TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

In the News

  • Ebola in the U.S.A.
  • Felon with gun in elevator with Obama
  • Obama didn’t know
  • Secret Service director: “Mistakes were made”
  • Spox: WH backs Secret Service
  • Spox: “Conflicting facts can emerge”
  • Hong Kong expects huge National Day protests
  • Netanyahu at WH today: Fireworks?
  • Obama huddles on ISIS
  • Obama and Modi: Meh
  • Sports spats

Ebola in the U.S.A.
• The first traveler to have brought Ebola to the U.S. on a passenger plane and the first in whom the virus has been diagnosed outside of Africa took a commercial flight from Liberia that landed in Dallas on 20 Sept, the CDC reported Tuesday (NYT, me)
• The man, who was visiting relatives in the U.S., wasn’t ill during the flight, U.S. health officials said at a presser Tuesday evening. He was screened before the flight and had no fever. Because Ebola isn’t contagious until symptoms develop, there’s “zero” chance that the patient infected anyone else on the flight, Dr Thomas Frieden, CDC director said
• A team from the CDC is being dispatched to Dallas to help trace any contacts who may have been infected, including family members, health workers etc. Few. If someone tests positive, they’re put in isolation and treated and their contacts are traced for 21 days. The process is repeated until there are no new cases


• Dr Frieden wouldn’t disclose flight info or say whether the patient is an American citizen. He said the man wasn’t a health worker and officials had no idea how he became infected. Doctors and the patient’s family are discussing whether to try experimental treatments. The patient is critically ill

• Dr Frieden briefed President Obama by telephone Tuesday afternoon. The Obama admin was working to prevent a public panic using social media. “You cannot get Ebola through the air, water or food in the U.S.,” the WH tweeted Tuesday night


Felon With Gun in Elevator With Obama!


• At some point, it just has to be made up. But no! A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a 16 Sept trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident (WaPo, WashExam)
• The contractor aroused Secret Service agents’ concerns when he became upset and didn’t comply with their orders that he stop using a phone camera to videotape the president in the elevator (OMG). Agents questioned him separately from Obama and then (only then?) used a national database check to learn of his criminal history
• When a supervisor from the private security firm approached and learned of the agents’ concerns, the contractor was fired on the spot and agreed to hand over his gun – surprising agents, who hadn’t realized he was armed during his encounter with Obama (what can you say at this point)

• Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said he was appalled when whistleblowers came forward to him with this account. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family. His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”

Obama Didn’t Know


• It appears Obama wasn’t aware of how security standards fell down in his trip. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said she briefs the president “100%” of the time when his personal security has been breached, only once this year – fence jumper (hmmm). A Secret Service spox said the agency would provide a response soon (that’ll take some crafting)
• Basic protocol for keeping the president safe from strangers when he travels is that in close quarters or small events, when the president is on the road, all of the people who could have access to him must be checked in advance for weapons and any criminal history
• Under a security program called the Arm’s Reach Program, they’re run through several databases, including a national criminal info registry, and records kept by the CIA, NSA and DoD among others. Anyone found to have a criminal history, mental illness or other indications of risk is barred from entry
• Local police and federal officers aren’t checked the same way, with the Secret Service presuming they meet safety standards because of their employment. But private security contractors would be checked, two former agents who worked on advance planning for presidential trips said (not awfully well, though, apparently)


Secret Service Director: “Mistakes Were Made”


• Secret Service Director Julia Pierson told a House committee Tuesday that it was “unacceptable” that a security lapse allowed Omar Gonzalez, an armed man, to scale the WH fence and break into the inner chambers of the building (Hill, WaPo, NYT, Politico, TRNS, Fox, TRNS, CNN, me)


• “It’s clear that our security plan was not properly executed,” Pierson said during a tense House Oversight Committee hearing. “This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility.” She said the agency is reviewing its protocols


• Rep Stephen Lynch (D-MA) lashed into Pierson, saying he doesn’t believe the Secret Service takes seriously their duty to protect the president. He accused the agency of a cover-up. “I wish to God that you protected the president like you’re protecting your reputation right now,” Lynch said
• Pierson repeatedly acknowledged that “mistakes were made,” a phrase that failed to capture the anger and frustration of many of the lawmakers (and which would have been powerful if she had said “we made mistakes,” making it an active not a passive statement and including herself in the Secret Service)


• Gonzalez could have gotten even farther into the WH had it not been for an off-duty Secret Service agent who was coincidentally still in the house and leaving for the night. He was coming off duty and happened to be walking through when chaos broke out… (WaPo)
• Pierson confirmed that the number of fence jumpers is on the rise and that there have been six people who have jumped over so far this year, and a total of 16 in the last five years She said the agency is coming to grips with lower staff levels
• “I worry about protocol. If you project weakness, you invite attacks,” said Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). “Don’t let somebody get close to the president … don’t let them get close to the WH, ever. If they have to take action that’s lethal, I will have their back.”
• The hearing had lighter moments. Always-quotable Rep John Mica (R-FL), who held up an ADT sign, also suggested, “We could even put up some vegetation barriers, simple things, like how about Spanish bayonet? You jump that fence and you’ll get quite a greeting when you hit the ground.” (what about geese?)
• Chair Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) tersely questioned Pierson about the inconsistencies between the official reports and the WaPo stories. And Chaffetz peppered the director as to why a press release issued by the agency praised the officers for using restraint

• Rep John Mica (R-FL) holds up a print-out of an ADT sign. “This is a – it’s not very costly. You can subscribe. But that can be installed. It’s a simple technology device, any private company or system can do that,” he lectured Pierson

• “There has been a lot of information in this case. That’s why we are doing a robust review,” Pierson said. “I had read the press release before it went out. I do think in the totality of the circumstances, … that these officers did use restraint. I do not think the security plan was properly executed.” Lawmakers disagreed


• “I want to be crystal clear: You make a run and a dash for the WH, we’re gonna take you down,” Chaffetz said. / “What concerns me most about this report is agents said they were hesitant,” said Rep Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the committee’s ranking member
• “I don’t sense from you, Director Pierson, a sense of outrage, observed Rep Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “A sense of mission that you want to reform and correct this cascading set of mistakes that led to, potentially, a catastrophe.” Pierson’s mild reply: “I’m sorry you don’t get that sense from me.”


• Only 19 committee members showed up to the hearing Tuesday, including two who aren’t on the 40-member panel of 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats. Nine Democrats and eight Republicans returned to DC from the campaign trail for the hearing. Three of them live less than an hour from DC. Pretty lame showing• Issa and Cummings said at the end of the hearing that an independent investigation was needed beyond an internal review. “The jury is still out” on Pierson’s leadership, said Cummings. Pierson also had a classified session after the hearing

• Here’s a cool GIF that Vox created, using info from the WaPo article about Gonzalez’s route. You literally follow his path through the WH


WH Intruder Indicted


Accused WH fence-jumper Omar Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday. A three-count federal grand jury indictment accuses the Army veteran of unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly weapon, a federal charge


• He also was charged with two violations of DC law – carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home and unlawful possession of ammunition in the 19 Sept incident. Taken together, he could be looking at 16 years. Gonzalez is scheduled to appear today in U.S. District Court in DC


Spox: WH Backs Secret Service


• WH spox Josh Earnest said Tuesday that President Obama continues to have confidence in the Secret Service, even as new details emerge about the latest breach. Earnest said that the president’s confidence “absolutely” extends to Secret Service Director Julia Pierson because she’s shown “a commitment to leading an agency with a very difficult mission.”
• Earnest wouldn’t say when Obama first learned that the man who climbed a gate and entered the WH on 19 Sept was able to reach the East Room, and not just the inside of the North Portico doors, as the Secret Service has first publicly claimed (more to the point – when did Michelle learn of it?) (Hill, Politico, me)


