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New law allows for warrantless spying on Australians – where next?

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | November 30, 2021

The Australian Signals Directorate, Canberra’s equivalent of Britain’s GCHQ or the US National Security Agency, will be granted sweeping new powers to spy on Australians for the first time since its November 1947 founding.

The move allows the agency to collect signals intelligence on individuals within the country without a warrant, although allegedly only in situations where there is an “imminent risk to life.” Domestic terror suspects are cited as a key target in the Directorate’s crosshairs, and it will also collect intelligence in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force for military operations, with ministerial authorization.

Rules governing the reform and protecting citizens’ privacy will be published on the agency’s website, and subject to review and scrutiny by the Australian parliament’s security and intelligence committee. While framed as sincerely concerned with keeping Australians safe, experts have expressed grave reservations about the development. Among them is John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Australian National University, himself a military intelligence veteran, who warned the powers were ripe for abuse.

“I’m a former insider… I have a much greater appreciation of the need for checks and balances, because power tends to corrupt,” he cautioned. “My concern is the legislation we put forward is being drafted by insiders, it’s drafted with their own concerns in mind.”

Drafted by insiders, the legislation certainly was – it’s inspired by the findings of an extensive review by Dennis Richardson, former chief of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the country’s FBI, conducted in close consultation with Australia’s assorted intelligence services, in a manner akin to foxes being quizzed on how best to guard a henhouse.

Published in December 2020, his appraisal’s discussion of “authorisations” noted that these agencies can already conduct warrantless intelligence-gathering if they believe it to be “necessary, proportionate, reasonable and justified” in certain circumstances, and “would like the ability” to not only use various investigative techniques without official permission, but also with “protection from criminal liability” when doing so.

Leaked documents exposed by journalist Annika Smethurst in April 2018 showed that high-level plans for untrammeled domestic spying by the Australian Signals Directorate date back even further. They revealed how the respective heads of Australia’s Defence and Home Affairs ministries had discussed allowing the agency to access citizens’ emails, bank records and text messages without approval, or trace. A government source told Smethurst they were “horrified” by the proposals, given “there is no actual national security gap this is aiming to fill.”

Australian Federal Police raided both the alleged leaker of the files and Smethurst the next year. In a perverse irony, the charges against her were dropped in May 2020, as Australian High Court judges unanimously ruled that the warrant secured from a magistrate in relation to the raid was invalid, because it not only “misstated the terms of the offence” but was also ambiguous if not outright absurd.

“[The warrant] lacked the clarity required to fulfil its basic purposes of adequately informing Smethurst why the search was being conducted and providing the executing officer and those assisting in the execution of the warrant with reasonable guidance to decide which things came within the scope of the warrant,” the High Court damningly concluded.

In other words, it was impossible to know from the warrant’s wording what the investigation actually concerned, what evidence or information was sought, and what, if any, crime she may or may not have committed. That this baseless and broad investigative authorization was formally granted at all renders the Directorate’s newfound power to conduct warrantless surveillance all the more disquieting. If such procedural perversion can occur even with putative oversight, what abuses will be engaged-in without any meaningful supervision?

Misuse of these capabilities is almost inevitable. In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled warrants were mandatory for domestic intelligence gathering. Two years later, a Senate investigation found that the NSA and other US intelligence agencies had nonetheless been engaged in unauthorized spying on American citizens, including anti-war protesters, civil rights activists, and political dissidents, monitoring all their private communications from telephone conversations to telegrams. This led to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which made it a dedicated criminal offense to eavesdrop on American citizens without judicial oversight.

Yet,it was revealed in late 2005 that the NSA had all along continued illegally intercepting the phone calls and digital communications of US citizens, with the witting help of major telecoms giants, which passed copies of all emails, web browsing and other internet traffic to and from its customers at home and abroad to the agency, and its British counterpart GCHQ. Files disclosed in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed this criminal dragnet was truly global in scale, and very much ongoing.

Key components of this international spying network, known as ‘Five Eyes,’ are situated in Australia, at the Pine Gap and Kojarena satellite surveillance bases. According to investigative legend Duncan Campbell, around 80% of the messages intercepted by the latter – which employs US and British staff in key posts – are sent automatically to GCHQ and the NSA. While every Five Eyes member can theoretically veto requests for such material, “when you’re a junior ally” like Canberra, “you never refuse,” Campbell records.

One can’t help but wonder if the Directorate’s new domestic purview is an experiment, gauging levels of backlash and controversy among the Australian public, before similar measures – provably or potentially already in operation – are openly codified across all Five Eyes member states. Ongoing legal battles against mass data collection in various jurisdictions clearly necessitate the practice being legalized and legitimized. If Canberra’s American and/or British friends politely requested they run such a pilot scheme, would or even could they decline?

Reinforcing this interpretation, mere days after the Directorate’s remit was expanded, the Australian government pledged to introduce new laws forcing social media giants to “unmask” anonymous users who post offensive comments, with hefty fines doled out to those companies which are unwilling or unable to do so. The reasons for Canberra’s haste are unclear, although it’s surely no coincidence that London and Washington have battled for many years to end online anonymity for good – it’s only due to intense domestic opposition that these efforts have so far failed.

 Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Spy Business

Just follow the money

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • NOVEMBER 23, 2021

I have been following the story regarding the arrest of the sub-source who reportedly provided much of the apparently fabricated “intelligence” that went into the Christopher Steele dossier that was commissioned by Hillary Clinton and the DNC to get the dirt on GOP candidate Donald Trump. The real story is, of course, that the Democrats used their incumbency in the presidency to illegally involve various national security agencies in the process of defaming Trump, but for the time being we have to be content with the detention of Russian born Virginia resident Igor Danchenko for the crime of lying to the FBI.

My problem is that apart from the lying, which might be categorized in a file labeled “Everyone Lies to the Police,” I can’t quite figure out what the poor sod did that was criminal. I have reconstructed the sequence of events as follows: A business intelligence research firm Fusion GPS originally began researching Trump’s possible ties with Russia during the primary elections on behalf of a conservative who wanted to damage Trump’s campaign. After Trump became the Republican nominee, the original funder discontinued the search, but Fusion GPS was hired to keep going by the Perkins Coie law firm, which was working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Christopher Steele, former MI-6 officer with a good reputation and reported access to information coming from Russia among other places, was sub-contracted by Fusion to assist in the effort by compiling a dossier containing defamatory material on Trump. As he had limited access to the kind of sleaze that was being sought, Steele contacted a known intelligence researcher who appeared to have such access. That was Danchenko, an analyst who specialized in Russia, whom Steele subsequently described as his “primary sub-source.” Danchenko had worked for the Washington DC based and Democratic Party linked Brookings Institution from 2005 until 2010 and was considered reliable.

Steele tasked Danchenko with finding out details about Trump and the Russians, to include possible contacts with the Kremlin’s intelligence services during a trip to Moscow in 2013 where the Trump Organization was hosting the Miss Universe contest. Danchenko did just that to Steele’s satisfaction, which also pleased Steele’s clients. The information collected subsequently was incorporated into what became the notorious Steele Dossier and was used by the FBI among others to make a case against Donald Trump and his associates. Among other initiatives, the Bureau used the file, which it knew to be largely innuendo, as justification to obtain a secret surveillance court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA) which authorized a wiretap targeting former Trump adviser Carter Page.

The only problem was that some of the information was fabricated, apparently by Danchenko, though that is by no means clear. The fake material included the notorious anecdote about Trump urinating on a prostitute in the bed that Barak Obama had slept in when he had visited the Russian capital. The assumption was that Trump would have been photographed in flagrante and the Kremlin would have been able to use the material to blackmail him. Other parts of the final dossier were also discovered to be false.

Making something up in a criminal investigation might be wrong, even criminal, but both Steele and Danchenko were private citizens with no legal status at the time. It was up to Steele to validate the information he was receiving. As for Danchenko, he was one of numerous former officials of various governments that have set themselves up profitably as intelligence peddlers. Some of them make a very nice living from it and many of them are quite willing to bend the facts to make a client happy. In my own experience in CIA I have run into many intelligence peddlers in Europe and the Middle East and they all use the same MO, namely mixing confirmable factual information with fabricated information so the former validates the latter. Since leaving government, I have also worked for three private security firms in the US and I would suggest that at least two of them would have been quite willing to slant what they were discovering to fit what the client was seeking to find. Such behavior is not at all unusual in the business since ex-intelligence officers and policemen tend to have a history of operating with little oversight and minimum accountability.

In this case, the charges cited in the indictment derived from statements made by Danchenko describing the sources he claimed to have used in providing sensitive information to Steele’s United Kingdom investigative firm with which he had contracted to prepare what are identified in the indictment as “Company Reports.” The implication would of course be that he had no actual sources and instead used his creative writing skills to come up with some suitable narratives relating to Trump’s behavior. Danchenko, for his part, reportedly claimed to investigators that it was Steele who overstated the information that had been provided from confidential Russian sources which was in the nature of “raw intelligence,” not a finished product. Be that as it may, the final dossier was a concoction of verifiable facts mixed with gossip, rumors and sheer speculation. Danchenko also denied knowing who was paying for the investigation even though it appears that he had had contact with several Clinton associates, most notably one Charles H. Dolan, who may have actually suggested to the investigators what type of “information” was being sought.

The arrest came as part of the special counsel John Durham investigation into Russiagate and related matters, most specifically the claim that Russian intelligence agencies had interfered in the 2016 election. This latest activity comes after Durham’s recent charging of Hillary Clinton’s former campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann in an indictment that alleges that he lied to federal investigators in September 2016, when he gave them information that he falsely claimed showed a connection between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank in Russia.

So the takeaway from all of this is that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to subvert the 2016 election. On the contrary, it was Hillary Clinton’s campaign that sought the dirt on Trump and used a largely fraudulent dossier to make its case. And, oh yes, President Barack Obama knew exactly what was going on, which led to the completely illegal involvement of the intelligence and law enforcement federal agencies. And you can bet that if Obama knew, so did his Vice President Joe Biden. And the former head of CIA John Brennan and FBI head James Comey, who corruptly engaged their agencies in the conspiracy, are still walking free instead of in jail where they should be. And as for Hillary… I will leave that up to the reader.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 23, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Russiagate: Proof It was Hillary All Along

By Peter VAN BUREN | We Meant Well | November 20, 2021 

The indictment by Special Counsel John Durham of Igor Danchenko for lying to the FBI demonstrates conclusively the Steele dossier was wholly untrue. Clinton paid for the dossier to be created and Clinton people supplied the fodder. Steele, working with journalists, pushed the dossier into the hands of the FBI to try to derail the Trump campaign. When that failed, the dossier was used to attack the elected president of the United States. The whole thing was the actual and moral equivalent of a Cold War op where someone was targeted by the FBI with fake photos of them in bed with a prostitute.

Start with a quick review of what Durham uncovered about the most destructive political assassination since Kennedy.

Christopher Steele, paid by the Clinton campaign (after Clinton’s denial, it took a year for congressional investigators to uncover the dossier was commissioned by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, working for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, paid through the Perkins-Coie law firm) did no investigative work. Instead, his reputation as a former British intelligence officer was purchased to validate a dossier of lies and then to traffic those lies to the FBI and journalists.

Durham’s investigation confirms one of Steele’s key “sources” is the now-arrested Danchenko, a Russian émigré living in the U.S. Steele was introduced to the Russian by Fiona Hill, then of the Brookings Institute (Hill would go on to play a key role in the Ukraine impeachment scam.) Danchenko completely made up most of what he told Steele about Trump-Russian collusion. What he did not make up himself he was spoon fed by Charles Dolan, a long-time Clinton hack and campaign regular. Ironically, Dolan had close ties not only to the Clintons but to the Russians as well; he and the public relations firm where he worked represented the Russian government and were registered as foreign agents for Russia. Dolan is credited with, among other things, making up the pee tape episode. Dolan also fed bogus info to Olga Galkina, another Russian who passed the information to Danchenko for inclusion in the dossier. Galkina noted in e-mails she was expecting Dolan to get her a job in the Hillary administration. Steele, a life-long Russia and intelligence expert, never questioned or verified anything he was told.

In short: Clinton pays for the dossier, Steele fills it with lies fed to him by a Clinton PR stooge through Russian cutouts, and the FBI swallowed the whole story. There never was a Russiagate. The only campaign which colluded with Russia was Clinton’s. And Democrats, knowing this, actually had the guts to claim it was Trump who obstructed justice.

That the dossier was a sham was evident to anyone who ever read a decent spy novel. It was a textbook information op and The American Conservative, without any access to the documents Durham now has, saw through it years ago, as did many other non-MSM outlets. See here (2/5/2018). Here (2/15/2018). Here (6/15/2018.) Here (3/25/2019.) Here (12/11/2019) and more. What was obvious from the publicly available information was, well, obvious to everyone but the FBI.

