Category Archives: National Security

Biden Rebukes Trump Administration’s ‘Roadblocks’ to National Security Transition Team as ‘Nothing Short of Irresponsible’

President-Elect Joe Biden issued his sternest condemnation yet of the Trump Administration’s “roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget” of his transition team, which will endanger national security as the Biden administration takes over in January. “It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President-Elect Joe Biden issued his sternest condemnation yet of the Trump Administration’s “roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget” of his transition team, which will endanger national security as the Biden administration takes over in January. “It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”  

In remarks following briefings with his National Security team, Biden laid out the challenges he faces and a blueprint for his administration’s approach:

“Many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage. They’ve been hollowed out. In personnel.  In capacity. In morale. In policy processes that have atrophied or been sidelined. In the disrepair of our alliances. In our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people. In a general disengagement from the world.
 
“And all of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people and to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting.  Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office — starting with our diplomacy.”

Issues ranging from climate change to global pandemic to fair trade and economic opportunity, he said, will depend on “the power of smart and effective American leadership” with partners, effectively doing a 180-degree turn from Trump’s “America First” policy.

It also means “modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past. And we have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace.

Biden said he would work immediately to roll back the restrictions at the southern border, but cautioned that new processes and procedures will take time to implement. “We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution…

“We will champion liberty and democracy once more.  We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world. And we will, once again, lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Biden declared.

Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks on December 28, from Wilmington, Delaware:

Good afternoon.

Before I begin, I want to say a few brief words on the explosion that took place Friday 
in Nashville.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement are working around the clock to gain more information on motive and intent. 

This bombing was a reminder of the destructive power that individuals and small groups can muster, and the need for continuing vigilance. 

I want to thank the police officers who worked quickly to evacuate the area before the explosion occurred, and all the firefighters and first responders who jumped into action early on Christmas morning.
 
Their bravery and cool-headedness likely saved lives and prevented a worse outcome — and we are all grateful for that.

And I know the hearts of all Americans are with the people of Nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event.

Now, Vice President-elect Harris and I, along with our nominees to lead our national security institutions, have just been briefed by some of the professionals who have been conducting agency reviews as part of our transition.

This is a long-standing part of the orderly transition of power in American democracy. 

We welcomed teams from the incoming Trump-Pence administration four years ago. 

And over the past few weeks, teams of genuine policy and management experts, many with previous government experience, have gone into agencies across the government to conduct interviews with personnel to gather information and to assess the state of the federal government that we will shortly inherit. 

These teams worked under incredibly difficult circumstances — taking COVID-19 precautions, 
and waiting weeks for ascertainment — but they have done an outstanding job.

From some agencies, our teams received exemplary cooperation from the career staff. 

From others, most notably the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership. 

And the truth is: many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage.

They’ve been hollowed out. 

In personnel. In capacity. In morale.
 
In policy processes that have atrophied or been sidelined.
 
In the disrepair of our alliances.

In our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people.

In a general disengagement from the world.
 
And all of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people and to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting.

Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that Vice President-elect Harris and I will face upon taking office — starting with our diplomacy.

Today, we heard from the leaders of the State and USAID agency review teams about the critical early investments we are going to need to make in our diplomacy, in our development efforts, and in rebuilding our alliances to close ranks with our partners and bring to bear the full benefits of our shared strength for the American people.
 
When we consider the most daunting threats of our time, we know that meeting them requires American engagement and leadership, but also that none of them can be solved by America acting alone.
 
Take climate change for example.

The United States accounts for less than 15 percent of global carbon emissions. 

But without a clear, coordinated, and committed approach from the other 85 percent of carbon emitters, the world will continue to warm, storms will continue to worsen, and climate change will continue to threaten lives and livelihoods, public health, and economies — and our very existence on our planet.
 
We’ve learned so painfully this year the cost of being unprepared for a pandemic that leaps borders and circles the globe.
 
If we aren’t investing with our partners around the world in strengthening health systems everywhere, we’re undermining our ability to permanently defeat COVID-19, and we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next deadly epidemic.
 
And as we compete with China and hold China’s government accountable for its abuses on trade, technology, human rights, and other fronts, our position will be much stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded partners and allies to make common cause with us in defense of our shared interests and values.
 
We are almost 25 percent of the global economy on our own, but together with our democratic partners, we more than double our economic leverage.
 
On any issue that matters to the U.S.-China relationship — from pursuing a foreign policy for the middle class, including a trade and economic agenda that protects American workers, our intellectual property, and the environment — to ensuring security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, to championing human rights — we are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations that share our vision for the future of our world.
 
That’s how we multiply the impact of our efforts and make those efforts more sustainable.
 
That’s the power of smart and effective American leadership.

But right now, there’s an enormous vacuum.

We’re going to have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways 
to work around us or without us.
 
We also heard from key leaders on our intelligence and defense review teams, including Stephanie O’Sullivan, former principal deputy director of national intelligence, and retired Army Lieutenant General Karen Gibson.

We talked about the different strategic challenges we will face from both Russia and China, and the reforms we must make to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to meet these challenges.
 
That includes modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past.
 
And we have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace.
 
We are still learning about the extent of the SolarWinds hack and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed.

As I said last week — this attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security. 

And we need to close the gap between where our capabilities are now and where they need to be 
to better deter, detect, disrupt, and respond to these sorts of intrusions in the future.

This is an area where Republicans and Democrats are in agreement — and we should be able to work on a bipartisan basis to better secure the American people against malign cyber actors.

And right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations.
 
My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and of our operations to deter our enemies.

We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.
 
But — as I said at the beginning — we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. 

Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. 

It’s nothing short of irresponsible.

 
Finally, we spoke about the day-one challenges that we will need to address immediately, drawing on the skill sets of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
 
We were briefed on the steps needed to clean up the humanitarian disaster that the Trump Administration has systematically created on our southern border. 

We will institute a humane and orderly response.

That means rebuilding the capacity we need to safely and quickly process asylum seekers without creating a near-term crisis in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
 
These are hard issues. 

And the current administration has made them much harder by working to erode our capacity. 

It’s going to take time to rebuild it.

And we’re going to work purposefully and diligently to responsibly roll back Trump’s restrictions starting on day one.
 
