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FBI Never Saw CrowdStrike Unredacted or Final Report on Alleged Russian Hacking Because None was Produced

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | June 17, 2019

CrowdStrike, the controversial cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee chose over the FBI in 2016 to examine its compromised computer servers, never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, the Justice Department has admitted.

The revelation came in a court filing by the government in the pre-trial phase of Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative who had an unofficial role in the campaign of candidate Donald Trump. Stone has been charged with misleading Congress, obstructing justice and intimidating a witness.

The filing was in response to a motion by Stone’s lawyers asking for “unredacted reports” from CrowdStrike in an effort to get the government to prove that Russia hacked the DNC server. “The government … does not possess the information the defandant seeks,” the filing says.

In his motion, Stone’s lawyers said he had only been given three redacted drafts. In a startling footnote in the government’s response, the DOJ admits the drafts are all that exist. “Although the reports produced to the defendant are marked ‘draft,’ counsel for the DNC and DCCC informed the government that they are the last version of the report produced,” the footnote says.

In other words CrowdStrike, upon which the FBI relied to conclude that Russia hacked the DNC, never completed a final report and only turned over three redacted drafts to the government.

These drafts were “voluntarily” given to the FBI by DNC lawyers, the filing says. “No redacted information concerned the attribution of the attack to Russian actors,” the filing quotes DNC lawyers as saying.

In Stone’s motion his lawyers argued: “If the Russian state did not hack the DNC, DCCC, or [Clinton campaign chairman John] Podesta’s servers, then Roger Stone was prosecuted for obstructing a congressional investigation into an unproven Russian state hacking conspiracy … The issue of whether or not the DNC was hacked is central to the Defendant’s defense.”

The DOJ responded: “The government does not need to prove at the defendant’s trial that the Russians hacked the DNC in order to prove the defendant made false statements, tampered with a witness, and obstructed justice into a congressional investigation regarding election interference.”

Thousands of emails from the DNC server were published by WikiLeaks in July 2016 revealing that the DNC interfered in the Democratic primary process to favor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders for the party’s presidential nomination. The U.S. indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents in 2018 for allegedly hacking the DNC server and giving the emails to WikiLeaks.

Comey Can’t Say Why

At a time of high tension in the 2016 presidential campaign, when the late Sen. John McCain and others were calling Russian “hacking” an “act of war,” the FBI settled for three redacted “draft reports” from CrowdStrike rather than investigate the alleged hacking itself, the court document shows.

Then FBI Director James Comey admitted in congressional testimony that he chose not to take control of the DNC’s “hacked” computers, and did not dispatch FBI computer experts to inspect them, but has had trouble explaining why.

In his testimony, he conceded that “best practices” would have dictated that forensic experts gain physical access to the computers. Nevertheless, the FBI decided to rely on forensics performed by a firm being paid for by the DNC.

Suspicions grew as Comey started referring to CrowdStrike as the “pros that they hired.” Doubts became more intense when he referred to CrowdStrike as “a high-class entity.” In fact the company had a tarnished reputation for reliability and objectivity well before it was hired by the DNC.

Comey in 2013 with Robert Mueller and Barack Obama

Dimitri Alperovitch, a CrowdStrike co-founder, is an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a senior fellow at the anti-Russian Atlantic Council think tank in Washington. CrowdStrike said it determined that Russia had hacked the DNC server because it found Cyrillic letters in the metadata, as well as the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief—clues an amateur might leave.

CrowdStrike was forced to “revise(d) and retract(ed) statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign, Voice of America reported in March 2017.

CrowdStrike’s Early Role

In a Memorandum for the President on July 24, 2017, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity referred prominently to this instructive time sequence:

June 12, 2016: Julian Assange announces WikiLeaks is about to publish ‘emails related to Hillary Clinton.’

June 14, 2016: DNC contractor CrowdStrike, (with a dubious professional record and multiple conflicts of interest) announces that malware has been found on the DNC server and claims there is evidence it was injected by Russians.

June 15, 2016: ‘Guccifer 2.0’ affirms the DNC statement; claims responsibility for the ‘hack;’ claims to be a WikiLeaks source; and posts a document that the forensics show was synthetically tainted with ‘Russian fingerprints.’

VIPS does not believe the June 12, 14, & 15 timing was pure coincidence. Rather, it suggests the start of a pre-emptive move to associate Russia with anything WikiLeaks might have been about to publish and to “show” that it came from a Russian hack.

Bill Binney, a former NSA technical director and a VIPS member, filed an affidavit in Stone’s case. Binney said: “WikiLeaks did not receive stolen data from the Russian government. Intrinsic metadata in the publicly available files on WikiLeaks demonstrates that the files acquired by WikiLeaks were delivered in a medium such as a thumb drive.”

Preferring CrowdStrike; Splaining to Congress

Why did FBI Director James Comey not simply insist on access to the DNC computers? Surely he could have gotten the appropriate authorization. In early January 2017, reacting to media reports that the FBI never asked for access, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee there were “multiple requests at different levels” for access to the DNC servers. “Ultimately what was agreed to is the private company would share with us what they saw,” he said. Comey described CrowdStrike as a “highly respected” cybersecurity company.

Asked by committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) whether direct access to the servers and devices would have helped the FBI in their investigation, Comey said it would have. “Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that’s involved, so it’s the best evidence,” he said.

Five months later, after Comey had been fired, Burr gave him a Mulligan in the form of a few kid-gloves, clearly well-rehearsed, questions:

BURR: And the FBI, in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate — did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, … we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. But we didn’t get direct access.

BURR: But no content?

COMEY: Correct.

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?

COMEY: It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks — the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

More telling was earlier questioning by House Intelligence Committee member, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), who had been a CIA officer for a decade.On March 20, 2017 while he was still FBI director, Comey evidenced some considerable discomfort as he tried to explain to the committee why the FBI did not insist on getting physical access to the DNC computers and do its own forensics:

HURD: So there was about a year between the FBI’s first notification of some potential problems with the DNC network and then that information getting on — getting on Wikileaks.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

HURD: … when did the DNC provide access for — to the FBI for your technical folks to review what happened?

COMEY: Well we never got direct access to the machines themselves. The DNC in the spring of 2016 hired a firm that ultimately shared with us their forensics from their review of the system. …

HURD: … So, Director FBI notified the DNC early, before any information was put on Wikileaksand when — youhave still been — never been given access to any of the technical or the physical machines that were — that were hacked by the Russians.

COMEY: That’s correct although we got the forensics from the pros that they hired which — again, best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves, but this — my folks tell me was an appropriate substitute.

Comey Spikes Deal With Assange

Director Comey’s March 20, 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee came at the same time he was scuttling months-long negotiations between Assange and lawyers representing the DOJ and CIA to grant some limited immunity for the WikiLeaks founder. In return, Assange offered to: (1) redact “some classified CIA information he might release in the future,” and (2) “provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases.”

Investigative journalist John Solomon, quoting WikiLeaks’ intermediary with the government, broke this story, based on “interviews and a trove of internal DOJ documents turned over to Senate investigators.” It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks’ source of the DNC emails, something Assange has repeatedly said.

That, of course, would have been the last thing Comey would have wanted.

On March 31, 2017 WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called “Vault 7” — a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files. This disclosure featured the tool “Marble Framework,” which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs — like Cyrillic, for example.

The CIA documents also showed that the “Marble” tool had been employed in 2016.

Two weeks later, then CIA Director Mike Pompeo branded WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” and the U.S. put pressure on Ecuador, which had given Assange asylum, to expel him from its London embassy. He was on April 11 when British police arrested him. On the same day he was convicted of skipping bail on a Swedish investigation that had since been dropped. Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in London’s max-security Belmarsh prison.

Comey, it seems a safe bet, still worries that Assange or one of his associates, will provide “technical evidence” enough to prove “who did not engage in the DNC releases.”

What Were They Thinking?

At the March 20, 2017 House Intelligence Committee hearing, Congressman Trey Gowdy heaped effusive praise on then-FBI Director Comey, calling him “incredibly respected.” At that early stage, no doubt Gowdy meant no double entendre. He might now.

As Russia-gate transmogrifies into Deep State-gate, the DOJ is launching a probe into the origins of Russia-gate and the intelligence agencies alleged role in it. It remains to be seen whether U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, who is leading the probe, will interview Assange, unlike Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who did not.

It is proving very difficult for some of my old FBI friends and others to believe that Comey and other justice, intelligence, and security officials at the very top could have played fast and loose with the Constitution and the law and lived a lie over the past few years.

“How did they ever think they could get away with it?” they ask. The answer is deceivingly simple. Comey himself has explained it in a moment of seemingly unintentional candor in his pretentious book, “A Higher Loyalty.” He wrote, “I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president.”

There would be no problem, of course, if Mrs. Clinton had won the election. That’s what they all thought; and that probably explains their lack of care in keeping their activities off the written record and out of computers. Elementary tradecraft goes out the window with these upper-echelon, “high-class-entity” officials, when they are sure that she, and they, are going to be the inevitable winners — with promotions, not indictments in store for them.

Additional reporting by Joe Lauria

Background Reading on Deep State-Gate

https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/doj-admits-fbi-never-saw-crowdstrike-report-on-dnc-russian-hacking-claim/

https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2019/06/figures-fbi-doj-never-obtained-the-unredacted-crowdstrike-reports-on-russian-hack-of-dnc-server/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/03/13/vips-muellers-forensics-free-findings/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/16/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/03/orwellian-cloud-hovers-over-russia-gate/

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/24/intel-vets-challenge-russia-hack-evidence/

http://raymcgovern.com/2017/05/17/beneath-the-corporate-mediadeep-state-campaign-to-remove-trump-and-thwart-detente-with-russia/

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/06/13/ray-mcgovern-doj-bloodhounds-on-the-scent-of-john-brennan/

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/14/clappers-credibility-collapses/

https://raymcgovern.com/2019/01/06/transcript-when-clapper-was-asked-real-questions/

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-hacking-intelligence-20170105-story.html

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-trump-russia-phony-20170517-story.html

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and prepared the President’s Daily Brief for three presidents. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The DNC’s Dumb-Down Opinion Survey

By Renee Parsons | OffGuardian | May 26, 2019

In its recent Official 2020 Issues Survey, DNC Chair Tom Perez solicited input on the ‘top’ issue for the upcoming June debate as the Dems will use that “feedback to shape our electoral strategy.” In other words, the following identified issues will conceivably become questions at the debate and presumably will become the basis for the Dems 2020 platform which its Presidential candidate and down-ticket slate will campaign on. Those DNC issues are:

  • Jobs and income equality
  • climate change
  • Immigration
  • health care
  • Education
  • gun violence prevention
  • Civil rights
  • college affordability/student debt
  • Women’s reproductive rights

It is incredulous that foreign policy and war, among other vital issues, are completely absent from the DNC list thereby confirming how deeply out of touch the party is with political reality. To not recognize that the country is in an existential crisis; that there is no ‘normal’ and that a deep cultural and political realignment is underway, is to live in a cave.

