous sums to maintain a 24-hour presence outside the embassy, and though they reduced their presence in 2015, continued to make clear that he would be immediately arrested if he tried to leave.

In February of last year, a U.N human rights panel formally concluded that the British government was violating Assange’s rights by “arbitrarily detaining” him, and it called for his release. But the U.K. Government immediately rejected the U.N. finding and vowed to ignore it.

Ecuador’s rationale for granting asylum to Assange has often been overlooked. Ecuadorian officials, along with Assange’s supporters, have always insisted that they wanted the investigation in Sweden to proceed, and vowed that Assange would board the next plane to Stockholm if Sweden gave assurances that it would not extradite him to the U.S. to face charges relating to WikiLeaks’ publication of documents. It was Sweden’s refusal to issue such guarantees – and Ecuador’s fears that Assange would end up being persecuted by the U.S. – that has been the basis for its asylum protections.

After years of refusing Assange’s offers to interview him in the embassy, Swedish prosecutors finally agreed to do so last November. But the Swedes’ last hope for advancing the case seemed to evaporate last month, when the candidate of the ruling party in Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, won a narrow victory over his right-wing opponent, who had vowed to terminate Assange’s asylum.

With the new president signaling that Assange’s asylum would continue indefinitely, there was virtually nothing else for prosecutors to do. Upon hearing the news, Assange, on his Twitter account this morning, posted a smiling photograph of himself.

pic.twitter.com/dDvB1Vekhg

— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) May 19, 2017

 

But that celebration obscures several ironies. The most glaring of which is that the legal jeopardy Assange now faces is likely greater than ever.

Almost immediately after the decision by Swedish prosecutors, British police announced that they would nonetheless arrest Assange if he tried to leave the embassy. Police said Assange was still wanted for the crime of “failing to surrender” – meaning that instead of turning himself in upon issuance of his 2012 arrest warrant, he obtained refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. The British police also, however, noted that this alleged crime is “a much less serious offence” than the one that served as the basis for the original warrant, and that the police would therefore only “provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”

That could perhaps imply that with a seriously reduced police presence, Assange could manage to leave the embassy without detection and apprehension. All relevant evidence, however, negates that assumption.

Just weeks ago, Donald Trump’s CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, delivered an angry, threatening speech about WikiLeaks in which he argued: “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” The CIA Director vowed to make good on this threat: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.”

Days later, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions strongly suggested that the Trump DOJ would seek to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks on espionage charges in connection with the group’s publication of classified documents. Trump officials then began leaking to news outlets such as CNN that “US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

For years, the Obama DOJ had extensively considered the possibility of prosecuting WikiLeaks and Assange, even convening a Grand Jury that subpoenaed multiple witnesses. Though the Obama DOJ refused to say they had terminated that investigation – which is what caused Ecuador to continue to fear persecution – Obama officials strongly signaled that there was no way to prosecute WikiLeaks without also prosecuting news organizations that published the same documents, or at least creating a precedent that would endanger First Amendment press freedoms. As the Washington Post reported in 2013:

The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.

That same article noted that “officials stressed that a formal decision has not been made, and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impaneled.” But it seemed that, under Obama, prosecution was highly unlikely. Indeed, last month, in response to my denunciation of Pompeo’s threat as endangering press freedoms, former Obama DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted this:

@ggreenwald it's also hollow. DOJ knows it can't win a case against someone just for publishing secrets.

— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) April 13, 2017

But the Trump administration – at least if one believes its multiple statements and threats – appears unconstrained by those concerns. They appear determined to prosecute WikiLeaks, which has published numerous secret CIA hacking documents this year.

Press freedom groups, along with the ACLU and some journalists, such as the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan, have warned of the grave dangers such a prosecution would pose to media outlets around the world. But that seems an unlikely impediment to an administration that has made clear that they regard the press as an enemy.

Prosecuting Wikileaks would set a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration would surely use to target other news organizations. https://t.co/mlih1bcyR1

— ACLU National (@ACLU) April 21, 2017

Indeed, Sessions himself refused to rule out the possibility that the prosecution of Assange could lead to the criminal prosecution of other news organizations that publish classified documents. Trump’s leading candidate to replace James Comey as FBI Director, Joe Lieberman, has long called for the prosecution not only of WikiLeaks but also possibly media outlets such as the New York Times that publish the same classified information. And anonymous sources recently claimed to the New York Times that when Trump met with Comey early on in his administration, the new U.S. President expressly inquired about the possibility of prosecuting news outlets.

The termination of the Swedish investigation is, in one sense, good news for Assange. But it is unlikely to change his inability to leave the embassy any time soon. If anything, given the apparent determination of the Trump administration to put him in a U.S. prison cell for the “crime” of publishing documents, his freedom appears farther away than it has since 2010, when the Swedish case began.

The post Sweden Withdraws Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange, but he Still Faces Serious Legal Jeopardy appeared first on The Intercept.

Para se segurar no cargo, Temer faz terrorismo sobre economia

18 May 2017 - 5:55pm

Rouco, tentando aparentar firmeza, isolado e com uma claque tímida e quase envergonhada, Michel Temer anunciou nesta quinta-feira (18) que não vai renunciar.

Com a base de apoio no Congresso esfacelada, até aqui seu maior trunfo para emplacar as reformas Trabalhista e da Previdência, Temer disse que a revelação de conversas gravadas clandestinamente “trouxe de volta o fantasma de crise política de proporção ainda não dimensionada”.

Parece chantagem, e é. Até porque os fantasmas citados por ele jamais saíram de cena.

Quem ouve Temer falar sobre o risco de jogar no “lixo da história o trabalho feito em prol do país” para sair de “sua enorme recessão” poderia imaginar, talvez em outro Planeta, que sua gestão tem debaixo do braço índices chineses de crescimento. Não é bem assim.

De fato, a variação anual do Índice de Preços ao Consumidor Amplo, o IPCA, ficou em 4,08% em abril deste ano, ainda fora do centro da meta, mas bem inferior aos 9,2% registrado no mesmo mês do ano passado, quando a agenda no Congresso estava trancada pelas discussões do impeachment.

Economistas do mercado financeiro haviam reduzido, há pouco tempo, as projeções para o índice oficial de inflação neste ano, de 4,01% para 3,93%. Seria a décima queda semanal consecutiva para essa previsão.

As taxas de juros também caíram, de 14,15 há um ano para os atuais 12,15% ao ano – ainda uma das maiores do mundo (em 2012, o índice chegou a 7,14). Além disso, a taxa de desocupação continua em alta: segundo o IBGE, o país registra 14,2 milhões de desempregados no trimestre encerrado em março, número 14,9% superior ao trimestre anterior (outubro, novembro e dezembro de 2016). No ano passado, o PIB registrou a pior recessão da história, com queda de 3,6% da atividade econômica.

A expectativa de melhora era exatamente isto: uma expectativa.

Pesquisa recente do Datafolha mostrou que o número de brasileiros a esperar uma melhora nos índices econômicos subiu de 28% para 31%, e a expectativa de piora caiu de 41% para 31%.

Parte do mercado apostava na aprovação das reformas como condição básica para a retomada da atividade econômica, embora a relação não seja unanimidade entre especialistas.

Em entrevista recente ao site BBC Brasil, o professor do departamento de Direito de Cambridge Simon Deakin, especialista no impacto de leis trabalhistas sobre emprego e renda, disse não haver evidências de que mudanças nas formas de contrato criem empregos.

Em geral, afirmou, o afrouxamento dos controles sobre o trabalho temporário e em tempo parcial não só não leva necessariamente à criação de emprego como pode ter o efeito de reduzir o emprego na economia formal, já que estes postos de trabalhos ficam menos atraentes.

A aposta de Temer, além disso, parte de um pressuposto tão frágil quanto a estabilidade jamais alcançada por seu governo, apesar do esforço, este sim notável, de demonstrar que tudo corre bem.

A aposta de Temer, além disso, parte de um pressuposto tão frágil quanto a estabilidade jamais alcançada por seu governo, apesar do esforço, este sim notável, de demonstrar que tudo corre bem. Com o facão da Lava Jato sobre a cabeça de alguns de seus principais auxiliares, e com indícios cada vez mais nítidos da participação de Temer em irregularidades, agora oficialmente sob investigação, era possível supor que o otimismo mambembe do mercado estivesse, de saída, vulnerável a qualquer espirro – quanto mais à suspeita de pagamento pelo silêncio de um ex-deputado encarcerado.

A queda na Bolsa e a disparada do dólar ao longo do dia são sintomáticas da fragilidade deste pacto. Segundo Nelson Marconi, coordenador do Fórum de Economia e professor da Escola de Economia de São Paulo da Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV EESP), a atividade econômica vai piorar ainda mais em razão da incerteza política, da crise de confiança e do cenário fiscal.

Em nota divulgada nesta quinta-feira, ele ressaltou que o único setor que vinha demonstrando sinais de melhora até aqui era o agronegócio. “O emprego aumentou no interior do país, e como ele é exportador e depende das condições do mercado externo, vai ser pouco afetado pela crise”, avaliou.

