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May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

US and British media are servants of security apparatus,
which in turn serves banks, oil and military industrial complex

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false”  ~ CIA Director William Casey
 

News Color revolutions Recommended Links Media as a weapon of mass deception Journalists for Hire How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte Demonization of Putin Neoliberal newspeak
NeoMcCartyism UK Government, MI6 and "Integrity Initiative" MSM as fake news industry NYT degeneration into a deep state stooge Wapo, the voice  of CIA The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Edward Lucas as agent provocateur
MSM censorship aka "controlling the narrative" Patterns of Propaganda The Real War on Reality British elite hypocrisy Demonization of Trump and "Trump is insane" meme Co-opting of the Human Rights to embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism Manipulation of the term "freedom of press"
Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak Woodward insinuations Luke Harding a pathetic author of rehash of Steele Dossier book Wolff revelations Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources The importance of controlling the narrative What's the Matter with Kansas
Neo-fascism Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? False Flag Operations Lewis Powell Memo Diplomacy by deception Groupthink Big Uncle is Watching You
Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? Ukraine: From EuroMaidan to EuroAnschluss Pussy Riot Provocation and "Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome" MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Manifactured consent Nation under attack meme
Soft propaganda Classic Papers  Nineteen Eighty-Four Propaganda Quotes   Humor Etc

"The truth is that the newspaper is not a place for information to be given, rather it is just hollow content, or more than that, a provoker of content. If it prints lies about atrocities, real atrocities are the result."

Karl Kraus, 1914

WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

1984

We are the world, we are exceptional, we cannot fail. The elite will lie, and the people will pretend to believe them. Heck about 20 percent of the American public will believe almost anything if it is wrapped with the right prejudice and appeal to passion. Have a pleasant evening.

jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com, Feb 04, 2015

Journalists manipulate us in the interest of the Powerful

Do you also have the feeling, that you are often manipulated by the media and  lied to? Then you're like the majority of Germans. Previously it was considered as a "conspiracy theory". Now it revealed by an Insider, who tells us what is really happening under the hood.

The Journalist Udo Ulfkotte ashamed today that he spent 17 years in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. ...he reveals why opinion leaders produce tendentious reports and serve as the extended Arm of the NATO press office. ...the author also was admitted into the networks of American elite organizations, received in return for positive coverage in the US even a certificate of honorary citizenship.

In this book you will learn about industry lobby organisations. The author calls hundreds of names and looks behind the Scenes of those organizations, which exert bias into media, such as: Atlantic bridge, Trilateral Commission, the German Marshall Fund, American Council on Germany, American Academy, Aspen Institute, and the Institute for European politics. Also revealed are the intelligence backgrounds of those lobby groups, the methods and forms of propaganda and financing used, for example, by the US Embassy. Which funds  projects for the targeted influencing of public opinion in Germany 

...You realize how you are being manipulated - and you know from whom and why. At the end it becomes clear that diversity of opinion will now only be simulated. Because our "messages" are often pure brainwashing.

Gekaufte Journalisten - Medienwelt Enthüllungen Bücher - Kopp Verlag

In 2014, German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, former director of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published groundbreaking book “Gekaufte Journalisten”, (Journalists for Hire), in which he documented relentless pressure of the CIA to lie about event, especially event  of geopolitical importance.  Unfortunately he died soon after publishing the book so it  did not get any follow-up from Udo.  Here is one  quote from the book Udo wrotes (Google translation):

Novadays, our" alpha journalists " suffer from complete memory atrophy. For some reason, they cannot or at least do not want to recall today the lofty expressions in which they sang to us the war in Iraq or the military mission in Afghanistan. As they noticed the financial crisis and the collapse of the Euro only when every citizen has long suffered from their consequences. And when a passenger plane crashed over Ukraine in 2014, they were eager to immediately send our soldiers on a military mission against Russia, although it was not yet clear who was responsible for the crash. To prevent bloodshed by demanding more bloodshed is the principle of murderers. In Iraq alone, this is evidenced by the more than 100,000 civilians killed, who lost their lives there because our media – with very few exceptions – were in a state of hallucination caused by a drug overdose, describing with such unbridled glee the need for war in Iraq and thus bringing it closer to its beginning.

So who or what controls our insane mainstream media? Do our leading journalists actually take drugs? Or does this systematic madness have completely different reasons? Maybe there are propaganda specialists behind it? In the old days, such an assumption would probably have been dismissed as another "conspiracy theory." But today we know that journalists of respected media are the main goal of manipulators who seek to impose their interpretation of events taking place in the world through the messages of our media. So work, first of all, the us government and the Israelis. There are even handbooks that describe how to influence the quality MSM.

One thing is clear: those who work in respected media should be extremely cautious about groups lobbying for someone's interests, including American and Israeli. As we will soon see, some journalists do the exact opposite. Obviously, they feel great in the web-especially in the web of American and Israeli groups of influence. Yes, and they boast that they gave to confuse yourself in this web, proudly mentioning his "membership" in a very suspicious way.

But other  authors wrote several interesting follow-up articles. Some of then touched  this topic even before the book was published. One  example is the article US and British media are servants of security apparatus in which Greenwald explains why US and British media are so one sided (RT, Dec 27, 2013):

Dec 27, 2013 | RT News

...When Greenwald and his colleagues began working with Snowden, he said they realized that they’d have to act in a way that wasn’t on par with how the mainstream media has acted up until now.

We resolved that we were going to have to be very disruptive of the status quo — not only the surveillance and political status quo, but also the journalistic status quo,” Greenwald said. “And I think one of the ways that you can see what it is that we were targeting is in the behavior of the media over the past six months since these revelations have emerged almost entirely without them and despite them.”

[W]e knew in particular that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, which calls itself the United States and British media.”

It really is the case that the United States and British governments are not only willing but able to engage in any conduct no matter how grotesque,” Greenwald said.

Nevertheless, he added, journalists tasked with reporting on those issues have all too often been compliant with the blatant lies made by officials from those governments.

Halfway through his remarks, Greenwald recalled a recent quip he made while being interviewed by BBC about the necessity of a functioning media in an environment where government officials can spew untruths to reporters without being questioned.

[A]t one point I made what I thought was the very unremarkable and uncontroversial observation that the reason why we have a free press is because national security officials routinely lie to the population in order to shield their power and get their agenda advanced,” recalled Greenwald, who said it is both the “the goal and duty of a journalist is to be adversarial to those people in power.”

According to Greenwald, the BBC reporter met his remark with skepticism.

I just cannot believe that you would suggest that senior officials, generals in the US and the British government, are actually making false claims to the public,” he remembered being told on-air.

It really is the central view of certainly American and British media stars, that when — especially people with medals on their chest who are called generals, but also high officials in the government — make claims that those claims are presumptively treated as true without evidence. And that it’s almost immoral to call them into question or to question their voracity,” he said.