But it’s not as simple as throwing a switch to turn everything back on — especially amid a pandemic.

We will have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States free from violence and persecution.
 
Of course, an essential part of this will be managing the safe, equitable, and efficient distribution of vaccines to as many Americans as possible — as quickly as possible.
 
FEMA has an enormous part to play in this, and we heard from the former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate today.

We want to make sure that our administration is poised to make full use of FEMA’s domestic reach and capacity in managing our COVID response.

Finally, from every briefer, I was heartened to also hear about the incredible strength 
we will be inheriting — the career professionals working across these agencies.

They never stop doing their jobs and continue to serve our country day in and day out to keep their fellow Americans safe, just as they have always done.
 
These agencies are filled with patriots who have earned our respect, and who should never be treated as a political football.

I’m looking forward to the honor of working with them again, to asking for their advice and inputs to help shape the best possible policies for all Americans.
 
And I want to thank the incredible folks who have served on all the Agency Review Teams as part of this transition. 

They’ve dedicated their time, energy, and vital expertise to help ensure Vice President-elect Harris and I are ready to hit the ground running.

As we look forward to the start of a new year, fresh with hope and the possibilities of better days to come, but clear-eyed about the challenges that will not disappear overnight, I want to reiterate my message to the American people:

We’ve overcome incredible challenges as a nation. And we will do so again.

We’ll do it by coming together.
 
By uniting after a year of pain and loss to heal, to rebuild, and to reclaim America’s place in the world.

This is the work that lies ahead of us, and I know we are up to the task. 

We will champion liberty and democracy once more. 

We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world. 

And we will, once again, lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. 
 
May God bless you all.

May God protect our troops.

President-Elect Biden Presents his Foreign Policy, National Security Team

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris: “Today’s nominees and appointees come from different places. They bring a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives. And they also share something else in common: an unwavering belief in America’s ideals.  An unshakeable commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. And they understand the indispensable role of America’s leadership in the world. These women and men are patriots and public servants to their core, and they are the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today in Wilmington Delaware, President-Elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, presented his nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in his administration. Collectively, they brought a sigh of relief – their professionalism, expertise, their values. For the first time in four years, you had a sense of a functioning government, working on behalf of its people and building upon its ideals and values. Here are highlights from their remarks:

President-Elect Joe Biden:

Today, I am pleased to announce nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in my Administration.

It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure.

And it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back. 

Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies. And ready to stand up for our values. 

In fact, in calls from world leaders in the weeks since we won this election, I’ve been struck by how much they are looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.

This team meets this moment.

They embody my core belief that America is strongest when it works with its allies.

Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — made possible through decades of experience working with our partners.

That’s how we truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay. 

It’s how we counter terrorism and extremism. Control this pandemic and future ones. 

Deal with the climate crisis, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats and emerging technologies, the spread of authoritarianism, and so much more.

And while this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking or unchanged habits.

For example, we are going to have the first woman lead the intelligence community, the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and a groundbreaking diplomat at the United Nations.

We are going to have a principal on the National Security Council whose full-time job is to fight climate change — for the first time ever.

And my national security team will be coordinated by one of the youngest national security advisors in decades.

Experience and leadership. Fresh thinking and perspective. And, an unrelenting belief in the promise of America

I’ve long said that America leads not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

I am proud to put forward this incredible team that will lead by example.

As Secretary of State, I nominate Tony Blinken. 

There is no one better prepared for this job. 

He will be a Secretary of State who previously served in top roles on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the State Department.

And he delivered for the American people in each place. 

For example, leading our diplomatic efforts in the fight against ISIS. Strengthening America’s alliances and position in the Asia-Pacific. Guiding our response to the global refugee crisis with compassion and determination.

He will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department, where his career in government began. And he starts off with the kind of relationships around the world that many of his predecessors had to build over years. 

I know. I’ve seen him in action. He is one of my closest and most trusted advisors.

And I know him, and his family — immigrants and refugees, a Holocaust survivor who taught him to never take for granted the very idea of America as a place of possibilities.

He is ready on Day One.

As Secretary of Homeland Security, I nominate Alejandro Mayorkas.

This is one of the hardest jobs in government. The DHS Secretary needs to keep us safe from threats at home and from abroad.

And it’s a job that plays a critical role in fixing our broken immigration system.

After years of chaos, dysfunction, and absolute cruelty at DHS, I am proud to nominate an experienced leader who has been hailed by both Democrats and Republicans.  

Ali, as he goes by, is a former U.S Attorney. Former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Former DHS Deputy Secretary.

Helped implement DACA. Prevented attacks on the homeland.  Enhanced our cybersecurity. Helped communities recover from natural disasters. Combatted Ebola and Zika.

And while DHS affects everyone, given its critical role in immigration matters, I am proud that for the first time ever, the Department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values.

And one more thing — today is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Ali.

As Director of National Intelligence, I nominate Avril Haines, the first woman in this post.

To lead our intelligence community, I did not pick a politician or a political figure.

I picked a professional.  

She is eminently qualified: Former Deputy Director of the CIA. Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama.  

A fierce advocate for telling the truth and levelling it with decision makers.  

I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble.

Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that.

Above all, if she gets word of a threat coming to our shores — like another pandemic or foreign interference in our elections — she will not stop raising the alarms until the right people take action.  

People will be able to take her word, because she always calls it like she sees it.

We are safer with Avril on the watch.

As the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, I nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A seasoned and distinguished diplomat with 35 years in the Foreign Service, who never forgot where she came from, growing up in segregated Louisiana.

The eldest of eight. Her Dad couldn’t read or write, but she says he was the smartest person she knew. First in her family to graduate from high school, then college, with the whole world literally ahead of her, as her Dad and Mom taught her to believe.

Posts in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Liberia — where she was known as “the People’s Ambassador.”

Willing to meet with anyone  — an ambassador, a student, working people struggling to get by  — and always treating them with the same level of dignity and respect. 

She was our top State Department official in charge of Africa policy during the Ebola crisis.  

She’s received overwhelming support from her fellow career Foreign Service Officers. And she will have cabinet status because I want to hear her voice on major foreign policy decisions.

As my National Security Advisor, I choose Jake Sullivan.

He’s a once-in-a-generation intellect with the experience and temperament for one of the toughest jobs in the world.

When I was Vice President, he served as my National Security Advisor.

He was a top advisor to Secretary of State Clinton. He helped lead the early negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal. Helped broker the Gaza ceasefire in 2012. Played a key role in the Asia-Pacific rebalance in our Administration.

And in this campaign for the presidency, he served as one of my most trusted advisors  on both foreign and domestic policy, including helping me develop our COVID-19 strategy.

Jake understands my vision that economic security is national security.

He will help steer what I call a foreign policy for the Middle Class, for families like his growing up in Minnesota, where he was raised by parents who were educators and taught him the values of hard work, decency, service, and respect. 

What that means is to win the competition for the future, we need to keep us safe and secure, and build back better than ever.

We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality — and do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries.

And before I talk about the final person for today, let me talk about this new position.

For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings — that’s a fancy way of saying they’ll have a seat at every table around the world.

For the first time ever, there will be a principal on the National Security Council who will make sure climate change is on the agenda in the Situation Room.  

And for the first time ever, we will have a Presidential envoy on climate.

And he will be matched with a high-level White House Climate Policy Coordinator and policy-making structure — to be announced in December — that will lead efforts here in the U.S. to combat the climate crisis and mobilize action to meet this existential threat. 

Let me be clear: I don’t for a minute underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change.  

But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that.  

As for the man himself, if I had a former Secretary of State who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement, or a former Presidential nominee, or a former leading Senator, or the head of a major climate organization for the job, it would show my commitment to this role.  

The fact that I picked the one person who is all of these things speaks unambiguously.  

The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.

To this team — thank you for accepting the call to serve.

And to your families, thank you for your sacrifice. We could not do this without you.

Together, these public servants will restore America’s global leadership and moral leadership. 

They will ensure our service members, diplomats, and intelligence professionals can do their jobs free of politics. 

They will not only repair, they will reimagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation. 

And they will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.

To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans. 

And as more states certify the results of the election, there is progress to wrap up our victory.

I am pleased to have received ascertainment from GSA, to carry out a smooth and peaceful transition of power so our team can prepare to meet the challenges at hand — to control the pandemic, build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American people.

And to the United States Senate, I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing, and that we can work across the aisle in good faith — move forward as a country.

Let’s begin the work to heal and unite America and the world.

Thank you. May God bless you. May God protect our troops.

I’ll now turn it over to the new team, starting with our next Secretary of State, Tony Blinken

Nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

That’s who we are. 

That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.  

Now, we must proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence.  

Humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. We cannot flip a switch to solve them. We need to partner with others.  

But also, confidence, because America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.

That’s where the men and women of the State Department — foreign service officers and civil servants — come in. I’ve witnessed their passion, energy, and courage to keep us safe, secure, and prosperous.  I’ve seen them bring luster to a word that deserves our support: diplomacy.  

If confirmed, it will be the honor of my life to help lead them.

Nominee for Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas

The Department of Homeland Security has a noble mission: to help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome. There are more than 240,000 career employees who selflessly dedicate their talent and energy to this mission. Many risk their lives in doing so. I would be honored to return to the Department and support these dedicated public servants in fulfilling their responsibilities and realizing our country’s greatest hopes, all in partnership with the communities we serve.

Nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Avril Haines

I know, Mr. President-elect and Madame Vice President-elect, that you have selected us not to serve you, but to work on behalf of the American people — to help advance our security, prosperity, and values. That, the call to service in this role, is what makes this nomination such a tremendous honor. 

If afforded the opportunity to do so, I will never forget that my role on this team is unique. Rather than that of a policy advisor, I will represent to you, Congress, and the American public, the patriots who comprise our Intelligence Community. Mr. President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power, and that will be my charge as Director of National Intelligence. We have worked together for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise — that you value the perspective of the Intelligence Community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult. I assure you there will be those times. 

And, finally, to our intelligence professionals, the work you do — oftentimes under the most austere conditions imaginable — is indispensable. It will become even more complex because you will be critical to helping this administration position itself not only against threats such as cyber attacks, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons but also those challenges that will define the next generation — from climate change, to pandemics, and corruption.

It would be the honor of a lifetime to be able to work alongside you once again to take on these challenges together.

Nominee for United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Mr. President-elect, I’ve often heard you say how all politics is personal. That’s how you build relationships of trust and bridge disagreements and find common ground.

In my thirty-five years in the Foreign Service across four continents, I put a Cajun spin on it. It’s called Gumbo diplomacy. Wherever I was posted around the world, I’d invite people of different backgrounds and beliefs to make a roux, chop onions for the holy trinity, and make homemade gumbo — my way to break down barriers, connect with people, and start to see each other on a human level: a bit of lagniappe as we say in Louisiana. 

That’s the charge in front of us today. The challenges we face — a global pandemic, the global economy, the global climate crisis, mass migration and extreme poverty, social justice — are unrelenting and interconnected. But they’re not unsolvable if America is leading the way.

Appointment for National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

I pledge to you and to the American people that I will work relentlessly in service of the mission you have given us: To keep our country and our people safe. To advance our national interests. And to defend our values.

I pledge to the exceptional national security team you have named today — and to the brilliant and diverse career professionals in national security across our government — that I will manage a humane and rigorous decision-making process that honors their work…

Sir, we will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism. But you have also tasked us with reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad: the pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruption, threats to democracy, racial injustice, and inequality in all forms. The work of the team before you today will contribute to progress across all of these fronts.

You have also tasked us with putting people at the center of our national security. The alliances we rebuild, the institutions we lead, the agreements we sign — all of them should be judged by a basic question: will this make life better, easier, safer, for working families across this country? Our foreign policy has to deliver for these families.

And you have tasked us with helping unite America through our work, to pull people together to tackle big challenges….

I promise an open door to those who disagree. Our whole team can learn from them and it will make us better. 

To the American people, I had the honor of serving as Joe Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice president. I learned a lot about a lot. About diplomacy. About policy. Most importantly, about human nature. I watched him pair strength and resolve with humanity and empathy.

That is the person America elected. That is also America itself.

So Mr. President-elect, thank you for giving this kid from the heartland an extraordinary opportunity to serve the country I love so much. 

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Former Secretary of State John Kerry

Mr. President-elect — you’ve put forward a bold, transformative climate plan that lives up to the moment. But you’ve also underscored that no country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States, for all our economic might, is responsible for only 15% of global emissions. The world must come to this table to solve this problem. 

You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one, and you’re right to recognize that Paris alone does not get the job done. 

At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together – or we will all fail, together.

Failure is not an option.

Success means tapping into the best of American ingenuity, creativity, and diplomacy — from brainpower to alternative energy power — using every tool we have to get where we need to go.

No one should doubt the determination of the country that went to the moon, cured supposedly incurable diseases, and beat back global tyranny to win World War II. We will immediately, again, work with friends and partners to meet this challenge too.

The road ahead is exciting. It means creating millions of middle-class jobs. It means less pollution in our air and in our ocean. It means making life healthier for citizens across the world. And it means we will strengthen the security of every nation on earth.

In addressing the climate crisis, Joe Biden is determined to seize the future. 

Fifty-seven years ago, this week, Joe Biden and I were college kids when we lost the president who inspired us both to try and make a difference, a president who reminded us that here on Earth, “God’s work must truly be our own.” 

President Joe Biden will trust in God, and he will also trust in science to guide our work on earth to protect God’s creation.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris:

Congratulations Mr. President-elect on bringing together this extraordinary team. 

I have always believed in the nobility of public service, and these Americans embody it. 

Their lives and careers are a testament to the dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to civic responsibility that have strengthened our democracy — and kept America’s promise alive — for more than two hundred years.

President-elect Biden and I have long known that when we were elected, we would inherit a series of unprecedented challenges upon walking into the White House. 

Addressing these challenges starts with getting this pandemic under control, opening our economy responsibly, and making sure it works for working people. 

And we also know that overcoming our challenges here at home is a necessary foundation for restoring and advancing our leadership around the world.

And we are ready for that work. 

We will need to reassemble and renew America’s alliances; rebuild and strengthen the national security and foreign policy institutions that keep us safe and advance our nation’s interests; and confront and combat the existential threat of climate change that endangers us all…. 

I can say with confidence that they are — to a person — the right women and men for these critical positions. 

And I look forward to working alongside them on behalf of the American people — and on behalf of a President who will ask tough questions; demand that we be guided by facts; and expect our team to speak the truth. No matter what. 

A President who will be focused on one thing and one thing only: doing what’s best for The People of the United States of America… 

Today’s nominees and appointees come from different places. They bring a range of different life and professional experiences and perspectives. And they also share something else in common: an unwavering belief in America’s ideals. 

An unshakeable commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. 

And they understand the indispensable role of America’s leadership in the world. 

These women and men are patriots and public servants to their core, and they are the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead.

Nearly 500 Retired Top Military, National Security Officials Endorse Joe Biden

Memorial Day Commemoration, North Hempstead, Long Island, NY nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. The generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”

Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
 
Read the full letter below and see the full list of signatures here:

National Security Leaders for Biden: An Open Letter To America

To Our Fellow Citizens:
 
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
 
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs.

We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
 
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
 
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
 
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
 
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
 
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
 
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
 
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

Growing Number of Republicans Come Out in Support of Biden for President

Former DHS official Miles Taylor in a Lincoln Project ad decries Donald Trump’s national security leadership. “His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-featurs.com

As the Republican National Convention 2020 unfolds with stunning ferocity, mendacity, and fear-mongering, basically offering an Alice Through the Looking Glass Orwellian alternative reality, more and more Republicans, including Presidential appointees, legal experts and Congressmen and elected officials have allied against Trump for his corruption and abuse of the Presidency. These include former Governors John Kasich and Christine Todd Whitman and former Secretary of State Colin Powell who appeared at the Democratic National Convention in support of Joe Biden.

The growing list of administration officials supporting Biden over Trump also includes a former Homeland Security official Myles Taylor, who in a Washington Post op-ed, wrote,Trump showed vanishingly little interest in subjects of vital national security interest, including cybersecurity, domestic terrorism and malicious foreign interference in U.S. affairs…. Because the commander in chief has diminished America’s influence overseas, today the nation has fewer friends and stronger enemies than when Trump took office…. Trump has also damaged the country in countless ways that don’t directly involve national security but, by stoking hatred and division, make Americans profoundly less safe.

“The president’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic is the ultimate example…His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.”

And former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, in declaring his support for Biden for president, stated, “And so, it is because of my conservatism, and because of my belief in the Constitution, and in the separation of power, and because I am gravely concerned about the conduct and behavior of our current president that I stand here today – proudly and wholeheartedly – to endorse Joe Biden to be our next president of the United States of America. (Watch Senator Flake’s remarks HERE.

Former Governor of Ohio John Kasich is among a long and growing list of Republicans endorsing Joe Biden for president over Republican Donald Trump © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Republican Members of Congress Endorse Biden

On the first day of the Republican National Convention, former Republican Members of Congress, including former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, announced their support for Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. In a strong rebuke to the current administration, these former members of Congress cited Trump’s corruption, destruction of democracy, blatant disregard for moral decency, and urgent need to get the country back on course as a reason why they support Biden. These former Members of Congress are supporting Joe Biden because they know what’s at stake in this election and that Trump’s failures as President have superseded partisanship.
 
With the support of these Members of Congress, the Biden for President is launching Republicans for Biden, a national effort to engage Republicans who are supporting Biden this fall. The campaign will encourage Republicans to organize their communities for Biden using the Vote Joe app and other relational organizing tools. More information is at joebiden.com/republicans or by texting GOP to 30330.
 
