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Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appeared yesterday at Fortune magazine's "Most Powerful Women Summit," an event that had lost some participants, like Hillary Clinton and singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, because who wants to be onstage with an engineer of concentration camps? Fortunately, she was interviewed by "PBS NewsHour" correspondent Amna Nawaz, who didn't let Nielsen get away with any doubletalk -- or rather, tried not to let Nielsen get away with doubletalk, although every effort to fact check the former gulag chief was met by more bafflegab.

The Guardian notes the conference was "attended by people who paid a $13,500 fee to join Fortune's Most Powerful Women membership." Well worth it, since they all got their names listed in a handsome leatherbound book and received a certificate suitable for framing. That kind of thing looks very impressive to college admissions officers, we hear.


Here's the video, if you can stand 15 minutes of constant lying and spin from a capable evader of facts.

WATCH: Kirstjen Nielsen does not regret 'enforcing the law' that led to family separations youtu.be

Nawaz got right to the only reason anyone will ever remember Nielsen in the future, asking whether she regretted signing off on the DHS policy memo that specifically called for taking children away from their parents, to "deter" illegal border crossings.

Nielsen ignored the question the first three times, but eventually got to it. First, she had to address those who had boycotted the event, which made her sad, because "from my view, these issues are so important that we really need more voices" to discuss whether putting children in cages is a good idea, so we can be "come together to solve the problem, and not work on taking people apart." Taking families apart was a necessary deterrent to immigration, while being mean to the architects of that policy is unhelpful.

Then Nielsen moved into the approved Trump talking point: US immigration laws and border facilities were designed for Old Illegal Immigration, when most border crossers were from Mexico, so dealing with asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America was hard, and shame on Congress for not fixing it. None of which got at why she signed off on family separation.

In another feint away from the question, Nielsen said the Justice Department sort of sprung the "zero tolerance" policy on DHS before anyone was ready for it, and gosh, the law is the law and DHS just had to comply by jailing parents, who had broken the law! As a result, the kids had to be placed in the care of shelters, administered by Health and Human Services, but what a shame, it turns out poor record-keeping meant returning the kids to their parents was much harder than anyone anticipated.

All of that is a load of coyote scat, mind you. Internal DHS memos show that Homeland Security was coordinating the policy with Justice in late 2017, and Nielsen signed off on the policy in April 2018. All the memos specifically discuss the "deterrent" effect of taking kids from their parents. It wasn't a surprise, it was the plan, and as HHS admitted earlier this year, family separations were well underway long before the formal announcement of the "zero tolerance" policy in May 2018. (Last week, we finally got a number -- at least 1,250 kids taken from their parents before it was official policy.)

And, as she has all along, Nielsen insisted that there was never any intent to separate families (please ignore the memos!), only a plan to "enforce the law," which had the side effect of taking kids away. Even outside the administration, Nielsen remains loyal to the official line -- again and again throughout the interview. Not a policy, just a thing that happened, you see.

Ultimately, though, on Nawaz's fourth try, Nielsen eventually got around to answering whether she regretted signing off on the policy. You can already guess her answer, unless you've been tweeting in the back of the class:

I don't regret enforcing the law, because I took an oath to do that, as did everybody at the Department of Homeland Security. We don't make the laws. We asked Congress to change the law [to allow indefinite detention of kids with their parents -- Dok]

What I do wish had worked a lot better were the coordination and information flow were simply insufficient for that number of people coming. It's heartbreaking that any family felt at any time that they had to cross the border illegally because it is a terrible, dangerous journey.

She then added one more whopper, claiming that the very unfortunate lack of information coordination was the reason Donald Trump issued an executive order to end "zero tolerance." Again, bullshit: all the evidence suggests there simply was no plan to ever reunite the families, and in case people have forgotten, the executive order immediately followed the public horror at the leaked recording of children in a border facility crying for their parents. It was kind of a big deal, not that Nielsen acknowledged it then, or even now.

Nielsen even insisted that prior administrations had also "enforced the law" exactly like her DHS had, but that the number of families had greatly increased. Again, bullshit -- only children at risk of abuse were taken away. Similarly, Nielsen brushed off questions about her claim before Congress that the only parents deported without their kids had all voluntarily agreed to deportation while leaving their kids here. Heavens, no, hundreds of parents weren't tricked into signing away their rights. The only ones saying otherwise were criminals who illegally crossed the border.

As for her current work as an informal adviser to Donald Trump, Nielsen got applause from the crowd of Corporate Achievers when she said there's nothing wrong at all with it, because why do you hate capitalism? "Are you telling every CEO in here that they should never ever advise the government on how to make something work?" (Also, please hire Kirstjen Nielsen to do cybersecurity, because that's what she really wants to talk about, why can't we talk about that?)

Despite the organizers' claims that we need to hear from "all perspectives," we don't see the value in including Kirstjen Nielsen, when even an interlocutor as well-versed on the issues as Nawaz can't get the VIP guest to depart even a little from the bullshit talking points. May as well just interview a MAGA hat on a chair.

As long as the hat paid its $13K.

[Guardian / PBS NewsHour on YouTube / Fortune / Daily Beast]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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