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“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

Russophobia digest part 6: Evidence is optional as alleged anti-vaxx Russian bots go phishing

RT | August 24, 2018

Alleged Russian bots have been at the forefront of another week of Russophobia, with a new but familiar pattern emerging. Scare stories and accusations are made, before a later admission that no actual evidence is available.

RT takes a look at the last seven days or so of Russophobia.

Democrats’ security chief missed the memo

One of the real values of Russophobia is that it means thought and proof are rarely, if ever, needed anymore. Why find out what really happened when there is a decent conclusion to jump to?

For example, this week Bob Lord, the Democratic National Committee’s chief security officer, claimed that the organization’s US voter database had been hacked. Only, he later had to admit it was actually a ‘phishing test.’

Yep, nobody told the security chief about the security test, and he didn’t bother asking either, because it’s much easier to simply insinuate that Russians did it. To be fair to Lord, he didn’t appear to overtly use the ‘R’ word, but almost every media report on the non-incident seasoned its coverage liberally with accusations against Russia.

Microsoft’s marketing dept jumps on Russophobia bandwagon

Staying in the murky world of unsubstantiated cyber-claims, Microsoft said it has also thwarted phishing attacks on political targets by a group “widely associated” with Russia (Fancy Bear, in case you’re interested). It backed up its claims in the now-time-honored fashion of admitting there is “no evidence” that the dodgy domains detected were used in any successful attacks — and there’s no evidence “to indicate the identity of the ultimate targets.”

So, why is Microsoft getting involved? Because it’s got a brand new product maybe? Bill Gates’ boys have come up with anti-hacking software ‘AccountGuard’ as part of its ‘Defending Democracy Program.’

It provides “state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection at no extra cost to all candidates and campaign offices at the federal, state and local level, as well as think tanks and political organizations we now believe are under attack.”

And they claim the Russians are dangerous!?

Pro-pox bots

Those busy little alleged Russian bots are also driving the online anti-vaccine debate in the US, apparently, according to research in the US. No surprise there really, Russian bots real or imagined are accused of driving every online debate these days.

David Broniatowski from the George Washington School of Engineering and Applied Science said: “… many anti-vaccine tweets come from accounts whose provenance is unclear. These might be bots, human users or ‘cyborgs’ – hacked accounts that are sometimes taken over by bots. Although it’s impossible to know exactly how many tweets were generated by bots and trolls …”

“Impossible to know,” “provenance unclear.” So again, no real evidence, so it must be the Russians, mustn’t it?

Someone better check whether Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are Russian bots too, because they’re not too keen on vaccinations either. Apparently neither is Donald Trump, but you can hardly accuse him of… Oh.

Manafort: Conviction without collusion

Russophobes were jumping for joy at the conviction of Trump’s former election chief Paul Manafort this week. He was sent down for tax fraud, and bank fraud, and hiding bank accounts. What he definitely wasn’t sent down for was colluding with Russia, which is really a little strange considering the man responsible for sending him to court was Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was only appointed to investigate exactly that. As we’ve seen, though, evidence is optional when Russians are the target.

In the wise words of America’s commander-in-chief: “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do [with it].” Say what you want about Donald Trump…

Read more:

Proof that Manafort & Cohen are criminals adds no weight to Mueller’s Russia collusion probe

Russian hackers not found… again: DNC retracts claim voter database targeted by cyber-attack

‘No evidence’, but Russian Fancy Bears are doing it again (p.s. here’s our new product) – Microsoft

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Russian hackers not found… again: DNC retracts claim voter database targeted by cyber-attack

RT | August 23, 2018

The latest alarming news on a sophisticated cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee’s voter database may have cemented one’s worst fears over Russia hacking into the US elections… except it was really a “phishing test.”

Bob Lord, the committee’s chief security officer, raised the alarm on Wednesday after detecting a fake login page that mimicked the access page for Votebuilder, a program used by Democratic Party officials across that country that hosts the party’s voter database.

“This attempt is further proof that there are constant threats as we head into midterm elections and we must remain vigilant in order to prevent future attacks,” Lord said in a statement. However, within a few hours it became clear that blaming Moscow, no matter how tempting, would not be an option.

In a follow-up statement, Lord clarified that the fake login page was “built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test.” He claimed that the security test was not authorized by the DNC.

“While we are extremely relieved that this wasn’t an attempted intrusion by a foreign adversary, this incident is further proof that we need to continue to be vigilant in light of potential attacks,” Lord’s anticlimactic clarification said.

It’s not uncommon for corporations or organizations to hire consultants to test for security weaknesses in their computer systems – although it’s unusual for it to be done without any knowledge of the organization, as Lord has insisted.

Still, even when reporting that the scary DNC hack was a false alarm, CNN made sure to remind its readers that Microsoft recently announced (citing no concrete evidence) that it had thwarted an attempt by hackers working for Russian military intelligence to target the US Senate and conservative think tanks that advocated for tougher policies against Moscow.

