C.I.A. to Expand Its Covert Role In Afghanistan

Monday, October 23, 2017Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 10.44.01

Good Monday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
— The First Draft Team

Secretary of State Rex TillersonAmerica’s top emissary talked with Jason Zengerle about his most important diplomatic relationship — the one with President Trump, factoring the president’s tweets into foreign policy strategy and more.

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Trump’s AgendaWe’ll keep you updated on the recent legislative action by the Trump White House.

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McCain in Twilight: An Unfettered Voice Against Trumpism

Senator John McCain in Philadelphia on Monday after receiving the Liberty Medal for his lifetime of public service.

Senator John McCain in Philadelphia on Monday after receiving the Liberty Medal for his lifetime of public service. William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Senator John McCain, the sometimes cantankerous, often charming and eternally irrepressible Republican from Arizona, has never minced words. But in the twilight of a long and storied career, as he fights a virulent form of brain cancer, the 81-year-old senator has found a new voice.
In twin speeches — one in July, where he issued a call to bipartisanship in the Senate, and another in Philadelphia this past week, where he railed against “half-baked, spurious nationalism” — Mr. McCain has taken on both his colleagues and President Trump. In the process, his friends and fellow senators say, he has carved out a new role for himself on Capitol Hill: elder statesman and truth-teller.
“Even if John were not ill, with his experience and age, there is a part of you that I think begins to focus on your legacy,” said former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a close friend of Mr. McCain’s. But with cancer, Mr. Biden said, “he’s in the fight of his life, and he knows it.”
Having won re-election last year, Mr. McCain was already free to speak his mind. Were he to run again in 2022, he would be 86, and friends say that his 2016 campaign was almost certainly his last.
But colleagues see a shift since his diagnosis.
Read more »
Rachel Roberts with her sons, Troy and Harrison, at their home in Houston. After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, long delays for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have frustrated residents.

Still Waiting for FEMA in Texas and Florida After Hurricanes


After Harvey and Irma, residents are waiting weeks for FEMA inspections and hours on hold when calling the agency’s help line.

Bill O’Reilly at his studio in 2012. He was forced out of Fox News in April after public disclosure of five settlements related to harassment allegations against him.

O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract


In January, the Fox News host was said to have agreed to a $32 million settlement with a former network analyst, the largest of his known payouts.

President Trump did not do what any of his predecessors almost certainly would have done: apologize for words that failed to bring comfort to a grieving Army widow.

Political Guardrails Gone, a President’s Somber Duty Skids Into Spectacle


The weeklong feud between President Trump and a Democratic congresswoman after a soldier’s death might never have happened had either side followed convention.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is funded through the E.P.A.’s approximately $26 million National Estuary Program.

E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists


Organizers of a Monday conference on the Narragansett Bay were told three E.P.A. scientists would not be allowed to present their work.

Displaced men suspected of being members of the Islamic State were searched and washed recently at a security screening center near Kirkuk, Iraq.

ISIS Fighters Are Not Flooding Back Home to Wreak Havoc as Feared


Several factors contributed: The American-led campaign in Iraq and Syria focused on preventing militants from leaving, and many fought to the death.

Stephen K. Bannon at a fund-raiser for Kelli Ward, a Republican Senate candidate, in Arizona last week.

Steve Bannon Vows ‘War’ on His Own Party. It Didn’t Work So Well for F.D.R.


In 1938, Franklin Roosevelt’s bid to purge Democrats who opposed him backfired. Are there lessons as Mr. Bannon takes on dissident Republicans?

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Jena Greene in The Smokeroom:
“The fact that Trump is even attempting to call every new Gold Star family is itself honorable. It’s one of the toughest things a president can do.”
Ms. Greene writes about presidential outreach to the families of fallen soldiers from personal experience. In 2004, her father, a Marine Corps helicopter pilot, was shot down in Iraq. She explains how she received a letter from President George W. Bush but “we didn’t get a phone call from the president, and we didn’t expect to.” It’s not protocol for presidents to reach out to families directly, unless the death is high profile. “Bickering over this kind of protocol,” she warns, “rarely ends well.” Read more »
From the Left
Ameer Hasan Loggins in The Guardian:
“I fully empathize with the family of Sergeant La David Johnson. […] Sadly, the lack of respect given to them is not an American aberration. It is a part of this country’s ugly history regarding black people and the military.”
When Mr. Loggins heard reports of what Mr. Trump had said to Sergeant Johnson’s family, he recognized it as the latest in a long string of moments black veterans were shown disrespect. Mr. Loggins points out that black troops have disproportionally experienced military punishment — up to, and including, the death penalty. Read more »
More selections »