Syria conflict: US sends arms to Kurdish forces fighting IS — Flynn to provide documents for Russia investigation after initially refusing — Ukraine raids Russian internet giant Yandex over treason — The case for protecting America’s intelligence agency whistleblowers
The US says it has started distributing weapons to Kurdish forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said the Kurdish fighters had received small arms and vehicles from the US military.
The weapons aim to help them drive IS from its Syrian stronghold, Raqqa.
Donald Trump this month approved arming fighters from the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), drawing strong condemnation from Turkey.
Turkey views the Kurdish rebels as terrorists and wants to stop them taking more territory in Syria. It is also worried that the weapons will end up in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group it has been fighting for decades.The Pentagon has previously said it is “keenly aware” of Turkey’s concerns, and that the US remains committed to “protecting our Nato ally”.
However, the US believes the Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will be essential to Raqqa’s downfall.
After initially refusing, former national security adviser Michael Flynn will provide documents to the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, a person close to Flynn told the Associated Press.
Flynn will turn over documents related to two of his businesses as well as some personal documents the committee requested earlier this month, a person close to Flynn said. Flynn plans to produce documents by next week, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Flynn’s private interactions with the committee.
The decision on Tuesday was the first signal that Flynn and the Senate panel have found common ground. Congressional investigators continue to press for key documents in the ongoing investigation, and the retired lieutenant general is trying to limit damaging disclosures that hostile Democratic lawmakers could use against him.
Flynn had previously invoked his fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination in declining an earlier request from the committee. Flynn’s attorneys had argued the initial request was too broad and would have required Flynn to turn over information that could have been used against him.
Flynn’s cooperation came as Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, rejected a request for documents as part of a House committee’s separate investigation into Russia’s election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign.
Ukraine’s security service on Monday searched offices of Russian internet giant Yandex as part of a treason probe after Kiev banned its popular search engine earlier this month.
“Employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) conducted sanctioned searches in the offices of the subsidiary of the Russian company Yandex in Kiev and Odessa”, the SBU said in a statement.
The security agency said the searches were part of a treason probe and accused Yandex of passing on the personal details of Ukrainian citizens, including military personnel, to authorities in Russia.
“The information was handed over to the Russian intelligence services for the purposes of planning, organising and carrying out espionage, sabotage and subversive operations in our country,” it said.
Yandex confirmed the searches at its offices but said it had no “information” about the activities of the Ukrainian security agency.
“Yandex is ready to provide all information regarding its operations in Ukraine, according and limited by Ukrainian legal procedures,” said company spokeswoman Ksenia Korneyeva.
The expansion of whistleblower protections must be immediately given to those who proudly serve our country in federal agencies which have national security and or intelligence functions.
If a federal government employee has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people, why would we not respect and value their voices when they uncover wrongdoing? Federal government-wide whistleblower protections will not only ensure the protection of all whistleblowers, but will prevent similar national security debacles from manifesting in future.
No one should ever suffer the loss of their career as I did for being impelled to do the right thing.
INTEL TODAY DIARY — June 1 2017