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America Needs a 21st Century Church Committee

Former members and staffers of the Church Committee | March 17, 2014

Dear Congress, Mr. President and the American public,

In 1975 the public learned that the National Security Agency had been collecting and analyzing international telegrams of U.S. citizens since the 1940s under secret agreements with all the major telegram companies. Years later, the NSA instituted another watch list program to intercept the international communications of key figures in the civil rights and anti–Vietnam War movements among other prominent citizens. Innocent Americans were targeted by their government. These actions were uncovered — and stopped — only because of a special Senate investigative committee known as the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, commonly known as the Church Committee.

We are former Church Committee members and staffers and write today as witnesses to history and as citizens with decades of collective experience in Congress, the federal courts, the executive branch and the intelligence community. We write today to encourage Congress to create a Church Committee for the 21st century — a special investigatory committee to undertake a thorough and public examination of current intelligence community practices affecting the rights of Americans and to make specific recommendations for future oversight and reform. Such a committee would work in good faith with the president, hold public and private hearings and be empowered to obtain documents. Such congressional action is urgently needed to restore the faith of citizens in the intelligence community and in our federal government.

The actions uncovered by the Church Committee in the 1970s bear striking similarities to the actions we’ve learned about over the past year. In the early 1970s, allegations of impropriety and illegal activity concerning the intelligence community spurred Congress to create committees to investigate those allegations. Our committee, chaired by Sen. Frank Church, was charged with investigating illegal and unethical conduct of the intelligence community and with making legislative recommendations to govern the intelligence community’s conduct. The bipartisan committee’s reports remain one of the most searching reviews of intelligence agency practices in our nation’s history.

Our findings were startling. Broadly speaking, we determined that sweeping domestic surveillance programs, conducted under the guise of foreign intelligence collection, had repeatedly undermined the privacy rights of U.S. citizens. A number of reforms were implemented as a result, including the creation of permanent intelligence oversight committees in Congress and the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Even though our work was over 30 years ago, our conclusions seem eerily prescient today. For example, our final report noted:

We have seen a consistent pattern in which programs initiated with limited goals, such as preventing criminal violence or identifying foreign spies, were expanded to what witnesses characterized as “vacuum cleaners,” sweeping in information about lawful activities of American citizens. The tendency of intelligence activities to expand beyond their initial scope is a theme, which runs through every aspect of our investigative findings.

The need for another thorough, independent and public congressional investigation of intelligence activity practices that affect the rights of Americans is apparent. There is a crisis of public confidence. Misleading statements by agency officials to Congress, the courts and the public have undermined public trust in the intelligence community and in the capacity of the branches of government to provide meaningful oversight.

The scale of domestic communications surveillance the NSA engages in today dwarfs the programs revealed by the Church Committee. Thirty years ago, the NSA’s surveillance practices raised similar concerns as those today. For instance, Church explained:

In the case of the NSA, which is of particular concern to us today, the rapid development of technology in this area of electronic surveillance has seriously aggravated present ambiguities in the law. The broad sweep of communications interception by NSA takes us far beyond the previous Fourth Amendment controversies where particular individuals and specific telephone lines were the target.

As former members and staffers of the Church Committee, we can authoritatively say the erosion of public trust currently facing our intelligence community is not novel, nor is its solution. A Church Committee for the 21st century — a special congressional investigatory committee that undertakes a significant and public re-examination of intelligence community practices that affect the rights of Americans and the laws governing those actions — is urgently needed. Nothing less than the confidence of the American public in our intelligence agencies and, indeed, the federal government, is at stake.

Sincerely,

Counsel, advisers and professional staff members of the Church Committee, including

Chief Counsel Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr.

Loch Johnson

John T. Elliff

Burt Wides

Jim Dick

Frederick Baron

Joseph Dennin

Peter Fenn

Anne Karalekas

Michael Madigan

Elliot Maxwell

Gordon Rhea

Eric Richard

Athan Theoharis

Christopher Pyle

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

My First Day as CIA Director

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | February 22, 2018

Now that I have been nominated again – this time by author Paul Craig Roberts – to be CIA director, I am preparing to hit the ground running.

Ray McGovern

Last time my name was offered in nomination for the position – by The Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel – I did not hold my breath waiting for a call from the White House. Her nomination came in the afterglow of my fortuitous, four-minute debate with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when I confronted him on his lies about the attack on Iraq, on May 4, 2006 on national TV. Since it was abundantly clear that Rumsfeld and I would not get along, I felt confident I had royally disqualified myself.

This time around, on the off-chance I do get the nod, I have taken the time to prepare the agenda for my first few days as CIA director. Here’s how Day One looks so far:

Get former National Security Agency Technical Director William Binney back to CIA to join me and the “handpicked” CIA analysts who, with other “handpicked” analysts (as described by former National Intelligence Director James Clapper on May 8, 2017) from the FBI and NSA, prepared the so-called Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017. That evidence-impoverished assessment argued the case that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his minions “to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”

When my predecessor, CIA Director Mike Pompeo invited Binney to his office on Oct. 24, 2017 to discuss cyber-attacks, he told Pompeo that he had been fed a pack of lies on “Russian hacking” and that he could prove it. Why Pompeo left that hanging is puzzling, but I believe this is the kind of low-hanging fruit we should pick pronto.

The low-calorie Jan. 6 ICA was clumsily cobbled together:

“We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence … used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”

Binney and other highly experienced NSA alumni, as well as other members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), drawing on their intimate familiarity with how the technical systems and hacking work, have been saying for a year and a half that this CIA/FBI/NSA conclusion is a red herring, so to speak. Last summer, the results of forensic investigation enabled VIPS to apply the principles of physics and the known capacity of the internet to confirm that conclusion.

Oddly, the FBI chose not to do forensics on the so-called “Russian hack” of the Democratic National Committee computers and, by all appearances, neither did the drafters of the ICA.

Again, Binney says that the main conclusions he and his VIPS colleagues reached are based largely on principles of physics – simple ones like fluid dynamics. I want to hear what that’s all about, how that applies to the “Russian hack,” and hear what my own CIA analysts have to say about that.

I will have Binney’s clearances updated to remove any unnecessary barriers to a no-holds-barred discussion at a highly classified level. After which I shall have a transcript prepared, sanitized to protect sources and methods, and promptly released to the media.

Like Sisyphus Up the Media Mountain

At that point things are bound to get very interesting. Far too few people realize that they get a very warped view on such issues from the New York Times. And, no doubt, it would take some time, for the Times and other outlets to get used to some candor from the CIA, instead of the far more common tendentious leaks.  In any event, we will try to speak truth to the media – as well as to power.

I happen to share the view of the handful of my predecessor directors who believed we have an important secondary obligation to do what we possibly can to inform/educate the public as well as the rest of the government – especially on such volatile and contentious issues like “Russian hacking.”

What troubles me greatly is that the NYT and other mainstream print and TV media seem to be bloated with the thin gruel-cum-Kool Aid they have been slurping at our CIA trough for a year and a half; and then treating the meager fare consumed as some sort of holy sacrament. That goes in spades for media handling of the celebrated ICA of Jan. 6, 2017 cobbled together by those “handpicked” analysts from CIA, FBI, and NSA. It is, in all candor, an embarrassment to the profession of intelligence analysis and yet, for political reasons, it has attained the status of Holy Writ.

The Paper of (Dubious) Record

I recall the banner headline spanning the top of the entire front page of the NYT on Jan. 7, 2017: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says;” and the electronic version headed “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds.” I said to myself sarcastically, “Well there you go!  That’s exactly what Mrs. Clinton – not to mention the NY Times, the Washington Post and The Establishment – have been saying for many months.”

Buried in that same edition of the Times was a short paragraph by Scott Shane: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. That is a significant omission.”

Omission? No hard evidence? No problem. The publication of the Jan. 6, 2017 assessment got the ball rolling. And Democrats like Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, were kicking the ball hard down the streets of Washington. On Jan. 25, 2017, I had a chance to confront Schiff personally about the lack of evidence — something that even Obama had acknowledged just before slipping out the door. I think our two-minute conversation speaks volumes.

Now I absolutely look forward to dealing with Adam Schiff from my new position as CIA director. I will ask him to show me the evidence of “Russian hacking” that he said he could not show me on Jan. 25, 2017 – on the chance his evidence includes more than reports from the New York Times.

Sources

Intelligence analysts put great weight, of course, on sources. The authors of the lede, banner-headlined NYT article of Jan. 7, 2017 were Michael D. Shear and David E. Sanger; Sanger has had a particularly checkered career, while always landing on his feet. Despite his record of parroting CIA handouts (or perhaps partly because of it), Sanger is now the NYT’s chief Washington correspondent.

Those whose memories go back more than 15 years may recall his promoting weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as flat fact. In a July 29, 2002 article co-written with Them Shanker, for example, Iraq’s (non-existent) “weapons of mass destruction” appear no fewer than seven times as flat fact.

More instructive still, in May 2005, when first-hand documentary evidence from the now-famous “Downing Street Memorandum” showed that President George W. Bush had decided by early summer 2002 to attack Iraq, the NYT ignored it for six weeks until David Sanger rose to the occasion with a tortured report claiming just the opposite. The title given his article of June 13 2005 was “Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn’t Made.”

Against this peculiar reporting record, I was not inclined to take at face value the Jan. 7, 2017 report he co-authored with Michael D. Shear – “Putin Led a Complex Cyberattack Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Finds.”

Nor am I inclined to take seriously former National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s stated views on the proclivity of Russians to be, well, just really bad people — like it’s in their genes. I plan to avail myself of the opportunity to discover whether intelligence analysts who labored under his “aegis” were infected by his quaint view of the Russians.

I shall ask any of the “handpicked” analysts who specialize in analysis of Russia (and, hopefully, there are at least a few): Do you share Clapper’s view, as he explained it to NBC’s Meet the Press on May 30, 2017, that Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever”? I truly do not know what to expect by way of reply.

End of Day One

In sum, my priority for Day One is to hear both sides of the story regarding “Russian hacking” with all cards on the table. All cards. That means no questions are out of order, including what, if any, role the “Steele dossier” may have played in the preparation of the Jan. 6, 2017 assessment.

I may decide to seek some independent, disinterested technical input, as well. But it should not take me very long to figure out which of the two interpretations of alleged “Russian hacking” is more straight-up fact-based and unbiased. That done, in the following days I shall brief both the Chair, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and ranking member Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the Chair and ranking member of its counterpart in the Senate. I will then personally brief the NYT’s David Sanger and follow closely what he and his masters decide to do with the facts I present.

On the chance that the Times and other media might decide to play it straight, and that the “straight” diverges from the prevailing, Clapperesque narrative of Russian perfidy, the various mainstream outlets will face a formidable problem of their own making. Mark Twain put it this way: “It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them they have been fooled.”

And that will probably be enough for Day One.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington.  He served 30 years as an U.S. Army Intelligence and CIA analyst, and in retirement co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bear scare! Why the US Democrats desperately need a Russian bogeyman

By Robert Bridge | RT | February 20, 2018

Even before Donald Trump set foot in the White House, loveless liberals were busy pushing the narrative that Russia meddled in the elections. But could this claim be – just maybe – a dastardly ploy to hide some unsavory truths?

Pass the popcorn, the theater of the political absurd known as ‘Russiagate’ continues playing to disappointed audiences without so much as an intermission. And with the latest episode featuring an indictment against 13 Russian nationals without rhyme or reason, perhaps it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the question the mainstream media conspicuously ignores: was the real meddlesome actor in the 2016 presidential election not the perennial bogeyman known as ‘Putin’s Russia’, but the Democratic Party itself?

Indeed, some highly questionable moves on the part of the Democrats before, during and after the elections go far in exonerating the Russian fall guy from any and all charges. You be the judge.

The FISA fail

In a memo declassified by the White House and released to great fanfare by the House Intelligence Committee on February 2, it was alleged that on October 21, 2016, the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) – armed with the notorious Trump dossier – secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.

But something looks rotten in Denmark. As it turned out, the explosive Trump dossier, compiled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, was bought and paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign. In other words, this represents – at the very least – a very big conflict of interest.

At the same time, in the their application for the FISA warrant, the FBI and DOJ “cited extensively” a Yahoo News article by one Michael Isikoff, which discusses Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow.

As it turned out, however, there were serious problems with that article. As the Nunes memo states, Isikoff’s article “does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself…”

Indeed, Steele admitted that he met with Yahoo News “at the direction of Fusion GPS,” the firm that organized the dossier, in September 2016. Meanwhile, the mainstream media has largely played down these glaring violations of FISA protocol, as it continues to heap scorn on Russia.

“Putin’s KGB-inspired maneuvering of the United States via Donald Trump and the Republican Congress has all the earmarks of a carefully planned, professionally executed war game in which Trump, congressional Republicans and some in right wing media are his comrades,”wrote Cheri Jacobus in USA Today.

The specter of the Russian bogeyman is truly the gift that keeps giving.

Clinton’s email scandal

In March 2015, the news broke that Hillary Clinton, while serving as secretary of state, had used her home computer while handling classified government documents. An assortment of experts and politicians accused Clinton of violating State Department protocol.

On July 5, 2016, following an investigation, FBI Director James Comey said Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling her email correspondences. He added that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

That statement did little to calm the critics, however, as Clinton was haunted by the ghosts of emails past right up to the eve of the elections.

On October 28, 2016, the FBI said it was reopening its investigation into Clinton’s private email server after messages were discovered on the computer of top aide Huma Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, who was then embroiled in a sexting scandal. Comey announced just before the elections that nothing had changed in the Clinton case, which had been closed four months earlier without criminal charges.

However, the email saga refuses to go away as the DOJ once again reopened its investigation into Clinton’s email server in January.

To this day, Hillary Clinton has been able to divert attention away from the very serious charge of handling classified government emails over her private server thanks to a giant smokescreen known as Russia, the bogeyman that conveniently explains every transgression and setback by the Democratic Party.

Operation Sink Sanders

In July 2016, the DNC suffered a broadside after WikiLeaks released a batch of emails purporting to show that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the body, was actively conspiring against the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. Naturally, this news had a way of upsetting those donors who contributed funds to the Sanders campaign. Wasserman Schultz resigned in disgrace following the revelations.

Despite there being a deliberate effort to undermine the Sanders campaign, that disturbing news was sidelined by the conspiracy theory that a Russian army of apparatchiks hacked the DNC computers, turning over the information to Julian Assange. To this day, no evidence has been provided to support that claim.

Meanwhile, Wasserman Schultz was eventually cleared of rigging the Democratic primary in favor of Hillary Clinton, while Russia continues to suffer from mainstream media mudslinging.

Clinton cheated in debates

One of the most shocking revelations to come from the leaked/hacked DNC emails was the claim that Donna Brazile, interim chairperson of the DNC who once worked at CNN, used her inside connections to feed Hillary Clinton the questions to several of her public debates against Donald Trump.

Following the DNC debacle, Brazile hoped to cash in on the scandal by publishing a tell-all book entitled, ‘Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House.’

In one particularly candid part, Brazile said she was secretly concerned about Clinton’s health as Election Day drew closer. This comment did not sit well with Brazile’s former colleagues. Clinton’s staffers published an open letter in response to the book, saying, “It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.”

Once again, Russia was used and abused as the convenient 11-time-zone Band-Aid that can cover any political wound, whatever the size. What is the most surprising about this tactic is that anybody still falls for it.

Regime change

Given Hillary Clinton’s past track record for advocating on behalf of military adventures, most memorably in Iraq and Libya, the tall tale of Trump-Russia collusion appears to have been a desperate effort on the part of the establishment to get their candidate into office and the military industrial complex into another war.

According to the Center for Public Integrity’s review of Federal Election Commission data, over a 14-month period (January 2015 through February 2016), Clinton and Sanders jointly received at least $765,049 from employees of major defense contractors – more than twice the $357,775 sum received by the Republican Party presidential candidates.

To prove the liberal media’s (and by extension, the establishment’s) apparent desire for military conflict, consider how it lavished praise on Trump after he attacked Syria’s Shayrat Airbase on April 7, 2017, America’s first unilateral military act aimed at the Syrian government forces (not the terrorists).

CNN analyst Fareed Zakaria waxed poetically, “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States,” he said dreamily. “I think this was actually a big moment.” On MSNBC, Nicholas Kristof, a regular Trump critic, said the Republican leader “did the right thing.” Elliott Abrams could barely contain his newfound enthusiasm for Trump: “… the Trump administration can truly be said to have started only now. The president has been chief executive since January 20, but this week he acted also as Commander in Chief. And more: He finally accepted the role of Leader of the Free World.”

Judging by such comments, had Trump continued bombing Syria, and thereby pacifying the hawks in Washington, there is a very good chance that Russiagate would have been quietly swept under the media’s carpet.

Impeach Trump

It would be difficult to name another US president who has suffered the slings and arrows of media scorn more than Donald J. Trump. And he’s only been in office for just over one year. Indeed, no sooner had his Inauguration finished there were already calls for him to be impeached. In fact, the subject has become so popular among the Democrats that there is even a special Wikipedia page dedicated to the relentless campaign.

Although the clamor to impeach the Republican leader has subsided of late, when the idea does raise its head, the empty claim that Russia influenced the elections ranks high among the reasons.

Clinton Foundation ‘pay to play’

Another reason why the Democrats would need to push the anti-Russia narrative is to protect the Clinton family from allegations that they personally profited from donations to the Clinton Foundation.

In January 2017, it was reported that the FBI opened an investigation into whether the Clinton Foundation accepted donations in exchange for political favors while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state in the Obama administration, the Los Angeles Time reported, citing two anonymous sources.

“Critics have accused the Clinton family of using the foundation to enrich themselves and give donors special access to the State Department when Hillary Clinton was its head,” the article said.

The LA Times said that the Democrats have rejected the claims, saying that “Trump is trying to steer attention away from investigations examining…Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.”

Nunes Memo, Part 2

If anybody thought the Trump administration would just release the Nunes memo and drop it, think again. In fact, Trump’s legal team backs the idea of a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters on Air Force One Monday that Trump’s attorneys have given the green light to starting the process of appointing a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department’s behavior during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a report by Axios.

In other words, expect a lot more anti-Russia outbursts from the Democrats in the days and weeks to come.

@Robert_Bridge

Read more:

Clinton campaign fed Steele info for Trump dossier – Senate Judiciary Committee

FBI thought Hillary broke the law, drafted acquittal despite ongoing investigation – report

Brazile out at CNN after WikiLeaks reveals she gave debate questions to Clinton camp

DoJ probing Clinton Foundation over alleged ‘pay-to-play’ schemes – report

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russiagate Suddenly Becomes Bigger

Will every critic of our government policies soon be indictable?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 20, 2018

It’s hard to know where to begin. Last Friday’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was detailed in a 37 page document that provided a great deal of specific evidence claiming that a company based in St. Petersburg, starting in 2014, was using social media to assess American attitudes. Using that assessment, the company inter alia allegedly later ran a clandestine operation seeking to influence opinion in the United States regarding the candidates in the 2016 election in which it favored Donald Trump and denigrated Hillary Clinton. The Russians identified by name are all back in Russia and cannot be extradited to the U.S., so the indictment is, to a certain extent, political theater as the accused’s defense will never be heard.

In presenting the document, Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, stressed that there was no evidence to suggest that the alleged Russian activity actually changed the result of the 2016 presidential election or that any actual votes were altered or tampered with. Nor was there any direct link to either the Russian government or its officials or to the Donald Trump campaign developed as a result of the nine-month long investigation. There was also lacking any mention in the indictment of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and Panetta e-mails, so it is to be presumed that the activity described in the document was unrelated to the WikiLeaks disclosures.

Those of the “okay, there’s smoke but where’s the fire” school of thought immediately noted the significant elephant in the room, namely that the document did not include any suggestion that there had been collusion between Team Trump and Moscow. As that narrative has become the very raison d’etre driving the Mueller investigation, its omission is noteworthy. Meanwhile, those who see more substance in what was revealed by the evidence provided in the indictment and who, for political reasons, would like to see Trump damaged, will surely be encouraged by their belief that the noose is tightening around the president.

Assuming the indictment is accurate, I would agree that the activity of the Internet Research Agency does indeed have some of the hallmarks of a covert action intelligence operation in terms how it used some spying tradecraft to support its organization, targeting and activity. But its employees also displayed considerable amateur behavior, suggesting that they were not professional spies, supporting the argument that it was not a government intelligence operation or an initiative under Kremlin control. And beyond that, so what? Even on a worst-case basis, stirring things up is what intelligence agencies do, and no one is more active in interfering in foreign governments and elections than the United States of America, most notably in Russia for the election of Boris Yeltsin in 1996, which was arranged by Washington, and more recently in Ukraine in 2014. From my own experience I can cite Italy’s 1976 national election in which the CIA went all out to keep the communists out of government. Couriers were discreetly dispatched to the headquarters of all the Italian right wing parties dropping off bags of money for “expenses” while the Italian newspapers were full of articles written by Agency-paid hacks warning of the dangers of communism. And this all went on clandestinely even though Italy was a democracy, an ally and NATO member.

Does that mean that Washington should do nothing in response? No, not at all. Russia, if the indictment is accurate, may have run an influencing operation and gotten caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Or maybe not. And Washington might also actually have information suggesting that Russia is preparing to engage in further interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections, as claimed by the heads of the intelligence agencies, though, as usual, evidence for the claim is lacking. There has to be bilateral, confidential discussion of such activity between Washington and Moscow and a warning given that such behavior will not be tolerated in the future, but only based on irrefutable, solid evidence. The leadership in both countries should be made to understand very clearly that there are more compelling reasons to maintain good bilateral working relations than not.

With that in mind, it is important not to overreact and to base any U.S. response on the actual damage that was inflicted. The indictment suggests that Russia is out to destroy American democracy by promoting “distrust” of government as well as sowing “discord” in the U.S. political system while also encouraging “divisiveness” among the American people. I would suggest in Russia’s defense that the U.S. political system is already doing a good job at self-destructing and the difficult-to-prove accusations being hurled at Moscow are the type one flings when there is not really anything important to say.

I would suggest that Moscow might well want to destroy American democracy but there is no evidence in the indictment to support that hypothesis. I particularly note that the document makes a number of assumptions which appear to be purely speculative for which it provides no evidence. It describes the Russian company Internet Research Agency as “engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes.” Its employees were involved in

“interference operations targeting the United States. From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”

The theme of Russian subversion is repeated throughout the indictment without any compelling evidence to explain how Mueller knows what he asserts to be true, suggesting either that the document would have benefited from a good editor or that whoever drafted it was making things up. Internet Research Agency allegedly “conduct[ed] what it called ‘information warfare against the United States of America’ through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media.” The indictment goes on to assert that

“By in or around May 2014, the ORGANIZATION’s strategy included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of ‘spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general’”

with a

“strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the name of U.S. persons and entities. Defendants also staged political rallies inside the United States, and while posing as U.S. grassroots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities and ORGANIZATION affiliation, solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates. Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

Two company associates

“traveled in and around the United States, including stops in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York to gather intelligence. After the trip, [they] exchanged an intelligence report regarding the trip. The conspiracy had as its object the opening of accounts under false names at U.S. financial institutions and a digital payments company in order to receive and send money into and out of the United States to support the ORGANIZATION’s operations in the United States and for self-enrichment. Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist. All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.”

Note particularly the money laundering and for-profit aspects of the Internet Research scheme, something that would be eschewed if it were an actual intelligence operation. There is some speculation that it all might have been what is referred to as a click-bait commercial marketing scheme set up to make money from advertising fees. Also note how small the entire operation was. It focused on limited social media activity while spending an estimated $1 million on the entire venture, with Facebook admitting to a total of $100,000 in total ad buys, only half of which were before the election. It doesn’t smell like a major foreign government intelligence/influence initiative intended to “overthrow democracy.” And who attended the phony political rallies? How many votes did the whole thing cause to change? Impossible to know, but given a campaign in which billions were spent and both fake and real news were flying in all directions, one would have to assume that the Russian effort was largely a waste of time if it indeed was even as described or serious in the first place.

And apart from the money laundering aspect of the alleged campaign was it even illegal apart from the allegations of possible visa fraud and money laundering? If the Russians involved were getting their financial support from the Moscow government then it would be necessary to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938, but if not, they would be protected by the Constitution and have the same First Amendment right to express their opinions of Hillary Clinton on blogs and websites while also associating with others politically as do all other residents of the United States. Many of the commenters on this Unz site are foreign and are not required either by law or custom to state where they come from.

And, of course, there is one other thing. There always is. One major media outlet is already suggesting that there could be consequences for American citizens who wittingly or unwittingly helped the Russians, identified in the indictment as “persons known and unknown.” A former federal prosecutor put it another way, saying “While they went to great pains to say they are not indicting any Americans today, if I was an American and I did cooperate with Russians I would be extremely frightened…” Politico speculates that “Now, a legal framework exists for criminal charges against Americans…” and cites a former U.S. district attorney’s observation that “Think of a conspiracy indicting parties known and unknown’ as a Matroyshka doll. There are many more layers to be successively revealed over time.”

Under normal circumstances, an American citizen colluding with a foreign country would have to be convicted of engaging in an illegal conspiracy, which would require being aware that the foreigners were involved in criminal behavior and knowingly aiding them. But today’s overheated atmosphere in Washington is anything but normal. Russia’s two major media outlets that operate in the U.S., Sputnik and RT America, have been forced to register under FARA. Does that mean that the hundreds of American citizens who appeared on their programs prior to the 2016 election to talk about national politics will be next in line for punishment? Stay tuned.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Much Ado about Nothing on Mueller’s Indictment

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | February 19, 2018

I confess deep amusement at the enormous reaction of the U.S mainstream press to the 37-page federal grand-jury indictment that special prosecutor (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller has secured against 13 Russians and three companies or, as the mainstream media puts it, against “Russia.”

Why am I so amused?

One reason is how reporters and editorial boards of the mainstream press are treating the indictment — as solid evidence of guilt. From reading all of the mainstream reporting and commentaries on the indictment, you would think that “Russia” had just been convicted of the heinous crime of “meddling” in a U.S. presidential election.

At the risk of raining on the anti-Russia parade, that’s pure nonsense.

The reason it’s pure nonsense is that that under our form of government, that 37-page grand-jury indictment is evidence of nothing, absolutely nothing.

A grand-jury indictment is nothing more than an accusation. That’s all. It’s not even sworn to. There are no affidavits or other sworn testimony attached to it. It is nothing more than a prosecutor-drafted document that sets forth prosecutorial accusations that a federal grand jury almost always automatically rubber stamps.

Consider this excerpt from the Pattern Jury Charge that every federal judge in the land is required to read to every jury in every criminal case just before the jury adjourns to deliberate the guilt or innocence of the accused:

The indictment brought by the government against the defendant is only an accusation, nothing more. It is not proof of guilt or anything else.

Why do federal judges issue that admonition to every jury in every criminal case? Because the law recognizes that the average American citizen has the same incorrect mindset as the average mainstream reporter and commentator — that a criminal indictment is evidence of guilt. The purpose of the admonition is to correct this misconception before the members of the jury begin deliberating.

Another reason the anti-Russia brouhaha over Mueller’s indictment is so funny is that the mainstream journalists and editorial writers continue to allege that the indictment proves that “Russia” meddled in the presidential election.

Yet, a close reading of the indictment reflects no such thing. Instead, it alleges that 13 Russian individuals and 3 companies bought Facebook ads, participated in political events, and undertook similar nefarious political deeds with the aim of getting Donald Trump, who, unlike his opponent Hillary Clinton, favored establishing normal relations with Russia, elected.

Now, one thing is for sure: Mueller and his well-paid legal team know how to craft a criminal indictment. No one doubts that. Such being the case, the question has to be asked: Why didn’t Mueller craft the indictment in such a way as to allege that those individuals and companies were operating as agents of the Russian government or operating in a conspiracy with the Russian government or at least with some Russian officials?

Now, it might well be that competent and relevant evidence will later establish in a criminal trial that the accused actually did what they are accused of doing. And it might well also establish that the accused were acting as agents of the Russian government or in a conspiracy with the Russian government.

But as of right now, we have a situation where the U.S. special prosecutor and his special prosecutorial team have secured an indictment, which they themselves crafted, which omits any allegation that the accused were acting as agents of the Russian government or as part of a conspiracy with the Russian government.

Mueller and his team have been conducting their investigation for more than a year. If they have evidence that those 13 individuals and 3 companies were acting as agents for the Russian government or in a conspiracy with the Russian government, then why not say it as part of the indictment? It seems to me that the logical inference to be drawn from their leaving out such an accusation is that Mueller and his team have come up with no evidence that the Russian government was involved with those 13 individuals and 3 companies.

Oh, they might believe it. They might be 100 percent convinced of it. But believing it or being convinced of it is a far cry from having relevant and competent evidence of it. The fact that they didn’t allege it in the indictment that they themselves crafted implies that they don’t have any evidence of it.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped the mainstream media from declaring that Mueller’s grand-jury indictment proves that “Russia” was involved in election meddling. To the mainstream media, Russian citizens and Russian companies and the Russian government are all one and the same. If a Russian citizen or a Russian company does it, that means that “Russia” did it.

There is something else important that is worth noting: No courtroom is ever going to see any evidence to support Mueller’s grand-jury indictment anyway. Why? Because he and his team know what the mainstream press doesn’t know: that there is no reasonable possibility that this case will ever come to trial. That’s because there is no reasonable possibility that Russia will agree to extradite any of the people who are charged in the indictment. No trial means no evidence will be presented in a trial. That means that Mueller’s 37-page indictment is nothing more than a nothing-burger.

Another amusing aspect of the anti-Russia brouhaha is the moral condemnation of Russia for daring to interfere with America’s electoral process by buying some ads and participating in some protests.

Why is such moral condemnation amusing? Because interfering with foreign elections is precisely what the Pentagon and the CIA have done ever since the U.S. government was converted into a national-security state after World War II. In fact, intervention into the domestic affairs of other countries has been the core feature of the Pentagon and the CIA since their very beginning.

Don’t believe me? Just read these three articles and you’ll see what I mean:

Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too
The U.S. Is No Stranger to Interfering in the Elections of Other Countries
The Long History of the U.S. Interfering with Elections Elsewhere

Thus, when the mainstream media talks about how horrible “the Russians” are for intervening in America’s political system, they are, at the same time, implicitly condemning those horrible Americans who have been doing — and who continue to do — the same thing to other countries.

In fact, it must be asked: Why no indictment for U.S. officials who have interfered with the electoral processes in foreign countries, including, say, in Ukraine, where U.S. officials succeeded in one of their storied regime-change operations against a democratically elected regime to enable them to place U.S. missiles on Russia’s border? If it’s criminal for Russians to intervene in America’s political system by buying some Facebook ads, why isn’t also illegal for U.S. officials to intervene in foreign political systems, especially through bribery, coups, invasions, and assassinations, which, it seems to me, are a bit worse than buying some Facebook ads? (The CIA’s anti-democratic coups in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Chile in 1973 might also come to mind.)

By the way, check out this story on Telesur about how a group of Mexican senators publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, wore pro-Clinton t-shirts, and issued pro-Clinton sentiments on Twitter. Moreover, according to the story, “Several Mexican personalities who live in the U.S. and have influence with Latino communities have urged Latinos to participate in large numbers in the Nov. 8 election and to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and reject Donald Trump, who has maintained racist rhetoric against Mexicans and immigrants since the beginning of his campaign.”

Now, I don’t wish to get anyone in trouble but the obvious question naturally arises: Why no indictment against them? Could it be because they aren’t Russkies (or communists)?

Robert Mueller’s indictment is just one more piece of pressure being brought against President Trump. As soon as he demonstrates that he has been fully absorbed into the Deep State by declaring, “I hate Russia” and then acting accordingly, the powers-that-be will finally leave him alone.

Unfortunately, Mueller’s indictment failed to estimate how many Americans, most of whom have been educated in U.S. public schools, were influenced by “the Russians” into voting for Donald Trump. (I’m proud to say that those crafty Russkies didn’t induce me to change my vote. Despite their best efforts to induce me to vote for their “Manchurian candidate,” I voted Libertarian anyway.)

One thing is for sure: In the entire anti-Russia brouhaha, U.S. officials should count themselves lucky that hypocrisy is not a criminal offense.

February 19, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | February 19, 2018

Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”

Devin Nunes interview with Sharyl Attkisson

Nunes took this highly unusual, no-holds-barred stance during an interview with Emmy-award winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, which aired on Sunday.

Attkisson said she had invited both Nunes and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) but that only Nunes agreed. She asked him about Schiff’s charge that Nunes’ goal was “to put the FBI and DOJ on trial.” What followed was very atypical bluntness — candor normally considered quite unacceptable in polite circles of the Washington Establishment.

Rather than play the diplomat and disavow what Schiff contended was Nunes’ goal, Nunes said, in effect, let the chips fall where they may. He unapologetically averred that, yes, a criminal trial might well be the outcome. “DOJ and FBI are not above the law,” he stated emphatically. “If they are committing abuse before a secret court getting warrants on American citizens, you’re darn right that we’re going to put them on trial.”

Die Is Cast

The stakes are very high. Current and former senior officials — and not only from DOJ and FBI, but from other agencies like the CIA and NSA, whom documents and testimony show were involved in providing faulty information to justify a FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign official Carter Page — may suddenly find themselves in considerable legal jeopardy. Like, felony territory.

This was not supposed to happen. Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? Back when the FISA surveillance warrant of Page was obtained, just weeks before the November 2016 election, there seemed to be no need to hide tracks, because, even if these extracurricular activities were discovered, the perps would have looked forward to award certificates rather than legal problems under a Trump presidency.

Thus, the knives will be coming out. Mostly because the mainstream media will make a major effort – together with Schiff-mates in the Democratic Party – to marginalize Nunes, those who find themselves in jeopardy can be expected to push back strongly.

If past is precedent, they will be confident that, with their powerful allies within the FBI/DOJ/CIA “Deep State” they will be able to counter Nunes and show him and the other congressional investigation committee chairs, where the power lies. The conventional wisdom is that Nunes and the others have bit off far more than they can chew. And the odds do not favor folks, including oversight committee chairs, who buck the system.

Staying Power

On the other hand, the presumptive perps have not run into a chairman like Nunes in four decades, since Congressmen Lucien Nedzi (D-Mich.), Otis Pike (D-NY), and Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) ran tough, explosive hearings on the abuses of a previous generation deep state, including massive domestic spying revealed by quintessential investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in December 1974. (Actually, this is largely why the congressional intelligence oversight committees were later established, and why the FISA law was passed in 1978.)

At this point, one is tempted to say plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – or the more things change, the more they stay the same – but that would be only half correct in this context. Yes, scoundrels will always take liberties with the law to spy on others. But the huge difference today is that mainstream media have no room for those who uncover government crimes and abuse. And this will be a major impediment to efforts by Nunes and other committee chairs to inform the public.

One glaring sign of the media’s unwillingness to displease corporate masters and Official Washington is the harsh reality that Hersh’s most recent explosive investigations, using his large array of government sources to explore front-burner issues, have not been able to find a home in any English-speaking newspaper or journal. In a sense, this provides what might be called a “confidence-building” factor, giving some assurance to deep-state perps that they will be able to ride this out, and that congressional committee chairs will once again learn to know their (subservient) place.

Much will depend on whether top DOJ and FBI officials can bring themselves to reverse course and give priority to the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. This should not be too much to hope for, but it will require uncommon courage in facing up honestly to the major misdeeds appear to have occurred — and letting the chips fall where they may. Besides, it would be the right thing to do.

Nunes is projecting calm confidence that once he and Trey Gowdey (R-Tenn.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, release documentary evidence showing what their investigations have turned up, it will be hard for DOJ and FBI officials to dissimulate.

In Other News …

In the interview with Attkisson, Nunes covered a number of other significant issues:

  • The committee is closing down its investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign; no evidence of collusion was found.
  • The apparently widespread practice of “unmasking” the identities of Americans under surveillance. On this point, Nunes said, “In the last administration they were unmasking hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of Americans’ names. They were unmasking for what I would say, for lack of a better definition, were for political purposes.”
  • Asked about Schiff’s criticism that Nunes behaved improperly on what he called the “midnight run to the White House,” Nunes responded that the stories were untrue. “Well, most of the time I ignore political nonsense in this town,” he said. “What I will say is that all of those stories were totally fake from the beginning.”

Not since Watergate has there been so high a degree of political tension here in Washington but the stakes for our Republic are even higher this time. Assuming abuse of FISA court procedures is documented and those responsible for playing fast and loose with the required justification for legal warrants are not held to account, the division of powers enshrined in the Constitution will be in peril.

A denouement of some kind can be expected in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington.  He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

February 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘US only gets away with meddling because of its UN veto’

RT | February 19, 2018

The US is not allowed to interfere in other countries’ affairs but gets away with it, a former CIA officer told RT. Philip Giraldi added that intelligence agencies’ resources shouldn’t be expended unless there’s a security threat.

Former CIA director James Woolsey admitted the US interfered in other countries’ elections and domestic affairs when it was “for a very good cause in the interests of democracy.”

When asked by Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show on Friday night whether the US interfered in other countries’ elections, he said “Probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid communists taking over.”

His comments followed Friday’s revelation that a US Federal Grand Jury had indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly interfering with the US 2016 election.

Giraldi told RT that he doesn’t think that CIA or any intelligence agency should have the authority to intervene on the ground that “it is a good cause.”

“Intelligence agencies exist legally because they are there to defend the country against a threat — and a threat could be any kind of threat — but in this case, messing around or doing good things or good works is not necessarily what you have an intelligence agency for. I think that this kind of argument is a false argument; that you should not use this kind of resource unless there is something that is threatening you,” he continued.

According to Giraldi, the US is not allowed to interfere in other countries’ affairs, “it just gets away with it.”

Giraldi explained that the only organization that really could sanction the US in terms of what it does internationally is the UN and the US has a veto.

“The US can stop any kind of action being taken against it when it chooses to act internationally as it has done recently in Syria, as it did in Iraq, as it has done in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen — there are many examples of what the US has done. And basically it is able to get away with these things because it is able to exercise its veto,” he added.

Giraldi also said that the US has been interfering in other counties’ elections, in the Caribbean and Latin America, since the 1930s.

“When I was in CIA in the 70s and 80s in Europe, I would say that the CIA and the US government basically were interfering in elections — almost every election that was taking place in Europe. There were legitimate concerns about communists getting in government in places like Italy and France, in Spain and Portugal. But other than that, this was just routine that the US wanted a friendly government of a certain type, and was willing to do certain things to enable that to happen,” he noted.

Giraldi pointed out that the US is “basically quite as willing as anybody else to support a dictator, if the dictator is doing what we want him to do.”

“And that is basically what all countries do. Countries use their intelligence and military resources to back up national interests,” he claimed.

Giraldi said he is “still somewhat perplexed about the allegations of these 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies,” as he suspects that this will be “less than it seems in terms of actual interference.”

“If this was a real government intelligence agency effort, it would have been better organized, it would have had better security and it would have had a much bigger budget with more people working on it. And I think in this case we are seeing something that might well be explicable in other terms than trying to destroy our democracy. It could be much ado about nothing,” he said.

February 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The US-UK Deep State Empire Strikes Back: ‘It’s Russia! Russia! Russia!’

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.02.2018

There’s no defense like a good offense.

For weeks the unfolding story in Washington has been how a cabal of conspirators in the heart of the American federal law enforcement and intelligence apparat colluded to ensure the election of Hillary Clinton and, when that failed, to undermine the nascent presidency of Donald Trump. Agencies tainted by this corruption include not only the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) but the Obama White House, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA, plus their British sister organizations MI6 and GCHQ, possibly along with the British Foreign Office (with the involvement of former British ambassador to Russia Andrew Wood) and even Number 10 Downing Street.

Those implicated form a regular rogue’s gallery of the Deep State: Peter Strzok (formerly Chief of the FBI’s Counterespionage Section, then Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division; busy bee Strzok is implicated not only in exonerating Hillary from her email server crimes but initiating the Russiagate investigation in the first place, securing a FISA warrant using the dodgy “Steele Dossier,” and nailing erstwhile National Security Adviser General Mike Flynn on a bogus charge of “lying to the FBI”); Lisa Page (Strzok’s paramour and a DOJ lawyer formerly assigned to the all-star Democrat lineup on the Robert Mueller Russigate inquisition); former FBI Director James Comey, former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and – let’s not forget – current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, himself implicated by having signed at least one of the dubious FISA warrant requests. Finally, there’s reason to believe that former CIA Director John O. Brennan may have been the mastermind behind the whole operation.

Not to be overlooked is the possible implication of a pack of former Democratic administration officials, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and President Barack Obama himself, who according to text communications between Strzok and Page “wants to know everything we’re doing.” Also involved is the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and Clinton operatives Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer – rendering the ignorance of Hillary herself totally implausible.

On the British side we have “former” (suuure . . . ) MI6 spook Christopher Steele, diplomat Wood, former GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan (who resigned a year ago under mysterious circumstances), and whoever they answered to in the Prime Minister’s office.

The growing sense of panic was palpable. Oh my – this is a curtain that just cannot be allowed to be pulled back!

What to do, what to do . . .

Ah, here’s the ticket – come out swinging against the main enemy. That’s not even Donald Trump. It’s Russia and Vladimir Putin. Russia! Russia! Russia!

Hence the unveiling of an indictment against 13 Russian citizens and three companies for alleged meddling in U.S. elections and various ancillary crimes.

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume all the allegations in the indictment are true, however unlikely that is to be the case. (While that would be the American legal rule for a complaint in a civil case, this is a criminal indictment, where there is supposedly a presumption of innocence. Rosenstein even mentioned that in his press conference, pretending not to notice that that presumption doesn’t apply to Russian Untermenschen – certainly not to Olympic athletes and really not to Russians at all, who are presumed guilty on “genetic” grounds.)

Based on the public announcement of the indictment by Rosenstein – who is effectively the Attorney General in place of the pro forma holder of that office, Jeff Sessions (R-Recused) – and on an initial examination of the indictment, and we can already draw a few conclusions:

  • Finally, “collusion” is dead! If Mueller and the anti-constitutional cabal had any hint that anyone on the Trump team cooperated with those indicted, they would have included it. They didn’t. That means that after months and months of “investigation” – or really, setting “perjury traps” and trying to nail people on unrelated accusations, like Paul Manafort’s alleged circumvention of lobbying and financial reporting laws – and wasting however many millions of dollars, Mueller and his merry band got nothing. Zip. Zilch. Bupkes. Nada. The fake charge that Trump colluded with the Russians is exposed as the fraud it always was.
  • And yet, “collusion” still lives! But while there is no actual allegation (much less evidence) that any American, much less anyone on the Trump team, “colluded” with the indicted Russians, the indictment makes it clear that Moscow sought to support Trump and disparage Hillary. Thus, Trump is guilty of being favored by Russia even if there was no actual cooperation. It’s a kind of zombie walking dead collusion, collusion by intent (of someone else) absent actual collusion. Its purpose in the indictment is to discredit Trump as a Russian puppet, albeit an unwitting one. The indictment says the Russian desperados supported Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein too – so they’re also Putin’s dupes.
  • Any and every Russian equals Putin. Incredibly, nothing in the indictment points to any connection of those indicted to the Russian government! This is on a par with the hysteria over social media placements by “Russian interests” on account of which hysterical Senators demanded that tech giants impose content controls, or dimwit CIA agents getting bilked out of $100,000 by a Russian scam artist in Berlin in exchange for – well, pretty much nothing. (The CIA denies it, which leads one to suspect it is true.) Paragraph 95 of the indictment points to what amounted to a click-bait scam to fleece American merchants and social media sites from between $25 and $50 per post for promotional content. Paragraph 88 refers to “self-enrichment” as one motive of the alleged operation. That makes a lot more sense than the bone-headed claim in the indictment that the Russian goal was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system” by posting content on “divisive U.S. political and social issues.” What! Americans disagree about stuff? The Russians are setting us against each other! In announcing the indictment, Rosenstein said the Russians wanted to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.” (He wagged his finger with resolve at that point.) It evidently doesn’t occur to Rosenstein that he and his pals have undermined public confidence in our institutions by perverting them for political ends.
  • Demonizing dissent. Those indicted allegedly sought to attract Americans’ attention to their diabolical machinations through appeal to hot-button issues (immigration, Black Lives Matter, religion, etc.) and popular hashtags (#Trump2016, #TrumpTrain, #MAGA, #Hillary4Prison). Have you taken a stand on divisive issues, Dear Reader? Have you used any of these hashtags? Are you reading this commentary? You too might be an unwitting Russian stooge! Vladimir Putin is inside your head! Hopefully DOJ will set up a hotline where patriotic citizens influenced without their knowledge can now report themselves, now that they’ve been alerted. Are you a thought criminal, comrade?
  • An amateurish, penny-ante scheme with no results – compared to what the U.S. does. At worst, even if all the allegations in the indictment are true – a big “if” – it would still amount to the kind of garden-variety kicking each other under the table that a lot of countries routinely engage in. As described in the indictment this gargantuan Russian scheme was (as reported by Politico) an “expensive [sic] effort that cost millions of dollars and employed as many as hundreds of people.” Millions of dollars! Hundreds of people! How did the American republic manage to survive the onslaught? Rosenstein was keen to point out for the umpteenth time that nothing the Russians are alleged to have done (never mind what they actually might have done, which is far less) had any impact on the election. That stands in sharp contrast to the lavishly funded, multifaceted, global political influence and meddling operations the U.S. conducts in nations around the world under the guise of “democracy promotion.” The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), along with its Democratic and Republican sub-organizations, can be considered the flagship of a community of ostensibly private but government-funded or subsidized organizations that provides the soft compliment to American hard military power. The various governmental, quasi-governmental, and nongovernmental components of this network – sometimes called the “Demintern” in analogy to the Comintern, an organization comparable in global ambition if differing in ideology and methods – are also coordinated internationally at the official level through the less-well-known “Community of Democracies.” It is often difficult to know where the “official” entities (CIA, NATO, the State Department, Pentagon, USAID) divide from ostensibly nongovernmental but tax dollar-supported groups (NED, Freedom House, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and privately funded organizations that cooperate with them towards common goals (especially the Open Society organizations funded by billionaire George Soros). Among the specialties of this network are often successfulcolor revolutions” targeting leaders and governments disfavored by Washington for regime change – a far cry from the pathetic Russian operation alleged in the indictment.
  • Mitt Romney was right.” Already many of Trump’s supporters are not only crowing with satisfaction that the indictment proves there was no collusion but refocusing their gaze from the domestic culprits within the FBI, DOJ, etc., to a bogus foreign threat. “This whole saga just brings back the 2012 election, and the fact that Mitt Romney was right” for “suggesting that Russia is our greatest geopolitical foe,” is the new GOP meme. To the extent that Russiagate was less about Trump than ensuring that enmity with Russia will be permanent and will continue to deepen, this latest Mueller indictment is a smashing success already.

The Mueller indictment against the Russians is a well-timed effort to distract Americans’ attention from the real collusion rotting the core of our public life by shifting attention to a foreign enemy. Many of the people behind it are the very officials who are themselves complicit in the rot. But the sad fact is that it will probably work.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CIA operative says US has long meddled in elections, but it’s OK since they are ‘god cops’

RT | February 18, 2018

In an article published in the New York Times on Saturday, former CIA officers and several researchers, who have been studying covert US intelligence operations for years, say that the while methods allegedly used by Russians to meddle into the US elections might slightly differ from the old school CIA operations overseas, there is nothing in the allegations against Russians that Americans haven’t done themselves.

“If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,” retired CIA veteran Steven Hall told NYT’s Scott Shane.

Hall, who left his job as CIA Chief of Russian Operations in 2015 after 30 years of service, noted that the US has never shunned attempting to meddle in other countries’ elections.

Saying that the CIA had “absolutely” engaged in such operations in the past, Hall added that he hopes “we keep doing it.”

Thirteen Russian nationals and three entities were indicted on Friday as part of the special FBI counsel Robert Mueller’s lingering probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, and collusion between Moscow and US President Donald Trump’s campaign. As proof to support either of the two allegations is still scant, the Russians listed in the indictment were accused of waging “information warfare against the United States of America,” including by sowing discord on social media with “divisive” posts on Facebook and Twitter.

While the social media boom is a recent phenomenon, the US intelligence has a long record of weaponizing information, albeit in a more conventional form, Loch Johnson, a scholar at the University of Georgia, who has been investigating the CIA since the 1970s, told the Times.

“We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash,” Johnson said, recounting that in the late 1980s he was told by CIA operatives that they used to plant reports that fit the US agenda or bluntly fake news in foreign newspapers by the dozen. The number of such daily “insertions” ran in as many as 70 to 80 publications, he recounted.

But when the US does it, it’s for the greater good, the scholar and the CIA officers claim.

Likening the American operations to what Russia is accused of, “is like saying cops and bad guys are the same because they both have guns — the motivation matters,” Hall said. Because, just like the bloody wars the US is waging around the world, it is being done for the sake of democracy.

Contrary to the supposed Russian onslaught on the American democracy, which, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, did not affect the outcome of the presidential elections, some US meddling did lead to actual changes of power across Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

According to a survey by Researcher Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy, the US meddled in elections at least 81 times from 1946 to 2000, including in Yugoslavia in the 2000 against Slobodan Milosevic.

The number, however, does not include the military coups orchestrated by the US, or regime changes as a result of the US interventions, some of which had precious little to do with democracy, such as the rise of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet after the violent overthrow of President Salvador Allende in 1973. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the US did not give up on its interventionist policy. The most recent examples include the US-led NATO intervention in Libya that brought down strongman Muammar Gaddafi, but failed to deliver a semblance of democracy. The war-ravaged country is being torn between three different power centers seven years after the military incursion.

The US role in the coup in Ukraine, which paved way for bloodshed in the country’s east, has been widely reported. Last year, former US Vice President Joe Biden admitted in his memoir that he demanded former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich resign in 2014, telling him that his “time was over.”

Biden also boasted that he played a part in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor during a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk in March 2016.

Read more:

Venezuela’s Maduro may be kicked out by own military & get ‘nice’ exile in Cuba, Tillerson hints

‘Democrats & MSM wreaked far more havoc than Russians’ – White House spokesman

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Russians Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy

By Ray McGovern and William Binney | Consortium News | February 16, 2108

Moscow is showing understandable concern over the lowering of the threshold for employing nuclear weapons to include retaliation for cyber-attacks, a change announced on Feb. 2 in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

Explaining the shift in U.S. doctrine on first-use, the NPR cites the efforts of potential adversaries “to design and use cyber weapons” and explains the change as a “hedge” against non-nuclear threats. In response, Russia described the move as an “attempt to shift onto others one’s own responsibility” for the deteriorating security situation.

Moscow’s concern goes beyond rhetoric. Cyber-attacks are notoriously difficult to trace to the actual perpetrator and can be pinned easily on others in what we call “false-flag” operations. These can be highly destabilizing – not only in the strategic context, but in the political arena as well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has good reason to believe he has been the target of a false-flag attack of the political genre. We judged this to be the case a year and a half ago, and said so. Our judgment was fortified last summer – thanks to forensic evidence challenging accusations that the Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee and provided emails to WikiLeaks. (Curiously, the FBI declined to do forensics, even though the “Russian hack” was being described as an “act of war.”)

Our conclusions were based on work conducted over several months by highly experienced technical specialists, including another former NSA technical director (besides co-author Binney) and experts from outside the circle of intelligence analysts.

On August 9, 2017, investigative reporter Patrick Lawrence summed up our findings in The Nation. “They have all argued that the hack theory is wrong and that a locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation,” he explained.

As we wrote in an open letter to Barack Obama dated January 17, three days before he left office, the NSA’s programs are fully capable of capturing all electronic transfers of data. “We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks,” our letter said. “If NSA cannot produce such evidence – and quickly – this would probably mean it does not have any.”

A ‘Dot’ Pointing to a False Flag?

In his article, Lawrence included mention of one key, previously unknown “dot” revealed by WikiLeaks on March 31, 2017. When connected with other dots, it puts a huge dent in the dominant narrative about Russian hacking. Small wonder that the mainstream media immediately applied white-out to the offending dot.

Lawrence, however, let the dot out of the bag, so to speak: “The list of the CIA’s cyber-tools WikiLeaks began to release in March and labeled Vault 7 includes one called Marble Framework that is capable of obfuscating the origin of documents in false-flag operations and leaving markings that point to whatever the CIA wants to point to.”

If congressional oversight committees summon the courage to look into “Obfus-Gate” and Marble, they are likely to find this line of inquiry as lucrative as the Steele “dossier.” In fact, they are likely to find the same dramatis personae playing leading roles in both productions.

Two Surprising Visits

Last October CIA Director Mike Pompeo invited one of us (Binney) into his office to discuss Russian hacking. Binney told Pompeo his analysts had lied and that he could prove it.

In retrospect, the Pompeo-Binney meeting appears to have been a shot across the bow of those cyber warriors in the CIA, FBI, and NSA with the means and incentive to adduce “just discovered” evidence of Russian hacking. That Pompeo could promptly invite Binney back to evaluate any such “evidence” would be seen as a strong deterrent to that kind of operation.

Pompeo’s closeness to President Donald Trump is probably why the heads of Russia’s three top intelligence agencies paid Pompeo an unprecedented visit in late January. We think it likely that the proximate cause was the strategic danger Moscow sees in the nuclear-hedge-against-cyber-attack provision of the Nuclear Posture Statement (a draft of which had been leaked a few weeks before).

If so, the discussion presumably focused on enhancing hot-line and other fail-safe arrangements to reduce the possibility of false-flag attacks in the strategic arena — by anyone – given the extremely high stakes.

Putin may have told his intelligence chiefs to pick up on President Donald Trump’s suggestion, after the two met last July, to establish a U.S.-Russian cyber security unit. That proposal was widely ridiculed at the time. It may make good sense now.

Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, was chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and briefed the President’s Daily Brief one-on-one from 1981-1985. William Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US ‘Stumbled Into Torture,’ Says NYT Reporter

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | February 15, 2018

As part of a promotion for the upcoming “Look, Evil Russians!” film Red Sparrow (hyping Hollywood films is apparently a thing reporters do now), New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane (2/14/18) wrote a synergistic Cold War 2.0 essay about the CIA’s alleged attempt to recruit him. It included a rather jarring—if not risible—paragraph summarizing Shane’s years of reporting:

All these years later, I assume my name appears in multiple files at the CIA, the National Security Agency and perhaps other corners of the sprawling security bureaucracy, with gripes and comments related to my coverage of how America stumbled into torture; how drone strikes went wrong; espionage cases; WikiLeaks cables; Snowden documents; Russian hackers and the Shadow Brokers; and probably stories I’ve forgotten.

Two clauses stand out for their confident attribution of benevolent motives to US foreign policy. First, there’s the idea that “America stumbled into torture,” rather than planned, plotted and spent over 15 years carrying out a policy of torture. This pretends that the US’s massive global torture regime—which involved drownings, beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, among other techniques, along with “extraordinary rendition” to allied countries for less refined torture methods–was something other than a deliberate policy initiative.

As FAIR (6/22/17) noted last year, corporate media routinely assert that the US “stumbles,” “slips” or is “dragged into” war and other forms of organized violence, rather than planning deliberate acts of aggression. For reporters in foreign policy circles, the US only does immoral things on accident—unlike Official Bad Countries, which do them for calculated gain when they aren’t motivated by sheer malice.

The second clause, claiming that “drone strikes went wrong,” is a passive way of suggesting that civilian deaths are an unforeseen accident rather than a predictable consequence baked into the cake of the US’s permawar on terror. The US doesn’t murder civilians, it simply launches missiles at unknown and faceless brown people in Yemen and Afghanistan, and sometimes the missiles “go wrong.” While Shane has certainly reported on these respective crimes (as he proudly notes), he has done so in a similar, limited fashion that treats them as unfortunate mishaps, rather than intentional features of a violent empire.

For an essay that is more or less Shane patting himself on the back for holding power to account instead of becoming a spook, his instinct to assume noble intentions on the part of these spooks is a telling indication of the broader ethos of corporate media’s national security reporting: Criticism is welcome around the margins, so long as motives are never challenged.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

When Former Spies Turn into TV ‘Experts’

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2018

Once upon a time in the United States there was a general perception that organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were both apolitical and high-minded, existing only to calmly and professionally promote the safety and security of the nation. Directors of both organizations often retired quietly without fanfare to compose their memoirs, but apart from that, they did not meddle in politics and maintained low profiles. There was a widespread belief at CIA that former officers should rightly retire to a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could breed Labrador retrievers or cultivate orchids.

But the relative respectability of America’s national security agencies largely vanished in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist incidents. It was learned that both the CIA and FBI had made fatal mistakes in their investigations of the al-Qaeda group, putting in question their effectiveness, and the leaders of both organizations began to focus on pleasing their political masters. The appearance of CIA Director George Tenet at the United Nations supporting lies promoted by Secretary of State Colin Powell was a low point, but there were many more to follow.

The 2016 election brought out the worst in the CIA’s leadership, with its Director John Brennan lining up behind Hillary Clinton together with former Acting Director Michael Morell and former Director Michael Hayden. Morell even claimed that Trump was a Russian agent. Indeed, there has been remarkably little speculation regarding the possible roles of some senior intelligence officials, most notably CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom were in office during the electoral campaign. In September 2016, the two men reportedly were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which might have motivated FBI’s James Comey to investigate the Trump associates. Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump.

Currently the senior officials who were so hostile to Donald Trump have decided against going quietly into their generously rewarded retirements. Morell has long been a paid contributing “expert” for CBS news, Hayden has had the same role at CNN, and they are are now being joined by John Brennan at NBC. Brennan, an NBC “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” is an Obama-Clinton loyalist who can be relied upon to oppose policies and actions undertaken by the Trump Administration, admittedly not a bad thing, but he will be doing so from a strictly partisan perspective. And the danger is that his tag as former CIA Director will give him a certain credibility, which, depending on the issue, might not be deserved or warranted. To be sure CIA interests will be protected, but they will be secondary to commentary from a partisan and revenge seeking John Brennan who is out to burnish his own sorry reputation. He looks perpetually angry when he is on television because he is.

Brennan has behaved predictably in his new role. In his first appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday he said that the Steele dossier did “not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was presented to President Obama…” which is a lie.  He denounced the release of the so-called “Nunes memo” by the House Intelligence Committee because it was “exceptionally partisan,” which is true, and because it exposes secrets, which it does not. Brennan is also a leader of the blame Russia movement. He has claimed without providing any evidence that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the 2016 election and he can be counted upon to be yet one more anti-Russian voice on the mainstream media.

Brennan, who was hated by much of the CIA’s rank-and-file during his tenure as director, does not have much of a reputation for truth-telling. He lied  about how the Agency under his leadership tried to spy on and disrupt the Senate’s investigation into CIA torture. He was also the driving force behind the Obama administration “kill list” of U.S. citizens selected for assassination. Concerns that Brennan will represent the Agency’s viewpoint on NBC News are largely irrelevant as the network should have instead considered his credibility and judgment before hiring him.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments