DHS withheld a July intelligence bulletin calling out Russian attack on Biden’s mental health.
Understanding how it happened and why requires a bit of a journey through a sea of federal documents, but not to worry—we’ve collected those for you.
The information was scheduled for public disclosure on July 9, 2020, but the July 7 email instructed the reader to speak with AS1 before release.
Now months past the planned immediate-release date, the bulletin has yet to circulate.
I’ll give you a hint. Before his current position, he worked as a lobbyist who intentionally replaced American workers by bringing in immigrants to work for less.
Isn’t that forbidden? Yes, but there’s a loophole—the loopiest of holes.
An employer can displace US workers if the immigrant has H1-B status, and a subcontractor employs them.
The President’s order forbids former registered lobbyists now working in the White House from participating in areas they had previously lobbied on for two years. Despite this directive, these men and women made their way through the revolving door and were previously lobbyists and now work in the Trump Administration or were previously in the Administration and work as lobbyists.
That Congress would approve such a candidate for one of the most critical offices in the nation is worrisome, but there’s a catch.
DHS responded with a demand that GAO rescind the assessment, which had undeniable objections, adding a personal attack on the qualifications of GAO staff. The response details at length, the reasons DHS believes the GAO is biased or unqualified.
This response is neither appropriate nor befitting the office of Homeland Security. Moreover, it fails to address and effectively refute the concern outlined by GAO: the succession was unlawfully subverted.
AS1, better known as Chad Wolf, holds the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security position. Wolf’s former employers from his lobbying days have received at least $160,000,000 in contracts from Homeland Security — a textbook example of the corruption the administration promised to end.
Recently he’s made headlines for overseeing federal officers unlawfully detaining civilians, detailed in a human rights report that included a review of over 500 hours of video footage.
Wolf also championed a policy change that former First Lady Laura Bush called “cruel” and “immoral” in an unprecedented op/ed. She likened images of immigrant children being held in kennels to those that came out of Japanese internment camps during World War II.
The Republican First Lady recalled her mother-in-law, yet another Republican first lady, meeting “untouchable” children living in what we would think of as an orphanage.
“My mother-in-law never viewed her embrace of that fragile child as courageous. She simply saw it as the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind, and even cruel. She, who after the death of her 3-year-old daughter knew what it was to lose a child, believed that every child is deserving of human kindness, compassion, and love.
In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate, and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”
The most important voice is that of the children separated from their parents. We can overhear voices mocking the children. Propublica, which investigated and took the footage, estimated the separated kids to range from ages 1 or 2 to around 10 years.
They are people.
Wolf has been undeniably busy. Another noteworthy action he took was changing the order of succession for the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. He does not have that power.
Still, the current administration used an unlawful change made by an unlawfully appointed official to unlawfully place yet another official, Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli also appears in the GAO report for the same reason as Wolf, an illegal appointment. Chairmen on the Committee for Homeland Security wrote of concern about still more abuses of power.
The Committee for Homeland Security penned a letter condemning the violations of First Amendment rights and DHS’s collection of intelligence on American journalists who later suffered injuries. Such actions are something common in authoritarian regimes but unthinkable in the United States.
Both Cucinelli and Wolf maintain their positions despite being unqualified, demonstrably unethical, and illegally appointed. Both display a willingness to push the limits of legality. Their actions have concerned watchdog organizations, human rights organizations, and ally countries like Australia that opened an investigation after seeing live footage of violence against people screaming, “media!”
We used to be the country that did the investigating and protecting, not the one hiding our misdeeds.
The bipartisan “Rubio Report” from August 2020, details the actions Russia took in 2016 and that they are likely to take in 2020. Rubio said upon releasing his report, “As we head towards the 2020 elections, China and Iran have joined Russia in attempts to disrupt our democracy, exacerbate societal divisions, and sow doubts about the legitimacy and integrity of our institutions, our electoral process and our republic.”
What Marco Rubio neglected to say is that our inaction and tolerance for foreign states undermining democracy is what invited new parties to the table. Russia is bolder than ever, and Russia is not the only country that has noticed we couldn’t play a game of telephone if our lives depended on it.
The most troubling part of withholding intelligence about the Russian attack on the public is the same reason they scheduled the information for immediate release.
Forewarning helps us identify and defend against these kinds of attacks, attacks the administration has refused to take action to stop or condemn.
While it may seem harmless the reason this is so dangerous has to do with the human mind. When we assess whether something is credible, we reject ideas that challenge preexisting beliefs, unless we intentionally counter it. In fact, we misremember details, and misremembering often favors our perspective.
We also more readily accept ideas that are both repeated and “first.” Even if we get better information or evidence to the contrary, we give a message we heard first an advantage without knowing it. Especially in crises, this is true. This tendency is the reason propagandists often accuse opponents of the precise thing they are doing.
First and frequent messaging together provoke the “illusory effect,” the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure. The illusory effect is the bread and butter of the Russian propaganda model.
The tactic is highly effective and of the highest concern to those working in national security. Still, have done little to acknowledge the problem.
That returns us to the question of how, and why the bulletin was withheld. Why do you think AS1 held back intelligence the President has repeatedly used against his opponent?
The next chapter in this story will come shortly. A letter to the Inspector General of Homeland Security members of the Committee reads:
“To restore the faith of the American public in DHS, it is imperative that the DHS OIG swiftly investigate the matters referred to it by GAO. We request that you brief our Committees no later than September 4, 2020, on your office’s investigative plan. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.”
Full letter below.
It will take a great deal many more steps than outlined in this report to restore this American’s faith in a government that has shown itself to be capable of anything. I used to believe that the truth prevailed, that goodness won out and that the good people would refuse to support abject immorality and abuse of power
—I no longer believe in such things.