If this is the best the DNC can come up with for 2020, it is easy to understand if the public tunes out their dumbed-down ‘debate’ and why the Democratic party has turned the corner on political relevance.

There was a time when voters looked forward to a debate as a good thrashing out differences of opinion and entertaining controversy with opposing arguments put forth. Instead the Dems are now little more than mealy mouth purveyors of harmless, benign issue forums, loyalty oaths, preserving incumbent status quo and assuring that preferred candidates look good with flawed polls and especially nothing too controversial, nothing too provocative.

It may be that as the 23 (or is it 24) Dem Presidential candidates take the stage in late June, that a handful will stand out as authentic human beings with superior analytical and communication skills, who have well-thought out ‘signature’ issues of essential importance that are clearly in the best interests of the American public; Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard come immediately to mind.

There will be others who would be satisfied with a future Ambassadorship and may flounder in generalities, repetitive and purposeless, or those with flashy, verbally facile empty gestures, all riding the gravy train to nowhere.

Some of the following represent a 2020 reality check on issues of public interest or concern that the Dem establishment is either uninformed about or would prefer to avoid since a red hot discussion might actually stimulate some authentic political dialogue which, in turn, might encourage more public involvement and a higher voter turnout. It is in any establishment’s best interest to maintain control of any debate, to control the questions and deflect any real difference of opinion that might challenge the status quo.

In addition, a ‘real’ debate would allow the public to cull out the weak links and focus on those candidates who have something vital to add to the dialogue. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive:

  • Domestic: Emergency preparedness, $22 trillion debt, Opioid crisis, middle class struggle, Pentagon/Fed Bank audits, decay of American cities: homeless/drugs/alcohol/mental health crisis, Patriot Act repeal, immigration, climate changes/solar minimum/global cooling,
  • Accounting of Costs: unconstitutional military action in Iran or Venezuela or North Korea or places yet to be determined, ongoing wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.
  • Collapse of Russiagate and impact of DOJ Spygate investigation on 2020 election
  • Big Tech – monopoly, no taxes/regulation, 5G, censorship/First Amendment, AI – job loss/trans human beings, Tesla’s free energy, electric grid update
  • Foreign Policy: Globalism, BRICS/‘open world economy,’ sanctions/false flags, NATO, ET visits, fighting Israel’s wars, Trade:
    1. Russia: NATO threat, election interference, re-establishing relationship, Sanctions/Magnitsky Act
    2. China: Foreign trade, the Silk Road, emerging multipolar world, fentanyl crisis, So China Sea
    3. Israel: US $ support; ownership of Congress, role in 911, register AIPAC, initiated 5G Greater Mideast Plan
    4. Iran: False flag, sanctions, Greater Mideast plan target
    5. Venezuela: Maduro coup, sanctions, oil resources

Many of these items deserve more attention and better quality discussion than they normally receive while others may receive what seems like inordinate interest and yet remain unresolved – immigration which has been on the national agenda since at least 2008 is one such issue. It is interesting to consider that the current Democrat position morphed after the 2016 election in opposition to Trump’s policy to close the border and build a wall.

Previously, both President Bill Clinton and Barack Obama proposed an immigration policy that is very much reflected in elements of Trump’s proposal (absent the wall). One can surmise that the Dems belatedly realized the voter registration edge that open borders would provide and as a tool to build opposition to Trump. So much for unifying the country.

Admittedly, the foregoing issues are a heavy lift for any aspirant to the Oval Office but any candidate who wants to be president of 330 million people had better be a world class multi-tasker, wildly better informed and analytical than the rest of us. If any of those aspirants are not able to deal with hard core reality, are unable to flow with unexpected exigencies and speak truth to power, then stop wasting our time and step down.

In any case, the upcoming June debates (June 26/27) promise to be either a colossal flat tire dud event or the opening of a semi riotous free-for-all which will be considerably more entertaining. One political true-ism for any candidate at this early stage is Newton’s law of physics – what goes up, must come down.

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 for Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

May 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , | Leave a comment

Roger Stone Shines New Light on Russia-Gate Hoax

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 21, 2019

As if more evidence was needed to debunk the pathetic narrative that the Russians hacked the DNC computers during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump confidant Roger Stone, currently on trial for lying during the Mueller inquisition released an important truth to the light of day on May 10th. During a court filing, Stone’s lawyers finally gave a voice for the first time in an official setting to former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney, who has been fighting to have his testimony heard by special prosecutor Robert Mueller for nearly two years to no avail.

Binney’s incredible array of forensic evidence demonstrating the impossibility of a Russian hack brings the focus back to the real motive behind Russia-Gate: The destruction of the potential alliance between Russia and a reformed USA under a non-technocratic leader.

The Story so Far

For those who are unaware, Trump advisor and long-time friend Roger Stone is under indictment for his alleged role in the broad “conspiracy to coordinate the Russian-led intervention” into the 2016 elections and for lying to Mueller. He is also pleading not guilty to accusations of obstruction of justice and witness tampering. If the facts now show that there was never any Russian hacking, it follows that the case against both Stone and President Trump should be rendered null and void.

In a nine page motion to suppress ill-gotten evidence now being used against Roger Stone, his lawyers made the point that the entire case, including all warrants to collect evidence were contingent upon the pre-supposition that the Russians irrefutably hacked the DNC computers and provided the data to WikiLeaks. The motion stated: “It is clear. . . that the government has relied on the assumptions made by a source outside of the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian State was involved in the hacking and that the data taken from the various servers were given to WikiLeaks… The government does not have the evidence, and it knew it did not have the evidence, when it applied for these search warrants.”

Bill Binney’s Voice is Finally Heard

Stone’s motion includes expert testimony by Bill Binney whose forensic evidence proved conclusively that the 49.1 megabytes per second download speed of emails from DNC servers on May 23-25th, 2016 which were uploaded to WikiLeaks could not possibly have occurred through the means of a hack of any source external to the USA but rather COULD ONLY have occurred via a thumb drive such as that which DNC staffer Seth Rich conducted and released to WikiLeaks before his murder on July 10th, 2016.

In spite of having briefed CIA Director Mike Pompeo at Trump’s personal request in October 2017, Binney has been blocked for two years from providing expert testimony during the $26 million inquisition. Binney’s affidavit states in part: “WikiLeaks did not receive the stolen data from the Russian government. Intrinsic metadata in the publicly available files on WikiLeaks demonstrates that the files that were acquired by WikiLeaks were delivered in a medium such as a thumb drive physically local to the DNC.”

Much of the evidence used in Stone’s motion was featured first by Binney, alongside his colleague Larry Johnson (former CIA analyst) in a February 13th memo “Why the DNC was not Hacked by the Russians” which provide a mountain of information overthrowing the Mueller narrative. In the memo and affidavit, Binney also demonstrates that the file information of the WikiLeaks emails includes evidence that they were registered under a FAT file system since all of the time stamps were rounded off to even last numbers. If the files were acquired via a Russian hack, Binney explains that there would be no such rounding of numbers but an equal distribution of even and odd time stamps.

Lastly, Binney points out the absurdity that anti-Russian private security firm CrowdStrike admitted that they observed that supposed Russian hackers began penetrating DNC servers on May 6th, 2016 yet chose to do nothing until June 10th, 2016. For these reasons Stone is demanding unredacted copies of CrowdStrike’s forensic reports which have never been made public. CrowdStrike had a monopoly on all DNC computers and other physical evidence at the time, which has never been made accessible to the FBI or any other government agency.

More Layers of Narrative Crumble

With the destruction of the Russia-Gate story, a yet higher, long standing and more poisonous narrative is ready to crumble. This century-old narrative states that America is the rightful heir to the British Empire and must co-rule a post-nation state world order together under an “Anglo-American special relationship”. In the 20th century this view was promoted by anglophile puppet presidents on both sides of the aisle.

While all truly nationalist American leaders from 1776 to the present have fought against the British Imperial system which has poisoned America from within since its earliest days, the unfortunate majority of American political leaders have been either witless puppets at best and outright agents of the British deep state at worst. The seeds of the deep state were established by pro-Monarchist families that chose to remain in America after the “United Empire Loyalists” ran off to set up English-speaking Canada in 1783 creating a base for British operations into the Americas ever since.  Such mini dynastic clans such as the Bushes, the Mueller family, the Morgans, Duponts etc. are heirs to this unfortunate disease today (1). Every political leader who arose in defense of America’s constitutional traditions faced this British deep state cancer embedded within the Republic and many gave their lives in the fight. It is of note that eight presidents have died in office during the Republic’s short experience, and it should not surprise anyone to hear that all eight were actively opposing in various degrees; Wall Street control of finances within America and British Imperial intrigues abroad (2).

Many of America’s greatest patriots fought hard to ally America with Russia. The historic friendship of Russia and America began in the earliest days of the American Revolution with Catherine the Great’s League of Armed Neutrality and again came alive with Russia’s intervention on Lincoln’s behalf during the Civil War. Amidst a sea of British-intrigue it again congealed under the friendship of Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin who realized they had more in common with each other than either had with Sir Winston Churchill.

Now that Donald Trump and his allies are increasingly free of the shackles of the Mueller hoax, we are witnessing an incredible potential breakthrough as the June 27-28th G20 emerges where Presidents Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping will be meeting. Since the earliest days of the 2016 election campaign, President Trump has distinguished himself apart from the technocrats and neo-con puppets infecting America’s elite by stating repeatedly how “friendship with Russia and China is a good thing”, and has continued to display a policy orientation preferring a revival of America’s genuinely nationalist interests and cooperation with Russia and China in opposition to many war mongers within his own cabinet.

Although these revelations of May 10th may not appear to be a large matter, we must recall that it was a single Stone that took down Goliath.

(1) Much of this story is exposed in the 1984 book Treason in America: From Aaron Burr to Averell Harriman by Anton Chaitkin.