The dossier was the flimsy excuse the FBI used to justify a full-on investigation unprecedented in a democracy into the Trump campaign. That included electronic surveillance (obtained by the FBI lying directly to the FISA court and presenting Steele’s lies as corroborating evidence,) the use of undercover operatives, false flag ops with foreign diplomats and case officers, and prosecution threats over minor procedural acts designed to legally torture low level Trump staffers (Carter Page, who the FBI knew was a CIA source, and George Papadopoulos)  into “flipping” on the candidate.

Page in particular was a nobody with nothing, but the FBI needed him. Agents “believed at the time they approached the decision point on a second FISA renewal that, based upon the evidence already collected, Carter Page was a distraction in the investigation, not a key player in the Trump campaign, and was not critical to the overarching investigation.” They renewed the warrants anyway, three times, due to their value under the “two hop” rule. The FBI can extend surveillance two hops from its target, so if Carter Page called Michael Flynn who called Trump, all of those calls are legally open to monitoring. Page was a handy little bug used for a fishing expedition.

What’s left is only to answer was the FBI really that inept that they could not see a textbook op run against them or that the FBI knew early on they had been handed a pile of rubbish but needed some sort of legal cover for their own operation, spying on Trump, and thus decided to look the other way at the obvious shortcomings of Steele’s work.

“The fact pattern that John Durham is methodically establishing shows what James Comey and Andrew McCabe likely knew from day one the Steele dossier was politically-driven nonsense created at the behest of the Clinton campaign,” said Kevin Brock, the FBI’s former intelligence chief. “And yet they knowingly ran with its false information to obtain legal process against an American citizen. They defrauded not just a federal court, they defrauded the FBI and the American people.”

The 2019 Horowitz Report, a look into the FBI’s conduct by the Justice Department Inspector General, made clear the FBI knew the dossier was bunk and purposefully lied to the FISA court in claiming instead the dossier was backed up by investigative news reports, which themselves were secretly based on the dossier. The FBI knew Steele, who was on their payroll as a paid informant, had created a classic intel officer’s information loop, secretly becoming his own corroborating source, and gleefully looked the other way because it supported their goals.

How bad was it? At no point in handling info accusing the sitting president of being a Russian agent, what would have been the most significant political event in American history, did the FBI seriously ask themselves “So exactly where did this information come from, specific sources and methods please, and how could those sources have known it?” Were all the polygraphs broken? The FBI learned Danchenko was Steele’s primary source in 2017, via the Carter Page tap, and moved ahead anyway.

From the FBI’s perspective, turning a blind eye was not even that risky a gambit. They were so certain they would succeed (FBI agents and illicit lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exchanged texts saying “Page: “Trump’s not ever going to become president, right? Strzok: No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”) and Hillary would ascend to the Oval Office that they felt they would have top cover for their evil. After Trump won and the FBI’s coup planners shifted to impeachment, they held on to their top cover as James Comey presented himself as the man on the cross, aided by a MSM which cared only about a) ending Donald Trump and b) cranking up their ratings with dollops of the dossier’s innuendo. A mass media that bought lies about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and then promised “never again” did it again.

If a genie granted me a wish, I would want a conversation with Robert Mueller under some sort of truth spell. Did Mueller “miss” all the lies in his lengthy investigation, hoping to protect his beloved FBI? Or did he see himself as a reluctant white knight, having realized during his investigation the real crime committed was coup planning by the FBI and thinking that by ignoring their actions but clearing Trump he would bring the whole affair to its least worst conclusion?

I suspect Mueller realized he had been handed a coup-in-progress to either abet (by indicting Trump on demonstrably false information) or bury. He could not bring himself to destroy his beloved FBI. But the former Marine could also not bring himself to become the Colin Powell of his generation, squandering his hard won reputation to validate something he knew was not true. Mueller split the difference, and kept silent on the FBI and left Trump to his own fates.

This is the third indictment by Durham. Danchenko’s indictment, Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann’s, and FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s depict criminal efforts to get Trump. The arrest of Danchenko makes clear Durham knows the whole story. What will he do with it? Will he walk his indictments up the ladder ever-closer to Hillary? Will he proceed sideways, leaving Hillary but moving deeper into the FBI? Maybe see if Fiona Hill connects the failed Russiagate coup she played a pivotal role in with the failed Ukrainegate impeachment she played a pivotal role in? Or will he use the stage of Congressional hearings as a way to bypass Joe Biden’s Justice Department and throw the real decision making back to the voters?

History will record this chapter of America’s story as one of its more sordid affairs. Only time however will tell if the greater tale is one of how close we came to ending our democracy via an intelligence agency coup, or whether Russiagate was just a nascent practice run by the FBI, on a longer road which leads to our demise a president or two later. For those who belittled the idea of the Deep State, this is what it looks like exposed, all pink and naked.

November 22, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Kyle Rittenhouse, Project Veritas, and the Inability to Think in Terms of Principles

By Glenn Greenwald | November 16, 2021

The FBI has executed a string of search warrants targeting the homes and cell phones of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and several others associated with that organization. It should require no effort to understand why it is a cause for concern that a Democratic administration is using the FBI to aggressively target an organization devoted to obtaining and reporting incriminating information about Democratic Party leaders and their liberal allies.

That does not mean the FBI investigation is inherently improper. Journalists are no more entitled than any other citizen to commit crimes. If there is reasonable cause to believe O’Keefe and his associates committed federal crimes, then an FBI investigation is warranted as it is for any other case. But there has been no evidence presented that O’Keefe or Project Veritas employees have done anything of the sort, nor any explanation provided to justify these invasive searches. That we should want and need that is self-evident: if the Trump-era FBI had executed search warrants inside the newsrooms of The New York Times and NBC News, we would be demanding evidence to prove it was legally justified. Yet virtually nothing has been provided to justify the FBI’s targeting of O’Keefe and his colleagues, and the little that has been disclosed by way of justifying this makes no sense.

The FBI investigation concerns the theft last year of the diary of Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley, yet Project Veritas, while admitting they received a copy from an anonymous source, chose not to publish that diary because they were unable to verify it. Nobody and nothing thus far suggests that Project Veritas played any role in its acquisition, legal or otherwise. There is a cryptic reference in the search warrant to transmitting stolen material across state lines, but it is not illegal for journalists to receive and use material illegally acquired by a source: the most mainstream organizations spent the last month touting documents pilfered from Facebook by their heroic “whistleblower” Frances Haugen.

On Monday night, we produced an in-depth video report examining the FBI’s targeting of O’Keefe and Project Veritas and the dangers it presents (as we do for all of our Rumble videos, the transcript will soon be made available to subscribers here; for now, you can watch the video at the Rumble link). One of the primary topics of our report was the authoritarian tactic that is typically used to justify governmental attacks on those who report news and disseminate information: namely, to decree that the target is not a real journalist and therefore has no entitlement to claim the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.

This not-a-real-journalist tactic was and remains the primary theory used by those who justify the ongoing attempt to imprison Julian Assange. In demanding Assange’s prosecution under the Espionage Act, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “Mr. Assange claims to be a journalist and would no doubt rely on the First Amendment to defend his actions.” Yet the five-term Senator insisted: “but he is no journalist: He is an agitator intent on damaging our government, whose policies he happens to disagree with, regardless of who gets hurt.”

This not-a-real-journalist slogan was also the one used by both the CIA and the corporate media against myself and my colleagues in both the Snowden reporting we did in 2013, as well as the failed attempt to criminally prosecute me in 2020 for the year-long Brazil exposés we did: punishing them is not an attack on press freedom because they are not journalists and what they did is not journalism.

What is most striking about this weapon is that — like the campaign to agitate for more censorship — it is led by journalists. It is the corporate media that most aggressively insists that those who are independent, those who are outsiders, those who do not submit to their institutional structures are not real journalists the way they are, and thus are not entitled to the protections of the First Amendment. In order to create a framework to deny Project Veritas’s status as journalists, The New York Times claimed last week that anyone who uses undercover investigations (as Veritas does) is automatically a non-journalist because that entails lying — even though, just two years earlier, the same paper heralded numerous news outlets such as Al Jazeera and Mother Jones for using undercover investigations to accomplish what they called “compelling” reporting.

I am very well-acquainted with this repressive tactic of trying to decree who is and is not a real journalist for purposes of constitutional protection. Many have forgotten — given the awards it ultimately ended up winning — that the NSA/Snowden reporting we did in 2013 was originally maligned as quasi-criminal not just by Obama national security officials such as James Clapper but also by The New York Times. The first profile the Paper of Record published about me the day after the reporting began referred to me in the headline as an “Anti-Surveillance Activist” and then, once backlash ensued, it was changed to “Blogger” (the original snide, disqualifying headline is still visible in the URL).

The Guardian, Jan. 29, 2014

As the New York Times‘ own Public Editor at the time objected, by purposely denying me the label “journalist,” the paper was knowingly increasing the risks that I could be prosecuted for my reporting. Indeed, recent reporting from Yahoo! News about CIA plots to kidnap or murder Julian Assange reported that denying Assange the label “journalist,” and then re-defining what I and my colleague Laura Poitras were doing from “journalist” to “information broker,” would enable the U.S. Government to spy on or even prosecute us without having to worry about that inconvenient “free press” guarantee of the First Amendment.

New York Times, June 6, 2013

All of this demonstrates how dangerous it is to invoke this very same not-a-real-journalist tactic against O’Keefe and Project Veritas. Yet, if one warns of the dangers of the FBI’s actions, that is precisely what one hears from liberals, from Democrats and from their allies in the media: the FBI’s targeting of Project Veritas has nothing to do with press freedoms since they’re not real journalists. They are invoking the authoritarian theory that maintains that the state (or, in this case, the FBI) is vested with the power to decree who is a “real journalist” — whatever that means — and who is not.

There are so many ironies to the use of this framework. So often, employees of media corporations who have never broken a major story in their lives (and never will) revel in accusing independent journalists who have broken numerous major stories (such as Assange) of not being real journalists. At the height of the Snowden reporting, I went on Meet the Press in July, 2013, only for the host, David Gregory, to suggest that I ought to be in prison alongside my source Edward Snowden because I was not really a journalist the way David Gregory was. At the time, Frank Rich, writing in New York Magazine, noted how bizarre it was that the TV personality David Gregory assumed he was a real journalist, whereas I was a non-journalist who belonged in prison for my reporting, given that Gregory — like most employees of large media corporations — had never broken any story in his life. Rich used a Q&A format to make the point this way:

On Sunday, Meet the Press host David Gregory all but accused the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald of aiding and abetting Edward Snowden’s fugitive travels, asking, “Why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” And, speaking to his larger point, do you see Greenwald as a journalist or an activist in this episode? And does it matter?

Is David Gregory a journalist? As a thought experiment, name one piece of news he has broken, one beat he’s covered with distinction, and any memorable interviews he’s conducted that were not with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin, or Chuck Schumer. Meet the Press has fallen behind CBS’s Face the Nation, much as Today has fallen to ABC’s Good Morning America, and my guess is that Gregory didn’t mean to sound like Joe McCarthy (with a splash of the oiliness of Roy Cohn) but was only playing the part to make some noise. In any case, his charge is preposterous. As a columnist who published Edward Snowden’s leaks, Greenwald was doing the job of a journalist — and the fact that he’s an “activist” journalist (i.e., an opinion journalist, like me and a zillion others) is irrelevant to that journalistic function. . . . [I]t’s easier for Gregory to go after Greenwald, a self-professed outsider who is not likely to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and works for a news organization based in London. Presumably if Gregory had been around 40 years ago, he also would have accused the Times of aiding and abetting the enemy when it published Daniel Ellsberg’s massive leak of the Pentagon Papers. In any case, Greenwald demolished Gregory on air and on Twitter (“Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?”).

At the time — both in terms of that exchange with Gregory and my overall reporting on the NSA — I had significant support from the liberal-left (though it was far from universal, given that we were exposing mass, indiscriminate, illegal spying by the Obama administration). But few believed that I ought to be prosecuted on the grounds that, somehow, I was not a real journalist.

So why are so many of them now willing to endorse this same exact theory when it comes to O’Keefe and Project Veritas, or even to justify the prosecution of Julian Assange? The answer is obvious. They are unwilling and/or incapable of thinking in terms of principles, ones that apply universally to everyone regardless of their ideology. Their thought process never even arrives at that destination. When the subject of the FBI’s attacks on O’Keefe is raised, or the DOJ’s prosecution of Assange is discussed, they ask themselves one question and only one question, and that ends the inquiry. It is the exclusive and determinative factor: do I like James O’Keefe and his politics? Do I like Julian Assange and his politics?

This primitive, principle-free, personality-driven prism is the only way they are capable of understanding the world. Because they dislike O’Keefe and/or Assange, they instantly side with whoever is targeting them — the FBI, the DOJ, the security state services — and believe that anyone who defends them is defending a right-wing extremist rather than defending the non-ideological, universally applicable principle of press freedoms. They think only in terms of personalities, not principles.

