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Pulling a Comey: How Mueller dog-whistled Democrats into impeachment of Trump

Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 29, 2019

Robert Mueller is special counsel no more, but he fired a parting shot during his televised statement that has sent Democrats into a frenzy of calls for impeaching President Donald Trump, whether by accident or by design.

At a remarkable press conference on Wednesday – at which he refused to take questions – Mueller sank the theory that Attorney General William Barr somehow misinterpreted his report, and sent a clear message to House Democrats eager to have him testify about the probe that “the report is my testimony.”

Despite years of work, millions of dollars and near-unlimited powers, Mueller’s special prosecutors found zero evidence of collusion or conspiracy – and absent that underlying crime, no grounds to charge the US president with obstruction of justice, even as they wrote up 240 pages of tortured reasoning as to why they wanted to. Case closed, conspiracies put to bed, lots of people with egg on their face, time for the republic to move on, right?

Wrong!

Did you honestly expect people who have gone all in on a conspiracy theory about Russia somehow “stealing” the election from Hillary Clinton – investing not just the past three years, but their entire political and media capital into it – to give up just because there isn’t a grain of truth in it? Instead, they latched onto Mueller’s carefully weasel-worded declaration:

“If we had confidence the President did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

That was no mere misstep, either. Mueller followed that line up with a passage about how his office did not make a determination whether Trump committed a crime because the standing policy of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Not their fault, you see, they had no choice.

Except they did, and they had the avenue to make their claim – but chose not to, knowing that Barr would shoot it down, because he disagreed with their interpretation of obstruction laws long before he became AG. But those are details known to lawyers and honest legal analysts, not the propagandists and conspiracy-peddlers who have spent years whipping the American public into a hysteria not seen since the 1950s.

Mueller’s was a weasel statement, worthy of former FBI boss and his personal friend James Comey – who actually admitted to Congress that he hoped to force the appointment of a special counsel by leaking the memos of his meetings with Trump to the press.

It also seems to have been a dog-whistle to Democrats, who have been arguing ever since the Mueller report was published that it totally proved obstruction of justice and gave them the pretext for impeachment. A variety of party luminaries, such as House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-New York), presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), now doubled down on the claim.

What happens next is anybody’s guess: Democrats may hope enough Republicans will break ranks to successfully impeach and convict Trump, though that’s no more likely to succeed than any of the schemes to overturn the 2016 election result so far. Or they might hope that impeachment proceedings will mobilize their voters for 2020. Either way, the opposition party and the media aligned with it are determined to keep flogging the dead horse of Russiagate, hoping it will deliver them victory.

Those who believe Mueller’s mission was to “get Trump” will no doubt be happy with the former special counsel’s last move. But Americans who hoped he would clear the air clogged by endless conspiracy theories have every right to feel disappointed.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

The Real Muellergate Scandal

By Craig Murray | May 9, 2019

Robert Mueller is either a fool, or deeply corrupt. I do not think he is a fool.

I did not comment instantly on the Mueller Report as I was so shocked by it, I have been waiting to see if any other facts come to light in justification. Nothing has. I limit myself here to that area of which I have personal knowledge – the leak of DNC and Podesta emails to Wikileaks. On the wider question of the corrupt Russian 1% having business dealings with the corrupt Western 1%, all I have to say is that if you believe that is limited in the USA by party political boundaries, you are a fool.

On the DNC leak, Mueller started with the prejudice that it was “the Russians” and he deliberately and systematically excluded from evidence anything that contradicted that view.

Mueller, as a matter of determined policy, omitted key steps which any honest investigator would undertake. He did not commission any forensic examination of the DNC servers. He did not interview Bill Binney. He did not interview Julian Assange. His failure to do any of those obvious things renders his report worthless.

There has never been, by any US law enforcement or security service body, a forensic examination of the DNC servers, despite the fact that the claim those servers were hacked is the very heart of the entire investigation. Instead, the security services simply accepted the “evidence” provided by the DNC’s own IT security consultants, Crowdstrike, a company which is politically aligned to the Clintons.

That is precisely the equivalent of the police receiving a phone call saying:

“Hello? My husband has just been murdered. He had a knife in his back with the initials of the Russian man who lives next door engraved on it in Cyrillic script. I have employed a private detective who will send you photos of the body and the knife. No, you don’t need to see either of them.”

There is no honest policeman in the world who would agree to that proposition, and neither would Mueller were he remotely an honest man.

Two facts compound this failure.

The first is the absolutely key word of Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, the USA’s $14 billion a year surveillance organisation. Bill Binney is an acknowledged world leader in cyber surveillance, and is infinitely more qualified than Crowdstrike. Bill states that the download rates for the “hack” given by Crowdstrike are at a speed – 41 Megabytes per second – that could not even nearly be attained remotely at the location: thus the information must have been downloaded to a local device, eg a memory stick. Binney has further evidence regarding formatting which supports this.

Mueller’s identification of “DC Leaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” as Russian security services is something Mueller attempts to carry off by simple assertion. Mueller shows DNC Leaks to have been the source of other, unclassified emails sent to Wikileaks that had been obtained under a Freedom of Information request and then Mueller simply assumes, with no proof, the same route was used again for the leaked DNC material. His identification of the Guccifer 2.0 persona with Russian agents is so flimsy as to be laughable. Nor is there any evidence of the specific transfer of the leaked DNC emails from Guccifer 2.0 to Wikileaks. Binney asserts that had this happened, the packets would have been instantly identifiable to the NSA.

Bill Binney is not a “deplorable”. He is the former Technical Director of the NSA. Mike Pompeo met him to hear his expertise on precisely this matter. Binney offered to give evidence to Mueller. Yet did Mueller call him as a witness? No. Binney’s voice is entirely unheard in the report.

Mueller’s refusal to call Binney and consider his evidence was not the action of an honest man.

The second vital piece of evidence we have is from Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA material, in which the CIA themselves outline their capacity to “false flag” hacks, leaving behind misdirecting clues including scraps of foreign script and language. This is precisely what Crowdstrike claim to have found in the “Russian hacking” operation.

So here we have Mueller omitting the key steps of independent forensic examination of the DNC servers and hearing Bill Binney’s evidence. Yet this was not for lack of time. While deliberately omitting to take any steps to obtain evidence that might disprove the “Russian hacking” story, Mueller had boundless time and energy to waste in wild goose chases after totally non-existent links between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign, including the fiasco of interviewing Roger Stone and Randy Credico.

It is worth remembering that none of the charges against Americans arising from the Mueller inquiry have anything to do with Russian collusion or Trump-Wikileaks collusion, which simply do not exist. The charges all relate to entirely extraneous matters dug up, under the extraordinary US system of “Justice”, to try to blackmail those charged with unrelated crimes turned up by the investigation, into fabricating evidence of Russian collusion. The official term for this process of blackmail is of course “plea-bargaining.”

Mueller has indicted 12 Russians he alleges are the GRU agents responsible for the “hack”. The majority of these turn out to be real people who, ostensibly, have jobs and lives which are nothing to do with the GRU. Mueller was taken aback when, rather than simply being in absentia, a number of them had representation in court to fight the charges. Mueller had to back down and ask for an immediate adjournment as soon as the case opened, while he fought to limit disclosure. His entire energies since on this case have been absorbed in submitting motions to limit disclosure, individual by individual, with the object of ensuring that the accused Russians can be convicted without ever seeing, or being able to reply to, the evidence against them. Which is precisely the same as his attitude to contrary evidence in his Report.

Mueller’s failure to examine the servers or take Binney’s evidence pales into insignificance compared to his attack on Julian Assange. Based on no conclusive evidence, Mueller accuses Assange of receiving the emails from Russia. Most crucially, he did not give Assange any opportunity to answer his accusations. For somebody with Mueller’s background in law enforcement, declaring somebody in effect guilty, without giving them any opportunity to tell their side of the story, is plain evidence of malice.

Inexplicably, for example, the Mueller Report quotes a media report of Assange stating he had “physical proof” the material did not come from Russia, but Mueller simply dismisses this without having made any attempt at all to ask Assange himself.

It is also particularly cowardly as Julian was and is held incommunicado with no opportunity to defend himself. Assange has repeatedly declared the material did not come from the Russian state or from any other state. He was very willing to give evidence to Mueller, which could have been done by video-link, by interview in the Embassy or by written communication. But as with Binney and as with the DNC servers, the entirely corrupt Mueller was unwilling to accept any evidence which might contradict his predetermined narrative.

Mueller’s section headed “The GRU’s Transfer of Stolen Material to Wikileaks” is a ludicrous farrago of internet contacts between Wikileaks and persons not proven to be Russian, transferring material not proven to be the DNC leaks. It too is destroyed by Binney and so pathetic that, having pretended he had proven the case of internet transfer, Mueller then gives the game away by adding “The office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred by intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016”. He names Mr Andrew Muller-Maguhn as a possible courier. Yet again, he did not ask Mr Muller-Maguhn to give evidence. Nor did he ask me, and I might have been able to help him on a few of these points.

To run an “investigation” with a pre-determined idea as to who are the guilty parties, and then to name and condemn those parties in a report, without hearing the testimony of those you are accusing, is a method of proceeding that puts the cowardly and corrupt Mr Mueller beneath contempt.

Mueller gives no evidence whatsoever to back up his simple statement that Seth Rich was not the source of the DNC leak. He accuses Julian Assange of “dissembling” by referring to Seth Rich’s murder. It is an interesting fact that the US security services have shown precisely the same level of interest in examining Seth Rich’s computers that they have shown in examining the DNC servers. It is also interesting that this murder features in a report of historic consequences like that of Mueller, yet has had virtually no serious resource put into finding the killer.

Mueller’s condemnation of Julian Assange for allegedly exploiting the death of Seth Rich, would be infinitely more convincing if the official answer to the question “who murdered Seth Rich?” was not “who cares?”.

May 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Robert Mueller Is A Coward And A Liar

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer | The Automatic Earth | February 4, 2019

That statement is going to make me real popular, right? Any criticism of Robert Mueller for many people equals support for President Trump. But it doesn’t, and Mueller really is a coward and a liar, and it’s not hard to make that case, it’s even easier than how he makes his cases, because we can actually prove ours. We also don’t have to pervert the law, but he does.

Robert Mueller is a coward because he again, in his indictment of Roger Stone last week, makes claims against people who can’t defend themselves, and who moreover have in at least one case, that of Julian Assange, previously and repeatedly denied those claims. And Robert Mueller’s a liar because many of his claims are evidently not true; but though he will never be able to prove them, and he knows it, he still makes his ‘case’ based on them.

It’s also public knowledge that Mueller has lied since at least the WMD facade. On February 11 2003, then FBI director Mueller testified before Congress: “… as Director Tenet has pointed out, Secretary Powell presented evidence last week that Baghdad has failed to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, willfully attempting to evade and deceive the international community. Our particular concern is that Saddam Hussein may supply terrorists with biological, chemical, or radiological material.”

We know today he was lying, as was Colin Powell (and the entire Bush administration). Which is also interesting because a number of Mueller’s accusations against various ‘suspects’ are basically just that: someone has lied to Congress and must be punished for it. This is again the case in Roger Stone’s indictment, which would ring awfully hollow without it. And we don’t have to know how true that accusation is to realize that it’s being brought by someone who himself lied to Congress, but was never indicted for it. That is curious no matter how you look at it.

So what would happen if Mueller takes any of his present indictments into a courtroom? Note: as long as he treats those he indicts the same way he treated Paul Manafort and others, he’ll probably never have to present anything in a court; every ‘suspect’ will sign a plea deal because he threatens to destroy them, their freedom, their finances, their families. But what IF he did, purely hypothetically? What proof -not allegations- could he present to a judge about Russians hacking US-based servers or computers?

And what evidence of Julian Assange working with Russians, or with the Trump campaign? He has none. All there is is US intelligence agencies making claims without providing evidence. And they are a party to the whole story, they are not mere observers, so no judge worth his/her salt can accept their word on anything just because it’s them saying it. Even the FBI has to present evidence. In court, that is.

In the meantime, in the absence of a courtroom, Robert Mueller has been free to accuse people for 20 months now, without proof. And what those 20 months have shown us culminates in the Roger Stone indictment, which makes clear -once more- that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Given his legal status, Mueller should be invested with the power to demand he gets the opportunity to talk to Assange. And in the unlikely event that he’s not provided with that opportunity by his superiors, at the very least he must stop talking about Assange. Can’t talk TO him, then stop talking ABOUT him. Sure, he never mentions his name, but that’s just more cowardice. We all know who Organization 1 is in Mueller’s indictments. And we all know who spoke for Organization 1 before he was muzzled.

Mueller could for instance travel to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after negotiating, both with the man himself and with ‘authorities’ from Ecuador, UK and US, to have a meeting with Assange. Considering his importance as head of an investigation into collusion that might topple a president and start a new cold war with Russia, that should be easy to do. But Mueller hasn’t talked to Assange. Nor has he indicated that he tried.

Mueller accusing Assange without talking to him should raise suspicions that he is not interested in finding the truth, but has other goals. And that shines a dark light on his entire investigation. Because of the fact itself, but also because Assange is a pivotal person in the entire Russia collusion narrative. Mueller can’t make his case without accusing, defaming Assange.

Assange is crucial in the Mueller indictment of 12 Russians issued conveniently three days before the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, he’s crucial in the case made against Paul Manafort, and he’s again crucial in the indictment of Roger Stone. Without Assange, Mueller’s hands are empty. Julian is presented as the conduit between Trump and Russia. No conduit, no connection. And Assange has always denied the entire thing, all of it.

People who have been accused of, let alone indicted in, a crime, must be given their day in court, says American law, to be able to defend themselves against their accusers. But Assange is not, which means Robert Mueller is no less than a grave threat to the entire American justice system. Not Mueller alone, for sure, but he, along with the Attorney General and Deputy AG (and believe it or not, the President), are immediately responsible for the way the justice system is being perverted. That is very serious business.

As I said above, Mueller first, supposedly accidentally, dragged Assange into his investigation three days before the July 16 2018 Trump/Putin meeting in Helsinki, when he indicted 12 Russians and ‘Organization 1’. That indictment is here. It was arguably the first tangible thing that came out of the investigation, and while it was heralded as gospel by everyone who wants Trump to hang, it was shot so full of holes by others in no time that the term ‘tangible’ perhaps needs to be replaced.

That first indictment was not based on facts, it was based on faith (in US intelligence). 12 Russians who can’t defend themselves were grouped together as Guccifer 2, whose Russian lineage was also shot to smithereens within hours, and then there was Assange. Last week’s indictment, that of Roger Stone, perhaps -we can’t even be sure- alludes to Stone colluding with either Russians or Assange, but it carries no evidence of any collusion.

As WikiLeaks tweeted: “The indictment doesn’t have any reference to Stone talking to Assange, or Assange talking to Stone, or anyone at WikiLeaks telling him anything, whatsoever. It’s literally old men reading the news and wishing for things.

The job of a Special Counsel, his/her mandate, is to gather evidence of those crimes (s)he has been tasked with investigating. That mandate can be wide, but certainly not unlimited. The job at hand is not to suggest that things MIGHT have happened. It is not to blindly follow everything US intelligence may or may not claim is true, because all accusations will eventually have to be proven in a courtroom.

And it is not to point fingers at people for things the Special Counsel can’t prove they’ve done, or to accuse people who cannot defend themselves against whatever it is he or she might say (because then (s)he might say anything).

Mueller has never charged Assange with anything, despite the fact that Julian is all over all of his indictments. Mueller also refuses to talk to Assange, ostensibly because that way he can continue to accuse him of all manner of unproven ‘crimes’, and if he doesn’t have to prove what he accuses Assange of, he can accuse anyone of being in touch with Assange and conspiring to enact all sorts of collusion.

It’s a pity that America is so divided into a pro-Trump and anti-Trump side, and never the twain shall meet, because the perversion of the justice system exemplified by the Mueller investigation is very real; it’s rotting from the inside. This has not been about Trump, if anything it’s about the justice system granting someone the right to defend themselves, which is being violated by Robert Mueller on a daily basis.

In early 2017, the DOJ attempted to set up meetings with Assange, who in the process offered evidence that there was no Russian involvement in the files WikiLeaks published in 2016. Those attempts, when near completion, were halted by Mueller’s very good friend James Comey and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Warner last week in his capacity as Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman said about the Stone indictment: “It is clear from this indictment that those contacts [between Stone and WikiLeaks] happened at least with the full knowledge of, and appear to have been encouraged by, the highest levels of the Trump campaign..” No, Mr. Warner, that is sort of the exact point here. It is not clear. Nor is it true. And you know that, sir.

A year and a half later, in July 2018, Senator Rand Paul said that if Assange would agree to testify in the US, “I think that he should be given immunity from prosecution in exchange for coming to the United States and testifying” Nothing came from that either. Where was Mueller?

Every single American should be alarmed by this perversion of justice. Nothing to do with what you think of Trump, or of Assange. The very principles of the system are being perverted, including, but certainly not limited to, its deepest core, that of every individual’s right to defend themselves.

Just so Robert Mueller can continue his already failed investigation into collusion that has shown no such thing, and which wouldn’t have been started 20 months ago if we knew then what we know now.

Get off your Trump collusion hobby-horse, that quest has already died regardless, and start defending the legal system and the Constitution. Because if you don’t, what’s to keep the next Robert Mueller from going after you, or someone you like or love? It’s in everyone’s interest to demand that these proceedings – like all legal proceedings- are conducted according to the law, but in Mueller’s hands, they are not.

And that should be a much bigger worry than whether or not you like or dislike a former game-show host.

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Mueller claims evidence shared with Russian firm’s defense leaked to ‘discredit investigation’

RT | January 31, 2019

In an apparent bid to shield his case against alleged Russian trolls from legal challenge, special counsel Robert Mueller claimed some evidence previously provided was hacked and published to discredit his probe.

On Wednesday, Mueller filed a motion to oppose discovery in case against Concord Management and Consulting LLC, which he indicted last February on charges of running the Internet Research Agency, also known as the “St. Petersburg troll factory.”

“Sensitive” evidence in the case cannot be turned over to Concord’s lawyers, because that would make it accessible to their clients in Russia – and back in October, Mueller claimed, someone claimed to have hacked Concord’s computers and posted evidence previously handed over online “as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the US political system.”

It was that claim that got the attention of the media and the ‘Russiagate’ crowd.

What Mueller actually alleges is less headline-worthy and far more tenuous. Namely, on October 22 last year, a Twitter account @HackingRedstone claimed to have gained “access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller,” offering “all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion.”

According to a footnote in the filing, Mueller’s team was informed of this by an unnamed reporter. However, the Twitter account referenced comes up as suspended, and aside from that notice there are no entries for it in the Internet Archive, making Mueller’s claim impossible to independently verify.

The webpage allegedly linked in the tweet is said to have contained “file folders with names and folder structures that are unique to the names and structures of materials… produced by the government in discovery.”

Of the 300,000 files on the site, “over 1,000” matched the hashtag values of documents provided by Mueller to Concord, the filing said. Mueller argued these must have been obtained from Concord, because the FBI “found no evidence” that US government servers fell victim to any hack involving the files. Somewhat confusingly, the filing argued that many other file names used a reference to the Relativity database, which the US government “has not used” to store materials related to this case.

Concord’s lawyers have informed the court that the company’s computers have not been hacked, but Mueller’s filing accused them of lying, saying that the webpage contained “actual discovery materials from this case.”

Because the webpage – which the FBI says was registered to an IP address in Russia – also contained “numerous irrelevant files,” whoever created the page wanted to make it appear as if the dump was the sum total of Mueller’s evidence on “Russian collusion,” and therefore amounted to “an apparent effort to discredit the investigation,” according to the filing.

To wit, Mueller is making an assertion based on a tweet and a webpage – that currently do not exist – to argue that it should not disclose further “sensitive” evidence to defendants in a Russiagate case.

The original indictment of Concord was seen as a major coup for Mueller – the first charges against actual Russians in his open-ended probe of the 2016 US election at that point – but it quickly turned into a headache, when the company’s US lawyers chose to contest the charges and file motions for discovery.

While the indictment against the Internet Research Agency is one of the few results of Mueller’s probe that actually involve Russia, the court prospects of the case were in doubt from the start. All the individuals accused under it are Russian citizens, and Russian Constitution does not allow extradition of its nationals, which means getting the suspects to actually stand trial would be difficult.

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Mueller Withheld “Details That Would Exonerate The President” Of Having Kremlin Backchannel

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | December 3, 2018

It appears that special counsel Robert Mueller withheld key information in its plea deal with Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, which would exonerate Trump and undermine the entire purpose of the special counsel, according to Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations.

Cohen pleaded guilty last week to lying to the Senate intelligence committee in 2017 about the Trump Organization’s plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow – telling them under oath that negotiations he was conducting ended five months sooner than they actually did.

Mueller, however, in his nine-page charging document filed with the court seen by Capitol Hill sources, failed to include the fact that Cohen had no direct contacts at the Kremlin – which undercuts any notion that the Trump campaign had a “backchannel” to Putin.

On page 7 of the statement of criminal information filed against Cohen, which is separate from but related to the plea agreement, Mueller mentions that Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office on Jan. 14, 2016, and again on Jan. 16, 2016. But Mueller, who personally signed the document, omitted the fact that Cohen did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin, and had resorted to sending the emails to a general press mailbox. Sources who have seen these additional emails point out that this omitted information undercuts the idea of a “back channel” and thus the special counsel’s collusion case.RCI

Page 2 of the same charging document offers further evidence that there was no connection between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin; an August 2017 letter from Cohn to the Senate intelligence committee states that Trump “was never in contact with anyone about this [Moscow Project] proposal other than me,” an assertion which Mueller does not contest as false – which means that “prosecutors have tested its veracity through corroborating sources” and found it to be truthful, according to Sperry’s sources. Also unchallenged by Mueller is Cohen’s statement that he “ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”

“Though Cohen may have lied to Congress about the dates,” one Hill investigator said, “it’s clear from personal messages he sent in 2015 and 2016 that the Trump Organization did not have formal lines of communication set up with Putin’s office or the Kremlin during the campaign. There was no secret ‘back channel.’”

“So as far as collusion goes,” the source added, “the project is actually more exculpatory than incriminating for Trump and his campaign.” –RCI

The Trump Tower Moscow meeting – spearheaded by New York real estate developer and longtime FBI and CIA asset, Felix Sater, bears a passing resemblance to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian attorney (who hated Trump), and which was set up by a British concert promotor tied to Fusion GPS – the firm Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid to write the salacious and unverified “Trump-Russia Dossier.”

British concert promotor and Fusion GPS associate Rob Goldstone

“Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the president and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier” –Washington Post

In both the Trump Tower meeting and the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, it is clear that nobody in the Trump campaign had any sort of special access to the Kremlin, while Cohen’s emails and text messages reveal that he failed to establish contact with Putin’s spokesman. He did, however, reach a desk secretary in the spokesman’s office.

What’s more, it was Sater – a Russian immigrant with a dubious past who was representing the Bayrock Group (and not the Trump Organization), who cooked up the Moscow Trump Tower project in 2015 – suggesting that Trump would license his name to the project and share in the profits, but not actually commit capital or build the project.

Felix Sater, FBI and CIA asset, real estate developer, ex-con

Sater went from a “Wall Street wunderkind” working at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, to getting barred from the securities industry over a barroom brawl which led to a year in prison, to facilitating a $40 million pump-and-dump stock scheme for the New York mafia, to working telecom deals in Russia – where the FBI and CIA tapped him as an undercover intelligence asset who was told by his handler “I want you to understand: If you’re caught, the USA is going to disavow you and, at best, you get a bullet in the head.”

The Moscow project, meanwhile, fizzled because Sater didn’t have the pull within the Russian government he said he had. At best, Sater had a third-hand connection to Putin which never panned out.

Sources say Sater, whom Cohen described as a “salesman,” testified to the House intelligence panel in late 2017 that his communications with Cohen about putting Trump and Putin on a stage for a “ribbon-cutting” for a Trump Tower in Moscow were “mere puffery” to try to promote the project and get it off the ground.

Also according to his still-undisclosed testimony, Sater swore none of those communications involved taking any action to influence the 2016 presidential election. None of the emails and texts between Sater and Cohen mention Russian plans or efforts to hack Democrats’ campaign emails or influence the election. –RCI

As Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch noted of Mueller’s strategy: “”Mueller seems desperate to confuse Americans by conflating the cancelled and legitimate Russia business venture with the Russia collusion theory he was actually hired to investigate,” said Fitton. “This is a transparent attempt to try to embarrass the president.”

The MSM took the ball and ran with it anyway

CNN, meanwhile, said that Cohen’s charging documents suggest Trump had a working relationship with Putin, who “had leverage over Trump” due to the project.

“Well into the 2016 campaign, one of the president’s closest associates was in touch with the Kremlin on this project, as we now know, and Michael Cohen says he was lying about it to protect the president,” said CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer.

Jeffrey Toobin – CNN‘s legal analyst, said the Cohen revelations were so “enormous” that Trump “might not finish his term,” while MSNBC pundits said that the court papers prove “Trump secretly interacted with Putin’s own office.”

“Now we have evidence that there was direct communication between the Trump Organization and Putin’s office on this. I mean, this is collusion,” said Mother Jones‘s David Corn.

Adam Schiff, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, said Trump was dealing directly with Putin on real estate ventures, and Democrats will investigate whether Russians laundered money through the Trump Organization. –RCI

As Sperry of RealClearInvestigations points out, however, “former federal prosecutors said Mueller’s filing does not remotely incriminate the president in purported Russia collusion. It doesn’t even imply he directed Cohen to lie to Congress.

“It doesn’t implicate President Trump in any way,” said former independent counsel Solomon L. Wisenberg. “The reality is, this is a nothing-burger.”

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Undue Process: Forgotten FBI Anti-Terrorism Entrapment Debacles

By James Bovard • October 11, 2004

The train wrecks of the Justice Department’s domestic War on Terror continue to pile up. Despite the perennial victory claims by Attorney General John Ashcroft and other high officials, three recent cases vivify how federal prosecutors and FBI agents continue tripping over the evidence—or worse.

On May 7, the FBI arrested Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer, for his alleged involvement in the Madrid train bombings of March 11 that killed 191 and left 2,000 wounded. A U.S. counterterrorism official (almost certainly an FBI or Justice Department official) told Newsweek that Mayfield’s fingerprint was an “absolutely incontrovertible match” to a copy of the fingerprint found on a bag of bomb detonators near the scene of the Madrid attack. News of Mayfield’s arrest provided alarming evidence that Americans were involved in international conspiracies to slaughter civilians around the globe, and he was informed that he could face the death penalty for his crimes.

Employing Patriot Act powers, the feds, prior to the arrest, conducted secret searches of Mayfield’s home and tapped his phone and e-mail. After the arrest, they froze his bank accounts. The FBI’s arrest affidavit revealed that its agents had “observed Mayfield drive to the Bilal Mosque located at 415 160th Ave., Beaverton, Oregon, on several different occasions.” Another incriminating detail in the arrest warrant: Mayfield advertised his legal service in the Muslim Yellow Pages. (Mayfield, a former Army lieutenant, converted to Islam and has an Egyptian wife.) In early April, the Spanish police described Mayfield “as a U.S. military veteran who was already under investigation by U.S. authorities for alleged ties to Islamic terrorism,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Yet the key to the case—the fingerprint—was shakier than a George W. Bush press conference. The FBI quickly claimed to have achieved a match on the partial print, but, on April 13, Spanish government officials warned the FBI that their experts were “conclusively negative” that Mayfield’s print matched the print on the bomb detonator bag. The FBI responded by flying one of its fingerprint analysts to Madrid to explain to the Spaniards why they were wrong. But during the Madrid visit, the FBI expert never requested to see the bag or to get a better copy of the print. The arrest warrant in early May wrongly informed a federal judge that the Spaniards were “satisfied” with the FBI’s match.

Mayfield was arrested as a “material witness,” thereby permitting the feds to hold him as long as they pleased without charging him with a specific crime. The Justice Department refuses to disclose how many people have been or are being held as “material witnesses” in prisons around the country.

After Mayfield was arrested, FBI agents raided his home and office and carted off boxes of his papers and his family’s belongings. Among the items seized were “miscellaneous Spanish documents,” according to an FBI statement to the federal court. These supposedly incriminating papers turned out to be the Spanish homework of Mayfield’s son. Perhaps elite FBI investigators suspected that “Hola, Paco. Como Estas?” was a secret code.

Though the FBI never possessed anything on Mayfield aside from a misidentified fingerprint, it did not hesitate to cast him in sinister colors. The FBI informed a federal judge: “It is believed that Mayfield may have traveled under a false or fictitious name.” But Mayfield, whose passport expired the previous year, insisted he had not left the country. The FBI apparently never bothered to check whether Mayfield had been absent from the U.S. before making one of the most high-profile terrorism arrests of the year.

On May 20, after Spanish authorities announced that they had found a clean match with the fingerprint, the Justice Department acquiesced to Mayfield’s release. A few weeks later, Attorney General Ashcroft informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that his case vindicated the American system of justice: “As a matter of fact, the pride of our system is that people are found innocent because we adjudicate these things.” But there was effectively no adjudication in this case because Mayfield was classified as a “material witness”— which meant that the feds could hold him as long as they chose, or at least until his detention became too embarrassing. Ashcroft also testified, “When we learned that the reservations of the Spanish were so substantial, we went to the court, asked for the release of Mr. Mayfield.” In reality, the Justice Department did not acquiesce until the Spanish government announced that they had arrested the Algerian whose fingerprint matched that on the bag.

FBI director Robert Mueller visited Portland a month after Mayfield’s release and announced that FBI agents had acted appropriately. Yet, as a Portland Oregonian editorial noted, “If not for the Spanish authorities doing their own investigation, Mayfield likely would still be in jail today.” And sadly, the unfortunate Mr. Mayfield is not an isolated case.

On Aug. 5, federal agents carried out middle-of-the-night raids to nab a pizzeria owner and an ambulette driver. Deputy Attorney General James Comey announced at a Washington news conference: “Anyone engaging in terrorist planning would be very wise to consider whether their accomplice is not really one of our guys. We are working very, very hard to infiltrate the enemy.”

Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain were arrested for allegedly taking part in a plot to launder money from a government informant who claimed to be involved with a plan to use a shoulder-fired missile to kill a Pakistani diplomat in New York. The feds used the Patriot Act to sweep up Aref’s phone calls and e-mail messages. Perhaps the most decisive item they unveiled at the initial court hearing was the fact that Aref’s name was discovered in a notebook at an alleged terrorist camp in Iraq (after a night attack in which U.S. soldiers killed 80 of 82 people at the camp). Federal prosecutors brandished the fact that he was identified as “the Commander” and declared that the obliterated group was part of Ansar al-Islam, an al-Qaeda affiliate. The feds’ charges persuaded a federal court to lock up both defendants without bail.

A few weeks later, however, at another court hearing, the Justice Department admitted that the key word was mistranslated. Instead of Arabic, the writing was actually Kurdish; instead of “commander,” it merely said “brother.” Aref, a Kurdish refugee who was the leader of an Albany storefront mosque, had relatives back in the homeland. Even though the feds had been in possession of the notebook for more than a year, they had not bothered to verify the Defense Department’s translation before creating an elaborate sting.

The Justice Department also misrepresented where the notebook was discovered. The Defense Department did not identify the targeted group as terrorist-connected. Instead, at the time of the attack, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan declared, “I will simply tell you that it was a camp area that was confirmed with bad guys.” According to Federal Magistrate David Homer, “There is no evidence … to support the claim that Mr. Aref has any contact with any terrorist organization.”

Federal prosecutors responded quickly to the translation debacle, seeking to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act. A statement from the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section warned, “The United States believes that disclosure of this material would raise issues of national security …” It was curious how a case about a phony plot, an inoperable missile (which the informant purportedly showed the defendants), and phony claims by the government suddenly raised national security concerns. The Justice Department unsuccessfully sought to avoid turning over the transcripts of discussions between the defendants and its agent provocateur. After some of the information was released, “transcripts of the undercover tapes show how much prodding by the informant was needed to lure Hossain into the fictitious terrorist plot,” the Albany Times-Union noted.

The defendants were released on $250,000 bail each, after spending 20 days in custody. Another court hearing is scheduled in Albany for Sept. 15 on whether the Justice Department will be permitted to use the Classified Information Procedures Act to shield its case.

DOJ could use a win, for earlier this month, federal prosecutors were forced to admit that their biggest victory over a terrorist cell was in fact a sham. A week after the 9/11 attacks, federal agents nabbed three Arabs living in an apartment in Detroit. (A fourth suspect was snared in North Carolina.) Federal prosecutors described the men—arrested during a raid in which the FBI was looking for another Arab on a terrorist watch list—as a “sleeper operational combat cell.” Two of the alleged cell members were convicted in June 2003 on charges of providing material aid and support to terrorism. A third was convicted on fraud, and a fourth was acquitted. Ashcroft hailed the verdict: “Today’s convictions send a clear message: The Department of Justice will work diligently to detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells in the United States and abroad.”

The Detroit bust was the only case in which the feds appeared to have nailed a group that may have actually been planning attacks. But after the courtroom victory, the case began to crumble. Federal Judge Gerald Rosen ordered the Justice Department to investigate possible misconduct by lead prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino and others in the case. The controversy mushroomed when Convertino sued Ashcroft, charging him with “gross mismanagement” in the War on Terror.

Perhaps the most decisive physical evidence in the trial was a day planner with a couple of pages of sketches. Federal prosecutors assured the jury that one drawing was an aircraft hanger at a U.S. military base in Turkey and another represented a military hospital in Jordan.

Justice Department prosecutors knew that government experts did not agree with those claims. Instead, most who analyzed one of the simple sketches concluded that it was a rough outline map of the Middle East, not an air-base target in Turkey. At the trial, defense lawyers requested photographs of the alleged Jordanian hospital. Prosecutors falsely denied possessing such photos. The Justice Department’s formal investigation, released in early September, concluded, “It is difficult, if not impossible, to compare the day planner sketches with the photos and see a correlation,” The most important witness to testify against the alleged terrorist cell was Youssef Hmimssa, who co-operated in part because he faced credit-card and other fraud charges. The Detroit News noted that Hmimssa was “a self-described scam artist and crook.” Yet, on the day after Hmimssa finished testifying, Ashcroft publicly declared his co-operation had been “a critical tool” in fighting terrorism and that “his testimony has been of value, substantial value.”

A Justice Department inquiry found that prosecutors failed to turn over more than 100 documents to defense attorneys during the trial, including a letter written by a convict who served time with Hmimissa that stated that the star witness had bragged about “how he lied to the FBI” on the terror-cell case.

Moreover, Convertino ordered FBI agents who interviewed Hmimssa for more than 20 hours to take no notes during the interview. Instead, he briefed the agents after the sessions with Hmimssa and made his own notes, which he repeatedly altered. The Justice Department report observed that there were “discrepancies between these [Convertino’s notes] versions, supporting defense counsel’s claims that Hmimssa’s testimony evolved over time.” The report noted that “Convertino’s approach caused significant controversy” and that one FBI agent was “adamantly opposed” to such a method.

Judge Rosen overturned the convictions declaring, “the prosecution materially misled the court, the jury and the defense as to the nature, character and complexion of critical evidence that provided important foundations for the prosecution’s case.”

These three instances may be only the tip of the iceberg as the government can usually rely on acquiescent federal judges or coerced plea bargains to keep most of its dirty laundry out of view. The public soundbites seek to reassure us that the Justice Department’s domestic War on Terror is going well by invoking largely meaningless numbers. In a July report on the Patriot Act, DOJ bragged, “the Department has charged 310 defendants with criminal offenses as a result of terrorism investigations since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and 179 of those defendants have already been convicted.” But the vast majority of the convictions have had nothing to do with terrorism. Instead, they are a litany of credit-card fraud, visa violations, and other offenses whose prosecution does nothing to protect America against deadly foreign threats—while the pursuit of PR victories over bogus plots diverts resources from real terrorist dangers.

As the election draws closer, the Bush administration may unveil new arrests on terrorism charges. If so, it would be wise to wait until long after the triumphant press conferences to gauge whether the government has finally got the goods—or whether the busts are simply another effort simultaneously to frighten and comfort voters.

_________________________________________________

James Bovard is the author of the just-published The Bush Betrayal (Palgrave Macmillan) and seven other books.

October 14, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | August 28, 2018

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration’s intelligence chief, Dan Coats, as well.

But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

A Sensational Story 

On Sept. 29, 2016, a few weeks after the hacking of election-related websites in Illinois and Arizona, ABC News carried a sensational headline: “Russian Hackers Targeted Nearly Half of States’ Voter Registration Systems, Successfully Infiltrated 4.” The story itself reported that “more than 20 state election systems” had been hacked, and four states had been “breached” by hackers suspected of working for the Russian government. The story cited only sources “knowledgeable” about the matter, indicating that those who were pushing the story were eager to hide the institutional origins of the information.

Behind that sensational story was a federal agency seeking to establish its leadership within the national security state apparatus on cybersecurity, despite its limited resources for such responsibility. In late summer and fall 2016, the Department of Homeland Security was maneuvering politically to designate state and local voter registration databases and voting systems as “critical infrastructure.” Such a designation would make voter-related networks and websites under the protection a “priority sub-sector” in the DHS “National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which already included 16 such sub-sectors.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior DHS officials consulted with many state election officials in the hope of getting their approval for such a designation. Meanwhile, the DHS was finishing an intelligence report that would both highlight the Russian threat to U.S. election infrastructure and the role DHS could play in protecting it, thus creating political impetus to the designation. But several secretaries of state—the officials in charge of the election infrastructure in their state—strongly opposed the designation that Johnson wanted.

On Jan. 6, 2017—the same day three intelligence agencies released a joint “assessment” on Russian interference in the election—Johnson announced the designation anyway.

Media stories continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind hacking attempts of Georgia’s election database.

The facts surrounding the two actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn’t support that premise at all.

In July, Illinois discovered an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters. (The 2018 Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure at 500,000.) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the information and had left it unchanged in the database.

That was a crucial clue to the motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn’t tampered with the voter data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the electoral process. Instead, it was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information.” Ozment was contradicting the line that already was being taken on the Illinois and Arizona hacks by the National Protection and Programs Directorate and other senior DHS officials.

In an interview with me last year, Ken Menzel, the legal adviser to the Illinois secretary of state, confirmed what Ozment had testified. “Hackers have been trying constantly to get into it since 2006,” Menzel said, adding that they had been probing every other official Illinois database with such personal data for vulnerabilities as well. “Every governmental database—driver’s licenses, health care, you name it—has people trying to get into it,” said Menzel.

In the other successful cyberattack on an electoral website, hackers had acquired the username and password for the voter database Arizona used during the summer, as Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan learned from the FBI. But the reason that it had become known, according to Reagan in an interview with Mother Jones, was that the login and password had shown up for sale on the dark web—the network of websites used by cyber criminals to sell stolen data and other illicit wares.

Furthermore, the FBI had told her that the effort to penetrate the database was the work of a “known hacker” whom the FBI had monitored “frequently” in the past. Thus, there were reasons to believe that both Illinois and Arizona hacking incidents were linked to criminal hackers seeking information they could sell for profit.

Meanwhile, the FBI was unable to come up with any theory about what Russia might have intended to do with voter registration data such as what was taken in the Illinois hack. When FBI Counterintelligence official Bill Priestap was asked in a June 2017 hearing how Moscow might use such data, his answer revealed that he had no clue: “They took the data to understand what it consisted of,” said the struggling Priestap, “so they can affect better understanding and plan accordingly in regards to possibly impacting future elections by knowing what is there and studying it.”

The inability to think of any plausible way for the Russian government to use such data explains why DHS and the intelligence community adopted the argument, as senior DHS officials Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra put it, that the hacks “could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome.” But such a strategy could not have had any effect without a decision by DHS and the U.S. intelligence community to assert publicly that the intrusions and other scanning and probing were Russian operations, despite the absence of hard evidence. So DHS and other agencies were consciously sowing public doubts about U.S. elections that they were attributing to Russia.

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

In June 2017, Liles and Manfra testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that an October 2016 DHS intelligence report had listed election systems in 21 states that were “potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors.” They revealed that the sensational story leaked to the press in late September 2016 had been based on a draft of the DHS report. And more importantly, their use of the phrase “potentially targeted” showed that they were arguing only that the cyber incidents it listed were possible indications of a Russian attack on election infrastructure.

Furthermore, Liles and Manfra said the DHS report had “catalogued suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country,” which had been “largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure.” They were referring to a list of eight IP addresses an August 2016 FBI “flash alert” had obtained from the Illinois and Arizona intrusions, which DHS and FBI had not been able to  attribute to the Russian government.

Manfra: No doubt it was the Russians. (C-SPAN)

The DHS officials recalled that the DHS began to “receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states, some of which appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company.” Six of the eight IP addresses in the FBI alert were indeed traced to King Servers, owned by a young Russian living in Siberia. But as DHS cyber specialists knew well, the country of ownership of the server doesn’t prove anything about who was responsible for hacking: As cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr pointed out, the Russian hackers who coordinated the Russian attack on Georgian government websites in 2008 used a Texas-based company as the hosting provider.

The cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect noted in 2016 that one of the other two IP addresses had hosted a Russian criminal market for five months in 2015. But that was not a serious indicator, either. Private IP addresses are reassigned frequently by server companies, so there is not a necessary connection between users of the same IP address at different times.

The DHS methodology of selecting reports of cyber incidents involving election-related websites as “potentially targeted” by Russian government-sponsored hackers was based on no objective evidence whatever. The resulting list appears to have included any one of the eight addresses as well as any attack or “scan” on a public website that could be linked in any way to elections.

This methodology conveniently ignored the fact that criminal hackers were constantly trying to get access to every database in those same state, country and municipal systems. Not only for Illinois and Arizona officials, but state electoral officials.

In fact, 14 of the 21 states on the list experienced nothing more than the routine scanning that occurs every day, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Only six involved what was referred to as a “malicious access attempt,” meaning an effort to penetrate the site. One of them was in Ohio, where the attempt to find a weakness lasted less than a second and was considered by DHS’s internet security contractor a “non-event” at the time.

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

For a year, DHS did not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential serious embarrassment.

On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications said DHS had notified each chief election officer of “any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election.” The phrase “potential targeting” again telegraphed the broad and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media stories.

But the notifications, which took the form of phone calls lasting only a few minutes, provided a minimum of information and failed to convey the significant qualification that DHS was only suggesting targeting as a possibility. “It was a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script,” recalled one state election official who asked not to be identified. “They said [our state] was targeted by Russian government cyber actors.”

A number of state election officials recognized that this information conflicted with what they knew. And if they complained, they got a more accurate picture from DHS. After Wisconsin Secretary of State Michael Haas demanded further clarification, he got an email response from a DHS official  with a different account. “[B]ased on our external analysis,” the official wrote, “the WI [Wisconsin] IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said DHS initially had notified his office “that Russian cyber actors ‘scanned’ California’s Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites.” But under further questioning, DHS admitted to Padilla that what the hackers had targeted was the California Department of Technology’s network.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Byron Dean also denied that any state website with voter- or election-related information had been targeted, and Pablos demanded that DHS “correct its erroneous notification.”

Despite these embarrassing admissions, a statement issued by DHS spokesman Scott McConnell on Sept. 28, 2017 said the DHS “stood by” its assessment that 21 states “were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure.” The statement retreated from the previous admission that the notifications involved “potential targeting,” but it also revealed for the first time that DHS had defined “targeting” very broadly indeed.

It said the category included “some cases” involving “direct scanning of targeted systems” but also cases in which “malicious actors scanned for vulnerabilities in networks that may be connected to those systems or have similar characteristics in order to gain information about how to later penetrate their target.”

It is true that hackers may scan one website in the hope of learning something that could be useful for penetrating another website, as cybersecurity expert Prof. Herbert S. Lin of Stanford University explained to me in an interview. But including any incident in which that motive was theoretical meant that any state website could be included on the DHS list, without any evidence it was related to a political motive.

Arizona’s further exchanges with DHS revealed just how far DHS had gone in exploiting that escape clause in order to add more states to its “targeted” list. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted that DHS had informed her that “the Russian government targeted our voter registration systems in 2016.” After meeting with DHS officials in early October 2017, however, Reagan wrote in a blog post that DHS “could not confirm that any attempted Russian government hack occurred whatsoever to any election-related system in Arizona, much less the statewide voter registration database.”

What the DHS said in that meeting, as Reagan’s spokesman Matt Roberts recounted to me, is even more shocking. “When we pressed DHS on what exactly was actually targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library’s computers system,” Roberts recalled.

In April 2018, a CBS News “60 Minutes” segment reported that the October 2016 DHS intelligence report had included the Russian government hacking of a “county database in Arizona.” Responding to that CBS report, an unidentified “senior Trump administration official” who was well-briefed on the DHS report told Reuters that “media reports” on the issue had sometimes “conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity,” and that the cyberattack on the target in Arizona “was not perpetrated by the Russian government.”

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (Wikimedia)

NSA intelligence analysts claimed in a May 2017 analysis to have documented an effort by Russian military intelligence (GRU) to hack into U.S. electoral institutions. In an intelligence analysis obtained by The Intercept and reported in June 2017, NSA analysts wrote that the GRU had sent a spear-phishing email—one with an attachment designed to look exactly like one from a trusted institution but that contains malware design to get control of the computer—to a vendor of voting machine technology in Florida. The hackers then designed a fake web page that looked like that of the vendor. They sent it to a list of 122 email addresses NSA believed to be local government organizations that probably were “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” The objective of the new spear-phishing campaign, the NSA suggested, was to get control of their computers through malware to carry out the exfiltration of voter-related data.

But the authors of The Intercept story failed to notice crucial details in the NSA report that should have tipped them off that the attribution of the spear-phishing campaign to the GRU was based merely on the analysts’ own judgment—and that their judgment was faulty.

The Intercept article included a color-coded chart from the original NSA report that provides crucial information missing from the text of the NSA analysis itself as well as The Intercept’s account. The chart clearly distinguishes between the elements of the NSA’s account of the alleged Russian scheme that were based on “Confirmed Information” (shown in green) and those that were based on “Analyst Judgment” (shown in yellow). The connection between the “operator” of the spear-phishing campaign the report describes and an unidentified entity confirmed to be under the authority of the GRU is shown as a yellow line, meaning that it is based on “Analyst Judgment” and labeled “probably.”

A major criterion for any attribution of a hacking incident is whether there are strong similarities to previous hacks identified with a specific actor. But the chart concedes that “several characteristics” of the campaign depicted in the report distinguish it from “another major GRU spear-phishing program,” the identity of which has been redacted from the report.

The NSA chart refers to evidence that the same operator also had launched spear-phishing campaigns on other web-based mail applications, including the Russian company “Mail.ru.” Those targets suggest that the actors were more likely Russian criminal hackers rather than Russian military intelligence.

Even more damaging to its case, the NSA reports that the same operator who had sent the spear-phishing emails also had sent a test email to the “American Samoa Election Office.” Criminal hackers could have been interested in personal information from the database associated with that office. But the idea that Russian military intelligence was planning to hack the voter rolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory with 56,000 inhabitants who can’t even vote in U.S. presidential elections, is plainly risible.

The Mueller Indictment’s Sleight of Hand

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers released on July 13 appeared at first reading to offer new evidence of Russian government responsibility for the hacking of Illinois and other state voter-related websites. A close analysis of the relevant paragraphs, however, confirms the lack of any real intelligence supporting that claim.

Mueller accused two GRU officers of working with unidentified “co-conspirators” on those hacks. But the only alleged evidence linking the GRU to the operators in the hacking incidents is the claim that a GRU official named Anatoly Kovalev and “co-conspirators” deleted search history related to the preparation for the hack after the FBI issued its alert on the hacking identifying the IP address associated with it in August 2016.

A careful reading of the relevant paragraphs shows that the claim is spurious. The first sentence in Paragraph 71 says that both Kovalev and his “co-conspirators” researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections and other entities “for website vulnerabilities.” The second says Kovalev and “co-conspirators” had searched for “state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites.”

Mueller: Don’t read the fine print. (The White House/Wikimedia)

Searching for website vulnerabilities would be evidence of intent to hack them, of course, but searching Republican Party websites for email addresses is hardly evidence of any hacking plan. And Paragraph 74 states that Kovalev “deleted his search history”—not the search histories of any “co-conspirator”—thus revealing that there were no joint searches and suggesting that the subject Kovalev had searched was Republican Party emails. So any deletion by Kovalev of his search history after the FBI alert would not be evidence of his involvement in the hacking of the Illinois election board website.

With this rhetorical misdirection unraveled, it becomes clear that the repetition in every paragraph of the section of the phrase “Kovalev and his co-conspirators” was aimed at giving the reader the impression the accusation is based on hard intelligence about possible collusion that doesn’t exist.

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

The DHS campaign to establish its role as the protector of U.S. electoral institutions is not the only case in which that agency has used a devious means to sow fear of Russian cyberattacks. In December 2016, DHS and the FBI published a long list of IP addresses as indicators of possible Russian cyberattacks. But most of the addresses on the list had no connection with Russian intelligence, as former U.S. government cyber-warfare officer Rob Lee found on close examination.

When someone at the Burlington, Vt., Electric Company spotted one of those IP addresses on one of its computers, the company reported it to DHS. But instead of quietly investigating the address to verify that it was indeed an indicator of Russian intrusion, DHS immediately informed The Washington Post. The result was a sensational story that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. power grid. In fact, the IP address in question was merely Yahoo’s email server, as Rob Lee told me, and the computer had not even been connected to the power grid. The threat to the power grid was a tall tale created by a DHS official, which the Post had to embarrassingly retract.

Since May 2017, DHS, in partnership with the FBI, has begun an even more ambitious campaign to focus public attention on what it says are Russian “targeting” and “intrusions” into “major, high value assets that operate components of our Nation’s critical infrastructure”, including energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Any evidence of such an intrusion must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and reported by news media. But in light of the DHS record on alleged threats to election infrastructure and the Burlington power grid, and its well-known ambition to assume leadership over cyber protection, the public interest demands that the news media examine DHS claims about Russian cyber threats far more critically than they have up to now.


Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Is Right About “Flipping”

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | August 27, 2018

In the wake of the federal criminal conviction of former Trump official Paul Manafort and the guilty plea in federal court of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the mainstream press is singing the praises of special prosecutor (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller and the Justice Department.

In the process, Trump’s critics are condemning his denunciation of “flipping,” the process by which federal prosecutors offer a sweet deal to criminal defendants in return for testifying against a “higher-up” who the feds are also prosecuting. The press and the anti-Trumpsters say that such a practice is part of the “rule of law” and essential to the proper administration of justice.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever else might be said about Trump, he is absolutely right on this point. The process of offering sweetheart deals to people in return for their “cooperation” to get someone else convicted has long been one of the most corrupt aspects of the federal criminal-justice system, especially as part of the federal government’s much-vaunted (and much-failed) war on drugs.

Suppose a federal criminal defendant contacts a prospective witness in a case and offers him $50,000 in return for his “cooperation” in his upcoming trial. The money will be paid as soon as the trial is over. The defendant makes it clear that he wants the witness to “tell the truth” but that his “cooperation” when he testifies at trial would be greatly appreciated.

What would happen if federal officials learned about that communication and offer? They would go ballistic. They would immediately secure an indictment for bribery and witness tampering.

What if the defendant says, “Oh, no, I wasn’t tampering with the witness. I specifically told him that I wanted him to tell the truth when he took the witness stand. I was just seeking his friendly ‘cooperation’ with my $50,000 offer to him.”?

It wouldn’t make a difference. Federal prosecutors would go after him with a vengeance on bribery and witness-tampering charges. And it is a virtual certainty that they would get a conviction.

There is good reason for that. The law recognizes that the money could serve as an inducement for the witness to lie. Even though the defendant tells him to “tell the truth,” the witness knows that the fifty grand is being paid to him to help the defendant get acquitted, especially since it is payable after the trial is over. The temptation to lie, in return for the money, becomes strong, which is why the law prohibits criminal defendants from engaging in this type of practice.

Suppose a federal prosecutor says to a witness, “You are facing life in prison on the charges we have brought against you. But if you ‘cooperate’ with us to get John Doe, we will adjust the charges so that the most the judge can do is send you to jail for only 5 years at most. If you are really ‘cooperative,’ we will recommend that the judge give you the lowest possible sentence, perhaps even probation. Oh, one more thing, we want to make it clear that we do want you to tell the truth.”

Do you see the problem? The temptation to please the prosecutor with “cooperation” becomes tremendous. If the witness can help secure a conviction of Doe, he stands to get a much lighter sentence for his successful “cooperation.” The inducement to commit perjury oftentimes takes over, notwithstanding the prosecutor’s admonition to the witness to “tell the truth.”

Defenders of this corrupt process say that without it, prosecutors could never get convictions. That’s pure nonsense. For one thing, prosecutors can secure a conviction against the witness and then force him to testify once his case is over. That’s because a person whose case is over is unable to rely on the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the case against John Doe.

Moreover, the prosecutor can give what is called “use immunity” to the witness, which then forces him to testify in the case against Doe. Use immunity is not full immunity from prosecution. It simply means that the prosecutor cannot use the witness’s testimony against Doe to convict the witness at his trial. The prosecutor must convict him with other evidence.

But even if it means that the prosecutor is unable to secure some convictions, the question has to be asked: Do we want prosecutors securing convictions in this way? After all, there is a related question that must be asked: How many innocent people are convicted by perjured testimony from a witness who is doing his best to “cooperate” with the prosecution in the hope of getting a lighter sentence?

Given all the accolades being accorded Mueller, it is a shame that he has chosen to go down the same corrupt road that all other federal prosecutors have traveled. He didn’t have to do that. He could have led the way out of this immoral morass by taking a firm and public stand against this corrupt procedure. The fact that he has chosen instead to participate in it is a shame, to say the least.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Spying on Trump

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | August 27, 2018

It is ironic that the Robert Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Donald Trump campaign continues to turn up nothing while the evidence of Israeli interference in the U.S. political system continues to surface without any outrage being expressed by either the media or American politicians.

The most recent revelation concerns a payment of $10,000 given to former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos in an Israeli hotel room in July 2017. A self-described Israeli businessman named Charles Tawil provided the money at the meeting, which was set up after Tawil flew to the Greek island Mykonos, where he met Papadopoulos and invited him to come to Israel to discuss some possible business relating to an oil and gas project in the Aegean Sea. Papadopoulos had met Tawil through an Israeli “political strategist” David Ha’ivri, who is a hard-line Israeli settler with close ties to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Papadopoulos agreed to do so, leaving his wife Simona in Greece.

Papadopoulos took the money as a retainer and signed a contract for additional consulting services at $10,000 per month before he returned to Greece, where he gave the money to an attorney friend to hold. He shortly thereafter flew to Dulles International Airport near Washington, where he was arrested on May 27th and charged with giving false statements to the FBI. He was convicted in October and is due to be sentenced next week.

In an email, Ha’ivri explained how “We discussed potential consultancy work for business in the Aegean, Cyprus and Middle East focusing on business related to gas and petroleum infrastructure because of Charles’ network of contacts and George’s specialization. The retainer would go firstly to cover [George’s] needs as he said that he had financial problems.”

Ha’ivri also described how the agreement quickly fell apart due to Papadopoulos’ “immaturity.” He concluded that “After that the whole story fell apart. Charles left back to Washington and the story was over.”

In an interview, Simona Papadopoulos identified several “shady characters” who she said approached her husband during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. She mentioned “someone we met in Mykonos, an Israeli person who flew to Mykonos to discuss business.” Papadopoulos was also approached by a number of other suspicious individuals who clearly were seeking to establish some kind of relationship with him, to include a Maltese named Joseph Mifsud, who might have had a Russian energy company connection; Sergei Millian, an alleged source for the notorious Steele dossier; and an FBI informant named Stefan Halper.

Tawil, who does not come up on normal records searches, is on Linkedin with zero biographical information. He claims to be the consultant for a company called Gestomar located in Silver Spring Maryland, which does not appear to exist. Papadopoulos reportedly believed him to be an Israeli spy and revealed the details of the contact to Robert Mueller, who appears to have done nothing with the information.

The approach to George Papadopoulos was typical spy tradecraft for recruiting a source. Papadopoulos was in financial difficulties, the agreement was to serve as a consultant for an unknown company by an individual using a cover name, and it was apparently presumed that the new spy would be able to report on details coming from inside the still-forming Trump government. Papadopoulos was introduced to the Mossad officer Tawil by Ha’ivri, who is well known in political circles and therefore credible and non-threatening. This is, of course, largely speculation but one has to wonder why the possible Israeli attempt to spy on the new Trump Administration has been so ignored.

In an earlier manifestation of Israelgate, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn also was eventually forced to admit that he had lied to the FBI about what was said during two telephone conversations with then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.

The two phone calls in question include absolutely nothing about possible collusion with Russia to change the outcome of the U.S. election, which allegedly was the raison d’etre behind the creation of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office in the first place. Both took place more than a month after the election and both were initiated by the Americans involved.

The first phone call to Kislyak, on December 22nd, was made by Flynn at the direction of Jared Kushner, who in turn had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama Administrating was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a U.N. resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included a call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23rd.

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner the White House’s point man on the Middle East. He and his family have extensive ties both to Israel and to Netanyahu personally, to include Netanyahu’s staying at the Kushner family home in New York. The Kushner Family Foundation has funded some of Israel’s illegal settlements and also a number of conservative political groups in that country. Jared has served as a director of that foundation and it is reported that he failed to disclose the relationship when he filled out his background investigation sheet for a security clearance. All of which suggests that if you are looking for possible foreign government collusion with the Trumpsters, look no further.

Kushner was, in fact, trying to clandestinely reverse a decision made by the legally constituted American government and he was doing so on behalf of Netanyahu. He asked the soon-to-be National Security Advisor to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power U.S. government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms, this could be construed as a “conspiracy against the United States” that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort.

Together the Papadopoulos and Flynn tales suggest that it was Israel, not Russia, that sought to both collude with and even spy on the Trump Administration, which should surprise no one. Unfortunately, in spite of the evidence, the possibility that the “interference” will ever be subject to any Congressional investigation remains extremely unlikely.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 2 Comments

Moon-Strzok No More, Lisa Page Spills the Beans

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | July 23, 2018

Former FBI attorney Lisa Page has reportedly told a joint committee of the House of Representatives that when FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok texted her on May 19, 2017 saying there was “no big there there,” he meant there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It was clearly a bad-luck day for Strzok, when on Friday the 13th this month Page gave her explanation of the text to the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees and in effect threw her lover, Strzok, under the bus.

Strzok’s apparent admission to Page about there being “no big there there” was reported on Friday by John Solomon in The Hill based on multiple sources who he said were present during Page’s closed door interview.

Strzok’s text did not come out of the blue. For the previous ten months he and his FBI subordinates had been trying every-which-way to ferret out some “there” — preferably a big “there” — but had failed miserably. It is appearing more and more likely that there was nothing left for them to do but to make it up out of whole cloth, with the baton then passed to special counsel Robert Mueller.

The “no there there” text came just two days after former FBI Director James Comey succeeded in getting his friend Mueller appointed to investigate the alleged collusion that Strzok was all but certain wasn’t there.

Strzok during his public testimony earlier this month.

Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of Consortium News whom Solomon described to me last year as his model for journalistic courage and professionalism, was already able to discern as early as March 2017 the outlines of what is now Deep State-gate, and, typically, was the first to dare report on its implications.

Parry’s article, written two and a half months before Strzok texted the self-incriminating comment to Page on there being “no big there there,” is a case study in professional journalism. His very first sentence entirely anticipated Strzok’s text: “The hysteria over ‘Russia-gate’ continues to grow … but at its core there may be no there there.”(Emphasis added.)

As for “witch-hunts,” Bob and others at Consortiumnews.com, who didn’t succumb to the virulent HWHW (Hillary Would Have Won) virus, and refused to slurp the Kool-Aid offered at the deep Deep State trough, have come close to being burned at the stake — virtually. Typically, Bob stuck to his guns: he ran an organ (now vestigial in most Establishment publications) that sifted through and digested actual evidence and expelled drivel out the other end.

Those of us following the example set by Bob Parry are still taking a lot of incoming fire — including from folks on formerly serious — even progressive — websites. Nor do we expect a cease-fire now, even with Page’s statement (about which, ten days after her interview, the Establishment media keep a timorous silence). Far too much is at stake.

As Mark Twain put it, “It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” And, as we have seen over the past couple of years, that goes in spades for “Russia-gate.” For many of us who have looked into it objectively and written about it dispassionately, we are aware, that on this issue, we are looked upon as being in sync with President Donald Trump.

Blind hatred for the man seems to thwart any acknowledgment that he could ever be right about something—anything. This brings considerable awkwardness. Chalk it up to the price of pursuing the truth, no matter what bedfellows you end up with.

Courage at The Hill 

Page: Coughs up the meaning of ‘there.’

Solomon’s article merits a careful read, in toto. Here are the most germane paragraphs:

“It turns out that what Strzok and Lisa Page were really doing that day [May 19, 2017] was debating whether they should stay with the FBI and try to rise through the ranks to the level of an assistant director (AD) or join Mueller’s special counsel team. [Page has since left the FBI.]

“‘Who gives a f*ck, one more AD [Assistant Director] like [redacted] or whoever?’” Strzok wrote, weighing the merits of promotion, before apparently suggesting what would be a more attractive role: ‘An investigation leading to impeachment?’ …

“A few minutes later Strzok texted his own handicap of the Russia evidence: ‘You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I’d be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.’

“So the FBI agents who helped drive the Russia collusion narrative — as well as Rosenstein’s decision to appoint Mueller — apparently knew all along that the evidence was going to lead to ‘nothing’ and, yet, they proceeded because they thought there was still a possibility of impeachment.”

Solomon adds: “How concerned you are by this conduct is almost certainly affected by your love or hatred for Trump. But put yourself for a second in the hot seat of an investigation by the same FBI cast of characters: You are under investigation for a crime the agents don’t think occurred, but the investigation still advances because the desired outcome is to get you fired from your job. Is that an FBI you can live with?”

The Timing

As noted, Strzok’s text was written two days after Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2016. The day before, on May 16, The New York Times published a story that Comey leaked to it through an intermediary that was expressly designed (as Comey admitted in Congressional testimony three weeks later) to lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Hmmmmm.

Had Strzok forgotten to tell his boss that after ten months of his best investigative efforts — legal and other—he could find no “there there”?

Comey’s leak, by the way, was about alleged pressure from Trump on Comey to go easy on Gen. Michael Flynn for lying at an impromptu interrogation led by — you guessed it — the ubiquitous, indispensable Peter Strzok.

In any event, the operation worked like a charm — at least at first. And — absent revelation of the Strzok-Page texts — it might well have continued to succeed. After Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named Mueller, one of Comey’s best buddies, to be special counsel, Mueller, in turn, picked Strzok to lead the Russia-gate team, until the summer, when the Department of Justice Inspector General was given the Strzok-Page texts and refused to sit on them.

A Timeline

Here’s a timeline, which might be helpful:

2017

May 16: Comey leak to NY Times to get a special counsel appointed

May 17: Special counsel appointed — namely, Robert Mueller.

May 19: Strzok confides to girlfriend Page, “No big there there.”

July: Mueller appoints Strzok lead FBI Agent on collusion investigation.

August: Mueller removes Strzok after learning of his anti-Trump texts to Page.

Dec. 12: DOJ IG releases some, but by no means all, relevant Strzok-Page texts to Congress and the media, which first reports on Strzok’s removal in August.

2018

June 14: DOJ IG Report Published.

June 15; Strzok escorted out of FBI Headquarters.

June 21: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces Strzok has lost his security clearances.

July 12: Strzok testifies to House committees. Solomon reports he refused to answer question about the “there there” text.

July 13: Lisa Page interviewed by same committees. Answers the question.

Earlier: Bob Parry in Action

Journalist Robert Parry

On December 12, 2017, as soon as first news broke of the Strzok-Page texts, Bob Parry and I compared notes by phone. We agreed that this was quite big and that, clearly, Russia-gate had begun to morph into something like FBI-gate. It was rare for Bob to call me before he wrote; in retrospect, it seemed to have been merely a sanity check.

The piece Bob posted early the following morning was typical Bob. Many of those who click on the link will be surprised that, last December, he already had pieced together most of the story. Sadly, it turned out to be Bob’s last substantive piece before he fell seriously ill. Earlier last year he had successfully shot downother Russia-gate-related canards on which he found Establishment media sorely lacking — “Facebook-gate,” for example.

Remarkably, it has taken another half-year for Congress and the media to address — haltingly — the significance of Deep State-gate — however easy it has become to dissect the plot, and identify the main plotters. With Bob having prepared the way with his Dec.13 article, I followed up a few weeks later with “The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate,” in the process winning no friends among those still suffering from the highly resistant HWHW virus.

VIPS

Parry also deserves credit for his recognition and appreciation of the unique expertise and analytical integrity among Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and giving us a secure, well respected home at Consortium News.

It is almost exactly a year since Bob took a whole lot of flak for publishing what quickly became VIPS’ most controversial, and at the same time perhaps most important, Memorandum For the President; namely, “Intelligence Veterans Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence.”

Critics have landed no serious blows on the key judgments of that Memorandum, which rely largely on the type of forensic evidence that Comey failed to ensure was done by his FBI because the Bureau never seized the DNC server. Still more forensic evidence has become available over recent months to be soon revealed on Consortium News, confirming our conclusions.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and, in retirement, co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

July 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m the Reporter Mentioned in Mueller’s Indictment. Why Hasn’t He Spoken to Me?

By Lee Stranahan | Sputnik | July 18, 2018

I was as surprised as anyone last Friday, when just days before US President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller dropped an indictment against 12 Russian nationals claiming that they were Guccifer 2.0, the entity that took credit on June 15, 2016, for the hack of the DNC and DCCC.

I was even more surprised to find that I was discussed in Mueller’s indictment.

Section 43c of the indictment says, “On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter Movement. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release.”

I am that reporter.

Part of the reason I was surprised is that I have never been contacted by anyone from Mueller’s investigative team. That’s one reason I personally know that this is a shoddy investigation, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

When I saw that I was being discussed in the indictment, I immediately mentioned it on Twitter. I also made it clear to the media that I was available for interviews. No media outlet has contacted me.

I went public because I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the reason that Mueller’s team knew about my contacts with Guccifer 2.0 is because I posted the direct messages we exchanged over Twitter myself a year ago.

For the record, I didn’t know who Guccifer 2.0 was at the time and I still don’t, despite Mueller’s indictment. I have never believed that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian state actor and have seen no evidence that persuades me otherwise.

At the time of this contact with Guccifer 2.0, I was the lead investigative reporter for Breitbart News ; today, I co-host the best morning news radio show in America, Fault Lines with Nixon and Stranahan, which airs Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Radio Sputnik. Fault Lines is broadcast on 105.5 FM and 1390 AM in Washington, DC, and around the world on the Sputnik News website.

Of course, just seeing both Russian-funded Sputnik and formerly Steve Bannon-led-Breitbart News on my resume is enough to give many in the media the flutters. Never mind that I also wrote for years at the Huffington Post or did independent journalism on issues like the Syrian war, which I traveled to Beirut in 2013 to cover. All of that and more gets left out of media narrative on Russian CollusionTM!

Thus, the New York Times only mentions my work at Breitbart and Sputnik in their scarily titled article, Tracing Guccifer 2.0’s Many Tentacles in the 2016 Election. And like Mueller’s team, the New York Times also never bothered to get in touch with me for their story.

A few hours after the Mueller indictment came out, I left for my planned trip to Helsinki to cover the Trump-Putin summit for Sputnik.

A couple of days later, CNN’s Jake Tapper retweeted my initial tweet about my cameo in the indictment and added the comment “Employee for Sputnik confirms that when he was at Breitbart he was in touch with who DOJ says was Russian military intelligence masquerading as hacker Guccifer 2.0.”

I’ve spoken to Jake privately a number of times in the past. He’s praised my work on other stories. I’m easy to reach. Yet despite highlighting my contact with Guccifer 2.0, Tapper has also not reached out to interview me.

It’s almost like the media and Muller have no interest in hearing what I have to say. No, wait — it’s exactly like that, because there’s plenty that the indictment and the media leave out.

For example, when Guccifer 2.0 contacted me on August 22, 2016, Steve Bannon was no longer leading Breitbart News. Whoever Guccifer 2.0 is, they expressed no interest at all in the fact that Bannon had left Breitbart to head the Trump campaign.

Furthermore, when the indictment says I was given material on the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s not exactly accurate, something Mueller would know if he’d ever talked to me.

In fact, I was sent a file with a few documents, including one that was a memo about the Black Lives Matter movement that was sent out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). That document sparked my interest because I’d been covering Black Lives Matter for months and had been arrested a little over a month earlier while covering the protests over the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. I was one of four journalists arrested. (All charges were dropped and we reached a very small settlement with the city.)

If the Muller investigation was legitimately trying to get to the truth, I’d think they would have asked me for this set of files, since it might contain useful information for a forensic investigation. I’d think they would also want to see my direct messages with Guccifer 2.0 for themselves.

That might not be possible now. You see, after Mueller’s indictment was released, the public Twitter account for Guccifer 2.0 was removed from Twitter. I no longer have live access to my direct messages, nor can the public see the account for themselves live on Twitter. For anyone wanting to make up his or her own mind about this facet of the Russiagate narrative, including through viewing the original information for themselves, this is an interesting development.

Luckily, researcher Adam Carter has saved screen captures of the entire account as well as Guccifer 2.0’s WordPress site on his must-read site dedicated to Guccifer 2.0.

People disinclined to simply take Mueller at his word on his unproven accusations will also want to read this article by Carter showing the contradictions between the information in the Mueller indictment and what is available already in public record.

Anyone who looks at that record for themselves can see what the media isn’t telling you — that I was far from the first journalist to talk to or interview Guccifer 2.0. It also makes clear that I did not request info from Guccifer 2.0, but was offered it.

However, as I’ve said, I did nothing remotely wrong in talking to Guccifer 2.0, no matter who is ultimately shown to be behind the account. I was following a story and working a lead. I wanted to find out who Guccifer 2.0 really was and I still do.

Robert Mueller’s investigation has now muddied that trail, and hindered the efforts of truth seekers everywhere.

The author is Lee Stranahan, co-host of Fault Lines on Radio Sputnik. 

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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