Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspiracy

Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:52 am

Obama Loses His War on Whistleblowers
by Craig Murray
12 Dec, 2016

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Obama has waged a vicious War on Whistleblowers, the details of which are insufficiently known to the public. High level security officials, true American patriots like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou have been handcuffed, dragged through the courts and jailed. William Binney had guns pointed at himself and his wife in their home. Chelsea Manning endures constant persecution and humiliation which meets the bar of cruel and degrading punishment. Edward Snowden pines in exile. These are just the highest profile examples. Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind Obama’s hard line attacks on whistleblowers.

Under Obama, whistleblowers face a total of 751 months behind bars — compared to 24 months for all other whistleblowers combined since the American Revolution. The protection of free speech and truth-telling has been wrenched away under Obama.

I am proud to be a whistleblower myself, and like Drake, Kiriakou, Binney, Manning and Snowden a recipient of the annual Sam Adams award. We have another recipient – Julian Assange – who is a most useful ally indeed.

Whistleblowers seemed a soft target. Indeed seven years into his Presidency Obama seemed to be winning the War on Whistleblowers hands down, leaving them serving time or marginalised and cast out from society.

But Obama/Clinton miscalculated massively. If you set up the super surveillance state, hoovering up all the internet traffic of pretty well everybody, that is not just going to affect the ordinary people whom the elite despise. There is also going to be an awful lot of traffic intercepted from sleazy members of the elite connected to even the most senior politicians, revealing all their corruption and idiosyncracies. From people like John Podesta, to take an entirely random example. And once the super surveillance state has intercepted and stored all that highly incriminating material, you never know if some decent human being, some genuine patriot, from within the security services is going to feel compelled to turn whistleblower.

Then they might turn for help to, to take another entirely random example, Julian Assange.

Obama/Clinton have perished politically as an example of the ultimate in political hubris. Downed by their own surveillance super state. Obama/Clinton’s War on Whistleblowers resulted in the most humiliating of defeats, and now they are political history. This is karma for their persecution of some of the best people in their nation. Good riddance.

All nothing to do with any Russians.

Disclaimer – though I reference fellow holders of the Sam Adams award, this does not indicate a joint effort or that individual award holders or the Sam Adams Associates necessarily agree with actions taken.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:29 pm

RT beats internet to break #Podestaemails6 & everybody loses their minds (conspiracy theory warning)
by RT.com
13 Oct, 2016

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RT breaking the latest Podesta emails before WikiLeaks sparked accusations of collusion with the whistleblowing organization. Actually, no conspiracies were involved – just good journalism.

Having discovered over 1,800 emails date-stamped October 13 on the WikiLeaks site, RT sprung into action.

RT America ✔ @RT_America
#BREAKING: #WikiLeaks releases 6th #Podesta #email batch http://on.rt.com/7rtd #PodestaEmails6
6:09 AM - 13 Oct 2016


Wikileaks followed shortly after by tweeting that #PodestaEmails6 were now available.

WikiLeaks ✔ @wikileaks
RELEASE: The Podesta Emails Part 6 (almost 2000 new emails) https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/?q ... archresult … #HillaryClinton #PodestaEmails #PodestaEmails6
6:38 AM - 13 Oct 2016


Despite the documents being public when discovered by RT, accusations soon began that it was proof that Russia and WikiLeaks are somehow working together. Christopher Miller, a journalist for the US government-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, set the wheels of suspicion in motion.

Christopher Miller ✔ @ChristopherJM
Earlier today, @RT_com tweeted & pubbed a story on fresh @wikileaks Podesta emails dump before WL posted them to the site & tweeted a link.
7:41 AM - 13 Oct 2016


Hillary Clinton’s Press Secretary Brian Fallon then followed suit, tweeting that the work by RT journalists was part of a conspiracy “in service of Trump”.

Brian Fallon ✔ @brianefallon
More evidence of Russian collusion with @Wikileaks in service of Trumphttps://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/ ... 29313?s=03
8:47 AM - 13 Oct 2016


WikiLeaks even stepped in to clarify that the emails were available, just not tweeted, and that RT had not acquired them in any other way.

13 Oct
Christopher Miller ✔ @ChristopherJM
Earlier today, @RT_com tweeted & pubbed a story on fresh @wikileaks Podesta emails dump before WL posted them to the site & tweeted a link. pic.twitter.com/nHb0GIq4Am


WikiLeaks ✔ @wikileaks
@ChristopherJM @RT_com No they didn't. The release was visible to anyone looking at https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/?q ... archresult … well before our first tweet.
9:30 AM - 13 Oct 2016


Wikileaks - The Podesta emails
WikiLeaks series on deals involving Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta. Mr Podesta is a long-term associate of the Clintons and was President Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff from 1998 until...
wikileaks.org


Brian Fallon was contacted by an RT journalist. We offered to explain to him how the team broke the news. He has not responded.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:28 pm

Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails - they were handed over to him at a D.C. park by an intermediary for 'disgusted' Democratic whistleblowers
by Alana Goodman
Dailymail.com
Dec 20th 2016

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A Wikileaks envoy today claims he personally received Clinton campaign emails in Washington D.C. after they were leaked by 'disgusted' whisteblowers - and not hacked by Russia.

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, told Dailymail.com that he flew to Washington, D.C. for a clandestine hand-off with one of the email sources in September.

'Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,' said Murray in an interview with Dailymail.com on Tuesday. 'The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.'

His account contradicts directly the version of how thousands of Democratic emails were published before the election being advanced by U.S. intelligence.

Murray is a controversial figure who was removed from his post as a British ambassador amid allegations of misconduct. He was cleared of those but left the diplomatic service in acrimony.

'Torture intelligence' criticised
by BBC News
11 October, 2004

The UK ambassador to Uzbekistan has criticised MI6 for using intelligence allegedly gained through torture, according to newspaper reports.

In a confidential internal document leaked to the Financial Times, Craig Murray said Uzbek officials abused prisoners to extract information.

The intelligence was used by MI6 after being passed on by the CIA, he alleges.

Mr Murray has been an outspoken critic of the regime's human rights record throughout his two years as ambassador.

The private Foreign Office memo reportedly shows Mr Murray's concerns about Britain's use of intelligence gained by such means.

The Foreign Office has responded saying the British government, including intelligence agencies, has never used torture to obtain information or incited others to do so.

According to the Financial Times, Mr Murray says "Torture dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe."

And he claims the Uzbeks exaggerate the activity of local militants and their links with al-Qaeda.

He reportedly says MI6 has a yen for highly-coloured material that exaggerates the threat and he concludes "we are selling our souls for dross".

Mr Murray has been a vocal critic of Uzbekistan's human rights record.

In his first speech upon taking the job he said: "Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy".


His links to Wikileaks are well known and while his account is likely to be seen as both unprovable and possibly biased, it is also the first intervention by Wikileaks since reports surfaced last week that the CIA believed Russia hacked the Clinton emails to help hand the election to Donald Trump.

Murray's claims about the origins of the Clinton campaign emails comes as U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly confident that Russian hackers infiltrated both the Democratic National Committee and the email account of top Clinton aide John Podesta.

In Podesta's case, his account appeared to have been compromised through a basic 'phishing' scheme, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly told members of Congress during classified briefings that they believe Russians passed the documents on to Wikileaks as part of an influence operation to swing the election in favor of Donald Trump.

But Murray insisted that the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks did not come from the Russians, and were given to the whistleblowing group by Americans who had authorized access to the information.

'Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,' Murray said. 'The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.'

He said the leakers were motivated by 'disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.'

Murray said he retrieved the package from a source during a clandestine meeting in a wooded area near American University, in northwest D.C. He said the individual he met with was not the original person who obtained the information, but an intermediary.

His account cannot be independently verified but is in line with previous statements by Wikileaks - which was the organization that published the Podesta and DNC emails.

Wikileaks published the DNC messages in July and the Podesta messages in October. The messages revealed efforts by some DNC officials to undermine the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was running against Hillary Clinton.

Others revealed that Clinton aides were concerned about potential conflicts and mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation.

Murray declined to say where the sources worked and how they had access to the information, to shield their identities.

He suggested that Podesta's emails might be 'of legitimate interest to the security services' in the U.S., due to his communications with Saudi Arabia lobbyists and foreign officials.

Murray said he was speaking out due to claims from intelligence officials that Wikileaks was given the documents by Russian hackers as part of an effort to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.

'I don't understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn't true,' he said. 'Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that.'

Murray was a vocal critic of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan while serving as ambassador between 2002 and 2004, a stance that pitted him against the UK Foreign Office.

He describes himself as a 'close associate' of Julian Assange and has spoken out in support of the Wikileaks founder who has faced rape allegations and is currently confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange has similarly disputed that charges that Wikileaks received the leaked emails from Russian sources.

'The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything,' Assange told John Pilger during an interview in November.

'Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That's false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source.'

The Washington Post reported last Friday that U.S. intelligence agencies had 'identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails.'

The paper said U.S. senators were presented with information tying Russia to the leaks during a recent briefing by intelligence officials.

'It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,' a senior U.S. official familiar with the briefing told the Post. 'That's the consensus view.'

The paper said U.S. senators were presented with information tying Russia to the leaks during a recent briefing by intelligence officials.

'It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,' a senior U.S. official familiar with the briefing told the Post. 'That's the consensus view.'

The Obama administration has been examining Russia's potential role in trying to influence the presidential election. Officials said Russians hacked the Republican National Committee, but did not release that information in a deliberate effort to damage Clinton and protect Donald Trump.

Several congressional committees are also looking into the suspected Russian interference.

While there is a consensus on Capitol Hill that Russia hacked U.S. political groups and officials, some Republicans say it's not clear whether the motive was to try to swing the election or just to collect intelligence.

'Now whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that's the subject of investigation,' said Sen. John McCain on CBS Face the Nation. 'But facts are stubborn things, they did hack into this campaign.'

President elect Donald Trump raised doubts about the reports and said this was an 'excuse' by Democrats to explain Clinton's November loss.

'It's just another excuse. I don't believe it,' said Trump on Fox News Sunday.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:10 am

Why Vladimir Putin's Russia Is Backing Donald Trump
by Kurt Eichenwald
11/4/16

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In phone calls, meetings and cables, America’s European allies have expressed alarm to one another about Donald Trump’s public statements denying Moscow’s role in cyberattacks designed to interfere with the U.S. election. They fear the Republican nominee for president has emboldened the Kremlin in its unprecedented cybercampaign to disrupt elections in multiple countries in hopes of weakening Western alliances, according to intelligence, law enforcement and other government officials in the United States and Europe.

While American intelligence officers have privately briefed Trump about Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. election, he has publicly dismissed that information as unreliable, instead saying this hacking of incredible sophistication and technical complexity could have been done by some 400-pound “guy sitting on their bed” or even a child.

Officials from two European countries tell Newsweek that Trump’s comments about Russia’s hacking have alarmed several NATO partners because it suggests he either does not believe the information he receives in intelligence briefings, does not pay attention to it, does not understand it or is misleading the American public for unknown reasons. One British official says members of that government who are aware of the scope of Russia’s cyberattacks both in Western Europe and America found Trump’s comments “quite disturbing” because they fear that, if elected, the Republican presidential nominee would continue to ignore information gathered by intelligence services in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.

Trump’s behavior, however, has at times concerned the Russians, leading them to revise their hacking and disinformation strategy. For example, when Trump launched into an inexplicable attack on the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who died in combat, the Kremlin assumed the Republican nominee was showing himself psychologically unfit to be president and would be forced by his party to withdraw from the race. As a result, Moscow put its hacking campaign temporarily on hold, ending the distribution of documents until Trump stabilized, both personally and in the polls, according to reports provided to Western intelligence.

America’s European partners are also troubled by the actions of several people close to Trump’s campaign and company. Trump has been surrounded by advisers and associates with economic and familial links to Russia. The publicized connections and contacts between former campaign manager Paul Manafort with Ukraine have raised concerns. Former Trump adviser Carter Page is being probed by American and European intelligence on allegations that he engaged in back-channel discussions with Russian government officials over the summer. Page did travel to Moscow, but he denies any inappropriate contact with Russian officials. The allies are also uneasy about retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a Trump adviser who was reportedly considered a possible running mate for the GOP nominee. Last December, Flynn attended a dinner at the Metropol Hotel in honor of the 10th anniversary of RT, a Russian news agency that has been publicly identified by American intelligence as a primary outlet for Moscow’s disinformation campaigns. Flynn, who was two seats away from Russian President Vladimir Putin at the dinner, has frequently appeared on RT, despite public warnings by American intelligence that the news agency is used for Russian propaganda.

Image
Balance of Power 2016: DIA's Trump vs. CIA's PropOrNot
by Tara Carreon


The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’ The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

‘Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,’ the former JCS adviser said. ‘The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.

Germany, Israel and Russia were in contact with the Syrian army, and able to exercise some influence over Assad’s decisions – it was through them that US intelligence would be shared. Each had its reasons for co-operating with Assad: Germany feared what might happen among its own population of six million Muslims if Islamic State expanded; Israel was concerned with border security; Russia had an alliance of very long standing with Syria, and was worried by the threat to its only naval base on the Mediterranean, at Tartus. ‘We weren’t intent on deviating from Obama’s stated policies,’ the adviser said. ‘But sharing our assessments via the military-to-military relationships with other countries could prove productive. It was clear that Assad needed better tactical intelligence and operational advice. The JCS concluded that if those needs were met, the overall fight against Islamist terrorism would be enhanced. Obama didn’t know, but Obama doesn’t know what the JCS does in every circumstance and that’s true of all presidents.’

Once the flow of US intelligence began, Germany, Israel and Russia started passing on information about the whereabouts and intent of radical jihadist groups to the Syrian army; in return, Syria provided information about its own capabilities and intentions. There was no direct contact between the US and the Syrian military; instead, the adviser said, ‘we provided the information – including long-range analyses on Syria’s future put together by contractors or one of our war colleges – and these countries could do with it what they chose, including sharing it with Assad. We were saying to the Germans and the others: “Here’s some information that’s pretty interesting and our interest is mutual.” End of conversation. The JCS could conclude that something beneficial would arise from it – but it was a military to military thing, and not some sort of a sinister Joint Chiefs’ plot to go around Obama and support Assad. It was a lot cleverer than that. If Assad remains in power, it will not be because we did it. It’s because he was smart enough to use the intelligence and sound tactical advice we provided to others.’

The public history of relations between the US and Syria over the past few decades has been one of enmity. Assad condemned the 9/11 attacks, but opposed the Iraq War. George W. Bush repeatedly linked Syria to the three members of his ‘axis of evil’ – Iraq, Iran and North Korea – throughout his presidency. State Department cables made public by WikiLeaks show that the Bush administration tried to destabilise Syria and that these efforts continued into the Obama years. In December 2006, William Roebuck, then in charge of the US embassy in Damascus, filed an analysis of the ‘vulnerabilities’ of the Assad government and listed methods ‘that will improve the likelihood’ of opportunities for destabilisation. He recommended that Washington work with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to increase sectarian tension and focus on publicising ‘Syrian efforts against extremist groups’ – dissident Kurds and radical Sunni factions – ‘in a way that suggests weakness, signs of instability, and uncontrolled blowback’; and that the ‘isolation of Syria’ should be encouraged through US support of the National Salvation Front, led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president whose government-in-exile in Riyadh was sponsored by the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood. Another 2006 cable showed that the embassy had spent $5 million financing dissidents who ran as independent candidates for the People’s Assembly; the payments were kept up even after it became clear that Syrian intelligence knew what was going on. A 2010 cable warned that funding for a London-based television network run by a Syrian opposition group would be viewed by the Syrian government ‘as a covert and hostile gesture toward the regime’.

But there is also a parallel history of shadowy co-operation between Syria and the US during the same period. The two countries collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers. Assad also secretly turned over to the US relatives of Saddam Hussein who had sought refuge in Syria, and – like America’s allies in Jordan, Egypt, Thailand and elsewhere – tortured suspected terrorists for the CIA in a Damascus prison.

It was this history of co-operation that made it seem possible in 2013 that Damascus would agree to the new indirect intelligence-sharing arrangement with the US. The Joint Chiefs let it be known that in return the US would require four things: Assad must restrain Hizbullah from attacking Israel; he must renew the stalled negotiations with Israel to reach a settlement on the Golan Heights; he must agree to accept Russian and other outside military advisers; and he must commit to holding open elections after the war with a wide range of factions included. ‘We had positive feedback from the Israelis, who were willing to entertain the idea, but they needed to know what the reaction would be from Iran and Syria,’ the JCS adviser told me. ‘The Syrians told us that Assad would not make a decision unilaterally – he needed to have support from his military and Alawite allies. Assad’s worry was that Israel would say yes and then not uphold its end of the bargain.’ A senior adviser to the Kremlin on Middle East affairs told me that in late 2012, after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks and military defections, Assad had approached Israel via a contact in Moscow and offered to reopen the talks on the Golan Heights. The Israelis had rejected the offer. ‘They said, “Assad is finished,”’ the Russian official told me. ‘“He’s close to the end.”’ He said the Turks had told Moscow the same thing. By mid-2013, however, the Syrians believed the worst was behind them, and wanted assurances that the Americans and others were serious about their offers of help.

In the early stages of the talks, the adviser said, the Joint Chiefs tried to establish what Assad needed as a sign of their good intentions. The answer was sent through one of Assad’s friends: ‘Bring him the head of Prince Bandar.’ The Joint Chiefs did not oblige. Bandar bin Sultan had served Saudi Arabia for decades in intelligence and national security affairs, and spent more than twenty years as ambassador in Washington. In recent years, he has been known as an advocate for Assad’s removal from office by any means. Reportedly in poor health, he resigned last year as director of the Saudi National Security Council, but Saudi Arabia continues to be a major provider of funds to the Syrian opposition, estimated by US intelligence last year at $700 million.

In July 2013, the Joint Chiefs found a more direct way of demonstrating to Assad how serious they were about helping him. By then the CIA-sponsored secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey, had been underway for more than a year (it started sometime after Gaddafi’s death on 20 October 2011).​* The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence. On 11 September 2012 the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed during an anti-American demonstration that led to the burning down of the US consulate in Benghazi; reporters for the Washington Post found copies of the ambassador’s schedule in the building’s ruins. It showed that on 10 September Stevens had met with the chief of the CIA’s annex operation. The next day, shortly before he died, he met a representative from Al-Marfa Shipping and Maritime Services, a Tripoli-based company which, the JCS adviser said, was known by the Joint Staff to be handling the weapons shipments.]

By the late summer of 2013, the DIA’s assessment had been circulated widely, but although many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming, presenting a continuing problem for Assad’s army. Gaddafi’s stockpile had created an international arms bazaar, though prices were high. ‘There was no way to stop the arms shipments that had been authorised by the president,’ the JCS adviser said. ‘The solution involved an appeal to the pocketbook. The CIA was approached by a representative from the Joint Chiefs with a suggestion: there were far less costly weapons available in Turkish arsenals that could reach the Syrian rebels within days, and without a boat ride.’ But it wasn’t only the CIA that benefited. ‘We worked with Turks we trusted who were not loyal to Erdoğan,’ the adviser said, ‘and got them to ship the jihadists in Syria all the obsolete weapons in the arsenal, including M1 carbines that hadn’t been seen since the Korean War and lots of Soviet arms. It was a message Assad could understand: “We have the power to diminish a presidential policy in its tracks.”’

The flow of US intelligence to the Syrian army, and the downgrading of the quality of the arms being supplied to the rebels, came at a critical juncture. The Syrian army had suffered heavy losses in the spring of 2013 in fighting against Jabhat al-Nusra and other extremist groups as it failed to hold the provincial capital of Raqqa. Sporadic Syrian army and air-force raids continued in the area for months, with little success, until it was decided to withdraw from Raqqa and other hard to defend, lightly populated areas in the north and west and focus instead on consolidating the government’s hold on Damascus and the heavily populated areas linking the capital to Latakia in the north-east. But as the army gained in strength with the Joint Chiefs’ support, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey escalated their financing and arming of Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State, which by the end of 2013 had made enormous gains on both sides of the Syria/Iraq border. The remaining non-fundamentalist rebels found themselves fighting – and losing – pitched battles against the extremists. In January 2014, IS took complete control of Raqqa and the tribal areas around it from al-Nusra and established the city as its base. Assad still controlled 80 per cent of the Syrian population, but he had lost a vast amount of territory.

CIA efforts to train the moderate rebel forces were also failing badly. ‘The CIA’s training camp was in Jordan and was controlled by a Syrian tribal group,’ the JCS adviser said. There was a suspicion that some of those who signed up for training were actually Syrian army regulars minus their uniforms. This had happened before, at the height of the Iraqi war, when hundreds of Shia militia members showed up at American training camps for new uniforms, weapons and a few days of training, and then disappeared into the desert. A separate training programme, set up by the Pentagon in Turkey, fared no better. The Pentagon acknowledged in September that only ‘four or five’ of its recruits were still battling Islamic State; a few days later 70 of them defected to Jabhat al-Nusra immediately after crossing the border into Syria.

In January 2014, despairing at the lack of progress, John Brennan, the director of the CIA, summoned American and Sunni Arab intelligence chiefs from throughout the Middle East to a secret meeting in Washington, with the aim of persuading Saudi Arabia to stop supporting extremist fighters in Syria. ‘The Saudis told us they were happy to listen,’ the JCS adviser said, ‘so everyone sat around in Washington to hear Brennan tell them that they had to get on board with the so-called moderates. His message was that if everyone in the region stopped supporting al-Nusra and Isis their ammunition and weapons would dry up, and the moderates would win out.’ Brennan’s message was ignored by the Saudis, the adviser said, who ‘went back home and increased their efforts with the extremists and asked us for more technical support. And we say OK, and so it turns out that we end up reinforcing the extremists.’

But the Saudis were far from the only problem: American intelligence had accumulated intercept and human intelligence demonstrating that the Erdoğan government had been supporting Jabhat al-Nusra for years, and was now doing the same for Islamic State. ‘We can handle the Saudis,’ the adviser said. ‘We can handle the Muslim Brotherhood. You can argue that the whole balance in the Middle East is based on a form of mutually assured destruction between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, and Turkey can disrupt the balance – which is Erdoğan’s dream. We told him we wanted him to shut down the pipeline of foreign jihadists flowing into Turkey. But he is dreaming big – of restoring the Ottoman Empire – and he did not realise the extent to which he could be successful in this.’

One of the constants in US affairs since the fall of the Soviet Union has been a military-to-military relationship with Russia. After 1991 the US spent billions of dollars to help Russia secure its nuclear weapons complex, including a highly secret joint operation to remove weapons-grade uranium from unsecured storage depots in Kazakhstan. Joint programmes to monitor the security of weapons-grade materials continued for the next two decades. During the American war on Afghanistan, Russia provided overflight rights for US cargo carriers and tankers, as well as access for the flow of weapons, ammunition, food and water the US war machine needed daily. Russia’s military provided intelligence on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and helped the US negotiate rights to use an airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The Joint Chiefs have been in communication with their Russian counterparts throughout the Syrian war, and the ties between the two militaries start at the top. In August, a few weeks before his retirement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Dempsey made a farewell visit to the headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces in Dublin and told his audience there that he had made a point while in office to keep in touch with the chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. ‘I’ve actually suggested to him that we not end our careers as we began them,’ Dempsey said – one a tank commander in West Germany, the other in the east.

When it comes to tackling Islamic State, Russia and the US have much to offer each other. Many in the IS leadership and rank and file fought for more than a decade against Russia in the two Chechen wars that began in 1994, and the Putin government is heavily invested in combating Islamist terrorism. ‘Russia knows the Isis leadership,’ the JCS adviser said, ‘and has insights into its operational techniques, and has much intelligence to share.’ In return, he said, ‘we’ve got excellent trainers with years of experience in training foreign fighters – experience that Russia does not have.’ The adviser would not discuss what American intelligence is also believed to have: an ability to obtain targeting data, often by paying huge sums of cash, from sources within rebel militias.

A former White House adviser on Russian affairs told me that before 9/11 Putin ‘used to say to us: “We have the same nightmares about different places.” He was referring to his problems with the caliphate in Chechnya and our early issues with al-Qaida. These days, after the Metrojet bombing over Sinai and the massacres in Paris and elsewhere, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we actually have the same nightmares about the same places.’

Yet the Obama administration continues to condemn Russia for its support of Assad....

-- Military to Military – Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war, by London Review of Books


At around the same time and continuing until a final call on 20 December, American intelligence agents monitoring the telephones of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut heard an informant named David Lovejoy brief the Iranian charge d'affaires about the movements of a five-man CIA/DIA team which had arrived in Lebanon to work on the release of American hostages and which planned to fly home from Frankfurt on Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December.

On 18 December, the BKA was tipped off about a bomb plot against Pan Am 103 in the next two or three days. This information was passed to the American Embassy in Bonn, which advised the State Department, which in turn advised its other embassies of the warning. (The tip possibly originated with confederates of al-Kassar in a last-ditch attempt to divert Jibril away from Frankfurt, or at least away from Pan Am, by promoting tighter security checks and a higher police profile at the airport.)

On 20 December, the Mossad passed on a similar warning, this time relating specifically to Flight 103 next day.

At 15:12 on 21 December, airport staff began loading passenger baggage aboard the Boeing 727 that was to fly the first leg of Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Heathrow. About an hour before its departure at 16:53, a BKA agent was said to have reported 'suspicious behaviour' in the baggage-handling area, but no action was taken.

With 128 passengers and an estimated 135 pieces of luggage, the 727 arrived at Heathrow on time. Forty-nine passengers, most of them American, then boarded the Maid of the Seas for the trans-Atlantic leg of the flight, their bags being stowed on the port side of the forward cargo hold. A further 210 passengers with baggage, beginning their journey in London, now joined the flight, but after the State Department's warnings to embassy staffs, the aircraft was hardly more than two-thirds full when it took off at 18:25, 25 minutes late.

At 19:03, when the bomb exploded in the forward cargo hold on the port side, the 747 broke up into five main pieces that plunged down on Lockerbie, scattering bodies, baggage and wreckage over an area of 845 square miles.

-- Trail of the Octopus: From Beirut to Lockerbie -- Inside the DIA, by Donald Goddard with Lester K. Coleman


Western intelligence has also obtained reports that a Trump associate met with a pro-Putin member of Russian parliament at a building in Eastern Europe maintained by Rossotrudnichestvo, an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is charged with administering language, education and support programs for civilians. While the purpose of that meeting is unclear, and there is no evidence that Trump was aware it took place, it has become another fact that has alarmed officials from at least one NATO ally. Finally, Trump’s repeated glowing statements about Putin throughout the campaign—and his shocking comment that the Russians were not in Crimea—have perplexed some foreign officials, who fear that under a Trump presidency, the United States would no longer stand with Western Europe in regard to Moscow.

Trump and his campaign have also spread propaganda created as part of the Kremlin's effort, relying on bogus information generated through traditional Russian disinformation techniques. In one instance, a manipulated document was put out onto the internet anonymously by propagandists working with Russia; within hours, Trump was reciting that false information at a campaign rally. The Trump campaign has also spread claims from Sputnik, another news outlet identified by American intelligence as part of the Russian disinformation campaign. For example, almost immediately after the posting of an article by Sputnik attacking this Newsweek reporter, the Trump campaign emailed a link to the piece to American reporters, urging them to pursue the same story.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, did not respond to emails from Newsweek on Monday and Thursday asking how it became aware of the Sputnik story so quickly, why it almost immediately promoted information from the Russian propaganda site to U.S. reporters, and what led the Republican nominee to disregard the intelligence he has been provided in briefings about Moscow’s propaganda and hacking campaign.

American intelligence officials know Russia used cyberattacks and misinformation to interfere with recent elections in Western Europe, including the German elections last month that resulted in victories for right-wing populists, and the United Kingdom’s vote in June on Brexit, a referendum that called for Britain to leave the European Union.

Western intelligence and law enforcement say tens of thousands of people have been working with Russia on its hacking and disinformation campaign for many years. They include propagandists and cyberoperatives stationed in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, located in the southwestern part of Siberia. Operations have also been conducted in the United States, primarily out of New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Those involved include a large number of Russian émigrés, as well as Americans and other foreign nationals. Intelligence operations in Europe and the U.S. have determined that the money these émigrés receive for their work is disguised as payments from a Russian pension system. One U.S. official says there is evidence many of these Americans and foreign nationals do not know they are part of Russia’s propaganda operation.

Here is how Moscow operates its campaigns: Hackers pilfer information from a variety of organizations both inside and outside Western governments; that is distributed to individuals who feed it into what a source told a European intelligence expert was a “pipeline.” This so-called pipeline can involve multiple steps before hacked information is disclosed through the media or online. For example, that source reported that documents in the United States intended to disrupt the American election are distributed through WikiLeaks. However, there are so many layers of individuals between the hackers and that organization there is a strong possibility that WikiLeaks does not know with certainty the ultimate source of these records; throughout 2016, the site has been posting emails from various Democratic Party organizations that were originally obtained through Russian hacking.

The Russian penetration in the United States is far more extensive than previously revealed publicly, although most of it has been targeted either at government departments or nongovernment organizations connected to the Democratic Party. Russian hackers penetrated the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department. The State Department cyberattack, which began in 2014 and lasted more than a year, was particularly severe, with Russian hackers gaining entry into its unclassified system, including emails. (Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2013, which means that if she had used its unclassified email system rather than her private server—a decision that has dogged her throughout the campaign—any of her emails on the government system could have been obtained by Russian hackers.)

The breadth of the cyberattacks of nongovernmental organizations is astonishing. Russian hackers have obtained emails and other information out of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, but also have struck at organizations with looser ties to the party, including think tanks such as the Brookings Institution, where some of Clinton’s longtime friends and colleagues work.

Once the documents are obtained by hackers and then distributed, a large group of propagandists around the world begin promoting them on social media—in comments sections of websites and other locations online—hoping to generate negative news stories that undermine Democratic officials, particularly Clinton.

The Kremlin’s campaign is motivated not so much to support Trump as it is to hurt the Democratic nominee. During Clinton’s time as secretary of state, Putin publicly accused her of interfering in Moscow’s affairs. For example, her statement that Russian parliamentary elections in December 2011—which involved blatant cheating—were “neither free nor fair” infuriated Putin. He was also encouraged by the relentlessly positive comments about him by Trump, even after the Republican nominee began receiving criticism within his own party for sounding too supportive of the Kremlin, according to information obtained from within Russia by a Western intelligence source.

Both Trump and Clinton were monitored by Russian intelligence during their visits to Moscow over the years, according to American and European intelligence sources, in hopes of gathering kompromat—compromising material about a politician or public figure. The dossier on Clinton mainly contains recordings of conversations and intercepted phone calls; the intelligence source said the dossier has been controlled by Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman. When she was secretary of state, however, Clinton knew her conversations in Moscow might be recorded, so the dossier appears to have been used mainly for intelligence rather than to embarrass her with allies, the source said. The Kremlin also has both video and audio recordings of Trump in a kompromat file. Newsweek could not confirm if there is anything compromising in those recordings.

This massive Russian campaign has led to significant disputes within the Kremlin. Russian officials originally believed it could be conducted without any significant blowback from the United States. According to information obtained by the Western intelligence source, Sergei Ivanov, the chief of staff for the presidential executive office in the Kremlin, came to believe this summer that the hacking and disinformation campaign, which has been orchestrated in part by Peskov, had gone too far. Articles implying that Russian had been trying to split the supporters of Democratic primary runner-up Bernie Sanders and Clinton while building up Trump set off fears among Peskov and others that they would be held responsible for the backlash from the United States, according to the information obtained by the Western intelligence source.

Ivanov was also furious that Peskov led what he considered to be an ill-conceived and botched attempt to use the hacking and disinformation campaign to interfere in the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July. The web of relationships involving Turkey, Western Europe, the United States, Syria and Trump is complex, and Ivanov expressed disbelief that an attempt to interfere with the coup was undertaken without examining the possible ramifications. The Incirlik air base in Turkey has been used as a primary staging area for American bombers engaged in attacks on the Islamic State group in both Syria and Iraq; Russia supports President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who is fighting off a variety of rebel outfits, including ISIS, which has led the Kremlin to authorize bombing campaigns there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan despises Trump and his associates because of the Republican nominee’s anti-Muslim rhetoric (in March, one of Trump’s Turkish business partners was indicted in what some Erdogan critics described as retribution). Erdogan has told associates he will not cooperate militarily with a Trump administration, according to a Middle Eastern financier in direct contact with senior Turkish officials.

By interfering in the Turkish coup with propaganda efforts, one faction in the Kremlin believes Moscow might have squandered the advantages to be gained from Erdogan’s contempt for Trump, according to both European and Middle Eastern intelligence sources. If Erdogan is angry at the next American president, the ability of the United States to engage in military action in Syria would be severely limited. If Russian interference in the coup leads Erdogan to turn his fury on Moscow, the Americans might maintain access to the air base.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, is also deeply concerned about the cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, according to information obtained by a Western intelligence source. He wants to maintain a close relationship with the United States so he can travel to America both officially and privately. As a result, he is refusing to support Peskov or to strongly combat U.S. charges about the hacking campaign.

Despite these qualms, Putin remained satisfied with the campaign, regardless of the outcome of the U.S. election, according to information obtained by the Western intelligence source. Should Clinton win, he has told associates, her administration would be bogged down trying to heal divisions within the United States brought about by releases and misrepresentations of hacked information, and would have little time or political capital to confront Russia’s efforts in Syria, Ukraine and other locales.

By August, however, fears began to emerge within the Kremlin that the effort was falling apart. Trump’s attacks on the parents of a slain Muslim American soldier following the father’s speech at the Democratic convention created dismay in the Kremlin. Top Russian officials came to believe Trump would be forced to withdraw from the race because of his psychological state and apparent unsuitability for the presidency, according to information obtained by the Western intelligence source. In particular, Kremlin officials feared they could not predict what impact it might have on Russia should Trump step aside. As a result, the Russians decided to stop forwarding material through channels to WikiLeaks, although some material was already in the pipeline.

Ivanov expressed his belief that, while the United States has failed to split the Russian elite with sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, the cyberattacks had created political division in the United States. Still, he had strong concerns about the impact of continuing the campaign in the aftermath of Trump’s attack on the parents who had lost a child in war. By that time, though, the internal controversy over the cyberattacks and disinformation campaign had taken its toll, and a decision was reached to “sweep it all under the rug,” according to a report obtained by Western counterintelligence officials. On August 12, Ivanov—a close ally of Putin for decades—was forced out of office by the Russian strongman and replaced by Anton Vaino, who had been the deputy chief of staff.

Two days later, The New York Times reported that Manafort, then Trump’s campaign manager, may have illegally received $12.7 million from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions; Manafort has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Richard Hibey, said his client never received any such payments. Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign not long after the article ran. According to information obtained from inside Russia by Western intelligence, Putin later met with Yanukovych in secret near Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad. Yanukovych assured Putin there was no documentary trail showing payments to Manafort, although Putin told associates he did not believe the Ukrainian president, according to the information obtained by the Western intelligence source.

By October, “buyer’s remorse” had set in at the Kremlin, according to a report obtained by Western counterintelligence. Russia came to see Trump as too unpredictable and feared that, should he win, the Kremlin would not be able to rely on him or even anticipate his actions.

On October 7, the Obama administration finally broke its silence on America’s knowledge about the Russian campaign. “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process,” Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement. “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” The White House stated that Obama was considering a “proportional response”—a statement that suggested the United States would be launching cyberattacks against Russia. (Shortly afterward, Ukrainian hackers began posting emails and other documents obtained from inside the Kremlin, although it is not clear if this effort was done in coordination with the American government.)

Less than two weeks later—despite his intelligence briefings about the Russian hacking and disinformation campaign, despite the public statements by top American intelligence officials confirming its existence and despite the White House proclamation that it was preparing to respond to the unprecedented interference by Moscow—Trump once again dismissed all of the evidence and came to Russia’s defense. Intelligence and other government officials in Britain were horrified, according to one person with direct knowledge of the reaction there.

The incident that so stunned the British officials was largely overlooked in the United States, where media analysts were more focused on Trump’s refusal to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election. Instead, it came in the course of a discussion during the third presidential debate, when the two candidates talked about the Russian hacking.

Clinton: We've never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17—17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing. And I think it's time you take a stand...

Trump: She has no idea whether it's Russia, China or anybody else.

Clinton: I am not quoting myself.

Trump: She has no idea.

Clinton: I am quoting 17...

Trump: Hillary, you have no idea.

Clinton: ...17 intelligence—do you doubt 17 military and civilian...

Trump: And our country has no idea.

Clinton: ...agencies.

Trump: Yeah, I doubt it. I doubt it.

Clinton: Well, he'd rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us. I find that just absolutely...

Trump: She doesn't like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way.

The words that so shocked the British were “our country has no idea,” and “I doubt it.” All of the NATO allies are sure Russia is behind the hacking. All of America’s intelligence agencies are, too. The foreign intelligence services had been sharing what they knew about this with the Americans, and Trump had been told about it. But he blithely dismissed the conclusion of not only the United States but its allies as well, based on absolutely nothing. Trump had no apparent means of developing his own information to contradict the findings of intelligence agencies around the world. And that he would so aggressively fight to clear Putin and cast aspersions on all Western intelligence agencies, left the British officials slack-jawed.

“They didn’t know what to think,” says one former British official who has spoken to numerous members of the government about Trump’s comments in that debate. “A lot of people are now trying to connect the dots of all the data [in the intelligence files] to try and understand Trump.... There certainly are a lot of conspiracy theories being bandied about, but no question there is a lot of concern about what’s going on in Trump’s head...and whether we would be able to work with him.”

Even as Trump was disputing the role played by the Kremlin in the hacking, his campaign was scouring sites publicly identified by American intelligence as sources for Russian propaganda. Ten days before the third debate, Newsweek published an article disclosing that a document altered by Russian propagandists and put out on the internet—ultimately published by Sputnik—had been cited by Trump at a rally as fact. (The information distributed on the internet placed words that had appeared in Newsweek into the mouth of Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton confidante. Taken in that context, they suggested that her closest allies believed she bore responsibility for the attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya.)

Subsequently, Sputnik, which took down that article, published another one essentially denying the news organization was controlled by the Kremlin and attacking Newsweek. Before the day was out, the Trump campaign was emailing links to the article from the Russian propaganda site to multiple reporters, urging them to pursue the story.

Officials in Western Europe say they are dismayed that they now feel compelled to gather intelligence on a man who could be the next president of the United States but believe they have no choice. Moscow is seen as a direct threat to their interests—both in its aggressive efforts to reshape global alliances and for its power to damage Western Europe, which obtains almost 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Should the United States, the last remaining superpower, tilt its policies away from NATO to the benefit of Russia, the alliance between America and Western Europe could be transformed in unprecedented ways. And so, for perhaps the first time since World War II, countries in Western Europe fear that the American election, should Trump win, could trigger events that imperil their national security and do potentially irreparable harm to the alliances that have kept the continent safe for decades.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:25 pm

Much Ado About Nothing: The ODNI report on Russian “hacking” is short on proof: It’s respected voices like these that are missing from the current debate about Russia.
by Derek Royden
January 16, 2017

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“The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.” —Otto Von Bismark


On Friday, January 6th, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) finally released the de-classified portion of a report on alleged Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The document, which carries the weighty title, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections”, is a slim 25 pages (with many of them blank or half blank)..

This brevity may be due, in part, to the fact that the report is drawn from a larger document (reportedly 50 pages) that the authors assure us offers more proof but that, due to the classified nature of its contents and what it may reveal about intelligence sources and methods, was only given to “the President and to recipients approved by the President.”

There is nothing in the publicly available report that remotely resembles a smoking gun. In fact, reading through it, one almost immediately realizes that there’s going to be more opinion, or, as the analysts who created it call it, “assessment”, than concrete proof. This is especially true in regards to the more serious hacking allegations, which we’ve been led to believe were ordered by the Russian President himself.

A bullet point under the heading “Determining Attribution in Cyber Incidents”, reads, “An assessment of attribution usually is not a simple statement of who conducted an operation, but rather a series of judgements that describe whether it was an isolated incident, who was the likely perpetrator, that perpetrator’s possible motivations, and whether a foreign government had a role in ordering or leading the operation.”

The use of the terms ‘assessment’, ‘judgements’, ‘likely’ and ‘possible’ show that these kinds of ‘attributions’ are far from an exact science. In fact, later in the report the authors offer a further hedge, stating their, “judgements are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

After their implied success in influencing the election we are told that Russia’s use of ‘weaponized information’ is only going to intensify, as the Kremlin will persist in their efforts to influence the U.S. and other Western countries’ internal politics. The report goes on to say that, “immediately after Election Day we assess Russian intelligence began a spearphishing campaign targeting U.S. Government employees and individuals associated with U.S. think tanks and NGOs in national security, defense and foreign policy fields.”

Not even the most anecdotal of proofs, something which would not harm intelligence gathering or methods, is offered that such a campaign exists.

Besides, I would suggest that these highly educated individuals take the time to learn a little bit about basic internet security so that they don’t hand their data to ‘phishing’ schemes like the one that apparently successfully targeted Clinton campaign Chair John Podesta’s GMail account. Or, to put it bluntly, as most people who use this new fangled technology know: don’t click on a link in your email if you don’t know where it came from.

The flimsy evidence presented in the assessment doesn’t mean that Russian security services aren’t involved in hacking or phishing schemes targeting influential people, or these two hacks in particular. This is something that I honestly believe all intelligence agencies, including those of the U.S. and other NATO countries, would do if they have the capability and can avoid culpability. Collecting this kind of information is, after all, one of the main goals of signals intelligence (SIGINT), to the practitioners of which the internet must seem like a dream come true.

It’s often almost impossible to prove who is responsible for these kinds of attacks, whether they’re private or state sponsored, but this doesn’t stop the finger of blame from being pointed at perceived enemies.

What we do know in the case of the Podesta emails is that supposed Russian involvement was used to distract the public from the vital information contained in the leaks. This included the release of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street interests that her campaign refused to share with voters.

These speeches showed that her “public” and “private” positions on major issues often differed and that the no-fly zone she was calling for in Syria “would kill a lot of Syrians”, things that American voters had a right to know before electing her to the highest office in the land, regardless of who her opponent was or where the documents came from.

RT and Kremlin ‘influence’ operations

The bulk of the report focuses on what the authors call an ‘influence campaign’ designed to target the 2016 election. In spite of this stated emphasis, most of the examples given are drawn from 2013 and earlier, presumably to show that the alleged meddling is part of a long term Russian campaign to increase the American publics’ well founded suspicions in terms of their political leadership.

This is especially true of the portions of the report that purport to analyze state run Russian broadcaster RT (Russia Today) and its U.S. counterpart RT America, the main subject of a third of the document. The attack on RT, which is hardly monolithic in its influence, brings to mind the kind of report the KGB might have written about Voice of America in Soviet times.

RT, to its credit, has brought in a number of talented voices offering diverse opinions and coverage of issues not represented on America’s cable news networks or major newspapers, including progressive icon Thom Hartmann, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and even legendary interviewer Larry King.

One of the most interesting journalists featured on the network was Abby Martin, who hosted a show called ‘Breaking the Set’ that was often fearless in its critique of American foreign policy and covered news stories that corporate media was unwilling to touch. The show, which went off the air two years ago, is high-lighted as proof of the network’s ‘anti-American’ propaganda.

For some reason, the authors also seem to think that the network’s airing of a documentary about Occupy Wall Street in the run up to the election in 2012 is convincing enough to support the idea of a Kremlin directed “influence operation”.

The Russian government’s intention to sow discord is apparently revealed by the documentary’s framing of the peaceful movement “as a fight against ‘the ruling class’”, which, “described the current U.S. political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations”. Something any number of left commentators would have told you without needing to consult with Moscow.

Readers are also expected to see something nefarious in the fact that RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyn told independent TV channel Dozdh in an interview quoted by the authors that coverage of Occupy Wall Street, “gave RT a significant audience boost”. Not exactly a surprise considering the network was one of the few news outlets that actually covered the protests that sprang up across the country in the Fall of 2011.

Another strange argument made in the report is that RT had undue influence over the 2012 election by hosting 3rd party debates prior to the vote. Rather than being applauded for giving a voice to candidates who were completely ignored by almost every major American news source, a trend that continued through the 2016 campaign, the network is vilified for offering them a platform.

Even worse than stories about Occupy Wall Street or 3rd party debates, at least in the eyes of the authors, are reports deemed ‘anti-fracking’ that highlight, “environmental issues and impacts on public health” from the exploitation of shale gas. These segments are produced, they tell us, to protect the interests of Russian energy giant Gazprom, which, whether the charge is true or not, shouldn’t detract from the need to report on the very real dangers associated with this form of energy extraction.

Massive failure, all around

It’s hard to believe that most people in the West, especially those interested in news, turn to RT for coverage of Russia’s internal affairs just as its doubtful many Russians turn to CNN, which has both corporate sponsors and government sources to please, for an unbiased account of troubles facing the United States.

In the case of state run networks there is always an implied bias, whether one is watching RT, Canada’s CBC or the UK government funded BBC. For the critical reader or viewer this is almost always a good thing in that it can convey the official thinking of the state in question.

Liberal Democrats have long positioned themselves as the voice of reason in American politics but the recent hysteria about Russia shows that the party’s leaders refuse to weigh the actual evidence that’s presented in sensationalistic reports like this.

If they could just remove their eyes from their own navels for a moment they might realize that they got in line behind a candidate who had trouble connecting with voters when she actually bothered to address them at all, a collective delusion that cost these incrementalist Democrats the election.

The reaction to the report on many websites that describe themselves as progressive further demonstrates how cynical some of the people claiming to speak for the U.S. ‘left’ are when it comes to the Democratic Party. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that so many are willing to unquestionably take the word of U.S. intelligence agencies led by James Clapper, a man who lied under oath to Congress about NSA spying on American citizens, when it suits their politics of capitulation to power.

These letter agencies, especially the CIA, have a long history of lying to the public, often with disastrous results. The most obvious recent example of this was the stories that were spread by unnamed intelligence officials to compliant reporters about yellowcake and WMDs in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq war, a calamity that just keeps on giving in terms of human misery.

The kind of hyperbole that greeted the report may be expected from perpetually agitated Republican hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are going along on this current anti-Russia ride, but not from the Democratic Congressional leadership who the American people must rely on to oppose what may be the most rightwing U.S. Congress in modern history..

It isn’t out of any love for Russia’s leadership, which has a very poor record of its own when it comes to domestic critics and adversarial journalists, that the flaws in this report need to be exposed. It’s the threat represented by the continuing antagonism between the world’s biggest nuclear powers, an end to which is the one possible silver lining to the otherwise terrifying prospect of a Donald Trump presidency.

In a recent piece on the website Politico, former Secretary of Defense and long term Washington insider Bill Perry, who is almost 90, claimed that the risks of a nuclear confrontation are higher now than at any time since the fall of the Soviet Union. He was quoted as saying, “I am not suggesting that this Cold War and this arms race is identical to the old one but in many ways, it is just as bad, just as dangerous. And totally unnecessary.”

It’s respected voices like these that are missing from the current debate about Russia and they are a sorely needed antidote to the paranoia that seems to have gripped the American political establishment in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss to the least popular Presidential candidate in American electoral history.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:12 am

Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution
by Office of the Director of National Intelligence
6 January 2017

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Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution

“Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment that has been provided to the President and to recipients approved by the President.

• The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the precise bases for its assessments, as the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future.
• Thus, while the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.

The Analytic Process

The mission of the Intelligence Community is to seek to reduce the uncertainty surrounding foreign activities, capabilities, or leaders’ intentions. This objective is difficult to achieve when seeking to understand complex issues on which foreign actors go to extraordinary lengths to hide or obfuscate their activities.

• On these issues of great importance to US national security, the goal of intelligence analysis is to provide assessments to decisionmakers that are intellectually rigorous, objective, timely, and useful, and that adhere to tradecraft standards.
• The tradecraft standards for analytic products have been refined over the past ten years. These standards include describing sources (including their reliability and access to the information they provide), clearly expressing uncertainty, distinguishing between underlying information and analysts’ judgments and assumptions, exploring alternatives, demonstrating relevance to the customer, using strong and transparent logic, and explaining change or consistency in judgments over time.
• Applying these standards helps ensure that the Intelligence Community provides US policymakers, warfighters, and operators with the best and most accurate insight, warning, and context, as well as potential opportunities to advance US national security.

Intelligence Community analysts integrate information from a wide range of sources, including human sources, technical collection, and open source information, and apply specialized skills and structured analytic tools to draw inferences informed by the data available, relevant past activity, and logic and reasoning to provide insight into what is happening and the prospects for the future.

• A critical part of the analyst’s task is to explain uncertainties associated with major judgments based on the quantity and quality of the source material, information gaps, and the complexity of the issue.
• When Intelligence Community analysts use words such as “we assess” or “we judge,” they are conveying an analytic assessment or judgment.
• Some analytic judgments are based directly on collected information; others rest on previous judgments, which serve as building blocks in rigorous analysis. In either type of judgment, the tradecraft standards outlined above ensure that analysts have an appropriate basis for the judgment.
• Intelligence Community judgments often include two important elements: judgments of how likely it is that something has happened or will happen (using terms such as “likely” or “unlikely”) and confidence levels in those judgments (low, moderate, and high) that refer to the evidentiary basis, logic and reasoning, and precedents that underpin the judgments.

Determining Attribution in Cyber Incidents

The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation—malicious or not—leaves a trail. US Intelligence Community analysts use this information, their constantly growing knowledge base of previous events and known malicious actors, and their knowledge of how these malicious actors work and the tools that they use, to attempt to trace these operations back to their source. In every case, they apply the same tradecraft standards described in the Analytic Process above.

• Analysts consider a series of questions to assess how the information compares with existing knowledge and adjust their confidence in their judgments as appropriate to account for any alternative hypotheses and ambiguities.
• An assessment of attribution usually is not a simple statement of who conducted an operation, but rather a series of judgments that describe whether it was an isolated incident, who was the likely perpetrator, that perpetrator’s possible motivations, and whether a foreign government had a role in ordering or leading the operation.

This report is a downgraded version of a more sensitive assessment; its conclusions are identical to those in the more sensitive assessment but this version does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.

TOP SECRET//HCS-P/SI-G//ORCON/NOFORN/FISA

This report is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment; its conclusions are identical to those in the highly classified assessment but this version does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections

ICA 2017-01D | 6 January 2017

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Scope and Sourcing

Information available as of 29 December 2016 was used in the preparation of this product.

Scope

This report includes an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies. It covers the motivation and scope of Moscow’s intentions regarding US elections and Moscow’s use of cyber tools and media campaigns to influence US public opinion. The assessment focuses on activities aimed at the 2016 US presidential election and draws on our understanding of previous Russian influence operations. When we use the term “we” it refers to an assessment by all three agencies.

• This report is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment. This document’s conclusions are identical to the highly classified assessment, but this document does not include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence on key elements of the influence campaign. Given the redactions, we made minor edits purely for readability and flow.

We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.

• New information continues to emerge, providing increased insight into Russian activities.

Sourcing

Many of the key judgments in this assessment rely on a body of reporting from multiple sources that are consistent with our understanding of Russian behavior. Insights into Russian efforts—including specific cyber operations—and Russian views of key US players derive from multiple corroborating sources.

Some of our judgments about Kremlin preferences and intent are drawn from the behavior of Kremlin-loyal political figures, state media, and pro-Kremlin social media actors, all of whom the Kremlin either directly uses to convey messages or who are answerable to the Kremlin. The Russian leadership invests significant resources in both foreign and domestic propaganda and places a premium on transmitting what it views as consistent, self-reinforcing narratives regarding its desires and redlines, whether on Ukraine, Syria, or relations with the United States.

Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections
ICA 2017-01D

6 January 2017

Key Judgments

Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.

We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

• We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
• Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
• Further information has come to light since Election Day that, when combined with Russian behavior since early November 2016, increases our confidence in our assessments of Russian motivations and goals.

Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on US presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin.

• Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.
• We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.

• Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.
• Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.

We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.

Contents

• Scope and Sourcing
• Key Judgments
• Contents
• CIA/FBI/NSA Assessment: Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election
o Putin Ordered Campaign To Influence US Election
o Russian Campaign Was Multifaceted
o Influence Effort Was Boldest Yet in the US
o Election Operation Signals “New Normal” in Russian Influence Efforts
• Annexes
o A: Russia—Kremlin’s TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US
o B: Estimative Language

Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election

Putin Ordered Campaign To Influence US Election


We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign then focused on undermining her expected presidency.

• We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
• In trying to influence the US election, we assess the Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin and other senior Russian leaders view as a threat to Russia and Putin’s regime.
Putin publicly pointed to the Panama Papers disclosure and the Olympic doping scandal as US-directed efforts to defame Russia, suggesting he sought to use disclosures to discredit the image of the United States and cast it as hypocritical.
• Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.


We assess Putin, his advisers, and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump over Secretary Clinton.

Beginning in June, Putin’s public comments about the US presidential race avoided directly praising President-elect Trump, probably because Kremlin officials thought that any praise from Putin personally would backfire in the United States. Nonetheless, Putin publicly indicated a preference for President-elect Trump’s stated policy to work with Russia, and pro-Kremlin figures spoke highly about what they saw as his Russia-friendly positions on Syria and Ukraine. Putin publicly contrasted the President-elect’s approach to Russia with Secretary Clinton’s “aggressive rhetoric.”
• Moscow also saw the election of President-elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

• Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Putin, Russian officials, and other pro-Kremlin pundits stopped publicly criticizing the US election process as unfair almost immediately after the election because Moscow probably assessed it would be counterproductive to building positive relations.

We assess the influence campaign aspired to help President-elect Trump’s chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the presidency the Russian influence campaign focused more on undercutting Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy and crippling her presidency from its start, including by impugning the fairness of the election.

• Before the election, Russian diplomats had publicly denounced the US electoral process and were prepared to publicly call into question the validity of the results. Pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton’s victory, judging from their social media activity.

Russian Campaign Was Multifaceted

Moscow’s use of disclosures during the US election was unprecedented, but its influence campaign otherwise followed a longstanding Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”

• We assess that influence campaigns are approved at the highest levels of the Russian Government—particularly those that would be politically sensitive.
• Moscow’s campaign aimed at the US election reflected years of investment in its capabilities, which Moscow has honed in the former Soviet states.
By their nature, Russian influence campaigns are multifaceted and designed to be deniable because they use a mix of agents of influence, cutouts, front organizations, and false-flag operations. Moscow demonstrated this during the Ukraine crisis in 2014, when Russia deployed forces and advisers to eastern Ukraine and denied it publicly.

The Kremlin’s campaign aimed at the US election featured disclosures of data obtained through Russian cyber operations; intrusions into US state and local electoral boards; and overt propaganda. Russian intelligence collection both informed and enabled the influence campaign.

Cyber Espionage Against US Political Organizations.

Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.

We assess Russian intelligence services collected against the US primary campaigns, think tanks, and lobbying groups they viewed as likely to shape future US policies. In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.

• The General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) probably began cyber operations aimed at the US election by March 2016. We assess that the GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal e-mail accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.


Public Disclosures of Russian-Collected Data.

We assess with high confidence that the GRU used the Guccifer 2.0 persona, DCLeaks.com, and WikiLeaks to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets.

• Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be an independent Romanian hacker, made multiple contradictory statements and false claims about his likely Russian identity throughout the election. Press reporting suggests more than one person claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 interacted with journalists.
• Content that we assess was taken from e-mail accounts targeted by the GRU in March 2016 appeared on DCLeaks.com starting in June.

We assess with high confidence that the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks. Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.

• In early September, Putin said publicly it was important the DNC data was exposed to WikiLeaks, calling the search for the source of the leaks a distraction and denying Russian “state-level” involvement.
The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks. RT’s editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT, according to Russian and Western media. Russian media subsequently announced that RT had become "the only Russian media company" to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to "new leaks of secret information." RT routinely gives Assange sympathetic coverage and provides him a platform to denounce the United States.

These election-related disclosures reflect a pattern of Russian intelligence using hacked information in targeted influence efforts against targets such as Olympic athletes and other foreign governments. Such efforts have included releasing or altering personal data, defacing websites, or releasing e-mails.

• A prominent target since the 2016 Summer Olympics has been the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with leaks that we assess to have originated with the GRU and that have involved data on US athletes.

Russia collected on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign.

Russian Cyber Intrusions Into State and Local Electoral Boards.

Russian intelligence accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards. Since early 2014, Russian intelligence has researched US electoral processes and related technology and equipment.

DHS assesses that the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying.

Russian Propaganda Efforts.

Russia’s state-run propaganda machine—comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, and a network of quasi-government trolls—contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton.

• Starting in March 2016, Russian Government–linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump’s candidacy in media aimed at English-speaking audiences. RT and Sputnik—another government-funded outlet producing pro-Kremlin radio and online content in a variety of languages for international audiences—consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.
• Russian media hailed President-elect Trump’s victory as a vindication of Putin’s advocacy of global populist movements—the theme of Putin’s annual conference for Western academics in October 2016—and the latest example of Western liberalism’s collapse.
• Putin’s chief propagandist Dmitriy Kiselev used his flagship weekly newsmagazine program this fall to cast President-elect Trump as an outsider victimized by a corrupt political establishment and faulty democratic election process that aimed to prevent his election because of his desire to work with Moscow.
• Pro-Kremlin proxy Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, proclaimed just before the election that if President-elect Trump won, Russia would “drink champagne” in anticipation of being able to advance its positions on Syria and Ukraine.

RT’s coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism. Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton’s election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.


For the first time in a quarter-century, the prospect of war—real war, war between the major powers—will be on the agenda of Western leaders when they meet at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, on July 8 and 9. Dominating the agenda in Warsaw (aside, of course, from the “Brexit” vote in the UK) will be discussion of plans to reinforce NATO’s “eastern flank”—the arc of former Soviet partners stretching from the Baltic states to the Black Sea that are now allied with the West but fear military assault by Moscow. Until recently, the prospect of such an attack was given little credence in strategic circles, but now many in NATO believe a major war is possible and that robust defensive measures are required.

In what is likely to be its most significant move, the Warsaw summit is expected to give formal approval to a plan to deploy four multinational battalions along the eastern flank—one each in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Although not deemed sufficient to stop a determined Russian assault, the four battalions would act as a “tripwire,” thrusting soldiers from numerous NATO countries into the line of fire and so ensuring a full-scale, alliance-wide response. This, it is claimed, will deter Russia from undertaking such a move in the first place or ensure its defeat should it be foolhardy enough to start a war.

The United States, of course, is deeply involved in these initiatives. Not only will it supply many of the troops for the four multinational battalions, but it is also taking many steps of its own to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. Spending on the Pentagon’s “European Reassurance Initiative” will quadruple, climbing from $789 million in 2016 to $3.4 billion in 2017. Much of this additional funding will go to the deployment, on a rotating basis, of an additional armored-brigade combat team in northern Europe.

As a further indication of US and NATO determination to prepare for a possible war with Russia, the alliance recently conducted the largest war games in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. Known as Anakonda 2016, the exercise involved some 31,000 troops (about half of them Americans) and thousands of combat vehicles from 24 nations in simulated battle maneuvers across the breadth of Poland. A parallel naval exercise, BALTOPS 16, simulated “high-end maritime warfighting” in the Baltic Sea, including in waters near Kaliningrad, a heavily defended Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania.

All of this—the aggressive exercises, the NATO buildup, the added US troop deployments—reflects a new and dangerous strategic outlook in Washington. Whereas previously the strategic focus had been on terrorism and counterinsurgency, it has now shifted to conventional warfare among the major powers. “Today’s security environment is dramatically different than the one we’ve been engaged in for the last 25 years,” observed Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on February 2, when unveiling the Pentagon’s $583 billion budget for fiscal year 2017. Until recently, he explained, American forces had largely been primed to defeat insurgent and irregular forces, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now, however, the Pentagon was being readied for “a return to great-power competition,” including the possibility of all-out combat with “high-end enemies” like Russia and China.

-- The United States and NATO Are Preparing for a Major War With Russia. Massive military exercises and a troop buildup on NATO’s eastern flank reflect a dangerous new strategy.,by Michael T. Klare


• In August, Kremlin-linked political analysts suggested avenging negative Western reports on Putin by airing segments devoted to Secretary Clinton’s alleged health problems.
• On 6 August, RT published an English-language video called “Julian Assange Special: Do WikiLeaks Have the E-mail That’ll Put Clinton in Prison?” and an exclusive interview with Assange entitled “Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money.” RT’s most popular video on Secretary Clinton, “How 100% of the Clintons’ ‘Charity’ Went to…Themselves,” had more than 9 million views on social media platforms. RT’s most popular English language video about the President-elect, called “Trump Will Not Be Permitted To Win,” featured Assange and had 2.2 million views.
• For more on Russia’s past media efforts—including portraying the 2012 US electoral process as undemocratic—please see Annex A: Russia—Kremlin's TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US.

Russia used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton. This effort amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of WikiLeaks in the election campaign.

• The likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence.
• A journalist who is a leading expert on the Internet Research Agency claimed that some social media accounts that appear to be tied to Russia’s professional trolls—because they previously were devoted to supporting Russian actions in Ukraine—started to advocate for President-elect Trump as early as December 2015.

Influence Effort Was Boldest Yet in the US

Russia’s effort to influence the 2016 US presidential election represented a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations aimed at US elections. We assess the 2016 influence campaign reflected the Kremlin’s recognition of the worldwide effects that mass disclosures of US Government and other private data—such as those conducted by WikiLeaks and others—have achieved in recent years, and their understanding of the value of orchestrating such disclosures to maximize the impact of compromising information.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used intelligence officers, influence agents, forgeries, and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin, according to a former KGB archivist.

Since the Cold War, Russian intelligence efforts related to US elections have primarily focused on foreign intelligence collection. For decades, Russian and Soviet intelligence services have sought to collect insider information from US political parties that could help Russian leaders understand a new US administration’s plans and priorities.

• The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Directorate S (Illegals) officers arrested in the United States in 2010 reported to Moscow about the 2008 election.
In the 1970s, the KGB recruited a Democratic Party activist who reported information about then-presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter’s campaign and foreign policy plans, according to a former KGB archivist.

Election Operation Signals “New Normal” in Russian Influence Efforts

We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes. We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion.

• Putin’s public views of the disclosures suggest the Kremlin and the intelligence services will continue to consider using cyber-enabled disclosure operations because of their belief that these can accomplish Russian goals relatively easily without significant damage to Russian interests.
Russia has sought to influence elections across Europe.

We assess Russian intelligence services will continue to develop capabilities to provide Putin with options to use against the United States, judging from past practice and current efforts. Immediately after Election Day, we assess Russian intelligence began a spearphishing campaign targeting US Government employees and individuals associated with US think tanks and NGOs in national security, defense, and foreign policy fields. This campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration’s goals and plans.

Annex A

Russia -- Kremlin's TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US* [* This annex was originally published on 11 December 2012 by the Open Source Center, now the Open Source Enterprise.]

RT America TV, a Kremlin-financed channel operated from within the United States, has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties. The rapid expansion of RT's operations and budget and recent candid statements by RT's leadership point to the channel's importance to the Kremlin as a messaging tool and indicate a Kremlin-directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government and fuel political protest. The Kremlin has committed significant resources to expanding the channel's reach, particularly its social media footprint. A reliable UK report states that RT recently was the most-watched foreign news channel in the UK. RT America has positioned itself as a domestic US channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian Government.

In the runup to the 2012 US presidential election in November, English-language channel RT America -- created and financed by the Russian Government and part of Russian Government-sponsored RT TV (see textbox 1) -- intensified its usually critical coverage of the United States. The channel portrayed the US electoral process as undemocratic and featured calls by US protesters for the public to rise up and "take this government back."

• RT introduced two new shows -- "Breaking the Set" on 4 September and "Truthseeker" on 2 November -- both overwhelmingly focused on criticism of US and Western governments as well as the promotion of radical discontent.
• From August to November 2012, RT ran numerous reports on alleged US election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities, contending that US election results cannot be trusted and do not reflect the popular will.
• In an effort to highlight the alleged "lack of democracy" in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a "sham."
RT aired a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement on 1, 2, and 4 November. RT framed the movement as a fight against "the ruling class" and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations. RT advertising for the documentary featured Occupy movement calls to "take back" the government. The documentary claimed that the US system cannot be changed democratically, but only through "revolution." After the 6 November US presidential election, RT aired a documentary called "Cultures of Protest," about active and often violent political resistance (RT, 1- 10 November).

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Messaging on RT prior to the US presidential election (RT, 3 November)

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RT new show "Truthseeker" (RT, 11 November)

RT Conducts Strategic Messaging for Russian Government

RT's criticism of the US election was the latest facet of its broader and longer-standing anti-US messaging likely aimed at undermining viewers' trust in US democratic procedures and undercutting US criticism of Russia's political system. RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan recently declared that the United States itself lacks democracy and that it has "no moral right to teach the rest of the world" (Kommersant, 6 November).

• Simonyan has characterized RT's coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement as "information warfare" that is aimed at promoting popular dissatisfaction with the US Government. RT created a Facebook app to connect Occupy Wall Street protesters via social media. In addition, RT featured its own hosts in Occupy rallies ("Minaev Live," 10 April; RT, 2, 12 June).
RT's reports often characterize the United States as a "surveillance state" and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use (RT, 24, 28 October, 1-10 November).
• RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT's hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and "corporate greed" will lead to US financial collapse (RT, 31 October, 4 November).

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Simonyan steps over the White House in the introduction from her short-lived domestic show on REN TV (REN TV, 26 December 2011)

RT broadcasts support for other Russian interests in areas such as foreign and energy policy.

• RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government's concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom's profitability (5 October).
• RT is a leading media voice opposing Western intervention in the Syrian conflict and blaming the West for waging "information wars" against the Syrian Government (RT, 10 October-9 November).
• In an earlier example of RT's messaging in support of the Russian Government, during the Georgia-Russia military conflict the channel accused Georgians of killing civilians and organizing a genocide of the Ossetian people. According to Simonyan, when "the Ministry of Defense was at war with Georgia," RT was "waging an information war against the entire Western world" (Kommersant, 11 July).

In recent interviews, RT's leadership has candidly acknowledged its mission to expand its US audience and to expose it to Kremlin messaging. However, the leadership rejected claims that RT interferes in US domestic affairs.

• Simonyan claimed in popular arts magazine Afisha on 3 October: "It is important to have a channel that people get used to, and then, when needed, you show them what you need to show. In some sense, not having our own foreign broadcasting is the same as not having a ministry of defense. When there is no war, it looks like we don't need it. However, when there is a war, it is critical."
• According to Simonyan, "the word 'propaganda' has a very negative connotation, but indeed, there is not a single international foreign TV channel that is doing something other than promotion of the values of the country that it is broadcasting from." She added that "when Russia is at war, we are, of course, on Russia's side" (Afisha, 3 October; Kommersant, 4 July).
• TV-Novosti director Nikolov said on 4 October to the Association of Cable Television that RT builds on worldwide demand for "an alternative view of the entire world." Simonyan asserted on 3 October in Afisha that RT's goal is "to make an alternative channel that shares information unavailable elsewhere" in order to "conquer the audience" and expose it to Russian state messaging (Afisha, 3 October; Kommersant, 4 July).
• On 26 May, Simonyan tweeted with irony: "Ambassador McFaul hints that our channel is interference with US domestic affairs. And we, sinful souls, were thinking that it is freedom of speech."

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RT anti-fracking reporting (RT, 5 October)

RT Leadership Closely Tied to, Controlled by Kremlin

RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan has close ties to top Russian Government officials, especially Presidential Administration Deputy Chief of Staff Aleksey Gromov, who reportedly manages political TV coverage in Russia and is one of the founders of RT.

• Simonyan has claimed that Gromov shielded her from other officials and their requests to air certain reports. Russian media consider Simonyan to be Gromov's protege (Kommersant, 4 July; Dozhd TV, 11 July).
• Simonyan replaced Gromov on state-owned Channel One's Board of Directors. Government officials, including Gromov and Putin's Press Secretary Peskov were involved in creating RT and appointing Simonyan (Afisha, 3 October).
• According to Simonyan, Gromov oversees political coverage on TV, and he has periodic meetings with media managers where he shares classified information and discusses their coverage plans. Some opposition journalists, including Andrey Loshak, claim that he also ordered media attacks on opposition figures (Kommersant, 11 July).

The Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT's coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging because of their ideological beliefs.

• The head of RT's Arabic-language service, Aydar Aganin, was rotated from the diplomatic service to manage RT's Arabic-language expansion, suggesting a close relationship between RT and Russia's foreign policy apparatus. RT's London Bureau is managed by Darya Pushkova, the daughter of Aleksey Pushkov, the current chair of the Duma Russian Foreign Affairs Committee and a former Gorbachev speechwriter(DXB, 26 March 2009; MK.ru, 13 March 2006).
• According to Simonyan, the Russian Government sets rating and viewership requirements for RT and, "since RT receives budget from the state, it must complete tasks given by the state." According to Nikolov, RT news stories are written and edited "to become news" exclusively in RT's Moscow office (Dozhd TV, 11 July; AKT, 4 October).
• In her interview with pro-Kremlin journalist Sergey Minaev, Simonyan complimented RT staff in the United States for passionately defending Russian positions on the air and in social media. Simonyan said: "I wish you could see…how these guys, not just on air, but on their own social networks, Twitter, and when giving interviews, how they defend the positions that we stand on!" ("Minaev Live," 10 April).

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Simonyan shows RT facilities to then Prime Minister Putin. Simonyan was on Putin's 2012 presidential election campaign staff in Moscow (Rospress, 22 September 2010, Ria Novosti, 25 October 2012).

RT Focuses on Social Media, Building Audience

RT aggressively advertises its social media accounts and has a significant and fast-growing social media footprint. In line with its efforts to present itself as anti-mainstream and to provide viewers alternative news content, RT is making its social media operations a top priority, both to avoid broadcast TV regulations and to expand its overall audience.

• According to RT management, RT's website receives at least 500,000 unique viewers every day. Since its inception in 2005, RT videos received more than 800 million views on YouTube (1 million views per day), which is the highest among news outlets (see graphics for comparison with other news channels) (AKT, 4 October).
• According to Simonyan, the TV audience worldwide is losing trust in traditional TV broadcasts and stations, while the popularity of "alternative channels" like RT or Al Jazeera grows. RT markets itself as an "alternative channel" that is available via the Internet everywhere in the world, and it encourages interaction and social networking (Kommersant, 29 September).
• According to Simonyan, RT uses social media to expand the reach of its political reporting and uses well-trained people to monitor public opinion in social media commentaries (Kommersant, 29 September).
• According to Nikolov, RT requires its hosts to have social media accounts, in part because social media allows the distribution of content that would not be allowed on television (Newreporter.org, 11 October).
• Simonyan claimed in her 3 October interview to independent TV channel Dozhd that Occupy Wall Street coverage gave RT a significant audience boost.

The Kremlin spends $190 million a year on the distribution and dissemination of RT programming, focusing on hotels and satellite, terrestrial, and cable broadcasting. The Kremlin is rapidly expanding RT's availability around the world and giving it a reach comparable to channels such as Al Jazeera English. According to Simonyan, the United Kingdom and the United States are RT's most successful markets. RT does not, however, publish audience information.

• According to market research company Nielsen, RT had the most rapid growth (40 percent) among all international news channels in the United States over the past year (2012). Its audience in New York tripled and in Washington DC grew by 60% (Kommersant, 4 July).
• RT claims that it is surpassing Al Jazeera in viewership in New York and Washington DC (BARB, 20 November; RT, 21 November).
• RT states on its website that it can reach more than 550 million people worldwide and 85 million people in the United States; however, it does not publicize its actual US audience numbers (RT, 10 December).

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Formal Disassociation From Kremlin Facilitates RT US Messaging

RT America formally disassociates itself from the Russian Government by using a Moscow-based autonomous nonprofit organization to finance its US operations. According to RT's leadership, this structure was set up to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act and to facilitate licensing abroad. In addition, RT rebranded itself in 2008 to deemphasize its Russian origin.

According to Simonyan, RT America differs from other Russian state institutions in terms of ownership, but not in terms of financing. To disassociate RT from the Russian Government, the federal news agency RIA Novosti established a subsidiary autonomous nonprofit organization, TV-Novosti, using the formal independence of this company to establish and finance RT worldwide (Dozhd TV, 11 July).
• Nikolov claimed that RT is an "autonomous noncommercial entity," which is "well received by foreign regulators" and "simplifies getting a license." Simonyan said that RT America is not a "foreign agent" according to US law because it uses a US commercial organization for its broadcasts (AKT, 4 October; Dozhd TV, 11 July).
• Simonyan observed that RT's original Russia-centric news reporting did not generate sufficient audience, so RT switched to covering international and US domestic affairs and removed the words "Russia Today" from the logo "to stop scaring away the audience" (Afisha, 18 October; Kommersant, 4 July).

• RT hires or makes contractual agreements with Westerners with views that fit its agenda and airs them on RT. Simonyan said on the pro-Kremlin show "Minaev Live" on 10 April that RT has enough audience and money to be able to choose its hosts, and it chooses the hosts that "think like us," "are interested in working in the anti-mainstream," and defend RT's beliefs on social media. Some hosts and journalists do not present themselves as associated with RT when interviewing people, and many of them have affiliations to other media and activist organizations in the United States ("Minaev Live," 10 April).

Annex B

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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:31 am

The New Yorker’s Big Cover Story Reveals Five Uncomfortable Truths About U.S. and Russia
by Glenn Greenwald
February 28, 2017

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THE NEW YORKER is aggressively touting its 13,000-word cover story on Russia and Trump that was bylined by three writers, including the magazine’s editor-in-chief, David Remnick. Beginning with its cover image menacingly featuring Putin, Trump, and the magazine’s title in Cyrillic letters, along with its lead cartoon dystopically depicting a UFO-like Red Square hovering over and phallically invading the White House, the article is largely devoted to what has now become standard — and very profitable — fare among East Coast newsmagazines: feeding Democrats the often xenophobic, hysterical Russophobia for which they have a seemingly insatiable craving. Democratic media outlets have thus predictably cheered this opus for exposing “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence on the presidential election.”

But featured within the article are several interesting, uncomfortable, and often-overlooked facts about Putin, Trump, and Democrats. Given that these points are made here by a liberal media organ that is vehemently anti-Trump, within an article dispensing what has become the conventional Democratic wisdom on Russia, it is well worth highlighting them:

1. Obama and Clinton have radically different views on Russia.

A major irony in the Democrats’ current obsession with depicting Putin as the world’s Grave Threat — and equating efforts to forge better relations with Moscow as some type of treason — is that it was Barack Obama who spent eight years accommodating the Russian leader and scorning the idea that Russia should be confronted and challenged. Indeed, Obama — after Russia annexed Crimea — rejected bipartisan demands to arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine and actively sought a partnership with Putin to bomb Syria. And, of course, in 2012 — years after Russia invaded Georgia and numerous domestic dissidents and journalists were imprisoned or killed — the Obama-led Democrats mercilessly mocked Mitt Romney as an obsolete, ignorant Cold War relic for his arguments about the threat posed by the Kremlin.

Hillary Clinton, however, had a much different view of all this. She was often critical of Obama’s refusal to pursue aggression and belligerence in his foreign policy, particularly in Syria, where she and her closest allies wanted to impose a no-fly zone, be more active in facilitating regime change, and risk confrontation with Russia there.
The New Yorker article describes the plight of Evelyn Farkas, the Obama Pentagon’s senior Russia adviser who became extremely frustrated by Obama’s refusal to stand up to Putin over Ukraine but was so relieved to learn that Clinton, as president, would do so:

The Administration believed, with considerable justification, that escalating the conflict would provoke retaliation from Russia, push Putin into a corner, and -- since Putin would never let the rebels suffer a battlefield defeat -- prove costly for Ukraine. But Farkas disagreed: "We just ignore everything the Russians do in Ukraine because, well, that's Ukraine and the stakes are so high for Russia there. They wouldn't risk it in the U.S." Finally, she gave up trying to convince Obama. "I was so done," she said. "I was so tired of fighting." She resigned in October, 2015, and eventually became a foreign-policy adviser to Hillary Clinton, who had sometimes favored the use of military force when Obama did not. "The crazy thing was, when I joined the Clinton campaign, I was, like, Great, I'm not going to have to fight anymore, because she got it on Russia," Farkas said. "Then it just got worse."


The Russian experts heralded by the article also feared that Clinton — in contrast to Obama — was so eager for escalated U.S. military action in Syria to remove Assad that a military conflict with Russia was a real possibility:

Some in Moscow are alarmed, too. Dmitry Trenin, a well-connected political and military analyst for the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that in early fall, before Trump's victory, "we were on a course for a 'kinetic' collision in Syria." He said that the Kremlin expected that, if Clinton won, she would take military action in Syria, perhaps establishing no-fly zones, provoking the rebels to shoot down Russian aircraft, "and getting the Russians to feel it was Afghanistan revisited." He added, "Then my imagination just left me."


It’s impossible to overstate how serious of a risk this was. Recall that one of Clinton’s most vocal surrogates, former acting CIA chief Michael Morell, explicitly said — in a Dr. Strangelove-level creepy video — that he wanted to kill not only Iranians and Syrians but also Russians in Syria:


[Michael Morell, Former Director of CIA] I'd give them the things that they need to both go after the Assad government, but also to have the Iranians and the Russians pay a price. Right? When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia who were killing American soldiers, right? The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price.

[Charlie Rose] We make them pay a price by killing Russians and Iranians?

[Michael Morell, Former Director of CIA] Yes, yes. Covertly. You don't tell the world about it, right? You don't stand up at the Pentagon and say, "We did this." But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran. Here's the thing I want to do. I want to go after those things that Assad sees as his personal power base. Right? I want to scare Assad. I want to go after his presidential guard. I want to bomb his offices in the middle of the night.

[Charlie Rose] Well, that happened about two years ago, as you may remember, when his brother-in-law ...

[Michael Morell, Former Director of CIA] I want to destroy his presidential aircraft on the ground. I want to destroy his presidential helicopters. I want to make him think we're coming after him. Right? I'm not advocating assassinating him. I'm not advocating that. I'm advocating going after what he thinks is his power base, right, and what he needs to survive. I want him to think that "this is not going to end well for me." I want to put pressure on him; I want to put pressure on the Iranians; I want to put pressure on the Russians; to come to that diplomatic settlement.


There’s a reason that those who were so eager for U.S. military intervention in both Syria and Ukraine were so passionately supportive of Clinton. They knew there was a high likelihood that she would do what Obama refused to do: risk war with Russia in pursuit of these foreign policy goals.

One can, of course, side with the Clinton wing on the ground that the U.S. has been too soft on Russia, but what should not be suppressed — and what the New Yorker article makes clear — is that the hawkish views on Russia now dominant (even obligatory) in the Democratic Party were exactly what Obama resisted up until the day he left office.

That’s why people like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio, along with various neocon organs, relentlessly attacked Obama on the ground that he was too accommodating of Putin in Syria, Ukraine, and beyond. The post-election Democratic Party orthodoxy on Russia has deliberately obscured the fact that the leading accommodationist of Putin was named Barack Obama, and in that, he had a radically different approach than Clinton advocated.

2. The risk of a new Cold War is very real and very dangerous.

The most astonishing aspect of the post-election discourse on Russia is how little attention is paid to the risks of fueling a new Cold War, let alone of military confrontation between the two nuclear-armed powers. A different New Yorker article in December, by Eric Schlosser, described how many times the two countries came quite close to nuclear annihilation in the past, and how easy it is now to trigger a nuclear exchange merely by miscommunication or misperception, let alone active belligerence:

Today, the odds of a nuclear war being started by mistake are low — and yet the risk is growing, as the United States and Russia drift toward a new cold war. … The harsh rhetoric on both sides increases the danger of miscalculations and mistakes, as do other factors. Close encounters between the military aircraft of the United States and Russia have become routine, creating the potential for an unintended conflict
.

Constantly ratcheting up aggressive rhetoric and tension between Washington and Moscow is not a game. And yet it’s one that establishment Democrats — and their new allies in the war-loving wing of the GOP — are playing with reckless abandon, and with little to no apparent concern about the risks. They have re-created a climate in the U.S. where a desire for better relations with Russia triggers suspicions about one’s loyalties.

The New Yorker article is rife with warnings about how close the two countries are to returning to full-blown Cold War animosity, with all the costs and horrors the prior one entailed. This harrowing passage is typical:

Not in a generation has the enmity run this deep, according to Sergey Rogov, the academic director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, in Moscow. "I spent many years in the trenches of the first cold War, and I don't want to die in the trenches of the second," Rogov said. "We are back to 1983, and I don't enjoy being thirty-four years younger in this way. It's frightening."


Some old foreign policy hands in the Clinton circle believe the U.S. and Russia are already in a second Cold War and are angry that Trump is not doing enough to win it (and, even though they are loath to say it, they believed the same about Obama):

Strobe Talbott, the former Clinton adviser, said, "There is a very real danger not only that we are going to lose a second Cold War -- or have a redo and lose -- but that the loss will be largely because of a perverse pal-ship, the almost unfathomable respect that Trump has for Putin."


There are, as usual, numerous highly influential factions in Washington that would stand to benefit enormously from the resurrection of the Cold War. They’re the same groups that benefited so much the first time around: weapons manufacturers, the think tanks they fund, the public/private axis of the Pentagon and intelligence community, etc. And the people who exert the greatest influence over U.S. discourse continue to be the spokespeople for those very interests. When all of that is combined with the Democratic Party’s massive self-interest in inflating the Russia threat — it gives them a way to explain away their crushing 2016 defeat — it is completely unsurprising that the orthodoxy on Russia has become hawkish and pro-confrontation.

One can debate whose fault it is that the two nations are so close to re-starting the Cold War. A primary obligation of Good Patriotism is to insist that it’s always the other side’s fault. But for those who would like to hear the other side of this equation, as a tonic to the singular message of the U.S. Patriotic Media, here’s Noam Chomsky speaking last year to German journalist Tilo Jung:



Jung & Naiv: Interview with Noam Chomsky
By Tilo Jung
Episode 284
October 23, 2016



[Noam Chomsky] Americans might not know this, but there are polls carried out by major American polling companies -- not our enemies -- like Gallup polls, and one of the questions they ask is “Which country is the greatest threat to world peace?” And the United States is way ahead; nobody else is even close. This does not get reported in the United States. People don’t know about it.

[Jung & Naiv] Is it true?

[Noam Chomsky] Is it true? That’s what most people in the world think.

[Jung & Naiv] Do you think it?

[Noam Chomsky] Well, there’s good reason to believe it. We don’t like to look at it that way …

[Jung & Naiv] We’re the good guys.

[Noam Chomsky] Not the West, but the United States. But every other great power has also thought of itself as the good guy. It was true of Britain when it was running the world; it was true of France when it was a dominant power; it was true of Hitler’s Germany; it was true of fascist Japan; in fact, it’s kind of a universal. Every state that has any degree of power regards itself as uniquely admirable or magnificent, and doesn’t understand why the rest of the world doesn’t perceive our angelic character. That’s a historical universal. Probably that was true of Genghis Khan and other world wreckers.



[Jung & Naiv] Let’s stick to the alien perspective. Global warming and the nuclear age still has to be resolved. We have to fix those problems. If we don’t fix them, will the 21st century be the final, last century of humanity?

[Noam Chomsky] Probably not of humanity, but of organized human life on earth. So, for example, if there’s a nuclear war, which has come very close many times, sometimes by pure accident -- I could give some examples which are harrowing -- but sometimes by pure reckless actions. This is now increasing. The leading mainstream specialists, nuclear strategists, people like William Perry, former defense secretary, argue that the threat of nuclear war today is greater than it was during the cold war. And others agree.

And there’s a journal called The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It’s the major journal of atomic scientists. It opened right at the beginning of the nuclear age. In 1947, two years after the atomic bombing, they established what they call a Doomsday clock, a clock with a minute hand. And the question is, “How far is the minute hand from midnight?” Midnight meaning termination; we’re done! Every year they collect a group of specialists, experts, to try and set the minute hand. Two years ago they moved it two minutes closer to midnight. Now, three minutes to midnight, which is as close as it’s been since the early 1980s when there was a major war scare, when we almost came to war. So it’s not just William Perry. Plenty of others.

Incidentally, when they moved it to midnight, it was not just because of the threat of nuclear war, it was also because of the failure of government to deal with the increasing threat of environmental catastrophe. And it’s serious.

So just take one element: rise in sea levels. That’s not in question any longer. Sea levels are rising. In fact, faster than they have in recorded history.

Just consider a country like Bangladesh. It’s a low-lying coastal plain. It has hundreds of millions of people. As the sea level rises slightly, those people are going to have to flee. Now the chief environmental scientist of Bangladesh recently warned that tens of millions of people are going to have to flee in the coming years just from sea level rise. And he made an interesting comment. He said that if we lived in a just world, these people would be admitted into the rich countries -- the United States, England, and others -- because those are the countries that are responsible for it, and have the capacity to absorb them. If we think we have an immigrant crisis today, which is non-existent, what’s it going to be like when tens of millions of people are fleeing from rising sea levels? And that’s just the beginning.

Just keeping to South Asia, the water supply from South Asia comes mostly from glaciers in the Himalaya mountains. They are melting. What happens when they disappear? They are melting pretty fast. There goes the water supply for south Asia, for a couple of billion people. In India alone, right now, there are already about an estimated 300 million people who barely have access to water. What’s going to happen then? It’s all over the place. Our coastal cities are going to disappear. And the extreme weather events will increase.

Right now about one person per second is fleeing from the effects of severe weather. That’s more than the number of refugees. And that’s going to increase. We’re facing a major disaster unless something’s done.

Now this alien who is watching us would be astonished not just at the fact that it’s not being discussed, but the fact that in the richest and most powerful country in world history, that is going to shape what happens in the future, there’s a major political party, the one that happens to dominate Congress right now, which simply denies that it’s happening. They have a policy about global warming: “Forget about it; it’s not happening!” Okay? It’s hard to find words to describe this. It means that in the most powerful country in world history, the most educated, with major advantages, a major political party is saying, “Let’s race to the precipice as quickly as possible.” And there’s no comment on it. Try to find a comment on that fact. I mean, what it really means is that this is the most dangerous organization in world history.

[Jung & Naiv] The Republican party?

[Noam Chomsky] Look, is that an exaggeration? In the Republican party, every single candidate said, “It’s not happening,” with one exception: John Kasich who is supposed to be the sensible moderate. He said, “Yes, it’s happening, but we shouldn’t do anything about it.” Which is worse. That’s 100% refusal, okay? One candidate say’s it’s happening, and we should make it worse. We should use more fossil fuels, including coal, which is the most polluting; we should eliminate environmental regulations; we should refuse to help poorer countries move to sustainable energy, as was agreed in the Paris negotiations last year, which they want to dismantle. So in other words, lets race to the precipice as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, the threat of nuclear war is increasing, with very provocative actions on both sides. You know, specialists are concerned, but it’s not part of the general conversation. It’s not what you talk about with your friends when you go out for a cup of coffee.

[Jung & Naiv] It’s a depressing topic. But maybe the alien would agree that ignorance is bliss?

[Noam Chomsky] For a short time. Until it hits. And it’s not bliss for other people. It’s not bliss for the one person per second who is fleeing the effects of severe weather, drought, and so on. And these droughts – which are all over the place – are already having a big effect. So the catastrophe in Darfur, and what’s happening now in Syria is horrible, are to a significant extent the result of severe droughts. So take Syria. Awful things are happening. I mean, people have been killed; millions of refugees; the country is being destroyed. Part of the reason is that for several years before the conflict broke out, there was a very severe drought in Syria. Syria has been settled for thousands of years; it’s the heart of human civilization. And there’s never been anything like it in all of history. A huge drought drove peasants off the land. They couldn’t farm. Drove them into cities, which means densely populated urban slums, and lots of tension and conflict. All of that is kind of dry kindling. Drop a match on it and it explodes. It sets up the basis for conflict.

In Darfur, where there was a huge catastrophe for a couple of years, and still continuing. Part of the reason is that huge droughts had driven nomadic populations into agricultural settled areas in order to survive, which set up, of course, a conflict. There was an invasion of people trying to survive. It’s not pleasant. That’s a large part of the basis for what happened there. And there’s going to be more and more of it.

We’re going to have water wars, because water is scarce, and not preserved. Ignorance is bliss if you can get yourself away from it and not think about the near future, like the future of your children, you see? It’s not far off.

[Jung & Naiv] Do you want to talk about the American empire? Martin Luther King famously said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.” I mean, he meant the American government. He said that 50 years ago. Is that still true?

[Noam Chomskjy] He said it at the peak of the Vietnam war, where American B52 bombers were carrying out saturation bombing in the densely populated Mekong Delta. Millions of people were killed; the country devastated. About the time that he spoke, one of the leading specialists on Indochina, Bernard Fall, a Vietnam military historian, who was by no means on the left -- he was strongly in favor of the U.S. backed Saigon government -- but he nevertheless pointed out that, as he put it, “Vietnam as a historical cultural entity may not survive the greatest onslaught against the population in an area this size in human history.” That’s when Martin Luther King spoke. Has it changed? Not much.

In 2003, the United States, along with Britain, invaded Iraq; killed hundreds of thousands of people; generated millions of refugees; committed all kinds of atrocities, torture and so on; instigated sectarian conflict – there is a major split in the Islamic world back to the 8th century which has been pretty amicable, just like Protestant/Catholic -- not during the period of the great wars, but during the peaceful periods -- and in Iraq, there was Shia and Sunni. But they intermingled, intermarried, lived in the same area, and a lot of times people didn’t know who was who. One of the effects of the American invasion, an almost immediate effect, was to begin to instigate a sectarian conflict, which is now tearing Iraq apart, and is tearing the region apart. It’s having a devastating effect. And we can go on. That’s not the only case.



[Jung & Naiv] You called Obama’s drone assassination program the by far greatest terrorist campaign in the world. Does that mean that Obama is a terrorist?

[Noam Chomsky] Well, let’s just go back to that alien. Suppose that he thought for a few minutes and asked himself, “How would people in Germany be reacting if say Iran has a program in which they sent assassins around the world to murder people who were threatening Iran, like for example the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post, the major newspapers who run articles saying ‘We should bomb Iran right now and not wait.’ Big articles?” So suppose they say, “Look, they are threatening us really seriously; they are claiming they are going to destroy us; and there are plenty of others including President Obama who says that ‘All options are open,’ meaning, including nuclear war; if Iran doesn’t do what we want we’ll get rid of them.” And there are plenty of people in Germany who are saying similar things. So how would young people in Germany react to those actions? Would they call that “terrorism”?

[Jung & Naiv] I would.

[Noam Chomsky] I think so. That’s what we’re doing. The drone program is a program initiated from the White House, with careful planning. They meet Tuesday morning, decide who is on the kill list today, and kill people who are suspected of planning to harm the United States. Is that any different than killing the editors of the Washington Post and New York Times because, not only are they suspected, but in fact they publish articles saying “Let’s bomb Iran right now.”

[Jung & Naiv] So Obama is a terrorist?

[Noam Chomsky] Ask yourself how the alien would look at it. And he’s a neutral observer. He or she, we didn’t decide. Aliens are usually “he”, so how would he look at it?

[Jung & Naiv] And since Germany is part of the drone program, Ramstein is the relay station for the drones, are we also terrorists?

[Noam Chomsky] Sure. And not just that, you’re torturers. Germany was involved in the rendition program, which is the worst kind of torture. The most depraved form, and the most cowardly form of torture is to take suspects and send them to terrorist countries where you know they are going to be tortured. That’s the peak. So you send them to Syria or Libya under Gaddafi. That way you can make sure that they are tortured.

There was a study done recently of the countries who participated in the rendition program: practically all of Europe, and the Middle east, of course, because that’s where the suspects were sent to be tortured by dictators. In fact, about the only part of the world who didn’t participate was South America, Latin America. They refused, which is kind of interesting for a number of reasons. Number 1 because they refused; and number 2 because not many years ago Latin America was the center of global torture during the period of the U.S.-backed, U.S.-installed dictatorships of the 60s, 70s and 80s. First Brazil, and then Chile under Pinochet, and then Argentina which was the worst of all, and others like Uruguay. There was horrible torture all over the place not very long ago. But enough of a change has taken place that Latin America virtually alone didn’t participate in the most depraved, cowardly, disgusting form of torture: rendition. But Europe did!



[Jung & Naiv] Do you think it’s going to be the last empire?

[Noam Chomsky] An alien looking at it would probably conclude that it’s quite likely that in another century human society will have disintegrated because it’s not trying to deal seriously with the immense problems it’s facing. I mentioned two, which are enormous, but there’s more than that. Another major problem is the threat of pandemics, diseases that can’t be controlled. That’s already happening. And it’s happening for important reasons. One major reason, which we haven’t mentioned, but the alien would notice, is industrial meat production. Industrial meat production is a huge contributor to global warming, an enormous producer of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases. But it also has another feature. Corporations pour antibiotics into these systems. Animals are crowded together in horrible conditions, and to prevent disease and maintain growth there is an extensive use of antibiotics. An enormous part of the whole antibiotic production is for this. Use of antibiotics leads to mutations which make bacteria antibiotic-resistant. The rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is growing faster than the techniques for dealing with it. So we may be destroying ourselves in that way too. There are a lot of things the alien would notice that we should be noticing.

[Jung & Naiv] So are you a vegan?

[Noam Chomsky] No, I’m not, but you can imagine that one would be. The crucial question in my view is not – I mean, individual actions are good, use less energy and so on -- but what’s really needed is collective action to deal with the roots of the problem. I mean, if you’re a vegan, let’s say, and you eat fruits and vegetables that are transported from somewhere else, you’re contributing to the destruction of the environment. That’s what transport is. There are a lot of things to look at. We all make individual compromises. There’s no choice. You can’t avoid it. Like we’ve got the lights on. We’ve got the electricity running. But the crucial question is really institutional. How are we going to deal with the fundamental institutions that are creating this?

[Jung & Naiv] Tell us.

[Noam Chomsky] Well, the only way that’s ever been discovered: organized collective action, which has led to a lot of changes. Take Germany. It’s not the same country it was 70 or 80 years ago. Why? Germans made it a different country. We can do the same.

Take say global warming. Germany is pretty advanced among countries in the world in trying to do something about it. That’s because Germans committed themselves to doing something. We can do the same on the other issues.




Take for example the threat of nuclear war on the Russian border. Take note that it’s on the Russian border, not the Mexican border. Now, that’s a reflection of global power. Now there’s provocations on both sides. And Germany is right there at the center of it. The major issue had to do with Germany.

If you go back to 1991, the end of the Soviet empire, there was a question as to how the world system would be reconstructed with the Soviet system collapsing. There were two views. Gorbachev, the Russian leader, proposed that vision of a unified security system for all of Eurasia, with no military blocks, just cooperative integration. That was one vision. The Americans, under President George Bush I and his secretary of state James Baker, had a different vision: The Russian system would collapse, and NATO would expand. The crucial question was Germany. For Russia, it was a pretty serious question. Germany alone had practically destroyed Russia twice during the preceding century, and there were other western invasions in western Europe. So Germany was going to be a serious question. Gorbachev agreed to allow Germany to be unified, east and west, even to join NATO, a hostile military alliance, which was quite a concession. But there was an agreement – he thought. The agreement was that NATO would not expand one inch to the East. That was the phrase that was used, which meant East Germany. NATO immediately expanded to East Germany. When Gorbachev protested the Americans pointed out, correctly, that it wasn’t a written agreement; it was just a verbal agreement, like a handshake. So if you trust us it’s kind of your problem. So NATO expanded to East Germany, and under the following years, under Clinton, it expanded to the former Russian empire and all the way to the borders of Russia. In 2008, and again in 2013 under Obama, NATO offered admission to NATO to Ukraine. Take a look at the map and history of Ukraine. It’s right in the geopolitical strategic heartland of Russia, apart from long historical other connections. Offering Ukraine NATO membership is a very serious threat to Russia. Western analysts understand that.

Right now, the United States – Obama – is putting what’s called a missile defense system in Romania. The pretense is that it is to protect Europe from non-existent Iranian missiles. Okay? If you can believe that, you can believe in Alice in Wonderland. It’s of course aimed against Russia, obviously.

And furthermore, it’s understood by strategic analysts on all sides, that what’s called “missile defense” is an offensive weapon. Nobody believes that missile defense could ever defeat a first strike. But it’s imaginable that it could deter a retaliatory strike, which means it’s a first strike weapon. And everyone understands that. It’s highly provocative.

And the Russians are carrying out a major military buildup of their own, modernizing forces, new missile systems, nuclear submarines with nuclear weapons and so forth.

And you have constant threats right at the border, planes on both sides sort of buzzing each other and so on. It could blow up. Germany is sitting right there. Germany could play a leading role in trying to reduce these tensions. And in fact, some German political leaders have called for that. These are choices, and they are choices that the German people have to make. Do we want to have a nuclear war and destroy everything? Do we want to wipe out the world with global catastrophe? That’s for people to decide.


But regardless of where one wants to pin blame for these heightened tensions, the risks of heightening them further are incredibly high — one could plausibly say: incomparably high. Yet in the name of being “tough” on Putin, those risks are virtually never discussed, and anyone who attempts to raise them in the context of advocating better relations will almost instantly be accused of being a Kremlin stooge, or worse.

3. The U.S. media refuses to say if the U.S. interferes in Russia’s domestic politics.

U.S. media accounts often note that “Putin believes” that the U.S. government has repeatedly interfered in Russia’s political process. Given how often Putin publicly makes this claim, that’s hard to suppress. But what they almost never comment on is the rather significant question of whether Putin’s claims are true: Does the U.S., in fact, try to manipulate Russian politics the way Russia now stands accused of interfering in the U.S. election?

The New Yorker article demonstrates how steadfastly this question is ignored.
Here’s a classic formulation of it:

Vladimir Putin, who is quick to accuse the West of hypocrisy, frequently points to this history. He sees a straight line from the West's support of the anti-Moscow "color revolutions," in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine, which deposed corrupt, Soviet-era leaders, to its endorsement of the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Five years ago, he blamed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square. "She set the tone for some of our actors in the country and gave the signal," Putin said. "They heard this and, with the support of the U.S. State Department, began active work." (No evidence was provided for the accusation.)


So, the New Yorker notes, Putin claims Clinton’s State Department supported and promoted anti-Kremlin protests during Russia’s parliamentary elections, yet offers no evidence. But is that true? Did that happen? As most media outlets typically do, the New Yorker simply does not say. Here’s another classic example from this genre:

Last September, at a G-20 summit, in China, Obama confronted Putin about the hacking, telling him to "cut it out," and, above all, to keep away from the balloting in November, or there would be "serious consequences." Putin neither denied nor confirmed the hacking efforts, but replied that the United States has long funded media outlets and civil-society groups that meddle in Russian affairs.


Is it true, as Putin claims, that the U.S., in fact, “has long funded media outlets and civil-society groups that meddle in Russian affairs”? Again, the article believes it’s significant enough to note that Putin claims this, but never bothers to tell its readers whether it is actually true, or even if evidence exists for it.

What makes this steadfast silence so bizarre is that there’s virtually no question that it is true. Some have noted the 1996 Time magazine cover boasting of how U.S. advisers helped the U.S.’ preferred candidate, Boris Yeltsin, win Russia’s presidency. And, of course, the U.S. has continually and repeatedly interfered in the domestic political processes, including democratic elections, of more countries than one can count.

But far more relevant, and more recent, are the very active efforts on the part of the U.S. government to alter Russian civic society more to its liking. Many of these efforts, needless to say, are covert, but many are not. Here’s the National Endowment for Democracy — funded by the U.S. Congress through the State Department — openly touting the dozens of Russian political groups it funds.


National Endowment for Democracy
Supporting freedom around the world

EURASIA

RUSSIA 2011

Autonomous Non-Profit Organization "Center for Social Projecting 'VOZROZHDENIYE"
$50,000
To increase the accountability of elected officials to their constituents and educate recently elected officials and those aspiring to public office in the fundamentals of effective and transparent governance. Vozrozhdeniye will conduct a total of 27 seminars for three groups in the north, south, and center of Pskov Oblast. Vozrozhdeniye will form small study groups in each geographic area, which will allow participants to develop strong regional networks to focus on specific local issues.

Center for International Private Enterprise
$162,829
To instill democratic values, promote civic leadership, encourage new entrepreneurs, and provide alternatives to radicalization among youth in the North Caucasus. The Vladlkavkaz Institute of Management will expand its training program on entrepreneurship, democracy, and civic involvement to reach a wider audience. VIM will also support the graduates through an alumni network and mentoring from the local business community.

Center for International Private Enterprise
$82,182
[size]To raise awareness of the importance of property rights and the institutions supporting property rights among stakeholders and policymakers. Under this project, CIPE and its partners in three regions will gather information on property market issues ranging from corruption to effective governance to rule of law[/size]that will serve as a roadmap for regional- and federal-level advocacy work planned in future phases of the project.

Foundation Independent Press Center
$60,005
To host press conferences, seminars and roundtables organized by Russian NGOs. These events provide Russian and foreign journalists with access to a variety of speakers on key political, economic and social issues. The Center focuses attention on important problems that are often ignored by Russia's state-controlled media, such as corruption, illegal actions by government officials, human rights violations, and critical reports about Russian politics.


In response to all this, one can offer the same cliché that is invoked when it’s pointed out after a terrorist attack that the U.S. has killed countless innocent people all over the world: It doesn’t matter because two wrongs don’t make a right. That may well be true, but just as it’s difficult to actually fight terrorism if one refuses to grapple with its causes or if one objects only when one’s own side is the victim but not the perpetrator, it’s very difficult to credibly object to — let alone prevent — other countries from interfering in U.S. politics if you make no effort to object to U.S. interference in theirs.

And at the very least, U.S. journalists who discuss Putin’s claims in this regard should not just summarize those claims but report on whether they are valid. The refusal to do so is as conspicuous as it is troubling.

Polyarchy, or what I alternatively refer to as "low-intensity democracy," is a structural feature of the new world order: it is a global political system corresponding to a global economy under the hegemony of a transnational elite which is the agent of transnational capital.

-- Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony, by William I. Robinson


4. The U.S. government still has provided no evidence of its theories about Russian hacking.

That Putin ordered Russian hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails in order to help Trump win is now such consecrated orthodoxy that it’s barely acceptable in Decent Company to question it. But that obscures, by design, the rather important fact that the U.S. government, while repeatedly issuing new reports making these claims, has still never offered any actual evidence for them. Even the New Yorker article, which clearly views the theory as valid, acknowledges this fact:

In early January, two weeks before the Inauguration, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, released a declassified report concluding that Putin had ordered an influence campaign to harm Clinton's election prospects, fortify Donald Trump's, and "undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process." The declassified report provides more assertion than evidence. Intelligence officers say that this was necessary to protect their information-gathering methods.


Recall that even hardened Putin critics and Western journalists in Moscow were aghast at how evidence-free these government reports have been. The lack of evidence for these theories does not, of course, prove their falsity. But, given the stakes, it’s certainly worth keeping in mind.

And it further underscores the reasons why no conclusions should be reached absent a structured investigation with the evidence and findings made publicly available. Anonymous claims from agenda-driven, disinformation-dispensing intelligence community officials are about the least reliable way to form judgments about anything, let alone the nature of the threats posed by the governments they want Americans to view as their adversaries.

5. Fixating on Russia continues to be used to distract from systemic failures of U.S. elites.

Denouncing the autocratic abuses of foreign adversaries such as Putin has long been the go-to tactic to distract attention from the failures and evils of U.S. actions — including the unpleasant fact that support for the world’s worst despots has long been, and continues to be, a central precept of U.S. policy. Or, as then-Secretary of State Clinton put it in 2009 about the decades-ruling Egyptian tyrant: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.”

That Putin abuses the civic freedoms of Russians plainly answers none of the policy debates over Russia, given how ready and eager the U.S. is to align with the planet’s worst monsters. It’s instead designed to encourage Americans to fix their gaze on bad acts by people thousands of miles away in order to obfuscate the corruption of their own society and savagery by their own leaders.
In several places, the New Yorker article warns against exploiting and inflating claims about Putin as a means of ignoring that the real causes of America’s problems reside not in Moscow but at home:

Although the evidence for Russia's interference appears convincing, it is too easy to allow such an account to become the master narrative of Trump's ascent -- a way to explain the presence of a man who is so alien and discomforting to so much of the population by rendering him in some way foreign. In truth, he is a phenomenon of America's own making.


It is true that Putin is used to avoid confronting the fact that Trump is “a phenomenon of America’s own making.” It’s also true that he’s used to avoid confronting the fact that Trump is a byproduct of the extraordinary and systemic failure of the Democratic Party. As long as the Russia story enables pervasive avoidance of self-critique — one of the things humans least like to do — it will continue to resonate no matter its actual substance and value.



And this avoidance of self-examination extends to the West generally:

No reasonable analyst believes that Russia's active measures in the United States and Europe have been the dominant force behind the ascent of Trump and nationalist politicians in Europe. Resentment of the effects of globalization and deindustrialization are far more important factors.


As Even The New Yorker Admits™, the primary reason for Trump, for Brexit, and for growing right-wing über-nationalism throughout Europe is that prevailing neoliberal policies have destroyed the economic security and future of hundreds of millions of people, rendering them highly susceptible to scapegoating and desperate, in a nothing-to-lose sort of way, for any type of radical change, no matter how risky or harmful that change might be. But all of that gets to be ignored, all of the self-reckoning is avoided, as long we get ourselves to believe that some omnipotent foreign power is behind it all.

Using Russia — yet again — to whitewash our own sins and systemic failures is bad enough. Let’s just hope it doesn’t lead the two countries back into a protracted and devastating Cold War or, worse still, direct military confrontation. With tensions rising and rhetoric becoming harsher and more manipulative, both of those outcomes are more likely than they’ve been in many years.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:02 am

Leading Putin Critic Warns of Xenophobic Conspiracy Theories Drowning U.S. Discourse and Helping Trump
by Glenn Greenwald
March 7, 2017

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MASHA GESSEN IS a Russian-American journalist and author who has become one of the nation’s leading Russia experts and one of its most relentless and vocal critics of Vladimir Putin. She has lived her life on and off in the U.S. and Russia, but as a Jewish lesbian and mother of three children, she left Russia in 2013 and moved back to the U.S. in part because she felt threatened by the increasingly anti-LGBT climate there, one that began particularly targeting LGBT adopted families with discriminatory legislation.

Throughout the years Gessen (pictured, above) has become one of the go-to Kremlin critics for the U.S. media, publishing harshly anti-Putin reporting and commentary in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, Harper’s and several articles about political repression in Russia for the Intercept. She has also become a virulent critic of Donald Trump, writing shortly after the election that “Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won,” while describing the critical lessons that can be learned on how to resist Trump’s autocratic impulses by studying Putin.

She now has a new article in the New York Review of Books – entitled “Russia: the Conspiracy Trap” – that I cannot recommend highly enough. Its primary purpose is to describe, and warn about, the insane and toxic conspiracy-mongering about Russia that has taken over not the fringe, dark corners of the internet that normally traffic in such delusional tripe, but rather mainstream U.S. media outlets and the Democratic Party.

The backbone of the rapidly yet endlessly developing Trump-Putin story is leaks from intelligence agencies, and this is its most troublesome aspect. Virtually none of the information can be independently corroborated. The context, sequence, and timing of the leaks is determined by people unknown to the public, which is expected to accept anonymous stories on faith; nor have we yet been given any hard evidence of active collusion by Trump officials. As a paragraph deep into a New York Times analysis noted on Friday,

vigorous reporting by multiple news media organizations is turning up multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russians who serve in or are close to Mr. Putin’s government. There have been courtesy calls, policy discussions and business contacts, though nothing has emerged publicly indicating anything more sinister….Former diplomats and Russia specialists say it would have been absurd and contrary to American interests for the Trump team to avoid meetings with Russians, either during or since the campaign.


Given that the story has been driven by the intelligence community and the media, it is perhaps unsurprising that each subsequent revelation creates the sense of pieces falling into place. It builds like an old-fashioned television series, dispensed in weekly episodes with no binge-watching allowed. What remains from the earliest installments is not so much information as mood. Take, for example, one of the earliest revelations: in July an opinion piece in The Washington Post claimed that the Trump campaign “worked behind the scenes” to block a platform amendment that would have called for providing lethal aid to Ukraine—including weapon systems, mortars, grenade launchers, ammunition, and other armaments. The article was slightly misleading: it made it seem like Trump’s people made the party abandon a plank that would have called for maintaining or increasing sanctions and lethal aid. In fact, the sanctions part of the plank stayed in the platform—it was the lethal-aid amendment, a step that had hitherto not been taken, even during the height of the Ukraine war in 2014, that was tabled. The issue is far from a clear-cut one: few people in Washington, whether Republicans or Democrats, are on record as favoring lethal aid.

Now, the Republican convention is back in the news because one of the conversations the Russian ambassador had with Sessions, who was at the time an adviser to the Trump campaign, occurred in Cleveland, at a diplomacy panel timed to run alongside the convention. On March 2, USA Today reported that two more members of the Trump campaign—J.D. Gordon and Carter Page—spoke to the Russian ambassador at the same panel. When CNN picked up the story, it reported that “Gordon said that he was a part of the effort that was part of the Trump campaign to put some language in the GOP platform that essentially said that the Republican Party did not advocate arming the Ukrainians in their battle against pro-Russian separatists.” Correspondent Jim Acosta continued,

Of course, that was a big issue that was flaring up at the time. That effort was ultimately successful. They were successful in having that language in the Republican Party platform. I asked J.D. Gordon, ‘Well, why is that? Why did you go ahead and advocate for that language?’ He said this is the language that Donald Trump himself wanted and advocated for back in March at the meeting at the unfinished Trump Hotel here in Washington, D.C. J.D. Gordon said then-candidate Trump said he did not want to, quote, ‘go to World War III over Ukraine.’ And so, as J.D. Gordon says, at the Republican convention in Cleveland he advocated for language in that Republican Party platform that reflected then-candidate Trump’s comments.


He then briefly noted that Gordon denied that any inappropriate conversation had occurred between him and the Russian ambassador.

The report sounded damning—unless one knew, of course, that the “language” to which Acosta managed to refer four times in the space of thirty seconds did not exist—no statement on Ukraine was inserted into the Republican platform by the Trump campaign—and that the sentiment ostensibly ascribed to candidate Trump falls squarely in the foreign-policy mainstream and was, in fact, the position held by the Obama administration. The “meetings” that sounded so sinister were in fact public encounters that occurred during a panel and, later, a cocktail party—schmoozing, which is both the ambassador’s and campaign advisers’ jobs. But all of Friday-evening punditry on CNN and MSNBC was from that point on occupied with connecting the imaginary dots of the Russian ambassador-Trump campaign cabal at the Republican convention. CNN also ran with an unsubstantiated report that the Russian ambassador is a “spy master,” an outrageous assertion that mirrored Russian propaganda about Obama’s Moscow ambassador, Michael McFaul.

-- Russia: The Conspiracy Trap, by Masha Gessen


Few articles have illustrated the serious, multi-faceted dangers of what has become this collective mania in the U.S. as well as Gessen’s does.

The New York Review of books
NYR Daily
Russia: The Conspiracy Trap
Masha Gessen


To begin, Gessen details several examples of classic, evidence-free, unhinged, and increasingly xenophobic conspiracy theorizing masquerading as serious news in mainstream outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. Routine diplomatic interactions are depicted as dark and sinister if they involve Russians. When the most flamboyant, alarmist, tabloid-style Russia stories from leading news outlets collapse (as so many have), or when Trump’s actions (such as hiring numerous anti-Russia hawks for key positions) explode the “Putin’s puppet” narrative, it makes no difference to our mainstream conspiracy obsessives because – as she puts it – “such is the nature of conspiracy thinking that facts can do nothing to change it.”

Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say


Wild, melodramatic claims about hidden Russian plotting and Trump collusion are routinely and constantly hyped by leading media outlets based on nothing but their imaginations or, at best, coordinated whispers from intelligence officials utterly insusceptible to verification, from operatives trained in disinformation. As she writes:

The backbone of the rapidly yet endlessly developing Trump-Putin story is leaks from intelligence agencies, and this is its most troublesome aspect. Virtually none of the information can be independently corroborated. The context, sequence, and timing of the leaks is determined by people unknown to the public, which is expected to accept anonymous stories on faith; nor have we yet been given any hard evidence of active collusion by Trump officials. . . .

The dream fueling the Russia frenzy is that it will eventually create a dark enough cloud of suspicion around Trump that Congress will find the will and the grounds to impeach him. If that happens, it will have resulted largely from a media campaign orchestrated by members of the intelligence community—setting a dangerous political precedent that will have corrupted the public sphere and promoted paranoia. And that is the best-case outcome. . . . More likely, the Russia allegations will not bring down Trump.


The crux of her article is the point that has been driving everything I’ve been writing and saying about this topic for months: that this obsession with Russia conspiracy tales is poisoning all aspects of U.S. political discourse and weakening any chance for resisting Trump’s actual abuses and excesses. Those who wake up every day to hype the latest episode of this Russia/Trump spy drama tell themselves that they’re bravely undermining and subverting Trump, but they’re doing exactly the opposite.

This crazed conspiracy mongering is further discrediting U.S. media outlets, making Washington seem even more distant from and irrelevant to the lives of millions of Americans, degrading discourse to the lowliest Trumpian circus level on which he thrives, and is misdirecting huge portions of opposition energy and thought into an exciting but fictitious spy novel – all of which directly redounds to Trump’s benefit. As Gessen puts it in the key sentence that ought to be pinned everywhere in neon lights:

Russiagate is helping [Trump]—both by distracting from real, documentable, and documented issues, and by promoting a xenophobic conspiracy theory in the cause of removing a xenophobic conspiracy theorist from office.


I’ve been asked often why I’ve written so much against the prevailing sentiments on Russia and Trump. It’s not just because this obsessive narrative distracts from Trump’s genuinely consequential actions or from the need to find an effective vessel for activism against über-right-wing nationalism. It’s not just because it’s driven by ugly and historically familiar anti-Rusisan xenophobia, nor because it dangerously ratchets up tensions between two nuclear-armed, traditionally hostile countries. Those things are all true, but that’s not the main impetus.

Above all else, it’s because it’s an offensive assault on reason. This kind of deranged discourse is an attack on basic journalistic integrity, on any minimal obligation to ensure that one’s claims are based in evidence rather than desire, fantasy, and herd-enforced delusions. And it’s emanating from the most established and mainstream precincts of U.S. political and media elites, who have processed the severe disorientation and loss of position they feel from Trump’s shock election not by doing the work to patiently formulate cogent, effective strategies against him, but rather by desperately latching onto online “dot-connecting” charlatans and spewing the most unhinged Birther-level conspiracies that require a complete abandonment of basic principles of rationality and skepticism.

Donald Trump reiterated his point that Hillary Clinton started the birther theory Monday night, citing reports of her campaign surrogates or staff spreading the rumor when she was running for president in 2008.

A former Washington reporter maintains Clinton surrogate Sid Blumenthal personally pitched him the President Barack Obama “birther” story in 2008, prompting him to send a reporter to Kenya to investigate.

The Clinton campaign and the media have consistently refuted Trump’s claim Clinton started the birther movement, which Trump re-upped Friday when he said for the first publicly that he believes Obama was born in the United States. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said, drawing a slew of media fact checks almost immediately. “I finished it.”

But former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher has backed up Trump’s version of events, saying he was personally pitched the story by a Clinton surrogate in 2008.

Clinton had tweeted: “President Obama’s successor cannot and will not be the man who led the racist birther movement. Period.”

And Asher replied: “@HillaryClinton So why did your man #sidblumenthal spread the #obama birther rumor to me in 2008, asking us to investigate? Remember?”

James Asher ✔ @jimasher
@HillaryClinton So why did your man #sidblumenthal spread the #obama birther rumor to me in 2008, asking us to investigate? Remember?
9:06 PM - 15 Sep 2016 · Maryland, USA


Blumenthal is a former aide to Clinton’s husband former President Bill Clinton and their long-time friend.

“#CNN says #Hillary team in 2008 never raised the #birther issue,” he said in another tweet Thursday night. “#SidBlumenthal, long-time #HRC buddy, told me in person #Obama born in #kenya.”

James Asher ✔ @jimasher
#CNN says #Hillary team in 2008 never raised #birther issue. #SidBlumenthal, long-time #HRC buddy, told me in person #Obama born in #kenya
7:43 PM - 15 Sep 2016 · Maryland, USA


Nevertheless, as soon as Trump reiterated his criticism, Clinton started the birther movement, the media started churning out fact checks.

“I covered it at the time,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said Sept. 16, referring to the movement. “She and her campaign never, never started the birther issue.”

“Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Theory, but Floats a New One: Clinton Started It,” blared a New York Times headline. And The Washington Post fact checker quickly spun up a piece declaring the claim “debunked.”

At one point the MSNBC chyron read: “Trump (falsely) claims Clinton started birther controversy.”

-- Clinton Surrogate Pitched Reporter Birther Story In 2008, by Rachel Stoltzfoos


TO SEE HOW extreme this derangement has become, let’s look at the latest conspiracy theory that took hold of fringe and mainstream figures alike this weekend. It was prompted by the death of Alex Oronov, a 68-year-old Ukrainian-American whose daughter married Bryan Cohen, who is the brother of Michael Cohen, who is Trump’s personal lawyer. Got all those connections, those “dots”?

Back in the 1990s, the fever swamp of the Far Right was driven mad by Bill Clinton’s election. They were convinced he and Hillary were mass murderers, constantly ordering the deaths of political opponents and others who could incriminate the Clintons – not just Vince Foster but an endless number of remotely related people.

Any person who died and had any kind of connection to the Clintons, no matter how remote, became part of the “Clinton Body Count.” These were people who died and whose death was ruled by the coroner to be due to “natural causes” yet were still classified by right-wing extremists as “mysterious deaths,” all for the purpose of implying that the Clintons were responsible for their deaths.

WND EXCLUSIVE
'CLINTON DEATH LIST': 33 SPINE-TINGLING CASES
Bill and Hillary's "friends" fall off buildings, crash planes, die in freak accidents
Published: 08/21/2016


One of the primary pushers of this innuendo was the nation’s most influential radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who spent the 1990s hyping every death with any proximity to the Clintons as “suspicious.” He gleefully resurrected this theme during the 2016 campaign by claiming that people close to the Clintons were once again mysteriously dying. This is what Limbaugh told his audience in August:

I can remember reading magazines back in 1992 that catalogued all the people who the Clintons knew who had died. . . . The inherent conspiracies that were associated with this. And lo and behold, here we go again.


Limbaugh cited a Townhall article describing the deaths of three DNC-related officials and told his audience: “Since the DNC emails were leaked a few weeks ago, three people associated with the DNC have all found dead, under what could be questionable circumstances.” Limbaugh added: “This is exactly the kind of stuff we saw back in 1992 and 1993.” He then mocked the media for viewing this speculation as insane conspiracy theories, emphasizing:

A lot of people [the Clintons] know who have died, been murdered . . . . it’s amazing the cycle that exists with the Clintons . . . . How many other politicians do you know who have so many mysterious deaths associated with them?. . . . But there is a Clinton body count.


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citizenwells @citizenwells
Rush Limbaugh Clinton body count, Julian Assange murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich WikiLeaks… http://citizenwells.com/2016/08/10/rush ... tances-lin
6:09 PM - 10 Aug 2016


There’s now an identical – and quite profitable – Democratic cottage industry that specializes in pointing to every death of anyone with any proximity to Trump or Russia and strongly implying – with zero evidence – that they were murdered. But the difference is that it’s not confined to the fringes but is fully embraced by numerous mainstream Democratic figures. It’s not a coincidence that one of the key figures of this early 1990s anti-Clinton sickness, David Brock, is now always lurking at the center of similar yet highly lucrative insanity, but now on behalf of Democrats.

One of the most popular online conspiracists among Democrats is now the former Tory member of the UK Parliament and current Murdoch-rag-writer Louise Mensch, whose history of public humiliations and pure bigotry is far too long to chronicle.

But because she has now turned her deranged behavior to peddling any and all conspiracies about Trump and Russia, she has built a huge Twitter following among Democrats convinced that all of their critics are Kremlin spies and anyone who dies was murdered by the Putin/Trump axis to protect their conspiratorial cover-up. Here’s what this newfound liberal journalistic icon tweeted two weeks ago:


Louise Mensch ✔ @LouiseMensch
I absolutely believe that Andrew Breitbart was murdered by Putin, just as the founder of RT was murdered by Putin.
8:44 AM - 24 Feb 2017


That is as flagrantly insane as the most warped versions of birther and truther fever dreams that have tragically engulfed significant portions of the U.S. population. That tweet, by itself, should disqualify her from any form of serious consideration. But Mensch is now routinely cited as some sort of credible journalistic source on Russia conspiracies by unhinged, mainstream anti-Trump fanatics such as MSNBC and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who will launder any insanity as long as it promotes their Tom Clancy fever dreams of Trump as a Kremlin asset.

When news of Oronov’s death broke over the weekend, Democratic Party loyalists instantly began implying, if not outright stating, that his death was really a murder, intended to silence him from exposing the Trump/Russia conspiracy. One of the leading articles pushing this evidence-free tripe was this thing called “The Palmer Report,” whose insinuations went viral because they were quickly mainstreamed by all kinds of prominent Democrats with a platform.


Palmer Report
Alex Oronov, organizer of Russia-Ukraine blackmail plan sent to Donald Trump, dies suspiciously
By Bill Palmer
March 4, 2017
Yet another key figure in the Trump-Russia scandal has suddenly dropped dead. A meeting was organized


What is the Palmer Report? It’s a classic Fake News site created by Bill Palmer, a crazed fanatical follower of Hillary Clinton who got caught purposely disseminating fake news during the election. The site he ran during the campaign was called “The Daily News Bin,” and among other gems, that was the site that published the totally false but viral claim – based on the fraudulent assertions of MSNBC’s partisan warriors Joy Ann Reid and Malcolm Nance – that the DNC and Podesta emails WikiLeaks was publishing were forgeries.

Daily News Bin
MSNBC intelligence expert: WikiLeaks is releasing falsified emails not really from Hillary Clinton
By Bill Palmer
October 7, 2016

The latest release from WikiLeaks, a collection of emails supposedly hacked from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, is getting very little public attention due to the fact that it contains nothing particularly scandalous to begin with, and the fact that it was released just as Donald Trump's campaign was imploding in a sexual assault scandal. But those who have examined the Clinton email dump have found something fascinating: several of the emails aren't even good forgeries.

Malcolm Nance, a U.S. intelligence expert and MSNBC analyst, has issued what he's calling an "official warning". He's reporting that the emails in question "already proving to be riddled with obvious


The Palmer Report is the same Fake News site that published multiple stories claiming that the vote totals for the 2016 election were altered, causing Slate to compare it to The National Enquirer. In February, the Atlantic warned of “The Rise of Progressive Fake News,” and one of its leading examples was the “very harmful” Palmer Report.

This is where Democrats are now getting their “news” from.
The Palmer Report seems to be a trusted news source for Professor Tribe. Yet it’s no better – no different – than what Macedonian teenagers or Clinton Body Count sites are churning out. But it’s being mainstreamed by prominent, establishment Democrats who have completely taken leave of their senses in the wake of Trump’s victory and show no signs of returning to anything resembling sober, grounded reasoning any time soon.

Palmer Report
You're not just imagining it: the Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump vote totals do look rigged
By Bill Palmer
November 17, 2016
As a political journalist, I hate empty conspiracy theories. I like to go where the bulk of the evidence is pointing. So


The Democrats’ favorite reporter during the 2016 campaign was Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, who outright fabricated a claim that Trump “was institutionalized in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown in 1990,” and then when caught, claimed that it was a “signal to a source.” Not even an outright fabrication and a pitiful explanation like that hurt his standing among Democrats; if anything, it bolstered it, because it was for the Right Cause.

Kurt Eichenwald
@kurteichenwald
I believe Trump was institutionalized in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown in 1990, which is why he won't release medical records.


And now, every time a Russian dies, mainstream Democratic sites instantly imply with zero evidence that they were murdered by Putin and possibly Trump to cover up something or other. Even when the autopsy rules that they died of natural causes, the conspiracies persist, indeed are often bolstered – just as Louise Mensch “absolutely believes” Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart despite the coroner’s findings.

TPM’s Josh Marshall this weekend pronounced Oronov’s death a “startling new development” – just as Limbaugh and right-wing sites do for every Democrats’ death. The liberal journal The Washington Monthly – echoing the innuendo tactics of the right-wing fever swamps focused on the Clinton Body Count – added: “Was it a heart attack, as seems to be implied? Or something else? . . . . Someone might want to figure out the actual cause of death.”

Is it possible all these people were killed by Putin and Trump to ensure their conspiracy remains hidden? Anything is “possible” – in the same sense that it’s possible that Bill and Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster and multiple Arkansas state troopers murdered. But since there’s no evidence for it, responsible, rational people don’t go around spouting it and trying to lead others to believe it.

When DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered in 2016, his family was furious and sickened by the attempt to exploit his death by implying that he was murdered by the Clintons for political reasons. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Oronov’s family just did the same thing, denouncing the theories laundered by TPM, the Palmer Report and other Democrats as “total bullshit” and noting that Oronov “died of a prolonged illness,” only “after three months at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.”

But as Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith noted last night, the denunciation of this conspiracy theory by Oronov’s family received only a tiny fraction of the attention which the viral stories implying he was murdered received.

Ben Smith
@BuzzFeedBen
Less widely shared than the theorizing about his death ...

Jason Leopold
Scored intv w/Michael Cohen's brother, Bryan abt the death of his father in law & claims it was tied to Trump-Putin buzzfeed.com/jasonaleopold/


This happens over and over and over. Totally fraudulent stories about Russia are published on the internet. Those who do it – including the leading media outlets and their journalists – receive endless benefits: exploding follower counts on social media, gushing praise from their peers, media appearances, profitable traffic for their sites. But then when the stories fall apart and are debunked, as they so often are, the debunking is shared by virtually nobody, and there is zero accountability or cost to their reputations because their false stories were peddled for a Good Cause.

The most obscenely transparent charlatans and grifters have built a huge social media following over the last year by feeding Democrats an endless stream of increasingly unhinged, insane conspiracy theories about Trump and Russia. That Trump is a Manchurian Candidate recruited by old Soviet leaders and installed in the White House as a 30-year-plan – or that any critics of Democrats are on the payroll of Putin – are completely acceptable theories which many of the Democrats’ most beloved commentators endorse literally on a daily basis.

Part of it is exciting: they get to center themselves as intrepidly uncovering an international Moscow-led plot to infiltrate the U.S. Part of it is self-excusing: it explains why Democrats have failed without having to confront the party’s fundamental corruption. Part of it is personally enriching: just as was true of the Clinton years, these conspiracies have created a whole stable of new media stars, and the crazier they are, the bigger their following will be.

But whatever the motives, what’s most damaging is how mainstreamed it’s all become. These are the same circles which endlessly rail against misleading reports from Fox News and right-wing radio, and the dangers of Fake News. And yet – in the name of stopping Trump and winning the New Cold War – they are the most enthusiastic disseminators of exactly what they denounce.

The most ironic part of it all is that they are achieving exactly the opposite of what they convinced their followers they are doing: they are strengthening Trump, not weakening him, by poisoning and corroding all of the institutions that – if they had any credibility – could effectively check him.


ULTIMATELY, what makes Gessen’s article so important – aside from the fact that partisan smear artists cannot dismiss her on the ground that she loves Putin and works for the Kremlin – is that it focuses on the key point: namely, that this fixation on primitive conspiracy-mongering is just a slothful way of avoiding the real work of meaningfully opposing Trump. As she explains, this bottomless, ultimately pointless obsession with Russia has utterly crowded out effective strategies for opposing Trump, and has obscured many of the truly damaging policies he is implementing with little notice:

Meanwhile, while Russia continues to dominate the front pages, Trump will continue waging war on immigrants, cutting funding for everything that’s not the military, assembling his cabinet of deplorables—with six Democrats voting to confirm Ben Carson for Housing, for example, and ten to confirm Rick Perry for Energy. According to the Trump plan, each of these seems intent on destroying the agency he or she is chosen to run—to carry out what Steve Bannon calls the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” As for Sessions, in his first speech as attorney general he promised to cut back civil rights enforcement and he has already abandoned a Justice Department case against a discriminatory Texas voter ID law. But it was his Russia lie that grabbed the big headlines.


Indeed, even the most plausible plank of the story – that the Russians were behind the hacking of Podesta and the DNC – has been widely accepted as Truth despite no evidence from the U.S. Government. As Gessen notes: “A later building block in the story, which has become its virtual cornerstone, is the joint intelligence report on Russian interference in the campaign, which was released in December and is, plainly, laughable.”

Worst of all, our discourse is being drowned by irrational, highly corrosive delusions and feverish conspiracy theorizing – not just from Trump, who built his political career on a racist and deranged conspiracy theory about Obama’s true birthplace, but also from those who have anointed themselves leaders of the Resistance against him.

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/7860

RE: McCain Survey- Take 3

From: kfuksa@gqrr.com
To: pbegala@hatcreekent.com, tom@zzranch.com, tara.mcguinness@gmail.com, susan@one.org, john.podesta@gmail.com
CC: sgreenberg@gqrr.com, agreenberg@gqrr.com, anai@gqrr.com, ABaumann@gqrr.com, JContario@gqrr.com
Date: 2008-01-09 17:32
Subject: RE: McCain Survey- Take 3

Paul et al- We've reworked the Obama message into the survey, as requested. But on the list of negative facts we need to cut ONE since we separated out gay adoption and his use of cocaine. Please send your suggestions. Thanks!

* 1 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) was the only candidate at a recent event not to cover his heart during the national anthem and he has stopped wearing an American flag pin.

* 2 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) benefited from a land deal from a contributor who has been indicted for corruption.

* 3 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) would personally negotiate with the leaders of terrorist nations like Iran and North Korea without preconditions.

* 4 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) voted against allowing people to use handguns to defend themselves against intruders.

* 5 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) plans to raise taxes by 180 (one hundred and eighty) billion dollars a year to pay for his government-run health care plan

* 6 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) voted repeatedly against emergency funding bills for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* 7 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh)'s father was a Muslim and Obama grew up among Muslims in the world's most populous Islamic country.

* 8 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) is ranked as one of the ten most liberal members of the Senate because of his support of issues like gay adoption.

* 9 (Other)

* 10 (All)

* 11 (None)

* 12 (Don't know/refused)

* 13 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive the procedure.

* 14 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) supports giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

* 15 Obama (owe-BAHM-uh) described his former use of cocaine as using "a little blow."


________________________________

From: Begala, Paul [mailto:pbegala@hatcreekent.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 4:08 PM
To: Kristi Fuksa; Tom Matzzie; Tara McGuinness; Susan McCue; John
Podesta
Cc: Stan Greenberg; Anna Greenberg; Ana Iparraguirre; Andrew Baumann;
Jesse Contario
Subject: RE: McCain Survey- Take 3

Several issues:

1. I think gay adoption belongs with the "liberal" hit on Obama, but "a
little blow" does not. "A little blow" needs to be tested on its own.

2. This means we have to cut one Obama negative. Suggestions?

3. I think we need a more accurate tax attack on Obama. The $180
billion tax hike for health care is only the beginning. Obama also
supports raising the cap on Social Security taxes, which would be a tax
increase of $1.3 trillion over ten years. [See factcheck.org, citing
data from Cato Institute and Citizens for Tax Justice
http://www.factcheck.org/clinton_vs_obama.html
<http://www.factcheck.org/clinton_vs_obama.html> Obama will also be
attacked for Charlie Rangel's "mother of all tax reforms," which the GOP
says will be a $1 trillion tax increase. See Bloomberg story at
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... Cc&refer=h
ome
<http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a2Ydcv4tYVCc&refer=
home>

Paul

________________________________

From: Kristi Fuksa [mailto:kfuksa@gqrr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 3:28 PM
To: Begala, Paul; Tom Matzzie; Tara McGuinness; Susan McCue; John
Podesta
Cc: Stan Greenberg; Anna Greenberg; Ana Iparraguirre; Andrew Baumann;
Jesse Contario
Subject: McCain Survey- Take 3

Hello-

Attached is another revision of the McCain survey. It is currently at
25 minutes exactly, so please take that into account when making further
edits. As for the timing of this poll, are there any more thoughts on
fielding tomorrow versus holding off? Or is the consensus to wait for
tonight's results?

Tom-- Do you think we can do a quick call today with you in order to
discuss the implications for the upcoming research and timeline for the
ads?

Thanks all! Kristi

Kristi Fuksa <http://www.gqrr.com/index.php?ID=1068>
Analyst
10 G Street NE, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202 478 8300 / Fax: 202 478 8301
kfuksa@gqrr.com <mailto:kfuksa@gqrr.com>
http://www.greenbergresearch.com <http://www.greenbergresearch.com/>

-- Podesta emails, WikiLeaks


How can one credibly denounce Trump’s birtherism or his fact-free accusation that Obama ordered his wiretapping if one is simultaneously spreading the most blatantly evidence-free claims and conspiracies or venerating those who have built their new platforms based on feeding hungry partisans flagrantly fraudulent “reporting”?

The Russia narrative dominates national discourse, as it has for months, and becomes progressively more removed from evidence. As Gessen concludes: “What is indisputable is that the protracted national game of connecting the Trump-Putin dots is an exercise in conspiracy thinking. That does not mean there was no conspiracy. And yet, a possible conspiracy is a poor excuse for conspiracy thinking.”
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:00 am

The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories: Excerpt
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

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THE TREMOR HIT on June 11, 1997, when a Little Rock jury convicted Dan Harmon on five counts of racketeering, extortion, and drug dealing. It meant nothing to the political classes in Washington, but those who understood the nexus of relationships in Arkansas saw it very differently. Harmon was one of the commissars who had enforced a politicized criminal justice system during the tenure of Governor Clinton. Now a jury of Arkansans had found him guilty of running his Seventh Judicial District prosecuting attorney's office "as a criminal enterprise for six years" and "demanding money in return for dropping charges."

Among those attending the trial at the U.S. District Court was Jean Duffey, one of his many victims. Years before she had told me, in one of her acerbic asides, that "if you freed all the prison convicts in Arkansas, and locked up all the judges and prosecutors, you would do wonders to raise the moral condition of the state."

Here, at last, were the first glimmerings of vindication. She listened tensely, with bittersweet emotions, as Dan Harmon was painted by one witness after another in unflattering colors. He was a wife-beater; he took payoffs; he dealt drugs. A woman testified that she had delivered $10,000 in cash to Harmon's office as the bribe to drop a marijuana charge.

Fine as far as it went, thought Duffey, but the prosecution was holding back. She knew that Dan Harmon was much worse than that. His crimes were heinous. She suspected that the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas was engaged in damage control. Experience had taught her to expect the absolute minimum from the U.S. Justice Department. But at least Harmon had now been exposed as a criminal, and that was something. At least he could not inflict any more judicial atrocities on the people of central Arkansas. That was no small victory.

A gaunt, fearless woman with piercing eyes, now aged 50, and an animal-rights vegan to boot, Duffey is the sort of American who reassures you that the founding character of the republic lives yet. When I met her, she was an algebra teacher at the Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas, but that was a second career she had adopted in political exile, as a refugee from Arkansas. By metier, she is really a prosecutor.

In March 1990 she was appointed head of the Seventh Judicial District drug task force, a joint federal and tri-county probe into the epidemic of narcotics trafficking in central Arkansas. It started badly. Her supervisor, Gary Arnold, walked in and said: "Jean, you are not to use the drug task force to investigate any public official." [1]

But it was not her character to confine herself to the street "mules" while the managerial class carried on with impunity. With a team of seven undercover police officers it did not take long to establish what she already suspected: The local judiciary was up to its neck in corruption, behaving much like the fiscalia of a backward Mexican province.

"We heard right away that if you got busted you could buy your way out," said Duffey. "It was an extortion racket. You'd pay off the prosecutor, who'd share the profits with the judge, and the case would be dropped." Soon they learned that it was even worse: The clique not only protected the drug flow, they essentially operated the business. Dan Harmon, then 45, the former Saline County prosecutor, and soon to be the Seventh Judicial District prosecutor, was the enforcer for the local smuggling enterprise.

It was not easy to conduct the investigation. Dan Harmon, a mustachioed dandy of great personal charm with a concealed penchant for violence, soon found out that the task force was poking around in his affairs. He launched a smear campaign with the help of friends at The Benton Courier and The Arkansas Democrat, accusing Duffey of every sin from embezzling funds to child abuse.


Instead of fighting back in public, she took the findings of the task force to the U.S. Attorney's office in Little Rock, hoping that the federal government would have the gumption to confront the local narco-brotherhood. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Govar encouraged her to fight on. Dan Harmon would soon be indicted by a federal grand jury, he promised. She would be absolved.

But both of them underrated Harmon's reach. In November 1990 Duffey was fired by the Seventh Judicial District committee that had appointed her. Half of the task force resigned in sympathy.

The federal probe into Saline County corruption was still running, so Duffey was able to continue her crusade vicariously by offering her witnesses to the U.S. Attorney's Office. On the afternoon of December 10, 1990, her best informant, Sharlene Wilson, walked into the U.S. District Court in Little Rock and blurted out in front of an astonished grand jury that she had provided cocaine to Bill Clinton at Le Bistro nightclub during his first term as governor.

It had no criminal implications for Clinton because the statute of limitations had passed long before. But matters were clearly getting out of hand. Within days the federal investigation was closed down. U.S. Attorney Charles Banks went into full cover-up mode. [2] He was a Republican appointee but that meant nothing in Arkansas. What mattered were the interlocking relationships of power. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Govar was pulled off the case. [3]

A month later Sharlene Wilson contacted Duffey in a desperate panic and arranged a surreptitious meeting at Lake Catherine on January 7, 1991. It was then that she revealed what she had blurted out in a moment of misguided candor at the grand jury.

"She was terrified. She said her house was being watched and she'd made a big mistake," said Duffey. "That was when she told me she'd testified about seeing Bill Clinton get so high on cocaine he fell into a garbage can .... I have no doubt she was telling the truth." Duffey has provided me with her contemporaneous diaries recording the conversation. [4]

For both Sharlene Wilson and Jean Duffey matters took a drastic turn for the worse when Dan Harmon became prosecuting attorney for the Seventh Judicial District in January 1991. He immediately summoned a county grand jury and issued a subpoena for all the records of the task force, which included the incriminating files on his own activities. If Duffey had complied it would have exposed 30 witnesses and her confidential informants to violent retribution. She refused.

Harmon issued a felony warrant for "avoiding service." Harmon's ally, Circuit Court Judge John Cole announced publicly that once arrested she would be held without bail. "That is when I got really worried," said Duffey. "I got a message from one of the dispatchers that I would never get out of jail alive, and I didn't doubt it. Some of the cops had already been warning my family there was a $50,000 price on my head."

She went into hiding on a ranch in northern Arkansas. During the early months of 1991 she was on the move, emerging from time to time for a clandestine meeting with her husband and three children, but always one step ahead of Dan Harmon's men. The Arkansas Democrat called her a "felony fugitive" in blaring headlines. Finally she fled to Texas. The family followed.

"I was dragged through the mud, totally discredited and professionally destroyed, but I have no regrets," said Duffey. "We tried to do what was right; we did everything that we possibly could; all that was left was to get on with our lives .... I became a school teacher, and you know what? I just love it."

It took longer to deal with Sharlene. In the mid-I980s she had been one of Harmon's lovers, on and off, and an accessory in his illicit operations. That, of course, is why she had been so invaluable to Jean Duffey, guiding her through the underworld of organized drug trafficking in Arkansas. Sharlene, in essence, had served as paramour to the cartel.

She had bedded with most of the criminal fraternity, including Roger Clinton, in a decade-long career of vertiginous debauchery. She had even done a stint for three or four months unloading bags of cocaine at the Mena Airport in the mountains of Eastern Arkansas. If there was anybody who knew the business inside out -- where the aircraft made their drops at night, who picked up the deliveries, who laundered the money, who ordered the hits -- it was Sharlene Wilson. She was a dangerous woman. What's more, she had gone spiritual. She was trying to rectify her life, hoping to regain custody of her lost son. She posed a threat to the whole organization.

But Harmon had to be careful, bide his time. Sharlene had become an undercover informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the DEA did not like it when their sources had fatal accidents. [5] So with a nice sense of irony he used the Seventh Judicial District task force, now completely under control, to set her up on drug charges.

His opportunity came when a close friend of Sharlene's, Joann Potts, was arrested and agreed to "roll over" to avoid prosecution. Potts was sent on repeated visits to Sharlene's house to arrange a drug deal. Sharlene succumbed. [6] She gave Potts a joint of marijuana, then made the fatal mistake of fetching her some methamphetamine. The woman was crying, saying her husband was cheating on her, that her car wouldn't start, that life was hell, and she "needed to get high really bad." [7]

"I'm not denying that I did it," Sharlene later told the court. "I'm saying that I've been pushed and pushed into this whole situation. The girl would not leave me alone, and I cared about her genuinely."

Sharlene was arrested by Dan Harmon in person. "He yelled, 'Bitch, I told you that if you ever breathed a word about me I'd take you down. You're going to prison, bitch,''' she said.

Harmon then prosecuted the case, neglecting to tell the jury that they had been lovers. He offered her a plea agreement of 116 years. A bit stiff, she felt, opting instead for a trial. She was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison for delivery of methamphetamine and marijuana. Still a bit stiff, for a first drug conviction.

"They couldn't silence her so they locked her up and threw away the key," said Duffey. "That's Arkansas for you."

But this time the powers that be in Arkansas did not have the last say. Represented by a talented, maverick lawyer, John Wesley Hall, Sharlene took her appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas on May 22, 1995, the Court found that Harmon's men had violated Sharlene's Fourth Amendment rights by failing to adhere to the "knock-and-announce principle" before entering her home. [8]

Citing English common law, Justice Thomas noted that a man's house is "his castle of defense and asylum" and that the King may not send his sheriff into a person's house, either to arrest or to do other execution of the King's process, without signifying the cause and requesting that the doors be opened. Harmon had forgotten to study his Blackstone Commentaries. So had the Arkansas courts.

"The judgment of the Arkansas Supreme Court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings," concluded Thomas. It did not get her off the hook entirely. Other convictions still held. But it bolstered her claim that she had been a victim of legal foul play, and it occurred at a time when Harmon's vicious sway over the Seventh Judicial District was fast coming to an end.

* * *

"I don't know if I trust you. I don't know if I trust anybody any longer," said Margie Wilson, in the sing-song cadence of rural Arkansas, as she hobbled around her dusty, cluttered trailer.

I was trying to persuade her to take a message to her daughter, Sharlene, in the Arkansas penitentiary for women. I knew that Sharlene would refuse to talk to me without knowing what it was about, but I did not want to alert the wrong people by sending an explicit letter through the prison system. I had to get in by stealth and tape her story before the portcullis came crashing down. The weekend family visit was my best bet.

"Since you're a friend of Jean Duffey I'll do it," said Margie, wearily. "Though I don't see what good it'll do my daughter talking to you .... She knows too much stuff about the Clinton brothers, too much for her own good." [9]

The penitentiary protruded inelegantly from the flat, sweltering cotton fields near Pine Bluff. A team of male convicts was out in the midday sun, slowly pulling up grass with their hands. Uniformed guards watched on horseback, no doubt envious of the loose white clothes worn by their wards. It was deathly silent.

At the women's compound I was shown into the warden's boardroom and told to wait while Sharlene was escorted from her cell in Barracks 9-B. She had borrowed some makeup from one of the other inmates in an effort to recapture lost allure. But it could not mask the desecrating effects of a life on drugs. Though still comely at age 38, it was hard to imagine that she had once been the blonde bombshell who made the rounds with Roger Clinton in the governor's limo. She had grown frumpy on prison food. Her light brown hair was untended. All that remained where the laughing eyes.

I made it clear to her that my newspaper could not offer any money for her story. Nor could I guarantee her safety in any way, although I believed that she was probably at less risk going public.

"Mr. Pritchard, sir, I'll tell you anything you want to know," she said. "I'm not proud of what I've done, but if I'm doing time for dope, they should be, too. They've persecuted me. They took my house, my family. They've done everything but kill me, and when the time is ripe they may do that." [10]

She had been the bartender at Le Bistro, a Little Rock nightclub where Roger Clinton used to play with his rock band Dealer's Choice. Big Brother would come by from time to time with one or two of his State Troopers.

"Roger had all the pretty girls and drugs and the fast life, and Bill was pretty envious of this," she said. On one occasion "Roger the Dodger" came back to the bar and said he needed two grams of cocaine right away. They carried out the deal near the ladies room. The Dodger then borrowed her "tooter," her "one-hitter" as she called it, and handed it to the governor.

"I watched Bill Clinton lean up against a brick wall. He must have had an adenoid problem because he casually stuck my tooter up his nose," she said. "He was so messed up that night, he slid down the wall into a garbage can and just sat there like a complete idiot."

Afterward they went back to the Governor's Mansion and partied into the early hours of the morning. "I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that we had a governor who got high."

That was not the only time she snorted cocaine with Bill Clinton. She claimed to have been present with him at a series of "toga parties" at the Coachman's Inn outside Little Rock between 1979 and 1981. "I was, you know, the hostess with the mostess, the lady with the snow," she said. "I'd serve drinks and lines of cocaine on a glass mirror."

People shared sexual partners in what amounted to a Babylonian orgy. They were elite gatherings of ten to twenty people, mostly public officials, lawyers, and local notables, cavorting in a labyrinth of interconnected rooms with women that included teenage girls. Bill Clinton was there at least twice, she said, snorting cocaine "quite avidly" with Dan Harmon. She gave a graphic description of the sexual activities that Bill Clinton preferred.

She remembered seeing a distinctive mole at the base of his stomach. "It's darned me that he's managed to get elected through all this," she said.

"It's 'darned' a lot of people," I concurred.

Sharlene was surprisingly frank about her job at the Mena Airport in the mid-1980s. The cocaine was flown in on twin-engine Cessnas, sometimes as often as every day. "I'd pick up the pallets and make the run down to Texas. The drop-off was at the Cowboys Stadium. I was told that nobody would ever bother me, and I was never bothered .... If there was a problem I was to call Dan Harmon."

A lot of the cocaine that came into Mena was taken up to Springdale in northwest Arkansas, she said, where it was stuffed into chickens for reshipment to the rest of the country.

But she had another job, which she revealed to me two years later when we were allowed to meet and talk in relative privacy at the prison library. This time she was trembling with emotion, giving free rein to the terrible remorse that had been eating at her for nine years. She used to pick up cocaine deliveries on the railway tracks near the little town of Alexander, thirty miles south of Little Rock.

"Every two weeks, for years, I'd go to the tracks, I'd pick up the package, and I'd deliver it to Dan Harmon, either straight to his office, or at my house .... Sometimes it was flown in by air, sometimes it would be kicked out of the train. A big bundle, two feet by one and a half feet, like a bale of hay, so heavy I'd have trouble lifting it .... Roger the Dodger picked it up a few times."

But in the summer of 1987 one of the drops disappeared. Furious, Harmon brought out some of his men to watch the delivery on the night of August 22. They were expecting a delivery of 3 to 4 pounds of cocaine and 5 pounds of "weed." Sharlene was supposed to make the pickup that night but she had been "high-balling" a mixture of cocaine and crystal and was totally "strung-out." They told her to wait in the car, which was parked off Quarry Road. It was around midnight.

"It was scary. I was high, very high. I was told to sit there and they'd be back. It seemed forever. I heard two trains. Then I heard some screams, loud screams. It ... it ... ," she stammered, breaking into uncontrollable tears. She never did finish that sentence.

"When Harmon came back, he jumped in the car and said, 'Let's go.' He was scared. It looked like there was blood all down his legs."

She later learned that a group of boys had been intercepted at the drop sight. According to Sharlene some of them had managed to get away, but Kevin Ives, 17, and Don Henry, 16, were captured. Harmon's men interrogated them as they were lying on the ground, face down, hands tied behind their backs. They were kicked and beaten, and finally executed. One of the boys was stabbed to death with a "survival knife." The bodies were wrapped in a tarpaulin, carried to a different spot on the line, and placed across the railway tracks so that the bodies would be mangled by the next train.

The following day Harmon told Sharlene that she would have to ditch her car. He gave her $500 in cash and told her to deliver a packet of cocaine to an address in Rockford, Illinois. She went to an auto auction and bought an Olds Cutlass Supreme for $450 in cash and drove to Rockford. From there she fled to the obscurity of Nebraska.

Sharlene is too candid for her own good. After telling me her harrowing story she made a collect call to my office in Washington, and said in a tone that was by turns pleading and peremptory: "Everything I told you is off the record." She then sent a letter with a notarized stamp, or so it appeared, commanding me to adhere to her First Amendment rights.

I thought about this a great deal. Technically, under American journalistic convention, a comment cannot be put off-the-record retroactively. But Sharlene Wilson is not a public official. She is not a potentate who knows how to play the game of media spin. She is a convict in dire straights who is afraid to eat the food on her tray when it is brought to the prison boiler-room where she works. People in her predicament have an excuse to go "off-the-record" after the event.

On the other hand, I owe greater loyalty to the feelings of Linda Ives who lost her son Kevin to the death squad of the Saline County judicial authorities. Besides, I have Sharlene's signed confession, which she gave to the narcotics detail of the Little Rock Police Department on May 28, 1993. The FBI has it, so does the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The whole damn government has it.

* * *

Kevin Ives was spending the night at the home of his friend Don Henry. At about 12:30 AM the two boys had apparently gone out "spotlight" hunting for deer in a wooded area near the railway tracks. [11]

At 4:25 AM the three drivers of a Union Pacific train coming up from Shreveport caught sight of an obstruction on the line. They jammed on the breaks but there was no chance of stopping the immense freight train in time. As they got closer they could see two bodies lying across the tracks, heads inside the rails, partly covered with a tarpaulin. [12] Not even the deafening whistle of the train could make them stir.

The Arkansas medical examiner, Fahmy Malak, ruled the deaths an accident. He said the boys had smoked twenty marijuana joints and fallen into a trance on the railway tracks, side by side. How he reached this astounding conclusion was a mystery because the state crime labs never tested the concentration of marijuana in their blood. [13]

Malak, an Egyptian with poor command of English, did not inspire confidence. In his most creative ruling he concluded that a James "Dewey" Milam had died of an ulcer and then been decapitated by the family dog. According to Malak, the animal had eaten the entire head and then vomited, leaving traces of half-digested brain matter. To Malak's chagrin, however, the man's skull was later recovered. No bites were taken out of it. The man had been decapitated with a sharp knife.

"That Malak survived in Arkansas is a testament to Clinton's power," wrote Meredith Oakley in her dispassionate Clinton biography On the Make. "He repeatedly lied about his credentials, misconstrued his findings, and misrepresented autopsy procedures. In the lab, he misplaced bodies and destroyed evidence. On the witness stand, he was a prosecutor's dream."

As has now been amply explored -- by The Los Angeles Times, NBC's Dateline, and others -- he obscured the negligent role of Bill Clinton's mother, Virginia Kelley, as the nurse anesthetist in the death of 17-year-old Susie Deer in 1981. Deer had been hit by a rock that broke her jaw and nose, but she was not in serious danger. Indeed, she was sitting up and chatting before surgery at the Ouachita Memorial Hospital.

During the operation, however, Virginia Kelley fumbled the breathing tube with disastrous results. Deer died from lack of oxygen. It was a clear case of medical malpractice, but Fahmy Malak concluded that the patient had died of "blunt trauma" to the head. With the extra touch that so captured the character of justice in Bill Clinton's Arkansas, the lad who threw the rock was prosecuted and convicted of negligent homicide.

Over the years, outraged families had tried to expose Fahmy Malak for what he was, a pseudo-scientific servant of power. But the doctor finally met his match in the immovable American spirit of Linda Ives. A buxom housewife with blue eyes and bushy blonde hair, aged 38 when her son was killed, she had never been involved in politics. Nor had her husband, Larry, an engineer on the Union Pacific. "Our lives were going to the ballpark, going out to the lake ... until the 'machine' reached into our lives." [14]

Linda declared war on Fahmy Malak and created such a stir that a county grand jury was called to investigate the case. The bodies were exhumed. In April 1988 a second autopsy was conducted by the Atlanta medical examiner Dr. Joseph Burton.

He found a "v" shaped "penetrating wound" into the "thoracic and left lower chest cavity" of Don Henry. He showed an enhanced photograph of the wound to six other forensic investigators. They all concurred that it was "a stab wound ... consistent with it having been inflicted by something such as a large cutting edge knife." [15]

He also found that Kevin Ives had been smashed in the head with a rifle butt, probably Don Henry's .22 caliber hunting rifle. There was "considerable reaction within the lungs of both boys" indicating that they had not died immediately. The level of marijuana in Kevin's blood was 97.9 nanograms per milliliter, consistent with having smoked two marijuana cigarettes over the previous few hours. Don Henry's level was slightly higher, but not nearly enough to induce collapse.

"The preponderance of evidence in this case indicates that Kevin Ives and Don Henry sustained injuries prior to impact with the train, that these injuries were inflicted on them by another individual or individuals, that their bodies were placed on the track."

It was at this stage that the Clinton administration in Little Rock began to exhibit the body language of alarm. In May 1988 Governor Clinton's chief of staff, Betsey Wright, deflected an attempt by the grand jury to subpoena two outside pathologists who had looked at the train deaths during a review of the Arkansas crime labs. Wright responded with an affidavit asserting that the doctors had not been contracted "to provide second opinions on specific cases."

It was gratuitous obstruction. The grand jury, highly irritated, then issued a subpoena for Betsey Wright herself. For weeks she defied the order.

Shortly afterward, a team of state police investigators assigned to help with the case -- at the insistence of the Henry and Ives families -- were reined in by the head of the Criminal Investigations Division. One of the investigators was Trooper L. D. Brown. "I was told it had something to do with Mena and I was to leave it alone." [16]

Meanwhile, with a panache that has to be admired, Dan Harmon had managed to take over the case, first as a concerned private attorney and then as a special deputy prosecutor appointed by his friend, Judge John Cole. He took command of the grand jury, promising to turn over every stone until the fiendish killers were caught and brought to justice. Linda Ives believed him.

"I thought he was our knight in shining armor. He was the only one helping us when nobody else would, it didn't make any sense that he'd do this if he'd been involved himself," she said. "I was so naive, back then."

"People had been telling me all along about his drug use, but he'd explain it all, and I was easy to pacify. Dan Harmon can make you believe anything, if you want to believe it," she said. "It makes me shudder to think that I was on the phone to him every day, pouring out my heart." [17]

In December 1988 the grand jury reached the end of its natural life and was disbanded. Sadly, explained Harmon, the investigation had failed to crack the case, but the capable officers of the Saline County Sheriffs Department would press on. It was only later that Linda Ives would be told by two frightened jurors that Harmon had prevented the grand jury from calling witnesses.

Already, people associated with the case were beginning to die in what amounted to a reign of terror among young people in Alexander, Arkansas.

Keith Coney, who told his mother he knew too much about the railway deaths and feared for his life, died in a motorcycle accident after a high-speed chase. Coney had been with the two boys a few hours before their deaths. Linda Ives now believes that they met up again at the tracks. "I'm sure now that there were three of them out there, at least, and he was one who got away," she said. [18]

Boonie Bearden, a friend of the boys, disappeared. His body was never found.

Jeff Rhodes, another friend, was killed with a gunshot to the head in April 1989.

And on it went. The killing fields.


There had always been rumors that the railway tracks were a drop-zone for drugs. It was assumed the deliveries were coming by train. But in June 1990 the undercover officers of Jean Duffey's Seventh Judicial District task force stumbled on evidence of a much bigger trafficking operation involving aerial drops. [19]

Aircraft with no lights were observed flying very low over the tracks at night. One informant staked out the area and observed a twin engine plane coming in at approximately 3:00 AM at least once a week. "It would fly in extremely low over the field, reduce speed, before throttling up again. By the field is a children's colony [20] that is lit up each night like a 'Christmas Tree.' That was the 'beacon.'" [21]

The deeper the undercover officers looked, the more certain they became that the operation was protected at the highest levels of law enforcement in Saline County, Pulaski County, and Little Rock.

Three years later, long after Duffey had been driven into exile, a Saline County detective named John Brown came to much the same conclusion. A brave, stubborn, emotional man, with rugged good looks, he ignored all warnings that it would be wiser to leave the case alone. It came to a head at a tense closed-door meeting with Robert Shepherd, the man appointed by Bill Clinton to be Arkansas's drug czar.

"Shepherd put on his overbearing cop manner and said 'Brown, those two kids are dead. There's nothing you do can bring them back. Your career will prosper a lot more if you'd concentrate your efforts somewhere else,'" recalled Brown. "I walked to the door, and just as I was leaving I turned and said, 'Guys, unless somebody wants to discuss the big secret with me, and tells me why everybody wants me to leave this alone, I've got two kids dead and I still consider that murder in Arkansas.' I walked out and thought, 'Oh shit, have I got problems.'''

Brown's career did not prosper. Forced out of the Saline County Sheriff's Department, he was reduced to digging ditches at $6 an hour to support his young wife Karen and two small children. But he never cracked. Once, when I visited him at his home in the country, there was a volunteer providing protection around-the-clock. The man was unarmed, but at least there would be a witness if anything happened. I have no doubt that it was this informal network of friends and supporters that kept him going, and perhaps kept him alive, through the worst months. [22]


It was John Brown who finally broke Sharlene Wilson and extracted her confession. He then discovered a fresh witness, a lad who had been out with two friends that night looking for a marijuana patch. The witness had been about sixty feet away, hidden below the bank, watching a group of men talking on the tracks. "One of them I definitely recognized as Dan Harmon. Then I noticed two more people, Kevin and Don, walking down the railroad tracks."

At first it looked as if Harmon was just talking to the boys, but then a shot rang out. The witness turned and ran. [23]

At this point the FBI took charge. Phyllis Cournan, an athletic, single-minded agent from Philadelphia, had recently arrived in Little Rock on a routine assignment. An idealist at heart, eager to see the best in people, she was discovering to her shock and disgust that the rampant drug trafficking in Arkansas was being protected by the highest levels of the political machine. The most offensive abuse was the murder of Don and Kevin. If she could break that case open, she believed she could shake things loose in Arkansas. [24]

Cournan immediately gave the boy a polygraph test, which he passed, and placed him in the witness protection program. It was the beginning of a lonely FBI probe into the blackest narco-corruption of Bill Clinton's Arkansas. Cournan contacted Jean Duffey in Texas, persuading her to open the files of the drug task force. She went to see Sharlene in the penitentiary.

"She asked me if Roger Clinton had been on the railway tracks that night," said Sharlene. "And she asked me about Bill Clinton and whether he was into cocaine." [25]

Cournan was now being accompanied by an FBI agent from the Hot Springs office, Floyd Hayes. As the investigation progressed -- that is to say, as she established with near certainty who had murdered the two boys -- Hayes was assigned to be her partner. She also began to feel the presence of "The Machine," day and night. Her telephones were no longer secure. She had bouts of insomnia. Being a federal agent, she discovered, was no protection. Not in Arkansas.

Then, after eighteen months, the probe suddenly collapsed. In November 1995 Linda and Larry Ives went to see Special Agent Bill Temple, the number two man in the FBI office in Little Rock, and were given a taste of the bullying insolence of the FBI.

"He was so arrogant and smug," said Linda. "He said, 'Maybe in light of the fact that there was no physical evidence, maybe it's time for you all to realize that no crime occurred.' I slammed down my notebook and said, 'I don't have to listen to this bullshit' and walked out." [26]

"I think he intended to make me mad. I was crying throughout the entire meeting, and I cried for days afterward."

She went public, accusing the FBI of working to cover-up the murder of her son. The chief of the FBI's Little Rock office, I.C. Smith, countered in the local newspaper, The Benton Courier, saying that the Bureau had a "very real problem" establishing federal jurisdiction in the case, and anyway it was not clear that the boys had been murdered. [27] He said that Linda Ives had "badly misquoted" Agent Temple's remarks.

"He never even asked me or Larry what had happened," said Linda. "He just came out and called me a liar."

For Linda Ives it was the last straw. She telephoned Phyllis Cournan, who had been present at the meeting. With the tape-recorder running, Linda Ives extracted from Cournan an acknowledgment that Temple had been quoted "verbatim."

Armed with evidence of FBI mendacity, Linda took her campaign to the airwaves. It was a harsh way to treat Phyllis Cournan, a dedicated agent Linda Ives admired in many ways. But Linda had learned that there was no use giving quarter to Louis Freeh's FBI. "I'm fighting a war, and I'll fight it any way I can," she said.

A few months later I had a final dinner with Agent Phyllis Cournan and her husband, a Secret Service Agent from Minnesota. Charming, educated, with a strong sense of duty, they were everything that one could hope for in the rising generation of federal agents. But priorities were changing. They had a baby now, the center of their lives.

We went to an Italian restaurant in Little Rock -- at their expense, they would not let me bill it to my newspaper -- and talked about the amazing mores of Arkansas. None of us wanted to poison the evening by mentioning the train deaths, but the issue had to be confronted.

The boys were murdered, said Phyllis, and the FBI knew who did it. But the forensic evidence was contaminated. "We couldn't get anything out of the DNA," she said. "All we had were witnesses with huge credibility problems; we couldn't go to trial with that .... What were we supposed to do?"

She was putting the best face on it, trying to convince herself. I could sense her slipping away into the embrace of the Bureau. She had poured her heart and soul into the case, but when it came to the crunch she was going to be a team player.


Linda Ives now shifted her campaign into high gear. Incensed by the conduct of I.C. Smith, she joined up with a California film producer named Pat Matrisciana to make a documentary on the deaths. It was called Obstruction of Justice. The video, tightly documented, was a heart-wrenching expose of "The Machine."

Journalist Micah Morrison then took up the cause on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. (The rest of the media stayed away, with the exception of Phil Weiss in The New York Observer.) In one article, Morrison put in a plug for the "Train Deaths" website that Linda Ives and Jean Duffy had constructed on the Internet. The site received 32,000 hits the next day. Angry letters poured into the offices of I.C. Smith in Little Rock.

The FBI was losing control. The nasty methods that the Bureau had been using for years, and getting away with, were suddenly being exposed for all to see on the Internet. Of course, the political Left had always understood that the Bureau could be abusive, with the mind set of a deformed cult. Now the Right was finding out, too.

Special Agent I.C. Smith was badly shaken. Once billed as a star agent picked by Louis Freeh to clean up the Bureau's operations in Arkansas, he suddenly found himself being recast as the new villain. Scrambling to recover, he shifted the investigation into Saline County corruption into higher gear. Nobody was going to be able to say that I.C. Smith was prostituting himself for Dan Harmon and his miserable accomplices.

Linda Ives, the housewife from Benton, had outmaneuvered the Bureau. But she still did not understand what it was about her son's death that had caused a federal grand jury probe to be shut down in early 1991, or why the FBI had backed away in November 1995, or indeed why the Justice Department's prosecution of Dan Harmon in June 1997 was confined to racketeering, when they knew perfectly well -- or so she had to assume -- that he had murdered her son.

Linda Ives, Jean Duffey, and John Brown all came to the same conclusion. They were pitted against Dan Lasater -- the Dixie Godfather, and the friend of and provider for the Clinton brothers.

--The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:11 pm

Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not To Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion
By Glenn Greenwald
March 16, 2017

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FROM MSNBC POLITICS shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

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Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to “cast doubt” on “allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,” he said, adding, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Obama’s former CIA chief also cast serious doubt on the credibility of the infamous, explosive “dossier” originally published by BuzzFeed, saying that its author, Christopher Steele, paid intermediaries to talk to the sources for it. The dossier, he said, “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”

Morell’s comments echo the categorical remarks by Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, who told Meet the Press last week that during the time he was Obama’s DNI, he saw no evidence to support claims of a Trump/Russia conspiracy. “We had no evidence of such collusion,” Clapper stated unequivocally. Unlike Morell, who left his official CIA position in 2013 but remains very integrated into the intelligence community, Clapper was Obama’s DNI until just seven weeks ago, leaving on January 20.

Perhaps most revealing of all are the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — charged with investigating these matters — who recently told BuzzFeed how petrified they are of what the Democratic base will do if they do not find evidence of collusion, as they now suspect will likely be the case. “There’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation,” BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins wrote.

Moreover, “several committee sources grudgingly say, it feels as though the investigation will be seen as a sham if the Senate doesn’t find a silver bullet connecting Trump and Russian intelligence operatives.” One member told Watkins: “I don’t think the conclusions are going to meet people’s expectations.”

What makes all of this most significant is that officials like Clapper and Morell are trained disinformation agents; Clapper in particular has proven he will lie to advance his interests. Yet even with all the incentive to do so, they are refusing to claim there is evidence of such collusion; in fact, they are expressly urging people to stop thinking it exists. As even the law recognizes, statements that otherwise lack credibility become more believable when they are ones made “against interest.”

Media figures have similarly begun trying to tamp down expectations. Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, which published the Steele dossier, published an article yesterday warning that the Democratic base’s expectation of a smoking gun “is so strong that Twitter and cable news are full of the theories of what my colleague Charlie Warzel calls the Blue Detectives — the left’s new version of Glenn Beck, digital blackboards full of lines and arrows.” Smith added: “It is also a simple fact that while news of Russian actions on Trump’s behalf is clear, hard details of coordination between his aides and Putin’s haven’t emerged.” And Smith’s core warning is this:

Trump’s critics last year were horrified at the rise of “fake news” and the specter of a politics shaped by alternative facts, predominantly on the right. They need to be careful now not to succumb to the same delusional temptations as their political adversaries, and not to sink into a filter bubble which, after all, draws its strength not from conservative or progressive politics but from human nature.

And those of us covering the story and the stew of real information, fantasy, and — now — forgery around it need to continue to report and think clearly about what we know and what we don’t, and to resist the sugar high that comes with telling people exactly what they want to hear.


For so long, Democrats demonized and smeared anyone trying to inject basic reason, rationality, and skepticism into this Trump/Russia discourse by labeling them all Kremlin agents and Putin lovers. Just this week, the Center for American Progress released a report using the language of treason to announce the existence of a “Fifth Column” in the U.S. that serves Russia (similar to Andrew Sullivan’s notorious 2001 decree that anyone opposing the war on terror composed an anti-American “Fifth Column”), while John McCain listened to Rand Paul express doubts about the wisdom of NATO further expanding to include Montenegro and then promptly announced: “Paul is working for Vladimir Putin.”

But with serious doubts — and fears — now emerging about what the Democratic base has been led to believe by self-interested carnival barkers and partisan hacks, there is a sudden, concerted effort to rein in the excesses of this story. With so many people now doing this, it will be increasingly difficult to smear them all as traitors and Russian loyalists, but it may be far too little, too late, given the pitched hysteria that has been deliberately cultivated around these issues for months. Many Democrats have reached the classic stage of deranged conspiracists where evidence that disproves the theory is viewed as further proof of its existence, and those pointing to it are instantly deemed suspect.

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A formal, credible investigation into all these questions, where the evidence is publicly disclosed, is still urgently needed. That’s true primarily so that conspiracies no longer linger and these questions are resolved by facts rather than agenda-driven anonymous leaks from the CIA and cable news hosts required to feed a partisan mob.

It’s certainly possible to envision an indictment of a low-level operative like Carter Page, or the prosecution of someone like Paul Manafort on matters unrelated to hacking, but the silver bullet that Democrats have been led to expect will sink Trump appears further away than ever.

But given the way these Russia conspiracies have drowned out other critical issues being virtually ignored under the Trump presidency, it’s vital that everything be done now to make clear what is based in evidence and what is based in partisan delusions. And most of what the Democratic base has been fed for the last six months by their unhinged stable of media, online, and party leaders has decisively fallen into the latter category, as even their own officials are now desperately trying to warn.
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