(2) William Harrison (1840), Zachary Taylor (1850), Abraham Lincoln (1865), James Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901), Warren Hardin (1923), Franklin Roosevelt (1945), John F. Kennedy (1963). Additionally, noteworthy assassinated figures include Alexander Hamilton (1804), Martin Luther King Jr. (1968) and leading Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy (1968)

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

How Russiagate replaced Analysis of the 2016 Election

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | May 19, 2019

An honest and accurate analysis of the 2016 election is not just an academic exercise. It is very relevant to the current election campaign. Yet over the past two years, Russiagate has dominated media and political debate and largely replaced a serious analysis of the factors leading to Trump’s victory. The public has been flooded with the various elements of the story that Russia intervened and Trump colluded with them. The latter accusation was negated by the Mueller Report but elements of the Democratic Party and media refuse to move on. Now it’s the lofty but vague accusations of “obstruction of justice” along with renewed dirt digging. To some it is a “constitutional crisis”, but to many it looks like more partisan fighting.

Russiagate has distracted from pressing issues

Russiagate has distracted attention and energy away from crucial and pressing issues such as income inequality, the housing and homeless crisis, inadequate healthcare, militarized police, over-priced college education, impossible student loans and deteriorating infrastructure. The tax structure was changed to benefit wealthy individuals and corporations with little opposition. The Trump administration has undermined environmental laws, civil rights, national parks and women’s equality while directing ever more money to military contractors. Working class Americans are struggling with rising living costs, low wages, student debt, and racism. They constitute the bulk of the military which is spread all over the world, sustaining continuing occupations in war zones including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa. While all this has been going on, the Democratic establishment and much of the media have been focused on Russiagate, the Mueller Report, and related issues.

Immediately after the 2016 Election

In the immediate wake of the 2016 election there was some forthright analysis. Bernie Sanders said, “What Trump did very effectively is tap the angst and the anger and the hurt and pain that millions of working class people are feeling. What he said is, ‘I Donald Trump am going to be a champion of the working class… I know you are working longer hours for lower wages, seeing your jobs going to China, can’t afford childcare, can’t afford to send your kids to college. I Donald Trump alone can solve these problems. … What you have is a guy who utilized the media, manipulated the media very well. He is an entertainer, he is a professional at that. But I will tell you that I think there needs to be a profound change in the way the Democratic Party does business. It is not good enough to have a liberal elite. I come from the white working class and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from.”

Days after the election, the Washington Post published an op-ed titled “Hillary Clinton Lost. Bernie Sanders could have won. We chose the wrong candidate.” The author analyzed the results saying, “Donald Trump’s stunning victory is less surprising when we remember a simple fact: Hillary Clinton is a deeply unpopular politician.” The writer analyzed why Sanders would have prevailed against Trump and predicted “there will be years of recriminations.”

Russiagate replaced Recrimination

But instead of analysis, the media and Democrats have emphasized foreign interference. There is an element of self-interest in this narrative. As reported in “Russian Roulette” (p127), when the Clinton team first learned that Wikileaks was going to release damaging Democratic National Party emails in June 2016, they “brought in outside consultants to plot a PR strategy for handling the news of the hack … the story would advance a narrative that benefited the Clinton campaign and the Democrats: The Russians were interfering in the US election, presumably to assist Trump.”

After losing the election, Team Clinton doubled down on this PR strategy. As described in the book Shattered (p. 395) the day after the election campaign managers assembled the communication team “to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up and up …. they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

This narrative has been remarkably effective in supplanting critical review of the election.

One Year After the Election

The Center for American Progress (CAP) was founded by John Podesta and is closely aligned with the Democratic Party. In November 2017 they produced an analysis titled  “Voter Trends in 2016: A Final Examination“. Interestingly, there is not a single reference to Russia. Key conclusions are that “it is critical for Democrats to attract more support from the white non-college-educated voting bloc” and “Democrats must go beyond the ‘identity politics’ versus ‘economic populism’ debate to create a genuine cross-racial, cross-class coalition …” It suggests that Wall Street has the same interests as Main Street and the working class.

A progressive team produced a very different analysis titled Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis. They did this because “the (Democratic) party’s national leadership has shown scant interest in addressing many of the key factors that led to electoral disaster.” The report analyzes why the party turnout was less than expected and why traditional Democratic Party supporters are declining. It includes recommendations to end the party’s undemocratic practices, expand voting rights and counter voter suppression. The report contains details and specific recommendations lacking in the CAP report. It includes an overall analysis which says “The Democratic Party should disentangle itself – ideologically and financially – from Wall Street, the military-industrial complex and other corporate interests that put profits ahead of public needs.”

Two Years After the Election

In October 2018, the progressive team produced a follow-up report titled “Autopsy: One Year Later“.  It says, “The Democratic Party has implemented modest reforms, but corporate power continues to dominate the party.”

In a recent phone interview, the editor of that report, Norman Solomon, said it appears some in the Democratic Party establishment would rather lose the next election to Republicans than give up control of the party.

What really happened in 2016?

Beyond the initial critiques and “Autopsy” research, there has been little discussion, debate or lessons learned about the 2016 election. Politics has been dominated by Russiagate.

Why did so many working class voters switch from Obama to Trump? A major reason is because Hillary Clinton is associated with Wall Street and the economic policies of her husband President Bill Clinton. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), promoted by Bill Clinton, resulted in huge decline in manufacturing jobs in swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of course, this would influence their thinking and votes. Hillary Clinton’s support for the Trans Pacific Partnership was another indication of her policies.

What about the low turnout from the African American community? Again, the lack of enthusiasm is rooted in objective reality. Hillary Clinton is associated with “welfare reform” promoted by her husband. According to this study from the University of Michigan, “As of the beginning of 2011, about 1.46 million U.S. households with about 2.8 million children were surviving on $2 or less in income per person per day in a given month… The prevalence of extreme poverty rose sharply between 1996 and 2011. This growth has been concentrated among those groups that were most affected by the 1996 welfare reform.”

Over the past several decades there has been a huge increase in prison incarceration due to increasingly strict punishments and mandatory prison sentences. Since the poor and working class have been the primary victims of welfare and criminal justice “reforms” initiated or sustained through the Clinton presidency, it’s understandable why they were not keen on Hillary Clinton. The notion that low turnout was due to African Americans being unduly influenced by Russian Facebook posts is seen as “bigoted paternalism” by blogger Teodrose Fikremanian who says, “The corporate recorders at the NY Times would have us believe that the reason African-Americans did not uniformly vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is because they were too dimwitted to think for themselves and were subsequently manipulated by foreign agents. This yellow press drivel is nothing more than propaganda that could have been written by George Wallace.”

How Clinton became the Nominee

Since the 2016 election there has been little public discussion of the process whereby Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party nominee. It’s apparent she was pre-ordained by the Democratic Party elite. As exposed in the DNC emails, there was bias and violations of the party obligations at the highest levels. On top of that, it should now be clear that the pundits, pollsters and election experts were out of touch, made poor predictions and decisions.

Bernie Sanders would have been a much stronger candidate. He would have won the same party loyalists who voted for Clinton. His message attacking Wall Street would have resonated with significant sections of the working class and poor who were unenthusiastic (to say the least) about Clinton. An indication is that in critical swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary race.

Clinton had no response for Trump’s attacks on multinational trade agreements and his false promises of serving the working class. Sanders would have had vastly more appeal to working class and minorities. His primary campaign showed his huge appeal to youth and third party voters. In short, it’s likely that Sanders would have trounced Trump. Where is the accountability for how Clinton ended up as the Democratic Party candidate?

The Relevance of 2016 to 2020

The 2016 election is highly relevant today. Already we see the same pattern of establishment bias and “horse race” journalism which focuses on fund-raising, polls and elite-biased “electability” instead of dealing with real issues, who has solutions, who has appeal to which groups.

Mainstream media and pundits are already promoting Joe Biden. Syndicated columnist EJ Dionne, a Democratic establishment favorite, is indicative. In his article “Can Biden be the helmsman who gets us past the storm?” Dionne speaks of the “strength he (Biden) brings” and the “comfort he creates”. In the same vein, Andrew Sullivan pushes Biden in his article “Why Joe Biden Might be the Best to Beat Trump“. Sullivan thinks that Biden has appeal in the working class because he joked about claims he is too ‘hands on’. But while Biden may be tight with AFL-CIO leadership, he is closely associated with highly unpopular neoliberal trade deals which have resulted in manufacturing decline.

The establishment bias for Biden is matched by the bias against Democratic Party candidates who directly challenge Wall Street and US foreign policy. On Wall Street, that would be Bernie Sanders. On foreign policy, that is Tulsi Gabbard. With a military background Tulsi Gabbard has broad appeal, an inclusive message and a uniquely sharp critique of US “regime change” foreign policy. She calls out media pundits like Fareed Zakaria for goading Trump to invade Venezuela. In contrast with Rachel Maddow taunting John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to be MORE aggressive, Tulsi Gabbard has been denouncing Trump’s collusion with Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Netanyahu, saying it’s not in US interests. Gabbard’s anti-interventionist anti-occupation perspective has significant support from US troops. A recent poll indicates that military families want complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria. It seems conservatives have become more anti-war than liberals.

This points to another important yet under-discussed lesson from 2016: a factor in Trump’s victory was that he campaigned as an anti-war candidate against the hawkish Hillary Clinton. As pointed out here, “Donald Trump won more votes from communities with high military casualties than from similar communities which suffered fewer casualties.”

Instead of pointing out that Trump has betrayed his anti-war campaign promises, corporate media (and some Democratic Party outlets) seem to be undermining the candidate with the strongest anti-war message. An article at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) says, “Corporate media target Gabbard for her Anti-Interventionism, a word they can barely pronounce.”

Russiagate has distracted most Democrats from analyzing how they lost in 2016. It has given them the dubious belief that it was because of foreign interference. They have failed to analyze or take stock of the consequences of DNC bias, the preference for Wall Street over working class concerns, and the failure to challenge the military industrial complex and foreign policy based on ‘regime change’ interventions.

There needs to be more analysis and lessons learned from the 2016 election to avoid a repeat of that disaster. As indicated in the Autopsy, there needs to be a transparent and fair campaign for nominee based on more than establishment and Wall Street favoritism. There also needs to be consideration of which candidates reach beyond the partisan divide and can energize and advance the interests of the majority of Americans rather than the elite. The most crucial issues and especially US military and foreign policy need to be seriously debated.

Blaming an outside power is a good way to prevent self analysis and positive change. It’s gone on far too long.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who grew up in Canada but currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. He can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The DNC Debates, the Media and Tulsi Gabbard

By Renee Parsons | CounterPunch | May 3, 2019

As some of the last minute Democratic presidential candidates scramble to qualify for the DNC’s upcoming June 26/27 primary debate, the latest poll results become more than nominally important given their elevated role in whether a candidate meets the requirements to participate.

In order to qualify, each announced candidate needs to have received either $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 states or to garner more than 1% support in any three of the DNC’s ‘favored’ polls –  which includes those 2016 polls with either a flawed methodology or their thumb on the scale which missed the final election results in a big way, all of which proves that wishing does not make it so.

There is every reason to believe that the favored polls will provide the necessary % of support in order for all 21 candidates to qualify. Given any poll’s margin-of-error in statistical sampling, it would seem that measuring public support via a % is an arbitrary criteria that does not represent  a true accurate basis with high precision results. Even if a candidate does not qualify for the June debates, they can still qualify for the July event. A house divided and all that…

The basic structure of the debates as announced by DNC Chair Tom Perez represents a presidential primary process that is “transparent, fair, inclusive” with ‘historic reforms’ and ‘increased trust’ which you may recall, the DNC process in 2016 did nothing to generate increased trust. While Democratic officials have been meeting for months with media partners, there is yet no announcement who the moderator or participating panelists will be or how the questions are being formulated. The June round of debates will be broadcast on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo with the July debates on CNN.

According to the DNC, the max number of candidates participating will be a total of twenty even if all 21 announced candidates qualify as it threatens to eliminate candidates who had already made the cut – so much for “transparent, fair and inclusive.” Ten will appear on June 26 with the next ten on June 27th and selection will be determined by drawing lots. Conceivably, the Main Show of Bernie and Biden may occur on June 26thor they may be split, appearing on two different nights. In any case, it may be difficult for the public to determine a clear ‘winner’ by virtue of candidate separation from the total field.

Leaving First Amendment concerns aside, Perez cited a New Yorker expose “Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?” by Jane Mayer reporting on an ‘inappropriate’ relationship between the Trump Administration and Fox News. Perez, therefore, determined that Fox was “not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate” and would not be a participating media partner. True to form, President Trump responded that he would not participate in general election debates with the Democrat favorite MSM outlets.

It is more than ironic when MSM outlets, like the New Yorker reveal their own unprofessional bias without applying the same propaganda standard to itself or to its MSM colleagues for its inappropriate camaraderie with the high level Obama Administration officials or current Democratic Presidential candidates.

As the MSM continues to pat itself on the back and win awards it did not deserve after perpetuating a deep constitutional crisis which has torn the country apart,the NYT and WaPo received $15,000 for its 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its flawed, erroneous reportage on Russiagate as CNN won $2500 for the 2018 White House Correspondents Merriman Smith Award which was based on leaks from former Obama officials John Brennan and James Clapper rather than the old-fashioned method of investigative reporting. Presumably, all recipients kept the prize money.

On the part of the DNC, the obvious idea is to winnow the field in such a way that it does not appear obvious if any one candidate is being deliberately shoved aside without an equal opportunity. LOL with that.  Examination of a less than inspiring slate of candidates leaves considerable space for true excellence to surface. It is ironic that the party so enthralled with diversity and identity politics actually represents a gross lack of diversity in terms of public policy options.

With the new CNN poll showing Joe Biden representing the fossil wing of the Democratic party with a 39% favorable rating as Bernie drops to 15%, it is eerily reminiscent of overstated polls for HRC in 2016.  Thanks to CNN, additional White House contenders have qualified for the debate via the % option including former Colorado Gov John Hickenlooper who might take the opportunity to inform the public why he attended the Bilderberg meeting in 2018.

Given her almost totally hostile reception by every MSM outlet who deigned to interview her, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has experienced, as an opponent of regime change wars, more bad manners and outright personal antagonism than any other candidate. While Gabbard easily qualified for the debates via the $65,000 requirement and continues to attract SRO audiences in NH, Iowa, California and elsewhere, yet until the newest CNN poll, she failed to register any % of public support. Something here does not compute given the ‘favored’ polls past history of favoritism. If the Dems continue to put a brick wall around her, Jill Stein has already opened the Green Party door as a more welcoming venue for a Tulsi candidacy. The Dems, who tend to be unprincipled and vindictive, better be careful what they wish for.

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

May 3, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | 3 Comments

‘We are at war’ with Russia: DNC Chair Perez says Trump ‘compromised’

RT | April 26, 2019

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez went on CNN to declare a cyber war on Russia, and slammed President Donald Trump for being ‘compromised.’

“The federal government is asleep at the switch,” Perez told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on her show New Day, adding that the president had been disloyal to the country for “weaponizing” hacked material.

“When the Russians called Donald Trump and said ‘I got dirt on Hillary Clinton,’ they should have called the authorities,” Perez said, apparently referring to the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. “Instead they said ‘tell us what you got.’ That’s not right.”

Back in 2016, however, the DNC had no qualms about relying on a foreign intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump from various informants and ‘weaponize’ it in preparation for the presidential election. Steele later admitted sourcing his info from unverified internet sources – but not before it catalyzed two years of ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy and a costly Special Counsel investigation that ultimately found no collusion between Trump and Russia.

Veselnitskaya, interestingly, met with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson on both the days before and after the lawyer’s meeting with Donald Trump Jr. Fusion GPS is the research firm that paid for Christopher Steele’s kompromat job on Trump.

When asked if his party would accept leaked information on President Trump’s tax returns, Perez gave a non-answer.

“Well, again, we are entitled to that,” he said. “If you look at the law that chairman Neil of the House Ways and Means Committee is using. It’s clear. It doesn’t say you are entitled to [release your tax returns] except for the taxes of the president of the United States.”

Although the Mueller probe did not find any link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, to the utter disappointment of some liberal media pundits, the collusion narrative survived. Media continues to speculate whether Trump was somehow compromised by Russia and is on Putin’s short leash. Democrats, including certain presidential hopefuls, have not given up on the hopes to oust Trump from office through impeachment proceedings, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris among the latest to join the rallying cry.

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Russian collusion was no more than “conspiracy porn” created by Clinton and Obama

By Mitchell Feierstein | The Duran | April 1, 2019

After 675 days, 25 million dollars, 2,800 subpoenas, over 500 witnesses, and more than 500 search warrants, all of which took up the time of 20 prosecutors and nearly 50 FBI agents, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted the results of his “witch hunt” to the Attorney General of the United States of America, Robert Barr.

Barr, in turn, submitted a four-page overview highlighting the following conclusions: There are no further indictments of anyone and there was no collusion with Russia by any American. Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom Mueller reported to, determined that there was no obstruction by President Trump.

But, for the past three years, elite Democratic Party partisans, along with their media partners, force-fed thousands of “Bombshell” headlines to millions of Americans, without ever providing a lick of evidence. The absence of evidence supporting their outrageous lies coupled with the results of Mueller’s investigation and Barr’s conclusions establishes collusion – not between Russia and the Trump family to influence the 2016 presidential election, but amongst the Democrats and mass media to delegitimize the Trump presidency.

The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “We saw cold, hard evidence of the Trump campaign, and indeed the Trump family, eagerly intending to collude with Russia.” Pelosi has never presented any evidence to support this claim or any of the many other suspect claims the speaker has made.

The Chairman of House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said, “I have evidence of collusion with Russia and kompromat. It’s all in plain sight.” Schiff regularly repeated this claim to the public yet never provided any evidence. He appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and ABC over 150 times and was never called out for repeating these lies over and over again.

Congressman Eric Swalwell on MSNBC said, “Donald Trump is a Russian agent; we have evidence Trump and his family colluded with Russia.” Swalwell has parroted this and many other claims since 2016. Evidence provided: none.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters stated, “Trump and his buddies are scumbags who are all Putin’s puppets; we will Impeach 45.” Waters has been shrieking “Impeach 45” since election day in 2016. Water’s reason: she hates Trump and the entire Grand Old Party “GOP.”

Many other Democratic members of Washington DC’s swamp echoed similar propaganda that mobilized the Trump “resistance.” Their hit list of frequent salacious claims included “Trump in handcuffs;” “The entire Trump family, frog-marched, and jailed forever;” “Treason, much worse than Watergate, we have evidence;” “Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987;” “Trump is a racist, sexist, misogynist, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, white-national, white-supremacist;” and let’s not forget “He’s the next Hitler.” This “hit list” has become the Democratic party mantra since Donald trump announced his candidacy in 2015.

Ex-Central Intelligence Agency “CIA” director John Brennan, who just so happens to be on MSNBC’s payroll, also weighed in on Trump. “Trump’s behavior is treasonous. He committed high crimes and misdemeanors. There is evidence that proves many people in Trump’s orbit are guilty of serious crimes and indictments are coming, and soon. Trump committed Treason” The penalty for committing “treason” in America, death. Brennan never provided any evidence. Brennan’s lies have destroyed the CIA’s reputation and credibility.

Viewers of CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and ABC were inundated with purposeful misrepresentations that continuously promised faithful audiences that Mueller and his team had “mountains” of evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice. Day after day, these media outlets repeated how Mueller would deliver an indictment of President Trump, who had committed “treason and high crimes and misdemeanors” that would lead to his impeachment and jail time. The corrupt media represented that Trump’s family members, who were also guilty of similar crimes, would be sent to prison. All the above were outrageous lies.

In fact, the only convictions that arose through the Mueller investigation were low-level process crimes which had NOTHING to do with Trump. $25 million wasted, bravo! These salacious accusations proved to be part of an elaborate scheme to delegitimize the sitting president and his administration in order to remove him from office. However, the Democrats and mass media could not have done it without FBI Director James Comey’s exploitation of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

We know the whole coup d’état was facilitated by FBI Director James Comey’s October 20, 2016 submission of a 66-page application to the FISA court.

Comey and Sally Quillian Yates, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, signed this application. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, the presiding judge of the secret FISA court, granted an order that led to our intelligence agencies spying on the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. The FBI ran a counter-intelligence investigation named “Crossfire Hurricane” on Trump’s campaign.

Comey’s FISA application was largely based on information contained in the Steele dossier, a dossier written by a disgraced MI6 agent named Christopher Steele. The dossier made wild, unsubstantiated claims and was financed by the campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee via Clinton’s law firm Perkins Coie through a company named Fusion GPS.

In a meeting with President Trump in early January 2017, James Comey told President Trump about the existence of the Steele dossier and told him not to worry about it. Comey stated that the dossier’s contents were salacious, unverified, and untrue. Apparently, James Comey knew, yet never disclosed to Judge Collyer, that the Steele dossier was garbage prepared by political partisans that did not want Trump to be
elected and financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Three days after Comey’s meeting with Trump the entire Steele dossier was “leaked” to numerous media sources and published in it’s entirety on Buzzfeed with no mention that none of the claims in the Steele dossier had been verified.

Comey signed and submitted two more FISA applications, one in Jan 2017, and another in April 2017 which relied upon the Steele dossier. FISA Judge Michael W. Mosman signed the January renewal, and Judge Anne C. Conway signed the April renewal.

Apparently, Comey never disclosed, to any of the FISA judges, that the Steele dossier was: paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, and the DNC, or that the Department of Justice’s Bruce Ohr had warned on the credibility of the unverified Steele Dossier, or that Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS and helped back door the Steele dossier into the FBI, or that the dossier was filled with baseless allegations, lies, and
propaganda. It appears that four secret court, FISA, judges were lied to in order to kick- off the biggest scandal in history.

FBI’s Deputy Director Andrew McCabe recently stated during Congressional testimony that “without the Steele dossier, the FISA warrants would have never been granted.” Recent reports suggest that it was ex-CIA director John Brennan who insisted that the Steele dossier be included in the intelligence report used to request the FISA warrants. Senator Rand Paul has issued a call that Brennan be called to testify under oath in Congress.

The entire Mueller investigation would have never been possible without this fake dossier being used to illegally obtain FISA warrants by the omission of material facts within the original FISA application and the three subsequent renewal applications.

Why is Judge Collyer not looking into these and other material misrepresentations used in the FISA application to obtain search warrants to spy on Americans and on a presidential campaign by its opposition and enabled by a weaponized Obama Department of Justice? The silence of secret FISA court Judges Mosman, Conway, and Dearie is frightening. America’s secret courts should be abolished.

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Journalist says MSNBC politics editor bullied him on DNC’s behalf

RT | March 29, 2019

A freelance journalist has gone public about a bizarre intimidation attempt by a senior MSNBC editor who tried to “bully” him into keeping a story under wraps – on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, not the network.

MSNBC politics managing editor Dafna Linzer tried to pressure Yashar Ali, a journalist who has written for the Huffington Post and New York Magazine, into holding back the release of the Democratic primary debate dates, Ali has claimed in a series of tweets. Linzer wasn’t trying to beat him to the story, or calling on behalf of her own network at all – she was acting wholly on behalf of the DNC, according to Ali.

Ali got wind of the Democratic primary dates, information even the candidates didn’t have, on Thursday morning and called the party to verify them before publishing. They asked him to hold back the information while they made a few calls – which he refused, not wanting to lose the scoop – and then things got weird.

Linzer then called Ali and asked him to hold the story in order to give the DNC time to “make a few phone calls” to state party leaders, informing them of the debate dates. While her own network was planning to break the news later on that day, she spent the call “menacing” Ali, threatening to call his editor and trying several lines of reasoning to convince him to sit on the story – even bringing up her own history as a national security reporter at the Washington Post, when they “would hold stuff all the time.”

While MSNBC generally favors the Democratic Party in its news coverage, the network isn’t a party organ – not officially, at least – and Linzer’s “unethical” behavior, conspiring with party leadership to quash another journalist’s story, set off alarm bells in the journalist. Several other reporters he spoke to urged him to go public.

Neither MSNBC nor Linzer have made any public comment in response to Ali’s tweets so far. In the week since Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation, Rachel Maddow and other top-rated MSNBC shows have lost 20 percent of their viewers as Americans realize they spent the last two years being led down the garden path. It’s understandable that Linzer might be a little stressed, now that so much is riding on the network’s “pivot to 2020.”

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

“How I Lost by Hillary Clinton,” a Book Review

By Ann Garrison | Black Agenda Report | February 6, 2019

Rich and manipulative people like Hillary Clinton and her DNC cohorts were defeated by their own emails.

“How I Lost By Hillary Clinton” is a collection of the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks in 2016, introduced and annotated by Consortium News Editor Joe Lauria, with a foreword by political prisoner Julian Assange. Believe it or not, you don’t have to buy it from Amazon unless you want to toss a few more dollars into the bursting coffers of Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, who says his only business option now is to search for new markets in outer space.

Instead you can order a paperback, e-book, or both from OR Books and dive back into the election year that just won’t die. On January 28, CNN reported that “Hillary Clinton tells friends she’s leaving 2020 door open.” A day earlier the New York Daily News had reported less charitably that “Hillary Clinton hasn’t learned her lesson yet.”

Back in November, upper-tier Clinton operatives Mark Penn and Andrew Stein penned “Hillary Will Run Again,” a bullish Wall Street Journal op-ed opening thus:

“Get ready for Hillary Clinton 4.0. More than 30 years in the making, this new version of Mrs. Clinton, when she runs for president in 2020, will come full circle—back to the universal-health-care-promoting progressive firebrand of 1994. True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies. She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

I read “Hillary Will Run Again” three times to make sure it wasn’t just a little joke, or maybe even a more sophisticated attempt at satire. Then I read it again, and I still don’t think so, much as I wish it were. I’ll be gladly embarrassed if anyone can convince me I’m wrong.

But what about Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillebrand, and whoever announces next? No worries, write Penn and Stein: “You can expect her to run for president once again. Maybe not at first, when the legions of Senate Democrats make their announcements, but definitely by the time the primaries are in full swing.”

Anyone remember “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “Dawn of the Dead” (1978), “Day of the Dead” (1985), and “Land of the Dead” (2005)? Still watching “The Walking Dead” (2010-) or its spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” (2015-)? Another grisly sequel or series could be coming soon. “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton” might fortify your psychic battlements before it begins.

We’ve all heard of the Wall Street speeches, finally published as a subset of the Podesta emails, but on the first page of this book, Lauria explains that they were just some of Hillary’s more high-profile influence peddling:

“Clinton spoke to just about anyone who would pay, including a scrap metal and recycling conference in Las Vegas, the automobile dealers association in New Orleans, and the National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta. Clinton said that fees from speeches at universities went to the Clinton Foundation and not directly into her pocket.”

Sounds like a tax dodge to me, and it “didn’t stop students at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas protesting her $225,000 haul as the university was hiking tuition.” Between April 2013 and March 2015, Hillary Clinton gave 91 paid speeches averaging $235,304.35 apiece, for a total of $21,648,000.

But she’d rather we didn’t dwell on it

When Joe Lauria was last in the Bay Area, I asked him how he got away with the title “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton.” He said that he, OR Books, and Julian Assange were all of the opinion that the Clinton camp wouldn’t want to attract attention to the book by pestering or suing them, and they haven’t yet. It’s an apt title anyway because so much of the book’s contents are DNC and Podesta emails, mostly penned by Hillary staff if not by Hillary herself.

Clinton the Elitist

The body of the book comes in two sections, the first being “Clinton the Elitist.” Here we read about how Hillary climbed from the upper middle class to the uber-rich via elite schools, specifically Wellesley and Yale Law School, then on to her and her husband’s political careers and all the wealth generated by post-presidential, post-cabinet speeches, book contracts, corporate board appointments, the Clinton Foundation, and other forms of bribery and influence peddling.

Despite the Wellesley and Yale Law School degrees, she sounds incoherent because of her mutually exclusive promises to protect both the financial elite and the rest of us. At Goldman Sachs’s 10/24/2013 AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium in New York City, she said that she had bravely faced Americans still bitter about the 2008 financial crisis that cost millions their homes followed by the bank bailout that transferred enormous wealth to the very Wall Street elites who engineered the crisis. “Too Big to Fail” hadn’t gone down well in the hinterland, but she had taken the flak:

“That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of ’09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that’s an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let’s make sure that we do it right this time. And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn’t that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later.”

In other words, “You owe me. I’m one of you. That’s why I say ‘we.’” And Wall Street agreed. The financial services industry and associated PACs contributed $115.5 million to Clinton’s second presidential run, close to 10% of the $1.2 billion raised. They contributed to both the Democratic and Republican Parties, and their presidential candidates, as major corporations and business sectors always do to make sure they own a piece of whoever wins. However, Wall Street gave Trump a measly $7.9 million, most likely because of the widespread certainty that Clinton would win.

Hillary the Hawk

Most of those likely to read “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton” will know Hillary the Hawk, but the book is full of grim elaboration, much of it in her own words. Here’s one choice quote:

“And there is still an argument that goes on inside the administration and inside our friends at NATO and the Europeans. How do you intervene—my view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene. We used to be much better at this than we are now.”

Here’s another:

“To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.“

Civilians aside, Clinton pushed for a no-fly zone in Syria right up and into her final debate with Donald Trump, despite his “America First” crusade against foreign military quagmires. Simultaneously, Obama’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power shrieked at Russia and China for vetoing her demand for a no-fly zone at the UN Security Council. Clinton brushed off fears that bombing Syria risked conflict with nuclear-armed Russia, even after it entered the Syrian theater of war at Syria’s request in October 2015.

I had a hard time putting “How I Lost By Hillary Clinton” down until I was done. Like most Wikileaks releases, it drew me into the minds of those who decide who will live, who will die, who will be impoverished, and who enriched. Not only Hillary Clinton’s mind, but also those of the macabre power elites surrounding her. Who matters and who is collateral damage? Most of us, here and abroad, are in the latter category, and she lost because too many of us knew that.

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Deception, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased

By John Solomon | The Hill | January 16, 2019

When the annals of mistakes and abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation are finally written, Bruce Ohr almost certainly will be the No. 1 witness, according to my sources.

The then-No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtained from a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day.

They also contradict a key argument that House Democrats have made in their formal intelligence conclusions about the Russia case.

Since it was disclosed last year that Steele’s dossier formed a central piece of evidence supporting the FISA warrant, Justice and FBI officials have been vague about exactly when they learned that Steele’s work was paid for by the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

A redacted version of the FISA application released last year shows the FBI did not mention any connection to the DNC or Clinton. Rather, it referred to Steele as a reliable source in past criminal investigations who was hired by a person working for a U.S. law firm to conduct research on Trump and Russia.

The FBI claimed it was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele, that Steele was “never advised … as to the motivation behind the research” but that the FBI  “speculates” that those who hired Steele were “likely looking for information to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

Yet, in testimony last summer to congressional investigators, Ohr revealed the FBI and Justice lawyers had no need to speculate: He explicitly warned them in a series of contacts, beginning July 31, 2016, that Steele expressed biased against Trump and was working on a project connected to the Clinton campaign.Ohr had firsthand knowledge about the motive and the client: He had just met with Steele on July 30, 2016, and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the same firm employing Steele.

“I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump,” Ohr told congressional investigators, adding that he warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

“I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” he added. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.”

When pressed why he would offer that information to the FBI, Ohr answered: “In case there might be any kind of bias or anything like that.” He added later, “So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information, I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware.”

Ohr went further, saying he disclosed to FBI agents that his wife and Steele were working for the same firm and that it was conducting the Trump-Russia research project at the behest of Trump’s Democratic rival, the Clinton campaign.

“These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware,” Ohr told Congress, explaining what he warned the bureau.

Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented both the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, belatedly admitted it paid Fusion GPS for Steele’s work on behalf of the candidate and party and disguised the payments as legal bills when, in fact, it was opposition research.

When asked if he knew of any connection between the Steele dossier and the DNC, Ohr responded that he believed the project was really connected to the Clinton campaign.

“I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC but I certainly said yes that they were working for, you know, they were somehow working, associated with the Clinton campaign,” he answered.

“I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor for GPS, Fusion GPS.”

Ohr divulged his first contact with the FBI was on July 31, 2016, when he reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page. He then was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence, including Peter Strzok, the now-fired agent who played a central role in starting the Trump collusion probe.

But Ohr’s contacts about the Steele dossier weren’t limited to the FBI. He said in August 2016 — nearly two months before the FISA warrant was issued — that he was asked to conduct a briefing for senior Justice officials.

Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.

Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe.

Ohr’s extensive testimony also undercuts one argument that House Democrats sought to make last year.

When Republicans, in early 2018, first questioned Ohr’s connections to Steele, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to minimize the connection, insisting he only worked as an informer for the FBI after Steele was fired by the FBI in November 2016.

The memo from Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) team claimed that Ohr’s contacts with the FBI only began “weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application.”

But Ohr’s testimony now debunks that claim, making clear he started talking to FBI and DOJ officials well before the FISA warrant or election had occurred.

And his detailed answers provide a damning rebuttal to the FBI’s portrayal of the Steele material.

In fact, the FBI did have derogatory information on Steele: Ohr explicitly told the FBI that Steele was desperate to defeat the man he was investigating and was biased.

And the FBI knew the motive of the client and did not have to speculate: Ohr told agents the Democratic nominee’s campaign was connected to the research designed to harm Trump’s election chances.

Such omissions are, by definition, an abuse of the FISA system.

Don’t take my word for it. Fired FBI Director James Comey acknowledged it himself when he testified last month that the FISA court relies on an honor system, in which the FBI is expected to divulge exculpatory evidence to the judges.

“We certainly consider it our obligation, because of our trust relationship with federal judges, to present evidence that would paint a materially different picture of what we’re presenting,” Comey testified on Dec. 7, 2018. “You want to present to the judge reviewing your application a complete picture of the evidence, both its flaws and its strengths.”

Comey claims he didn’t know about Ohr’s contacts with Steele, even though his top deputy, McCabe, got the first contact.

But none of that absolves his FBI, or the DOJ for that matter, from failing to divulge essential and exculpatory information from Ohr to the FISA court.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

January 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

“THE CHIMERA OF DONALD TRUMP, RUSSIAN MONEY LAUNDERER”

Sic Semper Tyrannis | November 23, 2018

Is Donald Trump guilty of money laundering? If you ask most Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans, they fervently believe that he has been moving money for Russian mobsters for more than twenty years and that an investigation of this will bring Trump’s Presidency to an end. Don’t count on it. Although there is clear evidence of Trump’s past relationship with Russian/American mobsters, knowing someone or collaborating on a business deal is not proof of money laundering. I have spent three decades investigating money laundering cases (I helped develop the civil money laundering case against Philip Morris—click here) and it is clear to me that those who are earnestly accusing Trump of such a crime do not understand what constitutes money laundering.

Apart from not understanding how to make a money laundering case, the anti-Trumpers have failed to grasp another key element to the narrative that Trump was a puppet to the Russians—one of his longtime Russian business associates, Felix Sater, was an FBI informant during the entire time that Robert Mueller was FBI Director. Since Sater was a fully signed up FBI informant or asset, he was in a unique and powerful position to implicate Trump. But none of the “evidence” uncovered or planted by Sater ever produced an indictment of Donald Trump. With the benefit of hindsight it appears that the FBI, relying on Sater, used Trump and his organization as bait to go after Russian mobsters.

The Democrat case for Trump’s money laundering is laid out in a complaint the Democratic National Committee filed in April 2018 against the Russians, Julian Assange and Trump:

Beginning in 2003, Trump engaged in multiple real estate deals with the Bayrock Group, a firm founded and run by Soviet emigres, who reportedly had close ties to the Russian government and Russian organized crime. In 2004, Trump negotiated with the Deputy Mayor of Moscow over a potential real estate development. In the mid-2000s, Trump partnered with wealthy Russian-Canadian businessmen to develop real estate in Toronto. And in 2006, Trump contracted with the Russian Standard Corporation, a Moscow-based entity that owns and operates the Miss Russia beauty pageant, to allow the winner of the pageant to compete in Trump’s Miss Universe pageant, an action that had not been taken since at least 2002. In 2008, Trump sold a Palm Beach, Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch for a $54 million profit. In 2013, Trump established a business relationship with Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, a close ally of Putin, to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Russia and work on plans to develop a Trump-branded project in Moscow. . . .

As Trump, Jr. explained, the Trump Organization “s[aw] a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” and “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of our assets.” And Trump’s son Eric Trump has reportedly stated that substantial funding for Trump’s golf courses comes from Russian investors.

I do not know who was advising the DNC on this complaint, but it is clear that the drafter or drafters do not have a clue about money laundering. Money laundering is very easy to define:

The act of disguising the source or true nature of money obtained through illegal means.

The key element is the phrase, “illegal means.” If you are going to be charged as a participant or accessory in a money laundering case, you must be handling or receiving money that came from a criminal activity, such as trafficking in drugs, arms or people. So here’s the critical question with respect to Donald Trump and money laundering—what was the predicate crime?

In the world of real estate, the money laundering component is always in the financing.  That is, you want to trade the bad money for good bank money by using the property as the chattel to do it. But when this is done as part of a money laundering scheme, it almost always involves the financing of major building projects. Someone with dirty money is not going to waste time purchasing individual condos or homes as their primary means of cleaning the money. When the dirty money comes from activities like drug trafficking, the amount of cash generated is enormous. You need big money projects to launder large quantities of cash.

Given Donald Trump’s extensive and controversial real estate ventures over the last thirty years, which have involved several Russians, it is understandable why those opposed to Trump seize on these transactions as evidence of “money laundering.” Unfortunately, the journalists who have tried to make the case that Donald Trump was “laundering” money for the Russian mob, have failed to provide actual evidence of such activity. Instead, they have relied on innuendo and guilt by association.

Yes, it is true that Russians with ties to organized crime purchased condos in Trump Towers in New York City. But there is no evidence that the sales of these condos were an organized, structured transaction. Individual Russians, acting in person or through shell companies, purchasing a condo is not proof of criminal activity. The fact that those who have made such purchases have not been arrested or indicted undermines the claim that their mere presence in a Trump building is proof of criminal activity.

As Shakespeare wrote, “Ay, there’s the rub.”  Association with unsavory characters is not a criminal offense. While it is quite true that Trump associated with several Russians with links to organized crime it is also true that Trump has never been indicted or charged with such criminal activity. Is he really that good in hiding his trail?

One of the loudest voices claiming that Trump is in bed with the Russians is Craig Unger. Craig was known as a good reporter at one point in his life, but I think his work on Trump is both shoddy and incomplete. To be fair, Craig is not the only one claiming Trump is facilitating Russian money laundering. Other prominent journalists, including Richard Behar, Tom Burgis of the Financial Times and John Harwood of CNBC, also have echoed Unger’s thesis.

All four focus much of their reporting on a Russian born American “mobster”, Felix Sater, to implicate Trump as a Russian money laundering chump. The following snippet from an interview Unger did with Vox about his book, House of Trump, House of Putin is representative of how Sater is used as some sort of proof that Trump is part of a money laundering scheme:

Bayrock was a real estate development company located on the 24th floor of Trump Tower. The founder was a guy named Tevfik Arif and the managing director was Felix Sater, a man with numerous ties to Russian oligarchs and Russian intelligence. Bayrock proceeded to partner with Trump in 2005 and helped him develop a new business model, which he desperately needed.

Recall that Trump was $4 billion in debt after his Atlantic City casinos went bankrupt. He couldn’t get a bank loan from anywhere in the West, and Bayrock comes in and Trump partners with other people as well, but Bayrock essentially has a new model that says, “You don’t have to raise any money. You don’t have to do any of the real estate development. We just want to franchise your name, we’ll give you 18 to 25 percent royalties, and we’ll effectively do all the work. And if the Trump Organization gets involved in the management of these buildings, they’ll get extra fees for that.”

It was a fabulously lucrative deal for Trump, and the Bayrock associates — Sater in particular — were operating out of Trump Tower and constantly flying back and forth to Russia. And in the book, I detail several channels through which various people at Bayrock have close ties to the Kremlin, and I talk about Sater flying back and forth to Moscow even as late as 2016, hoping to build the Trump Tower there.

Tom Burgis, writing in the Financial Times, provides additional details on the relationship between Sater and Trump and implies something nefarious, perhaps even illegal, was afoot:

As work on Trump Soho got under way in 2007, the partnership between Mr Trump and Bayrock was gathering momentum. Another tower, in Fort Lauderdale, was rising. A 2008 Bayrock presentation includes a picture of Mr Trump grinning beside Mr Arif and names him as a referee. Bayrock had its office on the 24th floor of Trump Tower and calls the Trump Organization a “strategic partner”.

The same presentation says Bayrock was one of the backers of the redevelopment of the 101-year-old Hotel du Parc on the shores of Lake Geneva, owned by Swiss Development Group, a Geneva-based company. In May this year, Nicolas Bourg, a Belgian businessman who says he worked with Viktor Khrapunov’s son Ilyas on US real estate deals, claimed in a separate dispute that Swiss Development Group was “owned and controlled by Ilyas and his family and used to conceal the movement and investment of his family’s money”.

All of this sounds pretty bad on the surface until you examine what Sater actually did. Messrs. Unger and Burgis neglected to analyze the critical fact that Felix Sater was an FBI informant since 1998. If Trump was taking dirty money or engaged in criminal activity with Russians then he was doing it with Felix Sater, who was under the control of the FBI. Felix Sater was proposing deals and making contacts with Russian criminals overseas and this activity surely was known by the FBI. If there was any suspicion on the part of the FBI that Trump was taking bad money, they would have recorded such activity in detail and he would have been indicted. Instead of running around in an orange jump suit, Donald Trump ran for President.

Given Sater’s relationship with the FBI, one needs to look at Trump’s relationship with Russians, especially those facilitated by Sater, in a different light. Put simply, were Trump’s real estate deals being used as bait to attract targets of interest for the FBI. Was Trump a witting cooperator with the FBI or unwitting?

We do know that Sater was trying to put together real estate deals overseas while serving as a FBI informant and working from Trump Tower in New York City. This was reported in a March 2017 Los Angeles Times piece:

Working from a 24th-floor office in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, Felix Sater spent years trying to line up lucrative deals in the United States, Russia and elsewhere in Europe with Donald Trump’s real estate organization.

For much of that time, according to court records and U.S. officials, Sater also worked as a confidential informant for the FBI, and — he says — U.S. intelligence.

“I was building Trump Towers by day and hunting Bin Laden by night,” Sater, now 50, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview from New York.

As managing director of Bayrock Group LLC, a real estate development firm, the Russian-born businessman met Trump in 2003, court records show, when Trump was looking to expand his business and branding organization around the globe.

Why are the anti-Trump forces failing to grasp the import of Sater and his role as an FBI informant as undermining the claim that Trump was conspiring with the Russians? Sater’s role with the FBI has been widely reported:

There is no question that Sater led a double life during the years he worked with the Trump Organization.

In 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to a federal charge of racketeering for his role in a Mafia-linked $40-million stock fraud scheme. He quickly cut a deal, agreeing to become a secret FBI informant in hopes of getting a lenient sentence.

Court records were sealed to protect Sater’s identity, so his role in the fraud case stayed secret for a decade while he was at Bayrock. After a court hearing in 2009, he was fined $25,000 but was not sent to prison or ordered to pay restitution.

Along with press reports regarding Sater’s role with the FBI, we have Sater’s attorney, in a letter sent to Judge Leo Glasser of the Eastern District of NY on 1 September 2005, telling the court that:

. . . Mr. Sater has been involed in on-going cooperation activities with law enforcement agents, and has provided truthful and credible information on a wide variety of criminal activities, some of which has already led to criminal prosecution of others.

Even Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, provided Sater cover :

At his sentencing hearing, several FBI officials vouched for Sater’s help. He got his biggest endorsement in January 2015 when Loretta Lynch was asked at her Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general why court records had been sealed in the fraud case.

If Trump was the target of the FBI, then fair observers must concede that the Bureau has failed during an 18 year period to obtain any incriminating information about Trump and his business practices. Had the FBI been successful, Trump surely would have already been indicted by now in the Southern District of New York and charged with criminal conduct.

Sater’s status as an FBI informant is not an honorary position. It is not a job that entitles the informant to regular social chats with an FBI agent. It is a job that puts the informant in the position of having to help the FBI make criminal cases, including entrapping folks willing to engage in illegal acts. The FBI website describes the informant role:

The courts have recognized that the government’s use of informants is lawful and often essential to the effectiveness of properly authorized law enforcement investigations. However, use of informants to assist in the investigation of criminal activity may involve an element of deception, intrusion into the privacy of individuals, or cooperation with persons whose reliability and motivation may be open to question. Although it is legally permissible for the FBI to use informants in its investigations, special care is taken to carefully evaluate and closely supervise their use so the rights of individuals under investigation are not infringed. The FBI can only use informants consistent with specific guidelines issued by the attorney general that control the use of informants.

And who was in charge of the FBI during all of the time that Sater was a signed up FBI snitch? You got it—Robert Mueller. Let us just stick with the facts—during Mueller’s term (2001 thru 2013) the FBI did not make or bring a case of money laundering against Donald Trump. Yet, during this period, Felix Sater, a fully signed up and operating FBI informant, was trying to cobble together real estate deals with Russians of questionable character. Trump and his organization were not implicated in any of this activity in a way that led the FBI to seek an indictment against them.

Many House Democrats are convinced that there is untapped evidence implicating Trump in a variety of money laundering schemes. But their belief, in my view, is based on a fundamental ignorance about money laundering and financial crimes in general. Tax avoidance, for example, is not money laundering. Highly publicized real estate deals are not the kind of cleaning operation that genuine money launderers embrace. Why? Those kind of deals come with scrutiny and the last thing that criminals with dirty money want is a high profile and public attention.

If you hate Trump and are betting that the Democrat investigative tsunami will bring Trump down, I have a word of advice—don’t bet your house. Donald Trump may be guilty of boorish behavior and brash comments, but the evidence of laundering money for the Russians is not there.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

DNC Emails–A Seth Attack Not a Russian Hack

Publius Tacitus | October 23, 2018

If Russia had actually “hacked” the DNC emails then the National Security Agency would have had proof of such activity. In fact, the NSA could have tracked such activity. But they did not do that. That lack of evidence did not prevent a coordinated media campaign from spinning up to pin the blame on Russia for the “theft” and to portray Donald Trump as Putin’s lackey and beneficiary.

Any effort to tell an alternative story has met with stout opposition. Fox News, for example, came under withering fire after it published an article in May 2017 claiming that Seth Rich, a young Democrat operative, had leaked DNC emails to Julian Assange at Wikileaks. The family of Seth Rich reacted with fury and sued Fox, Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, but that suit subsequently was dismissed.

Now there is new information, courtesy of the National Security Agency aka NSA, that confirms that the NSA has Top Secret and Secret documents that are responsive to a FOIA request for material on Seth Rich and his contacts with Julian Assange. While the content of these documents remain classified for now, they may provide documentary proof that Seth Rich “dropped boxed” the emails to Julian. If these documents are declassified, a big hole could be blown in the claim that Russia hacked the DNC.

If Seth Rich was just a normal kid in the wrong place at the wrong time, his murder and untimely death would only have been a minor blip in the news cycle. Blip or not, it was a terrible loss for his family and friends. But Seth was not an ordinary kid. He worked for the Democratic National Committee aka the DNC and described himself as an “experienced and impassioned data analyst” keen on making the world a better place.Rich met a sudden and brutal end in a neighborhood near the U.S. Capitol in Washingtion, DC in the early hours of July 10, 2016. The initial report about the murder did not raise any political antanae in the United States. The CNN reporting of the murder was representative of the coverage at the time:

A Democratic National Committee employee died this weekend after he was shot in Northwest Washington.

Seth Rich, 27, suffered multiple gunshot wounds early Sunday morning in Washington’s Bloomingdale neighborhood, according to law enforcement officials.

D.C. police said officers who had been patrolling the area responded to the sound of shots fired, ultimately finding Rich at the scene both “conscious and breathing.” He was then transported to an area hospital, where police said he “succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.”

Rich worked as voter expansion data director for the DNC since 2014, the DNC confirmed. A 2011 graduate of Creighton University, Rich’s resume is filled with various jobs in Democratic politics and political consulting.

But the circumstances and facts surrounding the murder were strange. Seth was shot in the back. Nothing was taken from his body—not his watch, not his wallet and not his credit cards. There was no obvious answer to the questions—who shot Seth and why?

The interest in Seth’s death took a dramatic turn when Wikileaks dumped the contents of DNC emails on its website on July 22, 2016. In order to put the Wikileaks theory regarding Seth’s death in proper perspective, we must review events in the prior months connected to the Hillary Clinton and DNC email controversies.

Seth Rich will go down in history, fairly or unfairly, linked to the debate surrounding Hillary Clinton’s missing and/or classified emails. During her time as Secretary of State, Hillary used a private server and sent thousands of messages over that server. This included emails containing Top Secret material.

In May 2016, the State Department Inspector General added further fuel to the controversy by concluding that Hillary had violated State Department protocols and policies:

The Inspector General was unable to find evidence that Clinton had ever sought approval from the State Department staff for her use of a private email server, determining that if Clinton had sought approval, Department staff would have declined her setup because of the “security risks in doing so.”[54] Aside from security risks, the report stated that “she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”[57]

Public interest in Hillary’s emails grew on June 12, 2016 when Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, stated during an ITV interview that his outfit had more Hillary emails:

“We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication, that is correct,” Assange said.

Two days later (June 14) came news that the DNC computers had been “hacked” by the Russians. Ellen Nakamura, a Washington Post reporter who had been briefed by a computer security company hired by the DNC—Crowdstrike–, wrote:

Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.

The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.

The Nakamura piece marked the first salvo in the Russian hacking meme. But the claim was not backed up by independently verified forensic evidence—it rested solely on the conclusions of a computer security company—Crowdstrike. The pro-Ukrainian politics of Crowdstrike’s founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, and his strident opposition to Russia cast a pall of bias over the findings of Crowdstrike. No U.S. Federal Law Enforcement official or agency was given access to the DNC servers. Neither the FBI nor Homeland Security were permitted to examine the servers and the alleged evidence of a hack.

Crowdstrike revealed that not one but two groups of hackers believed to be based in Russia had done just that. The intruders, according to Crowdstrike and the DNC officials who spoke to the Washington Post, fully accessed the campaign organization’s emails and chats, and stole opposition research on Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. . . .

In a blog post detailing the attack, Crowdstrike pointed to two groups of known Russian government-aligned hackers, one dubbed Cozy Bear and another called Fancy Bear. According to Crowdstrike, the two teams seemingly worked independently, either unaware of each others’ existence or even vying for dominance within the strange, internally competitive intelligence apparatus of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The most bizarre aspect of Crowdstrike’s claim is that it started its “investigation” of the so-called hacking on the 7thof May and supposedly immediately discovered it was “the Russians.” Yet Crowdstrike waited more than a month to do what should have been done on 7 May—shutdown the network. Vicky Ward reported in Esquire on 24 October 2016 that Crowdstrike waited until June 10 to take steps to protect the DNC network:

Ultimately, the teams decided it was necessary to replace the software on every computer at the DNC. Until the network was clean, secrecy was vital. On the afternoon of Friday, June 10, all DNC employees were instructed to leave their laptops in the office.

For the next two days, three CrowdStrike employees worked inside DNC headquarters, replacing the software and setting up new login credentials using what Alperovitch considers to be the most secure means of choosing a password: flipping through the dictionary at random. (After this article was posted online, Alperovitch noted that the passwords included random characters in addition to the words.) The Overwatch team kept an eye on Falcon to ensure there were no new intrusions. On Sunday night, once the operation was complete, Alperovitch took his team to celebrate at the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão.

