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Former Bernie Sanders Consultant Arrested for Planting Weapons Inside of Jail in Order to Break Inmates out of Prison

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Fox News reported that a former consultant for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign was arrested for allegedly planting loaded weapons and ammunition inside a Tennessee corrections facility.

This plot was apparently hatched to break inmates out of the jail, according to authorities.

Criminal justice reform advocate Alex Friedmann, who was not a prisoner but allegedly was trying to help inmates break out when the facility opened, was arrested on February 18, 2020 on one count of felony vandalism.

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However, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said at a press conference on February 19, 2020 that the allegations are much larger

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The Nashville detention center was supposed to be opened on April 2020 but was postponed after the man was arrested, according to the Tennessean.

“Throughout the last several weeks it was discovered that Mr. Friedmann, over many months, had developed and implemented an extremely deliberate – and in my opinion evil – plan,” Hall said at the press conference, which the local NBC affiliate WSMV broadcasted. “Understand, this plan went far beyond vandalism. Ultimately it included planting various tools, weapons, security equipment throughout this facility. All designed to assist in a massive escape plan.”

Hall proceeded to describe how the weapons involved in the case were loaded guns and ammunition.

“What disturbed me most is not that this was about an escape,” he stated. “It was also about loss of life.”

Friedmann worked with the 2016 presidential campaign of Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders as a consultant advising him on criminal justice issues. His advice played a role in Sanders’s decision to introduce a bill that would undermine private prisons. Back in 2015, Friedmann told The Atlantic the bill did not go far enough to get rid of private prisons.

“It appears to be more for political purposes than to actually address the many problems in our criminal justice system,” Friedmann said.

Sheriff Hall revealed that the arrest came following an investigation of another case involving Friedmann, who was arrested in January for attempted burglary charges. He was allegedly masquerading as a construction worker to enter another detention center on multiple occasions, stealing keys, and making an outline of the center’s layout. The detention center was still under construction at the time.

According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, corrections officials noticed on December 30, 2019 that two keys were missing. They reviewed surveillance footage and caught someone disguised as a construction worker who matched Friedmann’s description stealing a key ring, then coming back and replacing it. Two keys still ended up missing.

Friedmann, previously the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor of its Prison Legal News publication, was out on bail after he posted a $2,500 bond.

Friedmann’s attorney Ben Raybin told Fox News that it was “important to clarify that the new vandalism charge stems from alleged conduct arising last year, and not any recent actions occurring after his previous arrest.” He noted that the keys were returned to the sheriff’s office and that Friedmann has cooperated with authorities without any problems.

“Mr. Friedmann surrendered himself immediately after being advised of the new charge,” Raybin commented.

Friedmann is currently in custody on a $2.5 million bail bond. His will appear in court on February 26, with an April 6 court date set for his previous arrest case.

Big League National Security

Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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