Posted on March 16, 2016 in Countdown

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No, the “C” in CVE doesn’t stand for yet another convening

It’s been a tough two weeks for our government’s salesmanship of “Countering Violent Extremism” programs. CVE’s first foray into actual programming at the federal level was a disaster, but the Department began “beta-testing” something called “Shared Responsibility Committees,” (SRCs) last week and they are what CVE is really about. And because CVE lacks rationality in the first place, SRCs have been roundly criticized because they’re a disaster in the making. The intellectuals and pundits  in the counter terrorism community are beginning to catch on to one of CVE’s many problems—CVE is trying to solve a problem that it can’t (presumed ideology) in a way that it shouldn’t (profiling a community). DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson can’t even talk about CVE to his friends in Washington, D.C. without having to battle CVE detractors. At this week’s #CVESymposium the crowd seemed to be filled with more critics than supporters, if Twitter is to be trusted. Secretary Johnson un-ironically says that criticism of CVE is evidence that it’s working, well, we respectfully disagree.


Wisconsin Wins Mean More Chaos

Following their respective victories in the Wisconsin primaries, Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders don’t have a lot of time to gloat. Sanders’s easy victory in Wisconsin will only truly matter if he can use it as a spring to victory in New York – which is the home state of his opponent. Secretary Clinton, who walked away with only 10 less delegates from Wisconsin than the Senator, still has a huge lead in the delegate count and Sanders’s hope of flipping the all important “super delegates” hasn’t yielded any fruit, yet. While the Democrats are talking New York, the Republicans are talking Cleveland. For Senator Ted Cruz, who walked away with a whopping 30 more delegates than that businessman, a win in Wisconsin makes a contested Convention in Cleveland even more likely. Cool, calm, and collected for the press, GOP leaders are panicking behind the scenes about the possible death of the Republican Party on the convention floor. The Convention’s security personnel and sponsors – including Coca Cola - are piling onto the GOP’s problems. After the threat of guns inside of the Convention, Cleveland police are spending the $50million they were granted to prep for the Convention. That means riot gear, tactical armor, training at the Nuclear Security Summit, and a huge surge in personnel. In an election cycle that has already produced some scary and violent moments, the worst might be yet to come.


Leahy’s Law & Letter

Senator Patrick Leahy was joined by 10 of his Senate colleagues in a letter to Secretary Kerry about the Leahy Law’s application to U.S. aid to Israel and Egypt. It’s quite easy to skip over the Egypt language because it’s nothing new, but singling out Israel for “possible gross violations of human rights by security forces…what may by extrajudicial killings by the Israeli military and police” is new. Well, not new to anyone who understands how violent and illegal the occupation is, and has been for 50+ years. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t particularly appreciate the allegations lobbed at his occupation forces, and responded through the respectable diplomatic channel of a Facebook post. Netanyahu’s childish and tired deflection of the letter’s concerns about very specific incidents look pretty ridiculous when just two days after the letter became public, an Israeli medic was videotaped shooting an injured Palestinian suspect on the ground in Hebron. The State Department, who acknowledged receipt of the letter, must respond.


No Free Speech on Palestine

Out of all the ways that freedom of speech is being chilled worldwide, the campaign in the U.S. to shut down the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is just another example of how champions of censorship are willing to throw the baby out with the bath water. The petition New York State Senators handed to the City University of New York just last week typifies this. On the charge of BDS advocates creating a “hostile environment” on campus, the petition’s backers are signing up to sacrifice freedom of speech and undermine the very academic freedom that universities live and die by in order to promote a very narrow political agenda. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, you can say what you want about the effectiveness of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, but no reasonable person can say that individuals and companies don’t have a constitutionally protected right to boycott if they so choose. Oh wait, a few people we definitely expect to be reasonable are not only saying it, but are threatening to criminalize BDS (we’re talking about you, Ted Cruz).


More Papers, More Payouts

We didn’t need more proof that power and corruption go hand in hand, but we got it with the release of the “Panama Papers” last week. The 11.5 million documents revealed more evidence on how common place it is for the rich and the powerful to evade laws. But seriously, is anyone surprised that Egypt’s deposed dictator Mubarak was involved in shady dealings? Not us. Since the rich and the powerful came together so effectively to pull this off, we’re left wondering and worried about two things: first, what else are world leaders doing to undercut their own people that we don’t know about? And second, if world leaders can pull this off, why can’t they pull off something, anything, that actually matters to the countries they’re responsible for governing?