Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intelligence

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:03 am

The Democratic Party line that could torch civil liberties … and maybe help blow up the world. We should reject the guidance of politicians and commentators who are all too willing to throw basic tenets of civil liberties overboard.
by Norman Solomon
January 4, 2017

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Many top Democrats are stoking a political firestorm. We keep hearing that Russia attacked democracy by hacking into Democratic officials’ emails and undermining Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Instead of candidly assessing key factors such as longtime fealty to Wall Street that made it impossible for her to ride a populist wave, the party line has increasingly circled around blaming Vladimir Putin for her defeat.

Of course, partisan spinners aren’t big on self-examination, especially if they’re aligned with the Democratic Party’s dominant corporate wing. And the option of continually fingering the Kremlin as the main villain of a 2016 morality play is clearly too juicy for functionary Democrats to pass up – even if that means scorching civil liberties and escalating a new cold war that could turn radioactively hot.

Much of the current fuel for the blame-Russia blaze has to do with the horrifying reality that Donald Trump will soon become president. Big media outlets are blowing oxygen into the inferno. But the flames are also being fanned by people who should know better.

Consider the Boston Globe article that John Shattuck – a former Washington legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union – wrote in mid-December. “A specter of treason hovers over Donald Trump,” the civil libertarian wrote. “He has brought it on himself by dismissing a bipartisan call for an investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee as a ‘ridiculous’ political attack on the legitimacy of his election as president.”

As quickly pointed out by Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University, raising the specter of treason “is simply wrong” – and “its wrongness matters, not just because hyperbole always weakens argument, but because the carefully restricted definition of the crime of treason is essential to protecting free speech and the freedom of association.”

Is Shattuck’s piece a mere outlier? Sadly, no. Although full of gaping holes, it reflects a substantial portion of the current liberal zeitgeist. And so the argument that Shattuck made was carried forward into the new year by Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, who approvingly quoted Shattuck’s article in a Jan. 1 piece that flatly declared: “In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason.”

The momentum of fully justified loathing for Trump has drawn some normally level-headed people into untenable – and dangerous – positions. (The “treason” approach that Shattuck and Kuttner have embraced is particularly ironic and misplaced, given that Trump’s current course will soon make him legally deserving of impeachment due to extreme conflicts of interest that are set to violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.)

Among the admirable progressives who supported Bernie’s presidential campaign but have succumbed to Russia-baiting of Trump are former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Congressman Keith Ellison, who is a candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Last week, in a widely circulated post on his Facebook page, Reich wrote: “Evidence continues to mount that Trump is on Putin’s side.” But Reich’s list of “evidence” hardly made the case that Trump “is on Putin’s side,” whatever that means.

A day later, when Trump tweeted a favorable comment about Putin, Rep. Ellison quickly echoed Democratic Party orthodoxy with a tweet: “Praising a foreign leader for undermining our democracy is a slap in the face to all who have served our country.”

Some of Putin’s policies are abhorrent, and criticizing his regime should be fair game as much as criticizing any other. At the same time, “do as we say, not as we do” isn’t apt to put the United States on high moral ground. The U.S. government has used a wide repertoire of regime change tactics including direct meddling in elections, and Uncle Sam has led the world in cyberattacks.

Intervention in the election of another country is categorically wrong. It’s also true that – contrary to conventional U.S. wisdom at this point – we don’t know much about a Russian role in last year’s election. We should not forget the long history of claims from agencies such as the CIA that turned out to be misleading or downright false.

Late last week, when the Obama administration released a drum-rolled report on the alleged Russian hacking, Democratic partisans and mainline journalists took it as something akin to gospel. But the editor of ConsortiumNews.com, former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter Robert Parry, wrote an assessment concluding that the latest report “again failed to demonstrate that there is any proof behind U.S. allegations that Russia both hacked into Democratic emails and distributed them via WikiLeaks to the American people.”

Even if the Russian government did intervene in the U.S. election by hacking emails and publicizing them, key questions remain. Such as:

Do we really want to escalate a new cold war with a country that has thousands of nuclear weapons?

Do we really want a witch-hunting environment here at home, targeting people with views that have some overlap with Kremlin positions?

Can the president of Russia truly “undermine our democracy” – or aren’t the deficits of democracy in the United States overwhelmingly self-inflicted from within the U.S. borders?

It’s so much easier to fixate on Putin as a villainous plotter against our democracy instead of directly taking on our country’s racist and class biases, its structural mechanisms that relentlessly favor white and affluent voters, its subservience to obscene wealth and corporate power.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about refusing to normalize the Trump presidency. And that’s crucial. Yet we should also push back against normalizing the deflection of outrage at the U.S. political system’s chronic injustices and horrendous results – deflection that situates the crux of the problem in a foreign capital instead of our own.

We should reject the guidance of politicians and commentators who are all too willing to throw basic tenets of civil liberties overboard, while heightening the risks of brinkmanship that could end with the two biggest nuclear powers blowing up the world.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:09 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

But given the way these Russia conspiracies have drowned out other critical issues being virtually ignored under the Trump presidency, it’s vital that everything be done now to make clear what is based in evidence and what is based in partisan delusions. And most of what the Democratic base has been fed for the last six months by their unhinged stable of media, online, and party leaders has decisively fallen into the latter category, as even their own officials are now desperately trying to warn.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:34 am

Full Clapper: "No Evidence" of Collusion Between Trump and Russia
Interview with James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
by Chuck Todd, Meet The Press
March 5, 2017

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CHUCK TODD:

We're going to pause the conversation and pick it up, I have a feeling, on the other side of the half hour. But coming up is a man who may know more than anyone about Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. It's the former Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper. He joins me next.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that, in the dying days of the Obama presidency, White House officials took steps to spread information about Russia's attempt to undermine the presidential election. Why? Well, one reason given was to make it easier for government investigators, and in particular, Congress, to uncover that truth.

Well, James Clapper, a career intelligence officer, was the Director of National Intelligence for more than six years under President Obama, he spearheaded the report that was released in January that concluded that Russians hacked the Democrat National Committee e-mails and interfered with the 2016 election. And Mr. Clapper joins me now. Welcome, sir, to Meet the Press.

JAMES CLAPPER:

Thanks, Chuck, for everything.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the President's tweets yesterday, this idea that maybe President Obama ordered an illegal wiretap of his offices. If something like that happened, would this be something you would be aware of?

JAMES CLAPPER:

I would certainly hope so. I can't say-- obviously, I'm not, I can't speak officially anymore. But I will say that, for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against-- the president elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign. I can't speak for other Title Three authorized entities in the government or a state or local entity.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, I was just going to say, if the F.B.I., for instance, had a FISA court order of some sort for a surveillance, would that be information you would know or not know?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

You would be told this?

JAMES CLAPPER:

I would know that.

CHUCK TODD:

If there was a FISA court order--

JAMES CLAPPER:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

--on something like this.

JAMES CLAPPER:

Something like this, absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

And at this point, you can't confirm or deny whether that exists?

JAMES CLAPPER:

I can deny it.

CHUCK TODD:

There is no FISA court order?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Not-- not to know my knowledge.

CHUCK TODD:

Of anything at Trump Tower?

JAMES CLAPPER:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, that's an important revelation at this point. Let me ask you this. Does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?

JAMES CLAPPER:

We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, "our," that's N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But does it exist?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Not to my knowledge.

CHUCK TODD:

If it existed, it would have been in this report?

JAMES CLAPPER:

This could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government.

CHUCK TODD:

At some--

JAMES CLAPPER:

But at the time, we had no evidence of such collusion.


CHUCK TODD:

There's a lot of smoke, but there hasn't been that smoking gun yet. At what point should the public start to wonder if this is all just smoke?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Well, that's a good question. I don't know. I do think, though, it is in everyone's interest, in the current President's interests, in the Democrats' interests, in the Republican interest, in the country's interest, to get to the bottom of all this. Because it's such a distraction. And certainly the Russians have to be chortling about the success of their efforts to sow dissention in this country.

CHUCK TODD:

So you feel like your report does not get to the bottom-- you admit your report that you released in January doesn't get to the bottom of this?

JAMES CLAPPER:

It did-- well, it got to the bottom of the evidence to the extent of the evidence we had at the time. Whether there is more evidence that's become available since then, whether ongoing investigations will be revelatory, I don't know.

CHUCK TODD:

There was a conclusion that said, "It's clear that the Russians interfered and did so in an attempt to help Donald Trump." Do you still believe that conclusion?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Yes, I do.

CHUCK TODD:

But at this point, what's not proven is the idea of collusion.

JAMES CLAPPER:

That's correct.


CHUCK TODD:

When you see these parade of officials that were associated with the Trump campaign, first they deny any conversations, now we're hearing more, does that add to suspicion? Or do you think some of this is circumstantial?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Well, I can't say what the nature of those conversations and dialogues were, for the most part. Again, I'd think it would be very healthy to completely clear the air on this subject. And I think it would be in everyone's interest to have that done.

CHUCK TODD:

Can the Senate Intelligence Committee-- what are we going to learn from their investigation, do you think, that will move beyond what you were able to do?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Well, I think they can look at this from a broader context than we could. And at this point, I do have confidence in the Senate intelligence Committee and their effort. It is underway, in contrast to the House Intelligence Committee, which just last week agreed on their charter.

And importantly, in the case of the Senate Intelligence Committee, this appears to me to be a truly bipartisan effort. And so I think that needs to play out. If, for some reason, that proves not to be satisfactory in the minds of those who make those decisions, then perhaps then move on to a special prosecutor.

CHUCK TODD:

The New York Times, earlier this week, and as I was introducing you, this idea that they sort of left a trail, maybe lowered classif-- can you walk us through how that would work? Did they lower classification levels on certain information? Was that a fair read of what was done in the last few weeks of the administration?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Actually not. Because of the sensitivity of much of the information in this report, our actual effort was to protect it and not to spread it around, and certainly not to dumb it down, if I can use that phrase, in order to disseminate it more widely. We were under a preservation order from both our oversight committees to preserve and protect all the information related to that report, in any event.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you one other final question on the infamous dossier that was put together by this former British operative named Christopher Steele. Why did you feel the need to brief the president on that at the time?

JAMES CLAPPER:

We felt that it was important that he know about it, that it was out there. And that, without respect to the veracity of the contents of the dossier, that's why it was not included as a part of our report. Because much of it could not be corroborated. And importantly, some of the sources that Mr. Steele drew on, second and third order assets, we could not validate or corroborate.


So for that reason, at least in my view, the important thing was to warn the president that this thing was out there. The Russians have a term, an acronym, called Kompromat, which they will either generate, if it's truthful or if it's contrived. And it's important, we felt, that he knew of the existence of this dossier.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you done this with other presidents? Have you had to brief them about unverified intelligence?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Yes, I’ve had occasion in the six and a half years I was DNI to tell President Obama certain things that we could not corroborate or validate, but that we just thought he ought to know it was out there.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. James Clapper, I have a feeling-- do you expect to have to testify on Capitol Hill among these things?

JAMES CLAPPER:

Oh, I don't think there's any doubt.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Mr. Clapper, then I have a feeling we will see you on T.V. some time soon. And hopefully you'll come back here on Meet the Press. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views, sir.

JAMES CLAPPER:

Thanks very much, Chuck.
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Re: Our Man in London: The Scandal of the 35-Page ‘Intellige

Postby admin » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:34 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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