Republicans endorsing Joe Biden include:

  • Senator Jeff Flake (AZ)
  • Senator Gordon Humphrey (NH)
  • Senator John Warner (VA)
  • Congressman Steve Bartlett (TX)
  • Congressman Bill Clinger (PA)
  • Congressman Tom Coleman (MO)
  • Congressman Charlie Dent (PA)
  • Congressman Charles Djou (HI)
  • Congressman Mickey Edwards (OK)
  • Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (MD)
  • Congressman Jim Greenwood (PA)
  • Congressman Bob Inglis (SC)
  • Congressman Jim Kolbe (AZ)
  • Congressman Steve Kuykendall (CA)
  • Congressman Ray LaHood (IL)
  • Congressman Jim Leach (IA)
  • Congresswoman Susan Molinari (NY)
  • Congresswoman Connie Morella (MD)
  • Congressman Mike Parker (MS)
  • Congressman Jack Quinn (NY)
  • Congresswoman Claudine Schneider (RI)
  • Congressman Christopher Shays (CT)
  • Congressman Peter Smith (VT)
  • Congressman Alan Steelman (TX)
  • Congressman Jim Walsh (NY)
  • Congressman Bill Whitehurst (VA)
  • Congressman Dick Zimmer (NJ)

Republican Presidential Appointees, Legal Experts Support Biden

On August 25, as the Republican National Convention was underway, former Republican Presidential Appointees and legal experts came out in support of Joe Biden and against President Trump in light of the corruption and abuse of power that has pervaded the current administration. Trump has used the presidency to enrich himself — spending countless tax dollars at his own properties. Members of his administration have failed to divest themselves from conflicts of interest as promised. And, Trump has weaponized the Executive Branch against its core mission, including using the U.S. Justice Department to protect the president and his friends, over the American people and the rule of law. Trump has welcomed wealthy special interests into the Oval Office and to the highest levels of his administration to develop and guide policy.
 
As President, Biden is dedicated to restoring even-handed justice and the principle that no person is above the law. He would:

  • Return basic honesty and integrity to the U.S. Department of Justice and to Executive Branch decision-making;
  • Restore ethics in government;
  • Rein in Executive Branch financial conflicts of interest;
  • Reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics and make it easier for candidates of all backgrounds to run for office.

Republican appointees endorsing Joe Biden include:

  • Donald B. Ayer, Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General (H.W. Bush Administration)
  • Alan Charles Raul, Former Vice Chairman of the White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (W. Bush Administration), General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget (H.W. Bush Administration), General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (H.W. Bush Administration), and Associate Counsel to the President (Reagan Administration)
  • Charles Fried, Former U.S. Solicitor General (Reagan Administration), Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Stuart Gerson, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice (H.W. Bush Administration), Debate Prep Advisor to President H.W. Bush, W. Bush Presidential Transition Staff
  • Peter Keisler, Former U.S. Acting Attorney General (W. Bush Administration), Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice (W. Bush Administration)
  • Paul Rosenweig, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security (W. Bush Administration), Privacy and Security Expert
  • Robert Shanks, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice (Reagan Administration)
  • J.W. Verret, Former Chief Economist and Senior Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Trump Presidential Transition Staff

Meanwhile, an alternate Republican Conservative convention is underway this week of Never Trump groups. A “Convention on Founding Principles,”put on by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn’s Stand Up Republic and the eclectic think tank, the Niskanen Centeris running as counter-programming to the Republican convention. The event is being live-streamed and available for viewing on Facebook and YouTube.

And the Lincoln Project continues to produce amazing videos, ads, social media campaign. “The Lincoln Project is holding accountable those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.”

The stated mission of the Lincoln Project: Defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.

“We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.” (lincolnproject.us)

Tammy Duckworth Tells DNC: ‘As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet’

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, speaking to the Democratic National Convention, offered some of the most damning accusations against the incumbent Donald Trump, calling him “Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.” She said, “As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet. He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights. Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies. Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both legs when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq, addressed the Democratic National Convention on Joe Biden’s longtime and genuine support for active military, their families, and veterans, both because he lived the experience and because he brings a genuine compassion, dignity, integrity to leadership. She offered some of the most damning accusations against the incumbent Donald Trump, calling him “Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.

“As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet.
He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights. Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies. Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.”
 
Here are Senator Duckworth’s highlighted remarks:

Good evening. I’m Tammy Duckworth.

When I first enlisted in the Army, I was eager to serve my country… yet anxious whether I’d be able to earn my way into the ranks.

But I earned my wings and later commanded my own air assault unit, learning that serving—and leading—in the military is both a privilege and a sacrifice. 

To be a commander, you must always put your Troops first—because one day, you may order them to sacrifice everything for our great nation.

To do that, leaders must command their Troops’ respect—and be worthy of their pledge to protect and defend our Constitution, no matter the cost. 

But military service doesn’t just take sacrifice from those in uniform—it’s required from their families, too.

My husband Bryan was the one who rushed to Walter Reed after I was wounded in Iraq. 

He was the one holding my hand, waiting for me to wake up… 

…when I finally did, he was my rock, getting me through those hours…  weeks… months of unspeakable pain and unending surgeries. 

He was my anchor as I relearned to walk, helping me through every step… every stumble.  

Our military spouses hold their families together… praying for their loved one’s safety wherever they’re deployed, serving as caregivers to our disabled servicemembers, then picking up the pieces and starting again whenever the next tour… or the next war… arises.

Joe Biden understands these sacrifices, because he’s made them himself. 

When his son Beau deployed to Iraq, his burden was also shouldered by his family. 

Joe knows the fear military families live with because he’s felt that dread of never knowing if your deployed loved one is safe. 

He understands their bravery because he had to muster that same strength every hour of every day Beau was overseas.

That’s the kind of leader our servicemembers deserve: one who understands the risks they face and who would actually protect them by doing his job as Commander-in-Chief.

Instead they have a Coward-in-Chief who won’t stand up to Vladamir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops’ heads.

As President, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet.

He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego.

He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights.

Joe Biden would stand up for what’s right… stand tall for our troops… and stand strong against our enemies.

Because unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency. 

He has common sense.

He can command… from both experience and from strength.

Donald Trump doesn’t deserve to call himself Commander-in-Chief for another four minutes—let alone another four years.

Our troops deserve better.

Our country deserves better.


If you agree, text “MORE” to 3-0-3-3-0 to elect Joe Biden: a leader who actually cares enough about America to lead.

DNC: National Security Advisors Testify to Joe Biden’s Leadership Qualities to Address Nation’s Historic Challenges

Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General who refused to enact Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban and alerted the White House to a compromised Michael Flynn, told the Democratic National Convention, “Public servants promise to defend our Constitution. Uphold our laws. And work on behalf of the American people. But from the moment President Trump took office, he has used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention was themed “Leadership Matters” drawing a stark contrast between the lack of leadership of the incumbent, and the experience, integrity, competence and compassion to address the historic challenges facing the nation that former Vice President Joe Biden brings to the office of president.

“A moment like now demands real leadership. A leader who has the experience and character to meet the moment. A leader who will unite us, tell us the truth, take responsibility, listen to experts and be an example for the nation. Strong people and strong countries rise up during crises, don’t shy away from what is tough, and lead with competence. With Joe Biden as our president, we will restore honesty and integrity to our government, and stake out a renewed leadership role in the world. And we will create more justice, more fairness and more equality for all.”

Here are highlights from the evening’s speakers:

FORMER SECOND LADY OF THE UNITED STATES DR. JILL BIDEN

“You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors. The rooms are dark and the bright young faces that should fill them are confined to boxes on a computer screen.”

“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.” 

“There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it…He does it for you.” 

FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL SALLY YATES

“Public servants promise to defend our Constitution. Uphold our laws. And work on behalf of the American people. But from the moment President Trump took office, he has used his position to benefit himself rather than our country. He’s trampled the rule of law, trying to weaponize our Justice Department to attack his enemies and protect his friends.”

“We need a president who respects our laws and the privilege of public service. Who reflects our values and cares about our people. We need a president who will restore the soul of America.” 

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (New York)

“But if we’re going to win this battle for the soul of our nation, Joe can’t do it alone. Democrats must take back the Senate. We will stay united, from Sanders and Warren to Manchin and Warner—and together, we will bring bold and dramatic change to our country.”

 FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JIMMY CARTER

“Joe has the experience, character, and decency to bring us together and restore America’s greatness. We deserve a person with integrity and judgment, someone who is honest and fair, someone who is committed to what is best for the American people.”

FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BILL CLINTON

“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple. At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just one thing never changes—his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.”

“Our party is united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide. Our choice is Joe Biden.”

ADY BARKAN, HEALTHCARE ACTIVIST

“Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance. With the existential threat of another four years of this president, we all have a profound obligation to act, not only to vote, but to make sure that our friends, family, and neighbors vote as well.”

FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY

“Donald Trump pretends Russia didn’t attack our elections. And now, he does nothing about Russia putting a bounty on our troops. So he won’t defend our country. He doesn’t know how to defend our troops. The only person he’s interested in defending is himself.”

“Joe’s moral compass has always pointed in the right direction, from the fight to break the back of apartheid to the struggle to wake up the world to genocide in the Balkans. Joe understands that none of the issues of this world—not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis—none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

Other speakers testifying to Biden’s leadership and presidential qualities included Colin Powell and a gaggle of national security advisors who have served in prior administrations, and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy and former Ambassador to Japan, and her son, Jack Schlossberg, JFK’s grandson.

Cuomo Pleads with CDC to Allow Coronavirus Testing in Private Labs to Better Monitor, Contain Spread

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Labs with Dr. Dwayne Breining, the Executive Director, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Update: After tour of Northwell Labs, Governor Cuomo announced FDA approval for Northwell to test novel coronavirus: “After days of advocating the FDA and the federal government to expand testing capacity for the novel coronavirus in New York State and working with Northwell and Wadsworth to expedite the process, we just received word that Northwell Laboratories has been authorized to test under Wadsworth’s emergency use authorization. Manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day will begin at Northwell immediately, but we still need automated testing approved so we can perform thousands per day.

“While this approval is a good first step, the FDA must increase the testing capacity for the State and private labs, because the more tests we run, the more positive people we will find and the better we can control and contain the virus. It’s one thing for the federal government not to have the testing capacity in place themselves – that was bad enough – but there’s no excuse for them not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work.” 

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo took the Center for Disease Control and federal government to task for failing to authorize private laboratories to test for the coronavirus, and for failing to authorize automated testing which could increase exponentially the number of people tested.

Testing is critical to finding people infected with the coronavirus in order to contain the spread of the infection, he said during a tour of Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island, where as many as 1000 tests could be done a day using state-of-the-art automated testing devices which can analyze as many as 120 samples at one time.

Northwell’s laboratory is the most sophisticated lab in New York State and one of the most advanced in the nation. But  as yet, CDC  has not authorized private labs to do the tests, and has not authorized the automated testing systems that Northwell has, Cuomo said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, flanked by Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling at Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island, urged CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“CDC has not authorized the use of this lab, which is just outrageous and ludicrous,” the Governor scolded. “CDC, wake up, let the state’s test. Let private labs test. Let’s increase as quickly as possible our testing capacity so we identify the positive people so we can isolate them and we’re successful in our containment.”

The state is “continuing to test people and are working with hospitals and local governments to give them the resources they need to contain the spread of this virus,” Governor Cuomo said. “We mobilized quickly but the federal government has been slow off the mark and they continue to be slow. That’s unacceptable – we need them to approve these private labs today so we can stay ahead of this evolving situation. Worse than the virus right now is the fear pandemic – and getting these additional facilities online will ensure we have more facts that will help keep people calm.”

The Northwell Lab on Long Island would be the first private lab in the state to handle coronavirus testing.

“This is an extraordinary facility,” the Governor said, flanked by his state Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, and Northwell Health CEO Michael J. Dowling.

“We are trying to contain spread of virus and to do that, we are testing as many as possible, to  find the positives and isolate them.” If the spread of infection is not contained, he warned, more disastrous measures, such as China and Italy have been forced to undertake – massive quarantines of millions of people – “would be very disruptive to society and the economy.”

Cuomo said that the level of fear surrounding coronavirus (the disease associated with the virus is COVID-19) is unwarranted. “There is more fear, anxiety than facts would justify. This isn’t Ebola, or SARS. This is a virus we have a lot of information on. Johns Hopkins has been tracking 100,000 cases and what happens.”

Most people who become infected will experience mild symptoms like a cold or flu and can recover at home. But for vulnerable populations – the elderly, people who have medical conditions – the disease is dangerous and can be deadly.

The best “weapon” against the disease is to reduce situations that create density.

Cuomo said he is speaking with business leaders across the state to encourage them to offer liberal sick leave so that people who are sick, who feel symptoms, stay home but are still paid; he also is encouraging businesses as well as state and local government offices,  to stagger workers in shifts if possible; and to allow work-at-home where feasible.

Individuals also have a role in keeping themselves safe, he said – wash hands frequently, don’t shake hands, just as in any flu season. He advises people who take mass transit to let a train pass if the cars are too packed, and to move to less crowded cars.  “Reduce density, proximity.”

The single best thing government can do is to test. “The more positives we identify, the more we can isolate to stop the spread.”

The Governor confirmed 16 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York State since his last update yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 105 confirmed cases on Sunday morning. Of the new cases, 12 are in Westchester County, one in New York City in the Bronx, one in Nassau, one in Suffolk, and one in Ulster.

Of the 105 total individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, 82 are in Westchester; 12 are in New York City; five are in Nassau; one in Suffolk; two in Rockland; one in Ulster and two in Saratoga counties.

Cuomo criticized the CDC for being unprepared, even as the outbreak became clear in China by December (“It is delusional not to expect people to come from China”), and only recently allowing states to do their own testing. New York has the Wadsworth lab, but now is asking the CDC to authorize the state to utilize private labs, like Northwell Laboratories.

Technicians at the $60 million Northwell Laboratory on Long Island, the most sophisticated private lab in the state and one of the most advanced in the country. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Not to be using this laboratory, not to be using the other private labs around the state makes no sense whatsoever. Not to be using automated testing, which means rather than a person manually handling a test tube and a test, the machines we saw that handle 120 samples at a time place them in a machine, the machine runs the test. Of course you should be using that technology. And it’s one thing for the CDC not to have the testing capacity in place themselves, but that was bad enough. For the CDC not to be authorizing existing labs to do the work, there’s no excuse for that.” 

Cuomo also criticized the federal government for creating unnecessary confusion, which fuels fear. “The President of the United States says anyone who wants a test can have a test. Vice President of the United States says we don’t have the testing capacity. People say, how can you say both things? You can’t say both things. We don’t have the testing capacity that we need. Not everyone who wants a test can have a test.

“We have to prioritize the people who get the tests to fit our capacity, right. You can’t ask more people to come in and get tested until you know you have the capacity to test them. The number of people coming in for a test must equal the number of tests you can perform. That’s why in New York we have a standard protocol that’s in place all across the state, prioritizing who can get tested to fit our testing capacity. 

A state of the art machine like this at Northwell Labs, Long Island, automates the analysis of 120 test samples at one time, vastly increasing the capacity to test individuals suspected of carrying the coronavirus © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Once we increase our testing capacity and we can perform more tests, then we can change the prioritization of those people coming in for the tests. We have a statewide protocol because we don’t want people shopping tests. I don’t want someone from Nassau driving to Suffolk, driving to Manhattan, driving to Westchester because you have different rules on who can get a test. Everyone, everywhere in this state has the same rules, doesn’t matter where you go. Hopefully, the CDC acts responsibly and acts quickly and we raise the capacity, we bring a great facility like this online with the automated testing. We can then get testing per day to about 1000 tests. And then we can calibrate the prioritization to the capacity.”

The $60 million Northwell Laboratory on Long Island, is the most sophisticated private lab in the state and one of the most advanced in the country. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 The Governor also addressed price gouging, which is happening across the state and the nation, “symptomatic of fear.”

“It’s unethical, exploitative of fear and illegal,” he said. “To make a few extra bucks on hand sanitizer, they would jeopardize their license to do business. There is an increased penalty for price gouging.” He said that consumers can call a hot line, that state police  are investigating and the state Attorney General has the power to prosecute.

The state’s Division of Consumer Protection has created an online consumer complaint form, where New Yorkers can report suspected price gouging or concerns about improper delivery of quantity. (Consumers who wish to file a complaint can visit https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.)

Also, travel insurance companies and travel agents will offer New York residents and businesses the ability to purchase coverage when making travel plans that would allow them to cancel a trip for any reason, including for reasons related to COVID-19.

The Department of Financial Services issued guidance allowing travel agents and travel insurers to offer this type of coverage after DFS received consumer complaints that such polices were not available in New York State. This new action is designed to provide reassurance to New York businesses and residents who are seeking to make plans that may involve travel to locations that are not currently under travel advisories due to COVID-19.

Six global and national insurance companies have agreed to offer “cancel for any reason” coverage to travelers, including: Allianz, Nationwide, Starr Indemnity, Berkshire, Crum & Forster, and Zurich.

DFS also directed New York State travel insurance issuers to proactively reach out to individuals and businesses who bought their policies to let them know what is covered. (Read a copy of the DFS Insurance Guidance Letter)

Yesterday, the Governor announced that he declared a state of emergency to help New York more quickly and effectively contain the spread of the virus. The state of emergency declaration allows, among other things:

Expedited procurement of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and other essential resources

Allowing qualified professionals other than doctors and nurses to conduct testing

Expedited procurement of testing supplies and equipment

Expedited personnel onboarding

Expedited leasing of lab space

Allowing EMS personnel to transport patients to quarantine locations other than just hospitals

Providing clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation   

 “We do not want to have to do massive close downs, massive quarantines, and we don’t want members of the vulnerable population getting sick. That is why we are doing what we are doing,” Cuomo said.

“So in sum, CDC let’s move, authorize the State to authorize private labs, get this most sophisticated lab in the State, one of the most sophisticated labs in the country, get this lab to work. Why you wouldn’t makes absolutely no sense.

“And to New Yorkers, we understand the facts. Keep this in perspective. We don’t want a lot of people getting this virus. We don’t want to take more drastic measures. But, if you get the virus, you will get sick, you will recover, you most likely won’t even go to the hospital. And the only the people who we really have to worry about are the vulnerable populations – senior citizens, people with compromised immune systems.

“So keep it all in perspective. I know there’s a whole frenzy about it, the facts do not justify the frenzy, period. The biggest problem we have in this situation is fear, not the virus. The virus we can handle. It’s the fear. And the fear is just unwarranted.”

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Sanders to Trump on Coronavirus: Stop Playing Politics With Our Health and National Security

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous,” declared Senator Bernie Sanders after Trump appointed Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus: 

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous. By picking Vice President Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic, Trump has not only chosen someone completely unqualified, but the president has made clear that he’s more concerned about his own politics than the health and safety of the country.

“In my view, the Trump administration must take immediate action. First, they must replace Mike Pence with an expert on pandemics and disaster response. Second, the Trump administration must stop releasing misleading, unscientific, and false information about whether the coronavirus is controlled or when it will be controlled. Third, they must immediately staff their response team with experts and scientists to help us address a pandemic based on facts – Steve Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow are political cronies, not scientists. In addition, Trump must sign the full $8.5 billion in coronavirus response funding proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer.

“We need a president who does not play politics with our health and national security. Besides passing Medicare for All so everyone can see a doctor or get a vaccine for free, my administration will greatly expand funding for the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health, work with the international community, including with the World Health Organization, and invest in research and technology to make vaccines available quickly,” Sanders stated.

With Latest North Korean Missile Test, Biden Attacks Trump for Foreign Policy Failures

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a hotly contested race for President, attacked Donald Trump for his failed foreign policy in the wake of yet another missile test by North Korea. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a hotly contested race for President, attacked Donald Trump for his failed foreign policy in the wake of yet another missile test by North Korea.  Foreign policy is Biden’s greatest strength among the Democratic rivals for 2020. Here is his statement:

This morning, North Korea fired two missiles in a deliberate attempt to provoke its neighbors and intimidate the United States — again. It was the 12th such test the regime has conducted since May in violation of UN resolutions, and which President Trump has down-played. After the latest round of denuclearization talks collapsed almost immediately in Stockholm earlier this month, these tests are a stark reminder that Donald Trump — a self-proclaimed deal maker — has achieved nothing but a string of spectacular diplomatic failures that are making the American people less safe.    

His “love letters” to murderous dictator Kim Jong Un have delivered little more than made-for-TV moments. North Korea today has more fissile material and more capability than when talks began, and Trump has given away our leverage — including suspending military exercises with our allies and granting Kim co-equal status at two summits with the president of the United States of America — for practically nothing in return. Now a more confident Kim is ticking up the pace of his violations because he believes he can pressure Trump to bend to his will. There is no deal, because there is no strategy and no patience for the kind of tough, hard diplomacy that actually produces results.

It’s a pattern we see over and over again. Donald Trump talks a big game, promises the greatest deal ever, then gives away America’s best negotiating tools in exchange for a photo op for himself. He only cares about his own self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. And every single time, it’s the American people who end up paying. 

He pulled us out of the successful Iran nuclear deal, promising he’d get a better one. He hasn’t. And now, Iran has taken its nuclear program out of the deep-freeze and ramped up its aggressive acts across the region — and Trump has no strategy to deal with these predictable responses.

He pulled us out of the Paris climate accord and dismisses climate change as a hoax. In less than a week, we will officially notify our departure from Paris, even as California is on fire and states throughout the Midwest are still recovering from record flooding over the summer.

He scuttled negotiations with the Taliban that might have opened the door to a peace settlement, reportedly because he didn’t get the Camp David moment of glory he wanted. Meanwhile he’s significantly weakened our negotiating position by imposing a possibly politically-motivated timeline for removing our troops from Afghanistan, without extracting any concessions from the Taliban in return.

His vaunted Middle East peace deal has yet to emerge. He gave away our strongest asset to take on ISIS by precipitously withdrawing our troops from Northeast Syria. He promised to get tough with China, saying trade wars were “good and easy to win.” But at more than a year in, what do we have to show for it? Nothing but pain for American farming and manufacturing, and vague promises that would only restore trade levels with China back to where they were before Trump’s irresponsible trade war.

The American people can’t afford four more years of Donald Trump’s art of no deals.

Biden: Baghdadi Was Win for National Security Professionals But Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy Makes Nation Vulnerable to Terrorism

Vice President Joe Biden on the assassination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, praised the skill and commitment of our military, intelligence, and national security professionals “beyond compare,” but criticized Donald Trump saying, “He has no strategy for securing our nation against terrorist threats. He has no strategy for anything. Every day that Donald Trump directs American national security is a dangerous day for the United States.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, candidate for the 2020 candidate for President, issued a statement criticizing Trump’s “lack of strategy to secure our nation against terrorist threats.”

The successful operation to take Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi off the battlefield was a win for American national security. And it’s an important reminder of the skill and commitment of our military, intelligence, and national security professionals. They are beyond compare. 
 
I’m glad President Trump ordered the mission. But as more details of the raid emerge, it’s clear that this victory was not due to Donald Trump’s leadership. It happened despite his ineptitude as Commander-in-Chief. 

It’s been reported that Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw our troops from northern Syria forced the planning for the mission to be accelerated and the timeline compressed. His erratic behavior made it harder and more dangerous for the special forces carrying it out. And they had to fly through territory that is now hostile to the U.S., taking fire along the way—including territory we controlled just weeks ago. 

Trump has also made it less likely we will be able to successfully replicate a mission like this in the future. The operation leveraged a limited presence of U.S. counterterrorism capabilities in the region, which he keeps trying to dismantle. It was made possible by the work of intelligence professionals, who he has relentlessly attacked. It relied on allies he has belittled, undermined, and in some cases betrayed and abandoned.  

Trump’s total disregard for our alliances and partnerships endanger any future intelligence sharing or cooperation. In fact, the first people he saw fit to thank after our brave troops were the Russians and the Iranian-backed Syrian government. All this makes us less safe and less prepared for whatever terrorist leader emerges next.
 
And make no mistake, the threat is not gone. One man does not constitute an organization, and Trump has opened a path for ISIS to reconstitute itself under new leadership by withdrawing troops from the region. In doing so, he has given up our best asset to keep the pressure on ISIS during a dangerous period of organizational chaos. His fixation on keeping troops in the region to defend the oil fields betrays his true priorities—profit seeking—and will surely serve as a tool for future terrorist recruitment. And with his decision to slash humanitarian assistance to the region, it’s more likely that ISIS will be able to insinuate itself back into areas where we had successfully rooted it out. 

There is a difference between deploying hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the Middle East indefinitely, and keeping small numbers of special operations and intelligence assets in place to maintain local partnerships and keep pressure on terrorists. That’s the smart, strong, and sustainable strategy we pioneered during the Obama-Biden Administration. That’s the effective policy we put in place, which laid the groundwork to end ISIS’s territorial caliphate. That’s the way we built the very relationships that ultimately delivered this victory.
 
Now, Trump wants to tear it all down and walk away.
 
He has no strategy for securing our nation against terrorist threats. He has no strategy for anything. Every day that Donald Trump directs American national security is a dangerous day for the United States.