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Former CIA Chief Brennan Running Scared

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | March 19, 2018

What prompted former CIA Director John Brennan on Saturday to accuse President Donald Trump of “moral turpitude” and to predict, with an alliterative flourish, that Trump will end up “as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history”? The answer shines through the next sentence in Brennan’s threatening tweet: “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe [former FBI Deputy Director fired Friday night] but you will not destroy America… America will triumph over you.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan

It is easy to see why Brennan lost it. The Attorney General fired McCabe, denying him full retirement benefits, because McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.” There but for the grace of God go I, Brennan must have thought, whose stock in trade has been unauthorized disclosures.

In fact, Brennan can take but small, short-lived consolation in the fact that he succeeded in leaving with a full government pension. His own unauthorized disclosures and leaks probably dwarf in number, importance, and sensitivity those of McCabe. And many of those leaks appear to have been based on sensitive intercepted conversations from which the names of American citizens were unmasked for political purposes. Not to mention the leaks of faux intelligence like that contained in the dubious “dossier” cobbled together for the Democrats by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

It is an open secret that the CIA has been leaking like the proverbial sieve over the last two years or so to its favorite stenographers at the New York Times and Washington Post. (At one point, the obvious whispering reached the point that the Wall Street Journal saw fit to complain that it was being neglected.) The leaking can be traced way back — at least as far as the Clinton campaign’s decision to blame the Russians for the publication of very damning DNC emails by WikiLeaks just three days before the Democratic National Convention.

This blame game turned out to be a hugely successful effort to divert attention from the content of the emails, which showed in bas relief the dirty tricks the DNC played on Bernie Sanders. The media readily fell in line, and all attention was deflected from the substance of the DNC emails to the question as to why the Russians supposedly “hacked into the DNC and gave the emails to WikiLeaks.”

This media operation worked like a charm, but even Secretary Clinton’s PR person, Jennifer Palmieri, conceded later that at first it strained credulity that the Russians would be doing what they were being accused of doing.

Magnificent Diversion

On April 6, 2017 I attended a panel discussion on “Russia’s interference in our democracy” at the Clinton/Podesta Center for American Progress Fund. In my subsequent write-up I noted that panelist Palmieri had inadvertently dropped tidbits of evidence that I suggested “could get some former officials in deep kimchi – if a serious investigation of leaking, for example, were to be conducted.” (That time seems to be coming soon.)

Palmieri was asked to comment on “what was actually going on in late summer/early fall [2016].” She answered:

“It was a surreal experience … so I did appreciate that for the press to absorb … the idea that behind the stage that the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton was too fantastic for people to, um, for the press to process, to absorb….

“But then we go back to Brooklyn [Clinton headquarters] and heard from the — mostly our sources were other intelligence, with the press who work in the intelligence sphere, and that’s where we heard things and that’s where we learned about the dossier and the other story lines that were swirling about; and how to process … And along the way the administration started confirming various pieces of what they were concerned about what Russia was doing. … So I do think that the answer for the Democrats now … in both the House and the Senate is to talk about it more and make it more real.”

So the leaking had an early start, and went on steroids during the months following the Democratic Convention up to the election — and beyond.

As a Reminder

None of the leaking, unmasking, surveillance, or other activities directed against the Trump campaign can be properly understood, if one does not bear in mind that it was considered a sure thing that Secretary Clinton would become President, at which point illegal and extralegal activities undertaken to help her win would garner praise, not prison.

But she lost. And a month ago, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) threw down the gauntlet, indicating that there could be legal consequences, for example, for officials who misled the FISA court in order to enable surveillance on Trump and associates. His words are likely to have sent chills down the spine of yet other miscreants. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”

John Brennan is widely reported to be Nunes’s next target. Does one collect a full pension in jail?

Unmasking: Senior national security officials are permitted to ask the National Security Agency to unmask the names of Americans in intercepted communications for national security reasons — not for domestic political purposes. Congressional committees have questioned why Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power (as well as his national security adviser Susan Rice) made so many unmasking requests. Power is reported to have requested the unmasking of more than 260 Americans, most of them in the final days of the administration, including the names of Trump associates.

Deep State Intimidation 

Back to John Brennan’s bizarre tweet Saturday telling the President, “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe but you will not destroy America … America will triumph over you.” Unmasking the word “America,” so to speak, one can readily discern the name “Brennan” underneath. Brennan’s words and attitude are a not-so-subtle reminder of the heavy influence and confidence of the deep state, including the media — exercised to a fare-thee-well over the past two years.

Later on Saturday, Samantha Power, with similar equities at stake, put an exclamation point behind what Brennan had tweeted earlier in the day. Power also saw fit to remind Trump where the power lies, so to speak. She warned him publicly that it is “not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is dutifully playing its part in the deep-state game of intimidation. The following excerpt from Sunday’s lead article conveys the intended message: “Some Trump allies say they worry he is playing with fire by taunting the FBI. ‘This is open, all-out war. And guess what? The FBI’s going to win,’ said one ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. ‘You can’t fight the FBI. They’re going to torch him.’” [sic]

The Post, incidentally, waited until paragraph 41 of 44 to inform readers that it was the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice that found McCabe guilty, and that the charge was against McCabe, not the FBI. A quite different impression was conveyed by the large headline “Trump escalates attacks on FBI” as well as the first 40 paragraphs of Sunday’s lead article.

Putting Down a Marker

It isn’t as though Donald Trump wasn’t warned, as are all incoming presidents, of the power of the Deep State that he needs to play ball with — or else. Recall that just three days before President-elect Trump was visited by National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Michael Rogers, Trump was put on notice by none other than the Minority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer.  Schumer has been around and knows the ropes; he is a veteran of 18 years in the House, and is in his 20th year in the Senate.

On Jan. 3, 2017 Schumer said it all, when he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, that President-elect Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities:

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told Maddow. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.” Did Maddow ask Schumer if he was saying President of the United States should be afraid of the intelligence community? No, she let Schumer’s theorem stand.

With gauntlets now thrown down by both sides, we may not have to wait very long to see if Schumer is correct in his blithe prediction as to how the present constitutional crisis will be resolved.

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He served as a CIA analyst under seven Presidents and nine CIA directors and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘High-ranking people’ protected Clinton from indictment – Former FBI asst. director

RT | March 19, 2018

Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom alleged Sunday that there was a conspiracy in Washington to protect Hillary Clinton from indictment. He added that ongoing chaos in Trump’s cabinet may be a symptom of the plot.

“Do you think somebody was directing them or do you think they just came to the conclusion on their own, this leadership at the FBI and the Department of Justice, that they wanted to change the outcome of the election?” Fox News host Maria Bartiromo asked Kallstrom, as cited by The Washington Examiner.

“I think we have ample facts revealed to us during this last year-and-a-half that high-ranking people throughout government – not just the FBI – high-ranking people had a plot to not have Hillary Clinton, you know, indicted,” Kallstrom, a 27-year veteran of the agency, replied.

Kallstrom alleged both inter-departmental collusion in addition to a complicit media apparatus within the fourth estate that helped to undermine the Trump campaign and subsequent cabinet, while also repeatedly highlighting the Russiagate narrative.

Among others, Kallstrom pointed the finger at Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, an extremely vocal critic of the Trump administration.

“My sources tell me that he was leaking almost weekly and daily. He was taking that bunch of phony crap supposedly from Russia, and peddling that through the Congress, all his buddies in the media, he was one of the active people. I’ve known him a long time.”

Brennan vehemently condemned Trump’s firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America… America will triumph over you,” Brennan tweeted.

Trump was vocal in his mistrust of McCabe and even openly criticized him for taking money from Clinton associates.

Kallstrom alleges that the repeated reshuffling in Trump’s cabinet is the result of a high-level conspiracy to help former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election.

“They had a backup plan to basically frame Donald Trump and that’s what’s been going,” Kallstrom said. “I think it goes right to the top. And it involves that whole strategy – they were gonna win, nobody would have known any of this stuff, and they just unleashed the intelligence community. Look at the unmaskings. We haven’t heard anything about that yet. Look at the way they violated the rights of all those American citizens.”

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

McCabe: A War on (or in) the FBI?

By Coleen Rowley | Consortium News | March 18, 2018

The explanation from Andrew McCabe that he was fired merely due to his staunch support of his former boss and mentor, FBI Director James Comey, and the “Russiagate” investigation, does not pass the smell test.

Similar to the one that mainstream corporate media is spinning, McCabe’s explanation almost totally ignores the fact that it was the relatively independent Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) and the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR internal affairs) who recommended firing McCabe for his “lack of candor” on (the totally unrelated issue of) granting improper press access to the Wall Street Journal during ongoing FBI investigations of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s emails.

While the exact specifics of McCabe’s “lack of candor” – which McCabe denies – haven’t been released by the IG, it’s my own personal opinion that such official briefing of the press should not necessarily be a fireable offense as long as it’s justified to correct faulty media reporting and was not covertly done for improper political reasons. But technically, firing for “lack of candor” has long been the FBI’s “bright line” policy, ever since former FBI Director Louis Freeh tried to “clean up” the FBI in the mid-1990s when so many agents, including Special Agents in Charge, were caught lying about sex affairs, improper government credit card charges and drunk driving incidents – some amounting to reckless homicides.

But of course Freeh was rather hypocritical as he was himself involved in several instances of “lack of candor” including appointing his friend, Larry Potts, as Deputy Director. This, despite the fact that Potts had covered up his own role in substituting “rules of engagement” for the FBI’s “deadly force policy” during the Ruby Ridge standoff with (the arguably unconstitutional) “rules” directing the shooting on sight of any armed male.

The cover-up of Potts’ mishandling of Ruby Ridge came to light during the criminal investigations and prosecution of the FBI sniper who had subsequently shot and killed Randy Weaver’s wife while aiming at someone else. When Pott’s role was revealed, Freeh had to censure and demote his Deputy Director; but even then Potts wasn’t actually fired.

So it may well be that “lack of candor” sets too high a standard that no one, not even the angels, let alone FBI agents and their managing officials can live up to. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lofty statement that the FBI’s integrity is its brand, may be nice, wishful thinking but like other self-promoting speeches going back to J. Edgar Hoover, it has never rung true based on the hundreds of unethical actions I witnessed or was made aware of.

A number of OPR officials themselves were always getting caught in various unethical, deceitful (and sometimes even illegal) actions, including their long systemic practice of employing “double standards” in recommending disciplinary actions, i.e. top ranking officials received light discipline while lower ranking agents got far more severe punishments for similar wrongdoing. In 2001, some of the FBI’s internal affairs supervisors became whistleblowers and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the FBI’s disciplinary “double standards.” Although some remedies were eventually put into place, the IG also had to investigate some retaliatory fall-out.

In any event, McCabe’s calling his firing a “war on the FBI” doesn’t make sense considering it was the FBI’s own internal affairs office that recommended he be fired. (Note that DOJ IG Michael Horowitz was appointed by President Obama in 2012 and the FBI’s OPR is run by a career official originally appointed to that position in 2004 by then FBI Director Robert Mueller.)

Perhaps it would be more apt if McCabe had called it a war inside the FBI (and in Washington as a whole). Could the obvious chaos – some would say “bloodbath” – at all levels of government also be part of the “blowback” from 16 years of waging “perpetual war” (and from attendant war crimes and the internal corruption by which all empires rot)? As author Viet Thanh Nguyen noted about the 2016 election: “That sickness is imperialism… America is an imperial country, and its decay might now be showing. Empires rot from the inside even as emperors blame the barbarians.” Remember how wars have a way of migrating home.

Don’t forget that McCabe’s mentor, James Comey, as Assistant Attorney General had signed off on the Bush-Cheney Administration’s torture tactics. Special Counsel Robert Mueller (said to be “joined at the hip” with Comey) dutifully looked the other way, as then FBI Director, when the CIA’s torture program was instituted, allowing the atrocities to continue. It should also be recalled that Mueller helped the Bush-Cheney Administration to lie us into the Iraq War.

In early January, 2017 CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, NSA Director Michael Rogers and National Director of Intelligence James Clapper briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump on their “Intelligence Community Assessment” by which their agencies’ “hand-picked analysts” accused Russia of meddling in the election and which also included former MI6 spy Chris Steele’s “salacious dossier” accusing Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russians.

By prior plan, the three other intelligence directors left Comey alone in the room with Trump for Comey to confront the President-elect with the damning summary of Steele’s dossier (which Comey admitted was not verified) and, as icing on the cake, also warning Trump that these accusations would probably appear soon in the media.

Forgetful Democrat Party loyalists also should be reminded that John Brennan was termed the drone assassination and “kill list” czar (before being named CIA Director). As CIA Director, Brennan was hellbent on covering up and promoting CIA torture.

James Clapper, also not known for candor in having previously misled Congress about the NSA’s massive spying on Americans, has even been reported to be the source of the leak to CNN about the Obama intelligence directors’ January briefing that focused on the Steele dossier. It sure looks like there is plenty “lack of candor” to go around!  And plenty for these officials to continue covering up. But as Cicero observed hundreds of years ago, “the law falls silent in time of war.” At very least everyone should be wary of partisan media spin since all of these war crimes and other deceitful, illegal actions made possible by the wars are fully bipartisan.

The real problem that most of the mainstream media don’t want to even mention is how unprecedented it was to have both Presidential campaigns under serious criminal investigation in the weeks before the 2016 election! In all fairness, even if these now-fired FBI Directors were trying to do the right thing – which would not be in line with their rather sordid track records – it wouldn’t really be possible to walk that political mine field without a faux pas one way or the other. Seen in that light, it’s possible to even sympathize a little with any FBI Director when the public corruption at the highest levels in Washington DC has become so bad (and fully bipartisan), that it’s hard to know where to start.

Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI special agent, division legal counsel and law enforcement ethics instructor who testified in connection with the 9-11 Joint Intelligence Committee’s Inquiry, the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation and Department of Justice Inspector General’s investigation, exposing some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | Leave a comment

What Secretary of State Tillerson’s Firing Means

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute for Political Economy | March 13, 2018

Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) says Tillerson’s firing indicates that the Trump administration is disintegrating. I understand why Senator Schumer sees it that way, especially following all the other dismissals and resignations.

I see it differently. The firing of Secretary of State Tillerson, the movement of CIA Director Pompeo to Secretary of State, and the promotion of Gina Haspel, who oversaw the secret CIA torture prisons in Thailand, indicate that the military/security complex has closed its grip on the Trump regime. There will be no more talk of normalizing relations with Russia.

The combination of the Israel Lobby, the neoconservatives, and the military/security complex have proven to be too powerful for peace to be established between the two nuclear powers. If you look at Trump’s administration, the above three forces are those in charge.

Israel remains determined to use the US military to destabilize Syria and Iran in order to isolate Hezbollah and cut off the milita’s support and supplies. The neoconservatives both support Israel’s interest and their own desire for Washington’s hegemony over the world. The military/security complex intends to hold on to the “Russia threat” as a justification of its budget and power.

The presstitutes are in complete harmony with the scheme. Although Russiagate has been proven to be false charges orchestrated by the DNC, FBI, and CIA, the presstitutes continue to repeat the charges as if evidence exists that proves the charges to be true. The “stolen election” is fiction turned into fact. And now we have a new charge, that Putin ordered a former British spy in England to be eliminated while sitting on a park bench with the use of a highly unlikely form of military poison. The charge is preposterous, but that is not preventing the fiction from becoming fact.

Having served in Washington for a quarter century and having known members of the British government, I do not believe that any of them believe the Russiagate and Skripal poisoning stories. What is happening is that an agenda has taken precedence over truth.

This is an extremely dangerous agenda. Russia’s new weapons easily give Russia military superiority over the US. As China and Iran see the situation similarly to the Russians, the US is greatly out-classed. Yet, Washington and its vassals persist in making violent and false charges and threats against Russia, Iran, and on occasion China. Russia, Iran, and China know that these charges are false. Confronting an endless string of false and hostile charges, they prepare for war.

The world is being driven to war, which would be nuclear, by a tiny minority: Israeli Zionists, neoconservatives, and the US military/security complex. We are witnessing the most reckless and irresponsible behavior in world history. Where are the voices against it?

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Intel Committee Rejects Basic Underpinning of Russiagate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | March 14, 2108

Let’s try to make this simple: The basic rationale behind charges that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help candidate Donald Trump rests, of course, on the assumption that Moscow preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton. But that is wrong to assume, says the House Intelligence Committee, which has announced that it does not concur with “Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump.”

So, the House Intelligence Committee Republican majority, which has been pouring over the same evidence used by the “handpicked analysts” from just the CIA, FBI, and NSA to prepare the rump Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017, finds the major premise of the ICA unpersuasive. The committee’s “Initial Findings” released on Monday specifically reject the assumption that Putin favored Trump.

This puts the committee directly at odds with handpicked analysts from only the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who assessed that Putin favored Trump – using this as their major premise and then straining to prove it by cobbling together unconvincing facts and theories.

Those of us with experience in intelligence analysis strongly criticized the evidence-impoverished ICA as soon as it was released, but it went on to achieve Gospel-like respect, with penance assigned to anyone who might claim it was not divinely inspired.

Until now.

Rep. K. Michael Conway (R-Texas), who led the House Committee investigation, has told the media that the committee is preparing a separate, in-depth analysis of the ICA itself. Good.

The committee should also take names — not only of the handpicked analysts, but the hand-pickers. There is ample precedent for this. For example, those who shepherded the fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq 15 years ago were named in the NIE. Without names, it is hard to know whom to hold accountable.

Here’s the key ICA judgment with which the House committee does not concur: “We assess Putin, his advisers, and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump over Secretary Clinton.” Not to be picky, but if House investigators have been unable to find enough persuasive evidence to convince them that “Putin’s supposed preference” was Trump, there is little reason to take seriously the ICA’s adolescent observations — like Putin held a “grudge” against Clinton because she called him nasty names — and other tortured reasoning in an Intelligence Community Assessment that, frankly, is an embarrassment to the profession of intelligence analysis.

I recall reading the ICA as soon as it was published. I concluded that no special expertise in intelligence analysis was needed to see how the assessment had been cobbled together around the “given” that Putin had a distinct preference for Trump. That was a premise with which I always had serious trouble, since it assumed that a Russian President would prefer to have an unpredictable, mercurial, lash-out-at-any-grievance-real-or-perceived President with his fingers on the nuclear codes. This – not name-calling – is precisely what Russian leaders fear the most.

Be that as it may, the ICA’s evidence adduced to demonstrate Russian “interference” to help Trump win the election never passed the smell test. Worse still, it was not difficult to see powerful political agendas in play. While those agendas, together with the media which shared them, conferred on the ICA the status of Holy Writ, it had clearly been “writ” to promote those agendas and, as such, amounted to rank corruption of intelligence by those analysts “handpicked” by National Intelligence Director James Clapper to come up with the “right” answer.

Traces of the bizarre ideological — even racial — views of Intelligence Dean Clapper can also be discerned between the lines of the ICA. It is a safe bet that the handpicked authors of the ICA were well aware of — and perhaps even shared — the views Clapper later expressed to NBC’s Chuck Todd on May 28, 2017 about Russians: “[P]ut that in context with everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the election,” he said. “And just the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique. So, we were concerned.”

Always Read the Fine Print

What readers of the intelligence assessment might have taken more seriously was the CYA in the ICA, so to speak, the truth-in-advertising cautions wedged into its final page. The transition from the lead paragraph to the final page — from “high confidence” to the actual definition of “high confidence” is remarkable. As a reminder, here’s how ICA starts:

“Putin Ordered Campaign To Influence US Election: We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. …”

But wait, the fair warning on page 13 explains: “High confidence … does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong. … Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that show something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

Questionable Logic

The “logic” referred to rests primarily on assumptions related to Trump’s supposed friendliness with Putin, what Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta called in 2015 a “bromance.” It assumes that Trump has been more than willing to do the Kremlin’s bidding from the White House, whether due to financial relationships Trump has with the Russians, or because he “owes them” for helping him get elected, or whether he is being blackmailed by “the pee tape” that Christopher Steele alluded to in his “dodgy dossier.”

This is the crux of the whole “treason” aspect of the Russiagate conspiracy theory – the idea that Trump is a Manchurian (or as some clever wags among Russiagaters claim, a Siberian) candidate who is directly under the influence of the Kremlin.

Even as U.S.-Russian relations drop to historic lows – with tensions approaching Cuban Missile Crisis levels – amazingly, there are still those promoting this theory, including some in the supposedly “progressive” alternative media like The Young Turks (TYT). Following Putin’s announcement on developments in Russia’s nuclear program earlier this month, TYT’s Cenk Uygur slammed Trump for not being more forceful in denouncing Putin, complaining that Trump “never criticizes Putin.” Uygur even speculated: “I’m not sure that Trump represents our interests above Putin’s.”

This line of thinking ignores a preponderance of evidence that the U.S posture against Russian interests has only hardened over the past year-plus of the Trump administration – perhaps in part as a result of Trump’s perceived need to demonstrate that he is not in “Putin’s pocket.”

The U.S. has intensified its engagement in Syria, for one thing, reportedly killing several Russians in recent airstrikes – a dangerous escalation that could lead to all-out military confrontation with Moscow and hardly the stuff of an alleged “bromance” between Trump and Putin. Then there was the Trump administration’s recent decision to provide new lethal weapons to the Ukrainian military – a major reversal of the Obama administration’s more cautious approach and an intensification of U.S. involvement in a proxy war on Russia’s border. The Russian foreign ministry angrily denounced this decision, saying the U.S. had “crossed the line” in the Ukraine conflict and accused Washington of fomenting bloodshed.

On other major policy issues, the Trump administration has also been pushing a hard anti-Russian line, reiterating recently that it would never recognize Crimea as part of Russia, criticizing Russia for allegedly enabling chemical attacks in Syria, and identifying Moscow as one of the U.S.’s major adversaries in the global struggle for power and influence.

“China and Russia,” the administration stated in its recent National Security Strategy, “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” In the recently issued Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. identifies Russia as a “contemporary threat,” and has a chapter outlining “A Tailored Strategy for Russia.” The document warns that Russia has “decided to return to Great Power competition.”

How does this in any way indicate that Trump is representing “Putin’s interests” above “ours,” as Uygur claims?

In short, there is no evidence to back up the theory that Putin helped Trump become president in order to do the Kremlin’s bidding, and no one pushing this idea should be taken seriously. In this respect, the Republicans’ “Initial Findings” – particularly the rejection of “Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump” have more credibility than most of the “analysis” put out so far, including the Jan. 6, 2017 ICA that has been held up as sacrosanct.

Democrats Angry

The irrepressible Congressman Adam Schiff, Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, and his fellow Democrats are in high dudgeon over the release of the Committee’s “Initial Findings” after “only” one year of investigation.  So, of course, is NBC’s Rachel Maddow and other Russiagate aficionados. They may even feel a need to come up with real evidence — rather than Clapperisms like “But everyone knows about the Russians, and how, for example, they just really hated it when Mrs. Clinton called Putin Hitler.”

I had the opportunity to confront Schiff personally at a think tank in Washington, DC on January 25, 2017. President Obama, on his way out of office, had said something quite curious at his last press conference just one week earlier about inconclusive conclusions: “The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive” regarding WikiLeaks. In other words, the intelligence community had no idea how the DNC emails reached WikiLeaks.

Schiff had just claimed as flat fact that the Russians hacked the DNC and Podesta emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to publish. So I asked him if he knew more than President Obama about how Russian hacking had managed to get to WikiLeaks.

Schiff used the old, “I can’t share the evidence with you; it’s classified.” OK, I’m no longer cleared for classified information, but Schiff is; and so are all his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee. The Republican majority has taken issue with the cornerstone assumption of those who explain Russian “hacking” and other “meddling” as springing from the “obvious fact” that Putin favored Trump. The ball is in Schiff’s court.

Last but not least, the committee’s Initial Finding that caught most of the media attention was that there is “no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” This, of course, poured cold water on what everyone listening to mainstream media “knows” about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election. But, in the lack of persuasive evidence that President Putin preferred candidate Trump, why should we expect Russian “collusion, coordination, conspiracy” with the Trump campaign?

Ah, but the Russians want to “sow discord.” Sounds to me like a Clapperism.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  During his 27-year career at CIA, he was Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief under Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.  He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Progressive’ Journalists Jump the Shark on Russiagate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | March 7, 2018

Russiagate’s sensationalist media coverage

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks are the latest progressives to jump on the anti-Trump, pro-Russiagate bandwagon. They have made it crystal clear that, in Mayer’s words, they are not going to let Republicans, or anyone else, “take down the whole intelligence community,” by God.

Odd? Nothing is too odd when it comes to spinning and dyeing the yarn of Russiagate; especially now that some strands are unraveling from the thin material of the “Steele dossier.”

Before the 2016 election, British ex-spy Christopher Steele was contracted (through a couple of cutouts) by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on candidate Donald Trump. They paid him $168,000. They should ask for their money back.

Mayer and Uygur have now joined with other Trump-despisers and new “progressive” fans of the FBI and CIA – among them Amy Goodman and her go-to, lost-in-the-trees journalist, Marcy Wheeler of All of them (well, maybe not Cenk) are staying up nights with needle and thread trying to sew a silk purse out of the sow’s-ear dossier of Steele allegations and then dye it red for danger.

Monday brought a new low, with a truly extraordinary one-two punch by Mayer and Uygur.

A Damning Picture?

Mayer does her part in a New Yorker article, in which she – intentionally or not – cannot seem to see the forest for the trees.

In her article, Mayer explains up front that the Steele dossier “painted a damning picture of collusion between Trump and Russia,” and then goes on to portray him as a paragon of virtue with praise that is fulsome, in the full meaning of that word. For example, a friend of Steele told Mayer that regarding Steele, “Fairness, integrity, and truth, for him, trump any ideology.”

Now, if one refuses to accept this portrait on faith, then you are what Mayer describes as a “Trump defender.” According to Mayer, Trump defenders argue that Steele is “a dishonest Clinton apparatchik who had collaborated with American intelligence and law enforcement officials to fabricate false charges against Trump and his associates, in a dastardly (sic) attempt to nullify the 2016 election. According to this story line, it was not the President who needed to be investigated, but the investigators themselves.”

Can you imagine!

I could not help but think that Mayer wrote her piece some months ago and that she and her editors might have missed more recent documentary evidence that gives considerable support to that “dastardly” story line. But seriously, it should be possible to suspect Steele of misfeasance or malfeasance – or simply telling his contractors what he knows they want to hear – without being labeled a “Trump supporter.” I, for example, am no Trump supporter. I am, however, a former intelligence officer and I have long since concluded that what Steele served up is garbage.

Character References

Mayer reports that Richard Dearlove, head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, described Steele as “superb.” Personally, I would shun any “recommendation” from that charlatan. Are memories so short? Dearlove was the intelligence chief who briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair on July 23, 2002 after a quick trip to Washington. The official minutes of that meeting were leaked to the London Times and published on May 1, 2005.

Dearlove explained to Blair that President George W. Bush had decided to attack Iraq for regime change and that the war was to be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.” Dearlove added matter-of-factly, “The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.”

Another character reference Mayer gives for Steele is former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin (from 2000 to 2004) who, with his boss George Tenet, did the fixing of intelligence to “justify” the war on Iraq. State Department intelligence director at the time, Carl Ford, told the authors of “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War” that both McLaughlin and Tenet “should have been shot” for what they did.

And then there is CIA veteran spy John Sipher who, Mayer says, “ran the Agency’s Russia program before retiring, in 2014.” Sipher tells her he thinks the Steele dossier is “generally credible” in “saying what Russia might be up to.” Sipher may be a good case officer but he has shown himself to be something of a cipher on substance.

Worse still, he displays a distinct inclination toward the remarkable view of former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who has said that Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever.” If Mayer wanted to find some ostensibly authoritative figure to endorse the kind of material in Steele’s dossier, she surely picked a good one in Sipher.

Mayer notes, “It’s too early to make a final judgment about how much of Steele’s dossier will be proved wrong, but a number of Steele’s major claims have been backed up by subsequent disclosures. She includes, as flat fact, his claim that the Kremlin and WikiLeaks were working together to release the DNC’s emails, but provides no evidence.

Major Holes

Mayer, however, should know better. There have been lots of holes in the accusation that the Russians hacked the DNC and gave the material to WikiLeaks to publish. Here’s one major gap we reported on Jan. 20, 2017: President Barack Obama told his last press conference on Jan. 18, that the U.S. intelligence community had no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks.

Using lawyerly language, Obama admitted that “the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.”

It is necessary to carefully parse Obama’s words since he prides himself in his oratorical constructs. He offered a similarly designed comment at a Dec. 16, 2016 press conference when he said: “based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC. … the information was in the hands of WikiLeaks.”

Note the disconnect between the confidence about hacking and the stark declarative sentence about the information ending up at WikiLeaks. Obama does not bridge the gap because to do so would be a bald-faced lie, which some honest intelligence officer might call him on. So, he simply presented the two sides of the chasm – implies a connection – but leaves it to the listener to make the leap.

It was, of course, WikiLeaks that published the very damaging Democratic information, for example, on the DNC’s dirty tricks that marginalized Sen. Bernie Sanders and ensured that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. What remained to be demonstrated was that it was “the Russians” who gave those emails to WikiLeaks. And that is what the U.S. intelligence community could not honestly say.

Saying it now, without evidence, does not make it true.

Cenk Also in Sync

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks at once picked up, big time, on the part of Mayer’s article that homes in on an “astonishing” report from Steele in late November 2016 quoting one “senior Russian official.” According to that official, “The Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for secretary of state, Mitt Romney.” Steele’s late November memo alleged that the Kremlin had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions and cooperate on security issues like Syria.

Mayer commented, “As fantastical as the memo sounds, subsequent events could be said to support it.” Fantastical or not, Uygur decided to run with it. His amazing 12-minute video is titled: “New Steele Dossier: Putin PICKED Trump’s Secretary of State.” Uygur asks: “Who does Tillerson work for; and that also goes for the President.”

Return to Sanity

As an antidote to all the above, let me offer this cogent piece on the views of Joseph E. diGenova, who speaks out of his unique experience, including as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Church Committee). The article is entitled: “The Politicization of the FBI.”

“Over the past year,” diGenova wrote, “facts have emerged that suggest there was a plot by high-ranking FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials in the Obama administration, acting under color of law, to exonerate Hillary Clinton of federal crimes and then, if she lost the election, to frame Donald Trump and his campaign for colluding with Russia to steal the presidency.”

He pointed out that nearly half of Americans, according to a CBS poll, believe that Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion probe is “politically motivated.” And, he noted, 63 percent of polled voters in a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll believe that the FBI withheld vital information from Congress about the Clinton and Russia collusion investigations.

This skepticism is entirely warranted, as diGenova explains, with the Russiagate probe being characterized by overreach from the beginning.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served in Army and CIA intelligence analysis for 30 years and, after retiring, co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

March 7, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contradictions In Seth Rich Murder Continue To Challenge Hacking Narrative

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 03/02/2018

As rumors swirl that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing a case against Russians who are alleged to have hacked Democrats during the 2016 election – a conclusion based solely on the analysis of cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, a Friday op-ed in the Washington Times by retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons, Jr. asks a simple, yet monumentally significant question: Why haven’t Congressional Investigators or Special Counsel Robert Mueller addressed the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich – who multiple people have claimed was Wikileaks’ source of emails leaked during the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

Mueller has been incredibly thorough in his ongoing investigations – however he won’t even respond to Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand entrepreneur who clearly knew about the hacked emails long before they were released, claims that Seth Rich obtained them with a memory stick, and has offered to provide proof to the Special Counsel investigation.

On May 18, 2017, Dotcom proposed that if Congress includes the Seth Rich investigation in their Russia probe, he would provide written testimony with evidence that Seth Rich was WikiLeaks’ source.

In addition to several odd facts surrounding Rich’s still unsolved murder – which officials have deemed a “botched robbery,” forensic technical evidence has emerged which contradicts the Crowdstrike report. The Irvine, CA company partially funded by Google, was the only entity allowed to analyze the DNC servers in relation to claims of election hacking:

Notably, Crowdstrike has been considered by many to be discredited over their revision and retraction of a report over Russian hacking of Ukrainian military equipment – a report which the government of Ukraine said was fake news.

In connection with the emergence in some media reports which stated that the alleged “80% howitzer D-30 Armed Forces of Ukraine removed through scrapping Russian Ukrainian hackers software gunners,” Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine informs that the said information is incorrect.

Ministry of Defence of Ukraine asks journalists to publish only verified information received from the competent official sources. Spreading false information leads to increased social tension in society and undermines public confidence in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. – (translated) (1.6.2017)

In fact, several respected journalists have cast serious doubt on CrowdStrike’s report on the DNC servers:

Pay attention, because Mueller is likely to use the Crowdstrike report to support the rumored upcoming charges against Russian hackers.

Also notable is that Crowdstrike founder and anti-Putin Russian expat Dimitri Alperovitch sits on the Atlantic Council – which is funded by the US State Department, NATO, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukranian Oligarch Victor Pinchuk. Who else is on the Atlantic Council? Evelyn Farkas – who slipped up during an MSNBC interview with Mika Brzezinski and disclosed that the Obama administration had been spying on the Trump campaign:

The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence. –Evelyn Farkas

Odd facts surrounding the murder of Seth Rich

“The facts that we know of in the murder of the DNC staffer, Seth Rich, was that he was gunned down blocks from his home on July 10, 2016. Washington Metro police detectives claim that Mr. Rich was a robbery victim, which is strange since after being shot twice in the back, he was still wearing a $2,000 gold necklace and watch. He still had his wallet, key and phone. Clearly, he was not a victim of robbery,” writes Lyons.

Another unexplained fact muddying the Rich case is that of a 40 caliber Glock 22 handgun stolen from an FBI agent’s car the same day Rich was murdered. D.C. Metro police said that the theft occurred between 5 and 7 a.m., while the FBI said two weeks later that the theft had occurred between Midnight and 2 a.m. – fueling speculation that the FBI gun was used in Rich’s murder.

Furthermore, two men working with the Rich family – private investigator and former D.C. Police detective Rod Wheeler and family acquaintance Ed Butowsky, have previously stated that Rich had contacts with WikiLeaks before his death.

“According to Ed Butowsky, an acquaintance of the family, in his discussions with Joel and Mary Rich, they confirmed that their son transmitted the DNC emails to Wikileaks,” writes Lyons.

While Wheeler initially told TV station Fox5 that proof of Rich’s contact with WikiLeaks lies on the murdered IT staffer’s laptop, he later walked the claim back – though he maintained that there was “some communication between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks.”

Wheeler also claimed in recently leaked audio that Seth Rich’s brother, Aaron – a Northrup Grumman employee, blocked him from looking at Seth’s computer and stonewalled his investigation.

Wheeler said that brother Aaron Rich tried to block Wheeler from looking at Seth’s computer, even though there could be evidence on it. “He said no, he said I have his computer, meaning him,” Wheeler said. “I said, well can I look at it?…He said, what are you looking for? I said anything that could indicate if Seth was having problems with someone. He said no, I already checked it. Don’t worry about it.”

Aaron also blocked Wheeler from finding out about who was at a party Seth attended the night of the murder.

“All I want you to do is work on the botched robbery theory and that’s it,” Aaron told Wheeler –Big League Politics

Perhaps the most stunning audio evidence, however, comes from leaked audio of a recorded conversation between Ed Butowsky and Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who told him of a “purported FBI report establishing that Seth Rich sent emails to WikiLeaks.”

As transcribed and exclusively reported on by journalist Cassandra Fairbanks last year:

What the report says is that some time in late Spring… he makes contact with WikiLeaks, that’s in his computer,” he says. “Anyway, they found what he had done is that he had submitted a series of documents — of emails, of juicy emails, from the DNC.”

Hersh explains that it was unclear how the negotiations went, but that WikiLeaks did obtain access to a password protected DropBox where Rich had put the files.

All I know is that he offered a sample, an extensive sample, I’m sure dozens of emails, and said ‘I want money.’ Later, WikiLeaks did get the password, he had a DropBox, a protected DropBox,” he said. They got access to the DropBox.”

Hersh also states that Rich had concerns about something happening to him, and had

“The word was passed, according to the NSA report, he also shared this DropBox with a couple of friends, so that ‘if anything happens to me it’s not going to solve your problems,’” he added. “WikiLeaks got access before he was killed.”

Brennan and Russian disinformation

Hersh also told Butowsky that the DNC made up the Russian hacking story as a disinformation campaign – directly pointing a finger at former CIA director (and now MSNBC/NBC contributor) John Brennan as the architect.

I have a narrative of how that whole f*cking thing began. It’s a Brennan operation, it was an American disinformation, and the fu*kin’ President, at one point, they even started telling the press – they were backfeeding the Press, the head of the NSA was going and telling the press, fu*king c*cksucker Rogers, was telling the press that we even know who in the Russian military intelligence service leaked it.

Listen to Seymour Hersh leaked audio: 

(full transcription here and extended audio of the Hersh conversation here

Hersh denied that he told Butowsky anything before the leaked audio emerged, telling NPR “I hear gossip… [Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.

Techincal Evidence

As we mentioned last week, Dotcom’s assertion is backed up by an analysis done last year by a researcher who goes by the name Forensicator, who determined that the DNC files were copied at 22.6 MB/s – a speed virtually impossible to achieve from halfway around the world, much less over a local network – yet a speed typical of file transfers to a memory stick.

The big hint

Last but not least, let’s not forget that Julian Assange heavily implied Seth Rich was a source:

Given that a) the Russian hacking narrative hinges on Crowdstrikes’s questionable reporting, and b) a mountain of evidence pointing to Seth Rich as the source of the leaked emails – it stands to reason that Congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller should at minimum explore these leads.

As retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons, Jr. asks: why aren’t they?

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Democrats demand $300mn to protect the midterms from Russia intervention

Press TV – February 21, 2018

US Democratic leaders have called for more than $300 million in new funding to protect upcoming midterm elections from Russian interference.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi demanded a budget boost Wednesday, claiming that the amount is necessary to safeguard November’s elections.

The extra money should go to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission, they said in a letter to the Republicans.

“We’re not drawing lines in the sand,” Senator Schumer told reporters. “We hope we can get bipartisan support.”

The Democrats’ move was made in the wake of mounting pressure against the administration of US President Donald Trump over possible collusion with Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign and election.

The president and his associates have been under increased pressure since Friday, when special counsel Robert Mueller released an indictment in the ongoing Russia probe.

The investigation seeks to find out whether the Russian government coordinated with Trump’s aides after the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin helped with the New York billionaire’s campaign effort ahead of winning the White House, an allegation dismissed both by Moscow and the president.

Democrats are, meanwhile, attempting to persuade the GOP to back the effort.

“There is some support out there, but it has never gotten to the Republican leadership level,” Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told reporters. “If they want to do this, they could get it done — but instead of just having introduced bills, they’re going to have to take this on and help us.”

In an emailed statement to Politico, a Senate Republican aide asserted that the offer would be “considered.”

“This request will be carefully considered along with the thousands of individual choices and decisions that will have to be weighed and made as a FY2018 omnibus bill is written,” wrote the GOP aide.

According to the spokeswoman for the Republican speaker of the US House of Representative, Paul Ryan, lawmakers will be informed “on ways to protect the 2018 election.”

“We won’t be negotiating the omnibus through the press,” AshLee Strong said.

February 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

More Gun Violence: Let’s Look Beyond Politics

By Ron Paul | February 20, 2108

Another terrible school shooting took place in Parkland, Florida last week and unfortunately many politicians and pundits have used the tragedy – as they often do – to push their own agenda. Many will use the tragedy to argue that Americans should be prohibited from owning guns. As if anti-gun laws would dissuade a disturbed or violent individual intent on causing harm. Those intent on mass murder don’t obey gun laws.

It’s unfortunate that while many are quick to demand that guns be taken away from peaceful Americans, they don’t seem to have much to say about guns when they’re in the hands of government authorities shooting innocent people. If we need any gun control, it is to get control of the guns in the hands of thousands of government employees who use them against innocent people with impunity.

For example, why do those calling for more gun control remain silent when armed federal agents raid Amish farms to stop them from selling raw milk? This shows the hypocrisy of those who call for restrictions on private firearms ownership while supporting the use of government violence as a means of controlling our lives.

Unfortunately there are many key questions lost in the race to score political points from the shooting.

Why does it always seem that the shooter in these mass killings has been on some kind of psychotropic drugs? As the New American magazine pointed out this week, at least ten high profile mass shootings have been committed by individuals who “were either on — or just recently coming off of — psychiatric medications.” The young killer in Florida was no different. According to his aunt, he had been on these medications to treat mental problems.

Why is no one questioning these medications – all of which come with labels warning of horrific side effects? Perhaps one reason they are ignored is that the pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars lobbying Congress.

Also, how is it possible that the FBI once again missed so many obvious clues that a violent person intent on causing massive harm to others was about to strike? Is the FBI actually this incompetent, or perhaps its focus was in other areas — like meddling in our own elections by presenting “evidence” they knew was flawed to the FISA court to get permission to spy on the Trump campaign?

We’ve heard many stories of how alert FBI field agents tried to alert their bosses before 9/11 that foreigners were taking flight lessons but were not interested in learning how to land the planes.

Is giving the federal government more power to spy on us – as they demand – the answer to stop these terrible crimes? Hardly!

Those who think that giving federal authorities greater surveillance powers might prevent mass shootings should consider that the FBI has been alerted that the latest school shooter had made Facebook posts and YouTube comments talking about his intention to be, as he put it, “a professional school shooter.” But the Bureau failed to properly investigate the tips. If the FBI fails to stop someone who openly boasts about their intentions on social media why should we believe that giving them the power to snoop on every American would increase our safety?

We cannot stop tragedies like this by banning guns. We need to look seriously into the psychotropic drugs that more and more Americans are being prescribed. We need to demand that our elected Representatives demand a real day of reckoning at the FBI. We need to keep focused and ignore those who politicize such events.

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

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

By Robert Bridge | RT | February 20, 2018

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

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

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

The FISA fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton’s email scandal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operation Sink Sanders

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

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

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

Clinton cheated in debates

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

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

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

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

Regime change

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

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

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

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

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

Impeach Trump

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

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

Clinton Foundation ‘pay to play’

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

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

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

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

Nunes Memo, Part 2

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

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

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


Read more:

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

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

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

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

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

How to Steele an Election

Christopher Steele’s Other Job: He Ran an Info Op Against the United States

By Peter Van Buren | We Meant Well | February 18, 2108

Christopher Steele did far more than simply provide an opposition research dossier to the Democratic National Committee, his Job One. As a skilled intelligence officer, Steele ran a full-spectrum information operation against the United States, aided either willingly or unwittingly by the FBI. His second job was the more important one: get his information into the most effective hands to influence the United States in the most significant way.

To understand how effective Steele has been in his op, we need to understand he had two jobs. The first was to create the dossier. The second job was to disseminate the dossier. Steele had to get the information into the most effective hands to influence the United States in the most significant way.

Job One: Create the Dossier

Job One was to create the opposition research. “Oppo” is not a neutral gathering of facts, but a search for negative information that can be used against an opponent. The standards — vetting — vary with the intended use. Some info might be published with documents and verification. Some leads discovered might be planted in hopes a journalist will uncover more “on her own,” creating credibility. Some likely near-falsehoods might be handed out to sleazy media in hopes more legit media will cross report — the New York Times might not initially run a story about a sexual dalliance itself, but it will run a story saying “Buzzfeed reports a sexual dalliance involving…”

Oppo research follows no rules; this is not peer-reviewed stuff that has to pass an ethics board. One goes out with bags of money shouting “Anyone got dirt on our opponent? We’re paying, but only for dirt!” You look for people who didn’t like a deal, people with an axe to grind, the jilted ex-wife, not the happy current one. So to say oppo research might be biased is to miss the point.

You’re not required to look too far under a rock that hides something naughty — stop when you’ve got what you came for. It all depends how the information will be deployed. The less sure you are about the veracity of the information you acquire the more you need that info to be inherently palatable; it has to feel right to the intended audience. The old political joke is you need to find a live boy in bed, or a dead girl, to really smear an opponent with a sex scandal. So if you’re going to run with info that supports what the public already sort of believes, the standards are lower.

What Does the Dossier Say?

Turning to Christopher Steele’s dossier, it looks like he read the same espionage textbook as everyone else. So while it would have been a game-changer had Steele found unambiguous evidence of financial transactions between Trump and the Russian government, that would have required real evidence. Steele’s sources claim money changed hands, but never provide him with proof. On dossier (page 20) one source goes as far as to say no documentary evidence exists.

That means instead of the complex financing scams you might expect out of Trump, the big takeaway from the dossier is the pee tape, sources claiming the Russians have video to blackmail Trump at any moment. The thing reaches almost the level of parody, because not only does the dossier claim Trump likes fetish sex, the fetish sex occurred in the context of an anti-Obama act (Trump supposedly for his pleasure employed prostitutes to urinate on a bed Obama once slept in.) As for other sex parties Trump supposedly participated in, the dossier notes all direct witnesses were “silenced.” You couldn’t do better if you made it all up.

In fact, the thing reads very much like what lay people imagine spies come up with. In real intelligence work, documents showing transactions from cash to commercial paper to gold run through a Cayman Islands’ bank are much more effective than dirty video; the latter can be denied, and may or may not even matter to a public already bored by boasts of pussy grabbing and rawdog sex with porn stars. The former will show up in court as part of a racketeering and tax evasion charge that dead solid perfect sends people to jail. Intelligence officers who pay out sources maintain meticulous receipts; you think their own agencies trust them with bags of cash? And in the dark world, prostitutes don’t need to be “silenced.” They have no credibility in most people’s’ minds to begin with, and a trail of bodies just attracts attention. And unlike Steele’s product, real intel reporting is full of qualifiers, maybes, liklies and so forth, not a laundry list of certainties, because you know your own sources have an agenda. The dossier is also short of the kind of verifiable details of specific dates and places you’d expect. It is a collection of unverifiable assertions by second-hand sources, not evidence. Steele is a smart man, an experienced intelligence officer, who knew exactly what he was writing — a dossier that will read true to the rubes.

So it is not surprising to date there has been no public corroboration of anything in the dossier. If significant parts of the dossier could be proven, there would be grounds for impeachment with no further work needed. At least one fact has been disproven –Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier’s claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official.

Job Two: Run the Info Op, Place the Dossier

Steele excelled at turning his dossier into a full-spectrum information operation, what some might call information warfare. This is what separates his work creating the dossier (which a decent journalist with friends in Russia could have done) from his work infiltrating the dossier into the highest reaches of American government and political society. For that, you need a real pro, an intelligence officer with decades of experience running just that kind of op. You want foreign interference in the 2016 election? Let’s take a closer look at Christopher Steele.

Steele’s skill is revealed by the Nunes and Grassley memos, which show he used the same set of information in the dossier to create a collaboration loop, every intelligence officer’s dream — his own planted information used to surreptitiously confirm itself, right up to the point where the target country’s own intelligence service re-purposed it as evidence in the FISA court.

Steele admits he briefed journalists off-the-record starting in summer and autumn 2016. His most significant hit came when journalist Michael Isikoff broke the story of Trump associate Carter Page’s alleged connections to Russia. Isikoff did not cite the dossier or Steele as sources, and in fact denied they were when questioned.

Isikoff’s story didn’t just push negative information about Trump into the public consciousness. It claimed U.S. intel officials were probing ties between a Trump adviser and the Kremlin, adding credibility; the feds themselves felt the info was worthwhile! Better yet for Steele, Isikoff claimed the information came from a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” suggesting it originated from a third-party and was picked up by Western spies instead of being written by one. Steele also placed articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Mother Jones, and others.

At the same time, Steele’s info reached influential people like John McCain, who could then pick up a newspaper and believe he was seeing the “secret” info from Steele confirmed independently by an experienced journalist. And how did McCain first learn about Steele’s work? At a conference in Canada, via Andrew Wood, former British Ambassador in Moscow. Where was Wood working at the time? Orbis, Christopher Steele’s research firm.

A copy of the dossier even found its way to the State Department, an organization which normally should have been far removed from U.S. election politics. A contact within State passed information from Clinton associates Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer (both men played also active roles behind in the scenes feeding Clinton dubious information on Libya) to and from Steele. The Grassley memo suggests there was a second Steele document, in addition to the dossier, already shared with State and the FBI but not made public.

The Gold Medal: Become the Source of Someone Else’s Investigation

While seeding his dossier in the media and around Washington, Steele was also meeting in secret with the FBI (he claims he did not inform Fusion GPS, his employer), via an FBI counterintelligence handler in Rome. Steele began feeding the FBI in July 2016 with updates into the fall, apparently in the odd guise of simply a deeply concerned, loyal British subject. “This is something of huge significance, way above party politics,” Steele commented as to his motives.

The FBI, in the process of working Steele, would have likely characterized him as a “source,” technically a “extra-territorial confidential human source.” That meant the dossier’s claims appeared to come from the ex-MI6 officer with the good reputation, not second-hand from who knows who in Russia (the FBI emphasized Steele’s reputation when presenting the dossier to the FISC.) Think of it as a kind of money laundering which, like that process, helped muddy the real source of the goods.

The FBI used the Steele dossier to apply for a FISA court surveillance warrant against Carter Page. The FBI also submitted Isikoff’s story as corroborating evidence, without explaining the article and the dossier were effectively one in the same. In intelligence work, this is known as cross-contamination, an amateur error. The FBI however, according to the Nunes memo, did not tell the FISA court the Steele dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee as commissioned opposition research, nor did they tell the court the Isikoff article presented as collaborating evidence was in fact based on the same dossier.

Steele reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him $50,000 to continue his “research,” though the deal is believed to have fallen through after the dossier became public (though an intelligence community source tells The American Conservative Steele did in fact operate as a fully paid FBI asset.) Along the way the FBI also informed Steele of their separate investigation into Trump staffer George Papadopoulos, a violation of security and a possible tainting of Steele’s research going forward.

Gold Medal Plus: Collaborate Your Own Information

The Nunes memo also showed then-associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr back-channeled additional material from Steele into the DOJ while working with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and her replacement, Rod Rosenstein. Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, on Steele’s project. Ohr’s wife would be especially valuable in that she would be able to clandestinely supply info to corraborate what Steele told the FBI and, via her husband, know to tailor what she passed to the questions DOJ had. The FBI did not disclose the role of Ohr’s wife, who speaks Russian and has previously done contract work for the CIA, to the FISA court.

Ohr’s wife only began work for Fusion GPS in September/October 2016, as the FBI sought the warrant against Page based on the Steele dossier. Ohr’s wife taking a new job with Fusion GPS at that critical juncture screams of the efforts of an experienced intelligence officer looking to create yet another pipeline inside, essentially his own asset.

Steele’s Success, With a Little Help From His Friends

All talk of Russia aside, it is difficult to find evidence of a foreigner who played a more significant role in the election than Christopher Steele. Steele took a dossier paid for by one party and drove it deep into the United States. Steele’s work formed in part the justification for a FISA warrant to spy on a Trump associate, the end game of which has not yet been written.

Steele maneuvered himself from paid opposition researcher to clandestine source for the FBI. Steele then may have planted the spouse of a senior DOJ employee as a second clandestine source to move more information into DOJ. In the intelligence world, that is as good as it gets; via two seemingly independent channels you are controlling the opponent’s information cycle.

Steele further manipulated the American media to have his information amplified and given credibility. By working simultaneously as both an anonymous and a cited source, he got his same info out as if it was coming from multiple places.

There is informed speculation Steele was more than a source for the FBI, and actually may have been tasked and paid to search for specific information, essentially working as a double agent for the FBI and the DNC. Others have raised questions about Steele’s status as “retired” from British intelligence, as the lines among working for MI6, working at MI6, and working with MI6 are often times largely a matter of semantics. Unless Steele wanted to burn all of his contacts within British intelligence, it is highly unlikely he would insert himself into an American presidential campaign without at least informing his old workmates, if not seeking tacit permission (for the record, Steele’s old boss at MI6 calls the dossier credible; an intelligence community source tells The American Conservative Steele shared all of his information with MI6.) It is unclear if the abrupt January 2017 resignation of Robert Hannigan, the head of Britain’s NSA-like Government Communications Headquarters, is related in any way to Steele’s work becoming public.

As for the performance of the DOJ/FBI, we do not have enough information to judge whether they were incompetent, or simply willing partners to what Steele was up to, using him as a handy pretext to open legal surveillance on someone inside the Trump circle (surveillance on Page may have also monitored Steve Bannon.)

How to Steele an Election

The Washington Post characterized Steele as “struggling to navigate dual obligations — to his private clients, who were paying him to help Clinton win, and to a sense of public duty born of his previous life.” The Washington Post has no idea how intelligence officers work. Their job is to befriend and engage the target to carry out the goals of their employer. When they do it right, the public summation is a line like the Post offered; you never even knew you were being used. In the macho world of intelligence, the process is actually described more crudely, having to do with using enough lubrication so the target didn’t even feel a rough thing pushed up a very sensitive place.

Steele played the FBI while the FBI thought they were playing him. Or the other way around, because everyone was looking the other way. Steele ran a classic info op against the United States, getting himself inside the cycle as a clean source. Robert Mueller should be ashamed of himself if he uses any of Steele’s dossier, or any information obtained via that dossier. That’s where our democracy stands at the moment.

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

Here’s how Mueller’s latest indictment further discredits the Trump Dossier

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | February 19, 2018

As the days since Mueller’s latest indictment have passed, the failure of his investigation to make any claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has begun to sink in, even amongst some of Donald Trump’s most bitter enemies.

Even the Guardian – arguably the most fervid of Donald Trump’s British media critics, and the most vocal supporter of the Russiagate conspiracy theory – has grudgingly admitted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has “once again failed to nail Donald Trump”:

There will be understandable disappointment in many quarters that the latest indictments delivered by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, once again failed to nail Donald Trump. Although the charges levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are extraordinarily serious, they do not directly support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded with Moscow to rig the vote.

The Times of London meanwhile has admitted that the latest indictment contains “no smoking gun”:

The Department of Justice, however, offered no confirmation to those still smarting from the election in Nov­em­ber 2016, who believe that, in the absence of Russian interference, Hillary Clinton would be in the White House today. Friday’s allegations offered no evidence that the outcome had been affected. Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, said yesterday that Donald Trump’s victories in the key swing states were his own.

There was further comfort for Mr Trump, which he was quick to celebrate with a tweet. The investigation uncovered no evidence “that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity”. That includes, so far, anybody involved in the Trump campaign. If there is a smoking gun it has yet to emerge, though Robert Mueller’s investigation will grind on. Presi­dent Vladimir Putin is a malign and dangerous mischief maker. It has not been proved that he is an evil genius with the ability to swing a US election.

In fact the latest indictment when considered properly is a further huge nail in the coffin of the Russiagate conspiracy theory and in the already disintegrating credibility of the Trump Dossier, which is the foundation document for that theory.

Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the Russiagate conspiracy theory is laid out in its most classic form in the Trump Dossier, and it is the Trump Dossier which remains the primary and indeed so far the only ‘evidence’ for it

This theory holds that Donald Trump was compromised by the Russians in 2013 when he was filmed by Russian intelligence performing an orgy in a hotel room in Moscow, and he and his associates Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Michael Cohen subsequently engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy with Russian intelligence to steal the election from Hillary Clinton by having John Podesta’s and the DNC’s emails stolen by Russian intelligence and passed on by them for publication by Wikileaks.

Belief in this conspiracy dies hard, and an interesting article in the Financial Times by Edward Luce provides a fascinating example of the dogged determination of some people to believe in it.  Writing about Mueller’s latest indictment Luce has this to say:

… Mr Mueller’s report hints at more dramatic possibilities by corroborating contents of the “Steele dossier”, which was compiled in mid-2016 by the former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele — long before the US intelligence agencies warned of Russian interference. Mr Steele, who is in hiding, alleged that the Russians were using “active measures” to support the campaigns of Mr Trump, Bernie Sanders, the Democratic runner-up to Hillary Clinton, and Jill Stein, the Green party nominee. Mr Mueller’s indictment confirms that account.

Likewise, Mr Mueller’s indictment confirms the Steele dossier’s claim that Russia wished to “sow discord” in the US election by backing leftwing as well as rightwing groups. Among the entities run by the IRA were groups with names such as “Secured Borders”, “Blacktivists”, “United Muslims of America” and “Army of Jesus”.

What is fascinating about these words is that none of them are true.

Christopher Steele is not in hiding.

The actual Trump Dossier does not allege “that the Russians were using “active measures” to support the campaigns of Mr Trump, Bernie Sanders, the Democratic runner-up to Hillary Clinton, and Jill Stein, the Green party nominee”.

Bernie Sanders is mentioned by the Trump Dossier only in passing. By the time the Trump Dossier’s first entries were written Bernie Sanders’s campaign was all but over and it was already clear that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Presidency.

Jill Stein is mentioned – again in passing – only once, in a brief mention which refers to her now infamous visit to Russia where she attended the same dinner with President Putin as Michael Flynn.

Nor does the Trump Dossier anywhere claim that “Russia wished to “sow discord” in the US election by backing leftwing as well as rightwing groups”.

On the contrary the Trump Dossier is focused – exclusively and obsessively – on documenting at fantastic length the alleged conspiracy between the Russian government and the campaign of the supposedly compromised Donald Trump to get him elected US President.

Supporters of the Russiagate conspiracy theory need to start facing up to the hard truth about the Trump Dossier.

At the time the Trump Dossier was published in January 2017 little was known publicly about the contacts which actually took place between members of Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams and the Russians during and after the election.

Today – a full year later and after months of exhaustive investigation – we know far more about those contacts.

What Is striking about those contacts is how ignorant the supposedly high level Russian sources of the Trump Dossier were about them.

Thus the Trump Dossier never mentions Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with Russian ambassador Kislyak, or the various conversations Michael Flynn is known to have had with Russian ambassador Kislyak, some of which apparently took place before Donald Trump won the election.

The Trump Dossier never mentions Jared Kushner’s four conversations with Russian ambassador Kislyak, including the famous meeting between Kislyak and Kushner in Trump Tower on 1st December 2016 (which Michael Flynn also attended) over the course of which the setting up of a backchannel to discuss the crisis in Syria is supposed to have been discussed (Kushner denies that it was).

The last entry of the Trump Dossier is dated 13th December 2016 ie. twelve days after this meeting took place, and given its high level a genuinely well-informed Russian source familiar with the private ongoing discussions in the Kremlin might have been expected to know about it.

Nor does the Trump Dossier mention the now famous meeting in Trump Tower between the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior – which Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner also attended – which took place on 9th June 2016.

This despite the fact that the Trump Dossier’s first entry is dated 20th June 2016 i.e. eleven days later, so that if this meeting really was intended to set the stage for collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – as believers in the Russiagate conspiracy theory insist – a well informed Russian source with access to information from the Kremlin would be expected to know about it.

Nor does the Trump Dossier have anything to say about George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who had the most extensive contacts with the Russians, and whose drunken bragging in a London bar is now claimed by the FBI to have been its reason for starting the Russiagate inquiry.

In fact George Papadopoulos is not mentioned in the Trump Dossier at all.

This despite the fact that members of Russia’s high powered Valdai Discussion Club were Papadopoulos’s main interlocutors in his discussions with the Russians, and Igor Ivanov – Russia’s former foreign minister, and a senior albeit retired official genuinely known to Putin – was informed about the discussions also, making it at least possible that high level people in the Russian Foreign Ministry and conceivably in the Russian government and in the Kremlin were kept informed about the discussions with Papadopoulos, so that a genuinely well-informed Russian source might be expected to know about them.

By contrast none of the secret meetings between Carter Page and Michael Cohen and the Russians discussed at such extraordinary length in the Trump Dossier have ever been proved to have taken place.

Now Special Counsel Mueller has provided further details in his latest indictment of actual albeit unknowing contacts between members of the Trump campaign and various Russian employees of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency, LLC, apparently both in person and online.

The Trump Dossier has however nothing to say about these contacts either, just as it has nothing to say about the Internet Research Agency, LLC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, or the entire social media campaign set out in such painstaking detail by Special Counsel Mueller in his indictment.

The only conclusion possible is that if the Trump Dossier’s Russian sources actually exist (about which I am starting to have doubts) then they were extraordinarily ignorant of what was actually going on.

That of course is consistent with the fact – recently revealed in the heavily redacted memorandum sent to the Justice Department by Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham – that many of the sources of the Trump Dossier were not actually Russian but were American.

John Helmer – the most experienced journalist covering Russia, and a person who has a genuine and profound knowledge of the country – made that very point – that many of the Trump Dossier’s sources were American rather than Russian – in an article he published on 18th January 2017, ie. just days after the Trump Dossier was published.

In that same article Helmer also made this very valid point about the Trump Dossier’s compiler Christopher Steele:

Steele’s career in Russian intelligence at MI6 had hit the rocks in 2006, and never recovered. That was the year in which the Russian Security Service (FSB) publicly exposed an MI6 operation in Moscow. Russian informants recruited by the British were passed messages and money, and dropped their information in containers fabricated to look like fake rocks in a public park. Steele was on the MI6 desk in London when the operation was blown. Although the FSB announcement was denied in London at the time, the British prime ministry confirmed its veracity in 2012. Read more on Steele’s fake rock operation here, and the attempt by the Financial Times to cover it up by blaming Putin for fabricating the story.

Given that Steele was outed by Russian intelligence in 2006, with his intelligence operation in Russia dismantled by the FSB that year, it beggars belief that ten years later in 2016 he still had access to high level secrets in the Kremlin.

What we now know in fact proves that he did not.

I only remembered Helmer’s 18th January 2017 article about the Trump Dossier after I wrote my article about Senator Grassley’s and Senator Lindsey Graham’s memorandum to the Justice Department on 6th February 2018.

This is most unfortunate, not only because Grassley’s and Lindsey Graham’s memorandum resoundingly vindicates Helmer’s reporting, but because it shows that a genuine expert about Russia like Helmer was able to spot immediately the holes in the Trump Dossier, which only now – a whole year and months of exhaustive investigations later – are starting to be officially admitted.

For my part I owe Helmer an apology for not referencing his 18th January 2017 article in my article of 6th February 2018.  I should have done so and I am very sorry that I didn’t.

I have spent some time discussing the Trump Dossier because despite denials it remains the lynchpin of the whole Russiagate scandal and of the claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Heroic efforts to elevate Papadopoulos’s case and the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya into ‘evidence’ of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which exists supposedly independently of the Trump Dossier fail because as I have discussed extensively elsewhere (see here and here) they in fact do no such thing.

Despite Edward Luce’s desperate efforts to argue otherwise, Mueller’s latest indictment far from corroborating the Trump Dossier, has done the opposite.

With the Trump Dossier – the lynchpin of the whole collusion case – not just unverified and discredited but proved repeatedly to have been completely uninformed about events which were actually going on, why do some people persist in pretending that there is still a collusion case to investigate?

February 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment