The Atlantic Politics Daily: A Front-Row Seat to the Return of ISIS

The inconvenient truth is that the group is even bigger now, and America’s current conflict with Iran isn’t helping. Plus: Berniebros vs. Berniephobes.

It’s Friday, February 14. In today’s newsletter: An inconvenient truth—about the return of ISIS. Plus: Berniebros vs. Berniephobes.

Members of our politics team are out on the campaign trail this weekend. This newsletter will return on Tuesday, after President’s Day, with the latest on 2020.



“ISIS is still very much intact.”

The prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, who’s had a front-row seat to the war against ISIS, has that warning for America: The militant group may have lost its caliphate, its leader, and many of its fighters, but it’s still managed to gain more experience and recruit new followers, Mike Giglio and Kathy Gilsinan report:

Meanwhile, more than five years into the U.S.-led war—and after many statements by Trump heralding the Islamic State’s defeat—the group still has some 20,000 fighters across Iraq and Syria, Barzani told us. (A Pentagon report last summer put the number of ISIS fighters between 14,000 and 18,000. Estimates by analysts and U.S. officials put the number around 10,000 when it announced its caliphate in the summer of 2014.) ISIS is still managing to carry out 60 attacks a month in Iraq alone against security forces and local rivals, Barzani said, as it regroups around a core of hardened fighters.

The inconvenient truth is that the group is even bigger now, and America’s current conflict with Iran isn’t helping.

Read the full story.

—Christian Paz


“Gaining an anti-endorsement from one of the leading experts on economy-ruining must have delighted the Sanders campaign.”

Bernie Sanders has sparked fear within the country’s financial centers. The likes of Lloyd Blankfein (the former head of Goldman Sachs) and Stanley Druckenmiller (a billionaire hedge fund manager) have warned that the democratic socialist candidate’s economic policies will tank the stock market and hurt business. But the powers of the presidency are actually quite limited when it comes to the economy, Annie Lowrey argues.

+ Want more? Read Annie on the deepest financial crisis in America: How in one of the best decades the American economy has ever recorded, families were still being bled dry.


(Matthew Genitempo)

The Undocumented Agent

He worked as a Customs and Border Protection officer for nearly two decades, facilitating thousands of deportations in his years of work.

But then came a day when Raul Rodriguez discovered that he himself was not a U.S. citizen.

On that day in Los Indios in 2018, one of Rodriguez’s managers slid an envelope across the desk. Rodriguez remembers reading: “You are no longer a law-enforcement officer, pending further investigation.” His gun and badge were confiscated without explanation. He left the building in a stupor.

Days later, he sat down with investigators at a federal building in nearby McAllen, Texas. They told him his career in immigration and his military service before that—his identity as a veteran, an agent, and an American—were based on a lie. His United States citizenship was fraudulent. He was an undocumented immigrant himself.

Read Jeremy Raff’s remarkable story of a former CBP officer who’s now the one at risk of deportation.


Today’s newsletter was written by Christian Paz, a Politics fellow, and edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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