National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives in the east Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, for a news conference with President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. . (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Mike Flynn pleaded guilty to what was obviously a nonsense charge in order to keep Mueller’s gestapo from going after his son. But the sentencing hearing in December became a fiasco when the judge overseeing the case, Emmett Sullivan, basically told Flynn that he was going to ignore the Mueller team’s recommendation an order Flynn to prison. Now we’re getting close to a re-do of that and Flynn has suddenly fired his attorneys.
BREAKING: Potentially major development in Flynn case as he fires his current lawyers. Could mean he’s moving to a more combative, anti-Mueller approach his family and friends often urge on Twitter. Some have urged him to try to withdraw his guilty plea, a difficult task https://t.co/YWgPkuJ3l2
Remember the sheer amount of gnashing of teeth that took place throughout 2016 when Republicans would suggest that Hillary Clinton should have been charged for her crimes? Then there were the “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies that really set hair on fire in newsrooms across the country.
Was it a little brash? Sure. But Hillary had clearly violated the law and people were rightly upset that she was being evaluated under a different set of rules.
Enter Nancy Pelosi.
“I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,” Nancy Pelosi said of Trumphttps://t.co/076ItZHAuD
The remarks came in a meeting with Jerry Nadler. Pelosi was actually attempting to rebut calls for impeachment because she knows it will backfire. Now, her new line to sell to the base is that if we don’t impeach now, then Trump can be arrested when he leaves office.
She’s trying desperately to hold back the tide and this latest line is pretty pathetic. If you think he should be in prison, why in the world would you not impeach him? None of this makes sense.
The real question is, will CNN run in terror at her remarks? Will The New York Times write dozens of op-eds letting us know how dangerous this is to our democracy? Nah, of course not.
Is this where CNN & MSNBC get the vapors over wanting to see political opponents jailed being banana republic stuff? Guys? Firefighters? Help with the rulebook please. https://t.co/NgZ3ALxBGD
The double standards at play here are obvious. If a Republican suggests criminal liability against a political opponent, it’s the end of the world and it will spawn hundreds of media reports condemning the action. If a Democrat does it, meh, whatever. Trump is always different.
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As reviews for “Dark Phoenix” show it tobe a poor film, fans are not sure what they are upset about.
This weekend sees the release of “Dark Phoenix”, the culmination of the 21st Century Fox “X-Men” franchise. Many fans are actually relieved over this, as many have regarded the Fox treatment of the property to be a mess. (Not more so than the same studio repeatedly butchering “Fantastic Four”, but similar.) There is anticipation that Disney’s purchase of Fox means those characters will now be under the guidance of Marvel, and proper development can finally take place.
Currently there is a brewing outrage though, as “X-Men” does have its core fans, and they seem upset that “Dark Phoenix” is being lashed by critics in general. On Rotten Tomatoes the film is sporting a dismal 22% approval, after more than one hundred reviews have been tabulated.
At The Playlist Charles Barfield gives voice to this outcry, by suggesting that the issue here is people are rooting against the film by circulating the tally. If you simply report that critics are trashing the film then you, and Rotten Tomatoes, are part of the problem. There are many amusements to be had in this mindset. Not to dump entirely on Barfield, he is simply giving voice to what many are saying.
But those that are carping over the reviews are in direct opposition to the last superhero controversy that took place on RT, just months earlier. When “Captain Marvel” was poised to be released there was concern over a surge of fans indicating on the site they did not want to see the movie, as a result of the social activism comments made by star Brie Larson. The site reacted by closing down its feature where readers could indicate if they did or did not intend to see the film.
Defenders were stating that trolls were flooding the site with negative reviews to a movie they had not seen, just to damage its prospects — except that was not what took place. Many simply indicated their lack of desire; those were not reviews. Regardless, the news cycle filled with the claim that these audience impressions had to be shut down, and only legitimate reviews were to be heeded. Now the call going out is that we should dispatch these critical pans and instead listen to what the audience thinks.
It appears the only constant in all of this is that anything less than praise for a movie is problematic.
To say that there is a divide between the passions of movie fans and the aesthetics of film critics is by no means me being revelatory. There is a long tradition of critics hating a release that fans embrace, and titles receiving uniform praise from the professionals that get spurned by the audiences. These dichotomies cycle throughout the calendar year but seem especially pointed during the summer blockbuster season.
This is typified currently by last week’s #1 film, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”. The movie mavens have largely given the film a downgrade, but the audiences have actually enjoyed it. Is a rampaging leviathan destroying the city of Boston while contending with other mutated behemoths the apex of cinema? By no means. It is what I have called “Big Gulp Films” — a bloated, oversized, content-free affair that could leave you queasy after consumption. I also would recommend it as giddy summer fun.
What is taking place is that fans of established properties like comic book films have a built-in passion. They regard these properties emotionally, and that irrationality is compounded by art being subjective. This generally means a fan’s devotion is unlikely to be swayed by a divergent critical analysis. And just as likely it could lead to the imbalanced reactions we have been treated to in recent years.
How else do we reconcile that in just the matter of a few months we are told first to only trust the impressions of professional critics, then we should dispatch the reviews of professional critics? Fans should read reviews and digest the content, rather than reading statistics and reacting.
The rising popularity of omni-channel commerce — selling to customers wherever they happen to be spending time online — has spawned an army of shopping tools and platforms that are giving legacy retail websites and marketplaces a run for their money. Now, one of the faster growing of these is announcing an impressive round of funding to stay on trend and continue building its business.
Depop, a London startup that has built an app for individuals to post and sell (and mainly resell) items to groups of followers by way of its own and third-party social feeds, has closed a Series C round of $62 million led by General Atlantic. Previous investors HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Balderton Capital, Creandum, Octopus Ventures, TempoCap and Sebastian Siemiatkowski, founder and CEO of Swedish payments company Klarna all also participated.
The funding will be used in a couple of areas. First, to continue building out the startup’s technology — building in more recommendation and image detection algorithms is one focus.
And second, to expand in the US, which CEO Maria Raga said is on its way to being Depop’s biggest market, with 5 million users currently and projections of that going to 15 million in the next three years.
That’s despite strong competition from other peer-to-peer selling platforms like Vinted, Poshmark, and social platforms that have been doubling down on commerce, like Instagram and Pinterest, but on the other hand the opportunity is big: a recent report from ThredUp, another second-hand clothes sales platform, estimated that the total resale market is expected to more than double in value to $51 billion from $24 billion in the next five years, accounting for 10% of the retail market.
Prior to this, Depop had raised just under $40 million. It’s not disclosing its valuation except to say it’s a definitely upround. “I’m extremely happy,” Raga said when I asked her about it this week.
The rise of the bedroom entrepreneur
The funding comes on the heels of strong growth and strong focus for the startup.
If “social shopping”, “selling to groups of followers”, and the “use of social feeds” (or my headline…) didn’t already give it away, Depop is primarily aimed at millennial and Gen Z consumers. The company said that about 90% of its active users are under the age of 26, and in its home market of the UK it’s seen huge traction with one-third of all 16-24 year-olds registered on Depop.
Its rise has dovetailed with some big changes that the fashion industry has undergone, said Raga. “Our mission is to redefine the fashion industry in the same way that Spotify did with music, or Airbnb did with travel accommodation,” she said.
“The fashion world hasn’t really taken notice” of how things have evolved at the consumer end, she continued, citing concerns with sustainability (and specifically the waste in the fashion industry), how trends are set today (no longer dictated by brands but by individuals), and how anything can be sold by anyone, from anywhere, not just from a store in the mall, or by way of a well-known brand name website. “You can now start a fashion business from your bedroom,” she added.
For this generation of bedroom entrepreneurs, social apps are not a choice, but simply the basis and source of all their online engagement. Depop notes that the average daily user opens the app “several times per day” both to browse things, check up on those that they follow, to message contacts and comment on items, and of course to buy and sell. On average, Depop users collectively follow and message each other 85 million times each month.
This rapid uptake and strong usage of the service has driven it to 13 million users, revenue growth of 100% year-on-year for the past few years, and gross merchandise value of more than $500 million since launch. (Depop takes a 10% cut, which would work out to total revenues of about $50 million for the period.)
When we first wrote about Depop back in 2015 (and even prior to that), the startup and app were primarily aiming to provide a way for users to quickly snap pictures of their own clothes and other already-used items to post them for sale, one of a wave of flea-market-inspired apps that were emerging at that time. (It also had an older age group of users, extending into the mid-thirties.)
Fast forward a few years, and Depop’s growth has been boosted by an altogether different trend: the emergence of people who go to great efforts to buy limited editions of collectable, or just currently very hot, items, and then resell them to other enthusiasts. The products might be lightly used, but more commonly never used, and might include limited edition sneakers, expensive t-shirts released in “drops” by brands themselves, or items from one-off capsule collections.
It may have started as a way of decluttering by shifting unused items of your own, but it’s become a more serious endeavor for some. Raga notes that Depop’s top sellers are known to clear $100,000 annually. “It’s a real business for them,” she said.
And Depop still sells other kinds of goods, too. These pressed-flower phone cases, for example, have seen a huge amount of traction on Twitter as well as in the app itself in the last week:
Alongside its own app and content shared from there to other social platforms, Depop extends the omnichannel approach with a selection of physical stores, too, to showcase selected items.
The startup has up to now taken a very light-touch approach to the many complexities that can come with running an e-commerce business — a luxury that’s come to it partly because its sellers and buyers are all individuals, mostly younger individuals, and, leaning on the social aspect, the expectation that people will generally self-police and do right by each other, or less risk getting publicly called out and lose business as a result.
I think that as it continues to grow, some of that informality might need to shift, or at least be complemented with more structure.
In the area of shipping, buyers generally do not seem to expect the same kind of shipping tracking or delivery professionals appearing at their doors. Sellers handle all the shipping themselves, which sometimes means that if the buyer and seller are in the same city, an in-person delivery of an item is not completely unheard of. Raga notes that in the US the company has now at least introduced pre-paid envelopes to help with returns (not so in the UK).
Payments come by way of PayPal, with no other alternatives at the momen. Depop’s 10% cut on transactions is in addition to PayPal’s fees. But having the Klarna founder as a backer could pave the way for other payment methods coming soon.
One area where Depop is trying to get more focused is in how its activities line up with state laws and regulations.
For example, it currently already proactively looks for and takes down posts offering counterfeit or other illicit goods on the platform, but also relies on people or brands reporting these. (Part of the tech investment into image detection will be to help improve the more automated algorithms, to speed up the rate at which illicit items are removed.)
Then there is the issue of tax. If top sellers are clearing $100,000 annually, there are taxes that will need to be paid. Raga said that right now this is handed off to sellers to manage themselves. Depop does send alerts to sellers but it’s still up to the sellers themselves to organise sales tax and other fees of that kind.
“We are very close to our top sellers,” Raga said. “We’re in contact on a daily basis and we inform ofwhat they have to do. But if they don’t, it’s their responsibility.”
While there is a lot more development to come, the core of the product, the approach Depop is taking, and its success so far have been the winning combination to bring on this investment.
“Technology continues to transform the retail landscape around the world and we are incredibly excited to be investing in Depop as it looks to capture the huge opportunity ahead of it,” said Melis Kahya, General Atlantic Head of Consumer for EMEA, in a statement. “In a short space of time the team has developed a truly differentiated platform and globally relevant offering for the next generation of fashion entrepreneurs and consumers. The organic growth generated in recent years is a testament to the impact they are having and we look forward to working with the team to further accelerate the business.”
During Computex last week, Sennheiser gave media a sneak peek at its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670, slated to ship starting at the beginning of next month.
The GSP 670 retails for €349 (about $393), significantly pricier then other popular wireless gaming headsets (as well as its wired predecessor, the Sennheiser GSP 600, priced at $249.95). Sennheiser is hoping its features, as well as the company’s reputation for excellent sound quality and comfortable headsets, will convince gamers to take the plunge. (When I tried on a pair at Computex, it delivered on wearability, connection speeds and audio quality, but of course it is hard to tell how headsets will feel and sound after hours of gaming, versus a few minutes of testing).
Despite the freedom afforded by wireless, many gamers stick with wired headsets to avoid reductions in sound quality and connection speeds or having to worry about battery levels, issues that Sennheiser addresses with the GSP 670’s features. Like other wireless headsets, the GSP 670 needs to be connected to a wireless dongle. Each one comes with a GSA 70 compact USB dongle with proprietary technology that Sennheiser developed to ensure a low-latency connection it promises transmits sounds with “near-zero delay.” The USB is compatible with PCs and the Sony Playstation 4. The GSP 670 also has Bluetooth, so users can pair it with their smartphones and tablets as well.
The GSP 670’s microphone is noise-cancelling and can be muted by raising the boom arm. The headset has two volume wheels to allow users to control chat audio and game audio separately. Gamers can also adjust the audio on the GSP 670 with Sennheiser’s Gaming Suite for Windows, a software tool that lets users switch between audio presets or customize sound levels, and also includes surround sound modes and an equalizer.
In terms of battery, Sennheiser claims the GSP 670’s quick-charging battery can run for two hours after a seven minute charge. When fully charged, it says the battery can last for up to 20 hours on Bluetooth and 16 hours when connected via the GSA 70 dongle. The headset has automatic shutdown to save power.
The GSP 670 is currently available for pre-order on Sennheiser’s website and will ship beginning on July 1.
President Trump wanted to meet with Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach, at his Irish golf course but that request was denied by Varadkar. Trump landed in Ireland Wednesday afternoon after his visit in England was completed. Instead of the golf course, the meeting between the two men took place at a VIP lounge inside Shannon Airport Wednesday.
I first started following developments in this story in May when final arrangements were being made for President Trump’s trip to the UK. An article in The Irish Times called Trump’s visit to Ireland into doubt because of a disagreement about a meeting venue between the two leaders. It looked to me to be a power struggle playing out and if that’s true, Prime Minister Varadkar won the battle. The issue was protocol, according to initial reporting.
An alternative location nearby, Dromoland Castle, was suggested. So, Team Trump began considering a stop in Scotland instead of Ireland. Dromoland Castle was the setting of a meeting between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and President George W. Bush in June 2004. Varadkar was agreeable to a meeting in Co Clare (the Trump golf course is in Doonbeg) but not at the Trump-owned golf course.
The unique nature of a potential visit – a US president visiting his own private property in Ireland – has thrown up complex issues around protocol, and whether it constitutes a private or official visit.
While a trip to Scotland would not involve the president engaging in official activities, given that he will have already met the British prime minister and Queen Elizabeth during his state visit to Britain, a visit to Ireland would necessitate some formal engagement with the Government.
So, what that means is that President Trump could bypass a stop in Ireland and head to his golf course in Scotland instead. In Scotland, there would be the normal headaches of security concerns during a presidential visit but no formal visits. In the end, though, a location in Ireland was worked out and President Trump fulfilled a promise to visit Ireland this year that he made to Varadkar in March during his visit at the White House. And Varadkar denied President Trump a photo op on the grounds of his golf course.
As happened in the days before President Trump arrived in London, anti-Trump opponents spoke out against Trump’s visit before he landed in Ireland.
Both the Labour party and the Social Democrats have spoken out against Trump’s visit, stating he is “not welcome in Ireland.”
Labour Senator Aodhán O Ríordáin has said “Trump is no ordinary president” adding that he “is the face of hate, racism and division.”
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have called his visit it “a betrayal of Irish values.”
The Irish prime minister voiced his approval of potential demonstrations, too. He said he would “certainly never criticise anyone for taking part in a protest if that’s the way they wish to express their views.” “This is a democracy and peaceful protest is a part of democracy.”
President Trump denied that bunking at his personal property in Ireland was meant as a publicity opportunity for the golf course when a reporter asked the question Wednesday.
Trump was asked by a reporter on Wednesday if the purpose of visiting Ireland was to promote his golf course. According to Irish media reports, it has never made a profit.
Trump responded: “I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland. It was really important to me because of the relationship I have with the people and with the prime minister.”
In Doonbeg, the Trumps are well-liked, mostly because of the jobs provided by the golf course. Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump took part in their own pub crawl Wednesday night, much to the delight of one pub owner, a distant cousin of Vice-President Mike Pence.
Even those who don’t work directly in the hotel understand its benefits. Pubs, shops and restaurants in the village rely on the business the resort brings in. The golf course evens runs a daily shuttle for its guests who want to experience village life outside of the luxury resort.
They were then ushered behind the bar, pouring pints to loud cheers. The pub owner, Hugh McNally, points out he is a long distant cousin of Vice President Mike Pence.
Rumors that the two might pop down to the pub had swirled around the village for a while. When they finally arrived, hours after the locals originally expected then, the pub’s patrons were ready. Some wore red MAGA hats. Others had US flags on the ready.
Look, let’s just be happy that he didn’t use the occasion to pardon any war criminals. That had been on his mind too until recently.
The president was personally taken aback by the nearly across-the-board resistance to his administration’s consideration of pardons for several U.S. servicemen accused of grisly crimes in war zones, two people familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast.
The sources also noted that Trump, while monitoring much of the reaction in newspapers and cable news last month, had not expected the blowback to be as fierce and widespread among veterans as it was. Eventually, he decided to tap the brakes on the highly controversial idea, with the possibility of revisiting it in the future…
“The military is a profession, and it has professional standards. Non-professional militaries hold themselves above the law,” said David Desroches, a former senior Pentagon official. “And America’s military prides itself on operating within the law. If you have guys committing war crimes, and getting away with it, that really damages our effort tactically. No one is going to cooperate with us.”
I absolutely believe that he was “taken aback.” Here he was, the country’s top military authority, effectively prepared to tell his subordinates to be as rough as they desired in the field and not to worry about the repercussions. It was a token of his affection for servicemen. In Trump’s worldview, what could be sweeter than unaccountability?
So imagine his confusion when many veterans were mortified by the idea. What kind of person, he must have wondered, would decline a license to be ruthless with their enemies?
Answer: An honorable person, of course. He must be mystified by the reaction.
It’s not the only weird thing he’s said or done recently related to war either, but this stuff long ago lost the power to shock. (Coming from him, at least.) His famous remark about McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, that he was a “war hero” only because he was captured and that he likes soldiers who don’t get captured, was made just a month into his presidential campaign in 2015. This is who he is and has been from the start. Plus, as even Tapper acknowledges, his formal remarks at today’s D-Day commemoration were excellent. I’d have posted video of his speech myself but Ed beat me to it; watch it here if you haven’t had a chance yet. When he has an address prepared and is facing a crowd that doesn’t hang on his every word, i.e. he’s not at a rally, he can be very good. His speechwriters are consistently top-notch. It’s when he goes off the cuff that things tend to go sideways. As I say, we knew what he’d be like when we nominated him.
Does this guy appear on Fox News during primetime anymore? I know he appears dayside, frequently in Shep’s hour, and I see him a bunch on Fox Business.
I can’t imagine him fitting in after 8 p.m., though, given the drift in his views that the president’s behavior during Russiagate was criminally, ah, “problematic.”
But we can turn that around. If Fox was interested in marginalizing him for his views, why would the network continue to sponsor and host these brief video indictments of Trump on its own online platform? This is something he could do on his own time, on his own YouTube channel if he felt he wasn’t being given enough airtime on television to make the case that Trump broke the law. Instead the president’s favorite network lends him their Internet soapbox, no doubt amplifying his message considerably. Is it a contractual thing, maybe? Surely Fox management would retain some editorial control even if it agreed to a certain number of online videos by Napolitano.
Maybe this is a small hedge against the criticism that they’re in the tank for Trump. “Nuh uh,” Fox execs can say. “Have you ever watched Judge Napolitano’s Chambers?”
His point here is simple: There’s nothing in law that states definitively that a sitting president can’t be indicted. It may be the position of the Justice Department but there’s no constitutional clause, federal statute, or court ruling (yet) that places an incumbent chief executive effectively beyond the reach of the U.S. Code. Which may be true, but the response is equally simple. It would be really, really inadvisable to force a sitting president to try to govern the country and manage American interests abroad in the shadow of a standing indictment. Every decision he made would come with the caveat that he might be carted off to prison soon or, if the trial is postponed until after his term ends, that he might at least be doomed to be a one-termer due to public outrage at the fact of his indictment. A reelection campaign would be destined to become a referendum on whether the president should be turned out of office so that the DOJ can get to work on locking him up.
Napolitano notes correctly near the end that there’s a distinction to be made between law and politics. Politically, Trump remains in jeopardy from Russiagate due to impeachment. Legally, now that he’s been cleared by Mueller of conspiracy and by Barr of obstruction, he’s free. Right, but if Mueller followed Napolitano’s advice and indicted Trump, those two would be intertwined. Mueller’s legal determination on obstruction would have all but compelled Democrats to make a political decision to impeach him. Conversely, Mueller’s legal determination that Trump didn’t collude has killed the political momentum for impeachment on those grounds. Letting the DOJ take the lead on assessing the president’s criminal culpability inevitably means that unelected officials of the executive branch will set the political parameters of action by elected legislators. Better to let Congress take the lead in the future and have the DOJ follow with a rule that, unless and until Congress has removed the president from office, the Justice Department can’t charge him. That doesn’t mean POTUS is above the law. It simply means that Congress is the chief enforcer.
Monday a bipartisan group of lawmakers formed a new black-Jewish caucus which is intended to focus on the threat of white supremacist attacks against both groups. One person who was apparently not pleased with the new caucus was Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour. Avi Mayer of the American Jewish Caucus pointed this out Tuesday:
.@lsarsour’s timeline contains no fewer than 17 panicked tweets about the new Congressional Black-Jewish Caucus, announced yesterday at #AJCGloFo. Nothing terrifies bigots like Linda Sarsour more than seeing minority communities joining hands in solidarity and partnership. 🤝
Sarsour responded by objecting to Rep. Lee Zeldin’s involvement with the group.
.@AviMayer continues to distract from the fact that he supports the leadership of Lee Zeldin who called Obama a racist and has spent the last few months attacking Muslim women in Congress AND campaigns with white supremacists & neo-Nazis. Keeps doubling down. But of course 🤷🏻♀️ https://t.co/Je8T8HcYqO
But Sarsour’s stance against the new caucus became a bit more awkward yesterday when Rep. Ilhan Omar, who got in trouble earlier this year for some of her comments about AIPAC and Israel, suggested she would support it.
When Avi Mayer highlighted Omar’s tweet to Sarsour, she pushed back again:
Lee Zeldin is still an anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian bigot who called Obama a racist & Zeldin campaigns with neo-Nazis & white supremacists. I will tweet this back to you a MILLION times while you continue to deflect your support for Zeldin. P.S. Muslim women don’t always agree. https://t.co/KyQj4Yhgpy
Absolutely not. Anything that has Lee Zeldin in it’s leadership will never get my endorsement. I don’t base my support on someone else’s support. I base my support on facts and my analysis. Lee Zeldin is a bigot and you can’t convince me otherwise. https://t.co/edVVhewwtt
At this point, I like to imagine there were some unhappy phone calls or texts between Sarsour and Omar, but maybe Omar just caught on to the fact that he pal Sarsour was being left in the lurch. Whatever the case, Rep. Omar said this earlier today:
Just to be clear, my endorsement of the caucus and willingness to unite our communities against the threats of White supremacy isn’t an endorsement of Zeldin’s bigotry!
Rep. Zeldin responded to Omar’s comments on Twitter:
This new Caucus is a positive, bipartisan push to build bridges between 2 groups. Be helpful, accurate & better. Unite; don’t divide or try to poison like this latest personal attack. This is bigger than us & we have to be better than this. https://t.co/1Ai7jzScKp
To sum this up, Omar endorsed a new black-Jewish caucus formed to create a spirit of unity between the two groups and then, one day later, accused a Jewish member of the new caucus of being a bigot. How’s that for building bridges?!
The backstory to all this is that earlier this year, Rep. Omar was twice criticized for statements deemed anti-Semitic by people on both sides of the aisle. Rep. Zeldin was one of the people who called her out at the time. There was a brief moment when it appeared Omar might be sorry for some of her remarks. The second time she was called into the principal’s office she issued this apology:
Is America’s most notorious ISIS mother on her way home? The US government went to court to prevent Hoda Muthana from forcing an expedited review of her request to return, winning in March. Now, however, CBS and Military Times report that two unnamed American ISIS brides and their combined six children have been repatriated this week — at the request of the Trump administration:
Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have transferred eight U.S. women and children who were captured with the Islamic State group back to America, Kurdish officials said Wednesday.
Abdulkarim Omar, a senior official in the Kurdish self-rule administration, said the group includes two women and six children. He said they were returned at the request of the U.S. government and based on their own desire to return “without any pressure or coercion.”
Omar didn’t identify the women and children involved, and there was no immediate confirmation or comment from U.S. officials. It was not clear when they left Syria, who they were handed over to, or where in the U.S. they will be taken. It is the second such repatriation of U.S. nationals from Syria. Earlier this year, a woman and four children were returned to the U.S.
The release of these eight US citizens, Kurdish forces announced, were “humanitarian” in nature. The Kurds running the refugee camps will not release women who took a more active role in ISIS’ depredations, whether as fighters or more commonly enforcers of ISIS’ domestic tyranny. With thousands of refugees in the camps, the Kurds have a long backlog of determinations to make.
So far, there’s no word on the identities of any of the three women. The Telegraph reports that Muthana’s not among them, however:
The identity of the two American women was not immediately clear, however the Telegraph understands that New Jersey-born Hoda Muthana, who was discovered in the camps with her infant son in February is not among them.
That makes some sense, although Muthana’s the biggest cause celebre among the ISIS brides. The Trump administration is challenging her status as a US citizen, which looks a bit like a losing battle. Even the judge who ruled in the administration’s favor over the emergency request commented that Muthana’s attorney made a “valid argument” on citizenship. The administration countered that observation in late April by moving to dismiss Muthana’s case altogether, but there hasn’t been any reported developments since then.
So who are these three women, and what were they doing in Syria in the first place? The discussion in CBS’ coverage is surprisingly skeptical of repatriation, at least not without getting some solid answers to those questions. They may be American citizens, but they went to join an enemy that was explicitly conducting a radical-Islamist terror war against the US — and in Muthana’s case at least, attempting to foment attacks here at home. Their identities shouldn’t be kept secret; they should be identified publicly and their crimes discussed in detail.