At a National Security Council meeting earlier this week, President Barack Obama and his senior advisers reviewed the consequences of possible airstrikes in Iraq, a bolder push to train Syria’s moderate rebel factions and various political initiatives to break down the sectarian divisions that have stirred Iraq’s Sunni Muslims against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.


Senior administration officials familiar with the discussions say what is clear to the president and his advisers is that any long-term plan to slow the progress of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as the insurgency is known, will have far-reaching consequences on both sides of the increasingly inconsequential desert border that once divided the two countries.

Although spreading faster in Iraq, the advance of ISIS could also force the administration to reconsider its calculations in Syria, where Obama has taken a cautious approach, declining to arm moderate rebel factions or conduct airstrikes on government airstrips, as some advisers have recommended.

“The key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens inside the country, working with moderate Syrian opposition, working with an Iraqi government that is inclusive, and us laying down a more effective counterterrorism platform that gets all the countries in the region pulling in the same direction,” Obama said at a news conference Thursday. “Rather than try to play whack-a-mole wherever these terrorist organizations may pop up, what we have to do is to be able to build effective partnerships.”

In thinking through options, administration officials say they are drawing on the history of the U.S. experience in Afghanistan and of its own management in recent years of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Both cases hold lessons, some learned the hard way, with bearing on the present crisis.

Administration officials are also weighing a set of strategic and legal complications that in key ways will force U.S. policymakers to plan as if the border between the countries still exists, even though for the insurgency’s purposes it does not.

“Everybody here recognizes that you can’t silo what is happening in Iraq from what is happening in Syria,” said one administration official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal thinking. “There’s no doubt the border is melting away. But while we look at the two in tandem, our responses in each place will be very different.”

Maliki has asked the administration to carry out airstrikes against Islamist insurgents in Iraq, an invitation that administration officials say would make intervention legal under international law. Obama has yet to decide if such strikes would be effective inside Iraq and what the consequences would be in Syria.

No such invitation exists in Syria, even though moderate rebel groups fighting Assad would welcome U.S. military support.

The U.S. training program for Syria’s moderate rebel forces, also at odds with ISIS, is taking place in Jordan under CIA supervision. That could expand under legislation pending before Congress, which would authorize the administration to allow the military to take over training, greatly expanding its scope, and potentially locating some of it inside Syria.

Officials have concluded that, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, where a porous border provided Islamist fighters with a refuge from U.S. military pursuit for years, the boundary between Iraq and Syria presents a similar challenge.

U.S. drones have been deployed, in part, to address the problem in Pakistan. But that has raised sovereignty complaints in Pakistan, legal challenges in the United States and human rights concerns over civilians killed in the strikes. Obama is considering drone use now in Iraq.

“Any strategy that looks at questions on one side of a border is only going to be successful in pushing problems to the other side of the border,” said another administration official involved in the discussions. “These are not two different fights.”

With ISIS on the march and U.S.-trained Iraqi forces abandoning posts across the north of Iraq, Republicans have renewed their criticism of Obama’s decisions on both sides of the border. But the circumstances have changed over time as the Arab Spring has unfolded unpredictably across the region.

The rapid military gains of the brutal Islamist insurgency has challenged Obama’s postwar plan for Iraq, which relied primarily on slow but steady political progress that would help bring together the long-competing Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite sects in governing.

The Islamists now control much of Iraq’s ethnically mixed north and Sunni Muslim west, regions that bump up against the Syrian border and have long served as transit routes for guns and fighters to and from both countries. The group has seized the oil-dependent nation’s key refinery and remains, for the moment, on the northern and western edges of Baghdad.

“Our focus now is on how we cauterize what is happening in Iraq, how we encourage political responsibility by the Iraqi government, and what we can do to address the source of the threat, which is in Syria,” said one of the U.S. officials.

Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, drawing sharp criticism from some congressional Republicans, who warned that the country was not yet ready to defend itself. Maliki had refused to grant U.S. forces immunity from Iraqi prosecution — a basic element of any troop basing agreement — beyond that year.

Former administration officials say the intelligence assessment regarding Iraq at the time of the U.S. withdrawal predicted that the country would remain secure and stable, although with two important caveats.

The first was that Iraq’s stability could be severely threatened by an “external shock” to the region, as one former administration official involved in the decision put it. Syria’s civil war exploded the following year, creating a refugee crisis of historic proportions.

The second involved Maliki and his willingness, after decades of persecution under the Sunni-dominated dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, to open up the senior ranks of the government and of the military to other sects, namely Sunnis. The administration backed Maliki over Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who drew Arab and Kurdish votes, following the 2010 elections in part with the understanding he would do so.

American intelligence officials at the time of the withdrawal also warned that any indications of revolt from the Sunni tribes in Iraq’s western Anbar province, which borders Syria, should be understood as a significant warning sign and threat to the country’s stability.

Those tribes worked with U.S. intelligence agencies and the military in the war’s later phases to roll back Sunni insurgents, including those aligned with ISIS. Antigovernment demonstration in Anbar flourished last year.

“The intelligence community was both right and wrong — or wrong for the right reasons,” said Colin Kahl, a Georgetown University professor who was responsible for Iraq policy at the Pentagon at the time. “They were wrong to say there would only likely be an uptick in violence, but they were right in identifying the two reasons Iraq could be severely threatened. And both of those things happened.”

Kahl said Maliki resisted proposals for any U.S. forces to remain, including options that called for more than 10,000 troops and would have maintained a presence along the sectarian fault line dividing the autonomous Kurdish province from the rest of northern Iraq.

U.S. troops stood with Kurdish and Arab soldiers along the line for years. That region has emerged again as a Sunni militant hotbed, and a grave threat to Maliki’s government, in the current conflict.

“It was a very visible presence of Americans, that is, Americans serving as peacekeepers between Arabs and Kurds,” Kahl said. “Partly Maliki believed it would give him more leverage with the Kurds if we left, and partly because he didn’t want Americans policing Iraqi ethnic boundaries.”

Administration officials say their planning with both Iraq and Syria is taking into account Assad and Maliki, a pair of problematic leaders with different degrees of political legitimacy.