This was a classic case of closing the barn door after the horse had escaped. Crowdstrike started work in early May 2016 but failed to prevent the DNC emails from making their way to Wikileaks. The DNC emails that were released on July 22, 2016 by Wikileaks covered the period from January 2015 thru 25 May 2016. Crowdstrike started work on 7 May at the DNC. If this was truly a hack from an outside computer network then it should have been impossible for any outsider to electronically hack the DNC network. But the information on the DNC network was taken around the close of business on the 25thof May.

The day after Ellen Nakamura reported that the Russians had hacked the DNC, Guccifer 2.0 surfaced and took credit for the hack. Guccifer 2.0 made a point of specifically denying that he was Russian in an interview with Motherboard:

“I don’t like Russians and their foreign policy. I hate being attributed to Russia,” he said, adding that he was from Romania, just like the first Guccifer.

Guccifer 2.0 said he hacked into the DNC in the summer of 2015. He claimed that he used an unknown vulnerability in NGP VAN, which is a software provider for the DNC, to hack into the DNC servers, which have a Windows architecture. (There’s no evidence whatsoever that the hacker really broke through via NGP VAN.)

“Then I installed my Trojans on several PCs. I had to go from one PC to another every week so CrowdStrike couldn’t catch me for a long time,” he said. “I know that they have cool intrusion detection system. But my heuristic algorithms are better.”

Guccifer’s claim to be something other than Russian immediately was derided by those invested in the blame Russia meme. Motherboard, for example, published a piece on June 16 labeling Guccifer 2.0 as a Russian front, but that conclusion was based solely on circumstantial, stylistic evidence:

. . . considering a long trail of breadcrumbs pointing back to Russia left by the hacker, as well as other circumstantial evidence, it appears more likely that Guccifer 2.0 is nothing but a disinformation or deception campaign by Russian state-sponsored hackers to cover up their own hack—and a hasty and sloppy one at that.

Guccifer 2.0 surfaced again the end of June with more documents:

On June 30, Guccifer 2.0 posted additional documents from the Democratic National Committee’s servers on the WordPress blog. The post again denied Russian links, and spoke admiringly of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks; Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence analyst who leaked archives of surveillance documents; and Chelsea Manning, the Army private who sent a huge trove of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.

Guccifer 2.0 faded into the woodwork when Wikileaks released the DNC emails on the 22 of July. Although Wikileaks protected the source of the DNC material, Julian Assange insisted that Russia had anything to do with putting the DNC trove into his hands.

Following the Wikileaks dump, Donald Trump made news on the campaign trail by sarcastically calling on the Russians to provided Hillary’s missing 30,000 emails:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said, referring to deleted emails from the private account Hillary Clinton used as secretary of State. “I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”. . .

“If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I’ve got to be honest with you. I’d love to see them,” he said later, declining to back down.

Experts suspect that Russian agents  are behind the hack and release of Democratic officials’ emails last week that showed officials discussing ways to undermine Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign against Clinton.

Trump often has praised Putin and has claimed to have met him, but on Wednesday, he denied that they have met. He also denied multiple media reports that he is in debt to Russian lenders.

Trump clearly was joking. He was riffing on the fact that the DNC emails had been published on Wikileaks and that Russia was being blamed. But the Democrats, never known for their keen sense of humor, seized on this moment as an opportunity to introduce the meme that Trump and Russia were collaborating to stop Hillary’s quest for the Presidency. The Hillary team understood the fundamentals of good drama–i.e., a solid story needs a good villain. Donald and Vladimir Putin became the villains of this tale:

Hillary Clinton . . . accused Russian intelligence services of hacking into the Democratic National Committee computers and she said her Republican rival Donald Trump has shown support for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin,” Ms Clinton said in an interview with Fox News, as reported by Reuters.

US officials and cyber security experts have previously said they believed Russia had something to do with the release of the emails in order to influence the election.

In reviewing the media coverage of the DNC “hack” during June and July the name of Seth Rich does not surface even as a minor concern. This all changed on August 9, 2016 when Wikileak’s Julian Assange announced via Twitter “a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in Rich’s killing on July 10 in the 2100 block of Flagler Place NW.” Assange subsequently discussed the murder of Seth Rich during an interview with Dutch TV:

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange suggested that the Democratic National Committee staffer shot dead last month in Washington, DC, was killed because he was a “source.”

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. As a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington,” he told Dutch TV, referring to Seth Rich, who was gunned down in the early morning hours of July 10 while walking to his apartment in Bloomingdale.

The interviewer followed up by asking, “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?”

The WikiLeaks founder cryptically replied, “No, there’s no finding … I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.”

Rather than address the substance and facts of what Wikileaks and Assange were saying and doing with respect to Seth Rich, most of the media concentrated on dismissing the Seth Rich story as a crazed conspiracy theory.

The only media outlet that tried to tell this story–Fox News–soon found itself in a media and legal maelstrom. Fox released a well-sourced article in May 2017. Written by Malia Zimmerman, the article reported that Seth had downloaded the Wikileaks documents, uploaded them to a DropBox account and passed them on to Julian Assange. Malia wrote:

The Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down on July 10 on a Washington, D.C., street last July just steps from his home in the cozy Washington DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, leaked thousands of highly controversial emails to WikiLeaks that were generated internally between DNC party leaders, Fox News has confirmed after a 10-month investigation.

A federal investigator who reviewed an FBI forensic report detailing the contents of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s computer generated within 96 hours after his murder, said Rich made contact with Wikileaks through Gavin MacFayden, a famous American investigative reporter and director of Wikileaks.

“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and Wikileaks,” the federal investigator told Fox News, confirming the MacFayden connection. But he said the whole case was put to rest after the FBI initial audit, and agents were told not to investigate further. The emails sit inside the FBI today, said the federal agent, who asked to remain a confidential source.

The Fox News piece was solid and well sourced. In addition to the Federal agent who confirmed Seth Rich had made contact with Wikileaks using a cut out, two other people with direct access to Julian Assange also told Fox reporters that Seth was the source for the DNC emails.

The DNC sprang into action and moved aggressively to shut down the Fox story. Fox, along with Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky, were sued by the Rich family and by investigator Rod Wheeler claiming that some or all elements of the story were false. The lawyers behind these suits were tied to the Democrats. In the face of this pressure, Fox News folded like a cheap tent in a hurricane and pulled the Malia Zimmerman story.

Too bad Fox lacked the courage to back Malia Zimmerman because the lawsuit fell apart. The cases were dismissed in August 2018:

A federal judge in Manhattan dismissed a lawsuit Thursday that was brought against Fox News by the parents of Seth Rich, the young Democratic aide whose unsolved murder was turned into fodder for a lingering right-wing conspiracy theory.

In his dismissal of the lawsuit, Judge George B. Daniels said he sympathized with Mr. Rich’s parents, but added that they had not been personally defamed by the story — despite the fact that it included “false statements or misrepresentations.”

Who killed Seth Rich remains a mystery. It is unfortunate that the Fox News story intermingled the speculation that Seth’s murder was a deliberate hit with the actual factual statements identifying him as the source of the DNC emails.

But now there is new information that may corroborate what the human sources quoted in the Fox article claimed about Seth’s role in getting the DNC documents to Wikileaks. Borne from a FOIA request filed in November 2017 by attorney Ty Clevenger, who requested any information regarding Seth Rich and and Julian Assange. The NSA informed Clevenger in a letter dated 4 October 2018 that:

Your request has been processed under the provisions of the FOIA. Fifteen documents (32 pages) responsive to your request have been reviewed by this Agency as required by the FOIA and have found to be currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526. These documents meet the criteria for classification as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4 and remains classified TOP SECRET and SECRET.

If NSA had come back and said, “No, we do not have anything pertaining to Seth Rich,” that would have been news. It would have been especially unwelcome news for those who believe that Seth was the source on the DNC emails. But now the opposite is true. The NSA says that it has documents that are classified TS and S. What do those documents say or prove? That remains to be seen.

But there is other evidence that buttresses the claim that the DNC emails were physically downloaded and then transferred to Wikileaks rather than being taken via an electronic intrusion of the DNC network. This is not a matter of opinion. It is a simple matter of science and math.

As noted earlier, Guccifer 2.0 took credit in mid-June 2016 for “hacking” the DNC and published documents as proof of his culpability. Those documents contain meta data. Bill Binney, who served with distinction as a Technical Director at the NSA, has written extensively on this issue:

We stand by our main conclusion that the data from the intrusion of July 5, 2016, into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, an intrusion blamed on “Russian hacking,” was not a hack but rather a download/copy onto an external storage device by someone with physical access to the DNC.

That principal finding relied heavily on the speed with which the copy took place – a speed much faster than a hack over the Internet could have achieved at the time – or, it seems clear, even now. Challenged on that conclusion – often by those conducting experiments within the confines of a laboratory – we have conducted and documented additional tests to determine the speeds that can be achieved now, more than a year later.

To remind: We noted in the VIPS memo that on July 5, 2016, a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 megabytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device. That yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second. (https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/20/more-holes-in-russia-gate-narrative/)

The meta data does not prove that Seth Rich did it or that it occurred at the DNC headquarters. But the meta data does conclusively show that the material provided by Guccifer 2.0, which the US DOJ now insists was a Russian front, could not have been obtained via a computer hack.

So what do we know for certain?

First, no one in the Federal Governemnt—law enforcement or intelligence—was granted access to examine the computer servers and files on the DNC server even after the DNC claimed they had been hacked by a foreign government.

Second, the steps that Crowdstrike allegedly took to shutdown computer hacking by Russia do not match the timeline of the actual download of the documents from the DNC server.

Third, Seth Rich worked at the DNC and had access to the computer server and systems.

Fourth, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange identified Seth Rich as a “source” and posted a $20,000 reward for information concerning his murder.

Fifth, a Federal law enforcement agent told two witnesesses that Seth Rich had email exchanges with Wikileaks.

Sixth, two people with direct access to Julian Assange told three separate sources that Seth Rich was the source of the DNC material published by Wikileaks.

Seventh, the documents published by Guccifer contain meta data that establish that the documents were physically downloaded onto a device like a thumb drive.

Eighth, the NSA has confirmed that it has Top Secret and Secret documents responsive to a FOIA request for information concerning contact between Seth Rich and other people including Julian Assange.

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment