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Pentagon recorded attorney calls with American ISIS suspect

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Washington (CNN)

Washington (CNN)The Department of Defense made an “inadvertent breach” of confidential communications between a US-Saudi citizen being detained in Iraq and his attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, but it has committed to steps to remedy the situation, according to a court filing Friday.

The Pentagon recorded 18 phone calls between the ACLU attorneys and their client, who is being held for allegedly fighting for ISIS, the Justice Department filing said. The unnamed man was captured in Syria last September by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed, predominantly Kurdish militia battling ISIS in the country, and was handed over to US authorities in Iraq.
The Pentagon “deeply regrets” the “inadvertent breach” of attorney-client communications, the filing said.
ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz said in a statement on the incident, “Confidentiality of attorney-client communications is a cornerstone of our legal system, and any violation of it is cause for serious concern. The government properly informed us that it recorded and screened our client’s privileged communications, and we will hold the government to its commitment to address this breach.”
The Pentagon had arranged for the prisoner’s attorneys to take his phone calls from a conference room at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York instead of from Washington, DC, for their convenience, the Justice Department filing said. However, Defense Department personnel who arranged for the calls were unaware they would be recorded as part of a “routine DoD security monitoring of DoD telecommunications systems,” it said.
In April, a Defense Department analyst involved in the monitoring program determined a number of the calls between the detainee and his lawyers had been recorded, the filing said. The analyst, who had no involvement with the prisoner, the detention operations or his legal case, is the only person who listened to any portion of the calls, it said. The employee has been “instructed not to reveal the content of what he heard” and attested in a declaration that he had not revealed the content of the calls and would not do so in the future.
The Defense Department took “immediate” steps to isolate the calls onto a CD that is stored in a secure safe and has agreed to provide a copy of the CD to ACLU lawyers and then destroy the original, the Justice Department filing said. The Defense Department has also provided the ACLU attorneys with “access to unmonitored forms of communication” at new locations in the New York City area, it said.

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Outgoing Gov. Eric Greitens, accused of revenge porn, signs law criminalizing it

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(CNN)

(CNN)In one of his last acts before leaving office Friday, embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law a bill that criminalizes sharing or threatening to share “revenge porn” — an offense of which he was accused.

Under the new law, which passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature, both the “nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images” and “threatening the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images” are felonies. The bill was one of 77 that Greitens signed on his last day.
“Today, I’m proud to put my name on many important laws and bold reforms,” he said in a statement.
Greitens was accused in January of sexual misconduct and blackmail following an investigation by CNN affiliate KMOV. In the bombshell report, a woman alleged that the married Republican governor threatened her with blackmail following a sexual encounter in 2015.
“And he used some sort of tape, I don’t what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me,” she said in a recording aired by KMOV, recalling that Greitens told her that “‘you’re never going to mention my name,’ otherwise there will be pictures of me (the woman) everywhere.”
In the recorded conversation, the woman said Greitens apologized to her afterward and told her he had deleted the picture, KMOV reported.
Greitens admitted to the affair but denied the blackmail allegations. He was charged with first-degree felony invasion of privacy in February, but that charge was dropped in May. Greitens announced his resignation earlier this week amid this and a separate scandal involving the alleged misuse of a charity donor list, although he maintained that he had “not broken any laws, nor committed any offense worthy of this treatment.” His resignation took effect at the end of the day Friday.
Although the felony charge was dropped, Greitens could still face criminal charges. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was named special prosecutor in the case on May 21, and reaffirmed that the investigation would continue regardless of the governor’s resignation.
“In the interest of pursing justice to its fullest lengths, we will continue until our work on the case is completed,” she said in a statement Tuesday. “Specifically regarding any deals we made with Governor Greitens’ attorneys, no deals were made by my office. Our review of this case, as I have stated before, will be pursued without fear or favor.”
The new “revenge porn” law cannot be applied retroactively to his case, according to The Kansas City Star.

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Analysis: America should be more at ease than this

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(CNN)

(CNN)It should be morning again, in America.

The unemployment rate matched its lowest level in half a century. North Korea is talking peace. The fear of imminent terrorist attacks that haunted the 2000s has ebbed. While many troops are still in harm’s way, the US no longer has tens of thousands of soldiers waging vast land wars in the Middle East.
“We have such a great country right now,” President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.
“We have some of the best economic numbers we’ve ever had as a nation and that goes a long way and we’re building something very special.”
Yet the United States is a long way from the fabled sense of security encapsulated by Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” re-election ad.
America is not at ease with itself. And it’s putting the rest of the world on edge.
There have been more dangerous and polarized moments in American history — but it’s tough to recall a time when political discourse was so mean, and so dispiriting.
This week, the White House could not bring itself to condemn a racist attack by Roseanne Barr, one of Trump’s most vocal supporters. Comedienne Samantha Bee did say sorry — but only after calling the President’s daughter Ivanka a “feckless c***” — in what was just the latest explosion of angry and divisive rhetoric that punctuates most days in the Trump era.
With the economy roaring, things ought to feel more comfortable.
But in a turbulent time, kids now talk openly about the possibility of being shot at school. A new study in the journal Science suggests deepening polarization made Thanksgiving dinners up to 50 minutes shorter in politically divided families last year.
A special counsel is burrowing deep into a young presidency. Trump’s own revolt against the boundaries of his power has the country perpetually on the cusp of a constitutional crisis.
“We are seeing a culture begin to seriously erode for our children and our grandchildren. It is happening,” Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said on CNN this week.

Who is to blame?

The biggest question in politics is how much is Trump responsible for the distemper?
Well, he didn’t invent political divisions and bare-knuckle politics.
Presidents — with the possible exception of George Washington — have cursed for eons, and politics has never been for the easily offended. After all, an opponent once called former Vice President John Nance Garner a “labor baiting, poker playing, whiskey-drinking, evil old man.”
But the vitriol is constant these days. Insults and controversies erupt every hour.
And there’s no question that Trump, who called Mexican immigrants rapists, mocked a reporter with disabilities and branded protesting NFL players sons of bitches, has coarsened political discourse.
Many critics believe he’s abandoned the notion that presidents should offer a moral lead. And Trump’s winner/loser life calculus explains why he’s ignored Americans who didn’t vote for him.
His presidency functions in a riptide of chaos and acrimony — in fact, its bewildering pace and emotive whirl may be what it needs to survive.
Its existential purpose is tearing at societal, racial and cultural fault lines to ensure its foundation is replenished by outrage and anger from Trump’s ever loyal base.
His relentless churn leaves no time for reflection, or connecting the dots of a noxious political environment.
And anger begets anger. Trump’s opponents start to adopt his own unchained rhetoric — often on Twitter — and barriers of decorum and decency are overwhelmed.
Yet for Trump’s supporters, the disruption and shattered norms and outrage among establishment power centers in politics and the media in Washington is proof that he is doing exactly what they hoped he would do. For them, the old system and ways of behavior were so corrupt, dysfunctional and distant, that just tearing them down is enough.
In many ways, Trump inherited a political environment ripe for exploitation after two decades of turmoil.
Social media, the balkanization of the news industry into ideological fragments and gerrymandered congressional districts are often blamed for the bitter political tone.
A financial crisis a decade ago left deep economic dislocation and though jobless numbers and housing markets have recovered, many Americans are still worse off and hurting. Mechanization is ravaging traditional industry. And an opioid crisis is scarring the heartland.
Twice in the last 20 years, on Sept. 11, 2001, and with Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election, America’s enemies have exploited its freedoms to attack it, igniting furious debates about US institutions and values that scorched national unity.
All of this is the backdrop to Trump’s surge to power in 2016, when he turned bitterness at a political system that had no answers for many Americans into a populist crusade.
At the time, many Trump supporters saw his vulgarity as proof he was an authentic scourge of the establishment.
But in office, he’s worsened national dislocation by making lying and the peddling of conspiracy theories a central political strategy. His presidency is rooted in an assault on the institutions — like the Justice Department and the FBI — that underpin American public life. And he’s turned on America’s friends abroad, launching trade wars with Europe and Canada.

‘Bad for the country’

This week, Trump — in his escalating effort to discredit the special counsel probe — accused Robert Mueller of plotting to meddle in the midterm elections. It was a move that threatened to cast doubt on the integrity of the polls, and for his supporters, the result, should Democrats win.
A source familiar with discussions inside Trump’s legal team told CNN’s Jim Acosta this week that the President would sharpen the attacks heading into the fall elections.
“That’s bad for the country,” the source said, adding that “it’s likely to get worse.”
Trump’s constant barrages may actually also be depriving him of some of the credit he is entitled to claim for the healthy economy.
At the end of 1988, when the unemployment rate hit the lowest point of his presidency, at 5.3%, Reagan’s Gallup approval rating stood at 63%. Bill Clinton hit 66% at the end of 2000, when unemployment was at 3.9%.
In the latest CNN/SSRS poll, Trump was at 41%, and it stands to reason that his disruptive, norm-busting behavior is largely to blame.
Still, Gallup’s famous poll of national mood has 37% of Americans satisfied with the direction of the country, the highest level since early August 2005. However, 62% are dissatisfied.
Given the depth of current political divides, and the hankering of Democrats who want revenge for 2016, as well as Trump’s determination to ignite the anger of his base, it seems unlikely the political fury will end soon.
At the end of another tumultuous political year, 1968, which was characterized by assassinations and social unrest that makes 2018 look tame, the nation united in awe as the astronauts of Apollo 8 beamed back stunning photos of Earth, humanity’s common home, after beating the Soviets to become the first men to orbit the Moon.
With the space program in hiatus, it’s tough to imagine another event that could ease today’s political tempest and unite Americans in the same way.
The moment when then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois vowed there “is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America” seems far more than 14 years ago.
In his new book “The World as It Is,” Obama confidant and speechwriter Ben Rhodes says his boss wondered after Trump’s victory whether his vision of a politics freed of its tribal divides had been wrong — or premature.
“Sometimes, I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” Rhodes quotes Obama as saying. Many conservatives differ with the idea that the 44th president was a conciliator or a unifying force. But someday, probably decades hence, perhaps some other politician of either party might risk a campaign based on the idea that Americans are more united than divided.
Another leader soon to exit the stage, John McCain, is also pining for a time when political acrimony was less intense.
“Before I leave, I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations,” the ailing senator from Arizona writes in his new book, “The Restless Wave.”
“We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one.”

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Craft brewers descend on Washington — just in time for tariffs

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Washington (CNN)

Washington (CNN)Craft brewery owners across the country converged on Capitol Hill this week — just in time for the Trump administration to announce steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

So the brewers were well positioned to make their case to members of Congress that the move could hurt the growing industry, along with pressing lawmakers to make a tax cut permanent.
“It’s a really difficult time for small brewers right now, because we use a huge amount of stainless steel, and many of us use a huge amount of aluminum too,” Leslie Henderson, a co-founder of Mississippi-based Lazy Magnolia brewery, told CNN. “Anything that impacts the cost of our production equipment and our raw materials is going to be extremely painful for all of us.”
Henderson was one of more than 100 craft brewers who descended on Washington as part of an annual Capitol Hill advocacy push organized by the Brewers Association. The Colorado-based trade group’s CEO, Bob Pease, told CNN the tariffs are putting more pressure on small breweries and could slow growth.
“By and large, our members have not seen the tariffs hit their balance sheets or the profit and loss statements yet, but if the tariffs stay in place, that will have an impact, and that will not be good for small and independent brewers,” Pease said. “If breweries have to pay 25% more on steel, that’s going to impact new brewery builds, that’s going to impact expansions and it could impact purchases as well, in terms of kegs, brewhouses — all things that are very expensive.”
The group of small brewers isn’t focused only on the aluminum and steel tariffs, though. It’s also lobbying Congress to make permanent a two-year reduction in federal excise taxes worth $4.2 billion, which passed in December as part of the tax overhaul. Small brewers saw their tax rate cut in half, from $7 to $3.50 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels.
“This only hits brewers. We pay all the taxes that other small businesses pay, and then on top of that, we paid this excise tax,” said Henderson.
Known for its Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, Lazy Magnolia opened in 2005 and is the oldest packaging brewery in Mississippi. With the money saved from the tax cut, Henderson said the brewery has been able to improve benefits for employees, convert two part-time jobs to full time and improve the brewery’s taproom.
The cuts in the tax rate are no small change. Henderson’s business projects that it will brew 11,000 to 12,000 barrels of beer this year, which means the savings add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

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Chicago: 15 straight months of declining gun violence

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Chicago (CNN)

Chicago (CNN)It seemed a typical month in the nation’s third largest city.

A 15-year-old boy returning home from a elite Chicago prep school suffered a graze wound to the head early last month when a stray bullet pierced the window of a city bus, police said.
An agent with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was shot in the face while working on a newly created task force combating gun trafficking.
The mother of a 19-year-old college student made an emotional appeal for a citywide ceasefire on Mother’s Day weekend after her daughter was shot at a party.
The occasional spasms of violence, though, are not keeping Chicago officials from lauding the 15th consecutive month of declining gun violence in a city frequently targeted by President Donald Trump as a symbol of rampant crime.
“This is a Trump-free zone,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told CNN this week. “We have facts. What matters … is what happens on the street.”
The city has had 52 fewer murders and 229 fewer shootings through the end of May — a 21% drop in both categories — compared to the first five months of 2017, according to the Chicago Police Department.
May alone saw a 21% decline in murders compared to last year — from 58 to 46 — along with a 5% drop in shooting incidents, police said.
So far this year, Chicago has had 500 fewer shooting victims than the same period in 2016, police said.
“The truth of the matter is, if you feel comfortable, you’re going to be outside,” Emanuel said. “If you’re not comfortable, you’re going pull the kids in off the porch inside. It’s not a statistic. It’s a feeling towards that.”

City mobilizes in response to gun violence

The city has made considerable gains over the past year. It saw a 16% drop in murders from 2016 — the deadliest year in nearly two decades, with 771 murders — to 2017, when there were 650.
“We’re making progress, ” Emanuel said. “We’re not where we need to be but (what) we do have is a strategy that generally people buy into.”
City officials attribute the declines to the hiring of more officers, stronger community policing efforts and investments in technology, such as ShotSpotter gunshot detection systems and predictive crime software that helps deploy officers.
“ShotSpotter is probably key to that to what we’re doing here,” the department’s No. 2 man, First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio, said of technology that detects gunfire and often notifies officers before 911 is called.
“Officers get that notification right away to cell phones that they have in their cars and they’re able to respond to those areas.”
Patrick Sharkey, an NYU professor and author of “Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence,” said Chicago has mobilized in response to a spike in violent crime like no other in the country.
“Leaders throughout the city have come together in a way that is very unique, and the common goal has been to fight back against the surge of gun violence,” he said.
“The police department has shown a willingness to change how it interacts with residents, and it has been helped in this effort by foundations.”

‘Statistics disguise untold human suffering’

The Cure Violence organization, which takes a public-health approach to violence prevention, and other groups have been dispatching “violence interrupters” to the roughest neighborhoods to intervene in gang conflicts before they escalate, according to Gary Slutkin, the organization’s founder and executive director.
More than 150 outreach workers — some of them former gang members — stay in touch with friends and relatives of shooting victims in an attempt to prevent retaliation, he said.
“Violence is unpredictable, and none of this guarantees that it will continue to fall,” Sharkey said of the anti-gun violence efforts.
“But the change over the past year or so is very real, and reflects a citywide commitment to confront the recent rise in violent crime.”
While the data suggest a downward trend in both murders and shootings, crime tends to pick up with warmer weather, said Arthur Lurigio, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago.
“If this trend continues until Labor Day, Chicago might be on its way to a year with 500 or fewer homicides, which is closer to the normative number of murders in recent history, beginning in 2004 and factoring out 2016 and 2017 as aberrations,” he said.
Still, Lurigio said the promising statistics disguise the untold human suffering that accompanies every casualty.
“Shootings can leave victims with permanent physical and emotional disabilities, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury,” he said.
“The survivors of homicide never move on completely from their devastating loses. Bullets in the air leave permanent pain in the heart and create ripples of sorrow in families and communities that affect generations to come.”

‘They’re shooting in broad daylight’

Michael Frederick, a longtime South Side resident, said the gun violence near his store shows no sign of abating.
“You tend to want to stay in your house because there’s so much shooting going on,” he said.
“They’re shooting in broad daylight. They don’t save it for the nighttime.”
As Imani Williams, a College of DuPage freshman, recovered from a gunshot in early May, her mother appealed for a Mother’s Day ceasefire, CNN affiliate WLS-TV reported.
“I’m going to have a nice Mother’s Day because my daughter is alive and I celebrate her,” LaShawn Allen said. “A lot of mothers don’t get this opportunity.”
The ATF agent shot in the face in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood last month was the fourth law enforcement officer shot in the past year, the station reported.
When the 15-year-old boy was grazed in the head by a bullet on his way home from school on May 2, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said officers responded after ShotSpotter technology picked up the gunfire, according to WLS-TV.
“It infuriates me that we have a good kid doing what we all expect him to do, and he’s a victim of something like this,” Johnson told reporters.
The stray bullet, from a shooting one block away, hit Ulises Triano. He thought it was a lighting strike until blood streamed down his head.
Said Emanuel, “The real test is, when kids are going to school, are they thinking of their safety or their studies? That’s how we measure success.”

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Tom Cruise sparks ‘Top Gun’ feud between US Air Force, Navy

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Washington (CNN)

Washington (CNN)Actor Tom Cruise prompted a good-natured Twitter spat between the US Air Force and Navy on Thursday after posting a photo celebrating the planned sequel to the iconic 1986 film ‘Top Gun.’

The two military branches squared off over a picture that shows Cruise in character as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell looking at his aircraft — which appears to be an F/A-18 Hornet — with the words “Feel The Need” superimposed over the image.
The caption reads “#Day1.”
In a clear dig aimed at its friendly rivals, the Air Force’s official account posted Cruise’s photo with a caption that mocks Maverick’s Navy jet — itself an upgrade over the F-14 Tomcat he pilots in the original film — as inferior to its own F-15 Strike Eagle.
“If Maverick really had a need for speed, he could hop into one of our F-15E Strike Eagles! #DYK: They have a top speed of 1,875 miles per hour,” it said, touting the Air Force’s own 1980s-era jet that has long been hailed as the most successful dog-fighting aircraft in US history — tallying more than 100 aerial combat victories, according to Boeing, the plane’s primary contractor and developer.
The Navy responded by simply tweeting, “Remember, boys, no points for second place” — an ode to one of the movie’s more memorable quotes.
Not to be outdone, the Air Force again leaned on the F-15’s dog-fighting prowess with a reference to the aircraft’s undefeated air-to-air combat record: “The F-15 knows nothing about this “second place” thing you speak of. Check the scoreboard! #Undefeated.”
Cruise’s post and the light-hearted feud between the Air Force and Navy has revived the buzz around production of a ‘Top Gun’ sequel — a project that David Ellison, chief executive officer of the Skydance production company, confirmed was in the works three years ago.
The original film centered on pilots attending the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School at the former Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar in San Diego and the Navy said it is providing access to one of its facilities to support the sequel’s production.
“This week, specifically 30-31 May, the Navy provided Paramount Pictures access to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, CA, to support the Production of ‘Top Gun’: Maverick,’ Navy spokesman Lt. Cdr. Dan Day told CNN.
“Further Navy support of the production is still being determined,” he added.
The plot has largely been a secret but indications are that the film is expected to be set nearly 30 years after the original — though it appears Cruise’s character has only reached the rank of Navy Captain despite serving as a Lieutenant in the first film.
Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said she had not yet read the movie’s script but told reporters that “we will work very closely to ensure that it depicts our aviators in a realistic way.”
Navy recruitment saw a major boost in the 1980s and into the 1990s after the original film’s release. Production of the sequel comes as the Navy — as well as the Marine Corps and Air Force — are all facing a shortfall of fighter pilots, according to a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office.
“Service officials attributed these gaps to aircraft readiness challenges, reduced training opportunities, and increased attrition of fighter pilots due to career dissatisfaction,” the report said. “To help increase fighter pilot numbers, the military services are taking actions, including increasing the amounts of financial incentives to retain pilots.”