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Sewell speaks to National Security Forum at Miles College

Brandon Moseley

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via Office of Rep. Terri Sewell

Tuesday, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell, D-Selma, and U.S. Army Lt. General Robert P. Ashley, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency spoke at the Miles College National Security Forum.

“It is with great pride and honor for me to come to my district with one of my colleague’s Lt. General Robert P. Ashley,” Representative Sewell said. “It is with immense pride that I show General Ashley the talent that is right here in Birmingham.”

The Congresswoman and the General also met with students at UAB and National Guard. General Ashley has a degree in political science from Appalachian State University.

General Ashley told the students, “There are tremendous opportunities for you in the defense community, but it is really hard work and you have to work your way in.”

Gen. Ashley said that his parents had tenth grade educations and there was no expectation that he would go to college. His father served in the Korean War and retired from the Air Force. The family then moved back to North Carolina and he worked as a sewing machine mechanic. The expectation was that I would go into one of the many textiles mills that were operating in North Carolina at that time. Ashley said that after going to Appalachian State, he went into the army and served as a frontline intelligence officer during the Cold War monitoring Soviet troop movements.

Ashley said that the Army had a program for officers with an understanding of tactics to spend a year getting a Master’s degree. “I applied to the program and it is a yearlong introduction to the intelligence agencies.”

Ashley took the GRE to begin the Master’s Degree work and scored borderline. Before the semester began one of his professors came to him and told him that they did not think he could do the work. That motivated Ashley and he made the honor role that first semester. They said OK and gave me a tutor. “I said I will take all the help that I can get.”

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Ashley said that friends in the Special Operations Community asked him to join them in Japan. “I said yes and disappeared into that community for about six years.”

“How bad do you want it?” Ashley asked the students. “You are bad at standardized tests? I am terrible at standardized test. This is all achievable.” “We want somebody who wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

The Defense Intelligence Agency provides foundational intelligence and understanding the operational environment for political leaders as well as for the warfighters.

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Ashley said that the DIA needs analysts. “We are up on the Hill all the time,” to advise decision makers. “We have a pretty big budget not in Ms but in Bs.” The big budget means they need economics majors, IT, legal (I never go anywhere without my lawyer), and technology majors. We also have to have people who manage the operations. We also need human relations, “To take care of the 20,000 people that work for us.”

“The DIA is looking for people with a quest for knowledge,” Gen. Ashley said.

Gen. Ashley said that the CIA, NSA, State Department, and FBI all have intelligence components.

Why do I do it? Ashley said. “My kids. That starts my why. Imagine a bullseye and at the center of my bullseye is my family, my kids, my wife, and little Arthur (his coming grandson).”

“I have one year left and then I will go back to North Carolina,” Ashley said.

Sewell said that she wants to, “Demystify national security and show where a pipeline can be created from Birmingham to the intelligence community.”

Sewell said that Director Clapper, former CIA Director Brennan and Ashley’s predecessor Ben Steward, another three-star general, have all come to Birmingham to speak to the Miles College Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence.

“We have had a phenomenal day in Birmingham,” General Ashley said. “There are careers for the students at Miles in the intelligence community.

Director Ashley said that the intelligence community needs to start looking at the high school level to develop the foundations in technology and international relations. “If you don’t have that foundation at the high school level you are going to struggle.”

Ashley said that General Mattis has a book coming out. I highly recommend it. “I was his intel officers at Central Command. He is an incredible man.”

“We do not make the decisions, Ashley said of DIA. “What we do is inform the decisionmakers.”

“I have been an intelligence agency my entire career,” Ashley said.

“25 years ago DIA was 50 percent civilian and 50 percent military,” Ashley said. “Today it is 75 percent civilian and 25 percent military; but 50 percent of the 75 percent civilians have worn the uniform.”

Sewell said that DIA provides foundational information to the nation’s leaders. Sewell said that her committee has oversight over all 17 intelligence agencies; but her subcommittee has special oversight over the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Sewell said that she did not know anything about intelligence when Nancy Pelosi assigned her to the committee; but that she has committee to really appreciate what the intelligence agencies do to protect our national security.

Ashley said that he went in to intelligence because he was a big James Bond fan growing up. There is a little bit of what James Bond and Tom Cruise does in Mission Impossible in there; but most of it is collecting information.

“I am happy that the academic professionals at Miles recognize the importance of national security and intelligence,” Gen. Ashley said.

Sewell said that she has put an emphasis on increasing diversity in the intelligence community.

Gen. Ashley acknowledged that most of the people in the community are, like him, White males; but said that progress is being made, though it is slow.

Bobbie Knight is the interim President of Miles College.

In 2009 Miles College was the first college in the state to establish an Intelligence Community Center President Knight said. “The Miles College students are critically needed by the nation’s intelligence professionals.” I am proud to say that Miles graduates are working for the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, and the Secret Service.

The DIA has a presence in more than 140 countries.

Miles College is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Fairfield and was founded in 1898.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell is presently serving in her fifth term representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. Sewell sits on the House Intelligence Committee where she chair the Defense Intelligence Committee that has oversight over military intelligence.

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Elections

Opponents accuse Tuberville of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants

Brandon Moseley

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The Senate campaign is heating up as the top three candidates are all going negative. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville has attacked Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) and former Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions of being career politicians. Both Byrne and Tuberville has attacked Sessions for not having adequately served President Donald J. Trump (R) while Attorney General. Byrne has even attacked Tuberville’s coaching abilities. The latest attacks on Tuberville accuse him of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens. Sessions even accused Tuberville of being a “tourist.”

Wednesday, Sessions announced a new television ad called “Tuberville for Amnesty.”

Byrne and Tuberville point to an August speech by Coach Tuberville when he said: “There are people coming across the border that need jobs… and we want them to come over here… Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.”

The Tuberville campaign called the attack “fake news” on Twitter.

Sessions’ campaign manager Jon Jones said, “Tuberville is claiming that his own words are ‘fake news.’ All of them? Tommy Tuberville needs to read the transcript. It is clear that Tuberville supports immigration amnesty, and he is attempting to trick Alabama voters to believe otherwise. In contrast, Jeff Sessions has done more than just say he wants to fix the border – he has already worked alongside President Trump to stop illegal immigration.”

The new Sessions ad reads: “Tuberville is trying to trick you, hiding his support for immigration amnesty.” Then plays an audio clip of the Tuberville comment from August

Tuesday, Byrne told reporters in Trussville: “I can tell you right now this issue about Tommy Tuberville’s position on amnesty is a key issue. And so we’re going to keep telling people about his position on that and let him explain why he doesn’t think that’s amnesty.”

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“Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens,” Tuberville is quoted in the ad.

Tuberville has denied supporting amnesty and says that he supports President Trump’s immigration agenda.

The Sessions ad further charges: “And Tuberville’s not even from Alabama, he’s a tourist here. He lives, pays taxes and even votes in Florida.”

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On Tuesday, the Tuberville campaign responded with an attack ad of their own.

“The career politicians are desperate to hang on to their paychecks and power, so they have started airing negative ads full of false attacks and baseless distortions,” Tuberville said. “Our new commercial allows us to respond with some hard truths about which candidate wants to drain the D.C. swamp and is tough enough to actually help President Trump get the job done.”

The Tuberville ad has Byrne with former Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sessions with Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) who led the impeachment effort against President Trump. The ad even connects Sessions and Byrne with Sen. Mitt Romney (the only Republican in either House of Congress who found that the President did anything wrong.)

State Representative Arnold Mooney, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, Ruth Page Nelson, and businessman Stanley Adair are also running for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D).

The Republican primary is March 3.

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Elections

Hasdorff calls for “out-of-touch” Mike Bloomberg to visit an Alabama Farm

Brandon Moseley

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Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Terri Hasdorff challenged billionaire Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to come visit an Alabama farm.

Hasdorff’s comments followed the re-release of Bloomberg statements dismissing farmers as lacking the “grey matter” to do other jobs.

In a 2016 speech at Oxford University in England, the former New York City Mayor said that he “could teach anybody, even the people in this room” to be a farmer. “You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

“I am appalled at how out-of-touch Mr. Bloomberg is about how much work goes into successful farming,” Hasdorff said. “I’m personally inviting him to Alabama’s Second District where I would be happy to take him to one of our nearly 10,000 farms and give him a tour maybe we can even get him to roll up his sleeves and put in a little bit of real work!”

Alabama has a long, storied history as an agricultural states Even now, agriculture and forestry remains the largest industry in the state of Alabama.

“Alabama’s farmers are the backbone of our state,” Hasdorff continued. “The fact that someone like Michael Bloomberg feels he is entitled to belittle their hard work is appalling – but this is what the far left really thinks of real America. This is what out of touch Democrats and coastal elites believe. Mr. Bloomberg was just the one caught on tape.”

Hasdorff is part of a crowded Republican primary field on March 3. The Alabama Democratic presidential primary is also on March 3.

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“This is why I’m running for Congress,” Hasdorff added. “We need leaders who understand the needs and struggles of hard-working Americans – farmers, manufacturers, people who keep our country fed and moving. We need real leaders who will fight for our people, not leaders who would have government replace true hard work and the American spirit.”

Hasdorff worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison in the George H.W. Bush (R) Administration. There she worked with faith leaders across the country. She worked on Capitol Hill for six years where her most meaningful assignments focused on keeping the government and Washington, D.C. elites from discriminating against churches and faith-based organizations. Hasdorff worked on the Ten Commandments Defense Act, defending the right of states to display the Ten Commandments in courthouses and public places. She served as a senior advisor on the Charitable Choice language, which put the Faith-Based initiative into law and still protects faith based organizations from discrimination when accessing federal funding. Hasdorff has worked on pro-life, pro-family legislation. Terri also worked in the George W. Bush Administration as America’s faith-based representative to the world. Hasdorff graduated from Samford University.

Second Congressional District incumbent Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is not running for another term.

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Josh Moon

How Alabama’s government stays broken

Josh Moon

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or even any kind of scientist — to figure out that Alabama’s state government is broken. 

I mean, really, just look around. At the poverty, the poor education, the racism, the arrested public officials, the in-your-face public corruption and the complete disregard for the welfare of the majority of the people in the state. 

But, while the overall awfulness of Alabama’s governance might be easy to diagnose, the underlying causes — the daily examples that explain just how it stays so broken — are far harder to put your finger on. Because they are mostly wrapped up in mundane occurrences that take place within the walls of the State House or the capitol or the Supreme Court chambers or some other government building. 

Things like SB117/HB140. 

Those are the official names for a bill in both the senate and house that will “clarify existing law relating to disposal of solid waste.” 

Sounds innocent enough, right? Just gonna get this minor landfill situation straightened out. No biggie. 

Ah, but see, SB117/HB140 is the prime example of Alabama’s broken government. 

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It is the prime example of how your lawmakers aren’t working for you. It is the perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong in this state.

Basically this landfill bill would make it OK to cover existing landfills with artificial covers, instead of the six inches of earth that is currently required. 

Now, this still doesn’t sound like a big deal. And it won’t be one if you don’t mind third-world diseases, the smell of rotting meat, frequent fires, coyotes and feral dogs roaming your streets and rats. Lots and lots of rats. 

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Applying six inches of earth each day to cover the garbage dumped at landfills prevents those things, the EPA figured out long ago. And it set those parameters in the rules it recommends to states. Alabama agreed, and the state adopted that rule, along with others, into law several years ago. 

Regular landfills have to cover with six inches of earth every day. Construction landfills have to do so once per week. 

This is a simple law. 

But if you operate a landfill, it’s an expensive one. And a time consuming one. 

Ah, but luckily, those laws are environmental laws. And in Alabama, we figured out long ago that environmental laws can be cumbersome and expensive, so we set up a bit of a … let’s just call it a workaround. 

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management. 

You’ll find we do this a lot — set up an entity that lies somewhere between the laws and the enforcement of the laws whose only job it seems is to give free passes to the bigwigs and corporations who violate those specific laws. 

