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We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth

By Edward Curtin | January 15, 2018

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest, the promotion of individualism at the expense of a mass movement for radical institutional change.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” warned Dr. King, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

How true those words. For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service. It is what you are not supposed to know.

The word service is a loaded word, a smiley face word. It has also become a vogue word over the past 35 years. Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly, activities that are good in themselves but far less good when used to conceal an American prophet’s radical message. After all, Martin Luther King’s work was not volunteering at the local food pantry with Oprah Winfrey cheering him on.

The Assassination

King was not murdered because he had spent his heroic life promoting individual volunteerism. To understand his life and death – to celebrate the man – “it is essential to realize although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that. A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.” Those are the words of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, from his comprehensive and definitive study of the King assassination, The Plot to Kill King, a book that should be read by anyone concerned with truth and justice.

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off. Fifty years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects. And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and then urging Americans to make it “a day of service.” The vast majority of those who innocently participate in these activities have no idea who killed King, or why. If they did, they might pause in their tracks, and combine their “service” activities with a teach-in on the truth of these matters.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead and no longer a threat – praised him to the heavens. This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

Educating people about the fact that U.S. government forces conspired to kill Dr. King, and why, and why it matters today, is the greatest service we can render to his memory.

William Pepper’s decades-long investigation not only refutes the flimsy case against the alleged assassin James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures.

The Trial

This shocking truth is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day civil trial with over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK. The King family had brought the suit and Pepper represented them. They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried by the media in cahoots with the government.

Pepper not only demolishes the government’s self-serving case with a plethora of evidence, but shows how the mainstream media, academia, and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation. Another way they have accomplished this is by convincing a gullible public that “service” is a substitute for truth.

But service without truth is a disservice to the life, legacy, and radical witness of this great American hero. It is propaganda aimed at convincing decent people that they are serving the essence of MLK’s message while they are obeying their masters, the very government that murdered him.

It is time to rebel against the mind manipulation served by the MLK Day of Service. Let us offer service, but let us also learn and tell the truth.

“He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery,” King told us, “Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.”

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 11, 2018

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their third debate,
as Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through “Security 101.” Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

More of the Strzok-Page texting dialogue is expected to be released. And the Department of Justice Inspector General reportedly has additional damaging texts from others on the team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller selected to help him investigate Russia-gate.

Besides forcing the removal of Strzok and Page, the text exposures also sounded the death knell for the career of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in whose office some of the plotting took place and who has already announced his plans to retire soon.

But the main casualty is the FBI’s 18-month campaign to sabotage candidate-and-now-President Donald Trump by using the Obama administration’s Russia-gate intelligence “assessment,” electronic surveillance of dubious legality, and a salacious dossier that could never pass the smell test, while at the same time using equally dubious techniques to immunize Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers from crimes that include lying to the FBI and endangering secrets.

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for “evidence” of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call “means, motive and opportunity.”

Even more unfortunately for Russia-gate enthusiasts, the FBI lovers’ correspondence provides factual evidence exposing much of the made-up “Resistance” narrative – the contrived storyline that The New York Times and much of the rest of the U.S. mainstream media deemed fit to print with little skepticism and few if any caveats, a scenario about brilliantly devious Russians that not only lacks actual evidence – relying on unverified hearsay and rumor – but doesn’t make sense on its face.

The Russia-gate narrative always hinged on the preposterous notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin foresaw years ago what no American political analyst considered even possible, the political ascendancy of Donald Trump. According to the narrative, the fortune-telling Putin then risked creating even worse tensions with a nuclear-armed America that would – by all odds – have been led by a vengeful President Hillary Clinton.

Besides this wildly improbable storyline, there were flat denials from WikiLeaks, which distributed the supposedly “hacked” Democratic emails, that the information came from Russia – and there was the curious inability of the National Security Agency to use its immense powers to supply any technical evidence to support the Russia-hack scenario.

The Trump Shock

But the shock of Trump’s election and the decision of many never-Trumpers to cast their lot with the Resistance led to a situation in which any prudent skepticism or demand for evidence was swept aside.

So, on Jan. 6, 2017, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released an evidence-free report that he said was compiled by “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA, offering an “assessment” that Russia and President Putin were behind the release of the Democratic emails in a plot to help Trump win the presidency.

Despite the extraordinary gravity of the charge, even New York Times correspondent Scott Shane noted that proof was lacking. He wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] 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. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

But the “assessment” served a useful purpose for the never-Trumpers: it applied an official imprimatur on the case for delegitimizing Trump’s election and even raised the long-shot hope that the Electoral College might reverse the outcome and possibly install a compromise candidate, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the White House. Though the Powell ploy fizzled, the hope of somehow removing Trump from office continued to bubble, fueled by the growing hysteria around Russia-gate.

Virtually all skepticism about the evidence-free “assessment” was banned. For months, the Times and other newspapers of record repeated the lie that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had concurred in the conclusion about the Russian “hack.” Even when that falsehood was belatedly acknowledged, the major news outlets just shifted the phrasing slightly to say that U.S. intelligence agencies had reached the Russian “hack” conclusion. Shane’s blunt initial recognition about the lack of proof disappeared from the mainstream media’s approved narrative of Russia-gate.

Doubts about the Russian “hack” or dissident suggestions that what we were witnessing was a “soft coup” were scoffed at by leading media commentators. Other warnings from veteran U.S. intelligence professionals about the weaknesses of the Russia-gate narrative and the danger of letting politicized intelligence overturn a constitutional election were also brushed aside in pursuit of the goal of removing Trump from the White House.

It didn’t even seem to matter when new Russia-gate disclosures conflicted with the original narrative that Putin had somehow set Trump up as a Manchurian candidate. All normal journalistic skepticism was jettisoned. It was as if the Russia-gate advocates started with the conclusion that Trump must go and then made the facts fit into that mold, but anyone who noted the violations of normal investigative procedures was dismissed as a “Trump enabler” or a “Moscow stooge.”

The Text Evidence

But then came the FBI text messages, providing documentary evivdence that key FBI officials involved in the Russia-gate investigation were indeed deeply biased and out to get Trump, adding hard proof to Trump’s longstanding lament that he was the subject of a “witch hunt.”

Justified or not, Trump’s feeling of vindication could hardly be more dangerous — particularly at a time when the most urgent need is to drain some testosterone from the self-styled Stable-Genius-in-Chief and his martinet generals.

On the home front, Trump, his wealthy friends, and like-thinkers in Congress may now feel they have an even wider carte blanche to visit untold misery on the poor, the widow, the stranger and other vulnerable humans. That was always an underlying danger of the Resistance’s strategy to seize on whatever weapons were available – no matter how reckless or unfair – to “get Trump.”

Beyond that, Russia-gate has become so central to the Washington establishment’s storyline that there appears to be no room for second-thoughts or turning back. The momentum is such that some Democrats and the media never-Trumpers can’t stop stoking the smoke of Russia-gate and holding out hope against hope that it will somehow justify Trump’s impeachment.

Yet, the sordid process of using legal/investigative means to settle political scores further compromises the principle of the “rule of law” and integrity of journalism in the eyes of many Americans. After a year of Russia-gate, the “rule of law” and “pursuit of truth” appear to have been reduced to high-falutin’ phrases for political score-setttling, a process besmirched by Republicans in earlier pursuits of Democrats and now appearing to be a bipartisan method for punishing political rivals regardless of the lack of evidence.

Strzok and Page

Peter Strzok (pronounced “struck”) has an interesting pedigree with multiple tasks regarding both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. As the FBI’s chief of counterespionage during the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a personal email server for classified information, Strzok reportedly changed the words “grossly negligent” (which could have triggered legal prosecution) to the far less serious “extremely careless” in FBI Director James Comey’s depiction of Clinton’s actions. This semantic shift cleared the way for Comey to conclude just 20 days before the Democratic National Convention began in July 2016, that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Mrs. Clinton.

Then, as Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Strzok led the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election of 2016. It is a safe bet that he took a strong hand in hand-picking the FBI contingent of analysts that joined “hand-picked” counterparts from CIA and NSA in preparing the evidence-free, Jan. 6, 2017 assessment accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of interfering in the election of 2016. (Although accepted in Establishment groupthink as revealed truth, that poor excuse for analysis reflected the apogee of intelligence politicization — rivaled only by the fraudulent intelligence on “weapons of mass destruction“ in Iraq 15 years ago.)

In June and July 2017 Strzok was the top FBI official working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but was taken off that job when the Justice Department IG learned of the Strzok-Page text-message exchange and told Mueller.

There is no little irony in the fact that what did in the FBI sweathearts was their visceral disdain for Mr. Trump, their cheerleading-cum-kid-gloves treatment of Mrs. Clinton and her associates, their 1950-ish, James Clapperesque attitude toward Russians as “almost genetically driven” to evil, and their (Strzok/Page) elitist conviction that they know far better what is good for the country than regular American citizens, including those “deplorables” whom Clinton said made up half of Trump’s supporters.

But Strzok/Page had no idea that their hubris, elitism and scheming would be revealed in so tangible a way. Worst of all for them, the very thing that Strzok, in particular, worked so hard to achieve — the sabotaging of Trump and immunization of Mrs. Clinton and her closest advisers is now coming apart at the seams.

Congress: Oversee? or Overlook?

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, with almost four decades of membership in the House and Senate, openly warned incoming President Trump in January 2017 against criticizing the U.S. intelligence community because U.S. intelligence officials have “six ways from Sunday to get back at you” if you are “dumb” enough to take them on.

Thanks to the almost 10,000 text messages between Strzok and Page, only a small fraction of which were given to Congress four weeks ago, there is now real evidentiary meat on the bones of the suspicions that there indeed was a “deep-state coup” to “correct” the outcome of the 2016 election. We now know that the supposedly apolitical FBI officials had huge political axes to grind. The Strzok-Page exchanges drip with disdain for Trump and those deemed his smelly deplorable supporters. In one text message, Strzok expressed visceral contempt for those working-class Trump voters, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”

The texts even show Strzok warning of the need for an “insurance policy” to thwart Trump on the off-chance that his poll numbers closed in on those of Mrs. Clinton.

An Aug. 6, 2016 text message, for example, shows Page giving her knight in shining armor strong affirmation: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [Trump].” That text to Strzok includes a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, in which Brooks concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”

Another text message shows that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 15, 2016, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”  Strzok added, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

Insurance Policy?

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he will ask Strzok to explain the “insurance policy” when he calls him to testify. What seems already clear is that the celebrated “Steele Dossier” was part of the “insurance,” as was the evidence-less legend that Russia hacked the DNC’s and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.

If congressional investigators have been paying attention, they already know what former weapons inspector Scott Ritter shared with Veteran intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) colleagues this week; namely, that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, who commissioned the Russia dossier using Democratic Party money, said he reached out to Steele after June 17, just three days before Steele’s first report was published, drawing on seven sources.

“There is a snowball’s chance in hell that this is raw intelligence gathered by Steele; rather he seems to have drawn on a single ‘trusted intermediary’ to gather unsubstantiated rumor already in existence.”

Another VIPS colleague, Phil Giraldi, writing out of his own experience in private sector consulting, added: “The fact that you do not control your sources frequently means that they will feed you what they think you want to hear. Since they are only doing it for money, the more lurid the details the better, as it increases the apparent value of the information. The private security firm in turn, which is also doing it for the money, will pass on the stories and even embroider them to keep the client happy and to encourage him to come back for more. When I read the Steele dossier it looked awfully familiar to me, like the scores of similar reports I had seen which combined bullshit with enough credible information to make the whole product look respectable.”

It is now widely known that the Democrats ponied up the “insurance premiums,” so to speak, for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s “dossier” of lurid — but largely unproven — “intelligence” on Trump and the Russians. If, as many have concluded, the dossier was used to help justify a FISA warrant to snoop on the Trump campaign, those involved will be in deep kimchi, if congressional overseers do their job.

How, you might ask, could Strzok and associates undertake these extra-legal steps with such blithe disregard for the possible consequences should they be caught? The answer is easy; Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? This was just extra insurance with no expectation of any “death benefit” ever coming into play — save for Trump’s electoral demise in November 2016. The attitude seemed to be that, if abuse of the FISA law should eventually be discovered — there would be little interest in a serious investigation by the editors of The New York Times and other anti-Trump publications and whatever troubles remained could be handled by President Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee of Judiciary on Crime and Terrorism, joined Sen. Grassley in signing the letter referring Christopher Steele to the Justice Department to investigate what appear to be false statements about the dossier. In signing, Graham noted the “many stop signs the Department of Justice ignored in its use of the dossier.” The signature of committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, however, was missing — an early sign that a highly partisan battle royale is in the offing. On Tuesday, Feinstein unilaterally released a voluminous transcript of Glenn Simpson’s earlier testimony and, as though on cue, Establishment pundits portrayed Steele as a good source and Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson as a victim.

The Donnybrook is now underway; the outcome uncertain.

+++++++++++++

Sample text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, released to Congress and the media on December 13, 2016

++++++++++++++

03/04/2016

Strzok – God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.

Page – I know

++++++++++++

04/02/2016

Page – So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting, bc you feel bad that you’re gone so much but that can’t be helped right now.

++++++++++

07/08/2016

Strzok – And meanwhile, we have Black Lives Matter protestors, right now, chanting “no justice no peace” around DoJ and the White House…

Page – That’s awful.

+++++++++

07/14/2016

Page – Have you read this? It’s really frightening. For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance http://NYTI/ms/29WCu5!

Strzok – I have not. But I think it’s clear he’s capturing all the white, poor voters who the mainstream republicans abandoned in all but name in the quest for the almighty $$$

Page – Yeah, it’s not good.

Strzok – Poll Finds Emails Weighing on Hillary Clinton, Now Tied With Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/29RV5gf

Page – It is

+++++++++++++

07/26/2016

Strzok – And hey. Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time! Many many more returns of the day!!

Page – That’s cute. Thanks

++++++++++

08/06/2016

Page – Jesus. You should read this. And Trump should go f himself. Moment in Convention Glare Shakes Up Khans American Life http://nyti.ms/2aHulE0

Strzok – God that’s a great article. Thanks for sharing. And F TRUMP.

++++++++

08/06/2016

Page – And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace. To that end comma, read this:

Page – Trump Enablers Will Finally Have to Take A Stand http://nyti.ms/2aFakry

Strzok – Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps

++++++++++++

08/09/2016

Page – He’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?!

Strzok – OMG did you hear what Trump just said?

+++++++++++

08/26/2016

Strzok – Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support…

Page – Yep. Out to lunch with (redacted) We both hate everyone and everything.

Page – Just riffing on the hot mess that is our country.

Strzok – Yeah…it’s scary real down here

+++++++++

10/20/2016

Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.

Strzok – I CAN’T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F**K HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY (redacted)??!?!

Page– I don’t know. But we’ll get it back. We’re America. We rock.

Strzok– Donald just said “bad hombres”

Strzok– Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.

END

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was an Army and CIA intelligence analyst for 30 years; prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan; and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Congress Seeks to Increase FBI Surveillance Powers, Here’s What They Already Got

Surveillance

Sputnik – January 10, 2018

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives are expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would codify into law some surveillance practices that have previously been criticized as unconstitutional.

The bill would re-authorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which serves as the basis of some of the US government’s largest surveillance programs.

Section 702 was authorized in 2008 and was set to expire on December 31, 2017, but was prolonged until January 19 as Congress was unable to reach an agreement on the terms of its re-authorization.

This section allows intelligence agencies to surveil the transnational communications of Americans without a warrant, as long as the “target” is not a US citizen. The problem is that this, due to loopholes, often results in the warrantless surveillance of US citizens as well.

The proposed bill seeks to close the so-called backdoor search loophole, where the National Security Agency (NSA) shares certain kinds of information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which can then be used by the FBI to search Americans’ communications without a warrant.

However, while the bill seeks to close the loophole, it would make significant exceptions. For example, FBI does not have to apply for a warrant if it is a matter of national security or when it determines that there is a “threat to life or serious bodily harm.”

The bill also addresses the so-called “about” collection, a practice where the NSA may search through communications, including those of American citizens, in order to collect communications that are “about” a targeted non-American individual. While the bill will legally forbid the practice, it will establish certain provisions whereby the practice can be continued in individual, specific cases.

The bill has provoked concerns from privacy advocates as well as some privacy-minded Republican and Democrat lawmakers.

“The bill’s language risks being read as a codification and expansion of certain illegal government practices such as collecting communications that are not to or from a surveillance target, including domestic communications,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement Friday, calling on Congress to abandon efforts to pass the legislation.

FBI Surveillance Powers

Critics warn that the approval of the bill would further increase the FBI’s intelligence and surveillance powers. They were significantly expanded by the 2001 Patriot Act, which was aimed at strengthening national security after the 9/11 attacks.

In particular, under the Patriot Act, the FBI can covertly conduct physical searches or wiretaps of American citizens in order to obtain evidence of crime without having to prove probable cause, which critics say contradicts the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.

The legislation also gives the FBI unchecked power to access the records of citizens’ activities held by a third party, including financial records, medical histories, internet browsing history, library visits, travel patterns and any other activity that leaves a record, which has also been criticized as a violation of the Constitution.

In 2008, an amendment was made to FISA, which authorizes security and intelligence agencies, including the FBI, to monitor phone, email and other communications of American citizens “for up to a week” without a warrant, as long as one of the parties is outside the US.

The amendment has been used as the legal basis for surveillance programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, including PRISM, which involves the collection of emails, chat messages and videos from tech companies for intelligence purposes. The information is gathered by the NSA, but can be shared with other agencies, including the FBI.

Image – CCO

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

Russiagate Turns On Its Originators

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute For Political Economy | January 8, 2018

Russiagate originated in a conspiracy between the military/security complex, the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee, and the liberal/progressive/left. The goal of the military/security complex is to protect its out-sized budget and power by preventing President Trump from normalizing relations with Russia. Hillary and the DNC want to explain away their election loss by blaming a Trump/Putin conspiracy to steal the election. The liberal/progressive/left want Trump driven from office.

As the presstitutes are aligned with the military/security complex, Hillary and the DNC, and the liberal/progressive/left, the Russiagate orchestration is a powerful conspiracy against the president of the United States and the “deplorables” who elected him. Nevertheless, the Russiagate Conspiracy has fallen apart and has now been turned against its originators.

Despite the determination of the CIA and FBI to get Trump, these powerful and unaccountable police state agencies have been unable to present any evidence of the Trump/Putin conspiracy against Hillary. As William Binney, the former high level National Security Agency official who devised the spy program has stated, if there was any evidence of a Trump/Putin conspiracy to steal the US presidential election, the NSA would most certainly have it.

So where is the evidence? Why after one year and a half and a special prosecutor whose assignment is to get Trump has no evidence whatsoever been found of the Trump/Putin conspiracy? The obvious answer is that no such conspiracy ever existed. The only conspiracy is the one against Trump.

This has now become completely apparent. Russiagate originated in a fake “Trump dossier” invented by Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 intelligence officer. It is not yet clear whether it was the DNC, the CIA, or the FBI who paid Steele for the fake dossier. Perhaps he sold it to all three.
What we do know is that the FBI used what it knew to be a fake dossier to go to the FISA court for a warrant to spy on Trump.

As a consequence both Comey and the FBI, special prosecutor Mueller, and Christopher Steele are in hot water. The Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, has instructed the US Attorney General to launch a criminal investigation of Steele for false statements to FBI counterintelligence officials.

You can see where this leads as former FBI director Comey is a participant in the Russiagate attack on President Trump. To protect himself Steele will have to rat on who put him up to it. If President Trump had any sense, he would put Steele under protective custody, as his life is clearly in danger. If the CIA and the FBI don’t get him, the Clintons surely will.

Trump’s easy election shook the Republican Establishment as well as it upset the Democrats and the military/security complex. The Republican Establishment hates losing control. Initially the Republican Establishment aligned with Trump’s enemies, but now understands that Trump’s demise means their demise.

Consequently, all of a sudden in Washington facts count. Not all facts, just those relating to the Steele dossier. Be sure you listen closely and carefully to these two videos of US Representative Jim Jordan’s destruction of US Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for sitting on his ass while a totally corrupt FBI attempted to destroy the elected president of the United States. Keep in mind that Rosenstein is a member of the Trump administration. Why does the President of the United States employ people out to destroy him?

Here are the videos:

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/12/boom-rep-jim-jordan-goes-nuclear-rod-rosenstein-trump-hating-fbi-agent-peter-strzok-video/

Here are 18 questions asked by US Rep. Jim Jordan:

1) Did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, author of the dossier?
2) Was the dossier the basis for securing FISA warrants to spy on Americans? And why won’t the FBI show Congress the FISA application?
3) When did the FBI get the complete dossier and who gave it to them? Dossier author Christopher Steele? Fusion GPS? Clinton campaign/DNC? Sen. McCain’s staffer?
4) Did the FBI validate and corroborate the dossier?
5) Did Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, or Bruce Orr work on the FISA application?
6) Why and how often did DOJ lawyer Bruce Orr meet with dossier author Christopher Steele during the 2016 campaign?
7) Why did DOJ lawyer Bruce Orr meet with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson after the election? To get their story straight after their candidate Clinton lost? Or to double down and plan how they were going to go after President-elect Trump?
8) When and how did the FBI learn that DOJ lawyer Bruce Orr’s wife, Nellie Orr, worked for Fusion GPS? And what exactly was Nellie Orr’s role in putting together the dossier?
9) Why did the FBI release text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page? Normally, ongoing investigation is reason not to make such information public.
10) And why did FBI release only 375/10,000+ texts? Were they the best? Worst? Or part of a broader strategy to focus attention away from something else? And when can Americans see the other 96% of texts
11) Why did Lisa Page leave Mueller probe two weeks before Peter Strzok? This was two weeks before FBI and Special Counsel even knew about the texts.
12) Why did the intelligence community wait two months after the election to brief President-elect Trump on the dossier (January 6, 2017)? Why was James Comey selected to do the briefing?
13) Was the briefing done to “legitimize” the dossier? And who leaked the fact that the briefing was about the dossier?
14) The New York Times reported last week that George Popadopoulos’ loose lips were a catalyst for launching the Russia investigation. Was President-elect Trump briefed on this?
15) Why did Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya before and after her meeting with Donald Trump Jr.?
16) Why was FBI General Counsel Jim Baker reassigned two weeks ago? Was he the source for the first story on the dossier by David Corn on October 31, 2016? Or was it someone else at the FBI?
17) Why won’t the FBI give Congress the documents it’s requesting?
18) And why would Senator Schumer, leader of the Democrat party, publicly warn President-elect Trump on Jan. 3, 2017 that when you mess with the “intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you?”

Insouciant trusting gullible Americans who “believe in our government” have no comprehension how totally corrupt “their” government is. It is the most corrupt in the world. The corruption in Washington is really unbelievable. You have to experience it to know it, and those who experience it are part of it and will not tell.

The orchestration “Russiagate” proves that the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI are so corrupt and unaccountable that they comprise the greatest threat to the American people in the entire history of America. The only solution is to break these agencies into a thousand splinters, as President John F. Kennedy intended, and rebuild them from scratch with total transparency. No more protecting their vast crimes under the cloak of “national security.” No classification of any so-called intelligence unless it can pass a unanamous vote of Congress and the ACLU.

The orchestration of Russiagate is proof that the alleged “national security agencies” are an anti-American force detrimental to our survival as a free people. The criminals in the FBI, CIA, and DNC must be investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned or freedom in America is forever dead.

If President Trump fails in this task, he will have failed America. Everyone of us will be the victims.

One question with which we are left is why has the mainstream media failed in its investigating and reporting responsibilities and instead served as a cheerleader for the orchestration known as Russiagate? The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and the rest are serving as public relations agents for Russiagate, leaving it to Rep. Jim Jordan to ask the questions that the media should be asking. What explains the convergence of media and FBI/CIA interests? Are hidden subsidies involved? As the mainstream media is behaving as it would be if it were owned and controlled by the security agencies, this is a natural question. Why is the media not disturbed by its close relationship to the FBI and CIA? When did it become the function of the media to help the CIA and FBI control explanations?

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

The Times Rides to Mueller’s Rescue

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • January 2, 2018

What caused the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016, which evolved into the criminal investigation that is said today to imperil the Trump presidency?

As James Comey’s FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have, for 18 months, failed to prove Donald Trump’s “collusion” with the Kremlin, what was it, in mid-2016, that justified starting this investigation?

What was the basis for the belief Trump was colluding, that he was the Manchurian candidate of Vladimir Putin? What evidence did the FBI cite to get FISA court warrants to surveil and wiretap Trump’s team?

Republican congressmen have for months been demanding answers to these questions. And, as Mueller’s men have stonewalled, suspicions have arisen that this investigation was, from the outset, a politicized operation to take down Trump.

Feeding those suspicions has been the proven anti-Trump bias of investigators. Also, wiretap warrants of Trump’s team are said to have been issued on the basis of a “dirty dossier” that was floating around town in 2016 — but which mainstream media refused to publish as they could not validate its lurid allegations.

Who produced the dossier?

Ex-British spy Christopher Steele, whose dirt was delivered by ex-Kremlin agents. And Steele was himself a hireling of Fusion GPS, the oppo research outfit enlisted and paid by the Clinton campaign and DNC.

Writes the Washington Times, Steele “paid Kremlin sources with Democratic cash.”

Yet, if Steele’s dossier is a farrago of falsehoods and fake news, and the dossier’s contents were used to justify warrants for wiretaps on Trump associates, Mueller has a problem.

Prosecutions his team brings could be contaminated by what the FBI did, leaving his investigation discredited.

Fortunately, all this was cleared up for us New Year’s Eve by a major revelation in The New York Times. Top headline on page one:

“Unlikely Source Propelled Russia Meddling Inquiry”

The story that followed correctly framed the crucial question:

“What so alarmed American officials to provoke the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?”

The Times then gave us the answer we have been looking for:

“It was not, as Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.”

The ally: Australia, whose ambassador to Britain was in an “upscale London Bar” in the West End in May 2016, drinking with a sloshed George Papadopoulos, who had ties to the Trump campaign and who informed the diplomat that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Papadopoulos had reportedly been told in April that Russia had access to Clinton’s emails.

Thus, when the DNC and John Podesta emails were splashed all over the U.S. press in June, Amb. Alexander Downer, recalling his conversation with Papadopoulos, informed his government, which has excellent ties to U.S. intelligence, and the FBI took it from there.

The Times’ story pounds home this version of events:

“The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the FBI to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russian attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of Trump’s associates conspired.”

This, the Times assures us, “answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year.”

Well, perhaps.

But if Papadopoulos’s drunken babbling to the Aussie ambassador triggered the investigation in July 2016, why was George not interviewed by the FBI until January 2017?

According to the Times, an FBI agent in Rome had been told by Steele in June 2016 what he had learned from the Russians.

And Steele was interviewed by the FBI in October 2016.

If Papadopoulos triggered the investigation, why the seeming FBI disinterest in him — as compared to Steele?

Yet another major question remains unanswered.

If, as the Times writes, the FBI was looking “into Russian attempts to disrupt the elections,” why did the FBI not open an investigation into the KGB roots of the Steele dossier that was written to destroy the Republican candidate, Donald Trump?

If Trump’s alleged “collusion” with Putin to damage Clinton was worthy of an all-out FBI investigation, why did the Clinton-DNC scheme to tie Trump to Russian prostitutes, using British spies and former KGB agents, not merit an FBI investigation?

Why was there less concern about the Clinton campaign’s ties to Russian agents, than to Trumpian “collusion” that is yet unproven?

Consider what the British spy Steele and his former KGB/FSB comrades accomplished:

They have kept alive a special counsel’s investigation that has divided our country, imperiled the FBI’s reputation, preoccupied and damaged a president, and partially paralyzed the U.S. government.

Putin must be marveling at the astonishing success of his old comrades from KGB days, who could pull off an intelligence coup like this and so cripple the superpower that won the Cold War.

Copyright 2018 Creators.com.

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Protecting the Shaky Russia-gate Narrative

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the third presidential debate in 2016, during which Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 15, 2017

If Russia-gate is the massive scandal that we are told it is by so many Important People — across the U.S. mainstream media and the political world — why do its proponents have to resort to lies and exaggerations to maintain the pillars supporting the narrative?

A new example on Thursday was The New York Times’ statement that a Russian agency “spent $100,000 on [Facebook’s] platform to influence the United States presidential election last year” – when the Times knows that statement is not true.

According to Facebook, only 44 percent of that amount appeared before the U.S. presidential election in 2016 (i.e., $44,000) and few of those ads addressed the actual election. And, we know that the Times is aware of the truth because it was acknowledged in a Times article in early October.

As part of that article, Times correspondents Mike Isaac and Scott Shane reported that the ads also covered a wide range of other topics: “There was even a Facebook group for animal lovers with memes of adorable puppies that spread across the site with the help of paid ads.”

As nefarious as the Times may think it is for Russians to promote a Facebook page about “adorable puppies,” the absurdity of that concern – and the dishonesty of the Times then “forgetting” what it itself reported just two months ago about the timing and contents of these “Russian-linked ads” – tells you a great deal about Russia-gate.

On Thursday, the Times chose to distort what it already knew to be true presumably because it didn’t want to make the $100,000 ad buy (which is not a particularly large sum) look even smaller and less significant by acknowledging the pre-election total was less than half that modest amount – and even that total had little to do with the election.

Why would the Times lie? Because to tell the truth would undercut the narrative of evil Russians defeating Hillary Clinton and putting Donald Trump in the White House – the core narrative of Russia-gate.

Another relevant fact is that Facebook failed to find any “Russian-linked” ads during its first two searches and only detected the $100,000 after a personal visit from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading legislator on Internet regulation.

In other words, Facebook’s corporate executives dredged up something to appease Warner. That way, Warner and the Democrats could blame Russia for the Trump presidency, sparing further criticism of Clinton’s dreadful campaign (in which she labeled half of Trump’s voters “deplorables”) and her neo-liberal economic policies (and neo-conservative foreign policies) that have alienated much of America’s working class as well as many progressives.

Leaving Out Context

The Times also might have put the $100,000 in “Russian-linked” ads over a two-year period in the context of Facebook’s $27 billion in annual revenue, but the Times didn’t do that – apparently because it would make even the full $100,000 look like a pittance.

Trimming the total down to $44,000 and admitting that only a few of those ads actually dealt with Clinton and Trump would be even worse for the Russia-gate narrative.

Ironically, the Times’ latest false depiction of the $100,000 in ads as designed “to influence” the 2016 election appeared in an article about Facebook determining that other Russian-linked ads, which supposedly had a powerful effect on Great Britain’s Brexit vote, totaled just three ads at the cost of 97 cents. (That is not a misprint.)

According to Facebook, the three ads, which focused on immigration, were viewed some 200 times by Britons over four days in May 2016. Of course, the response from British parliamentarians who wanted to blame the Brexit vote on Moscow was to assert that Facebook must have missed something. It couldn’t be that many Britons had lost faith in the promise of the European Union for their own reasons.

We have seen a similar pattern with allegations about Russian interference in German and French elections, with the initial accusations being widely touted but not so much the later conclusions by serious investigations knocking down the claims. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’sGerman Intel Clears Russia on Interference.”]

The only acceptable conclusion, it seems, is “Russia Guilty!”

These days in Official Washington, it has become almost forbidden to ask for actual evidence that would prove the original claim that Russia “hacked” Democratic emails, even though the accusation came from what President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged were “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

These “hand-picked” analysts produced the evidence-lite Jan. 6 “assessment” about Russia “hacking” the emails and slipping them to WikiLeaks – a scenario denied by both WikiLeaks and Russia.

When that “assessment” was released almost a year ago, even the Times’ Scott Shane noticed the lack of proof, writing: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] 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. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

But the Times soon “forgot” what Shane had inconveniently noted and began reporting the Russian “hacking” as accepted wisdom.

The 17-Agencies Canard

Whenever scattered expressions of skepticism arose from a few analysts or non-mainstream media, the doubts were beaten back by the claim that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” concurred in the conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the hacking to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. And what kind of nut would doubt the collective judgment of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies!

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, John Brennan and other national security aides present. (Photo credit: Office of Director of National Intelligence)

Though the 17-agency canard was never true, it served an important purpose in establishing the Russia-gate groupthink. Wielding the “all 17 intelligence agencies” club, the U.S. mainstream media pounded politicians and policymakers into line, making any remaining skeptics seem more out of step and crazy.

So, in May 2017, when Clapper (along with former CIA Director John Brennan) admitted in congressional testimony that it wasn’t true that all 17 agencies concurred in the Russian hacking conclusion, those statements received very little attention in the mainstream media.

The New York Times among other major news outlets just continued asserting the 17-agency falsehood until the Times was finally pressured to correct its lie in late June, but that only led to the Times shifting to slightly different but still misleading wording, citing a “consensus” among the intelligence agencies without mentioning a number or by simply stating the unproven hacking claim as flat fact.

Even efforts to test the Russian-hack claims through science were ignored or ridiculed. When former NSA technical director William Binney conducted experiments that showed that the known download speed of one batch of DNC emails could not have occurred over the Internet but matched what was possible for a USB-connected thumb drive — an indication that a Democratic insider likely downloaded the emails and thus that there was no “hack” — Binney was mocked as a “conspiracy theorist.”

Even with the new disclosures about deep-seated anti-Trump bias in text messages exchanged between two senior FBI officials who played important early roles in the Russia-gate investigation, there is no indication that Official Washington is willing to go back to the beginning and see how the Russia-gate story might have been deceptively spun.

In a recently released Aug. 15, 2016 text message from Peter Strzok, a senior FBI counterintelligence official, to his reputed lover, senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Strzok referenced an apparent plan to keep Trump from getting elected before suggesting the need for “an insurance policy” just in case he did. A serious investigation into Russia-gate might want to know what these senior FBI officials had in mind.

But the Times and other big promoters of Russia-gate continue to dismiss doubters as delusional or as covering up for Russia and/or Trump. By this point – more than a year into this investigation – too many Important People have bought into the Russia-gate narrative to consider the possibility that there may be little or nothing there, or even worse, that it is the “insurance policy” that Strzok envisioned.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

December 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why America’s Law Enforcement Empire Resembles Secret Police in a Dictatorship

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.12.2017

Secret police are characteristic of dictatorships, or so goes the conventional thinking on the subject. Police in democracies operate for the most part transparently and within a set of rules and guidelines that limits their ability to gratuitously punish citizens who have done nothing wrong. If a policeman operating under rule-of-law steps out of line, he can be held accountable. That is also conventional thinking.

But what happens when an ostensibly “democratic” police force becomes corrupted and starts doing things that are outside its zone of responsibility, and does so to benefit a political relationship that will in turn protect those who have broken the law under cover of carrying out their official duties? That is the characteristic of what we have been calling a “deep state,” where forces drawn generally from the political class and security services conspire together to control what the public is allowed to know while also manipulating nuisances like elections to make sure that the “correct” outcome emerges.

Indeed, deep state operating in a democracy or republic is far more dangerous that the secret police in a dictatorship. That is because in a system where the forces of the state are all-powerful, nearly everyone expects that what they read and what the government says is all a lie. In a democratic system there is what intelligence officers would refer to as plausible denial, which means that even when the government is behaving very badly much of the public will believe that it is acting honorably because they want to trust that the system works. And when the deep state includes management of the media, many citizens will likewise believe what they are reading or hearing is honest reporting, even when it is not.

Due to the events of the past year in particular, many Americans have become convinced that there now exists something like a secret police operating in the United States that is a fusion of some political dealmakers with certain politicized elements in the intelligence and security services. However one regards President Donald Trump and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, there is nevertheless something odd in terms of how they have been investigated and, in the case of Flynn, legally entrapped to convict him of lying to the FBI to force him to cut a deal with the Special Counsel inquiry headed by Robert Mueller.

Consider how, even though meeting with Russians is not illegal, Trump and his associates have been subjected to secret investigation of their Russian ties for nearly two years without any revelations apart from the fact that it was Israel, not Russia, that colluded to undermine White House policy. FBI Director James Comey’s antics during the primaries and electoral campaign, in which he first exonerated and then complained about Hillary Clinton while at the same time validating a dossier full of largely questionable information about Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia provides clear evidence of an organization that has lost its bearings and has become a politicized agent of an incumbency that has itself become corrupted and believes itself to be above the law. And then there is the Central Intelligence Agency’s own John Brennan working with the FBI to undermine the Trumps, illegally digging up dirt from the liaison intelligence partners in Europe and the Middle East.

America’s law enforcement empire has all the characteristics of secret police in a dictatorship. It is not transparent in its actions, has a history of bending the rules to obtain convictions, and its officers are rarely held accountable. It has also been politicized. And to be sure, one should recognize that there are two additional factors driving the growth and transformation of the national security state in the U.S. First is the intense dislike that the top levels of the American intelligence and police agencies have for Donald Trump personally, a contempt that Trump himself has largely earned by his scorn for much of the government that he inherited. Second is the “trust the authorities” culture that has grown up since 9/11, reinforced by fearmongering on the part of the government to justify executive overreach and enabled through anti-terror legislation that has unleashed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to act with impunity while suffering no consequences whatsoever.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal’

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 13, 2017

The disclosure of fiercely anti-Trump text messages between two romantically involved senior FBI officials who played key roles in the early Russia-gate inquiry has turned the supposed Russian-election-meddling “scandal” into its own scandal, by providing evidence that some government investigators saw it as their duty to block or destroy Donald Trump’s presidency.

As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American “deep state” exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.

In one Aug. 6, 2016 text exchange, Page told Strzok: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” At the end of that text, she sent Strzok a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, which concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”

Apparently after reading that stirring advice, Strzok replied, “And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.”

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, criticized Strzok’s boast that “I can protect our country at many levels.” Jordan said: “this guy thought he was super-agent James Bond at the FBI [deciding] there’s no way we can let the American people make Donald Trump the next president.”

In the text messages, Strzok also expressed visceral contempt for working-class Trump voters, for instance, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”

Another text message suggested that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”

It’s unclear what strategy these FBI officials were contemplating to ensure Trump’s defeat, but the comments mesh with what an intelligence source told me after the 2016 election, that there was a plan among senior Obama administration officials to use the allegations about Russian meddling to block Trump’s momentum with the voters and — if elected — to persuade members of the Electoral College to deny Trump a majority of votes and thus throw the selection of a new president into the House of Representatives under the rules of the Twelfth Amendment.

The scheme involved having some Democrats vote for former Secretary of State Colin Powell (which did happen), making him the third-place vote-getter in the Electoral College and thus eligible for selection by the House. But the plan fizzled when enough of Trump’s electors stayed loyal to their candidate to officially make him President.

After that, Trump’s opponents turned to the Russia-gate investigation as the vehicle to create the conditions for somehow nullifying the election, impeaching Trump, or at least weakening him sufficiently so he could not take steps to improve relations with Russia.

In one of her text messages to Strzok, Page made reference to a possible Watergate-style ouster of Trump, writing: “Bought all the president’s men. Figure I needed to brush up on watergate.”

As a key feature in this oust-Trump effort, Democrats have continued to lie by claiming that “all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred” in the assessment that Russia hacked the Democratic emails last year on orders from President Vladimir Putin and then slipped them to WikiLeaks to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

That canard was used in the early months of the Russia-gate imbroglio to silence any skepticism about the “hacking” accusation, and the falsehood was repeated again by a Democratic congressman during Wednesday’s hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

But the “consensus” claim was never true. In May 2017 testimony, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” was put together by “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies: the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

Biased at the Creation

And, the new revelations of high-level FBI bias puts Clapper’s statement about “hand-picked” analysts in sharper perspective, since any intelligence veteran will tell you that if you hand-pick the analysts you are effectively hand-picking the analysis.

Although it has not yet been spelled out exactly what role Strzok and Page may have had in the Jan. 6 report, I was told by one source that Strzok had a direct hand in writing it. Whether that is indeed the case, Strzok, as a senior FBI counterintelligence official, would almost surely have had input into the selection of the FBI analysts and thus into the substance of the report itself. [For challenges from intelligence experts to the Jan. 6 report, see Consortiumnews.com’sMore Holes in the Russia-gate Narrative.“]

If the FBI contributors to the Jan. 6 report shared Strzok’s contempt for Trump, it could explain why claims from an unverified dossier of Democratic-financed “dirt” on Trump, including salacious charges that Russian intelligence operatives videotaped Trump being urinated on by prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel, was added as a classified appendix to the report and presented personally to President-elect Trump.

Though Democrats and the Clinton campaign long denied financing the dossier – prepared by ex-British spy Christopher Steele who claimed to rely on second- and third-hand information from anonymous Russian contacts – it was revealed in October 2017 that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign shared in the costs, with the payments going to the “oppo” research firm, Fusion GPS, through the Democrats’ law firm, Perkins Coie.

That discovery helped ensnare another senior Justice Department official, Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who talked with Steele during the campaign and had a post-election meeting with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Recently, Simpson has acknowledged that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was hired by Fusion GPS last year to investigate Trump.

Bruce Ohr has since been demoted and Strzok was quietly removed from the Russia-gate investigation last July although the reasons for these moves were not publicly explained at the time.

Still, the drive for “another Watergate” to oust an unpopular – and to many insiders, unfit – President remains at the center of the thinking among the top mainstream news organizations as they have scrambled for Russia-gate “scoops” over the past year even at the cost of making serious reporting errors.

For instance, last Friday, CNN — and then CBS News and MSNBC — trumpeted an email supposedly sent from someone named Michael J. Erickson on Sept. 4, 2016, to Donald Trump Jr. that involved WikiLeaks offering the Trump campaign pre-publication access to purloined Democratic National Committee emails that WikiLeaks published on Sept. 13, nine days later.

Grasping for Confirmation

Since the Jan. 6 report alleged that WikiLeaks received the “hacked” emails from Russia — a claim that WikiLeaks and Russia deny — the story seemed to finally tie together the notion that the Trump campaign had at least indirectly colluded with Russia.

This new “evidence” spread like wildfire across social media. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote in an article critical of the media’s performance, some Russia-gate enthusiasts heralded the revelation with graphics of cannons booming and nukes exploding.

But the story soon collapsed when it turned out that the date on the email was actually Sept. 14, 2016, i.e., the day after WikiLeaks released the batch of DNC emails, not Sept. 4. It appeared that “Erickson” – whoever he was – had simply alerted the Trump campaign to the public existence of the WikiLeaks disclosure.

Greenwald noted, “So numerous are the false stories about Russia and Trump over the last year that I literally cannot list them all.”

Yet, despite the cascade of errors and grudging corrections, including some belated admissions that there was no “17-intelligence-agency consensus” on Russian “hacking” – The New York Times made a preemptive strike against the new documentary evidence that the Russia-gate investigation was riddled with conflicts of interest.

The Times’ lead editorial on Wednesday mocked reporters at Fox News for living in an “alternate universe” where the Russia-gate “investigation is ‘illegitimate and corrupt,’ or so says Gregg Jarrett, a legal analyst who appears regularly on [Sean] Hannity’s nightly exercise in presidential ego-stroking.”

Though briefly mentioning the situation with Strzok’s text messages, the Times offered no details or context for the concerns, instead just heaping ridicule on anyone who questions the Russia-gate narrative.

“To put it mildly, this is insane,” the Times declared. “The primary purpose of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is not to take down Mr. Trump. It’s to protect America’s national security and the integrity of its elections by determining whether a presidential campaign conspired with a foreign adversary to influence the 2016 election – a proposition that grows more plausible every day.”

The Times fumed that “roughly three-quarters of Republicans still refuse to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election – a fact that is glaringly obvious to everyone else, including the nation’s intelligence community.” (There we go again with the false suggestion of a consensus within the intelligence community.)

The Times also took to task Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, for seeking “a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 – not just Trump and Russia.” The Times insisted that “None of these attacks or insinuations are grounded in good faith.”

But what are the Times editors so afraid of? As much as they try to insult and intimidate anyone who demands serious evidence about the Russia-gate allegations, why shouldn’t the American people be informed about how Washington insiders manipulate elite opinion in pursuit of reversing “mistaken” judgments by the unwashed masses?

Do the Times editors really believe in democracy – a process that historically has had its share of warts and mistakes – or are they just elitists who think they know best and turn away their noses from the smell of working-class people at Walmart?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Yes, the FBI is America’s secret police

By James Bovard – The Hill – 12/11/17

Politifact delivered a “pants on fire” slam to Fox News on Friday because one of its commentators asserted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation “has become America’s secret police.” The FBI has legions of new champions nowadays among liberals and Democrats who hope that its probes will end Donald Trump’s presidency. This is a stunning reversal that may have J. Edgar Hoover spinning in his grave.

In order to boost the credibility of the FBI’s investigations of the Trump team, much of the media is whitewashing the bureau’s entire history. But the FBI has been out of control almost since its birth.

A 1924 American Civil Liberties Union report warned that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character.” In the 1930s, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court feared that the FBI had bugged the conference room where justices privately wrangled over landmark cases, as Tim Weiner noted in his “Enemies: A History of the FBI.” In 1945, President Harry Truman noted that “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.” And FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover compiled a list of 20,000 “potentially or actually dangerous” Americans who could be rounded up and locked away in one of the six detention camps the federal government secretly built in the 1950s.

From 1956 through 1971, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to smear innocent people by portraying them as government informants, to sic the IRS on people, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, communist, white racist, antiwar, and black organizations (including Martin Luther King Jr.). These operations involved vast numbers of warrantless wiretaps and illicit break-ins and resulted in the murder of some black militants. A Senate Committee chaired by liberal Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) issued a damning report on FBI abuses of power that should be mandatory reading for anyone who believes the bureau deserves deference today.According to Politifact, the FBI is not a “secret police agency” because “the FBI is run by laws, not by whim.” But we learned five years ago that the FBI explicitly teaches its agents that “the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” No FBI official was fired or punished when that factoid leaked out because this has been the Bureau’s tacit code for eons. Similarly, an FBI academy ethics course taught new agents that subjects of FBI investigations have “forfeited their right to the truth.” Are liberals so anxious to get Trump that they have swept under the rug the 2015 Washington Post bombshell about false FBI trial testimony that may have sentenced 32 innocent people to death?

Politifact absolved the bureau because “The FBI doesn’t torture or carry out extrajudicial executions.” Tell that to the Branch Davidians — 80 of whom died after the FBI assaulted their ramshackle home with tanks and pyrotechnic devices and collapsed much of the building on their heads even before fires burst out.

Politifact quotes a professor who asserts that “any use of unnecessary violence (by the FBI) would be met with the full force of the criminal law.” Is that why an internal FBI report claimed that every one of the 150 shootings by FBI agents between 1993 and 2011 was faultless?

FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi gunned down Vicki Weaver in 1992 as she stood in her Idaho cabin doorway holding her baby. After I accused the FBI of a coverup in a Wall Street Journal oped, FBI chief Louis Freeh denounced me for twisting the truth. But after a confidential Justice Department report leaked out revealing the FBI’s deceits and unconstitutional rules of engagement, the feds paid a $3 million wrongful death settlement to the Weaver family. When an Idaho County sought to prosecute the FBI sniper, the Justice Department invoked the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution to torpedo the case.

Politifact asserts that “just because the FBI sometimes operates in secret does not mean that it’s a ‘secret police.’” But the FBI’s secrecy is profoundly skewing American politics. More than a year after the 2016 election, Americans still have no idea the true extent of the FBI’s manipulation of the presidential campaign. Did the FBI wrongfully absolve Hillary Clinton on the email server issue? What role did the FBI have in financing or exploiting the Steele dossier? Will we ever learn the full truth?

The so-called fact checkers insists that any comparison of the FBI and KGB is “ridiculous” because the FBI is “subject to the rule of law and is democratically accountable.” But there is little or no accountability when few members of Congress have the courage to openly criticize or vigorously cross-examine FBI officials. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs admitted in 1971 that Congress was afraid of the FBI: “Our very fear of speaking out (against the FBI) … has watered the roots and hastened the growth of a vine of tyranny … which is ensnaring that Constitution and Bill of Rights which we are each sworn to uphold.” The FBI is currently scorning almost every congressional attempt at oversight. Thus far, members of Congress have responded with nothing except press releases and talk show bluster.

Politifact repeatedly scoffs at the notion that the FBI is “a secret police agency such as the old KGB.” And since the FBI is not as bad as the KGB, let’s mosey along and pretend no good citizen has a right to complain. A similar standard could exonerate any American president who was not as bad as Stalin.

In the 1960s, some conservatives adorned their cars with “Support Your Local Sheriff” bumper stickers. How long until we see Priuses with “Support Your Secretive All-Powerful Federal Agents” bumper stickers? But those who forget or deny past oppression help forge new shackles for the American people.

James Bovard is a USA Today columnist and the author of 10 books, including “Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty” (St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Flynn Case Highlights Deep Political Corruption of US Security Services

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.12.2017

Former US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is cooperating with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller to determine whether Donald Trump’s associates colluded with Russian government officials during the 2016 electoral campaign and also in the two months before president-elect Trump assumed office on January 20th. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents regarding two late December telephone exchanges with former Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

The first call was initiated at the request of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and related to Russia’s possible use of its United Nations Security Council veto to stop a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements, as the Barack Obama Administration had decided to abstain to send a message of disapproval to Tel Aviv. If Russia had agreed, which it did not, it would have meant conniving with Moscow to do something sought by Israel and opposed by the elected government still in power in Washington.

The second call possibly was requested by Donald Trump himself and was made while Flynn was lying on a beach in the Dominican Republic. It sought Russian agreement not to escalate the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats that had been set in motion by the outgoing Obama administration. Russia delayed any possible expulsions, eventually implementing them when the Trump administration proved unable to mitigate other sanctions put in place by Obama. Both phone calls took place after the American election. Neither had anything to do with possible collusion regarding the election.

Flynn’s admission that he was lying is believed to be part of an agreement with Mueller, presumably eliminating a possible jail sentence and reducing the actual penalty to payment of a fine. Mueller will undoubtedly seek Flynn’s evidence confirming that he and both Kushner and Trump were all acting in violation of the Logan Act of 1799, which they quite possibly had never heard of, that bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. At the time of the phone calls, neither Flynn nor Kushner nor Trump held any actual government office, but it should also be pointed out that no one has ever been convicted under the Logan Act and the de facto status of an incoming administration as a precedent for engaging with foreign powers has never been tested.

The Logan Act aside, the real purpose of the investigation is to “get” Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. If it were otherwise, Mueller would be looking hard at the Israeli connection since it is clear from the time line that Israel had approached Kushner who then asked Flynn to make the phone call. The New York Times described the sequence of events as “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel…” The Israeli overture is a clear example of actual foreign government interference in United States politics and foreign policy, but the interference was by Israel and not by Russia.

The Flynn case is also a prime example of how the American security services have been politically corrupted, but it is unlikely that Mueller will have any interest in that aspect of the case as the investigation itself has become little more than a political witch hunt in which the Washington-New York Establishment is seeking to explain why its candidate lost in November. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI regarding his two phone conversations on January 24th shortly after he assumed office as National Security Adviser. During his interview, he was not made aware that the Bureau already had recordings and transcripts of his phone conversations, so, in a manner of speaking, he was being set-up to fail. Mis-remembering, forgetting or attempting to avoid implication of others in the administration would inevitably all be plausibly construed as lying since the FBI knew exactly what was said.

The argument used to justify the possible Flynn entrapment by the FBI, i.e. that there was unauthorized contact with a foreign official, is in itself curious as such contact is not in itself illegal. And it also opens the door to the Bureau’s investigating other individuals who have committed no crime but who find that they cannot recall details of phone calls they were parties to that were being recorded by the government. That can easily be construed as “lying” or “perjury” with consequences that include possible prison time.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Russiagate Becomes Israelgate

Who was corrupting the American political system?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 5, 2017

Reading the mainstream media headlines relating to the flipping of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to provide evidence relating to the allegations about Russian interference in America’s last presidential election requires the suspension of one’s cognitive processes. Ignoring completely what had actually occurred, the “Russian story” with its subset of “getting Trump” was on display all through the weekend, both in the print and on the live media.

Flynn’s guilty plea is laconic, merely admitting that he had lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about what was said during two telephone conversations with then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, but there is considerable back story that emerged after the plea became public.

The two phone calls in question include absolutely nothing about possible collusion with Russia to change the outcome of the U.S. election, which allegedly was the raison d’etre behind the creation of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office in the first place. Both took place more than a month after the election and both were initiated by the Americans involved. I am increasingly convinced that Mueller ain’t got nuthin’ but this process will grind out interminably and the press will be hot on the trail until there is nowhere else to go.

Based on the information revealed regarding the two conversations, and, unlike the highly nuance-sensitive editors working for the mainstream media, this is the headline that I would have written for a featured article based on what I consider to be important: “Israel Colluded with Incoming Trump Team to Subvert U.S. Foreign Policy,” with a possible subheading “FBI Entraps National Security Adviser.”

The first phone call to Kislyak, on December 22nd, was made by Flynn at the direction of Jared Kushner, who in turn had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama Administrating was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a U.N. resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included a call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23rd.

The second phone call, made by Flynn on December 29th from a beach in the Dominican Republic, where he was on vacation, may have been ordered by Trump himself. It was a response to an Obama move to expel Russian diplomats and close two Embassy buildings over allegations of Moscow’s interfering in the 2016 election. Flynn asked the Russians not to reciprocate, making the point that there would be a new administration in place in three weeks and the relationship between the two countries might change for the better. Kislyak apparently convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin not to go tit-for-tat.

In taking the phone calls from a soon-to-be senior American official who would within weeks be part of a new administration in Washington, the Russians did nothing wrong. It would not be inappropriate to have some conversations with an incoming government team. Apart from holding off on retaliatory sanctions, Kislyak also did nothing that might be regarded as particularly responsive to Team Trump overtures. If it was an attempt to interfere in American politics, it certainly was low-keyed, and one might well describe it positively as a willingness to give the new Trump Administration a chance to improve relations.

The first phone call about Israel was not as benign as the second one about sanctions. Son-in-law Jared Kushner is Trump’s point man on the Middle East. He and his family have extensive ties both to Israel and to Netanyahu personally, to include Netanyahu’s staying at the Kushner family home in New York. The Kushner Family Foundation has funded some of Israel’s illegal settlements and also a number of conservative political groups in that country. Jared has served as a director of that foundation and it is reported that he failed to disclose the relationship when he filled out his background investigation sheet for a security clearance. All of which suggests that if you are looking for possible foreign government collusion with the incoming Trumpsters, look no further.

And it should be observed that the Israelis were not exactly shy about their disapproval of Obama and their willingness to express their views to the incoming Trump. Netanyahu said that he would do so and Trump even responded with a tweet of his own expressing disagreement with the Obama decision to abstain on the vote, but the White House knew that the comment would be coming and there was no indication from the president-elect that he was actively trying to derail or undo it.

Kushner, however, goes far beyond merely disagreeing over an aspect of foreign policy as he was trying to clandestinely reverse a decision made by his own legally constituted government. His closeness to Netanyahu makes him, in intelligence terms, a quite likely Israeli government agent of influence, even if he doesn’t quite see himself that way. He is currently working on a new peace plan for the Middle East which starts out with permanently demilitarizing the Palestinians. It will no doubt continue in the tradition of former plans which aggrandized Jewish power while stiffing the Arabs. And not to worry about the team that will be allegedly representing American interests. It is already being reported that they consist of “good, observant Jews” and will not be a problem, even though Israeli-American mega-fundraiser Haim Saban apparently described them on Sunday as “With all due respect, it’s a bunch of Orthodox Jews who have no idea about anything.”

What exactly did Kushner seek from Flynn? He asked the soon-to-be National Security Adviser to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power American government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms this does not quite equate to the Constitution’s definition of treason since Israel is not technically an enemy, but it most certainly would be covered by the Logan Act of 1799, which bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States and also could be construed as a “conspiracy against the United States” that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort. As Kushner is Jewish and certainly could be accused of dual loyalty in extremis, this part of the story obviously makes many in the U.S. Establishment and media uncomfortable, so it is being ignored and expunged from the record as quickly as possible. And don’t expect Special Counsel Mueller to do anything about the Israel connection. As an experienced operator in the Washington swamp he knows full well that the Congressmen currently calling for blood in an investigation involving Russia will turn 180 degrees against him if he tries to go after Netanyahu.

And just to demonstrate exactly how the story is shaped to protect Israel, here is a piece from the generally reliable The Hill written by Morgan Chalfant on 5 take-aways from Flynn’s guilty plea. Israel is not even identified and, if one reads the two mentions of the U.N. vote connected to the first call, it appears to be deliberately omitted. The first citation reads “He also lied when he said he did not ask Kislyak to delay or defeat a vote on a pending U.N. Security Council resolution…” and the second is “Prosecutors also say that a senior member of the transition team on Dec. 22 directed Flynn to contact officials from Russia and other governments about their stance on the U.N. resolution ‘and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.’” Does omitting Israel and emphasizing the Russian aspect of the story throughout the rest of the piece change what it says and how it is perceived? You betcha.

For me, there was also a second take-away from the Flynn story apart from the collusion with Israel. It involves the use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to set-up Flynn shortly after he had been installed as National Security Adviser. Insofar as I can determine, the FBI entrapment of Flynn has only been examined in a serious way in the media by Robert Parry at Consortium News.

Michael Flynn was actually interviewed by the FBI regarding his two phone conversations on January 24th shortly after assumed office as National Security Adviser. During his interview, he was not made aware that the Bureau already had recordings and transcripts of his phone conversations, so, in a manner of speaking, he was being set-up to fail. Mis-remembering, forgetting or attempting to avoid implication of others in the administration would inevitably all be plausibly construed as lying since the FBI knew exactly what was said.

To be sure, many would agree that the sleazy Flynn deserves everything he gets, but the logic used to set-up the possible Flynn entrapment by the FBI, i.e. that there was unauthorized contact with a foreign official, is in itself curious as Flynn was a private citizen at the time and such contact is not in itself illegal. And it also opens the door to the Bureau’s investigating other individuals who have committed no crime but who find that they cannot recall details of phone calls they were parties to that were being recorded by the government six months or a year before. That can easily be construed as “lying” or “perjury” with consequences that include possible prison time.

So there are two observations one might make about the Flynn saga as it currently stands. First, Israel, not Russia, was colluding with the Trump Administration prior to inauguration day to do something highly unethical and quite probably illegal, which should surprise no one. And second, record all your phone conversations with foreign government officials. The NSA and FBI will have a copy in any event, but you might want to retain your own records to make sure their transcript is accurate.

Philip M. Giraldi, is a former CIA Operations officer who is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax exempt educational foundation that seeks a more interests based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address us P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville, VA 20132, and email address is inform@cnionline.org.

December 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

The Scalp-Taking of Gen. Flynn

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 1, 2017

Russia-gate enthusiasts are thrilled over the guilty plea of President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador, but the case should alarm true civil libertarians.

What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn’s recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency.

In other words, the Justice Department wasn’t seeking information about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – the intelligence agencies already had that information. Instead, Flynn was being quizzed on his precise recollection of the conversations and nailed for lying when his recollections deviated from the transcripts.

For Americans who worry about how the pervasive surveillance powers of the U.S. government could be put to use criminalizing otherwise constitutionally protected speech and political associations, Flynn’s prosecution represents a troubling precedent.

Though Flynn clearly can be faulted for his judgment, he was, in a sense, a marked man the moment he accepted the job of national security adviser. In summer 2016, Democrats seethed over Flynn’s participation in chants at the Republican National Convention to “lock her [Hillary Clinton] up!”

Then, just four days into the Trump presidency, an Obama holdover, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, primed the Flynn perjury trap by coming up with a novel legal theory that Flynn – although the national security adviser-designate at the time of his late December phone calls with Kislyak – was violating the 1799 Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from interfering with U.S. foreign policy.

But that law – passed during President John Adams’s administration in the era of the Alien and Sedition Acts – was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations and – in the past 218 years – the law has resulted in no successful prosecution at all and thus its dubious constitutionality has never been adjudicated.

Stretching Logic

But Yates extrapolated from her unusual Logan Act theory to speculate that since Flynn’s publicly known explanation of the conversation with Kislyak deviated somewhat from the transcript of the intercepts, Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Yet, that bizarre speculation would require that the Russians first would have detected the discrepancies; secondly, they would have naively assumed that the U.S. intelligence agencies had not intercepted the conversations, which would have negated any blackmail potential; and thirdly, the Russians would have to do something so ridiculously heavy-handed – trying to blackmail Flynn – that it would poison relations with the new Trump administration.

Yates’s legal theorizing was so elastic and speculative that it could be used to justify subjecting almost anyone to FBI interrogation with the knowledge that their imperfect memories would guarantee the grounds for prosecution based on NSA intercepts of their communications.

Basically, the Obama holdovers concocted a preposterous legal theory to do whatever they could to sabotage the Trump administration, which they held in fulsome disdain.

At the time of Flynn’s interrogation, the Justice Department was under the control of Yates and the FBI was still under President Obama’s FBI Director James Comey, another official hostile to the Trump administration who later was fired by Trump.

The Yates-FBI perjury trap also was sprung on Flynn in the first days of the Trump presidency amid reverberations of the massive anti-Trump protests that had arisen across the country in support of demands for a “#Resistance” to Trump’s rule.

Flynn also had infuriated Democrats when he joined in chants at the Republican National Convention of “lock her up” over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and other alleged offenses. So, in targeting Flynn, there was a mix of personal payback and sabotage against the Trump administration.

The Legal Construct

The two-page complaint against Flynn, made public on Friday, references false statements to the FBI regarding two conversations with Kisylak, one on Dec. 22, 2016, and the other on Dec. 29, 2016.

The first item in the complaint alleges that Flynn did not disclose that he had asked the Russian ambassador to help delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council vote censuring Israel for building settlements on Palestinian territory.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Russia-gate investigators “learned through witnesses and documents that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, according to two people briefed on the inquiry.

“Investigators have learned that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, took the lead in those efforts. Mr. Mueller’s team has emails that show Mr. Flynn saying he would work to kill the vote, the people briefed on the matter said,” according to the Times.

Breaking with past U.S. precedents, President Obama had decided not to veto the resolution criticizing Israel, choosing instead to abstain. However, the censure resolution carried with Russian support, meaning that whatever lobbying Flynn and Kushner undertook was unsuccessful.

But the inclusion of this Israeli element shows how far afield the criminal Russia-gate investigation, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, has gone. Though the original point of the inquiry was whether the Trump team colluded with Russians to use “hacked” emails to defeat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the criminal charge against Flynn has nothing to do with election “collusion” but rather President-elect Trump’s aides weighing in on foreign policy controversies during the transition. And, one of these initiatives was undertaken at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, not Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The second item, cited by Mueller’s prosecutors, referenced a Dec. 29 Flynn-Kislyak conversation, which received public attention at the time of Flynn’s Feb. 13 resignation after only 24 days on the job. That phone call touched on Russia’s response to President Obama’s decision to issue new sanctions against the Kremlin for the alleged election interference.

The complaint alleges that Flynn didn’t mention to the FBI that he had urged Kislyak “to refrain from escalating the situation” and that Kislyak had subsequently told him that “Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request.”

The Dec. 29 phone call occurred while Flynn was vacationing in the Dominican Republic and thus he would have been without the usual support staff for memorializing or transcribing official conversations. So, the FBI agents, with the NSA’s transcripts, would have had a clearer account of what was said than Flynn likely had from memory. The content of Flynn’s request to Kislyak also appears rather uncontroversial, asking the Russians not to overreact to a punitive policy from the outgoing Obama administration.

In other words, both of the Flynn-Kislyak conversations appear rather unsurprising, if not inconsequential. One was taken at the behest of Israel (which proved ineffective) and the other urged the Kremlin to show restraint in its response to a last-minute slap from President Obama (which simply delayed Russian retaliation by a few months).

Double Standards

While Flynn’s humiliation has brought some palpable joy to the anti-Trump “Resistance” – one more Trump aide being taken down amid renewed hope that this investigation will somehow lead to Trump’s resignation or impeachment – many of the same people would be howling about trampled civil liberties if a Republican bureaucracy were playing this game on a Democratic president and his staff.

Indeed, in the turnabout-is-fair-play department, there is some equivalence in what is happening over Russia-gate to what the Republicans did in the 1990s exploiting their control of the special-prosecutor apparatus in the first years of Bill Clinton’s presidency when interminable investigations into such side issues as his Whitewater real-estate deal and the firing of the White House travel office staff plagued the Clinton administration.

Similarly, Republicans seized on the deaths of four U.S. diplomatic personnel on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, to conduct a series of lengthy investigations to tarnish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure and raise questions about her judgment. Democrats understandably called these attacks partisan warfare in legal or investigative garb.

What I have heard from many Hillary Clinton supporters in recent months is that they don’t care about the unfairness of the Russia-gate process or the dangerous precedents that such politicized prosecutions might set. They simply view Trump as such a danger that he must be destroyed at whatever the cost.

Yet, besides the collateral damage inflicted on mid-level government officials such as retired Lt. Gen. Flynn facing personal destruction at the hands of federal prosecutors with unlimited budgets, there is this deepening pattern of using criminal law to settle political differences, a process more common in authoritarian states.

As much as the Russia-gate enthusiasts talk about how they are upholding “the rule of law,” there is the troubling appearance that the law is simply being used to collect the scalps of political enemies.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | 1 Comment