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Tight circle of security officials crafted Trump’s Syria warning

U.S . Secretary of State Rex Tillerson | Alex Wong/Getty Images

US national security officials worked on the language in between meetings in a fast-moving effort to send Syria a message.

By 1 and 2

6/28/17, 5:03 AM CET

President Donald Trump s blunt, public warning to the Syrian regime late Monday night was cobbled together in a series of hurried discussions, squeezed in between meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and kept among a small, tight circle of top officials. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both arrived at the White House late Monday afternoon, ahead of the Rose Garden ceremony at which Trump and Modi each read a prepared statement . Upon the Cabinet members arrival, according to a senior defense official, they were informed of Trump s plan to issue a public warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, based on new intelligence the Syrian regime3 was preparing another chemical weapons attack on its own people. National security adviser H.R .

McMaster, who also was at the White House for meetings, had already been briefed and had weighed in on the plan, administration sources said. But no stand-alone principals meeting followed to discuss the intelligence, which Trump received Monday morning, according to two senior administration officials. Rather, over the course of the day, officials said, McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson and a few other top officials had the opportunity to work the language of the statement, in between meetings with Modi . None of them expressed any hesitation or disagreement about the decision to issue a public warning, according to one of the senior administration officials.

But a Defense Department official acknowledged that the events were fast-moving and that there were minimal deliberations about the bold move and that only a limited number of top military officials were aware of the new intelligence and planned response. The episode marked another example of ongoing frustration between administration rank-and-file and leadership, which this time could carry serious consequences if the backbiting appears to weaken the U.S . government s resolve in turning up the pressure on Assad.

It hurts American credibility, said Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official who served under Secretary of State John Kerry . When the Syrian regime sees a report that government officials have no idea, the message to them is that these guys don t have their act together . And if nobody at State knows, it hurts your ability to follow up and have a diplomatic game plan.

But one former Obama administration official shrugged off the issues of communication between the White House and lower-level agency officials.

There s a broader issue here of effective coordination and communication sometimes the president contradicts his own people, Tom Donilon, President Barack Obama s former national security adviser, said in an interview . But I don t think that s the most important issue here . If, in fact, the United States has evidence that they re preparing a chemical attack, laying down a warning that you intend to follow through on is an appropriate thing to do. The careful language of the 87-word statement which was drafted by the afternoon but not released until close to 10 p.m . was cleared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Defense Department before it was blasted out from the press secretary s office.

On Tuesday, the White House insisted that military and State Department officials were not blindsided by the statement, which warned Assad that if he launches another chemical weapons attack, he and his military will pay a heavy price.

In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies including State, DoD, CIA and ODNI were involved in the process from the beginning, the White House said in a statement released Tuesday morning . Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false. Multiple administration officials said people surprised by the statement were simply not senior enough to be clued in and some said they were frustrated that a bold move by Trump, which they believed could save lives, was overshadowed by a side story about leaks and internal disagreements.

The story seems to be about whether or not a public affairs officer on a regional desk at the State Department was notified in what they would consider to be a timely manner, vented a third White House official . If Tillerson knew and some desk officer in the Middle East section didn t know, they need to take that up with Tillerson . It s not their right to know . It s his prerogative if he wants to share the information.

The move, and the frustration were reflective of the Trump administration s approach of making key decisions within a close, inner circle unlike the deliberative, and sometimes paralyzingly inclusive, decision making that defined Obama s process. Despite the confusion and complaints over who was looped in and when, foreign policy experts lauded Trump s choice to make a public statement rather than to try to pressure the Syrian regime through diplomatic back channels. The Trump administration realizes they re being dragged into a very dangerous situation, said Jim Jeffrey, a former U.S .

ambassador to Turkey and Iraq and deputy national security adviser for President George W . Bush . He said the U.S . approach to Assad so far had been a bunch of tit for tats that seemed to have no long-term impact.

The benefit of a public statement is they re now on record as saying, this shall not happen, Jeffrey added . There was a conscious decision made by the people who realize whatever we want to do in the Middle East, we re going to look like fools if they do this again, and we blow up a few more airplanes . We have to react very strongly to them. Trump s own seeming lack of interest in the issue, though, could also diminish the message s effect on Assad.

Instead of using the megaphone of his Twitter feed to amplify the White House statement, marked by his press office as urgent, Trump took to Twitter minutes after its release to harp on one of his personal obsessions . From @FoxNews Bombshell: In 2016, Obama dismissed idea that anyone could rig an American election . Check out his statement Witch Hunt ! the president tweeted.

He s very undisciplined, said Jeffrey . He does this all the time .

That s a separate problem .

But what s clear is that in the end, he goes along with what his top advisers tell him.

Bryan Bender contributed to this report.

Related stories on these topics:

References

  1. ^ (www.politico.eu)
  2. ^ (www.politico.eu)
  3. ^ intelligence the Syrian regime (www.politico.eu)

UK trade shows ramp up security levels

Extra procedures being implemented at the exhibitions involve increases in security personnel and random bag checks. The move comes as the buying team at US department store Bergdorf Goodman opted not to visit London1 this summer for spring 18 buying appointments, as revealed by Drapers last week . Business will continue through virtual meetings. The decision has resonated with Alison Kilgour, owner of Scottish independents Country Pursuits and Capture Boutique both in Stirling, who said she intended to also do her buying appointments remotely . I know that instilling fear is what they want, but I m not doing Pure, Moda or Scoop as I am worried .

I can do it all remotely and just can t see the value in taking the chance. However the majority of UK-based boutiques Drapers has spoken to said they will continue to visit tradeshows and showrooms in London and the rest of the UK as planned.

We don t have any hesitation to travel at the moment, said Sarah Murray, owner of Edinburgh boutique Jane Davidson, who attends London Fashion Week and Scoop.

I think businesses will massively miss out from not coming to London and seeing the creativity it brings . It s important to be out there and getting on with things. Yvette Davies, owner at womenswear independent Thirty Three Boutique in Lymington, who visits both Pure and Scoop, agrees: You have to carry on . Attacks could happen anywhere but you have to get on with your everyday life .

I always go to Who s Next in Paris and the Paris attacks didn t stop me, so I ll be going to the shows as normal this season. Amy Hall, co-owner at Otford-based womenswear boutique Hall & Co, in Kent, said she will also attend Scoop and Pure London as usual . The terror situation has put people off city centres, but we re not concerned about the current safety level . It won t stop us from going to trade fairs . We ll be carrying on as normal.

Claire Mclennan, co-owner at Monmouth womenswear independent The Square, who visits Pure said: We re definitely going . You ve got to, otherwise you d end up scared of everything and you wouldn t have a business . Of course it s a massive shock when this country is attacked, but I feel safe knowing that security will be there. Trade shows in London and Birmingham have been reviewing security arrangements with their venues ahead of the shows this summer. Nick Cook, industry director at Moda-organiser ITE Moda, said: While there are additional measures in place during all events at the NEC at the moment they won t be of a type which will impact on the experience for our visitors or exhibitors.

Visitors will already be familiar with security measures such as bag checks, which are already in operation at Moda, and there will be additional staff on hand to make sure entry to the event remains as smooth and easy as always.

Similarly bag checks will be introduced at London menswear show Jacket Required . A spokeswoman said: We work with an experienced security company at Jacket Required and are reviewing our security with this team and with the venue . Additional staff and safety measures, including bag checks, will be put in place to ensure additional levels of vigilance at this season s exhibition, whilst remaining sensitive to the visitor and exhibitor experience. Julie Driscoll, portfolio director at Pure London said the safety of attendees is an absolute priority : Like everyone, we very saddened by the recent tragic events in Westminster, Manchester and most recently at London Bridge . We continue to work very closely throughout the year with our venue hosts, the police and specialist advisers to ensure that the most appropriate protective security arrangements are in place .

Our plans are continuously reviewed and updated if necessary. AIS s Indx trade shows, which are based in Solihull, will also involve random bag checks and roaming security throughout the show.

Following the recent attacks in London and Manchester it is only right that we have taken the time to review those existing plans to make sure that we are doing all we can to create a safe and secure environment for our visitors and employees, said a spokeswoman.

Safety is paramount and we have considered our internal procedures, level of resources and emergency plans, and have made changes as appropriate . We have followed the guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs Council and will continue to monitor and review the security arrangements at AIS.

Karen Radley, event director of Scoop said: All Scoop visitors are already met by our security team before walking down to the gallery, but there will be extra vigilance this season including simple bag checks, which will be carried out before buyers enter the show itself.

References

  1. ^ Bergdorf Goodman opted not to visit London (www.drapersonline.com)

Security guard involved in Pokemon Go shooting appears in court

Security guard charged in Pokemon Go shooting death in court

1. Police say Chen was sitting in his minivan in a parking lot when he was shot by the security guard after an altercation . Chen’s family has said the man was playing Pokemon Go. In April, Cromwell’s attorney asked to be removed from the case2, citing a deteriorating level of trust and a lack of communication .

The judge granted the request, and Cromwell was assigned a court-appointed attorney.

Cromwell has remained in jail since his arrest.

2017 WVEC-TV

References

  1. ^ January killing of Jiansheng Chen (www.13newsnow.com)
  2. ^ asked to be removed from the case (www.13newsnow.com)