The FBI’s actions against Project Veritas and O’Keefe are so blatantly alarming that press freedom groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Freedom of the Press Foundation (on whose Board I sit) have expressed grave concerns about it, including on their social media accounts for all to see. Even the ACLU — which these days is loathe to speak out in favor of any person or group disliked by their highly partisan liberal donor base — issued a very carefully hedged statement that made clear how much they despise Project Veritas but said: “Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom” (at least thus far, the ACLU has just quietly stuck this statement on its website and not uttered a word about it on its social media accounts, where most of its liberal donors track what they do, but the fact that they felt compelled to say anything in defense of this right-wing boogieman demonstrates how extreme the FBI’s actions are). The federal judge overseeing the warrants has temporarily enjoined the FBI from extracting any more information from the cell phones seized from O’Keefe and other Project Veritas employees pending a determination of their legal justification.

Committee to Protect Journalists, Nov. 15, 2021

The reason this is such a grave press freedom attack is two-fold. First, as indicated, any attempt to anoint oneself the arbiter of who is and is not a “real journalist” for purposes of First Amendment protection is inherently tyrannical. Which institutions are sufficiently trustworthy and competent to decree who is a real journalist meriting First Amendment protection and who falls outside as something else?

But there is a much more significant problem with this framework: namely, the question of who is and is not a real journalist is completely irrelevant to the First Amendment. None of the rights in the Constitution, including press freedom, was intended to apply only to a small, cloistered, credentialed, privileged group of citizens. The exact opposite was true: the only reason they are valuable as rights is because they enjoy universal application, protecting all citizens.

Indeed, one of the most passionate grievances of the American colonists was that nobody was permitted to use the press unless first licensed by the British Crown. Conversely, the most celebrated journalism of the time was undertaken by people like Thomas Paine — who never worked for an established journalistic outlet in his life — as he circulated the pamphlet Common Sense that railed against the abuses of the King. What was protected by the First Amendment was not a small, privileged caste bearing the special label “journalists,” but rather the activity of a free press. The proof of this is clear and ample, and is set forth in the video we produced on Monday night.

But none of this matters. If you express concern for the FBI’s targeting of O’Keefe, it will be instantly understood not as a concern about any of these underlying principles but instead as an endorsement of O’Keefe’s politics, journalism, and O’Keefe himself. The same is true for the discourse surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse. If you say that — after having actually watched the trial — you believe the state failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in light of his defense of self-defense, many will disbelieve your sincerity, will insist that your view is based not in some apolitical assessment of the evidence or legal principles about what the state must do in order to imprison a citizen, but rather that you must be a “supporter” of Rittenhouse himself, his ideology (whatever it is assumed to be), and the political movement with which he, in their minds, is associated.

On some level, this is pure projection: those who are incapable of assessing political or legal conflicts through a prism of principles rather than personalities assume that everyone is plagued by the same deficiency. Since they decide whether to support or oppose the FBI’s actions toward O’Keefe based on their personal view of O’Keefe rather than through reference to any principles, they assume that this is how everyone is determining their views of that situation. Similarly, since they base their views on whether Rittenhouse should be convicted or acquitted based on how they personally feel about Rittenhouse and his perceived politics rather than the evidence presented at the trial (which most of them have not watched), they assume that anyone advocating for an acquittal can be doing so only because they like Rittenhouse’s politics and believe that his actions were heroic.

In sum, those who view the world through a prism bereft of principles — either due to lack of intellectual capacity or ethics or both — assume everyone’s world view is similarly craven. It is this same stunted mindset that saddles our discourse with so much illogic and so many twisted presumptions, such as the inability to distinguish between defending someone’s right to express a particular opinion and agreement with that opinion. In a world in which ideology, partisan loyalty, tribal affiliations, in-group identity and personality-driven assessments predominate, there is no room for principles, universally applicable rights, or basic reason.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Jack Ruby: Israel’s Smoking Gun

BY LAURENT GUYÉNOT • UNZ REVIEW • NOVEMBER 13, 2021

By a strange paradox, most Kennedy researchers who believe that Oswald was “just a patsy” spend an awful lot of time exploring his biography. This is about as useful as investigating Osama bin Laden for solving 9/11. Any serious quest for the real assassins of JFK should start by investigating the man who shot Oswald at pointblank in the stomach at 11:21 a.m. on September 24, 1963 in the Dallas Police station, thereby sealing the possibility that a judicial inquiry would draw attention to the inconsistencies of the charge against him, and perhaps expose the real perpetrators. One would normally expect the Dallas strip-club owner Jack Ruby to be the most investigated character by Kennedy truthers. But that is not the case.

Of course, it is perfectly normal that Chief Justice Earl Warren, when Ruby told him on June 7, 1964, “I have been used for a purpose,” failed to ask him who had used him and for what purpose.[1] But what about independent investigators? Are only readers of the Forward (“News That Matters To American Jews”) worthy of being informed that “Lee Harvey Oswald’s Killer ‘Jack Ruby’ Came From Strong Jewish Background,” and that he told his rabbi Hillel Silverman that he “did it for the Jewish people”? Here is the relevant passage of Steve North’s 2013 article, relating Silverman’s reaction after hearing on the radio that a “Jack Rubenstein” had killed the assassin:

“I was shocked,” said Silverman. “I visited him the next day in jail, and I said, ‘Why, Jack, why?’ He said, ‘I did it for the American people.’” I interrupted Silverman, pointing out that other reports had Ruby saying he did it “to show that Jews had guts.” The rabbi sighed. “Yes, he mentioned that,” Silverman said. “But I don’t like to mention it. I think he said, ‘I did it for the Jewish people.’ But I’ve tried to wipe that statement from my mind.”[2]

Ruby’s defense lawyer William Kunstler also claims in his memoir that Ruby told him: “I did it for the Jews,” repeating on several occasions: “I did this that they wouldn’t implicate Jews.” During Kunstler’s last visit Ruby handed him a note in which he reiterated that his motive was to “protect American Jews from a pogrom that could occur because of anger over the assassination.”[3] There is only one possible interpretation of Ruby’s words: he must have known, and those who tasked him with killing Oswald must have known, that if Oswald was tried, the Jewish hand in JFK’s assassination would likely be made apparent.

Why is this crucial information not in any book on the Kennedy assassination, save in Michael Collins Piper’s (and now mine)? James Douglass, to take the most representative example, insists, without a shred of evidence, that Ruby, besides being a “Chicago mob functionary,” was “CIA-connected”.[4] Not once does Douglass mention Ruby’s Jewish background, and his real name can only be found in a single endnote quoting another author. Could Douglass’s strange omission have the same motive as Ruby’s murder of Oswald, namely to “protect American Jews from a pogrom that could occur because of anger over the assassination”?

Ruby is not the only person connected to Oswald whose confused words implicating “the Jews” are carefully concealed from the public. On March 29, 1977, George DeMohrenschildt, a Russian geologist who had befriended Oswald in Dallas in 1962 at the request of CIA agent J. Walton Moore, was found dead with a bullet through his head. His death was ruled a suicide, but the Sherriff’s report mentions that in his last months he complained that “the Jews” and “the Jewish mafia” were out to get him.[5] His wife confirmed to Jim Marrs, author of Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy (1989), that her husband thought that “the Jewish Mafia and the FBI” were out to get him.[6] Most people mildly interested in the JFK assassination know about DeMohrenschildt’s relationship with Oswald, but how many have ever heard this intriguing—even incriminating—detail?

After DeMohrenschildt moved away from Dallas in June 1963, Oswald was chaperoned by Ruth Paine, who found him a job at the Texas School Book Depository, where he started working on October 16.[7] It is repeated in every book that Ruth Paine looked after Oswald on behalf of the CIA, but no evidence is ever given. On the other hand, I was surprised to read in her testimony to the Warren Commission that in the 1950s, Ruth Paine had been “a leader in the Jewish community at Indianapolis,” working with Jewish immigrants who “spoke Yiddish in conducting their business meetings.”[8] Jack Ruby also made business deals in Yiddish, as we shall see. As a matter of fact, he sneaked into the Dallas Police Station under the pretense of translating for Yiddish reporters (what Yiddish reporters need a translator in the U.S.?).

This piece of information comes from the only useful book written about Ruby: Seth Kantor’s 1978 Who Was Jack Ruby? retitled The Ruby Cover-Up in 1980. Kantor was a reporter working for the Dallas Times Herald in 1963. He knew Ruby and was less than ten feet away from him when he shot Oswald. Kantor’s meticulous investigation is an important contribution to the search for the truth about Kennedy’s assassination. In the rest of this article, I will draw mostly from his book, as well as from Michael Collins Piper’s Final Judgment and a few other sources.

Jack Ruby in front of his Carousel strip club

Gangsters for Zion

In its final report, the Warren Commission declared that it could “not establish a significant link between Ruby and organized crime,” because “Ruby has disclaimed that he was associated with organized criminal activities, and law enforcement agencies have confirmed that denial.”[9] But there is plenty of evidence of Ruby’s association with organized crime. Robert Blakey, chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations from 1977 to 1979, said: “The most plausible explanation for the murder of Oswald by Jack Ruby was that Ruby had stalked him on behalf of organized crime, trying to reach him on at least three occasions in the forty-eight hours before he silenced him forever.”[10] Incriminating “organized crime” in the JFK assassination and the ensuing Oswald assassination was, of course, the most harmless conclusion that the HSCA could come up with, short of ridiculing itself by confirming the Warren Commission’s story of two lone nuts. And so the Washington Post could headline: “MOBSTERS LINKED TO JFK DEATH.”[11]

The missing word, here, is “Jewish”. Most Americans, learning that Jack Ruby was a mobster, must have thought he was Italian, like Hollywood gangsters. They were not told that his real name was Jacob Leon Rubenstein, that he was the son of Jewish Polish immigrants, that he went to the synagogue just before shooting Oswald, and that he later confessed to his rabbi that he “did it for the Jews.”

Jacob Rubenstein belonged to the Jewish mafia, also known as the Yiddish Connection. He had moved from Chicago to Dallas in 1947, on the trail of 15 other Chicago mobsters (3 Italians and 9 Jews) who had settled there to take over the prostitution business. That is when he changed his name from Rubenstein to Ruby. Ruby’s mentor and role model was Mickey Cohen, who operated in Chicago during the Prohibition but was then active in Hollywood. During his trial for shooting Oswald, Ruby’s legal team was fronted by Melvin Belli, a longtime friend and attorney of Cohen (Belli’s defense was that Ruby had suffered temporary insanity due to a bout of “psychomotor epilepsy”).[12] In 1947, Cohen had succeeded Benjamin Siegelbaum, aka Bugsy Siegel (romanticized by Hollywood in 1991) at the head of “Murder Incorporated”. Cohen and Siegelbaum were accountable to Meyer Lansky (born Suchowljansky), the most powerful Jewish mafia boss, who had built part of his fortune with his Havana casinos and brothels, of which he was dispossessed by Castro in 1959. Lansky’s biographer Hank Messick describes him as the head of the National Crime Syndicate. “Thanks largely to Lansky, organized crime has changed from an ugly growth on the body politic capable of being removed by surgery to a cancerous part of our economic and political systems.”[13]

Meyer Lansky in Israel, 1971

Mickey Cohen claims in his memoirs that, in the 1940s and 1950s, he was “engrossed with Israel”, and boasts about his financial and criminal contributions to the arms smuggling operations of the Haganah. Gary Wean, a detective sergeant for the Los Angeles Police Department, claims in his book There’s a Fish in the Courthouse (1987) that he saw Ruby twice in Hollywood in 1946 and 1947 in the presence of Cohen.[14] He also writes that Cohen had frequent contacts with Menachem Begin,[15] and that he was sharing his girlfriend, stripper Candy Barr, with Menachem Begin as well as Ruby.[16]

Cohen was not the only mobster working for Israel. A pact had been sealed between prominent Zionists and Jewish mafia bosses around 1945, when the Haganah organized a highly effective black market of weapons and explosives from the US to Palestine. The operation was orchestrated by a group of about 40 wealthy American Jews who pledged to help David Ben-Gurion when the latter visited New York in July 1945. Headed by Rudolf Sonneborn, the group acted under the legal cover of a charity, the Sonneborn Institute, whose story is told by Leonard Slater in The Pledge (Simon & Schuster, 1970).[17] The group operated separately from the Jewish Agency in order to shield it from direct involvement in unlawful activities. Among its active members was the future Jerusalem mayor (1965-93) Teddy Kollek, who also played a key role in forging the CIA-Mossad Alliance. Robert Rockaway has documented the contribution of the Jewish underworld to this operation, in his article “Gangsters for Zion: How Jewish mobsters helped Israel gain its independence”. He writes:

In 1945, the Jewish Agency, the pre-state Israeli government headed by David Ben-Gurion, created a vast clandestine arms-purchasing-and-smuggling network throughout the United States. The operation was placed under the aegis of the Haganah, the underground forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, and involved hundreds of Americans from every walk of life. They included millionaires, rabbinical students, scrap-metal merchants, ex-GIs, college students, longshoremen, industrialists, chemists, engineers, Protestants and Catholics, as well as Jews. One group, who remained anonymous and rarely talked about, were men who were tough, streetwise, unafraid, and had access to ready cash: Jewish gangsters.

Sent by Ben-Gurion to the U.S. to purchase heavy armaments, Haganah operative Yehuda Arazi approached Meyer Lansky and met with members of Murder, Incorporated. Another Haganah emissary, Reuvin Dafni, who would become Israeli consul in Los Angeles and New York, also dealt with Jewish gangsters. “When I interviewed Dafni,” Rockaway writes, “he told me about his meetings with Jewish mobsters. His meetings were arranged by members of the local Jewish community. His first meeting was in Miami with Sam Kay, a leading Miami Jewish gangster.” Dafni also met with Bugsy Siegel.

As Dafni relates, “I told him my story, how the Haganah was raising money to buy weapons with which to fight. When I finished, Siegel asked, ‘You mean to tell me Jews are fighting?’ Yes, I replied. Then Siegel, who was sitting across the table, leaned forward till his nose was almost touching mine. ‘You mean fighting, as in killing?’ Yes, I answered. Siegel leaned back, looked at me for a moment and said, ‘OK, I’m with you.’” “From then on,” recalled Dafni, “Every week I got a phone call to go to the restaurant. And every week I received a suitcase filled with $5 and $10 bills. The payments continued till I left Los Angeles.” Dafni estimates that Siegel gave him a total of $50,000.[18]

Some of those “gangsters for Zion”, writes Rockaway, “did so out of ethnic loyalties,” or “saw themselves as defenders of the Jews, almost biblical-like fighters. It was part of their self-image.”[19]

Such was also the background and self-image of Jack Ruby. His activities in arms smuggling are well documented, although the fact that it was for the benefit of Israel is often blurred. In Coup d’État in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1975), Allan Weberman refers to the arms-dealing activities of Ruby and other mobsters, but makes no mention of their Jewishness (unless saying that Ruby “was strongly anti-Nazi” counts as an euphemism for being Jewish), and claims that they were in fact arming Castro—while simultaneously participating in CIA plots to kill him.[20]

Ruby knew Lewis McWillie, the manager of the Lansky brothers’ Tropicana nightclub casino in Havana. After the overthrow of Batista by Castro in January 1959, Meyer Lansky relocated to Miami, but Jake Lansky was arrested and confined to a luxury prison, the Trescornia detention camp, together with another mafia figure, Santo Trafficante, Jr. Although not Jewish, Trafficante had sworn allegiance to the Lansky brothers, and controlled substantial portions of Havana’s gambling and prostitution rackets. While in prison, Jake Lansky and Trafficante were often visited by Lewis McWillie, who was negotiating their release by Castro. Ruby told the Warren Commission on June 7, 1964 about visiting Lewis McWillie in 1959 in Havana, and also spoke of knowing McWillie’s bosses, whom, from fear of pronouncing their name, he referred to as “the Fox brothers, the greatest that have been expelled from Cuba.”[21] (McWillie would later acknowledge to the HSCA that, “Jack Ruby could have been out there [Havana] one time with me.”) Ruby added to the Warren Commission that McWillie and one of the brothers later visited him in Dallas.[22]

Seth Kantor quotes from a classified message that was sent from CIA headquarters to National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, on November 28, 1963, confirming that, while Santo Trafficante was living “in relative luxury in a Cuban prison” in 1959, he was visited frequently by “an American gangster-type named Ruby.”[23]

In September 1962, Trafficante is reported to have said to José Alman, a prominent member of the Cuban exile community in Miami, that “President Kennedy would get what was coming to him.” Aleman disagreed and argued that Kennedy would be reelected. “No, José,” said Trafficante. “He is going to be hit.”[24] When Trafficante was asked by Richard Sprague of the HSCA, “did you ever discuss with any individuals plans to assassinate President Kennedy prior to his assassination?” Trafficante refused to answer.[25]

As Kantor shows in great detail, Jack Ruby had repeated contacts with members of the Jewish underworld in 1963. By June 8, “a large group of Chicago racketeers began to show up at Ruby’s Carousel and at two other nearby strip-show clubs, according to a confidential report to Dallas Police Chief Jesse E. Curry written by Lieutenant Robert L. May Jr., who had been head of the vice squad.”[26] Ruby’s underworld contact intensified during the 11 days leading up to President Kennedy’s assassination, “when Ruby abruptly signed a power of attorney, giving up certain rights to control his own money. He also suddenly bought and installed a safe for the first time in his 16 years as a Dallas nightclub operator, to store extra amounts of money.”[27] During this period, “Ruby was getting a series of phone calls at the Carousel from an unidentified man who never would leave a message when Ruby was out.”[28] On November 11, Ruby met in Dallas with Alexander Philip Gruber, who was known for his connections with Mickey Cohen. Gruber, who had not visited Ruby in years, told the FBI that he was in Joplin Missouri at that time, and had simply decided to drop in on Ruby “since Dallas, Texas, was about 100 miles from Joplin” (the distance is 360 miles).[29] In the afternoon of November 22, Ruby phoned Alex Gruber in Los Angeles. “Gruber subsequently told the FBI he didn’t really know why Ruby called.”[30] That is most probably when Ruby received an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Ruby was certainly informed about the precise moment when Oswald would be transferred from the Dallas Police Station to the County Jail. According to former British Intelligence Officer Colonel John Hughes-Wilson, it was Sam Bloom, the Jewish chairman of the “host committee” who had invited Kennedy to Dallas, who suggested to the Police “that they move the alleged assassin [Oswald] from the Dallas police station to the Dallas County Jail in order to give the newsmen a good story and pictures.” And “when the police later searched Ruby’s home, they found a slip of paper with Bloom’s name, address and telephone number on it.”[31]

In an apparent attempt to make it impossible for him to fulfill his contract, Ruby tried to warn the Dallas Police anonymously: Lieutenant Billy Grammer, a dispatcher for the Dallas Police Department, whose statement can be heard here, received an anonymous phone call at 3 a.m. on November 24 from a man who knew Grammer’s name. The caller told Grammer that he knew of the plan to move Oswald from the basement and that unless the plans for Oswald’s transfer were changed, “we are going to kill him.” After Oswald was shot, Grammer, who knew Ruby and had found the voice familiar at the time of the call, identified Ruby as the caller.[32]

Ruby and the Dallas Police

When Ruby shot Oswald on Sunday November 24, this was not the first time he had been allowed into the Dallas Police Station. He knew about every policeman in town, and was nearly as often hanging around in the Police station as the policemen were at his Carousel strip club. “I have always been very close to the police department, I don’t know why,” he told the Warren Commission. Most plausibly, being on friendly terms with the Dallas policemen was his special mob assignment, and certainly the reason why he was chosen for silencing Oswald: few people had as much ease in making their way into the Dallas Police station.

Ruby spent a lot of time there from Friday 22 to Sunday 23, making several attempt to enter room 317 on the third floor where Oswald was interrogated. Early evening on Friday, the day Kennedy was assassinated and Oswald arrested,

shortly after 7 p.m., John Rutledge, a veteran police reporter for The Dallas Morning News, saw Jack Ruby, whom he easily recognized by sight, step from a public elevator onto the third floor. / Ruby was between two men who wore lapel credentials identifying them as out-of-town reporters. The three walked rapidly past a police officer stationed at the elevators to keep out anyone not on official business. Ruby was hunched over, writing something on a piece of paper and then showing it to one of the reporters as they walked toward Room 317, where Oswald was being interrogated by Captain Fritz and others. … A guard was posted at the bureau door to keep reporters from getting in to use the phones, but Ruby had no trouble easing in. He knew the guard. Ruby walked in and shook hands with Eberhardt, who asked him what he was doing. Ruby had note paper in his hand and said he was acting as translator for the foreign press. Eberhardt figured Ruby was talking about the Israeli press or the Yiddish-speaking reporters Eberhardt guessed he heard in the bedlam of the corridor.[33]

Here are the exact words from Detective August M. Eberhardt’s deposition to the Warren Commission (online here):

Mr. EBERHARDT. He came in and said hello to me, shook hands with me. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he was a translator for the newspapers. Of course, I knew that he could speak Yiddish. Had a notebook in his hand…

Mr. GRIFFIN. Do you know if there were Israeli newspaper or Yiddish—

Mr. EBERHARDT. There was a bunch of them running around there talking that unknown tongue. I don’t know what they were saying.

What a shame these Yiddish-speaking reporters were not traced and identified. Victor R. Robertson Jr., a reporter for WFAA radio and TV in Dallas who knew Ruby, also testified seeing him in the Police Station, attempting to enter 317 while Oswald was in there. Despite those testimonies, the Commission denied that Ruby was ever on the third floor Friday evening.

Later that same day, after a short visit to the synagogue, Ruby bought a dozen corned beef sandwiches and “telephoned homicide detective Richard M. Sims and offered to deliver the free food right to the office. Sims thanked him but said the day’s work was about over and they wouldn’t need anything to eat. Ruby found another reason to go anyway and, at about 11:30 p.m., he stepped off the elevator on the third floor again.”[34] At midnight, Ruby made his way to the press conference in the basement police assembly room, when Oswald was put on display. The Warren Report admits Ruby’s presence there, but portrays him as a casual bystander. “Nowhere in its 888-page report to the public did the Commission include Ruby’s admission to the FBI, a month after the crime, that he was carrying a loaded, sub-nosed revolver in his right-hand pocket during the Oswald press session in the assembly room.” Ruby couldn’t approach Oswald close enough to shoot him, as the room was packed with reporters and photographers.[35]

On Saturday 23, Ruby brought sandwiches to reporters in the Police press room; “reliable outside witnesses reported seeing Ruby or talking with him at intervals during Saturday afternoon—witnesses such as Jeremiah A. O’Leary Jr. of The Washington Star and Thayer Waldo, a reporter to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.” Yet, Kantor notes,

the Warren Commission said it could reach “no firm conclusion as to whether or not Ruby visited the Dallas police department on Saturday” because “no police officer has reported Ruby’s presence on that day” and because “Ruby has not mentioned such a visit.” / In other words, the Warren Commission decided there had been no conspiracy between Dallas police officers and Jack Ruby because none of them reported it at the time.[36]

On Sunday morning, arrangements were made for the transfer of Oswald to the County Jail. A little after 10:30, Kantor hypothesizes, “a call was placed to the unlisted phone in Ruby’s apartment; Ruby was told where to enter the station and that the transfer van was en route.”[37] Ruby first went to the Western Union office in the next block, and arrived just in time to see Oswald being transferred. This narrow timing has been used as evidence that there was no premeditation and therefore no conspiracy. But Kantor theorizes that Ruby’s entrance into the Police station using the public stairway to the basement jail office area “could have triggered the go-ahead signal for Oswald to be brought down”, and he produces plausible evidence that it did.[38] The way Ruby entered the station is still unclear, but the House committee voted in 1979 that “it was less likely that Ruby entered the police station without assistance.”[39]

Jack Ruby after his pre-trial hearing in February 1964

The Johnson-Ruby connection

Besides Ruby, we know of one person who took steps to make sure that Oswald was silenced forever. Because Ruby could only shoot one bullet to Oswald—he said he had planned to shoot three—, Oswald was still alive when he arrived at Dallas Parkland Hospital. Dr. Charles Crenshaw recalls in his book JFK, Conspiracy of Silence (1992) that, while operating on Oswald with other surgeons, he noticed that an unknown man looking like Oliver Hardy with a pistol hanging from his back pocket had entered the operation room. Minutes later, he was told about an urgent call for him and left the operating room to take it. The call was from the new sworn president Lyndon Johnson who first asked “Dr. Crenshaw, how is the accused assassin?” Crenshaw answered: “Mr. President, he’s holding his own at the moment.” Then Johnson said firmly: “Dr. Crenshaw, I want a deathbed confession from the accused assassin. There’s a man in the operating room who will take the statement. I will expect full cooperation in this matter.” Dr. Crenshaw answered “Yes, sir,” and hung up. Thirty years later, he comments: “As I stood there in a state of disbelief, my mind was racing. First, ‘deathbed confession’ implies that someone is going to die. If Oswald doesn’t die on the table, is ‘Oliver Hardy’ or someone else going to kill him?” Since Dr. Crenshaw had just told Johnson that Oswald was “holding his own,” the expression “deathbed confession” did sound like an implicit order that Oswald should not leave the operating room alive. It really sounded as if Johnson wanted Ruby’s job finished. Moments after Dr. Crenshaw went back to the operating room, Oswald’s heart beat stopped: “Oliver Hardy” disappeared, never to be seen again. “The incident,” wrote Crenshaw, “confounded logic. Why the President of the United States would get personally involved in the investigation of the assassination, or why he would take the inquest out of the hands of the Texas authorities was perplexing.”[40]

There is plenty of evidence of Johnson’s central role in Kennedy’s assassination. And it happens that Jack Ruby directly pointed to him as the mastermind. At the end of a short filmed news conference in the Dallas County Jail in March 1965, Ruby said, “When I mentioned about Adlai Stevenson, if he was Vice-President there would never have been an assassination of our beloved President Kennedy.” Asked to explain what he meant, Ruby continued, “Well the answer is the man in office now.”[41]

How could Ruby know of Johnson’s guilt? Former Nixon operative Roger Stone claims that, in his presence, Nixon recognized Ruby as one of “Johnson’s boys.”[42] I doubt that story; Stone could have made it up to counter another rumor about Ruby’s connection to Nixon, sparked by a forged 1947 FBI memo stating that “one Jack Rubenstein of Chicago […] is performing information functions for the staff of Congressman Richard Nixon.”[43] But there is one more thing linking Ruby to Johnson.

In his testimony to Chief Justice Earl Warren and other Commission members on June 7, 1964, Ruby pleaded to be given a chance to talk directly to Johnson, otherwise “you will see the most tragic thing that will ever happen,” adding that “maybe something can be saved … if our President, Lyndon Johnson, knew the truth from me.”[44] This can be interpreted as a veiled threat addressed to Johnson. Ruby, who by this time had been sentenced to death, may have been trying to remind Johnson that his contract included a presidential pardon (he had shot Oswald out of love for the Kennedys, hadn’t he?). Even more curiously, Ruby hinted that Israel’s reputation could suffer if he spoke: “There will be a certain tragic occurrence happening if you don’t take my testimony and somehow vindicate me so my people don’t suffer because of what I have done.” He feared, he said, that his act would be used “to create some falsehood about some of the Jewish faith.” Ruby also declared to Warren, “I have been used for a purpose,” but no one in the Commission bothered to ask him who had used him and for what purpose.[45] All Ruby got out of his confused testimony was a second pointless Warren Commission interview one month later (July 18, 1964), this time by none other than Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter (transcript here). His frustration would explain why in March 1965, he finally accused Johnson. Shortly thereafter, he wrote a letter of sixteen pages that he managed to get smuggled out of jail, blaming Johnson for Kennedy’s murder and calling the former “a Nazi of the worst order.”[46] By doing so, he probably hastened his own death, on January 3, 1967.

The case against Johnson

One commenter to my previous Kennedy article argued that the thesis of Israel’s motive is unconvincing because the Israeli Deep State had other options than killing Kennedy in order to go on with its Dimona project. I responded that a murderer’s motive is rarely that he has no other choice than to kill, but that he finds a crucial advantage in the killing. I also remarked that, whoever the assassins were, their purpose was obviously not just to get rid of Kennedy, but to put Johnson in charge. And that had to be done quickly, because the Kennedys were busy destroying Johnson’s reputation and would soon be announcing a change in the vice-presidency. According to Horace Busby, longtime LBJ aide and author of The Thirty-First of March (2005), Johnson had found out that, in early November 1963, Robert Kennedy had sent a team of national reporters to Texas to utterly destroy him. “We’re here to do a job on Lyndon Johnson,” said one the newsmen to an attorney whom he mistakenly believed to be a Johnson enemy. “When we get through with the sonofabitch, Kennedy won’t be able to touch him with a ten-foot pole in 1964”[47] (quoted from this article by Robert Morrow, who wrote more informative articles on Johnson and his “murderous psychopathy”). Richard Nixon, who happened to be in Dallas the day before Kennedy, leaked the rumor to the Dallas Morning News, who reported it on November 22nd under the headline “Nixon Predicts JFK May Drop Johnson.” Instead, Johnson became president that very day (and Nixon knew that Johnson was behind it).[48]

So, since the assassination of Kennedy was a coup to put Johnson in power—what else can it be?—there was no time to waste: it had to be done before the new campaign started and news of a change of vice-presidential ticket was published (Nixon’s prediction was the first and the last). If we now want to know the motive of the coup, we only have to ask: What major change occurred in US policy under Johnson? The change was not visible to the American public then, but they are now well-known, at least to readers of the Jewish and Israeli press. “Lyndon Johnson: Israel Has Had No Better Friend,” headlined Haaretz on May 9, 2018.

“Historians generally regard Johnson as the president most uniformly friendly to Israel,” we are told by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Johnson was the first president to invite an Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, on a state visit. They got along so well — both men were farmers — that Johnson paid Eshkol the rare compliment of inviting him to his ranch.

LBJ soon abandoned pressure on Israel to come clean about the Dimona reactor. He increased arms sales to Israel and in 1968, after Israel’s primary supplier, France, imposed an embargo as a means of cultivating ties in the Arab world, the United States became Israel’s main supplier of weapons, notably launching the talks that would lead to the sale of Phantom fighter jets to Israel.

Johnson wanted to commit more forcefully to Israel’s cause in the lead-up to the 1967 Six-Day War, but he felt constrained from a dramatic show of military might because of the failures of the war in Vietnam then dogging his presidency. Nonetheless, during the war, he ordered warships to within 50 miles of Syria’s coast as a warning to the Soviets not to interfere.

In a speech in the war’s immediate aftermath, Johnson effectively nipped in the bud any speculation that the United States would pressure Israel to unilaterally give up the lands it had captured. He laid down not only the “land for peace” formula that would inform subsequent U.N. Security Council resolutions, but made it clear that any formula had to ensure Jewish access to Jerusalem’s Old City.

It is a good thing that Johnson is being praised by the Israeli press as the US president who “firmly pointed American policy in a pro-Israel direction”, because, on the other hand, his crucial role in the Dallas coup is also getting mainstream attention, as illustrated by the December 2, 2019 issue of the National Enquirer. Anybody who can add one plus one can also make the logical inference.

Watch Laurent Guyénot’s film “Israel and the Assassinations of the Kennedy Brothers” and share it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_kh5tb7PtA

Notes

[1] Seth Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, Zebra Books 1980, p. 49.

[2] Steve North, “Lee Harvey Oswald’s Killer ‘Jack Ruby’ Came From Strong Jewish Background,” The Forward, November 17, 2013, on forward.com

[3] William Kunstler, My Life as a Radical Lawyer, Carol Publishing, 1994, p. 158.

[4] James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, Touchstone, 2008, p. 357.

[5] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 47; Sheriff’s Office report on mcadams.posc.mu.edu/death2.txt

[6] Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, Carroll and Graf, 1989, p. 285.

[7] Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, pp. 169-171.

[8] On https://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/testimony/paine_r3.htm

[9] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 48.

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ruby#Ruby’s_motive

[11] Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation: A Former Federal Investigator Reveals the Man Behind the Conspiracy to Kill JFK, 1993, Skyhorse, 2013, k. 405–76.

[12] Michael Collins Piper, Final Judgment: The Missing Link in the JFK Assassination Conspiracy, American Free Press, 6th ed., 2005, p. 239.

[13] Hank Messick, Lansky, Putnam’s Sons, 1971, p. 9.

[14] Michael Collins Piper, Final Judgment, p. 222.

[15] Gary Wean, There’s a Fish in the Courthouse, Casitas Books, 1987, p. 681, quoted by Piper, Final Judgment, op. cit., p. 219-27, 232-7.

[16] Michael Collins Piper, Final Judgment, p. 224.

[17] Read Ricky-Dale Calhoun, “Arming David: The Haganah’s illegal arms procurement network in the United States 1945-1949,” Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. XXXVI, No. 4 (Summer 2007), pp. 22–32, online here.

[18] Robert Rockaway, “Gangsters for Zion. Yom Ha’atzmaut: How Jewish mobsters helped Israel gain its independence”, April 19, 2018, on tabletmag.com

[19] Robert Rockaway, “Gangsters for Zion,” on tabletmag.com

[20] Alan J. Weberman and Michael Canfield, Coup d’État in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Quick American Archives, 1975, pp. 151-180 (p. 178). Michael Piper mentions (Final Judgment, p. 232) that JFK researcher Alan J. Weberman has revealed the little-known fact that Ruby traveled to Israel in 1955, but the link to Weberman’s website is now dead, and I hold Weberman as a very unreliable source

[21] Bernard Fensterwald, in Coincidence or Conspiracy (quoted by Piper, Final Judgment, pp. 228-229).

[22] Richard Gildbride, Matrix for Assassination: the JFK Conspiracy, Trafford, 2009.

[23] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, pp. 255-256.

[24] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, pp. 259-264.

[25] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 402.

[26] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 53.

[27] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 48.

[28] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 104.

[29] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, pp. 56-59.

[30] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 91.

[31] John Hughes-Wilson, JFK-An American Coup d’État: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination, John Blake, 2014.

[32] Mentionned in this comment.

[33] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, pp. 96-97.

[34] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 98.

[35] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, pp. 100-101.

[36] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 116.

[37] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 132.

[38] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 141.

[39] Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 409.

[40] Charles A. Crenshaw, JFK, Conspiracy of Silence, Signet, 1992, pp. 185-189, 5, and

[41] This sequence can be seen in the 1988 documentary “The day the dream died” at 38:20; for more information on Ruby’s declarations about Johnson and about Jews, check this webpage.)

[42] Patrick Howley, “Why Jack Ruby was probably part of the Kennedy conspiracy,” The Daily Caller, March 14, 2014, on dailycaller.com

[43] Copy at www.jfkmurdersolved.com/nixonruby.htm. The forgery is proven by several inconsistencies: first, Nixon was a freshman in the role as junior counsel in 1947, and only started prosecuting Alger Hiss (the only likely context for this memo) the following year. Second, it refers to “Jack Rubenstein” living in Chicago in November of 1947, when Ruby had in fact already changed his name and moved to Dallas by that time. Finally the document carries a zip code, when they did not exist at the time.

[44] Read Ruby’s deposition here.

[45] Seth Kantor, The Ruby Cover-Up, p. 49.

[46] Phillip Nelson, LBJ: The Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination, pp. 604-607.

[47] Horace Busby, The Thirty-First of March: An intimate portrait of Lyndon Johnson’s final days in office, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, pp. 129-130.

[48] “Nixon jokes about LBJ killing JFK,” on YouTube.

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Deception | , , , , | 4 Comments

FBI accused of leaking private data to NYT after Project Veritas raid

RT | November 12, 2021

The New York Times has obtained ‘privileged communications’ of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, raising suspicions that an FBI source might have leaked the newspaper confidential data obtained during recent raids.

FBI agents raided the home of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe last Saturday as part of an investigation into the acquisition of a diary purportedly written by President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley. On Thursday, less than a week after the raid, the New York Times published an article claiming to have obtained “internal documents” from Project Veritas’ attorney.

The article sparked outrage among conservatives, who accused the FBI of leaking private communications from the organization to the newspaper.

“The FBI raided Project Veritas on a pretext and is now leaking their privileged communications to the New York Times. This is a scandal,” tweeted lawyer and Human Events co-publisher Will Chamberlain, who called for the article’s co-author, Adam Goldman, to be “subpoenaed tomorrow and forced to reveal his criminal source.”

Chamberlain also raised further legal concerns, noting that Project Veritas “is currently in litigation with the New York Times” over a separate issue, which would make any leaks to the newspaper an even bigger scandal.

“This isn’t journalism, this is straight up theft,” he concluded.

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon – who is currently representing Project Veritas and O’Keefe – also accused the New York Times of publishing a “private, privileged correspondence” which “they have no legal right to possess,” while political commentator and lawyer Mike Cernovich wrote, “This is not a grey area. It’s black letter criminal felonies committed by the FBI and the New York Times.”

A federal court ordered the US Justice Department to stop extracting information from O’Keefe’s devices on Thursday.

The FBI took two of O’Keefe’s phones during its raid on his home and the Project Veritas founder said his devices contained confidential material, including information relating to his journalistic sources.

“This is an attack on the First Amendment by the Department of Justice,” said O’Keefe this week, adding, “I’ve heard ‘the process is the punishment.’ I didn’t really understand what that meant until this weekend.”

O’Keefe said he “wouldn’t wish” the situation “on any journalist.”

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Russiagate spells trouble for the American ‘Deep State’

By Glenn Diesen | RT | November 10, 2021

Allegations he was secretly a Russian-backed Manchurian candidate haunted former US President Donald Trump’s time in office. Now, though, long after he left the White House, the claims have gone from farce to clear falsification.

The indictment of Igor Danchenko on Thursday is the latest development in the painfully slow unravelling of the conspiracy behind the Russiagate hoax. At the same time, however, it is also a new window into the workings of the so-called ‘deep state’ forces that bought into the lies and wielded them like weapons against Trump’s presidency.

The scandal began, all accounts show, when Democratic contender Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired a private research firm, Fusion GPS, to dig up dirt on its political rival – then-Republican presidential contender Trump. Fusion GPS contracted the work out to former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

They didn’t get value for money, it seems. The subsequent Steele Dossier has since been exposed as a complete fraud – and one that wasn’t even well put together. Its damning ‘evidence’ referred to payments from the Russian consulate in Miami, despite there being no Russian consulate in Miami. Stories of secret servers, Trump staffers meeting with Moscow’s agents in Prague, and with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, secret pee-pee tapes: the list was never-ending. All have been proven false.

What’s almost worse is that US intelligence knew it all boiled down to gossip and fraud, with then-CIA Director John Brennan warning President Obama in July 2016 that the Clinton campaign was effectively fabricating a Russia-Trump conspiracy theory.

The Russiagate accusations and investigations didn’t lead anywhere in terms of proving a conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin. But the smears were successful in terms of delegitimising Trump, casting him as a Russian agent throughout his presidency and preventing any rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. Russiagate undermined key American institutions and intensified confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

Probing the conspiracy theorists

The tables appear to be turning against the Russiagate hoaxers and their media enablers as new investigations explore how the greatest scandal in US history – a foreign agent in the White House – turned out to be one big deception.

FBI Director James Comey gave Congressional testimony in December 2018, explaining how he came to give credibility to the obviously fraudulent Steele Dossier. Comey managed to say he “can’t remember,” “can’t recall,” and “doesn’t know” no fewer than 245 times. It has also been revealed that the DNC never gave the FBI access to its servers, allegedly hacked by Russians, and instead outsourced the investigation to the private corporation CrowdStrike.

The president of CrowdStrike, ex-FBI official Shawn Henry, had already admitted in a testimony in December 2017 that there was no evidence of Russian hacking. This testimony was not made public until May 2020, and in the intervening time House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff continued to maintain there was evidence of Russian hacking.

The first indictment went out against cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann in September 2021. Sussmann reported to the FBI that be had uncovered a secret server linking the Trump organisation to Russia’s Alfa-Bank, which was treated by the media as a smoking gun. Sussmann was indicted for lying to the FBI because he presented himself as an independent cyber expert when he peddled the false server story, when in reality he was hired by the Clinton campaign.

Danchenko and Brookings Institution

Special Council John Durham has now arrested and indicted Igor Danchenko, an analyst at the Brookings Institution. Danchenko was the primary source behind the infamous Steele Dossier ordered by Hillary Clinton. He has been indicted for lying to the FBI, as he claimed the information later featured in the dodgy dossier came from a phone call and meeting in New York with the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce’s president at the time, Sergey Millian.

Millian insists that no such conversation ever took place, either by phone or in person. The FBI investigation concluded that the phone call was made up, and Danchenko had repeatedly emailed Millian but never received a response. Danchenko’s trip to New York did not involve a meeting with Millian, and Danchenko was actually with his family at Bronx Zoo when the meeting was supposed to have taken place.

Danchenko worked for several years for Fiona Hill, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an anti-Russian hawk, and perhaps the most devastating witness against Trump in the impeachment hearings of 2019. Hill assisted in advancing Danchenko’s career and introduced him to Christopher Steele and Democratic Party operative Chuck Dolan. The latter contact is important, as Danchenko is also indicted for lying to the FBI about speaking to him.

The Brookings Institution is one of the oldest and influential think tanks in Washington, of the kind initially envisioned as an intermediary to connect politicians with academics so the decision-maker could make informed decisions. However, this world of influence has since become a billion-dollar industry due to the development of a business model in which policy gets put up for sale. The Brookings Institution is now seemingly involved in the largest political fraud in US history.

The deep state on trial?

The term ‘deep state’ can easily be dismissed as a conspiracy theory of a hidden government, although in reality it merely denotes a bureaucracy that can act autonomously and pursue independent policies. Officials often, out of choice or necessity, operate to some extent independently from the elected officials they are supposed to serve.

For example, NATO’s 30 member states keep co-operating irrespective of the constant cycles of elections that rotate new defence ministers around the table. Some things happen regardless of who is in charge.

The bureaucracy can lean on everything from think tanks, intelligence agencies, and a myriad of institutions who inform the politicians and implement their decision-makers. The undemocratic bureaucracy acting under the democratic institutions can be considered a deep state – a government within a government that ensures continuity of the status quo.

When the status quo is disrupted, the deep state may act independently against the policies of the democratic institutions. Russiagate revealed that the election of Trump, with the stated intention of “getting along with Russia,” triggered the bureaucracy to act independently of democratic institutions. Intelligence agencies laundered gossip and smears by presenting them as credible; investigations were initiated on deeply flawed evidence to undermine the legitimacy of an elected representative; military leaders bragged about withholding information from the president; the media acted as soldiers in an information war by uncritically pushing bizarre narratives; and one of Washington’s major think tanks is now involved in the fabrication of the entire Russiagate scandal.

The status quo of anti-Russian policies and narratives usually enjoys bipartisan consensus and therefore goes on without criticism or fanfare. However, the mistake made by Russiagaters was to turn hysteria over Moscow into a political weapon, which one side had to defend against. Now it is coming undone; the recriminations are likely to go beyond the journalists, politicians, and imaginative analysts who backed it, and shine a light on the darkest recesses of the American state.

Glenn Diesen is a Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal. 

November 10, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Wanted US Capitol insurrectionist asks Belarus for asylum

RT | November 8, 2021

An American man wanted in the US on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds after taking part in the infamous January 6 riot in Washington is now in Belarus, and has asked Minsk to grant him asylum.

In an interview with Belarusian state media, Evan Neumann claimed that the accusations against him are “unfounded.”

Neumann is also charged with “assaulting, redirecting, or impeding” law enforcement officers and “knowingly entering or remaining in” a restricted building.

The American says he moved in March from California to Ukraine, where he stayed for four months. He claims that, after just two weeks, he saw Ukrainian Security Service officers following him, which eventually led to his decision to move to Belarus and seek asylum.

On his journey to Belarus, he trekked across swamps of northern Ukraine before reaching the border near Pinsk.

According to the FBI, Neumann was a part of the mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump that stormed the United States Capitol in Washington on January 6 this year. The attack, known commonly as ‘the insurrection’, sought to disrupt and delay the Electoral College vote count that would confirm Joe Biden’s election as the 46th US president. The rioting led directly to five deaths and has since been blamed for four police officers committing suicide.

Speaking to Belarusian TV, Neumann claimed that he was innocent.

“I’m charged, I believe, with six cases. And I think all of them are felonies. A felony is a very serious charge. It means you hurt somebody or something,” he explained. “I don’t think I committed any crime. One of the charges was very serious. The allegation is that I hit a police officer. It is completely unfounded.”

Neumann doesn’t deny that he was at the riot.

In the words of TV channel Belarus 1, Neumann “sought justice” and “asked uncomfortable questions,” and is now “being persecuted by the US government.”

According to Belarus’ Ministry of Internal Affairs, three US citizens have applied for refugee status, protection, or asylum in Belarus in 2021.

Neumann’s trek through Ukraine’s swampy forests wasn’t his first trip to the country. According to the FBI, he took part in the Western-backed Orange Revolution in 2004 and 2005, which led to a pro-NATO/anti-Russian government in Kiev.

November 8, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

New FBI report definitively proves ‘Russiagate,’ which dogged Trump’s US presidency, was made up from the start

By Paul Robinson | RT | November 5, 2021

If anyone still doubts whether former US president Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, new revelations this week should put the question to bed for good, with an FBI document showing it to be a fabrication.

The revelations in question take the form of an indictment laid against a Russian citizen living in the United States by the name of Igor Danchenko. The accusation against him is that he lied to the FBI when being questioned about his role in the “Russiagate” affair. But the real scandal is not in the untruths he supposedly told officers, but in what the charges reveal about how Russiagate came into being.

The origin of the scandal was the infamous “Steele dossier,” assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who had been commissioned by the American company Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump on behalf of the US Democratic Party. Steele then paid Danchenko to do the work for him.

What the indictment reveals for the first time is that Danchenko in turn made use of the services of somebody referred to as “PR Executive-1,” who has been identified by the press as one Chuck Dolan. And it’s here that things begin to get truly interesting.

As the charge sheet states, during his career Dolan has served as “chairman of a national Democratic political organization,” “state chairman of President Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns,” and “an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.” And so it turns out that the allegations that Trump was a Russian agent hinged on a report commissioned by the Democratic Party, which relied heavily on information provided by somebody who was once an official in that party. The corrupt circularity of it is quite extraordinary.

Even stranger, the source of the claims that Trump was too close to the Russians was somebody who was very close to them himself. For as the indictment says, Dolan was employed “to handle public relations for the Russian government and a state-owned energy company. PR Executive-1 served as a lead consultant during that project and frequently interacted with senior Russian Federation leadership.” It turns out that it wasn’t the Republicans but the Democrats who were chummy with the Russians. The irony!

Danchenko’s relationship with Dolan exposes a lot about where the claims in the Steele dossier came from. Danchenko was quite clear about his purpose, telling Dolan that he wanted to hear “Any thought, rumour, allegation. I am working on a related project against Trump.” Clearly, this wasn’t a piece of neutral research, but a hatchet job for which any old rumour would do.

But if rumour wasn’t available, fabrication would do fine too. This becomes clear in the parts of the indictment dealing with the famous “pee-pee tape” – an alleged video-recording of Trump cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel while they urinated on the bed in the presidential suite.

The FBI document describes how Dolan and someone known as “Organizer-1” arranged a conference in Moscow at the hotel in question, in preparation for which they met the hotel manager and a member of staff and received a tour of the building, including the presidential suite. The manager and staff member are thus identified as the persons mentioned in the Steele dossier as “Source E” and “Source F,” who supposedly revealed the existence of the infamous videotape.

But that’s not all – the indictment says that although a hotel staff member did tell Dolan and Organizer-1 that Trump had stayed in the presidential suite, “according to both Organizer-1 and PR Executive-1, the staff member did not mention any sexual or salacious activity.” In short, the story of the “pee-pee tape” is a fabrication, pure and simple.

It’s not the only blow the document deals to the Russiagate story. It reveals that Dolan didn’t possess any great insider information. For instance, Danchenko wrote in the dossier that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had been fired due to infighting in the Republican camp, citing Dolan as having told him that he learned this from a meeting with a “GOP insider.” But Dolan then told the FBI that in reality he “fabricated the fact of the meeting in his communications with Danchenko.”

Fabrication once again. A pattern is beginning to emerge. And it continues. The dossier made hay with claims of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Danchenko told the FBI that his source was an anonymous telephone call from someone whom he believed was “Chamber President-1,” identified as Sergei Millian, the head of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.

But as the FBI discovered, Danchenko never spoke to Millian at all. Again, the claim to have received information from a high-placed source was false. But even if it had been true, it wouldn’t have been much better. Anonymous phone calls are hardly reliable sources. Yet somehow, this provided the basis for allegations of a deep conspiracy at the heart of the American political system. How anybody ever believed any of it is hard to imagine.

But believe it they did, including the FBI. Again and again in its indictment of Danchenko, the FBI accuses him of having serious impeded the course of justice with his false statements. Danchenko’s fabrications, the FBI complains, helped send it off on wild goose chases while preventing it from properly investigating the Russiagate allegations.

In making these claims, however, the FBI is being disingenuous. The organisation’s real errors came long before it got its hands on Danchenko, when it used the dossier to investigate Trump and, among other things, request the wiretapping of one-time Trump adviser Carter Page on the entirely false grounds that he was a Russian agent. The real problem was not that Danchenko lied to the FBI (if he did), but that the FBI believed the nonsense that he published in the dossier.

The truth is this: the Steele dossier was obvious garbage from the get-go. Sensible commentators pointed this out the moment it was published. Yet the FBI believed it and invested considerable resources in following up its claims, in the process blackening the name of innocents, such as Carter Page. That is entirely the FBI’s fault, no one else’s.

Unfortunately, in all this sorry affair, it’s the small fish who end up being caught – people like Danchenko, whose role in this sordid business was not insignificant but ultimately fairly minor compared with that of the security officials, journalists, and politicians who took the rubbish he produced and ran with it. Sadly, one doubts that any of them will ever be held to account.

Paul Robinson is a professor at the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history and military ethics, and is the author of the Irrussianality blog.

November 6, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

As evidence emerges of provocateurs inciting the Jan 6 Capitol riot, was an asset working on behalf of the FBI to stir up trouble?

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 27, 2021

The bureau has form for this modus operandi, after all. Just what was the role of mysterious ex-Marine Ray Epps in fomenting the invasion? And why’s he been removed from the list of suspects and not been arrested?

Ever since January 6, speculation has abounded that the US authorities either knew what was going to transpire in advance and allowed it to happen, or undercover state infiltrators played some role or other in orchestrating the upheaval.

While acknowledging that FBI informants were on the ground that day, and, indeed, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers – two far-right groups that played prominent roles in the Capitol break-in and preceding protests – both have intimate ties to the Bureau at the highest levels, the latter theory has been universally dismissed as conspiratorial nonsense.

Yet, given the agency’s history, the notion isn’t so far-fetched. After all, for decades during the Cold War, the FBI operated a dedicated counter-intelligence program, known as COINTELPRO, that sought to infiltrate, undermine and discredit activist groups and protest movements from within. A key tactic engaged in by undercover provocateurs was marshalling others to engage in violence.

More recently, in October 2020, the bureau foiled a deranged plot hatched by the Wolverine Watchmen militia group to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It’s been revealed that 12 of the individuals involved in the doomed conspiracy were FBI informants.

Now, pro-Trump website Revolver has offered the most compelling evidence yet that undercover provocateurs of some distinction were pivotal to the events of January 6.

The website records how, by January 8, the FBI had assembled mugshots of its first 20 ‘most wanted’ Capitol rioters, offering cash rewards for successful identifications and fruitful leads. It took just three days for resourceful Antifa activists to pinpoint ‘Suspect 16’ as Arizona resident Ray Epps, a former high-ranking US Marine. Swathes of evidence supported the identification, including, somewhat amazingly, a direct admission by the man himself to his local newspaper, the Arizona Central.

Published January 11, the report discussed how Epps had been approached by the outlet and asked for comment about a widely circulated video from the night of January 5, in which someone closely resembling him boldly proclaimed to a crowd of fellow Trump supporters, “We need to go into the Capitol.” He confirmed he was that individual, but played down the significance of his comments, alleging that the “only thing” he meant was “we would go in the doors like everyone else.”

He went on to assert that the violent manner in which protesters subsequently entered was “totally, totally wrong,” but did not clarify why, in the same clip, he also declared, “I’ll be arrested” for proposing they gain entry to the building in the first place.

In the following weeks, news reports of arrests of individuals who’d busted into the Capitol were published almost daily, although Epps’ name never came up. Indeed, the FBI seems to have taken no decisive action in this regard until almost six months later, and, even then, not in a manner most would have expected. At an indeterminate point on July 1, between the wee hours of the morning and early evening, his mugshot was abruptly removed from the bureau’s most-wanted list, leaving an unaccounted-for gap between Suspects 15 and 17.

There is no indication that this was because he had been arrested. In every other case of a successful arrest, the corresponding photo of the suspect in question is slapped with an “arrested” logo, and Epps’ name doesn’t appear in the dedicated, searchable Justice Department Capitol Breach Cases database. Quite why he apparently remains at liberty is perplexing, although how he came so quickly to the FBI’s attention is no mystery.

The video referenced by the Arizona paper is one of many depicting Epps aggressively advocating the breach of the Capitol from January 5 onwards. That evening saw a law enforcement-mediated standoff between Trump supporters visiting Washington DC for the next day’s planned and widely promoted protest, and Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists.

Strikingly, an aspect of that particular clip not mentioned in the news report is the extremely hostile reaction his bold suggestion elicited from those around him. After he repeatedly advocated “going in”, other pro-Trump protesters respond with a shouted chorus of “no!”, before chanting in unison “Fed!” over and over, prompting Epps to awkwardly clarify that he meant “peacefully”.

Multiple separate clips show Epps moving between different groups in the crowd, and repeating the same routine, loudly calling for attendees to enter the Capitol building, and typically being met with indifference or even outright antipathy. In one, his audience’s exhaustion with his antics is evident – he asks for “one minute” to make his pitch yet again to another group of Trump supporters, but the throng responds that he has only “30 seconds”, despite a sympathetic protester drawing attention to Epps’ military background and calling for him to be respected.

This activity alone would surely mark him out as of interest to the FBI – after all, determining the degree to which what transpired on January 6 was planned in advance and, if so, by whom, were central initial questions in its probe that remain unanswered. However, Epps’ movements the next day, much of which was likewise captured on film, would make him one of the most valuable sources of information on the Capitol’s infiltration.

Revolver meticulously reviews numerous videos showing Epps apparently issuing orders to a masked Capitol rioter, seemingly also a former US Marine, who appears to have been armed with super-strength bear mace, to have engaged in a range of incendiary acts, and to have repeatedly provoked other protesters to commit violent acts and not back down from law enforcement. That rioter, Suspect 273 – also known as #MaroonPB – coincidentally remains at large today, too.

Even more tantalisingly, though, one clip shows Epps right on the frontline when the protest turned violent and the police barricades were broken through for the first time. Ryan Samsel, who has been blamed for kickstarting the “insurrection”, is pictured standing in front of the barricade, in a bitter showdown with the officer behind.

Epps emerges from the left of the frame, takes Samsel aside, whispers something in his ear, then vanishes. Moments later, Samsel and others begin charging at the barricades, knocking them down – a pivotal act that allowed for the eventual deluge of protesters into the Capitol. Media reports in the immediate aftermath of January 6 suggested the infiltrators’ path was effectively laid by the DC Police’s failure to deploy precautions such as ‘frozen zones’ (areas officially off-limits) and the hardened barriers commonly used for major events.

Samsel was arrested just three weeks after January 6 – conspicuously, he’s one of only a few individuals accused of comprising the large “breach team” who’s been taken into custody. According to his attorney, in prison, he’s been subjected to vicious torture, his jaw, nose and orbital bone having all been shattered, and his right eye damaged so badly he may be permanent half-blind.

Almost a year later, we’re still no closer to learning the truth about January 6. In the meantime, that date has been endlessly invoked by lawmakers, pundits and journalists as a grave attack on US values and democracy. Some have compared the event to 9/11, while the White House has likened it to the Civil War and proposed wide-ranging new domestic spying powers to avert another such catastrophe.

Consideration of how state capitol buildings have been repeatedly invaded during protests in the past, and DC’s Capitol Hill was overwhelmed at the conclusion of the 2017 Women’s March, has been entirely lacking. But that doesn’t fit the narrative many powerful people wish to perpetuate about January 6, so this staggering oversight is unsurprising. That the show trials of the 648 people charged in connection with the riot so far will shed no light on potential deep-state machinations that day is likewise almost inevitable.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. 

October 28, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

January 6 Could Be Washington’s Part of FBI’s Multi-State Operation Cold Snap, Argues US Observer

Ekaterina Blunova | Sputnik | October 18, 2021

FBI’s involvement in 6 January riots could be bigger than the mainstream media have recently acknowledged, according to US political commentator Julie Kelly. She wonders whether the DC incident was part of the agency’s Operation Cold Snap against Whitmer kidnapping case plotters, unveiled by BuzzFeed in July 2021.

The US Department of Justice announced on 8 October 2020 that six men had been arrested and charged federally with conspiring to kidnap the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The DoJ’s press release said that “through confidential sources, undercover agents, and clandestine recordings, law enforcement learned particular individuals were planning to kidnap the Governor and acting in furtherance of that plan”.

However, on 12 July 2021, BuzzFeed revealed that the FBI allegedly used at least 12 informants in the Whitmer kidnapping case, who not only kept the agency in the loop, but were allegedly used by the FBI to “induce or persuade” the defendants to go along with the violent scheme. The agency’s operation was called Cold Snap.

According to BuzzFeed, the FBI assets “had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception”.

One of those infiltrators, Stephen Robeson, 57, helped organise a series of meetings around the country “enthusiastically pushing people he knew to attend” and even “paid for some hotel rooms and food as an incentive to get people to come”. At these meetings many of the alleged plotters first met one another.

Another informant, an Iraq War veteran, known as “Big Dan”, rose to the second-in-command of the group, encouraged members to work with other potential suspects and paid for their transportation to meetings. He allegedly urged the supposed mastermind of the Whitmer kidnapping plot to carry his plan out, and then laid the trap that eventually led to the arrest.

The defendants in the kidnapping case later accused the FBI of “entrapment”, saying the infiltrators encouraged the group and even led military-style trainings for the plot.

All these meetings and training were captured on film by FBI agents “to produce major headlines as early voting was underway in the crucial swing state of Michigan”, argued Julie Kelly in her op-ed for American Greatness (AG).

She noted that the blame for the plot was pinned on then-President Donald Trump. “There is a through line from President Trump’s dog whistles and tolerance of hate, vengeance, and lawlessness to plots such as this one”, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed on 8 October 2020.

“It also appears that the Whitmer operation was only part of the FBI’s overall plan to infiltrate and perhaps direct the conduct of unsuspecting ‘militia’ men in 2020”, Kelly continued, stressing that the agency’s operation was not limited to Michigan but was a “multi-state” probe.

Citing a testimony by one of the lead FBI special agents in the Whitmer case, the political commentator highlighted that there had been other FBI “domestic terrorism” investigations in Baltimore and Milwaukee and Cincinnati and Indiana involving other militia members.

According to Kelly, “Big Dan” was also ordered by the FBI to convince a man in Virginia to participate in a plan against Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. “Just like in the Whitmer plot, ‘Big Dan’ advised his target how to build an explosive device and urged him to attend a training camp in Wisconsin”, she noted.

The AG senior contributor insists that “it’s hard to imagine Operation Cold Snap ended with the arrest of Whitmer’s would-be abductors”. According to her, the 6 January riot, attended by several groups of right-wing militia, could have been a continuation of the same FBI op, this time in Washington, DC.

She suggested that it was hardly a coincidence that FBI chief Christopher Wray promoted Steven M. D’Antuono, special agent in charge of the Detroit Field Office, Michigan, to head of the DC FBI Field office on 13 October 2020 – just five days after the arrest of kidnap plotters and ahead of the November 2020 elections. Apparently, D’Antuono was seen as a man for the job, according to the political commentator.

Citing a New York Times article unveiling FBI infiltrators’ role in 6 January riots, Kelly presumed that the NYT report could only be seen as the start of a slow drip of information about the extent” of the agency’s role in the Capitol breach.

“It’s only a matter of time before we learn how many “Big Dans” or Stephen Robesons were part of January 6,” Kelly believes.

October 18, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Civil liberties are being trampled by exploiting “insurrection” fears. Congress’s 1/6 Committee may be the worst abuse yet.

By Glenn Greenwald | October 17, 2021

When a population is placed in a state of sufficiently grave fear and anger regarding a perceived threat, concerns about the constitutionality, legality and morality of measures adopted in the name of punishing the enemy typically disappear. The first priority, indeed the sole priority, is to crush the threat. Questions about the legality of actions ostensibly undertaken against the guilty parties are brushed aside as trivial annoyances at best, or, worse, castigated as efforts to sympathize with and protect those responsible for the danger. When a population is subsumed with pulsating fear and rage, there is little patience for seemingly abstract quibbles about legality or ethics. The craving for punishment, for vengeance, for protection, is visceral and thus easily drowns out cerebral or rational impediments to satiating those primal impulses.

The aftermath of the 9/11 attack provided a vivid illustration of that dynamic. The consensus view, which formed immediately, was that anything and everything possible should be done to crush the terrorists who — directly or indirectly — were responsible for that traumatic attack. The few dissenters who attempted to raise doubts about the legality or morality of proposed responses were easily dismissed and marginalized, when not ignored entirely. Typically, they were vilified with the accusation that their constitutional and legal objections were frauds: mere pretexts to conceal their sympathy and even support for the terrorists. It took at least a year or two after that attack for there to be any space for questions about the legality, constitutionality, and morality of the U.S. response to 9/11 to be entertained at all.

For many liberals and Democrats in the U.S., 1/6 is the equivalent of 9/11. One need not speculate about that. Many have said this explicitly. Some prominent Democrats in politics and media have even insisted that 1/6 was worse than 9/11.

Joe Biden’s speechwriters, when preparing his script for his April address to the Joint Session of Congress, called the three-hour riot “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.” Liberal icon Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), whose father’s legacy was cemented by years of casting 9/11 as the most barbaric attack ever seen, now serves as Vice Chair of the 1/6 Committee; in that role, she proclaimed that the forces behind 1/6 represent “a threat America has never seen before.” The enabling resolution that created the Select Committee calls 1/6 “one of the darkest days of our democracy.” USA Today’s editor David Mastio published an op-ed whose sole point was a defense of the hysterical thesis from MSNBC analysts that 1/6 is at least as bad as 9/11 if not worse. S.V. Date, the White House correspondent for America’s most nakedly partisan “news” outlet, The Huffington Post, published a series of tweets arguing that 1/6 was worse than 9/11 and that those behind it are more dangerous than Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda ever were.

And ever since the pro-Trump crowd was dispersed at the Capitol after a few hours of protests and riots, the same repressive climate that arose after 9/11 has prevailed. Mainstream political and media sectors instantly consecrated the narrative, fully endorsed by the U.S. security state, that the United States was attacked on 1/6 by domestic terrorists bent on insurrection and a coup. They also claimed in unison that the ideology driving those right-wing domestic terrorists now poses the single most dangerous threat to the American homeland, a claim which the intelligence community was making even before 1/6 to argue for a new War on Terror (just as neocons wanted to invade and engineer regime change in Iraq prior to 9/11 and then exploited 9/11 to achieve that long-held goal).

With those extremist and alarming premises fully implanted, there has been little tolerance for questions about whether proposed responses for dealing with the 1/6 “domestic terrorists” and their incomparably dangerous ideology are excessive, illegal, unethical, or unconstitutional. Even before Joe Biden was inaugurated, his senior advisers made clear that one of their top priorities was to enact a bill from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — now a member of the Select Committee on 1/6 — to import the first War on Terror onto domestic soil. Even without enactment of a new law, there is no doubt that a second War on Terror, this one domestic, has begun and is growing, all in the name of the 1/6 “Insurrection” and with little dissent or even public debate.

Following the post-9/11 script, anyone voicing such concerns about responses to 1/6 is reflexively accused of minimizing the gravity of the Capitol riot and, worse, of harboring sympathy for the plotters and their insurrectionary cause. Questions or doubts about the proportionality or legality of government actions in the name of 1/6 are depicted as insincere, proof that those voicing such doubts are acting not in defense of constitutional or legal principles but out of clandestine camaraderie with the right-wing domestic terrorists and their evil cause.

When it comes to 1/6 and those who were at the Capitol, there is no middle ground. That playbook is not new. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” was the rigidly binary choice which President George W. Bush presented to Americans and the world when addressing Congress shortly after the 9/11 attack. With that framework in place, anything short of unquestioning support for the Bush/Cheney administration and all of its policies was, by definition, tantamount to providing aid and comfort to the terrorists and their allies. There was no middle ground, no third option, no such thing as ambivalence or reluctance: all of that uncertainty or doubt, insisted the new war president, was to be understood as standing with the terrorists.

The coercive and dissent-squashing power of that binary equation has proven irresistible ever since, spanning myriad political positions and cultural issues. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s insistence that one either fully embrace what he regards as the program of “anti-racism” or be guilty by definition of supporting racism — that there is no middle ground, no space for neutrality, no room for ambivalence about any of the dogmatic planks — perfectly tracks this manipulative formula. As Dr. Kendi described the binary he seeks to impose: “what I’m trying to do with my work is to really get Americans to eliminate the concept of ‘not racist’ from their vocabulary, and realize we’re either being racist or anti-racist.” Eight months after the 1/6 riot — despite the fact that the only people who died that day were Trump supporters and not anyone they killed — that same binary framework shapes our discourse, with a clear message delivered by those purporting to crush an insurrection and confront domestic terrorism. You’re either with us, or with the 1/6 terrorists.

What makes this ongoing prohibition of dissent or even doubt so remarkable is that so many of the responses to 1/6 are precisely the legal and judicial policies that liberals have spent decades denouncing. Indeed, many of the defining post-1/6 policies are identical to those now retrospectively viewed as abusive and excessive, if not unconstitutional, when invoked as part of the first War on Terror. We are thus confronted with the surreal dynamic that policies long castigated in American liberalism — whether used generally in the criminal justice system or specifically in the name of avenging 9/11 and defeating Islamic extremism — are now off-limits from scrutiny or critique when employed in the name of avenging 1/6 and crushing the dangerous domestic ideology that fostered it.

Almost immediately after the Capitol riot, some of the most influential Democratic lawmakers — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who also now chairs the Select 1/6 Committee — demanded that any participants in the protest be placed on the no-fly list, long regarded as one of the most extreme civil liberties assaults from the first War on Terror. And at least some of the 1/6 protesters have been placed on that list: American citizens, convicted of no crime, prohibited from boarding commercial airplanes based on a vague and unproven assessment, from unseen and unaccountable security state bureaucrats, that they are too dangerous to fly. I reported extensively on the horrors and abuses of the no-fly list as part of the first War on Terror and do not recall a single liberal speaking in defense of that tactic. Yet now that this same brute instrument is being used against Trump supporters, there has not, to my knowledge, been a single prominent liberal raising objections to the resurrection of the no-fly list for American citizens who have been convicted of no crime.

Axios, Jan. 12, 2021

With more than 600 people now charged in connection with the events of 1/6, not one person has been charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government, incite insurrection, conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping of public officials, or any of the other fantastical claims that rained down on them from media narratives. No one has been charged with treason or sedition. Perhaps that is because, as Reuters reported in August, “the FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result.” Yet these defendants are being treated as if they were guilty of these grave crimes of which nobody has been formally accused, with the exact type of prosecutorial and judicial overreach that criminal defense lawyers and justice reform advocates have long railed against.

Dozens of the 1/6 defendants have been denied bail, thus being imprisoned for months without having been found guilty of anything. Many are being held in unusually harsh and bizarrely cruel conditions, causing a federal judge on Wednesday to hold “the warden of the D.C. jail and director of the D.C. Department of Corrections in contempt of court,” and then calling on the Justice Department “to investigate whether the jail is violating the civil rights of dozens of detained Jan. 6 defendants.” Some of the pre-trial prison protocols have been so punitive that even Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — who calls the 1/6 protesters “domestic terrorists” — denounced their treatment as abusive: “Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” Warren said, adding: “And we’re talking about people who haven’t been convicted of anything yet.” Warren also said she is “worried that law enforcement officials are deploying it to ‘punish’ the Jan. 6 defendants or to ‘break them so that they will cooperate.”

The few 1/6 defendants who have thus far been sentenced after pleading guilty have been subjected to exceptionally punitive sentences, the kind liberal criminal justice reform advocates have been rightly denouncing for years. Several convicted of nothing more than trivial misdemeanors are being sentenced to real prison time; last week, Michigan’s Robert Reeder pled guilty to “one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building” yet received a jail term of 3 months, with the judge admitting that the motive was to “send a signal to the other participants in that riot… that they can expect to receive jail time.”

Meanwhile, long-controversial SWAT teams are being routinely deployed to arrest 1/6 suspects in their homes, and long-time liberal activists denouncing these tactics have suddenly decided they are appropriate for these Trump supporters. That prosecutors are notoriously overzealous in their demands for harsh prison time is a staple of liberal discourse, but now, an Obama-appointed judge has repeatedly doled out sentences to 1/6 defendants that are harsher and longer than those requested by DOJ prosecutors, to the applause of liberals. In sum, these defendants are subjected to one of the grossest violations of due process: they are being treated as if they are guilty of crimes — treason, sedition, insurrection, attempted murder, and kidnapping — which not even the DOJ has accused them of committing. And the fundamental precept of any healthy justice system — namely, punishment for citizens is merited only once they have been found guilty of crimes in a court of law — has been completely discarded.

Serious questions about FBI involvement in the 1/6 events linger. For months, Americans were subjected to a frightening media narrative that far-right groups had plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, only for proof to emerge that at least half of the conspirators, including its leaders, were working for or at the behest of the FBI. Regarding 1/6, the evidence has been clear for months, though largely confined to right-wing outlets, that the FBI had its tentacles in the three groups it claims were most responsible for the 1/6 protest: the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters. Yet last month, The New York Times acknowledged that the FBI was directly communicating with one of its informants present at the Capitol, a member of the Proud Boys, while the riot unfolded, meaning “federal law enforcement had a far greater visibility into the assault on the Capitol, even as it was taking place, than was previously known.” All of this suggests that to the extent 1/6 had any advanced centralized planning, it was far closer to an FBI-induced plot than a centrally organized right-wing insurrection.

Despite this mountain of abuses, it is exceedingly rare to find anyone outside of conservative media and MAGA politics raising objections to any of this (which is what made Sen. Warren’s denunciation of their pre-trial prison conditions so notable). The reason is obvious: just as was true in the aftermath of 9/11, people are petrified to express any dissent or even question what is being done to the alleged domestic terrorists for fear of standing accused of sympathizing with them and their ideology, an accusation that can be career-ending for many.

Many of the 1/6 defendants are impoverished and cannot afford lawyers, yet private-sector law firms who have active pro bono programs will not touch anyone or anything having to do with 1/6, while the ACLU is now little more than an arm of the Democratic Party and thus displays almost no interest in these systemic civil liberties assaults. And for many liberals — the ones who are barely able to contain their glee at watching people lose their jobs in the middle of a pandemic due to vaccine-hesitancy or who do not hide their joy that the unarmed Ashli Babbitt got what she deserved — their political adversaries these days are not just political adversaries but criminals and even terrorists, rendering no punishment too harsh or severe. For them, cruelty is not just acceptable; the cruelty is the point.


The Unconstitutionality of the 1/6 Committee

Civil liberties abuses of this type are common when the U.S. security state scares enough people into believing that the threat they face is so acute that normal constitutional safeguards must be disregarded. What is most definitely not common, and is arguably the greatest 1/6-related civil liberties abuse of them all, is the House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

To say that the investigative acts of the 1/6 Committee are radical is a wild understatement. Along with serving subpoenas on four former Trump officials, they have also served subpoenas on eleven private citizens: people selected for interrogation precisely because they exercised their Constitutional right of free assembly by applying for and receiving a permit to hold a protest on January 6 opposing certification of the 2020 election.

When the Select 1/6 Committee recently boasted of these subpoenas in its press release, it made clear what methodology it used for selecting who it was targeting: “The committee used permit paperwork for the Jan. 6 rally to identify other individuals involved in organizing.” In other words, any citizen whose name appeared on permit applications to protest was targeted for that reason alone. The committee’s stated goal is “to collect information from them and their associated entities on the planning, organization, and funding of those events”: to haul citizens before Congress to interrogate them on their constitutionally protected right to assemble and protest and probe their political beliefs and associations:


List of 11 private citizens who received subpoenas from the 1/6 Congressional Committee for deposition testimony and records

Even worse are the so-called “preservation notices” which the committee secretly issued to dozens if not hundreds of telecoms, email and cell phone providers, and other social media platforms (including Twitter and Parler), ordering those companies to retain extremely invasive data regarding the communications and physical activities of more than 100 citizens, with the obvious intent to allow the committee to subpoena those documents. The communications and physical movement data sought by the committee begins in April, 2020 — nine months before the 1/6 riot. The committee refuses to make public the list of individuals it is targeting with these sweeping third-party subpoenas, but on the list are what CNN calls “many members of Congress,” along with dozens of private citizens involved in obtaining the permit to protest and then promoting and planning the gathering on social media.

What makes these secret notices especially pernicious is that the committee requested that these companies not notify their customers that the committee has demanded the preservation of their data. The committee knows it lacks the power to impose a “gag order” on these companies to prevent them from notifying their users that they received the precursor to a subpoena: a power the FBI in conjunction with courts does have. So they are relying instead on “voluntary compliance” with the gag order request, accompanied by the thuggish threat that any companies refusing to voluntarily comply risk the public relations harm of appearing to be obstructing the committee’s investigation and, worse, protecting the 1/6 “insurrectionists.”

Worse still, the committee in its preservation notices to these communications companies requested that “you do not disable, suspend, lock, cancel, or interrupt service to these subscribers or accounts solely due to this request,” and that they should first contact the committee “if you are not able or willing to respond to this request without alerting the subscribers.” The motive here is obvious: if any of these companies risk the PR hit by refusing to conceal from their customers the fact that Congress is seeking to obtain their private data, they are instructed to contact the committee instead, so that the committee can withdraw the request. That way, none of the customers will ever be aware that the committee targeted their private data and will thus never be able to challenge the legality of the committee’s acts in a court of law.

In other words, even the committee knows that its power to seek this information about private citizens lacks any convincing legal justification and, for that reason, wants to ensure that nobody has the ability to seek a judicial ruling on the legality of their actions. All of these behaviors raise serious civil liberties concerns, so much so that even left-liberal legal scholars and at least one civil liberties group (obviously not the ACLU) — petrified until now of creating any appearance that they are defending 1/6 protesters by objecting to civil liberties abuses — have begun very delicately to raise doubts and concerns about the committee’s actions.

But the most serious constitutional problem is not the specific investigative acts of the committee but the very existence of the committee itself. There is ample reason to doubt the constitutionality of this committee’s existence.

When crimes are committed in the United States, there are two branches of government — and only two — vested by the Constitution with the power to investigate criminal suspects and adjudicate guilt: the executive branch (through the FBI and DOJ) and the judiciary. Congress has no role to play in any of that, and for good and important reasons. The Constitution places limits on what the executive branch and judiciary can do when investigating suspects . . . . .

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October 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 1 Comment