Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspiracy

Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:36 am

Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion
by Ken Dilanian
NBC News
March 16, 2017

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Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and called Donald Trump a dupe of Russia, cast doubt Wednesday night on allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

His comments were in sharp contrast to those of many Clinton partisans — such as former communications director Jennifer Palmieri — who have stated publicly they believe the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election against Clinton.

Morell said he had learned that the former officer, Christopher Steele, paid his key Russian sources, and interviewed them through intermediaries.

"On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all," Morell said at an event sponsored by the Cipher Brief, an intelligence web site.

"There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it."


Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.

"That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper," Morell said.

About the dossier, Morell said, "Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t."

The dossier "doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think," he said.

He continued: "I had two questions when I first read it. One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.

"And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more.

"I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier."

Another former CIA officer in the room pointed out that the CIA also pays its sources.

"But we know who the source is and we know how they got the information," Morell responded.

In August, Morell accused Trump of being an "unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."

Morell said Wednesday that he continues to believe that the Russian campaign of hacking, leaking and fake news, which the CIA says was designed to hurt Clinton and help Trump, was a hugely consequential action to which the U.S. has not sufficiently responded.

Putin, he said, has suffered no consequence for his unprecedented interference in the U.S. election.

"This has never happened before in American history on this scale, never not even close. And Putin did not pay any price for this — nothing, zero."
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:04 am

Killer, kleptocrat, genius, spy: the many myths of Vladimir Putin. Russia’s role in Trump’s election has led to a boom in Putinology. But do all these theories say more about us than Putin?
by Keith Gessen
February 23, 2017

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Vladimir Putin, you may have noticed, is everywhere. He has soldiers in Ukraine and Syria, troublemakers in the Baltics and Finland, and a hand in elections from the Czech Republic to France to the United States. And he is in the media. Not a day goes by without a big new article on “Putin’s Revenge”, “The Secret Source of Putin’s Evil”, or “10 Reasons Why Vladimir Putin Is a Terrible Human Being”.

Putin’s recent ubiquity has brought great prominence to the practice of Putinology. This enterprise – the production of commentary and analysis about Putin and his motivations, based on necessarily partial, incomplete and sometimes entirely false information – has existed as a distinct intellectual industry for over a decade. It kicked into high gear after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, but in the past few months, as allegations of Russian meddling in the election of President Donald Trump have come to dominate the news, Putinology has outdone itself. At no time in history have more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president. You might say that the reports of Trump’s golden showers in a Moscow hotel room have consecrated a golden age – for Putinology.

And what does Putinology tell us? It turns out that it has produced seven distinct hypotheses about Putin. None of them is entirely wrong, but then none of them is entirely right (apart from No 7). Taken together, they tell us as much about ourselves as about Putin. They paint a portrait of an intellectual class – our own – on the brink of a nervous breakdown. But let’s take them in order.

Theory 1: Putin is a genius

It’s simple: while the world is playing checkers, Putin is playing chess. He seized Crimea from the Ukrainians with barely a shot fired; he got back Yalta, the favoured beach resort of Chekhov and the tsars, and all he faced as punishment were some minor sanctions. He intervened on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria, after the US, Turkey and the Saudis spent years supporting the rebels, and in short order turned the tide of the war. He has been instrumental in undermining the pro-EU consensus, financing the Eurosceptic right – and, where convenient, the Eurosceptic left – aiming apparently to dismantle the postwar international order and replace it with a series of bilateral transactional relationships in which Russia can, for the most part, be the senior partner.

Finally, he interfered in the US election, the election for the most powerful post in the world, and managed to get his man in the White House. And what were the consequences? A few diplomats expelled from the United States is a small price to pay for a potential end to US sanctions, a renewal of economic ties and joint oil-drilling in the Russian Arctic, and the de facto acknowledgment of Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.

Domestically, Putin has managed to silence or co‑opt almost all opposition. The liberals squabble among themselves on Facebook and emigrate; the far right, which hates Putin for his refusal to go full fascist and, for example, take Kiev, is kept on a tight leash; and the democratic socialist left, hobbled by the massive pseudo-left authoritarian Communist Party of the Russian Federation, is so tiny Putin can hardly even see it (and he has many eyes).

Putin during his first two terms enjoyed immense luck in the form of a worldwide commodities boom, but he could have blown that luck. Instead, he husbanded it, and Russia grew rich. Now the closest thing to a rival to Putin within his inner circle is his prime minister, the pudgy and diminutive Dmitry Medvedev, who has distinguished himself primarily as a man who enjoys playing with his iPad. The lone domestic politician who has mounted a plausible threat to Putin is Alexei Navalny, a talented Moscow-based digital populist of variable political convictions, whom the Kremlin is keeping busy with various criminal charges and house arrests.

Putin-as-evil-genius is, unquestionably, the primary theoretical view in the west of the Russian president, whether by his multitude of critics or his smattering of admirers. Those who take a more jaundiced view of Putin’s political, intellectual, and military capabilities – President Barack Obama, for one – are treated as naive, soft on Putin: the sort of people who play checkers, not chess. Meanwhile, most Russian observers of Putin tend to be surprised at the western awe of his overwhelming strategic prowess. Garry Kasparov, for example, the great chess champion and not-so-great opposition politician, finds the whole thing insulting to chess.

Trump’s apparent romance with the Russian president has ignited a storm of Russophobia in the US


In any case, one does wonder about this genius business. Was it really worth international isolation, increasingly bothersome sanctions and the eternal enmity of the Ukrainian people to seize a beloved but past-its-prime resort area that Russians don’t even really visit any more? There was fear that the post-Maidan government of Ukraine might cancel the lease on the large Russian naval port in Sevastopol, but surely a genius might have handled the threat through something short of seizing the entire peninsula?

As for Syria, Putin may bask for now in the glory of rescuing the Assad regime, but who will celebrate this glory with him? Certainly not Sunni Muslims, whom Assad has been slaughtering – some of those who survive will soon return to their homes in the Caucasus and Central Asia, newly angry at the Russian bear. As for the disintegration of the EU, which Putin seems to seek almost above all else, is this really a winning formula for Russia? The “Hungarian Putin”, Viktor Orbán, is so far well-disposed toward Russia, but what we might call the Polish Putins of the Law and Justice party are committed Russophobes. And, as one shrewd commentator has pointed out, should Putin ever succeed in installing a rightwing nationalist leader in neighbouring Germany, that German Putin may well decide to go to war with the original Putin, as German Putins have always tended to do in the past.

And even our new American Putin, Donald J Trump, may not be as much of a boon to Russia as he seems at first glance. For one thing, Trump’s apparent romance with the Russian president has ignited a storm of Russophobia in the US, the like of which has not been seen since the early 1980s. For another, Trump is a fool. It is not the way of genius to hitch your wagon to a fool.

On the domestic front, Putin’s genius now seems equally suspect. In 2011, he made the momentous decision to return to the presidency after ceding it for four years to Medvedev. The decision, announced in a humiliating manner by Medvedev himself, was soon followed by the largest protests in Moscow since the early 1990s. Putin was impressive in waiting the protests out. He did not make the mistake that Viktor Yanukovych made two years later in Ukraine by first overreacting and then, perhaps, underreacting to the situation. Instead, Putin let the protests lose steam and then picked off the protest leaders one by one with surreptitiously videotaped provocations and phony criminal charges, while Moscow itself underwent a kind of urban renaissance, complete with public parks and bike lanes, to assuage some of the anger of the creative class. But Putin did nothing to address the substance of the criticism coming from the opposition – that his political regime was corrupt, unresponsive, and that it had no vision. Instead, with the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent nationalist mobilisation, he doubled down on the worst aspects of his reign.

Had Putin retired after 2008, as he said he would, and become a grand old man of Russian politics, there would have been statues built to him throughout the country. Under him, Russia had emerged from the chaos of the 1990s into a relative stability and prosperity. Now, however, with low oil prices, a collapsed rouble, risible counter-sanctions in place on European cheese, and a demoralised opposition, it is hard to imagine an end to the Putin era that is not violent, and whose violence does not lead to more violence. If this is genius, then it is of a very peculiar kind.

Theory 2: Putin is a nothing

The first sight many Russians got of Vladimir Putin was on New Year’s Eve, 1999, when in a remarkable turn of events, a clearly ailing Boris Yeltsin, with six months left in his term, used his traditional televised end-of-year address to announce that he was resigning the presidency and handing the reins to his recently appointed, younger and more energetic prime minister.

Then Putin came on. The effect was startling. Yeltsin had looked confused and sickly. His speech was so slurred that he was hard to understand. He sat bolt upright as if wearing a brace. But this? This homunculus? Putin was tiny compared to Yeltsin, and though younger and healthier, he nonetheless managed to more closely resemble death. He spoke for a few minutes, promising on the one hand to keep Russian democracy strong, but on the other hand issuing various warnings to those who would threaten Russia – an incongruous performance. Many people didn’t think it was likely that Putin would last very long in this august seat. For all his faults, Yeltsin was at least a someone: tall, with a booming voice, a former member of the Soviet Politburo. Whereas Putin? He was, people suddenly scrambled to learn, merely a colonel in the KGB. He had been sent abroad, but only barely – to the East German backwater of Dresden. He was short and had a squeaky voice and his hair was thinning. He was a nonentity even among the nonentities who remained after Yeltsin’s perpetual clearing-out of his cabinets.

In a world where most people are convinced that Putin is a genius, this theory of Putin as a nobody deserves a second look. There really is an everyman quality to Putin. One of my favourite observations about him comes from a man who knew him back in St Petersburg in the 1990s. The man became a whistleblower after the successful medical supplies company he ran was asked, not long after Putin became president, to divert a portion of its earnings into the fund for “Putin’s Palace”, a huge complex going up on the Black Sea. But he had an interesting take on the president as he had known him before, as he told the British journalist Ben Judah:

He was an absolutely average man … His voice was average … not tough, not high. He had an average personality … average intelligence, not especially high intelligence. You could go out the door and find thousands and thousands of people in Russia, all of them just like Putin.


This can’t be entirely right: Putin was above average in at least a few respects (he was the judo champion of Leningrad, for one). But there is insight in these words. It was part of Putin’s charm that he didn’t stand out. During his first interviews in office he stressed how much of a regular guy he was, how he had struggled financially during the 1990s, how much tough luck he’d had. He knew all the same jokes, had listened to all the same music and seen all the same movies, as everyone else of his generation. It is a testament to the power of Soviet culture, to both its egalitarianism and its limitations, that when Putin mentioned a line from a quasi-dissident song or movie of the 1960s or 1970s, almost everyone knew exactly what he was talking about. This did not put him out of the mainstream. He was the unremarkable only child of an unremarkable working family from Leningrad. It was almost as if the Soviet Union had coughed up, from the great mass of its humanity, this average exemplar, with his average aggressiveness, his average ignorance, his average nostalgia for the way things were.

Accounts of Putin’s early years in office tend to confirm that he was something less than a colossus. He was impressed by the might of the American empire and awed by George W Bush. He was aware, too, of how limited his domestic power was. Russian politics during the Yeltsin era had been dominated by a small group of oligarchs, oil and banking titans with their own private armies. These were led not by short, skinny former colonels like Putin, but by barrel-chested former generals of the Interior Ministry and KGB. What’s more, some of the oligarchs were brilliant strategists – they had survived the ruthless 1990s and emerged victorious, while Putin had muddled along as the corrupt deputy to a one-term mayor. Putin’s early popularity was based on his tough attitude towards Chechens and oligarchs. He had succeeded in levelling Chechnya, but could he really win in a showdown with the oligarchs? He had no idea.

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Vladimir Putin shows off his judo prowess in 2009. Photograph: RIA Novosti / Reuters/Reuters

In 2003, in one of the main turning-points of his reign, it took Putin months to work up the nerve to arrest Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the country’s richest man. But then he did it, and it worked. No people rose up in the streets to defend the fallen oligarch, no secret armies emerged from the forests. Putin got away with it, and he would get away with much more. He would grow into his office. Today you see tiny Putin walking through the cavernous chambers of the Kremlin during official ceremonies, and clearly his stature has not risen to the grandeur of his surroundings. But time itself has done its work. When he meets Trump, it will be his fourth US president. Numerous British prime ministers have left office, along with two French presidents and a German chancellor (whom, in a less than proud moment for the German people, Putin later hired). Putin remains. A kind of stature accrues to him just from surviving. A middling stature.

Theory 3: Putin had a stroke

This early classic of Putinology was popularised in a 2005 Atlantic article titled “The Accidental Autocrat”, which cited the work of a “behavioural research fellow” at the Naval War College in Rhode Island named Brenda L Connors. After studying film of Putin’s movements, Connors concluded that he had a debilitating and likely congenital neurological deficiency, possibly caused by a stroke in utero, which prevented him from having full use of the right side of his body – which is why his left arm swings more than his right when he walks. Connors told the Atlantic that it was unlikely that Putin had ever crawled as an infant and that he still moves with his entire body, “in a head-to-tail pattern, like a fish or a reptile”.

The explanatory power of this hypothesis in terms of predicting whether Putin will, for example, invade Belarus, is low, but nonetheless it is haunting. One pictures little fish-like Putin moving through the world of men and women who have use of both sides of their bodies, and he, without that ability, feeling sad.

Theory 4: Putin is a KGB agent

After his famous first meeting with Putin, the newly elected President George W Bush declared at a press conference that he had looked into the Russian’s eyes and seen his soul. His advisers were mortified. “I visibly stiffened,” national security adviser Condoleezza Rice wrote in her memoirs. Secretary of state Colin Powell pulled his president aside. “You may have seen all that” in his eyes, Powell told W, “but I still look in his eyes and I see K-G-B. Remember,” he added ominously, “there’s a reason he’s fluent in German.” Vice President Dick Cheney felt the same way: Every time he saw Putin, he told people, “I think KGB, KGB, KGB.”

And ever since then, it’s been the same way. Whenever Putin tried to be nice to someone, it was because he was a KGB agent, manipulating them. And whenever he was mean – as when he introduced a dog-fearing Angela Merkel to his black labrador retriever Connie – this, too, was because he was a KGB agent, angling for psychological advantage.

That the KGB formed the bulk of Putin’s professional experience is beyond doubt – he worked there from the day he graduated college in 1974 until at least August 1991. And, what is more, the KGB was not just a company, but a university: at the Higher School of the KGB, in Moscow, which Putin attended, young agents took university-level classes. It was important, the KGB higher-ups believed, that the cadres understand the world they were being trained to subvert and manipulate. It is entirely likely that Putin kept in touch with his former KGB associates after 1991, while serving in the St Petersburg mayor’s office. And it is true that Putin has brought many of his former KGB colleagues with him to the highest levels of government.

And yet I can’t help but find the KGB hypothesis unsatisfying. When people such as Rice and Powell and Cheney speak of Putin’s KGB past, they are suggesting that he treats politics as essentially a contest in manipulation. People are either his agents, whom he is running, or his adversaries, whom he is trying to weaken. This is a ruthless worldview, but don’t many people in politics act this way? Aren’t there a lot of bullies who divide people into those they can control and those they can’t? Isn’t that how Dick Cheney operated, for example? That doesn’t make it an acceptable way to go through the world. It just doesn’t seem particularly unique to the KGB.

But the KGB label has other uses in western mouths. It is synecdoche for the Soviet Union, and Putin-as-Soviet-revanchist, with a hammer in one hand and a sickle in the other, is one of his chief avatars in the western press. What exactly is meant by this? Certainly not that anyone thinks Putin supports a historic union of the proletariat (the hammer) and the peasantry (the sickle), nor that he is an actual communist who wants to expropriate the bourgeoisie. Rather the USSR is meant here in its aspect as an aggressive imperial power that occupied half of eastern Europe. And it is true that Putin seems to feel about the countries on the Russian periphery that they are not full countries with rights and sovereignty – it’s fair to say he is an imperialist. What is unfair (to the Soviet Union, really) is to suggest that his imperialism is specifically Soviet in nature. The Soviets did not invent imperialism; the Russian Empire, for example, whose basic geography the Soviets managed to keep intact, did not become an empire by not conquering native Arctic peoples, prosecuting brutal decades-long wars in the Caucasus, and lopping off parts of Poland. Putin is a Russian imperialist, full stop.

But finally, of course, there is a moral connotation to saying that someone is “KGB”, because the Soviet KGB carried out assassinations, harassed and imprisoned dissidents, and was one of the pioneers of what came to be known as fake news. But the idea that anyone who walked its halls was pure evil is as blinkered as the KGB’s own idea of itself as the one uncorrupted, “professional” institution in late Soviet life.

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Putin and his dog, Connie, with the canine-fearing Angela Merkel Photograph: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

The KGB was a giant organisation – in the 1980s it employed hundreds of thousands of people. After it started shedding staff in the 1990s, we learned that KGB agents came in all shapes and sizes. There was Philipp Bobkov, for example, who once persecuted Soviet dissidents, but who after the Soviet Union’s collapse became an employee of the media oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky and a thoughtful commentator on the old KGB. Other KGB agents went into the private sector as surveillance specialists or hired assassins. There were KGB agents who stayed on with the FSB and tried to fight organised crime. There were KGB agents who stayed on with the FSB and used their positions to abet organised crime, to murder innocent citizens, and to amass small private fortunes. There were former KGB agents who fought bravely in Chechnya and there were former KGB agents who committed war crimes there. There was Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB agent turned FSB agent who was ordered by his corrupt superiors to kill the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, and who instead of doing so went public. Eventually in fear for his life he fled the country, settling in London where he cooperated with western intelligence agencies and published numerous anti-Putin broadsides. Years later, he was poisoned by a large dose of Polonium-210 in London by another former KGB agent, Andrei Lugovoi.

Theory 5: Putin is a killer

Though I now live in New York, I was born in Russia and sometimes write about Russia. This means that people often share their opinions of Putin with me. I remember one evening in March 2006, when I was introduced to a well-known French photographer. Upon learning that I was Russian, she said, “Pou-tine?” The French pronunciation was emasculating to the Russian President, making him sound like those Canadian french fries with gravy on them. “Pou-tine,” said the photographer, “is a stone-cold killer.”

I had heard this opinion before from some Russian oppositionists, but it was the first time I had encountered it in New York. Perhaps because the photographer was French, or perhaps because she was a photographer, the opinion struck me as primarily aesthetic: Putin was a killer because of his cold, bloodless face, his expressionless eyes, his refusal to smile. A few months later, Litvinenko was poisoned in London, and the journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot while returning home with some groceries in downtown Moscow. The view that Putin was a killer became much more widespread.

I have no wish to dispute that characterisation here. Putin has launched violent, deadly wars against Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine, and I agree with the recent British inquiry that concluded that Putin “probably” approved of the assassination of Litvinenko. But the launching of aggressive wars and the killing of a former operative who has defected are hardly the sort of thing that will get you kicked out of the international community.

No, there is another sense in which Putin is believed to be a murderer; it was the subject of much discussion in the United States during the strange rise of Donald Trump. During the Republican primaries, the conservative TV host Joe Scarborough, otherwise famously cosy with Trump, pressed the candidate about his sympathies for Putin – who, in Scarborough’s words, “kills journalists and political opponents”. A few days later, on a more prominent Sunday-morning politics programme, the former White House adviser George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump again. When Trump protested that “nobody’s proven that he’s killed anybody, as far as I’m concerned”, Stephanopoulos confidently replied: “There have been many allegations that he was behind the killing of Anna Politkovskaya.” Trump parried as best he could. But the issue obviously hasn’t gone away. In an interview before the Super Bowl in early February, Trump was confronted by Fox blowhard Bill O’Reilly. “Putin’s a killer,” said O’Reilly, to which Trump infamously (though accurately) responded, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

“I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers,” said O’Reilly. He did not mean that he didn’t know of any government leaders who had ordered the invasion of Iraq or who had signed off on dozens of drone strikes or shoot-to-kill missions such as the one that ended the life of Osama bin Laden. He meant that he didn’t know of any leaders who went around killing regular folks.

The trouble with this accusation is not that it is false, but that, like most Putinology, it is sloppy. When most people accuse Putin of killing “journalists and political opponents”, they mean Politkovskaya, killed in 2006, and the opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, killed in 2015. Allegations that Putin was behind the killing of Politkovskaya and Nemtsov do exist – but very few people with knowledge of the cases believe them. What they do believe is that Politkovskaya and Nemtsov were killed by associates of Ramzan Kadyrov, the violent dictator of Chechnya. In the Nemtsov case, the evidence for the involvement of people close to Kadyrov is overwhelming. In the Politkovskaya case, it is more circumstantial (and with Politkovskaya there is considerable evidence of other efforts to harm her, including an earlier poisoning attempt that looked more like a government operation), but still the most likely scenario.

And yet Kadyrov’s involvement does not absolve Putin, because Kadyrov works for Putin. It has been widely reported that Putin was baffled and angry over the Nemtsov killing and refused for weeks to take Kadyrov’s phone calls. On the other hand, here we are almost two years later, and Kadyrov is still in charge of Chechnya. He was put there by Putin. So if Putin did not directly order these killings – and, again, it is the consensus view among most journalists and analysts that he did not – he nonetheless continues to work with and support those who did.


With Putin the killer, we reach something like Putinology’s conceptual blind spot. What we seem to be dealing with, in Russia, is neither a failed state, where the government has no power, nor a totalitarian state, where it has all the power, but something in between. Putin does not order killings, and yet killings happen. Putin ordered the takeover of Crimea, but, as best as anyone can tell, he seems not to have ordered the invasion of eastern Ukraine. That invasion appears to have been undertaken as a freelance operation by a small group of mercenaries funded by a well-connected Russian businessman. Real Russian troops came later. But if Putin isn’t in charge of everything – if there are powerful forces operating outside of Putin’s say-so – what’s the point of Putinology? On this point, Putinology is silent.

The absolute worst crime of which Putin has been accused is the bombing of several apartment blocks in Moscow in 1999. In September of that year, with President Boris Yeltsin ill, presidential elections just around the corner, and a relatively unknown Putin recently moved from heading the FSB to running the government as Yeltsin’s prime minister, two large apartment buildings blew up in Moscow, killing nearly 300 people. A few days later there was another building explosion, this time in the southern city of Volgodonsk. And a few days after that, in a bizarre incident, some men were caught by local police planting what appeared to be explosives in the basement of a building in Ryazan – the men turned out to be from the FSB. They quickly removed the apparent bomb and declared the whole thing a “training exercise” meant to test the vigilance of the populace and the police.

Though the government immediately accused Chechen terrorists of planting the bombs, and used this as justification for its invasion of Chechnya, a persistent minority has always insisted the government itself was responsible. (Litvinenko was one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of this theory.) A public commission to investigate the allegations was set up by the Soviet chemist turned dissident Sergei Kovalyov. Two members of the commission, Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin, were killed in 2003. Yushenkov was shot outside his apartment building; Shchekochikhin was poisoned.

The question of the Russian government’s involvement in the bombings has remained a vexed one. The most authoritative account of the available evidence was written up a few years ago by John Dunlop of the Hoover Institute. While careful not to claim to have settled the case definitively, Dunlop argued that there is compelling evidence that the bombings were ordered by the Yeltsin inner circle and carried out by the FSB.

And yet here, too, Putin evades us. If the apartment bombings really were a palace plot, it was not Putin’s palace but Yeltsin’s that plotted them. And indeed the political killings that seem to characterise the Putin years also characterised the Yeltsin ones. This does not, again, absolve Putin of anything. But it points to a longer and more complex period of violence, of groups inside and outside the government employing assassination and terror as a political weapon, and not just the machinations of one evil man.
If Putin, as president, is unable to stop this violence, then maybe someone else should be president; if Putin, as president, is a party to the violence, then certainly someone else should be.

But on our end, it behoves us to be judicious. The practitioners of Putinology are maddeningly imprecise, and in no area of Putinology is their imprecision more damaging. When George Stephanopoulos appears on national TV and declares that Putin ordered the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, it makes it that much harder to pin the blame on Putin for things that he did, demonstrably and undoubtedly, do.

Theory 6: Putin is a kleptocrat

Until around 2009, the complaints of Putin’s liberal critics in Russia, amplified by western journalists and statesmen, centred on his abuses of human rights. He was the censor of the Russian media, the butcher of Chechnya, a total stick in the mud during our glorious invasion of Iraq, the killer of Litvinenko, and the invader of Georgia. It took the anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny to fundamentally shift the discourse around Putin away from these abuses and towards something else: the theft of Russians’ money. Navalny, a corporate lawyer and online anti-corruption activist, concluded that in contemporary Russia, human rights was not a winning issue, but money was. (He memorably dubbed Putin’s United Russia a “party of crooks and thieves”.) In this account, soon taken up by western Putinologists, Putin was no longer a scary monster but something simpler and more manageable: a thief.

The accusation had the virtue of being unquestionably true. Either that, or a surprising number of Putin’s old friends were business geniuses, because in the period since he came to power, they had become billionaires. It was one thing for the Berezovskys and Khodorkovskys and Abramoviches to emerge from the vicious scramble of the 1990s with billions in their pockets – certainly they could not have made those billions were it not for their proximity to the Yeltsin regime, but they also had to survive the wilds of early Russian capitalism. They were geniuses of a kind. Whereas the only genius ever demonstrated by Putin’s billionaire friends was befriending the future president of Russia.

If Putin liked his friends (which he seemed to) and if his friends liked lining their pockets (which they definitely did), then it followed that hitting Putin’s friends in their wallets would cause Putin to pull back from some of his more outrageous foreign policy gambits, most notably in Ukraine. This was the genesis of the “targeted” sanctions imposed in 2014 by the US and EU against Putin’s “inner circle”.

If we do not hear so much anymore about Putin’s kleptocracy, it may be because these sanctions failed to alter the behaviour of Putin on the world stage. No doubt Putin’s friends, and Putin himself, did not enjoy the sanctions: Putin’s friends because they were no longer allowed to travel to their favourite vacation spots in Spain; Putin because the sanctions put him beyond the pale of the international order. It was embarrassing.

But this did not stop Putin from stalling and undermining the Minsk accords meant to halt the fighting in eastern Ukraine, nor did it stop Putin from pursuing his brutal intervention in the Syrian civil war. If Putin’s friends were begging him to come to his senses, he wasn’t listening. More likely, Putin’s friends knew that they had been the beneficiaries of his largesse, his unlikely rise to power, and that they had to support him, come what may. Kleptocrats are not the types to organise successful palace coups. For that, you need true believers. If there is a true believer among them, he has yet to show his face. In fact, it appears the closest thing to a true believer is Putin himself.

Putin lives a fairly modest day-to-day existence. Yes, he has a palace on the Black Sea, built with pilfered funds, but he doesn’t actually live in it. In fact, it is unlikely that he will ever live in it. The palace is, in a way, the most hopeful thing that Putin is building – a promise of his eventual retirement, and under circumstances where he is not torn from limb to limb by a mob that has entered the Kremlin and overpowered his personal guards.

Theory 7: Putin is named Vladimir

A recent article published on the website of a respected American magazine warned readers that the end of communism “doesn’t mean that Russia has dropped its primary mission of destabilising Europe”, and described Putin as “a former KGB agent who, it is no accident, shares the name Vladimir Ilyich with Lenin”. When it was pointed out that Putin does not, in fact, share the name Vladimir Ilyich with Lenin – his name is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – the article was corrected to say that it is no accident that Putin shares the name Vladimir with Lenin. If it is not an accident, this may be because it is one of the most common Russian names. But still, it cannot be denied. Both Putin and Lenin are named Vladimir.

Image
‘The outpouring of Putinalysis was a function of wanting to wish Trump away, to blame him on someone else. Surely we could not have elected this bigoted idiot-narcissist – surely he must have been forced on us from somewhere else.’ Photograph: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

The Putin-is-named-Vladimir hypothesis is either the historic high point of Putinology, or its nadir, depending on your perspective. But the confident proclamation of expertise by someone who does not technically know Putin’s name is surely a sign of something. It’s a sign that most Putinology is not and has never been about Putin. In the weeks before and after the Trump inauguration, the outpouring of Putinalysis was a function of wanting to wish Trump away, to blame him on someone else. Surely we could not have elected this bigoted idiot-narcissist – surely he must have been forced on us from somewhere else.

There is no reason at this point to dispute the consensus view of most intelligence analysts that Russian agents hacked the DNC and then leaked the emails to Julian Assange; it is also a well-known fact that Putin hated Hillary Clinton.

Furthermore, it is true that the election was very close, and it did not take much to tip the result to one side. But it is also essential to remember that there was hardly anything damaging in the leaked DNC emails.

Compared to the 40-year cycle of US deindustrialisation, during which only the rich gained in wealth; the 25-year rightwing war on the Clintons; the eight-year-old Tea Party assault on facts, immigration and taxes; a tepid, centrist campaign; and a supposed late-breaking revelation from the director of the FBI about the dubious investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server – well, compared to all those factors, the leaked DNC emails must rank low on the list of reasons for Trump’s victory. And yet, according to a recent report, Hillary Clinton and her campaign still blame the Russians – and, by extension, Barack Obama, who did not make a big issue of the hacks before November – for her electoral debacle. In this instance, thinking about Putin helps not to think about everything else that went wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it.

This evasion is the essence of Putinology, which seeks solace in the undeniable but faraway badness of Putin at the expense of confronting the far more uncomfortable badness in front of one’s face. Putinology predates the 2016 election by a decade, and yet what we have seen in connection to Trump these past few months has been its Platonic ideal.

Here in front of us is a man – Donald J Trump – who has said countless cruel and bigoted things and proposed cruel and bigoted policies, who is a pathological liar, who has failed in almost everything he has ever tried and who surrounds himself with conmen and billionaires. And yet, day after day, there is breathless excitement over each new data point in the effort to uncover Trump’s hidden connections to Russia – each one inflated by the hope that this, now, finally, will render him illegitimate, remove him from the White House, and end the liberal nightmare of having actually lost an election to this hateful dope.

If Donald Trump is impeached and imprisoned for conspiring with a foreign power to undermine American democracy, I will celebrate as much as the next American. And yet in the long run, the Russia card is not just bad politics, it is intellectual and moral bankruptcy. It is an attempt to blame the deep and abiding problems of our country on a foreign power. As some commentators have pointed out, it is a page from the playbook of none other than Putin himself.

Main image: Various portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin draw by artist Dmitry Vrubel and his wife Vika Timofeeva for a pop-art calendar. Credit: Reuters
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:37 am

Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives: Whatever the truth about Trump and Russia, the speculation surrounding it has become a dangerous case of mass hysteria
by Matt Taibbi
April 3, 2017

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So Michael Flynn, who was Donald Trump's national security adviser before he got busted talking out of school to Russia's ambassador, has reportedly offered to testify in exchange for immunity.

Perhaps it will come off just the way people are expecting. Perhaps Flynn will get a deal, walk into the House or the Senate surrounded by a phalanx of lawyers, and unspool the whole sordid conspiracy.

He will explain that Donald Trump, compromised by ancient deals with Russian mobsters, and perhaps even blackmailed by an unspeakable KGB sex tape, made a secret deal. He'll say Trump agreed to downplay the obvious benefits of an armed proxy war in Ukraine with nuclear-armed Russia in exchange for Vladimir Putin's help in stealing the emails of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta.

I personally would be surprised if this turned out to be the narrative, mainly because we haven't seen any real evidence of it. But episodes like the Flynn story have even the most careful reporters paralyzed. What if, tomorrow, it all turns out to be true?

What if reality does turn out to be a massive connect-the-dots image of St. Basil's Cathedral sitting atop the White House? (This was suddenly legitimate British conspiracist Louise Mensch's construction in The New York Times last week.) What if all the Glenn Beck-style far-out charts with the circles and arrows somehow all make sense?

This is one of the tricks that keeps every good conspiracy theory going. Nobody wants to be the one claiming the emperor has no clothes the day His Highness walks out naked. And this Russia thing has spun out of control into just such an exercise of conspiratorial mass hysteria.

Even I think there should be a legitimate independent investigation – one that, given Trump's history, might uncover all sorts of things. But almost irrespective of what ends up being uncovered on the Trump side, the public prosecution of this affair has taken on a malevolent life of its own.

One way we recognize a mass hysteria movement is that everyone who doesn't believe is accused of being in on the plot. This has been going on virtually unrestrained in both political and media circles in recent weeks.

The aforementioned Mensch, a noted loon who thinks Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart but has somehow been put front and center by The Times and HBO's Real Time, has denounced an extraordinary list of Kremlin plants.

She's tabbed everyone from Jeff Sessions ("a Russian partisan") to Rudy Giuliani and former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom ("agents of influence") to Glenn Greenwald ("Russian shill") to ProPublica and Democracy Now! (also "Russian shills"), to the 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted (really, she says, a Russian hacker group called "Crackas With Attitudes") to an unnamed number of FBI agents in the New York field office ("moles"). And that's just for starters.

Others are doing the same. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, upon seeing the strange behavior of Republican Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes, asked "what kind of dossier" the Kremlin has on Nunes.

Dem-friendly pollster Matt McDermott wondered why reporters Michael Tracey and Zaid Jilani aren't on board with the conspiracy stories (they might be "unwitting" agents!) and noted, without irony, that Russian bots mysteriously appear every time he tweets negatively about them.

Think about that last one. Does McDermott think Tracey and Jilani call their handlers at the sight of a scary Matt McDermott tweet and have the FSB send waves of Russian bots at him on command? Or does he think it's an automated process? What goes through the heads of such people?

I've written a few articles on the Russia subject that have been very tame, basically arguing that it might be a good idea to wait for evidence of collusion before those of us in the media jump in the story with both feet. But even I've gotten the treatment.

I've been "outed" as a possible paid Putin plant by the infamous "PropOrNot" group, which is supposedly dedicated to rooting out Russian "agents of influence." You might remember PropOrNot as the illustrious research team the Washington Post once relied on for a report that accused 200 alternative websites of being "routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season."

Politicians are getting into the act, too. It was one thing when Rand Paul balked at OK-ing the expansion of NATO to Montenegro, and John McCain didn't hesitate to say that "the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin."

Even Bernie Sanders has himself been accused of being a Putin plant by Mensch. But even he's gotten on board of late, asking, "What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?"

So even people who themselves have been accused of being Russian plants are now accusing people of being Russian plants. As the Russians would say, it's enough to make your bashka hurt.

Sanders should know better. Last week, during hearings in the Senate, multiple witnesses essentially pegged his electoral following as unwitting fellow travelers for Putin.


Former NSA chief Keith Alexander spoke openly of how Russia used the Sanders campaign to "drive a wedge within the Democratic Party," while Dr. Thomas Rid of Kings College in London spoke of Russia's use of "unwitting agents" and "overeager journalists" to drive narratives that destabilized American politics.

This testimony was brought out by Virginia Democrat Mark Warner. Warner has been in full-blown "precious bodily fluids" mode throughout this scandal. During an interview with The Times on the Russia subject a month back, there was a thud outside the window. "That may just be the FSB," he said. The paper was unsure if he was kidding.

Warner furthermore told The Times that in order to get prepared for his role as an exposer of 21st-century Russian perfidy, he was "losing himself in a book about the Romanovs," and had been quizzing staffers about "Tolstoy and Nabokov."

This is how nuts things are now: a senator brushes up on Nabokov and Tolstoy (Tolstoy!) to get pumped to expose Vladimir Putin.

Even the bizarre admission by FBI director (and sudden darling of the same Democrats who hated him months ago) James Comey that he didn't know anything about Russia's biggest company didn't seem to trouble Americans very much. Here's the key exchange, from a House hearing in which Jackie Speier quizzed Comey:

SPEIER: Now, do we know who Gazprom-Media is? Do you know anything about Gazprom, director?

COMEY: I don't.

SPEIER: Well, it's a – it's an oil company.


(Incidentally, Gazprom – primarily a natural-gas giant – is not really an oil company. So both Comey and Speier got it wrong.)

As Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg noted, this exchange was terrifying to Russians. The leader of an investigation into Russian espionage not knowing what Gazprom is would be like an FSB chief not having heard of Exxon-Mobil. It's bizarre, to say the least.

Testimony of the sort that came from Warner's committee last week is being buttressed by news stories in liberal outlets like Salon insisting that "Bernie Bros" were influenced by those same ubiquitous McDermott-chasing Russian "bots."

These stories insist that, among other things, these evil bots pushed on the unwitting "bros" juicy "fake news" stories about Hillary being "involved with various murders and money laundering schemes."

Some 13.2 million people voted for Sanders during the primary season last year. What percentage does any rational person really believe voted that way because of "fake news"?

I would guess the number is infinitesimal at best. The Sanders campaign was driven by a lot of factors, but mainly by long-developing discontent within the Democratic Party and enthusiasm for Sanders himself.

To describe Sanders followers as unwitting dupes who departed the true DNC faith because of evil Russian propaganda is both insulting and ridiculous. It's also a testimony to the remarkable capacity for self-deception within the leadership of the Democratic Party.

If the party's leaders really believe that Russian intervention is anywhere in the top 100 list of reasons why some 155 million eligible voters (out of 231 million) chose not to pull a lever for Hillary Clinton last year, they're farther along down the Purity of Essence nut-hole than Mark Warner.


Moreover, even those who detest Trump with every fiber of their being must see the dangerous endgame implicit in this entire line of thinking. If the Democrats succeed in spreading the idea that straying from the DNC-approved candidate – in either the past or the future – is/was an act of "unwitting" cooperation with the evil Putin regime, then the entire idea of legitimate dissent is going to be in trouble.

Imagine it's four years from now (if indeed that's when we have our next election). A Democratic candidate stands before the stump, and announces that a consortium of intelligence experts has concluded that Putin is backing the hippie/anti-war/anti-corporate opposition candidate.

Or, even better: that same candidate reminds us "what happened last time" when people decided to vote their consciences during primary season. It will be argued, in seriousness, that true Americans will owe their votes to the non-Putin candidate. It would be a shock if some version of this didn't become an effective political trope going forward.


But if you're not worried about accusing non-believers of being spies, or pegging legitimate dissent as treason, there's a third problem that should scare everyone.

Last week saw Donna Brazile and Dick Cheney both declare Russia's apparent hack of DNC emails an "act of war." This coupling seemed at first like political end times: as Bill Murray would say, "dogs and cats, living together."

But there's been remarkable unanimity among would-be enemies in the Republican and Democrat camps on this question. Suddenly everyone from Speier to McCain to Kamala Harris to Ben Cardin have decried Russia's alleged behavior during the election as real or metaphorical acts of war: a "political Pearl Harbor," as Cardin put it.

That no one seems to be concerned about igniting a hot war with nuclear-powered Russia at a time when both countries have troops within "hand-grenade range" of each other in Syria is bizarre, to say the least. People are in such a fever to drag Trump to impeachment that these other considerations seem not to matter. This is what happens when people lose their heads.

There are a lot of people who will say that these issues are of secondary importance to the more important question of whether or not we have a compromised Russian agent in the White House.

But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we're still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, "If we do the investigations, we will find the connections."

But on the mass hysteria front, we already have evidence enough to fill a dozen books. And if it doesn't freak you out, it probably should.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:10 pm

Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe (EXCERPT)
by Gerald Sussman

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RUSSIA: AMERICANS TO THE RESCUE

U.S. political support for new regimes always has behind it the implied promise of foreign assistance. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the community party system in Central and Eastern Europe quickly attracted the United States to the region's midst, which has since been a major target of opportunity. Following the collapse, millions of Russians were left without means of subsistence. The first post-Soviet Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, turned to the United States for assistance, and just prior to the 1993 parliamentary elections, [8] the Clinton administration responded with a strong endorsement of the country's new market economy, backed a $10 billion loan from the IMF, and turned its back on the brutal war carried out in Chechnya (Cohen 2005).

The collapse of the Soviet Union triggered an acceleration of democracy promotion in the United States and made it into a major industry. For the United States, of all the countries constituting the former Soviet sphere of interest, Russia, with the largest population, a wealth of resources, and a source of potential resistance, is the crown jewel. From 1992 until 1996, when Boris Yeltsin was reelected as president, the United States made Russia its third largest recipient (at more than $2.1 billion) of bilateral foreign aid. [9] The World Bank and IMF bailed out his government with a $22 billion rescue package, turning a blind eye to Yeltsin's 1993 use of military force to dissolve the Russian parliament and other repressive measures (Hook 2002, 124; Ralph 2000, 202; Rutland 2000, 254).

As inconvenient as Yeltsin's corruption, repression, massive social dislocations, dictatorial behavior, and his personal chronic alcoholism may have been for his foreign backers, his Western supporters had little difficulty in backing him and his embrace of disastrous neoliberal "shock therapy" policies against the challenge of his main Community Party rival. For U.S. policy planners, a convenient depiction of Yeltsin was the false propaganda that he was a democrat, indeed a combination of George Washington and Adam Smith (Rutland, 2000, 244). Responding to Yeltsin's violent seizure of parliament in October 1993 in which 500 people were killed and almost a thousand wounded, the U.S. secretary of state at the time, Warren Christopher, remarked, "The United States does not easily support the suspension of parliaments. But these are extraordinary times" (Klein 2007, 229).

The United States and its allies, including the international banking community, exercised a double standard in the case of Yeltsin. Russian studies professor Stephen Cohen found U.S. behavior toward Russia terribly misguided:

When in the 1990s the U.S.-supported Yeltsin overthrew Russia's elected Parliament and Constitutional Court by force, gave its national wealth and television networks to Kremlin insiders, imposed a constitution without real constraints on executive power and rigged elections, it was "democratic reform"; when Putin continues the process, it is [called] "authoritarianism."


America's "triumphalism" in the CEE region not only ignores the realities of the Russian and Soviet past, he argues, but represents an unnecessary provocation, which has led to a buildup of Russia's nuclear and conventional arsenal and the country's defensive nationalist reaction to the West and hostility to Western-supported "color revolutions" within the former Soviet region (Cohen 1996).

U.S. support for Yeltsin was linked to a campaign of fear, a key element in shock therapy that would open the floodgates to a neoliberal, IMF-approved economy, with its attendant cutbacks in social protections, carried out in the name of modernization and economic efficiency. [10]

The region was filled with factories employing thousands of workers they didn't need, to produce shoddy goods that no one wanted. For years, the whole system was propped up by subsidies and noncommercial trading relationships and sustained by wasteful use of energy that polluted the land, air and water.

That system crumbled when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union imploded. Today, the countries of the region are moving—some quickly, and some far too slowly—toward open, market-driven economies. Prices have been freed. State-owned enterprises have been sold to private owners. New economic institutions are leading to improved economic policies and management. A commercial law framework is being put in place and enforced. Sound banking systems and practices are beginning to emerge....

During the Soviet period, the price of natural gas was kept so artificially low that Russians joked it was cheaper to leave a gas stove on all the time than to waste matches lighting it. The result, of course, was that huge amounts of natural gas were wasted. Although the wholesale price of gas rose after 1991, consumers did not conserve, mainly because most Russian apartments do not have individual gas meters. A USAID program that links a U.S. utility and Russian counterpart is helping to change that. Vladmiroblgaz and Brooklyn Union Gas have conducted a pilot residential metering project designed to determine how best to improve revenue collection and conserve energy. With USAID financing, 500 meters were purchased and installed in apartments just east of Moscow. Natural gas consumption dropped dramatically. Since then, the pilot program has been expanded. The Vladmiroblgaz-Brooklyn Union Gas program and others like it are now helping conserve natural resources in cities across Russia....

Creating market economies and establishing democracy offer the people of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia the best long-term hope for higher living standards and a better quality of life. In the short and medium term, however, the weight of change has taken a heavy toll on social services and benefits and caused unemployment and poverty to rise....

A hallmark of the old socialist system was the provision of a basic level of social protection to all its citizens, including universal subsidies for housing, utilities, and social services, and income after retirement, irrespective of need....

Early in the decade, the Ukrainian Government recognized that it had to take a close look at government spending levels and begin to tackle the issue of universal subsidies. In close coordination with local governments, Ukraine initiated a policy which introduced the recovery of real costs for housing and utilities while also protecting the neediest. Universal subsidies for communal services were replaced with financial assistance targeted to help the poor. USAID provided technical expertise to help the municipalities conduct income surveys and objectively determine cut-off points for government aid. Three months after enactment of the enabling legislation, the national housing subsidy program opened 750 offices across the country. As many families started to pay for housing and related services, those in the low income brackets received subsidies. By 1999, over four million families were being helped with targeted subsidies and the government was realizing a net budget savings of $1.2 billion....

A large and stable middle class -- a keystone to enduring democratic systems and dynamic private economies -- still needs to develop. In too many cases, these societies are polarized between a few very wealthy beneficiaries of change and a great number of people who have been unable to access the benefits of reform. At the same time, social services are woefully insufficient, adding to the burden of the common citizen. Toward the end of the decade, one-half of Eurasia’s population and one-quarter of Southern Tier citizens were living in poverty. The turmoil and pain resulting from incomplete reforms have discouraged citizens and led many to long for the certainty of the old Soviet days.

-- A Decade of Change: Profiles of USAID Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, by USAID


According to Cohen, the United States saw the disintegration of the Soviet Union as an opportunity not for strategic collaboration with a remaining major political and military power but for "a relentless, winner-take-all exploitation of Russia's post-1991 weakness" (Cohen 1996). Going beyond the threats to the security of the Soviet Union, the United States and its NATO allies expanded the encirclement of Russia by extending NATO membership to countries in the CEE region and placing or planning military bases in at least half of the former Soviet republics (Cohen 1996).

America's aid package to Yeltsin required a radical restructuring that forced the end of price controls and state subsidies, the privatization of state industries, the floating of the state currency, and reduction of barriers to and restrictions on transnational trade and investments. Led by economic shock therapist Jeffrey Sachs and the Harvard Institute for International Development, and backed with $57.7 million in USAID funding (and some $300 million in USAID money granted to other American contractors), U.S. economists and business firms worked closely with Yeltsin's first director of economic reform, Yegor Gaidar, and later his main architect of privatization, first deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais, "a darling of the U.S. and Western financial establishments" (Wedel 1998).

The program was intended to dismantle remaining state economic structures and put in place a disciplining infrastructure of market-based institutions. In this vein, George H.W. Bush had earlier announced (1990) a startup initiative of $300,000 for "establishing a center and clearinghouse for American private-sector assistance and volunteer activities in Eastern Europe" that would "support democratic change and market-oriented economic reform" (Devroy 1990). What the Russians had anticipated, but the United States would not deliver, was some degree of equitable partnership. But, as Russian specialist Cohen observed, what the Russians got was an American withdrawal from the ABM treaty, U.S. and NATO military expansion in former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, aggressive access to Caspian oil and gas, and hostility to Russian domestic and foreign policies (Cohen 2006).

The collapse of Soviet communist power in 1991 brought chaotic changes. Almost immediately, Russia experienced an explosive proliferation of political parties. Nineteen parties contested elections for the Duma in 1993; two years later, there were 43 (Carothers 2006b, 26), the Communist Party being the largest among them. Initially, two of the beneficiaries of IRI and NDI assistance in the Russian parliament were the pro-Western, "reformist," and personality-centered Yabloko Party and the Russia's Choice party, later reformed as the Union of Right Forces (SPS). The "larger parties such as the Community Party, Unity [Putin-aligned party, now merged as United Russia], and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's [right-wing nationalist] Liberal Democratic Party appeared to them as unsuitable partners for Western aid." IRI in particular was committed to blocking the leading Communists from coming tot power (Carothers 2006b, 102-103).

The conversion of the Russian economy to a haven for foreign investments and trade, with its security supervised by NATO and its politics guided by the West, is a dream of supremacy that would even surpass the wartime "Grand Area" strategy of American global planners. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a rush of American consultants arrived to train their Russian counterparts in the dark arts and technologies of political consulting (discussed in Sussman 2005). By the late 1990s, Russians had developed a political consulting and electioneering industry of their own. A Russian academic (Pshizova 2007) found that the professionalization of politics in Russia rationalizes the lack of a civil society, which permits the concentration of power in the hands of new political formations, former Soviet Community Party apparatchiks and nomenklatura, their billionaire allies, former KGB agents, and other closely associated groups and individuals, including those in the state-controlled media.

The management of Russian-style democracy by professionals enables political groups to bypass popular mobilization by citizen activists, an activity in which only the current Russian Community Party (CPR) is particularly strong. Inasmuch as professional management of politics invites more expensive forms of lobbying and campaigning, business patrons stand to benefit, which works against the political ambitions of the CPR. To wit, in the 1999 Russian parliamentary elections, 78 percent of political party expenditures (83 percent for victorious parties) went to television advertising. The pattern seen in Russian electoral politics, much like the United States, indicates a low level of party identification, close ties between parties and state bureaucracies and the latter's resources, increasing use of political technologies (polling, focus groups, advertising, media appearances, and the like), and image-making and personalization of political "leadership" (Pshizova 2007, 4, 10, 15). Russia's Niccolo M website boasts that several of its top managers are members of the American Political Consulting Association ("Niccolo M" 2007).

Russia's greater a sorption into the world economy is made more certain by the presence of global consumer-oriented corporations, including Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Ikea, American Express, Nestle, Wrigley, Procter & Gamble, Unilvever, Nike, Levi Strauss, PepsiCo, Philip Morris, GM, and others. Their presence is supported by the consumer marketing data delivered by such brand research companies as WPP's TGI and TNS Gallup (O'Leary 2008). The operations of leading Western PR consultants, such as Rory Davenport, managing director of the fast-growing Washington-based Qorvis Communications, is another reason behind Russia's accelerating market status. Paced by Russia, whose annual advertising market expanded an an average of 41 percent from 2000 to 2006 and reached sixth place internationally by 2006, Central and Eastern Europe as a region has the fastest advertising growth rate in the world (Campaign Magazine 2007).

After an initial delirium with the U.S. market model, Western economic and political assistance eventually became unwelcome in Russia. Before the 2003 legislative election, Russia's centrist Yabloko Party turned down the offer of foreign assistance. Yabloko and the right-wing SPS party questioned the motives behind Western backing, which they came to see as focused more on campaign victories than long-term party development (Carothers 2006b, 103, 169) -- and perhaps because association with the West damaged their reputations as genuinely Russian parties amidst a climate of intensifying nationalist sentiment. Nonetheless, $45.2 million in U.S. assistance to Russia was targeted to democracy programs in FY 2006. Putin himself expressed skepticism about the "civilizing role" that democracy assistance represents (Wilson 2009, 378).

Since Putin's ascendancy to Russia's presidency and then prime ministership, the country's political disposition toward the United States and its program of democracy assistance has significantly changed. One target of the Putin government's political crackdown as been the NGO community, both domestic and foreign, consisting of several hundred thousand non-profit organizations, which the Duma, passing by a wide margin, forced into reregistration under a restrictive 2006 law. Many foreign NGOs were shut down. Speaking for the Duma, Alexei Ostrovsky, a Duma deputy, said to the parliament: "We have seen what happened in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova [11] and how these local branches of foreign NGOs that are funded by the CIA functioned .... We want to defend our citizens from the chaos which our country can be dragged into by these foreign NGOs" (Page and Evans 2005). Over 90 percent of funding for human rights NGOs is from foreign sources, particularly NED (Abdullaev 2007). Russian officials also distrust local NGOs as being either corrupt or inefficient, leading to their underfunding and the substitution by Russian corporation philanthropy. Responding to criticism from the Council of Europe, Putin's presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed in 2009 to revise the 2006 law to permit greater freedom for human rights and other NGOs.

Apart from civil society, there has been a degree of foreign political engagement in Russia. An NDI assessment congratulated itself on the role it played in transforming Russian society through the introduction of American electioneering techniques. Under U.S. influence, the study confidently claimed, Russian political parties were now

targeting their communications to voters based on demographic and geographic information ... conducting research on voter attitudes through focus groups and polling ... small meetings, coalitions with civil groups, door knocking, phone banks, and dpublic leafleting; organizing more sophisticated press operations that attempt to create news and respond to events ... Much of this change can be attributed to NDI training (cited in Carothers 1999, 152; italics added).


If the U.S. influenced Russian politics as much as the NDI claimed, the accession of Vladimir Putin suggests that either the American organization is seriously misguided or the real intent behind U.S. political assistance actually has little to do with institutionalizing democracy.

_______________

Notes:

8. According to a New York Times account, Clinton's secretary of state, Warren Christopher, acted like a "politician passionately endorsing a candidate at a campaign whistle-stop" during his visit to Russia just before the December 1993 parliamentary election. Christopher supported Yeltsin's suspension of parliament in September of that year (Sciolino 1993).

9. In 1996, a group of American consultants, including a team that had previously worked on Pete Wilson's gubernatorial campaign in California, went to work on the Russian presidential campaign for Boris Yeltsin. Unfortunately for Russia (Sussman 2005), Yeltsin failed to require a non-disclosure agreement from his American advisors, which resulted in an embarrassing cover story in Time magazine that made the Russian president look sadly dependent on foreign patronage (Vuijst 2008a). The American campaign advisors pushed a hard line anti-communist strategy, creating a false choice between going back to Stalin or going forward with Yeltsin (Steele, personal communication, 2008).

10. Shock therapy also had the early support of conservative Central European economists, including Poland's Leszek Balcerowicz and the Czech (currently president) Vaclav Klaus, "experts [who] were integrated into transnational networks of exchange" (Brier 2009, 347).
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:31 pm

There’s No Need for a New Cold War: The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald is skeptical Russia is really a new, serious threat.
by Isaac Chotiner
August 11, 2017

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Isaac Chotiner: On this week’s episode of my podcast, I Have to Ask, I spoke with Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of—and writer for—the Intercept. Greenwald is probably best known for his role in reporting on Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency disclosures, which won his reporting team a Pulitzer Prize. He now lives in Brazil and has been writing about the Trump administration and the opposition to it.

Below is a transcript of the show that has been edited and condensed for clarity. In it, we discuss the media’s hypocrisy over covering President Donald Trump and whether we’re really risking a new Cold War with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

You can find links to every episode here, and the entire interview with Greenwald is also below. Please subscribe to I Have to Ask wherever you get your podcasts.

Isaac Chotiner: A lot of journalists in 2017 have approached the Trump administration in opposition and have said, “This is an unprecedented threat to democracy or to America or to the world,” and this is an incredible time for journalists to be in opposition to power. You seem to me to have approached it a little bit differently.

Glenn Greenwald: I think it’s sort of ironic because when I began writing about politics, I did so very much as a byproduct of dissatisfaction with the media’s refusal to do exactly the things you just said they’re doing now, under the Bush years: that they were refusing to call torture torture, that they were refusing to point out when Bush and Dick Cheney were lying, that they were being insufficiently adversarial.

And the view of journalism I adopted and have been an advocate of now for almost a decade is one that says that journalists should be much more aggressive in their rhetoric and in their journalism; in being adversarial to people who wield political power and calling out lies when they say things that aren’t true; and questioning aggressively the things they say rather than just accepting them on faith; and to not be afraid to have this perception that they’re being too on one side or the other by actually doing journalism.

It’s ironic in one sense that that is what the media has now done with Donald Trump, and I’m glad to see it. My concern, though, is that this change in behavior is very much unique to Trump and that once Trump is gone, it’s going to return to the way things were. My more general concern is that while there are some things that are unique in terms of the threats the Trump presidency poses, there are a lot of things that are just continuations of what has been taking place for a long time that maybe he makes a little bit more manifest. I worry about the whitewashing of history and the rehabilitating of lots of terrible people based on this myth that Trump, and Trump alone, is this malignant force in American politics.

Isaac Chotiner: I guess obviously there are other malignant forces in American politics, but do you not feel that we’re dealing with something unique here that should be approached uniquely? Even if the things you say about hypocrisy among people in the media is well-taken and obviously correct at some level.

Glenn Greenwald: I think there are some things that are unique. I think the extent to which they are willing to pathologically lie is unique, but I think it’s unique by a matter of degree rather than kind. The journalist who probably has influenced me the most since I’ve been writing about politics is I.F. Stone, and the motto of his journalism was, “Governments lie.” The government lied its way not just into the Iraq war but into the Vietnam War with the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

I think the Trump White House lies more often. I think it lies more readily. I think it lies more blatantly. Is that unique? It’s unique by a matter of degree and not by kind, and I would say that that’s true for a lot of things. One of the things I object to is when I see things that have been done for many years, or even decades, being treated as though they’re things that Trump pioneered. That’s generally when I start being more overtly concerned about the narrative being misleading.

Isaac Chotiner: Anyone who’s read about everything from Henry Kissinger to the way the Iraq war was sold cannot say that America doesn’t do things that are horrific, and the things Trump has promised to do—such as bomb people and take their oil, that America has historically done—are things that are indeed that bad. But it does seem that because Trump does present a threat in certain unique ways that at least I feel that people should be welcomed for coming to the right side of something. Even if they should at the same time have to answer for the things that they’ve done or said that were wrong.

Glenn Greenwald: I’ll give you an example where I think it’s more than just about hypocrisy, where I think it becomes harmful deceit. When Trump met with Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in the White House, and also when he went to Saudi Arabia and praised the regime, there was all of this sanctimony about how can an American president possibly embrace tyrants this way? When the entire history of post–World War II America is not just embracing tyrants and heaping them with praise, but propping them up with money and with arms.

Hillary Clinton said that Hosni Mubarak, one of the worst despots of the last four decades, was a close friend of her family’s who she looked forward to seeing when he came to the United States. Pretending that Trump is kind of this pioneer of embracing despots, something that the American presidency previously was so anathema to, it’s not just hypocrisy: Democrats didn’t care when Obama hugged Saudi despots, and now they pretend to care when Trump embraces Saudi despots or Egyptian ones. It’s deceitful. It’s creating a false narrative about what the bipartisan class in Washington actually has done, and actually what they still believe in doing, as a way of stigmatizing Trump for something that they themselves all do.

Hacking emails and supporting parties? This is stuff the U.S. has done to Russia for decades and still continues to do. I think as a journalist it’s my obligation to say that this narrative is actually false.
I think the times that I get bothered the most is not just simple hypocrisy but when it extends into rewriting history. I got my start writing about primarily civil liberties in the Bush era, and the people who built up my platform and who enabled me to find a readership were Democrats, the liberal blogosphere, and liberals who were saying, “Oh, Glenn Greenwald’s so great. Look at this critique he’s making of the Bush administration, their executive power theories, their law-breaking.”

And then when Bush left office and Obama came in and continued many of those same policies, a lot of those people not only stopped caring, they started defending those policies and attacking those of us who were consistent. I don’t actually think that there’s limited value even in people who pretend to care about issues only for partisan opportunism and gain. I actually think those people are really harmful because the minute those policies are embraced by members of their own party, they’re going to become cheerleaders for them, and I’m not interested in vesting them with credibility in order to do that.

Isaac Chotiner: That’s a fair critique, but I also think that you can say that everyone is hypocritical to some degree, obviously different levels, and that when people do take the right position on something, they should be applauded for that …

My psychological reading of what’s going on is you brought up the post–Cold War world and you said, “Look, America has supported one despot after another in many cases. They’ve done all these horrible things,” and you also have Ronald Reagan or Jeane Kirkpatrick, I think, what was it? That Jonas Savimbi was a philosopher or something like that. I can’t remember the exact quote.

Glenn Greenwald: Yeah, yeah.

Isaac Chotiner: But quotes that are basically as ridiculous as you could find Trump saying about Sisi. I agree that that’s all true, and much of it is completely shameful. I think the difference among people is that there was a sense that a lot of this stuff was realpolitik. It was done to uphold the Western world order, and that world order was being upheld because fundamentally it offered certain freedoms, et cetera, that in the long run were good.

Glenn Greenwald: Are you talking about the Cold War? You’re talking about the Cold War mentality?

Isaac Chotiner: Yes, and then the post–Cold War, I think what scares people about Trump is there’s a sense that not only is he speaking up for dictators, but he has no respect for the good aspects of this world order—whether it’s peace in Europe, peace in Western Europe, or a commitment to certain civil rights and civil liberties that our country’s obviously practiced very insufficiently at times, but also in some ways has a commitment to. I think the fact that people think that he has no commitment to any of these principles is what scares people and why you see this reaction. I don’t think that’s totally insane.

Glenn Greenwald: So, here’s what I will agree has validity, which is that Trump often seems to heap praise on dictators—just as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and whoever your favorite Democrat did—not because they’re strategic partners of the U.S. and advanced U.S. interests, which by the way, doing it for that reason is a horrible, evil thing, but he goes beyond that and expresses almost an envy that he wishes and aspires to their level of totalitarian power. The more totalitarian power they exercise, the more fearful their domestic opponents are, the more he respects them because that’s what he sees himself as aspiring to as a leader. That I do think is alarming and scary and different. I agree with that part of it.

I have a lot of trouble with this idea that when politicians do something really destructive and immoral, we’re supposed to look into their hearts and feel, “Well, they’re just doing it begrudgingly. They wish they didn’t have to do that, but they’re doing it because they think they should,” as opposed to because they really like it or because in the ideal world they would be doing it. There’s just no way to know that. Hillary Clinton sounded really genuine when she talked about Hosni Mubarak. I think the reason is because they deal so much with these dictators, and these dictators do become their partners, they start excusing and mitigating all of their crimes. I think both the Cold War order and the post–Cold War order has been very much a story of the U.S. not just tolerating dictators, but seeking them out and trying to strengthen them on the grounds that doing so will advance U.S. interests.

One of the things I found most disturbing about the 2016 election was when Trump raised questions about NATO, and whether NATO was obsolete, in light of the fact that there’s no more communism and no more Soviet Union that it was originally created to fight. Whether the vast expenditures that we lay out for NATO military and NATO forces is something that we ought to continue to do, whether the military adventures of NATO in Libya and elsewhere have actually been something that has served the national interest.

To me, these are totally legitimate questions. I don’t think NATO has kept the peace. If you live in Paris and you live in London, then it has, but if you live in Somalia, or you live in Yemen, or you live in Libya, or you live in Iraq, then it hasn’t. I think we ought to be able to have a good-faith debate about things—are these international institutions that continue to exert military force in the name of the Western alliance doing more harm than good? Is it really worth the outlay?—without being accused of being treasonous, or Vladimir Putin’s puppet, or anything like that. I think that’s a debate that’s valid and worth having.

Isaac Chotiner: I haven’t given a lot of thought to NATO [:)], collective security, and the future of the alliance, but to me it almost seems more important now than it did three years ago, not because Trump is speaking out—I won’t say “against it” exactly, but speaking out while mincing words about it. But also because we now have a president who speaks approvingly of Vladimir Putin trying to hack Western elections.

Glenn Greenwald: When you say that kind of stuff, it sounds to me like you almost are describing a new Cold War. The original justification of NATO was that it needed to band together in order to defend the West against this pernicious ideology emanating from Moscow. What I hear you saying, and lots of other people saying, is that the reason we still need NATO, notwithstanding the collapse of communism, is because there’s this pernicious ideological movement emanating from Moscow that we need to unite in defense against.

One of the reasons why I find that so alarming, aside from all the obvious destruction the Cold War wreaked the first time around, is because if you look at what President Obama was saying for eight years—it’s one of the things that I agreed with him so much on and often expressed praise for him for doing—he was extremely reluctant to adopt this worldview that held that Russia was this new, serious geopolitical threat. He constantly mocked the idea, most famously in the 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, but in other instances as well.


He often pointed out that Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s. He refused to arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine; he didn’t want to confront the Russians in Syria notwithstanding a bipartisan demand that he do so. The reason for that was he understood that if we escalate tensions with Russia by exaggerating the threat that it poses to our country, then we could find ourselves in the midst of a new Cold War, which was so destructive the first time around. I think he was right for eight years, and I still think he’s right, notwithstanding the fact that—let’s assume it’s true—some Russians successfully sent phishing links to John Podesta and then leaked his emails. I don’t think that changes the geopolitical reality in such a fundamental way as I think your question suggests.

Isaac Chotiner: It does seem like things have changed in the last couple years. It’s continuing Russian action in Eastern Ukraine post–annexation of Crimea. It’s phishing links to John Podesta, but it does seem like, according to some of our intelligence agencies and reporting, there is at least a larger effort on the part of the Russians to interfere in several Western elections, which I assume will be ongoing. This all seems like it changes the picture at least somewhat. Do you not feel like what we’ve learned, or what we’ve seemed to have learned, in the last year about Russian interference and Russian behavior vis-à-vis the election has changed at all the way you think about it?

Glenn Greenwald: First of all, and I know this is blasphemous to say, I still think it is worth underscoring that the United States government has to this very moment still not presented actual evidence, as opposed to claims and assertions, that Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s emails in order to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump. I know we’re all duty-bound to accept that this is true—I know that if we question it, it means that we’re being irrational—but I do just want to point out that the evidence for this, presented by the U.S. government, is essentially nonexistent.

Remember, there were a lot of claims made during the French election about the hacking of Emmanuel Macron’s emails that were said to be done by the Russians, that forensic investigations once the election was over concluded probably weren’t true, that it wasn’t really the Russians who did at least those kind of hacks.

The Latest: France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron
by Associated Press
June 1, 2017

5:30 p.m.

The head of the French government’s cyber security agency, which investigated leaks from President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, says they found no trace of a notorious Russian hacking group behind the attack.

In an interview in his office Thursday with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard said the Macron campaign hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

He said they found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as APT28, blamed for other attacks including on the U.S. presidential campaign, was responsible.

Poupard is director general of the government cyber-defense agency known in France by its acronym, ANSSI. Its experts were immediately dispatched when documents stolen from the Macron campaign leaked online on May 5 in the closing hours of the presidential race.

Poupard says the attack’s simplicity “means that we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country.”


Now, I don’t doubt at all that the Kremlin interferes in Western domestic politics by trying to sew divisions, by trying to support factions that it believes are better for its interests as opposed to worse for its interests. I don’t even doubt that the Kremlin wanted Trump to win over Clinton, given that she was saying she essentially wanted regime change in Syria and we should confront the Russians more aggressively in Ukraine, and Trump was taking the opposite view.

All I’m saying is that even if all of that is true, they’re interfering in this way, this is banal. This is garden-variety interference. This is the stuff that the U.S. does constantly all the time. Now, I’m not saying that that justifies what the Russians are doing, but I think we have to put these threats in perspective. There is a huge difference between having a country be a military threat to the United States—that they’re going to send terrorists or fighters into our borders to harm our citizens, or blow things up, or that there’s missiles pointed at our cities … that’s the kind of real threat to our security that I think we need to sound the alarms in order to defend against. But hacking emails and supporting parties? This is stuff we do to them, and have done to them for decades, and still continue to do. I think it’s very easy to focus only on those isolated threats, but I think it’s so important to try to keep in perspective how grave of an aberration that that really is from the international order and how nation-states deal with one another.

Isaac Chotiner: BuzzFeed has had a lot of reports on what seemed to possibly be assassinations in the U.K. There have been cases here—

Glenn Greenwald: Of Russians, of Russians.

Isaac Chotiner: Right, but assassinating—this is the type of thing Chile’s Augusto Pinochet did I think in the United States. I don’t know anyone else or any other foreign government who’s done that in the United States, but assassinating people on foreign territory is generally considered not a good thing, an extreme act …

And again, the Trump stuff, just to try to understand psychologically why you called it a “new Cold War,” why people are so scared about this—it just does seem Trump’s behavior around Putin and Russia is so bizarre. It’s one of the very few things he’s been legalistically consistent about, time and time again. It’s weird, and I think people don’t understand it, and they’re worried about it, and I think it fits into this larger thing about the one difference between Trump’s praise of dictators is that he in some ways seems to envy them. I think that that creeps people out, that he legitimately seems to almost envy the type of power Putin has and his connections or rumored connections, which are now being investigated with the Russians. I think it makes sense why people are feeling like this is a threat and this is something to be nervous about.

Glenn Greenwald: I think it’s important not to conflate those things. There are other world leaders that Trump has uniformly praised. He has uniformly praised the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He has uniformly praised Benjamin Netanyahu. He has never uttered a syllable of criticism about Netanyahu. People love to say, “Putin’s the only one that he hasn’t criticized who’s a world leader.” It’s just not true. He loves Israel, he loves the Saudis, he loves the Emirates, he loves the Gulf states. Also, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines who he’s never uttered a single bad word about.

Isaac Chotiner: But there’s no countervailing pressure on any of those things, unfortunately.

Glenn Greenwald: I think we’re in agreement that Trump has serious authoritarian tendencies that I think are dangerous and need to be guarded against. I actually think that one of the really positive things about the Trump presidency has been the way it has revitalized a lot of dormant checks. You were just saying how vibrant and aggressive and pugnacious the U.S. media has been since Trump’s election, which I agree with. That’s great to see, that the idea of adversarial journalism lives and breathes again outside of fringes.

I think the way that courts have stood up to Trump and said that a lot of his policies are in violation of the Constitution and struck them down—something I wish they had done during the war on terror, under the Bush and the Obama administrations—is incredibly good to see as well. Then most of all, I think that citizen activism has really been revitalized. I agree with you that Trump has authoritarian tendencies, that he would love to exert a form of despotic power, at least when his wall is thwarted. I think it’s very much worth watching, and I think it is actually scary as well, but I also think that the institutions that are designed to check those tendencies have been stimulated in a really encouraging way by the fear that people have of him.

Isaac Chotiner: One of the institutions that I think a lot of people think has checked Trump in some way is what’s half-ironically or sometimes not ironically called the “deep state,” which is people who are leaking information from the government, or assumed people leaking from the government, about various goings-on with Trump. You’ve written a lot about this, and it seems like one of the fears that you have is that the deep state, or figures in the national security establishment who are opposed to the democratically elected president to the United States, would in the long run undermine democracy in some way. What specifically are you scared of about this unprecedented opposition we’re seeing from within the government to Trump?

Glenn Greenwald: This theory that there’s this kind of unelected permanent power faction in Washington composed of, at least in part, the intelligence and military community gets treated so often like it’s some deep, dark, exotic, bizarre fringe conspiracy theory, when in reality it’s totally basic to how very sophisticated people have talked about Washington for decades. The person who originated the theory was Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell speech, after serving for eight years as president. The one thing he wanted to warn Americans about was that these unelected factions were threatening democratic accountability because they were becoming more powerful than even elected officials like him, because he had butted heads so often.

He was a five-star general, and he was worried about them 50 years ago before they boomed in power and size with the Vietnam War, followed by Reagan and the Cold War, followed by the war on terror. This idea that there’s a really powerful, dangerous element in Washington that operates in the dark with very little transparency and accountability, or democratic checks, is something you can mock all you want. It’s very elemental to understanding how Washington works once you get passed a sixth-grade civics class.


I guess the thing that I do really worry about: It’s sort of like in Syria. What’s so tragic about Syria is that the choice that people ended up being given was picking between Bashar al-Assad or al-Qaida or ISIS once the ordinary people of the Syrian revolution got defeated. You just had to choose between awful choices, and I’m really worried about having this choice in the U.S.—between Trump and whatever you want to call it. Call it the deep state, call it the national security blob, call it the CIA and the Pentagon, because I think that as dangerous as Trump is, those factions have proven extremely dangerous as well, particularly when they start interfering in domestic politics even if you’re happy about the results that they’re, at the moment, bringing about.

Isaac Chotiner: But when people are leaking stuff to the media about what they think is going on that’s newsworthy I assume, generally speaking, that’s a trend that you’re happy about?

Glenn Greenwald: I’m totally in favor of leaks, but at the same time, let’s think of some hypotheticals, and then I’d love to know whether as a journalist it would bother you.

Isaac Chotiner: I’m not a journalist, Glenn. Come on. Come on.

Glenn Greenwald: Yeah, just a podcast host. But you’re a striving journalist. Let’s say that like the NSA, some people inside the NSA start getting emails of people they dislike because those people are advocating policies that they regard as wrong, and they start leaking their emails and their telephone calls to the Washington Post and the New York Times, and then attempt to harm their reputation and discredit them. In one sense, as a journalist or somebody who favors transparency, you can say, “Well, that’s a good thing. They really did say those things. It’s newsworthy, and I’m happy that this has become public.”

But on the other hand, it’s also an abuse of power for the NSA or the CIA to take the intelligence that they’re gathering about people and then use it to harm domestic enemies. I think that there are two sides to that coin, and both are serious ones.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:17 pm

What’s Worse: Trump’s Campaign Agenda or Empowering Generals and CIA Operatives to Subvert It?
by Glenn Greenwald
August 5, 2017

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DURING HIS SUCCESSFUL 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, for better and for worse, advocated a slew of policies that attacked the most sacred prongs of long-standing bipartisan Washington consensus. As a result, he was (and continues to be) viewed as uniquely repellent by the neoliberal and neoconservative guardians of that consensus, along with their sprawling network of agencies, think tanks, financial policy organs, and media outlets used to implement their agenda (CIA, NSA, the Brookings/AEI think tank axis, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, etc.).

Whatever else there is to say about Trump, it is simply a fact that the 2016 election saw elite circles in the U.S., with very few exceptions, lining up with remarkable fervor behind his Democratic opponent. Top CIA officials openly declared war on Trump in the nation’s op-ed pages and one of their operatives (now an MSNBC favorite) was tasked with stopping him in Utah, while Time magazine reported, just a week before the election, that “the banking industry has supported Clinton with buckets of cash. … What bankers most like about Clinton is that she is not Donald Trump.”

Hank Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO and George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, went to the pages of the Washington Post in mid-2016 to shower Clinton with praise and Trump with unbridled scorn, saying what he hated most about Trump was his refusal to consider cuts in entitlement spending (in contrast, presumably, to the Democrat he was endorsing). “It doesn’t surprise me when a socialist such as Bernie Sanders sees no need to fix our entitlement programs,” the former Goldman CEO wrote. “But I find it particularly appalling that Trump, a businessman, tells us he won’t touch Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

Some of Trump’s advocated assaults on D.C. orthodoxy aligned with long-standing views of at least some left-wing factions (e.g., his professed opposition to regime change war in Syria, Iraq/Libya-style interventions, global free trade deals, entitlement cuts, greater conflict with Russia, and self-destructive pro-Israel fanaticism), while other Trump positions were horrifying to anyone with a plausible claim to leftism, or basic decency (reaffirming torture, expanding GITMO, killing terrorists’ families, launching Islamophobic crusades, fixation on increasing hostility with Tehran, further unleashing federal and local police forces). Ironically, Trump’s principal policy deviation around which elites have now coalesced in opposition — a desire for better relations with Moscow — was the same one that Obama, to their great bipartisan dismay, also adopted (as evidenced by Obama’s refusal to more aggressively confront the Kremlin-backed Syrian government or arm anti-Russian factions in Ukraine).

It is true that Trump, being Trump, was wildly inconsistent in virtually all of these pronouncements, often contradicting or abandoning them weeks after he made them. And, as many of us pointed out at the time, it was foolish to assume that the campaign vows of any politician, let alone an adept con man like Trump, would be a reliable barometer for what he would do once in office. And, as expected, he has betrayed many of these promises within months of being inaugurated, while the very Wall Street interests he railed against have found a very welcoming embrace in the Oval Office.

Nonetheless, Trump, as a matter of rhetoric, repeatedly affirmed policy positions that were directly contrary to long-standing bipartisan orthodoxy, and his policy and personal instability only compounded elites’ fears that he could not be relied upon to safeguard their lucrative, power-vesting agenda. In so many ways — due to his campaign positions, his outsider status, his unstable personality, his witting and unwitting unmasking of the truth of U.S. hegemony, the embarrassment he causes in Western capitals, his reckless unpredictability — Trump posed a threat to their power centers.

It is often claimed that this trans-partisan, elite coalition assembled against Trump because they are simply American patriots horrified by the threat he poses to America’s noble traditions and institutions. I guess if you want to believe that the CIA, the GOP consulting class, and assorted D.C. imperialists, along with Bush-era neocons like Bill Kristol and David Frum, woke up one day and developed some sort of earnest, patriotic conscience about democracy, ethics, constitutional limits, and basic decency, you’re free to believe that. It makes for a nice, moving story: a film from the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” genre. But at the very least, Trump’s campaign assaults on their most sacred pieties was, and remains, a major factor in their seething contempt for him.

FROM THE START of Trump’s presidency, it was clear that the permanent national security power structure in Washington was deeply hostile to his presidency and would do what it could to undermine it. Shortly before Trump was inaugurated, I wrote an article noting that many of the most damaging anti-Trump leaks were emanating from anonymous CIA and other Deep State operatives who despised Trump because the policies he vowed to enact — the ones American voters ratified — were so contrary to their agenda and belief system. Indeed, they were even anonymously boasting that they were withholding secrets from Trump’s briefings because they decided the elected president should not have access to them.

After Trump openly questioned the reliability of the CIA in light of its Iraq War failures, Chuck Schumer went on Rachel Maddow’s show to warn Trump — explicitly — that he would be destroyed if he continued to oppose the intelligence community:



Kyle Griffin ✔ @kylegriffin1
Chuck Schumer on Trump's tweet hitting intel community: "He's being really dumb to do this."
9:24 PM - Jan 3, 2017


Although it is now common to assert — as a form of in-the-know mockery — that the notion of a “Deep State” in the U.S. was invented by Trump supporters only in the last year, the reality is that the U.S. Deep State has been reported on and openly discussed in numerous circles long before Trump. In 2010, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Dana Priest, along with Bill Arkin, published a three-part series that the paper titled “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control.”

The Post series documented that the military-intelligence community “has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.” The Post concluded that it “amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight.”

In 2014, mainstream national security journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady published a book titled “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry,” which documented — in its own words — that “there is a hidden country within the United States,” one “formed from the astonishing number of secrets held by the government and the growing ranks of secret-keepers given charge over them.”

Other journalists such as Peter Dale Scott and Mike Lofgren have long written about the U.S. Deep State completely independent of Trump. The belief that the “Deep State” was invented by Trump supporters as some recent conspiratorial concoction is based in pure ignorance about national security discourse, or a jingoistic desire to believe that the U.S. (unlike primitive, inferior countries) is immune from such malevolent forces, or both.


Indeed, mainstream liberals in good standing, such as the New Republic’s Jeet Heer, have repeatedly and explicitly speculated about (and, in Heer’s case, warned of) the possibility of Deep State subversion of the White House:

Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
The terrifying thing here is the only people able to stand up to Trump so far are the denizens of the Deep State. Also the Chinese gov't.
9:20 PM - Feb 13, 2017


Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
The American Deep State is in open conflict with an incoming president who is twitchy, thin-skinned & paranoid. What could go wrong?
6:46 PM - Jan 10, 2017


Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
For me, the most terrifying thing about this political moment is the intervention of the Deep State (against both Clinton & Trump) https://twitter.com/chrislhayes/status/ ... 2396560385
5:35 PM - Jan 11, 2017


16 Apr
Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
Replying to @HeerJeet
It's very hard to change American foreign policy (absent a Pearl Harbor or 9/11) because NatSec elite very mulish & committed to status quo


Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
Call it what you will -- the National Security Elite, the Deep State, the Blob. It's very pig-headed & knows how to sabotage change.
7:20 PM - Apr 16, 2017


Jeet Heer ✔ @HeerJeet
To qualify earlier tweet, there's a lot Deep State can do short of a coup: leaking and investigation. That's all to the good.
9:46 AM - May 12, 2017


That the U.S. has a shadowy, secretive world of intelligence and military operatives who exercise great power outside of elections and democratic accountability is not some exotic, alt-right conspiracy theory; it’s utterly elemental to understanding anything about how Washington works. It’s hard to believe that anyone on this side of a sixth grade civics class would seek to deny that.

THE LAST SEVERAL weeks have ushered in more open acknowledgment of — and cheerleading for — a subversion of Trump’s agenda by unelected military and intelligence officials. Media accounts have been almost unanimous in heralding the arrival of retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as White House chief of staff (pictured, top photo), widely depicted as a sign that normalcy is returning to the executive branch. “John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House,” the New York Times headline announced.

The current storyline is that Kelly has aligned with Trump’s national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to bring seriousness and order to the White House. In particular, these two military men are systematically weakening and eliminating many of the White House officials who are true adherents to the domestic and foreign policy worldview on which Trump’s campaign was based. These two military officials (along with yet another retired general, Defense Secretary James Mattis) have long been hailed by anti-Trump factions as the Serious, Responsible Adults in the Trump administration, primarily because they support militaristic policies — such as the war in Afghanistan and intervention in Syria — that are far more in line with official Washington’s bipartisan posture.


As the Atlantic’s Rosie Gray reports, McMaster has successfully fired several national security officials aligned with Steve Bannon and the nationalistic, purportedly non-interventionist foreign policy and anti-Muslim worldview Trump advocated throughout the election. As Gray notes, this has provoked anger among Trump supporters who view the assertion of power by these generals as an undemocratic attack against the policies for which the electorate voted. Gray writes: “McMaster’s show of force has set off alarm bells among Bannon allies in the pro-Trump media sphere, who favored Flynn and regard the national security adviser as a globalist interloper.”

In a bizarre yet illuminating reflection of rapidly shifting political alliances, Democratic Party think tanks and other groups have rallied behind McMaster as some sort of besieged, stalwart hero whose survival is critical to the Republic, notwithstanding the fact that, by all accounts, he is fighting to ensure the continuation of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and escalate it in Syria. As usually happens these days, these Democrats are in lockstep with their new neocon partners, led by Bill Kristol, who far prefer the unelected agenda of McMaster and Kelly to the one that Trump used to get elected:

Bill Kristol ✔ @BillKristol
The success or failure of the Bannon/alt-right/Russian assault on McMaster will be a key moment for the Trump Administration--& the country.
4:49 PM - Aug 4, 2017


It is certainly valid to point out that these generals didn’t use tanks or any other show of force to barge into the White House; they were invited there by Trump, who appointed them to these positions. And they only have the power that he agrees that they should exercise.

But there’s no denying that Trump is deluged by exactly the kinds of punishments that Schumer warned Trump would be imposed on him if he continued to defy the intelligence community. Many of Trump’s most devoted haters are, notably, GOP consultants; one of the most tenacious of that group, Rick Wilson, celebrated today in the Daily Beast that the threat of prosecution and the tidal waves of harmful leaks have forced Trump into submission. The combination of the “Goldman Boys” and the generals has taken over, Wilson crows, and is destroying the Bannon-led agenda on which Trump campaigned.

Whatever else is true, there is now simply no question that there is open warfare between adherents to the worldview Trump advocated in order to win, and the permanent national security power faction in Washington that — sometimes for good, and sometimes for evil — despises that agenda. The New Republic’s Brian Beutler described the situation perfectly on Friday:

Where the generals haven’t been empowered to run the show, they have asserted themselves nonetheless. “In the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Mattis and Kelly agreed “that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House.”

It would be sensationalizing things to call this a soft coup, but it is impossible to deny that real presidential powers have been diluted or usurped. Elected officials have decided that leaving the functioning of the government to unelected military officers is politically preferable to invoking constitutional remedies that would require them to vote.


Beutler is a full-scale, devoted enemy of Trump’s political agenda, and is clearly glad that something is impeding it. But he also recognizes the serious, enduring dangers to democracy from relying on military officials and intelligence operatives to serve as some sort of backstop, or supreme guardians, of political values and norms.

It’s particularly ironic that many of the same people who have spent the year ridiculing the notion that the U.S. has any kind of Deep State are now trumpeting the need for the U.S. military to save the Republic from the elected government, given that this, roughly speaking, is the defining attribute of all Deep States, at least as they depict themselves.

There have been some solitary Democratic Party voices expressing concern about these developments. Here, for instance, is what Barbara Lee had to say as most of her fellow Democrats were cheering the arrival of Gen. Kelly in the West Wing:

Rep. Barbara Lee ✔ @RepBarbaraLee
By putting Gen John Kelly in charge, Pres Trump is militarizing the White House & putting our executive branch in the hands of an extremist.

2:11 PM - Jul 28, 2017


But hers was clearly the minority view: The military triumvirate of Kelly, Mattis, and McMaster has been cast as the noble defender of American democracy, pitted against those who were actually elected to lead the government.

No matter how much of a threat one regards Trump as being, there really are other major threats to U.S. democracy and important political values. It’s hard, for instance, to imagine any group that has done more harm, and ushered in more evil, than the Bush-era neocons with whom Democrats are now openly aligning. And who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the U.S. national security state?

In terms of some of the popular terms that are often thrown around these days — such as “authoritarianism” and “democratic norms” and “U.S. traditions” — it’s hard to imagine many things that would pose a greater threat to all of that than empowering the national security state (what, before Trump, has long been called the Deep State) to exert precisely the power that is supposed to be reserved exclusively for elected officials. In sum, Trump opponents should be careful of what they wish for, as it might come true.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:03 pm

So Remember All Those Times Democrats Said Russia Hacked The French Election? About That…
by Caitlin Johnstone
June 2, 2017

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Over the course of the last month I have been told dozens of times that the Russian government attempted to manipulate the French presidential election. It comes up every single time when debating establishment loyalists about the unsubstantiated Russiagate conspiracy theory; they speak it as though it is an objective, indisputable fact, because the pundits who tell them what to think have been speaking it as though it is an objective, indisputable fact. Anyone who’s spent any time debating the official Russia narrative in the last few weeks has been on the receiving end of this argument — Putin hacked the US election, and he hacked the French election too. We know for a fact that he hacked the French election, so you’re either an idiot or a Russian shill if you think he didn’t hack the US election.
Trouble is, it’s all bullshit. There is literally nothing linking Russia to the hacking attempt France experienced, and there never was.

Michael Tracey ✔ @mtracey
Remember when it was taken as a given by self-assured pundits that "Russia" had hacked the Macron campaign servers? https://www.apnews.com/fc570e4b400f4c7d ... ing-Macron
1:31 PM - Jun 1, 2017
https://storage.googleapis.com/afs-prod ... e/800.jpeg
The Latest: France says no trace of Russian hacking Macron
ST.PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Latest on President Vladimir Putin's comments Thursday (all times local): 5:30 p.m. The head of the French government'
apnews.com


For whatever reason, be it a grudge with America or just good old-fashioned honesty, France is no longer playing along with this particular fabrication. Guillaume Poupard, the head of France’s cyber security agency, told the Associated Press that there was “no trace” of Russian meddling and that the hack of the Macron campaign “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

This is important to keep track of, because the propagandists are about to shift away from this gaping plot hole in the narrative they’ve been spinning for a month, and soon all the brainwashed Democratic neocons are going to be speaking as though it never happened in a creepy display of real-world Orwellian doublethink. So let’s all get very clear on this before the revisionism begins: these people were indeed using the story about Russia hacking France’s electoral infrastructure to bolster their case for the still completely unproven allegation that Russia hacked the Democratic party in the 2016 US election cycle.



Here is Snopes on May 10, calmly assuring its foam-brained readers that many trustworthy US sources attest that the Kremlin was responsible for the hack.

Here is Reuters on May 9 making its trusting audience aware that the US is “increasingly convinced that Russia hacked French election”.

Here is the New York Times on May 8 on how France has defied “Putin’s meddling”, and writing that “The Russian hacking attack intended to disrupt the French election was a reminder that cyberattacks can also be defeated” on May 10.

Here is the CIA-funded Washington Post reporting that “Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidential election, despite yet another Russian intervention in support of a candidate (Marine Le Pen) whose views are decidedly illiberal and pro-Kremlin” on May 8, commenting on how “Putin’s Russia’s meddling in the French election” on May 12, and providing a transcript of multiple Senators promulgating the narrative that Russia hacked the French election at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Here is The Register saying “Just so we’re all clear on this: Russia hacked the French elections, US Republicans and Dems” on May 9.

Here is Vox still advancing the false narrative a couple of days ago, saying “The fingerprints on the attack implicated Russian hackers; immediately comparisons were made to efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election.”

There are many, many, many more; a Google search of “Russia French election hack” turns up 3.5 million results. This completely false story has been used for nearly a month to add fuel to the anti-Russia fire the mass media propaganda machine has been laboring day and night to keep going.

Glenn Greenwald ✔ @ggreenwald
Are there any important lessons - about journalism, skepticism and reason - to draw from this? https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eu ... 2a3b97f608
6:02 AM - Jun 2, 2017


Again, this was something establishment loyalists brought up over and over and over again over the last month to substantiate their anti-Russia arguments. The intellectually honest thing to do when one of the points you claim to base your position upon collapses is to reevaluate your position, but this will not happen. It didn’t happen when gaping plot holes in the Crowdstrike report surfaced in March, it didn’t happen when Hillary’s “seventeen agencies agree it was Russian hackers” story was ripped to shreds last month when it turned out to have been only three agencies (one of which was the NSA, who got the French election data wrong), and it’s not going to happen now. There has not been one shred of proof presented to the public that Russia actually did the thing that sparked off all this Russophobic hysteria in the first place, and key points of the establishment argument keep collapsing, but these mindless automatons keep marching to the beat of the deep state drummer.

As I’ve been saying a lot lately, America’s unelected power establishment needs to push for regime change in both Damascus and Moscow in order to nail down a large amount of crucial geopolitical influence in some key regions, and they need to manufacture public support for the insane, world-threatening escalations necessary to do that. By constantly spinning Putin as a dangerous criminal mastermind who can dictate outcomes of elections, fill the internet with bots and shills and control the direction of public discourse despite Russia’s relatively tiny economy, the oligarchy is able to keep people sufficiently afraid to stop them from asking if maybe it’s time to start removing NATO troops from the Russian border and stay the fuck away from Syria.



David Swanson wrote a solid piece for Consortium News about how the whole anti-Russia narrative essentially boils down to the mass media repeating unsubstantiated assertions in an assertive, authoritative tone over and over again until people erroneously “assume that at some point someone actually established that it was a fact.”

Well nobody has established it as a fact. Repeating something over and over again as though it is a fact does not make it a fact. Saying it seems like something Russia would do does not make it a fact. Mocking someone who doesn’t believe it’s a fact does not make it a fact. Calling someone who disagrees with it a Russian shill does not make it a fact. For a nation with such an extensive history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture consent for military escalations, the American power establishment is coming up awfully short on facts. We need to keep pointing at this.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:33 pm

With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons
by Glenn Greenwald
July 17 2017, 7:53 a.m.

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Image

ONE OF THE most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”



It is, in fact, the ultimate union of mainstream Democratic foreign policy officials and the world’s most militant, and militaristic, neocons. The group is led by two longtime Washington foreign policy hands, one from the establishment Democratic wing and the other a key figure among leading GOP neocons.

The Democrat, Laura Rosenberger, served as a foreign policy adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and chief of staff to two Obama national security officials. The Republican is Jamie Fly, who spent the last four years as counselor for foreign and national security affairs to one of the Senate’s most hawkish members, Marco Rubio; prior to that, he served in various capacities in the Bush Pentagon and National Security Council.

LAURA ROSENBERGER

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Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Before she joined GMF, she was foreign policy advisor for Hillary for America, where she coordinated development of the campaign’s national security policies, messaging, and strategy. Prior to that, she served in a range of positions at the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council (NSC). As chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and as later, then-Deputy National Security Advisor Blinken’s senior advisor, she counseled on the full range of national security policy. In her role at the NSC, she also managed the interagency Deputies Committee, the U.S. government’s senior-level interagency decision-making forum on our country’s most pressing national security issues. Laura also has extensive background in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Northeast Asia. She served as NSC director for China and Korea, managing and coordinating U.S. policy on China and the Korean Peninsula, and in a variety of positions focused on the Asia-Pacific region at the Department of State, including managing U.S.–China relations and addressing North Korea’s nuclear programs. She also served as special assistant to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, advising him on Asia-Pacific affairs and on nonproliferation and arms control issues. Laura first joined the State Department as a presidential management fellow.

JAMIE FLY

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Jamie Fly is a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. He served as counselor for Foreign and National Security Affairs to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) from 2013–17, serving as his foreign policy advisor during his presidential campaign. Prior to joining Senator Rubio’s staff in February 2013, he served as the executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) from its founding in early 2009. Prior to joining FPI, Fly served in the Bush administration at the National Security Council (2008–09) and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2005–08). He was director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council, where his portfolio included the Iranian nuclear program, Syria, missile defense, chemical weapons, proliferation finance, and other counterproliferation issues. In the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he was an assistant for Transnational Threats Policy, where he helped to develop U.S. strategy related to the proliferation of missiles as well as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. For his work in the Department of Defense, he was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Fly received a B.A. in international studies and political science from American University and an M.A. in German and European studies from Georgetown University.

-- Staff, GMF


Fly’s neocon pedigree is impressive indeed. During the Obama years, he wrote dozens of articles for the Weekly Standard — some co-authored with Bill Kristol himself — attacking Obama for insufficient belligerence toward Iran and terrorists generally, pronouncing Obama “increasingly ill suited to the world he faces as president” by virtue of his supposed refusal to use military force frequently enough (Obama bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries during his time in office, including an average of 72 bombs dropped per day in 2016 alone).

The Democrats’ new partner Jamie Fly spent 2010 working in tandem with Bill Kristol urging military action — i.e., aggressive war — against Iran. In a 2010 Weekly Standard article co-written with Kristol, Fly argued that “the key to changing [Iran’s thinking about its nuclear program] is a serious debate about the military option,” adding: “It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.”

This is a regime committed to developing nuclear weapons, despite the cost to the Iranian economy and the toll on the Iranian people. Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Jamie Fly & William Kristol

-- The Obama Retreat, by William Kristol and Lee Smith and Jamie Fly, The Weekly Standard


Fly then went around the D.C. think tank circuit, under the guise of advocating “debate,” espousing the need to use military force against Iran, spouting standing neocon innuendo such as “we need to be wary of the Obama administration’s intentions” toward Iran. He mocked Obama officials, and Bush officials before them, for their “obsession with diplomatic options” to resolve tensions with Iran short of war. The Kristol/Fly duo returned in 2012 to more explicitly argue: “Isn’t it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran’s nuclear program?”

Beyond working as Rubio’s foreign policy adviser, Fly was the executive director of “the Foreign Policy Initiative,” a group founded by Kristol along with two other leading neocons, Robert Kagan and Dan Senor, who was previously the chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. That group is devoted to standard neocon agitprop, demanding “a renewed commitment to American leadership” on the ground that “the United States remains the world’s indispensable nation.” In sum, as Vox’s Dylan Matthews put it during the 2016 campaign, “If you want a foreign policy adviser with strong ties to the neocon world, it’s hard to do better than Fly.”

For example, one of his chief foreign policy advisers is Jamie Fly, the former executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, which was founded by neoconservative foreign policy insiders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan. If you want a foreign policy adviser with strong ties to the neocon world, it's hard to do better than Fly.

-- Scott Walker dropping out is good news for Marco Rubio, by Dylan Matthews, Vox.com


When it comes to this new group, the alliance of Democrats with the most extreme neocon elements is visible beyond the group’s staff leadership. Its board of advisers is composed of both leading Democratic foreign policy experts, along with the nation’s most extremist neocons.

Thus, alongside Jake Sullivan (national security adviser to Joe Biden and the Clinton campaign), Mike Morrell (Obama’s acting CIA director) and Mike McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia) sit leading neocons such as Mike Chertoff (Bush’s homeland security secretary), Mike Rogers (the far-right, supremely hawkish former congressman who now hosts a right-wing radio show); and Bill Kristol himself.

ADVISORY COUNCIL

MIKE CHERTOFF

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Mike Chertoff was U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. There, he worked to strengthen U.S. borders, provide intelligence analysis, and protect infrastructure. He increased the Department’s focus on preparedness ahead of disasters, and implemented enhanced security at airports and borders. Following Hurricane Katrina, Chertoff helped to transform the Federal Emergency Management Agency into an effective organization. He also served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge from 2003 to 2005. He co-founded the Chertoff Group, a risk-management and security consulting company, and works as senior of counsel at the Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling.

BILL KRISTOL

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William "Bill" Kristol is the editor at large of the influential political journal, The Weekly Standard. Before starting that magazine in 1995, Kristol served in government, first as chief of staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett during the Reagan administration, and then as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle in the George H. W. Bush administration. Kristol has also served on the board of the Project for the New American Century (1997–2005) and the Foreign Policy Initiative (2009–17). Before coming to Washington in 1985, Kristol taught government at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.

MICHAEL MORELL

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Michael Morell was acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2011 and again from 2012 to 2013, and had previously served as deputy director and director for Intelligence at the Agency. In his over thirty years at the CIA, Morell played a central role in the United States’ fight against terrorism, its initiatives to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape — including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the cyber threat. He was one of the leaders in the search for Osama bin Laden and participated in the deliberations that led to the raid that killed bin Laden in May 2011. He has been with Beacon Global Strategies as a senior counselor since November 2013.

MIKE MCFAUL

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Michael McFaul served for five years in the Obama administration, first as special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2012, and then as U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2012 to 2014. He is currently professor of political science, director, and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Peter and Helen Bing senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. He is also an analyst for NBC News and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post.

Advisory Council, GMF


In sum — just as was true of the first Cold War, when neocons made their home among the Cold Warriors of the Democratic Party — on the key foreign policy controversies, there is now little to no daylight between leading Democratic Party foreign policy gurus and the Bush-era neocons who had wallowed in disgrace following the debacle of Iraq and the broader abuses of the war on terror. That’s why they are able so comfortably to unify this way in support of common foreign policy objectives and beliefs.

DEMOCRATS OFTEN JUSTIFY this union as a mere marriage of convenience: a pragmatic, temporary alliance necessitated by the narrow goal of stopping Trump. But for many reasons, that is an obvious pretext, unpersuasive in the extreme. This Democrat/neocon reunion had been developing long before anyone believed Donald Trump could ascend to power, and this alliance extends to common perspectives, goals, and policies that have little to do with the current president.

It is true that neocons were among the earliest and most vocal GOP opponents of Trump. That was because they viewed him as an ideological threat to their orthodoxies (such as when he advocated for U.S. “neutrality” on the Israel/Palestine conflict and railed against the wisdom of the wars in Iraq and Libya), but they were also worried that his uncouth, offensive personality would embarrass the U.S. and thus weaken the “soft power” needed for imperial hegemony. Even if Trump could be brought into line on neocon orthodoxy — as has largely happened — his ineptitude and instability posed a threat to their agenda.

But Democrats and neocons share far more than revulsion toward Trump; particularly once Hillary Clinton became the party’s standard-bearer, they share the same fundamental beliefs about the U.S. role in the world and how to assert U.S. power. In other words, this alliance is explained by far more than antipathy to Trump.

Indeed, the likelihood of a neocon/Democrat reunion long predates Trump. Back in the summer of 2014 — almost a year before Trump announced his intent to run for president — longtime neocon-watcher Jacob Heilbrunn, writing in the New York Times, predicted that “the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy.”

The Next Act of the Neocons: Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton?
by Jacob Heilbrunn
SundayReview
July 5, 2014

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Noting the Democratic Party’s decades-long embrace of the Cold War belligerence that neocons love most — from Truman and JFK to LBJ and Scoop Jackson — Heilbrunn documented the prominent neocons who, throughout Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, were heaping praise on her and moving to align with her. Heilbrunn explained the natural ideological affinity between neocons and establishment Democrats: “And the thing is, these neocons have a point,” he wrote. “Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.”

One finds evidence of this alliance long before the emergence of Trump. Victoria Nuland, for instance, served as one of Dick Cheney’s top foreign policy advisers during the Bush years. Married to one of the most influential neocons, Robert Kagan, Nuland then seamlessly shifted into the Obama State Department and then became a top foreign policy adviser to the Clinton campaign.

As anti-war sentiment grew among some GOP precincts — as evidenced by the success of the Ron Paul candidacies of 2008 and 2012, and then Trump’s early posturing as an opponent of U.S. interventions — neocons started to conclude that their agenda, which never changed, would be better advanced by realignment back into the Democratic Party. Writing in The Nation in early 2016, Matt Duss detailed how the neocon mentality was losing traction within the GOP, and predicted:

Yet another possibility is that the neocons will start to migrate back to the Democratic Party, which they exited in the 1970s in response to Vietnam-inspired anti-interventionism. That’s what earned their faction the “neo” prefix in the first place. As Nation contributor James Carden recently observed, there are signs that prominent neocons have started gravitating toward Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But the question is, Now that the neocons has been revealed as having no real grassroots to deliver, and that their actual constituency consists almost entirely of a handful of donors subsidizing a few dozen think tankers, journalists, and letterheads, why would Democrats want them back?


The answer to that question — “why would Democrats want them back?” — is clear: because, as this new group demonstrates, Democrats find large amounts of common cause with neocons when it comes to foreign policy.

The neocons may be migrating back to the Democratic Party and into the open embrace of its establishment, but their homecoming will not be a seamless affair: Duss, for instance, is now the top foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders. After spending little energy on foreign affairs as a candidate, Sanders’s hiring of Duss is a sign that he sees a rejection of interventionism as ascendant with the populist element of the party.

He will have allies there from whatever is left of the faction within the Obama administration which willingly took so much heat from the foreign policy establishment for its insufficient aggression toward Russia or other perceived enemies; Sen. Chris Murphy, for instance, has been vocal in his opposition to arming the Saudis as they savage Yemen. But now that hawkish rhetoric and belligerent policies have subsumed the Democrats, it remains to be seen how much of that anti-interventionism survives.

FOR MANY YEARS — long before the 2016 election — one of the leading neocon planks was that Russia and Putin pose a major threat to the west, and Obama was far too weak and deferential to stand up to this threat. From the start of the Obama presidency, the Weekly Standard warned that Obama failed to understand, and refused to confront, the dangers posed by Moscow. From Ukraine to Syria, neocons constantly attacked Obama for letting Putin walk all over him.

Putin Is the New Sheriff in Town
by Lee Smith
The Weekly Standard
October 6, 2015


That Obama was weak on Russia, and failing to stand up to Putin, was a major attack theme for the most hawkish GOP senators such as Rubio and John McCain. Writing in National Review in 2015, Rubio warned that Putin was acting aggressively in multiple theaters, but “as the evidence of failure grows, President Obama still can’t seem to understand Vladimir Putin’s goals.” Rubio insisted that Obama (and Clinton’s) failure to confront Putin was endangering the West:

In sum, we need to replace a policy of weakness with a policy of strength. We need to restore American leadership and make clear to our adversaries that they will pay a significant price for aggression. President Obama’s policies of retreat and retrenchment are making the world a more dangerous place. The Obama-Clinton Russia policy has already undermined European security. We can’t let Putin wreak even more havoc in the Middle East.


Putin Is Expanding His Power in the Middle East — We Must Counter Him
by Marco Rubio
September 21, 2015 4:00 AM
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In 2015, Obama met with Putin at the U.N. General Assembly, and leading Republicans excoriated him for doing so. Obama “has in fact strengthened Putin’s hand,” said Rubio. McCain issued a statement denouncing Obama for meeting with the Russian tyrant, accusing him of failing to stand up to Putin across the world:

Sep 28 2015

STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON OBAMA-PUTIN MEETING TODAY

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for today at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City:

“President Obama's decision to meet with Vladimir Putin is as misguided as it is unnecessary. It plays right into Putin's hands by breaking his international isolation, undermining U.S. policy, and legitimizing Putin's destabilizing behavior – from dismembering Ukraine to propping Bashar Assad in Syria.


That Putin was a grave threat, and Obama was too weak in the face of it, was also a primary theme of Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign:

Jeb Bush @JebBush
Obama allows Russia & Iran more influence in Syria & Iraq. Not good for US, Israel, or our moderate Muslim partners http://wapo.st/1Lfn6gA
3:13 PM - Sep 27, 2015
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Photo published for Russia’s move into Syria upends U.S. plans
Russia’s move into Syria upends U.S. plans
Even the limited deployment of Russian troops could decisively shift the battlefield in Assad’s favor.
washingtonpost.com


And even back in 2012, Mitt Romney repeatedly accused Obama of being insufficiently tough on Putin, prompting the now-infamous mockery by Obama and Democrats generally of Romney’s Russiaphobia, which they ridiculed as an ancient relic of the Cold War. Indeed, before Trump’s emergence, the hard-core pro-GOP neocons planned to run against Hillary Clinton by tying her to the Kremlin and warning that her victory would empower Moscow:

The Clinton-Kremlin Connection
Investigative journalist Peter Schweizer's new report.
by Fred Barnes
July 31, 2016

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A program overseen by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of the "reset" with Russia wound up enhancing Russia's military technology and funneling millions of dollar to the Clinton Foundation, according to a new report by investigative journalist Peter Schweizer and the Government Accountability Institute he heads.


Even through the 2016 election, McCain and Rubio repeatedly attacked Obama for failing to take Russian hacking seriously enough and for failing to retaliate. And for years before that, Russia was a primary obsession for neocons, from the time it went to war with Georgia (at the time headed by a neocon-loved president) and even prior to that.

Thus, when it came time for Democrats to elevate Putin and Russia into a major theme of the 2016 campaign, and now that their hawkishness toward Moscow is their go-to weapon for attacking Trump, neocons have become their natural ideological allies.

The song Democrats are now singing about Russia and Putin is one the neocons wrote many years ago, and all of the accompanying rhetorical tactics — accusing those who seek better relations with Moscow of being Putin’s stooges, unpatriotic, of suspect loyalties, etc. — are the ones that have defined the neocons smear campaigns for decades.

The union of Democrats and neocons is far more than a temporary marriage of convenience designed to bring down a common enemy. As this new policy group illustrates, the union is grounded in widespread ideological agreement on a broad array of foreign policy debates: from Israel to Syria to the Gulf States to Ukraine to Russia. And the narrow differences that exist between the two groups — on the wisdom of the Iran deal, the nobility of the Iraq War, the justifiability of torture — are more relics of past debates than current, live controversies. These two groups have found common cause because, with rare and limited exception, they share common policy beliefs and foreign policy mentalities.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF this reunion are profound and long-term. Neocons have done far more damage to the U.S., and the world, than any other single group — by a good margin. They were the architects of the invasion of Iraq and the lies that accompanied it, the worldwide torture regime instituted after 9/11, and the general political climate that equated dissent with treason.

With the full-scale discrediting and collapse of the Bush presidency, these war-loving neocons found themselves marginalized, without any constituency in either party. They were radioactive, confined to speaking at extremist conferences and working with fringe organizations.

All of that has changed, thanks to the eagerness of Democrats to embrace them, form alliances with them, and thus rehabilitate their reputations and resurrect their power and influence. That leading Democratic Party foreign policy officials are willing to form new Beltway advocacy groups in collaboration with Bill Kristol, Mike Rogers, and Mike Chertoff, join arms with those who caused the invasion of Iraq and tried to launch a bombing campaign against Tehran, has repercussions that will easily survive the Trump presidency.

Perhaps the most notable fact about the current posture of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party is that one of their favorite, most beloved, and most cited pundits is the same neocon who wrote George W. Bush’s oppressive, bullying and deceitful speeches in 2002 and 2003 about Iraq and the war on terror, and who has churned out some of the most hateful, inflammatory rhetoric over the last decade about Palestinians, immigrants, and Muslims. That Bush propagandist, David Frum, is regularly feted on MSNBC’s liberal programs, has been hired by The Atlantic (where he writes warnings about authoritarianism even though he’s only qualified to write manuals for its implementation), and is treated like a wise and honored statesman by leading Democratic Party organs.

Mar 28, 2016
Neera Tanden @neeratanden
I'm a fan of the Times, but @davidfrum wrote this in December: How the G.O.P. Elite Lost Its Voters to Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/1RvUTQu

Neera Tanden @neeratanden
We actually had a great event at @CAPAction with @davidfrum @joanwalsh and Ruy Teixeira on it in Feb. https://twitter.com/neeratanden/status/ ... 4552148992
4:52 AM - Mar 28, 2016


One sees this same dynamic repeated with many other of the world’s most militaristic, war-loving neocons. Particularly after his recent argument with Tucker Carlson over Russia, Democrats have practically canonized Max Boot, who has literally cheered for every possible war over the two past decades and, in 2013, wrote a column titled “No Need to Repent for Support of Iraq War.” It is now common to see Democratic pundits and office holders even favorably citing and praising Bill Kristol himself.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with discrete agreement on a particular issue with someone of a different party or ideology; that’s to be encouraged. But what’s going on here goes far, far beyond that.

What we see instead are leading Democratic foreign policy experts joining hands with the world’s worst neocons to form new, broad-based policy advocacy groups to re-shape U.S. foreign policy toward a more hostile, belligerent and hawkish posture. We see not isolated agreement with neocons in opposition to Trump or on single-issue debates, but a full-scale embrace of them that is rehabilitating their standing, empowering their worst elements, and reintegrating them back into the Democratic Party power structure.

If Bill Kristol and Mike Chertoff can now sit on boards with top Clinton and Obama policy advisers, as they’re doing, that is reflective of much more than a marriage of convenience to stop an authoritarian, reckless president. It demonstrates widespread agreement on a broast range of issues and, more significantly, the return of neocons to full-scale D.C. respectability, riding all the way on the backs of eager, grateful establishment Democrats.

Top photo: William Kristol, right, answers a question as Leon Panetta and James Carville watch during a forum titled “The Budget Blame Game” at the Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif. on Monday May 6, 2013.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:05 pm

Hillary Clinton Campaign Was Connected to Russian Government
by Dan Wright
ShadowProof
March 15, 2017

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Image
by Dmitry Terekhov from Odintsovo, Russian Federation - Mil Mi-8, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.p ... d=38046506

Russian bank Sberbank has now admitted to hiring a lobbying firm connected to the Hillary Clinton campaign to fight sanctions against the Russian government. The Podesta Group was founded by John Podesta, who served as campaign chairman for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.

According to senate lobbying disclosure forms, John’s brother and current head of the firm, Tony Podesta, was paid $170,000 in 2016 to represent Sberbank to end one of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against Russia.

Podesta and other lobbyists worked Congress and set up meetings between the Russians and State Department officials to discuss ways to end the sanctions imposed in Executive Order 13660 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Sberbank and VTB Capital—the first and second largest banks in Russia, respectively—paid $700,000 for the lobbying work.

The report of paid lobbying by people associated with Clinton campaign comes on the heels of a disclosure by the Russian government that Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak met with advisers to the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election.

While seemingly benign, Ambassador Kislyak’s meetings with Trump campaign officials during the election have proved to be controversial, as Kislyak is considered a “top spy” and recruiter by U.S. intelligence, according to CNN.

Whether Kislyak was able to recruit any advisers to Hillary Clinton to work for Russian intelligence remains unknown.

The recent news stories are not the first time connections between the Clinton campaign and Russia have been revealed. Bloomberg News reported last August that Russian oligarchs allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin made political contributions to Hillary Clinton.

Of Course U.S. Candidates Have Ties to Russia: Money knows no boundaries in the globalized era.
by Leonid Bershidsky
Bloomberg.com
August 1, 2016, 9:55 AM MST

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She met him as secretary of state. Photographer: Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images

The attempts by Hillary Clinton's campaign to paint Donald Trump as the candidate of President Vladimir Putin has led to an intense search for the Republican nominee's Russian connections. Not much has turned up. But Russian oligarchs are among the Clinton campaign donors.


Specifically, money came from the family members of Leonard Blavatnik, Oleg Baibakov, and Roman Abramovich—all of whom have an interest in the political system maintained by Russian President Vladimir Putin. They were some of the biggest beneficiaries of Russia’s crash privatization scheme after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The extent to which the Clinton campaign was connected to the Russian government has yet to be fully investigated.
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Re: Clinton Journalist Has Meltdown After His Russian Conspi

Postby admin » Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:06 pm

Sberbank confirms hiring Podesta Group for lobbying its interests
by TASS Russian News Agency
March 09, 2017, 18:50 UTC+3

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


"The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group," the company has confirmed

Image
© AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Sberbank confirmed the fact of hiring the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta, who chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in the United States, press service of the Russian credit institution told TASS on Thursday.

"The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group. Engagement of external consultants is part of standard business practices for us," Sberbank said.

According to The Daily Caller, Tony Podesta was proactively lobbying for cancellation of a range of anti-Russian sanctions against the banking sector. In particular, he represented interests of Sberbank and was paid $170,000 for his efforts.
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