Para ele, no entanto, os demais setores serão impactados, pois os parcos investimentos serão paralisados em razão da crise de confiança.

A gravação de Joesley Batista que comprometem Temer e o agora senador afastado Aécio Neves (PSDB-MG), fiador da aliança com o PMDB, colocou uma pá de cal nesta confiança alicerçada em expectativas de recuperação, e não exatamente no deslanche da economia clamado agora por um presidente cada vez mais acuado.

The post Para se segurar no cargo, Temer faz terrorismo sobre economia appeared first on The Intercept.

Republican Immigration Bill Threatens to Turn Millions of People Into Criminals Overnight

18 May 2017 - 5:51pm

Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation that would bring sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration enforcement apparatus, adding thousands of new deportation officers and, among other things, equipping each of them with body armor and an assault rifle.

The little noticed bills, marked up in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, would bring additional legal force to the Trump administration’s hardline immigration agenda, which has already seen the pool of individuals prioritized for deportation broadened to include virtually all the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Spearheaded by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), two of the bills pertain to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), laying out new powers and responsibilities for both agencies, while a third, introduced by Goodlatte and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), takes aim at a wide range of issues in immigration enforcement.

That third bill, the “Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act,” which appeared in a tweeted photo of White House strategist Steve Bannon’s policy agenda, would see immigration violations traditionally treated as civil infractions transformed into criminal violations, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Speaking before judiciary committee members Thursday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), said the provision would “turn millions of Americans into criminals overnight.” Nadler added that the legislation was “straight out of the Donald Trump mass deportation playbook.”

An undocumented immigrant was cuffed and shackled at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing facility before he and other undocumented immigrants were transported to the airport for a deportation flight in 2010 in Broadview, Ill.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Brad Schneider (D-IL) noted that under the language of the proposed law recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the Obama-era program currently shielding hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the U.S. as undocumented children from deportation — could be stripped of their protections because they are in the country while knowingly in violation of the law.

“This draconian bill is absolutely wrong,” Schneider said. “DACA recipients are not criminals.”

In addition to radically altering the nature of charges used against undocumented immigrants, and calling for an expansion of federal immigrant detention facilities, the 184-page Davis-Oliver act would codify the Trump administration’s controversial threats to cut Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security grants to state and local law enforcement agencies that do not comply with federal immigration enforcement initiatives. Under the law, states would also be required to provide DHS a wide range of details on all immigrants who are apprehended and “believed to be inadmissible or deportable,” including that individual’s name, address, photo, and license plate number, as well as other identifying information.

The bill echoes Trump’s call to increase ICE’s ranks with the addition of 10,000 new agents, as well as 2,500 new detention officers and 60 new full-time ICE prosecutors. Deportation officers on the ground would inherit new arrest powers under the proposed legislation, including the power to arrest immigrants accused of criminal or civil offenses without a warrant, even if the agency determines those individuals are not “likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained.” Under the bill, those deportation officers would be heavily armed, with each officer issued “high-quality body armor” and “at a minimum, standard-issue handguns, M–4 (or equivalent) rifles, and Tasers.”

To insure state and local authorities are falling in line with federal immigration enforcement objectives, Goodlatte’s ICE authorization bill has called for an “ICE Advisory Council” — a panel that would include members appointed by himself, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ICE’s prosecutors’ union, ICE’s union (which endorsed Trump), and the president himself.

With deep ties to a range of far-right policy organizations, GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee have long been known for their hawkish views on immigration — it was Goodlate’s aides who secretly worked alongside the Trump White House in crafting the executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim majority nations. During Thursday’s mark up, the Republicans defended the proposed legislation on law order and grounds, making the case that all laws surrounding immigration should be equally and aggressively enforced.

Addressing the Davis-Oliver bill in particular, Goodlatte said the legislation, named after a pair of law enforcement officers killed by an undocumented immigrant, “decisively delivers the immigration enforcement tools that ICE, its officers, and all of us need in order to show the obstructionists, the criminal aliens, and all those who benefit from a culture of lawlessness that breaking our immigration laws will no longer be tolerated.”

Immigration advocates and legal experts argue the Republican lawmakers’ “enforcement only” approach reflects a lack of interest in solving complex policy issues and, in doing so, threatens to tear families apart while further ballooning the historic backlog in the nation’s immigration courts.

“These bills constitute an unprecedented ramp up in enforcement,” Greg Chen, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told The Intercept. “Instead of recognizing that there needs to be a solution that improves the immigration system, these bills fall into line with President Trump’s mass deportation agenda that’s just going to hurt the country and isn’t going to do anything to improve public safety.”

Debate on the proposed bills is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

Top photo: Supplies are displayed at the entrance of the Adelanto immigration detention center in Adelanto, Calif. on April 13, 2017.

 

The post Republican Immigration Bill Threatens to Turn Millions of People Into Criminals Overnight appeared first on The Intercept.

Better Call Bob! Mueller Is the Lawyer You Bring In to Handle Politically Toxic Situations

18 May 2017 - 4:13pm

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, he called on Washington’s consummate clean-up man.

A decorated Marine in the Vietnam War, Mueller has established an unmatched reputation in government and in the private sector as the guy you bring in when the situation is too politically toxic for anyone else. Last year, a federal judge appointed him to help settle more than 500 lawsuits against Volkswagen for its use of software to hide excess vehicle emissions. The NFL tasked him with writing a report about Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancée in an elevator. And Booz Allen Hamilton, the former employer of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, hired Mueller to conduct a review after another employee, Harold Martin, removed classified NSA information.

A former U.S. attorney in San Francisco, Mueller was appointed as FBI director a week before September 11, 2001. When Al Qaeda hijackers flew planes into buildings in New York and Washington, D.C., and crashed another in a field in Pennsylvania, Mueller headed the investigation of the largest crime scene in FBI history. At the same time, President George W. Bush gave his new FBI director a mandate: never another attack.

Mueller’s job was to transform the FBI overnight from an organization set up to investigate crimes after they occurred to one that could collect intelligence and prevent the next attack. The bureau Mueller took charge of was hardly equipped for the transformation. The FBI had just a handful of agents who could speak Arabic, and the most ambitious and talented agents viewed counterterrorism and counterintelligence as career dead ends.

Dale Watson, the counterterrorism section chief Mueller inherited, was once asked in a deposition if he knew the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. “Not technically, no,” Watson answered. When asked if he thought someone in his position should know the difference, Watson responded, “To some degree, yes.”

Watson was indicative of the FBI at the time. Mueller’s predecessor, Louis Freeh, was a Luddite who had resisted efforts to give FBI agents unfettered Internet access for investigative work. As a result, when the 9/11 attacks occurred, agents were forced to fax around photos of the suspected hijackers.

The Bush administration reorganized the government after 9/11, creating the Department of Homeland Security. But Mueller succeeded in pushing back on early proposals to split the FBI into a law enforcement agency and an intelligence agency. Mueller insisted that the FBI could be both, arguing that there were advantages to marrying law enforcement powers with counterterrorism, intelligence and counterintelligence mandates. He reshuffled the FBI and created a new executive assistant director position for intelligence, elevating the importance of intelligence and counterintelligence programs.

“I am committed to the closest possible cooperation with the intelligence community and other government agencies,” Mueller told Congress in 2003.

Then-Director of the FBI Robert Mueller during a meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington in 2011.

Photo: Andrew Cutraro/Redux

Mueller was at times a measuring influence on some of the Bush administration’s more draconian instincts. In 2004, Mueller and Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who would later succeed him as head of the FBI, threatened to quit over the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.

Yet Mueller wasn’t a consistent critic of broadening surveillance powers. He oversaw an expansion of the FBI’s human intelligence apparatus to more than 15,000 informants — 10 times more than the FBI had during the Church Committee investigations of COINTELPRO — and approved mass surveillance programs of Muslims in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit against the FBI over warrantless surveillance of Muslims in southern California, for which the Justice Department declared the state secrets privilege by asserting that the release of information related to the litigation would harm national security. Mueller also expanded the FBI’s use of stings to catch would-be terrorists, a practice Human Rights Watch found “often targeted particularly vulnerable people, including those with intellectual and mental disabilities and the indigent.”

At the same time, Mueller battled strife from within as he transformed the bureau to function more as a counter-terrorism and intelligence agency. One of his agents, Bassem Youssef, filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2003, alleging the bureau had a “glass ceiling” for employees of Middle Eastern origin and that the FBI continued to promote agents into counterterrorism positions despite lacking knowledge of Arabic and Middle Eastern culture. When asked about this in a deposition, Mueller stood by his hiring and promotion practices. “There are a number of qualities that go into making a leader, a number of skill sets that are necessary to be effective,” he said.

FBI directors are only supposed to serve a maximum 10-year term, a limit to prevent another J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the FBI and its predecessor organization, the Bureau of Investigation, from 1924 to 1972. Demonstrating Mueller’s bipartisan support, President Obama requested a two-year extension for the director, which Congress approved.

As FBI director for 12 years, Mueller changed the FBI from within. Counterterrorism and counterintelligence went from career dead ends to the sections the most ambitious agents applied to work in, and the budgets ballooned. In 2013, Mueller’s last year as director, counterterrorism and counterintelligence received more than $3.3 billion, the largest single expenditure in the FBI budget.

Then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III gestures toward a placard bearing photos of suspected terrorist Adnan G. El Shukrijumah at a news conference in Washington in 2004.

Photo: Dennis Brack/Bloomberg News/Getty Images

“The FBI has always adapted to meet new threats. And we must continue to evolve, because terrorists, spies, and hackers certainly will,” Mueller said in a November 2011 speech.

Now that he’s heading the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, Mueller is in a unique position to protect his and the FBI’s legacy. He has an opportunity to display what he has long argued — that the bureau can act as an effective counterintelligence agency while, at the same time, bringing criminal charges when appropriate. He has skin in this game, and for the Trump administration, this should be concerning.

Top photo: Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller at a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in 2011 in Arlington, Va.

The post Better Call Bob! Mueller Is the Lawyer You Bring In to Handle Politically Toxic Situations appeared first on The Intercept.

Depois de anos escondendo sujeiras debaixo do tapete, grande imprensa larga Aécio ferido na estrada

18 May 2017 - 3:34pm

Já não é mais possível segurar a blindagem de Aécio Neves (PSDB-MG) e sua família. Depois de passar anos ignorando gravíssimas denúncias de jornalistas mineiros contra ele e sua irmã, a grande imprensa passou a publicar as várias vezes em que o presidente do PSDB foi citado em delações premiadas. Ontem, em furo de Lauro Jardim de O Globo, o país conheceu o conteúdo de uma conversa gravada por um parceiro de crime do tucano, Joesley, o dono da Friboi, que assim agiu para tentar diminuir sua pena.

Aécio aparece no áudio pedindo R$2 milhões para bancar sua defesa na Operação Lava Jato. Em um dos diálogos, o empresário pergunta para o senador como será a entrega do dinheiro:

“Se for você a pegar em mãos, vou eu mesmo entregar. Mas, se você mandar alguém de sua confiança, mando alguém da minha confiança.”

Com a maior tranquilidade do mundo, o presidente do PSDB deu as coordenadas para a execução do crime:

“Tem que ser um que a gente mata ele antes de fazer delação. Vai ser o Fred com um cara seu. Vamos combinar o Fred com um cara seu porque ele sai de lá e vai no cara. E você vai me dar uma ajuda do caralho.”

Fred é Frederico Pacheco de Medeiros, primo de Aécio e ex-diretor da Cemig nomeado pelo tucano. Foi também coordenador de sua campanha para presidente em 2014. Ele acaba de ser preso pela Polícia Federal.

Sempre muito próximo de seu amigo Aécio, Zezé Perrella (PMDB-MG) — dono do helicóptero flagrado transportando meia tonelada de pasta base de cocaína —  também aparece nas investigações como receptor dos R$2 milhões que Aécio pediu para a Friboi. O dinheiro não foi para advogados, mas para Perrella. Em uma das viagens para São Paulo para pegar as malas de grana da Friboi, o primo foi filmado pela Polícia Federal repassando-as para Mendherson Souza Lima, secretário parlamentar de Perrella, também preso hoje.

O uso do verbo “matar” pode ser força de expressão, mas diante das circunstâncias estranhas em que um denunciante de Aécio morreu, fica difícil não dar asas à imaginação. Depois de acusar Aécio de corrupção, ligação com tráfico de drogas e até assassinato de opositores, o policial civil Luca Arcanjo foi encontrado morto em sua casa enforcado por uma gravata — um caso que teve pouquíssima repercussão na imprensa, para não dizer nenhuma. A versão oficial é de suicídio e, como no caso do helicoca, nunca mais se falou no assunto.

São antigas e inúmeras as denúncias de jornalistas mineiros que nunca tiveram repercussão na Globo ou em qualquer outro veículo da grande mídia.

Nas redes sociais, muitos se apressaram em apontar a imparcialidade da Globo por ter publicado o vazamento da delação da Friboi em primeira mão. Bom, já faz um tempo que Aécio foi largado ferido na estrada e não faria sentido agora perder um furo que, inevitavelmente, seria divulgado por algum concorrente. Precisamos lembrar, então, que são antigas e inúmeras as denúncias de jornalistas mineiros que nunca tiveram repercussão na Globo ou em qualquer outro veículo da grande mídia. Aécio foi por muito tempo o principal nome da oposição e, com toda essa blindagem, se sentia à vontade para discursar contra a corrupção do PT. Enquanto as denúncias eram omitidas, um ambiente tranquilo e favorável era construído para o mineiro.

Teve jornalista que ousou furar o bloqueio jornalístico e foi parar na cadeia sem que isso merecesse uma cobertura aprofundada. Depois de denunciar Aécio e seu grupo político no Diário de Minas, Marco Aurélio Carone ficou 9 meses preso, mas foi absolvido e solto 5 dias após o fim das eleições em que o tucano concorreu à presidência. Sem nenhuma manchete nos jornalões ou cobertura do Jornal Nacional, o jornalista foi à Comissão de Direitos Humanos da Câmara no fim do ano passado para confirmar as acusações pelas quais foi preso: financiamento de campanha via caixa dois com envolvimento de Andreia Neves (presa hoje pela Polícia Federal), esquema na mineração e exportação de nióbio, uso político da estatal Cemig, dentre outras.

“Não tenho culpa. Votei no Aécio.”

Por que esse jornalista foi silenciado na imprensa? Por que sua prisão não revoltou colegas que hoje publicam basicamente as mesmas denúncias feitas por delatores? Essas sucessivas omissões contribuíram para a construção da candidatura de Aécio em 2014, oferecendo a ele o discurso do combate à corrupção.  Tanto é verdade que, mesmo após a derrota nas urnas, eleitores do tucano saíram às ruas para protestar contra os corruptos vestindo a camisa que estampava aquele famoso bordão da pós-verdade: “Não tenho culpa. Votei no Aécio.”

Não nos esqueçamos também de outro caso gravíssimo ocultado pela grande mídia: o outro primo de Aécio Neves que vendia habeas corpus para traficantes de drogas em conluio com um desembargador nomeado pelo próprio Aécio. O primo e o desembargador foram presos, Aécio não foi incomodado com o assunto, e a imprensa nunca questionou as digitais do tucano no caso. Quer dizer, o Fantástico fez uma longa reportagem, sim, mas sem citar o nome de Aécio.

Depois de anos escondendo a sujeirada da família Neves debaixo do tapete, não dá para a Globo e outras empresas de comunicação fazerem a egípcia e posarem de imparciais. Não estamos diante de um rascunho de e-mail ou um recibinho de pedágio, mas de um áudio que revela em detalhes a prática de um crime. Está tudo muito claro, não precisa nem de power point explicando. Se levarmos em conta o que aconteceu com Delcídio do Amaral (PT-MS), Aécio deve ser preso nos próximos dias. E se resolverem começar a ouvir os jornalistas mineiros, talvez nunca mais saia da cadeia.

The post Depois de anos escondendo sujeiras debaixo do tapete, grande imprensa larga Aécio ferido na estrada appeared first on The Intercept.

Steven Mnuchin Goes Through the Looking Glass-Steagall in Strange Exchange With Elizabeth Warren

18 May 2017 - 3:23pm

Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a confounding exchange with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a Senate Banking Committee hearing today. Mnuchin indicated that the Trump administration supports a 21st century version of the Glass-Steagall Act, except for the part about separating commercial and investment banks, which is substantially what is meant by Glass-Steagall.

Warren wasn’t having it.

Responding to Mnuchin’s earlier testimony that the White House didn’t support “a separation of banks from investment banks,” the Massachusetts senator pointed out that “The president and this administration have repeatedly said that they support a 21st century Glass-Steagall.”

Indeed, Mnuchin said these words in his confirmation hearings. National Economic Director Gary Cohn has said the same. And the 2016 Republican Party platform adds explicitly, “We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.” As Warren said to Mnuchin, “Now you’ve just said the opposite.”

Mnuchin responded that there wasn’t any reversal, despite Warren’s incredulity. He said that the administration merely supported a 21st century version of the law. “Which means there are aspects of it, OK, that we think may make sense. But we never said before that we supported a full separation —”

“There are aspects of Glass-Steagall that you support but not breaking up the banks and separating commercial banking from investment banking?” Warren interrupted. “What do you think Glass-Steagall was if that’s not right at the heart of it?”

While the Glass-Steagall Act was part of a larger bill, the Banking Act of 1933, which also created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, for about 80 years it’s been pretty clear that “Glass-Steagall” refers to the firewall between commercial and investment banking. There are no real “aspects” of the policy to pick from without that fundamental structure.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 18, 2017, to testify before the Senate Banking Committee hearing on tax overhaul.

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Mnuchin replied that he was aware of what Glass-Steagall was, and that the original concern “was actually about conflicts, not credit risk.” This isn’t true. As Julia Maues of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis writes, “An important motivation for the act was the desire to restrict the use of bank credit for speculation and to direct bank credit into what Glass and others thought to be more productive uses, such as industry, commerce, and agriculture.”

He then apologized to Warren for using the phrase “21st century Glass-Steagall” without realizing that was the name of Warren’s legislation, which would separate commercial and investment bank functions. Warren introduced the bill in 2014.

Warren tried repeatedly to get Mnuchin to explain what “21st century Glass-Steagall” is supposed to mean without separation of bank functions. Mnuchin threw out a bunch of noise about integrated banks not causing the financial crisis (though investment/commercial hybrids did provide the lion’s share of the warehouse lending for mortgage originations that fueled the housing bubble, and hybrid bank Citigroup received the largest bailout of any financial entity), and how liquidity and lending would be affected by a Glass-Steagall type of separation (a common industry complaint).

“So – in favor of Glass-Steagall which breaks apart the two arms of banking, except you don’t want to break apart the two parts of banking,” said Warren. “This is like something straight out of George Orwell.”

In fact, it’s even more Orwellian than that. This week, Tim Pawlenty, the head of the industry lobby the Financial Services Roundtable, told Bloomberg that, when the administration says “21st century Glass-Steagall,” what they really mean is deregulation. “The administration’s view of a modern-day Glass-Steagall is a two-tiered approach to regulation in which smaller banks would receive some regulatory relief,” Pawlenty said.

This partial deregulation for smaller banks has nothing to do with Glass-Steagall at all. You would still have hybrid commercial and investment banks dominating the space, holding more and more of the nation’s assets, without their activities separated at all. Selling deregulation as regulation is the very “Through the looking Glass-Steagall” moment the industry wants to promote.

Mnuchin offered to visit Warren “and follow up and talk about this.” Warren responded, “Just tell me what 21st century Glass-Steagall means if it doesn’t mean breaking apart those two things!” Mnuchin responded, “We never said we were in favor of Glass-Steagall, we said we were in favor of a 21st century Glass-Steagall. It couldn’t be clearer.”

“This is crazy,” Warren concluded.

POSTSCRIPT: Mnuchin was also asked about the $89 million fine of his old company, OneWest Bank subsidiary Financial Freedom, for ripping off the government on reverse mortgage insurance. “These issues were identified by my management team and self-reported to HUD and FHA when we became aware of them,” Mnuchin told Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Top photo: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “Domestic and International Policy Update,” on May 18, 2017.

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Denúncias acuam Michel Temer, e sociedade pede diretas já

18 May 2017 - 12:45pm

Menos de uma semana depois de comemorar o aniversário de um ano na Presidência da República, Michel Temer testemunha a ruína de sua gestão. A revelação do jornal O Globo na noite desta quarta-feira (17) de que ele teria encorajado a compra do silêncio do deputado cassado Eduardo Cunha disparou uma corrida de deputados da oposição para protocolar pedidos de impeachment, e foi instalada uma pressão no Congresso para que Temer renuncie ao mandato. Evitando se expor publicamente, a base do governo apenas demonstra perplexidade. Nos bastidores, porém, partidos aliados do Planalto, como PSB na Câmara, falam em romper com o governo em definitivo.

Nas últimas semanas, Temer tentava de tudo para fortalecer sua base de apoio e aprovar as reformas trabalhista e previdenciária. Se as medidas, sem o apoio popular, já tinham um custo amargo para os congressistas, com as denúncias caindo diretamente sobre o Planalto, agora, mais do que nunca, elas estão ameaçadas. Além do Congresso, manifestações já foram convocadas em diversas cidades do país, e a renúncia começa a se formar no horizonte como a saída mais provável. O clima de caos tem motivo e endereço certo: Esplanada dos Ministérios, Praça dos Três Poderes, terceiro andar do Palácio do Planalto, gabinete presidencial.

Assim que o conteúdo das gravações feitas por Joesley Batista, um dos donos do grupo JBS, foi divulgado, panelaços e buzinaços contra o governo voltaram a incomodar os ocupantes temporários do poder. Uma análise feita pelo professor da Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo Fábio Malini sobre os processos de interações nas redes sociais mensurou que o termo #DiretasJá entrou no discurso da população brasileira.

O fim do governo Temer no Twitter. https://t.co/ENx2qsMxGD pic.twitter.com/uFujWqSIeQ

— Fabio Malini (@fabiomalini) May 18, 2017

Ainda na noite de ontem, deputados da oposição subiram à tribuna e exigiram que o presidente da Câmara, Rodrigo Maia (DEM/RJ), instalasse imediatamente uma comissão para analisar o impeachment de Temer. Todas as sessões da Câmara e do Senado foram canceladas. Maia, que é o primeiro na linha sucessória presidencial em caso de vacância, evitou a imprensa e saiu às pressas para o Palácio do Planalto.  

Confusão em frente ao Palácio do Planalto. Buzinaços e pedidos de "Fora,Temer" pic.twitter.com/taICJ8YKaw

— George Marques (@GeorgMarques) May 18, 2017

O primeiro a protocolar na Câmara um pedido de impeachment contra Temer foi o deputado Alessandro Molon (Rede/RJ). Outros partidos de oposição também articulam novos pedidos nesta quinta-feira (18) contra o presidente.

.@alessandromolon comenta sobre pedido de impeachment contra Temer que ele acaba de protocolar na Câmara: ? pic.twitter.com/yQ2zhT29Gk

— George Marques (@GeorgMarques) May 17, 2017

Delações enfraquecem PSDB

As gravações de Joesley também atingiram o coração do tucanato mineiro ao apontarem que o senador Aécio Neves (PSDB/MG) teria pedido ao empresário R$ 2 milhões para custear a sua defesa na Operação Lava Jato. Na manhã desta quinta, o Supremo Tribunal Federal determinou que ele seja afastado do mandato. A irmã de Aécio, Andrea Neves, foi presa, e foram cumpridos mandados de busca e apreensão em propriedades dos dois.

Por ser senador, o pedido de prisão de Aécio deveria ser aprovado pelo STF, e não foi. O ministro Edson Fachin negou a solicitação da Procuradoria-Geral da República e afirmou que não levará pedido a plenário, a não ser que Rodrigo Janot recorra da decisão. O Brasil vive neste dias sua primavera pós-golpe.

No PSDB a percepção majoritária é de que “o governo acabou” e que Aécio será retirado da presidência do partido ainda hoje. O tucano Carlos Sampaio (SP) será o novo presidente da legenda. Políticos do partido avaliam a situação do senador como insustentável e que arranha a imagem do partido.

Eleição direta ou indireta?

Segundo a Constituição Federal, em casos de afastamento ou renúncia de Temer, O Congresso teria 30 dias para convocar uma eleição indireta para a Presidência. Enquanto isso, quem ocuparia o cargo seria o próximo na linha sucessória: o presidente da Câmara. No entanto, Rodrigo Maia é investigado na  Lava-Jato e, caso venha a se tornar réu, não poderia assumir o poder, segundo entendimento do STF. A mesma implicação cai sobre o presidente do Senado, Eunício Oliveira, que seria o segundo na linha de sucessão.

Desenha-se em Brasília que a presidente do Supremo, Cármen Lúcia, a terceira na linha sucessória da Presidência da República, seria a pessoa com autoridade moral e política para conduzir os rumos do país.

Ciente da gravidade da situação e das dúvidas jurídicas sobre o caso, o deputado Chico Alencar (PSOL/RJ) pediu que a Comissão de Constituição e Justiça (CCJ) da Câmara aprecie uma Proposta de Emenda à Constituição do deputado Miro Teixeira (Rede/RJ) que propõe eleições diretas, mesmo em caso de afastamento do presidente nos dois últimos anos de mandato.

Republica em chamas ?: Deputado @depChicoAlencar pede que CCJ da Camada coloque em pauta o quanto antes PEC sobre eleições diretas: ? pic.twitter.com/EYDkoKAKkB

— George Marques (@GeorgMarques) May 17, 2017

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Apenas a saída de Temer e eleições diretas podem salvar a democracia brasileira

18 May 2017 - 12:11pm

Quando Michel Temer foi alçado à Presidência da República há menos de um ano, depois do impeachment da Presidente eleita Dilma Rousseff, a principal justificativa dada pelas grandes figuras da mídia brasileira é que ele traria estabilidade e unidade ao país fragilizado pela crise.

Desde o início, o oposto aconteceu: Temer e seus aliados mais próximos abriram o caminho para muito mais corrupção, controvérsias, instabilidade e escândalos que antes de sua chegada ao poder. Sua taxa de aprovação despencou para níveis abaixo dos 10%.

Mas, ontem, o surgimento de provas que mostram o quão sujo e corrupto é Temer tornaram a situação insustentável. Vazamentos da investigação em curso revelaram que Temer foi grampeado em março dando anuência a um executivo para que continuasse a pagar propinas para comprar o silêncio de Eduardo Cunha, o onipotente ex-presidente da Câmara dos Deputados que presidiu o impeachment de Dilma, atualmente preso. Temer já havia enfrentado acusações de profundo envolvimento em propinas e pagamentos de caixa dois, mas as acusações foram abafadas porque – a diferença do que ocorre agora – não existiam provas.

Enquanto isso, o oponente de Dilma na eleições presidências de 2014, o Senador Aécio Neves, cujo partido liderou o processo de impeachment de Dilma e hoje domina o governo Temer, foi flagrado ontem em um esquema de propina, foi afastado do Senado pelo ministro do STF Edson Fachin, e agora está sob ameaça de prisão imediata. Sua irmã foi presa também no âmbito da investigação.

Em resumo, dois protagonistas do processo de impeachment de Dilma acabam de ser desmascarados com evidências documentais – gravações de áudio, vídeos e conversas online – a que todos os brasileiros terão acesso em breve. Precisamente o tipo de evidências comprometedoras que a grande mídia brasileira procurou com afinco durante anos para usar contra Dilma, acabam de ser encontradas, mas em prejuízo daqueles que lideraram sua saída, um dos quais herdando seu posto de Presidente.

Chamar a atual situação do governo Temer de insustentável é subestimar o que aconteceu. Como pode um país grande como o Brasil ser governado por alguém que conhecida e comprovadamente referendou o pagamento de subornos para manter uma testemunha chave calada? A única razão que sustentava a presidência de Temer – a de que ele traria estabilidade e sinalizaria aos mercados que o Brasil está novamente aberto aos negócios – acaba de entrar em colapso e só restam seus destroços.

*BRAZIL STOCK FUTURES PLUNGE 10% ON OPEN https://t.co/lQS9nUityj pic.twitter.com/W1aKkJ1AMw

— Bloomberg Markets (@markets) May 18, 2017

A esta altura, a queda de Temer – de uma maneira ou de outra – parece inevitável. Embora ele esteja momentaneamente rejeitando a renúncia, seus aliados-chave já começam a abandoná-lo. A estrelas da mídia que o levaram ao poder agora o atacam. Há uma discussão aberta, em toda parte, sonre os mecanismos que serão utilizados para removê-lo e substituí-lo.

Diante da gravidade do quadro com as denúncias do jornal O Globo, só nos resta a renúncia do presidente Temer.

— Ronaldo Caiado (@ronaldocaiado) May 18, 2017

Mesmo para os mais poderosos de Brasília, ser flagrado em gravações participando de atividades obviamente criminosas é muito comprometedor. A novidade não é que Temer seja corrupto: disso todos já sabiam, incluindo aí aqueles que o levaram ao poder. O que é novo é que as provas agora são por demais comprometedoras – muito nocivas ao projeto deles – para permitir que ele permaneça no cargo.

 

Essa sempre foi a grande ironia no centro do impeachment de Dilma. Como apontávamos aqueles contrários ao processo, a deposição da presidente democraticamente eleita em nome da luta contra a corrupção era uma grande farsa precisamente porque a sua remoção levaria ao poder as facções mais corruptas, os piores criminosos e bandidos, e os permitiria mandar no país sem ganhar uma eleição.

De fato, o empoderamento dos grupos mais corruptos do país era um dos principais objetivos do impeachment de Dilma. Como demonstrado por outra gravação secreta – revelada no ano passado e que gravou a trama do aliado de Temer, Romero Jucá – o real objetivo do impeachment (para além da austeridade e da privatização) era permitir que os políticos mais corruptos usassem seu novo e ilegítimo poder político para barrar as investigações sobre a corrupção (“estancar a sangria”) e proteger a eles mesmos das acusações e punições. O empoderamento dos políticos mais corruptos da nação era um dos pilares, e não um mero contratempo, do impeachment de Dilma.

A questão chave agora – como era antes – é: o que vem em seguida? Os contrários ao impeachment dizíamos repetidamente que se a Dilma fosse impedida, apenas novas eleições – onde a sociedade, ao invés do bando de criminosos nos salões do poder, escolheria seu presidente – poderia salvaguardar a democracia brasileira. A pior opção era permitir que a linha de sucessão corrupta em Brasília se elevasse e escolhesse o sucessor. Isso comprovaria que a corrupção se tornava ainda mais enraizada. Como David Miranda e eu escrevemos em um artigo de opinião para a Folha em abril do ano passado:

Se, apesar disso tudo, o país estiver realmente determinado a apear Dilma do poder, a pior opção seria deixar essa linha de sucessão corrupta ascender ao poder.

Os princípios da democracia exigem que Dilma Rousseff termine o mandato. Se não houver opção, e ela for impedida, a melhor alternativa é que sejam realizadas novas eleições e, assim, que a população decida quem assumirá seu lugar, pois, como está na Constituição, todo poder emana do povo.

No entanto isso foi exatamente o que aconteceu.

O que as elites brasileiras mais temem e odeiam é a democracia. A última coisa que queriam era permitir à população brasileira que escolhesse novamente seus líderes. Então impuseram um corrupto odiado e medíocre – que jamais teria sido eleito por conta própria e que está impedido de concorrer a qualquer cargo por ter violado a lei eleitoral – e o encarregaram de impor uma agenda rejeitada pelo país.

A elite da mídia e das classes políticas do Brasil agora estão tramando a mesma falcatrua. Muitos estão sugerindo que o substituto de Temer deve ser escolhido não pelo povo brasileiro, mas pelo congresso – um terço do qual é alvo de investigações criminais, e cujos partidos estão, em sua maioria, infestados de corrução. Como vimos com a ascensão de Temer, permitir que instituições corruptas escolham os líderes do país é a antítese da democracia e da luta contra a corrupção. Isso garante que a criminalidade e a corrupção reinem.

A democracia brasileira, e sua estabilidade política, já foram mutiladas pela remoção traumática da pessoa que foi de fato eleita para liderar o país. A exposição de seu sucessor como um criminoso apenas exacerba a tragédia. Mas não é um exagero dizer que permitir às mesmas facções corruptas que escolham um dos seus para substituir Temer – outra vez negando o direito do povo de escolher seu presidente – seria seu golpe de morte.

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Gravação de Joesley revela a farsa de um governo alavancado pelo cinismo

18 May 2017 - 12:05pm

Se fosse um filme, a história do governo Temer, doravante assinalado como aventura temerária, teria como roteiro as gravações realizadas muito antes por um ex-executivo da Petrobras com três dos principais caciques do PMDB: Renan Calheiros, José Sarney e Romero Jucá.

Era necessária uma dose razoável de ingenuidade ou má fé para imaginar que o grande acordo nacional fosse qualquer coisa senão uma reunião de suspeitos dispostos a salvar a própria pele após o impeachment de Dilma Rousseff, em meio à Lava Jato e à crise econômica da qual todos ali eram fiadores.

A história, que no enredo envolveu patos infláveis, parecer encomendado pela oposição, choro pelos brasileirinhos, apoio de parte dos formadores de opinião parece prestes a terminar. E não promete deixar sobreviventes. O governo Temer, como as revelações deixam claro, só existiu na ficção e aos olhos dos homens de boa vontade e cabelo acaju. A escalada em direção ao Planalto (que promete ser curta como a temporada passada, com a família do Palácio do Alvorada) é a escalada de quem se ocupou em subir e se segurar na sela sem saber para onde ia o cavalo.

Os discursos em favor das reformas eram jogo de cena de quem antes terceirizou a política econômica a uma equipe de entendidos avalizada pelo mercado e abriu canal direto a um grupo restrito do PIB, a quem coube até mesmo redigir os projetos de uma agenda derrotada pelo voto popular.

Enquanto Temer jurava vender os trilhos para um país desalinhado, sua maior preocupação era administrar o silêncio de Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), que, de uma cela em Curitiba, escrevera todo o caminho para elucidar o protagonismo do presidente na trama.

Temer escapou no primeiro balanço, a delação da Odebrecht, embora tenha sido citado em diversas passagens de delatores. Mas mal tirou a cabeça da trincheira e foi alvejado pelo segundo tiro, vindo de onde quase ninguém esperava: o conglomerado do qual seu inquestionável ministro da Fazenda era presidente do conselho consultivo.

No dia em que o empresário Joesley Batista, da gigante JBS, se encontrou com o presidente no Palácio do Jaburu e gravou a conversa em que o peemedebista supostamente incentiva a compra de silêncio de Eduardo Cunha, só se falava de outra coisa longe dos acordos íntimos.

O dia, aliás, fora repleto de compromissos. Naquele 7 de março, Temer empossava o ministro da Justiça, Osmar Serraglio, que prometia não interferir na Lava Jato – ele voltaria ao noticiário durante a Operação Carne Fraca. Estavam na solenidade o seu antecessor, Alexandre de Moraes, recém-levado ao Supremo Tribunal Federal, e diversos investigados pela Polícia Federal.

Michel Temer durante comemoração dos 50 anos de carreira de Ricardo Noblat.

Foto: Beto Barata/PR

Pouco depois, Temer circularia sorridente em um dos mais tradicionais restaurantes de Brasília como convidado de honra do aniversário de carreira de Ricardo Noblat, o jornalista que dias antes manifestara em entrevista com o presidente a sua curiosidade sobre como conhecera a companheira, Marcela Temer. Cercado por políticos e auxiliares, Temer chegou a declarar, no jantar, que não se preocupava com a lista do procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, prestes a pedir a abertura de inquérito para investigar oito ministros e uma fileira de aliados de seu governo.

“Se eu for me preocupar com isso, não faço mais nada. Não estou preocupado. Cada Poder cuida de uma coisa”, afirmou o presidente para quem quisesse acreditar.

“Meu objetivo é levantar o país. A economia está indo numa onda excepcional, crescendo substancialmente. Meu único objetivo é colocar o país nos trilhos”, jurou, horas depois de ser gravado pelo magnata da carne.

Entre mortos, feridos, biografias destroçadas e encalhe de camisetas com a inscrição “A culpa não é minha, eu votei no Aécio” (que, no mesmo jantar, dizia ser necessário salvar a política e agora, afastado do Senado, é acusado de pedir R$ 2 milhões a Joesley Batista para bancar a própria defesa na Lava Jato), a pergunta inevitável é o que surgirá no horizonte após vórtice que acaba de estourar as bases de uma estrutura apodrecida.

Não é que o país não tenha saídas além do aeroporto. Mas elas não se constroem com o cinismo e a falsa polarização determinantes para pavimentar a chegada de Temer e companhia ao poder.

“O novo, o gestor, o salvador”, dirão os sucessores do Conselheiro Acácio da crônica política contemporânea. Um deles acaba de se lançar candidato (há quem ainda duvide) em Nova York com uma claque organizada pela própria empresa, que bancou a viagem de amigos e jornalistas convidados.

A essa altura, o futuro político da “novidade” João Doria (PSDB-SP) deve ser menos preocupante a presença ilustre, no jantar em homenagem ao prefeito paulistano, de Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB-PR), deputado eleito sob o selo de bom gestor (leia-se herdeiro de família rica) filmado pela PF recebendo uma mala com R$ 500 mil do suposto acordo de Temer com a JBS.

Não é que o país não tenha saídas além do aeroporto. Mas elas, como demonstra (ou deveria demonstrar) o desfecho da aventura temerária, não se constroem com o cinismo e a falsa polarização determinantes para pavimentar a chegada de Temer e companhia ao poder.

No futuro, Temer será lembrado como o ex-vice decorativo que posou de presidente em jantares e solenidades, mas delegou um projeto de país a terceiros. Longe das câmeras, não fez nada a não ser administrar o silêncio do criminoso que o levou até ali.

“Michel é Eduardo Cunha”, dizia Jucá, o breve, enquanto sonhava em estancar a sangria das investigações. O resultado é uma fita que ninguém queria ouvir.

A leitura do roteiro dispensava a farsa filmada por um ano inteiro sob a piscadela dos ingênuos e o beliscão da cumplicidade. Nessa história encolhemos todos.

The post Gravação de Joesley revela a farsa de um governo alavancado pelo cinismo appeared first on The Intercept.

After Latest Bombshells, Only Michel Temer’s Removal, and New Elections, Can Save Brazil’s Democracy

18 May 2017 - 11:24am

When Michel Temer was installed as President less than one year ago after the impeachment of elected President Dilma Rousseff, the primary justification offered by Brazilian media figures was that he would bring stability and unity to a country beset by political and economic crisis. From the start, the opposite has been true: Temer and his closest allies were a vessel for far more corruption, controversy, instability and shame than anything that preceded them. His approval ratings have literally collapsed to single-digits.

But yesterday’s emergence of proof showing just how dirty and corrupt Temer is makes the situation utterly unsustainable. Leaks from the ongoing corruption investigation reveal that Temer was caught on tape in March directing an executive to continue to pay bribes to maintain the silence of Eduardo Cunha, the formerly omnipotent, now-imprisoned House Speaker, Eduardo Cunha, who presided over Dilma’s impeachment and who belongs to Temer’s party. Temer had already faced allegations of deep involvement in bribes and illegal contributions, but that could be overlooked because – unlike now – no smoking gun proof existed.

Meanwhile, Dilma’s 2014 opponent in the presidential campaign – conservative Senator Aécio Neves, whose party led Dilma’s impeachment and now dominates Temer’s government – was caught yesterday in similar bribery schemes, was removed this morning by the Court from the Senate, and now faces immediate imprisonment. The sister of Aécio (shown above with Temer at the latter’s inauguration) was imprisoned this morning as part of the corruption investigation.

In sum, the two key figures driving Dilma’s impeachment were just revealed to be hardened criminals, with documentary evidence – audio recordings, videos and online chats – which all Brazilians who soon see, hear and read. The exact type of smoking gun evidence that Brazil’s notoriously biased corporate media searched for with futility for years against Dilma was just discovered against the two key figures that drove her impeachment, one of whom they installed as President.

To say that this situation – Temer’s ongoing presidency – is unsustainable is an understatement. How can a major country possibly be governed by someone who everyone knows just months ago directed the payment of bribes to keep key witnesses silenced in a corruption investigation? The sole rationale for Temer’s presidency – he will bring stability and signal to markets that Brazil is again open for business – has just collapsed in a heap of humiliation and destruction.

*BRAZIL STOCK FUTURES PLUNGE 10% ON OPEN https://t.co/lQS9nUityj pic.twitter.com/W1aKkJ1AMw

— Bloomberg Markets (@markets) May 18, 2017

At this point, Temer’s removal – one way or the other – seems inevitable. Although he is momentarily refusing to resign, his key allies are starting to abandon him. The media stars who installed him are now trashing him. There is open discussion everywhere about the mechanisms that will be used to remove and replace him.

Even for the sleazy power brokers of Brasília, getting caught on tape directly participating in blatant criminality is disqualifying: not to stay in the House or Senate, but to serve as the symbolic face of the country to the world and, more importantly, to capital markets. What’s new is not that Temer is corrupt: everyone knew that, including those who installed him. What’s new is that the evidence is now too embarrassing – too sabotaging of their project – to allow him to stay.

 

This always was the towering irony at the heart of Dilma’s impeachment. As those of us who argued against impeachment repeatedly pointed out, removing the democratically elected president in the name of battling corruption was such a farce precisely because her removal would elevate and empower the most corrupt factions, the darkest criminals and bandits, and enable them to rule the country without having won an election.

Indeed, the empowerment of the country’s most corrupt factions was a key goal of Dilma’s impeachment. As shown by yet another secret recording – one revealed last year that captured the plotting of Temer’s key ally, Romero Jucá – the real goal of impeachment (aside from austerity and privatization) was to enable those most corrupt politicians to use their new, unearned political power to kill the ongoing corruption investigation (“stop the bleeding”) and thus protect themselves from accountability and punishment. The empowerment of the nation’s most corrupt politicians was a key feature, not a bug, of Dilma’s impeachment.

The key question now – as it was then –  is what comes next? Those of us who argued against impeachment repeatedly urged that if Dilma were really going to be impeached, only new elections – whereby the citizenry, rather than the band of criminals in the halls of power, chose their new president. – could protect Brazilian democracy. The absolute worst option was to allow the corrupt line of succession in Brasília to elevate itself and then choose its own successors. That would ensure that corruption became further entrenched. As David Miranda and I wrote in a Folha Op-Ed in April of last year:

If, despite all this, the country is truly determined to remove Dilma, the worst alternative is to permit the corrupt line of succession to ascend to power.

The principles of democracy demand that Dilma Rousseff complete her term in office. If that is not an option, and if she is going to be impeached, the best alternative is new elections. That way, the population would assume its proper place as provided by the Constitution: all power emanates from the people.

Yet that’s exactly what took place. What Brazilian elites fear and hate most is democracy. The last thing they wanted was to allow Brazil’s population to once against choose their own leaders. So they foisted on them a corrupt, hated mediocrity – who could never have been elected on his own, who indeed is now banned from running for any office due to election law violations – and he was tasked with imposing an agenda the country hated.

Brazil’s elite media and political class are now openly plotting the same scam. Many are suggesting that Temer’s replacement should be chosen not by the Brazilian people but by its Congress: 1/3 of whom are the targets of formal criminal investigations, most of whose major parties are rife with corruption. As we saw with Temer’s installation, allowing corrupt institutions to choose a country’s leaders is the antithesis of democracy and anti-corruption crusades. It ensures that criminality and corruption reign. The only debate should be whether direct elections should include not only Temer’s successor but also a new Congress.

Brazil’s democracy, and its political stability, has already been crippled by the traumatic removal of the person who was actually elected to lead the country. That her successor has been exposed as a criminal exacerbates the tragedy. But it is not an overstatement to say that allowing the same corrupt factions to choose one of their own to replace Temer – once again denying the right of the people to pick their President and instead imposing on them a leader who emerges from the sleaziest precincts of Brasília’s sewer   – would be its death blow.

Top photo: Michel Temer (C) greets with senator Aecio Neves following his swear-in ceremony as President of Brazil in Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 31, 2016.

The post After Latest Bombshells, Only Michel Temer’s Removal, and New Elections, Can Save Brazil’s Democracy appeared first on The Intercept.

Activist Accepts Sen. Joe Manchin’s Challenge to “Find Somebody Who Can Beat Me“

18 May 2017 - 11:08am

West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin used a conference call with local activists in February to tell them to stop complaining about his pro-corporate voting record.

“What you ought to do is vote me out. Vote me out! I’m not changing. Find somebody else who can beat me and vote me out,” he dared the activists.

Paula Jean Swearengin, an environmental activist descended from generations of coal miners, has accepted that challenge, announcing earlier this month that she will be challenging Manchin for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

She is one of the first candidates endorsed by Brand New Congress, a new effort spawned by former Bernie Sanders staffers who want to recruit both Democrats and Republicans who have never held office before to run for Congress.

Swearengin’s grandfather died of black lung disease and she has had multiple family members who have suffered from illnesses related to working in the coal mines.

That’s an industry Manchin has been allied to since his days as governor. “Governor Manchin gets it!” exclaimed Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, following his election to the Senate in 2010. Since then, Manchin has not disappointed Big Coal. He has fought the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal pollution and was one of two Democrats who voted to support President Trump’s appointment of climate denier Scott Pruitt as EPA chief.

In an interview with The Intercept, Swearengin described the impact coal and environmental pollution have had on her own life.

“I was born a coal miner’s daughter, granddaughter,” she explained. But the industry that employed her family also battered its health. “I have watched several of my family members suffer with … cancer, black lung, suffer from heart disease.”

Pollution from coal mining impacted every area of her life. “When I was a little girl, our water was orange with a blue and purple film. And we drank that water,” she lamented.

To Swearengin, West Virginia’s historic dependence on the coal industry has created an impossible choice for the people of the state. “We’ve been bid against each other for basic human rights,” she explained. “There’s no reason that people should have to worry about putting food on the table for their children and clean water. Appalachians are strong. We’re better than that. So my path to primary Joe Manchin is to fight back. Fight back for my community. Fight back for my neighbors, my family, my friends.”

She confronted Manchin over water pollution at a town hall last March, earning applause when she denounced the fossil fuel industry.

Paula Swearengin speaks to Senator Joe Manchin during the People’s Town Hall in South Charleston, W.Va., in March 2017.

Photo: Brand New Congress

Her platform is built around offering West Virginians an alternative to the coal industry’s strangehold over the state’s economy, framing this as delivering”economic freedom.” It includes support for tuition-free college, Medicare for All, and investment in infrastructure.

West Virginia went to President Trump by over 40 points in November, making it one of his strongest states in the nation, leading some political commentators to believe that the state is deeply supportive of right-wing Republicans and that it is impossible for a progressive Democrat to win. Swearengin doesn’t see it that way.

“The reason that people ended up voting for Donald Trump is because they’re desperate,” she said. “When they don’t have any other options and somebody’s sitting there saying, ‘Well, let’s give you jobs,’ those were false promises but when somebody is desperate to feed their children, they make poor choices.”

Swearengin views Trump’s election as part of a larger problem in politics in her state: that Democrats and Republicans have converged in ideology and are no longer offering meaningful choices. “The thing that aggravates me the most about the Republicans and the Democrats in this state, they’re all the same. One of the biggest polluting coal barons in West Virginia, Jim Justice, is my Democratic governor,” she explained. “That’s another reason that I decided to run for office. Because he’s my governor, he’s blowing silica dust three miles from my house into my children’s lungs. But he’s a Democrat. He’s a Democrat. But he’s basically a Republican.”

Although there has not yet been any polling produced on the race, there is some evidence that Swearengin’s campaign may not be quixotic. A little over a year ago, Bernie Sanders won every single county in the state in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, a sign that whatever advantages Manchin has as the incumbent Senator, there appears to be more anti-establishment feeling on the ground than he is anticipating.

Top photo: Sen. Joe Manchin speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on May 16, 2017.

The post Activist Accepts Sen. Joe Manchin’s Challenge to “Find Somebody Who Can Beat Me“ appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump culpou a Arábia Saudita pelo 11 de Setembro. E é para lá sua primeira viagem como presidente.

18 May 2017 - 10:09am

Será que Donald Trump tem sequer um pingo de vergonha?

O candidato Trump passou boa parte da campanha alfinetando, criticando, denunciando e até ameaçando o Reino da Arábia Saudita. Agora o presidente Trump elege como destino da sua primeira viagem internacional… o Reino da Arábia Saudita.

É uma mudança particularmente descarada, até para os padrões de Trump. Nos primeiros meses de seu mandato, testemunhamos reviravoltas em questões que vão da Otan à China ou ao Export-Import Bank. Vimos o candidato exaltar Bashar al Assad e criticar Janet Yellen e o presidente exaltar Yellen e criticar Assad. Em outubro do ano passado, Trump afirmou que James Comey, à época ainda diretor do FBI, tinha “coragem” de “fazer o certo”; na semana passada, ele demitiu Comey, chamando-o de “exibido” e “fanfarrão”.

Ou seja, para usar um eufemismo, não é a primeira vez que uma opinião de Trump gira 180 graus. Mesmo assim, a mudança em relação à Arábia Saudita – um dos aliados mais próximos dos Estados Unidos desde que o presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt recebeu o rei Abdul Aziz ibn Saud a bordo do USS Murphy em 1945 – deve ser acompanhada de perto. Trump chegará ao país do Golfo no próximo fim de semana. Participará de uma reunião bilateral com o rei Salman e de uma série de encontros com membros do Conselho de Cooperação do Golfo (CCG).

Não vão faltar apertos de mão, abraços e sorrisos. Aos espectadores, restará esquecer que Trump detonou a família real saudita, classificando-os de aproveitadores, e chegou a fazer ameaças de boicote econômico. Em entrevista ao New York Times no ano passado, Trump afirmou que, sem a proteção e o apoio norte-americanos, “a Arábia Saudita não sobreviveria por muito tempo”. Para Trump, o problema é que, apesar dos sauditas “serem uma máquina de dinheiro, (…) eles não estão nos pagando como deveriam”. Quando perguntado se estaria disposto “a parar de comprar petróleo dos sauditas” se eles não fizessem a parte deles, Trump respondeu: “Ah, claro. Estaria disposto, sim”.

Também teremos de esquecer que Trump criticou duramente o governo saudita por executar homossexuais e tratar mulheres “de maneira terrível”. No terceiro debate presidencial, em outubro do ano passado, Trump repreendeu Hillary Clinton por ter aceitado 25 milhões de dólares dos sauditas, “um povo que joga gays (…) de cima de prédios, pessoas que matam mulheres e as tratam de maneira terrível. E mesmo assim você aceita dinheiro deles”.

Também se espera que varramos para debaixo do tapete a lembrança de que Trump acusou – duas vezes no mesmo dia – a Arábia Saudita de estar por trás dos ataques do 11 de Setembro. “Quem explodiu o World Trade Center?”, perguntou Trump aos seus coleguinhas do programa Fox and Friends, na manhã de 17 de fevereiro de 2016. “Não foram os iraquianos, foram os sauditas. Deem uma pesquisada sobre a Arábia Saudita, vão atrás dos documentos”.

Num evento de campanha na Carolina do Sul, nesse mesmo dia, ele voltou a falar em “arquivos secretos” que comprovariam que “os sauditas” foram os verdadeiros responsáveis pelos ataques. “Não foram os iraquianos que derrubaram o World Trade Center (…), eles têm documentos supersecretos que comprovam que foram os saudistas, tá bem?”

(Para ser justo com Trump, gente mais bem informada e com muito mais credibilidade chegou a conclusões parecidas: “Estou convencido de que havia uma linha direta entre alguns dos terroristas do 11 de Setembro e o governo da Arábia Saudita”, afirmou em 2012, em um depoimento escrito sob juramento, o ex-senador da Flórida Bob Graham, um dos presidentes do inquérito da comissão de inteligência do Senado americano sobre o 11 de Setembro.)

Donald Trump em campanha em Bluffton, na Carolina do Sul, em 17 de fevereiro de 2016. Nesse evento, ele mencionou “arquivos secretos” que comprovariam que “os sauditas” foram os verdadeiros responsáveis pelos ataques do 11 de Setembro.

Foto: Matt Rourke/AP

Talvez nunca saibamos se os sauditas tiveram ou não participação nos ataques do 11 de Setembro. Mas vivemos para ver um candidato à presidência dos Estados Unidos acusá-los – duas vezes – de tal feito. Menos de um ano depois, é surpreendente que a Arábia Saudita seja o país escolhido por Trump para sua viagem internacional inaugural. Podia ter feito como todos os presidentes desde Ronald Reagan e escolhido o Canadá ou o México.

Será que Trump vai voltar dessa excursão saudita com um cheque bem gordo? O tão propalado “ressarcimento”? Será que ele vai ousar falar sobre a questão dos direitos dos homossexuais em Riad? Ou sobre os direitos das mulheres? Vai dar um jeito de trazer de volta um ou dois membros da realeza saudita algemados por conta da (suposta) participação no 11 de Setembro? Até parece. É mais provável o presidente americano voltar convertido ao Islã.

Claro que a hipocrisia não é uma exclusividade de Trump e dos Estados Unidos. A Arábia Saudita se considera “o nascedouro do Islã” e é governada por um rei que se diz “o guardião das duas mesquitas sagradas”. Mesmo assim, nesse próximo fim de semana, o governo saudita vai receber calorosamente um presidente que já disse que “o Islã nos odeia” e que queria proibir 1,6 bilhão de muçulmanos do mundo inteiro de entrar nos Estados Unidos. Quer saber como a Arábia Saudita reagiu à última tentativa de Trump de vetar o direito de viagem de 170 milhões de muçulmanos? Uma decisão “soberana”, com o aparente objetivo de “impedir a entrada de terroristas nos Estados Unidos da América” e tomada por um “verdadeiro amigo dos muçulmanos”.

No domingo, esses sauditas bajuladores vão dar palco para o islamofóbico mais famoso do planeta. Trump vai discursar sobre o Islã, bem no nascedouro do Islã. E deve aproveitar a oportunidade para denunciar “o terrorismo radical islâmico”, bem no país que talvez tenha feito mais do que qualquer outro para incitar, financiar e alimentar o terror.

Os dois países estão unidos pela hipocrisia e também pelo pavor que têm dos iranianos. Na tentativa de minar a influência do Irã sobre o Iêmen e a Síria, os sauditas vêm jogando bombas e armando insurgentes nos dois países. O governo Trump, que está cheio de gente que quer jogar duro com o Irã, está prestes a fechar um negócio de 100 bilhões de dólares em armas para a Arábia Saudita.

Que fique claro: esse giro de 180 graus em relação à Arábia Saudita tem muito pouco a ver com a moderação que exige o cargo ou com a influência do alto escalão de Washington sobre a política externa. Apesar da retórica bombástica que marcou a campanha, nunca esteve nos planos de Trump combater os sauditas quando chegasse à presidência – mesmo depois de tê-los acusado de matar 3 mil americanos. No início da corrida eleitoral, em 2015, um experiente diplomata árabe me contou, sob condição de anonimato, que Trump tinha garantido a quase todos os governos do Golfo, em reuniões reservadas, que sua retórica antimuçulmana e antiárabe era “só para a campanha” e que, uma vez eleito (ou mesmo se ele perdesse as eleições), os negócios com esses países não mudariam em nada.

Como sempre, para Trump, é tudo uma questão de negócios – seus negócios. O voraz crítico dos sauditas vendeu a eles um andar inteiro de sua Trump World Tower por 4,5 milhões de dólares em 2001. E você ficaria surpreso de saber que Trump registrou oito empresas ligadas ao setor hoteleiro na Arábia Saudita, no meio de uma campanha que foi tão dura com o país?

Claro que não. Negócios são negócios. Trump é Trump. Você pode até ficar indignado diante de tanta enganação…mas a cara de pau do presidente é de se admirar.

Foto do título: Navio de guerra americano no Grande Lago Amargo, no Egito, durante o encontro entre o presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt e o rei Ibn Saud da Arábia Saudita, em 1945.

Tradução: Carla Camargo Fanha

The post Trump culpou a Arábia Saudita pelo 11 de Setembro. E é para lá sua primeira viagem como presidente. appeared first on The Intercept.

Donald Trump Said Saudi Arabia Was Behind 9/11. Now He’s Going There on His First Foreign Trip.

18 May 2017 - 7:17am

DOES DONALD TRUMP have even an ounce of shame?

As a presidential candidate, he spent much of the election campaign needling, critiquing, denouncing and even threatening the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Yet as president, he is making his first foreign visit this weekend to … the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Even by Trumpian standards, the volte-face is brazen. In his first few months in power, we have witnessed the trademark Trump Turnabout on issues ranging from NATO to China to the Export-Import Bank. We have listened to him go from praising Bashar al Assad and rebuking Janet Yellen on the campaign trail, to praising Yellen and rebuking Assad in office. Last October, he said the then-FBI Director James Comey had “guts” for doing “the right thing”; last week, he sacked Comey and called him a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”

Trump, to put it mildly, is no stranger to the shameless U-turn. Still, the Trump Turnabout on Saudi Arabia — one of America’s closest allies since President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud aboard the USS Murphy in 1945 — is a true sight to behold. This weekend, Trump will arrive in Saudi Arabia for a bilateral summit with King Salman as well as a series of meetings with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

There will be handshakes, hugs and smiles galore. We will be expected to forget how Trump blasted the Saudi royals for being freeloaders and threatened them with an economic boycott. Speaking to the New York Times last year, Trump claimed that, without U.S. support and protection, “Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for very long.” The real problem, he continued, was that the Saudis are “a money machine … and yet they don’t reimburse us the way we should be reimbursed.” Asked if he would be willing to “stop buying oil from the Saudis” if they refused to pull their weight, Trump responded: “Oh yeah, sure. I would do that.”

We will be also expected to ignore the fact that Trump slammed the Saudi government for executing homosexuals and treating women “horribly.” In the third presidential debate last October, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for taking $25 million from the Saudis, from “people that push gays off … buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly and yet you take their money.”

Perhaps above all else, we will be expected to brush under the carpet the fact that, twice in a single day, Trump accused Saudi Arabia of being behind the 9/11 attacks. “Who blew up the World Trade Center?” Trump asked his pals at Fox and Friends on the morning of February 17, 2016. “It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi — take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”

At a campaign event in South Carolina later that day, he again cited “secret papers” that could prove it was “the Saudis” who were in fact responsible for the attacks on 9/11. “It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center … because they have papers in there that are very secret, you may find it’s the Saudis, okay?”

(To be fair to Trump, far more credible and better-informed figures have come to a similar conclusion: “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” wrote former Florida senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry into 9/11, in an affidavit in 2012.)

Donald Trump walks from a campaign stop Feb. 17, 2016, in Bluffton, S.C. At the event, he cited “secret papers” that could prove it was “the Saudis” who were in fact responsible for the attacks on 9/11.

Photo: Matt Rourke/AP

Whether or not the Saudi government played a role in the 9/11 attacks — and we may never know — for a leading U.S. presidential candidate to claim that they did, not once but twice, had to be seen to be believed. And yet, astonishingly, a little over a year later, it is to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that Trump has chosen to make his maiden foreign voyage — rather than to Canada or Mexico, as every president since Ronald Reagan has.

Will Trump return from his Saudi jaunt with a big fat check? His much-hyped “reimbursement”? Will he dare raise the issue of gay rights while in Riyadh? Or women’s rights? Will he manage to bring back a Saudi royal or two in handcuffs for their (alleged) role in the 9/11 attacks? Please. There are greater odds of the American president coming back as a proud convert to Islam.

Hypocrisy is not the exclusive preserve of Trump or the United States, of course. Saudi Arabia sees itself as the “the birthplace of Islam,” ruled by a king who styles himself “custodian of the two holy mosques.” Yet this coming weekend, the Saudi government will offer a warm and lavish welcome to a president who has said “Islam hates us” and wanted to ban all of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims from entering the United States. The Saudi position on the latest iteration of the Trump travel ban, targeted at 170-million-odd Muslims? A “sovereign” decision aimed, apparently, at “preventing terrorists from entering the United States of America” and made by a “true friend of Muslims.”

On Sunday, the fawning Saudis will offer a platform to the world’s most famous Islamophobe, to give a speech on Islam in “the birthplace” of Islam. And Trump will likely take the opportunity to decry “radical Islamic terrorism” while visiting a country which has perhaps done more than any other to incite, fund and fuel it.

Hypocrisy unites them both. So too does their fear and loathing of the Iranians — the Saudis are busying dropping bombs and backing militants to push back Iranian influence in Yemen and Syria. The Trump administration, filled with Iran hawks, is on the verge of inking a series of arms deals with Riyadh worth more than $100 billion.

To be clear: Trump’s U-turn on Saudi Arabia has little to do with being moderated by the realities of high office or swayed by the Beltway’s foreign policy elites. Despite his bombastic campaign rhetoric, he never planned to go after the Saudis in office — even after publicly accusing them of murdering 3,000 Americans. Early on in the campaign, in 2015, a senior Arab diplomat told me, on condition of anonymity, that Trump had informed most of the Gulf governments, in private, that his anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric was “all for the campaign” and that it would be business as usual once he was elected (or, for that matter, defeated).

As ever, for Trump, it is always, above all else, about the bottom line — his bottom line. The Saudi-bashing Trump sold an entire floor of the Trump World Tower to the Saudis for $4.5 million in 2001. And would it surprise you to discover that Trump also registered eight companies tied to hotel interests in Saudi Arabia in the midst of his Saudi-bashing presidential campaign?

Of course not. Business is business. Trump is Trump. You might be repulsed by his deceitfulness…but you have to admire his chutzpah.

Top photo: A view of aboard an American warship at Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt conferred with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia in 1945.

The post Donald Trump Said Saudi Arabia Was Behind 9/11. Now He’s Going There on His First Foreign Trip. appeared first on The Intercept.

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