• Suggesting waning patience for the press shop at the Secret Service, Earnest said, “It is my view that it is in the interest of the agency in question and all of you
[press] for the information to be accurate and released as soon as possible.”• Graphic: Route taken by the intruder inside the WH (NYT) and here’s a color map: WH State Floor plan

“Conflicting Facts Can Emerge”


• Earnest dodged questions about whether he believed the Secret Service had deliberately misled reporters, saying the contradictions likely reflected the “chaotic” aftermath of the incident


• The top WH spox did say that, personally, he had “never encountered a scenario” when he concluded it was appropriate for a spox to deliberately mislead the press. (At one point, he used the delicious phrase “conflicting facts can emerge”)
• Earnest said Pierson is “someone who took responsibility for the incident that occurred about 10 days ago. She also took responsibility for ensuring that the necessary reforms were implemented to ensure it never happens again. That is a sign of leadership.”
• He also said that Pierson hadn’t offered her resignation to the president over the incident (resigning can be considered a sign of leadership, too)


Hong Kong Expects Huge National Day Protests


• As Hong Kong braces for huge pro-democracy rallies today, leader CY Leung has urged protesters to back electoral reforms set out by Beijing. Speaking early on the National Day holiday, Leung said Hong Kong should work with Beijing to achieve progress (BBC, People’s Daily, me)
• Leung, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has rejected campaigners’ calls for him to stand down. Chinese President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed Beijing’s control over the territory


• Addressing officials, Leung said that it was better to have the right to vote than not. “We hope that all sectors of the community will work with the govt in a peaceful, lawful, rational and pragmatic manner to … make a big step forward in our constitutional development.”
• Beijing ruled last month that it would allow Hong Kong people to elect their next leader in 2017. But the choice of candidates will be restricted to those approved by a pro-Beijing committee. A rumbling protest campaign ballooned into mass street demonstrations at the weekend. At least three key parts of the city are blockaded
• Tuesday, State Dept spox Jen Psaki said that SecState John Kerry would discuss the protests with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when the pair meet today. Meanwhile, in Beijing Tuesday night, the big story in the People’s Daily on Twitter was: “10,000 pigeons go through anal security check for suspicious objects Tue, ready to be released on National Day on Wed.”


• Vid: Stunning drone footage reveals how massive Hong Kong’s protests really are – mind-blowingly beautiful (Mother Jones, me)
Netanyahu at WH Today: Fireworks?


• President Obama and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the WH today for a new round in the often-tense relationship. Obama is expected to try to find common ground with Israel, a traditionally close ally, on Iran, the Middle East and the U.S.-led fight against ISIS ( Reuters, me)


• Netanyahu has set Iran as his top priority in the talks. He’ll seek Obama’s assurance that he will stick to his pledge that “no deal is better than a bad deal” in Tehran’s nuclear talks with world powers aimed at reaching a final agreement in November, an Israeli official said


• While Obama probably will try to ease Netanyahu’s suspicions about diplomacy with Iran, the president will stop short of meeting the Israeli demand that Tehran be required to completely dismantle its nuclear capability under any comprehensive accord, a U.S. official said (fly on wall)


• There could also be lingering strains between Obama and Netanyahu in their first face-to-face meeting since the collapse of U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians in April. Washington has blamed both sides, but Israel has bristled over U.S. complaints that continued settlement building in the West Bank contributed to the diplomatic failure (it did)


• There’s little expectation that Obama will push for renewed negotiations after a 50-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas. They’ll make brief statements to a small pool of journos after their meeting – always fun for the press to watch the body language and hope for a Netanyahu lecture


• Vid: Sen Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) new harsh ad attacks his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Alison Lundergan Grimes, for breaking her promise to serve her full term in office as SecState of KY. It’s a killer


Obama Huddles on ISIS


• President Obama met Tuesday evening with his national security team amid reports that ISIS was advancing toward the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani on the border between Turkey and Syria (Hill, Yahoo, CNN, me)


• The meeting came as CNN reported that Turkish soldiers and tanks were massing at the border amid concerns about a flood of refugees entering the country ahead of advancing ISIS fighters. Separately, Britain’s Royal Air Force completed its first airstrikes against ISIS targets within Iraq Tuesday


• The latest round of fighting around Kobani – along with intense fighting on the outskirts of Baghdad – has raised new questions about the efficacy of the U.S. strategy to counter ISIS. WH senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said, “The Pentagon believes the airstrikes we’ve taken have been effective, but it’s going to take some time.”


• Meanwhile, the WH has acknowledged for the first time that a much-publicized policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there’s a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties doesn’t cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq


• National Security Council spox Caitlin Hayden said in an email that the standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time. That description – outside areas of active hostilities – simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.” (seeing dead children actually, but…)


• Vid: Warning – graphic. After a U.S. airstrike in Syria, images of badly injured children and attempts to dig out civilians from rubble


Obama and Modi: Meh


• They got on. They chatted about technology over crisped halibut and basmati rice (President Obama) and warm water (Indian PM Narendra Modi – fasting). Yet after meetings Monday and Tuesday, they emerged with expressions of good will but little in the way of concrete deals (WaPo, NYT, AP, AFP, me)


• Their talks yielded no resolutions to thorny disputes over taxes, trade and civilian energy cooperation that have divided the U.S. and India in recent years. They renewed a 10-year defense cooperation framework, a pact to cooperate on maritime security and several clean-energy initiatives, also to improve intel sharing etc


• Modi had been denied a visa to visit the U.S. because of accusations that he failed to stop religious violence in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister there, which took the lives of more than than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Thursday, a human rights group in Manhattan filed a lawsuit against him in federal court – genocide


• In a striking gesture that Modi said gave their relation a “new dimension,” Obama left the WH on Tuesday to give the PM a personal tour of the King memorial, recalling the president’s own visit in 2010 to the onetime home in Mumbai of Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian champion of democracy and nonviolence


Sports Spats


• The FCC Tuesday voted unanimously to kill off its four-decade old sports blackout rules over the fierce objections of the NFL. “It’s a simple fact: the federal govt should not be party to sports teams keeping their fans from viewing the games, period,” said Chairman Tom Wheeler (Hill, NYT, TRNS, me)


• The NFL requires local broadcast stations, such as CBS, to black out games that don’t sell out. The old rules extended to cable or satellite companies by banning them from airing any game that’s blacked out on local broadcast TV. The NFL threatened to go to pay-per-view, but it looks like it won’t happen – the money’s in the ads


• The NFL said Husain Abdullah of the Kansas City Chiefs, who’s a Muslim, was mistakenly penalized when he knelt to pray after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game Monday night. Players routinely gesticulate and thank God after scoring touchdowns. Tom Tebow knelt on one knee after scoring


• Players, however, can be penalized for celebrating on the ground. But the rule book doesn’t specify what constitutes a celebration. Victor Cruz doing a salsa dance in the end zone isn’t prohibited because he’s standing up. But a player who does a back flip in the end zone and ends up on the ground could be penalized


• The FCC is mulling whether TV and radio stations should be banned from repeatedly saying the name of the Washington Redskins after receiving a petition to deny renewing the license of DC sports station WWXX-FM because it “deliberately, repeatedly and unnecessarily broadcasts the ‘R*dskins’ during most of its broadcasting day”
• In a thriller of a game, the Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 9-8 in 12 breathless innings Tuesday night. The Royals advance to meet the Los Angeles Angels in a division series starting Thursday (NYT, ESPN, me)


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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, James Cullum and Washington Desk contributed to this report

The Talk Radio News Service is the only information, news booking and host service dedicated to serving the talk radio community. TRNS maintains a Washington office that includes White House, Capitol Hill and Pentagon staffed bureaus, and a New York office with a United Nations staffed bureau. Talk Radio News Service has permanent access to every breaking newsevent in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.