We do it with the Ethics Commission. With the Public Service Commission. And with ADEM. 

It’s genius, really. The laws are still on the books and no one has to overtly roll back protections that would lead to rotting garbage attracting disease carrying rodents by the thousands. 

Instead, just get ADEM to quietly stop enforcing the law. 

Which is exactly what ADEM has done in this case. It was allowing landfills all over the state to cover garbage with tarps and various other materials. The tarps and other covers inevitably got holes in them, and a Noah’s Ark-level of animals descended upon the landfills to dine and spread the garbage all over adjoining neighborhoods. 

The neighbors, tired of the smell and the disease and the roaming animals, sued, citing in their legal filing horror stories of living near these maggot farms that smelled like death. 

They sued ADEM for failing to do its job, and for essentially rewriting the law to allow businesses to do whatever they wanted to do. 

And lo and behold, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed with them. In a lengthy, detailed decision entered last October, the five-judge panel noted that ADEM didn’t have the authority to rewrite the law. 

The case is now before the Alabama Supreme Court, but everyone knows that the Appeals Court judges are correct. 

But why bother with trying to win over judges when you can instead just change the laws through the crooks in the Alabama Legislature? 

And so, here we are, with a handful of lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature willing to attach their names to legislation that will allow businesses to ignore the standards imposed by the EPA, ignore the standards that are commonplace in most other states and change Alabama law to benefit a handful of landfill owners at the expense of thousands of Alabama citizens. 

And this, kids, is how Alabama’s government stays broken.

 

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Courts

U.S. Attorney Jay Town to serve as working group co-chair on presidential commission

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via WHNT

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town will serve as a Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice System Personnel Intersection Working Group on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.  The working group will examine how police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and correctional authorities intersect so that the system of criminal justice can enhance its ability to prevent and control crime and serve the victims of crime.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as working group Co-Chair on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice,” Town said.  “The Criminal Justice System Personnel Intersection Working Group will address a multitude of issues seeking to broaden the relationships between every layer of law enforcement, improve relations between the community and the justice system, and find innovative ways to reduce crime as a result.  I look forward to joining my colleagues in this incredibly important and collective effort to help this Administration identify effective and systemic criminal justice reforms that will reduce and prevent crime in America.”

On October 28, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order No. 13896, authorizing and designating the Attorney General to create such a Commission that would explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime.  Attorney General William P. Barr announced the establishment of the Commission on January 22, 2020.

The Executive Order instructs the Commission to conduct its study by focusing on the law enforcement officers who are tasked with reducing crime on a daily basis. It also directs the Commission to research “important current issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” and recommends a variety of subjects for study, such as, but not limited to:

  • The challenges to law enforcement associated with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social factors that influence crime and strain criminal justice resources;
  • The recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement officers, including in rural and tribal communities;
  • Refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes;
  • The need to promote public confidence and respect for the law and law enforcement officers; and
  • The effects of technological innovations on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including the challenges and opportunities presented by such innovations.

In studying these issues, the Commission will be assisted by “working groups.”  These working groups will consist of subject matter experts across the federal and state government and have a particularized focus on distinct issues the Commission will review (e.g. “Technology”).  They will assist and facilitate the Commission’s study of these issues, and provide advice and counsel on their specific subject.  The working groups, which will include our federal partners from the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and other federal agencies, will provide much needed expertise and insight on the important issues affecting law enforcement.  This Commission requires a team effort.  Such a rich variety of federal and state government participation is essential to the work at hand.  Once the Commission completes its study, it will recommend the best measures to empower American law enforcement to combat the criminal threats of our time, and to restore the utmost public confidence in our law enforcement to protect and serve.

In forming the Commission, the Department of Justice has marshaled together the expertise and experiences of all sectors of the law enforcement community—urban police departments, county sheriffs, state attorneys general and prosecutors, elected officials, United States Attorneys, and federal law enforcement agencies.  They come from distinct states, cities, counties, and towns across the country but share a common mission of safeguarding their respective communities from a variety of threats.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years

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