August 23, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 4 Comments

Detente Bad, Cold War Good

By Craig Murray | July 17, 2018

The entire “liberal” media and political establishment of the Western world reveals its militarist, authoritarian soul today with the screaming and hysterical attacks on the very prospect of detente with Russia. Peace apparently is a terrible thing; a renewed arms race, with quite literally trillions of dollars pumped into the military industrial complex and hundreds of thousands dying in proxy wars, is apparently the “liberal” stance.

Political memories are short, but just 15 years after Iraq was destroyed and the chain reaction sent most of the Arab world back to the dark ages, it is now “treason” to question the word of the Western intelligence agencies, which deliberately and knowingly produced a fabric of lies on Iraqi WMD to justify that destruction.

It would be more rational for it to be treason for leaders to blindly accept the word of the intelligence services.

This is especially true on “Russia hacking the election” when, after three years of crazed accusations and millions of man hours by lawyers and CIA and FBI investigators, they are yet to produce any substantive evidence of accusations which are plainly nuts in the first place. This ridiculous circus has found a few facebook ads and indicted one Russian for every 100,000 man hours worked, for unspecified or minor actions which had no possible bearing on the election result.

There are in fact genuine acts of election rigging to investigate. In particular, the multiple actions of the DNC and Democratic Party establishment to rig the Primary against Bernie Sanders do have some very real documentary evidence to substantiate them, and that evidence is even public. Yet those real acts of election rigging are ignored and instead the huge investigation is focused on catching those who revealed Hillary’s election rigging. This gets even more absurd – the investigation then quite deliberately does not focus on catching whoever leaked Hillary’s election rigging, but instead seeks to prove that the Russians hacked Hillary’s election-rigging, which I can assure you they did not. Meanwhile, those of us who might help them with the truth if they were actually interested, are not questioned at all.

The Russophobic witch hunt has its first real life victim in 29 year old Maria Butina, whose life is to be destroyed for chatting up members of the NRA in order to increase Russian influence. With over 20 years of diplomatic experience, I can tell you that every country, including the UK and US, has bit part players of its own nationals who self-start in a country to make their way, and if they gain any traction are tapped by their national security service as potential “agents of influence”. I could name quite literally scores of such people, but have no desire to get anyone in trouble. The elevation of Butina into a huge threat and part of a gigantic plot, is to ignore the way the United States and the United Kingdom and indeed all major governments’ Embassies behave around the globe.

The war-hawks who were devastated by the loss of champion killer Hillary now see the prospect of their very worst fear coming true. Their very worst fear is the outbreak of peace and international treaties of arms control. Hence the media and political establishment today has reached peaks of hysteria never before seen. Pursuing peace is “treason” and the faux left now stand starkly exposed.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?

By Thomas L. Knapp | The Garrison Center | July 15, 2018

Friday the 13th is presumably always someone’s unlucky day. Just whose may not be obvious at the time, but I suspect that “Russiagate” special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein already regret picking Friday, July 13 to announce the indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges relating to an embarrassing 2016 leak of Democratic National Committee emails. They should.

Legally, the indictments are of almost no value. Those indicted will never be extradited to the US for trial, and the case that an external “hack” — as opposed to an internal DNC leak — even occurred is weak at best, if for no other reason than that the DNC denied the FBI access to its servers, instead commissioning a private “cybersecurity analysis” to reach the conclusion it wanted reached before hectoring government investigators to join that conclusion.

Diplomatically, on the other hand, the indictments and the timing of the announcement were a veritable pipe bomb, thrown into preparations for a scheduled Helsinki summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

House Republicans, already incensed with Rosenstein over his attempts to stonewall their probe into the Democratic Party’s use of the FBI as a proprietary political hit squad, are planning a renewed effort to impeach him. If he goes down, Mueller likely does as well. And at this point, it would take a heck of an actor to argue with a straight face that the effort is unjustified.

Their timing was clearly intentional. Their intent was transparently political. Mueller and Rosenstein were attempting to hijack the Trump-Putin summit for the purpose of depriving Trump of any possible “wins” that might come out of it.

They secured and and announced the indictments “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

That language is from 1799’s Logan Act (18 U.S.C § 953). Its constitutionality is suspect and no one has ever been indicted under it in the 219 years since its passage. Rosenstein and Mueller aren’t likely to be the first two, and may not even technically have violated its letter. But I’d be hard put to name a more obvious, intentional, or flagrant act in violation of its spirit.

Rosenstein and Mueller are attempting to conduct foreign policy by special prosecutor, a way of doing things found nowhere in the US Constitution. Impeachment or firing should be the least of their worries. I’m guessing that there are laws other than the Logan Act that could, and should, be invoked to have them fitted for orange coveralls and leg irons pending an appointment with a judge.

That they even have defenders is proof positive that some of Trump’s most prominent opponents consider “rule of law” a quaint and empty concept — a useful slogan, nothing more — even as they continually, casually, and hypocritically invoke it whenever they think doing so might politically disadvantage him.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | July 14, 2018

Charges against 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly hacking emails from the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election were announced by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday at the very moment President Donald Trump was meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and just days before a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

A central claim of Russia-gate has been that the Russian government with help from the Trump campaign stole emails from the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign and then gave those emails to WikiLeaks for publication to damage Clinton’s quest for the White House.

Until Friday however, the investigation into the allegations had produced no formal indictment of Russian government interference in the election. Like previous U.S. government accusations against Russia for alleged election meddling, the indictment makes assertions without providing evidence. Under U.S. law, indictments are not considered evidence. And it is highly unlikely that the government will ever have to produce any evidence in court.

Friday’s indictments do not include any charges against Trump campaign members for allegedly colluding with the Russian government to carry out the hacks. That has been at the core of allegations swirling in U.S. media for two years. If the alleged co-conspirators “known” to the DOJ were on the Trump team, the indictments do not say. There is only a hint that “unknown” persons might be.

In announcing the indictments at a press conference Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said: “The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet. There’s no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.”

The indictment alleges that Russian agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, communicated on Aug. 15, 2016 with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign, mostly like advisor Roger Stone, who has spoken about communicating with Guccifer 2.0. The indictment says Guccifer offered to “help u anyhow,” apparently indicating that Stone did want Guccifer 2.0’s help.

Clinging to ‘Collusion’

The lack of evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia has never stopped Democrats and their media outlets from believing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources for two years about such collusion. “Collusion” is the title of a best-selling book about the supposed Trump-Russia conspiracy to steal the election, but such a charge is not to be found.

The indictment excluding collusion also undermines the so-called Steele dossier, a work of opposition research paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign masquerading as an intelligence document because it was compiled by a former MI6 agent. The memos falsely claimed, it turns out, that Trump’s people started colluding with Russia years before he became a candidate.

But even after Friday’s indictments failed to charge anyone from Trump’s team, the Democratic media continued to insist there was collusion. A New York Times story, headlined, “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?,” said Russia may have absurdly responded to Trump’s call at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2016 to hack Clinton’s private email server because it was “on or about” that day that Russia allegedly first made an attempt to hack Clinton’s personal emails, according to the indictment, which makes no connection between the two events.

If Russia is indeed guilty of remotely hacking the emails it would have had no evident need of assistance from anyone on the Trump team, let alone a public call from Trump on national TV to commence the operation.

Instead of Trump operatives, the indictments name 12 Russians, allegedly agents from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. The agents “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury (collectively the ‘Conspirators’), to gain unauthorized access (to ‘hack’) into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the 29-page indictment says.

“Starting in at least March 2016, the Conspirators used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton (the ‘Clinton Campaign’), including the email account of the Clinton Campaign’s chairman,” the indictment says.

Obvious Timing

The timing of the announcement was clearly intended to embarrass Trump as he was meeting the Queen and to undermine his upcoming meeting with Putin on July 16. The indictments may also have been meant to embarrass Russia two days before the World Cup final to be held in Moscow.

Pressure was immediately brought on Trump to cancel the summit in light of the indictments, which may have been the main aim in the timing of their announcement. “Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement less than an hour after the indictments were announced. “President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections,” Schumer said.

With no apparent irony, The New York Times reported, “The timing of the indictment … added a jolt of tension to the already freighted atmosphere surrounding Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin. It is all but certain to feed into the conspiratorial views held by the president and some of his allies that Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors are determined to undermine Mr. Trump’s designs for a rapprochement with Russia.”

Russia Denies

The Russian government on Friday strongly denied the charges. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry called the indictments “a shameful farce” that was not backed up by any evidence. “Obviously, the goal of this ‘mud-slinging’ is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit,” the statement said.

The Ministry added that the 12 named Russians were not agents of the GRU.

“When you dig into this indictment … there are huge problems, starting with how in the world did they identify 12 Russian intelligence officers with the GRU,” said former CIA analyst Larry Johnson in an interview with Consortium News. Johnson pointed out that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency was not allowed to take part in the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on alleged interference by the GRU. Only hand-picked analysts from the FBI, the NSA and the CIA were involved.

“The experts in the intelligence community on the GRU … is the Defense Intelligence Agency and they were not allowed to clear on that document,” Johnson said.

“When you look at the level of detail about what [the indictment is] claiming, there is no other public source of information on this ,and it was not obtained through U.S. law enforcement submitting warrants and getting affidavits to conduct research in Russia, so it’s clearly intelligence information from the NSA, most likely,” Johnson said.

CrowdStrike’s Role

The indictment makes clear the evidence of an alleged hack of the DNC and DCCC computers did not come from the FBI, which was never given access to the computers by the DNC, but instead from the private firm CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC. It is referred to as Company 1 in the indictment.

“Despite the Conspirators’ efforts to hide their activity, beginning in or around May 2016, both the DCCC and DNC became aware that they had been hacked and hired a security company (“Company 1”) to identify the extent of the intrusions,” the indictment says.

The indictment doesn’t mention it, but within a day, CrowdStrike claimed to find Russian “fingerprints” in the metadata of a DNC opposition research document, which had been revealed by DCLeaks, showing Cyrillic letters and the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief. That supposedly implicated Russia in the hack.

CrowdStrike claimed the alleged Russian intelligence operation was extremely sophisticated and skilled in concealing its external penetration of the server. But CrowdStrike’s conclusion about Russian “fingerprints” resulted from clues that would have been left behind by extremely sloppy or amateur hackers–or inserted intentionally to implicate the Russians.

One of CrowdStrike’s founders has ties to the anti-Russian Atlantic Council raising questions of political bias. And the software it used to determine Russia’s alleged involvement in the DNC hack, was later proved to be faulty in a high-profile case in Ukraine, reported by the Voice of America.

The indictment then is based at least partially on evidence produced by an interested private company, rather than the FBI.

Evidence Likely Never to be Seen

Other apparent sources for information in the indictment are intelligence agencies, which normally create hurdles in a criminal prosecution.

“In this indictment there is detail after detail whose only source could be intelligence, yet you don’t use intelligence in documents like this because if these defendants decide to challenge this in court, it opens the U.S. to having to expose sources and methods,” Johnson said.

If the U.S. invoked the states secret privilege so that classified evidence could not be revealed in court a conviction before a civilian jury would be jeopardized.

Such a trial is extremely unlikely however. That makes the indictment essentially a political and not a legal document because it is almost inconceivable that the U.S. government will have to present any evidence in court to back up its charges. This is simply because of the extreme unlikelihood that arrests of Russians living in Russia will ever be made.

In this way it is similar to the indictment earlier this year of the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, Russia, a private click bait company that was alleged to have interfered in the 2016 election by buying social media ads and staging political rallies for both Clinton and Trump. It seemed that no evidence would ever have to back up the indictment because there would never be arrests in the case.

But Special Counsel Robert Mueller was stunned when lawyers for the internet company showed up in Washington demanding discovery in the case. That caused Mueller to scramble and demand a delay in the first hearing, which was rejected by a federal judge. Mueller is now battling to keep so-called sensitive material out of court.

In both the IRA case and Friday’s indictments, the extremely remote possibility of convictions were not what Mueller was apparently after, but rather the public perception of Russia’s guilt resulting from fevered media coverage of what are after all only accusations, presented as though it is established fact. Once that impression is settled into the public consciousness, Mueller’s mission would appear to be accomplished.

For instance, the Times routinely dispenses with the adjective “alleged” and reports the matter as though it is already established fact. It called Friday’s indictments, which are only unproven charges, as “the most detailed accusation by the American government to date of the [not alleged] Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election, and it includes a litany of [not alleged] brazen Russian subterfuge operations meant to foment chaos in the months before Election Day.”

GRU Named as WikiLeak’s Source

The indictment claims that GRU agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, (who says he is a Romanian hacker) stole the Democratic documents and later emailed them to WikiLeaks, named as “Organization 1.” No charges were brought against WikiLeaks on Friday.

“After failed attempts to transfer the stolen documents starting in late June 2016, on or about July 14, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent Organization 1 an email with an attachment titled ‘wk dnc linkl.txt.gpg,’” the indictment says. “The Conspirators explained to Organization 1 that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. On or about July 18, 2016, Organization 1 confirmed it had ‘the 1Gb or so archive’ and would make a release of the stolen documents ‘this week.’”

WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who is in exile in the Ecuador embassy in London, has long denied that he got the emails from any government. Instead Assange has suggested that his source was a disgruntled Democratic Party worker, Seth Rich, whose murder on the streets of Washington in July 2016 has never been solved.

On Friday, WikiLeaks did not repeat the denial that a government was its source. Instead it tweeted: “Interesting timing choice by DoJ today (right before Trump-Putin meet), announcing indictments against 12 alleged Russian intelligence officers for allegedly releasing info through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.”

Assange has had all communication with the outside world shut off by the Ecuadorian government two months ago.

Since the indictments were announced, WikiLeaks has not addressed the charge that GRU agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, were its source. WikiLeaks’ policy is to refuse to disclose any information about its sources. WikiLeaks’ denial that the Russian government gave them the emails could be based on its belief that Guccifer 2.0 was who he said he was, and not what the U.S. indictments allege.

Those indictments claim that the Russian military intelligence agents adopted the personas of both Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks to publish the Democratic Party documents online, before the Russian agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, allegedly supplied WikiLeaks.

The emails, which the indictment does not say are untrue, damaged the Clinton campaign. They revealed, for instance, that the campaign and the Democratic Party worked to deny the nomination to Clinton’s Democratic Party primary challenger Bernie Sanders.

The indictments also say that the Russian agents purchased the use of a computer server in Arizona, using bitcoin to hide their financial transactions. The Arizona server was used to receive the hacked emails from the servers of the Democratic Party and the chairman of Clinton’s campaign, the indictment alleges. If true it would mean the transfer of the emails within the United States, rather than overseas, presumably to Russia.

Some members of the Veterans’ Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argue that metadata evidence points to a local download from the Democratic computers, in other words a leak, rather than a hack. They write the NSA would have evidence of a hack and, unlike this indictment, could make the evidence public: “Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked. The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods.”

That argument was either ignored or dismissed by Mueller’s team.

The Geopolitical Context

It is not only allies of Trump, as the Times thinks, who believe the timing of the indictments, indeed the entire Russia-gate scandal, is intended to prevent Trump from pursuing detente with nuclear-armed Russia. Trump said of the indictments that, “I think that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance — a very good relationship with President Putin.”

There certainly appear to be powerful forces in the U.S. that want to stop that.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Wall Street rushed in behind Boris Yeltsin and Russian oligarchs to asset strip virtually the entire country, impoverishing the population. Amid widespread accounts of this grotesque corruption, Washington intervened in Russian politics to help get Yeltsin re-elected in 1996. The political rise of Vladimir Putin after Yeltsin resigned on New Year’s Eve 1999 reversed this course, restoring Russian sovereignty over its economy and politics.

That inflamed American hawks whose desire is to install another Yeltsin-like figure and resume U.S. exploitation of Russia’s vast natural and financial resources. To advance that cause, U.S. presidents have supported the eastward expansion of NATO and have deployed 30,000 troops on Russia’s border.

In 2014, the Obama administration helped orchestrate a coup that toppled the elected government of Ukraine and installed a fiercely anti-Russian regime. The U.S. also undertook the risky policy of aiding jihadists to overthrow a secular Russian ally in Syria. The consequences have brought the world closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

In this context, the Democratic Party-led Russia-gate appears to have been used not only to explain away Clinton’s defeat but to stop Trump — possibly via impeachment or by inflicting severe political damage — because he talks about cooperation with Russia.


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

July 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

British Collusion and Criminality

By Margaret Kimberly | Black Agenda Report | July 11, 2018

Most people believe that Donald Trump owes his presidency to Russian activity because they have been told this repeatedly for the past two years. There was indeed high level collusion taking place in the 2016 presidential campaign but it wasn’t carried out by Trump. It was Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee who acted in concert with intelligence assets in the United States and in the United Kingdom. The British government continues to manufacture false flag incidents, force international agencies to do its bidding, and push for regime change in Syria. Having failed to defeat Trump, they kept up the campaign to cover their tracks, escape blame for Hillary Clinton’s failure, and maintain the foreign policy status quo.

A law firm retained by the Democratic National Committee paid for the opposition research undertaken by former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele. Steele produced a dossier alleging that Trump was compromised by the Russian government and shopped it to the FBI, CIA, influential journalists and politicians like Senator John McCain. The dossier was used to obtain a FISA surveillance warrant against Trump aide Carter Page but the DNC connection was not disclosed to the judge.

Steele isn’t the only British spook in the story. A man named Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, is a business partner of Stefan Halper, a CIA asset who also spied on Donald Trump. Halper had contacts with Page and George Papadopoulos, two men now under indictment by Robert Mueller’s special investigation. The lesser lights of the Trump team were no match for seasoned professionals who get protection from the New York Times. The Times calls Halper “an FBI informant” and tries to claim that is somehow different from being a spy.

While Russia is vilified at every turn the British government conducts very public and very shady business which could conceivably impact both countries. The case of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal has the British government’s finger prints all over it. There is no reason for Russia to poison a former spy whom they had swapped eight years earlier. The only logical conclusion is that the act was carried out with the goal of embarrassing Vladimir Putin and creating a possible pretext for war. The Skripal case was soon followed by questionable reporting of yet another chemical weapons attack in Syria which resulted in a short lived United States, British and French attack on that country.

It is the British who use lies and trickery to sway public opinion into supporting a wider war in Syria. Three months after the Skripals were attacked another pair of Britons are said to have been poisoned with Novichok, a chemical weapon originally produced by Russia but which now can be made anywhere. One of the victims died and the claims of Russian involvement have suddenly become much more dangerous.

This second poisoning took place less than one week after the UK pressured the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to take on the role of judge and juror. No longer will the OPCW just determine if chemical weapons have been used, but they will also be tasked with assigning blame, too. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson proudly stated, “The U.K. has led the diplomatic efforts to secure this action.”

Collusion continues not between Trump and Russians, but between intelligence agencies, the media and American politicians with hidden agendas. While the public are fed a steady diet of tales of an unfree press in Russia, it is the British press which has been censored by its government. A Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice (D Notice) has been issued which prevents them from reporting fully on the Skripal case. Most Americans are unaware that the British government may prevent the media from reporting on any subject or person they choose. The person being protected now may be a man named Pablo Miller.

Miller was Skripal’s MI6 handler and was also employed at Christopher Steele’s firm Orbis. Miller and Steele may have involved Skripal in writing the anti-Trump dossier. While Americans are given endless misinformation making Russia look like the foreign interloper in their nation’s affairs it is actually the British deep state that is well connected to American media and politicians.

The Russiagate purveyors constantly say, “Connect the dots.” If there are any dots to connect they run from the DNC to former MI6 spies to CIA assets to Russian double agents to American intelligence to alleged chemical weapons attacks used to justify war or to stop the upcoming Trump and Putin summit. It is all being used to further the now obligatory anti-Russian propaganda that is pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic.

Anti-Russia sentiment has been stoked for two years straight and with expert precision. Any counter narratives have been obscured with equal precision. Honest discourse is now nearly impossible and the likelihood of public support for anything up to and including hot war between nuclear powers has increased. The world is a more dangerous place but not because of Russia. As always the United States and its allies are the cause of turmoil. This time they may have created dangers that they are unable to contain.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

July 11, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Excuses for Russiagate

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | May 18, 2018

The best evidence that Russia-gate is sinking beneath the waves is the way those pushing the pseudo-scandal are now busily covering their tracks. The Guardian complains that “as the inquiry has expanded and dominated the news agenda over the last year, the real issues of people’s lives are in danger of being drowned out by obsessive cable television coverage of the Russia investigation” – as if the Guardian’s own coverage hasn’t been every bit as obsessive as anything CNN has come up with.

The Washington Post, second to none when it comes to painting Putin as a real-life Lord Voldemort, now says that Special counsel Robert Mueller “faces a particular challenge maintaining the confidence of the citizenry” as his investigation enters its second year – although it’s sticking to its guns that the problem is not the inquiry itself, but “the regular attacks he faces from President Trump, who has decried the probe as a ‘witch hunt.’”

And then there’s the New York Times, which this week devoted a 3,600-word front-page article to explain why the FBI had no choice but to launch an investigation into Trump’s alleged Russian links and how, if anything, the inquiry wasn’t aggressive enough. As the article puts it, “Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the FBI was even more circumspect in that case than has been previously known.”

It’s Nobody’s Fault

The result is a late-breaking media chorus to the effect that it’s not the fault of the FBI that the investigation has dragged on with so little to show for it; it’s not the fault of Mueller either, and, most of all, it’s not the fault of the corporate press, even though it’s done little over the last two years than scream about Russia. It’s not anyone’s fault, evidently, but simply how the system works.

This is nonsense, and the gaping holes in the Times article show why.

The piece, written by Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, and Nicholas Fandos and entitled “Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation,” is pretty much like everything else the Times has written on the subject, i.e. biased, misleading, and incomplete. Its main argument is that the FBI had no option but to step in because four Trump campaign aides had “obvious or suspected Russian ties.”

‘At Putin’s Arm’

One was Michael Flynn, who would briefly serve as Donald Trump’s national security adviser and who, according to the Times, “was paid $45,000 by the Russian government’s media arm for a 2015 speech and dined at the arm of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.” Another was Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump’s campaign chairman and was a source of concern because he had “lobbied for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine and worked with an associate who has been identified as having connections to Russian intelligence.” A third was Carter Page, a Trump foreign-policy adviser who “was well known to the FBI” because “[h]e had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the campaign.” The fourth was George Papadopoulos, a “young and inexperienced campaign aide whose wine-fueled conversation with the Australian ambassador set off the investigation. Before hacked Democratic emails appeared online, he had seemed to know that Russia had political dirt on Mrs. Clinton.”

Seems incriminating, eh? But in each case the connection was more tenuous than the Times lets on. Flynn, for example, didn’t dine “at the arm of the Russian president” at a now-famous December 2015 Moscow banquet honoring the Russian media outlet RT. He was merely at a table at which Putin happened to sit down for “maybe five minutes, maybe twenty, tops,” according to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein who was just a few chairs away. No words were exchanged, Stein says, and “[n]obody introduced anybody to anybody. There was no translator. The Russians spoke Russian. The four people who spoke English spoke English.”

The Manafort associate with the supposed Russian intelligence links turns out to be a Russian-Ukrainian translator named Konstantin Kilimnik who studied English at a Soviet military school and who vehemently denies any such connection. It seems that the Ukrainian authorities did investigate the allegations at one point but declined to press charges. So the connection is unproven.

Page Was No Spy

The same goes for Carter Page, who was not “recruited” by Russian intelligence, but, rather, approached by what he thought were Russian trade representatives at a January 2013 energy symposium in New York. When the FBI informed him five or six months later that it believed the men were intelligence agents, Page appears to have cooperated fully based on a federal indictment filed with the Southern District of New York. Thus, Page was not a spy but a government informant as ex-federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has pointed out – in other words, a good guy, as the Times would undoubtedly see it, helping the catch a couple of baddies.

As for Papadopoulos, who the Times suggests somehow got advance word that WikiLeaks was about to dump a treasure trove of Hillary Clinton emails, the article fails to mention that at the time the conversation with the Australian ambassador took place, the Clinton communications in the news were the 30,000 State Department emails that she had improperly stored on her private computer. These were the emails that “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about,” as Bernie Sanders put it. Instead of spilling the beans about a data breach yet to come, it’s more likely that Papadopoulos was referring to emails that were already in the news – a possibility the Times fails to discuss.

FBI ‘Perplexed’

One could go on. But not only does the Times article get the details wrong, it paints the big picture in misleading tones as well. It says that the FBI was “perplexed” by such Trump antics as calling on Russia to release still more Clinton emails after WikiLeaks went public with its disclosure. The word suggests a disinterested observer who can’t figure out what’s going on. But it ignores how poisonous the atmosphere had become by that point and how everyone’s mind was seemingly made up.

By July 2016, Clinton was striking out at Trump at every opportunity about his Russian ties – not because they were true, but because a candidate who had struggled to come up with a winning slogan had at last come across an issue that seemed to resonate with her fan base. Consequently, an intelligence report that Russia was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee “was a godsend,” wrote Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in Shatteredtheir best-selling account of the Clinton campaign, because it was “hard evidence upon which Hillary could start to really build the case that Trump was actually in league with Moscow.”

Not only did Clinton believe this, but her followers did as well, as did the corporate media and, evidently, the FBI. This is the takeaway from text messages that FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok exchanged with FBI staff attorney Lisa Page.

Andrew McCarthy, who has done a masterful job of reconstructing the sequence, notes that in late July 2016, Page mentioned an article she had come across on a liberal web site discussing Trump’s alleged Russia ties. Strzok texted back that he’s “partial to any women sending articles about nasty the Russians are.” Page replied that the Russians “are probably the worst. Very little I finding redeeming about this. Even in history. Couple of good writers and artists I guess.” Strzok heartily agreed: “f***ing conniving cheating savages. At statecraft, athletics, you name it. I’m glad I’m on Team USA.”

The F’ing Russian ‘Savages’

This is the institutional bias that the Times doesn’t dare mention. An agency whose top officials believe that “f***ing conniving cheating savages” are breaking down the door is one that is fairly guaranteed to construe evidence in the most negative, anti-Russian way possible while ignoring anything to the contrary. So what if Carter Page had cooperated with the FBI? What’s important is that he had had contact with Russian intelligence at all, which was enough to render him suspicious in the bureau’s eyes. Ditto Konstantin Kilimnik. So what if the Ukrainian authorities had declined to press charges? The fact that they had even looked was damning enough.

The FBI thus made the classic methodological error of allowing its investigation to be contaminated by its preconceived beliefs. Objectivity fell by the wayside. The Times says that Christopher Steele, the ex-MI6 agent whose infamous, DNC and Clinton camp paid-for opposition research dossier turned “golden showers” into a household term, struck the FBI as “highly credible” because he had “helped agents unravel complicated cases” in the past. Perhaps. But the real reason is that he told agents what they wanted to hear, which is that the “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years” with the “[a]im, endorsed by PUTIN, … [of] encourage[ing] splits and divisions in [the] western alliance.” (which can be construed as a shrewd defensive move against a Western alliance massing troops on Russian borders.)

What else would one expect of people as “nasty” as these? In fact, the Steele dossier should have caused alarm bells to go off. How could Putin have possibly known five years before that Trump would be a viable presidential candidate? Why would high-level Kremlin officials share inside information with an ex-intelligence official thousands of miles away? Why would the dossier declare on one page that the Kremlin has offered Trump “various lucrative real estate development business deals” but then say on another that Trump’s efforts to drum up business had gone nowhere and that he therefore “had had to settle for the use of extensive sexual services there from local prostitutes rather than business success”? Given that the dossier was little more than “oppo research” commissioned and funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, why was it worthy of consideration at all?

The Rush to Believe

But all such questions disappeared amid the general rush to believe. The Times is right that the FBI slow-walked the investigation until Election Day. This is because agents assumed that Trump would lose and that therefore there was no need to rush. But when he didn’t, the mood turned to one of panic and fury.

Without offering a shred of evidence, the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a formal assessment on Jan. 6, 2017, that “Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election … [in order] to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

The New Yorker reports that an ex-aide to John McCain hoped to persuade the senator to use the Steele dossier to force Trump to resign even before taking office. (The ex-aide denies that this was the case.)

When FBI Director James Comey personally confronted Trump with news of the dossier two weeks prior to inauguration, the Times says he “feared making this conversation a ‘J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,’ with the FBI presenting embarrassing information “to lord over a president-elect.”

But that is precisely what happened. When someone – most likely CIA Director John Brennan, now a commentator with NBC News – leaked word of the meeting and Buzzfeed published the dossier four days later, the corporate media went wild. Trump was gravely wounded, while Adam Schiff, Democratic point man on the House Intelligence Committee, would subsequently trumpet the Steele dossier as the unvarnished truth. According to the Times account, Trump was unpersuaded by Comey’s assurances that he was there to help. “Hours earlier,” the paper says, “… he debuted what would quickly become a favorite phrase: ‘This is a political witch hunt.’”

The Times clearly regards the idea as preposterous on its face. But while Trump is wrong about many things, on this one subject he happens to be right. The press, the intelligence community, and the Democrats have all gone off the deep end in search of a Russia connection that doesn’t exist. They misled their readers, they made fools of themselves, and they committed a crime against journalism. And now they’re trying to dodge the blame.

Daniel Lazare is the author of The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics.

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

No Remorse For Hillary

By Craig Murray | April 25, 2018

I am hopeful that the commendable discovery process involved in US litigation will bring to light further details of the genesis of Christopher Steele’s ludicrous dossier on Trump/Russia, and may even give some clues as to whether Sergei Skripal and/or his handler Pablo Miller were involved in its contents.

The decision by the Democratic National Committee to sue the Russian Government, Wikileaks, Julian Assange personally and the Trump campaign is an act of colossal hubris. It is certain to reveal still more details of the deliberate fixing of the primary race against Bernie Sanders, over which five DNC members, including the Chair, were forced to resign. It will also lead to the defendants being able to forensically examine the DNC servers to prove they were not hacked – something which astonishingly the FBI refused to do, being instead content to take the word of the DNC’s own private cyber security firm, Crowdstrike. Unless those servers have been wiped completely (as Hillary did to her private email server) I know that is not going to go well for the DNC.

I cannot better Glenn Greenwald’s article on why it is a terrible idea to sue Wikileaks for publishing leaked documents – it sets a precedent which could be used to constrain media from ever publishing anything given them by whistleblowers. It is an astonishingly illiberal thing to undertake. Nor is it politically wise. The media has done its very best to ignore as far as possible the actual content of the leaks of DNC material, and rather to concentrate on the wild accusations of how they were obtained. But the fundamental crookedness revealed in the emails is bound to get some sort of airing, not least as the basis of a public interest defence.

I have often been asked if I regret my association with Wikileaks, given they are held responsible for the election of Donald Trump. My answer is that I feel no remorse at all.

Hillary Clinton lost because she was an appalling candidate. A multi-millionaire, neo-con warmonger with the warmth and empathy of a three week dead haddock and an eye for the interests of Wall Street, who regarded ordinary voters as “deplorables” (a term she used not just once, but frequently at fund-raisers with the mega-wealthy). Hillary Clinton conspired with the machine that was supposed to be neutrally running the primaries, to fix the primaries against Bernie Sanders. The opinion polls regularly showed that Sanders would beat Trump, and that the only Democratic candidate who Trump could beat was Clinton. Egomania and a massive sense of entitlement nevertheless led her not just to persist to get the candidacy, but persist to rig the candidacy. She then proceeded to ignore major urban working class battleground states in her campaign against Trump and focus on more glamorous places. In short, Hillary was corrupt rubbish. Full stop, and not remotely Wikileaks’ fault.

Wikileaks did not go out to get the evidence against Hillary. They were given it. Should they have withheld the knowledge of the rigging of the field against Bernie Sanders from the American people, to let Clinton benefit from the corruption? For me that is a no-brainer. It would have been a gross moral dereliction to have done so. It is also the case that Wikileaks can only publish what they are given. Had they been given dirt on Trump, they would have published. But they were not given any leaks on Trump.

I should put in an aside here which might surprise you. I like Anthony Weiner. I have never met him, but I watched the amazing 2016 fly on the wall documentary Weiner and he came across as a person of genuine goodwill, passion and commitment, undermined by what is very obviously a pathological illness. I realise that was not the general reaction, but it was mine.

But – and now I am going to really annoy people – I have to say that from an international perspective, rather than an American domestic perspective, I am also not in the slightest convinced that Trump has been worse for the World than Clinton would have been. Trump has not, to date, initiated any new military intervention or substantially increased any military conflict during his Presidency. In fact his current actions more closely match his words about non-intervention during his election campaign, than do his current words. Despite hawkish posturing, he has not substantially increased American military intervention in Syria.

My reading of the reported chemical weapon attack on Douma is this. Whether it was a false flag chemical attack, a pro-Assad chemical attack, or no chemical attack at all I do not know for sure. But whichever it is, it was used to attempt to get Trump to commit to a major escalation of American involvement in the war in Syria. So far, he has not done that. The American-led missile attack was illegal, but fortunately comparatively restrained, certainly in no way matching Trump’s rhetoric. All the evidence is, and there is a great deal of evidence from Libya and Afghanistan, that Clinton would have been far more aggressive.

That leaves the dichotomy between Trump’s rhetoric and his actions. Certainly there is every sign of a sharp tilt to the neo-cons. His apparent preference in his press conference with Macron today for an extended presence of France, the former colonial power, and US troops in Syria is deeply troubling. His sacking of the sensible Tillerson from the State Department, and his appointment of the odious John Bolton as National Security Adviser all appear to be terrible signs. But still, nothing has actually happened. There is a reading that Trump is placating the neo-cons with position and rhetoric while his actions – in Syria and in what a hating political class fails to acknowledge has all the makings of a diplomatic coup in North Korea – go in a very different direction.

It is beyond doubt that Hillary, who cannot open her mouth without denouncing Russia for causing her own entirely self-inflicted failure – would be taking the new Cold War to even worse extremes than it has already reached, to the delight of the military-industrial complex and her Wall Street friends. It is open to debate, but I would contend that it is very probable that President Hillary would have launched a major attack on Syria by now, just like she presided over as Secretary of State in Libya.

So my answer is this. Firstly, Clinton caused her own downfall by arrogance, and by failing to grasp the alienation of ordinary people from neo-liberal policies that impoverished them while the rich grew massively richer. Secondly, I strongly suspect that if Hillary were President, more people would be dead now in the Middle East.

So no, I have no regrets at all.

Support Craig Murray’s continued writing.

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments