Will we survive the next 90 days?
There remains one good thing to say about Donald Trump: he is not Hillary. The boneheaded cruise missile attack in Syria would have occurred even earlier under President Rodham Clinton and there would undoubtedly be no-fly and safe zones already in place. Oh, and Ukraine and Georgia would be negotiating their entries into NATO to make sure that old Vlad Putin would be put on notice and understand that the days of namby-pamby jaw-jaw-jaw that characterized the Obama Administration are now ancient history.
Apart from that, I can only observe dumbstruck how yet again a candidate promising peace and dialogue could be flipped so quickly. Or maybe he never believed in anything he said, which is perhaps more to the point. Be that as it may, we now, after only ninety days in office, have a neo-neocon foreign policy and the folks clustered around their water coolers in the Washington think tanks are again smiling. And as the ruinous Syrian civil war continues thanks to American intervention, there are probably plenty of high fives within Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu government. Bibi again rules the roost.
The Israelis are no doubt particularly delighted to hear Donald Trump’s latest factually exempt voyage into the outer reaches of the galaxy regarding Iran. Or perhaps The Donald is only having continuing digestive problems dealing with “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen” when dining with mortified Chinese leader Xi Jinping while simultaneously launching cruise missiles intended to send a message to Beijing’s ally Russia. It is inevitably Iran’s turn for vilification, so Trump, while conceding that the Iranians have been compliant with the nuclear weapons agreement they signed, also felt compelled to add that they continue to be a threat and have not entered into the “spirit” of the pact. Apparently the spirit codicil was somehow left out of the final draft, an interpretation that will no doubt surprise the other signatories consisting of Russia, China and the European Union.
To make its point that Tehran is somehow a cheater, the White House has ordered a 90 day review of Iran policy which will empower hardliners in that country in upcoming elections as well as nut cases like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham on this side of the Atlantic. Iranian opposition groups like the terrorist Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK) are already rising to the challenge by floating phony intelligence while Graham is currently advocating a preemptive attack on North Korea, conceding that it would be catastrophic for every country in the region while noting smugly that the carnage and destruction would not reach the United States. Too bad that Pyongyang’s fury cannot be directed straight to Graham’s house in South Carolina.
Graham is reportedly a good dancer and multitasker who can pivot back to Iran effortlessly as soon as Pyongyang is reduced to rubble, so those who want to deal with Iran sooner rather than later should not despair. As things continue to go south nearly everywhere, tension in the Middle East will no doubt lead to a rapidly deteriorating situation in the Persian Gulf that will require yet another ham-handed show of strength by the United States of Amnesia. There will be a war against Iran.
There have been a couple of other interesting stories circulating recently, all demonstrating that when Benjamin Franklin observed that we Americans had created a republic, “if we can keep it,” he was being particularly prescient. Robert Parry has observed that all the fuss about Russiagate is misleading as the only country that interferes with the political process in the U.S. persistently and successfully while also doing terrible damage to our national security is Israel. He wonders when we will have Congress convening investigative commissions to look into Israel-gate but then answers his own question by observing that it will never happen given who controls what in the United States. “No one dares suggest a probe of Israel-gate,” he concludes, but it is interesting and also encouraging to note that some Americans are actually starting to figure things out.
One of the curious things relating to the Russiagate scandal is the issue of who in the U.S. intelligence community leaked highly classified information to the media, a question which somehow seems to have disappeared from whatever final reckoning might be forthcoming. The issue is particularly relevant at the moment because there are reports that the Justice Department is pulling together a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as part of a possible attempt to remove him forcibly from his refuge in Britain and try him for constituting what CIA Director Mike Pompeo describes as a “hostile intelligence service helped by Russia.” It all suggests that low hanging fruit is fair game while some “official” leakers at high levels are somehow being protected.
To cite another example of Justice Department hypocrisy, three current and four former U.S. officials leaked to Reuters last week’s story about a Russian think tank having created a plan to subvert the U.S. election. If that is so, their identities might be discernible or surmised. Why aren’t they in jail? Or is it that many in government now believe that Russia is fair game and are prepared to look the other way?
It is significant that the recent House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russiagate, featuring FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers, provided very little new information even as it confirmed troubling revelations that had already surfaced regarding the corruption of the nation’s security services. Given that former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) head John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) chief James Clapper have been most frequently cited as the Obama administration’s possible bag men in arranging for the generation, collection, dissemination, and leaking of information disparaging to Trump, why weren’t they also being questioned?
The latest focus on Brennan, an Obama/Clinton loyalist who might safely be regarded as the most likely candidate seeking to discredit Team Trump and reap the benefits from Hillary, explores some suspicions about what actually took place last year and how it might have been arranged. The story broke in The Guardian on April 13th, headlined “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia.” The article rehashes much old information, but, relying on a “source close to UK intelligence,” it describes how Britain’s NSA equivalent GCHQ obtained information late in 2015 relating to suspect “interactions” between Trump associates and the Russian intelligence. GCHQ reportedly routinely passed the information on to its U.S. liaison counterparts, and continued to do so over the next six months. The information was supplemented by similar reporting from a number of European intelligence services as well as the remaining “Five Eyes”: Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the Guardian source and reporters, who are clearly hostile to Trump, the collection was not directed or targeted but was rather part of random interception of Russian communications. This may or may not be true but it serves as a useful cover story if someone was up to something naughty. And it also makes one wonder about the highly incriminating British intelligence sourced “dossier” on Trump and his associates, which The Guardian strangely does not mention, that appeared in January. Another apparent Guardian source called GCHQ the “principal whistleblower” in sharing the information that led to the opening of an FBI investigation in July 2016, a suggestion that the British role was not exactly passive.
The article goes on to describe how John Brennan, then CIA Chief, was personally the recipient of the material passed hand-to-hand at “director level” because of its sensitivity. So the Guardian article is essentially saying that the information was both routine and extremely sensitive, which would seem to be contradictory. Brennan was reportedly then the driving force behind launching a “major inter-agency investigation” and he briefed selected members of Congress regarding what he had obtained. Shortly thereafter leaks began appearing in the British press followed subsequently by revelations in the media in the U.S.
An October request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court reportedly was initiated after particularly damaging information was received from Estonia concerning Trump associate Carter Page and also regarding allegations that a Russian bank was funneling money into the Trump campaign. This led to an investigation of Page and the tapping into servers in Trump Tower, where the presidential campaign offices were located. Estonia, it should be noted, was particularly concerned about Trump comments on de-emphasizing NATO and strongly supported a Hillary victory so it is fair to speculate that the intelligence provided might have been cherry picked to make a particular case, but The Guardian fails to make that obvious point.
It is interesting to note how for the first time, in this media account, Brennan surfaces as the central player in the investigation of Team Trump. And it is perhaps not out of line to suggest that the European reporting of information on Trump associates was not exactly due to random collection of information, as The Guardian seeks to demonstrate. It could just as easily have been arranged at the “director level” by Brennan and his counterparts to disrupt the Trump campaign and enhance the electability of Hillary Clinton, which would have directly benefited Brennan and his inner circle as well as the Europeans, all of whom feared a Trump victory. Intelligence can be skewed, “fixed around a policy” or even fabricated and can say whatever one wants it to say so it is fair to suggest that the role of a politically committed John Brennan remains to be explored much more fully.
It is now being reported that Brennan will be summoned to give testimony at a closed House Intelligence Committee meeting on May 2nd. Hopefully his comments will be somehow leaked to the media plus those of James Clapper, who is also scheduled to appear. Nevertheless, one imagines that, as was the case in Comey’s first appearance, both former officials will spend most of their time refusing to confirm or deny anything.
The active participation of Brennan in the background to the 2016 electoral campaign is unprecedented and it is also suggestive of what America’s national security agencies have become, basically creatures of the White House. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Benjamin Franklin would undoubtedly deplore the fact that we have failed to keep the republic that the Founding Fathers bequeathed to us. That would be bad enough, but we are slipping into a pattern of foreign wars based on tissues of lies and deceptions by the very people who are in place to protect us, quite possibly exemplified by unscrupulous and ambitious ladder climbers like John Brennan, who was also the architect of Obama’s assassination policy. If we go to war because of suspected lack of “spirit” in our adversaries or merely because someone in the White House had a piece of chocolate cake and wanted something to talk about over his cup of espresso then we are doomed as a nation.
If there is anyone to blame for the election of Donald Trump, it is not the Russians – it is the Democratic Party and its allies in the MSM.
It does not take a Trump supporter or a registered Republican to recognize that the Democrats’ hysterical allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign to influence the election has no merit and are nothing but petty, ideological over-reactions to their humiliating losses throughout the country in the 2016 election.
And it does not take a trained psychologist to see that the Democrat/MSM campaign to destroy a democratically elected President have perpetuated the anti-Russian effort as a coping mechanism to avoid the painful truth that they have suffered a publicly embarrassing loss of power and status. After 8 years of pretending that Barack Obama was a perpetual political gift they could ride to victory, the reality is too damned excruciating to admit that their own betrayals to peace, health care, the economy and jobs have brought them down.
The challenge for the Democrats is to suck it up and behave like mature professionals who deserve to be elected. Currently, they chose to remain in the wilderness of confused cognitive entanglement; unable to stretch beyond their narrow view of themselves as morally and intellectually superior. Instead, unable to do any independent thinking, they encourage the party’s rank-and-file to remain in the unproductive throes of an unhinged emotional breakdown that seeks to threaten the constitutional stability of the country.
While Wikileaks can take credit for revealing the DNC’s links with the MSM as now indisputable (a job well done by Operation Mockingbird), the joint Democrat/MSM attacks on the Trump – Russia have inadvertently revealed the potent politicization of the FBI, CIA and NSA as well as the morally bankrupt nature of the Democratic party.
Even the assertion of “no evidence” from multiple intel agencies has not stopped the delusional Democrats from going hog-wild insane; daring to suggest that unproven allegations of electoral interference should be considered as an ‘act of war‘. Having sold their souls to the war machine during Obama’s terms in office, Congressional Dems have now linked arms with the appalling former Bush VP Dick Cheney and Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-Az).
An impeccable example of Democratic neurosis that has identified a conclusion lacking evidence, long time apologist for Israel Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca), ranking minority of the House Intel Committee, has set himself up as a moral arbiter of wildly unsubstantiated charges like “notwithstanding an abundance of evidence that Russia hacked our political institutions,” and more recently “there’s more than circumstantial evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.” Schiff has consistently failed to provide one iota of proof supporting his accusations while the MSM takes his fabrications as fact.
In an intensely partisan dispute that is about political control rather than national security, Schiff has demanded that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca) Chair of the House Intel Committee, recuse himself from the Committee investigation citing an inability to conduct an impartial hearing.
In a memorable December 8th interview on FoxNews with Tucker Carlson (which is ‘unavailable’ on YouTube), Schiff met with push-back from Carlson who is perhaps the only iconoclast interviewer on all of commercial TV. Carlson makes a game out of systematically peeling back the layers of any well established, status quo argument, frequently leaving his guest in knots or otherwise looking ridiculous. He is a joy to watch as he ripped the mask off the pompous Schiff.
In a typical response from an inquisitor who has lost control of the narrative, here are a few choice excerpts as Schiff escalates the witch hunt but cannot substantiate his claims as he seeks diversion by accusing Carlson of ‘carrying water for the Kremlin’:
Carlson: “I get it, I get it… Nobody’s for hacking. Let me just make one clear point. You don’t know that Vladimir Putin was behind those hacks?”
Schiff: “Well, we do know this…”
Carlson: “but you don’t know that so let’s not pretend you do…”
Schiff: “Well, let’s not ignore what the Director of National Security and the Secretary of Homeland Security said publicly which is that these hacks were of such seriousness that they could not have taken place without approval of the highest levels of the Kremlin.”
Carlson: “That’s speculation. What is speculation… is it a statement of fact”
Schiff: “it is not speculation. It is a statement of the intelligence community’s best assessment. Because there’s a political reason to do it… this is what the intelligence professionals are saying.”
Carlson: “Ok … I remember vividly the massive stockpiles of wmd in Iraq which the intelligence community assured us were there and they weren’t so pardon my skepticism.”
Carlson: “I’ve been following this. I get it. There’s been lots of hacking, at the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA Director’s personal email was hacked, we think in some cases by Russia. I don’t remember you holding a press conference and saying, hey, Obama Administration, your cyber security is pathetic. In this letter to the President, you don’t mention the fact that American cyber security is inadequate and that the Administration is partly responsible for allowing these hacks to happen. Why don’t you mention that?”
Schiff: “You haven’t been watching the opening hearings of the…”
Carlson: “I have…”
Sciff: “I don’t think you have because if you had, you would see me pressing the Administration on the failures to protect our data …”
Carlson: “Then why not mention it in this letter?”
Schiff: “Because this letter was about Russian meddling and if you don’t think that’s significant that a power that is an adversary of ours is bombing civilians in Syria right now, that’s invading its neighbor’s and also interfering in our political process as well as our allies… if you don’t think that’s serious, it’s hard for me to imagine that you’re of the same party as Ronald Reagan.”
Carlson: “What were the means they used?
Schiff “… the means they used were hacking into democratic institutions and the leaking of documents designed in the primary process to sow division between Clinton and Sanders camps something we saw actually took place as a result of that because of that and then in general election to attempt to discredit secretary of State Clinton in a way to harm her and would help Donald Trump”
Carlson: “How did they do that?”
Schiff: “Well it was pretty obvious, wasn’t it? …. they hacked, they released documents that were…”
Carlson: “… that were real..”
Schiff: “Oh yes they were real and they were ones that were damaging to Secretary Clinton.”
Carlson: “But they don’t know that the Putin government and neither do you. You don’t know that Putin was behind those hacks. I think it’s irresponsible for you to say that and you don’t know.”
Schiff: “You know what is irresponsible Tucker, is that you make that claim without looking at the evidence and more importantly have not seen the Russians…. “
Carlson: “You can’t say that you know the Putin government did that.”
Schiff: “… and more importantly for the president elect today to say that he doesn’t know whether the Russians…”
Carlson: “You’re dodging. You’re on the Intel Committee. Let me just ask you one final question. Can you look right into the camera and say that you know for a fact that the government of Vladimir Putin was behind the hacks of John Podesta emails. “
Schiff: “Absolutely. The government of Vladimir Putin was behind the hack of our institution, not only in the US but also in Europe”
Carlson: “ … of John Podesta’s email… you know that you’re dodging. You can’t say it. Look and say that they hacked Podesta’s email.”
Schiff: “I think Ronald Reagan would be rolling in his grave that you are carrying water for the Kremlin”
Carlson: “I am not carrying water for the Kremlin. Look, you are a sitting member of Congress on the [House Intelligence Committee] and you can’t say they hacked…”
Schiff “You’re going to have to move your show to RT – Russian television because this is perfectly…”
Carlson: “You know what? That’s so beneath your office because it’s so dumb, and you are being duplicitous. I’m asking you did they hack [John] Podesta’s emails and you can’t say it.”
Schiff: “You should not resort to personal insults like that Tucker.”
Carlson: “You just said I was carrying water for Putin. That’s pretty hilarious.”
Schiff: “When you essentially are an apologist for the Kremlin, that’s what you do.”
Carlson: “One last time Congressman. Look into the camera and say they hacked John Podesta’s emails. We know for a fact that the Russians hacked John Podesta’s emails. You can’t and you know you can’t and you are hiding behind weasel words.”
Schiff: “I’m not going to be specific….”
Carlson: “… because you don’t know it, that’s why. Done. You don’t know it and you’re alleging it without any evidence.”
Schiff: “You’re ignoring the evidence because you don’t care because the fact that it helped the Republican candidate is all you need to know.”
Carlson: “That totally false. I just think that if you’re going to make a serious allegation against an actual country with an actual government you ought to know what you’re talking about and you don’t.”
Schiff: “… ought to accept Republicans on intel committee if you.”
Carlson: “… if you could say it, you would have but you didn’t. I got to go. I’m taking cash from Putin, on RT.”
Schiff: “If you’re willing to be in denial because it suits a Republican president….”
Carlson: “You can blather on all you want. I gave you a chance to state it clearly and you couldn’t. I need to take a call from Vladimir Putin so I need to put you on hold for one second.”
Meanwhile, as the Dems/MSM continue to waste time and energy on inane investigations of Russian collusion, the Russians have recently opened an office in Beijing to phase-in a gold backed standard of trade while the Chinese have opened a new central bank office in Moscow that will allow the Russians to issue federal loan bonds in the yuan – thereby decreasing their dependence on the dollar-based trade.
And if there is going to be an investigation of interference in US elections, let it include Israel.
Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31
I try to keep a certain distance from the anti-Trump circus. But I do want to put some thoughts on record, given the obsession with Trump’s Russia connection and what I see is a determined effort to minimize the British/NATO angle in the attack on Trump.
My personal feeling is that there are significant swaths of the European establishment that derive their mission and meaning from serving as allies to the United States in an anti-Trump effort: the British government and intelligence services, NATO, various right-leaning European governments, their think tanks, in other words, the Atlanticists.
They didn’t like Trump because he was more interested in dealing directly and positively with Russia on matters of US strategic concern in the Middle East and Asia and much less interested in perfecting the Atlanticist Euro-centric anti-Russian containment/deterrence apparatus and backing crazy EU/NATO expansion stunts like the Ukraine operation.
Perhaps similar to Trump’s interest in dealing with China instead of doing pivot. Difference is, Atlanticist lobby is much more entrenched in Washington, the NATO alliance is miles ahead of the “box of sand” Asian containment network, and Great Britain is America’s primary intelligence partner.
So I think people over the pond, particularly in Europe, were interested in feeding documentation on Trump’s murky Russia connections to his opponents, and especially on behalf of Hillary Clinton, who is very much an Atlanticist fave. Effort was pretty low key at first because nobody expected Trump to get anywhere, but things picked up when he got the nomination, and then shifted into apesh*t crazytime when he got the presidency.
The British link is there for all to see in the notorious Steele dossier. What people don’t want to see is the inference that Steele was either getting dirt from MI5/GCHQ or is simply a cut-out for a British effort.
I should say the possibility that the UK intelligence service may have been deeply involved in preparing the brief against Trump does not elicit an urge from me to spontaneously genuflect concerning the accuracy of the evidence. I daresay psyops—packaging and releasing selective intel and innuendo at opportune times through deniable channels for maximum effect–is a core mission of British spookdom, as is making up utter crap, like the notorious “dodgy dossier” on Saddam Hussein.
An interesting datapoint is the Guardian leg-humping a story about Michael Flynn having conversations with a Russian-English historian causing “concern” to “US and UK officials”. The only useful conclusion from this farrago, as far as I can tell, is that a) investigating Things Flynn was an official US-UK joint and not just Christopher Steele lunching Russian emigres in Grosvenor Square and b) the UK press is doing a similar tag teaming with US media to sell Trump/Russia like it pitched in with the US to sell Saddam/Iraq.
And the Guardian is doing it this time! You’ve come a long way, baby!
The mega-uproar over the “GCHQ tapped Trump” story was, to me, quite interesting, for the massive full-court pushback it elicited and the grudging backdown from the Trump administration.
If the story proved out true, it would be a disaster for the UK.
On the institutional level, confirmation that US investigatory and intel outfits resorted to GCHQ to, shall we say, supplement collection related to US citizens and *ahem* circumvent US laws would lead to demands for that bane of all spook prerogatives, oversight and perhaps a committee to review requests for intel exchange between the US and GCHQ before they happened (I recall reading that currently the NSA can reach into Five Eyes servers and pull out whatever it wants whenever it wants; it would be fun to find out in open testimony if that actually happens!).
On the political level, it would be hard to escape the imputation that Great Britain was conducting politically-motivated collection/querying/handover of intel concerning disfavored US politicians and officials, and that the English bulldog was INTERFERING IN AMERICA’S SACRED ELECTIONS, you know, like a certain country, name begins with R ends with A led by a guy name begins with P ends with N is allegedly doing.
It would be interesting to see how the public relations fracas on terms of “Putin trolls pushed fake news on Facebook” vs. “GCHQ pushed fake news into the FBI” would play.
GCHQ/MI5’s powerful capabilities and their slavish eagerness to put them at the service of the US are the glittering jewels in the tattered collar of the British poodle. If GCHQ becomes a “normal” intelligence interlocutor of the US—with the added stigma of having engaged in politicized active measures on behalf of US factions—then the UK risks dropping to parity with *gasp* Germany as another arm’s length partner.
Fox’s alacrity in yanking some guy called “Judge Nap” for publicizing the GCHQ surveillance allegations was interesting. You might expect Fox would be keen to push this rather provocative and open-ended talking point to provide some aid and comfort to Trump and ride a ratings-boosting angle. But Fox shut Nap down!
Wonder if Rupert Murdoch got the call from the UK government that any encouragement of this kind of tittle-tattle would call down the wrath of the British government on Rupert’s extensive media holdings in Britain.
Well, with Judge Nap in the cooler, I doubt any other Fox commentators will be too interested in pursuing that allegation.
And maybe the US intel community told Trump he’d be gone in a heartbeat if he threatened to compromise the US-GB special spook relationship to save his skin. So he backed off.
If Trump falls on his ass I expect that will provide the political cover for some discrete “now it can be told” bragging about how the Atlanticist band of brothers joined hands to defeat the Russian menace. If Trump hangs on, it just goes into the secret museum of US-UK ratf*cking operations.
The Vault 7 exposé by WikiLeaks neglected to mention the most important part of the disclosure. Sure, the CIA has all these tools available. Yes, they are used on the public. The important part is; it’s not the CIA that’s using them. That’s the part that needs to frighten you.
The CIA, by the definition of its mission, cannot use the tools in Vault 7, and definitely not on Americans. All the tools are unclassified, open-source, and can be used by anyone. It makes them not exactly usable for secret agent work. That’s what makes it impossible for them to use Vault 7 tools directly. Because of the possible exposure for the agency, use of the tools was farmed out.
Instead, they are there for subcontractors to use. Are you worried about your TV watching you? Has your car developed the habit of starting itself in the morning?
If these tools were solely in the hands of a US agency, you would be much safer. The agencies have limits on what they can do and agencies have oversight providing protections.
Instead, intelligence and counterterrorism tools are in the hands of people that make most of their money pushing political agendas forward. And there is no oversight for what they are doing with the tools.
In March 2015, I started writing about private NSA guns for hire. These hired guns work in the revolving door between government Intel and counterterrorism and private intel and counterterrorism. What it showed was the same people that worked for US agencies and trained them were using the same tools and methods on Americans that they used for terrorist hunting. And they brag about it in social media.
The same people that take counterterrorism measures against Al Qaeda, are free to use those tools on you. According to CNN, Aaron Weisburd models his methods on the no-holds-barred Al Qaeda model.
From CBS News:
sources close to U.S. intelligence as saying that “hackers knocked out Al Qaeda’s online means of communication, thus preventing them from posting anything to commemorate 911 anniversary.” The paper also said Western intelligence suspects two hackers were responsible: Aaron Weisburd from Internet Haganah and Rusty Shackleford from the web group My Pet Jawa.”
According to Sputnik News :
As much as 80 percent of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) budget is privatized, demonstrating the merger between Washington and corporate organizations, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday.”
This means that up to 80% of that budget is going to people in the private sector that are also working on other agendas, including their own. That’s why we see more headlines like “NSA staff used spy tools on spouses, exlovers:watchdog.” or “The Crazy Emails That Took Down NSA Spook John Schindler.” Both articles show contractors use Vault 7 tools for their own domestic spying or revenge.
In May 2015, The Nation published an article that is a must read to grasp how dangerous this has become. I’ve written intensively on how these tools are used to create news and policy from a ground and company level for NGO’s and lobbyists. This article ratchets it up by looking at the policy makers and former agency heads that go into the private Intel and policy crafting business for hire.
According to The Nation :
These are the people — often referred to as “intelligence professionals” — who do the actual analytical and targeting work of the NSA and other agencies in America’s secret government. Over the last 15 years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit.”
What does this have to do with overhauling the ODNI and 17 Intel agencies? Everything. From oversight to policy, the level of non-partisan professionalism needed to conduct unbiased intelligence work is no longer there. The Vault 7 leak could well be an inside attempt to address these issues.
“In the intelligence community in the United States, there are certain disgruntled individuals [concerned] about the way operations are being run, and it’s obvious that material has come out that was felt by some of these individuals needed to be discussed,” Kampmark explained.”
The ODNI and its agencies descent into shambles have been three presidencies in the making. Why a shambles? When intelligence is based on political agendas, rumor, or speculation instead of facts, it’s in trouble. All of it was done in the name of getting faster intelligence and making actionable Intel available to members of Congress that had no business getting involved with classified, need to know basis intelligence.
The second part of this article will address how much effect these intel releases have on breaking story news over the years.
Many of the Intel experts hired as contractors are not Intel experts. As you’ll soon see, a housecleaning at the agency level and contractors is both unavoidable and necessary.
I asked Michael Jasinski, Assistant Professor Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh about this. Professor Jasinski had oversight over researchers that were later hired by US Intel agencies and provided evaluations of them prior to their employment.
His comments show why a radical cleanup in both intel and counter-terrorism needs to happen. With the following statement he also added that their obvious patriotic feelings were real, but:
“Considering how the intelligence community is depicted in the media or in the movies (and clearly CIA “outreach” plays a role here), you’d think Jedi Knights. The Justice League. Gandalf. But if you ever had personal contact with the “three-letter agencies” for any period of time, you’d think different.
My most recent experience with the “intelligence” community was at MIIS, post-9/11 when the agencies were coming there to hire, and they were hiring big. They hired many of my research assistants–I was doing what might be termed “open-source intelligence” on WMD proliferation–and in the process, they’d ask me, their immediate supervisor, for my opinion.
So I’d tell them point-blank: can’t read, can’t write, can’t analyze. I don’t care what their CV says, the only language they can function in at any level is English. No matter, they’d get hired anyway. Drug convictions? No matter, they’d get hired anyway (at least at the time, the CIA would hire you if you didn’t have any drug convictions within the last 3 years). Scary political views they wore on their sleeve? No matter, they’d get hired anyway. All of my good assistants went to work for the UN, IAEA, major NGOs. The dregs went to “intelligence.”
So now when I see a) the “Russian interference” stories and b) the inability to safeguard, and presumably use responsibly, your own cyber-warfare arsenal, I can’t say I’m exactly surprised. But there are no shortcuts in this kind of work. If you rapidly expand at the cost of dramatically lowering standards, you (and the country) are going to pay a price. We’re paying it right now…”
When OSINT was pioneered, from the 1990’s into the 2000’s, none of the agencies had any experience with OSINT. It was a new concept. To get Intel gathering and online counterterrorism where it is today, US intelligence agencies relied on the methods and help of an out of work web-designer, a pornographer suffering from toxic black-mold induced delusions, a gift shop employee, a stay at home dad whose last job was selling underwear, and a man that heard coded intel messages in fax transmission beeps. Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke.
One thing all these people have in common is that none of them have a background in intelligence or antiterrorism. In the years before and after 9/11, these concerned citizens took to the web and started pioneering a new form of intelligence called OSINT (Open Source Intelligence). This would later provide the basis for the establishment of the NSA and become the backbone of US intelligence gathering.
All the intelligence gathering agencies rejected it at first because it relied on social media. At best this intelligence can only be looked at as unsubstantiated or rumor level information. While it’s OK for pointing to a potential problem, it’s limitations are that it provides unproven and possibly compromised and tainted information. The CIA was focused on HUMINT (Human Intel, using human agents or trusted sources) and SIGINT(Signals Intel/ communications).
These Open Source Intel pioneers started gaining ground by emailing community leaders and US Congressmen. They pushed OSINT to the forefront of US intelligence by sending it to anyone they thought would listen and forward their Intel to the US government. At first, they worked on the War on Terror.
Along the way, they collected letters of recommendation which they flashed around to the next prospective clients in government, Intel agencies, military, and lobbyists. This is important because letters of recommendation from people not in the Intel business became the basis for this new internet, Google search based, cottage industry.
Some of them work directly with Israeli intelligence. Most of these pioneers found ready help by sending their Intel to Israeli embassies that sent the info to US government agencies. At the same time, with the help of the connections they were making, they published news stories in major publications before US agencies had time to digest the information that they received. This forced the US government to react to their online Google-driven research.
Because it was Open Source Intel, these pioneers figured out quickly that they could send or sell the information BEFORE it was reviewed by an agency and classified. All Intel the CIA receives is given a classified rating whether it is open source or not. This one point increased the status of the practitioners.
Congressmen, Governors, and news outlets that were interested started getting the same “Intel” the CIA was. It also became clear quickly that the new Intel could be framed on whatever bias you chose. This meant it could be used to create policy.
Lobbyists and Congress quickly figured out that by using these sources, they could push pet or paid foreign policy forward. Because it was a private effort, OSINT operators got paid to deliver Intel for groups looking for specific insights. For instance, during the Gulf War, they searched for WMD and Al Qaeda connections.
From the mid-1990’s this became a boom industry thanks to pioneers Steve Emerson and Rita Katz. Emerson’s big break came with CNN after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He was sure Islamists were behind it. Being wrong didn’t slow him down.
Before 9/11, Emerson and Katz open source Intel was being spread far and wide and thanks to personal networking efforts it made, then president Bush’s daily briefings about Al Qaeda. Emerson and Katz provided erroneous open source Intel to support Ahmed Chalabi’s drive for invading Iraq. This was personal to Katz and Intel agencies noted that most of her Intel is one-sided and politically charged.
Katz made it a habit of bombarding agencies and media with new social media findings that came so fast news cycles couldn’t keep up with it. To ignore her meant you could be scooped by another news agency. To publish it meant that it was unsubstantiated information.
For Katz, this came to a head in 2007 when she posted an Osama bin Laden interview online before Al Qaeda had a chance to. How many conclusions does this point to? Al Qaeda got the video from Katz.
According to the Washington Post :
A similar event occurred Friday when another group beat al-Qaeda by nearly a full day with the release of the first video images of bin Laden to appear publicly since 2004. That group, the SITE Institute, provided the tape to government agencies and news organizations at a time when many well-known jihadist Web sites had been shut down in a powerful cyber attack by unknown hackers.”
According to the Newsweek article “How Richard Clarke Outsourced Terrorist Intel,” both Emerson and Katz became the go-to companies for OSINT. US intelligence had no experience with it until this period. And US intel and law enforcement didn’t want any.
Emerson and Katz furnished Clarke and his staff with the names of Islamic radical Web sites, the identities of possible terrorist front groups and the phone numbers and addresses of possible terror suspects–data they were unable to get from elsewhere in the government.
This private pipeline of information–which began under President Clinton and continued under Bush even after September 11–irritated top officials at FBI headquarters, especially when much of the private research bore fruit and was later used to help develop a U.S. government list of banned organizations whose assets were frozen by the Treasury Department.”
After the Patriot Act, it was these two in particular and contractors like them that caused the “no-fly” lists to fill out so quickly. The search for terrorists had begun and it looks like it was paid on a piece-work basis. The more potential terrorists there were the more money in government contracts that could be had.
Until this point, Emerson and Katz research was funded by unnamed wealthy donors and foundations who had an interest in finding Islamic terrorists operating in the US online. In his book “Against All Enemies” Clarke writes “Within days” of his first request in late 1999, Emerson provided him “with a long list of Web sites sitting on servers in the United States.” Clarke then passed along the list to the Justice Department and FBI. But officials there balked at using it and complained at the time about “how difficult it was to prosecute ‘free speech’ cases.”
While all of this sounds good and noble, the reality was and is that most of the targeted websites were American citizens expressing free speech. The only qualification to get on their list for a news site or a website was to print anti-Zionist articles, pro-Palestinian articles, or write something against the policies their donors or lobbyist bosses were against. When the government refused to act, OSINT pioneers took it upon themselves to shut down, hack, makeup, and plant evidence on websites to try to get convictions.
Big media and the agencies themselves did their job letting the public know what was going on. Because no one understood the technology and therefore didn’t care about this, the problem grew to where it is today. As early as 2003 in the Chicago Tribune, the FBI gave warnings like this one about a particular website it was asked to investigate, “The site is not illegal in any way [nor does it condone] illegal activity,” said FBI spokesman Frank Bochte in Chicago. “We cannot be the Orwellian thought police. If it is mere words and nothing beyond that, there’s nothing we can do.”
The proof terrorist hunter Aaron Weisburd offered was simple. “It talks about the “Zionist” rope over American leaders and lists 45 Jews in top positions of U.S. government. A photo gallery features the burning of the American flag, and one section is called “Know Your Enemy.”
In 2005, the Washington Post interviewed Weisburd and he unabashedly states his group uses the same tactics as Al Qaeda. He goes on to say that not everything they do is legal. According to his victims, he used the tools, access, and criminal activity to destroy their lives. They had nothing to do with the war on terror. They wrote human rights articles.
The Guardian made the point in November 2014 saying:
“Our choice isn’t between a world where either the good guys spy or the bad guys spy. It’s a choice of everybody gets to spy or nobody gets to spy.”
The privatized NSA makes its living off building hate. They are hired to drive headlines and policy. A longtime partner of Rita Katz and Aaron Weisburd drove these headlines in the UK.
‘Terror expert warns of ‘new 9/11’’, The Express, 1 January 2009; ‘Attack on US ‘soon’’, The Sun, 1 January 2009, ‘HATE HIT LIST’, The Sun, 7 January 2009
In her 2003 book “The Terrorist Hunter,” Rita Katz went as far as to say “the F.B.I., didn’t “possess one-thousandth of my knowledge on the relevant issues.”
Through agency overhaul in 2004, Congress set the stage and legislated the method that agencies and media warned would result in politically motivated, goal oriented reports loosely defined as intelligence. All of it affects policy today because a lot of it is designed to.
Because of the overhaul the US Government hired an out of work web-designer, a former reporter that was really bad at finding terrorists, a gift shop employee, and a man who dropped out of college to jump into the fray with no terrorism expertise to teach government agencies how to conduct OSINT.
With over 20 years of experience, Steve Emerson must deliver crazy good OSINT intel to the US government. Just how good is the god-father of US government OSINT intel?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke. These same experts taught NATO, the FBI, CIA, NSA, and related agencies their expertise in the business through 6-week courses and seminars. They also testify as expert witnesses for Congress and supply an endless stream of Intel built on the policies their clients or prejudice dictates. Today’s DNI is filled with people that learned his methods.
How serious are they taken? The Information Operations Newsletter Vol. 12, no. 06 (April 2012) Compiled by: Mr. Jeff Harley, US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Army Forces Strategic Command G39, Information Operations Division quotes the above-listed OSINT pioneers as the experts to listen to.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, I followed a team of these OSINT pioneers setting up to attack people in the USA using these technologies. Because no one had ever cared before, they were very open about what they were doing in social media if you knew where to look. They geo-located victims, collected information, and added hackers in the group to attack American news websites.
I followed this group as they destroyed the income of news websites and started to destroy the reputations of owners and journalists. After documenting enough of the facts, I tried to contact the concerned parties directly and indirectly. I wrote a couple articles describing how it was happening and even quoted the group doing it describing what they were setting up for. This even included screen shots.
Why would they go as far as geo-location? Vault 7 makes that clear. The pioneer in this area also helped set up the Peacemaker website for Ukraine. This site provides kill lists with all the information known or needed to find someone. Within a month of my first article about Peacemaker in March 2015, the first victim was murdered.
It raises some serious questions about what is occurring in 2017. When it’s clear the people using Vault 7 tools don’t think of you as anything more than an enemy in a “Call of Duty” video game and they get paid for results, it’s time to question the legality.
When they do it for foreign governments, it’s time to bring up treason. When they turn around, work for government and then put the same people and news site on lists; Are they working for their private clients or for the US government? If you disagree with their employers’ politics, they get paid to destroy your life. They are a privatized NSA attacking you.
Part 2 of this article will show the second fork using these tools took. Understanding who is behind the stories about Russian election influence, hacking, and even the MH-17 disaster in 2014, and why they did it is an eye opener.
This dissects fake news and shows how prominent fabricated intelligence is in mainstream media. The article shows the methodology and the technicians that ignited and pushed the biggest controversies of the past few years.
These are the tools and these are the players that built the election interference and Russian hacking story. The 17 Intel agencies need a ground up rebuild.
George Eliason is an American journalist that lives and works in Donbass. He has been interviewed by and provided analysis for RT, the BBC, and Press-TV.
RT – March 31, 2017
Who rules? Elected officials or the national security state? The fact this question is being asked reflects the dangerous times we live in. Governments collect intelligence to protect the state and citizens. Is intelligence now a political weapon of unelected stakeholders? CrossTalking with Michael Patrick Flanagan, Philip Giraldi, and Robert David Steele.
On January 30 NBC News reported that “On a snowy Polish plain dominated by Russian forces for decades, American tanks and troops sent a message to Moscow and demonstrated the firepower of the NATO alliance. Amid concerns that President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO is wavering, the tanks fired salvos that declared the 28-nation alliance a vital deterrent in a dangerous new world.”
One intriguing aspect of this slanted account are the phrases “dominated by Russian forces for decades” and “vital deterrent” which are used by NBC to imply that Russia yearns, for some unspecified reason, to invade Poland. As is common in the Western media there is no justification or evidence to substantiate the suggestion that Russia is hell-bent on domination, and the fact that US troops are far from home, operating along the Russian border, is regarded as normal behaviour on the part of the world’s “indispensable nation.”
Then Reuters recorded that “Beginning in February, US military units will spread out across Poland, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany for training, exercises and maintenance. The Army is also sending its 10th Combat Aviation Brigade with about 50 Black Hawk and 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters.”
As the US-NATO military alliance continues its deployments along Russia’s borders, including the US-UK supported Joint Viking 2017 exercise in Norway that began on March 1 and the deployment of more US troops in Poland “from the start of April, as the alliance sets up a new force in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea,” the campaign by the US and British governments against alleged “Russian Aggression” continues to increase in volume and intensity, aided by an ever-compliant media.
During his visit to Washington on March 6-7 Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Senator Marco Rubio of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and received assurances of US support in “confronting Russian aggression” while in Britain it was announced that its foreign minister, Boris Johnson, the “mop-haired buffoon” was about to visit Russia in order to tell it to “keep its nose” out of western affairs. Mr Johnson declared that Russia “was up to all sorts of no good” and “engaged in cyber-warfare.”
The splendid irony of the Johnson allegation about cyber warfare is that it came just before the revelation that Britain’s intelligence agencies were deeply involved with those of the United States in cyber-chicanery on a massive scale. WikiLeaks once again showed the depths of deceit and humbug to which the West’s great democracies submerge themselves, and revealed that leaked files “describe CIA plans and descriptions of malware and other tools that could be used to hack into some of the world’s most popular technology platforms. The documents showed that the developers aimed to be able to inject these tools into targeted computers without the owners’ awareness . . . the documents show broad exchanges of tools and information between the CIA, the National Security Agency and other US federal intelligence agencies, as well as intelligence services of close allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.”
ABC News then announced, without a shred of proof, that “Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, appears to have a strong relationship with Russia” but could not disguise the report by CNN that the documents disclosed that “to hide its operations, the CIA routinely adopted techniques that enabled its hackers to appear as if they were Russian.”
There has been no comment on the WikiLeaks revelations by such as US Senator Amy Klobuchar who declared in January that “Russia used cyberattacks and propaganda to try and undermine our democracy. We are not alone. Russia has a pattern of waging cyberattacks and military invasions against democracies across the world.” She was echoed by Senator Ben Sasse who declared that increased US sanctions would “upend Putin’s calculus and defend America from Russian cyberattacks and political meddling.”
Of course it would be impossible for the Senators to revise their rabid hatred of Russia and overcome their dismal pride to acknowledge that on March 1 the US National Reconnaissance Office launched a spy satellite carried by an Atlas V rocket that was powered by a Russian RD-180 engine. In an astonishing example of petty-minded obfuscation, the 1,500-word official report on the launching mentioned RD-180 three times — but failed to state its country of manufacture. The mainstream media followed suit.
There was to be another Atlas V launch in March, carrying supplies to the International Space Station, but it was delayed by “a hydraulic issue that was uncovered on ground support equipment required for launch.” Had it been deferred because of malfunction of the Russian engine that powers it, there would have been gloating headlines.
Reaction by the US government to the WikiLeaks disclosures has been to denounce them because they supposedly “not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.” Predictably, Senator Sasse tweeted that “Julian Assange should spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit. He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin.”
There should be no surprise about the activities of US and British intelligence agencies, because they already have a proven record of spying on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, to name but a few world leaders subjected to the indignity of greasy little eavesdroppers sniggering at their private conversations.
In June 2013 it was revealed that the United States of America had been spying on European Union computer networks in the EU offices in Washington and New York. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel a document of September 2010 “explicitly named the Union’s representation at the UN as a ‘location target’.” Der Spiegel discovered that “the NSA had also conducted an electronic eavesdropping operation in a building in Brussels where the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council were located.” Together with their British colleagues, the techno-dweebs of Government Communications Headquarters, the US agencies have been having a ball — but have been unable to prove that Russia “used cyberattacks and propaganda to try and undermine our democracy.”
The faithful CIA mouthpiece, the New York Times, stated in December that “American spy and law enforcement agencies were united in the belief, in the weeks before the presidential election, that the Russian government had deployed computer hackers to sow chaos during the campaign.” Not only this, but “CIA officials presented lawmakers with a stunning new judgment that upended the debate: Russia, they said, had intervened with the primary aim of helping make Donald J Trump president.”
But there is no evidence whatever that there was election-time hacking by Russia, and now there is proof that “to hide its operations, the CIA routinely adopted techniques that enabled its hackers to appear as if they were Russian.”
Although none of the assertions that Russia has been conducting a cyber war against America can be substantiated, Washington’s anti-Russia propaganda campaign will continue for the foreseeable future, while President Trump’s initial intentions to enter into dialogue with his counterpart in Moscow wither away to nothing. Even if he does resurrect the sensible policy he seemed to endorse, his acolytes in Washington will do their best to maintain confrontation by spreading more allegations of Russian “aggression” and “cyberattacks.” The anti-Russia campaign is gathering force, and it is not difficult to put a finger on why such a counter-productive crusade appeals to so many in the West.
The US arms and intelligence industries are the main beneficiaries of confrontation with Russia, closely followed by the hierarchy of the defunct US-NATO military alliance who have been desperately seeking justification for its existence for many years. For so long as the military-industrial complex holds sway in Washington, there will continue to be sabre-rattling and mindless military posturing.
But the International Space Station will continue to be resupplied by rockets powered by Russian engines.
Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.
It appears that the inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential elections has finally stalled. Apparently, the problem is that new inconvenient truths regarding the inappropriate handling of intelligence information on Trump’s team continue to emerge.
The investigation into an alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign has seemingly reached a deadlock.
Democrats have recently accused Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes of deliberately stalling the inquiry by canceling the committee’s meetings and urged him to recuse himself from the investigation.
On Monday night Rep. Adam B. Schiff called upon Nunes to remove himself from the inquiry.
“This is not a recommendation I make lightly, as the Chairman and I have worked together well for several years; and I take this step with the knowledge of the solemn responsibility we have on the Intelligence Committee to provide oversight on all intelligence matters, not just to conduct the investigation,” Schiff said in an official statement.
A Democratic chorus echoed Schiff on Tuesday.
“An investigation is only as credible as those who lead it. Chairman Nunes sacrificed his credibility & must recuse himself,” Rep. Kathleen Rice tweeted March 28.
The Democratic Party members Rep. Terry Sewell and Rep. Jackie Speier also issued statements calling upon Nunes to step aside or even to resign.
However, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee signaled Tuesday that he would neither recuse himself nor resign and told CNN that the investigation “moves forward just like it was before.”
Still, it appears that it wasn’t the cancellation of the committee’s hearings involving former acting attorney general Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers that prompted deep concerns within the Democratic camp.
Apparently, the root of the matter lies in Nunes’ revelations regarding an illegal dissemination of “incidentally” collected intelligence on Donald Trump and his team.
Speaking to journalists last week, Nunes confirmed that the intelligence community “incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
While the “incidental” gathering of sensitive information on US citizens is technically legal, the dissemination of such data is completely inappropriate, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist pointed out while commenting on Nunes’ press conference.To make the situation even worse, none of the surveillance material collected on Trump’s team was connected to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities.
“Details about US persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting,” Nunes told reporters March 22, “Finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”
“When an administration is spreading around reports of political and personal discussions, failing to mask that information, and the information itself isn’t of foreign intelligence value, you have the makings of a huge scandal,” Hemingway highlighted.
To add to the Democrats’ confusion, Nunes announced Tuesday that he will not unveil — at least for a period of time — who exactly provided him with the intelligence reports revealing that Trump and his associates were subjected to incidental intelligence monitoring.
Currently, two separate investigations are going on, conservative media outlet Washington Examiner explains.
The first one pertains to alleged Russian meddling in the US 2016 presidential campaign; the second one is a “potentially illegal handling of intelligence information on US persons by the intelligence community or the Obama administration.”
It is understandable that Nunes needs to take his time to look into both issues, the media outlet pointed out.
Moscow has repeatedly refuted groundless claims that the Russian government could have interfered in the US presidential election, calling attention to the fact that the US failed to present any evidence to confirm its allegations.
Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump.
This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?)
What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail.
This crisis (yes, “crisis” is an overused word, but in this highly unusual set of circumstances we believe it is appropriate) came to light mostly by accident after President Trump tweeted on March 4 that his team in New York City’s Trump Towers had been “wiretapped” by President Obama.
Trump reportedly was relying on media reports regarding how conversations of aides, including his ill-starred National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, had been intercepted. Trump’s tweet led to a fresh offensive by Democrats and the mainstream press to disparage Trump’s “ridiculous” claims.
However, this concern about the dragnets that U.S. intelligence (or its foreign partners) can deploy to pick up communications by Trump’s advisers and then “unmask” the names before leaking them to the news media was also highlighted at the Nunes-led House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, where Nunes appealed for anyone who had related knowledge to come forward with it.
That apparently happened on the evening of March 21 when Nunes received a call while riding with a staffer. After the call, Nunes switched to another car and went to a secure room at the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House, where he was shown highly classified information apparently about how the intelligence community picked up communications by Trump’s aides.
The next day, Nunes went to the White House to brief President Trump, who later said he felt “somewhat vindicated” by what Nunes had told him.
The ‘Wiretap’ Red Herring
But the corporate U.S. news media continued to heckle Trump over his use of the word “wiretap” and cite the insistence of FBI Director James Comey and other intelligence officials that President Obama had not issued a wiretap order aimed at Trump.
As those paying rudimentary attention to modern methods of surveillance know, “wiretapping” is passé. But Trump’s use of the word allowed FBI and Department of Justice officials and their counterparts at the National Security Agency to swear on a stack of bibles that the FBI, DOJ, and NSA have been unable to uncover any evidence within their particular institutions of such “wiretapping.”
At the House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers firmly denied that their agencies had wiretapped Trump Towers on the orders of President Obama.
So, were Trump and his associates “wiretapped?” Of course not. Wiretapping went out of vogue decades ago, having been rendered obsolete by leaps in surveillance technology.
The real question is: Were Trump and his associates surveilled? Wake up, America. Was no one paying attention to the disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 when he exposed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as a liar for denying that the NSA engaged in bulk collection of communications inside the United States.
The reality is that EVERYONE, including the President, is surveilled. The technology enabling bulk collection would have made the late demented FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water.
Allegations about the intelligence community’s abuse of its powers also did not begin with Snowden. For instance, several years earlier, former NSA worker and whistleblower Russell Tice warned about these “special access programs,” citing first-hand knowledge, but his claims were brushed aside as coming from a disgruntled employee with psychological problems. His disclosures were soon forgotten.
Intelligence Community’s Payback
However, earlier this year, there was a stark reminder of how much fear these surveillance capacities have struck in the hearts of senior U.S. government officials. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Trump was “being really dumb” to take on the intelligence community, since “They have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
Maddow shied away from asking the logical follow-up: “Senator Schumer, are you actually saying that Trump should be afraid of the CIA?” Perhaps she didn’t want to venture down a path that would raise more troubling questions about the surveillance of the Trump team than on their alleged contacts with the Russians.
Similarly, the U.S. corporate media is now focused on Nunes’s alleged failure to follow protocol by not sharing his information first with Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats promptly demanded that Nunes recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
On Tuesday morning, reporters for CNN and other news outlets peppered Nunes with similar demands as he walked down a corridor on Capitol Hill, prompting him to suggest that they should be more concerned about what he had learned than the procedures followed.
That’s probably true because to quote Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” in a slightly different context, the mainstream media “cannot handle the truth” – even if it’s a no-brainer.
At his evening meeting on March 21 at the Old Executive Office Building, Nunes was likely informed that all telephones, emails, etc. – including his own and Trump’s – are being monitored by what the Soviets used to call “the organs of state security.”
By sharing that information with Trump the next day – rather than consulting with Schiff – Nunes may have sought to avoid the risk that Schiff or someone else would come up with a bureaucratic reason to keep the President in the dark.
A savvy politician, Nunes knew there would be high political cost in doing what he did. Inevitably, he would be called partisan; there would be more appeals to remove him from chairing the committee; and the character assassination of him already well under way – in The Washington Post, for example – might move him to the top of the unpopularity chart, displacing even bête noire Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But this episode was not the first time Nunes has shown some spine in the face of what the Establishment wants ignored. In a move setting this congressman apart from all his colleagues, Nunes had the courage to host an award ceremony for one of his constituents, retired sailor and member of the USS Liberty crew, Terry Halbardier.
On June 8, 1967, by repairing an antennae and thus enabling the USS Liberty to issue an SOS, Halbardier prevented Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats from sinking that Navy intelligence ship and ensuring that there would be no survivors to describe how the Israeli “allies” had strafed and bombed the ship. Still, 34 American seamen died and 171 were wounded.
At the time of the award ceremony in 2009, Nunes said, “The government has kept this quiet I think for too long, and I felt as my constituent, he [Halbardier] needed to get recognized for the services he made to his country.” (Ray McGovern took part in the ceremony in Nunes’s Visalia, California office.)
Now, we suspect that much more may be learned about the special compartmented surveillance program targeted against top U.S. national leaders if Rep. Nunes doesn’t back down and if Trump doesn’t choose the road most traveled – acquiescence to America’s Deep State actors.
Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years and conducted one-on-one briefings of the President’s Daily Brief under Ronald Reagan from 1081 to 1985.
Bill Binney was former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA and co-founder of NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center before he retired after 9/11.
Devin Nunes just set the cat down among the pigeons.
Two days after FBI Director James Comey assured us there was no truth to President Trump’s tweet about being wiretapped by Barack Obama, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump may have had more than just a small point.
The U.S. intelligence community, says Nunes, during surveillance of legitimate targets, picked up the names of Trump transition officials during surveillance of targets, “unmasked” their identity, and spread their names around, virtually assuring they would be leaked.
If true, this has the look and smell of a conspiracy to sabotage the Trump presidency, before it began.
Comey readily confirmed there was no evidence to back up the Trump tweet. But when it came to electronic surveillance of Trump and his campaign, Comey, somehow, could not comment on that.
Which raises the question: What is the real scandal here?
Is it that Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks? We have heard that since June.
Is it that Trump officials may have colluded with the Russians?
But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and ex-CIA Director Mike Morrell have both said they saw no evidence of this.
This March, Sen. Chris Coons walked back his stunning declaration about transcripts showing a Russia-Trump collusion, confessing, “I have no hard evidence of collusion.”
But if Clapper and Morrell saw no Russia-Trump collusion, what were they looking at during all those months to make them so conclude?
Was it “FBI transcripts,” as Sen. Coons blurted out?
If so, who intercepted and transcribed the conversations? If it was intel agencies engaged in surveillance, who authorized that? How extensive was it? Against whom? Is it still going on?
And if today, after eight months, the intel agencies cannot tell us whether or not any member of the Trump team colluded with the Russians, what does that say of their competence?
The real scandal, which the media regard as a diversion from the primary target, Trump, is that a Deep State conspiracy to bring down his presidency seems to have been put in place by Obamaites, and perhaps approved by Obama himself.
Consider. On Jan. 12, David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote,
“According to a senior U.S. government official, (Gen. Michael) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials … What did Flynn say?”
Now, on Dec. 29, Flynn, national security adviser-designate, was not only doing his job calling the ambassador, he was a private citizen.
Why was he unmasked by U.S. intelligence?
Who is this “senior official” who dropped the dime on him? Could this official have known how many times Flynn spoke to Kislyak, yet not known what was said on the calls?
That is hard to believe. This looks like a contract hit by an anti-Trump agent in the intel community, using Ignatius to do the wet work.
Flynn was taken down. Did Comey turn his FBI loose to ferret out the felon who had unmasked Flynn and done him in? If not, why not?
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Dan Henninger points anew to a story in The New York Times of March 1 that began:
“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Trump and Russians — across the government.”
“This is what they did,” wrote Henninger, quoting the Times :
“At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies.”
For what benign purpose would U.S. intelligence agents spread secrets damaging to their own president — to foreign regimes? Is this not disloyalty? Is this not sedition?
On Jan. 12, writes Henninger, the Times “reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed rules that let the National Security Agency disseminate ‘raw signals intelligence information’ to 16 other intelligence agencies.”
Astounding. The Obamaites seeded the U.S. and allied intel communities with IEDs to be detonated on Trump’s arrival. This is the scandal, not Trump telling Vlad to go find Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails.
We need to know who colluded with the Russians, if anyone did. But more critically, we need to unearth the deep state conspiracy to sabotage a presidency.
So far, the Russia-connection investigation has proven a dry hole. But an investigation into who in the FBI, CIA or NSA is unmasking U.S. citizens and criminally leaking information to a Trump-hating press to destroy a president they are sworn to serve could prove to be a gusher.
As for the reports of Lynch-White House involvement in this unfolding plot to damage and destroy Trump the real question is: What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?
Copyright 2017 Creators.com.
FBI Director Comey’s and NSA Director Rogers’s public testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday 20th March 2017 cast some interesting light on the ‘Russiagate’ allegations, though these were not the ones the media has sought to emphasise.
Firstly, almost from the moment the House Intelligence Committee began its session, the establishment media as one chose to highlight Comey’s public confirmation that the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, and that this involves investigating allegations of collusion between some of President Trump’s associates and the Russians, as if this was a major revelation.
Suffice to say that this was the headline story in all the British newspapers on Monday and on the BBC, as well as in the Washington Post. The confirmation was called a ‘bombshell’, or at least a ‘setback’ for the President.
It should be said clearly that it was nothing of the sort.
The fact that the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the elections, and that this involves investigating allegations of collusion between some of President Trump’s associates and the Russians, has been all over the media for months, in fact since long before the election. It would have been nothing short of ridiculous, and would have served no purpose, if Comey had refused to confirm that such an investigation was underway when he appeared publicly before the Committee, and it would have rendered his entire public appearance before the Committee completely pointless had he done so.
It should also be said clearly that the mere fact that an investigation is underway is not in itself proof that any crime or wrongdoing was committed or that any person is guilty of anything. Comey made that very point in his testimony, and it is the reason why he – very properly – repeatedly refused to discuss individual cases. The way in which some sections of the media are trying to overturn the whole presumption of innocence by insinuating that the mere existence of an investigation is a sign of guilt, is actually shocking.
A far more important revelation to have come out of the Committee is that this is a counter-espionage not a crime investigation, and that it was (according to Comey) launched at the end of July 2016.
We can probably be a little more precise as to the precise date. On 22nd July 2016 Wikileaks began publishing the DNC emails. On 25th July 2016 the FBI publicly confirmed that it was investigating the hack of the DNC’s computers (though in the event it never actually examined them). That suggests that the investigation was launched between those dates, ie. almost immediately after Wikileaks started publishing the DNC emails.
That is important since the US intelligence community did not publish its first assessment that Russia was behind the DNC and Podesta leaks before October 2016, and did not publish its final assessment until January 2017.
In other words someone decided between 22nd and 25th July 2016 – long before any intelligence assessments had been published blaming Russia, and directly after the DNC leaks appeared – that the Russians were responsible, and initiated an FBI counter-espionage investigation.
What this also means is that this investigation was underway throughout the critical weeks of the election, with Donald Trump’s associates, and quite possibly (indeed probably) Donald Trump himself, being investigated and monitored by the FBI and by other US intelligence agencies throughout the election period as part of a counter-espionage investigation.
There was no word at the House Intelligence Committee hearing of who was the person or persons who initiated the investigation, or what were the reasons for doing so before any intelligence assessments blaming the Russians had been published.
For the record, I will say that though Barack Obama was the President at the time, and would have been receiving any confidential intelligence assessments, I am sure he was not that person.
Despite the denials of physical wiretaps of Trump Tower, that an investigation and surveillance operation of at least some of Donald Trump’s associates and quite possibly of Donald Trump himself was underway during the election period is therefore now officially confirmed as fact, and is no longer subject to doubt.
I would add that since this was a counter-espionage investigation and not a crime investigation, it was and could be launched despite the fact that neither in July 2016 nor at any time since has there been any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of those US citizens who are being investigated and who might have been placed under surveillance.
We know this for a fact because numerous sources, including Devin Nunes, the Committee Chair who together with the other members of the Committee receives in private classified updates of the progress of the investigation, have told us as much.
One particular point constantly made by Hillary Clinton’s supporters – that Comey treated Hillary Clinton unfairly by making public the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server whilst concealing the ‘far more serious investigation’ of the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russia – might as well be addressed at this point.
Hillary Clinton’s defenders who make this claim consistently underestimate the seriousness of the issue of her misuse of a private server. The key point anyway is that these are two completely different types of investigation.
The investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server was a crime investigation into a potential federal felony. The investigation into the contacts between Donald Trump’s associates and Russia falls under a counter-espionage investigation, in which they are not necessarily suspected of any crime or wrongdoing. Since this is a counter-espionage investigation whose subject is classified, and which has been brought in the absence of any suspicion of any crime or wrongdoing by any particular person, it would have been wholly wrong for Comey to disclose its existence until the Justice Department gave him permission to do so, which it only did just before his appearance before the Committee on Monday.
One other important fact came out of the Committee hearing.
The Republicans on the Committee have rallied behind the President, almost certainly because – as Nunes says – the investigation has produced no evidence of any crime or wrongdoing by anyone. Instead, to Comey’s obvious unease, they are refusing to let the question of who was responsible for the leaking of the classified information that destroyed General Flynn’s career rest.
Both Representative Schiff for the Democrats and Representative Gowdy for the Republicans set out in public for the Committee the persons who each believes should be investigated, in the one case for collusion with the Russians, in the other for leaking the information about General Flynn.
It should be stressed that in neither case has any evidence been published against any of these persons. Nunes and Gowdy have however correctly pointed out that in contrast to the claims about collusion with Russia, in the case of the leaking of classified information to destroy General Flynn there is no doubt that a federal felony was committed. That does make Gowdy’s list of names at least interesting
GOWDY: I guess what I’m getting at, Director Comey, is you say it’s vital, you say it’s critical, you say it’s indispensable. We both know it’s a threat to the reauthorization of 702 later on this fall. And by the way, it’s also a felony punishable by up to 10 years.
So how would you begin your investigation, assuming for the sake of argument that a U.S. citizen’s name appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times unlawfully. Where would you begin that investigation?
COMEY: Well, I’m not gonna talk about any particular investigation…
GOWDY: That’s why I said in theory.
COMEY: You would start by figuring out, so who are the suspects? Who touched the information that you’ve concluded ended up unlawfully in the newspaper and start with that universe and then use investigative tools and techniques to see if you can eliminate people, or include people as more serious suspects.
GOWDY: Do you know whether Director Clapper knew the name of the U.S. citizen that appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post ?
COMEY: I can’t say in this forum because again, I don’t wanna confirm that there was classified information in the newspaper.
GOWDY: Would he have access to an unmasked name?
COMEY: In — in some circumstances, sure, he was the director of national intelligence. But I’m not talking about the particular.
GOWDY: Would Director Brennan have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: In some circumstances, yes.
GOWDY: Would National Security Adviser Susan Rice have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: I think any — yes, in general, and any other national security adviser would, I think, as a matter of their ordinary course of their business.
GOWDY: Would former White House Advisor Ben Rhodes have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: I don’t know the answer to that.
GOWDY: Would former Attorney General Loretta Lynch have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name?
COMEY: In general, yes, as would any attorney general.
GOWDY: So that would also include Acting AG Sally Yates?
COMEY: Same answer.
GOWDY: Did you brief President Obama on — well, I’ll just ask you. Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?
COMEY: I’m not gonna get into either that particular case that matter, or any conversations I had with the president. So I can’t answer that.
I have recently written that the true scandal of the 2016 US Presidential election is that under cover of a counter-espionage investigation cooked up through a wave of anti-Russian hysteria US citizens who had been accused of no wrongdoing were being investigated and placed under surveillance by the US’s intelligence and security agencies during the election. Despite all the evasions and qualifications that came from the Committee and from Comey and Rogers during the hearings, there is now official confirmation that this investigation and surveillance during this election actually took place.
What was interesting is that their questions about the leaks suggest that the Republicans on the Committee are beginning to see it this way, and are starting to look beyond the cloud of anti-Russian paranoia which has been blown up to confuse the issue. This is why they homed in on the question of who was behind the leaks that destroyed General Flynn.
As for the Democrats, they may also be starting to sense this as well. Glenn Greenwald thinks they are starting to have doubts about ‘Russiagate’, and I think he is right. That no doubt explains the frantic attempts of people like Schiff to keep ‘Russiagate’ going by conjuring up more and more claims against people like Manafort and Carter Page, who must by now have been investigated already. It may also explain some of the fantastic language some of the Democrats on the Committee resorted to.
Comey said that the FBI investigation is open-ended and has far to go. Given the stakes involved, I wonder whether it will report at all.
Americans are ill-governed and ill-served by officials at all levels of government – federal, state and local.
On Monday, clear evidence showed it. Disgraceful witch-hunt McCarthyism was on display for viewers tuning in to see.
Hysterical House Select Committee on Intelligence members disgraced themselves during tediously long testimony by FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Michael Rogers.
Committee members obsessed over nonexistent Trump ties to Russia, his charges about Obama wiretapping him, nonexistent Moscow US election hacking, Putin bashing, and security leaks.
Comey acknowledged an ongoing classified investigation into alleged Russian interference in America’s presidential election, saying:
“I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”
“And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
“As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”
He offered no further elaboration despite hours of badgering by committee members to explain more.
The proceedings amounted to orchestrated McCarthyism, infamous witch-hunt hysteria, a disgusting display.
Russia was demonized for nonexistent US election hacking. Comey stopped short of suggesting collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow – because of an ongoing investigation he’s not at liberty to discuss.
After months of bashing Russia and Trump, no evidence surfaced of collusion between him, his campaign and Moscow – or proof of Russian US election hacking. None exists, yet baseless accusations persist.
Trump addressed Monday’s proceedings via multiple tweets, saying:
“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”
“The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!”
“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!”
“What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?”
Last fall Putin asked “is America a banana republic?” Televised Monday proceedings provided more evidence of a politically corrupt system too debauched to fix.
Of greater concern is creating pretexts for war on Russia. House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R. CA) claimed nonexistent “pressing threats posed by the Russian autocrat (sic)” Putin, urging “stronger action against Russian belligerence.”
Stoking conflict between the world’s top nuclear powers is madness. Is this where things are heading?
Will neocons infesting Washington risk nuclear armageddon to satisfy their lust for unchallenged power?
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
The Kremlin has been accused of launching large-scale cyberwar ostensibly aimed at undermining democracy in the United States, with high-profile hacks on the Democratic Party cited as evidence, but technology pioneer and founder of McAfee securities John McAfee told Radio Sputnik that Russia is not behind these high-profile cyberattacks.
“I can promise you it was not the Russians who hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The software used was way too old. The state hackers would not use an old version of software which was less functional than the updated versions,” he said. “One of the things that the CIA said and I’ve been saying for years is that it is virtually impossible to find attribution for any hack because a good hacker can hide their tracks plus make it look like someone else did it. This happens all the time.”
It is extremely likely that if a cyberattack appears to have originated in Russia or China for instance, it was in fact launched from a third country. In this case locations are placed specifically to hide the tracks of the true perpetrator, he explained.
McAfee suggested that there could be political motivation behind accusations that Russia launched cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, the former chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Vladimir Putin is “possibly the most powerful man in the world. America resents that. The Democrats for some reason hate Putin. I think Donald Trump is far wiser,” he said, referring to Trump’s pledge to improve relations with Russia which were ruined during the Obama administration. “If in fact they spoke with each other daily, wouldn’t we have a more harmonious world? And yet here in America we are trashing people for speaking to Putin. It’s bizarre.”
McAfee further commented on recent revelations with regard to the CIA’s hacking secrets. He expressed doubt that the US intelligence community could be made more accountable and transparent if stricter rules on its operations are passed.
“I’ve never seen a covert agency adhere to any kind of legislation. We all know that murder is illegal in almost every country and yet there is not a single covert agency in America, except possibly for the FBI, that does not engage in assassinations. We all know this. I don’t think legislation is needed. I think that we need a firm hand. We need to fire the directors and management all the way down to the street agent and then start over,” he said.
McAfee also said that cyberwar could have far more serious implications than a nuclear conflict.
“We are not in a nuclear age anymore. There will not be another nuclear war because cyberwar is far more devastating. The tools will eventually be in the hands of hackers because this is what happens when you build weaponized software. The first time you use it you send a copy into the wild and every researcher in the world has a copy of that. It can then be duplicated and in a year from now, these tools will be sold on the dark web by 15-year-old boys for a hundred dollars,” he explained.