Maliki won more votes in the recent election than he did four years ago, and the administration, uneasily, is supporting his rule. In Syria, though, Obama called nearly three years ago for Assad to step down, saying he had lost his legitimacy to govern the country. More than 140,000 Syrians have been killed since then.

Administration officials say that, even though internal concerns are growing that Maliki will be able to lead the country through this crisis, there is a reluctance to withdraw backing for the prime minister given his public support and lack of any other obvious alternatives.

As one official put it: “We don’t want to call for Maliki to step down, then spend years trying to figure out how to get him to.”

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A new study shows that Thompson is far from alone.


Nearly 1 of every 10 board positions at health-care companies is held by an academic-affiliated person, ranging from medical school deans to hospital heads to professors, according to an analysis of 2013 data published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.

In an age where even relatively small, one-time payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors have come under intense scrutiny because they may skew prescribing practices or research, the study reveals that some of the most well-paid and influential leaders in medicine are sitting on the boards of publicly traded health-care companies, where they are richly compensated.

“These people who are on boards are among the most famous, the most sought-after academics in the country. At the same time, they are making very large incomes, based on their positions, so what they’re doing is simply padding their incomes, with a lot of extra money,” said Jerome Kassirer, editor in chief emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine. “I think it’s a bad idea, and I think it’s widespread.”

For years, it’s been known that academics served on drug company boards, but the new study chronicled just how prevalent and remunerative these relationships are throughout the health-care industry. The board members received $193,000, on average, and owned more than 50,000 shares of stock. The study found 279 academically affiliated leaders on the boards of 442 companies – including 17 chief executives of health systems, 11 vice presidents or executive officers, 15 university leaders, and eight medical school deans or presidents. Collectively, they received $55 million in compensation and owned nearly 60 million shares of stock.

“Part of the impetus for this is it’s remarkable that my $15 lunch with a pharmaceutical company is on a public Web site, if this information is not. It is publicly available, but you have to do a lot of searching and connecting,” said Walid Gellad, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who led the study.

A spokeswoman for Memorial Sloan Kettering said Thompson was out of town giving talks and could not be reached but that his outside activities are reviewed and evaluated by the cancer center’s board – including his board membership with Merck and another company for which he received more than half a million last year, Charles River Laboratories International.

“Although trained as a physician, he does not see patients and does not participate in clinical research or the decisions about which therapeutic agents are included in the hospital formulary,” said Avice Meehan, a spokeswoman for Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The study did not show that these conflicting positions led any professor, hospital chief executive or medical school dean to make choices in the interest of a company they worked for on the side. In fact, the study refrained from even naming any individuals at all. Gellad said that was because his team sought instead to map the scope of potential influence that exists at the very highest levels of academic medicine and not to limit the attention to a single case. Among medical schools that receive taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health, 19 of the top 20 best-funded schools had a leader, professor or trustee represented on a company’s board.

Some argue that these relationships can benefit medical schools and hospitals, especially as they increasingly attempt to work more closely with the industry to bridge the “valley of death” – the gap between basic research and commercial products and drugs.

“Some people will look at this as a good thing, that there’s this kind of interaction between industry and academia,” Gellad said. “We’re talking so much about conflict of interest – let’s talk about all of it, and let’s not leave out a certain part because it involves certain people we don’t like to talk about.”

Kassirer argues that disclosure is not enough, but many medical schools have policies in place to avoid conflicts of interest that tend to lean heavily on disclosure and transparency.

For example, Vanderbilt University Medical Center has had a policy in place since 2009 that requires such relationships to be reviewed by a committee. Gordon Bernard is Vanderbilt’s associate vice chancellor of research and chair of the Pharmaceutical and Therapeutic Use Committee, which makes decisions about the formulary, the approved list of drugs the hospital uses. He is also on the board of directors of Cumberland Pharmaceuticals.

“These activities were long ago institutionally vetted and approved. Dr. Bernard recuses himself from any institutional matters where there could be a potential conflict of interest,” said John Howser, assistant vice chancellor for news and communications.

Cumberland’s proxy statement, however, particularly mentions Bernard’s expertise in this regard as an asset: “The Board believes Dr. Bernard’s medical background is extremely valuable as the Company seeks to continue expanding its pipeline with promising products that offer advancement to patient care and are well-positioned competitively.”

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Shares of Alexion fell the most in five years as analysts questioned whether it was overpaying.


The transaction values Synageva at $230 a share, based on Alexion’s average closing price for the past nine days, the companies said in a statement. That’s more than twice Synageva’s closing price of $95.87 on Tuesday.

Alexion developed a medicine called Soliris, which garnered sales of $2 billion last year, for patients with two rare but life-threatening disorders. The drug is used for a blood ailment known as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause kidney failure. Lexington, Massachusetts-based Synageva has similar drugs in development, including a medicine called Kanuma for the organ-damaging condition known as LAL deficiency.

While the price is “rich,” the deal makes sense, and Kanuma could reach as much as $1.5 billion in annual sales, Geoff Meacham, a Barclays Plc analyst, said Wednesday in a note.

“It raises questions on what hidden value Alexion sees in Synageva’s pipeline,” wrote Asthika Goonewardene, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. “Given the limited contenders in rare diseases, this may also have been a result of a bidding war.”

Alexion has lagged behind the biotech industry’s stock- market surge, with its stock rising 93 percent in the past three years, or about half the increase in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index.

“A recent area of concern for Alexion has been an overt reliance on Soliris and an inability of the Street to see what compelling product(s) are next,” said Hartaj Singh, an analyst at BTIG, in a note.

Along with Kanuma, Alexion’s new drug Strensiq for a metabolic bone disease called hypophosphatasia should eventually help the company broaden its sources of revenue, Singh said.

Alexion is offering $115 in cash and 0.6581 Alexion shares for each share of Synageva, the Cheshire, Connecticut-based company said in the statement. The two companies’ boards backed the transaction and it is expected to be completed by mid-2015.

“Synageva is an ideal strategic and operational fit for Alexion that aligns with what we know well and do well — providing life-transforming therapies to an increasing number of patients with devastating and rare diseases,” David Hallal, chief executive officer of Alexion, said in the statement.

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“You have an opportunity to make a difference in the Republican primary,” Cruz’s father, Rafael, told a woman drinking white wine, a GOP button pinned to her tank top.


This was no rubber chicken dinner in Iowa or New Hampshire; waves lapped the beach behind the handful of activists looking to increase the small number of Republicans in the Virgin Islands and its clout in the presidential election.

With a packed, unpredictable Republican field, several well-funded candidates are playing the long game, betting on the idea that a primary race will stretch well into the spring – and that just as Democrats learned in 2008, amassing support from people in and delegates to the national convention from places traditionally on the sidelines of the primary process could help lead to the nomination.

Presidential candidates are veering far from the traditional campaign trail, stumping in Alaska and Wyoming and sending emissaries to far-flung locals such as Guam and American Samoa early in the primary process.

“You’ve got to chase delegates everywhere. You can’t just pick your spots,” said David Kochel, senior strategist for former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blitzed across the delegate-rich West this summer. Bush has started recruiting delegates in Illinois and New Jersey. Cruz has traveled to Michigan and Wyoming, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has rolled out state chairs in Nebraska, Oregon and Montana. A 2012 rule change makes later contests even more valuable: Now a candidate must win a majority of delegates from eight states in order to have his or her name put forward for nomination.

“To me, it’s like niche farming for delegates,” said Saul Anuzis, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party who is supporting Cruz and is spearheading his hunt for support in unusual places. “We’re looking at this as a marathon, not a sprint.”

Cruz’s campaign says it sees the careful courting of delegates – along with coalescing his base of conservative and religious voters – as a linchpin of its primary strategy. The Texas senator has been pouring time and resources into the delegate-heavy South, where many states vote March 1. But investing in the presidential race in Alabama or Georgia is one thing; devoting campaign attention to Guam, about 8,000 miles from Washington, is something very different.

Cruz’s campaign started dispatching people in August to five U.S. territories to hunt for delegates. Dennis Lennox, a former Michigan county drain commissioner and hockey official with a penchant for bespoke suits, exclusive parties and travel blogging, went to the Pacific territories for more than a month. Along the way, he encountered an uncommon trail hazard: a typhoon. Lennox met with elected and party officials – the Guam Republican chairman threw him a pizza party – and worked to convince anyone he could meet to support Cruz.

Anuzis and Rafael Cruz, a pastor, recently visited the Virgin Islands, where boats bob lazily in turquoise waters, people drive on the left and free shots of rum are offered to travelers getting off flights at the airport in St. Thomas.

The men held political meetings, spoke to gatherings of pastors and made a pit stop at a Catholic school, reminding 17-year-olds that they would be able to vote next year. At a park in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, roosters strutted and crowed nearby as Cruz told two men that he believes the primary is more important than the general election.

Residents of U.S. territories cannot vote for president, but have the ability in the primary to cast ballots for delegates who choose the party nominee at the nominating convention in July.

“Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, have the same vote as Michigan or California. Only in the primary. Only in the nominating process. And you guys have so few people that vote,” Anuzis pitched the group. Bush and Rubio stumped in Puerto Rico earlier this year.

“So if you can get a critical mass of people supporting a candidate, you guys . . . can make a big difference,” he said.

John Canegata, chairman of the Virgin Islands Republican Party, said only a handful of people in this territory of 104,000 are registered as Republicans, and few presidential campaigns have paid attention in the past. Anuzis said that “less than 200” Republicans here voted in the last primary.

“Don’t take our vote for granted,” said Canegata, who is working to recruit and organize the islands’ small number of Republicans. According to FEC filings, the Virgin Islands Republican Party has paid small fundraising commissions to Anuzis’s company, Coast to Coast Strategies.

Canegata said he has heard from representatives from the campaigns of Paul and Ben Carson. He said Bush met with Virgin Islands Republicans at a meeting in Arizona; Bush has also met with officials from Guam.

Kochel said Bush’s team has people gathering signatures to get Bush on the ballot in numerous states – he wasthe first to file in Vermont and Kentucky.

“It’s not enough to just go park in one state, win one state and expect that momentum is going to carry you through the long and difficult nominating process,” Kochel said. “You have to have a national organization that is working to get delegates in every state.”

Rand Paul is particularly looking to find delegates in states that caucus, such as Idaho, Utah and Vermont, because, he said, they are easier to organize – a strategy that played a large role in the presidential campaigns of his father, Ron Paul.

Ron Paul won the Virgin Islands in 2012, and his campaign’s Virgin Islands chair is Cruz’s campaign chair.

In 2012, Ron Paul was able to game the delegate system at the Nevada and Maine state conventions, snagging all of their delegates to the national convention in Tampa. There, Paul supporters walked out after a decision to replace some of those delegates. Delegate math sealed Barack Obama’s nomination over Hillary Clinton in 2008, with delegates from Montana and South Dakota, as well as superdelegate endorsements, propelling him to victory.

This year, the Republican National Committee tried to change its calendar and delegate rules to speed the nominating process. That resulted in a deluge of key nominating contests compressed into a short period in March – and the urgency of some candidates to give their campaigns a national reach early.

On the Virgin Islands, organizing and getting people to understand how they can play a role in the presidential race without being able to vote next fall is a challenge.

“I don’t understand the process,” said Julie Rhymer, who heard Rafael Cruz speak and said she would consider changing her party affiliation to Republican to vote for his son.

For Canegata and the Cruz campaign, that means more organization and outreach to current or potential Republicans.

“We’ve been making an effort to get delegates wherever we can,” Anuzis said as rain clouds gathered over the park in Charlotte Amalie. “To some extent, if you just pay attention and ask, it’s more than most other campaigns do.”

Jose A. DelReal and David Weigel contributed to this report.

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Today, at 34, Martinez is once again a prisoner, this time in federal immigration custody at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup, Md.


The government is seeking to deport him, but he has mounted a controversial defense that is being closely watched by human rights experts and lawmakers as his case plays out in the federal courts.

Technically, Martinez is only being held because he is an illegal immigrant; after a decade of living and working quietly in Maryland, he was stopped by police in 2011 for making an illegal left turn and then arrested. But as a repentant former gang member in El Salvador who fled to the United States at age 20, he has requested asylum on the grounds that he deserves permanent protection from his former associates.

If he wins his case, it could dramatically expand U.S. asylum laws that are mostly used to protect victims of political or religious persecution. He has a bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

“I ran away from my country to save my life, and I never did any harm,” Martinez said in Spanish during a telephone interview from the detention center in Jessup. “The gang leaders said we were all brothers, but it was a lie. They just want to use you. Once you’re in, the only way you leave is dead. They already tried to kill me twice, and if I am sent back, they will still be hunting for me.”

Although the chances of former gang members such as Martinez obtaining permanent asylum might appear to be slim, the courts remain divided on the issue. In several recent rulings on his case and two others, federal immigration and appeals courts have given contradictory answers as to whether such people deserve American sanctuary from the violent consequences of their former lives.

One issue is how to decide whether the person is truly repentant; another is the more technical question of how to define a gang. Currently, asylum-seekers must belong to a recognizable class of people who are vulnerable to persecution based on their race, religion, ideology or membership in a “particular social group.” Does a gang qualify as a social group?

Maureen Sweeney, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Maryland’s Carey School of Law, is representing Martinez. She thinks U.S. asylum law should be changed to allow such immigrants to seek protection if they renounce gang life at their peril. Thousands of gang members in the United States have been deported to El Salvador in the past two decades; there is no estimate of how many others have attempted to repudiate their past.

“One foundation of our asylum law is that someone’s conscience should not have to be sacrificed for their safety,” Sweeney said. “The burden of proof in asylum cases is difficult to meet, but if someone can convince a judge they genuinely left a gang and face danger as a result, they have met that burden of proof and should be protected.”

The other side of the argument is that members of violent gangs should never be rewarded, and that granting asylum to those who claim repentance would open the floodgates to predatory immigrants who want to avoid deportation.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, objected strongly to a February court ruling in Martinez’s favor, saying it “encourages fraud and creates a new loophole where gang members can simply claim they are no longer a member of a gang in order to game the immigration system.” The result, he added, would be to “endanger our communities” through the scourge of gang violence.

Despite his off-putting resume and the gang initials MS (for Mara Salvatrucha) tattooed on his stomach when he was 14, Martinez is in some ways a perfect example for his cause.

According to Martinez, he was lured into gang life at a young age, committed no serious crimes and made extraordinary attempts to escape the gang once he realized its coldblooded agenda of extorting money from ordinary people and brutally enforcing members’ fealty.

“They wanted me to take money from people I had known all my life, but I didn’t want to,” he said. As punishment for his change of heart, gang leaders ordered his execution. One group of enforcers stabbed him and left him for dead, he said. After recovering, he fled to a relative’s village, but gang members tracked him down, shot at him and threatened his family.

Finally, he fled to the United States and moved in with his oldest sister, Melva Ordonez, a housecleaner in Baltimore. Last week, Ordonez recounted the hardships and terrors of their childhood — growing up without parents, fleeing from crossfire between Salvadoran soldiers and guerrillas. She left for the United States as soon as she could, while her adolescent brother gravitated to a local gang.

“We all suffered, but we were still innocent back then,” she said. “The gangs seemed to offer so much. They had come from America with their promises and their tattoo machines. But all they really offered was death.”

Still close to Martinez, she visits him often at Jessup. “I don’t justify what he did, but I ask God to help him,” she said. “The gangs are much worse now. I know after 20 years, even 40 years, they will still come after him.”

Martinez’s track record in the United States has been far from flawless. He accumulated multiple traffic citations, missed court dates and filing deadlines after an initial run-in with immigration authorities, and was finally jailed after the 2011 traffic violation. But for a full decade, he also avoided serious trouble and worked steadily — cutting grass, hanging drywall, washing dishes, driving a cab — until his arrest.

His legal case has been protracted and dizzying. Last year, two immigration courts ruled he was not eligible for legal protection, but in January they were overruled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. In that decision, Judge Paul Niemeyer found that Martinez risked being killed if forced to return to El Salvador, and that his earlier gang involvement did not disqualify him from protection.

“Martinez is not a gang member. Rather, the social group he has identified is defined by rejection of gang membership and its attendant violence,” the judge wrote, adding that Martinez had repudiated gang life as a matter of “conscience” and should not be penalized for it.

Two other appeals courts have issued similar rulings, but the 1st Circuit reached an opposite conclusion in October in the case of Kevin Claros, a Salvadoran who came to the United States as a child, spent two years in a violent Latino gang in Boston, and claimed he feared reprisals from related gang members if deported to his homeland.

Although they found Claros “sincere” in wanting to leave the gang, the judges in that case did not think he would face persecution in El Salvador. They also found that Congress, in passing humanitarian laws, never meant to “grant asylum to those whose association with a criminal syndicate has caused them to run into danger.” To do so, the court added, would “offer an incentive for aliens to join gangs here as a path to legal status.”

But immigration lawyers and rights groups said the threats of harm to people such as Martinez and Claros are real, and that the lethal reach of Central American gangs is wide and persistent, with ex-members and their families often hunted across multiple borders and killed. The two largest gangs — MS-13 and 18th Street — have between 50,000 and 85,000 members in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. MS-13 also has an entrenched presence in the United States.

The groups point out that U.S. law already bars anyone with a history of serious or violent crime from obtaining asylum or other forms of exemption from deportation. In some cases, they contend, former gang members are more victims of gang predations than willing participants.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials declined to comment on Martinez’s case, citing the pending appeals, and also rejected a reporter’s request to visit Martinez in detention.

After three years of being shifted among detention centers around the country, Martinez said he has spent a lot of time thinking about how he fell into gang life, and how he would advise other young Latinos to avoid it. He has met other former gang members who became more deeply involved than he did and are even less likely to find safety.

“I would tell young boys stay in school, stay close to their families, and not believe what the gangs tell them,” Martinez said. “For a lot of the older ones, it is too late. By the time they realize what’s going on, they are in a hole and they can never climb out.”

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Alternately steamy and wholesome, raunchy and childlike, “Magic Mike” reveled in the glistening, undulating, six-pack musculature of the male body, focusing chiefly on that of its star, Channing Tatum.


There was nothing pre-sold, focus-grouped or otherwise market-driven about it. The effect was twofold, making its sunnily optimistic portrayal of men inviting, and its basking in the female gaze all the more disarming.

There’s no way that a sequel could recapture that movie’s sense of dumb-bunny innocence. “Magic Mike XXL” is a more calculated, less spontaneous enterprise by definition, less a natural outgrowth than an evolutionary imperative, given the first film’s worldwide box office take of more than $160 million.

But writer Reid Carolin and director Gregory Jacobs — Soderbergh’s longtime first assistant director, who takes over the helm here — do their best to infuse the follow-up with the same bracing joie de vivre and old-fashioned bump-and-grind salaciousness. “Magic Mike XXL” tries mightily — if unsuccessfully — to match its predecessor’s stature as a camp classic, the epitome of trashy summer fun for the whole pansexual, polymorphously perverse, omni-libidinous family.

“Magic Mike XXL” is organized as a joy ride, with Mike joining his old Florida dance troupe, the Kings of Tampa, to perform one last barnburner of a show at a strippers’ convention before they disband to pursue various straight businesses. Tito (Adam Rodriguez) wants to open an artisanal frozen-yogurt truck; Tarzan (Kevin Nash) plans to be an artist; and Ken (Matt Bomer), now a Reiki healer given to meditation and sage-burning rituals, will presumably continue on his well-chiseled path to enlightenment. The drama, such as it is, lies in whether the guys can find the courage to throw out their antiquated costumes and routines and find something fresh for the “lay-deeze” they dance for.

Goodbye, Village People. Hello, 50 Shades.

The plot is as mechanistically structured as a case study in “Screenwriting for Dummies.” It’s less a story inhabited by fully realized characters than a loose conglomeration of smoldering, make-it-rain set pieces interspersed with forced dialogue about inner drag queens and sexual healing.

Granted, as in the first installment, there are examples of extraordinary dancing in “Magic Mike XXL,” and Tatum once again proves his bona fides as an actor of fine comic instincts. Unfortunately, many of the film’s best moments have already been revealed in the trailers, including Mike’s “Footloose”-esque welding scene and a cute little twirl he does after introducing himself to a woman named Zoe (Amber Heard), who has a tendency to pop up in the most random of places. Joe Manganiello, who plays a character named Big Dick Richie, appears in what might be the film’s most memorable scene, in which his character creates a one-man show of manscaped, gyrating mayhem for the benefit of an impassive convenience store clerk.

On their way from Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the annual strippers’ convention, the boys on the bus make all sorts of new friends, including Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), the proprietor of a lurid den of debauchery, and a room full of divorcees swilling wine and complaining about the men they’ve just left.

Andie MacDowell plays the most talkative and sexually adventurous of that bunch, and her delivery of the word “day-um” when she unzips Richie’s vest is one of the funniest moments in “Magic Mike XXL.” Pinkett Smith also slips effortlessly into her role as a strip-club emcee who’s part tummler — “Is anyone not on birth control? Because there’s gonna be some grown-up woman (stuff) up in here tonight” — and part sinuous, sloe-eyed guide to the nasty side.

The climactic sequences of “Magic Mike XXL” — staged after the de rigueur montage of frantic rehearsals and last-minute glitter-throwing — feel perfunctory and, in all honesty, pretty lame, especially when each of the Kings of Tampa comes out for his one or two minutes of take-it-all-off glory. The big number is an ingeniously choreographed mirror routine featuring Tatum and franchise newcomer Stephen Boss, each of whom invites a woman in the audience to play with gymnastic, up-close-and-way-too-personal moves usually reserved for hot-sheet motels or cheesy honeymoon suites.

Earlier, Michael Strahan, playing one of Rome’s stars, slathers himself in oil to deliver a full-body massage. Donald Glover, as a baby-faced performer named Andre, coos impromptu ballads to a woman awkwardly pretending she’s not mortified. Ken sweeps up a shy housewife into a swoony lap dance while singing “Heaven.”

The often coarse but never cynical leitmotif of “Magic Mike XXL” is that Mike and his friends make it their life’s work to listen to women, cater to their wishes, embody their fantasies, banish their inadequacies and acknowledge them as queens, as Rome calls her customers — who pointedly come in all ages, races, shapes and generously proportioned sizes. As if he wasn’t endearing enough, Mike even refers to God as a “she.”

But for all of its exalting, sex-positive feminism, there are more than a few moments in “Magic Mike XXL” when the simulated mounting, thrusting, bumping and grinding look less like fun than the dutiful ministrations of scantily clad wage slaves, their female admirers concentrating, with similar determination, on keeping the dollars unfurling and their rictus-like smiles from flattening into bemusement or plain boredom. At the point when one lucky lady (sorry, “lay-dee”) is doused with copious squirts of chocolate sauce and whipped cream, it’s possible to wonder whether the filmmakers’ defense of female desire has slipped from devotion into patronizing caricature.

“What do women want?” was a question that even confounded Freud. Despite its admirable intentions, “Magic Mike XXL” hasn’t got a clue, either.

Two stars. Rated R. Contains strong sexual content, pervasive profanity, some nudity and drug use. 115 minutes.

Ratings Guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.

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“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton,” he said.


Since then, Obama has issued statements or given speeches after more than 10 more mass shootings. His reactions have steadily grown more political, more emotional – and perhaps most notably, more resigned.

On Thursday, after a gunman killed nine people at at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a visibly frustrated and angry Obama took to the podium at the White House to declare that our thoughts and prayers are no longer enough to stem the tide of mass shootings in America. But he offered little in the way of legislative solutions.

Here are six key moments in Obama’s evolution of how he talks about our nation’s gun violence.

1. Tucson: Avoid political rhetoric

Jared Loughner shot Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and nearly 20 other people with a handgun on Jan. 8, 2011. Six were killed.

Obama eulogized the victims but warned against overtly political rhetoric.

“It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds,” he said.

2. Aurora: Remember the victims

James Holmes entered a movie theater on July 20, 2012, shooting and killing 12 people and wounding 58.

After visiting the victims, Obama spoke about about how it’s important to remember the victims, not the shooter.

“My main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day,” he said.

3. Newtown: A call to action

Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother on Dec. 14, 2012, and then 26 people at a nearby school, mostly young children.

Newtown marked a shift for the president, who wiped away a tear more than once in public statements on the shooting. This was the first time he promised “meaningful action” to prevent another such event.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore,” he said. “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

He later issued 23 limited executive actions on gun control and called on Congress to pass legislation. Four months later, a bill to expand background checks and ban assault weapons failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

4. Navy Yard: Resignation and American exceptionalism

Aaron Alexis entered a building Sept. 16, 2013, at the Navy Yard in Washington and shot and killed 12 people.

This was the first time the president let on that he was somewhat resigned on the fight for gun control. But it was also one of the first times he emphasized a now-common theme in his speeches about gun violence: No other advanced nation suffers mass shootings like the United States does. He repeated calls for action.

“It may not happen tomorrow and it may not happen next week, it may not happen next month – but it will happen,” he said. “Because it’s the change that we need, and it’s a change overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans.”

5. Charleston: Waving the white flag

Dylann Roof allegedly shoots and kills nine parishioners at a church in South Carolina on June 17.

June arguably marked one of Obama’s darkest moments on gun violence. He essentially waved the white flag on gun control, admitting there’s not a lot more he can do.

“(At) some point, it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively,” he said.

6. Oregon: Unfocused anger

A gunman kills nine and injures at least seven on Oct. 1 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

Obama is officially angry at the state of America’s gun laws. He gave a speech at the White House on the evening of the shooting that only a president toward the end of his time in office could. He urged – almost pleaded with – people who support gun control to demand their politicians do something about gun violence. But it was also clear that he remained somewhat resigned when it comes to any immediate action.

“(T)his is something we should politicize,” he said. “It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.”

Philip Bump contributed to this report.

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Grandmothers: They feed you, they spoil you, they constantly needle you about your relationship status.


And, according to anthropologist Kristen Hawkes, they might be the driving force behind the evolution of much of human society.

Hawkes, an expert in human evolution and sociobiology at the University of Utah, is the author of several studies on the “grandmother hypothesis,” which asserts that many of the characteristics that distinguish us from our ape ancestors are thanks to the thoughtful care of our mothers’ mothers. In the latest, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she and her co-authors explain how grandmothering is a crucial factor behind the spread of monogamy.

The ancient evolutionary explanation goes like this: When grandmothers started to help out with child rearing, they freed up mothers to have more children, more quickly. Those longer-lived grandmothers end up having more grandchildren, each of whom carried their genes for longevity, helping to increase the human life span. Longer lives and larger kin networks also made it more advantageous for men to mate with and protect a single women, so humans relationships became monogamous.

No wonder grandma is always asking why you aren’t married yet.

The chain of events that connects the existence of grandmothers to monogamous relationships is convoluted but compelling. It starts, Hawkes explains, with the Hadza people of northern Tanzania.

Hawkes began studying the Hadza in the 1980s. They are among the last hunter-gatherers in the world, and their way of life has persisted unchanged for tens of thousands of years. The fact that they eschew agriculture and continue to hunt and forage as their ancestors did makes their community a rare window onto human’s prehistoric past, Hawkes explained.

One of many things she and her colleagues noticed was that the older Hadza women were “these amazingly productive tuber diggers,” she said. “They gathered this really important food resource that little kids are just too little to be good at finding,” and then fed the tubers to the children.

The sight of grandmothers feeding children might seem mundane to those of us whose own grandmas insist on plying us with food whenever we visit. But for Hawkes, it sparked a “eureka” moment.

The presence of post-reproductive women is something of an anomaly in the natural world, where, as anyone who has watched a nature documentary can attest, the prime directive is to find food and a mate. Among primates, humans are the only species that continue to live beyond menopause. Since having children is what drives evolution, there’s no good evolutionary reason for women to live past their ability to reproduce — at least as far as nature is concerned.

Unless, as Hawkes suggests, it’s so those women can become grandmothers.

In a 1997 study in the journal Current Anthropology, she and fellow anthropologists James O’Connell and Nicholas Blurton Jones argued that long post-monopausal lifespans evolved as older women began to play a greater role in caring for young. If a grandmother was around to help out with her daughter’s children, the daughter was able to have more babies more quickly, rather than waiting until their older children were capable of caring for themselves (humans are also the only primates who give birth to a second child before the first is fully mature).

The longer a woman lived, the more grandchildren she was able to care for, meaning that the longest-lived grandmas had the most descendants and were best able to pass along their longevity genes. Over the course of millennia, this resulted in human lifespans that lasted decades past the point at which women were able to have children.

In 2012, Hawkes worked with an Australian statistician to develop a mathematical model for this process. They found that grandmothering could roughly double human lifespans from those of our closest ape cousins over the course of about 60,000 years.

Now Hawkes had humans living for far longer than they ever had before. She knew what the older women were doing — taking care of their grandkids — but what about the men?

Unlike women, male fertility doesn’t decline around age 40. This meant that human societies had far more fertile men wandering around, and not enough women for them to mate with. This was a big shift from the grandmotherless societies of our primate relatives, where fertile females usually outnumber males. (Biologically speaking, male creatures tend to spend more time hunting and fighting, and are therefore at a much higher risk of an untimely death.)

There are three ways that male animals, driven by biology to ensure the furtherance of their genes, can maximize their number of offspring: They can attempt to mate with as many females as possible, they can stick with one female and prevent other males from mating with her and they can invest time and resources in the offspring they already have.

Among most species, males opt for the first option, since a lady can only be pregnant and responsible for one batch of offspring at a time. That’s why bonobos, our closest relatives, have astronomical rates of sexual interaction.

But when the ratio of fertile adults is skewed towards men, playing the Don Juan can be a risky proposition. With increased competition for mates, “the advantage ends up going to guarding the woman you’ve got,” as Hawkes put it. Among the newly longer-lived humans, it became evolutionary advantageous for men to mate for life, devoting their time and energy to protect a single woman and her children. Thus, Hawkes and her colleagues argue in their PNAS study, the monogamous relationship was born.

Hawkes and other proponents of the grandmother hypothesis believe a whole host of other unique human qualities might stem from grandmothers: bigger brains (because longer lives result in bigger payoffs for time spent learning skills), complex communities (because of the switch from independent to cooperative child rearing), big game hunting (enabled by those big brains and big communities) even empathy (because large kin networks required that we evolve to respect and understand one another).

“It’s amazing when you start to take grandmothering into account, how much it can tell you,” Hawkes said. “It’s such a rich likely source for a lot of other activities.”

Not everyone agrees. The grandmother hypothesis is controversial in the world of anthropology. Many studies have argued that the evolutionary payoff for grandmothering is insufficient to account for the dramatic increase in human longevity. Others say that Hawkes’s emphasis on grandmothers disregards the fact that in many hunter gatherer societies, including the Hadza, men provide the vast majority of food for their young.

A competing theory on menopause argues that it stems from intergenerational conflict among women. In other species, like elephants, younger females suppress their fertility while older females reproduce, so as not to compete for help and resources. Menopause achieves the same effect, but in reverse.

But Hawkes believes that one reason the grandmother hypothesis sits uncomfortably with some scientists is that it turns much of what is assumed about human societies on its head.

The “standard textbook story” for monogamy, as Hawkes puts it, starts with nuclear families and long lasting pair bonds. If they were in it for the long haul, women were more likely to mate with good hunters, so larger, smarter communities developed, complete with kin networks,

“That ‘Ozzie and Harriet,’ ‘Leave it to Beaver’ story is one we all know so well,” Hawkes said, so it’s no wonder that anthropologists take it for granted.

But the grandmother hypothesis suggests that the monogamy isn’t quite so innate. Rather than being something fundamental to humans, Hawkes’s narrative has it developing over time — a response to the circumstances at hand, just like any other evolutionary adaptation.

It’s a less romantic account, perhaps, but it might be a more interesting one. Try asking your matchmaker grandma about it next time she calls.

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Nearly $4 out of every $5 raised so far on behalf of GOP White House contenders has gone to independent groups rather than the official campaigns.


Outside groups have already amassed more than $235 million — more than four times the nearly $63 million raised collectively by the Republican field through June 30, according to reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

So far, the dynamic is different on the Democratic side, with 80 percent of the more than $80 million raised so far to support Hillary Rodham Clinton and her competitors flowing to their campaigns.

Clinton boasted the biggest campaign haul of any candidate, raising $47.5 million. Contributions under $200 made up nearly 17 percent of her total. That was in sharp contrast with Republican Jeb Bush: Just 3 percent of the $11.4 million he raised came from such low-dollar donations.

The lopsided war chests on the right underscore how the financing of political campaigns has been fundamentally rewired in the five years since federal courts loosened restrictions on political spending by corporations and rich individuals.

Those decisions triggered a rush of big donations and political operatives to independent groups that can accept unlimited donations, a trend that has dramatically accelerated this year. This election cycle has already seen bolder collaboration between super PACs and campaigns than previous races, as well as a proliferation of nonprofit groups aligned with individual candidates.

The 2016 elections are now poised to mark a tipping point: the first time outside groups outstrip the clout and resources of many campaigns.

“It’s pretty clear that the super PACs are playing an unprecedented role,” said Michael Malbin, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute, which tracks political contributions.

“This whole development to me is staggering,” he said. “You’re in a fundamentally different system than 12 years ago or eight years ago.”

The huge pack of well-funded independent groups flanking the Republican candidates has fueled anxiety among party elders that the GOP is in for a drawn-out, bloody primary fight — one that could possibly roll into the nominating convention in July.

“It could end up with the Republican vote split up in a lot of different ways,” said Ron Weiser, a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is neutral in the 2016 race. “No one is going to go away if they have a lot of money in their super PAC.”

“There are people who are concerned that this could end up a long and very extensive primary that could allow the opponent to gain substantial advantage,” Weiser added.

Bush is far ahead of his rivals in the money race with $119.4 million raised by various entities supporting his bid. In second place, Sen. Ted Cruz is being bolstered by $51.2 million raised by his campaign and aligned super PACs, while supporters of Sen. Marco Rubio have donated $45 million between his campaign, a super PAC and a nonprofit.

Strip away their outside allies and the top contenders are more evenly matched. Cruz, who jumped in the race first in late March, has raised $14.2 million for his campaign. Rubio pulled in about $12 million, while Bush collected $11.4 million in just two weeks as a declared candidate. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is not far behind, with $10.5 million.

Bush donated $388,720 to his own campaign for “testing the waters” activities, covering travel, legal fees, polls and consulting done before he declared his bid in early June. Advocates for stricter campaign finance rules have argued that the former governor skirted reporting requirements by spending months traveling and raising money for his allied super PAC, all while maintaining that he had not decided yet whether to run.

Bush aides said Wednesday that his donation to the campaign showed that he was following the rules.

“Jeb 2016’s first report affirms what we have publicly stated over the past few months_that if Governor Bush engaged in any testing-the-waters activities that they would be paid for appropriately, and that if Governor Bush decided to run for office that any testing-the-waters expenses would be reported at the required time,” spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in a statement.

All the expenditures are dated June 5, which was 10 days before he announced he was running.

Bush officials also announced Wednesday that he will release the names of the fundraisers bundling donations for his campaign by the next filing deadline in October.

For now, the campaign only disclosed the names of lobbyists acting as bundlers, as required by law, showing that eight raised a collective $228,400 for Bush during the second quarter of 2015.

The top bundlers were William Killmer of the Mortgage Banking Association, who raised $36,200; Dirk Van Dongen of the National Association of Wholesalers, who raised $33,900; and Ignacio Sanchez, co-chair of the lobbying practice at DLA Piper, who raised $32,400.

The former Florida governor received $176,850 from individuals who identified themselves as working in the banking industry, including $16,200 from people who work at his former employer, Barclays.

He received an additional $207,950 from people employed in finance or the financial services and $43,500 from those who work in private equity.

Bush’s rivals for the GOP nomination — even long-shot candidates lagging in the polls — were also able to tout big fundraising hauls, thanks to their outside allies. Former Texas governor Rick Perry raised just $1 million for his campaign, but has generated more than $16 million in super PAC money, largely from three wealthy backers. The biggest sum came from his campaign finance chair, oil pipeline executive Kelcy Warren, who donated $6 million.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who pulled less than $600,000 during his first official week as a candidate, will benefit from three different groups — a super PAC and two nonprofits — that have collected more than $8 million so far.

Brad Todd, the GOP strategist running the pro-Jindal Believe Again super PAC, said an expanding universe of donors has helped fuel the big takes.

“It used to be that once you went through the Bush ambassador list, you were at the end of the rainbow,” he said. “But there are people who are very engaged in this presidential contest who were never a Ranger or a Pioneer,” the titles given top bundlers for former president George W. Bush.

The biggest campaign haul in the second quarter was by Clinton, who pulled in $47.5 million in 2-1/2 months. Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing her, raised another $15.6 million.

One of her challengers for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also posted a strong showing, raising $15.3 million — the vast majority from small donors who gave less than $200.

The campaign is likely to use the larger-than-expected fundraising tallies, particularly his impressive haul among the grassroots, bolster the senator’s claim to speak for Democratic Party base.

But other contenders on the left lagged behind. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced he pulled in $2 million, while former Rhode Island senator and governor Lincoln Chafee reported that he had raised just $30,000 from donors, in addition to lending his campaign $364,000.

Several contenders — including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — declared their runs after the close of the last quarter, so will not file their finance reports until mid-October.

– – – –

Washington Post staff writers Jose A. DelReal, Rosalind S. Helderman, Catherine Ho and John Wagner contributed to this report.

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The presidential executive order would force the Pentagon, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to reveal more details about the size and surveillance capabilities of their growing drone fleets — information that until now has been largely kept under wraps.


The mandate would only apply to federal drone flights in U.S. airspace. Overseas military and intelligence operations would not be covered.

President Barack Obama has yet to sign the executive order, but officials said drafts have been distributed to federal agencies and that the process was in its final stages. “An inter-agency review of the issue is underway,” said Ned Price, a White House spokesman. He declined to comment further.

Privacy advocates said the measure was long overdue. Little is known about the scope of the federal government’s domestic drone operations and surveillance policies. Much of what has emerged was obtained under court order as a result of public-records lawsuits.

“We’re undergoing a quiet revolution in aerial surveillance,” said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “But we haven’t had all in one place a clear picture of how this technology is being used. Nor is it clear that the agencies themselves know how it is being used.”

Most affected by the executive order would be the Pentagon, which conducts drone training missions in most states, and Homeland Security, which flies surveillance drones along the nation’s borders around the clock. It would also cover other agencies with little-known drone programs, including NASA, the Interior Department and the Commerce Department.

Military and law-enforcement agencies would not have to reveal sensitive operations. But they would have to post basic information about their privacy safeguards for the vast amount of full-motion video and other imagery collected by drones.

Until now, the armed forces and federal law-enforcement agencies have been reflexively secretive about drone flights and even less forthcoming about how often they use the aircraft to conduct domestic surveillance.

Security officials are generally reluctant to disclose operational methods and techniques. But drones are in a special category of sensitivity, given the top-secret role they’ve long played in CIA and military counterterrorism missions. There’s also evidence that federal agencies simply have been unable to develop internal guidelines and policies quickly enough to keep up with rapid advances in drone technology.

“Federal use of drones has gone way up, but it’s hard to document how much,” said Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that has sued the Federal Aviation Administration for records on government drone operations. “It’s been incredibly difficult.”

Even Congress has struggled to uncover the extent to which the federal government uses drones as a surveillance tool in U.S. airspace.

In March 2013, lawmakers directed the Defense Department to produce a report, within 90 days, describing its policies for sharing drone surveillance imagery with law-enforcement agencies.

Eighteen months later, the Pentagon still has not completed the report. Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Crosson, a Defense Department spokesman, said officials hoped to provide an interim response next week and a full version “in the coming months.”

Department of Justice officials have also been reluctant to answer queries from lawmakers about their drone operations. The FBI first disclosed its use of small, unarmed surveillance drones to Congress in June 2013 and subsequently revealed that it had been flying them since 2006.

The Justice Department Inspector General reported last fall that the FBI had not developed new privacy guidelines for its drone surveillance and was relying instead on old rules for collecting imagery from regular aircraft.

Since then, Justice officials have said they are reviewing their drone surveillance policies but have not disclosed any results. An FBI spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The FBI has resisted other attempts to divulge details about the size of its drone fleet and its surveillance practices.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit group that pushes for transparency in government, sued the FBI last year under the Freedom of Information Act for records on its drone program. Although the FBI has turned over thousands of pages of documents, many have been redacted or only provide limited insights.

“They’ve been dragging their feet from the outset, and it’s been enormously frustrating,” said Anne Weismann, CREW’s chief counsel. “I don’t know if it’s because they don’t want to expose the fact that they’ve been operating without any clear guidance or if they just don’t like to talk about it.”

Another section of Obama’s draft executive order would instruct the Commerce Department to help develop voluntary privacy guidelines for private-sector drone flights. The intent is to shape non-binding industry standards for commercial surveillance instead of imposing new regulations by law.

The executive order is an attempt to cope with a projected surge in drone flights in the United States.

For years, the FAA has enforced a de facto ban on commercial drone flights and only permits government agencies to fly drones under tightly controlled circumstances.

Under a 2012 law passed by Congress, however, the FAA is developing rules that will gradually open the skies to drones of all kinds. The drone industry, which lobbied Congress to pass the law, predicts $82 billion in economic benefits and 100,000 new jobs by 2025.

On Thursday, the FAA approved requests from six Hollywood filmmakers to fly small camera-equipped drones on movie sets, the first time businesses will be allowed to operate such aircraft in populated areas. About 40 companies, including Amazon杭州桑拿会所,, have filed similar requests with the FAA. Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

Federal lawmakers have introduced several bills in recent years to regulate the use of drones by law-enforcement agencies and strengthen privacy protections, but none has passed.

No department flies more drones than the Pentagon, which has about 10,000 of the aircraft in its inventory, from 4-pound Wasps to the 15-ton Global Hawk.

While many are deployed overseas, Defense Department documents show that the military is making plans to base drones at 144 sites in the United States. Pentagon officials have said they soon expect to fly more drones in civilian airspace in the United States than in military-only zones.

The Department of Homeland Security also conducts extensive surveillance with unarmed drones. Its Customs and Border Protection service has nine large Predator B models, which account for about three-quarters of all drone flight hours reported by federal civilian agencies.

Customs and Border Protection drones patrol a 25-mile-wide corridor along the nation’s northern and southern borders, as well as over the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Records obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation show that the border patrol has also outsourced its drones on hundreds of occasions to other law-enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Details of most of those operations remain secret.

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