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afghanistan

Trump, national security team head for Camp David

Many inside Trump’s administration watched the remarks with dismay . His top military brass — including the chiefs of five branches of the armed services — posted messages online that denounced racism and the hate groups that Trump initially declined to condemn . The messages didn’t mention Trump by name, but were nonetheless viewed as a rare rebuke of the commander-in-chief. Despite the internal strife, there have been no resignations from Trump’s aides or underlings . The White House said Thursday that Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economist who was enraged at having to stand alongside Trump as he delivered his remarks, would remain in his role.

Others inside the White House, including chief of staff John Kelly1, have also worked to push forward with the President’s agenda, despite near universal condemnation of the President, including from members of his own party.

Trump, who returned to his New Jersey golf club a day after his news conference, will fly Friday morning to the presidential retreat Camp David, nestled in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains 60 miles northwest of Washington. The White House said Trump would meet there with members of his national security team — including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R . McMaster — to discuss strategy in South Asia.

The talks come after months of disagreement within the administration 2over the best path forward in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan . Trump has resisted calls from military leaders to send additional US troops there, questioning the value of continued American presence after sixteen years of war.

But alternate options, including a full-scale withdrawal or a plan to send more private contractors to Afghanistan, have also been met with skepticism. Speaking Thursday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said a decision about Afghanistan was imminent.

“We will move this toward a decision,” Mattis said at a meeting with his Japanese counterpart held at the State Department. “We were coming very close to a decision, and I anticipate it in the very near future.” The Afghanistan debate has divided members of Trump’s team, leading to heated arguments during meetings in the White House Situation Room between McMaster and Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, a staunch nationalist who formerly worked as the chief executive of Breitbart. The dispute spilled into the open when right-wing news outlets began questioning McMaster’s loyalties; McMaster’s allies blamed Bannon for the attacks .

Kelly steered Trump toward issuing a public statement of support for McMaster, though the assault continued into the next week.

Complicating the twisted web of alliances and allegiances in Trump’s circle, Bannon was quoted in a liberal magazine this week contradicting Trump’s own claims about military action in North Korea 3— claims that members of Trump’s national security team spent days defending after the President vowed to rain “fire and fury4” on the country if its threats against the US continue.”There’s no military solution (to North Korea’s nuclear threats), forget it,” Bannon told The American Prospect5. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”It wasn’t clear whether Bannon planned to attend Friday’s talks at Camp David . Originally a member of the National Security Council, Bannon was removed from the panel at McMaster’s urging 6in April.

Camp David, which Trump has visited once as President, offers a pristine setting for Friday’s discussions . It’s previously been the site of high-stakes national security sessions, including negotiations on Middle East peace under President Jimmy Carter and the annual Group of 8 summit (now the G-7) under President Barack Obama.

Trump has spent most of the past two weeks away from the West Wing, which is undergoing renovations .

He’s expected back in Washington on Sunday, though he is planning a western trip 7at the beginning of next week, including a campaign rally in Phoenix.

References

  1. ^ John Kelly (www.cnn.com)
  2. ^ months of disagreement within the administration (www.cnn.com)
  3. ^ contradicting Trump’s own claims about military action in North Korea (www.cnn.com)
  4. ^ fire and fury (www.cnn.com)
  5. ^ The American Prospect (prospect.org)
  6. ^ was removed from the panel at McMaster’s urging (www.cnn.com)
  7. ^ is planning a western trip (www.cnn.com)

‘You are not safe’: Muslim woman claims airport security asked her …

A Muslim woman filmed airport security staff in Rome telling her to remove her hijab and be inspected because she was “not safe”. Aghnia Adzkia was returning to London, where she is a student, after visiting friends in the Italian capital when the row broke out. She said staff initially asked her to remove her hijab at the security gate at Ciampino airport.

When Aghnia, who is from Indonesia, refused she was eventually offered the option of going to a private room with a female security officer to be checked. But she felt she had been racially profiled by security and asked them to explain why the hijab inspection was necessary.

Muslim woman films her row with airport security over hijab inspection

Aghnia filmed part of the argument in which a female security agent can be heard saying: “You are not safe.

“You could hide something in your hair.

“If you don’t take it off, we do not know if there’s something inside, okay ? You are not safe for us.”

Aghnia decided to abandon her flight as she was already late for boarding and re-booked a flight from another of Rome’s airport’s, Leanardo Da Vinci-Fiumicino.

But she was again asked to remove her hijab by security. This time she opted to comply. Posting on social media about her experience, Aghnia said: “I wanted to prove to them that I have nothing to hide and I am not a terrorist.

A female airport security agent tells Aghnia: “You are not safe for us”

“In the meantime I saw two nuns wearing headscarves, but they weren’t asked to take them off.

“Is this what you call fair treatment and respect ?

Where are my human rights?”

But an official at the Indonesian Embassy (KBRI) argued that, when in Rome, Aghnia should have complied with the security officers’ wishes.

Airport policies on removing items of religious clothing vary in different countries and airports.

Aghnia claims she was racially profiled as she saw two nuns wearing headscarves walk through security unchecked

In the UK, government advice issued in 2010 states that Some female visitors, particularly those of the Muslim faith, will wear veils or other face coverings for religious reasons.

“They must not be made to uncover their faces or hair in public or in front of a man as this could cause serious offence and distress.

“When required for security or identification purposes, the removal of the veil or face covering must be done in private with only female staff present.

“Following the removal of headwear, the person must be given the opportunity to use a mirror, and to have privacy and time to put it back on.”

London attack a reminder of fears for post-Brexit security cooperation

BRUSSELS Hours before Wednesday’s attack in London, the head of the European Union police agency Europol warned that a large group of radicalised individuals posed a constant threat to Britain and Europe.

“Some of these are likely to succeed in the future,” Rob Wainwright, who is British, wrote in a blog to commemorate the attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people on March 22, 2016.

In the year between those incidents and the attack that killed three people and injured dozens near Britain’s parliament, European security officials say intelligence sharing on potential threats has increased 10-fold.

More work is being done to tighten security by streamlining databases, clamping down on identity fraud and making reporting of suspicious individuals obligatory.

Britain is one of the top three users of Europol data . But as it leaves the EU, there is a risk that it will be shut out of this cooperation, becoming more vulnerable to Islamist radicals who have killed 300 people across Europe over the past two years.

The suspect in the London attack was British-born, and Britain is not part of the EU’s open-border Schengen zone . But London still shares with its EU peers fears – and information – about Islamists, often radicalised online, returning home after going to train or fight with jihadists in the Middle East, North Africa or Afghanistan.

British security officials warned parliament last year of the dangers of leaving Europol and the agreement covering the European Arrest Warrant, which requires all EU governments to arrest a suspect wanted in another EU country.

5,000 EXTRADITIONS

A year ago, when she was interior minister, Theresa May said that Britain’s close intelligence relationship with the United States “does not mean we would be as safe (outside the EU) as if we remain”.

May, now prime minister, said the Warrant had enabled Britain to extradite more than 5,000 people in the previous five years.

Being outside Europol, which was founded in 1998 to help combat organised crime, cybercrime and militant groups across borders, would leave Britain reliant on individual links with each of the other 27 EU governments, former officials say.

Before Europol existed, coordination was done “on the basis of who you knew and who you could ring up”, according to Bill Hughes, ex-director-general of Britain’s now defunct Serious Organised Crime Agency . He told parliament it was a “labyrinthine exercise”.

Besides Europol, Britain is also party to intelligence-sharing protocols of the Schengen agreement, and to a deal to exchange airline passenger data between EU security forces.

EU diplomats have refused to discuss Britain’s future defence and security cooperation until London triggers the formal exit proceedings, but one senior British diplomat said the government was likely to seek a “special relationship”.

“The European Union is not good at involving third parties and we need to be able to talk intimately,” the diplomat said.

May, expected to start two-year EU exit proceedings next Wednesday, has said she wants to retain a close relationship with the EU on security and defence, and the EU has expressed similar sentiments, but tensions are apparent.

She said in January that Britain’s intelligence capabilities were “unique in Europe” and that its military and counter-terrorism resources should help it to secure a better exit deal.

But EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is dismissive. “Security cannot be weighed off against economic and commercial interests,” he said in a speech in Brussels on Wednesday.

LIMITS OF COOPERATION

Britain does already have additional bilateral security agreements with fellow EU members France and Germany, as well as the long-standing “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing pact with the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But cooperation agreements between Europol and non-EU countries Russia, Turkey and Ukraine took several years to negotiate, and there are limits on what data can be shared.

Under EU agreements, transferring fingerprints and DNA data can take minutes . With Britain outside the EU, the Global Risk Insights think-tank says it could take months.

Some critics do note that information-sharing within the EU is still far for perfect .

While France and Germany have large, well-staffed intelligence agencies, years of neglect in Belgium’s secret services were exposed by last year’s airport and metro blasts.

And militant Anis Amri, who killed 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin last December, was on watch lists but still managed to avoid detection by using 14 different aliases in different countries.

However, the recent attacks have pushed the EU to try to plug gaps with a proposal in December to make it obligatory for states to issue alerts on individuals who pose a potential threat, and to float a plan to build a shared database of biometric data, such as fingerprints.

Claude Moraes, a Briton who chairs the European Parliament’s Liberty, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, said the stakes for Britain were high: “We need to have a much tougher discussion about what it is we are going to lose.”

(Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels and Guy Falconbridge in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey)