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[TC] Microbiome testing service uBiome puts its co-founders on administrative leave after FBI raid The microbiome testing service uBiome has placed its founders and co-chief executives, Jessica Richman and Zac Apte, on administrative leave following an FBI raid on the company’s offices last week. The company’s board of directors have named John Rakow, currently the company’s general counsel, as its interim chairman and chief executive. Directors of the company […] Published:5/2/2019 4:08:19 PM
[2016 Senate Elections] Azra Turk, if that really is your name (Scott Johnson) The latest FBI/intelligence leak to the friendly reporters at the New York Times suggests that the rats are scurrying about in the hope that they might keep the ship afloat. The Times has placed this straightforward headline over the story by Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt and Mark Mazzetti: “F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet With Trump Aide in 2016.” Here is how it opens: The conversation at a Published:5/2/2019 3:06:29 PM
[Markets] Nellie Ohr Criminal Referral Being 'Finalized' According To Jim Jordan

Congressional Republicans are "working to finalize" a criminal referral of Russiagate lynchpin Nellie Ohr, the wife of the Justice Department's former #4 official Bruce Ohr. 

(Getty Images; AP; The Epoch Times; Photo illustration by The Epoch Times

Nellie was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, where she conducted extensive opposition research on Trump family members and campaign aides, which she passed along to Bruce on a memory stick

Of note, the Hillary Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to produce the salacious and unverified "Steele Dossier," which was created by former UK spy Christopher Steele and used Kremlin sources

Meanwhile, today we learn from The Hill's John Solomon that Nellie Ohr exchanged 339 pages of emails with DOJ officials, including her husband Bruce, and met with DOJ prosecutors while working for Fusion GPS

Now, a series of “Hi Honey” emails from Nellie Ohr to her high-ranking federal prosecutor-husband and his colleagues raise the prospect that Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research was being funneled into the Justice Department during the 2016 election through a back-door marital channel. It's a tale that raises questions of both conflict of interest and possible false testimony.

Ohr has admitted to Congress that, during the 2016 presidential election, she worked for Fusion GPS — the firm hired by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to perform political opposition research — on a project specifically trying to connect Donald Trump and his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to Russian organized crime.

Now, 339 pages of emails, from her private account to Department of Justice (DOJ) email accounts, have been released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. -The Hill

And according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Mark Meadows "is working to finalize" a criminal referral of Nellie

"Hi Honey, if you ever get a moment you might find the penultimate article interesting — especially the summary in the final paragraph," Nellie emailed Bruce on July 6, 2016 according to the release. The article in question suggested that Trump was a Putin stooge. "If Putin wanted to concoct the ideal candidate to service his purposes, his laboratory creation would look like Donald Trump," Nellie bolded for emphasis. 

As Solomon writes, "Such overt political content flowing into the email accounts of a DOJ charged with the nonpartisan mission of prosecuting crimes is jarring enough. It raises additional questions about potential conflicts of interest when it is being injected by a spouse working as a Democratic contractor trying to defeat Trump, and she is forwarding her own research to his department and co-workers."

House GOP investigators who reviewed Nellie Ohr’s emails believe that their timing may be essential to understanding how the false Russian narrative — special counsel Robert Mueller recently concluded there was no evidence of Trump-Putin collusion — may have gotten such credence inside DOJ and intelligence circles despite its overtly political origins.

For instance, just 24 days after the anti-Trump screed was emailed, both Ohrs met in Washington with British intelligence operative Christopher Steele. Nellie Ohr testified that she had known Steele from past encounters and learned at that July 31, 2016, meeting at the Mayflower Hotel that Steele, like herself, was working for Fusion GPS on Trump-Russia research. She said she learned that Steele had concerns that he hoped the DOJ or FBI would investigate, with help from her husband. -The Hill

Nellie, who speaks fluent Russian, worked with Fusion GPS between October 2015 and September 2016. She also admitted during her October 19, 2018 congressional testimony that she favored Hillary Clinton as a candidate, and would have been less comfortable researching Clinton's Russia ties (P. 105). 

In 2010, she represented the CIA's "Open Source Works" group in a 2010 "expert working group report on international organized crime" along with Bruce Ohr and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.

Ohr confirmed her work for the CIA during her October testimony.  

***

As we reported in March

some have wondered if Nellie's late-life attraction to Ham radios was in fact a method of covertly communicating with others about the Trump-Russia investigation, in a way which wouldn't be surveilled by the NSA or other agencies. 

was Nellie Ohr’s late-in-life foray into ham radio an effort to evade the Rogers-led NSA detecting her participation in compiling the Russian-sourced Steele dossier? Just as her husband’s omissions on his DOJ ethics forms raise an inference of improper motive, any competent prosecutor could use the circumstantial evidence of her taking up ham radio while digging for dirt on Trump to prove her consciousness of guilt and intention to conceal illegal activities. -The Federalist

Bruce Ohr was demoted twice after the DOJ's Inspector General discovered that he lied about his involvement with Simpson - who employed dossier author and former British spy, Christopher Steele.

Last month, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced that his panel would do a "deep dive" into the "other side" of the Trump-Russia investigation. He also called for the appointment of a new special counsel to look into abuse between the DOJ and Obama administration while investigating Donald Trump and his campaign. 

Are heads actually going to roll?

Published:5/2/2019 5:35:51 AM
[Markets] FBI Investigating Antifa Plot To Buy Guns From "Mexican Rambo" For "Armed Rebellion At Border" 

A leaked FBI document reveals that members of Antifa were plotting to purchase guns from a "Mexico-based cartel associate known as Cobra Commander,and "stage an armed rebellion at the border," according to the San Diego Union Tribune, which received a copy of the unclassified report. 

When federal law enforcement officials last year began collecting dossiers on mostly American journalists, activists and lawyers in Tijuana involved with the migrant caravan, one part of their investigation focused on an alleged plot by a drug cartel to sell guns to protesters, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation report.

A Dec. 18, 2018, document from the FBI, obtained by the Union-Tribune, specifies an alleged plan for activists to purchase guns from a “Mexico-based cartel associate known as Cobra Commander,” or Ivan Riebeling. -San Diego Union Tribune

?????Ivan Reibeling is a Tijuana resident named in an FBI report warning of a potential armed disruption at the border. Courtesy of Ivan Reibeling.

The document warns that "anti-fascist activists" had "planned to disrupt U.S. law enforcement and military security operations at the US/Mexican border." 

Of note, the unclassified document labeled "law enforcement sensitive" is a portion of an ongoing investigation in which charges have yet to be filed.

"This is an information report, not finally evaluated intelligence," reads the six-page report. "Receiving agencies are requested not to take action based on this raw reporting without prior coordination with the FBI."

The FBI sent its report with “priority” to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Administration, among other agencies.

Two people named in the report, Ivan Riebeling and Evan Duke, said the accusations are untrue and illogical.

Duke said he never met Riebeling and that Riebeling was not someone he would have associated with. -San Diego Union Tribune

The FBI report also says that a group of pro-migrant activists in Tijuana supporting the recent caravans "were encouraged to bring personally owned weapons to the border and the group also intended to purchase weapons from a Mexico-based cartel associate known as Cobra Commander, AKA the Mexican Rambo, and smuggle the weapons into the United States."

Mexican Rambo says the FBI's report is not logical, and that he's not in the carte. 

"It doesn’t make any sense that someone from the United States would purchase guns in Mexico. And the Hondurans certainly didn’t bring money to buy guns. It doesn’t make any sense; in fact it’s extremely absurd to say the Hondurans wanted to attack the United States at the border," said Reibeling, who said he had helped an early caravan of mostly women and children who arrived in Tijuana - only to quickly decide that he "no longer wanted to help Hondurans" after he found them selling some of the items he provided them such as blankets, water and shoes. 

"They were exchanging these items for drugs and it made me mad, and I no longer wanted to help them and I was vocal about it," he said. 

Reibeling then posted a video online in which he encouraged drug cartel members to "hunt down" migrants and take them to Mexican immigration authorities

Reibeling said he was never detained or interrogated by the FBI about his involvement with the migrant caravan. He said he took no part in trying to sell guns to anyone and that he’s not a cartel member.

I am not cartel. I don’t sell drugs. I don’t sell arms,” said Riebeling. “I’m a revolutionary. A man who believes in his ideals, and I’m going to defend Mexico.”

The unclassified FBI report identifies Riebeling as being “associated with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel,” but Riebeling, a Tijuana resident, said he is not.

“If I were selling drugs, or guns, they would kill me,” said Riebeling.

Riebeling said he was upset by the accusations in the report. -San Diego Union Tribune

"The government of the United States knows perfectly well that I am not a member of any cartel," said Riebeling. "I have associates with several of the cartels, yes I do, but I am not a narco-trafficker and they know that."

Evan Duke, the other person named in the report, says Riebeling was not someone he would associate with because he didn't trust him, and because Riebeling had expressed negative views over social media about migrants in the caravan. 

"Here I find the government again trying to tie me into some (stuff) I wasn’t involved in," said Duke, an anti-Trump activist whose work in Tijuana was monitored by federal authorities. 

"We were warned to look out for him," Duke said of Riebeling. "We took the precaution to find out who he was and where he was, but we never had any contact with him. And we never saw him around the migrant caravan." 

Duke thinks it might be possible that "right-wing conspiracy groups" fed false information to authorities about him - noting that a North Dakota radio talk-show host bragged on air about reporting he and his colleagues to law enforcement. 

In mid-November, Duke and a group of activists began renting a house in Tijuana and hosting about 25 volunteers at a time working to counter what they viewed as the U.S. government’s violation of asylum seekers’ human rights.

The FBI’s report says the rental house in Tijuana was guarded by armed group members.

Riebeling, who also goes by the names Ivan del Campo, Ivan Mariano Martin del Campo and Jose Ivan Reiveling Sierra, has criminal records in Mexico and the United States, according to a Mexican state police document and confirmed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. -San Diego Union Tribune

Who's telling the truth?  

Published:5/1/2019 3:30:35 PM
[Markets] Key Words: James Comey: Trump has ‘eaten the soul’ of the leaders in his administration The FBI director unleashes in a New York Times op-ed on Bill Barr, Rod Rosenstein and all the others in Trump’s orbit who have compromised their ideals to remain in the president’s good graces.
Published:5/1/2019 2:03:48 PM
[Markets] The Real "Bombshells" Are About To Hit Their Targets

Authored By Julie Kelly via American Greatness

The next bombshell report to drop from the Justice Department likely will earn none of the breathless fanfare and media coverage that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report received, but it could be far more incriminating.

In the next several weeks, Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to issue his summation of the potential abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by top officials in the Obama Administration and holdovers in the early Trump Administration who were overseeing the investigation of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

And the perpetrators of the so-called FISAgate scandal now are scrambling for cover as the bad news looms.

Horowitz announced last March that his office would examine the Justice Department’s conduct “in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person.” That U.S. person is Trump campaign associate Carter Page. In October 2016, just two weeks before the presidential election, the Justice Department submitted an application to the FISC seeking authorization to wiretap Page. The court filing accused Page, a Naval Academy graduate and unpaid campaign advisor, of being an agent of Russia.

The application cited the infamous Steele dossier—unsubstantiated political propaganda that had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee—as its primary source of evidence. But the specific political origin of the dossier intentionally was omitted in the court filing. (Robert Mueller similarly tap danced around the role of Fusion GPS, the political consulting firm that hired Christopher Steele to create the dossier. Mueller never mentioned the name “Fusion GPS” in the 448-page document, referring to it only vaguely as “the firm that produced the Steele reporting.”)

Former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signed the original FISA application. It was renewed three times; subsequent signers included former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. If there’s one document that represents the malevolence, chicanery and arrogance of the original Trump-Russia collusion fraudsters, it’s the Page FISA application.

But—to borrow a favorite term of the collusion truthers—the “walls are closing in” on the FISA abusers.

Representative Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and James Jordan (R-Ohio) recently met with Horowitz and offered some ominous news for Comey and company: “We anticipate the IG’s report will come out . . . in the next four to six weeks and I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see criminal referrals coming from them,” Meadows told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on April 14.

President Trump also speculated that the inspector general’s report would contain damning allegations against former top officials for the world’s most powerful law enforcement agency.

“I think he [Horowitz] knows how big this is,” Trump told Sean Hannity in an interview last week. “The IG report coming out in three or four weeks, from what I hear, is going to be…a blockbuster because he has access to information that most people don’t.” If anyone misled the FISA court, including Comey and Yates, Trump suggested that “they’ll all be in a pile of trouble.”

Since last fall, Trump has threatened to declassify the entire application, much of which is still concealed behind redactions, but that has presumably been delayed to protect the integrity of the investigation. Once the inspector general’s report comes out, however, Trump would be free to unredact crucial portions of the application.

So the targets of the inspector general’s probe and their media pals now are spinning hard in preparation of the report’s release.

Natasha Bertrand, a reliable mouthpiece for Fusion GPS, is smearing Horowitz and raising questions about his investigation. “Former U.S. officials interviewed by the inspector general were skeptical about the quality of his probe,” she wrote in an April 17 piece for Politico. “The inspector general seemed neither well-versed in the FISA process nor receptive to the explanations, the officials said.”

Comey unconvincingly is rejecting accusations by Attorney General William Barr and others that there was “spying” on the Trump campaign. “When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning,” serial uptalker Comey said in an April 11 interview. “The FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance. I have never thought of that as spying. I don’t know of any court-ordered electronic surveillance aimed at the Trump campaign (emphasis added).”

Yates appeared on Sunday for a softball interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” host Andrea Mitchell. Without any sense of irony, Mitchell introduced Yates as “someone who seems to show up at key moments in the Trump presidency,” including her central role in the set-up, laughable Logan Act inquiry, and subsequent firing of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. (Yates served as acting attorney general for 10 days before Trump fired her for insubordination.)

Yates, much like Comey, has a flair for the dramatic, often using hushed tones, theatrical facial expressions, and overwrought rhetoric to make her point: “When the Russians came knocking at their door, you would think a man who likes to make a show of hugging the flag would have done the patriotic thing and would have notified law enforcement.” (Hard eye roll.)

Yates referred to Trump campaign objections about Russian collusion as “a lie” and (falsely) lamented that “now we have devolved to ‘there’s nothing wrong with taking help,’ illegal help, from a foreign adversary. Surely that’s not where we’ve come to.”

But Yates’ own words might come back to haunt her, and soon.

An April 19 article in the New York Times, which now is backpedaling on the legimitacy of the Steele dossier in advance of the Horowitz report, speculated that the dossier was part of a Russian propaganda campaign targeting the Trump team.

“There has been much chatter among intelligence experts that Steele’s Russian informants could have been pressured to feed him disinformation,” the Times reported. Further, at the time Steele was working for Fusion GPS on Russian-sourced dirt against Trump, he also was lobbying on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin.

So if Yates signed a court document that heavily relied on shady sources and a lobbyist (Steele) for a Putin-connected billionaire, who would be guilty of relying on help from a foreign adversary for political purposes? Not Donald Trump.

The imperious Yates and her accomplices might have a chance to answer that question—and others—in front of Congress in the very near future.

In response to her “Meet the Press” interview, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted that Yates’ actions “will certainly be part of forthcoming Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearings on FBI/DOJ during Obama years in which she served as Deputy AG under Loretta Lynch.”

The Horowitz report could do what the Mueller report could not: Find legitimate evidence of conspiracies between political operatives, Russian interests, and top government officials; uncover attempts to obstruct justice as the various investigations into misconduct proceeded; and expose rank corruption at the highest levels of a presidential administration.

It just won’t be the presidential administration that Mueller and his colleagues were targeting.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Published:4/30/2019 2:23:20 PM
[Hack] Hackers went undetected in Citrix’s internal network for six months Hackers gained access to technology giant Citrix’s networks six months before they were discovered, the company has confirmed. In a letter to California’s attorney general, the virtualization and security software maker said the hackers had “intermittent access” to its internal network from October 13, 2018 until March 8, 2019, two days after the FBI alerted […] Published:4/30/2019 1:56:42 PM
[] FBI Investigating Antifa Over Possible Plot to Violently Attack Border Patrol They're just anti-fascists, you know. The FBI is investigating anti-fascist activists for an alleged plot to buy guns from a Mexican cartel in order to "stage an armed rebellion" at the southern border, according to an unclassified document obtained by... Published:4/30/2019 1:29:41 PM
[The Blog] FBI investigating Antifa over possible border plot

"...units would form to train anarchists in fighting, combat, and conducting reconnaissance"

The post FBI investigating Antifa over possible border plot appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/30/2019 12:22:04 PM
[Politics] FBI investigating ANTIFA plot to buy WEAPONS from drug cartel to ATTACK at the border!! OK, I’m gonna admit that this story coming out of the San Diego Tribune is just bizarre. Apparently they got a hold of evidence that the FBI is investigating claims of a . . . Published:4/30/2019 11:25:09 AM
[Politics] FBI investigating ANTIFA plot to buy WEAPONS from drug cartel to ATTACK at the border!! OK, I’m gonna admit that this story coming out of the San Diego Tribune is just bizarre. Apparently they got a hold of evidence that the FBI is investigating claims of a . . . Published:4/30/2019 11:25:09 AM
[Markets] How AI Systems Could Threaten Democracy

Authored by Steven Feldstein, via NakedCapitalism.com,

U.S. technology giant Microsoft has teamed up with a Chinese military university to develop artificial intelligence systems that could potentially enhance government surveillance and censorship capabilities. Two U.S. senators publicly condemned the partnership, but what the National Defense Technology University of China wants from Microsoft isn’t the only concern.

As my research shows, the advent of digital repression is profoundly affecting the relationship between citizen and state. New technologies are arming governments with unprecedented capabilities to monitor, track and surveil individual people. Even governments in democracies with strong traditions of rule of law find themselves tempted to abuse these new abilities.

In states with unaccountable institutions and frequent human rights abuses, AI systems will most likely cause greater damage. China is a prominent example. Its leadership has enthusiastically embraced AI technologies, and has set up the world’s most sophisticated surveillance state in Xinjiang province, tracking citizens’ daily movements and smartphone use.

Its exploitation of these technologies presents a chilling model for fellow autocrats and poses a direct threat to open democratic societies. Although there’s no evidence that other governments have replicated this level of AI surveillance, Chinese companies are actively exporting the same underlying technologies across the world.

Increasing Reliance on AI Tools in the US

Artificial intelligence systems are everywhere in the modern world, helping run smartphones, internet search engines, digital voice assistants and Netflix movie queues. Many people fail to realize how quickly AI is expanding, thanks to ever-increasing amounts of data to be analyzed, improving algorithms and advanced computer chips.

Any time more information becomes available and analysis gets easier, governments are interested – and not just authoritarian ones. In the U.S., for instance, the 1970s saw revelations that government agencies – such as the FBI, CIA and NSA – had set up expansive domestic surveillance networks to monitor and harass civil rights protesters, political activists and Native American groups. These issues haven’t gone away: Digital technology today has deepened the ability of even more agencies to conduct even more intrusive surveillance.

How fairly do algorithms predict where police should be most focused? Arnout de Vries

For example, U.S. police have eagerly embraced AI technologies. They have begun using software that is meant to predict where crimes will happen to decide where to send officers on patrol. They’re also using facial recognitionand DNA analysis in criminal investigations. But analyses of these systems show the data on which those systems are trainedare often biased, leading to unfair outcomes, such as falsely determining that African Americans are more likely to commit crimes than other groups.

AI Surveillance Around the World

In authoritarian countries, AI systems can directly abet domestic control and surveillance, helping internal security forces process massive amounts of information – including social media posts, text messages, emails and phone calls – more quickly and efficiently. The police can identify social trends and specific people who might threaten the regime based on the information uncovered by these systems.

For instance, the Chinese government has used AI in wide-scale crackdowns in regions that are home to ethnic minorities within China. Surveillance systems in Xinjiang and Tibet have been described as “Orwellian.” These efforts have included mandatory DNA samples, Wi-Fi network monitoring and widespread facial recognition cameras, all connected to integrated data analysis platforms. With the aid of these systems, Chinese authorities have, according to the U.S. State Department, “arbitrarily detained” between 1 and 2 million people.

My research looks at 90 countries around the world with government types ranging from closed authoritarian to flawed democracies, including Thailand, Turkey, Bangladesh and Kenya. I have found that Chinese companies are exporting AI surveillance technology to at least 54 of these countries. Frequently, this technology is packaged as part of China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative, which is funding an extensive network of roads, railways, energy pipelines and telecommunications networks serving 60% of the world’s population and economies that generate 40% of global GDP.

For instance, Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE are constructing “smart cities” in Pakistanthe Philippinesand Kenya, featuring extensive built-in surveillance technology. For example, Huawei has outfitted Bonifacio Global City in the Philippines with high-definition internet-connected cameras that provide “24/7 intelligent security surveillance with data analytics to detect crime and help manage traffic.”

Bonifacio Global City in the Philippines has a lot of embedded surveillance equipment. alveo land/Wikimedia Commons

HikvisionYitu and SenseTime are supplying state-of-the-art facial recognition cameras for use in places like Singapore – which announced the establishment of a surveillance program with 110,000 cameras mounted on lamp posts around the city-state. Zimbabwe is creating a national image database that can be used for facial recognition.

However, selling advanced equipment for profit is different than sharing technology with an express geopolitical purpose. These new capabilities may plant the seeds for global surveillance: As governments become increasingly dependent upon Chinese technology to manage their populations and maintain power, they will face greater pressure to align with China’s agenda. But for now it appears that China’s primary motive is to dominate the market for new technologies and make lots of money in the process.

AI and Disinformation

In addition to providing surveillance capabilities that are both sweeping and fine-grained, AI can help repressive governments manipulate available information and spread disinformation. These campaigns can be automated or automation-assisted, and deploy hyper-personalized messages directed at – or against – specific people or groups.

AI also underpins the technology commonly called “deepfake,” in which algorithms create realistic video and audio forgeries. Muddying the waters between truth and fiction may become useful in a tight election, when one candidate could create fake videos showing an opponent doing and saying things that never actually happened.

An early deepfake video shows some of the dangers of advanced technology.

In my view, policymakers in democracies should think carefully about the risks of AI systems to their own societies and to people living under authoritarian regimes around the world. A critical question is how many countries will adopt China’s model of digital surveillance. But it’s not just authoritarian countries feeling the pull. And it’s also not just Chinese companies spreading the technology: Many U.S. companies, Microsoft included, but IBM, Cisco and Thermo Fisher too, have provided sophisticated capabilities to nasty governments. The misuse of AI is not limited to autocratic states.

Published:4/29/2019 11:22:23 PM
[] Ron Rosenstein Submits Resignation; Will Leave DOJ May 11th So he's finally out. Last week, Rosenstein made some news by announcing that the Obama administration had downplayed Russia interference as it was actually happening. And meanwhile the FBI had leaked details about it to the media. "The previous administration... Published:4/29/2019 6:03:38 PM
[Politics] “I should make a christians life miserable” – Terrorist plot in retaliation for New Zealand mosque attacks THWARTED Police have thwarted a terrorist plot that was conceived in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks last month by a US Army vet: NBC NEWS – A U.S. Army veteran was . . . Published:4/29/2019 3:16:50 PM
[Politics] “I should make a christians life miserable” – Terrorist plot in retaliation for New Zealand mosque attacks THWARTED Police have thwarted a terrorist plot that was conceived in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks last month by a US Army vet: NBC NEWS – A U.S. Army veteran was . . . Published:4/29/2019 3:16:50 PM
[Markets] Did The Russians Really Interfere In US Elections?

Authored by Boyd Cathey via The Unz Review,

The Mueller Report is now public, and our Mainstream Media have filled the airways with all sorts of commentaries and interpretations. We know that - despite the very best efforts of the dedicated Leftist attorneys on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s staff - there was absolutely no coordination between members of the Trump campaign, or any of his staffers, with Russians. No additional charges have come as a result, other than accusations made earlier of “process crimes” (e.g. failure to report earnings on tax forms, failure to report lobbying work, or not telling investigators what they demanded to hear—“crimes” that practically every politician in Washington has been guilty of at one time or another and would normally not cause much of a stir). None of these involved Russia.

Of course, that finding has not satisfied many Democrats or the unhinged Leftist crazies in the media, who continue to have visions of “collusion”—a kind of communications Alzheimers that has poisoned our media now for years. Thus, Representative Eric Swalwell (who is one of nearly two dozen Democrats running for president) continues to assert that there was “collusion,” as does the irrepressible (and irresponsible) Adam Schiff: “it’s there in plain sight,” they insist, “if you just look hard enough, and maybe squint just a bit—or maybe have those specialized 3-D Russia glasses!”

Such political leaders—along with those further out in the Leftist loonysphere like Representatives Maxine Waters and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortes—continue down their Primrose path of post-Marxist madness.

But beyond the collusion/coordination issue, the past couple of weeks have been filled with a swirling controversy concerning what is called “obstruction of justice.” And once again, the fundamental issues have been incredibly politicized. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had an obligation, if he and his minions discovered “obstruction of justice,” that is, concerted and illegal attempts to obstruct the investigations by the president or his staff, to present charges to the Department of Justice. Yet, all he was able to do was assemble a farrago of “he said/she said” instances, none of which rose to the level of criminal activity. Apparently President Trump told a subaltern “I wish would you fire Mueller,” or he wished in a speech in his joking style that “if the Russians had Hillary’s emails, they would release them,” or he had a private conversation with Vladimir Putin when they met (as all national leaders do!), or his son met with a Russian attorney who supposedly had some “dirt” on the Hillary Clinton campaign (which did not turn out to be the reason for the Trump Tower meeting at all).

None of the ten or eleven cited instances came anywhere close to being actionable or criminal under settled law. In each instance cited, the president’s actions (or desires) fell within his purview and authority under Article II of the Constitution. And regarding Trump’s desire to fire Mueller, he was on solid legal ground; the Supreme Court in its 1997 decision, Edmonds vs. the United States, declared that “inferior” officials, including an independent counsel, could be removed by presidential action as part of his delegated powers. And, in any case, Mueller was not dismissed.

Mueller had an obligation after examining these situations to make a finding; he did not. By so doing, by avoiding decisions and stringing out such instances in an obviously political sense, he abdicated his responsibility and did his best to impugn Donald Trump and his administration…and thus offer grist for continued Democrat attacks on the president…all the way through the 2020 election.

Mueller left it up to the Attorney General William Barr…and Congress…to decide how to proceed. And that is where we are today.

The one issue that both Democrats and most Republicans seem to agree on, the issue which both say is “proven conclusively” by Mueller is that the Russians “attempted to interfere and did interfere” in our 2016 election.

Interesting, is it not, that the Republicans who zealously defend the president and attack the obviously political nature of the Mueller Report would accept, as if on faith and without question, the accusations of Russian interference, also contained in the report?

Turn on Fox and watch, say, Martha MacCallum (e.g., “The Story,” April 24, 2019) declare “we all know now without doubt that the Russians tried to interfere” in our elections, or listen to most any GOP congressman repeat that same narrative with unquestioning certitude.

But that assertion - is it truly backed up factually? Where is the evidence, other than largely questionable information sourced from our largely discredited intelligence agencies which, as we know, had a determined goal of overthrowing the president by any means possible?

Almost three years have passed from the first fake news that appeared in the media on the subject of “Russian collusion,” a concerted effort launched to discredit at first the Donald Trump candidacy and then sabotage his presidency, including his efforts to stabilize Russian-American relations.

As proof of Russian actions, the Mueller Report cites the indictments against twenty-five Russian citizens who were indicted for attempted “interference” (those Russians are, let us add, quite conveniently out of the country and thus not prosecutable). When those indictments were issued, Russia pointed out the flimsy, unsupported and transparently made-up nature of the charges, and demanded that American authorities provide conclusive proof. Such requests were rebuffed.

In order to evaluate the evidence, the Russian government proposed reestablishing the bilateral expert group on information security that the Obama Administration had terminated, which could have served as a platform for conversation on these matters. The American side was also invited to send Justice Department officials to Russia to attend the proposed public questioning of the Russian citizens named by Mueller. Additionally, Russia offered to publicize the exchanges between the two countries following the publication of the accusations of cyberattacks, exchanges which were conducted through existing channels between October 2016 and January 2017.

Our government refused every offer.

A careful analysis, in fact, fails to show any substantial evidence of Russian cyberattacks and attempts to “subvert democracy.” By some estimates, possibly $160,000—a paltry sum—was spent by the Russians during 2016 on social media activities in the United States. Does anyone wish to discover and compare the amount the Chinese Communists or the Saudis would have expended during the same period, for their continued influence and power in Washington and inside-the-Beltway?

It is helpful to examine the charges that have been made, some included in the Mueller Report and accepted blindly by most pundits and politicians, both on the Left and by establishment conservatives.

The Russian government, via their embassy in Washington, has published a 120 page “white paper,” The Russiagate Hysteria: A Case of Severe Russiaphobia, responding to the accusations made against them since 2016. Obviously, the Russian document has a particular viewpoint and very specific goal, but that should not deter us from examining it and evaluating its arguments. (I have written on Russia and its relations with the United States on a number of occasions since 2015 and had pieces published by The Unz ReviewCommunities Digital News, and elsewhere. On my blog, “MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey,” I have authored a dozen columns addressing this question).

Here following I list twenty-one claims made regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election and in American domestic affairs. I follow each claim with the Russian response and how others, as noted, have also responded. In most cases I retain the original text, at times with my editing, but, in every case, with all the referenced sources.

These twenty-one claims should be examined more closely and more calmly, and the “Russophobic” hysteria we have experienced during the past several years needs to be put aside for the sake of rational investigative inquiry—and discovering how the Managerial State and global elites have attempted a “silent coup” against what’s left of our republic.

These claims and the responses deserve respectful consideration and detailed responses:

  1. CLAIM: Russia “meddled” in the U.S. elections by conducting influence operations, including through social media.

FACT

All of the claims of Russian trolls that surfaced over the last few years (such as Russians using the Pokémon Go mobile game and sex toy ads to meddle in the elections – ) are so preposterous and contradictory that they virtually disprove themselves.

Not to mention the absurdity of the whole notion of 13 persons and 3 organizations (whichever country they might represent) charged on February 16, 2018, by Robert Mueller with criminally interfering with the elections, affecting in any way electoral processes in a country of more than 300 million people.

It is telling that when pressed about the scope of the alleged influence campaign, representatives of American social media companies give numbers, that even if they were valid (and there’s no evidence of a connection to the Russian government), are so minuscule as to be basically non-existent. For example, Facebook has identified 3,000 Russia-linked ads costing a total of about $100,000. That’s a miniscule number of ads and a fraction of Facebook’s revenues, which totaled $28 billion. Facebook estimates that 126 million people might – the emphasis is on the word “might” – have seen this content. But this number represents just 0.004% of the content those people saw on the Facebook platform.

Significantly, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 11th, 2018 that “ad accounts linked to Russia” spent about $4,700 in advertising” to politically influence Americans during the 2016 presidential election season.

To further cast doubt on the allegations, an American watchdog group “Campaign for Accountability” (“CFA”) admitted on September 4th, 2018, that it deliberately posted propaganda materials on Google disguised as “Russian hackers from the Internet Research Agency” to check how they would be filtered for “foreign interference”. Google officials then accused the CFA as having ties to a rival tech company “Oracle”. In other words, corporate intrigues disguised as “Russian interference“.

As American media has admitted, out of several dozen pre-election rallies supposedly organized by Russians, Special Counsel Mueller mentions in his indictment that only a couple actually appear to have successfully attracted anyone, and those that did were sparsely attended and, almost without exception, in deep-red enclaves that would have voted for Trump anyway.

Amidst all the hysteria about the alleged Russian meddling it is worth reading various research studies which show, quoting “The Washington Post”, that it is Americans, in particular our intelligence service, that peddle disinformation and hate speech.

According to Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, the scale and scope of domestic disinformation is much larger than any foreign influence operation. And academics from the Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy document in their study that there had been major spikes in outright fabrication and misleading information proliferating online before the 2018 U.S. election. A “significant portion” of the disinformation appeared to come from Americans, not foreigners, the Harvard researchers said.

  1. CLAIM: Russian hackers accessed computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and leaked materials through Wikileaks and other intermediaries

FACT

As President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin noted in his interview with NBC on June 5, 2017, when flatly denying any allegations of Russia interfering in internal affairs of the U.S., that today’s technology is such that the final internet address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. It is possible to set up any entity that may indicate one source when, in fact, the source is completely different.

No evidence has been presented linking Russia to leaked emails. In fact, there are credible studies arguing that DNC servers are much more likely to have been breached by someone with immediate and physical access. In 2017 a group of former officers of the U.S. intelligence community, members of the “Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity” (VIPS), met with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to present their findings.

Those findings demonstrated using forensic analysis that the DNC data was copied at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack ( , , ), thus suggesting that it was more likely a removable storage device used.

Another counterargument to the “Russian hackers” claim is that the DNC files published by Wikileaks were initially stored under the FAT (File Allocation System) method which is not related to internet transfers and can only be forwarded to an external device such as a thumb drive.

It is also suspicious that the DNC prohibited the FBI from examining the servers. Instead, a third-party tech firm was hired, “Crowd Strike”, which is known for peddling the “Russian interference” claims. And soon enough it, indeed, announced that “Russian malware” has been found, but again no solid evidence was produced.

According to the respected former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the indictment by the Mueller team on July 13, 2018 of the 12 supposed Russian operatives was a politically motivated fraud. As Ritter explains, Mueller seems to have borrowed his list from an organizational chart of a supposed Russian military intelligence unit, contained in a classified document from the NSA titled “Spear-Phishing Campaign TTPs Used Against U.S. And Foreign Government Political Entities”, which was published by The Intercept online. As stated in that document, this is just a subjective judgement, not a known fact. Ritter concludes, that this is a far cry from the kind of incontrovertible proof that Mueller’s team suggests as existing to support its indictment.

Moreover, it is telling that the indictment was released just before the meeting between President Putin and Trump in Helsinki on July 16, 2018, seemingly as if the aim was to intentionally derail the bilateral summit.

  1. CLAIM: Donald Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.

FACT

As concluded in the summary of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, the investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia

If the Mueller team, having all the resources of the U.S. government, after 22 months of work, many millions of dollars spent, more than 2800 subpoenas issued, nearly 500 search warrants and 500 witness interviews, didn’t find any evidence of “collusion”, it is simply because there was never any. The whole claim of collusion was launched and peddled by the same group of Democrats, liberal-leaning media and the so-called “Never Trump Republicans”, as it became clear that Donald Trump had real chances of winning the election. And later it morphed into a campaign to derail the newly-elected President agenda, including his efforts to mitigate the damage done to U.S.-Russian relations.

  1. CLAIM: Hacking of American political institutions was personally ordered by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

FACT

This claim is based on nothing else but the infamous fraudulent “Steele Dossier”, paid for by political opponents [i.e., the Hilary Clinton campaign] of Donald Trump, and wild conjectures that “nothing in Russia happens without Putin’s approval” .

Needless to say, zero proof is presented. By the same logic, nothing in the U.S. happens without the President’s approval. For example, is he also responsible for Edward Snowden? After all, Mr. Snowden was doing work for the U.S. intelligence services. Or the deaths of all the civilians killed abroad by U.S. drone strikes? Every minute detail approved by the President?

  1. CLAIM: Russia did not cooperate with the U.S. in tracing the source of the alleged hacking.

FACT

Russia has repeatedly offered to set up a professional and de-politicized dialogue on international information security only to be rebuffed by the U.S. State Department. For instance, following the discussion between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in Hamburg on July 7, 2017, Russia forwarded to the U.S. a proposal to reestablish a bilateral working group on cyber threats which would have been a perfect medium to discuss American concerns. Moreover, during his meeting with Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 17, 2018, Vladimir Putin offered to allow U.S. representatives to be present at an interrogation of the Russian citizens who were previously accused by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller of being guilty of electoral interference. Furthermore, in February 2019 the Russian government suggested publishing bilateral correspondence on the subject of unsanctioned access to U.S. electronic networks, which was conducted between Washington and Moscow through the Nuclear Threat Reduction Centers in the period from October 2016 to the end of January 2017.

Needless to say, all Russian offers were rejected. A conclusion is naturally reached that American State Department officials have little interest in hearing anything that contradicts their own narrative or the discredited version of the CIA.

  1. CLAIM: Russia is interfering in elections all over the world

FACT

No credible evidence has been produced not only of Russia’s supposed meddling in the U.S. political processes, but to support similar allegations made by the U.S. in respect to other countries. For example, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster insinuated that Russia was interfering in the Mexican presidential elections of 2018. However, Mexican officials, including the president of the Mexican Senate Ernesto Cordero Arroyo, and Ambassador to Russia Norma Pensado during a press conference in Moscow in February, 2018, debunked this baseless claim.

Another example of fake news were reports saying that U.S. was increasingly convinced that Russia hacked French election on May 9, 2017. However, on June 1, 2017, the head of the French government’s cyber security agency said no trace was found of the claimed Russian hacking group behind the attack. On the other hand, the history of U.S. interfering in other countries’ elections is well documented by American sources (see: ).

For example, a Carnegie Mellon scholar, Dov H. Levin, has scoured the historical record and found 81 examples of U.S. election influence operations from 1946- to 2000. Often cited examples include Chile in 1964, Guyana in 1968, Nicaragua in 1990, Yugoslavia in 2000, Afghanistan in 2009, Ukraine in 2014, not to mention Russia in 1996! And how else could the current situation in Ukraine and Venezuela be described, with U.S. representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker openly pressuring Ukrainian voters to support the incumbent, and Washington possibly plotting a coup in Caracas?

  1. CLAIM: The lawsuit of the Democratic National Committee against the Russian Federation related to “interference in the election” has a legal standing.

FACT

The DNC filed a civil lawsuit on April 20, 2018 against the Russian Federation and other entities and individuals. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the Russian Federation; the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU); the GRU operative using the pseudonym “Guccifer 2.0”; Aras Iskenerovich Agalarov; Emin Araz Agalarov; Joseph Mifsud; WikiLeaks; Julian Assange; the Trump campaign (formally “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”); Donald Trump, Jr.; Paul Manafort; Roger Stone; Jared Kushner; George Papadopoulos; Richard W. Gates; and unnamed defendants sued as John Does 1–10. The DNC’s complaint accuses the Trump campaign of engaging in a racketeering enterprise in conjunction with Russia and WikiLeaks.

Even irrespective of the fact that there was no “interference” in the first place, the case has no legal standing. Exercise of U.S. jurisdiction over the pending case with respect to the Russian Federation is a violation of the international law, specifically, violation of jurisdictional immunities of the Russian Federation arising from the principle of the sovereign equality of states.

  1. CLAIM: Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak was a spy.

FACT

In March of 2017 U.S. media began libeling Sergey Kislyak a “top spy and spy-recruiter” This preposterous claim was based on nothing but his contacts with Trump confidant Senator Jeff Sessions – carrying out work any ambassador would do. Per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, among core diplomatic functions is ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving state, and that certainly includes openly meeting leaders of Congress on Capitol Hill. Even former CIA Director John McLaughlin noted that Mr. Kislyak is an experienced diplomat, not a spy.

  1. CLAIM: Russian Embassy retreat in Maryland was an intelligence base

FACT.

Among the unlawful acts that U.S. administrations undertook was the expropriation of a legal Russian property in Maryland, a summer retreat near the Chesapeake Bay under the pretext it was used for intelligence gathering. But where is the supposed-treasure trove of alleged spy equipment that U.S. authorities reportedly found there? Why not show them publicly to back up the claim? After the expropriation and the claims, not a word – silence.

The retreat, “dacha” as Russians would call it, was bought by the former Soviet Union in 1972. Since then, it was used for recreation, including hosting a children’s summer camp and regularly entertaining American visitors. One of the more popular events was the stop-over during the annual Chesapeake Regatta, completed with an expansive tour of the property. Presumably U.S. intelligence services could have used this for years to inspect the property. Why was nothing ever mentioned before the Obama Administration action?

  1. CLAIM: The meeting in Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016 between Trump campaign officials and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was to discuss compromising materials that Russian had on Hillary Clinton.

FACT

According to testimony provided to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Veselnitskaya focused on explaining the illicit activities of U.S.-British investor Bill Browder, wanted in Russia for crimes, and brought attention to the adverse effects of the so-called “Magnitskiy Act”, adopted by U.S. Congress in 2012 and lobbied for by Browder.

  1. CLAIM: Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, met with Russians in Prague to “collude”.

FACT

It was reported in American media that the Justice Department special counsel had evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, secretly made a trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign to meet with Russian representatives, a fact also mentioned in the discredited “Steele Dossier”. This was given as further evidence of “collusion”. But Cohen vehemently denied this – under oath. Passport records indicate that he never was in Prague. He was actually on vacation with his son at the supposed time. Given that he publicly turned on his former boss and still denied the fact of ever going to Prague disproves this claim further.

  1. CLAIM: Former member of the Trump campaign team Carter Page was a Russian intelligence asset.

FACT

According to members of Congress and journalistic investigations, the redacted declassified documents of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) show that the main source used by U.S. counterintelligence to justify spying on Mr. Page was the fraudulent so-called “Steele Dossier”.

Thus, Mr. Page for obvious reasons was not accused by the team of Robert Mueller of being involved in a “Russian conspiracy”.

  1. CLAIM: On August 22, 2018, The Democratic National Committee filed a claim with the FBI, accusing the “Russian hackers” of infiltrating its electoral database.

FACT

Several days later members of the Democratic Party admitted that it was a “false alarm”, as it was simply a security check-up performed at the initiative of the Democratic Party’s affiliate in Michigan.

  1. CLAIM: On August 8, 2018 U.S. Senator Bill Nelson accused Russia of breaching the infrastructure of the voter registration systems in several local election offices of Florida.

FACT

Florida’s Department of State spokesperson, Sarah Revell, stated on August 9, 2018, that Florida’s government had not received any evidence from competent authorities that Florida’s voting systems or election records had been compromised. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI also could not confirm in any manner the accusations.

  1. CLAIM: In September, 2017 the U.S. media, referring to the Department of Homeland Security, accused Russia of “cyberattacks” on electoral infrastructure in 21 states during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.

FACT

On September 27, 2017, Wisconsin and California authorities stated that their electoral systems were not targeted by cyberattacks. On November 12, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said in a CBS interview that the “hackers’ activity” had no significant consequences and did not influence the outcome of the elections. And, indeed, the source of those attacks was not clear.

  1. CLAIM: Russia meddled in the Alabama 2017 Senate elections to help the Republican candidate.

FACT

Despite the initial claims, it turned out that a group of Democratic tech experts decided to imitate so-called “Russian tactics” in the fiercely contested Alabama Senate rac?. Even more jarring is the fact that one participant in the “Alabama project”, Jonathon Morgan, is chief executive of “New Knowledge”, a cyber security firm that wrote a scathing account of Russia’s social media operations in the 2016 election that was released in 2018 by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Once again, we have one of the main private sector players in hyping the Russian threat caught red-handed.

  1. CLAIM: Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman, was a secret link to Russian intelligence.

FACT

Trump’s former campaign chairman was hit with two indictments from Mueller’s office. However, even as American media notes, both cases have nothing to do with Russia and stemmed from his years as a political consultant for the Ukrainian government and his failure to pay taxes on the millions he earned, his failure to report the foreign bank accounts he used to stash that money, and his failure to report his work to the US government. In his second case in Virginia, he was also chargedwith committing bank fraud to boost his assets when the Ukraine work dried up.

In fact, serious concerns have been raised in the U.S. that it was Ukrainian officials who tried to influence the 2016 elections by leaking compromising materials on Mr. Manafort.

The Ukrainian connection is also prevalent in the case of money transferred to accounts of American politicians. For instance, according to a “New York Times” article, Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk donated over 10 million dollars to the “Clinton Foundation while just 150 thousand dollars to the “Trump Foundation”.

  1. CLAIM: Russia compromised the Vermont power grid.

FACT

On December 31, 2016, “The Washington Post”, accused “Russian hackers” of compromising the Vermont power grid. The local company, “Burlington Electric”, allegedly traced a malware code in a laptop of one of its employees. It was stated that the same “code” was used to hack the Democratic Party servers in 2016. However, the “Wordfence” cybersecurity firm checked “Burlington Electric” for hacking, and said that the malware code was openly available, for instance, on a web-site of Ukrainian hackers. The attackers were using IP-addresses from across the world. “The Washington Post” later admitted that conclusions on Russia’s involvement were false.

  1. CLAIM: Russian Alfa Bank was used as a secret communication link with the Trump campaign.

FACT

In October 2016 a new “accusation” appeared, alleging that a message exchange between the Alfa Bank server and Trump organizations indicated a «secret» Trump – Russia communication channel.

However, the FBI concluded the supposed messaging was marketing newsletters and/or spam.

  1. CLAIM: Russia cracked voter registration systems during the 2016 U.S. elections.

FACT

In July 2016 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security accused Russia of gaining unauthorized access to electronic voter registration systems in Arizona. But on April 8, 2018, “Reuters”, referring to a high-ranking U.S. administration official, wrote there was no proof Russia had anything to do with the mentioned cyberattack.

  1. CLAIM: Russian Embassy bank transactions were linked to “election interference”.

FACT

American publication “Buzzfeed” repeatedly claimed that U.S. authorities flagged Russian Embassy financial transfers as suspicious, many of them dated around the 2016 election. In reality, the media outlet, by twisting the facts and placing them out of context, made routine banking transactions – salary transfers, payments to contractors – look nefarious. It is not uncommon for embassy personnel to receive larger payouts, transfer or withdraw larger sums of money at the end of their work. Furthermore, leaking of confidential banking information of persons and organizations protected by diplomatic immunity raised concerns about the likely involvement of security services.

The arrest in October 2018 of a U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network official, charged with leaking information both about the Russian Embassy accounts and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, provides further proof to the theory of political skullduggery.

*  *  *

Most of these responses have not been fully examined or addressed by major media, nor, for that matter, by Fox News, dominated as it is by an almost instinctive Neoconservative Russophobia (the one possible exception being Tucker Carlson).

For the American Left, since the collapse of Communism and the growth of a traditionalist nationalism (under Vladimir Putin), Russia has become a convenient target. When the Soviets were in power prior to 1991, the USSR was seen as a “progressive” presence in the world, even if by the requirements of American politics the Left was forced to make ritualistic condemnations of the more extreme elements of Soviet statecraft. Now that post-Communist Russia bans same sex marriage, glorifies the traditional family, and the conservative Russian Orthodox Church occupies a special position of esteem and prominence, that admiration has turned to fear and loathing. And that Russia and its president have been viewed as favorable to the hated Donald Trump doubly confirms that hostility and targeting.

For the dominant Neoconservatives and many Republicans, contemporary Russia is seen as “anti-democratic,” “reactionary,” and a threat to American world hegemony (and the refusal to bow to that hegemony, whether economically, politically, or culturally). Indeed, as a major intellectual force, Neoconservatism owes much of its origins to Eastern European and Russia Jews, many of whose ancestors were at direct odds with the old pre-1917 Tsarist state. That animus, those nightmares of pogroms and oppression, have never completely subsided. A modern traditionalist, Orthodox Russia is viewed as antithetical to their more liberal, even Leftwing ideas (e.g., increasing “conservative” acceptance of same sex marriage, “moderate” feminism, and a whole panoply of “forward looking” views on civil rights issues—all of which are present on Fox News.)

Memory of “the bad old days” has never disappeared.

None of this history should prevent a close examination of the current accusations against Russia, nor our search for the truth. Much—perhaps the future of Western civilization itself—depends on it.

Published:4/28/2019 9:13:04 PM
[Politics] Ron Johnson: 'I Understand President's Frustration' With Mueller Probe Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said Sunday he understands President Donald Trump's "frustration" at special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation - and the president's harsh assessment at a Saturday rally of some FBI leaders as "scum."... Published:4/28/2019 12:09:55 PM
[Markets] Will The Senior-Level FBI Agents, Who Placed Spies In The Trump Campaign, Ever Be Held Accountable?

Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

Did the FBI spy on the Trump campaign?

Yes

Did the FBI place spies in the Trump campaign?

Yes

Do we know the names of the spies and how they operated?

Yes

Were the spies trying to entrap Trump campaign assistants in order to gather information on Trump?

Yes

Did the spies try to elicit information from Trump campaign assistants in order to justify a wider investigation and more extensive surveillance?

Yes

Were the spies placed in the Trump campaign based on improperly obtained FISA warrants?

Yes

Did the FBI agents procure these warrants based on false or misleading information?

Yes

Could the FBI establish “probable cause” that Trump had committed a crime or “colluded” with Russia?

No

So the ‘spying’ was illegal?

Yes

Have many of the people who authorized the spying, already been identified in criminal referrals presented to the Department of Justice?

Yes

Have the media explained the importance of these criminal referrals or the impact that spying has on free elections?

No

Is the DOJ’s Inspector General currently investigating whether senior-level agents in the FBI committed crimes by improperly obtaining warrants to spy on members of the Trump team?

Yes

Did the FBI spy on the Trump campaign to give Hillary Clinton an unfair advantage in the presidential race?

Yes

Did the FBI spy on the Trump campaign to gather incriminating information on Trump that could be used to blackmail, intimidate or impeach him in the future?

Yes

Does spying pose a threat to our elections and to our democracy?

Yes

Do many people know that there were spies placed in the Trump campaign?

Yes

Have these people effectively used that information to their advantage?

No

Have they launched any type of public relations offensive that would draw more attention to the critical issue of spying on a political campaign?

No

Have they saturated the airwaves with the truth about “spying” the same way their rivals have spread their disinformation about “collusion”?

No

Do they understand that the country is currently embroiled in a fratricidal, scorched earth political civil war in which one side is determined to prevail at all cost?

No

Do they understand that the people who authorized the spying and who perpetrated the coup will do everything in their power to prevent that information from getting out?

No

Does it look like senior-level agents at the FBI, the CIA, the DOJ, the NSA and the Obama White House knew that there were spies in the Trump campaign?

Yes

Did these same senior-level agents at the FBI, the CIA, the DOJ, the NSA and the Obama White House cooperate in a plan to undermine and delegitimize the Trump presidency?

Yes

Did they use false or misleading information to infer the president was an agent of a foreign power?

Yes

Did they know this false and misleading information was unreliable, unverified raw intelligence that was paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton?

Yes

Was there a conspiracy to remove Trump from office or to sabotage his presidency through the dissemination of false information?

Yes

Does the use of spies, wiretapping, “unmasking”, strategically-leaked information to the media, and other forms of electronic surveillance suggest that there are organized elements within the permanent bureaucracy which no longer accept the democratic process?

Yes

Is it fair to say that these people are the enemies of free elections?

Yes

Is it possible for patriotic officials in the Justice Department and in the U.S. Congress to stand up to this powerful deep state apparatus, expose what happened during the 2016 presidential campaign, identify the perpetrators, and bring them to justice?

It is possible, but not likely.

Published:4/27/2019 11:39:00 AM
[Markets] Strassel: Why Didn't Mueller Investigate Whether Steele Dossier Was Russian Disinfo?

Since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report, several questions have been asked as to why certain things were not investigated, and key players were never interviewed, according to President Trump. 

Perhaps the most glaring omission is Mueller's failure to consider that the infamous "Steele Dossier" - which used Kremlin sources - could have been Russian disinformation itself. 

Asking that very question, the Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel opines on this "stunning omission." 

Kimberly Strassel via the Wall Street Journal

Politicians keep reminding us not to lose sight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s broader assignment: to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. If only someone had reminded Mr. Mueller.

One of the biggest failures of the Mueller probe concerns not what was in the final report, but what was not. Close readers will search in vain for any analysis of the central document in this affair: the infamous “dossier.” It’s a stunning omission, given the possibility that the Russians used that collection of reports to feed disinformation to U.S. intelligence agencies, sparking years of political maelstrom.

The dossier—compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS, an opposition-research firm working for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee—fed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the media the principal allegations of the “collusion” narrative. It claimed Paul Manafort was at the center of a “well-developed” Trump-Russia “conspiracy”; that Carter Page served as his intermediary, conducting secret meetings with a Kremlin official and the head of a state energy company; that Michael Cohen held a clandestine meeting in Prague with Vladimir Putin cronies; and that the Russians had compromising material on Donald Trump, making him vulnerable to blackmail. The dossier was clearly important to the FBI probe. Its wild claims made up a significant section of the FBI’s application for a secret surveillance warrant on Mr. Page.

The Mueller report exposes the dossier claims as pure fiction. Yet in describing the actions of the Trump campaign figures the FBI accused, the report assiduously avoids any mention of the dossier or its allegations. Mr. Mueller refers to Mr. Steele and his work largely in passing, as part of the report’s description of how former FBI Director James Comey informed Mr. Trump of the dossier’s existence. The dossier is blandly described several times as “unverified allegations compiled” by Mr. Steele.

Once Mr. Mueller established that the dossier was a pack of lies, he should have investigated how it gained such currency at the highest levels of the FBI. Yet his report makes clear he had no interest in plumbing the antics of the bureau, which he led from 2001-13. Instead, he went out of his way to avoid the dossier and give cover to the FBI.

The special counsel had another, more pressing reason to look at the dossier: It fell within his core mission. Since its publication by BuzzFeed in January 2017, we’ve learned enough about Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS to wonder if the Russians used the dossier for their own malign purposes.

In the first telling, Mr. Steele was described by friendly media as simply a “former Western intelligence official” with a history at Britain’s overseas intelligence service. It turns out he worked in Russia. Mr. Steele spent his first years of service under diplomatic cover in Moscow, later in Paris. And in 1999 he was among 117 British spies whose covers were publicly blown by a disgruntled ex-MI6 officer.

The former spy, known to the public and therefore to Russia, also became known for sending reports to the U.S. government. Last year former Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer explained that in 2009 he became friendly with the self-employed Mr. Steele, and starting as early as 2013 ensured that “more than 100 of Steele’s reports” on Russia topics were shared with the State Department. Given that the dossier is largely based on Russian sources, some supposedly connected to the Kremlin, did the Kremlin know about this arrangement and see an opportunity to spoon-feed the U.S. government disinformation?

We’ve also learned more about Mr. Steele’s and Fusion’s connections to Russians. Mr. Steele sent a series of emails to Justice Department employee Bruce Ohr in 2016 inquiring about the status of a visa for Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch with Kremlin ties. Fusion GPS was working alongside Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who arranged the infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016. Fusion was hired as part of a team to help Ms. Veselnitskaya undermine Bill Browder, the man behind the Magnitsky Act, a law that imposes sanctions on Russians for corruption and human-rights violations.

How did Mr. Mueller spend two years investigating every aspect of Russian interference—cyberhacking, social-media trolling, meetings with Trump officials—and not consider the possibility that the dossier was part of the Russian interference effort?

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Attorney General William Barr may answer some of the questions Mr. Mueller refused to touch. Thanks to the special counsel we know Republicans weren’t playing footsie with Russians. But thanks to BuzzFeed, we know that Democrats were. America deserves to know how far that interaction extended.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

Published:4/27/2019 10:33:32 AM
[Markets] Ukraine Tapped By Obama Admin To Hurt Trump, Help Clinton And Protect Bidens

In January, 2016, the Obama White House summoned Ukrainian authorities to Washington to discuss several ongoing matters under the guise of coordinating "anti-corruption efforts," reports The Hill's John Solomon. 

The January 2016 gathering, confirmed by multiple participants and contemporaneous memos, brought some of Ukraine’s top corruption prosecutors and investigators face to face with members of former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ).

The agenda suggested the purpose was training and coordination. But Ukrainian participants said it didn’t take long — during the meetings and afterward — to realize the Americans’ objectives included two politically hot investigations: one that touched Vice President Joe Biden’s family and one that involved a lobbying firm linked closely to then-candidate Trump. -The Hill

The Obama officials - likely knowing that lobbyist Paul Manafort was about to join President Trump's campaign soon (he joined that March), were interested in reviving a closed investigation into payments to US figures from Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions - which both Paul Manafort and Tony Podesta did unregistered work for, according to former Ukrainian Embassy political officer Andrii Telizhenko. 

The 2014 investigation focused heavily on Manafort, whose firm was tied to Trump through his longtime partner and Trump adviser, Roger Stone.

Agents interviewed Manafort in 2014 about whether he received undeclared payments from the party of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and whether he engaged in improper foreign lobbying.

The FBI shut down the case without charging Manafort 

Telizhenko and other attendees of the January, 2016 meeting recall DOJ employees asking Ukrainian investigators from their National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) if they could locate new evidence about the Party of Regions' payments to Americans

"It was definitely the case that led to the charges against Manafort and the leak to U.S. media during the 2016 election," said Telizhenko - which makes the January 2016 gathering in DC one of the earliest documented efforts to compile a case against Trump and those in his orbit. 

Nazar Kholodnytskyy, Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, told me he attended some but not all of the January 2016 Washington meetings and couldn’t remember the specific cases, if any, that were discussed.

But he said he soon saw evidence in Ukraine of political meddling in the U.S. election. Kholodnytskyy said the key evidence against Manafort — a ledger showing payments from the Party of Regions — was known to Ukrainian authorities since 2014 but was suddenly released in May 2016 by the U.S.-friendly NABU, after Manafort was named Trump’s campaign chairman.

"Somebody kept this black ledger secret for two years and then showed it to the public and the U.S. media. It was extremely suspicious," said Kholodnytskyy - who specifically instructed NABU not to share the "black ledger" with the media. 

"I ordered the detectives to give nothing to the mass media considering this case. Instead, they had broken my order and published themselves these one or two pages of this black ledger regarding Paul Manafort," he added. "For me it was the first call that something was going wrong and that there is some external influence in this case. And there is some other interests in this case not in the interest of the investigation and a fair trial."

Manafort joined Trump's campaign on March 29, 2016 and became campaign manager on May 19, 2016. The ledger's existence leaked on May 29, 2016, while Manafort would be fired from the Trump campaign that August. 

NABU leaked the existence of the ledgers on May 29, 2016. Later that summer, it told U.S. media the ledgers showed payments to Manafort, a revelation that forced him to resign from the campaign in August 2016.

A Ukrainian court in December concluded NABU’s release of the ledger was an illegal attempt to influence the U.S. election. And a member of Ukraine’s parliament has released a recording of a NABU official saying the agency released the ledger to help Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Ignoring others, protecting Bidens

Kostiantyn Kulyk - deputy head of the Ukraine prosecutor general’s international affairs office, said that Ukraine also had evidence of other Western figures receiving money from Yanukovych's party - such as former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig - but the Americans weren't interested. 

"They just discussed Manafort. This was all and only what they wanted. Nobody else," said Kulyk. 

Another case raised at the January 2016 meeting involved the Bidens - specifically Burisma Holdings; a Ukrainian energy company which was under investigation at the time for improper foreign transfers of money. Burisma allegedly paid then-Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter more than $3 million in 2014-15 as both a board member and a consultant, according to bank records

According to Telizhenko, U.S. officials told the Ukrainians they would prefer that Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over. The Ukrainians did not agree. But then Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukraine’s chief prosecutor in March 2016, as I previously reported. The Burisma case was transferred to NABU, then shut down.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington on Thursday confirmed the Obama administration requested the meetings in January 2016, but embassy representatives attended only some of the sessions.

Last Wednesday on Fox and Friends, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said "I ask you to keep your eye on Ukraine," referring to collusion to help Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.  

What's more, DOJ documents support Telizhenko's claim that the DOJ reopened its Manafort case as the 2016 election ramped up - including communications between Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr, his wife, Nellie, and ex-British spy Christopher Steele, as Solomon writes. 

Nellie Ohr and Steele worked in 2016 for the research firm, Fusion GPS, that was hired by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find Russia dirt on Trump. Steele wrote the famous dossier for Fusion that the FBI used to gain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. Nellie Ohr admitted to Congress that she routed Russia dirt on Trump from Fusion to the DOJ through her husband during the election.

DOJ emails show Nellie Ohr on May 30, 2016, directly alerted her husband and two DOJ prosecutors specializing in international crimes to the discovery of the “black ledger” documents that led to Manafort’s prosecution.

“Reported Trove of documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions’ Black Cashbox,” Nellie Ohr wrote to her husband and federal prosecutors Lisa Holtyn and Joseph Wheatley, attaching a news article on the announcement of NABU’s release of the documents.

Politico reported previously that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington assisted the Hillary Clinton campaign through a DNC contractor, while the Ukrainian Embassy acknowledges that it got requests from a DNC staffer to find dirt on Manafort (though it denies providing any improper assistance." 

As Solomon concludes: "what is already confirmed by Ukrainians looks a lot more like assertive collusion with a foreign power than anything detailed in the Mueller report."

Published:4/27/2019 9:34:26 AM
[Markets] 15 Killed During Shootout At Terrorist Hideout As Sri Lankan Police Round Up Jihadis

In the wake of last weekend's devastating attacks, which killed a total of 253 people across more than six locations, including three churches and three luxury hotels, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to leave no suspect's home undisturbed as police round up every one in the country of 20 million with even a passing affiliation with Islamic fundamentalist groups.

Sirisena, whose government failed to act on an intelligence memo warning of the impending attacks 10 days prior, has been struggling to rebuild the public's confidence, claiming that he never saw the memos while firing one of his defense ministers and pushing a police chief inspector general to quit (so far, he has refused).

Sri Lanka police and soldiers secure the site after a gunbattle in Kalmunai, in eastern Sri Lanka, April 27, 2019; photo: AP

Yet so far, the raids have been successful, as police have captured dozens of suspects and seized bombs, weapons and ISIS flags. However, violence has erupted that has caused the total death toll from the attacks to climb. On Friday, violence erupted during raids on suspected bomb-building sites and other terrorist strongholds. Police have said they believe some 140 members of ISIS are in the country, and that only 70 have been taken into custody.

According to Bloomberg, a total of 15 bodies, including six children, were recovered after a lengthy gun battle between military police and suspected Islamic militants linked to the bombings. The suspects were killed after police raided a house in Sainthamaruthu on Friday; earlier, police had said they believed four gunmen and a civilian had been killed. Police scoured the area after one of the bombings happened in nearby Batticaloa.

Three suicide bombers were among the dead, according to military spokesman Sumith Atapattu, who said they were suspected members of National Towheed Jama’at, the domestic group believed to have partnered with ISIS in carrying out the attacks. Unfortunately, suicide bombers detonating explosives has become a troubling theme during the raids. Earlier in the week, the daughter-in-law of a wealthy spice merchant whose sons were among the assailants in Sunday's attacks killed herself, two of her children and several officers when they raided the family compound.

Earlier, two militants and one civilian were killed in a firefight between troops and suspected militants near Sammanthurai. The fighting erupted on Friday night after troops raided a safe house on a tip from police, encountering militants who set off multiple explosions and opened fire.

Since the raids began in the days after Sunday's attacks, police have seized explosives, military uniforms, detonators, materials used to make suicide vests, and Islamic State flags. Some 10,000 soldiers have participated in the raids. The FBI has been assisting local police in the attacks.

Published:4/27/2019 8:34:41 AM
[Markets] The Essence Of Evil: Sex With Children Has Become Big Business In America

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”—John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Children, young girls - some as young as 9 years old - are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old.

This is America’s dirty little secret.

Sex trafficking—especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls—has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.

As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins notes, “It’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a ‘righteous’ pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.”

Consider this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry.

According to USA Todayadults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.

Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life.

They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.

In Georgia alone, it is estimated that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) seek to purchase sex with adolescent girls each month, averaging roughly 300 a day.

On average, a child might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 children—girls and boys—are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are forcefully abducted, others are runaways, and still others are sold into the system by relatives and acquaintances.

“Human trafficking—the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution—is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S.,” said prosecutor Krishna Patel.

This is an industry that revolves around cheap sex on the fly, with young girls and women who are sold to 50 men each day for $25 apiece, while their handlers make $150,000 to $200,000 per child each year.

This is not a problem found only in big cities.

It’s happening everywhere, right under our noses, in suburbs, cities and towns across the nation.

As Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children points out, “The only way not to find this in any American city is simply not to look for it.”

Don’t fool yourselves into believing that this is merely a concern for lower income communities or immigrants.

It’s not.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged child sex workers in the U.S. These girls aren’t volunteering to be sex slaves. They’re being lured—forced—trafficked into it. In most cases, they have no choice.

In order to avoid detection (in some cases aided and abetted by the police) and cater to male buyers’ demand for sex with different women, pimps and the gangs and crime syndicates they work for have turned sex trafficking into a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked girls, boys and women constantly being moved from city to city, state to state, and country to country.

For instance, the Baltimore-Washington area, referred to as The Circuit, with its I-95 corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations and truck stops, is a hub for the sex trade.

No doubt about it: this is a highly profitable, highly organized and highly sophisticated sex trafficking business that operates in towns large and small, raking in upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and selling young girls for sex.

Every year, the girls being bought and sold gets younger and younger.

The average age of those being trafficked is 13. Yet as the head of a group that combats trafficking pointed out, “Let’s think about what average means. That means there are children younger than 13. That means 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds.

“For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women who are brought in by the traffickers. Unfortunately, they’re not 18- or 20-year-olds anymore,” noted a 25-year-old victim of trafficking. “They’re minors as young as 13 who are being trafficked. They’re little girls.”

Where did this appetite for young girls come from?

Look around you.

Young girls have been sexualized for years now in music videos, on billboards, in television ads, and in clothing stores. Marketers have created a demand for young flesh and a ready supply of over-sexualized children.

“All it takes is one look at MySpace photos of teens to see examples—if they aren’t imitating porn they’ve actually seen, they’re imitating the porn-inspired images and poses they’ve absorbed elsewhere,” writes Jessica Bennett for Newsweek. “Latex, corsets and stripper heels, once the fashion of porn stars, have made their way into middle and high school.”

This is what Bennett refers to as the “pornification of a generation.”

“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives,” concludes Bennett. “Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007 study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit content at least once.”

In other words, the culture is grooming these young people to be preyed upon by sexual predators. And then we wonder why our young women are being preyed on, trafficked and abused?

Social media makes it all too easy. As one news center reported, “Finding girls is easy for pimps. They look on MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. They and their assistants cruise malls, high schools and middle schools. They pick them up at bus stops. On the trolley. Girl-to-girl recruitment sometimes happens.” Foster homes and youth shelters have also become prime targets for traffickers.

Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many start out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or larger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.

Debbie, a straight-A student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., is an example of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie’s captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with children, and the money that Debbie “earned” for sex was given to her kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days.

While Debbie was fortunate enough to be rescued, others are not so lucky. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 800,000 children go missing every year (roughly 2,185 children a day).

With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem that’s going away anytime soon.

For those trafficked, it’s a nightmare from beginning to end.

Those being sold for sex have an average life expectancy of seven years, and those years are a living nightmare of endless rape, forced drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the constant fear of being killed or, worse, having those you love hurt or killed.

Peter Landesman paints the full horrors of life for those victims of the sex trade in his New York Times article “The Girls Next Door”:

Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners--toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens--as well as what she called a “damage group.” “In the damage group, they can hit you or do anything they want to,” she explained. “Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group.”

What Andrea described next shows just how depraved some portions of American society have become. “They’d get you hungry then to train you” to have oral sex. “They put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older, I’d teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn’t hurt.”

Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., report that when it comes to sex, the appetites of many Americans have now changed. What was once considered abnormal is now the norm. These agents are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet. As one agent noted, “We’ve become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit.”

This trend is reflected by the treatment many of the girls receive at the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who purchase them. Peter Landesman interviewed Rosario, a Mexican woman who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years. She said: “In America, we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.”

A common thread woven through most survivors’ experiences is being forced to go without sleep or food until they have met their sex quota of at least 40 men. One woman recounts how her trafficker made her lie face down on the floor when she was pregnant and then literally jumped on her back, forcing her to miscarry.

Holly Austin Smith was abducted when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year in prison.

Barbara Amaya was repeatedly sold between traffickers, abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, trafficked, beaten, and jailed all before she was 18 years old. “I had a quota that I was supposed to fill every night. And if I didn’t have that amount of money, I would get beat, thrown down the stairs. He beat me once with wire coat hangers, the kind you hang up clothes, he straightened it out and my whole back was bleeding.”

As David McSwane recounts in a chilling piece for the Herald-Tribune: “In Oakland Park, an industrial Fort Lauderdale suburb, federal agents in 2011 encountered a brothel operated by a married couple. Inside ‘The Boom Boom Room,’ as it was known, customers paid a fee and were given a condom and a timer and left alone with one of the brothel’s eight teenagers, children as young as 13. A 16-year-old foster child testified that he acted as security, while a 17-year-old girl told a federal judge she was forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a night.”

One particular sex trafficking ring catered specifically to migrant workers employed seasonally on farms throughout the southeastern states, especially the Carolinas and Georgia, although it’s a flourishing business in every state in the country. Traffickers transport the women from farm to farm, where migrant workers would line up outside shacks, as many as 30 at a time, to have sex with them before they were transported to yet another farm where the process would begin all over again.

This growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open.

Trafficked women and children are advertised on the internet, transported on the interstate, and bought and sold in swanky hotels.

Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government’s war on sex trafficking—much like the government’s war on terrorism, drugs and crime—has become a perfect excuse for inflicting more police state tactics (police check points, searches, surveillance, and heightened security) on a vulnerable public, while doing little to make our communities safer.

So what can you do?

Educate yourselves and your children about this growing menace in our communities.

Stop feeding the monster: Sex trafficking is part of a larger continuum in America that runs the gamut from homelessness, poverty, and self-esteem issues to sexualized television, the glorification of a pimp/ho culture—what is often referred to as the pornification of America—and a billion dollar sex industry built on the back of pornography, music, entertainment, etc.

This epidemic is largely one of our own making, especially in a corporate age where the value placed on human life takes a backseat to profit. It is estimated that the porn industry brings in more money than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.

Call on your city councils, elected officials and police departments to make the battle against sex trafficking a top priority, more so even than the so-called war on terror and drugs and the militarization of law enforcement.

Stop prosecuting adults for victimless “crimes” such as growing lettuce in their front yard and focus on putting away the pimps and buyers who victimize these young women.

Finally, the police need to do a better job of training, identifying and responding to these issues; communities and social services need to do a better job of protecting runaways, who are the primary targets of traffickers; legislators need to pass legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers and “johns,” the buyers who drive the demand for sex slaves; and hotels need to stop enabling these traffickers, by providing them with rooms and cover for their dirty deeds.

That so many women and children continue to be victimized, brutalized and treated like human cargo is due to three things: one, a consumer demand that is increasingly lucrative for everyone involved—except the victims; two, a level of corruption so invasive on both a local and international scale that there is little hope of working through established channels for change; and three, an eerie silence from individuals who fail to speak out against such atrocities.

But the truth is that we are all guilty of contributing to this human suffering. The traffickers are guilty. The consumers are guilty. The corrupt law enforcement officials are guilty. The women’s groups who do nothing are guilty. The foreign peacekeepers and aid workers who contribute to the demand for sex slaves are guilty. Most of all, every individual who does not raise a hue and cry over the atrocities being committed against women and children in almost every nation around the globe—including the United States—is guilty.

Published:4/26/2019 11:35:20 PM
[Startups] The FBI searched the offices of microbiome startup uBiome Earlier today, agents from the FBI searched the offices of uBiome, the medical testing company that sells analyses of an individual’s microbiome — the bacteria that live in the gut, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The FBI is reportedly investigating uBiome’s billing practices, the WSJ reported. “I can confirm that special […] Published:4/26/2019 4:01:06 PM
[Markets] For "The Thinking Class", Blowback Is A Harsh Mistress

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

In this universe of paradox, inequity, ironies, and fake-outs one strange actuality stands above the rest these days: that the much-reviled President Trump was on the right side of RussiaGate, and the enormous mob of America’s Thinking Class was on the wrong side — and by such a shocking margin of error that they remain in a horrified fugue of outrage and reprisal, apparently unaware that consequences await.

Granted, there’s a lot to not like about Mr. Trump: his life of maximum privilege in a bubble of grifticious wealth; his shady career in the sub-swamp of New York real estate; his rough, garbled, and childlike manner of speech; his disdain of political decorum, his lumbering bellicosity, his apparently near-total lack of education, and, of course, the mystifying hair-doo. His unbelievable luck in winning the 2016 election can only be explained by the intervention of some malign cosmic force — a role assigned to the Russians. At least that’s how Mr. Trump’s antagonists engineered The Narrative that they have now quadrupled down on.

To make matters worse, this odious President happens to be on the right side of several other political quarrels of the day, at least in terms of principle, however awkwardly he presents it.

The Resistance, which is to say the same Thinking Class groomed in the Ivy League and apprenticed in official leadership, has dug in on the idiotic policy position of a de facto open border with Mexico, and embellished that foolish idea with such accessory stupidities as sanctuary cities and free college tuition for non-citizens. Their arguments justifying these positions are wholly sentimental — they’re stuffing little children in cages! — masking a deep undercurrent of dishonesty and cynical opportunism — not to mention putting themselves at odds with the rule-of-law itself.

During the 2016 election campaign, Mr. Trump often averred to forging better relations with Russia. The previous administration had meddled grotesquely in Ukrainian politics, among other things, and scuttled the chance to make common cause with Russia in areas of shared self-interest, for instance, in opposing worldwide Islamic terrorism. This was apparently too much for the US War Lobby, who needed a Russian boogeyman to keep the gravy train of weaponry and profitable interventionist operations chugging along, even if it meant arming Islamic State warriors who were blowing up US troops. Being falsely persecuted from before day one of his term for “collusion with Russia,” Mr. Trump apparently found it necessary to go along with antagonizing Russia via sanctions and bluster, as if to demonstrate he never was “Putin’s Puppet.”

Meanwhile, by some strange process of psychological alchemy, the Thinking Class assigned Islamic radicals to their roster of sacred victims of oppression — so that now it’s verboten to mention them in news reports whenever some new slaughter of innocents is carried out around the world, or to complain about their hostility to Western Civ as a general proposition. Two decades after the obscene 9/11 attacks, the new Democratic Party controlled congress has apparently decided that it’s better to make common cause with Islamic Radicalism than with a Russia that is, in actuality, no longer the Soviet Union but rather just another European nation trying to make it through the endgame of the industrial age, like everybody else.

The Thinking Class behind the bad faith Resistance is about to be beaten within an inch of its place in history with an ugly-stick of reality as The Narrative finally comes to be fairly adjudicated. The Mueller Report was much more than just disappointing; it was a comically inept performance insofar as it managed to overlook the only incidence of collusion that actually took place: namely, the disinfo operation sponsored by the Hillary Clinton campaign in concert with the highest officials of the FBI, the Department of Justice, State Department personnel, the various Intel agencies, and the Obama White house for the purpose of interfering in the 2016 election. It will turn out that the Mueller Investigation was just an extension of that felonious op, and Mr. Mueller himself may well be subject to prosecution for destroying evidence and, yes, obstruction of justice.

John F. Kennedy once observed that “life is unfair.” It is unfair, perhaps, that a TV Reality Show huckster, clown, and rank outsider beat a highly credentialed veteran of the political establishment and that he flaunts his lack of decorum in the Oval Office. But it happens that he was on the side of the truth in the RussiaGate farrago and that happens to place him in a position of advantage going forward.

Published:4/26/2019 3:02:16 PM
[2019 News] Trump’s FBI Gets It Done, Clinton Official Pleads Guilty To TREASON For Collusion Trump’s FBI Gets It Done, Clinton Official Pleads Guilty To TREASON For Collusion. Yes indeed, things seem to be heating up. According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Candace Marie Claiborne — who worked under both Hillary and Bill Clinton — pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government, concealing contact with foreign spies, obstructing […] Published:4/26/2019 2:10:55 PM
[Markets] Trump Makes Post-Mueller Vow To Release "Devastating" FISA Docs

President Trump on Thursday renewed his vow to declassify a wide swath of "devastating" documents related to the Russia probe "and much more" - adding that he's glad he waited until the Mueller investigation was complete. 

In a Thursday night phone interview on Fox News, host Sean Hannity asked "will you declassify the FISA applications, gang of 8 material, those 302s - what we call on this program 'the bucket of five'?"

To which Trump replied: "Yes, everything is going to be declassified - and more, much more than what you just mentioned. It will all be declassified, and I'm glad I waited because i thought that maybe they would obstruct if I did it early - and I think I was right. So I'm glad I waited, and now the Attorney General can take a look - a very strong look at whatever it is, but it will be declassified and more than what you just mentioned."

Last September 17th, Trump vowed to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, as well as specific pages from the FBI's FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, and interviews with the DOJ's Bruce Ohr. 

Four days later, however, Trump said over Twitter that the Justice Department - then headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (while the Russia investigation was headed up by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein) - told him that it might have a negative impact on the Russia probe, and that key US allies had asked him not to release the documents. 

"I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents," Trump tweeted. "They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me - and everyone!"

That key ally turns out to have been the UK, according to the New York Times., which reported last September that their concern was over material which "includes direct references to conversations between American law enforcement officials and Christopher Steele,the former MI6 agent who compiled the infamous "Steele Dossier."

We now know, of course, that Steele had extensive contact with Bruce and Nellie Ohr in 2016, while Bruce was the #4 official at the Obama DOJ, and Nellie was working for Fusion GPS - the opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton and the DNC to produce the infamous Steele Dossier.

Last August, emails turned over to Congressional investigators revealed that Steele was much closer to the Obama administration than previously disclosed, and his DOJ contact Bruce Ohr reported directly to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates - who approved at least one of the FISA warrants to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., while Steele turned in installments of his infamous "dossier" on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation "Crossfire Hurricane," the agency's counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign. 

Bruce Ohr was a key contact inside the Justice Department for ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who authored the anti-Trump dossier, which was commissioned by Fusion GPS and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through law firm Perkins Coie. 

The FBI relied on much of Steele’s work to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against the Trump campaign—specifically Carter Page, redacted versions of the FISA warrants released last year revealed. -Fox News

And who could forget that much of the espionage performed on the Trump campaign was conducted on UK soil throughout 2016. Recall that Trump aid George Papadopoulos was lured to London in March, 2016, where Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud fed him the rumor that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was later at a London bar that Papadopoulos would drunkenly pass the rumor to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer (who Strzok flew to London to meet with). 

Also recall that CIA/FBI "informant" (spy) Stefan Halper met with both Carter Page and Papadopoulos in London. 

Halper, a veteran of four Republican administrations, reached out to Trump aide George Papadopoulos in September 2016 with an offer to fly to London to write an academic paper on energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.

Papadopoulos accepted a flight to London and a $3,000 honorarium. He claims that during a meeting in London, Halper asked him whether he knew anything about Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails.

Papadopoulos had other contacts on British soil that he now believes were part of a government-sanctioned surveillance operation. -Daily Caller

In total, Halper received over $1 million from the Obama Pentagon for "research," over $400,000 of which was granted before and during the 2016 election season. 

No wonder the British government has "grave concerns." 

    Published:4/26/2019 2:10:55 PM
    [] Strzok-Page Texts Indicate They Might Have Broken DOJ Policies for Conducting Domestic Investigation In Seeking to Recruit Spies on Trump's Staff Catherine Herridge and Greg Re report. So, when the FBI was supposed to be briefing the Trump team, they were actually using that opportunity to look for possible recruits into their spying operation, and possibly deviating from the standard briefing... Published:4/26/2019 1:30:22 PM
    [The Blog] Fox: Strzok-Page texts sure look like FBI was attempting to spy on incoming Trump admin

    "Infiltrate"?

    The post Fox: Strzok-Page texts sure look like FBI was attempting to spy on incoming Trump admin appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/26/2019 11:30:18 AM
    [US News] TICK-TOCK: New Strzok-Page texts about gathering info on Trump team post-election are pretty damn DAMNING

    We know, we’ve been talking about how these FBI yahoos may finally have to answer for their actions during (and now maybe after) the 2016 Election but MAYBE things are finally getting started. Between Rod Rosenstein calling Obama out to these new Strzok-Page texts, MAYBE justice will stop being conveniently blind. It could happen. But […]

    The post TICK-TOCK: New Strzok-Page texts about gathering info on Trump team post-election are pretty damn DAMNING appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:4/26/2019 7:57:36 AM
    [Markets] The New York Post: Trump renews ire at revealed texts from FBI officials Strzok and Page: ‘It’s a coup’ President Trump reacted with anger to reports that text messages between two FBI officials in the days after his 2016 presidential victory may show “irregularities” in how the Russia investigation began, calling it evidence of a “coup.”
    Published:4/26/2019 5:57:49 AM
    [Markets] Johnson: Special Counsel Mueller - Disingenuous And Dishonest

    Authored by Larry Johnson via Sic Temper Tyrannis blog,

    While President Trump is correct to celebrate the Mueller Report’s conclusion that no one on Trump’s side of the ledger attempted to or succeeded in collaborating or colluding with the Russian Government or Russian spies, there remains a dark cloud behind the silver lining. And I am not referring to the claims of alleged obstruction of justice.  A careful reading of the report reveals that Mueller has issued findings that are both disingenuous and dishonest. The report is a failed hatchet job. Part of the failure can be attributed to the amount of material that Attorney General Barr allowed to be released. It appears that Bill Barr's light editing may have been intended to expose the bias and sloppiness of Mueller and his team.

    Let us start with the case of trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. If you were to believe that the Steele Dossier accurately reported Vladimir Putin's attitude towards Trump, then a Trump real estate deal in Moscow was a slam dunk. According to one of Steele's breathless reports:

    The Kremlin's cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business deals in Russia, especially in  relation  to  the  ongoing  2018 World Cup soccer tournament. How ever, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.

    Then there is reality. The impetus, the encouragement for the Moscow project came from one man--Felix Sater

    In the late summer of2015, the Trump Organization received a new inquiry about pursuing a Trump Tower project in Moscow. In approximately September 2015, Felix Sater . . . contacted Cohen on behalf of I.C. Expert Investment Company (I.C. Expert), a Russian real-estate development corporation controlled by Andrei Vladimirovich Rozov.J07 Sater had known Rozov since approximately 2007 and, in 2014, had served as an agent on behalf of Rozov during Rozov's purchase of a building in New York City.30S Sater later contacted Rozov and proposed that I.C. Expert pursue a Trump Tower Moscow project in which I.C. Expert would license the name and brand from the Trump Organization but construct the building on its own. Sater worked on the deal with Rozov and another employee of I.C. Expert. (see page 69 of the Mueller Report).

    To reiterate--if the Steele Dossier was based on truthful intelligence then the Trump organization only had to sit back, stretch out their hands and seize the moment. Instead, little Felix Sater keeps coming back to the well. In January 2016, according to the Mueller report.

    Sater then sent a draft invitation for Cohen to visit Moscow to discuss the Trump Moscow project,along with a note to "[t]ell me if the letter is good as amended by me or  make whatever changes you want and send it back to me."

    After a further round of edits, on January 25, 2016, Sater sent Cohen an invitation- signed by Andrey Ryabinskiy of the company MHJ-to travel to"Moscow for a working visit" about the "prospects of development and the construction business in Russia," "the various land plots available suited for construction of this enormous Tower," and "the opportunity to co-ordinate a follow up visit to Moscow by Mr. Donald Trump.

    This produced nothing. No deal, no trip. But Sater persisted:

    Beginning in late 2015, Sater repeatedly tried to arrange for Cohen and candidate Trump, as representatives of the Trump Organization, to travel to Russia to meet with Russian government officials and possible financing partners. . . .

    Into the spring of 2016, Sater and Cohen continued to discuss a trip to Moscow in connection with the Trump Moscow project. On April 20, 2016, Sater wrote Cohen, " [t)he People wanted to know when you are coming?,,

    On May 4, 2016, Sater followed up:

    “I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention. I said I believe, but don't know for sure, that's it's probably after the convention. Obviously the pre-meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but he 2 big guys where [sic) the question. I said I would confirm and revert.”

    On May 5, 2016, Sater wrote to Cohen:

    “Peskov would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia's Davos it's June 16-19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either Putin or Medvedev, as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there. This is perfect. The entire business class of Russia will be there as well.” 

    On June 14, 2016, Cohen met Sater in the lobby of the Trump Tower in New York and informed him that he would not be traveling at that time.

    Why was Felix Sater the one repeatedly identified pushing to arrange deals with the Russians and yet did not face any subsequent charges by the Mueller team? Sater had been working as part of the Trump team since 2003. Why is it that the proposed deals and travel to Moscow came predominantly from Felix Sater? As I noted in my previous piece--The FBI Tried and Failed to Entrap Trump--Sater was an active FBI undercover informant. He had been working with the FBI since 1998. When he agreed to start working as an undercover informant aka cooperator in December 1998 guess who signed off on the deal? Andrew Weissman. You can see the deal here. It was signed 10 December 1998.

    An honest prosecutor would have and should have disclosed this fact. He, Sater, was the one encouraging the Trump team to cozy up to Russia. Mueller does not disclose one single instance of Trump or Cohen or any of the Trump kids calling Sater on the carpet and chewing his ass for not bringing them deals and not opening doors in Russia. Omitting this key fact goes beyond simple disingenuity. It is a conscious lie.

    The circumstantial evidence indicates that Sater was doing this at the behest of FBI handlers. We do not yet know who they are.

    But Sater's behavior and status as an FBI Informant was not an isolated incident. We also have the case of Michael Caputo and Roger Stone being approached by a Russian gangster named Henry Greenberg. According to democratdossier.com:

    Greenberg's birth name is Gennady Vasilievich Vostretsov, the son of Yekatrina Vostretsova and Vasliy Vostretsov. He later adopted new names twice as a result of two different marriages and became Gennady V. Arzhanik and later Henry Oknyansky. Henry Greenberg is not a legal alias, but he uses it quite commonly in recent years.

    But you would not know this from reading the Mueller report. Mr. Disingenuous strikes again:

    In the spring of 2016, Trump Campaign advisor Michael Caputo learned through a Florida-based Russian business partner that another Florida-based Russian, Henry Oknyansky (who also went by the name Henry Greenberg), claimed to have information pertaining to Hillary Clinton . Caputo notified Roger Stone and brokered communication between Stone and Oknyansky.

    Oknyansky and Stone set up a May 2016 in-person meeting.260 Oknyansky was accompanied to the meeting by Alexei Rasin, a Ukrainian associate involved in Florida real estate. At the meeting, Rasin offered to sell Stone derogatory information on Clinton that Rasin claimed to have obtained while working for Clinton. Rasin claimed to possess financial statements demonstrating Clinton's involvement in money laundering with Rasin's companies. According to Oknyansky, Stone asked if the amounts in question totaled millions of dollars but was told it was closer to hundreds of thousands. Stone refused the offer, stating that Trump would not pay for opposition research.

    How does a guy like Vorkretsov/Greenberg, with an extensive criminal record and circumstantial ties to the Russian mob gain entrance into the United States? Very simple answer. He too was an FBI informant:

    In an affidavit, Vostretsov explained to an immigration judge he worked for the FBI for 17 years throughout the world, including in the US, Iran and North Korea. He explained in the same paperwork the FBI granted him several temporary visas to visit the US in exchange for information about criminal activities.

    Please take time to read the full dossier at democrat dossier.

    This is more than an odd coincidence. This is a pattern. The FBI was targeting the Trump campaign and personnel in a deliberate effort to implicate them in wanting to work with Russians.

    And there is more. George Papodopoulus was entrapped by individuals linked to British MI-6 and the CIA with offers to provide meetings with Russians and Putin. The Mueller account is a lie:

    In late April 2016, Papadopoulos was told by London-based professor Joseph Mifsud, immediately after Mifsud 's return from a trip to Moscow, that the Russian government had obtained "dirt" on candidate Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. One week later, on May 6, 2016, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to candidate Clinton.

    Papadopoulos shared information about Russian "dirt " with people outside of the Campaign, and the Office investigated whether he also provided it to a Campaign official. Papadopoulos and the Campaign officials with whom he interacted told the Office that they did · not recall that Papadopoulos passed them the information. Throughout the relevant period of time and for several months thereafter, Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and two Russian nationals to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government. That meeting never came to pass.

    Once again, the Mueller team treats the provocateur--i.e., Joseph Mifsud--as some simple guy with ties to Russia's political elites. Another egregious lie. Mifsud was not working on behalf of Russia. He was deployed by MI-6. Disobedient Media has been on the forefront of exposing Mifsud's ties to western intelligence in general and the Brits in particular.

    Mifsud’s alleged links to Russian intelligence are summarily debunked by his close working relationship with Claire Smith, a major figure in the upper echelons of British intelligence. A number of Twitter users recently observed that Joseph Mifsud had been photographed standing next to Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee at Mifsud’s LINK campus in Rome. Newsmax and Buzzfeed later reported that the professor’s name and biography had been removed from the campus’ website, writing that the mysterious removal took place after Mifsud had served the institution for “years.”

    WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange likewise noted the connection between Mifsud and Smith in a Twitter thread, additionally pointing out his connections with Saudi intelligence: “[Mifsud] and Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee and eight-year member of the UK Security Vetting panel both trained Italian security services at the Link University in Rome and appear to both be present in this [photo].”

    The photograph in question originated on Geodiplomatics.com, where it specified that Joseph Mifsud is indeed standing next to Claire Smith, who was attending a: “…Training program on International Security which was organised by Link Campus University and London Academy of Diplomacy.” The event is listed as taking place in October, 2012. This is highly significant for a number of reasons.

    This is not a meer matter of Mueller and his team "failing" to disclose some important facts.  If they were operating honestly they should have investigated Mifsud, Greenberg and Sater. But they did not. Two of the three--Sater and Greenber--alleged Russian stooges have ties to the FBI. And Mifsud has been living and working in the belly of the intelligence community.

    When you put these facts together it is clear that there is real meat on the bone for Barr's upcoming investigation of the "spying" that was being done on the Trump campaign by law enforcement and intelligence. These facts must become a part of the public consciousness. The foreign country that worked feverishly to meddle in the 2016 Presidential election and the subsequent rule of Donald Trump is the United Kingdom. Russia is the patsy.

    Published:4/25/2019 9:55:38 PM
    [Politics] Report: FBI to Meet With Fla. Officials About Election Hacking Florida officials will be briefed by the FBI next month on Russian hackers who might have phished their way into a local elections office, according to the Miami Herald. Published:4/25/2019 7:54:11 PM
    [News] FBI, IRS Raid Baltimore City Hall, Homes Of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Her Attorney’s Office & Other Locations

    The following article, FBI, IRS Raid Baltimore City Hall, Homes Of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Her Attorney’s Office & Other Locations, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    FBI raids Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s City Hall office, her 2 houses, this as the governor calls on her to resign. According to wbaltv the FBI and IRS executed search warrants at several locations in Baltimore, including Mayor Catherine Pugh’s homes and City Hall. The searches include the following locations: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s two ...

    Continue reading: FBI, IRS Raid Baltimore City Hall, Homes Of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Her Attorney’s Office & Other Locations ...

    Published:4/25/2019 6:27:46 PM
    [Markets] Baltimore Mayor Bolts -- Pugh Missing After FBI-IRS Raid

    Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has gone missing after the FBI and IRS raided her home, according to Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ

    Jason Bentley, Pugh's spokesman, told the Associated Press on Thursday that he has no clue where the Mayor is, while her defense attorney, Steve Silverman, routed calls to voicemail. 

    According to the report, "Pugh was at her home when the raid began, but has since left the state."

    ?????Federal agents leave City Hall in the investigation into Mayor Catherine Pugh's business dealings. The mayor's second floor offices are one of several locations raided on Thursday morning.

    Pugh was asked to resign by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan shortly after the raids. 

    "Today, agents for the FBI and the IRS executed search warrants at the mayor’s homes and offices," said Hogan. "Now, more than ever, Baltimore city needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign."

    Neighbors say they haven't seen her in weeks. Others were devastated at news of the raid. 

    The city is now into the fourth week of Pugh on indefinite leave and silence is surrounding Baltimore’s top offices. Pugh’s aides have gone silent on status updates, declining to comment on her health this week- as questions linger on when, or if, she plans to return to work.

    Last Friday her spokesman said she is recovering from pneumonia and plans to return to work.

    Meanwhile, dominos continue to fall inside Baltimore City Hall on Tuesday, as acting Mayor Jack Young stayed tight-lipped on his recent decision to place a seventh Pugh staffer on leave of absence. -WJZ

    "I’m committed to stabilizing the city and moving forward, and any changes I need to make, I will make them," said acting Mayor Young. 

    "I haven’t spoken to her in two and a half weeks. I haven’t heard from her. I have no idea other than what I read in the paper." 

    Published:4/25/2019 2:22:47 PM
    [The Blog] WJZ: Baltimore mayor may have fled the state after FBI-IRS raid

    Hogan: "Mayor Pugh must resign."

    The post WJZ: Baltimore mayor may have fled the state after FBI-IRS raid appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/25/2019 1:22:57 PM
    [Markets] Operation Crossfire Boomerang Begins

    Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

    From Twitter:

    Remember Spying on Trump was called “Crossfire Hurricane”? Well now it’s renamed to “Crossfire Boomerang”. BOOM. Karma!

    From the moment the Special Counsel investigation into Trump-Russia collusion began, we’ve been presented with a portrait of Robert Swan Mueller III as a man of unassailable character, a straight shooter, as impartial as can be. But Mueller was director of the FBI for 12 years (2001-2013), he was the king of the spies.

    Does anyone really have the idea that the people who work in US intelligence are the country’s straightest shooters? Not everybody does. For instance, not Mike Pompeo, who bluntly stated: We lied, we cheated, we stole; It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

    So why should we believe Mueller is a man of such unassailable character when he rose to one of the very top ranks in intelligence? It doesn’t make much sense, except of course it’s what politics and media – and intelligence- want us to believe. It may not make sense, but boy, does it work.

    And then at some point obviously you have to wonder why Mueller got the Special Counsel job on May 27 2017. Because of that unassailable character, we were told at the time. But if that doesn’t apply to Pompeo, why would it be true of Mueller? And why Mueller while there were strong links to US intelligence that would obviously have to be probed by the counsel (but were not).

    That brings us straight to the next question: The main issue, post-report, is not whether Trump tried to stop the Mueller probe. The main issue instead is why it was instigated to begin with. Yes, US intelligence. CIA.

    And then there’s yet another question: When did Mueller know there was no collusion? Not just 1 or 2 weeks before presenting his report, that’s for sure.

    So when? 6 months ago? A year? Did he ever really think there was collusion? If so, based on what? The almost entrirely discredited Steele dossier? Did he have faith in that? The Mifsud-Papadoloulos-Downer connection ‘engineered’ by CIA asset Stephen Halper? Did he have faith in that? Or was the whole thing goal-seeeked from the start?

    It appears very silly to assume that Mueller did not start his job with an agenda, because of the heavy involvement of his former employees and colleagues and his best friend James Comey, whose firing by Trump was one of the main reasons to start the investigation. Sounds like a very hard one to sell, but the media did a great job. Everybody bought into it.

    And then the whole thing collapsed. Yes, collapsed. Because this was never about finding the truth, it was always about digging for dirt. On Trump. Think Mueller wasn’t aware of that? I own a bridge….

    Mueller was forced to find Trump and his team not guilty on conspiracy or collusion -and obstruction. This is because he would have had to prove this, and couldn’t. But he’s left the accusations against the Russian government and Julian Assange stand. Not because he has evidence for that, but because he doesn’t have to prove them.

    Nobody believes a word any Russian says anymore, thanks to the MSM and US intelligence campaign against them. As for Assange, it’s obvious what Robert Mueller has done. He’s completely ignored the one person who could have helped him find the truth -just not the dirt-. and let him rot in hell. Here’s wishing for that same hell to befall Mueller and all of his family.

    There is zero chance that Mueller didn’t know his buddy and successor James Comey prevented Assange from talking with the DOJ in 2017. Neither wanted Assange’s evidence to become public, because that would have killed the Russia narrative as well as the WikiLeaks one. And then what?

    Let’s make one thing clear. All that proof of Russian hacking and Russian Facebook ads? It doesn’t exist. The entire story is fictional. How do we know? Because the only source that says it is true is US intelligence. And they can not be believed. As Mueller’s investigation once again shows.

    Mueller and Barr, like all of Washington -it’s a bipartisan effort-, want the narrative to remain alive that the Russians hacked and meddled in the US elections in favor of Trump, and that Julian Assange was in cahoots with them. None of which Mueller has any evidence for. And Mueller at all have no problem sacrificing Assange and Chelsea Manning while they’re at it.

    Assange is not the only expert source who is silenced. The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity -VIPS- also can’t get their voice heard. People who ran US intelligence for decades are being silenced by those who succeeded them. As if they don’t exist. As if their expertise is worthless.

    The evidence they offer simply doesn’t rhyme with the official narrative promoted by their successors and the CIA and FBI. Remember: Mueller only dropped in his report what he would have had to provide evidence for. The rest is still there, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

    One VIPS member is Larry Johnson, “former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official, (ret.)”. Trump referenced him the other day on Twitter:

    “Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” @OANN WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!

    And sure enough, the Guardian today described Johnson as a “conservative conspiracy theorist”. This stuff is predictable. But at least we know that while Mueller et al ignore the VIPS, Trump knows at least something about them. A few excerpts of a letter they sent to Trump last week (which he hasn’t seen, undoubtedly):

    MEMORANDUM FOR: The President. SUBJECT: The Fly in the Mueller Ointment

    [..] the Mueller report left unscathed the central-but-unproven allegation that the Russian government hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails, gave them to WikiLeaks to publish, and helped you win the election. The thrust will be the same; namely, even if there is a lack of evidence that you colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, you have him to thank for becoming president.

    Mueller has accepted that central-but-unproven allegation as gospel truth [..] Following the odd example of his erstwhile colleague, former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller apparently has relied for forensics on a discredited, DNC-hired firm named CrowdStrike, whose credibility is on a par with “pee-tape dossier” compiler Christopher Steele. Like Steele, CrowdStrike was hired and paid by the DNC.

    [..] In Barr’s words: “The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.

    Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election.” We are eager to see if Mueller’s report contains more persuasive forensic evidence than that which VIPS has already debunked.

    “But They Were Indicted! “Circular reasoning is not likely to work for very long, even with a U.S. populace used to being brainwashed by the media. Many Americans had mistakenly assumed that Mueller’s indictment of Russians — whether they be posting on FaceBook or acting like intelligence officers — was proof of guilt. But, as lawyers regularly point out, “one can easily indict a ham sandwich” — easier still these days, if it comes with Russian dressing.

    The VIPS mention a few times they can’t get heard. They sent Barr a letter 5 weeks ago, and never got an answer. Here they say: “.. specialists will have a field day, IF — and it is a capital “IF” — by some miracle, word of VIPS’ forensic findings gets into the media this time around.”

    The evidence-impoverished, misleadingly labeled “Intelligence Community Assessment” of January 6, 2017 had one saving grace. The authors noted: “The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation — malicious or not — leaves a trail.” Forensic investigators can follow a trail of metadata and other technical properties. VIPS has done that.

    If, as we strongly suspect, Mueller is relying for forensics solely on CrowdStrike, the discredited firm hired by the DNC in the spring of 2016, he is acting more in the mold of Inspector Clouseau than the crackerjack investigator he is reputed to be. It simply does not suffice for Mueller’s former colleague James Comey to tell Congress that CrowdStrike is a “high-class entity.” It is nothing of the sort [..] Comey needs to explain why he kept the FBI away from the DNC computers after they were said to have been “hacked.”

    And former National Intelligence Director James Clapper needs to explain his claim last November that “the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done.” What forensic evidence? From CrowdStrike? We at VIPS, in contrast, are finding more and more forensic evidence that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked by the Russians or anyone else — and that “Guccifer 2.0” is an out-and-out fraud. Yes, we can prove that from forensics too.

    No Russian hacking. No Guccifer 2.0. But Mueller mentions both a lot.

    Again, if Mueller’s incomplete investigation is allowed to assume the status of Holy Writ, most Americans will continue to believe that — whether you colluded the Russians or not — Putin came through for you big time. In short, absent President Putin’s help, you would not be president.

    Far too many Americans will still believe this because of the mainstream-media fodder — half-cooked by intelligence leaks — that they have been fed for two and a half years. The media have been playing the central role in the effort of the MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex to stymie any improvement in relations with Russia.

    We in VIPS have repeatedly demonstrated that the core charges of Russian interference in the 2016 election are built on a house of cards. But, despite our record of accuracy on this issue — not to mention our pre-Iraq-war warnings about the fraudulent intelligence served up by our former colleagues — we have gotten no play in mainstream media.

    Most of us have chalked up decades in the intelligence business and many have extensive academic and government experience focusing on Russia. We consider the issue of “Russian interference” of overriding significance not only because the allegation is mischievously bogus and easily disproven. More important, it has brought tension with nuclear-armed Russia to the kind of dangerous fever pitch not seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the Russian provocation was real — authentic, not synthetic.

     [..] We recall that you were apprised of that Memorandum’s key findings because you ordered then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to talk to William Binney, one of our two former NSA Technical Directors and one of the principal authors of that Memorandum. On October 24, 2017, Pompeo began an hour-long meeting with Binney by explaining the genesis of the odd invitation to CIA Headquarters: “You are here because the president told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk to you.”

    [..] Binney, a plain-spoken, widely respected scientist, began by telling Pompeo that his (CIA) people were lying to him about Russian hacking and that he (Binney) could prove it. [..] As we told Attorney General Barr five weeks ago, we consider Mueller’s findings fundamentally flawed on the forensics side and ipso facto incomplete. We also criticized Mueller for failing to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.

    You may be unaware that in March 2017 lawyers for Assange and the Justice Department (acting on behalf of the CIA) reportedly were very close to an agreement under which Assange would agree to discuss “technical evidence ruling out certain parties” in the leak of the DNC emails and agree to redact some classified CIA information, in exchange for limited immunity. According to the investigative reporter John Solomon of The Hill, Sen. Mark Warner, (D-VA) vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, learned of the incipient deal and told then-FBI Director Comey, who ordered an abrupt “stand down” and an end to the discussions with Assange.

    Why did Comey and Warner put the kibosh on receiving “technical evidence ruling out certain parties” [read Russia]? We won’t insult you with the obvious answer.

    Assange is now in prison, to the delight of so many — including Mrs. Clinton who has said Assange must now “answer for what he has done.” But is it too late to follow up somehow on Assange’s offer? Might he or his associates be still willing to provide “technical evidence” showing, at least, who was not the culprit?

    VIPS can’t get their voices heard. Everyone ignores them. These are highly experienced veterans of US intelligence, whose successors, and politics, and media, simply act as if they don’t exist. And while it’s curious to see how they go out of their way NOT to create the impression that Mueller makes his “mistakes” on purpose, the gist is just that.

    What this adds up to is not just that Mueller has come up with nothing in his $20-30-50 million investigation, but that he has purposely left things in his report that he has no evidence for but also doesn’t have to prove, because those he accuses cannot defend themselves. Note also that Mueller has never indicted Assange, he has only smeared him.

    Mueller doesn’t just have nothing, he has less than nothing. What is left of his “findings” once the collusion and obstruction elements are gone, are things that either he himself (his team) or US intelligence has concocted out of thin air. And have you seen even one ‘journalist’ who has questioned these fantasies?

    I see only ‘reporters’ more than willing to heap their own fiction on top of the report's. They’ll grudgingly accept there’s no collusion only to run away with what can still be construed as obstruction, but not a single one questions the Russian hacking or emails or Facebook ads anymore or Assange’s involvement, though Mueller offers zero proof for any of these things. Ditto for Guccifer 2.0.

    The GRU (Main Directorate of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, formerly the Main Intelligence Directorate) is a very advanced operation. When they hack something they leave no traces. US intelligence is just as capable of leaving GRU “traces” as the GRU itself is of NOT leaving them. The CIA is not smarter than the GRU. That’s what we’re looking at here.

    How many Americans do you think there are who think this is the way to conduct investigations ostensibly aimed at truth-finding? You know, if only they knew?!

    The only thing perceived as reality in America today is a bunch of fantasies designed to hide the truth. What truth there is, is left to rot in hell. What a place -and time- to live.

    *  *  *

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    Published:4/25/2019 12:23:06 PM
    [Markets] Feds Raid Baltimore Mayor's Homes As 'Children's Book' Corruption Scandal Snowballs

    As one of the most absurd corruption scandals in recent American memory continues to snowball, agents from the FBI and IRS on Thursday raided two homes owned by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, as well as city hall, presumably in connection with the "children's book" corruption scandal that has inflamed tensions in the city and prompted calls for Pugh to resign immediately.

    According to AP, Dave Fitz, an FBI spokesman from the agency's Baltimore office, said the agents were "executing court-authorized search warrants" but couldn't release any more details because the warrants were sealed. On April 1, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan asked state prosecutors to begin a criminal investigation into what appears to be a brazen kickback scheme involving sales of Pugh's "Healthy Holly" book series. Agents also raided a non-profit with which Pugh has been associated.

    Yes, you read that right. The mayor of Baltimore has been accused of using her position to secure contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the University of Maryland Medical System and managed-care consortium KaiserPermanente. The contracts were agreements to buy thousands of copies of Pugh's "Healthy Holly" books, a series written by Pugh.

    Pugh was sitting on the organization's board when she received the contract from the University of Maryland system. And shortly after she received a payment from KaiserPermanente, the company received a $48 million contract from the city. Though we're sure that's just a coincidence. Furthermore, some of the "Healthy Holly" copies that Pugh sold to the University of Maryland Medical System remain unaccounted for, and some suspect they may never have been printed.

    Holly

    In response to the scandal, which was uncovered by reporters from the Baltimore Sun earlier this month, the city council demanded that Pugh resign in a terse letter signed by the entire membership. The city's congressional delegation has also called on Pugh to resign, as have other state officials.

    Adding to the farce, Pugh and five of her closest aids took a paid leave a few weeks ago, around the time Hogan called for a criminal investigation, with Pugh claiming that she has been recuperating after a brutal bout of pneumonia. She has barely been heard from or seen in that time.

    Maryland's chief accountant called Pugh's "self-dealing" arrangements to sell her books as "brazen, cartoonish corruption."

    Unfortunately for its long-suffering residents, who have been fleeing the city in droves as crime spirals out of control, City Hall is no stranger to absurd corruption cases. Pugh won the mayor's seat after triumphing over ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon, who spent much of her prior tenure as mayor battling corruption allegations stemming from her 'misappropriation' of $500 in gift cards intended for needy families. Dixon was accused of taking the gift cards and using them as gifts for family members. Dixon left office in 2010 as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

    Pugh's predecessor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who took over from Dixon after her resignation, opted not to seek another term after she was roundly criticized for her handling of the Freddie Gray protests/riots.

    Unfortunately for the city, only a conviction can force a Baltimore mayor's removal from office. The city's charter leaves no options for ousting the mayor, which amounts to a major bargaining chip for Pugh.

    However, now that she appears to have become the target of a federal investigation, it will likely become increasingly difficult for her to hang on. Perhaps she'll need to invent another illness to avoid dealing with the public fallout from these raids.

    Published:4/25/2019 11:22:06 AM
    [The Blog] Wow! FBI raids Baltimore City Hall and Mayor’s home

    Who's that knocking at my door?

    The post Wow! FBI raids Baltimore City Hall and Mayor’s home appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/25/2019 9:51:31 AM
    [In The News] FBI Raids Baltimore Mayor’s Home And City Hall

    By Neetu Chandak -

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) raided Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s home and Baltimore City Hall Thursday. FBI and IRS agents are executing search warrants in several locations related to Mayor Catherine PughHere–her house in Northwest Baltimore. Also targeting a business address that is ...

    FBI Raids Baltimore Mayor’s Home And City Hall is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/25/2019 8:21:15 AM
    [US News] BREAKING: FBI, IRS raid home of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh; ‘about 20 agents are in City Hall’

    WBAL reporter Jayne Miller is reporting that the FBI is executing search warrants this morning at the home of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh as well as at City Hall: Breaking: Source familiar tells me FBI is executing search warrants at home of Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore City Hall..developing — Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) April 25, […]

    The post BREAKING: FBI, IRS raid home of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh; ‘about 20 agents are in City Hall’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:4/25/2019 6:50:05 AM
    [Markets] Joe DiGenova Explains Where The Russia Hoax Is Headed

    Authored by Thomas Lifson via AmericanThinker.com,

    Throughout the unfolding of the Russia hoax, nobody has topped the clarity provided by DC super-lawyer and former US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Joseph DiGenova. In his television and radio appearances, he has not minced words about the nature of the illegal coup underway, and has not hesitated to name names.

    Undoubtedly, he has sources within the DC legal community that, combined with his experience as the top federal prosecutor among US Attorneys, give him a bird’s eye view of where this scandal – the biggest political scandal in history – is heading.

    Yesterday, he appeared on DC’s conservative talk radio station WMAL, where he is a regular guest on the “Mornings on the Mall” show, and for almost 15 minutes unleashed himself about where this is headed. His candid comments on the various actors involved in the scandal are priceless.

    As DiGenova (along with Victoria Toensing) wrote recently:

    The time for an accounting has arrived for former senior members of the FBI and Intelligence Community. They aided and abetted in propagating a false narrative about the Trump campaign colluding with Russians, accused the President of the United States of being a “traitor,” and misled the American people. They made Donald J. Trump the Alfred Dreyfus of the 21st century: a completely innocent man, framed by his own government because of who he was (Dreyfus, a Jew, was the victim of French anti-Semitism) and not what he did.

    Dreyfus was framed of spying for the Germans based on a forged document. Trump was framed by a fraudulent dossier.

    Worse, the framing was done as a distraction to cover up for those who weaponized our law enforcement and intelligence tools against a political opponent. President Trump deserves an apology from them all.

    Punishment for the former FBI and intel officials should include removal from boards, sinecures, speaking gigs, and TV. They denied this country a president-in-full for two years, not just as a political vendetta but also to conceal what some of them had done. Their offense was compounded by the fact that they used the uniqueness of their law enforcement and intelligence community former high-level positions to make it appear they knew more than they did. They besmirched themselves as well as their agencies’ decent, dedicated personnel.

    ...

    These people led the charge to misinform the American people and sew discord in our country. It is not President Trump who has acted treacherously, it is they.

    This is well worth 15 minutes of your time.

    Published:4/24/2019 7:22:14 PM
    [The Blog] A driver plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in California, the FBI has joined the investigation

    "Looks like it might have been an intentional act."

    The post A driver plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in California, the FBI has joined the investigation appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/24/2019 12:19:11 PM
    [Markets] The Russian-China Polar Silk Road Challenges Global Geopolitics

    Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    Whether the Arctic will become a platform for cooperation or warfare has been a question often posed throughout the past 150 years.

    As early as 1875, a vision for Eurasian-American cooperation was becoming realized as leading Americans and Russians alike foresaw the construction of telegraph and even rail lines across the 100 km Bering Strait crossing separating Russia from Alaska. Proponents of this policy on the American side included Lincoln-ally and Colorado’s 1st governor William Gilpin, whose book The Cosmopolitan Railway was published in 1890 showcasing a “post-imperial world” where mutual development was driven by rail lines across all the continents and featured the Bering Strait rail connection as its keystone. Many of Gilpin’s co-thinkers in Russia grew in influence and even convinced Tsar Nicholas II to endorse the project in 1905. The fact that the newly completed Trans-Siberian Railway was modelled on Lincoln’s Trans-Continental Railway and carried train cars built in Philadelphia made this concept very feasible in the minds of many people in those days… not excluding a British Empire that desperately wished to see this potential destroyed.

    Although a few assassinations, a Russian revolution and Wall Street/London-funded wars disturbed this paradigm of cooperation from unfolding as it should have, hopes again ran high as Franklin Roosevelt and Stalin recognized that they had much more in common with each other than either did with the British Empire’s Winston Churchill. This partnership re-opened discussion for a Bering Strait rail connection during World War II after decades of dormancy. When FDR prematurely passed away in office and his leading American co-thinkers began to be targeted by the FBI-led “red scare”, Stalin ruminated that “the great dream had died”. Churchill’s Iron Curtain ushered in a new age of Mutual Assured Destruction whereby all talk of the Arctic as a domain of cooperation perished.

    Despite efforts of certain leading figures such as John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert in America, or Enrico Mattei of Italy and Charles De Gaulle in France to establish cooperation between east and west, the growth of what has today come to be known as the “deep state” continued apace, with the creation of NATO, and technocratic infiltration of all western governments… often over the dead bodies of nationalist leaders.

    While the west celebrated the collapse of Communism, and puppets like Sir Henry Kissinger and Sir George Bush ushered in the New World Order of NAFTA, NATO, the Eurozone, and WTO during the 1990s, a new alliance was forming, and soon the emergence of such institutions as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, APEC, and later Eurasian Economic Union occurred.

    With these new institutions, the designs for a Bering Strait rail tunnel were once again revived when Russia signaled its willingness to construct the century-old project in 2011 offering over $65 billion towards its funding, which only required the cooperation of the United States and Canada.

    As China began to emerge as a global force, it not only petitioned to become an observer in the Arctic Council in 2012, but also soon unleashed the Belt and Road Initiative in September 2013. A year later, in May 2014, China too gave its support to the construction of the Bering Strait Tunnel. Until this period the only serious discussion of the program was found in the work of the Schiller Institute, whose founders had publicized the New Silk Road and Bering Strait rail line through thousands of conferences and publications since 1993.

    While the period of 2014-present has been tense at the best of times, and close to world war at the worst of times, the potential of the Arctic as a platform for international dialogue has continued un-abated and has served as the theme of this year’s fifth International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg from April 9-10, 2019. The theme of the conference which saw the involvement of 3600 representatives of Russian, and international sectors both private and public was “Arctic: Territory of Dialogue”.

    Russia’s Arctic: Territory of Dialogue

    The keynote speech at the forum’s plenary session was given by Vladimir Putin whereby the Russian leader discussed the plans for Russia’s Arctic development for the coming decades stating:

     This year we are going to draft and adopt a new strategy for the development of the Russian Arctic up to 2035. It is to combine measures stipulated in our national projects and state programmes, the investment plans of infrastructure companies and programmes for developing Arctic regions and cities. All Arctic regions should be brought to the level of at least the national average in key socioeconomic indicators and living standards.”

    In attendance were the heads of every Arctic Council nation (except Canada and the USA) who listened to Putin describe the upgrading of a global transportation corridor involving the Northern Sea Route, the Northern Latitudinal Railway connecting western Siberia to ports on the Arctic Ocean, a boost of freight traffic to 80 million tons by 2025 (from its 20 million tons today), and the creation of new nuclear powered ice breakers. Vast programs for resource development of LNG, oil and other minerals were announced throughout the conference and a new federal law to offer a special system of preferences for Arctic zone investments was publicized. Over 100 oil and gas extraction, infrastructure and tourism projects were finalized totalling over $164 billion.

    Most importantly, a vision for this growth process was tied to the creative spirit of scientific discovery that distinguishes the human species as unique among the biosphere, as scientific and educational centers to integrate universities, research institutions and the private sector with the productive industrial processes underlying the “real economy” were announced. This last component of an Arctic vision brought into focus Russia’s partnership with China brilliantly, as a strategic agreement on scientific cooperation was signed between the two allies

    The Russia-China Silk Road on Ice

    China’s Belt and Road Initiative has already spread across Eurasia and Africa uplifting standards of living, cognitive potential and building mega projects along the way. The grand design is a fluid concept driven by rail development and city building on its land (road) component, with ports and shipping lanes on its sea (belt) component. A philosophical commitment to scientific and technological progress (aka: creative reason) which once animated western society is its driving power.

    In January 2018, a Chinese white paper announced China’s northern vision with Russia “will bring opportunities for parties concerned to jointly build a ‘Polar Silk Road’, and facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic.”

    In its press release announcing the creation of the China-Russia Arctic Research Center (CRARC) on April 10, 2019, the Russian government announced: 

    “Joint efforts will be made in Arctic marine science research, which will promote the construction of 'Silk Road on Ice'. In future, QNLM looks forward to more fruitful and efficient partnerships worldwide to contribute to the sustainable development of the world oceans and a shared future for mankind."

    NATO hawks Freak Out

    NATO hawks have reacted to these incredible developments as if the Cold war had never ended, with James Stravridis (former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO) penning an op-ed on April 16 stating China’s polar silk road is only an “aggressive program of building influence” and that the melting arctic ice “will create shipping routes that could be geopolitically central for China’s One Belt, One Road global development strategy.” Citing the recent China-Russia joint military exercises such as the Vostok 2018 China-Russia-Mongolia maneuvers of September 11-17, 2018 that involved over 300 000 military personnel, Stravridis said “they [Russia and China] see working together as a hedge against the US and their cooperation will create significant challenges for the NATO nations with Arctic territory”. The cold warrior called on the USA and Canada to respond with their own joint military maneuvers and collaboration with NATO.

    Stravridis’ words echoed those of NORAD chief US General Terrance O’Shaughnessy who spoke in Ottawa earlier calling for joint military cooperation in the Arctic saying “we must acknowledge the reality that our adversaries currently hold our citizens, our way of life and national interests at risk… we are at risk in ways we haven’t been in decades”.

    While fear-mongering headlines documenting Russia’s Arctic Summit with such titles as “Putin Bolsters Arctic Presence with Anti-Aircraft Missiles” are the norm in the western press, a major Canadian Foreign Affairs Committee report published on April 11 features a valuable insight into the powerful effects of which the New Silk Road paradigm is creating even among pro-NATO countries as hostile to the BRI and Russia as Canada has proven itself to be over recent years.

    The New Paradigm inspires potential change in Canadian Artic Strategy

    In the report begun in June 2018 entitled “Nation Building at Home, Vigilance Beyond: Preparing for the Coming Decades in the Arctic”, a non-partisan effort was released to call for a complete reversal on the Arctic policy which has governed Canada since the Deep State-led ouster of Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1963, whose “Northern Vision” was killed with his position as Prime Minister.

    While paying lip service to the “danger of Russian and Chinese interest in the Arctic”, the 140 page committee report broke with the tradition of treating the Canada’s Arctic Sovereign as somehow “threatened by outside forces” as has been the trend for decades and instead stated that “the Committee is of the view that the challenges Canada faces in the Arctic are those of security, national defence, stewardship, well-being, and prosperity. With that in mind, it seems unproductive to continue approaching these issues from the perspective of determining whether Canada is somehow losing sovereignty over land and waters that are Canadian.” Expressing an awareness that a new global system was rising the paper stated “the government must … ensure that it is not caught unprepared if the geopolitical reality changes.”

    While other similar white papers published over the years have taken more aggressive stances against Russia and China’s BRI, this committee report stated “The Arctic situation now goes beyond its original inter-Arctic States or regional nature, having a vital bearing on the interests of States outside the region and the interests of the international community as a whole, as well as on the survival, the development, and the shared future for mankind.”

    Ultimately, the report called for Canada to break the British-steered zero growth/post-industrial policy of the past 60 years and instead create a new federal program for Arctic infrastructure investment, cooperation with China on the Polar Silk Road, involve natives trapped in suicide-laden under-developed reservations with the opportunity to participate in growth programs, mapping of northern resources (which Canada has failed to do unlike their Russian counterparts), and importantly provide for the social integration of natives with the rest of Canada.

    Of extreme importance was the call to reverse the 2016 Trudeau-Obama ban on Arctic drilling which was done to protect the ecosystem while excluding all natives who live in said ecosystems with any opportunity to have a say. The report stated “The manner in which that decision was carried out was not described warmly by the people with whom the Committee met in the North. There was a feeling that the decision had been made without consideration for the interests of the people who live and work there. One Indigenous organization received 20 minutes’ notice.”

    Rather than call for confrontation, or joining NATO’s ABM encirclement of Russia as previous reports had done, the committee called for discussion, science diplomacy, dialogue and a return to an Arctic growth policy not seen in over 70 years.

    While discussions of the Bering Strait rail connection between Eurasia and the Americas was absent, as was all discussion of nuclear energy, whose development is instrumental for the Arctic, it is relevant that no mention was made of “green energy” like windmills and solar panels which would serve no use in any serious national development strategy.

    The fact is that the polar Silk Road is a reality. The ports and shipping lines opening up along the Northwest Passage express only the beginning phases of it, but as Russia continues to develop rail and scientific capabilities with China’s assistance across its Arctic, the rail will follow and the dream of Governor Gilpin and Tsar Nicholas II to unite both worlds new and old with rail will occur, as long as the west chooses to take history seriously and not sleepwalk into world war once more. 

    Published:4/23/2019 11:18:08 PM
    [Markets] The Conspiracy Against Trump - A Bureaucratic Coup Against A Legally-Elected President

    Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Unz Review,

    The real “deplorable” in today’s United States is the continuation of a foreign policy based on endless aggression to maintain Washington’s military dominance in parts of the world where Americans have no conceivable interest. Many voters backed Donald J. Trump because he committed himself to changing all that, but, unfortunately, he has reneged on his promise, instead heightening tension with major powers Russia and China while also threatening Iran and Venezuela on an almost daily basis. Now Cuba is in the crosshairs because it is allegedly assisting Venezuela. One might reasonably ask if America in its seemingly enduring role as the world’s most feared bully will ever cease and desist, but the more practical question might be “When will the psychopathic trio of John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Elliott Abrams be fired so the United States can begin to behave like a normal nation?”

    Trump, to be sure, is the heart of the problem as he has consistently made bad, overly belligerent decisions when better and less abrasive options were available, something that should not necessarily always be blamed on his poor choice of advisers. But one also should not discount the likelihood that the dysfunction in Trump is in part comprehensible, stemming from his belief that he has numerous powerful enemies who have been out do destroy him since before he was nominated as the GOP’s presidential candidate. This hatred of all things Trump has been manifested in the neoconservative “Nevertrump” forces led by Bill Kristol and by the “Trump Derangement Syndrome” prominent on the political left, regularly exhibited by Rachel Maddow.

    And then there is the Deep State, which also worked with the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama to destroy the Trump presidency even before it began. One can define Deep State in a number of ways, ranging from a “soft” version which accepts that there is an Establishment that has certain self-serving objectives that it works collectively to promote to something harder, an actual infrastructure that meets together and connives to remove individuals and sabotage policies that it objects to. The Deep State in either version includes senior government officials, business leaders and, perhaps most importantly, the managed media, which promotes a corrupted version of “good governance” that in turn influences the public.

    Whether the Mueller report is definitive very much depends on the people they chose to interview and the questions they chose to ask, which is something that will no doubt be discussed for the next year if not longer. Beyond declaring that the Trump team did not collude with Russia, it cast little light on the possible Deep State role in attempting to vilify Trump and his associates. The investigation of that aspect of the 2016 campaign and the possible prosecutions of former senior government officials that might be a consequence of the investigation will likely be entertaining conspiracy theorists well into 2020. Since Russiagate has already been used and discarded the new inquiry might well be dubbed Trumpgate.

    The media has scarcely reported how Michael Horowitz, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has been looking into the activities of the principal promoters of the Russiagate fraud. Horowitz, whose report is expected in about a month, has already revealed that he intends to make criminal referrals as a result of his investigation. While the report will only cover malfeasance in the Department of Justice, which includes the FBI, the names of intelligence officers involved will no doubt also surface. It is expected that there will be charges leading to many prosecutions and one can hope for jail time for those individuals who corruptly betrayed their oath to the United States Constitution to pursue a political vendetta.

    A review of what is already known about the plot against Trump is revealing and no doubt much more will be learned if and when investigators go through emails and phone records.

    The first phase of the illegal investigation of the Trump associates involved initiating wiretaps without any probable cause. This eventually involved six government intelligence and law enforcement agencies that formed a de facto task force headed by the CIA’s Director John Brennan. Also reportedly involved were the FBI’s James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson, and Admiral Michael Rogers who headed the National Security Agency.

    Brennan was the key to the operation because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court refused to approve several requests by the FBI to initiate taps on Trump associates and Trump Tower as there was no probable cause to do so but the British and other European intelligence services were legally able to intercept communications linked to American sources. Brennan was able to use his connections with those foreign intelligence agencies, primarily the British GCHQ, to make it look like the concerns about Trump were coming from friendly and allied countries and therefore had to be responded to as part of routine intelligence sharing. As a result, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Gen. Michael Flynn were all wiretapped. And likely there were others. This all happened during the primaries and after Trump became the GOP nominee.

    In other words, to make the wiretaps appear to be legitimate, GCHQ and others were quietly and off-the-record approached by Brennan and associates over their fears of what a Trump presidency might mean. The British responded by initiating wiretaps that were then used by Brennan to justify further investigation of Trump’s associates. It was all neatly done and constituted completely illegal spying on American citizens by the U.S. government.

    The British support of the operation was coordinated by the then-director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan who has since been forced to resign. Brennan is, unfortunately still around and has not been charged with perjury and other crimes. In May 2017, after he departed government, he testified before Congress with what sounds a lot like a final unsourced, uncorroborated attempt to smear the new administration: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

    Brennan’s claimed “concerns” turned out to be incorrect. Meanwhile, other interested parties were involved in the so-called Steele Dossier on Trump himself. The dossier, paid for initially by Republicans trying to stop Trump, was later funded by $12 million from the Hillary campaign. It was commissioned by the law firm Perkins Coie, which was working for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The objective was to assess any possible Trump involvement with Russia. The work itself was sub-contracted to Fusion GPS, which in turn sub-contracted the actual investigation to British spy Christopher Steele who headed a business intelligence firm called Orbis.

    Steele left MI-6 in 2009 and had not visited Russia since 1993. The report, intended to dig up dirt on Trump, was largely prepared using impossible to corroborate second-hand information and would have never surfaced but for the surprise result of the 2016 election. Christopher Steele gave a copy to a retired of British Diplomat Sir Andrew Wood who in turn handed it to Trump critic Senator John McCain who then passed it on to the FBI. President Barack Obama presumably also saw it and, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “If it weren’t for President Obama, we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set off a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today, notably, special counsel Mueller’s investigation.”

    The report was leaked to the media in January 2017 to coincide with Trump’s inauguration. Hilary Clinton denied any prior knowledge despite the fact that her campaign had paid for it. Pressure from the Democrats and other constituencies devastated by the Trump victory used the Steele report to provide leverage for what became the Mueller investigation.

    So, was there a broad ranging conspiracy against Donald Trump orchestrated by many of the most senior officials and politicians in Washington?

    Undeniably yes.

    What Trump has amounted to as a leader and role model is beside the point as what evolved was undeniably a bureaucratic coup directed against a legally elected president of the United States and to a certain extent it was successful as Trump was likely forced to turn his back on his better angels and subsequently hired Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams. One can only hope that investigators dig deep into what is Washington insiders have been up to so Trumpgate will prove more interesting and informative than was Russiagate.

    And one also has to hope that enough highest-level heads will roll to make any interference by the Deep State in future elections unthinkable. One hopes.

    Published:4/23/2019 8:41:04 PM
    [Markets] Top 51 Fake News Russiagate 'Bombshells' Spread By The MSM

    Following the release of the Mueller report, the mainstream media tried to pull a fast one - absurdly claiming that their reporting for the last 2.5 years has been largely vindicated

    Except, they weren't vindicated at all. In fact, they lied through their teeth, peddling falsehood after falsehood

    To that end, Breitbart's John Nolte isn't about to let them get away with peddling even more fiction about their reporting, and has compiled a list of 51 instances where the MSM flat out lied, borrowing from the work of Sharyl AttkissonGlenn Greenwald, and Sohrab Ahmari.

    John Nolte Via Breitbart

    Top 51 Fake News ‘Bombshells’ the Media Spread About RussiaGate

    The list below of 51 might sound like a lot, but it is a drop in the ocean when you recall the thousands and thousands of hours CNN, MSNBC, Meet the Press, This Week, PBS NewsHour, State of the Union, Good Morning AmericaReliable Sources, and the Today Show devoted to anchors and pundits pushing the hoax that Trump colluded with Russia.

    Not to mention, millions and millions of establishment media tweets and Facebook posts.

    Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Shepard Smith, Andrew Napolitano, Joe Scarborough, Chris Hayes, Chuck Todd, Joy Reid, Chris Matthews, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter, Erin Burnett, et al.,  are alone responsible for thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of lies and conspiracy-mongering.

    This list of 51 doesn’t count the half-million — half-MILLION — Russia collusion stories published over the past two years, almost all of which were premised on the idea that Trump did, indeed, collude with a foreign power to steal the 2016 presidential election.

    This list cannot begin to count the countless times these 51 fake stories were repeated as fact throughout other news outlets, social media, and thousands upon thousands of cumulative broadcast hours.

    What’s more, this list of 51 can’t begin to count the countless examples of fake news launched against Trump that have nothing to do with Russia — desperate and deliberate lies involving fish food and ice cream scoops…

    Before we begin, credit where it’s due. This list would not have been possible without the lists already compiled by Sharyl AttkissonGlenn Greenwald, and Sohrab Ahmari.

    1. New York magazine, McClatchy:

    Michael Cohen went to  Prague.

    1. BuzzFeed:

    Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie, and Mueller has emails proving it.

    1. The New York Times:

    Paul Manafort passed polling information to Kremlin.

    1. Axios:

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein forced out.

    1. NBC News:

    Federal investigators wiretapped Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, have recordings of Trump.

    1. Associated Press:

    Phony Russia dossier was initially funded by Republican group.

    1. ABC News:

    Donald Trump directed Flynn to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign

    1. Talking Points Memo:

    Russian social media company provided documents to Senate about communications with Trump official.

    1. CNN:

    Donald Trump Jr. conspired with WikiLeaks.

    1. Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal:

    Robert Mueller subpoenaed Trump’s Deutsche Bank records.

    1. ABC News:

    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked with Russia intelligence-connected official as late as December 2017.

    1. The New York Times:

    Trump Deputy National Security adviser K.T. McFarland lied about another official’s contacts with Russians.

    1. CNN:

    Trump’s campaign was never wiretapped.

    1. NBC News:

    Manafort notes from Russian meeting refer to political contributions.

    1. The New York Times:

    Seventeen intelligence agencies concur Russia hacked the 2016 presidential race.

    1. CNN:

    Congress investigating Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.

    1. The New York Times:

    Former FBI Director James Comey says Attorney General Jeff Sessions told him not to call Russia probe an investigation but “a matter.”

    1. CNN:

    James Comey will testify he never told Trump he was not under investigation.

    1. NBC News:

    Putin admits he has compromising information about Trump.

    1. Politico, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, AP, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal:

    Trump fired Comey after Comey asked for additional resources for the Russia investigation.

    1. The New York Times:

    Numerous contacts between Trump campaign staff and “senior Russian intelligence officials.”

    1. MSNBC:

    Among others, a Trump family member will be indicted on February 8.

    1. The Guardian:

    Paul Manafort visited WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on three occasions.

    1. The Washington Post:

    Trump campaign changed GOP platform on Ukraine.

    1. The Atlantic:

    Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

    1. McClatchy:

    Michael Cohen really did visit Prague.

    1. CNN:

    Trump is lying when he calls Russia dossier “phony.”

    1. Fortune:

    RT had hacked into and taken over C-SPAN and C-SPAN “confirmed” it had been hacked.

    1. USA Today, MSNBC, Associated Press:

    Russia’s hacked the election systems of 21 American states.

    1. The Washington Post, ABC News, CNN:

    Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont.

    1. The Washington Post:

    “More than 200 websites” were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”

    1. NBC News, MSNBC:

    Russia is the main suspect in the sonic attacks that sickened 26 U.S. diplomats.

    1. Slate:

    Trump created a secret Internet server to covertly communicate with a Russian bank.

    1. CNN:

    Donald Trump knew in advance of the Trump Tower meeting.

    1. CNN:

    Mueller Report will show Trump “has helped” Putin “destabilize” the United States.

    1. NBC:

    Russia supports Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

      1. CNN:

    Sessions failed to disclose meetings he had with the Russian ambassador.

    1. Vox:

    “There’s actually lots of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.”

    1. The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPRReutersthe Guardian, USA Today, CNN, BuzzFeed:

    Trump revealed classified information to Russians.

    1. The Washington Post:

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Russia paid Trump.

    1. Fox News:

    Mueller can show Trump campaign “had a connection to Russian intelligence.”

    1. MSNBC:

    “Rudy Giuliani just told America that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.”

    1. The Washington Post:

    Evidence suggests Trump could be a Russian “asset.”

    1. NBC:

    Russians began hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails on the day Donald Trump joked about it in July 2016.

    1. Mic.com:

    Russia spy visited Trump’s Oval Office.

    1. CNN:

    Phony Russia dossier has been “corroborated.”

    1. NPR:

    Donald Trump Jr. lied under oath about Trump Tower deal in Moscow.

    1. NBC, The Hill, New York Daily News:

    Russia successfully hacked voting systems in a number of states.

    1. CNN:

    Trump is “bonkers” for claiming Hillary Clinton behind Russia dossier.

    1. CNN:

    “Every intelligence expert, both under the Obama administration and under the Trump administration,” agrees with the assessment that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

    1. BBC:

    Ukrainian president “authorized” an illegal payment of $400,000 to Michael Cohen for additional face time during a June 2017 meeting with President Trump.

    Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNCFollow his Facebook Page here.

    Published:4/23/2019 6:41:27 PM
    [In The News] HOLY CRAP: Treasure Trove Of Hillary Clinton Emails Discovered In The OBAMA WHITE HOUSE

    By pronews -

    President Obama failure

    Judicial Watch has officially announced that Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division has admitted under oath that the FBI found Hillary Clinton’s emails in the Obama White House and also that “almost 49,000 Hillary Clinton emails were reviewed as a result of a search warrant for emails found on ...

    HOLY CRAP: Treasure Trove Of Hillary Clinton Emails Discovered In The OBAMA WHITE HOUSE is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/23/2019 4:39:19 PM
    [Markets] Assault-Rifle-Wielding Mexican Soldiers Disarm US Troops On Border 

    Two American soldiers were disarmed and questioned by Mexican troops wielding assault rifles this month while conducting a surveillance mission on US territory near the southern border, defense officials told CNN.

    "On April 13, 2019, at approximately 2 p.m. CDT, five to six Mexican military personnel questioned two U.S. Army soldiers who were conducting border support operations in an unmarked (Customs and Border Protection) vehicle near the southwest border in the vicinity of Clint, Texas," US Northern Command told CNN in a statement.

    “An inquiry by (Customs and Border Patrol) and (the Department of Defense) revealed that the Mexican military members believed that the US Army soldiers were south of the border,” the statement added.

    US officials confirmed that Mexican troops were armed with FX-05 Xiuhcoatl assault rifles. They surrounded the vehicle and disarmed one of the Americans. According to CNN sources, both Americans surrendered "in an attempt to de-escalate a potentially volatile situation."

    "Throughout the incident, the U.S. soldiers followed all established procedures and protocols," the statement read.

    "After a brief discussion between the soldiers from the two nations, the Mexican military members departed the area. The U.S. soldiers immediately contacted CBP, who responded quickly," Deputy Director of public affairs for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command John Cornelio told Newsweek.

    Both US soldiers reported hearing someone yell vámonos in Spanish from the Mexican side. The Americans said, the Mexican soldiers went back to their "dark blue Ford pickup truck with a tactical rack in the back." The truck departed from the area, heading westbound on the border.

    After the incident, US service members alerted Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and military commanders. CBP agents responded in 10 to 12 minutes to asses the situation.

    CBP agents identified footprints from Mexican troops and determined they entered into U.S. territory about 50 feet north of the Rio Grande.

    Both US soldiers were attached to the B Battery, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment rom Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, and deployed to the southern border by President Trump in Oct. 2018.

    Pentagon officials demanded an explanation from the Mexican government.

    "An inquiry by CBP and DOD [Department of Defense] revealed that the Mexican military members believed that US Army soldiers were south of the border," Northern Command said while indicating that US troops were north of the border.

    This incident comes at the same time as the FBI arrests a US militia leader near the border, whose team has been rounding up illegal immigrants near the New Mexico border; prompting Mexico’s Foreign Relations Ministry to express its “deep concern” that these militia groups would “drive human rights abuses of people who migrate or request asylum or refuge in the United States.” That’s a pretty rich statement from a government that evidently refuses to apologize for stepping on our soil and detaining our own soldiers.

    Confusion on the border almost turned into a chaotic event that could have severely damaged Mexico-US relations. With an elevated level of American troops patrolling the border and tensions rising between both countries, the expectation of more border incidents is high. 

    Published:4/23/2019 8:07:06 AM
    [Markets] ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was 'Retaliation' For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

    Shortly after the death toll from Sunday's Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government's suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

    NYT

    The claim was made via a report from ISIS's Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday's attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month's mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

    However, the Sri Lankan government didn't offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday's attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS's claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

    "The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

    Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

    On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

    As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

    • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
    • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
    • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
    • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
    • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

    Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

    Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

    The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past - some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic - but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

    "Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack - coordinated, multiple, high-casualty - ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war," Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. "I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame."

    Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that "radical Islamic terror" remained a threat even after ISIS's defeats in Syria.

    Of course, ISIS's claim couldn't be  confirmed and the group has been  known to make "opportunistic" claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

    Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country's president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off "until further notice."

    Published:4/23/2019 7:37:59 AM
    [Markets] Leader Of Border Militia Boasted Of Plans To Assassinate Obama, Clinton, Soros: FBI

    The leader of the militia group which we profiled over the weekend for its detention of migrant families at the US border, was arrested and charged of plotting the assassination of former President Barack Obama, George Soros and various other key Democratic Party figures, the FBI said in court papers.

    While militia leader Larry Hopkins, 69, was arrested on Saturday for a weapons charge said to be unrelated to his activities on the border, the FBI now claims Hopkins bragged about his fellow militia members "training to assassinate" former President Barack Obama, Trump's nemesis in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party's most generous billionaire donor, George Soros.

    To be sure, Hopkins had been a busy man - if what the Feds say is to be believed (which these days is a stretch) - for a long time, and before the F.B.I. arrested the militia leader, he’d had so many run-ins with the law that his police record stretched across much of the United States. Oregon police arrested him in 2006 on charges of impersonating a police officer and a felony weapons offense. They had found him showing guns to teenagers in a gas-station parking lot while wearing a police-style uniform and a badge emblazoned with the words "Special Agent" according to the NYT.

    “Hopkins stated that he worked for the federal government directly under George Bush,” Officer Jack Daniel of the sheriff’s office in Klamath County, Ore., wrote in his report. Hopkins, the report said, claimed variously to be investigating a meth lab, hunting fugitives and undertaking unspecified “operations” in Afghanistan.

    Over a decade later, Hopkins finally came under the scrutiny of federal authorities in 2017, after the FBI received reports that his group was “training” to assassinate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros, according to documents unsealed Monday in federal court.

    Hopkins appeared in Federal District Court on Monday after his arrest over the weekend on yet another charge, this time of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

    Hopkins’ group, the United Constitutional Patriots profiled here, claims to have helped the US Border Patrol to detain over 5,600 immigrants in the previous two months. The ACLU has condemned the group as a “fascist militia” and called its members vigilantes. In photos showcasing its actions, the group shows men in camouflage circling and detaining hundreds of migrants in the desert near Sunland Park, N.M., and then handing the migrants over to Border Patrol.

    The heavily armed militia’s actions have ignited debate over whether its members broke kidnapping laws and effectively acted as a paramilitary force supporting the Border Patrol. Militia members argue that they were assisting the authorities to patrol remote areas of the border and carrying out “verbal citizen’s arrests.”

    “We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to New Mexico Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas.

    United Constitutional Patriots

    Hopkins' attorney, Kelly O’Connell, said the militia group leader planned to plead not guilty.  The militia’s spokesman told local media that he’s “confident” Hopkins will “get through this.” He also claimed that the New Mexico, Hector Balderas, “has declared war on American citizens at the order of the ACLU” by pushing to prevent private citizens “from assisting and documenting a crisis on the border.”

    In an affidavit, FBI special agent David S. Gabriel, said the bureau was made aware of the activities of Hopkins after receiving reports in October 2017 of “alleged militia extremist activity” in northwestern New Mexico. Gabriel said that the following month, two F.B.I. agents went to a trailer park in Flora Vista, N.M., where Hopkins was living at the time. With Mr. Hopkins’s consent, the agents entered the home and saw about 10 firearms in plain view, in what Mr. Hopkins referred to as his office.

    Hopkins, who has also used the name Johnny Horton Jr., told the agents that the guns belonged to Fay Sanders Murphy, whom he described to agents as his common-law wife, according to the affidavit. The agents collected at least nine firearms from the home as evidence, including a 12-gauge shotgun and various handguns.

    According to the NYT, the court affidavit gave few details about the report the F.B.I. received stating that the United Constitutional Patriots “were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa."

    Hopkins’s lawyer, Kelly O’Connell, disputed the reports about assassination plans. “My client told me that is not true,” Mr. O’Connell said. He also questioned the timing of the arrest. “My question is, why now?” O’Connell said. He suggested that pressure from prominent Democrats in New Mexico may have prompted the F.B.I. to take action.

    Published:4/22/2019 10:05:14 PM
    [] Representative Gaetz: Evidence That FBI Agents Were Paid Off by the Media For Leaks Will Surface Ahead of the Official DOJ Inspector General Report Nothing but straight arrows at the top. Rep. Matt Gaetz says evidence of FBI officials improperly receiving incentives from the media in exchange for leaks will soon come out. During an interview on Fox News late Saturday, the Florida Republican... Published:4/22/2019 5:04:48 PM
    [Markets] Watergate's Woodward: FBI, CIA Handling Of Dossier "Needs To Be Investigated"

    "Worse than Watergate" is how Rep. Adam Schiff described the Mueller Report's findings as he doubled-down (or is it quadrupled?) on his fantasy dissonance about The Man In The White House.

    "Well, I think it’s clear from the Mueller report that that’s exactly right. The obstruction of justice in particular in this case is far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did. The — the break-in by the Russians of the Democratic institutions, a foreign adversary far more significant than the plumbers breaking into the Democratic headquarters. So yes, I would say in every way this is more significant than Watergate. And the fact that a candidate for president and now president of the United States would not only not stand up and resist Russian interference in our election but would welcome it goes well beyond anything Nixon did.

    The fact that the president of the United States would take Putin’s side over his own intelligence agencies go well beyond anything Richard Nixon did. So yes, I think it is far more serious than Watergate."

    So, it is with great irony that the previously outspokenly anti-Trump journalist, and Watergate exposer, Bob Woodward, sees things quite differently to Schiff.

    During an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Woodward said Sunday that the FBI and CIA’s reliance on the Steele dossier “needs to be investigated” now that the Mueller reported has undercut many of the salacious document’s claims.

    “What I found out recently, which was really quite surprising, the dossier, which really has got a lot of garbage in it and Mueller found that to be the case, early in building the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference, in an early draft, they actually put the dossier on page two in kind of a breakout box.”

    “I think it was the CIA pushing this. Real intelligence experts looked at this and said no, this is not intelligence, this is garbage and they took it out,” said Woodward.

    “But in this process, the idea that they would include something like that in one of the great stellar intelligence assessments, as Mueller also found out, is highly questionable.

    Needs to be investigated.”

    As The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross notes, the Justice Department’s inspector general is reportedly investigating the FBI’s handling of the dossier, which was used to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

    Published:4/22/2019 4:03:05 PM
    [0e948b0a-b048-57a5-b47a-1ce414de135a] Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing: Trump was vindicated by Mueller report – here's what needs to happen next The time for an accounting has arrived for former senior members of the FBI and Intelligence Community. They aided and abetted in propagating a false narrative about the Trump campaign colluding with Russians, accused the President of the United States of being a “traitor,” and misled the American people. Published:4/22/2019 12:43:15 PM
    [US Headlines] Sarah Sanders â??Is Monica Lewinsky In Dragâ?? Washington AC/DC, USA - (ReUterus): Fans of presidential mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders are wondering if ex-Clinton intern Monica Lewinsky is related to Trumpâ??s skew-faced press secretary who has been outed telling porkies about the FBI. The t... Published:4/22/2019 10:01:16 AM
    [In The News] Report: US Officials Doubted Key Dossier Claims Earlier Than Previously Known

    By Chuck Ross -

    U.S. officials who investigated the Steele dossier had ‘misgivings’ about the salacious document much earlier than previously known, according to a report in The New York Times The FBI also interviewed an alleged source for the dossier in January 2017, and determined that he may have embellished some of the ...

    Report: US Officials Doubted Key Dossier Claims Earlier Than Previously Known is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/21/2019 8:59:19 PM
    [Markets] NYT: The Tables Have Turned -- Time To Investigate The FBI, Steele And The Rest Of The 'Witch Hunters'

    As we now shift from the "witch hunt" against Trump to 'investigating the investigators' who spied on him - remember this; Donald Trump was supposed to lose the 2016 election by almost all accounts. And had Hillary won, as expected, none of this would have seen the light of day

    We wouldn't know that a hyper-partisan FBI had spied on the Trump campaign, as Attorney General William Barr put it during his April 10 Congressional testimony

    We wouldn't know that a Clinton-linked operative, Joseph Mifsud, seeded Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos with the rumor that Russia had 'Dirt' on Hillary Clinton - which would later be coaxed out of Papadopoulos by a Clinton-linked Australian ambassador, Alexander Downer, and that this apparent 'setup' would be the genesis of the FBI's "operation crossfire hurricane" operation against the Trump campaign. 

    We wouldn't know about the role of Fusion GPS - the opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign to commission the Steele dossier. Fusion is also linked to the infamous Trump Tower meeting, and hired Nellie Ohr - the CIA-linked wife of the DOJ's then-#4 employee, Bruce Ohr. Nellie fed her husband Bruce intelligence she had gathered against Trump while working for Fusion GPS, according to transcripts of her closed-door Congressional testimony. 

    And if not for reporting by the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross and others, we wouldn't know that the FBI sent a longtime spook, Stefan Halper, to infiltrate and spy on the Trump campaign - after the Obama DOJ paid him over $400,000 right before the 2016 US election (out of more than $1 million he received while Obama was president).  

    According to the New York Times, the tables are turning, starting with the Steele Dossier. 

    [T]he release on Thursday of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored what had grown clearer for months — that while many Trump aides had welcomed contacts with the Russians, some of the most sensational claims in the dossier appeared to be false, and others were impossible to prove. Mr. Mueller’s report contained over a dozen passing references to the document’s claims but no overall assessment of why so much did not check out.

    Now the dossier — financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and compiled by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele — is likely to face new, possibly harsh scrutiny from multiple inquiries. -NYT

    While Congressional Republicans have vowed to investigate, the DOJ's Inspector General is considering whether the FBI improperly relied on the dossier when they used it to apply for a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The IG also wants to know about Steele's sources and whether the FBI disclosed any doubts as to the veracity of the dossier

    Attorney General Barr, meanwhile, said he will review the FBI's conduct in the Russia investigation after saying the agency spied on the Trump campaign

    Doubts over the dossier

    The FBI's scramble to vet the dossier's claims are well known. According to an April, 2017 NYT reportthe FBI agreed to pay Steele $50,000 for "solid corroboration" of his claims. Steele was apparently unable to produce satisfactory evidence - and was ultimately not paid for his efforts:

    Mr. Steele met his F.B.I. contact in Rome in early October, bringing a stack of new intelligence reports. One, dated Sept. 14, said that Mr. Putin was facing “fallout” over his apparent involvement in the D.N.C. hack and was receiving “conflicting advice” on what to do.

    The agent said that if Mr. Steele could get solid corroboration of his reports, the F.B.I. would pay him $50,000 for his efforts, according to two people familiar with the offer. Ultimately, he was not paid. -NYT

    Still, the FBI used the dossier to obtain the FISA warrant on Page - while the document itself was heavily shopped around to various media outlets. The late Sen. John McCain provided a copy to Former FBI Director James Comey, who already had a version, and briefed President Trump on the salacious document. Comey's briefing to Trump was then used by CNN and BuzzFeed to justify reporting on and publishing the dossier following the election. 

    Let's not forget that in October, 2016, both Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta promoted the conspiracy theory that a secret Russian server was communicating with Trump Tower. 

    The report was debunked after internet sleuths traced the IP address to a marketing server located outside Philadelphia, leading Alfa Bank executives to file a lawsuit against Fusion GPS in October 2017, claiming their reputations were harmed by the Steele Dossier. 

    And who placed the Trump-Alfa theory with various media outlets? None other than former FBI counterintelligence officer and Dianne Feinstein aide Dan Jones - who is currently working with Fusion GPS and Steele to continue their Trump-Russia investigation funded in part by George Soros

    Dan Jones, George Soros, Glenn Simpson

    Russian tricks?

    The Times notes that Steele "has not ruled out" that he may have been fed Russian disinformation while assembling his dossier. 

    That would mean that in addition to carrying out an effective attack on the Clinton campaign, Russian spymasters hedged their bets and placed a few land mines under Mr. Trump’s presidency as well.

    Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who now lives outside Washington, saw that as plausible. “Russia has huge experience in spreading false information,” he said. -NYT

    In short, Steele is being given an 'out' with this admission.  

    A lawyer for Fusion GPS, Joshua Levy, says that the Mueller report substantiated the "core reporting" in the Steele memos - namely that "Trump campaign figures were secretly meeting Kremlin figures,” and that Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, had directed “a covert operation to elect Donald J. Trump."

    Of course, when one stops painting with broad brush strokes, it's clear that the dossier was fabricated bullshit. 

    The dossier tantalized Mr. Trump’s opponents with a worst-case account of the president’s conduct. And for those trying to make sense of the Trump-Russia saga, the dossier infused the quest for understanding with urgency.

    In blunt prose, it suggested that a foreign power had fully compromised the man who would become the next president of the United States.

    The Russians, it asserted, had tried winning over Mr. Trump with real estate deals in Moscow — which he had not taken up — and set him up with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel in 2013, filming the proceedings for future exploitation. A handful of aides were described as conspiring with the Russians at every turn.

    Mr. Trump, it said, had moles inside the D.N.C. The memos claimed that he and the Kremlin had been exchanging intelligence for eight years and were using Romanian hackers against the Democrats, and that Russian pensioners in the United States were running a covert communications network. -NYT

    And after a nearly two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and roughly 40 FBI agents and other specialists, no evidence was found to support the dossier's wild claims of "DNC moles, Romanian hackers, Russian pensioners, or years of Trump-Putin intelligence trading," as the Times puts it. 

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, and key Democrats backing away from talks of impeachment, let's see if lady justice will follow the rest of us down the rabbit hole. 

    Published:4/21/2019 12:27:10 PM
    [FBI] Papadopoulos: Oh, yeah, there was spying (Scott Johnson) George Papadopoulos is the author of Deep State Target, just published last month. He must reside somewhere close to the origin of the spying on the Trump campaign conducted by the FBI — as a subject, not as a perpetrator. Byron York tracked him down last week for a podcast laying out his story “in crazy detail,” as the summary rightly has it. Long story short: In this interview, George Published:4/21/2019 10:56:35 AM
    [Markets] FBI Arrests Leader Of Armed Militia Rounding Up Migrants At Southern Border 

    The FBI on Saturday announced the arrest of Larry Hopkins, the leader of an armed militia comprised mostly of military veterans which has been stopping groups of migrants who have illegally entered the country, holding them at gunpoint, and then handing them over to Border Patrol agents, according to Reuters

    Facebook

    Larry Hopkins, 69, was arrested in Sunland Park, New Mexico on a federal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, according to the FBI. The arrest of Hopkins, also known as Johnny Horton, comes two days after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the militia of illegally detaining migrants. In response, New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) ordered an investigation

    "We’re not worried about it, he’s going to be cleared," said Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), which blamed the arrest on political pressure by the governor. Hopkins is known as the "national commander" of the group. 

    Facebook

    Around half a dozen UCP members were camping out on a rotating basis since Sunland Park on a rotating basis since late February. 

    Dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles, UCP says it's a "patriot group" that's helping the US Border Patrol handle a record influx of Central Americans crossing the US border illegally in the hopes of being granted asylum. 

    Dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles, UCP members have helped U.S. Border Patrol detain over 5,600 migrants in the last two months, Benvie said. Videos posted online by the group show members telling migrants to stop, sit down, and wait for agents to arrive. Critics accuse the UCP of impersonating law enforcement. -Reuters

    Last week, the group rounded up more than 350 people this week who had crossed the border in West El Paso, Texas - one town over from Sunland Park. In YouTube videos uploaded on Tuesday and Wednesday, groups of migrants - many of them coughing - can be seen sitting on the ground until Border Patrol officers arrive on scene. 

    Benvie said militia gave the migrants a "verbal order of arrest" to the border crossers - telling them to wait until Border Patrol agents could arrive. UCP offered migrants $20 to identify the smuggler who helped them cross the border, however nobody took them up on their offer. 

    A message posted on the United Constitutional Patriots' page after the migrants were detained Monday night stated:  "This group was so huge we won't have an accurate count until the BP is finished processing them. This needs to stop!!!!! Build the wall."

    The video shows Border Patrol agents as they apprehend members of the group of migrants that crossed into the U.S.  Some of the migrants seen in the video are overheard coughing and asking for water. When asked why they entered the US, some of the migrants said they are seeking asylum. -KVIA

    On Friday, PayPal and GoFundMe barred UCP, citing policies against promoting hate or violence, after the ACLU called them a "fascist militia." 

    "Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes," said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas after Hopkins's arrest. Earlier in the week, Balderas warned "These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement."

    According to Reuters, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center, Hopkins was arrested in Oregon in 2006 on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

    US Customs and Border Patrol, meanwhile, said in a statement that it does not support citizens who take the law into their own hands - instead encouraging citizens to be on watch. 

    UCP's Facebook following has more than doubled since Thursday's initial report on the detentions

    That said, when asked what UCP would do if told to leave the border by state police, Benvie said they would likely comply - and if they felt their rights were violated, sue the state of New Mexico. 

    "There’s not going to be any standoffs, this isn’t the Bundy Ranch," said Benvie. 

    Published:4/21/2019 9:55:15 AM
    [Markets] Escobar: The Deep State Vs. WikiLeaks

    Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    The Made-by-FBI indictment of Julian Assange does look like a dead man walking. No evidence. No documents. No surefire testimony. Just a crossfire of conditionals...

    But never underestimate the legalese contortionism of US government (USG) functionaries. As much as Assange may not be characterized as a journalist and publisher, the thrust of the affidavit is to accuse him of conspiring to commit espionage.

    In fact the charge is not even that Assange hacked a USG computer and obtained classified information; it’s that he may have discussed it with Chelsea Manning and may have had the intention to go for a hack. Orwellian-style thought crime charges don’t get any better than that. Now the only thing missing is an AI software to detect them.

    Assange legal adviser Geoffrey Robertson – who also happens to represent another stellar political prisoner, Brazil’s Lula – cut straight to the chase (at 19:22 minutes);

    “The justice he is facing is justice, or injustice, in America… I would hope the British judges would have enough belief in freedom of information to throw out the extradition request.”

    That’s far from a done deal. Thus the inevitable consequence; Assange’s legal team is getting ready to prove, no holds barred, in a British court, that this USG indictment for conspiracy to commit computer hacking is just an hors d’oeuvre for subsequent espionage charges, in case Assange is extradited to US soil.

    All about Vault 7

    John Pilger, among few others, has already stressed how a plan to destroy WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was laid out as far back as 2008 – at the tail end of the Cheney regime – concocted by the Pentagon’s shady Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch.

    It was all about criminalizing WikiLeaks and personally smearing Assange, using “shock troops…enlisted in the media — those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.”

    This plan remains more than active – considering how Assange’s arrest has been covered by the bulk of US/UK mainstream media.

    By 2012, already in the Obama era, WikiLeaks detailed the astonishing “scale of the US Grand Jury Investigation” of itself. The USG always denied such a grand jury existed.

    “The US Government has stood up and coordinated a joint interagency criminal investigation of Wikileaks comprised of a partnership between the Department of Defense (DOD) including: CENTCOM; SOUTHCOM; the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA); Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA); US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for USFI (US Forces Iraq) and 1st Armored Division (AD); US Army Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU); 2nd Army (US Army Cyber Command); Within that or in addition, three military intelligence investigations were conducted. Department of Justice (DOJ) Grand Jury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of State (DOS) and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). In addition, Wikileaks has been investigated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Office of the National CounterIntelligence Executive (ONCIX), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the House Oversight Committee; the National Security Staff Interagency Committee, and the PIAB (President's Intelligence Advisory Board).”

    But it was only in 2017, in the Trump era, that the Deep State went totally ballistic; that’s when WikiLeaks published the Vault 7 files – detailing the CIA’s vast hacking/cyber espionage repertoire.

    This was the CIA as a Naked Emperor like never before – including the dodgy overseeing ops of the Center for Cyber Intelligence, an ultra-secret NSA counterpart.

    WikiLeaks got Vault 7 in early 2017. At the time WikiLeaks had already published the DNC files – which the unimpeachable Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) systematically proved was a leak, not a hack.

    The monolithic narrative by the Deep State faction aligned with the Clinton machine was that “the Russians” hacked the DNC servers. Assange was always adamant; that was not the work of a state actor – and he could prove it technically.

    There was some movement towards a deal, brokered by one of Assange’s lawyers; WikiLeaks would not publish the most damning Vault 7 information in exchange for Assange’s safe passage to be interviewed by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

    The DoJ wanted a deal – and they did make an offer to WikiLeaks. But then FBI director James Comey killed it. The question is why.

    It’s a leak, not a hack

    Some theoretically sound reconstructions of Comey’s move are available. But the key fact is Comey already knew – via his close connections to the top of the DNC – that this was not a hack; it was a leak.

    Ambassador Craig Murray has stressed, over and over again (see here) how the DNC/Podesta files published by WikiLeaks came from two different US sources; one from within the DNC and the other from within US intel.

    There was nothing for Comey to “investigate”. Or there would have, if Comey had ordered the FBI to examine the DNC servers. So why talk to Julian Assange?

    The release by WikiLeaks in April 2017 of the malware mechanisms inbuilt in “Grasshopper” and the “Marble Framework” were indeed a bombshell. This is how the CIA inserts foreign language strings in source code to disguise them as originating from Russia, from Iran, or from China. The inestimable Ray McGovern, a VIPS member, stressed how Marble Framework "destroys this story about Russian hacking."

    No wonder then CIA director Mike Pompeo accused WikiLeaks of being a “non-state hostile intelligence agency”, usually manipulated by Russia.

    Joshua Schulte, the alleged leaker of Vault 7, has not faced a US court yet. There’s no question he will be offered a deal by the USG if he aggress to testify against Julian Assange.

    It’s a long and winding road, to be traversed in at least two years, if Julian Assange is ever to be extradited to the US. Two things for the moment are already crystal clear. The USG is obsessed to shut down WikiLeaks once and for all. And because of that, Julian Assange will never get a fair trial in the “so-called ‘Espionage Court’” of the Eastern District of Virginia, as detailed by former CIA counterterrorism officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou.

    Meanwhile, the non-stop demonization of Julian Assange will proceed unabated, faithful to guidelines established over a decade ago. Assange is even accused of being a US intel op, and WikiLeaks a splinter Deep State deep cover op.

    Maybe President Trump will maneuver the hegemonic Deep State into having Assange testify against the corruption of the DNC; or maybe Trump caved in completely to “hostile intelligence agency” Pompeo and his CIA gang baying for blood. It’s all ultra-high-stakes shadow play – and the show has not even begun.

    Published:4/20/2019 10:52:25 PM
    [Markets] Caitlin Johnstone Debunks All The Assange Smears

    Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

    Have you ever noticed how whenever someone inconveniences the dominant western power structure, the entire political/media class rapidly becomes very, very interested in letting us know how evil and disgusting that person is? It’s true of the leader of every nation which refuses to allow itself to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized power alliance, it’s true of anti-establishment political candidates, and it’s true of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    Corrupt and unaccountable power uses its political and media influence to smear Assange because, as far as the interests of corrupt and unaccountable power are concerned, killing his reputation is as good as killing him. If everyone can be paced into viewing him with hatred and revulsion, they’ll be far less likely to take WikiLeaks publications seriously, and they’ll be far more likely to consent to Assange’s imprisonment, thereby establishing a precedentfor the future prosecution of leak-publishing journalists around the world. Someone can be speaking 100 percent truth to you, but if you’re suspicious of him you won’t believe anything he’s saying. If they can manufacture that suspicion with total or near-total credence, then as far as our rulers are concerned it’s as good as putting a bullet in his head.

    Those of us who value truth and light need to fight this smear campaign in order to keep our fellow man from signing off on a major leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia, and a big part of that means being able to argue against those smears and disinformation wherever they appear. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any kind of centralized source of information which comprehensively debunks all the smears in a thorough and engaging way, so with the help of hundreds of tips from my readers and social media followersI’m going to attempt to make one here. What follows is my attempt at creating a tool kit people can use to fight against Assange smears wherever they encounter them, by refuting the disinformation with truth and solid argumentation.

    This article is an ongoing project which will be updated regularly where it appears on Medium and caitlinjohnstone.com as new information comes in and new smears spring up in need of refutation.

    Here’s a numbered list of each subject I’ll be covering in this article for ease of reference:

    How to argue against Assange smears.

    1. “He’s not a journalist.”

    2. “He’s a rapist.”

    3. “He was hiding from rape charges in the embassy.”

    4. “He’s a Russian agent.”

    5. “He’s being prosecuted for hacking crimes, not journalism.”

    6. “He should just go to America and face the music. If he’s innocent he’s got nothing to fear.”

    7. “Well he jumped bail! Of course the UK had to arrest him.”

    8. “He’s a narcissist/megalomaniac/jerk.”

    9. “He’s a horrible awful monster for reasons X, Y and Z… but I don’t think he should be extradited.”

    10. “Trump is going to rescue him and they’ll work together to end the Deep State. Relax and wait and see.”

    11. “He put poop on the walls. Poop poop poopie.”

    12. “He’s stinky.”

    13. “He was a bad houseguest.”

    14. “He conspired with Don Jr.”

    15. “He only publishes leaks about America.”

    16. “He’s an antisemite.”

    17. “He’s a fascist.”

    18. “He was a Trump supporter.”

    19. “I used to like him until he ruined the 2016 election” / “I used to hate him until he saved the 2016 election.”

    20. “He’s got blood on his hands.”

    21. “He published the details of millions of Turkish women voters.”

    22. “He supported right-wing political parties in Australia.”

    23. “He endangered the lives of gay Saudis.”

    24. “He’s a CIA agent/limited hangout.”

    25. “He mistreated his cat.”

    26. “He’s a pedophile.”

    27. “He lied about Seth Rich.”

    Wow! That’s a lot! Looking at that list you can only see two possibilities:

    1. Julian Assange, who published many inconvenient facts about the powerful and provoked the wrath of opaque and unaccountable government agencies, is literally the worst person in the whole entire world, OR

    2. Julian Assange, who published many inconvenient facts about the powerful and provoked the wrath of opaque and unaccountable government agencies, is the target of a massive, deliberate disinformation campaign designed to kill the public’s trust in him.

    As it happens, historian Vijay Prashad noted in a recent interview with Chris Hedges that in 2008 a branch of the US Defense Department did indeed set out to “build a campaign to eradicate ‘the feeling of trust of WikiLeaks and their center of gravity’ and to destroy Assange’s reputation.”

    Let’s begin.

    How to argue against Assange smears:

    Before we get into refuting the specific points of disinformation, I’d like to share a few tips which I’ve found useful in my own experience with engaging people online who are circulating smears against Julian Assange.

    A?—?Be clear that your goal is to fight against a disinformation campaign, not to “win” or to change the mind of the person you’re arguing with.

    If our interest is in advancing the cause of truth, we’re not trying to get into arguments with people for egoic gratification, nor are we trying to change the mind of the smearer. Our first and foremost goal is to spread the truth to the people who are witnessing the interaction, who are always the target audience for the smear. Doesn’t matter if it’s an argument at the Thanksgiving dinner table or a Twitter thread witnessed by thousands: your goal is to disinfect the smear with truth and solid argumentation so everyone witnessing is inoculated from infection.

    So perform for that audience like a lawyer for the jury. When the smearer refuses to respond to your challenges, when they share false information, when they use a logical fallacy, when they are intellectually dishonest, call it out and draw attention to what they’re doing. When it comes to other subjects there are a wide range of opinions that may be considered right or wrong depending on how you look at them, but when it comes to the whether or not it’s acceptable for Assange to be imprisoned for his publishing activities you can feel confident that you’ll always have truth on your side. So use facts and good argumentation to make the smearer look worse than they’re trying to make Assange look, thereby letting everyone know that this person isn’t an honest and trustworthy source of information.

    B?—?Remember that whoever you’re debating probably doesn’t really know much about the claim they’re making.

    Last night I had a guy confidently assuring me that Assange and Chelsea Manning had teamed up to get Donald Trump elected in 2016. Most people just bleat whatever they think they’ve heard people they trust and people around them saying; when they make a claim about Assange, it’s not usually because they’ve done a ton of research on the subject and examined possible counter-arguments, it’s because it’s an unquestioned doctrine within their echo chamber, and it may never have even occurred to them that someone might question it.

    For a perfect example of this, check out the New York Times’ Bari Weiss experiencing an existential meltdown on The Joe Rogan Experience when the host simply asked her to substantiate her claim that Tulsi Gabbard is an “Assad toadie”. Weiss only ever operates within a tight establishment echo chamber, so when challenged on a claim she’d clearly only picked up secondhand from other people she turned into a sputtering mess.

    Most people you’ll encounter who smear Assange online are pulling a Bari Weiss to some extent, so point out the obvious gaps in their knowledge for the audience when they make nonsensical claims, and make it clear to everyone that they have no idea what they’re talking about.

    C?—?Remember that they’re only ever running from their own cognitive dissonance.

    Cognitive dissonance is the psychological discomfort we experience when we try to hold two strongly contradictory ideas as true at the same time, like the idea that we live in a free liberal democracy and the idea that a journalist is being imprisoned for publishing facts about the US government right in front of us.

    Rank-and-file citizens generally help the mass media propagandists smear Assange not to help protect the world from the influence of a dangerous individual, but to protect themselves from cognitive dissonance. People find themselves eager to believe smears about Assange because the raw facts revealed by WikiLeaks publications punch giant holes in the stories about the kind of world, nation and society that most people have been taught to believe they live in since school age. These kinds of beliefs are interwoven with people’s entire egoic structures, with their sense of self and who they are as a person, so narratives which threaten to tear them apart can feel the same as a personal attack. This is why you’ll hear ordinary citizens talking about Assange with extreme emotion as though he’d attacked them personally; all he did was publish facts about the powerful, but since those facts conflict with tightly held identity constructs, the cognitive dissonance he caused them to experience can be interpreted as feeling like he’d slapped them in the face.

    Ordinary citizens often find themselves eager to believe the smear campaigns against Assange because it’s easier than believing that their government would participate in the deliberate silencing and imprisoning of a journalist for publishing facts. The fact that Assange’s persecution is now exposing the ugly face of imperial tyranny presents them with even more to defend.

    It might look like they’re playing offense, but they’re playing defense. They’re attacking Assange because they feel the need to defend themselves from cognitive dissonance.

    If people are acting strangely emotional and triggered when it comes to the issue of imprisoning Assange, it’s got very little to do with facts and everything to do with the dynamics of psychological identity structures. There’s not necessarily any benefit in pointing this out during a debate, but it helps to understand where people are coming from and why they’re acting that way. Keep pointing out that people’s feelings have no bearing on the threats that are posed to all of us by Assange’s prosecution.

    D?—?Remember that the burden of proof is on the one making the claim.

    “Prove your claim.” Use this phrase early and often. It’s amazing how frequently I see people blurting out assertions about Assange that I know for a fact they have no way of proving: that he’s a Russian agent, that he’s a rapist, that he’s a CIA asset, etc, which ties in with Point B above. The burden of proof is always on the party making the claim, so if they refuse to do this you can publicly dismiss their argument. If someone comes in making a specific claim about Assange, make them present the specific information they’re basing their claim on so that you can refute it. If they refuse, call them out on it publicly. Never let them get away with the fallacious tactic of shifting the burden of proof onto you, and remember that anything which has been asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.

    E?—?Never let them trick you into expending more energy than they’re expending.

    This one’s important. The internet is full of genuinely trollish individuals who spend their time acting out their inner pain by trying to suck the life out of other people, and political discussion is certainly no exception to this. A common tactic is to use short phrases, half-thoughts, or word salads which contain few facts and no actual arguments, but contain just enough of a jab to suck you into wasting energy making thorough, well-sourced arguments while they just lean back and continue making weak, low-energy responses to keep you going. This enables them to waste your time and frustrate you while expending little energy themselves, while also not having to reveal the fact that they don’t know much about the subject at hand and don’t really have an argument.

    Don’t let them lean back. Force them to lean in. If someone makes an unsubstantiated assertion, a brief quip, or a vague insinuation, tell them “Make an actual argument using complete thoughts or go away.” If they throw an unintelligible word salad at you (a tactic that is also common in abusers with narcissistic personality disorder because it tricks the abusee into falling all over themselves guessing how to respond appropriately, thereby giving the abuser power), tell them “That’s gibberish. Articulate yourself using clear arguments or go away.”

    This often enrages them, partly because they’ve generally been getting away with this tactic their entire lives so they feel entitled to demand compliance with it from you, and partly because you’re forcing a very unconscious and unattractive part of themselves into attention and consciousness. But if they’re interested in having a real and intellectually honest debate they’ll do it; if they’re not they won’t. If they refuse to provide you with lucid, complete arguments that meet their burden of proof, make a show of dismissing them for their refusal to do so, and say you’re doing it because they’re too dishonest to have a real debate.

    Never chase them. Make them chase you. Never let them lead the dance chasing them around trying to correct their straw man reframing of your actual words or guessing what their word salads are trying to articulate. Make them do the work they’re trying to make you do. Force them to either extend themselves into the light where their arguments can be properly scrutinized, or to disqualify themselves by refusing to.

    F?—?When attacking disinformation on Twitter, use this tactic:

    If you see a high-profile Twitter account sharing disinformation about Assange, debunk their disinfo as clearly and concisely as possible, then retweet your response to your followers. Your followers will like and retweet your response, sending it further up the thread so that casual viewers of the disinfo tweet will often also see your response debunking it. If your response is text-only, include a screenshot or the URL of the tweet you’re responding to before retweeting your response so that your followers can see the awful post you’re responding to. It comes out looking like this:

    This serves the dual function of offsetting the damage done by their smear and alerting your followers to come and help fight the disinfo.

    G?—?Point out at every opportunity that they are advancing a smear.

    Never miss an opportunity to point out to everyone witnessing the exchange that the other party is advancing a smear that is being promulgated by the mass media to manufacture consent for the imprisonment of a journalist who exposed US war crimes. Keep the conversation in context for everyone: this isn’t just two people having a difference of opinion, this is one person circulating disinformation which facilitates the agendas of the most powerful people in the world (including the Trump administration, which you should always point out repeatedly if you know they hate Trump), and the other person trying to stop the flow of disinfo. Every time you expose a hole in one of their arguments, add in the fact that this is a dishonest smear designed to benefit the powerful, and that they are helping to advance it.

    H?—?Make it about Assange’s imprisonment and extradition.

    One of the very few advantages to Assange being behind bars in the UK’s version of Guantanamo Bay instead of holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy is that the arguments are so much clearer and more honest now. You can no longer get away with claiming that Assange is just a coward hiding from justice who can “leave whenever he wants” and present yourself as merely a casual observer who just happens to want to share his opinion that the WikiLeaks founder is a fascist Russian spy rapist who smells bad and mistreats his cat, because you will always be entering a discussion involving the fact that Assange is in prison awaiting extradition to the United States. You are therefore always necessarily either supporting the extradition or distracting from the conversation about it.

    So make that clear to everyone watching. Make them own it. They either support the imprisonment and extradition of Assange for his role in the Manning leaks, or they’re interrupting grown-ups who are trying to have an adult conversation about it. If they support Assange’s imprisonment and extradition to the United States, that clarifies your line of argumentation, and it makes them look like the bootlicking empire sycophants they are. Keep the fact that they support the extradition and imprisonment of a journalist for publishing facts on the front burner of the conversation, and keep making them own it.

    I?—?Familiarize yourself with common logical fallacies.

    It’s fascinating how often people resort to fallacious debate tactics when arguing about Assange. One of the most interesting things to me right now is how the unconscious behaviors of our civilization is mirrored in the unconsciousness of the individuals who support those behaviors. Those who support Assange’s persecution are generally very averse to an intellectually honest relationship with their own position, and with the arguments against their position that they encounter.

    So get familiar with basic fallacious debate tactics like straw man arguments(claiming that you have a position that is different from the one you’ve actually put forth and then attacking that fake position they invented, e.g. “You’re defending Assange because you worship him and think he’s perfect”), ad hominems (using personal attacks instead of an argument, e.g. “Assange is stinky and smeared poo on the embassy walls”), and appeals to emotion(using emotionally charged statements as a substitute for facts and reason, e.g. “You’re defending Assange because you’re a rape apologist”). These will give you a conceptual framework for those situations where it feels like the person you’re arguing with is being squirmy and disingenuous, but you can’t really put your finger on how.

    J?—?Rely as much on fact and as little on opinion as possible.

    Don’t get sucked into emotional exchanges about opinions. Facts are what matter here, and, as you will see throughout the rest of this article, the facts are on your side. Make sure you’re familiar with them.

    And now for the smears:

    Smear 1: “He is not a journalist.”

    Yes he is. Publishing relevant information so the public can inform themselves about what’s going on in their world is the thing that journalism is. Which is why Assange was just awarded the GUE/NGL Award for “Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right to Information” the other day, why the WikiLeaks team has racked up many prestigious awards for journalism, and why Assange is a member of Australia’s media union. Only when people started seriously stressing about the very real threats that his arrest poses to press freedoms did it become fashionable to go around bleating “Assange is not a journalist.”

    The argument, if you can call it that, is that since Assange doesn’t practice journalism in a conventional way, there’s no way his bogus prosecution for his role in the Manning leaks could possibly constitute a threat to other journalists around the world who might want to publish leaked documents exposing US government malfeasance. This argument is a reprisal of a statement made by Trump’s then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, who proclaimed that WikiLeaks is not a journalistic outlet at all but a “hostile non-state intelligence service”, a designation he made up out of thin air the same way the Trump administration designated Juan Guaido the president of Venezuela, the Golan Heights a part of Israel, and Iran’s military a terrorist organization. Pompeo argued that since WikiLeaks was now this label he made up, it enjoys no free press protections and shall therefore be eliminated.

    So they’re already regurgitating propaganda narratives straight from the lips of the Trump administration, but more importantly, their argument is nonsense. As I discuss in the essay hyperlinked here, once the Assange precedent has been set by the US government, the US government isn’t going to be relying on your personal definition of what journalism is; they’re going to be using their own, based on their own interests. The next time they want to prosecute someone for doing anything similar to what Assange did, they’re just going to do it, regardless of whether you believe that next person to have been a journalist or not. It’s like these people imagine that the US government is going to show up at their doorstep saying “Yes, hello, we wanted to imprison this journalist based on the precedent we set with the prosecution of Julian Assange, but before doing so we wanted to find out how you feel about whether or not they’re a journalist.”

    Pure arrogance and myopia.

    Smear 2: “He’s a rapist.”

    The feedback I’ve gotten while putting together this article indicates that this is the one Assange defenders struggle with most, and understandably so: it’s a complex situation involving multiple governments, a foreign language, a foreign legal system, lots of legal jargon, many different people, some emotionally triggering subject matter, and copious amounts of information. These layers of complexity are what smearers rely upon when circulating this smear; most people don’t understand the dynamics, so it’s not evident that they’re ingesting disinfo.

    But just because the nature of the allegation is complex doesn’t mean the argument is.

    The strongest, simplest and most obvious argument against the “rapist” smear is that it’s an unproven allegation which Assange has always denied, and you’d have to be out of your mind to believe a completely unproven allegation about a known target of US intelligence agencies. It’s just as stupid as believing unproven claims about governments targeted for US regime change, like believing Saddam had WMD. The fact of the matter is that if you go up against America’s opaque and unaccountable government agencies, they have “six ways from Sunday of getting back at you,” to quote from the Gospel of Schumer.

    I know we’ve all been told that we have to unquestioningly believe all women who say they’ve been raped, and as a general practice it’s a good idea to tear away our society’s patriarchal habit of dismissing anyone who says they’ve been raped. But as soon as you make that into a hard, rigid rule that can’t have any room for questioning the agendas of the powerful, you can be one hundred percent certain that the powerful will begin using that rule to manipulate us.

    The people aggressively promoting the “rapist” narrative and saying “You have to believe women!” do not care about rape victims, any more than all the Hillary supporters saying “Bernie says you have to behave!” after the 2016 convention cared about Bernie. Earlier this month I had my Twitter privileges suspended when I went off on a virulent Assange hater who said I was lying about having survived multiple rapes myself, while continuing to bleat his “believe all women” schtick. The political/media class of the western empire, which never hesitates to support the violent toppling of sovereign governments and all the death, destruction, chaos, terrorism, suffering, and, yes, rape which necessarily comes along with those actions, does not care about rape victims in Sweden.

    You could spend days combing through all the articles that have been written about the details of the Swedish preliminary investigation, but let me try to sum it up as concisely as possible.

    Cliff’s Notes version:

    Laws about consent and rape are significantly different in Sweden from most other societies. Assange had consensual sex with two women, Sofia Wilen and Anna Ardin in Sweden. Wilen and Ardin were acquainted with each other and texted about their encounters and, after learning about some uncomfortable sexual experiences Wilen said she’d had with Assange, Ardin convinced Wilen to go to the police together to compel Assange to take an AIDS test. Ardin took her to see her friend and political ally who was also a police officer. Wilen said one of the times Assange had initiated sex with her happened while she was half-asleep (legally different from asleep) and without a condom, and Ardin said Assange had deliberately damaged his condom before using it. Wilen freaked out when she learned the police wanted to charge Assange with rape for the half-asleep incident, and refused to sign any legal documents saying that he had raped her. She sent a text that she “did not want to put any charges against JA but the police wanted to get a grip on him,” and said she had been “railroaded by police and others around her.” Ardin went along with the process, and to this day she remains the only one of the two women who the mainstream press pays any attention to, because she still holds to her story about the condom.

    A few problems with Ardin’s story, though. Firstly and most importantly, the condom she’d brought to police had no DNA on it, hers or Assange’s. Secondly, Assange denies any inappropriate condom shenanigans. Thirdly, the police interview with Ardin’s police friend was conducted with Ardin present and without a recording device. Fourth, her accusation constitutes “sexual molestation”, not rape; the “rape, lesser offense” allegation we keep hearing about is from Wilen’s initial complaint (which if prosecuted will ironically happen without her consent), and the statute of limitations ran out on the sexual molestation accusations in 2015.

    To gain a basic understanding of the events through 2012, I highly recommend taking ten minutes to watch this animated video:

    More detailed version:

    Julian Assange arrives in Sweden on the 11th of August, 2010 for a press conference organized by the Social Democrat Party. Anna Ardin offers use of her one-bedroom empty flat while he’s in town because she is away. She comes home a day early on the 13th of August. She invites him to stay on anyway, and they have consensual sex that night. Ardin will later go on to deem the sex as assault because she believes he deliberately broke the condom that he used. She produces the condom as evidence. It does not contain any DNA of either Ardin or Assange.

    At the press conference on the 14th, a young woman called Sofia Willen shows up at Ardin’s invitation and catches Assange’s eye. Anna organizes a dinner party that night and the guests gather that Ardin and Assange have been intimate because Ardin teases Assange about getting up in the middle of the night to do work. She joked “I thought you had dumped me!”

    (The significance of the word “dumped” probably wasn’t apparent to Assange that night, but it probably was to some of her other guests because that was the word she used in a popular essay she authored on how to get revenge on a man who “dumps” you.)

    A guest offers to have Assange that night but Ardin insists “He can stay with me.” Ardin and Assange sleep in the same bed that night and the next. Assange says they continued to have sex, Ardin says they didn’t.

    The next day someone else offers to host Assange but Ardin declines.

    Ardin was aware that Assange wanted to have sex with Wilen, texting a friend of hers who inquired about Assange’s whereabouts to the effect that she didn’t know but he’d probably finally got lucky with Wilen.

    On the 16th of August, Assange goes on a date with Wilen to the movies and they go back to her place. They have sex several times in between sleeping, with a condom. The alleged rape occurred in the last act of sex when Wilen was “half asleep” and Assange penetrated her and she says she asked him if he had anything on (meaning a condom) and she says he said “You.”

    She allows the sex to continue, but she remains concerned about the risk of STDs and pregnancy and ends up texting with Ardin about it. Ardin takes her to her police officer friend, who does an interview with Wilen with Ardin in attendance. Wilen wants Assange to be tested but she doesn’t want him charged with anything and refuses to sign off on a rape accusation. When she hears the police have issued an arrest warrant for Assange for rape she is too distressed to continue and leaves her statement unsigned. Wilen is mortified. The transcripts are leaked to the local tabloid Expressen (that Ardin happened to have interned for) and Assange finds out he is wanted for double rape via the paper the next morning.

    A more senior prosecutor named Eva Finne pulls rank and cancels the arrest warrant, dropping the matter completely on August 25th saying the evidence “disclosed no crime at all.” Then out of the blue it’s restarted again on the 29th, this time by another prosecutor named Marianne Ny. On the 30th, Assange voluntarily goes to the police to make a statement. In the statement, he tells the officer he fears that it will end up in the Expressen. How do I know that? The full statement was leaked to the Expressen. Sweden has strict lawsprotecting the confidentiality of the accused during preliminary investigations of alleged sexual offenses, but some convenient leaks circumvented this law and allowed Assange to be smeared as a rapist ever since.

    Assange stays in Sweden for a total of five weeks waiting to be interviewed. Assange’s Swedish lawyer is later contacted by the prosecutor who says that he’s not wanted for questioning at this time and is free to leave the country. Assange goes to the UK.

    That’s when things get super weird. Interpol issues a Red Notice for Assange. Red Notices are reserved for extremely dangerous criminals and known terrorists, not alleged first-time rapists. This exceedingly disproportionate response immediately raised a red flag with Assange’s legal team that this was not just about rape accusations, and they decided to fight his extradition to Sweden fearing that he was being set up to be extradited to the United States, a country who WikiLeaks had recently embarrassed with extremely damaging leaks about war crimes.

    In December 2010 Assange goes to a UK police station by appointment and is arrested. He spends ten days in solitary confinement and is released on bail, then spends 550 days under house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet.

    We now know that a grand jury had been set up in East Virginia already at this time to try and find a crime to hang him for, or at least put him away til the end of his life. Assange’s lawyers were aware of this. But in front of the cameras the US was playing it very cool, pretending they had no interest in Assange at all. The UK Supreme Court decided he should be extradited to Sweden, the Swedes refused to give any assurances that he would not be extradited on to the US, and the US refused to give any assurances that they would not seek his extradition and prosecution.

    If either the Swedes had said “No, we won’t extradite him to the US” or the US had said “We will not seek to extradite him to prosecute him,” then he would have gone back to Sweden to be interviewed and face the legal process about the allegations and the women would have had their day in court. Neither country gave those assurances, prolonging the suffering for all three parties, because this was never actually about rape or justice. As the window til extradition to Sweden closed, in 2012 Assange sought and won asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy as a journalist who risked unfair prosecution for his publications.

    A few days ago we learned that the FBI affidavit supporting Assange’s arrest at the embassy asserts that “Instead of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, in June 2012, Assange fled to the embassy.” But according to Assange, Marianne Ny had actually worked to cancel his window to apply to appeal the matter at the European Court of Human Rights, reducing it from 14 days to zero days and thereby shutting that door in his face.

    In 2013 Sweden attempted to drop extradition proceedings but was dissuaded from doing so by UK prosecutors, a fact we wouldn’t learn until 2018. In 2017 we learned that the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service had dissuaded the Swedes from questioning Assange in London in 2010 or 2011, which could have prevented the entire embassy standoff in the first place, and that the CPS had destroyed crucial emails pertaining to Assange. We also learned that Marianne Ny had deleted an email she’d received from the FBI, claiming it could not be recovered.

    In May 2017 Marianne Ny closed her investigation, strangely on the very dayshe was due to appear in Stockholm court to face questions on why she had barred Assange’s defense lawyer and other irregularities during his questioning in the embassy the previous November, and rescinded the extradition arrest warrant. Contrary to popular belief in the UK press, the case is unlikely to be reopened now that Assange is theoretically available again because she formally closed the case under Sweden’s prosecutorial code Ch 23, Section 4, which dictates that preliminary investigations must be run so as to put the suspect to a minimum of suspicion, inconvenience and cost. After seven years of foot-dragging on her part it was obvious to all?—?including Sweden’s courts?—?that hers had become disproportionate.

    Assange was never charged. Some smearers claim that this is due to a technicality of Swedish law which made the government unable to charge him in absentia, but Sweden can and has charged people in absentia. They did not do so with Assange, preferring to keep insisting that he come to Sweden without any assurances against onward extradition to the US instead, for some strange reason.

    “Sources in Swedish intelligence told me at the time that they believed the U.S. had encouraged Sweden to pursue the case,” The Intercept’s Charles Glass reported.

    Sometimes smearers will try to falsely claim that Assange or his lawyers admitted that Assange committed rape or pushed its boundaries during the legal proceedings, citing mass media reports on a strategy employed by Assange’s legal team of arguing that what Assange was accused of wouldn’t constitute rape even if true. This conventional legal strategy was employed as a means of avoiding extradition and in no way constituted an admission that events happened in the way alleged, yet mass media reports like this onedeliberately twisted it to appear that way. Neither Assange nor his lawyers have ever made any such admission.

    For more information on the details of the rape accusation, check out this 2012 4 Corners segment titled “Sex, Lies, and Julian Assange”, this 2016Observer article titled “Exclusive New Docs Throw Doubt on Julian Assange Rape Charges in Stockholm”, this John Pilger article titled “Getting Julian Assange: The Untold Story”, this Justice Integrity Report article titled “Assange Rape Defense Underscores Shameful Swedish, U.S. Tactics”, and the aforementioned ten minute Youtube video.

    So there’s a lot fishy going on there. From the sounds of it, Wilen privately complained to Ardin that she’d had some unpleasant sexual experiences with Assange, then Ardin and her associates twisted those complaints in the most severe way possible, and when Wilen refused to accuse Assange Ardin began claiming that she had also been criminally violated using an assertion about a condom which DNA evidence contradicts.

    I see a lot of well-meaning Assange defenders using some very weak and unhelpful arguments against this smear, suggesting for example that having unprotected sex without the woman’s permission shouldn’t qualify as sexual assault or that if Ardin had been assaulted she would necessarily have conducted herself differently afterward. Any line of argumentation like that is going to look very cringey to people like myself who believe rape culture is a ubiquitous societal illness that needs to be rolled back far beyond the conventional understanding of rape as a stranger in a dark alley forcibly penetrating some man’s wife or daughter at knifepoint. Don’t try to justify what Assange is accused of having done, just point out that there’s no actual evidence that he is guilty of rape and that very powerful people have clearly been pulling some strings behind the scenes of this narrative.

    As an additional point, it cannot be denied that governments around the world have an extensive and well-documented history of using sex to advance strategic agendas in various ways, and there’s no valid reason to rule this out as a possibility on any level.

    Finally, the fact remains that even if Assange were somehow to be proven guilty of rape, the argument “he’s a rapist” is not a legitimate reason to support a US extradition and prosecution which would set a precedent that poses a threat to press freedoms everywhere. “He’s a rapist” and “It’s okay that the western legal system is funneling him into the Eastern District of Virginia for his publishing activities” are two completely different thoughts that have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, so anyone attempting to associate the two in any way has made a bad argument and should feel bad.

    Smear 3: “He was hiding from rape charges in the embassy.”

    No he wasn’t, he was hiding from US extradition. And his arrest this month under a US extradition warrant proved that he was right to do so.

    People who claim Assange was “hiding from rape charges” are necessarily implicitly making two transparently absurd claims: one, that Assange had no reason to fear US extradition, and two, that Ecuador was lying about its official reasons for granting him asylum?—?that in fact the Correa government was just in the business of protecting people from rape charges for some weird reason.

    For its part, the Ecuadorian government was crystal clear in its official statement about the reasons it was providing Assange asylum, saying that “there are serious indications of retaliation by the country or countries that produced the information disclosed by Mr. Assange, retaliation that can put at risk his safety, integrity and even his life,” and that “the judicial evidence shows clearly that, given an extradition to the United States, Mr. Assange would not have a fair trial, he could be judged by a special or military court, and it is not unlikely that he would receive a cruel and demeaning treatment and he would be condemned to a life sentence or the death penalty, which would not respect his human rights.”

    A lot of the rank-and-file Assange haters you’ll encounter on online forums are just completely clueless about what political asylum is and how it works, because they receive their information from the same mass media which led seventy percent of Americans to still believe Saddam was behind 9/11 six months after the Iraq invasion. They either believe that (A) Assange found some strange loophole which enabled him to hide from all criminal charges simply by staying in an embassy, without any permission from that embassy’s government, or that (B) the Ecuadorian government hands out political asylum willy nilly to anyone who’s been accused of sexual assault. These beliefs can only be maintained by a rigorous determination not to think about them too hard.

    Assange wasn’t hiding from justice, he was hiding from injustice. His sole concern has only ever been avoiding extradition and an unjust trial, which was why he offered to go to Sweden to be questioned if they would only provide assurances that he wouldn’t face onward extradition to the US. Sweden refused. America refused. Now why would they do that? If Sweden were really only interested in resolving a rape investigation, why wouldn’t they provide assurances that they wouldn’t extradite him to the United States in order to accomplish that?

    The fact that Assange was perfectly willing to travel to Sweden and see the investigation through is completely devastating to the “he’s hiding from rape charges” smear, and it casts serious doubt on the “he’s a rapist” smear as well.

    The US government tortured Chelsea Manning. Trump’s current CIA Director was called “Bloody Gina” because of her fondness for torture on CIA black sites. He had every reason to be mortally afraid of extradition, and to remain so. The correct response to anyone claiming Assange should have done anything which could have allowed him to be extradited is, “How well do you think you’d fare under torture, tough guy?”

    Smear 4: “He’s a Russian agent.”

    Not even the US government alleges that WikiLeaks knowingly coordinated with the Kremlin in the 2016 publication of Democratic Party emails; the Robert Mueller Special Counsel alleged only that Guccifer 2.0 was the source of those emails and that Guccifer 2.0 was a persona covertly operated by Russian conspirators. The narrative that Assange worked for or knowingly conspired with the Russian government is a hallucination of the demented Russia hysteria which has infected all corners of mainstream political discourse. There is no evidence for it whatsoever, and anyone making this claim should be corrected and dismissed.

    But we don’t even need to concede that much. To this day we have been presented with exactly zero hard evidence of the US government’s narrative about Russian hackers, and in a post-Iraq invasion world there’s no good reason to accept that. We’ve seen assertions from opaque government agencies and their allied firms within the US-centralized power alliance, but assertions are not evidence. We’ve seen indictments from Mueller, but indictments are assertions and assertions are not evidence. We’ve seen claims in the Mueller report, but the timeline is riddled with plot holes, and even if it wasn’t, claims in the Mueller report are not evidence. This doesn’t mean that Russia would never use hackers to interfere in world political affairs or that Vladimir Putin is some sort of virtuous girl scout, it just means that in a post-Iraq invasion world, only herd-minded human livestock believe the unsubstantiated assertions of opaque and unaccountable government agencies about governments who are oppositional to those same agencies.

    If the public can’t see the evidence, then as far as the public is concerned there is no evidence. Invisible evidence is not evidence, no matter how many government officials assure us it exists.

    The only reason the majority believes that Russia is known to have interfered in America’s 2016 election is because news outlets have been repeatedly referring to this narrative as an established and proven fact, over and over and over again, day after day, for years. People take this repetition as a substitute for proof due to a glitch in human psychology known as the illusory truth effect, a phenomenon which causes our brains to tend to interpret things we’ve heard before as known truths. But repetitive assertions are not the same as known truths.

    For his part, Julian Assange has stated unequivocally that he knows for a fact that the Russian government was not WikiLeaks’ source for the emails, telling Fox News in January 2017 that “our source is not the Russian government or any state party.” You may be as skeptical or as trusting of his claim as you like, but the fact of the matter is that no evidence has ever been made public which contradicts him. Any claim that he’s lying is therefore unsubstantiated.

    This is the best argument there is. A lot of people like to bring up the fact that there are many experts who dispute the Russian hacking narrative, saying there’s evidence that the DNC download happened via local thumb drive and not remote exfiltration, but in my opinion that’s generally poor argumentation when you’re disputing the narrative about WikiLeaks’ source. It’s a poor tactic because it shifts the burden of proof onto you, making yourself into the claimant and then forcing you to defend complicated claims about data transfer rates and so on which most people viewing the argument won’t understand, even if you do. There’s no reason to self-own like that and put yourself in a position of playing defense when you can just go on the offense with anyone claiming to know that Russia was WikiLeaks’ source and just say “Prove your claim,” then poke holes in their arguments.

    There is no evidence that Assange ever provided any assistance to the Russian government, knowingly or unknowingly. In fact, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of thousands of documents pertaining to Russia, has made critical comments about the Russian government and defended dissident Russian activists, and in 2017 published an entire trove called the Spy Files Russiaexposing Russian surveillance practices.

    Of course, the only reason this smear is coming up lately is because people want to believe that the recent imprisonment of Julian Assange has anything to do with the 2016 WikiLeaks email publications. It isn’t just the propagandized rank-and-file who are making this false claim all over the internet, but Democratic Party leaders like House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden. As we should all be aware by now, Assange’s completely illegitimate arrest in fact had nothing whatsoever to do with 2016 or Russia, but with the 2010 Manning leaks exposing US war crimes. Anyone claiming otherwise is simply informing you that they are brainwashed by Russia conspiracy theories and have no interest in changing that character flaw.

    The smearer may claim “Well, he toes the Kremlin line!” When you ask them to explain what that means, they’ll tell you it means that WikiLeaks speaks out against western interventionist and war propaganda narratives like Trump’s bombing of Syria, or their criticism of the establishment Russia narrative which tries to incriminate WikiLeaks itself. That’s not “toeing the Kremlin line,” that’s being anti-interventionist and defending yourself from evidence-free smears. Nobody who’s viewed their 2010 video Collateral Murder will doubt that criticism of the US war machine is built into the DNA of WikiLeaks, and is central to its need to exist in the first place.

    In reality, anyone who opposes western interventionism will see themselves tarred as Russian agents if they achieve a high enough profile, and right-wing empire sycophants were fond of doing so years before the brainwashed Maddow Muppets joined them. Russia, like many sovereign nations, opposes western interventionism for its own reasons, so anyone sufficiently dedicated to their own mental contortions can point at a critic of western imperialism and say “Look! They oppose this subject, and so does Russia! They’re the same thing!” In reality a westerner opposing western interventionism is highly unlikely to have any particular loyalty to Russia, and opposes western interventionism not to protect their own geostrategic agendas as Moscow does, but because western interventionism is consistently evil, deceitful and disastrous.

    The smearer may claim, “Well he had a show on RT in 2012!” So? What other network would air a TV program hosted by Julian Assange? Name one. I’ll wait. If you can’t name one, consider the possibility that Assange’s appearances on RT were due to the fact that western mass media have completely deplatformed all antiwar voices and all criticism of the political status quo, a fact they could choose to change any time and steal RT’s entire audience and all their talent. The fact that they choose not to shows that they’re not worried about RT, they’re worried about dissident thinkers like Assange.

    In reality, Assange’s 2012 show “The World Tomorrow” was produced separately from RT and only picked up for airing by that network, in exactly the same way as Larry King’s show has been picked up and aired by RT. Nobody who isn’t wearing a tinfoil pussyhat believes that Larry King is a Russian agent, and indeed King is adamant and vocal about the fact that he doesn’t work for RT and takes no instruction from them.

    The only people claiming that Assange is a Russian agent are those who are unhappy with the things that WikiLeaks publications have exposed, whether that be US war crimes or the corrupt manipulations of Democratic Party leaders. It’s a completely unfounded smear and should be treated as such.

    Smear 5: “He’s being prosecuted for hacking crimes, not journalism.”

    No, he’s being prosecuted for journalism. Assange is being prosecuted based on the exact same evidence that the Obama administration had access to when it was investigated him to see if he could be prosecuted for his role in the Manning leaks, but the Obama administration ruled it was impossible to prosecute him based on that evidence because it would endanger press freedoms. This is because, as explained by The Intercept’s Micah Lee and Glenn Greenwald, the things Assange is accused of doing are things journalists do all the time: attempting to help a source avoid detection, taking steps to try to hide their communications, and encouraging Manning to provide more material. This is all Assange is accused of; there is no “hacking” alleged in the indictment itself.

    Joe Emersberger of Fair.org notes the following:

    Now Assange could be punished even more brutally if the UK extradites him to the US, where he is charged with a “conspiracy” to help Manning crack a password that “would have” allowed her to cover her tracks more effectively. In other words, the alleged help with password-cracking didn’t work, and is not what resulted in the information being disclosed. It has also not been shown that it was Assange who offered the help, according to Kevin Gosztola (Shadowproof4/11/19). The government’s lack of proof of its charges might explain why Manning is in jail again.
    The indictment goes even further, criminalizing the use of an electronic “drop box” and other tactics that investigative journalists routinely use in the computer age to work with a confidential source “for the purpose of publicly disclosing” information.

    The only thing that changed between the Obama administration and the Trump administration is an increased willingness to attack journalism. Assange is being prosecuted for journalism.

    Furthermore, there’s every reason to believe that this new charge which the Trump administration pulled out of thin air is only a ploy to get Assange onto US soil, where he can be smashed with far more serious charges including espionage. Pentagon Papers lawyer James Goodale writes the following:

    Under the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty, one cannot be extradited from the United Kingdom if the extradition is for “political purposes.” This explains why the indictment does not contain any charges alleging that Assange conspired with the Russians to impact the 2016 presidential election. It may also explain why the indictment focuses on hacking government computers rather than on leaking stolen government information, in as much as leaking could be characterized as being done for political purposes.
    When Assange arrives in the United States through extradition, as many expect he will, the government will then be able to indict him for his participation in that election. It is not out of the question that the government will come up with additional charges against Assange.

    If that happens, Assange will not be spending the five years behind bars for computer offenses that his current charge allows, he’ll be spending decades.

    “I don’t think Julian is looking at five years in prison, I think he’s probably looking at 50 years in prison,” said CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who was the first person tried in the US for leaking classified materials to a journalist under Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers.

    “I think that there are many more charges to be considered for Julian,” Kiriakou added. “I would expect a superseding indictment, possibly to include espionage charges.”

    There is no legitimate reason to feel confident that this won’t happen, and there are many reasons to believe that it will. All for publishing truthful documents about the powerful. Assange is being prosecuted for journalism.

    It’s also worth noting here that President Executive Order 13526, section 1.7explicitly forbids the classification of material in order to hide government malfeasance, meaning it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that Manning did not in fact break a legitimate law, and that those prosecuting her did.

    “In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to: (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency,” the section reads, while Manning’s lawyer has argued the following:

    “The information released by PFC Manning, while certainly greater in scope than most leaks, did not contain any Top Secret or compartmentalized information. The leaked information also did not discuss any current or ongoing military missions. Instead, the Significant Activity Reports (SIGACTs, Guantanamo detainee assessments, Apache Aircrew video, diplomatic cables, and other released documents dealt with events that were either publicly known or certainly no longer sensitive at the time of release.”

    There was no legitimate reason for what Manning leaked to have been classified; it was only kept so to avoid US government embarrassment. Which was illegal. To quote Assange: “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”

    Smear 6: “He should just go to America and face the music. If he’s innocent he’s got nothing to fear.”

    This is the new “He can leave the embassy whenever he wants.” Except this one’s also being bleated by Trump supporters.

    The only way to make it feel true for oneself that Assange stands a chance at receiving a fair trial in America is to believe that the US is a just nation with a fair judicial system, especially in the Eastern District of Virginia when trying the cases of people who expose incriminating information about the US war machine. Anyone who believes this has packing foam for brains.

    “No national security defendant has ever won a case in the EDVA [Eastern District of Virginia],” Kiriakou told RT upon Assange’s arrest. “In my case, I asked Judge Brinkema to declassify 70 documents that I needed to defend myself. She denied all 70 documents. And so I had literally no defense for myself and was forced to take a plea.”

    “He will not, he cannot get a fair trial,” Kiriakou said on a Unity4J vigil when Assange was still at the embassy. “It’s impossible, because the deck is stacked. And everybody knows what’s gonna happen if he comes back to the Eastern District of Virginia. This is the same advice I gave Ed Snowden: don’t come home, because you can’t get a fair trial here. Julian doesn’t have the choice, and that’s what frightens me even more.”

    Assange is indeed being extradited to face trial in the Eastern District of Virginia. Manning herself did not get a fair trial according to her lawyer. Anyone who thinks Assange can expect anything resembling justice upon arrival on US soil has their head in something. Power doesn’t work that way. Grow up.

    Smear 7: “Well he jumped bail! Of course the UK had to arrest him.”

    Never in my life have I seen so many people so deeply, deeply concerned about the proper adherence to the subtle technicalities of bail protocol as when Sweden dropped its rape investigation, leaving only a bail violation warrant standing between Assange and freedom. All of a sudden I had establishment loyalists telling me how very, very important it is that Assange answer for his horrible, horrible crime of taking political asylum from persecution at the hands of the most violent government on the planet to the mild inconvenience of whoever had to fill out the paperwork.

    This smear is soundly refuted in this lucid article by Simon Floth, which was endorsed by the Defend Assange Campaign. Froth explains that under British law bail is only breached if there’s a failure to meet bail “without reasonable cause”, which the human right to seek asylum certainly is. The UK was so deeply concerned about this bail technicality that it waited a full nine days before issuing an arrest warrant.

    After the Swedish government decided to drop its sexual assault investigation without issuing any charges, Assange’s legal team attempted last year to get the warrant dropped. The judge in that case, Emma Arbuthnot, just happens to be married to former Tory junior Defence Minister and government whip James Arbuthnot, who served as director of Security Intelligence Consultancy SC Strategy Ltd with a former head of MI6. Lady Arbuthnot denied Assange’s request with extreme vitriol, despite his argument that British law does have provisions which allow for the time he’d already served under house arrest to count toward far more time than would be served for violating bail. The British government kept police stationed outside the embassy at taxpayers’ expense with orders to arrest Assange on sight.

    This, like America’s tweaking the law in such a way that allows it to prosecute him for journalism and Ecuador’s tweaking its asylum laws in such a way that allowed it to justify revoking Assange’s asylum, was another way a government tweaked the law in such a way that allowed it to facilitate Assange’s capture and imprisonment. These three governments all tweaked the law in unison in such a way that when looked at individually don’t look totalitarian, but when taken together just so happen to look exactly the same as imprisoning a journalist for publishing inconvenient truths.

    Smear 8: “He’s a narcissist/megalomaniac/jerk.”

    Assange has been enduring hardships far worse than most people ever have to go through in their lifetime because of his dedication to the lost art of using journalism to hold power to account. If that’s what a narcissist/megalomaniac/jerk looks like to you, then whatever I guess.

    But really the primary response to this smear is a simple, so what? So what if the guy’s got a personality you don’t like? What the hell does that have to do with anything? What bearing does that have on the fact that a journalist is being prosecuted in a legal agenda which threatens to set a precedent which is destructive to press freedoms around the world?

    So many of the most common Assange smears boil down to simple ad hominem fallacy, in which the person is attacked because the smearer has no real argument. Pointing out the absence of an actual argument is a more effective weapon against this smear than trying to argue that Assange is a nice person or whatever. Plenty of people say Assange has a pleasant personality, but that’s ultimately got nothing to do with anything. It’s no more material to meaningful discourse than arguing over his physical appearance.

    Smear 9: “He’s a horrible awful monster for reasons X, Y and Z… but I don’t think he should be extradited.”

    I always mentally translate this one into “I’m going to keep advancing the same propaganda narratives which manufactured public consent for Assange’s current predicament… but I don’t want people to see my name on the end result.”

    Even if you hate Assange as a man and as a public figure with every fiber of your being, there is no legitimate reason to turn yourself into a pro bono propagandist for the CIA and the US State Department. If you actually do sincerely oppose his extradition, then you should be responsible with the narratives you choose to circulate about him, because smears kill public support and public demand is what can prevent his extradition. If you’re just pretending to truly oppose his extradition in order to maintain your public wokeness cred and you really just wanted to throw in a few more smears, then you’re a twat.

    When looked at in its proper context, what we are witnessing is the slow-motion assassination of Assange via narrative/lawfare, so by couching your support in smears it’s just like you’re helping put a few bullets in the gun but loudly letting everyone know that you hope they shoot the blank.

    Smear 10: “Trump is going to rescue him and they’ll work together to end the Deep State. Relax and wait and see.”

    Make no mistake, this is a smear, and it’s just as pernicious as any of the others. People who circulate this hogwash are hurting Assange just as much as the MSNBC mainliners who hate him overtly, even if they claim to support him. At a time when we should all be shaking the earth and demanding freedom for Assange, a certain strain of Trump supporter is going around telling everyone, “Relax, Trump has a plan. Wait and see.”

    I’ve been told to calm down and “wait and see” many times since Assange’s arrest. What “wait and see” really means is “do nothing.” Don’t do anything. Trust that this same Trump administration which issued an arrest warrant for Assange in December 2017, whose CIA director labeled WikiLeaks a “hostile non-state intelligence service” and pledged to destroy it, trust them to do the right thing instead of the wrong thing. Do absolutely nothing in the meantime, and especially don’t help put political pressure on Trump to end Assange’s persecution.

    This strategy benefits someone, and that someone ain’t Assange.

    Please stop doing this. If you support Assange, stop doing this. Even if you’re still chugging the Q-laid and still believe the reality TV star who hired John Bolton as his National Security Advisor is actually a brilliant strategist making incomprehensibly complex 8-D chess moves to thwart the Deep State, even if you believe all that, surely you’ll concede that there’s no harm in people pressuring Trump to do the right thing and end the persecution of Assange? If he really is a beneficent wizard, there’d surely be no harm in making a lot of noise telling him he’d better pardon Assange, right? Then why spend your energy running around telling everyone to relax and stop protesting?

    One argument I keep encountering is that Trump is bringing Assange to America for trial because he can only pardon him after he’s been convicted. This is false. A US president can pardon anyone at any time of any crime against the United States, without their having been convicted and without their even having been charged. After leaving office Richard Nixon was issued a full presidential pardon by Gerald Ford for “all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9,1974.” Nixon had never been charged with anything. If Trump were going to pardon Assange he could have done it at any time since taking office, instead of issuing a warrant for his arrest in December 2017 and executing it on Thursday after a series of international legal manipulations. A pardon is not in the plans.

    Another common belief I keep encountering is that Trump is bringing Assange to America to get him to testify about his source for the 2016 Democratic Party emails in exchange for a pardon, thereby revealing the truth about Russiagate’s origins and bringing down Clinton and Obama. This is false. Everyone who knows anything about Assange (including the Trump administration) knows that he will never, ever reveal a source under any circumstances whatsoever. It would be a cardinal journalistic sin, a violation of every promise WikiLeaks has ever made, and a betrayal of his entire life’s work. More importantly, imprisoning a journalist and threatening him with a heavy sentence to coerce him into giving up information against his will is evil.

    But that isn’t what Trump is doing. Trump is pursuing the imprisonment of a journalist for exposing US war crimes, so that he can scare off future leak publishers and set a legal precedent for their prosecution.

    Smear 11: “He put poop on the walls. Poop poop poopie.”

    Of all the Assange smears I’ve encountered, I think this one best epitomizes the entire overarching establishment narrative churn on the subject. Like the rest of the smear campaign, it’s a completely unsubstantiated claim designed not to advance a logical argument about the current facts of Assange’s situation but to provoke disgust and revulsion towards him, so that when you think of Julian Assange you don’t think about press freedoms and government transparency, you think about poo. In a way it’s actually more honest than some of the other smears, just because it’s so obvious about what it is and what it’s trying to do.

    People who advance this smear are literally always acting in very bad faith. As of this writing I’ve never even bothered trying to engage anyone in debate on the matter, because they’re too gross and too internally tormented to make interacting with them anything but unpleasant, so I have no advice to give on how to argue with such creatures. Personally I just block them.

    There is no reason to believe that this smear is true (his lawyer flatly denies it), and the Ecuadorian government would have had every incentive to lie in order to try and justify its revocation of asylum which WikiLeaks says is “in violation of international law.” However, it’s worth taking a minute to consider the fact that if this smear were true, the people running around mocking Assange and making poop jokes about him on social media today would be even more depraved. Because what would it mean if Assange really were spreading feces on the wall? It would mean that he’d cracked under the pressure of his embassy imprisonment and lost his mind. Which would mean that these people are running around mocking a man who’s been driven to psychosis by his abusive circumstances. Which would be despicable.

    Smear 12: “He’s stinky.”

    It’s amazing how many mainstream media publications have thought it newsworthy to write articles about Assange’s body odor. Try advocating for him on any public forum, however, and you’ll immediately understand the intention behind this smear. Try to argue against the extradition of a journalist for publishing inconvenient facts about the powerful, and you’ll be swarmed by people making scoffing comments about how stinky and disgusting he is. As though that has anything to do with anything whatsoever.

    For the record, people who visit Assange commonly report that he’s clean and smells normal, but that’s really beside the point. Trying to turn a discussion about a journalist who is being prosecuted by the US empire for publishing truth into a discussion about personal hygiene is despicable, and anyone who does it should feel bad.

    Smear 13: “He was a bad houseguest.”

    What he actually was was a target of the US war machine. The “bad houseguest” narrative serves only to distract from Ecuador’s role in turning Assange over to the Metropolitan police instead of holding to the reasons it granted Assange asylum in the first place, and to seed disgust as in Smear 11 and Smear 12.

    What actually happened was that Ecuador’s new president Lenin Moreno quickly found himself being courted by the US government after taking office, meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and reportedly discussing Assange after US Democratic senators petitioned Pence to push for Moreno to revoke political asylum. The New York Times reported last year that in 2017 Trump’s sleazy goon Paul Manafort met with Moreno and offered to broker a deal where Ecuador could receive debt relief aid in exchange for handing Assange over, and just last month Ecuador ended up receiving a 4.2 billion dollar loanfrom the Washington-based IMF. And then, lo and behold, we just so happen to see Ecuador justifying the revocation of political asylum under the absurd claim that Assange had violated conditions that were only recently invented, using narratives that were based on wild distortions and outright lies.

    Smear 14: “He conspired with Don Jr.”

    No he didn’t. The email exchanges between Donald Trump Jr and the WikiLeaks Twitter account reveal nothing other than two parties trying to extract favors from each other, unsuccessfully. Here’s what the WikiLeaks account sent:

    • Information about a pro-Iraq war PAC which it said was now running an anti-Trump site, with the password to a press review site so he could see it and comment on its content.

    • A request for help circulating a story about Hillary Clinton’s alleged suggestion to “just drone” Julian Assange.

    • A link and a suggestion that Trump get his followers digging through the Podesta emails for incriminating information.

    • A solicitation for Trump’s tax return which was hot news at the time. The WikiLeaks account reasoned with Don Jnr that they could get the jump on any leaks to the establishment media by leaking it to WikiLeaks first.

    • A suggestion that Trump not concede the election he was expected to lose so as to draw attention to the massive problems in America’s electoral system, specifically “media corruption, primary corruption, PAC corruption etc.”

    • A suggestion that Trump ask Australia to make Assange ambassador to DC, knowing they “won’t do it”, but in order to “send the right signals” to the US allies who’d been collaborating with US power to keep him a de facto political prisoner.

    • A couple more links it wanted more attention on.

    • A suggestion that Don Jr. publish the information on his Trump Tower meeting with them.

    The password to the website is getting a lot of attention as of this writing since the release of the Mueller report, with Slate going so far as to argue that Don Jr may be guilty of violating “the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which makes it illegal to access a computer using a stolen password without authorization” since he did use the password. This is nonsense. WikiLeaks didn’t send Trump a password which enabled him to “access a computer”, or do anything other than preview a website that was actively being publicized and viewed by many people using the same password.

    The password WikiLeaks gave him was a press pass to preview a Russiagate website which was about to launch. Here’s a hyperlink to an archive of a (now missing) article which discussed the website’s launch at the time. The article shares an email that was being passed around clearly showing that many people were being invited to look at the site in the hopes that they’d write articles promoting it. The picture that’s being painted of WikiLeaks hacking into the back end of a website is completely inaccurate; there was a password to preview a website whose owners wanted people to look at it, lots of people had that password, and one of them reportedly gave it to WikiLeaks.

    Beyond that, what is there? WikiLeaks trying unsuccessfully to get Don Jr to advance its agendas like giving them Trump’s tax return (i.e. soliciting a potential source for leaks), challenging America’s broken electoral system, trying to get more eyes on their material, and a Hail Mary suggestion that the Trump administration shake things up by making Assange the Australian ambassador with a full acknowledgement that this will never happen. None of these things occurred, and WikiLeaks never responded to Don Jr’s request for information about an upcoming leak drop.

    Assange has agendas. Whoop dee doo. I have agendas too, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this. All journalists have agendas, it just happens that most of them have the agenda to become rich and famous by any means necessary, which generally means cozying up to the rulers of the establishment and manufacturing consent for the status quo. Assange’s agenda is infinitely more noble and infinitely more reviled by the servants of power: to upset the status quo that demands war, corruption and oppression in order to exist. His communications with Don Jr are geared toward this end, as is the rest of his life’s work.

    Smear 15: “He only publishes leaks about America.”

    This is just wrong and stupid. Do thirty seconds of research for God’s sake.

    Smear 16: “He’s an antisemite.”

    Yes, yes, we all know by now that everyone who opposes the imperial war machine in any way is both a Russian agent and an antisemite. Jeremy Corbyn knows itIlhan Omar knows it, we all know it.

    This one’s been around a while, ever since headlines blared in 2011 that Assange had complained of a “Jewish conspiracy” against him after an account of a conversation by Private Eye editor Ian Hislop. Assange responded to this claim as follows:

    “Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, ‘Jewish conspiracy’ is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting. Rather than correct a smear, Mr. Hislop has attempted, perhaps not surprisingly, to justify one smear with another in the same direction. That he has a reputation for this, and is famed to have received more libel suits in the UK than any other journalist as a result, does not mean that it is right. WikiLeaks promotes the ideal of ‘scientific journalism’?—?where the underlaying evidence of all articles is available to the reader precisely in order to avoid these type of distortions. We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff, just as we treasure the support from pan-Arab democracy activists and others who share our hope for a just world.”

    “We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff.” Man, what a Nazi.

    But that wasn’t what cemented this smear into public consciousness. Two related events punched that ticket, and bear with me here:

    The first event was the WikiLeaks account tweeting and then quickly deleting the following in July 2016: “Tribalist symbol for establishment climbers? Most of our critics have 3 (((brackets around their names))) & have black-rim glasses. Bizarre.” The triple brackets are what’s known as echoes, which are a symbol that antisemites often put around words and names to hatefully indicate Jewishness in online discourse. In 2016 some Jewish people began putting the triple brackets around their own names on social media as a way of pushing back against this behavior, so if you really want to it’s possible for you to interpret the tweet as saying ‘All our critics are Jewish. Bizarre.’

    But does that make sense? Does it make sense for the guy who announced “We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff” to then go making openly antisemitic comments? And if he really did suddenly decide to let the world know that he believes there’s a Jewish conspiracy against WikiLeaks, why would he delete it? What’s the theory there? That he was like “Oh, I just wanted to let everyone know about my Jewish conspiracy theory, but it turns out people get offended when an account with millions of followers says things like that”? That makes no sense.

    If you look at the account’s other tweets at the time, it becomes clear that its operator was actually just trying to communicate an obscure, subtle point that was completely unsuitable for a massive international audience and 140 characters. When a user responded to the tweet before it was deleted explaining that some Jewish people now put triple brackets around their names to push back against antisemitism, the account responded, “Yes, but it seems to have been repurposed for something else entirely?—?a wanna be establishment in-group designator.” When accused of antisemitism by another account, WikiLeaks responded, “The opposite. We criticised the misappropriation of anti-Nazi critiques by social climbers. Like Ice Bucket Challenge & ALS.”

    It looks clear to me that whoever was running the WikiLeaks Twitter account that day was clumsily trying to communicate an overly complicated idea about “social climbers” and establishment loyalism, then deleted the tweet when they realized they’d screwed up and stumbled into a social media land mine.

    Now, I say “whoever was running the WikiLeaks Twitter account that day” because it’s been public knowledge for years that @WikiLeaks is a staff account shared by multiple people. Here’s a tweet of the account saying “this is a staff account, not Assange.” Here’s a tweet of the account saying “@WikiLeaks is a shared staff account.” This became self-evidently true for all to see when Assange’s internet access was cut off by the Ecuadorian embassy for the first time in October 2016, but the WikiLeaks Twitter account kept making posts during that time without interruption. This takes us to the second event which helped cement the antisemitism smear.

    The second event occurred in February 2018 when The Intercept’s Micah Lee, who has had a personal beef with WikiLeaks and Assange for years, published a ghastly article which made the following assertion:

    “Throughout this article, The Intercept assumes that the WikiLeaks account is controlled by Julian Assange himself, as is widely understood, and that he is the author of the messages, referring to himself in the third person majestic plural, as he often does.”

    There is absolutely no reason for Lee to have made this assumption, and the fact that this remains uncorrected in his original article is journalistic malpractice.

    The article reveals Twitter DMs from a group chat of which the WikiLeaks account was a member. One of the other accounts in the group chat shared a tweet by journalist Raphael Satter, who was posting a smear piece he’d written about WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks account responded as follows:

    “He’s always ben [sic] a rat.”
    “But he’s jewish and engaged with the ((())) issue.”

    When I first read about this exchange as written down by Micah Lee, I read it as “He’s always been a rat, but then, he is Jewish, and engaged with the ((())) issue.” Which would of course be gross. Calling someone a rat because they’re Jewish would obviously be antisemitic. But if you read the DMs, whoever was running the account didn’t do that; they said “He’s always ben a rat,” followed by a full stop, then beginning a new thought.

    Now if you look at the date on that exchange and compare it to the date on the deleted ((())) tweet, you’ll see that this was one month after the infamous ((())) tweet that had caused such a tizzy. It appears likely to me that the operator of the account (who again could have been any of the WikiLeaks staff who had access to it) was saying that Satter was mad about “the ((())) issue”, meaning the tweet so many people were so recently enraged about and were still discussing, hence his attacking them with a smear piece.

    There are also claims about an association between Assange and the controversial Israel Shamir, which WikiLeaks denies unequivocally, saying in a statement:

    Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name and we have no plan that he do so. He is not an ‘agent’ of WikiLeaks. He has never been an employee of WikiLeaks and has never received monies from WikiLeaks or given monies to WikiLeaks or any related organization or individual. However, he has worked for the BBC, Haaretz, and many other reputable organizations.
    It is false that Shamir is ‘an Assange intimate’. He interviewed Assange (on behalf of Russian media), as have many journalists. He took a photo at that time and has only met with WikiLeaks staff (including Asssange) twice. It is false that ‘he was trusted with selecting the 250,000 US State Department cables for the Russian media’ or that he has had access to such at any time.
    Shamir was able to search through a limited portion of the cables with a view to writing articles for a range of Russian media. The media that subsequently employed him did so of their own accord and with no intervention or instruction by WikiLeaks.

    Now, we’re on Smear #16. There’s still a ways to go. If you’ve been reading this article straight through it should be obvious to you by now that there’s a campaign to paint Assange as literally the worst person in the world by calling him all the worst things you can possibly call someone. Is it possible that he’s some kind of secret Jew hater? Sure, theoretically, but there’s certainly no good argument to be made for that based on the facts at hand, and given the extent the narrative shapers are going to to paint him in a negative light, it’s a mighty big stretch in my opinion.

    Smear 17: “He’s a fascist.”

    Unlike most Assange smears this one is more common on the political left than the center, and it totally baffles me. Demanding that governments be transparent and powerful people held to account is not at all compatible with fascism. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

    Italian investigative journalist and longtime WikiLeaks collaborator Stephania Maurizi told Micah Lee the following on Twitter last year:

    “I’ve worked as a media partner since 2009, I can bring my experience: I’ve NEVER EVER seen misoginy or fascism, rape apology, anti-semitism. I’ve anti-fascism deep in my DNA, due to the consequences for my family during Fascism.”

    I really don’t know how people make this one work in their minds. “You guys know who the real fascist is? It’s the guy who’s locked behind bars by the most violent and oppressive government on the planet for standing up against the war crimes of that government.” I mean, come on.

    When I question what’s behind this belief I get variations on Smear 18 and Smear 22, and the occasional reference to one odd tweet about birth rates and changing demographics that could look like a white nationalist talking point if you squint at it just right and ignore the fact that it appears on its own surrounded by a total absence of anything resembling a white nationalist worldview, and ignore the tweet immediately following it criticizing “emotional imperialism” and the theft of caregivers from less powerful nations. You have to connect a whole lot of dots with a whole lot of imaginary red yarn and ignore a huge mountain of evidence to the contrary in order to believe that Assange is a fascist.

    Smear 18: “He was a Trump supporter.”

    No he wasn’t. He hated Hillary “Can’t we just drone this guy?” Clinton for her horrible record and her efforts as Secretary of State to shut down WikiLeaks, but that’s not the same as supporting Trump. His hatred of Clinton was personal, responding to a complaint by a lead Clinton staffer about his role in her defeat with the words “Next time, don’t imprison and kill my friends, deprive my children of their father, corrupt judicial processes, bully allies into doing the same, and run a seven year unconstitutional grand jury against me and my staff.”

    And he wanted her to lose. Desiring the loss of the woman who campaigned on a promise to create a no-fly zone in the same region that Russian military planes were conducting operations is perfectly reasonable for someone with Assange’s worldview, and it doesn’t mean he wanted Trump to be president or believed he’d make a good one. Preferring to be stabbed over shot doesn’t mean you want to be stabbed.

    In July 2016 Assange compared the choice between Clinton and Trump to a choice between cholera and gonorrhea, saying, “Personally, I would prefer neither.” When a Twitter user suggested to Assange in 2017 that he start sucking up to Trump in order to secure a pardon, Assange replied, “I’d rather eat my own intestines.” Could not possibly be more unequivocal.

    Assange saw Trump as clearly as anyone at the time, and now he’s behind bars at the behest of that depraved administration. Clinton voters still haven’t found a way to make this work in their minds; they need to hate Assange because he helped Hillary lose, but when they cheerlead for his arrest they’re cheering for a Trump administration agenda. These same people who claim to oppose Trump and support the free press are cheerleading for a Trump administration agenda which constitutes the greatest threat to the free press we’ve seen in our lifetimes. When I encounter them online I’ve taken to photoshopping a MAGA hat onto their profile pics.

    Assange has never been a Trump supporter. But, in a very real way, those who support his imprisonment are.

    Smear 19: “I used to like him until he ruined the 2016 election” / “I used to hate him until he saved the 2016 election.”

    That’s just you admitting that you have no values beyond blind partisan loyalty. Only liking truth when it serves you is the same as hating truth.

    Smear 20: “He’s got blood on his hands.”

    No he doesn’t. There’s no evidence anywhere that WikiLeaks helped cause anyone’s death anywhere in the world. This smear has been enjoying renewed popularity since it became public knowledge that he’s being prosecuted for the Manning leaks, the argument being that the leaks got US troops killed.

    This argument is stupid. In 2013 the Pentagon, who had every incentive to dig up evidence that WikiLeaks had gotten people killed, ruled that no such instances have been discovered.

    Smear 21: “He published the details of millions of Turkish women voters.”

    No he didn’t. The WikiLeaks website reports the following:

    “Reports that WikiLeaks published data on Turkish women are false. WikiLeaks didn’t publish the database. Someone else did. What WikiLeaks released were emails from Turkey’s ruling party, the Justice & Development Party or AKP, which is the political force behind the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is currently purging Turkey’s judiciary, educational sector and press.”

    That “someone else” was Emma Best, then known as Michael Best, who also happens to be the one who published the controversial Twitter DMs used in Micah Lee’s aforementioned Assange smear piece. Best wrote an articleclarifying that the information about Turkish women was published not by WikiLeaks, but by her.

    Smear 22: “He supported right-wing political parties in Australia.”

    No he didn’t. In 2013 Australia’s WikiLeaks Party ended up inadvertently giving preferential votes to right-wing parties in New South Wales as a result of an administrative error.

    In 2012, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter that Assange was running for the Australian senate, and in 2013 the WikiLeaks Party was formally registered with the Australian Electoral Commission and fielded candidates in the states of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. The other candidates in the party included a human rights lawyer, an ethicist, a former Greens candidate, a former diplomat, a law professor and a former president of the Ethnic Communities council in WA. It was a very left-wing offering with unusual political ads.

    In Australia we have preferential voting, which is also known in the US as ranked-choice voting. You are given two ballots, a small one for the house of representatives and an arm’s-length one for the senate, which you number the candidates in order of your preference, number one being your first preference. Voting for the senate is an epic task so you are given the ability to number every single candidate in order of preference (which is called “voting below the line”), or back in 2013 you could simply nominate the party who you want to win “above the line” and if they were knocked out in the first round, their preferences were applied to your vote.

    These preferences make up what’s called a “How To Vote” card. Have a look at an example here. It’s a pamphlet given to voters on the day that suggests how to number your preferences to support your party, but it’s also submitted to the electoral commission so that they can assign your chosen flow of preferences in the senate vote.

    Every election there is a shit-storm over the How To Vote cards as parties bargain with each other and play each other off to try and get the flow of preferences to go their way. To make things even more complex, you have to create these cards for every state and seat you are putting up candidates for. The WikiLeaks Party preferences statement in one of the states, New South Wales, somehow wound up having two right wing parties preferenced before the three major parties. The WikiLeaks Party said it was an administrative error and issued this statement in August 2013:

    Preferences Statement: The WikiLeaks Party isn’t aligned with any other political group. We’d rather not allocate preferences at all but allocating preferences is compulsory if your name is to go above the line.

    In allocating preferences between 53 other parties or groups in NSW some administrative errors occurred, as has been the case with some other parties. The overall decision as to preferences was a democratically made decision of the full National Council of the party. According to the National Council decision The Shooters & Fishers and the Australia First Party should have been below Greens, Labor, Liberal. As we said, we aren’t aligned with anyone and the only policies we promote are our own. We will support and oppose the policies of other parties or groups according to our stated principles.

    So, in short, the entirety of the WikiLeaks Party gathered and voted to put those right wing parties down the ballot below Greens, Labor and Liberal parties but someone fucked up the form. All How To Vote cards are public and heavily scrutinized so there was never any suggestion that the WL Party had tried to get away with something on the sly, just that they had made a monumental fuckup. The WikiLeaks Party ended up getting 0.66 percent of the vote and in NSW those preferences went to those right wing parties who also failed to get the numbers required to win a seat. Was there mismanagement? Yes. Was it deliberate? There’s no reason to believe that it was.

    This was all happening at the same time Chelsea Manning’s case was wrapping up and Assange was busy helping Edward Snowden.

    “I made a decision two months ago to spend a lot of my time on dealing with the Edward Snowden asylum situation, and trying to save the life of a young man,” Assange told Australian TV at the time. “The result is over-delegation. I admit and I accept full responsibility for over-delegating functions to the Australian party while I try to take care of that situation.”

    Smear 23: “He endangered the lives of gay Saudis.”

    No he didn’t. The Saudi Cables were KSA government documents, i.e. information the government already had, so there was no danger of legal retaliation based on Saudi Arabia’s laws against homosexuality. There is no evidence that anyone was ever endangered by the Saudi cables.

    This smear was sparked by the aforementioned Raphael Satter at AP, whose executives WikiLeaks sent a formal complaint breaking down Satter’s journalistic misconduct and requesting the publication of its response.

    The WikiLeaks website explains:

    “The material in the Saudi cables was released in June 2015 and comprises leaked government information?—?that is data the Saudi government already had, including evidence of Saudi government persecution. The release revealed extensive Saudi bribing of the media, weapons amassed by the Saudi government, its brutal attacks on citizens and on Yemen, and the deals cut with the US and UK to get Saudi Arabia into a key position of the UN Human Rights Council. After WikiLeaks publication of DNC leaks in 2016, over a year after the materal was published, an AP journalist made claims about the 2015 publication but refused to provide evidence when asked to do so. WikiLeaks has still not found evidence for the claims.”

    “Mr. Satter’s article has itself highlighted specific private information which can be searched for on the internet, and which is available independently of the Wikileaks site (as Mr. Satter should know, the content of the Saudi Cables was published online before Wikileaks collated it as the ‘Saudi Cables’),” the WikiLeaks complaint to AP noted.

    Smear 24: “He’s a CIA agent/limited hangout.”

    I’m probably going to have to revisit this one because it’s so all over the place that it’s hard for me to even say exactly what it is. It only exists in fringey conspiracy circles, so there’s no organized thought around it and when I ask people why they’re so sure Assange is a CIA/Mossad agent/asset I get a bunch of different answers, many of them contradictory and none of them comprised of linear, complete thoughts. Mostly I just get an answer that goes something like “Well he spent some time in Egypt and he criticized 9/11 truthers, and he’s a few degrees of separation from this one shady person, so, you know, you connect the dots.”

    No, you connect the dots. You’re the one making the claim.

    None of them ever do.

    You’d think this smear would have subsided since Assange was imprisoned at the behest of the US government, but I’m actually encountering it way more often now. Every day I’m getting conspiracy types telling me Assange isn’t what I think he is, right at the time when the MSM has converged to smear him with more aggression than ever before and right when he needs support more than ever.

    I’ve never encountered anyone who can present a convincing (or even coherent) argument that Assange is working for any intelligence agency, so I generally just declare the burden of proof unmet and move on. If there’s anyone out there who believes this and would like to take a stab at proving their claim, I have a few questions for you:

    Why is a CIA/Mossad agent/asset/limited hangout/whatever being rewarded for his loyal service with a stay in Belmarsh Prison awaiting US extradition? How does that work, specifically? Are you claiming that he was an asset that got “burned”? If so, when did this happen? Was he still an asset while he was languishing in the embassy in failing health and chronic pain? Or was it before then? His persecution began in 2010 and the US government was working on sabotaging him back in 2008, so are you claiming he hasn’t been on their side since then? And if you’re claiming that he used to be an asset but got burned, why are you spending your energy running around telling people on the internet he’s an asset when he isn’t one anymore, and now his prosecution threatens press freedoms everywhere? If you oppose his extradition, why are you engaged in this behavior? Are you just interrupting an adult conversation that grownups are trying to have about an urgent matter, or is it something else? Did you run around telling everyone that Saddam used to be a CIA asset instead of protesting the Iraq invasion? Or do you believe this whole US prosecution is fake? If so, what is Assange getting out of it? What’s incentivizing him to comply at this point? What specifically is your claim about what’s happening?

    My past experiences when engaging these types tells me not to expect any solid and thorough answers to my questions.

    I’ve been at this commentary gig for about two and a half years, and during that time I’ve had people show up in my inbox and social media notifications warning me that everyone in anti-establishment circles is a CIA limited hangout. Literally everyone; you name a high-profile anti-establishment figure, and at one time or another I’ve received warnings from people that they are actually controlled opposition for a government agency.

    This happens because for some people, paranoia is their only compass. They wind up in the same circles as WikiLeaks supporters because the lens of paranoia through which they perceive the world causes them to distrust the same power establishment and mass media that WikiLeaks supporters distrust, but beyond that the two groups are actually quite different. That same paranoia which causes them to view all the wrongdoers with suspicion causes them to view everyone else with suspicion as well.

    Paranoia happens for a number of reasons, one of them being that people who aren’t clear on the reasons our society acts so crazy will start making up reasons, like the belief that everyone with a high profile is a covert CIA agent. If you can’t see clearly what’s going on you start making things up, which can cause paranoia to become your only guidance system.

    Smear 25: “He mistreated his cat.”

    There’s just no limit to the garbage these smear merchants will cook up. Concern for the embassy cat picked up when the Moreno government began cooking up excuses to oust Assange from the embassy, the most highly publicized of them being a demand that he clean up after his cat. From that point on the narrative became that not only is Assange a stinky Nazi rapist Russian spy who smears poo on the walls… he also mistreats his cat. Ridiculous.

    A bunch of “Where is Assange’s cat??” news stories emerged after his arrest, because that’s where people’s minds go when a civilization-threatening lawfare agenda is being carried out. The Guardian’s James Ball, who last year authored an article humiliatingly arguing that the US will never try to extradite Assange titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride”, told his Twitter followers, “For the record: Julian Assange’s cat was reportedly given to a shelter by the Ecuadorian embassy ages ago, so don’t expect a feline extradition in the next few hours. (I genuinely offered to adopt it).”

    Assange’s cat is fine. It wasn’t given to a “shelter”; the WikiLeaks Twitter account posted a video of the cat watching Assange’s arrest on TV with the caption, “We can confirm that Assange’s cat is safe. Assange asked his lawyers to rescue him from embassy threats in mid-October. They will be reunited in freedom.”

    Smear 26: “He’s a pedophile.”

    Yes, of course they tried this one too, and I still run into people online from time to time who regurgitate it. CNN has had on guests who asserted that Assange is a pedophile, not once but twice. In January 2017 former CIA official Phil Mudd said live on air that Assange is “a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London,” and instead of correcting him on the spot CNN did nothing and shared the video on Twitter, leaving the tweet up until WikiLeaks threatened to sue. On what appears to have been right around the same day, Congressman Mike Rogers claimed on CNN that Assange “is wanted for rape of a minor.”

    These claims are of course false, designed to paint Assange as literally the worst person in the world with all the very worst qualities you can imagine in a human being.

    These claims came months after an alarming narrative control operationworking behind the bogus dating website toddandclare.com persuaded a UN body called the Global Compact to grant it status as a participant, then used its platform to publicly accuse Assange, with whom it was communicating, of “pedophile crimes”. McClatchy reports the following:

    “Whoever is behind the dating site has marshaled significant resources to target Assange, enough to gain entry into a United Nations body, operate in countries in Europe, North America and the Caribbean, conduct surveillance on Assange’s lawyer in London, obtain the fax number of Canada’s prime minister and seek to prod a police inquiry in the Bahamas.”

    So that’s a thing.

    Smear 27: “He lied about Seth Rich.”

    I’m just going to toss this one here at the end because I’m seeing it go around a lot in the wake of the Mueller report.

    Robert Mueller, who helped the Bush administration deceive the world about WMD in Iraq, has claimed that the GRU was the source of WikiLeaks’ 2016 drops, and claimed in his report that WikiLeaks deceived its audience by implying that its source was the murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. This claim is unsubstantiated because, as we discussed in Smear 4, the public has not seen a shred of evidence proving who was or was not WikiLeaks’ source, so there’s no way to know there was any deception happening there. We’ve never seen any hard proof, nor indeed anything besides official narrative, connecting the Russian government to Guccifer 2.0 and Guccifer 2.0 to WikiLeaks, and Daniel Lazare for Consortium News documents that there are in fact some major plot holes in Mueller’s timeline. Longtime Assange friend and WikiLeaks ally Craig Murray maintains that he knows the source of the DNC Leaks and Podesta Emails were two different Americans, not Russians, and hints that one of them was a DNC insider. There is exactly as much publicly available evidence for Murray’s claim as there is for Mueller’s.

    Mainstream media has been blaring day after day for years that it is an absolute known fact that the Russian government was WikiLeaks’ source, and the only reason people scoff and roll their eyes at anyone who makes the indisputably factual claim that we’ve seen no evidence for this is because the illusory truth effect causes the human brain to mistake repetition for fact.

    The smear is that Assange knew his source was actually the Russian government, and he implied it was Seth Rich to throw people off the scent. Mueller asserted that something happened, and it’s interpreted as hard fact instead of assertion. There’s no evidence for any of this, and there’s no reason to go believing the WMD guy on faith about a narrative which incriminates yet another government which refuses to obey the dictates of the US empire.

    And I guess that’s it for now. Again, this article is an ongoing project, so I’ll be updating it and adding to it regularly as new information comes in and new smears need refutation. If I missed something or got something wrong, or even if you spotted a typo, please email me at admin@caitlinjohnstone.com and let me know. I’m trying to create the best possible tool for people to refute Assange smears, so I’ll keep sharpening this baby to make sure it cuts like a razor. Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone who helped! Phew! That was long.

    *  *  *

    Everyone has my unconditional permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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    Published:4/20/2019 5:51:07 PM
    [In The News] FBI Investigated Michael Flynn Over Russia Ties Earlier Than Previously Known

    By Chuck Ross -

    Michael Flynn

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed new details about the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn According to the report, the FBI investigated Flynn’s possible ties to Russia earlier than previously known Mueller was also authorized to investigate Flynn over four separate matters. The FBI was investigating Michael ...

    FBI Investigated Michael Flynn Over Russia Ties Earlier Than Previously Known is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/20/2019 3:20:36 PM
    [US News] Sarah Sanders Backs Up ‘Countless FBI Agents’ Comment: ‘It Was In The Heat Of The Moment’

    By Neetu Chandak -

    White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said during an appearance on Good Morning America Friday that her comment on Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents’ confidence loss over former FBI director James Comey in 2017 was made “in the heat of the moment.” “I said that the word I used ...

    Sarah Sanders Backs Up ‘Countless FBI Agents’ Comment: ‘It Was In The Heat Of The Moment’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/19/2019 5:24:05 PM
    [Markets] BuzzFeed Corrects Trump-Cohen Conspiracy Article After Mueller Report Rips To Shreds

    While MSM journalists spent much of Thursday suggesting that the Mueller report somehow vindicated two years of irresponsible reporting insisting that President Trump colluded with Russia, BuzzFeed quietly corrected an article that was so wrong the Special Counsel's office issued a rare statement rebuking the report. 

    Anthony Cormier, Jason Leopold

    On January 17, BuzzFeed's Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier dropped an anonymously sourced "bombshell" boldly proclaiming "President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project" (spearheaded by Cohen and longtime FBI informant and convicted fraudster Felix Sater -- who gave the same BuzzFeed reporters a comprehensive interview last march).

    The article claims that Trump instructed Cohen to tell Congress that discussions over the Moscow project ended in January, 2016 when they in fact ended months later.

    In an unprecedented move, Mueller's office immediately disputed the BuzzFeed report right after it published, writing: "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate"

    BuzzFeed stood by their reporting, saying it "stands by this story 100%." Leopold and Cormier confidently appeared on CNN that weekend where Cormier insisted "Our reporting is going to be borne out to be accurate."

    Except, it wasn't

    Following the Thursday release of the redacted Mueller report which found that Trump did not direct Cohen to lie, BuzzFeed quietly corrected their story

    BuzzFeed explains

    In a Thursday statement, BuzzFeed's Editor-In-Chief, Ben Smith, explains how "two senior law enforcement sources" provided leaked documents "specifically, pages of notes that were taken during an interview of Cohen by the FBI." 

    Our story was based on detailed information from senior law enforcement sources. That reporting included documents — specifically, pages of notes that were taken during an interview of Cohen by the FBI. In those notes, one law enforcement source wrote that “DJT personally asked Cohen to say negotiations ended in January and White House counsel office knew Cohen would give false testimony to Congress. Sanctioned by DJT. Joint lawyer team reviewed letter Cohen sent to SSCI about his testimony about Trump Tower moscow, et al, knowing it contained lies.”

    The law enforcement source also wrote: “Cohen told OSC” — the Office of Special Counsel — “he was asked to lie by DJT/DJT Jr., lawyers.”

    At the time, the sources asked reporters to keep the information confidential, but with the publication of Mueller’s report they have permitted its release. -BuzzFeed

    In short - Cohen told the FBI that Trump directed him to lie, which leaked to BuzzFeed, which presented it as fact, and was immediately rebuked by Mueller. 

    BuzzFeed isn't the first outlet to correct an article following the release of the Mueller report. McClatchy issued an editor's note on anonymously sourced news reports published on April 13 and December 27 of last year claiming that Cohen visited Prague during 2016.

    Mueller's 448-page report debunks this, stating "Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false."

    In response, McClatchy wrote: "EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Mueller’s report to the attorney general states that Mr. Cohen was not in Prague. It is silent on whether the investigation received evidence that Mr. Cohen’s phone pinged in or near Prague, as McClatchy reported." 

    Published:4/19/2019 2:54:20 PM
    [Markets] An Unexpected Scandal Threatens To Cripple Amazon

    Submitted by Grant's Almost Daily,

    Amazon.com, Inc.’s Web Services (AWS) unit has been the engine behind the company’s spectacular recent performance, with operating income of $7.2 billion last year, up 68% year-over-year and accounting for 59% of Amazon’s total operating income. The near-consensus cadre of bullish analysts (48 out of 50 tracked by Bloomberg have a “buy” rating on Amazon) call for more of the same.  But will an ongoing government kerfuffle derail the AWS miracle?  

    Last Wednesday, the Department of Defense (DoD) cleared itself of wrongdoing following an internal investigation into the forthcoming award of the $10 billion cloud computing Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI) program. Yet the Pentagon’s self-exoneration was not comprehensive, as Bloomberg noted that: “The investigation uncovered evidence of unethical conduct that will be referred to the DoD inspector general for a separate review.”

    The JEDI contract has been hotly contested among some of the largest cloud-computing companies in the U.S., and for good reason. The winner-take-all award has been narrowed to two contenders, AWS and Microsoft Corp. According to an updated timeline issued by a Federal judge Tuesday, the JEDI mandate will be awarded sometime after mid-July. 

    With the stakes high, Uncle Sam’s corporate suitors are pulling no punches. In December, recently-eliminated Oracle Corp. filed suit with U.S. Court of Federal Claims asserting that the JEDI process has been marred by conflicts of interest.  The suit alleges that a pair of Amazon-connected former DoD staffers unduly influenced the proceedings in favor of AWS. One of whom, Deap Ubhi, worked in business development at AWS from 2014 to 2016 before joining the DoD, during which period he continued to praise Amazon from his Twitter account (including tweeting “once an Amazonian, always an Amazonian” in January 2017) while criticizing Oracle, Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and other Silicon Valley firms. 

    According to an April 5 report by The Capitol Forum, in January 2017 Ubhi lamented missing a conference call between Defense Department officials and AWS personnel, writing via email: “I am ex-AWS, and would have liked to have been on the call.” Eight months later, when acting as the DoD’s lead JEDI project manager, Ubhi asked DoD higher-ups to name him “the point of contact for all industry conversations.” After reportedly recusing himself from the JEDI procurement process in late October, Ubhi left the DoD, returning to AWS in November 2017.

    In March, the Federal News Network reported that the FBI is involved in the DoD inspector general investigation, potentially signaling “some sort of wrongdoing involving DoD civilian personnel and/or DoD procurement procedures.”

    In addition to Ubhi, other former DoD officials have seen their actions around JEDI come under scrutiny. In August, Vanity Fair reported that Sally Donnelly, a former senior advisor to Secretary of Defense James Mattis from January 2017 to March 2018, “sold her stake in [consulting firm] SBD Advisors, LLC for $1.17 million two days before she went to work for Mattis.”  But Donnelly continued to receive payments from the company, which counted Amazon as an active client. Two weeks after Donnelly left the Pentagon, SBD was purchased by C5 Capital, “a private equity firm with direct ties to Amazon.”

    Anthony DeMartino, Donnelly’s colleague at SBD, who was also named in the Oracle lawsuit, likewise consulted for Amazon before moving to the DoD to serve as Mattis’ deputy chief of staff. 

    The close proximity of Donnelly and DeMartino to the Secretary of Defense was a favorable development for AWS, as The Capitol Forum reported on March 15 that Mattis “expressed interest in meeting with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a dinner” with Donnelly in early 2017, according to emails received via a Freedom of Information Act request. Mattis and Bezos met in Seattle in August 2017. 

    As controversy over JEDI continues to swirl, another government agency pivots away from the winner-take-all format. On March 22, the CIA unveiled a new Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) initiative, in which the agency disclosed plans to use “multiple commercial cloud vendors that can provide” necessary services. 

    An anonymity-seeking, D.C.-based source believes that the CIA’s move might suggest wider government dissatisfaction with AWS, which commanded 46% of worldwide public cloud infrastructure market share as of year-end 2017 according to the International Data Corporation:

    The AWS story, as sold to enterprise customers and the Street, is built upon the intelligence community (IC) reference case and the cash that has come in from that deal. The IC’s movement toward a multi-cloud environment is an admission that use of AWS has not been successful as claimed, increasing the likelihood of massive IC contracts for the other hyperscale cloud providers. 

    Amazon.com, Inc. ten-year stock price, 37% compound annual growth rate. Source: The Bloomberg

    Continued cloud dominance is crucial to sustaining Amazon’s success. Analyst consensus calls for Amazon’s net income margin to jump to 6.4% in 2019 from 4.3% a year ago, thanks to expected growth in AWS.  But at the same time, the core e-commerce business is showing signs of a slowdown, as Bloomberg estimated last week that gross merchandise volume growth fell to 19% last year from 24% and 27% in 2017 and 2016, respectively. 

    While the C.I.A.’s move toward multiple cloud vendors highlights the difficulty in growing AWS’ commanding public cloud market share, legal risks surrounding JEDI represent a potentially underappreciated pitfall to the AMZN bull case. Our D.C.-based observer concludes:

    If AWS is found to have committed wrongdoing related to DoD’s JEDI contract, it could be debarred as a government contractor. My prediction: Amazon bulls expecting continued blistering growth from AWS will be in for disappointment. 

    Asked for comment on Thursday afternoon, Amazon had not responded by press time. 

    Published:4/19/2019 2:18:28 PM
    [Markets] Mueller's Mischief In An Empire Of Bullshit

    Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

    After two years of gaslighting the public while it blew smoke up America’s ass, the Jacobin news media enjoyed its final feeding frenzy with the release of the 400-page Mueller report. They expected 1000 pounds of raw filet mignon, but it turned out to be tofu fried in olestra. The ensuing fugue of hyperventilating hysteria was also duly expected and William Barr stoically endured their hebephrenic peevings at the release ceremony — a press conference which itself offended the media.

    The threats and raving continued all the livelong day and far into the peeper-filled night with CNN’s Chris Cuomo blustering “It’s time to rumble,” and the lugubrious hack David Gergen muttering soulfully, “This was not fake news,” and The Times’ Maggie Haberman fuming that the White House had played the “Nazi anthem” Edelweiss — very fake news, it turned out, since the tune was written for Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s 1959 Broadway show, The Sound of Music (and sung by the anti-Nazi hero Baron von Trapp). Meanwhile Rachel Maddow had the balls to confab in prime time with disgraced former FBI mandarin Andy McCabe, officially identified as a liar by his own colleagues at the agency. What a circus of perfidious freakery!

    Understand that the Mueller Report itself was the mendacious conclusion to a deceitful investigation, the purpose of which was to conceal the criminal conduct of US government officials meddling in the 2016 election, in collusion with the Hillary Clinton campaign, to derail Mr. Trump’s campaign, and then disable him when he managed to win the election. Mr. Mueller was theoretically trying to save the FBI’s reputation, but he may have only succeeded in injuring it more gravely.

    The whole wicked business began as a (failed) entrapment scheme using shadowy US Intel “assests” Stefan Halper and Joseph Mifsud to con small fish Papadopoulos and Carter Page into incriminating themselves (they declined to be conned) and moved on to ploys like the much-touted Trump Tower meeting to ensnare Trump Junior and then to several efforts (also failed) to flip Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen — the final product of which was an epic failure to find one instance of real chargeable criminal collusion between anyone connected to Mr. Trump and Russia.

    By the way, the Mueller Report failed to mention that the two Russians present in that August 2016 Trump Tower meeting, lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, were on the payroll of Hillary Clinton’s oppo research contractor Fusion GPS, and met with that company’s principal, Glenn Simpson, both before and after the meeting — just one example among many of the Mueller Team’s shifty tactics, but a move that speaks volumes about Mr. Mueller’s actual intent, which was to keep his prosecutorial circus going as long as possible to interfere with Mr. Trump carrying out his own duties.

    The Special Prosecutor’s main bit of mischief, of course, was his refusal to reach a conclusionon the obstruction of justice charge. What the media refuses to accept and make clear is that a prosecutor’s failure to reach a conclusion is exactly the same thing as an inability to make a case, and it was a breach of Mr. Mueller’s duty to dishonestly present that failure as anything but that in his report — and possibly an act of criminal prosecutorial misconduct.

    Like any tantrum, the media’s frenzy will run out of steam (and credibility) and now they will be whipped like dogs for betraying their public trust.

    There is a counter-narrative to the “Resistance” narrative, and it is a true crime story. That suppressed story is finally going to roll out in the implacable workings of actual (not fake) justice and it is going to crush a lot of people who concocted this epic political hoax, including some members of the press who knowingly and dishonestly abetted it.

    Many criminal referrals have already been made on the likes of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr, and a big net has been cast to pull in the figures who have been hiding in the thickets lo these two-and-a-half-years of smoke and gaslight: Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates, William Brennan, James Clapper, Nellie Ohr, Samantha Power, Bill Priestap, Jim Rybicki, James Baker, Mike Kortan, John Carlin, Mary McCord, Josh Campbell and more. Some of these are going to jail and some have already flipped. The fetchings should reach the Obama White House. Mr. Mueller himself, even in his majestic granitic silence, will be liable for failing to inform his boss, the Attorney General, that the predicate document for his witch hunt was known to be a fraud back in 2016, and was used anyway to spy on a presidential candidate.

    Let congress put on a carnival of its own now. It will be greeted like a TV commercial for a hemorrhoid remedy while the real national psychodrama plays out in grand juries and courtrooms, demonstrating what a grievous injury was done to this republic by its own vested authorities.

    Published:4/19/2019 1:45:04 PM
    [Markets] Byron York: Mueller, Trump, & "Two Years Of Bullshit"

    Authored by Byron York, op-ed via The Washington Examiner,

    Late last month President Trump met with a group of Republican senators on Capitol Hill. He discussed a lot of topics, but his most memorable comment came when he called Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation "two years of bullshit."

    Now, the public has Mueller's 448-page report, and it tends to support the president's assessment.

    In this sense: At its heart, the Trump-Russia probe was about one question: Did the Trump campaign conspire, coordinate, or collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election?

    Mueller has concluded that did not happen.

    Everything else in the Trump-Russia affair flowed from that one question.

    Paul Manafort's shady finances would not have come under investigation were it not for that question. Carter Page would not have been wiretapped were it not for that question. Michael Flynn would not have been interviewed by the FBI were it not for that question. Zillions of hours on cable TV would not have been expended on Trump-Russia were it not for that question. And in the largest sense, there would have been no Mueller investigation were it not for that question.

    And now Mueller has determined there was no collusion. Not that there was no criminalcollusion. Or no prove-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt collusion. Just no collusion. Mueller's report says it over and over and over again. Here are seven examples:

    1. "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

    2. "The investigation examined whether [contacts between Russia and Trump figures] involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future. Based on the available information, the investigation did not establish such coordination."

    3. "The investigation did not establish that [Carter] Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 election."

    4. "The Office did not identify evidence in those [contacts between Russians and people around Trump after the GOP convention] of coordination between the Campaign and the Russian government."

    5. "The Office did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort's sharing polling data and Russia's interference in the election ... [and] the investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts."

    6. "The investigation did not establish that these [contacts between Russians and people around Trump during the transition] reflected or constituted coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia in its election interference activities."

    7. "The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the [Russian disinformation campaign]."

    That is definitive. It is not kinda, sorta. It is definitive. As far as Mueller's conclusions are concerned — and remember, he was long considered the gold standard of Trump investigations — there was no collusion.

    The Mueller report is divided into two volumes. Volume I covers the collusion question. Volume II considers whether the president obstructed the investigation. But of course there would have been no obstruction investigation had there not been the collusion allegation to begin with. There would be no Volume II if there were no Volume I.

    The report covers a lot of ground. Everyone knew, or should have known, that it would include details that Trump's detractors could use against him and details the president's supporters could cite in his defense. And it does. Certainly some House Democrats hope to use it as a road map to impeachment, and many, many Democrats hope to use it as a road map to defeating Trump in 2020.

    But remember what the investigation was about. It was about something that did not happen. And that should matter now that Mueller has finished his work.

    Published:4/19/2019 11:12:58 AM
    [World] Mark Levin Blasts Robert Mueller Obstruction Op-Ed In Trump Russia Report

    Mark Levin said Friday that the second part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Trump-Russia collusion is "crap" and simply an opinion-editorial on the former FBI directors thoughts about obstruction of justice.

    Published:4/19/2019 10:11:45 AM
    [Markets] "Total Bullshit": Trump Slams "Fabricated" Testimony In Mueller Report

    After two years of near-constant abuse and allegations from a desperate left unable to come to terms with Hillary's loss, who can blame President Trump for not letting this farce go quite yet. In a series of new tweets this morning, he unleashes more pointed snark at Mueller and his team's lies as well as the menagerie of Mueller lackeys who are now stunned at the lack of 'there', there in his report...

    "Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue. Watch out for people that take so-called “notes,” when the notes never existed until needed.

    Because I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the “Report” about me, some of which are total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad). This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened, a.."

    But, as WSJ's Kimberley Strassel writes, what’s in the special counsel’s findings is almost as revealing as what’s left out...

    By the fall of 2017, it was clear that special counsel Robert Mueller, as a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was too conflicted to take a detached look at a Russia-collusion story that had become more about FBI malfeasance than about Donald Trump. The evidence of that bias now stares at us through 448 pages of his report.

    President Trump has every right to feel liberated. What the report shows is that he endured a special-counsel probe that was relentlessly, at times farcically, obsessed with taking him out. What stands out is just how diligently and creatively the special counsel’s legal minds worked to implicate someone in Trump World on something Russia- or obstruction-of-justice-related. And how—even with all its overweening power and aggressive tactics—it still struck out.

    Volume I of the Mueller report, which deals with collusion, spends tens of thousands of words describing trivial interactions between Trump officials and various Russians. While it doubtless wasn’t Mr. Mueller’s intention, the sheer quantity and banality of details highlights the degree to which these contacts were random, haphazard and peripheral. By the end of Volume I, the notion that the Trump campaign engaged in some grand plot with Russia is a joke.

    Yet jump to the section where the Mueller team lists its “prosecution and declination” decisions with regards the Russia question. And try not to picture Mueller “pit bull” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann collapsed under mountains of federal statutes after his two-year hunt to find one that applied.

    Mr. Mueller’s team mulled bringing charges “for the crime of conspiracy—either under statutes that have their own conspiracy language,” or “under the general conspiracy statute.” It debated going after them for the “defraud clause,” which “criminalizes participating in an agreement to obstruct a lawful function of the U.S. government.” It considered the crime of acting as an “agent of a foreign government”—helpfully noting that this crime does not require “willfulness.”

    Up to now, the assumption was that Mr. Mueller had resurrected long-ago violations of the rarely enforced Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938 purely to apply pressure on folks like Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn. Now we find out that it was resurrected in hopes of applying it to campaign-period actions of minor figures such as Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

    Mueller’s team even considered charging Trump associates who participated with campaign-finance violations for the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Was that meeting “a conspiracy to violate the foreign contributions ban”? Was it “the solicitation of an illegal foreign source contribution”? Was it the receipt of “an express or implied promise to make a [foreign source] contribution”? The team considered that the law didn’t apply only to money—it could apply to a “thing of value.” Until investigators realized it might be hard to prove the “promised documents” exceeded the “$2,000 threshold for a criminal violation.” The Mueller team even credited Democrats’ talking point that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had committed perjury during his confirmation hearings—and devoted a section in the report to it.

    As for obstruction—Volume II—Attorney General Bill Barr noted Thursday that he disagreed with “some of the special counsel’s legal theories.” Maybe he had in mind Mr. Mueller’s proposition that he was entitled to pursue obstruction questions, even though that was not part of his initial mandate from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Or maybe it was Mr. Mueller’s long description of what a prosecution of the sitting president might look like—even though he acknowledged its legal impossibility. Or it could be Mr. Mueller’s theory that while “fairness” dictates that someone accused of crimes get a “speedy and public trial” to “clear his name,” Mr. Trump deserves no such courtesy with regard to the 200 pages of accusations Mr. Mueller lodges against him.

    That was Mr. Mueller’s James Comey moment. Remember the July 2016 press conference in which the FBI director berated Hillary Clinton even as he didn’t bring charges? It was a firing offense. Here’s Mr. Mueller engaging in the same practice—only on a more inappropriate scale. At least this time the attorney general tried to clean up the mess by declaring he would not bring obstruction charges. Mr. Barr noted Thursday that we do not engage in grand-jury proceedings and probes with the purpose of generating innuendo.

    Mr. Mueller may not care. His report suggests the actual goal of the obstruction volume is impeachment: “We concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority.”

    Note as well what isn’t in the report. It makes only passing, bland references to the genesis of so many of the accusations Mr. Mueller probed: the infamous dossier produced by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign. How do you exonerate Mr. Page without delving into the scandalous Moscow deeds of which he was falsely accused? How do you narrate an entire section on the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting without noting that Ms. Veselnitskaya was working alongside Fusion? How do you detail every aspect of the Papadopoulos accusations while avoiding any detail of the curious and suspect ways that those accusations came back to the FBI via Australia’s Alexander Downer?

    The report instead mostly reads as a lengthy defense of the FBI—of its shaky claims about how its investigation began, of its far-fetched theories, of its procedures, even of its leadership. One of the more telling sections concerns Mr. Comey’s firing. Mr. Mueller’s team finds it generally beyond the realm of possibility that the FBI director was canned for incompetence or insubordination. It treats everything the FBI or Mr. Comey did as legitimate, even as it treats everything the president did as suspect.

    Strassel ends on a high note, taking aim directly at the man himself:

    Mr. Mueller is an institutionalist, and many on his team were the same Justice Department attorneys who first fanned the partisan collusion claims. He was the wrong man to provide an honest assessment of the 2016 collusion dirty trick. And we’ve got a report to prove it.

    But none of that will stop the desperate left from stretching out this farce through November 2020!

    Published:4/19/2019 8:14:38 AM
    [Media] Bless her HEART! Rachel Maddow GRASPS at straws interviewing Andrew McCabe on Mueller Report and OMG it’s painful (watch)

    If at first your narrative fails, lie and lie again. Right, Rachel Maddow? Imagine inviting a guy who was FIRED FOR LYING like Andrew McCabe to discuss the Mueller Report of all things. Former acting FBI Dir. Andrew McCabe: "What Director Mueller has done here is he's provided an avalanche of facts that clearly indicate […]

    The post Bless her HEART! Rachel Maddow GRASPS at straws interviewing Andrew McCabe on Mueller Report and OMG it’s painful (watch) appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:4/19/2019 8:14:38 AM
    [Media] ‘Lengthy defense … OF THE FBI’: Kimberley Strassel breaks down the #MuellerReport and what it REALLY says and WOW

    In case you missed it (and with the way the media has avoided reporting it and Democrats are spinning like mad) the main takeaway from the Mueller Report is that the president did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election. Yeah yeah, there is a bunch of other stuff in the report but at […]

    The post ‘Lengthy defense … OF THE FBI’: Kimberley Strassel breaks down the #MuellerReport and what it REALLY says and WOW appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:4/19/2019 7:44:28 AM
    [nj politics] NJ Politics Digest: Christie Makes Appearance in the Mueller Report The Mueller report included details about how Trump asked Christie to place a call on his behalf to then-FBI Director James Comey. Published:4/19/2019 5:16:24 AM
    [Hillary Clinton] How’s the Cover-up Going? (John Hinderaker) Back in the early 1970s, when the Doonesbury cartoon strip was campaigning to get President Nixon impeached, this was considered a classic. Click to enlarge: Of course, it was a joke. President Nixon didn’t actually say “How’s the cover-up going?” on tape. Not so with the cover-up of Hillary Clinton’s off-the-books email scandal. Last week, Judicial Watch released 422 pages of previously-hidden FBI documents on that agency’s investigation of the Published:4/18/2019 2:38:20 PM
    [Markets] Watch Live: Barr And Rosenstein Discuss Mueller Report

    Watch live as Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discuss the upcoming release of the nearly 400-page Mueller report.

    While Mueller determined that President Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia in the 2016 US election, the special counsel left the question of whether Trump obstructed the investigation up to Barr and Rosenstein - who concluded that Trump did not obstruct. Of note, a four-page summary of Mueller's findings provided by Barr states that the special counsel probe "does not exonerate" the president. 

    Barr and Rosenstein's press conference is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. eastern time.  

    Watch live: 

    (Earlier)

    Later today the public will finally get their hands on the long-awaited Mueller report - albeit with color-coded redactions to identify the multiple reasons that certain information from the almost 400-page report can't be shared with Congress or the public. 

    Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Washington to discuss the release, while the report will be delivered to Congress via compact disc between 11 a.m. and noon according to Bloomberg

    Democratic leaders blasted Barr's decision to brief the White House before the release of the report - with five House chairmen releasing a joint statement demanding that Barr cancel the press conference and "let the full report speak for itself." According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mueller's testimony in front of Congress "as soon as possible" is the only way to restore public trust after what they called Barr's "regrettably partisan handling" of the report. 

    "This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it," reads the letter. 

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who signed the letter, also chimed in on the way the Mueller report is being released

    In a taste of the bickering in store, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) mocked Nadler, tweeting that he's "deeply troubled" by the way the Clinton email probe ended, the way the Trump-Russia collusion probe began & how some at the DOJ/FBI abused FISA for the Page spy warrants."

    The Report

    Mueller's massive investigation saw more than 2,800 subpoenas issued, nearly 500 search warrants, and around the same number of witness interviews, according to Barr. Also included by Mueller was a series of exhibits, however it's unclear if that will be released.  

    Some members of Congress will be allowed to view a copy of Mueller's report "without certain redactions," according to a Wednesday filing by federal prosecutors. 

    "Once the redacted version of the report has been released to the public, the Justice Department plans to make available for review by a limited number of Members of Congress and their staff a copy of the Special Counsel’s report without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case," they wrote in the filing. 

    According to Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, the Mueller report will answer a key complaints Democrats have had since Barr released a four-page summary of the report; why did Mueller decline to make a decision on whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice - something he spent months investigating?

    The special counsel found there was evidence “on both sides of the question” of whether Trump obstructed justice and that his probe didn’t “exonerate” the president, according to a four-page summarythat Barr released last month.

    Nonetheless, Barr and Rosenstein concluded that the evidence on obstruction didn’t warrant a criminal charge after Mueller submitted his final report. -Bloomberg

    The Mueller report won't be a comprehensive narrative that "tries to reconstruct all the events of the 2016 campaign," notes Bloomberg.

    Justice Department regulations say that Mueller should explain in a report to the attorney general the decisions that he made on who to prosecute, and he can choose to discuss additional relevant findings.

    Barr is going beyond what’s required under Justice Department regulations by sharing any of the report. The regulations require only that he inform Congress if the special counsel was prevented from taking a significant action. Barr has said there was no such situation. -Bloomberg

    What to look for

    For starters, it will be interesting to note whether Mueller actually investigated the genesis of the FBI's decision to launch their counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign, as well as the history and use of the controversial and largely unverified "Steele Dossier" used to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. 

    Some have suggested that FBI's investigation was a setup from the beginning. Recall that Hillary Clinton's campaign paid an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS - who paid a former UK spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled a bogus dossier using Kremlin sources, which was then used against Trump both at the federal level and in court of public opinion.

    Also recall that Maltese professor (and self-admitted Clinton foundation member) Joseph Mifsud seeded Trump aide George Papadopoulos with the rumor that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. 

    Papadopoulos would later drunkenly pass this information to Australian diplomat (and Clinton ally) Alexander Downer, whose report reached the FBI and launched operation crossfire hurricane

    The FBI would then employ at least one spy to "infiltrate" (spy on) the Trump campaign. 

    Also of interest will be clues as to why Barr and Rosenstein didn't establish that Trump or his campaign did not obstruct the investigation. 

    That said, Democrats are hoping that the report might reveal evidence of Trump-Russia collusion that simply didn't rise to the level of charging anyone with a criminal conspiracy. 

    The report also might reveal who on the campaign directed long-time Trump associate Roger Stone to communicate with WikiLeaks about releasing information damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the weeks before the election.

    It could also shed light on the relationship between Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who Mueller prosecuted, and Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller has said has ties to Russian intelligence services. Kilimnik was indicted last year on conspiracy to obstruct justice. -Bloomberg

    Redactions

    Barr and Mueller have worked together over the last several weeks to redact key portions of the report - and have used color-coded labels to indicate why various things can't be seen by Congress or the public. These include grand jury proceedings, classified programs and ongoing investigations - as well as things that could damage the reputations of individuals who were "peripheral" to the investigation

    Barr says he won't withhold damaging information about public officials, however - including Trump - simply to protect their reputations. 

    The attorney general also could withhold details of internal White House deliberations, citing executive privilege. He told lawmakers on April 9 that he decided not to seek Trump’s input and had “no plans” to assert the privilege traditionally asserted by presidents who say they need to be able to have private conversations.

    That type of information could reveal Trump’s conversations before he fired FBI director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as attempts the president made to fire other top Justice Department officials. -Bloomberg

    "A heavily redacted report should not be acceptable to anyone, especially if the report was redacted to protect the president or his associates," said former New York federal prosecutor Harry Sandick, currently a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. 

    Prosecutors gave some clue as to what's going on with the redactions - which are also intended to protect the privacy of uncharged third parties and investigations on "a number of matters" which Mueller has passed along to other prosecutors

    "It is unknown how long some of these investigations may remain ongoing," said Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Kravis. "And some of the privacy interests that are being protected may persist indefinitely."

    Published:4/18/2019 8:38:28 AM
    [Markets] How Has Former MI6 Spymaster Richard Dearlove Dodged Scrutiny Despite Links To Russiagate?

    One of the figures involved in the Obama administration's "Russiagate" scandal who has largely avoided scrutiny is former MI6 spymaster Sir Richard Dearlove, who is intimately linked to several key players in what many now believe was a high-level Set-up against the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election. 

    Dearlove, who served as chief of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, had contact during the 2016 campaign with dossier author Christopher Steele. He is also a close colleague of Stefan Halper, the alleged FBI and CIA informant who established contact with several Trump campaign advisers. Dearlove and Halper attended a Cambridge political event in July 2016 where Halper had his first contact with Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. -Daily Caller

    Of note, Dearlove is best known for peddling a report alleging that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, which then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair used to justify launching a war against Iraq. 

    In 2014, the retired British spymaster hosted an event at Cambridge University along with Halper. In attendance was then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn, as well as a Russian-born college student Svetlana Lokhova. Both Dearlove and Halper reportedly expressed concerns about Flynn's contacts with Lokhova - which the 38-year-old Russian-born academic says is complete bullshit

    Stefan Halper and the Pentagon, which paid him over $1 million during the Obama administration for "research." 

    "General Flynn was the guest of honor and he sat on one side of the table in the middle. I sat on the opposite side of the table to Flynn next to Richard Dearlove because I was the only woman at dinner, and it's a British custom that the only woman gets to sit next to the host," Lokhova told Fox News, who added that she has never been alone with Flynn. On the contrary, the unplanned encounter was professional and mildly productive. 

    Sir Richard Dearlove (L), Prof. Christopher Andrew (center), and then-Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn (R), at Cambridge University, Feb. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy Svetlana Lokhova via the Daily Caller)

    Dearlove - who has feigned not knowing "Trump-Russia" dossier author Christopher Steele, discussed ongoing matters with the former MI6 spy during a meeting in London's posh Garrick Club according to the Washington Post.

    And as the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross points out, "Despite his presence at those key junctures, Dearlove has mostly dodged media attention, as well as that of American lawmakers investigating the origins of the Russia probe," adding "That’s perhaps a testament to Dearlove’s 38 years in MI6."

    As journalist Daniel Lazare wrote last year in Consortium News

    A few things stand out about this august group.  One is its in-bred quality.  After helping to run an annual confab known as the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, Dearlove and Halper are now partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.”  Both are connected to another London-based intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co. Halper is also connected via two books he wrote with Hakluyt representative Jonathan Clarke and Dearlove has a close personal friendship with Hakluyt founder Mike Reynolds, yet another MI6 vet.  Alexander Downer served a half-dozen years on Hakluyt’s international advisory board, while Andrew Wood is linked to Steele via Orbis Business Intelligence, the private research firm that Steele helped found, and which produced the anti-Trump dossier, and where Wood now serves as an unpaid advisor.

    Everyone, in short, seems to know everyone else.  But another thing that stands out about this group is its incompetence.  Dearlove and Halper appear to be old-school paranoids for whom every Russian is a Boris Badenov or a Natasha Fatale.  In February 2014, Halper notified US intelligence that Mike Flynn, Trump’s future national security adviser, had grown overly chummy with an Anglo-Russian scholar named Svetlana Lokhova whom Halper suspected of being a spy – suspicions that Lokhova convincingly argues are absurd.

    Dearlove, meanwhile, has showered praise upon Halper - a longtime suspected CIA and FBI informant, and has been involved in US politics at the highest levels for decades, becoming George H.W. Bush's National Director for Policy Development during his presidential campaign. After Bush lost to Reagan, Halper worked as Reagan's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State - where he served under three different Secretaries.

    He then became a senior advisor to the Department of Defense and DOJ between 1984 and 2001. Halper's former father-in-law was Ray Cline, former Deputy Director of the CIA. He also allegedly spied on the Carter administration - collecting information on foreign policy (an account disputed by Ray Cline).

    Halper received a DoD contract from the Obama administration for $411,575 - made in two payments, and had a start date of September 26, 2016 - three days after a September 23 Yahoo! News article by Michael Isikoff about Trump aide Carter Page, which used information fed to Isikoff by "pissgate" dossier creator Christopher Steele. The FBI would use the Yahoo! article along with the unverified "pissgate" dossier as supporting evidence in an FISA warrant application for Page. 

    Most famously, however, Halper is known for infiltrating the Trump campaign on behalf of the Obama DOJ - spying on advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who he lured into his orbit under the guise of seeking legitimate professional relationships. 

    Meanwhile, his buddy Richard Dearlove has remained largely out of the spotlight despite his glaring connections to Russiagate. 

    Published:4/18/2019 3:34:16 AM
    [Markets] Senate Leaders Want Information On "Highly Classified" FBI Memo About Clinton

    Via SaraCarter.com,

    The FBI drafted a secret and ‘highly classified’ memo in May 2016 regarding the bureau’s Midyear investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server that she used to send classified government emails but never submitted it to then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to a letter written by three Republican Senators and delivered to Attorney General William Barr.

    Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Lindsey Graham, R-SC; Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Ron Johnson sent the letter to Barr Wednesday requesting information obtained by Inspector General Michael Horowitz about the bureau’s secret memo.

    Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a ‘classified letter’ to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz requesting the information he referred to in the appendix of the report: “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election.”  At the time, Grassley was the chairman of the Judiciary committee.

    The letter stated that on “July 31, 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a briefing on the steps the Department has taken, or plans to take, in light of the report’s findings.” They were denied the briefing due to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.

    Later “in a subsequent phone call with Department personnel on September 17, 2018, the Department declined to brief the Judiciary Committee, asserting without any clear basis, that it would interfere with Special Counsel Mueller’s equities,” the letter states.

    “Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries,” the chairman told Barr in the letter.

    According to Horowitz’s report, late into the FBI’s investigation into Clinton, the bureau then “considered obtaining permission from the Department to review certain classified materials that may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.”  The bureau drafted a memo in 2016 to then Deputy Attorney General Yates.

    The FBI said the review of the “highly classified materials was necessary to complete the investigation” but then never submitted the memo to Yates. According to the IG the FBI said it believed “this information would not materially impact the conclusion.”

    The explanation is “inconsistent with the memorandum’s self-identified purpose and demands clarification,” the Republican chairmen told Barr in their letter. The Republicans are requesting access to Horowitz’s classified appendix regarding the bureau’s explanation for not submitting the memo.

    “The classified appendix raises significant issues associated with the FBI’s failure to review certain highly classified information in support of its Midyear investigation,” it states.

    Published:4/17/2019 4:31:48 PM
    [Politics] Trump says FBI made PAYMENTS to Christopher Steele… This morning Trump accused the FBI of making payments to Christopher Steele, presumably for the discredited dossier. Here’s the tweet: I’m admittedly a little confused by this. Steele worked for the FBI . . . Published:4/17/2019 8:29:31 AM
    [Politics] Trump says FBI made PAYMENTS to Christopher Steele… This morning Trump accused the FBI of making payments to Christopher Steele, presumably for the discredited dossier. Here’s the tweet: I’m admittedly a little confused by this. Steele worked for the FBI . . . Published:4/17/2019 8:29:31 AM
    [Markets] New Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Steps Forward In Defamation Case Against Alan Dershowitz

    Another woman has come forward to accuse 'billionaire pedophile' Jeffrey Epstein and his companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, of molesting her and her then-15-year-old sister in 1996 at the Ohio mansion of billionaire "Limited Brands" CEO Les Wexner, according to court documents cited by the Miami Herald

    Jeff Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

    The woman, Maria Farmer, says she was employed by Epstein in his Upper East Side New York mansion, where she frequently saw "school-age girls" wearing uniforms enter the residence and go upstairs. According to her affidavit, she was told the girls were auditioning for modeling work.

    And who else did Farmer see going upstairs according to her affidavit? Epstein pal and attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has been accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Roberts Giuffre - an Epstein victim who is suing Dershowitz for defamation after she came forward with her claims. 

    Dershowitz claims he was never in Epstein's mansion at the same time as underage girls, but Farmer said that's not true, according to her affidavit in support of Giuffre's case. 

    Dershowitz has said that he has never seen any underage girls when he visited Epstein at the financier’s various homes in Palm Beach, New Mexico and New York. But Farmer, who now lives in Kentucky, claims that one of her duties working for Epstein was to staff the front door to his New York estate and to keep track of visitors.

    On a number of occasions I witnessed Dershowitz at the NY mansion going upstairs at the same time there were young girls under the age of 18 who were present upstairs in the house,’’ she said, asserting that Dershowitz was so comfortable he would walk into the mansion and go directly upstairs.

    ...

    Giuffre claims in the lawsuit that Dershowitz, 80, knew about and participated in Epstein and Maxwell’s sex trafficking operation, and that she was forced to have sex with Dershowitz and other prominent, wealthy men, when she was underage.

    Dershowitz has railed against the allegations for years, maintaining that he has never met Giuffre. He also says he has documents and other evidence that prove she is lying. -Miami Herald

    Of note, Farmer does not say she ever saw Dershowitz with any young girls - however at least one witness, former house manager Alfredo Rodriguez, says he saw young girls in Dershowitz's presence at Epstein's Palm Beach mansion. Rodriguez was prosecuted by the FBI after he tried to sell Epstein's "black book" of friends, business associates, celebrity guests and female masseuses for $50,000. Rodriguez was fired by Epstein in 2005 and died in prison after his prosecution. 

    Another Epstein accuser, Sarah Ransome, claims that she was "lent out" by Epstein when she was 22-years-old and living in New York, and had a threesome with Dershowitz and Nadia Marcinkova who also worked for Epstein. 

    "I recall specific, key details of his person and the sex acts and can describe them in the event it becomes necessary to do so," Ransome said in her affidavit. 

    Dershowitz says both Giuffre and Ransome are liars - claiming that he has the ability to "disprove" them. As The Herald notes, however, it's not clear whom Dershowitz has provided evidence to except former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, who released a 2016 statement saying he had independently reviewed Dershowitz's information and concluded that it contradicted Giuffre's. Giuffre, meanwhile, says she was never interviewed by Freeh's investigators

    Dershowitz allowed the Herald review some of the documents that he says he has, but he has not released them for the Herald to substantiate the information that he gathered, including his personal calendars, that he claims prove he could not have been in the locations that Giuffre was during the time period she was with Epstein, from 1999 to 2002.

    In recent months, Dershowitz has alleged that Giuffre’s accusations against him are part of an extortion plot to blackmail an Ohio billionaire, identified in the lawsuit as Les Wexner, the CEO of the Limited Brands, which includes Victoria’s Secret, who was Epstein’s top financial client.

    Dershowitz alleges that Giuffre and one of her lawyers, prominent New York attorney David Boies, falsely accused him in order to get Wexner to pay hush money so that Wexner would not be similarly exposed by Giuffre. -Miami Herald

    Giuffre has hit back against Dershowitz's assertion that she's trying to extort money out of Wexner - whose Ohio mansion Farmer says she worked at in the summer of 1996, where she claims Epstein and Maxwell sexually assaulted her in a bedroom. She claims to have tried to flee the property, only to be stopped by Wexner's security staff. 

    Giuffre’s sexual allegations against Dershowitz became public in 2014 as part of a court filing by Edwards and Cassell. Dershowitz publicly called for the disbarment of the two lawyers, leading them to file a defamation suit against Dershowitz which was subsequently settled, with Dershowitz paying the two lawyers a substantial amount of money, the suit says. Dershowitz falsely claimed that he was exonerated, when in fact, the settlement was reached in Edwards’ and Cassells’ favor, according to the new lawsuit. -Miami Herald

    Dershowitz attempted to get Giuffre to admit in a statement that she had been mistaken about being forced to have sex with him. 

    "We should be aiming at a short simple statement such as: ‘the events at issue occurred approximately 15 years ago when I was a teenager. Although I believed then and continued to believe that [Dershowitz] was the person with whom I had sex, recent developments raise the possibility that this may be a case of mistaken identification," Dershowitz suggested in an email. 

    Dershowitz also played a recorded conversation for The Herald, which said they were difficult to decipher. A transcript provided by Dershowitz, however, appears to show Giuffre's lawyer David Boies conceding that Giuffre was mistaken in identifying Dershowitz. 

    Boies says he was not taped with permission, and that Dershowitz took his comments out of context. 

    "He conflated the conversations, and they are not in the order that they happened," said Boies - who says he was assuring Dershowitz that if they had hypothetically found evidence that Giuffre's recollections were mistaken, they would agree to issue a statement. 

    Ultimately, Giuffre passed a lie detector test.

    "Dershowitz...played and described excerpts from those tapes out of context to reporters to try to make it appear that Ms. Roberts’ lawyer’s hypothetical comments, and characterizations of Dershowitz’s assertions represented that lawyer’s conclusions," according to the lawsuit. 

    Read the rest of the Miami Herald report here and the complaint below.

    Published:4/17/2019 8:00:41 AM
    [Markets] From Jesus Christ To Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies Of The State

    Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

    When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.

     

    In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an “enemy of the state.”

    That list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing.

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely the latest victim of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.

    On April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

    Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

    There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.

    When any government becomes almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting—whether that evil takes the form of war, terrorism, torture, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity—that government has lost its claim to legitimacy.

    These are hard words, but hard times require straight-talking.

    It is easy to remain silent in the face of evil.

    What is harder—what we lack today and so desperately need—are those with moral courage who will risk their freedoms and lives in order to speak out against evil in its many forms.

    Throughout history, individuals or groups of individuals have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

    And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

    Indeed, it is fitting that we remember that Jesus Christ—the religious figure worshipped by Christians for his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection—paid the ultimate price for speaking out against the police state of his day.

    A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.

    Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had all of the characteristics of a police state: secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

    For all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

    Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

    Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

    Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

    Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

    Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

    A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

    Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Much like the Roman Empire, the American Empire has exhibited zero tolerance for dissidents such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manningwho exposed the police state’s seedy underbelly. Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

    Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation. 

    Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.
    Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

    As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:

    The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

    Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

    Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

    Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

    What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.

    Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the government—or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior—flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.

    Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

    As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

    As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

    We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world.  Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right.  Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants.  Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests.  Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!

    …Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?”  But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence.  Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.

    In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.  We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds?  Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?

    Published:4/16/2019 10:59:49 PM
    [Politics] GOP Sens. Renew Request for Clinton Email Probe Info Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., want more information on the FBI's probe into Hillary Clinton's private email server, renewing their previously unaddressed request, according The Hill. Published:4/16/2019 9:57:33 PM
    [News] Judicial Watch: FBI Failed To Provide Details On Contact With Clinton Campaign Lawyer

    The following article, Judicial Watch: FBI Failed To Provide Details On Contact With Clinton Campaign Lawyer, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    The FBI failed to provide details on contact with Clinton campaign lawyer Judicial Watch said today it had filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department in an effort to obtain communications between FBI lawyers and attorneys for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “This lawsuit aims ...

    Continue reading: Judicial Watch: FBI Failed To Provide Details On Contact With Clinton Campaign Lawyer ...

    Published:4/16/2019 8:26:11 PM
    [The Blog] A new Jeffrey Epstein accuser goes public

    "To my knowledge, I was the first person to report Maxwell and Epstein to the FBI."

    The post A new Jeffrey Epstein accuser goes public appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/16/2019 6:56:04 PM
    [Markets] Why Isn't Assange Being Charged With "Collusion With Russia"?

    Authored by Andrew McCarthy via The National Review,

    ...because then they would have to prove it!

    Prior to the publication of the stolen Democratic-party emails and internal documents, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks exhorted Russian government hackers to send them “new material.”

    That is what we are told by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Russian intelligence officers.

    (I won’t offend anyone by calling them “spies” — after all, they were just doing electronic surveillance authorized by their government, right?) Assange wanted the Russians to rest assured that giving “new material” to WikiLeaks (identified as “Organization 1” in the indictment) would “have a much higher impact than what you are doing” — i.e., hacking and then putting the information out through other channels.

    But time was of the essence. It was early 2016. If Hillary Clinton was not stopped right there and then, WikiLeaks warned, proceedings at the imminent Democratic national convention would “solidify bernie supporters behind her.” Of course, “bernie” is Bernie Sanders, the competitor who could still get the nomination. But if Assange and the Russians couldn’t raise Bernie’s prospects, WikiLeaks explained, Mrs. Clinton would be a White House shoo-in: “We think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”

    In a nutshell: Knowing that Russia had the capacity to hack the DNC and perhaps Clinton herself, WikiLeaks urged it to come up with new material and vowed to help bring it maximum public attention. By necessity, this desire to hurt Clinton would inure to Sanders’s benefit. And sure enough, WikiLeaks eventually published tens of thousands of the Democratic emails hacked by Russian intelligence.

    So...I have a few questions.

    WikiLeaks, Moscow, and Bernie Sanders

    First, why was there no Sanders-Russia probe? Why, when President Obama directed John Brennan, his hyper-political CIA director, to rush out a report on Russia’s influence operations, did we not hear about the WikiLeaks-Russia objective of helping Sanders win the Democratic nomination? Brennan & Co. couldn’t tell us enough about our intelligence-agency mind readers’ confidence that Putin was rootin’ for Trump. Why nothing about the conspirators’ Feelin’ the Bern?

    Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think there is any basis for a criminal investigation of Senator Sanders. But there appears to have been no criminal predicate for a “collusion” investigation of Donald Trump, either - not a shred of public evidence that he conspired in the Putin regime’s hacking, other than that presented in the Clinton-campaign-sponsored Steele dossier (if you can call that “evidence” — though even Christopher Steele admits it’s not). Yet, Trump was subjected to an investigation for more than two years — on the gossamer-light theory that Trump stood to benefit from Moscow’s perfidy.

    Yes, of course, this cui bono claim was amplified by what were said to be Trump’s intriguing, if noncriminal, ties to Russia. To my knowledge, however, the mythical pee tape of Steele lore has never been located; it is unlikely, then, that there are any Trump photos that compare, intrigue-wise, to a shirtless Bernie boozing it up in the Soviet Union. Surely that should have been worth a FISA warrant or four.

    A more serious question:

    Why hasn’t Assange been indicted for criminal collusion with the Kremlin - the same hacking conspiracy for which Mueller indicted the Russian operatives with whom Mueller says Assange collaborated?

    The same conspiracy for which the president of the United States, though not guilty, was under the FBI’s microscope for nearly three years?

    The Assange Indictment: Weak and Potentially Time-Barred

    The most striking thing about the Assange indictment that the Justice Department did file is how thin it is, and how tenuous. Leaping years backwards, ignoring “collusion with Russia,” prosecutors allege a single cyber-theft count: a conspiracy between Assange and then–Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning to steal U.S. defense secrets. This lone charge is punishable by as little as no jail time and a maximum sentence of just five years’ imprisonment (considerably less than the seven years Assange spent holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid prosecution).

    This is very peculiar. Manning, Assange’s co-conspirator, has already been convicted of multiple felony violations of the espionage act — serious crimes that the Assange indictment says WikiLeaks helped Manning commit . . . but which the Justice Department has not charged against Assange.

    Why? Probably because espionage charges are time-barred. Which brings us to the possibility — perhaps even the likelihood — that Assange will never see the inside of an American courtroom.

    As I pointed out on Thursday, the 2010 Assange-Manning cyber-theft conspiracy charged by prosecutors is outside the standard five-year statute of limitations for federal crimes: The limitations period was already exhausted when the indictment was filed in 2018. To breathe life into the case, the Justice Department will have to convince both British and American judges that this comparatively minor conspiracy charge is actually a “federal crime of terrorism,” triggering a three-year statute-of-limitations extension.

    For some reason, the extension statute — Section 2332b(g)(5)(B) — makes the extra three years applicable to cyber-theft offenses under Section 1030 of the penal code, but not espionage-act offenses under Section 793. I am skeptical, though, that the Justice Department’s cyber-theft charge qualifies for the extension. Prosecutors haven’t charged a substantive cyber-theft violation under Section 1030; they have charged a conspiracy (under Section 371) to commit the Section 1030 offense. That is not the same thing. Typically, if Congress intends that its mention of a crime should be understood to include a conspiracy to commit that crime, it says so. It did not say so in the extension statute.

    Why put all the prosecutorial eggs in such a rickety basket?

    Protecting Mueller’s Russian-Hacking Indictment

    England is a close ally, but getting its courts to extradite people for U.S. criminal proceedings is no lay-up. It is a laborious process, and the outcome, even in strong cases, is uncertain. The Justice Department knows this, yet in its indictment it elected not to charge the Russia conspiracy — a 2016 offense that has no statute-of-limitations problem. Why? If you want the Brits to transfer a defendant, you need to make a compelling showing. Why leave obvious, serious charges on the cutting-room floor? Mueller brought a dozen felony charges against the Russian operatives with whom, we’ve been told for over two years, Assange conspired. So why isn’t Assange charged with at least some of these felonies?

    Some argue that the Justice Department is nervous that, as a pseudo-journalist, Assange may have First Amendment protection from such charges. But then why charge the Manning conspiracy? The theory of Assange’s guilt is the same in both the Russian-collusion and Manning-espionage situations: The WikiLeaks chief was not merely a journalist publicizing sensitive information; he was aiding, abetting, counseling, inducing, and procuring the theft of the sensitive information (to borrow the terms of the federal aiding and abetting statute). The Justice Department plainly believes that complicity in the theft shreds any claim to freedom of the press; there is no First Amendment right to steal information.

    If this is the Justice Department’s position, then why not charge Assange with the 2016 “collusion” conspiracy, too? If I were a cynic (perish the thought!), I’d suspect that the government does not want Special Counsel Mueller’s Russian-hacking indictment to be challenged.

    As I have explained previously, I accept the intelligence agencies’ conclusion, echoed by Mueller, that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic email accounts. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between (a) accepting an intelligence conclusion based on probabilities, and (b) proving a key fact beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case.

    The intelligence assessment here may be sound, but the legal case Mueller would have to prove to a jury has problems. To state the most obvious: The Justice Department and FBI did not perform elementary investigative steps, such as taking possession of, and performing their own forensic analysis on, the servers that were hacked. Instead, they relied on CrowdStrike, a contractor of the DNC, which has a strong motive to blame Russia.

    Mueller’s team knew that no Russian defendant would ever actually be tried in a U.S. court on the hacking allegations. The indictment was more like a press release than a charging instrument. It was meant to be the last word on hacking: An authoritative version of events pronounced by a respected U.S. prosecutor that would never be challenged by skilled defense lawyers. The point was to put to rest the nettlesome “How do we really know Russia did it?” question raised by some former intelligence agents and hardcore Trump supporters.

    But now . . . here comes Assange. He has always insisted that Russia was not WikiLeaks’ source. I don’t believe him. I see him as a witting, anti-American tool of Moscow. But, to my chagrin, some in Trump’s base - not all, but some - have made Assange their strange bedfellow, just as many libertarians and leftists embraced him when he was exposing U.S. national-security programs, intelligence methods, defense strategies, and foreign-relations information. These Trump supporters have convinced themselves that raising doubt about Russia’s culpability exonerates the president — even though the special counsel has already cleared Trump, regardless of what Russia (and Assange) were up to.

    Consequently, if Assange were charged with the Russian-hacking conspiracy that Mueller has alleged, and if he were ever brought to the U.S. to face trial, he would maintain that he did not get the Democratic emails from Russian intelligence. Remember, a defendant does not have to prove anything: It would not be Assange’s burden to establish Russia’s innocence; the Justice Department would have to prove Russia’s culpability.

    Assange’s fans would give lots of sunshine to his effort to exculpate Moscow. Indeed, even without Assange mounting a challenge to Mueller’s Russian-hacking indictment, some Trump supporters have tried to cast doubt on Russia’s guilt (see, e.g., here and here). And a group of dissenting intelligence-community veterans will continue arguing that CrowdStrike’s analysis is flawed.

    To sum up: If the Justice Department had indicted Assange for collusion, Mueller’s Russian-hacking indictment would no longer stand unchallenged. Assange would deny that Russia is behind the hacking, and prosecutors would have to try to prove it, using hard, admissible courtroom proof - not top-secret sources who cannot be called as witnesses without blowing their cover, or other information that might be reliable enough to support an intelligence finding but would be inadmissible under courtroom due-process standards. If the prosecutors were unable to establish Russia’s guilt to a jury’s satisfaction, it would be a tremendous propaganda victory for the Kremlin, even if - as I believe - Russia is actually guilty.

    This is part of why it was a mistake to indict the Russian intelligence officers. An indictment is never an authoritative statement; it is just an allegation, it proves nothing. We didn’t need it to know what happened here. The indictment says nothing significant that we were not already told by the intelligence agencies’ assessment released to the public in January 2017.

    Adversary countries are a security challenge, not a law-enforcement problem. Because they don’t have to surrender their officials for an American trial, an indictment is a pointless gesture. But now, having with great fanfare filed charges against Russia that implicate Assange, the government shrinks from lodging these same charges against Assange — who, unlike the indicted Russian officials, may be in a position to put the government to its burden of proof. This just makes Mueller’s indictment of Russians look more like a publicity stunt than a serious allegation. If the government is afraid to try the allegations against Russia in court, people will naturally suspect the allegations are hype.

    Meanwhile, let us remember: Despite a dearth of evidence that he was complicit in Moscow’s hacking, President Trump was forced by the Justice Department and the FBI, urged on by congressional Democrats, to endure a two-year investigation and to govern under a cloud of suspicion that he was an agent of the Kremlin. Now we have Assange, as to whom there is indisputable evidence of complicity in the hacking conspiracy, but the Justice Department declines to charge him with it — instead, positing the dubious Manning conspiracy that may very well be time-barred.

    What is going on here?

    Published:4/16/2019 3:57:13 PM
    [Markets] White House Is In Discussion With Candidates To Replace Cain, Moore For Fed

    Following a loud outcry slamming the acceptability of Trump's proposed Fed Board candidates, the White House has begun interviewing candidates to potentially replace Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, the president’s top economic adviser said. Speaking to reporters, Larry Kudlow said that former pizza company executive Herman Cain who famously ran unsuccessfully for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, must decide for himself whether to withdraw from consideration for a Fed job.

    “At the end of the day, it will probably be up to Herman Cain if he wants to stay in that process or not,” Kudlow told reporters. “As far as we are concerned he is still in the process and it is proceeding.”

    And, as Bloomberg notes, when asked whether the White House is interviewing anyone to potentially replace Cain and Moore, Kudlow said, "We are talking to a number of candidates. We always do." Politico earlier reported that other candidates were being interviewed.

    Setting the stage for his "graceful" bowing out from the appointment process, Cain said in a video posted on Facebook earlier this month that he faced a “cumbersome” vetting process for the Fed seat, suggesting he may be considering withdrawing. His campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination ended in 2011 after he was accused of sexual harassment when he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s and of infidelity.

    Cain's nomination was effectively killed last week, when four Republican senators voiced their opposition to his candidacy, signaling there isn’t enough support to confirm Cain for the job. According to Bloomberg, Trump has privately said he knows Cain would have trouble getting confirmed but wants to wait for the FBI to finish its background check before he makes his decision on whether to formally nominate him, people familiar with the matter have said.

    Asked last week whether Cain’s nomination was “safe,” Trump told reporters: “Herman will make that determination.”

    Separately, Moore, who is a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, WSJ op-ed writer and long-time Trump supporter, has faced scrutiny over a dispute with the IRS, which claimed he owes more than $75,000 in taxes and other penalties related to deductions he claimed for child-support payments to his ex-wife.

    “Steven Moore is in the process we support him,” Kudlow said. “We support Herman Cain. We will just let things play out in the vetting.”

    Considering that Trump's sole motivation behind the appointment of the two candidates is to stack the Fed board with dovish puppets, we reiterate our proposal that Trump nominate Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez for the Fed board...

    ... a move which will achieve two goals: first, MMT will be tried - unsuccessfully - in the next 2-4 years, resulting in soaring asset prices, hyperinflation and the collapse of the reserve currency which considering the $130 trillion in total US liabilities is what the Fed has been after all along, and second and more important, lead to the eventual and long overdue end of the Federal Reserve, which will at that point become the laughing stock of central banks around the world. Considering that Trump's core campaign promise was to "clear out the DC Swamp", we believes that he should seriously consider our recommendation.

    Published:4/16/2019 1:54:23 PM
    [Markets] Unsealed Affidavit Tries To Put WikiLeaks In Cahoots With The Taliban, Bin Laden

    On Monday a federal judge in Virginia unsealed the original 2017 affidavit and criminal complaint on which Assange's extradition request to the US is based, offering new details including chat logs between Assange and former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, which attempt to support a single count of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” which may or may not have succeeded.

    The US alleges Assange actively sought for and encouraged Manning to crack a password to access classified information on a Defense Department network; the affidavit claims details related to this charge, for instance chat log discussions between the pair over how to crack a password, though the affidavit notes that "it remains unknown whether Manning and Assange were successful in cracking the password," related to the conspiracy charge.

    File photo via the AFP.

    “Investigators have not recovered a response by Manning to Assange's question, and there is no other evidence as to what Assange did, if anything, with respect to the password,” the document states.

    However, the FBI-produced affidavit's language throughout makes no mention of Assange acting in the way of a journalist or a publisher, but instead takes pains to paint him as conspiring to commit espionage.

    The document further notes that though Manning suspected the person on the other end of the chat was Assange, ultimately “it took me four months to confirm that the person i was communicating was in fact assange.”

    The affidavit describes the individual in communication with Manning “appeared to have extensive knowledge of WikiLeaks' day-to-day operations, including knowledge of submissions of information to the organization, as well as of financial matters.”

    Manning had spent seven years in prison on violations of the Espionage Act and copying and disseminating classified military field reports, before receiving a commutation from President Obama. The secret military documents and files were what put WikiLeaks on the international media map after they were released on 2010, and included sensitive information about the Iraq and Afghan wars, Guantánamo Bay operations, as well as other State Department cables.

    The document uses maximal and hyped language to describe “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” yet struggles to ascertain whether “illegal agreement that Assange and Manning reached” specifically led to the release of the document trove (obviously crucial for charges against Assange to hold up).

    Concerning a potential extradition to the US, “probable cause” is cited to be the hundreds of messages sent between Manning and Assange on the Jabber platform. The argument is that Assange and Manning understood that it “would cause injury to the United States,” especially with US forces active on the ground in Afghanistan. 

    But on this point of whether the leaks did actual harm and damage to US efforts, the document is left reaching, trying to spin and insinuate a narrative that puts WikiLeaks and terrorist groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda in cahoots.

    It starts by claiming that “after the release of the Afghanistan War Reports, a member of the Taliban contacted the New York Times.”

    The supposed Taliban member said, “We are studying the report… If they are US spies, then we will know how to punish them.” This strange and somewhat comical example is meant to support the notion that Assange ultimately aided America's enemies with the leaks. 

    Worse, the affidavit makes Osama bin Laden  killed in a 2011 raid by US Navy Seals while living comfortably in an Abbottabad, Pakistan compound — out to be a WikiLeaks fan, given letters had been found instructing an al-Qaeda member to “gather” the publicly available material leaked by Manning.

    Somehow this is meant to imply WikiLeaks in a round-about way assisted al-Qaeda's mission. The FBI is perhaps left grasping with this "bin Laden benefited" theory given the relative flimsiness of evidence to support the original “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” aspect on which the case originated. 

    The affidavit also alleged the Taliban exploited the WikiLeaks disclosures to put U.S. allies in danger, citing a New York Times article headlined, “Taliban Study WikiLeaks to Hunt Informants.” It also said the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, showed that the terrorist was actively seeking information contained in the WikiLeaks disclosures and that al Qaeda was providing him with information from the leaked Afghanistan war reports. The Afghanistan war reports also contained specifics on improvised explosive device techniques and countermeasures espoused by the U.S. that “the enemy could use these reports to plan future lED attacks,” the affidavit said. Washington Examiner

    Also of crucial note is the timing concerning the US government's pursuing the case out of which the affidavit originated. The document's author, FBI special agent Megan Brown, was assigned to the case in 2017, less than a year prior to filing the affidavit. 

    This suggests, as long suspected, the Obama DOJ likely wasn't moving forward with charges, after which the Trump DOJ decided to go for it.  

    The compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden lived. Image source: EPA

    In the document Brown confesses that her understanding of the seven-year-old “criminal conspiracy” is based on “testimony of a forensic examiner in Manning’s court martial, my conversations with FBI forensic examiners, and research on the internet.”

    Research on the internet? Perhaps the FBI found itself over-reliant on Wikipedia for those times it couldn't concoct "WikiLeaks-Taliban" connections out of New York Times headlines. 

    * * * 

    The full US federal affidavit below:

    Published:4/16/2019 9:24:44 AM
    [88faf7fa-933a-5c90-bf5d-a0cc074bae86] Andrew McCarthy: Behind the Obama administration’s shady plan to spy on the Trump campaign In Senate testimony last week, Attorney General William Barr used the word “spying” to refer to the Obama administration, um, spying on the Trump campaign. Of course, fainting spells ensued, with the media-Democrat complex in meltdown. Former FBI Director Jim Comey tut-tutted that he was confused by Barr’s comments, since the FBI’s “surveillance” had been authorized by a court. Published:4/16/2019 8:25:16 AM
    [Markets] Obama's Border Patrol Chief: Migrant Crisis 'Worst In The History Of The Country'

    A second ex-Obama admin official has spoken up over the crisis at the southern US border. 

    Mark Morgan, a career FBI official who served as Border Patrol chief during the last six months of the Obama administration told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Monday that the US-Mexico border crisis has reached historic proportions and is the worst in the history of the country. 

    "this isn’t just a crisis, this is a crisis like we’ve never experienced in the history of this country since we started tracking numbers," said Morgan, who also addressed false statistics floating around comparing the numbers of migrants to those of the 1990s. 

    There’s still this very false talking point out there that — well, back in the ’90s, the numbers were higher — over a million.” Well, first of all, again, you got to remember they were Mexican adults, we were moving, deporting 90 percent of them. With the broken asylum laws and other loopholes that are there, we’re seeing 65 to 70 percent increase in family units, and because of those broken laws, we’re allowing them in. This year, we’re expected to hit a million, but we’re going to let 650,000 into the country. That’s driving this crisis, driving our resources, being overwhelmed. We have to address it.

    In late march, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that the situation at the southern border has reached a crisis, and that the number of apprehensions has exceeded anything he encountered during his time in the Obama administration. 

     

    Published:4/15/2019 4:19:50 PM
    [Markets] Chris Hedges On The Martyrdom Of Julian Assange

    Authored by Chris Hedges via TruthDig.com,

    The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement.

    They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

    Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

    I am sure government attorneys are skillfully doing what has become de rigueur for the corporate state, using specious legal arguments to eviscerate enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control. This is how we have a legislative process in which corporate lobbyists write the legislation and corporate-indentured politicians vote it into law. This is how we have the right to due process with no due process. This is how we have a government—whose fundamental responsibility is to protect citizens—that orders and carries out the assassination of its own citizens such as the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. This is how we have a press legally permitted to publish classified information and a publisher sitting in jail in Britain awaiting extradition to the United States and a whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, in a jail cell in the United States.

    Britain will use as its legal cover for the arrest the extradition request from Washington based on conspiracy charges. This legal argument, in a functioning judiciary, would be thrown out of court. Unfortunately, we no longer have a functioning judiciary. We will soon know if Britain as well lacks one.

    Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense allegations that were eventually dropped. Assange and his lawyers always argued that if he was put in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. Once he was granted asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship the British government refused to grant Assange safe passage to the London airport, trapping him in the embassy for seven years as his health steadily deteriorated.

    The Trump administration will seek to try Assange on charges that he conspired with Manning in 2010 to steal the Iraq and Afghanistan war logsobtained by WikiLeaks. The half a million internal documents leaked by Manning from the Pentagon and the State Department, along with the 2007 video of U.S. helicopter pilots nonchalantly gunning down Iraqi civilians, including children, and two Reuters journalists, provided copious evidence of the hypocrisy, indiscriminate violence, and routine use of torture, lies, bribery and crude tactics of intimidation by the U.S. government in its foreign relations and wars in the Middle East. Assange and WikiLeaks allowed us to see the inner workings of empire—the most important role of a press—and for this they became empire’s prey.

    U.S. government lawyers will attempt to separate WikiLeaks and Assange from The New York Times and the British newspaper The Guardian, both of which also published the leaked material from Manning, by implicating Assange in the theft of the documents. Manning was repeatedly and often brutally pressured during her detention and trial to implicate Assange in the seizure of the material, something she steadfastly refused to do. She is currently in jail because of her refusal to testify, without her lawyer, in front of the grand jury assembled for the Assange case. President Barack Obama granted Manning, who was given a 35-year sentence, clemency after she served seven years in a military prison.

    Once the documents and videos provided by Manning to Assange and WikiLeaks were published and disseminated by news organizations such as The New York Times and The Guardian, the press callously, and foolishly, turned on Assange. News organizations that had run WikiLeaks material over several days soon served as conduits in a black propaganda campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks. This coordinated smear campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called on the U.S. to eradicate the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and destroy Assange’s reputation.

    Assange, who with the Manning leaks had exposed the war crimes, lies and criminal manipulations of the George W. Bush administration, soon earned the ire of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the primary architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs, should have remained hidden, but they can’t then call themselves journalists.

    The Democratic leadership, intent on blaming Russia for its election loss, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers, although James Comey, the former FBI director, has conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by “state actors.”

    WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Edward Snowden, who made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Assange was on a U.S. “manhunt target list.”

    A haggard-looking Assange, as he was dragged out of the embassy by British police, shook his finger and shouted:

    “The U.K. must resist this attempt by the Trump administration. … The U.K. must resist!”

    We all must resist. We must, in every way possible, put pressure on the British government to halt the judicial lynching of Assange. If Assange is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of the rich and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate. First Assange. Then us.

    Published:4/15/2019 10:17:55 AM
    [2019 News] Joseph diGenova: James ‘Cardinal’ Comey — the man who destroyed the FBI Joseph diGenova: James ‘Cardinal’ Comey — the man who destroyed the FBI. Sorry Comey. Helping with an attempted coup of a sitting President doesn’t put you in good guy status. Published:4/13/2019 1:44:44 PM
    [2019 News] The clown show that is the FBI strikes again The clown show that is the FBI strikes again. This time they didn’t secure a number of their websites, allowing hackers to access the personal records of thousands of federal agents and police officers, basically anybody who ever trained at Quantico. The information is now for sale to the highest bidders. Published:4/13/2019 1:05:54 PM
    [2016 Presidential Election] No “spying” at the FBI (Scott Johnson) At ReaclClearPolitics yesterday, the invaluable Eric Felten took a deep dive into the testimony of former FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap before the House last year (and do read the whole thing). President Merkin Muffley explained in Dr. Strangelove: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room!” By the same token, Priestap explained to Congress: “You can’t ‘spy’ here. This is the FBI.” Eric tells the story: Published:4/13/2019 11:40:45 AM
    [Markets] Stephen Moore Set To Challenge Fed Status Quo

    Trump's proposed nominee to the seven-member Federal Reserve board, Stephen Moore, is planning to challenge the status quo at the US central bank, at a time when it needs continuity and stability the most. Moore said on Bloomberg that he is seeking to debunk the idea that growth causes inflation and that he is also going to "try to demystify monetary policy so it’s not conducted within a temple of secrecy."

    Moore said yesterday: "I’ll say that again: Growth does not cause inflation. We know that. When you have more output of goods and services, prices fall. And I think the Fed has been afraid of growth -- there’s "growth-phobiacs" over there and I think they’re wrong.” Whether or not the FOMC committee will agree with that remains to be seen, it would be perhaps more interesting to hear his position on whether debt causes growth, which is far more topical in a world where to "buy" one dollar of GDP, nations have to increase debt by $3, $4 or more.

    Last month, President Trump said that he’s planning to nominate Moore for a seat on the Fed’s board of governors. Trump's intentions drew ire and criticism from some circles as a move motivated by politics instead of "sound" economics.

    Another of Moore's missions that's sure to be a hit with current Fed governors is his intentions to make the Fed more transparent. 

    “I’m going to run on an agenda of transparency, openness. Why shouldn’t Bloomberg and C-Span and others be able to cover everything they do? Why does there have to be this temple of secrecy? So, I want openness and sunlight on the Fed,” Moore said, assuring that his future colleagues (assuming he succeeds in the nomination process) isolate him from any off the record, decision-making huddles. He certainly will never be invited to conference room E at the BIS tower in Basel where all the really important decisions are made every few weeks.

    Moore further raised eyebrows for pushing the Fed to set monetary policy in response to falling commodity prices and criticizing its rate hikes for undermining Trump’s economy, after slamming it when Barack Obama was in the White House for keeping rates too low. He also called for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to be fired, though he later said he regretted that remark.

    Of course, Moore still has to undergo FBI clearance and financial disclosures before being nominated, a process that usually lasts about a month. 

    That said, if he's interested in transparency, perhaps he can start by explaining his recent comments, when he referred to himself as a "growth hawk", a term that nobody seems to understand. 

    “We want wage increases, I want workers to be better off but I’ve said repeatedly when I get at the Fed I’m going to be the growth hawk there. I’m one of these people, I don’t believe in secular stagnation, it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” Moore told FOX Business yesterday.

    Even if he is nominated, he is certain to get the cold shoulder from his Fed colleagues: as Bloomberg reported today, Fed officials, "in their polite and coded way", have already issued a veiled warning for the political loyalists that President Donald Trump is trying to insert into their ranks: We don’t do flimsy economics, which of course is hilarious for a central bank which last October said the neutral rate was "far away", and just two months later had to make a humiliating U-turn after the market slumped into a very brief bear market.

    “There’s a lot of analysis that goes into these decisions and a lot of dispassionate judgment about a variety of matters about the macro economy,’’ St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Thursday in Tupelo, Mississippi, apparently without a shred of self-referential sarcasm. “Even if somebody comes in with strong political views, they get converted into technocrats pretty quickly.”

    And by technocrats, he means people who check the S&P several times every hour, ready to launch QE or issue a dovish soundbite should the "wealth effect" ever be threatened and jeopardize the social order with even a modest correction.

    * * *

    Providing some perspective on Moore's thought process is Cornell professor, libertarian and self-described gold bug Dave Collum who saw Moore speak earlier this week, and had the chance for a 20 minute one-on-one conversation with the potential nominee. Collum described Moore as a "remarkably genuine person displaying serious humility." He continued, "I didn't detect even a twinge of arrogance":

    Collum note that Moore told students to question authority. "Experts can be dead wrong," Moore said.

    Moore also apparently stressed a goal of zero inflation and holding prices fixed. 

    Moore also didn't seem to loathe or laugh at the gold standard, like almost every other Fed governor and academic over the past few decades.

    He also noted that he "detests corporate welfare" and ended his conversation with a great one liner: "Monetary policy cannot correct for bad economic policy." Moore also called MMT the "most insane concept imaginable". 

    You can read Collum's entire interaction with Moore in this thread.

    Published:4/12/2019 8:30:46 PM
    [Markets] Investigation Nation: Mueller, Russiagate, & Fake Politics

    Authored by Jim Kavanaugh via Counterpunch.org,

    So the Mueller investigation is over. The official “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” has been written, and is in the hands of Attorney General William Barr, who has issued a summary of its findings. On the core mandate of the investigation, given to Special Counsel Mueller by Rod Rosenstein as Acting Attorney General in May of 2017—to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”—the takeaway conclusion stated in the Mueller report, as quoted in the Barr summary, is that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    In the footnote indicated at the end of that sentence, Barr further clarifies the comprehensive meaning of that conclusion, again quoting the Report’s own words: “In assessing potential conspiracy charges, the Special Counsel also considered whether members of the Trump campaign ‘coordinated’ with Russian election interference activities. The Special Counsel defined ‘coordination’ as an ‘agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference’.”

    Barr restates the point of the cited conclusion from the Mueller Report a number of times: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election…the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA [Internet Research Agency, the indicted Russian clickbait operation] in its efforts.”

    Thus, the Mueller investigation found no “conspiracy,” no “coordination,”—i.e., no “collusion”—“tacit or express” between the Trump campaign or any U.S. person and the Russian government. The Mueller investigation did not make, seal, or recommend any indictment for any U.S. person for any such crime.

    This is as clear and forceful a repudiation as one can get of the “collusion” narrative that has been insistently shoved down our throats by the Democratic Party, its McResistance, its allied media, and its allied intelligence and national security agencies and officials. Whatever one wants to say about any other aspect of this investigation—campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice, etc.—they were not the main saga for the past two+ years as spun by the Russiagaters. The core narrative was that Donald Trump was some kind of Russian agent or asset, arguably guilty of treason and taking orders from his handler/blackmailer Vladimir Putin, who conspired with him to steal the 2016 election, and, furthermore, that Saint Mueller and his investigation team of patriotic FBI/CIA agents were going to find the goods that would have the Donald taken out of the White House in handcuffs for that.

    Keith Olbermann’s spectacular rant in January 2017 defined the core narrative and exemplified the Trump Derangement Syndrome that powered it: an emotional, visceral hatred of Donald Trump wrapped in the fantasy—insisted upon as “elemental, existential fact”—that he was “put in power by Vladimir Putin.” A projection and deflection, I would say, of liberals’ self-hatred for creating the conditions—eight years of war and wealth transfer capped off by a despised and entitled candidate—that allowed a vapid clown like Trump to be elected. It couldn’t be our fault! It must have been Putin who arranged it!

    Here’s a highlight of Keith’s delusional discourse. But, please watch the whole six-minute video below. They may have been a bit calmer, but this is the fundamental lunacy that was exuding from the rhetorical pores of Rachel, Chris, and Co. day after day for two+ years:

    The military apparatus of this country is about to be handed over to scum, who are beholden to scum, Russian scum! As things are today January 20th will not be an inauguration but rather the end of the United States as an independent country. Donald John Trump…is not a president; he is a puppet, put in power by Vladimir Putin. Those who ignore these elemental, existential facts—Democrats or Republicans—are traitors to this country. [Emphases in original. Really, watch it.]

    This—Trump’s secret, treasonous collusion with Putin, and not hush money or campaign finance violations or “obstruction of justice” or his obvious overall sleaziness—was Russiagate.

    Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!

    And it still is. Here’s the demonstration in New York last Thursday, convened by the MoveOn/Maddow #Resistance, singing from “the hymnal” about how Trump is a “Russian whore” who is “busy blowing Vladimir”:

    This is delusional lunacy.

    Here are the three lines of excuse and denial currently being fired off by diehard Russiagaters in their fighting retreat, and my responses to them.

    1. The Mueller Report is irrelevant, anyhow. ‘Cause either A) Per Congressional blowhard Adam Schiff: There already “is direct evidence” proving Trump-Russia collusion, dating from before the Mueller Investigation, so who cares what that doesn’t find; or B) (My personal favorite) Per former prosecutor and CNN legal expert Renato Mariotti: Of course there is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and it’s “your fault” for letting Trump fool you into thinking Mueller’s job was to find it. (The Mueller “collusion” investigation was a red herring orchestrated/promoted by Trump! I cannot make this up.)

    Mueller’s report will almost certainly disappoint you, and it’s not his fault. It’s your fault for buying into Trump’s false narrative that it is Mueller’s’ job to prove “collusion,” a nearly impossible bar for any prosecutor to clear.

    My piece in @TIMEhttps://t.co/VQ2WhhC996

    This is, of course, the weakest volley. It’s absurd, patent bad faith, for Russiagaters to pretend that they knew, thought, or suggested the Mueller investigation was irrelevant. It is they who have been insisting that the integrity and super-sleuthiness of the “revered” Robert Mueller himself was the thing that would nail Donald Trump for Russian collusion. To now deny that any of that was important only acknowledges how thoroughly they have been fooling the American people and/or themselves for two years. Either Adam Schiff had the goods on Trump’s traitorous Russian collusion two years ago, in which case he’s got a lot of explaining to do about why he’s been stringing us along with Mueller, or Schiff is just bluffing. Place your bets.

    2. The Mueller Report didn’t exonerate Trump entirely. It was agnostic about whether Trump was guilty of “obstruction of justice,” and there are probably many nasty things in the report that may not be provably criminal, but nonetheless demonstrate what a slimeball Trump is.

    No, Russiagaters will not get away with denying that the core purpose of the Mueller investigation was to prove Trump’s traitorous relation to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, which helped him win the 2016 election. They will not get away with denying that, if the Mueller investigation failed to prove that, it failed in its main purpose, as they constantly defined and reinforced it, with table-pounding, hyperventilating, and—a few days ago!—disco-dancing to “the hymnal.”

    They will not get away with trying to appropriate, as if it were their point all along, what the left critics of Russiagate have been saying for two+ years—that Donald Trump is a slimeball grifter whose culpability for politically substantive and probably legally actionable crimes and misdemeanors should not be hard to establish, without reverting to the absurd accusation that he’s a Russian agent.

    These are the left critics of Russiagate and Trump, whom Russiagaters deliberately excluded from all their media platforms, in order to make it seem that only right-wing Trump supporters could be skeptical of Russiagate—the left critics Russiagaters then excoriated as ”Trump enablers” and “Putin apologists” for speaking on the only media platforms that would host them. Among them, Glenn Greenwald and Aaron Maté (who just deservedly won the I.F. Stone prize for his Russiagate coverage) were the most prominent, but many others, including me, made this point week after week (Brian Becker, Dave Lindorff, Dan Kovalik, Daniel Lazare, Ted Rall, to name a few). As I put it in an essay last year: “There are a thousand reasons to criticize Donald Trump…That Donald Trump is a Russian agent is not one of them. There are a number of very good justifications for seeking his impeachment…That he is a Kremlin agent is not one of them.”

    So, it’s a particularly slimy for Russiagaters to slip into the position that we Russiagate skeptics have been enunciating, and they have been excluding, for two years, without acknowledging that we were right and they were wrong and accounting for their effort to edit us out.

    3. But we haven’t seen the whole Mueller Report! Barr may be fooling us! Mueller’s own team says so! You are now doing what you accused us of doing for two years—abandoning proper skepticism about Republicans like Barr and even Mueller (Yup. He’s a suspicious Republican now!), and assuming a final result we have not yet seen.

    This is the one the Russiagaters like the most. Gotcha with your own logic!

    Well, let’s first of all thank those who are saying this for, again, recognizing that we Russiagate critics had the right attitude toward such an investigation: cautious skepticism as opposed to false certainty. And let’s linger for a moment or more on how belated that recognition is and what its delay cost.

    But let’s also recognize that what’s being expressed here is the last-minute hope on the part of the Russiagaters that the Mueller report actually does contain dispositive evidence of Trump’s treasonous Russian collusion. Because, again, that is the core accusation that hopeful Russiagaters are still singing about, and nobody ever argued that evidence of other hijinks was unlikely.

    Well, that hope can only be realized if one or both of the following are true: 1) Barr’s quotes from the report exonerating Trump of collusion are complete fabrications, or 2) Mueller both wrote those words even though they contradict the substance of his own report and declined to indict a single U.S. person for such “collusion” even though he could have.

    Sure, in the abstract, one or both of those conditions could be true. But there is no evidence, none, that either is. The New York Times (NYT) report that set everyone aflutter about the “concern” from “some members of Mr. Mueller’s team” is anonymous, unspecified, and second-hand. Read it carefully: The NYT did not report what any member of Mueller’s team said, but what “government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations” said. Those “officials and others interviewed [not members of the Mueller team itself] declined to flesh out” to the NYT what “some of the special counsel’s investigators” were unhappy about. To that empty hearsay, the NYT appends the phrase “although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation”—suggesting, but not stating, that obstruction of justice issues are the reasons for the investigators’ “vexation.” The NYT cannot state, because it does not know, anything. It is reporting empty hearsay that is evidence of nothing, but is meant to keep hope alive.

    “[T]he report is believed to examine” is a particularly strange locution. Is the NYT suggesting that the Mueller report might not have examined obstruction of justice possibilities? Or is it just getting tangled up in its attempt to suggest this or that? Hey, it could just as well be true that Barr’s characterization of what the Mueller Report says about “obstruction of justice” is a misleading fabrication. Maybe Mueller actually exonerated Trump of that. If you mistrust Barr’s version of what the Mueller Report says about collusion, why not equally mistrust what it says about obstruction of justice?

    There is no evidence that Barr’s summary is radically misleading about the core collusion conclusion of the Mueller Report. The walls are closing in, alright, on that story. The I’m just being as cautious now as you were before! line is the opposite of the reasonable skepticism is claims to be; it’s Russiagaters clinging to a wish and a belief that something they want to be true is, despite the determinate lack of any evidence.

    It’s not just the words; it’s the melody, and the desperation in the voices. The core Trump-blowing-Vladimir collusion song that #Resisters are still singing is a fantastical fiction and the people still singing it are the pathetic choir on the Russiagate Titanic. And while they’re singing as they sink, Trump is escaping in the lifeboat they have provided him. The single most definite and undeniable effect of the Mueller investigation on American politics has been to hand Donald Trump a potent political weapon for his 2020 re-election campaign. A real bombshell.

    It would be funny, if it weren’t so funny:

    But it’s worse than that. The falsity of the Trump-as-a-Russian-agent narrative does not depend on any confidence in Mueller and his report or Barr and his summary. The truth is there was no Russiagate investigation, in the sense of a serious attempt to find out whether Donald Trump was taking orders from, or “coordinating” with, Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

    No person in their right mind could believe that. Robert Mueller doesn’t believe it. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t believe it. Adam Schiff doesn’t believe it. John Brennan, James Clapper, and the heads of intelligence agencies do not believe it. Not for a second. No knowledgeable international affairs journalist or academic who thinks about it for two minutes believes it. Sure, some politicians and media pundits did work themselves up into a state where they internalized and projected a belief in the narrative, but few of them really believed it. They were serving the Kool-Aid. Only the most gullible sectors of their target audience drank it.

    With some exceptions, to be sure (Donald Trump among them), the people in the highest echelons of the state-media-academic apparatus are just not that stupid. And, most obvious and important, Vladimir Putin is not that stupid, and they know he is not. Vladimir Putin would never rely on Donald Trump to be his operative in a complex operation that required shrewdly playing and evading the US intelligence and media apparatuses. Nobody is that stupid. Thinking about it that way for a second dissipates the entire ridiculous idea. (Not to mention that Trump ended up enacting a number of policies—many more than Obama!—contrary to Russian interests.)

    The obvious, which many people in the independent media and none in the mainstream media (because it is so obvious, and would have blown their game) have pointed out, is that any real investigation of Russiagate would have sought to talk with the principals who had direct knowledge of who is responsible for leaking the infamous DNC documents: Julian Assange and former British ambassador Craig Murray (“I know who leaked them. I’ve met the person who leaked them.”). They were essentially two undisputed eyewitnesses to the crime Mueller was supposed to be investigating, and he made no effort to talk to either of them. Ipso facto, it was not really an investigation, not a project whole purpose was to find the truth about whatever the thing called “Russiagate” is supposed to be.

    The Eternal Witch-hunt

    It was a theater of discipline. Its purpose, which it achieved, was to discipline Trump, the Democratic electorate, and the media. Its method was fishing around in the muck of Washington consultants, lobbyists, and influence peddlers to generate indictments and plea bargains for crimes irrelevant to the core mandate. Not hard, in a carceral state where prosecutors can pin three felonies a day on anyone.

    The US establishment, especially its national security arm, was genuinely shocked that their anointed candidate, Hillary, who was, as Glen Ford puts it “’all in’ with the global military offensive” that Obama had run through Libya, Syria, and the coup in Ukraine, was defeated by a nitwit candidate who was making impermissibly non-aggressive noises about things like Russia and NATO, and who actually wanted to lose. For their part, the Democrats were horrified, and did not want to face the necessary reckoning about the complete failure of their candidate, and the best-of-all-possible-liberaloid-worlds strategy she personified.

    So, “within 24 hours of her concession speech” Hillary’s campaign team (Robby Mook and John Podesta) created a “script they would pitch to the press and the public” to explain why she lost. “Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.” A few months later, a coalition of congressional Democrats,, establishment Republicans, and intelligence/natsec professionals pressured Trump (who, we can now see clearly, is putty in the hands of the latter) to initiate a Special Counsel investigation. Its ostensible goal was to investigate Russian collusion, but its real goals were:

    1) To discipline Trump, preventing any backpedaling on NATO/imperialist war-mongering against Russia or any other target. Frankly, I think this was unnecessary. Trump never had any depth of principle in his remarks about de-escalating with Russia and Syria. He was always a staunch American exceptionalist and Zionist. Nobody has forced him (that’s a right-wing fantasy) to attack Syria, appoint John Bolton, recognize Israeli authority over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, or threaten Iran and Venezuela. But the natsec deep state actors did (and do) not trust Trump’s impulsiveness. They probably also thought it would be useful to “send a message” to Russia, which, in their arrogance, they think they can, but they cannot, “discipline,” as I’ve discussed in a previous essay.

    2) To discipline the media, making “Russian collusion,” as Off-Guardian journalist Kit Knightly says, “a concept that keeps everyone in check.” Thus, a Russophobia-related McCarthyite hysteria was engendered that defined any strong anti-interventionist or anti-establishment sentiment as Russian-sown “divisiveness” and “Putin apologetics.” This discipline was eagerly accepted by the mainstream media, which joined in the related drive to demand new forms of censorship for independent and internet media. The epitome of this is the mainstream media’s execrable, tacit and sometimes explicit acceptance of the US government’s campaign to prosecute Julian Assange.

    3) To discipline and corral the Democratic constituency. Establishment Dems riled up outraged progressives with deceptive implied promises to take Trump down based on the collusion fiction, which excused Hillary and diverted their attention from the real egregious failures and crimes that led their party to political ruin, and culminated in the election of Trump in the first place. This discipline also instituted a #Resistance to Trump that involved the party doing nothing substantively progressive in policy—indeed, it allowed embracing Trump’s most egregious militarism and promoting an alliance with, a positive reverence for, the most deceptive and reactionary institutions of the state.

    Finally, incorporating point 2, perhaps the main point of this discipline—indeed of the whole Mueller enterprise—was to stigmatize the leftists and socialists in and around the party, who were questioning the collusion fiction and calling critical attention to the party’s failures, as crypto-fascist “Trump enablers” or “Putin’s useful idiots.” It’s all about fencing out the left and corralling the base.

    Note the point regarding the deceptive implications about taking down Trump. Though they gave the opposite impression to rile up their constituents, Democratic Congressional leaders, for the reasons given above and others I laid out in a previous essay, did not think for a second they were going to impeach Trump. They were never really after impeaching Trump; they were and are after stringing along their dissatisfied progressive-minded voters. They, not Trump, were and are the target of the foolery.

    We should recognize that Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation achieved all of these goals, and was therefore a great success. That’s the case whatever part of the Mueller Report is summarized and released, and whoever interprets it. The whole report with all of the underlying evidence cannot legally be released to the public, and the Democrats know that. So, even if the House gets it, the public will only ever see portions doled out by various interested parties.

    Thus, it will continue to be a great success. There will be endless leaks, and interpretations of leaks, and arguments about the interpretations of leaks based on speculation about what’s still hidden. The Mueller Investigation has morphed into the Mueller Report, a hermeneutical exercise that will go on forever.
    The Mueller Investigation never happened and will never end.

    It wasn’t an investigation. It was/is an act of political theater, staged in an ongoing dramatic festival where, increasingly, litigation substitutes for politics. Neither party has anything of real, lasting, positive political substance to offer, and each finds itself in power only because it conned the electorate into thinking it offered something new. That results in every politician being vulnerable, but to a politically vacuous opposition that can only mount its attacks on largely politically irrelevant, often impossible to adjudicate, legalistic or moralistic grounds. Prosecutorial inquiry becomes a substitute for substantive political challenge.

    It’s the template that was established by the Republicans against Bill Clinton, has been adapted by the Democrats for Trump and Russiagate, and will be ceaselessly repeated. What’s coming next, already hinted at in William Barr’s congressional testimony, will be an investigation of FISAGate—an inquiry into whether the FISA warrants for spying on the Trump campaign and administration were obtained legally (“adequately predicated”). And/or UkraineGate, about the evidence “Ukrainian law enforcement officials believe they have…of wrongdoing by American Democrats and their allies in Kiev, ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes,” involving Tony Podesta (who worked right alongside Paul Manafort in Ukraine), Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Joe Biden and his son, et. al. And/or CampaignGate, the lawsuit claiming that Hillary’s national campaign illegally took $84 million of “straw man” contributions made to state Democratic campaigns. And/or CraigGate, involving powerful Democratic fixer and Obama White House Counsel, Gregory Craig, who has already been referred to federal prosecutors by Mueller, and whose law firm has already paid a $4.6 million-dollar fine for making false statement and failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act—for work he did in Ukraine with—who else?—Paul Manafort.

    There are Gates galore. If you haven’t heard about any of these simmering scandals in the way you’ve heard incessantly about, you know, Paul Manafort, perhaps that’s because they didn’t fit into the “get Trump” theme of the Mueller Investigation/Russiagate political theater. Rest assured the Republicans have, and will likely make sure that you do. If you think the Republicans do not have at least as much of a chance to make a serious case with some of these as Mueller did with Trump, you are wrong. If you think the Republicans will pursue any of these investigations because they have the same principled concern as the Democrats about foreign collusion in US elections, or the legality of campaign contributions or surveillance warrants, you are right. They have none. Like the Democrats, they have zero concern for the ostensible issues of principle, and infinite enthusiasm for mounting “gotcha” political theater.

    Neither party really wants, or knows how, to engage in a sustained, principled debate on substantive political issues—things like universal-coverage, single-payer health insurance, a job guarantee, a radical reduction of the military budget, an end to imperialist intervention, increasing taxes on the wealthy and lowering them for working people, a break from the “overwhelming” and destructive influence of Zionism, to name a few of the policies the Democratic congressional leadership could have insisted on “investigating” over the last two years..

    Instead, both parties’ political campaigns rely on otherizing appeals based on superficial identity politics (white-affirmative on the one hand, POC-affirmative on the other) and, mainly, on bashing the other party for all the problems it ignored or exacerbated, and all the terrible policies it enacted, when it was in power—and for the version of superficial, otherizing identity politics it supposedly based those policies on (the real determinants of class power remaining invisible). What both parties know how and will continue to do is mount hypocritical legalistic and moralistic “investigations” of illegal campaign contributions, support from foreign governments, teenage make-out sessions, personal-space violations, et. al., that they are just “shocked, shocked” about.

    It’s Investigation Nation. Fake politics in the simulacrum of a democratic polity. Indeed, someone, of some political perspicuity, might just notice, if only for a flash, that the people who do pretty well politically are often the ones who frankly don’t give a crap about all that. Maybe because they’re talking to people who don’t give a crap about all that. But we wouldn’t want to confuse ourselves thinking on that for too long.

    Which brings us to the last point about Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation mentioned above. It may not (or may!) have been an intended goal, but it has been its most definite political effect: The Mueller Investigation has been a great political gift to Donald Trump. #Resisters and Russiagaters can wriggle around that all they want. They can insist that, once we get the whole Report, we’ll turn the corner, the bombshell will explode, the walls will close in—for real, this time. Sure.

    But even they can’t deny that’s the case right now. Trump is saying the Mueller investigation was a political counterattack against the result of the election, masquerading as a disinterested judicial investigation; that it was based on a flimsy fiction and designed to dig around in every corner of his closets to find nasty and incriminating things that were entirely irrelevant to the ostensible mandate of the investigation and to any substantive, upfront political critique—a “witchhunt,” a “fishing expedition.” And he is right. And too many people in the country know he’s right. At this point, even most Russiagaters themselves know it—though they don’t care, and will never admit it.

    So now Trump, who could have been attacked for two years politically on substance for betraying most of the promises that got him elected—more aggressive war, more tax cuts for the wealthy, threatening Medicare and Social Security—has instead been handed, by the Democrats, the strongest arrow he now has in his political quiver. As Matt Taibbi says: “Trump couldn’t have asked for a juicier campaign issue, and an easier way to argue that ‘elites’ don’t respect the democratic choices of flyover voters. It’s hard to imagine what could look worse.”

    You might think the Democratic Party would be horrified at this result, which one conservative analyst calls: “one of the greatest self-defeating acts in history.” You might think Democrats would now move quickly and decisively toward a strategy of offering a substantive political alternative, and abandon this awful own-goal Mueller/Russiagate tack that has already helped Trump immensely (and which they are not going to turn their way). That is obviously what would happen if the Democrats’ main goal was to defeat Trump. But it isn’t.

    As discussed above, the Democratic establishment’s’ main goal throughout this was not to “get” Trump, but to channel its own voters’ disgust with him into support for some halcyon, liberal, status quo ante-Trump, and away from left demands for a radical change to the social, economic, and political conditions that produced him and his clueless establishment opponent in 2016. The Democrats’ goal was, and is, not to defeat Trump, but to stave off the left.

    What they are doing with the Mueller Investigation/Russiagate is what they did in the primaries in 2016: Then, they deliberately promoted Trump as an opponent, while working assiduously to cheat their own leftist candidate; now, they gin up a fictional spy story whose inevitable collapse helps Trump, but on which they will double down, in order to continue branding “divisive” leftists who challenge any return to their version of status-quo normalcy as the Kremlin’s “useful idiots.”

    The Democrats’ main goal in all this is not to impeach, or stop the re-election of, Donald Trump; it’s to prevent the nomination and election of Bernie Sanders, or anyone like him.

    Russiagate Forever

    Here’s Tim Ryan’s presidential campaign kickoff speech in Youngstown, Ohio, a poster city of late American capitalist deindustrialization, explaining to the voters what is causing the destruction of their lives and towns. After complaining that “We have politicians and leaders today that want to divide us. They want to put us in one box or the other. You know, you can’t be for business and for labor,” he elaborates:

    Yup, it’s those Russians, you see, sowing division through certain “politicians and leaders,” who are preventing us from fixing our healthcare, education, economic and government systems. This—doubling down on Russiagate—is the centrist Democrats’ idea of a winning political appeal. I consider it utterly delusional.

    I heard last week from a friend in Western Pennsylvania, not too far from Youngstown. She’s a good person who is trying to organize Democrats in the area to beat Trump in 2020, and, pleading for advice, she expressed her exasperation: “They’re leaving the party!”

    You mean the five million people who voted for Obama in 2012, in the 90% of counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012, but would not vote for Hillary in 2019, aren’t streaming back into - are indeed still streaming out of - the Democratic Party, despite all the Mueller investigation has done for them? Imagine that.

    What has Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation wrought? It’s either a shrewd political gambit sure to take down Trump, or it’s ridiculous political theater leading Democrats, and the country, over another cliff. Double-down or leave that table?

    Place your bets.

    Published:4/12/2019 7:38:31 PM
    [Politics] Sen. Kennedy: FBI 'Clearly' Investigated Trump, Clinton Campaigns There were "clearly" people in the FBI who were investigating both the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, Sen. John Kennedy said Friday, adding that he believes Attorney General William Barr will get to to the bottom of what was going on. Published:4/12/2019 12:03:56 PM
    [The Blog] Comey on Barr’s comments: I’ve never thought of court-ordered surveillance by the FBI as “spying”

    "I really don't know what he's talking about."

    The post Comey on Barr’s comments: I’ve never thought of court-ordered surveillance by the FBI as “spying” appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/12/2019 11:04:22 AM
    [Crime] Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI

    The following article, Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    Byron York at the 'Washington Examiner' recently pointed out that Trump is 100 percent right that his campaign was spied upon by Obama.

    Continue reading: Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI ...

    Published:4/12/2019 10:32:59 AM
    [Crime] Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI

    The following article, Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    Byron York at the 'Washington Examiner' recently pointed out that Trump is 100 percent right that his campaign was spied upon by Obama.

    Continue reading: Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI ...

    Published:4/12/2019 10:03:18 AM
    [In The News] FBI Was Still Assessing Christopher Steele’s ‘Reliability’ Even After Using Dossier To Obtain Spy Warrant

    By Chuck Ross and Luke Rosiak -

    The FBI was still assessing the reliability of Christopher Steele in late November 2016, a month after the bureau used the ex-spy’s anti-Trump dossier to obtain spy warrants against Carter Page FBI lawyer Sally Moyer testified to Congress last year that the FBI wanted Justice Department official Bruce Ohr to ...

    FBI Was Still Assessing Christopher Steele’s ‘Reliability’ Even After Using Dossier To Obtain Spy Warrant is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/12/2019 8:25:04 AM
    [Crime] Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe

    The following article, Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    Former White House counsel for Barack Obama, attorney Gregory Craig, was indicted on Thursday by a grand jury for lying to the FBI.

    Continue reading: Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe ...

    Published:4/12/2019 8:25:04 AM
    [Crime] Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe

    The following article, Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    Former White House counsel for Barack Obama, attorney Gregory Craig, was indicted on Thursday by a grand jury for lying to the FBI.

    Continue reading: Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe ...

    Published:4/12/2019 8:02:39 AM
    [2016 Presidential Election] Barr brings accountability (Scott Johnson) Kim Strassel devotes her weekly Wall Street Journal column today — “Barr brings accountability” (behind the Journal’s column) — to the news that Attorney General William Barr is undertaking a review of the surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign conducted by the FBI and intelligence agencies under the Obama administration. As we have frequently observed, we weren’t meant to learn a blessed thing about this surveillance. Strassel picks up this Published:4/12/2019 6:01:57 AM
    [Markets] Chicago Sues Jussie Smollett Over "Refusal To Reimburse City" For Hoax Investigation

    The city of Chicago has filed a civil complaint against Jussie Smollett, who has failed to reimburse the city for the cost of investigating a hate-crime hoax perpetrated by the Empire actor. 

    The lawsuit "follows his (Smollett) refusal to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019," according to a city law department spokesman. 

    Last week Fox News reported that the city had planned to draft the civil complaint in order to "pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance."

    Smollett told police in late January that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop in an upscale Chicago neighborhood at around 2 a.m. The actor - who is openly gay and black - said that the attackers recognized him from Empire and began shouting racial and homophobic slurs. 

    It was later discovered that the two men, brothers from Nigeria, were associates of Smollett's who say the actor paid them $3,500 to stage the whole thing. 

    Thursday's complaint goes on to note: "Defendant knew his attackers and orchestrated the purported attack himself. Later, when police confronted him with evidence about his attackers, he still refused to disclose his involvement in planning the attack."

    It is also alleged in the suit that Smollett rescheduled the hate-crime hoax because his plane was delayed.

    Furthermore: "Cell phone records indicate that at 12:49am, Defendant and Abel spoke by telephone. Defendant told Abel the attack should take place at 2:00AM at agreed upon location. Minutes later, Ola order an Uber to pick the brothers up at their home."

    Smollett was hit with a bill for $130,000 last Thursday to cover "overtime hours in the investigation of this matter," adding that if the amount was not paid within seven days, the city might prosecute Smollett "for making a false statement" or "pursue any other legal remedy available at law.

    At an estimated $125,000 per Empire episode, Smollett could have simply acted his way out of the civil suit - which makes two things he couldn't manage to pull off without a director. 

    Two weeks ago, Smollett ducked 16 felony counts for lying to the police about the hate-crime hoax he staged, while his case was sealed. Justifying their actions, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office issued the following statement: "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition & appropriate resolution."

    In short; 'he did it, but we're dropping it.' 

    Smollett, meanwhile, took a victory lap, undoubtedly high-fived his sisters who worked for President Obama, and proudly maintained his innocence. 

    The dismissal of the investigation came after Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, pressured Chicago's top prosecutor, Kim Foxx, to transfer the case to the FBI. When that wasn't done, Foxx's office decided not to pursue the case

    The dismissal seriously pissed off Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Emanuel called it a "whitewashing of justice," done "all in the name of self promotion." 

    Watch that entire press conference below: 

    Published:4/11/2019 6:29:06 PM
    [] Former Trump Campaign Adviser Michael Caputo: The FBI Paid a Russian to Offer Me Phony "Dirt" on Hillary Clinton In Order to Frame Me in Their Spying Operation Spying? What spying? Former Trump 2016 Campaign Adviser Michael Caputo told FOX Business' Trish Regan Opens a New Window. that a Russian FBI informant approached him offering dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Opens a New Window. Hillary Clinton during the... Published:4/11/2019 6:29:06 PM
    [US News] ‘Wait, what’? Here’s why James Comey finds AG Bill Barr’s testimony so ‘concerning’ [video]

    "What? And he was head of the FBI? Epic fail."

    The post ‘Wait, what’? Here’s why James Comey finds AG Bill Barr’s testimony so ‘concerning’ [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:4/11/2019 5:31:03 PM
    [Politics] Focus on the FBI’s leaks, not just the spying and other commentary Security Watch: Focus on FBI Leaks, Not Just Spying Attorney General Bill Barr says he thinks US intelligence agencies spied on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and is now investigating the matter. He’s right to do so, says Bloomberg’s Eli Lake — but “what also deserves scrutiny is how an ongoing intelligence investigation into that campaign... Published:4/11/2019 4:30:43 PM
    [Markets] Comey On Barr 'Spying' Claim: "No Idea What The Heck He's Talking About"

    Former FBI Director James Comey told an audience at the Hewlett Foundation's Verify Conference that he has "no idea what the heck he's talking about" - adding that "The FBI conducted court-ordered authorized surveillance. I don't consider that spying."

    Barr admitted on Wednesday during congressional testimony that the Obama administration 'spied' on President Trump - a claim which he has vowed to investigate. 

    "I think spying did occur," said Barr during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing - expanding on comments made the day before. "But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that."

    We know about the Carter Page FISA warrants - but did a court authorize the Obama administration's use of longtime spook Stefan Halper to infiltrate the Trump campaign and surveil both Page and aide George Papadopoulos? And why was Halper paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Obama Defense Department?

    Comey added of Barr: "I think that his career has earned him the presumption that he will be one of the rare cabinet members who will stand up for things like truth." 

    When asked if the FBI might have done anything differently going back to 2013 in preparation for 2016, Comey said "Going back to 2013, can I decline to accept the appointment of FBI director?"

    And who could blame him based on all the money he made before entering public office! Prior to heading up the FBI, Comey earned $6 Million dollars in one year as Lockheed’s top lawyer – the same year the over-budget F-35 manufacturer made a huge donation to the Clinton Foundation. He was also a board member at HSBC shortly after (then NY AG) Loretta “tarmac” Lynch let the Clinton Foundation partner slide with a slap on the wrist for laundering drug money.

    Lastly, when asked by MSNBC's Natasha Bertrand about the Thursday arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange - who reportedly scuttled a deal with WikiLeaks for Assange's testimony in the Russia investigation in exchange for redactions in the "Vault 7" document dump

    Comey's Boy Scout philosopher routine is wearing thin...

    Published:4/11/2019 1:27:34 PM
    [World] Graham: If Trump Surveillance Warrant Was Based on Steele dossier, it wasn't lawful

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) joined Sean Hannity Wednesday to discuss his efforts to get to the bottom of the Justice Department and FBI's handling of the Russia investigation.

    Published:4/11/2019 7:26:54 AM
    [Markets] Erdogan Worked "Hand In Glove" With ISIS In Syria, Claims Former Emir

    Authored by Nafeez Ahmed via Insurge Intelligence,

    In an explosive interview, a former ISIS commander has claimed that the terror group cooperated directly with Turkish state intelligence agencies for years on areas of “common interest”.

    The source said that senior Turkish government officials had numerous meetings with ISIS representatives to coordinate activities and that this also involved providing support and safe harbour to foreign fighters in the country. President Erdogan “was working hand in glove with ISIS” according to the US government counter-terrorism consultants who interviewed the ex-ISIS official.

    The relationship raises questions about Turkey’s role as a NATO ally in the Syria conflict.

    The source, who served as an ISIS emir for three years, Abu Mansour al Maghrebi, was interviewed by Professor Anne Speckhard, director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and a long-time US government counter-terrorism consultant for NATO, the CIA, FBI, State Department and Pentagon, as well as by Dr Ardian Shajkovci, the ICSVE’s director of research.

    Although not all of al-Maghrebi’s claims can be verified, most of them are corroborated by the claims of other whistleblowers and former ISIS personnel as previously reported by INSURGE.

    Speckhard and Shakovci described Abu Mansour as a sort of ISIS diplomat to Turkey based in Raqqa, Syria.

    “My issue[duties] was our [Islamic State’s] relationship with Turkish intelligence. Actually, this started when I was working at the borders,” he explained.

    Originally from Morocco, Abu Mansour was an electrical engineer who went to Syria in 2013 to join ISIS. His first job with the terror group involved handling foreign fighters coming to join ISIS via Turkey. This involved liaising with a network of ISIS-paid operatives inside Turkey who would direct fighters from Istanbul to the Turkish border towns of Gaziantep, Antakya, Sanliurfa, and so on.

    “Most of them were paid by Dawlah[ISIS],” Abu Mansour said, but said that those working in Turkey were usually motivated by money rather than ideology. But he acknowledged: “Many in Turkey believe and give their bayat [oath of allegiance] to Dawlah. There are ISIS guys living in Turkey, individuals and groups, but no armed groups inside Turkey.”

    ISIS militants parade through the streets of Raqqa, Syria in an undated image posted on Monday, June 30, 2014

    Abu Mansour later travelled to Raqqa in 2015 where he facilitated Turkish medical treatment of ISIS fighters after high-level meetings with Turkish state intelligence. Abu Mansour claimed to have received his orders straight from Mohamed Hodoud, a representative of ISIS’ Majlis al Shura, and also to have briefly met the terror group’s elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He told his interviewers:

    “There were some agreements and understandings between the Turkish intelligence and ISIS emni about the border gates, for the people who got injured. I had direct meeting with the MIT [the Turkish National Intelligence Organization], many meetings with them.”

    He added that these regular meetings occurred between a range of agencies, including Turkish intelligence and the Turkish military:

    “There were teams. Some represent the Turkish intel, some represent the Turkish Army. There were teams from 3–5 different groups. Most meetings were in Turkey in military posts or their offices. It depended on the issue. Sometimes we meet each week. It depends on what was going on. Most of the meetings were close to the borders, some in Ankara, some in Gaziantep.”

    Abu Mansour described having complete impunity to travel between Syria and Turkey, leading Speckhard to describe him as in effect an ISIS ‘Ambassador’. “I passed the borders and they let me pass”, he said. “[At the border], the Turks always sent me a car and I’m protected. A team of two to three people from our side were with me. I was in charge of our team most of the time.”

    Although Abu Mansour denied being a “big guy”, he admitted that his reach on behalf of ISIS potentially extended to President Erdogan himself:

    “I was about to meet him but I did not. One of his intelligence officers said Erdogan wants to see you privately but it didn’t happen.”

    The interview with Abu Mansour was published on March 18th2019 in Homeland Security Today, the magazine of the Government & Technology Services Coalition (GTSC)?—?a trade association of CEOs including former US government officials which work in the US national security sector.

    A strategic partnership

    Abu Mansour argued that his role was to coordinate a relationship between ISIS and Turkey where “both sides benefit.” Abu Mansour said that Turkey saw ISIS as a strategic tool to expand Turkey’s influence in northern Syria as the centre for a renewed empire:

    “We are in the border area and Turkey wants to control its borders?—?to control Northern Syria. Actually they had ambitions not only for controlling the Kurds. They wanted all the north, from Kessab (the most northern point of Syria) to Mosul… This is the Islamists’ ideology of Erdogan. They wanted all of the north of Syria. That is what the Turkish side said [they wanted], to control the north of Syria, because they have their real ambitions. Actually, we talked about what Erdogan said in public [versus what he really desired.] This part of Syria is part of the Ottoman states. Before the agreement following the Second World War, Aleppo and Mosul were part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The agreement Sykes Picot [in which they lost these regions] was signed for one hundred years. In our meetings, we talked about reestablishing the Ottoman Empire. This was the vision of Turkey.”

    Abu Mansour added that although this vision was routinely attributed to Erdogan was not necessarily shared across the Turkish government:

    “I cannot say that this is the vision of the whole Turkish government. Many are against interfering to bring this project to reality. They say we will try to defeat the PKK and Kurds. We are afraid of the union between Kurds and that they may make a Kurdish state, but they also expanded to Aleppo… Since they are a NATO state they cannot make NATO angry against them. So, they cannot deal directly with the situation, but they want to destroy the Kurdish ummah, so they deal with the situation [via ISIS] and get benefits from the Islamic State.”

    ISIS saw the covert alliance with Turkey as a “big benefit”, as “they could protect our back. Approximately 300 km of our border is with them. Turkey is considered a road for us for medications, food?—?so many things enter in the name of aid. The gates were open.”

    Turkey’s open gate with ISIS

    ISIS fighters routinely obtained medical treatment in Turkish hospitals across the border. The Turkish government also supplied water to the terror group and allowed it to sell tens of millions of dollars of oil via Turkey.

    “We negotiated to send our fighters to the hospitals [in Turkey]”, said Abu Mansour. “There was facilitation?—?they didn’t look at the passports of those coming for treatment. It was always an open gate. If we had an ambulance we could cross without question. We could cross [into Turkey] at many places. They don’t ask about official identities. We just have to let them know.”

    Turkish state intelligence was intimately involved in this process, he claimed:

    “The MIT was made aware of every critical situation and they sent the ambulances to the border. There were also hospitals close to the border. Those who received critical care were treated there and they [the MIT] sent the others all over Turkey depending on their needs. There were very interested doctors, Syrian and Turkish, who wanted to help. So, if there were not facilities to serve them on the border, they would be sent further into Turkey for this.”

    Medical bills were largely paid for by ISIS, but “some Turkish public hospitals took these fighters for free. It was not only for our fighters but also for the victims of bombings. I don’t know how many were treated in Turkey, but it was routine… I just know this agreement to open the gates for our wounded and that there were ambulances sent for them. It was a ‘state- to- state’ agreement regarding our wounded. I negotiated these agreements. For the wounded, medical and other supplies to pass, and I negotiated about water also, the Euphrates.”

    Water supplied by Turkey allowed ISIS to farm and even generate electricity from dams:

    “Actually we [Syria] had an agreement with Turkey for 400 cubic meters per second [of water] into Syria. After the revolution, they started to decrease the quantity of water to 150 cubic meters per second. After our negotiations [in 2014] it returned to 400. We needed it for electrical power and as a vital source of living.”

    ISIS water agreement with Turkey “took a long time to negotiate,” according to Abu Mansour. In return ISIS gave the Turkish government guarantees that the country would be “safe and stable” from ISIS attack. “In negotiations I could not say I would attack Turkey. This is the language of gangs, but I would say we will try to keep Turkey from the field battle, we will not see Turkey as an enemy. They understood what we are talking about. We said many times, ‘You are not our enemy and not our friend.’”

    Abu Mansour further claimed Turkey was the primary conduit for ISIS oil sales: “Most of the Syrian oil was going to Turkey, and just small amounts went to the Bashar regime…. This happened spontaneously. There are many traders to do that and Turkey was the only market in which to send oil. Their traders paid for the oil that went into Turkey.”

    Most of these deals occurred via Turkish middleman who were sanctioned by the authorities:

    “Oil that went to the Syrian government?—?some went by pipes, some by trucks. Oil sent by Dawlah [ISIS] to Turkey was arranged by traders from Turkey who came to take the oil with our permissions. Traders came from the Syrian side also.”

    Oil sales via Turkey, Abu Mansour confirmed, were instrumental in bankrolling ISIS’ military onslaught. “In Syria the oil was enough to pay for the weapons and everything needed,” he said. “[Our oil revenues] were more than 14 million dollars per month and half of this oil money is more than enough to pay for everything needed for our weapons expenditures.”

    These claims lend credence to an earlier INSURGE investigation into ISIS oil sales which raised questsions not just about Turkish state complicity, but also that of a number of Iraqi Kurdish and Western companies.

    However, Abu Mansour denied that ISIS received weapons or funding directly from Turkey. Instead he claimed that weapons were routinely obtained by ISIS from sources inside armed opposition groups: “Anti-government Syrian people provided us with weapons; many mafias and groups traded weapons to us.”

    A familiar story

    Abu Mansour’s claims about Turkish military intelligence’s direct support for ISIS have been corroborated by other sources. In 2016, I interviewed Ahmet Sait Yayla, Chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Operations Division of Turkish National Police between 2010 and 2012, who went on to become Chief of the Public Order and Crime Prevention Division until 2014.

    Yayla told me in extensive detail how he had witnessed first-hand that his own police counter-terrorism operations were scuppered due to Turkish intelligence liaisons which protected ISIS fighters, routinely granted them free passage in and out of Turkey, and provided them medical treatment in Turkish hospitals.

    He had however gone much further in describing how he had seen evidence of direct Turkish military and financial sponsorship for some ISIS operations. Yayla’s detailed testimony suggests that Abu Mansour’s role as chief negotiator with Turkish intelligence did not cover certain key strategic issues such as direct military and financial support, which would explain why Abu Mansour was not aware of it.

    My story on Yayla was banned in a Turkish court order last year sent to US tech and social media companies.

    INSURGE has previously reported other emerging evidence from Western intelligence sources indicating Turkish state complicity in the expansion of ISIS across Syria.

    The new revelations reinforce questions about why Western governments have ignored the evidence of state-sponsorship of ISIS?—?within NATO no less?—?despite international laws requiring firm action against entities found to be supporting terrorism.

    The double game

    In 2014, Abu Mansour alleges that Turkey was allowing foreign fighters into Syria while pretending to take measures against them:

    “Turkey wanted to make it easy for foreign fighters to cross the borders… They just want to control, they need to be known, and how they enter, so they ask me to tell who has entered and where. Actually, the Turkish side said, ‘You should reduce, change the way you do it, the way you cross. For example, don’t come with a group to enter because it’s clear that a bunch of people entered. Enter only specific gates. Come without any weapons. Don’t come with long beards. Your entry from north to south should be hidden as much as possible.’”

    Once again, Turkish intelligence was directly involved: “[In 2014,] they opened some legal gates under the eye of Turkish intel that our people went in and out through. But, entry into Syria was easier than return to Turkey. Turkey controlled the movements.”

    ISIS terrorist attacks in Turkey orchestrated by Turkish MIT agents?

    Perhaps Abu Mansour’s most controversial claim is that ISIS attacks inside Turkey?—?on Istanbul airport, at the Reina nightclub and on the streets in Ankara and Istanbul?—?were not in ISIS’ own interests, but were likely carried out under the orders of Turkish intelligence officers who had infiltrated ISIS:

    “The ISIS external emni ordered it. And I think that there were Turkish MIT guys inside the external emni. I suspected that the striking at the airport was not for the benefit of IS, but Turkish groups of IS who wanted to strike Turkey, or they were affected by other agencies that don’t want a relationship between Dawlah and Turkey. It makes no sense, otherwise, because most of our people came through that airport.”

    His explanation for this is that the orders for the attack did not come from ISIS leadership proper, but from Turkish MIT officers:

    “These orders for these attacks in Turkey were from those MIT guys inside Dawlah but not from our political side. They didn’t want to destroy Erdogan, just change his road in the matter of the Syrian issue. They wanted him to use his army to attack Syria, and to attack Dawlah. The airport attack makes a good excuse for him to come into Syria.”

    To be sure, there is no way to independently verify Abu Mansour’s extraordinary allegations against Turkish state intelligence, but they are partly corroborated by the claims of another former ISIS operative, Savas Yildas, who was captured by the YPG during the ISIS attack on the Kurdish province of Gire Spi (Tel Abyad) in Syria. Abu Mansour added that during his imprisonment in Kurdish YPG prisons, he had heard “that the Turkish government, after they were in Raqqa, took 40 persons out that were part of Turkish security agencies.”

    The new revelations contradict years of a conventional narrative which has portrayed ISIS as a spontaneous movement erupting without significant state support.

    Turkey is hardly the only state which Western intelligence agencies knew were financing ISIS? - ?others include Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    *  *  *

    Published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowdfunded investigative journalism project for people and planet. Please support us to keep digging where others fear to tread.

    Published:4/11/2019 2:47:47 AM
    [Markets] Unaccountable Media Faced With Dilemma In Next Phase Of Deep-State-Gate

    Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

    Now that the media has been exposed for wrongly siding with the intelligence agencies, how will it handle Devin Nunes’s criminal referrals in Deep State-gate?

    Readers of The Washington Post on Monday were treated to more of the same from editorial page chief Fred Hiatt. Hiatt, who won his spurs by promoting misleading “intelligence” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and suffered no consequences, is at it again.

    This time he is trying to adjust to the fading prospect of a Deus ex Mueller to lessen Hiatt’s disgrace for being among the most shameless in promoting the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

    He is not giving up. When you are confident you will not lose your job so long as you adhere to the agenda of the growing Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT if you will), you need not worry about being a vanguard for the corporate media. It is almost as though Hiatt is a tenured professor in an endowed chair honoring Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who perhaps did most to bring us Iraqi WMD.

    In his Monday column Hiatt warned: “Trump was elected with the assistance of Russian spies and trolls, which he openly sought and celebrated. But he did not (or so we are told) secretly conspire with them.” In effect, Hiatt is saying, soto voce: “Fie on former (now-de-canonized) Saint Robert of Mueller; we at the Post and our colleagues at The New York Times, CNN et al. know better, just because we’ve been saying so for more than two years.”

    Hiatt: Never held to account. (Wikipedia)

    Times executive editor Dean Baquet said, about the backlash to the Times‘ “collusion” coverage: “I have no regrets. It’s not our job to determine whether or not there was illegality.” CNN President Jeff Zucker said: “We are not investigators. We are journalists.” (One wonders what investigative journalist Bob Parry, who uncovered much of Iran-Contra and founded this site, would have thought of that last one.)

    Going in Circles

    Hiatt’s circular reasoning is all too familiar. It is the kind a former director of national intelligence excels at when he’s not lying, sometimes under oath. For instance, James Clapper was hawking his memoir at the Carnegie Endowment last year when he was confronted by unexpectedly direct questions from the audience.

    Asked about the misleadingly labeled, rump “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017, which he orchestrated, and which blamed Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, Clapper gavean ipse dixit response: The ICA simply had to be correct because that’s what he had told President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

    In fact, that “Intelligence Community Assessment” stands out as the most irresponsible, evidence-free and at the same time consequential crock of intelligence analysis since the National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 2001 claimed there was WMD in Iraq. Recall that that one was shaped by out-and-out fraudulent intelligence to “justify” an attack on Iraq six months later.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, described the main thrust of the committee’s five-year bipartisan report, stating, “In making the case for war, the [Bush] Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

    Hiatt was one of the media’s major offenders, feeding on what the Cheney/Bush folks told him. When no “weapons of mass destruction” were found in Iraq, Hiatt conceded during an interview withThe Columbia Journalism Review that, “If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction … If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004] As Parry wryly observed at the time in a piece calling for Hiatt’s dismissal, “Yes, that is a common principle of journalism, that if something isn’t real, we’re not supposed to confidently declare that it is.”

    The Morning After

    Clapper: After WMD failure, promoted by Obama.  (White House Photo/ Pete Souza)

    The media set the prevailing tone the day after the ICA was published. The banner headline atop page one of theTimes read: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.” That put in motion more than two years of Dick Cheney-like chicanery in the media.

    Buried inside the Times that same day was a cautionary paragraph written by staff reporter Scott Shane who noted, “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the [three] agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. That is a significant omission.” Indeed it was; and remains so.

    (Sadly, Shane was then given his marching orders and fell in line with many other formerly reputable journalists in what has been the most miserable performance by the mainstream media since they helped pave the way for war on Iraq.)

    Clapper and Hiatt are kindred souls when it comes to the “profound effect” of Russian election interference. In his column, Hiatt asserted as flat fact that: “Trump was elected with the assistance of Russian spies and trolls …” At the Carnegie event in November, Clapper opined:

    “As a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn’t have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election.”

    Hiatt: Captain of Cheerleaders

    Hiatt emulated peppy, preppy cheerleader George W. Bush in leading Americans to believe that war on Iraq was necessary. Appointed Washington Post editorial page editor in 2000, he still runs the page — having not been held accountable for gross misfeasance, if not malfeasance, on Iraq. Shades of Clapper, whom President Obama allowed to stay on as director of national intelligence for three and a half years after Clapper lied under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee about NSA surveillance of U.S. persons.

    That Obama appointed Clapper to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election speaks volumes. Clapper claims to have expertise on Russia and has made no effort to disguise his views on “the Russians.” Two years ago, he told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:

    “… in context with everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the election, and just the historical practices of the Russians, who are typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique … we were concerned.”

    It beggars belief that Obama could have been unaware of Clapper’s bizarre views on “the Russians.” Clearly, Obama was bowing yet again to pressure from powerful Deep State actors arguing that Clapper was the ideal man for the job.

    And there is now documentary evidence that, from the Deep State point of view, indeed he was. In the text exchanges between discredited FBI sleuth Peter Strzok and his girlfriend, Lisa Page, a lawyer working for the FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, it seems clear that Obama wanted to be kept apprised of the FBI’s behind-the-scenes machinations. In a Sept. 2, 2016 text to Strzok, Page writes that she was preparing talking points because the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”

    A Sweaty Pate?

    Clapper is aware now that he is going to have to sweat it out. He may believe he can ignore White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who has said that he and other former intelligence officials should be investigated after special counsel Mueller did not establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    Strzok: Will he be on Nunes’s list? (Wikipedia)

    But recent statements by members of the House and Senate intelligence committees cannot be dismissed so easily. In his media appearances, the supremely confident, hero-of-many-liberals Clapper has been replaced by a squirming (but-Obama-made-me-do-it) massager of facts. He may find it harder this time to avoid being held accountable.

    Devin Nunes (R-CA), the House Intelligence Committee ranking member, has gone on the offensive, writing Friday that committee Republicans “will soon be submitting criminal referrals on numerous individuals involved … in the abuse of intelligence for political purposes. These people must be held to account to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future.”

    On Sunday, Nunes told Fox News he’s preparing to send eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice this week concerning alleged misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation. This will include leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. It’s no-holds-barred for Nunes, who has begun to talk publicly about prison for those whom DOJ might indict and bring to trial.

    Nunes’s full-speed-ahead offensive is being widely ignored in “mainstream” media (with the exception of Fox), giving the media the quality of “The Dog That Did Not Bark in the Night.” The media has put its ducks in a row, such as they are, to try to rip Attorney General William Barr apart this coming week when he releases the redacted text of the Mueller report that so disappointed the Democratic Party/media coalition.

    But how will they cover criminal referrals of the “heroes” who have leaked so much to them, providing grist for their Russia-gate mill? They will likely find a way, eventually, but the media silence about Nunes is depriving oxygen to the story.

    On Sunday, Nunes said,

    “They [the Democrats] have lied multiple times to the American people. All you have to do is look at their phony memos. They have had the full support of the media, 90 percent of the media in this country. They all have egg on their face. And so the fact of the matter remains, is there going to be — is justice going to be served or is justice going to be denied? And that’s why we’re sending over these criminal referrals.”

    Nunes is, of course, trying to project an image of confidence, but he knows he is fighting uphill. There is no more formidable foe than the MICIMATT, with the media playing the crucial role in these circumstances. How will the American people be able to see egg on anyone’s face if the “mainstream media” find ways to wipe it off and turn the tables on Nunes, as they have successfully done in the past?

    Though the Democrats now control the House, they have lost some key inside-the-Deep-State allies.

    By all appearances, House Democrats still seem to be banking on help from the usual suspects still on duty in the FBI, CIA, and the Justice Department. Lacking that they seem ready to go down with the Schiff—Rep. Adam Schiff of California, perhaps the most virulent Russia-gater that there’s been.

    Clapper is no long in position to help from the inside, and there’s no knowing how his sleepy replacement, Dan Coates, will react, if and when he wakes up long enough to learn chapter and verse about the machinations and dramatic personae of 2016.

    Of course, there is a new sheriff in town running the Department of Justice. Attorney General William Barr, for better or ill, is a far cry from Jeff Sessions, who let himself be diddled into recusing himself. He’s not Rod Rosenstein either, whose involvement in this affair may have already earned him a prominent place on Nunes’s list of referrals.

    What Did Obama Know, and When Did He Know It?

    On top of this, Sen. Rand Paul (R, KY) has called for an investigation into the origins of Mueller’s probe, including on the dicey question of how witting President Obama was of the Deep State chicanery during the last months of his administration. Page did tell Strzok in that Sept. 2, 2016 text that the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”

    Sen. Paul has also tweeted information from “a high-level source” that it was former CIA Director John Brennan who “insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report… Brennan should be asked to testify under oath in Congress ASAP.”

    Vying for Media Attention

    If, as expected, Nunes discloses the names of those being criminally referred to DOJ, and Barr releases a redacted text of the Mueller report, the “mainstream” media will have a fresh challenge on their hands. The odds would seem to favor the media covering the Democrats’ predictable criticism of Barr — and perhaps even of Mueller, now that he has been defrocked.

    The Post’s Hiatt should be counted on, as always, to play a leading role.

    At the same time, there are signs the America people are tired of this. It would be difficult though for the media to avoid reporting on criminal referrals of very senior law enforcement and intelligence officials. Given the media’s obvious preference for siding with the intelligence agencies and reporting on Russia-gate rather than Deep-State-gate, it would be even harder for the media to explain why these officials would be in trouble.

    Things appear to be unraveling but, as always, much will depend on whether the media opts to remain the “dog that didn’t bark,” and succeeds again in hoodwinking too many people.

    Published:4/10/2019 11:15:00 PM
    [News] Rep. Meadows: More Criminal Referrals Coming, ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ Shows DOJ, FBI Abuse

    The following article, Rep. Meadows: More Criminal Referrals Coming, ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ Shows DOJ, FBI Abuse, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    Rep. Mark Meadows: More criminal referrals coming, overwhelming evidence of DOJ, FBI abuse to undermine President Trump. Responding to Fox News’ Bartiromo’s tweet that Nunes would be sending eight criminal referrals to DOJ, Meadows wrote, “The right move from @DevinNunes. More criminal referrals to come. And certainly more deserved. Overwhelming evidence shows multiple FBI + ...

    Continue reading: Rep. Meadows: More Criminal Referrals Coming, ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ Shows DOJ, FBI Abuse ...

    Published:4/10/2019 5:13:11 PM
    [News] Rep. Meadows: More Criminal Referrals Coming, ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ Shows DOJ, FBI Abuse

    The following article, Rep. Meadows: More Criminal Referrals Coming, ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ Shows DOJ, FBI Abuse, was first published on Godfather Politics.

    Rep. Mark Meadows: More criminal referrals coming, overwhelming evidence of DOJ, FBI abuse to undermine President Trump. Responding to Fox News’ Bartiromo’s tweet that Nunes would be sending eight criminal referrals to DOJ, Meadows wrote, “The right move from @DevinNunes. More criminal referrals to come. And certainly more deserved. Overwhelming evidence shows multiple FBI + ...

    Continue reading: Rep. Meadows: More Criminal Referrals Coming, ‘Overwhelming Evidence’ Shows DOJ, FBI Abuse ...

    Published:4/10/2019 5:13:11 PM
    [In The News] FBI Charges Michigan Man who Joined ISIS with Additional Weapons and Terror Crimes

    By R. Mitchell -

    A 28-year old man who last resided in Dearborn, Michigan and who was previously indicted in July, 2018, with providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, was today charged with additional offenses of conspiring to provide ...

    FBI Charges Michigan Man who Joined ISIS with Additional Weapons and Terror Crimes is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/10/2019 11:43:03 AM
    [The Blog] Barr on FBI probe of Trump campaign: “I think spying did occur”

    Trump: "Treason."

    The post Barr on FBI probe of Trump campaign: “I think spying did occur” appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/10/2019 11:12:53 AM
    [] AG Barr: "I Think Spying Did Occur" Against Trump Campaign, and I Need to Investigate If It Was Justified or Not Obama, you might have heard, ran a scandal-free administration. Except for the matter of weaponizing the intelligence community and DOJ and FBI to spy on a rival campaign in a move that makes Watergate look like a college lark. Attorney... Published:4/10/2019 11:12:53 AM
    [Deep State] Allegation: Two cabinet members wanted to oust Trump via 25th amendment (Paul Mirengoff) James Baker is the former general counsel of the FBI. Last October, he was interviewed by members of the House about the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and related matters. Rep. Doug Collins has just released a transcript of the interview. Baker testified about the idea of Rod Rosenstein possibly wearing a wire to record President Trump, a matter that has received much attention. In addition, he Published:4/10/2019 12:40:29 AM
    [Markets] Unsuspecting Masturbators Blackmailed For Millions; Porn-Site Hacker Bought Hookers And Rolex With Proceeds

    A UK computer hacker working for a Russian crime group has been jailed for six years and five months for his role in blackmailing unsuspecting would-be masterbators who visited pornography websites, according to the UK's National Crime Agency

    An undisclosed number of victims from over 20 countries were pumped for millions of dollars in the scheme, in which 24-year-old computer scientist Zain Qaiser of Barking in Essex used fraudulent identities and fake companies to buy advertising space on legal porn sites, which were "laced with malicious software." Once a victim's computer was infected, a pop-up message purporting to be law enforcement would accuse people of crimes - which they could rectify by paying a fine.

    Zain Qaiser lived at home with his family

    When users clicked on the ads they were redirected to another website, hosting highly-sophisticated malware strains including the infamous Angler Exploit Kit (AEK) – believed to have been created, managed and marketed by one of Qaiser’s Russian-speaking associates. Users with any vulnerabilities would subsequently be infected with a malicious payload.

    One of those malicious payloads was a piece of software called Reveton – a type of malware that would lock a user’s browser. Once locked, the infected device would display a message purporting to be from a law enforcement or a government agency, which claimed an offence had been committed and the victim had to pay a fine of anything between $300-$1,000 in order to unlock their device. -National Crime Agency

    According to UK authorities, Qaiser spent his more than £700,000 ($912,000 US) share of the ill-gotten-booty on stays in high-end hotes, hookers, gambling, drugs and luxury items - including a £5,000 ($6,500 US) Rolex watch. During one 10-month stretch, Qaiser spent £68,000 ($88,000 US) on gambling in one London casino. 

    Zain Qaiser

    Qaiser was brought down in the "extremely long-running, complex cyber-crime investigation" in which UK investigators worked with agencies in the US, Canada and Europe - while the FBI and US Secret Service arrested others in connection to the global malware campaign. 

    "Zain Qaiser was an integral part of this organised crime group generating millions of pounds in ransom payments by blackmailing countless victims and threatening them with bogus police investigations," reads the report. 

    Qaiser admitted to 11 offenses - including blackmail, fraud, money laundering and computer misuse. He was jailed at Kingston Crown Court. Zain better hope that nobody in prison uses a backdoor exploit to access his mainframe. 

    Published:4/9/2019 10:41:03 PM
    [Markets] Mike Whitney Asks "Will Junta-Mastermind, John Brennan, Ever Face The Music?"

    Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

    The Great Russia Deception all began with John Brennan.

    It was Brennan who reported “contacts… between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign”, just as it was Brennan who first referred the case to former FBI Director James Comey. It was also Brennan who “hand-picked” the analysts who stitched together the dodgy Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) (which said that “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help…Trump’s election chances.”) And it was Brennan who persuaded Harry Reid to petition Comey to open an investigation. At every turn, Brennan was there. He got the ball rolling, he pulled all the right strings, he whipped up a mood of public hysteria, and he excoriated the president at every opportunity. For those who want to know where Russiagate began, look no further than John Brennan.

    Here’s a bit of what Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee during his testimony in 2017:

    “We were uncovering information and intelligence about interactions and contacts between U.S. persons and the Russians. And as we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau.”

    Brennan’s statement clarifies his role in the operation, he was providing the raw intelligence to Comey and Comey was reluctantly following up with surveillance, wiretaps, leaks to the media, and the placing of confidential informants in the Trump campaign. It was a tag-team combo, but Brennan was the primary instigator, there’s no doubt about that.

    And let’s not forget that Comey didn’t really want to participate in Brennan’s hairbrain scheme to smear candidate Trump. At first he balked, which is why Brennan leaned on Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to twist Comey’s arm. Here’s a little background from Tom Fitton at artvoice.com:

    “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid reportedly believed then-Obama CIA Director Brennan was feeding him information about alleged links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in order to make public accusations:

    According to ‘Russian Roulette,’ by Yahoo! News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff and David Corn… Brennan contacted Reid on Aug. 25, 2016, to brief him on the state of Russia’s interference in the presidential campaign. Brennan briefed other members of the so-called Gang of Eight, but Reid is the only who took direct action.

    Two days after the briefing, Reid wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey asserting that ‘evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount.’ Reid called on Comey to investigate the links ‘thoroughly and in a timely fashion.’

    Reid saw Brennan’s outreach as ‘a sign of urgency,’ Isikoff and Corn wrote in the book. ‘Reid also had the impression that Brennan had an ulterior motive. He concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russian operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign.’

    According to the book, Brennan told Reid that the intelligence community had determined that the Russian government was behind the hack and leak of Democratic emails and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind it. Brennan also told Reid that there was evidence that Russian operatives were attempting to tamper with election results. Indeed, on August 27, 2016, Reid wrote a letter to Comey accusing President Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russian government.” (“The John Brennan-Harry Reid Collusion to ‘Get Trump’”, artvoice.com)

    So Brennan fed Reid a load of malarkey and the credulous senator swallowed it hook, line and sinker. It may sound incredible now, given the results of the Mueller report, but that’s what happened. Here’s more of Brennan’s testimony to Congress:

    “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

    Okay, so Brennan says he gathered “information and intelligence that revealed contacts between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign.”

    What information? What intelligence? What officials? Brennan has never identified anyone and never produced a lick of evidence to back up any of his claims, and yet, his testimony was taken as gospel truth. Why? Why would anyone in their right mind trust anything Brennan has to say? Hasn’t Brennan lied to Congress in the past? Didn’t the CIA’s inspector general find that Brennan’s agents “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers”? Hasn’t Brennan defended the use of torture and promoted Obama’s homicidal drone program? Hasn’t Brennan revealed his personal animus and vitriolic hatred for Donald Trump many, many times before. So why would anyone trust what he has to say? It makes no sense. The man has a major credibility problem which is a polite way of saying he’s a serial liar. Here’s more from Brennan:

    “I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

    Got that? So Brennan had zero hard evidence of anything, but he thought that a few scratchy phone intercepts were sufficient for the FBI to hector, harass and spy on the GOP nominee for president of the United States. Can you see how ridiculous this is? No one elected John Brennan to anything, and yet, he arbitrarily decided that he had the right to sex up the intelligence so Comey and Clapper would do his bidding and try to bring down Trump. This is the type of thing you’d expect to see in a police state not America.

    We are told by the Guardian that:

    “GCHQ (British Government Communications Headquarters) played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016. One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”. (Guardian)

    This might be true, but I seriously doubt it. I suspect the Guardian is just covering for Brennan because they know that his ridiculous claims of “contacts between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign” are complete, utter nonsense. There were no contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign because–as the Mueller report states– there was no coordination, no cooperation, and no collusion. In other words, Brennan just made it up to pursue his own personal vendetta against Trump which is what you’d expect from the most partisan CIA chief in history. Here’s more from the same article:

    “The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed.” (Guardian)

    “The extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow”???

    There were no extensive contacts nor were there any illegal, unethical or improper contacts. If there were, AG Barr would have highlighted them in the 4-page Mueller report summary released last weekend. But he didn’t, because they don’t exist. The Democrats are now clinging to the feint hope that their flimsy obstruction case can be pulled from the ash-heap, but that’s not going to happen. It’s impossible to obstruct a case when you already know the case is is a fraud. Trump did not break the law. It’s that simple.

    As for Brennan, well, he was providing classified briefings to ranking members of Congress (expressing his belief that Moscow was helping Trump win the election) as early as August 2016. The date seems particularly relevant given that Trump did not become the GOP’s official presidential nominee until July 21, 2016. Was that just a coincidence or did it suddenly dawn on Brennan that Trump must be a Kremlin mole shortly after he clinched the top spot on the ticket? Funny how that works, isn’t it? Trump nabs the nomination and all of a sudden Brennan shifts into high gear digging up all kinds of fictional intercepts from Estonia and god-knows where else. Is this the looniest story you’ve ever heard or what?

    There’s really no part of Brennan’s implausible storyline that holds water. Even his flagship Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), which was supposed to provide iron-clad proof of Trump’s culpability, fizzled out like a Roman candle in a summer downpour.

    Brennan of course hit all the cable news stations shortly after the ICA was released touting its wishy-washy findings as rock-solid proof of wrongdoing but, strangely enough, the report undermined its own credibility by providing a sweeping disclaimer that cautions readers against drawing any rash conclusions from the analysts observations. Here’s the money-quote from the report:

    “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

    Nice, eh? So, while Brennan continues to insist that the Kremlin meddled in our elections, his own analysts suggest that any such judgements should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Nothing is certain, information is “incomplete or fragmentary”, and the entire report is based on what-amounts-to ‘educated guesswork.’ It’s a wonder why anyone took the report seriously to begin with.

    There’s no way to get around the fact that Brennan was glitzing up the intelligence to persuade Comey into hounding Trump. That’s the bottom line here. The unelected agents in the bureaucracy decided to use their considerable power to try to sabotage the election, prevent the normalisation of relations with Russia, and pave the way for impeachment proceedings. Only they got caught with their pants down, so someone’s going to have to take the fall.

    Who is responsible for placing spies in the Trump campaign? That’s what we want to know.

    Who is Stefan Halper and who did he work for?

    Why did he cozy up to Trump campaign advisers Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos?

    Was it all part of an ‘entrapment’ scheme?

    How many other spies were assigned to the Trump campaign?

    What was their purpose and who did they work for?

    Who signed off on the FISA applications that were improperly obtained?

    How was the Steele dossier used to build the case against Trump?

    Who authorized or participated in the leaks to the media? Who approved the wiretapping of Trump advisors?

    Was Trump wiretapped too?

    What was Obama’s role in all of this? How much did he know and how much did he authorize?

    How has Brennan escaped blame for the political firestorm he started?

    (According to Mother Jones, it was not the FBI that initiated the “Trump-Russia connection”.. but ..”Former CIA Director John Brennan … was the one who got the ball rolling.”)

    The only way the American people are going to find out what really happened is by interrogating the people who know. Putting John Brennan in the docket would be a good place to start.

    Published:4/9/2019 10:09:12 PM
    [The Blog] AG Barr will review FBI’s actions in 2016 Trump probe

    "It’s what we’ve been calling for."

    The post AG Barr will review FBI’s actions in 2016 Trump probe appeared first on Hot Air.

    Published:4/9/2019 8:39:42 PM
    [Markets] Reckoning With Failure In The War On Terror

    Authored by Chris Hedges via TruthDig.com,

    Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, as Max Blumenthal points out in his insightful book “The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump,” was made possible not only by massive social inequality and concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of the oligarchic elites but by the national security state’s disastrous and prolonged military interventions overseas.

    From the CIA’s funneling of over a billion dollars to Islamic militants in the 1970s war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union to the billion dollars spent on training and equipping the radical jihadists currently fighting in Syria, the United States has repeatedly empowered extremists who have filled the vacuums of failed states it created. The extremists have turned with a vengeance on their sponsors. Washington’s fueling of these conflicts was directly responsible for the rise of figures such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden and ultimately laid the groundwork for the 9/11 attacks. It also spawned the rabid Islamophobia in Europe and the United States that defines Trump’s racist worldview and has been successfully used to justify the eradication of basic civil liberties and democratic rights.

    The misguided interventions by the national security apparatus have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, over 5 million desperate refugees fleeing to Europe, the destruction of entire cities, the squandering of some $5 trillion of U.S. taxpayer money, rampant corruption and criminality. The mandarins of national security, rather than blunt the rise of radical jihadism, have ensured its spread across the globe. The architects of this imperial folly have a symbiotic relationship with those they profess to hate. The two radical extremes—the interventionists in the national security apparatus and the radical jihadists—play off of each other to countenance ever-greater acts of savagery. The more perfidious your enemy, the more your own extremism is justified. We are locked in a macabre dance with the killers we created and empowered, matching war crime for war crime, torture for torture and murder for murder. This unrestrained violence has a dark momentum that escapes management and control. It exacerbates the very insecurity it claims to be attempting to eliminate by constantly creating legions of new enemies.

    “Drone strikes take out a few bad guys to be sure, but they also kill a large number of innocent civilians,” Nabeel Khoury, a former U.S. deputy chief of mission in Yemen, argues. “Given Yemen’s tribal structure, the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] operative killed by drones.”

    The binary view of the world imagined by right-wing ideologues such as Richard Pipes during the Cold War, defined as a battle to the death against godless communism, has been reimagined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American neocons such as Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Fred FleitzRobert Kagan, Steve Bannon, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and leaders of the Christian right including Gary Bauer and William Bennett to become a battle to the death between the “barbarity” of Islam and the “civilized” ethic of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a rebranding of the Cold War, so useful to the retrograde forces of capitalism in crushing popular dissent and so profitable to the arms industry. Its most prominent voices are a bizarre collection of neofascist ideologues and quack conspiracy theorists such as Bannon, Sean Hannity, Stephen Miller and Pam Geller, who claims that Barack Obama is the love child of Malcolm X.

    This ideology, like the ideology of anti-communism, erases not only history but context. Those who oppose us are removed from the realm of the rational. They are seen as incomprehensible. Their hate has no justification. They are human embodiments of evil that must be eradicated. They despise us for our “values” or because they are driven by a perverted form of Islam. The failure, as Blumenthal writes, to place these conflicts in context, to examine our own complicity in fueling a justifiable anger, even rage, dooms us to perpetual misunderstanding and perpetual warfare. Our response is to employ greater and greater levels of violence that only expand the extremism at home and abroad. This demented project, as Blumenthal writes, collapses “the fragile space where multi-confessional societies survive.” It bifurcates political space into competing forms of extremism between the jihadists and the counter-jihadists. It creates a strange and even comforting “mutually reinforcing symbiosis” that depends “on a constantly escalating sense of antagonism.”

    The methods used on a wary public by the national security state, especially the FBI and the intelligence agencies, to justify and advance these wars are increasingly unsavory. Muslims, many suffering from emotional and mental disabilities, are baited by law enforcement into “terrorist” plots that few of them could have conceived or organized on their own. The highly publicized arrests and quashing of these nascent “terrorist plots” exaggerate the presence of radical jihadists within the country. They keep fear at a fever pitch among the U.S. population. Trevor Aaronson, the author of “Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terror,” found that nearly half of all terror prosecutions between Sept. 11, 2001, and 2010 involved informants, including some with criminal backgrounds who were paid as much as $100,000 by the FBI. Aaronson noted that during the last year of the George W. Bush administration the government did not prosecute anyone arrested in a terrorist “sting.” But such stings exploded under Barack Obama, a tactic that Blumenthal writes was “designed to cast his administration as just as tough on terror as any Republican”—the Obama administration “announced an arrest resulting from a terrorism sting every sixty days.” This suggested, Aaronson writes, “that there are a lot of ineffective terrorists in the United States, or that the FBI has become effective at creating the very enemy it is hunting.”

    The longer and more confusing the “war on terror” becomes, nearly two decades on, the more irrational our national discourse becomes. The paranoid and racist narratives of the far right have poisoned the mainstream dialogue. These racist tropes are repeated by the White House, members of Congress and the press.

    “Islamophobia had become the language of a wounded empire, the guttural roar of its malevolent violence turned back from the sands of Iraq and the mountain passes of Afghanistan, and leveled against the mosque down the turnpike, the hijabi in the checkout line, the Sikh behind the cash register—the neighbors who looked like The Enemy,” Blumenthal writes.

    Far-right parties are riding this rampant Islamophobia, fueled by the catastrophic failures in the Middle East, to power in Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Sweden, Poland and Hungary. This toxic hatred is also a central theme of the Trump administration, which demonizes Muslims, especially Muslim refugees, and seeks to bar them from entering the United States.

    The arrival of millions of Muslim refugees in Europe from states such as Libya, Syria (which alone has produced a million refugees in Europe), Iraq and Afghanistan has dramatically bolstered the appeal of European neofascists. Nearly 73 percent of Britons who voted for their nation to leave the European Union cited the arrival of immigrants as their most important reason for supporting the referendum.

    The radical jihadists have long expressed a desire to extinguish democratic space in the West. They are aware that the curtailment of civil liberties, evisceration of democratic institutions, especially the judicial system, and overt hatred of Muslims push Muslims in the West into their arms. Such conditions also increase the military blunders of the United States and its allies abroad, providing jihadists with a steady supply of new recruits and failed states from which they can operate. The jihadist strategy is working. In the year before the 2016 presidential election, violence against Muslims in the United States soared, including shootings and arson attacks on mosques. Public disapproval of Muslims, according to opinion polls, is at a record high.

    The Democratic Party, signing on to the forever crusade by the national security state in the name of humanitarian intervention, is as complicit. The Obama administration not only accelerated the sting operations in the United States against supposed terrorists but, in its foreign operations, increased the use of militarized drones, sent more troops to Afghanistan and foolishly toppled the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, creating yet another failed state and safe haven for jihadists.

    The radical jihadists, in an irony not lost on Blumenthal, are often deliberately armed and empowered by the U.S. national security apparatus, along with Israel, as a way to pressure or remove regimes deemed antagonistic to Israel and the United States. Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, in audio leaked from a closed meeting with Syrian opposition activists, admitted that the U.S. had used Islamic State as a tool for pressuring the Syrian government. He also acknowledged that Washington’s complicity in the growth of IS in Syria was the major cause for Russian intervention there.

    In a 2016 op-ed titled “The Destruction of Islamic State Is a Strategic Mistake,” Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, argued that “[t]he West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction.” He said the West should exploit IS as a “useful tool” in the fight against Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah. “A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS,” Inbar concluded. He went on to argue for prolonging the conflict in Syria, saying that extended sectarian bloodshed would produce “positive change.”

    Earlier in 2016, Israel’s former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had said similarly, “In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State.”

    Israel seeks to create buffer zones between itself and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It sees its neighbor Syria, because of its alliance with Iran, as a mortal enemy. The solution has been to cripple these traditional enemies by temporarily empowering radical Sunni jihadists and al-Qaida. There are numerous reports of Israel, along with the United States, using its aircraft and military in Syria to aid the very jihadists Washington and Jerusalem claim to want to wipe from the face of the earth.

    This intractable morass, Blumenthal argues, led directly to the demonization of Russia. Trump’s anti-interventionist rhetoric, however disingenuous, triggered what Blumenthal calls “a wild hysteria” among the foreign policy elites. Trump calls the invasion of Iraq a mistake. He questions the arming of Syrian jihadists and deployment of U.S. forces in Syria. He is critical of NATO. At the same time, he has called for better relations with Russia.

    “Joining with the dead-enders of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, who were desperate to deflect from their crushing loss, the mandarins of the national security state worked their media contacts to generate the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion,” Blumenthal writes.

    “Out of the postelection despair of liberals and national security elites, the furor of Russiagate was born. This national outrage substituted Russia for ISIS as the country’s new folk devil and painted Trump as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate.”

    “Almost overnight, hundreds of thousands of liberals were showing up at postelection rallies with placards depicting Trump in Russian garb and surrounded by Soviet hammer-and-sickle symbols,” Blumenthal writes.

    The FBI and the intelligence community, organizations that have long spied upon and harassed the left and often liberals, became folk heroes. NATO, which was the instrument used to destabilize the Middle East and heighten tensions with Russia because of its expansion in Eastern Europe, became sacrosanct.

    “In its obsession with Moscow’s supposed meddling, the Democratic Party elite eagerly rehabilitated the Bush-era neoconservatives, welcoming PNAC [Project for the New American Century] founder William Kristol and ‘axis of evil’ author David Frum into the ranks of the so-called ‘resistance,’ ” Blumenthal writes. “The Center for American Progress, the semiofficial think tank of the Democratic Party, consolidated the liberal-neocon alliance by forging a formal working partnership with the American Enterprise Institute, the nest of the Iraq war neocons, to ‘stand up to Russia.’ ”

    Those in the alternative media who question the Russia narrative and chronical the imperial disasters are in this new version of the Cold War branded as agents of a foreign power and hit with algorithms from Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to deflect viewers from reading or listening to their critiques. Politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who push back against the war lust are smeared with the same nefarious charge. It is, as Blumenthal writes, a desperate bid by the war industry and the interventionists to mask the greatest strategic blunder in American history, one that signals the end of American hegemony.

    “In the face of their own failure, America’s national security elites had successfully engineered a new Cold War, wagering that the reignited conflict would preserve their management of savagery abroad and postpone the terrible reckoning they deserved at home,” Blumenthal concludes.

    The corporate state, its legitimacy in tatters, seeks to make us afraid in order to maintain its control over the economic, political and military institutions. It needs mortal enemies, manufactured or real, at home or abroad, to justify its existence and mask its mismanagement and corruption. This narrative of fear is what Antonio Gramsci called a “legitimation doctrine.” It is not about making us safe—indeed the policies the state pursues make us less secure—but about getting us to surrender to the will of the elites. The more inequality and injustice grow, the more the legitimation doctrine will be used to keep us cowed and compliant. The doctrine means that the enemies of the United States will never be destroyed, but will mutate and expand; they are too useful to be allowed to disappear. It means that the primary language of the state will be fear. The longer the national security state plays this game, the more a fascist America is assured.

    Published:4/9/2019 8:09:21 PM
    [Markets] Barr Forms Team To Investigate FBI Malfeasance During 2016 Election

    Attorney General William Barr has assembled an internal team at the Justice Department to review controversial counterintelligence decisions made by DOJ and FBI officials - including actions taken in the summer of 2016, according to Bloomberg, which cites a person familiar with the matter. 

    This indicates that Barr is looking into allegations that Republican lawmakers have been pursuing for more than a year -- that the investigation into President Donald Trump and possible collusion with Russia was tainted at the start by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department -Bloomberg

    Barr seemingly confirmed the Bloomberg report earlier Tuesday, when he told a House panel "I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.

    For starters, Barr's team may want to investigate exactly how information flowed from a self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation - Joseph Mifsud - who told Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in March of 2016 that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. 

    Papadopoulos would later tell Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about the so-called Clinton dirt, which resulted in the launch of "operation crossfire hurricane," the code name for the FBI's counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign. 

    In September 2016, the FBI would send spy Stefan Halper to further probe Papadopoulos on the Clinton email allegation, and - according to an interview with pundit Dan Bongino, Papadopoulos says Halper angrily accused him of working with Russia before storming out of a meeting. 

    Of note, Halper was hired by the Defense Department's Office of Net Assessment for $244,960.00 on September 15, 2015. Overall, the Obama DoD paid Halper more than $1 million starting in 2012. 

    Then of course there's the purported FISA abuse that the FBI committed when it used a salacious and unverified dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. According to senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer, there was a "50/50" chance that the FISA warrant would have been issued without the Clinton-funded anti-Trump opposition research. 

    While Barr's internal team is separate from a long-running investigation by the DOJ's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, it falls short of appointing a special counsel to investigate the Obama DOJ and its many holdovers. Horowitz's inquiry is expected to be done by May or June, according to Barr's Tuesday testimony. 

    Barr is also looking into a criminal investigation launched against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 for misleading lawmakers about his contacts with Russians during his time as a senator advising the Trump campaign. It was eventually closed without charges. 

    "That’s great news he’s looking into how this whole thing started back in 2016," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) - the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. "That’s something that has been really important to us. It’s what we’ve been calling for."

    Before the GOP lost control of the House, Jordan and California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes were aggressively pursuing how the FBI and DOJ harbored animus and bias against Donald Trump, and showed favoritism towards Hillary Clinton. The pair interviewed over 40 witnesses, held hearings, and demanded that the Justice Department hand over hundreds of thousands of documents related to the 2016 election. 

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a March 28 interview with Fox News "Once we put the Mueller report to bed, once Barr comes to the committee and takes questions about his findings and his actions, and we get to see the Mueller report, consistent with law, then we are going to turn to finding out how this got off the rails."

    Indeed.

    Published:4/9/2019 7:09:55 PM
    [In The News] Here Is When The FISA Abuse Investigation Will Be Done

    By Chuck Ross -

    Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that an inspector general’s investigation into whether the FBI abused the surveillance court process during the Russia probe will be completed by May or June. Barr also told lawmakers during a House Appropriations Committee hearing that he is reviewing how the FBI handled the ...

    Here Is When The FISA Abuse Investigation Will Be Done is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

    Published:4/9/2019 12:11:20 PM
    [Markets] Designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards As Terrorists Will Have Consequences For America

    Authored by James Durso, op-ed via The Hill,

    America’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group is an example of taking a good idea — sanctioning Iranian entities for malign behavior — one step too far.

    A former State Department counterterrorism official said of the designation, “The future ramifications of this decision will be profound.” He’s right about that, but “profound” may cut both ways.

    In 2007, the U.S. designated the Guard’s overseas operations arm, the Quds Force, for support of terrorist organizations, so the new sanctions will hit the parent organization which is already under sanctions for ballistic missile development and supporting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.

    An Iranian lawmaker responded to the news by saying Iran would regard the U.S. military as no different than the Islamic State, echoing the 2017 statement by the commander of the Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, that the Guards would “consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.”

    The Department of Defense (DOD) and the CIA reportedly opposed the move, and no wonder: Officials at the National Security Council and the Treasury Department are safe in Washington, D.C., State Department officers in Baghdad labor under restrictive security rules which limit their movements, which leaves the U.S. military and CIA officers exposed.

    DOD has opposed this idea for a long time. When it was considered in 2007, the representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told his civilian counterparts, “The United States has always carefully avoided declaring military officers engaged in activities sanctioned by their governments as terrorists to avoid the same being done to us.” It could be applied to American special forces officers, who frequently operate clandestinely and have provided military assistance and training to insurgents.

    Encounters between the American and Iranian military and security services can go one of three ways:

    • Proxy war: Iraqi militias supported by Iran killed at least 608 American servicemen.

    • Let’s-get-this-over-with: Iran quickly released the U.S. Navy crews who were captured by the IRGC Navy when they wandered into Iranian waters in early 2016.

    • The Beirut option: In the 1980s, the CIA’s Beirut station chief William Buckley and U.S. Marine colonel William Higgins were kidnapped by Iran’s Lebanese Hezbollah allies and died under interrogation. Former FBI agent - and CIA contractor - Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran in 2007, and the FBI, then led by Robert Mueller, was reduced to asking Vladimir Putin’s most loyal oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, to fund his (unsuccessful) rescue.

    And the designation won’t just discomfit Americans; Iraqi officials regularly encounter Guards officers whether they want to or not. Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani regularly visits Iraq, and the last three Iranian ambassadors to Baghdad have been Quds Force officers, so Iraqi officials can expect to be put on notice by the Americans to avoid “terrorists.” Iran is active economically in Iraq, so the designation may be bad for Iraq’s economy. One near-term effect may be to scuttle an effort to import electricity from Iran, badly needed as the country still suffers from power shortages.

    America’s timing is bad, as Iran’s “resistance economy” is dragging, and the government has been criticized for its lackluster response to the recent widespread, deadly flooding. These sanctions will just give the mullahs an excuse for their economic mismanagement.

    Given the Guard’s penetration of Iran’s economy, new sanctions might enrich it even more. If the economy becomes radioactive to outside investors because the due diligence is too hard, the IRGC could buy the remaining assets at cut-rate prices. If, in the future, the Guard is neutered and sanctions are relaxed, unwinding the sanctioned businesses will take years and will require the approval of the U.S., which will move at the speed of government. This will hobble the post-mullah regime which will be under pressure to improve the lives of newly-free Iranians.

    The current U.S. practice of targeting specific people and economic entities for sanctions allows the U.S. to fine-tune its actions and tells the Iranians the U.S. knows who is doing what. Given the Guards economic ubiquity, the terrorist designation is a blanket sanction with unknown consequences, though one might be increased power for the Guards.

    The last time a military formation of a sovereign state was declared a criminal organization was when Nazi Germany’s Waffen-SS was condemned for its involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Designating the IRGC a terrorist entity may sound great after that third beer, but is IRGC commander Major General Jafari as bad as Himmler? No.

    Terrorism sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards promise something for everyone, all of it bad: More American hostages, and more money for the Guards. The Americans should ignore the bright, shiny object of terrorism sanctions and remember firm, consistent pressure is the way to win the contest with Iran.

    Published:4/8/2019 11:34:15 PM
    [Media] UNREAL: Sean Davis’ thread on information FBI/DOJ might’ve used in its FISA application against Carter Page is INFURIATING

    What a tangled web we weave … yadda yadda yadda. As Democrats in Congress continue to throw temper tantrums about the Mueller report, acting as if Barr is holding off on releasing it because of a cover-up instead of legal requirements, bits and pieces of what happened with the ‘Deep State’ are starting to come out […]

    The post UNREAL: Sean Davis’ thread on information FBI/DOJ might’ve used in its FISA application against Carter Page is INFURIATING appeared first on twitchy.com.

    Published:4/8/2019 12:01:21 PM
    [Markets] Russiagate: A Moral Reckoning Is Due

    Authored by Renee Parsons via Off-Guardian.org,

    With Russiagate, the Democrats created some powerful karma to answer for; especially for the likes of Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), both of whom persist in the mindless search for the Holy Grail.

    After cheating Bernie out of the nomination in 2016, the Dems had not yet learned their karmic lesson when they lost the Presidential election. The Mueller Report is but the latest of that karmic reckoning.

    There is no pride in being one of those who “got it right” that there was no evidence, not a scintilla of material fact to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the dastardly Russians. As the country has been torn asunder by a two year politically tainted investigation begun with no evidentiary standard and no probable cause, there is little satisfaction to be gained.

    That being said, I am royally pissed off at all the players who supported this unprecedented farce as an attack on the country’s rule of law. How could the autocratic digital giants, the intel community (which missed 911), the already discredited MSM and the pathetically trivial Democratic party think they could get away with lie after lie? Because they counted on the Democratic rank n file and other hypnotized Americans to believe anything they are told – repeat a lie often enough and the masses will own it.

    The determination of no new indictments and no collusion is little cause for celebration in that the country should not have had to endure the extended anguish of an insistent, irrational, near-hysterical drumbeat generated by the MSM and Democrats as co-conspirators. It is fair to say that all participants were consciously aware that they were repeatedly lying to the American public just as it is highly probable that Special Counsel Robert Mueller who was appointed in May, 2017 knew well before the 2018 mid-term elections that allegations of collusion and obstruction were unsubstantiated.

    Now that the Report into the Investigation on Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election has been delivered, all can rest assured that the American system of government works, that the checks and balances did their job and that American democracy survived another close call.

    As a result of the hyperventilating hubris, the word ‘collusion’ has now become an empowered part of the lexicon. There is now an implicit warning for any candidate, or indeed any citizen, to be wary with whom they speak, be wary of their associations, to not fraternize with just anyone and to be ultra sensitized to meeting with any potential adversary, even in the legitimate interests of diplomacy.

    In addition, without the political will to do so, there will be little initiative for PTB (powers that be) to undo the new generation of intense political repression and censorship initiated by Russiagate that can be traced directly to HRC’s loss in 2016.

    Two weeks after that election, the Washington Post, long believed to be a CIA asset, combined allegations that Russia exploited American online platforms “critical of the US government” with the now discredited creation of ‘fake news’ that 200 American websites were “peddlers of Russian propaganda.”

    As Attorney General William Barr quotes from the Mueller Report:

    The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors had successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations and publicly dessiminated those materials throughout various intermediaries including Wikileaks.”

    This statement is in direct contradiction with Bill Binney, former NSA Technical Director for Analysis and co-founder of NSA’s Signal Intel Center who conducted independent forensic research. Binney concluded that the data was ‘leaked by a person with physical access to the DNC computer” and that the “DNC data was downloaded to a storage device and transported to Wikileaks, like on a thumb drive or cd rom.”

    While neither Mueller, any Congressional committee nor the FBI ever contacted Binney regarding his findings, the DNC refused to turn over their computer to the FBI for forensic testing. After the full Mueller report is publicly available, Binney’s feedback promises to be enlightening.

    As some Democrats and MSM continue to spin the illusion of a pending obstruction of justice charge, Barr’s letter relying on the Mueller Report is clear – the “Report identifies no actions that constitute obstructive conduct” and that ‘evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime,” therefore, there is no proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that obstruction occurred. Legalese 101 says that obstruction cannot be alleged if no crime was committed but when did proof or evidence ever make a difference to the co-conspirators. Review of the Mueller Report itself will provide further details.

    It was the unverified Steele dossier that provided the FBI with the basis for its submission to the FISA Court that Russian collusion had occurred and in order to obtain the necessary warrants (four of them) to spy on the Trump campaign; specifically US Naval Academy graduate, the hapless Carter Page. Prior to its FISA Court submission, the FBI knew that the Dossier was a bogus document. We know that the HRC campaign and the DNC funded Fusion GPS firm to get the dirt on Trump. Fusion then brought in Christopher Steele who put together a salacious piece of garbage that the FBI took and ran with.

    The dossier was then circulated by Obama CIA Director John Brennan and publicly released by BuzzFeed and CNN in January, 2017. Former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper provided ‘inconsistent information’ to the House Intelligence Committee that he “flatly denied” any media discussions regarding the dossier and then “subsequently acknowledged discussing the dossier with CNN’s Jake Tapper” and perhaps others.

    CNN (Tapper, Carl Bernstein, Evan Perez and Jim Sciutto) went on to win White House Correspondents Association’s 2018 Merriman Smith Award for outstanding reporting with the Judges noting that the “depth of reporting demonstrated in these remarkable and important pieces, and the constant updates as new information continued to be uncovered showed breaking news reporting at its best.” The WHCA gathers annually to “celebrate the First Amendment and the crucial role of journalism in informing and protecting the public.”BuzzFeed, which broke the original story, did not share in the $2500 award.

    In reality, the award apparently struck other WHCA members as unusual, considering the entire story took little actual reporting and instead relied on leaks from Brennan and Clapper.

    There should be enough shame to go around but there appears to be no evidence of a conscience or the need to pay a karmic debt among any of the perpetrators.

    In the aftermath of Mueller, Judicial Watch has filed an FOIA suit to obtain the records of communication between Brennen, Clapper and CNN including all documents related to the dossier.

    In a September, 2016 text message from FBI attorney Lisa Page to Peter Strock, she relates the preparation of talking points to brief FBI Director Jim Comey on the efforts to bring down Trump. In that same message, Page adds that “POTUS wants to know everything we are doing.”

    The question arises whether the usual mealy-mouth Republican establishment and a previously compromised FISA Court will step up and better protect the Constitution than they have in the past?

    Published:4/7/2019 11:26:46 PM
    [Markets] Muellergate & The Discreet Lies Of The Bourgeoisie

    Via CraigMurray.co.uk,

    This cartoon seems to me very apposite...

    The capacity of the mainstream media repeatedly to promote the myth that Russia caused Clinton’s defeat, while never mentioning what the information was that had been so damaging to Hillary, should be alarming to anybody under the illusion that we have a working “free media”.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of mainstream media articles and broadcasts, from every single one of the very biggest names in the Western media, which were predicated on the complete nonsense that Russia had conspired to install Donald Trump as President of the United States.

    I genuinely have never quite understood whether the journalists who wrote this guff believed it, whether they were cynically pumping out propaganda and taking their pay cheque, or whether they just did their “job” and chose to avoid asking themselves whether they were producing truth or lies.

    I suspect the answer varies from journalist to journalist. At the Guardian, for example, I get the impression that Carole Cadwalladr is sufficiently divorced from reality to believe all that she writes. Having done a very good job in investigating the nasty right wing British Establishment tool that was Cambridge Analytica, Cadwalladr became deluded by her own fame and self-importance and decided that her discovery was the key to understanding all of world politics. In her head it explained all the disappointments of Clintonites and Blairites everywhere. She is not so high-minded however as to have refused the blandishments of the Integrity Initiative.

    Luke Harding is in a different category. Harding has become so malleable a tool of the security services it is impossible to believe he is not willingly being used. It would be embarrassing to have written a bestseller called “Collusion”, the entire premiss for which has now been disproven, had Harding not made so much money out of it.

    Harding’s interview with Aaron Mate of The Real News was a truly enlightening moment. The august elite of the mainstream media virtually never meet anybody who subjects their narrative to critical intellectual scrutiny. Harding’s utter inability to deal with unanticipated scepticism descends from hilarious to toe-curlingly embarrassing.

    In general, since the Mueller report confirmed that $50 million worth of investigation had been unable to uncover any evidence of Russiagate collusion, the media has been astonishingly unrepentant about the absolute rubbish they have been churning out for years.

    Harding and the Guardian’s story about Manafort repeatedly calling on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy is one of the most blatant and malicious fabrications in modern media history. It has been widely ridiculed, no evidence of any kind has ever been produced to substantiate it, and the story has been repeatedly edited on the Guardian website to introduce further qualifications and acknowledgements of dubious attribution, not present as originally published. But still neither Editor Katherine Viner nor author Luke Harding has either retracted or apologised, something which calls the fundamental honesty of both into question.

    Manafort is now in prison, because as with many others interviewed, the Mueller investigation found he had been involved in several incidences of wrongdoing. Right up until Mueller finalised his report, media articles and broadcasts repeatedly, again and again and again every single day, presented these convictions as proving that there had been collusion with Russia. The media very seldom pointed out that none of the convictions related to collusion. In fact for the most part they related to totally extraneous events, like unrelated tax frauds or Trump’s hush-money to (very All-American) prostitutes. The “Russians” that Manafort was convicted of lobbying for without declaration, were Ukrainian and the offences occurred ten years ago and had no connection to Trump of any kind. Rather similarly the lies of which Roger Stone stands accused relate to his invention, for personal gain, of a non-existent relationship with Wikileaks.

    The truth is that, if proper and detailed investigation were done into any group of wealthy politicos in Washington, numerous crimes would be uncovered, especially in the fields of tax and lobbying. Rich political operatives are very sleazy. This is hardly news, and if those around Clinton had been investigated there would be just as many convictions and of similar kinds. it is a pity there is not more of this type of work, all the time. But the Russophobic motive behind the Mueller Inquiry was not forwarded by any of the evidence obtained.

    My analysis of the Steele dossier, written before I was aware that Sergei Skripal probably had a hand in it, has stood the test of time very well. It is a confection of fantasy concocted for money by a charlatan.

    We should not forget at this stage to mention the unfortunate political prisoner Maria Butina, whose offence is to be Russian and very marginally involved in American politics at the moment when there was a massive witchhunt for Russian spies in progress, that makes The Crucible look like a study in calm rationality. Ms Butina was attempting to make her way in the US political world, no doubt, and she had at least one patron in Moscow who was assisting her with a view to increasing their own political influence. But nothing Butina did was covert or sinister. Her efforts to win favour within the NRA were notable chiefly because of the irony that the NRA has been historically responsible for many more American deaths than Russia.

    Any narrative of which the Establishment does not approve is decried as conspiracy theory. Yet the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory – which truly is Fake News – has been promoted massively by the entire weight of western corporate and state media. “Russiagate”, a breathtaking plot in which Russia and a high profile US TV personality collude together to take control of the most militarily powerful country in the world, knocks “The Manchurian Candidate” into a cocked hat. A Google “news search” restricts results to mainstream media outlets. Such a search for the term “Russiagate” brings 230,000 results. That is almost a quarter of a million incidents of the mainstream media not only reporting the fake “Russiagate” story, but specifically using that term to describe it.

    Compare that with a story which is not an outlandish fake conspiracy theory, but a very real conspiracy.

    If, by contrast, you do a Google “news search” for the term “Integrity Initiative”, the UK government’s covert multi million pound programme to pay senior mainstream media journalists to pump out anti-Russian propaganda worldwide, you only get one eighth of the results you get for “Russiagate”. Because the mainstream media have been enthusiastically promoting the fake conspiracy story, and deliberately suppressing the very real conspiracy in which many of their own luminaries are personally implicated.

    Furthermore – and this is a truly tremendous irony, which relates back to the cartoon at the start – only two of the top ten news results for “Integrity Initiative” come from the Western corporate media.

    And this next fact comes nearly into the “too good to be true” category for my argument. Those two MSM mentions, from Sky News and the Guardian, do not complain of the covert anti-Russian propaganda campaign that is the Integrity Initiative. They rather complain that it was an alleged “Russian hack” that made the wrongdoing public!! You could not make it up, you really could not.

    According to the mainstream media, it is not Hillary Clinton’s fault for conspiring with the DNC to cheat Bernie out of the nomination, it is Russia’s fault for allegedly helping to reveal it. It is not the British government’s, or their media collaborators’, fault for running a covert propaganda scheme to dupe the public of the UK and many other countries, it is the Russians’ fault for allegedly helping to reveal it!

    Which brings us full circle to the DNC leak that sparked Muellergate and the claims that it was the Russians who lost Hillary the election. Robert Mueller repeats the assertion from the US security services that it was Russian hackers who obtained the DNC emails and passed them on to Wikileaks. I am telling you from my personal knowledge that this is not true.

    Neither Mueller’s team, not the FBI, nor the NSA, nor any US Intelligence agency, has ever carried out any forensic analysis on the DNC’s servers. The DNC consistently refused to make them available. The allegation against Russia is based purely on information from the DNC’s own consultants, Crowdstrike.

    William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA (America’s US$40 billion a year communications intercept organisation), has proven beyond argument that it is a technical impossibility for the DNC emails to have been transmitted by an external hack – they were rather downloaded locally, probably on to a memory stick. Binney’s analysis is fully endorsed by former NSA systems expert Ed Loomis. There simply are no two people on the planet more technically qualified to make this judgement. Yet, astonishingly, Mueller refused to call Binney or Loomis (or me) to testify. Compare this, for example, with his calling to testify my friend Randy Credico, who had no involvement whatsoever in the matter, but Mueller’s team hoped to finger as a Trump/Assange link.

    Randy Emerges From His Evidence Session Displaying A Great Taste in Reading Material

    The DNC servers have never been examined by intelligence agencies, law enforcement or by Mueller’s team. Binney and Loomis have written that it is impossible this was an external hack. Wikileaks have consistently stressed no state actor was involved. No evidence whatsoever has been produced of the transfer of the material from the “Russians” to Wikileaks. Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA documents shows that the planting of false Russian hacking “fingerprints” is an established CIA practice. Yet none of this is reflected at all by Mueller nor by the mainstream media.

    “Collusion” may be dead, but the “Russiagate” false narrative limps on.

    I should add it seems to me very probable Russia did make some efforts to influence the US election. I worked a a British diplomat for 20 years and spent a lot of time trying to influence political outcomes in the country in which I was posted, in Eastern Europe and in Africa. It is part of the geopolitical game. The United States is of course the world leader by a long way in attempting to influence elections abroad, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to that effect in countries including Ukraine, Georgia, Ecuador and Venezuela recently, and pretty well everywhere in Africa. It is a part of normal diplomatic life.

    Mueller uncovered some high level influence-broking meetings. This is what states do. He uncovered some sleazy deals. This is what rich people do. He uncovered some US $110,000 of Facebook ad spending from Russia targeted on the USA, some of which promoted sex toys, some of which was post-election, but some of which was apparently trying to assist Trump against Clinton. Compared to the amount the USA pumps into similar arms length assistance to Putin opponents in Russia alone, it was negligible. That this tiny bit of Facebook advertising crucially impacted the US $13,000,000,000 PR campaigns of the candidates is a ludicrous proposition.

    That every country stay out of every other country’s politics is arguably desirable. It is not however the status quo, and the United States is in the worst position of all to complain.

    * * *

    Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, Craig Murray's blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the articles, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

    Published:4/6/2019 6:18:22 PM
    [Markets] "It's Not The Economy, Stupid... It's The State!"

    Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The American Institute for Economic Research,

    The number one problem of all public debate about politics and economics is the failure to name the state. If this would change, so would public opinion.

    There is no shortage of examples. People talk about health care for all, solving climate change, providing security in old age, universal educational access, boosting wages, ending discrimination, and you can add to the list without end.

    That’s one side.

    The other speaks of national identity, protecting jobs, making us more moral, forming cultural cohesion, providing security against the foreign enemy, and so on.

    Obfuscation

    All of this, no matter how fancy the language, is obfuscation. What all of this really means is: put the state in charge. What’s strange is the unwillingness to say it outright. This is for a reason. The plans the politicians have for our lives would come across as far less compelling if they admitted the following brutal truth.

    There really are only two ways to allocate goods and services in society: the markets (which rely on individual choice) and the state (which runs on compulsion). No one has ever found a third way. You can mix the two — some markets and some state-run operations — but there always is and always will be a toggling between the two. If you replace markets, the result will be more force via the state, which means bureaucratic administration and rule by force. If you reduce the role of the state, you rely more on markets. This is the logic of political choice, and there is no escaping it.

    The above paragraph is the great truth of political economy. I’ve never seen any evidence to dispute it. And yet it is the great unsayable truth. Seasons of political rhetoric fly by with no frank discussion of what precisely this or that proposal would require of the state and how that will affect our lives, much less a serious analysis of the risks of making a problem worse by replacing market forces.

    Diversity in Markets

    To be sure, when I say markets, I don’t only mean the money-exchange economy in which prices and accounting govern choices. Markets include philanthropy, familial organization, houses of religion, volunteering to work without pay, and everything else in the social order that relies on human volition. There are infinite varieties in the way markets instantiate themselves in human lives. The variations are contingent on culture, norms, traditions, and so on. There can be more or less voluntary ways the market expresses itself just like there can be more or less coercive forms of statism.

    But let us not deny that the choice is real. If this is correct, it is strange how much people complain about markets and how little the only alternative is discussed, studied, evaluated, and finally judged. This is because the statist means will also come up short.

    Depending on the state to deliver some social good depends on using the threat of violence to compel people to do what they otherwise would not choose to do. There is also no clean path to doing so; the bureaucracy always ends up as the everyday mediator between the individual and the point of a gun.

    You Don’t Like Government

    The reason we hear so little frank talk on this subject is that hardly anyone has ever really enjoyed their dealings with a state bureaucracy when it is imposed upon them. You think that the local DMV experience is subpar; wait until you face your first federal audit or FBI investigation, or seek benefits from some agency. Or perhaps you have a relative who is mixed up in the criminal-justice system. Whatever it is, no experience in the private sector can compare.

    It means unpredictable wait times. You aren’t really a customer; you are a bother — at best. Objecting to any aspect of the service is mostly pointless. Step out of line and you are in trouble. You are a subject, and the sullen faces and dreary postures of your fellow citizens in line underscores the point.

    The truth is that no one relishes dealing with the government at any level. Where would you rather be: the driver’s license bureau or McDonald’s? The school district office or a local bar? A military base or a car plant? The courthouse or the shopping mall? Want to deal with a government cop or a private security guard?

    There’s a pattern here. It’s a hugely important one. The relationship between the individual and the state, vs. the same individual and the market, is fundamentally different. We all know this intuitively.

    I personally know no one who relishes dealing with government. And yet I know plenty of people who support letting government take over ever more aspects of our lives, especially when they don’t understand that their favorite program means exactly that.

    How can we make sense of this paradox? Well, most expansions of government power are pushed without overt public approval, with plenty of deception, and with the unfair advantage that government itself has in the political process. In other words, it is not necessary that people actively favor government expansion for government to continue its imperial march through society. It only requires a certain level of passive compliance.

    The TSA

    The creation of the Department of Homeland Security — and the TSA as the centerpiece — is a great example. I was talking with Edward Lopez, economics professor at Western Carolina University, about how this came about. We were both around at the time and we compared notes.

    How did it happen? Government took advantage of public fear and panic following 9-11 to impose what government had always wanted. There was private lobbying too: plenty of contractors have gotten rich, so their lobbying has paid off. The airlines might have played a role too in offloading security liabilities.

    Anyone who knew the nature of government could have predicted the results. There have been exploding costs. Individual rights have been violated. Our privacy and constitutional protections have been shredded. Inefficiencies have ballooned. And what for? No credible terrorist threats have really been stopped.

    Somehow, at the time this gigantic government apparatus was created, many people imagined that this time would be different, that government would magically do a better job at securing us than the private sector could or would do. Of course this time is never actually different. The bureaucracy gets created, and then people shake their fists at it. But, by then, it is actually too late.

    A bureaucracy created tends not to go away. It gets worse even as it expands and takes on a life of its own. The abuses, wastes, and inefficiencies mount, and no one can do anything about it.

    What I conclude from this is that the average person lives with a complete mental disconnect when it comes to government. We don’t like dealing with it. We know the truth in our hearts. And yet we keep suspending our incredulity on the belief that government must be doing some wonderful thing somewhere even if we don’t experience it ourselves.

    Government promises always fall short. Even worse, government wrecks what it touches. Wars increase violence. Moral crusades produce opposite results. Cultural planning backfires. Welfare programs break and fail to serve. Monetary policy from the Fed yields massive financial distortions. Government efforts to protect industry lead to inefficiency, shutdowns, and stagnation. Government security makes us less secure and subjects us to scary regiments of spooks and thugs.

    In other areas of life, we are seeing the rise of massive innovation in the private sector that shows the failure of government. Large companies are generating their own power. Global digital money is making new inroads. Local zoning laws and taxi monopolies are being strained by private initiative. And the daily excitement about private communication systems is breaking down the capacity of political elites to control the conversation.

    The tendency toward loss of political control has inspired new, more extreme, and more obscurantist forms of selling state control to us. As the dynamics of public vs. private continue to shift, we can look forward to ever more obfuscation about the reality of displacing market forces. But once you see what’s going on you, can’t unsee it. The most effective path toward helping others see too is simple: name the state.

    The bitter truth about most public policies being sold by the political class is that they give them more power to control our lives. If you favor some of these policies, be honest with the rest of us about what you mean, so that we can make more clear-headed judgments about the kind of society we want to live in.

    Published:4/6/2019 3:50:11 PM
    [Markets] Fake News After Mueller: Orwell Would Be Delighted

    Authored by Raul Ilargi Mueller via The Automatic Earth blog,

    Allow me to start with a question: Has anyone seen any of the main newspapers and networks who went after Donald Trump for 3 years accusing him of colluding with “the Russians”, apologize to either Trump, or to their readers and viewers, for spreading all that fake news now that Robert Mueller said none of that stuff was real, that they all just made it up?

    I’ve seen only one such apology, albeit a very good and thorough one, from Sharyl Attkisson for The Hill. But one is a very meager harvest of course. With over 500,000 articles on collusion published on the topic, as Axios said -leading to 245 million social media ‘interactions’, shouldn’t there be more apologies, if only so people can hold on to their faith in US media for a while longer?

    Apologies to President Trump

    With the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe now known to a significant degree, it seems apologies are in order. However, judging by the recent past, apologies are not likely forthcoming from the responsible parties. In this context, it matters not whether one is a supporter or a critic of President Trump. Whatever his supposed flaws, the rampant accusations and speculation that shrouded Trump’s presidency, even before it began, ultimately have proven unfounded. Just as Trump said all along. Yet, each time Trump said so, some of us in the media lampooned him.

    We treated any words he spoke in his own defense as if they were automatically to be disbelieved because he had uttered them. Some even declared his words to be “lies,” although they had no evidence to back up their claims.We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence. We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”

    As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment. And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered. So, a round of apologies seem in order.

    It’s a shame Attkisson refrains from labeling the whole decrepit circus as “fake news”, even if she says it’s just that, in different words. It’s a shame because the term “fake news” can this way remain connected to Trump, something the mainstream media really like. Because it allows for the media to cast doubts on the Mueller report, and for the Democrats to cast doubt on AG Bill Barr.

    But they, the MSM, CNN and the NYT, are the ones who, as Robert Mueller has proven, have been spreading fake news all that time, not Trump. And if you would suggest they apologize, they’ll tell you that you’re too early, wait for the report to be released, or that Bill Barr is holding tons of stuff back, or that Mueller didn’t have access to elementary info, or that Trump is a really bad person or or or.

    Their reputations would be lost forever if they issue a mea culpa, and apologizing constitutes a mea culpa, so that’s not going to happen. And they all think their credibility remains sound and alive, because they live in echo chambers where they don’t have to listen to anyone prepared to cast any doubt on their credibility.

    I first said it years ago: in the new -digital, social- media age, the mainstream media have only one chance of survival: report the naked truth, and be relentless about that. There are a billion voices who can write up rumors, slander, smear and other falsities, but none have the organizations to find out the truth.

    Well, it looks like they gave up on that one chance. Russiagate has made it crystal clear that the MSM would rather make a quick buck than investigate, that money and political views trump veracity any day where they operate. So stick a fork in them and turn them over; they’re done.

    April 1 was the perfect moment to add it all up, and the Babylon Bee did exactly that:CNN Publishes Real News Story For April Fools’ Day

    Fooling thousands of readers in a prank that the cable news organization said was “just for fun,” CNN published a real news story for April Fools’ Day this year. The story simply contained a list of facts, with no embellishment, editorializing, or invented details. The story also didn’t cite shaky “anonymous sources” and only quoted firsthand witnesses to the event. It was completely factual without any errors whatsoever. Baffled CNN fans immediately knew something was up.

    “I was reading this story, and I was like, ‘Wait, what is this?'” said one man in New York who relies on CNN for his fake news every morning. “They really got me good. Then I looked up at the calendar and I realized I’d been duped. A classic gag!” “Those little rascals!” he added, shaking his head and laughing goodnaturedly. “As long as they return to their regularly scheduled fake news tomorrow, we’re good. We’re good.”

    We could stop right there. What’s to add? It sums up America to the core. Then again, perhaps not quite yet. How about we add this from the BBC?

    Is Facebook Winning The Fake News War?

    For the people contracted by Facebook to clamp down on fake news and misinformation, doubt hangs over them every day. Is it working? “Are we changing minds?” wondered one fact-checker, based in Latin America, speaking to the BBC. “Is it having an impact? Is our work being read? I don’t think it is hard to keep track of this. But it’s not a priority for Facebook. “We want to understand better what we are doing, but we aren’t able to.”

    [..] While there are efforts from fact-checking organisations to debunk dangerous rumours within the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook has yet to provide a tool – though it is experimenting with some ideas to help users report concerns.

    Right, Facebook Fights Fake News. Right. 533,074 web articles on Trump-Russia collusion pre-Mueller report according to Axios, and 245 million ‘interactions’ -including likes, comments and shares- on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s say 100 million on Facebook.

    How much did they catch as fake news in their valiant efforts? Not “the Russians” spreading fake news, but the New York Times? How about none? How many times did Facebook shut down the New York Times? Rachel Maddow? None. But Robert Mueller says all those articles about collusion were fake news.

    Those reputations are gone forever. Nobody serious will ever again believe anything these people say. Oh, their own subscribers will, but they don’t count as serious people. They swallowed all the nonsense for all of that time. Get real.

    Talking about reputations: I decided to try and follow the trails of the Steele dossier earlier, because I think if you figure out the road that dossier has traveled, who has been pushing it etc., you can get a long way towards finding out how how Russiagate came about.

    I turned to Wikipedia first, where “Steele dossier” automatically becomes “Trump-Russia dossier”. I read the intro, and it was already so clear where Wikipedia stands on this: not on Trump’s side. Impartiality does not count as a virtue there either. And I know that this stuff is written by third parties, but does Jimmy Wales really want to devalue his life’s work for party politics?

    Right below the intro of the very long entry, a familiar name pops up: Luke Harding, and I’m thinking HAHAHAHA!

    Luke Harding, after making a mint with his book Collusion, which Robert Mueller has singlehandedly moved into the Fiction section of the bookstore, and co-writing Manafort Held Secret Talks With Assange In Ecuadorian Embassy last November, which Mueller fully discredited, is presented as a source for an entry about collusion? Oh boy.

    A few paragraphs down I come upon the name Victoria Nuland, and again of course I think HAHAHAHA, what kind of source is she? Nuland became notorious for colluding with John McCain on Maidan Square in Kiyv, and she has less credibility than Harding, if such a thing is possible. A Nuland quote from the Wikipedia article:

    “In the middle of July [2016], when he [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, ‘This is not in our purview’.” “This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.”

    The entry continues:

    It has remained unclear as to who exactly at the FBI was aware of Steele’s report through July and August, and what was done with it, but they did not immediately request additional material until late August or early September, when the FBI asked Steele for “all information in his possession and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos — some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. After that point, he continued to share information with the FBI.”[57][56]

    According to Nancy LeTourneau, political writer for the Washington Monthly, the report “was languishing in the FBI’s New York field office” for two months, and “was finally sent to the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.”, in September 2016.[65]

    Meanwhile, in the July to September time frame, according to The Washington Post, CIA Director John Brennan had started an investigation with a secret task force “composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI”. At the same time, he was busy creating his own dossier of material documenting that “Russia was not only attempting to interfere in the 2016 election, they were doing so in order to elect Donald Trump … [T]he entire intelligence c