Obviously we went through the Iraq War, in which those very two same governments specifically and deliberately lied repeatedly to the government, to their people, over the course of two years to justify an aggressive war that destroyed a country of 26 million people. But we’ve seen it continuously over the last six months as well.”

From there, he went on to cite the example of US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who earlier this year made remarks to Congress that were quickly proved false by documents leaked to Greenwald by Mr. Snowden. The very first National Security Agency document he was shown, Greenwald said,

revealed that the Obama administration had succeeded in convincing court, a secret court, to compel phone companies to turn over to the NSA every single phone record of every single telephone call.”

Clapper “went to the Senate and lied to their faces...which is at least as serious of a crime as anything Edward Snowden is accused of," Greenwald added.

But DNI Clapper aside, Greenwald said that the established media continues to reject the notion that government officials spew lies. Snowden’s NSA documents have exposed those fibs on more than one occasion, he noted, yet reporters around the world continue to take the word of officials as fact rather than dig from the truth.

Their role is not to be adversarial. Their role is to be loyal spokespeople to those powerful factions that they pretend to exercise oversight,” Greenwald said.

But as the US, UK and other governments continue to feed the media lies, Greenwald said their operations are far from being single-pronged. The US

knows that its only hope for continuing to maintain its regiment of secrecy behind which it engages with radical and corrupt acts is to intimidate and deter and threaten people who are would-be whistleblowers and transparency activists from coming forward and doing what it is that they do by showing them that they’ll be subjected to even the most extreme punishments and there’s nothing that they can do about it,” he said. “And it’s an effective tactic.”

Ironically, he added, those nations are “fueling the fire of this activism with their own abusive behavior.”

... ... ...

The NSA’s goal, Greenwald said, is to “ensure that all forms of human communication . . .are collected, monitored, stored and analyzed by that agency and by their allies.”

Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte
A frightening book, but at the right time!

In 2014, German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, former director of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, author of the book “Gekaufte Journalisten”, (Journalists for Hire), denounced European media who write lies under pressure from the CIA. An English translation now is available but is very expensive

Here are Google translations of reviews from German Amazon site:

Christian Döring HALL OF FAME REZENSENT TOP 50 REZENSENT VINE-product tester 18. September 2014

Ulfkotte has in the last few years, several very readable books on social issues. Long ago, I agree with all agree with this now this I agree with him completely!

At the latest since the beginning of the Ukraine-conflict, I am frequently asked, who owns the journalists on the many channels, the me all the absolute truth declare? Sure, each individual with its very subjective truth, and the he also conceded, because, this is human. But journalists against money only say or write, what the donors have to hear or want to read, this is demokratiegefährdend!

Scary is when you read that the author not only describes individual cases, but how a whole System was set up. It's called the horse and rider.

After reading it, I am a little helpless around. What can I such a concentrated Power, purchased journalists, in turn, Lobbyistenfilz hang oppose? Ulfkotte advises you to quota and the requirement to spoil. Is this feasible?

In all cases, you should take the information from this book into his brain inside. At the next newscast must be clear: The recently aufgetischte is just one of the many truths! If you really want to be well informed will have today on the way to messages of different channels to compare, so it will have different truths. In my opinion, it is not only a news source to be trusted.

Udo Ulfkotte has my good faith of the sellers to the Guild of journalists thoroughly destroyed!

The Journalist Udo Ulfkotte ashamed today that, he spent 17 years in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has worked. Before the author of the secret networks of Power revealed, he exercises consistently self-criticism. It is documented here for the first Time, as he is for his coverage in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung lubricated and the corruption was promoted. And he reveals why opinion leaders tendentious reports and as the extended Arm of the NATO press office wars medial prepared. As a matter of course was also the author of into the networks of American elite level organizations included, received in return for positive coverage in the US even a certificate of honorary citizenship.

In this book you will learn, in what industry lobby organisations which journalists are represented. The author calls hundreds of names and looks behind the Scenes of those organizations, which our media propaganda one-sided influence, such as: Atlantic bridge, Trilateral Commission, the German Marshall Fund, American Council on Germany, American Academy, Aspen Institute, and the Institute for European politics. To be revealed in addition, the intelligence backgrounds of the lobby groups, the Propagandatechniken and the forms, with which, for example, at the US Embassy funding for projects for the targeted influencing of public opinion in Germany is able to retrieve.

If the CIA pretends to, what is written

Can you imagine that Geheimdienstmitarbeiter in editorial writing, which would then be in the editorial section under the name of well-known journalists to be published? Do you know which journalists which media for their coverage were smeared? And you have a rough idea of how renowned journalism prizes" to be awarded? Because it goes in the Background as the former honors the "heroes of work" in the former East Germany as propaganda work excellent. From the journalists to the propagandists, it is not far. If you read this book, you are our Newspapers with very different eyes to see the TV more often, simply relax and also know what the Radio is still able to believe: almost nothing. Because Ulfkotte also writes a lot of attention to which transmitter which political party and which journalists like to be influenced. You realize how you are being manipulated - and you know from whom and why. At the end it becomes clear that diversity of opinion will now only be simulated. Because our "messages" are often pure brainwashing.

Stevie  TOP 500 REVIEWER on may 18. September 2014

As the networks (and the American influence in this), our messages to manipulate, and how journalists "sold"!

Perhaps surprised the a* or other why of the "quality media" in certain topics of the same opinion (at best in light shades)?! "The Euro is good for Germany, Eurorettungspakete are necessary to stabilize the Eurozone, We need a free trade agreement, and Germany will benefit the most (Why write the press hardly content about TTIP and not even as good as over TISA!???), USA is good, Russia is bad, sanctions against Russia are necessary ... etc ... also the reporting on the BNP-espionage affair was more than one-sided. Why is mostly written, that politicians are listening – what is with the Monitoring of the whole population???, ...

Here In the present volume: 1 (of a total of 3 planned volumes) is about, what is the secret networks of our flood control. The topic – such as the "quality media" to influence public opinion or to have a massive influence - is for gutinformierte citizens is certainly not new and was also publicly a couple of times already taken up for example by the ZDF-Satiresendung "The institution" (in shipment from the 29. Apri 2014) or in the ARTE documentary "Used and controlled" (2006), or in the doctoral thesis of Uwe Krueger "Meinungsmacht. The influence of elites on key media and Alpha-journalists - a critical analysis of networks" or in Andreas Elter – The Kriegsverkäufer: history of US Propaganda 1917-2005, etc read more... "

champmerle on 6. October 2014

more transparency in the media is required

When you Open the newspaper, the reader will hardly be inspired, in the press building a significant degree of corruption present. After the sheet comes with one but unobtrusive presentation, therefore, and is apparently as a reputable, long-established newspaper. But when you read the new book by Ulfkotte turns very quickly, the perceived seriousness as a pure Illusion, as the Fata Morgana.

From autobiographical reasons sets Ulfkotte his Kritikschwerpunkt of what is going on in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but also in other Newspapers such as the Süddeutsche, the time or the world will remain not ungeschont.

What is it about?

The charge ranges from Compose or approve of Gefälligkeitsberichten bestochener correspondents, concrete influence of the secret service BND, linkages of Zeitungsgrößen with elite circles such as the Atlantic bridge or the Bilderbergern and on the other hand, the prevention of the documentation which is tangible scandals reveal. Also from Overreaching by Advertisers is the speech.

Throughout acts the written composition as a clear provocation, and virtually every accusation put forward in the Annex shows. It is remarkable, that in many cases specific name to be called.

It now remains to be seen whether the German "key media" an open discussion of the criticisms Ulfkottes. An analysis was spared, it would be in my eyes an indication of the Declaration of bankruptcy of the above-mentioned Pressehäuser.
Personally, I wish I was basically the survival of the newspaper publishers, these are a part of our culture, it is also a very important factor the maintenance of employment.

This assumes, however, that immediately a total reorientation in the nature of the information gathering and processing are entering. Interessensunabhängigkeit the content and balance of the published articles are essential, honesty, openness and credibility are the standards.

Edgar Hülswitt - All my reviews reputation

This review is from: Bought journalists (Hardcover)

If only the lie can save us, so it is, we are lost." (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Genevan philosopher, educator, writer, and musician 1712 – 1778)

Why is it that now only every 3. German confidence in the so-called "quality media", yet only 15% of us politicians trust, 63% of their Faith in an objective and truthful Ukraine-reporting of German-speaking media have lost and with decreasing tendency, only 37% of the job description of journalists as a trustworthy recognise?

Perhaps the fact that one part of many media − in the sense of Wirtschaftslobbyisten, politicians and other (inter)national sponsors with increasingly zealous umgesetztem Gefälligkeitsjournalismus grossly exaggerated.

UDO ULFKOTTE: Purchased journalists

Perhaps there are many German slowly just suffering, from such quality media ‒ for which you also have to pay expensive must be wrong and/or subjectively informed, lied to and to be influenced? Adults, responsible citizens have a right to factual, unbiased information, and can well and happy on manipulative aufgehübschte interpretations lubricated journalists do without. With disgust and Frighten you can to the disenchantment of our extensively decorated elites to take note of and when you read the reading will be experience blue miracle, if the author step-by-step, page-by-page, line-by-line suggestive power plays and machinations revealed to us before the eyes causes, how shameless us politicians, intelligence agencies, lobbyists and moneyed with the help of Germany's mass media (to Ruin) steer.

The interest in the subject seems obvious unbroken, because since weeks already ranked the non-fiction book by Udo Ulfkotte: Purchased journalists remain on the front seats of the Spiegel bestseller list. Insider Udo Ulfkotte, obviously, has the nerve of the time taken. Never before were so many German citizens, politics and medienverdrossener. If the established media ‒ like the other day, including "THE WORLD" ‒ good advice, also Oil on the fire, pour in the "political" journalists with a platform for lurid provocations offer? Here, z. B. under the title "The German pot is boiling over with pent up anger", across the Board on Fears and Concerns of German citizens, ‒ the top-down as "Putinversteher, Vulgärpazifisten and defender of the Western world" denigrated , made fun of, and to rejoice in the round ridiculed: "The Lunatics in this country are always angry" and the audience smugly recommended that this Crazy easy "wegzulachen". Bad only that many citizens obviously now the last Laugh.

UDO ULFKOTTE: Purchased journalists

While Udo Ulfkotte committed, during his professional journalistic career in serious cover-up of the so-called free press and freedom of expression − from elitist lobbying clients was corrupted to his, wrapping both his partially still in German Medienwesen active former superiors and colleagues, as well as other well-known journalists and publicists, not only in noble Silence. No, you deny even any Motivation with regard to their activities with ignorance. And it gives the media at least at this point Believe, are also our well-established representatives of the people/students continue to conscientiously and diligently and endeavour to unwanted public criticism and Meinungsfindungen to prevent. Use but even their speeches to the turn of the year, especially to moral appeals, all all dissatisfied with care in the future-looking citizens from participating in demonstrations to warn, instead of yourself (self -) critical in itself to go and settle the allegations (even their own party members) after a possible complicity in the displeasure of many people. It does just education on the move - and backgrounds ‒ instead of ignorant paternalism and bürgerferner concealment always conspicuous to days chief problems ‒ Not. Click HERE to read what the author, both to the controversial socio-political issue as such, as well as to the handling of the recent events, has to say.

The interesting, 336 pages strong, demaskierende publication by Udo Ulfkotte: Purchased journalists (ISBN 978-3-86445-143-0) ‒ the chronic non-voters and/or voter apathy-suffering citizens in droves to the ballot should drive, as a hardcover at the Kopp Verlag for the price of € 22,95 appeared. You may also click at the end of the book announced a further two controversial publications on the media industry to be curious about.
lesemehrwert.de

M. Herrmann, 30. April 2015

Every reader must be his own to figure it out, It is here of many cases reported in which journalistic Output is not by the will to Wahrheitswiedergabe is characterized.

Instead, one finds Gefälligkeitstexte for Powerful from economy and politics. And not only in the newspaper with the bold letters, but also in those times that serious.

The Motivation is clear: career, personal benefits, conceit Elitetum.

What Mr. Ulfkotte reported, seems to me to be credible, especially when you Nachrichtenkonsum yourself open to questions.

One gets from the book is no quantitative statements about the shape: In the period from ... to ... were in the newspaper ... so many percent of the article glossed over. Or: We find an increase / decrease in tendenziöser reporting during ... .... This is also difficult to do, especially by an individual.

Therefore, it remains so up to you to assess whether he/she is equal to the entire German press for corrupt or holds only a share, whatever the size of the may be. A is in any case clear-at the latest after the reading of the "Purchased journalists"- caution and the question of "Who benefits?" is always appropriate.


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[Oct 09, 2019] The only 'Russian bots' to meddle in US elections belonged to Democrat-linked 'experts'

Another day, another false flag operation...
Notable quotes:
"... New Knowledge's victory lap was short-lived. On December 19, a New York Times story revealed that Morgan and his crew had created a fake army of Russian bots, as well as fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama's 2017 special election for the US Senate. ..."
"... Working on behalf of the Democrats, Morgan and his crew created an estimated 1,000 fake Twitter accounts with Russian names, and had them follow Moore. They also operated several Facebook pages where they posed as Alabama conservatives who wanted like-minded voters to support a write-in candidate instead. ..."
"... In an internal memo, New Knowledge boasted that it had "orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet. ..."
Oct 09, 2019 | www.rt.com

US cyber-security experts have blamed Russia for meddling in American elections since 2016. Now it has emerged that authors of a Senate report on 'Russian' meddling actually ran a "false flag" meddling operation themselves. A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name.

Described by the New York Times as a group of "tech specialists who lean Democratic," New Knowledge has ties to both the US military and intelligence agencies. Its CEO and co-founder Jonathon Morgan previously worked for DARPA, the US military's advanced research agency. His partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the National Security Agency who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone. Morgan and Fox have struck gold in the "Russiagate" racket, which sprung into being after Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for Donald Trump's presidential victory in 2016. Morgan, for example, is one of the developers of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, the online tool that purports to monitor and expose narratives being pushed by the Kremlin on Twitter. The dashboard is bankrolled by the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy – a collection of Democrats and neoconservatives funded in part by NATO and USAID.

It is worth noting that the 600 "Russia-linked" Twitter accounts monitored by the dashboard are not disclosed to the public, making it impossible to verify its claims. This inconvenience has not stopped Hamilton 68 from becoming a go-to source for hysteria-hungry journalists, however.

From the way it was formed to the secrecy of its "methods" to the blatantly false assumptions on which its claims rest, "Hamilton68" is probably the single most successful media fraud & US propaganda campaign I've seen since I've been writing about politics. It's truly shocking.

-- Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 22, 2018
Troll hunters or bot farm?

New Knowledge's victory lap was short-lived. On December 19, a New York Times story revealed that Morgan and his crew had created a fake army of Russian bots, as well as fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama's 2017 special election for the US Senate.

Working on behalf of the Democrats, Morgan and his crew created an estimated 1,000 fake Twitter accounts with Russian names, and had them follow Moore. They also operated several Facebook pages where they posed as Alabama conservatives who wanted like-minded voters to support a write-in candidate instead.

In an internal memo, New Knowledge boasted that it had "orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet."

It worked. The botnet claim made a splash on social media and was further amplified by Mother Jones , which based its story on expert opinion from Morgan's other dubious creation, Hamilton 68.

Russian trolls tracked by #Hamilton68 are taking an interest in the AL Senate race. What a surprise. pic.twitter.com/Nz1PNmuT2R

-- Jonathon Morgan (@jonathonmorgan) November 10, 2017

Ultimately, Moore ended up losing the race by a miniscule 1.5 percentage points – making his opponent Doug Jones the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the US Senate in over 25 years.

Money trail and weak apologies

Things got even weirder when it turned out that Scott Shane, the author of the Times piece, had known about the meddling for months, because he spoke at an event where the organizers boasted about it!

Shane was one of the speakers at a meeting in September, organized by American Engagement Technologies, a group run by Mikey Dickerson, President Barack Obama's former tech czar. Dickerson explained how AET spent $100,000 on New Knowledge's campaign to suppress Republican votes, " enrage" Democrats to boost turnout, and execute a "false flag" to hurt Moore. He dubbed it "Project Birmingham."

This gets even weirder: NYT reporter @ScottShaneNYT , who broke the Alabama disinfo op story, learned of it in early September when he spoke at an off-the-record event organized by one of the firms that perpetrated the deception https://t.co/gIAytOh2yy

-- Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) December 28, 2018

The money for the venture came from a $750,000 contribution to AET by Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn and a big Democrat donor. Once that emerged, Hoffman offered a public apology for his connection to the shady operation, but insisted that he didn't know what his money was going towards.

" I find the tactics that have been recently reported highly disturbing ," Hoffman said in a statement.

"For that reason, I am embarrassed by my failure to track AET -- the organization I did support -- more diligently as it made its own decisions to perhaps fund projects that I would reject."

As for Shane, he told BuzzFeed that he was "shocked" by the revelations, but had signed a nondisclosure agreement at the request of AET, so he could not talk about it further.

Spin and denial

Shane's spin on the tale was that New Knowledge "imitated Russian tactics" as part of an "experiment" that had a budget of "only" $100,000 and had no effect on the election. Yet these tactics are only considered "Russian" because New Knowledge and similar outfits said so! Moreover, New Knowledge's budget in Alabama was greater than the reported amount spent by "Russians" on the 2016 US presidential election, yet Moscow's alleged meddling was supposed to be decisive, while New Knowledge's failed?

New Knowledge responded to the Times story by insisting that the "false flag" operation was actually a benign research project. In a statement posted on Twitter, the company's CEO claimed that its activities during the Alabama Senate race were conducted in order to "better understand and report on the tactics and effects of social media disinformation."

My statement on this evening's NYT article. pic.twitter.com/lsJuRqiffL

-- Jonathon Morgan (@jonathonmorgan) December 20, 2018

Morgan emphasized that he in no way took part in an influence campaign, and warned people not to mischaracterize his "research."

While the New York Times seemed satisfied with his explanation, others pointed out that Morgan had used the Hamilton 68 dashboard to give his "false flag" more credibility – misleading the public about a "Russian" influence campaign that he knew was fake.

New Knowledge's protestations apparently didn't convince Facebook, which announced last week that five accounts linked to New Knowledge – including Morgan's – had been suspended for engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior."

Meddlers unmasked

The final nail in the coffin of Morgan's story came on Thursday, when the leaked secret after-action report from "Project Birmingham" was published online, showing that those behind the Alabama campaign knew perfectly well what they were doing and why.

BREAKING: Here's the after-action report from the AL Senate disinfo campaign.

**an exclusive release by @JeffGiesea https://t.co/VXrCeb8LAD

-- Jeff Giesea🌿 (@jeffgiesea) December 28, 2018

So, it turns out there really was meddling in American democracy by "Russian bots." Except they weren't run from Moscow or St. Petersburg, but from the offices of Democrat operatives chiefly responsible for creating and amplifying the "Russiagate" hysteria over the past two years in a textbook case of psychological projection.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Oct 09, 2019] Here they go again Senate reheats 'Russian meddling' claims, using assertions as evidence -- RT USA News

Notable quotes:
"... "much of this Volume's analysis is derived from" ..."
"... "Russian troll farm" ..."
"... "Intelligence Community Assessment," ..."
"... "Strategic Communications Center of Excellence." ..."
"... "a cybersecurity company dedicated to protecting the public sphere from disinformation attacks." ..."
"... "orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet." ..."
"... "Russian" ..."
"... "significantly informed the Committee's understanding of Russia's social media-predicated attack against our democracy," ..."
"... Ever since Hillary Clinton blamed "Russian hackers" ..."
Oct 09, 2019 | www.rt.com

Here they go again: Senate reheats 'Russian meddling' claims, using assertions as evidence 9 Oct, 2019 00:05 Get short URL Here they go again: Senate reheats 'Russian meddling' claims, using assertions as evidence Here they go again: Senate reheats 'Russian meddling' claims, using assertions as evidence Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee look at a placard showing 'Russian social media manipulation' at a November 1, 2017 hearing. © REUTERS/Joshua Roberts Follow RT on RT The Senate Intelligence Committee's final report on 'Russian interference' in the 2016 US presidential election is short on evidence and long on reheated assertions and innuendo from 'experts' exposed as actual election meddlers. There is little new in the 85-page , partially redacted document released on Tuesday, that has not been made public by the committee previously – including the accusations that "Russia" focused on stoking anger and resentment among African-Americans, for example .

There is a reason for that. By the committee's own admission, "much of this Volume's analysis is derived from" the work of two Technical Advisory Groups (TAG), which produced two public reports back in December 2018, to the same kind of fawning press coverage the report is receiving now.

NEW: The Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections involved using social media content to mostly target African-Americans, a new Senate committee report concludes. https://t.co/7BRUmiG18T

-- NPR (@NPR) October 8, 2019

Not surprisingly, the report's "findings" are being cited as conclusive proof that Democrats were right and President Donald Trump was wrong about 2016, Russia, Ukraine and the US presidential election.

The Senate Intelligence Committee unveiled a sweeping new bipartisan report showing Russian efforts to boost Trump's White House bid on social media during the 2016 U.S. election https://t.co/TUjUhBdMnc

-- POLITICO (@politico) October 8, 2019

The only trouble with that is that the committee provides no actual evidence for any of its claims – only assertions. For example, their description of the Internet Research Agency – the "Russian troll farm" – is basically copied over from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of a dozen of its alleged members. Yet a federal judge presiding over the case ruled back in May that allegations cannot be treated as established evidence or conclusion, coming close to finding Mueller's prosecutors in contempt.

Another nail in Russiagate coffin? Federal judge destroys key Mueller report claim READ MORE: Another nail in Russiagate coffin? Federal judge destroys key Mueller report claim

Another document presented as evidence is the January 2017 "Intelligence Community Assessment," the disingenuously named work of a small group of people, hand-picked by the Obama administration's DNI and chiefs of the CIA, FBI and NSA – all of whom, except for the NSA, have since been implicated in what seems to be a campaign to spy on Trump, delegitimize his presidency, and have him impeached.

The Senate report also quotes testimonies from Obama aides such as Ben Rhodes – helpfully redacted of course – Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander who tried to set off a war with Russia; professional "Russian bot" hunters like Clint Watts and Thomas Rid; and NATO's "Strategic Communications Center of Excellence."

The best part, however, has to be the reliance on New Knowledge, presented as "a cybersecurity company dedicated to protecting the public sphere from disinformation attacks." In reality, New Knowledge was exposed by the New York Times as the outfit that actually ran bots and disinformation operations during the 2017 Alabama special election for the US Senate, targeting Republican candidate Roy Moore on behalf of Democrats – while blaming Russia! In an internal memo, New Knowledge executives boasted how they "orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet."

The other TAG, led by British academics and researchers, found that the activity of 'Russian trolls' increased after the election – by 238 percent on Instagram, 59 percent on Facebook, 52 percent on Twitter, and 84 percent on YouTube. So it was influencing elections retroactively?

Left unsaid was that the absolute quantity of "Russian" posts was minuscule, a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the billions of social media posts generated and consumed by the US electorate during the campaign.

Also on rt.com Worst meddler ever? 'Russian' Facebook ads 'trolling US election' went completely unseen

These are the people who "significantly informed the Committee's understanding of Russia's social media-predicated attack against our democracy," as this week's report puts it.

Ever since Hillary Clinton blamed "Russian hackers" for the revelations of corruption within the DNC in July 2016, the Washington establishment has been eager to blame Moscow for all the ills of the US political system, real or imagined. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report seems to be nothing more than an attempt to reheat the long-cold corpse of a conspiracy that should have been buried with the Mueller Report and allowed to rest in peace.

[Oct 02, 2019] MSM tri to swipe under the rad facts of Ukranine interfernce in 2016 elections

Oct 02, 2019 | abcnews.go.com

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Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, defended himself Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" from accusations lodged by the president's former homeland security adviser that he has trafficked unfounded theories about foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Interested in Donald Trump? Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Donald Trump Add Interest

Tom Bossert, the former White House official, took aim at Giuliani earlier on "This Week," calling it a mistake for the president to have hired him in the first place. He also called out Giuliani for repeating a "completely false" theory that Ukraine – not Russia – was responsible for interference in the 2016 election.

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"At this point I am deeply frustrated with what [Giuliani] and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president," Bossert, who is now an ABC contributor, said. "It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again."

Giuliani fired back later in the show, telling Stephanopoulos, "Tom Bossert doesn't know what he's talking about I'm not peddling anything."

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The president's personal attorney also sought to defend his role in pressing Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the fallout from which has led to an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

"Everything I did was to defend my client and I am proud of having uncovered what will turn out to be a massive pay-for-play scheme," Giuliani told Stephanopoulos.

The "pay-for-play scheme" Giuliani has accused Biden of perpetrating in Ukraine dates back to 2016 and the dismissal of the country's former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. At the time, Biden was leading U.S. policy toward Ukraine with an emphasis on cracking down on corruption.

He called for Shokin to be fired.

At one point, Giuliani waved what he said were several affidavits, including one by Shokin defending himself, which he said verified his claims that Shokin was dismissed as a result of his investigation of Burisma and Hunter Biden.

It was not immediately clear how the documents verified those claims.

Trump and Giuliani have accused Biden of calling for Shokin's dismissal because his office was investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where Biden's son, Hunter, had a seat on the board of directors.

"This is not about getting Joe Biden in trouble," Giuliani said. "This is about proving that Donald Trump was framed by the Democrats."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speak during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. more +

But the assertion that Biden acted to help his son has been undercut by widespread criticism of Shokin from several high-profile international leaders, including members of the European Union and International Monetary Fund, who said Biden's recommendation was well justified.

(MORE: Trump administration changed foreign-leader call-storage methods after leaks)

The IMF threatened to withhold aid to Kiev in early 2016, citing "Ukraine's slow progress in improving governance and fighting corruption," according to Christine Lagard, the IMF's managing director.

Giuliani also sought to undermine a whistleblower complaint, which was filed in August and released publicly last week, that describes the nature of the president's phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and an apparent effort within the White House to "lock down" records of the conversation.

"The whistleblower says, 'I don't have any direct knowledge, I just heard things,'" Giuliani said. "I'm not saying [the whistleblower] was false, I'm saying he could have heard it wrong."

(MORE: President Trump will be held 'accountable' in wake of whistleblower complaint: Adam Schiff)

Stephanopoulos cited several examples from the complaint in which the whistleblower accurately described the content of Trump's conversation with Zelenskiy as compared to the transcript.

The whistleblower, who has not been identified, claimed that at least a half dozen administration officials had raised concerns that Trump had used "the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election."

PHOTO: The annual Free Iran Conference for the first time at Ashraf 3, the headquarters of the Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran on July 13, 2019, near Duress in Albania. Siavosh Hosseini/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The annual Free Iran Conference for the first time at Ashraf 3, the headquarters of the Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran on July 13, 2019, near Duress in Albania. more +

Democrats have accused the president of using his desire for an investigation into the Bidens as leverage with Zelenskiy, particularly in light of the fact that the White House had, at the time, withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine.

It was later released.

Giuliani's name is invoked more than 30 times in the whistleblower's complaint.

When Stephanopoulos asked Giuliani whether he will cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee, for which Rep. Adam Schiff is the chair, Giuliani said he wouldn't cooperate with Schiff. But when pressed said he would "consider it" if his client, the president, signed off.

"I'm a lawyer. It's his privilege, not mine," he responded. "If he decides that he wants me to testify, of course I'll testify, even though I think Adam Schiff is an illegitimate chairman. He has already prejudged the case."

(MORE: From a controversial phone call to impeachment calls: A Trump whistleblower timeline)

In his interview on "This Week," Giuliani sought to clarify the timeline of his conversations with Ukrainians and insisted he did not instigate communications.

"November of 2016, they first came to me," Giuliani said of the alleged outreach from Ukrainians through the State Department. "The Ukrainians came to me. I didn't go to them."

The State Department and its chief, Mike Pompeo, have faced scrutiny for their handling of Giuliani's overtures to the Ukrainians. The former U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, helped coordinate at least one interaction Giuliani had with an aide to Zelenskiy in Madrid in May, Volker confirmed.

(MORE: Only 17% of Americans surprised by Trump's actions tied to Ukraine: POLL)

Giuliani has claimed the State Department directed him to act and has said he briefed Volker and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, after his meetings with Ukrainians.

On Friday, ABC News reported that Volker had resigned from his post with the State Department. House Democrats still plan to interview him next week as part of their impeachment inquiry, according to a congressional aide.

Giuliani planned to speak at a conference in Armenia next week, according to a schedule. But he cancelled after news outlets reported that several Kremlin officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin would also be in attendance.

[Oct 02, 2019] The alliance of neoliberals and neocons tries to ostracize Putin and has some level of success

Notable quotes:
"... Giuliani planned to speak at a conference in Armenia next week, according to a schedule. But he cancelled after news outlets reported that several Kremlin officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin would also be in attendance. ..."
Oct 02, 2019 | abcnews.go.com

Giuliani has claimed the State Department directed him to act and has said he briefed Volker and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, after his meetings with Ukrainians.

On Friday, ABC News reported that Volker had resigned from his post with the State Department. House Democrats still plan to interview him next week as part of their impeachment inquiry, according to a congressional aide.

Giuliani planned to speak at a conference in Armenia next week, according to a schedule. But he cancelled after news outlets reported that several Kremlin officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin would also be in attendance.

[Sep 28, 2019] Media biased Hong Kong reporting

Foreign new coverage in modern western societies is controlled by intelligence agencies. There are no exceptions.
Notable quotes:
"... At this stage, any one who still believes in the western propaganda about China is simply too brain-washed and not too smart for any cure. Excuse me, I should say "too dumb for any cure". ..."
"... For example, Nathan Rich's recent video shows how media biased reporting of Hong Kong compare with Ukraine riots. The contrast can't be anymore stark: ..."
"... All these so-called anti communist slant against countries, I suspect, have its origins in the Vatican. People seem to forget that they should bear false witness https://www.youtube.com/embed/yUGPIeE9kMc?feature=oembed ..."
Sep 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

nsa , says: September 28, 2019 at 11:17 am GMT

@d dan " ..media biased Hong Kong reporting ."
How would American cops react to punks tossing Molotov Cocktails at them? Arson is a felony but there would be no need for a trial just a coroner.
d dan , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:12 pm GMT
@Godfree Roberts "The weird result of this enormous, expensive effort is that, while we were busy lying to ourselves about China "

At this stage, any one who still believes in the western propaganda about China is simply too brain-washed and not too smart for any cure. Excuse me, I should say "too dumb for any cure".

For example, Nathan Rich's recent video shows how media biased reporting of Hong Kong compare with Ukraine riots. The contrast can't be anymore stark:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-2Rr8hZK2aQ?feature=oembed

Godfree Roberts , says: September 27, 2019 at 10:57 pm GMT
@Tusk "Radio Free Asia reports .". RFA is a US Government propaganda outlet. 100% WMD, 24×7.
Ber , says: September 28, 2019 at 2:19 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Here is a good analysis of how the main stream media (MSM) gang up to give propaganda, and how I wish they have objective comments about China or any country they do not like.

All these so-called anti communist slant against countries, I suspect, have its origins in the Vatican. People seem to forget that they should bear false witness

https://www.youtube.com/embed/yUGPIeE9kMc?feature=oembed

[Sep 28, 2019] Pretending that Russia is some default source of evil inventions is the true intellectual dishonesty

Sep 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

james , Sep 26 2019 20:04 utc | 59

@48 piotr.. "Pretending that Russia is some source of evil inventions is the true intellectual dishonesty." exactly... i'm thinking the amount of ignorance that the western MSM has happily shed on this has won over a number of otherwise intelligent people... it is friggin' shocking... many folks like Kool-Aid it seems, including otherwise intelligent people...

[Sep 26, 2019] Did Nancy Pelosi Just Make One Of The Biggest Political Mistakes In History

The key question here is: Is Nancy Pelosi a CIA controlled politician who followed Breenan instruction to open the second stage of the color revolution against Trump. Her long service in House Intelligence Committee suggest that this is a possibility.
Sep 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

Nancy Pelosi just took the biggest gamble of her entire political career. If she is ultimately successful, she will be remembered as the woman that removed Donald Trump from the White House, and Democrats will treat her like a hero for the rest of her life. But if she fails and Trump wins in 2020, the backlash that she created when she tried to impeach Trump is likely to be blamed, and she could potentially lose her leadership role in the House. Of course at that point she probably wouldn't want to remain in the House much longer, and she would be hated by many Democrats for the rest of her life for subjecting them to four more years of Trump. So it really is all on the line for Nancy Pelosi, and she never should have gone down this road if she wasn't absolutely certain that she could deliver.

And at this point, most Americans don't want impeachment proceedings to happen. For example, just check out what a Politico/Morning Consult poll just found

In the poll -- conducted Friday through Sunday, as stories circled about Trump allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the Democratic candidates hoping to oust him -- 36 percent of respondents said they believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Other surveys have come up with similar results , but there is one survey out there that indicates that most Americans would actually support impeachment proceedings if the evidence shows that "Trump did use his presidential power to force a foreign leader to help take down a political rival"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump in response to the Ukraine controversy. If it's found that Trump did use his presidential power to force a foreign leader to help take down a political rival, 55 percent of U.S. adults said they would support removing him from office, according to a recent YouGov survey.

Forty-four percent of those polled said they'd "strongly support" removing Trump if the allegations are true, while another 11 percent said they'd "somewhat support" it.

But as it stands right now, on the national level this is a very unpopular decision by Pelosi, and it could potentially hurt Democrats among key blocs of voters

Worse yet, impeachment isn't selling where Democrats made their best gains in the midterms. A majority of suburban respondents oppose starting the impeachment process (35 percent/50 percent), with a wider gap among rural respondents (27/59), while urban voters are more ambivalent than one might guess (47/35). Impeachment trails by double digits in the South (33/53), Midwest, (36/48), and even in the Democrat-friendly Northeast (37/48).

Another reason why this is potentially a giant mistake by Nancy Pelosi is the fact that all of this focus on Ukraine is almost certainly going to damage one of the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination.

All of a sudden, everyone is talking about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Ukraine. A lot of voters are going to look into what happened, and they are not going to be pleased. And this comes at a time when Elizabeth Warren is surging in the polls, and real votes will start to be cast in just a few months.

Up until recently, the Biden campaign had successfully kept the focus off Hunter Biden and Ukraine , and Joe was widely considered to be the heavy favorite to win the nomination.

But now everything could change thanks to Nancy Pelosi.

And what if this push toward impeachment is not successful? Trump's base is going to be extremely fired up by all of the political drama over the next several months, and if Trump survives it is going to be a huge boost for his campaign.

All of the recent polls indicated that a Democrat was likely to win in 2020, and there was a very good chance that the Democrats were going to take the Senate too, but now this could dramatically shift public opinion and change everything.

Nancy Pelosi is rolling the dice, and if she fails it is going to be absolutely disastrous for the Democratic Party. The following is how Matthew Walther summarized the situation that she is facing

Pelosi knows this will not be popular. She knows more than that. She knows that it will be a disaster for the Democratic Party, that it will inflame the president's base and inspire even his most lukewarm supporters with a sense of outrage. She knows that in states like Michigan, upon which her party's chances in 2020 will depend, the question of impeachment does not poll well. She knows, further, that Joe Biden will not be able to spend the next 14 or so months refusing to answer questions about the activities of his son, Hunter, in Ukraine, and that increased scrutiny of the vice president's record in office will not rebound to his credit. She and her fellow Democratic leaders had better hope that someone like Elizabeth Warren manages to steal the nomination away from him before this defines his candidacy the way that Hillary Clinton's emails and paid speechmaking did during and after the 2016 primaries.

And it isn't going to be easy for Pelosi to be successful, because she is going to need 67 votes in the Senate to convict Trump, and right now Democrats only hold 47 seats.

In the end, this is yet another example that proves that America's political system is deeply broken, and we desperately need a seismic change .

Because no matter what the end result is, this entire episode is going to be a giant stain in the history books.

If future generations of Americans get the chance, they will look back on this entire saga with disgust.

And if our founders could see us today, they would be rolling over in their graves, because this is not what they intended.

[Sep 25, 2019] The Democrats Impeachment Attempt Against Trump Is A Huge Mistake

Notable quotes:
"... U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. ..."
"... Biden used his power as vice-president to ask the Ukraine to fire a prosecutor he didn't like and who (by chance?) was going after the company which enriched his son. He openly withheld money to achieve his aim. ..."
"... Trump should be impeached for his crimes against Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. ..."
"... But the Democrats will surely not touch on those issues. They are committing themselves to political theater that will end without any result. Instead of attacking Trump's policies and proposing better legislation they will pollute the airwaves with noise about 'crimes' that do not exist. ..."
"... The Democrats are giving Trump the best campaign aid he could have wished for. Trump will again present himself as the victim of a witch hunt. He will again argue that he is the only one on the side of the people. That he alone stands with them against the bad politicians in Washington DC. Millions will believe him and support him on this. It will motivate them to vote for him. ..."
"... It is likely Biden and son are being investigated in Ukraine and dirt or charges will come from it. Dems blowing smoke about impeachment to take attention away from what may come out of Ukraine. ..."
"... What seems even more idiotic, is that Pelosi made this announcement BEFORE the transcript was published. Is everyone senile in the Democratic leadership? ..."
"... Now that Trump has effectively betrayed his base, and - tweets aside - is governing like Hilary Clinton would have, the only way for him to hold on to his base is for them to think that he's being treated unfairly. Make it all about fake impeachment, and nothing about real issues. ..."
"... Remember, the corporate Democrats and the corporate Republicans are all paid by the same masters, they all read form the same script. This is just theater to distract the proles. It's like professional wrestling without the muscles. ..."
"... I would like to suggest another reason for this impeachment malstorm at this point. Trump is acting presidential at the UN. He made a very nationalistic speech that I'm sure the MSM would like to erase. See The future does not belong to globalists. ..."
"... With Gabbard now making it to the next debate the CORPORATE Dems are running scared. Gabbard will be taking someone out, perhaps it'll be either Warren or Biden: maybe "Beto" or "Pete" just to put a stake in the hearts of these clowns (Harris is already fatally wounded -- just waiting for her to finally drop). ..."
"... The Dems cannot attack Trump's policies. They are bound to sing the same song as Trump, just to a different melody. They have the very same masters, and those who pay the bill dictate the music. It is that simple. ..."
"... The Current Oligarchy is behind the strings controlling Pelosi's mouth and teleprompter as Biden won't be nominated, and it can't totally count on Warren's allegiance. Gabbard has already voiced her opposition to Trump's impeachment, arguing that it's better to beat him at the polls. ..."
"... Trump re-election chances just shot up. Not just the Biden collateral damage, but this is a clear reprise of the Russiagate nonsense. This will re-energize the Trump base - and Trump is going to cry all the way back to the White House saying he's being unfairly prosecuted. Saker is saying this is a literal reprise, but it is irrelevant if that is true or not. ..."
"... A bit off topic, but, DJT's speech at the UN was a eff'en joke. Everything he said about Iran, Venezuela, and other countries negatively, was the most blatant use of "projection" I've ever heard. ..."
"... If during that phone call, Trump would have said in Biden's style "I expect an indictment of Hunter Biden until next week, otherwise Ukraine won't receive any money any more." the push towards indictment would be understandable. But just mentioning Biden's corruption, for which there are strong indications, can be no basis can hardly be a basis for impeachment. ..."
"... A second reason that may be plausible is that Joe Biden is quite influential within the Democratic party, he may have been enraged that someone dared to speak about his corruption and therefore have demanded impeachment. ..."
"... Perhaps impeachment is also meant to distract from the findings about the origins of Russiagate and FISA abuse that will probably soon come out. But it may still be a bit unwise to choose something that is so closely connected with Biden's corruption (and probably also with the fabrication of Russiagate for which the DNC's Ukraine connections were also used). ..."
"... But Michael Tracey said this before the contents of the phone call was known, and I think it is fair to say it is rather underwhelming, and impeachment could end in an embarrassment for Democrats. ..."
"... I think Tulsi Gabbard who so far seems to be the only Democrat who clearly spoke out against impeachment proceedings could profit from this - even though a majority of Democrats currently seems to be in favor of impeachment, the percentage of Democrats who oppose impeachment on such dubious grounds and prefer campaigning on real political issues is probably much higher than Gabbard's current rating, and some of those could be motivated to support her. ..."
"... If a corporate Democrat who is fully behind impeachment is nominated, the chances in the general election are probably not that great, anyway. Even though polls now show the opposite, I hardly think Biden could win against Trump - not only because of the profiteering of the Biden family from his vice presidency, but mainly because of the clear signs of mental decline. ..."
"... Of all the various misdeeds committed by the Trump government over the last few years within US borders and without, the one crime Nancy Pelosi decides to go after Trump over turns out not only a non-crime but it is not even a pale shadow of a more egregious incident in which Joe Biden, while US Vice-President, pressured the Ukrainian government under Porky Pig Poroshenko to sack Viktor Shokin as Prosecutor General for launching an investigation into possibly corrupt activities of Burisma Holdings and in particular of one of its directors who happens to be Joe Biden's son, Hunter. ..."
"... Incidentally wasn't a major shareholder of Burisma Holdings at one time (if not currently) the notorious Ihor Kolomoisky, governor of Dnepropetrovsk region in mid-2014, about the time that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing passenger jet fell from the sky in a region where Burisma Holdings had been granted a license to explore and prospect for shale oil? ..."
"... Incidentally Dmitri Alperovich, CEO of Crowdstrike, the cyber-security company that worked for the DNC during the 2016 Presidential election campaign, is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and its Digital Forensics Research Lab where Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat is a non-resident advisor. ..."
"... I feel that the Democrats' real problem with Trump is that he ended their corruption financing plan for the future. I would like to add Trump just replaced the Democrats corruption plan with his own, but OOPS, the Democrats haven't provided any evidence of that, instead they spent 3 years trying to prove something that never happened. ..."
"... Instead the Democrats chased a ghost for 3 years and now the Democrats have just signalled that they will spend the next 6 months trying to impeach Trump for investigating Joe Biden's corruption. The American people have, in effect, been defrauded of their political leadership time, how do the Democrats think this will go over with the American voters in 2020. ..."
"... impeachment provides another topic to help avoid discussion of the Empire, its wars, ..."
"... Yes, the congress-critters get to enjoy a well-paying job with an annual salary of $174,000 and increase their already high likelihood of getting re-elected if they don't do anything notable that people might not like, but only play politics and sound important on presidential betrayals like (quoting Pelosi) "betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections." ..."
Sep 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday announced to open an impeachment process against President Donald Trump:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, charging him with betraying his oath of office and the nation's security by seeking to enlist a foreign power to tarnish a rival for his own political gain.

Instead of running on policy issues the Democrats will (again) try to find vague dirt with which they can tarnish Trump. This is a huge political mistake. It will help Trump to win his reelection.

After two years of falsely accusing Trump to have colluded with Russia they now allege that he colludes with Ukraine. That will make it much more difficult for the Democrats to hide the dirty hands they had in creating Russiagate. Their currently preferred candidate Joe Biden will get damaged:

For the past two years, talk of impeachment had centered around the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and Mr. Trump's attempts to derail that inquiry. On Tuesday, Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, told her caucus and then the country that new revelations about Mr. Trump's dealings with Ukraine, and his administration's stonewalling of Congress about them, had finally left the House no choice but to proceed toward a rarely used remedy. ... At issue are allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. And it occurred just a few days after Mr. Trump had ordered his staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine.

Trump indeed withheld money from the Ukraine. But the Ukrainian president did not know that when Trump spoke with him:

Mr. Trump did not discuss the delay in the military assistance on the July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky, according to people familiar with the conversation. A Ukrainian official said Mr. Zelensky's government did not learn of the delay until about one month after the call.

At that time Trump was withholding money from several countries. The money for the Ukraine was released in early September without any known conditions.

The immediate impulse to start an impeachment investigation came from some whistle blower in the intelligence community who claimed that Trump did something nefarious during a phone call with the newly elected President of Ukraine Zelensky.

The White House published a memorandum of the phone call . The call was made on July 25 2019, a day after the final Robert Mueller testimony in Congress. There are two passages which the Democrats will claim are damaging:

President Zelenskyy: [...] I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.. I think you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible.

President Zelenskyy: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page of cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. [...]

Trump wanted Zelensky to look into the Ukrainian influence on the whole Russiagate campaign. There certainly was a lot of it. The three Ukrainian-American Chalupa sisters, Alexandra , Irena and Andrea , worked with the DNC and Ukrainian officials in Washington and Kiev to sabotage the Trump campaign . They are, together with other Ukraine affiliated persons like the Dimitry Alperovich, the CEO of the hacks at Crowd Strike, at the core of Russiagate.

The Mueller investigation closed a day before the phone call. It found that Trump had not colluded with Russia or the alleged Russian influence on the 2016 election. That Trump wants the new Ukrainian leader to investigate what Ukrainian officials did in support of a debunked campaign against him may be a wrong thing to do but it is certainly not criminal.

In another passage Zelensky says that he will soon meet Trump's lawyer Rudi Guiliani who wanted to revive an investigation into the Ukrainian company that hired Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden while vice-president Biden himself was running U.S. foreign policy with regards to Ukraine. Trump then asks for support for Giuliani:

President Zelenskyy: [...] I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr.Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Guliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. [...] We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that The other thing, There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.

Zelensky then again assures Trump that the incoming prosecutor general will look into the issue.

Trump asks for investigations and Zelensky assures him that those will happen. Trump applied no open pressure. There is of course always implicit pressure any time a U.S. president utters a wish to the president of a country that needs U.S. good will and money to survive.

As for the Biden case it was Joe's Biden big mouth that brought the issues back into light. In January 2018 he gave a talk at the Council of Foreign Relations and explained how he directly threatened ( video ) to withhold money to blackmail the Ukraine into firing a prosecutor general who was seen as corrupt:

And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn't.

So they said they had -- they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I'm not going to -- or, we're not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You're not the president. The president said -- I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I'm telling you, you're not getting the billion dollars. I said, you're not getting the billion. I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

Biden did that at a time when his son lobbied for the Ukrainian company Burisma who the prosecutor he wanted fired investigated (or maybe blackmailed):

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden's American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts -- usually more than $166,000 a month -- from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor's official file for the Burisma probe -- shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials -- shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

There is no direct evidence that Joe Biden told the Ukrainians to stop the investigation into Burisma. But it was not difficult for the Ukrainians to figure out that ending the investigation into the company that Joe Biden's son worked for would help them with further requests to him.

How the Democrats want to construct an impeachment out of this is beyond me.

Trump is the president. Foreign policy is his constitutional prerogative. He used his power to ask the Ukraine to open investigations into two issues. He withheld money but not to achieve that. The Ukrainians did not even know at that time that the money was blocked.

Biden used his power as vice-president to ask the Ukraine to fire a prosecutor he didn't like and who (by chance?) was going after the company which enriched his son. He openly withheld money to achieve his aim.

How will the Democrats explain that what Trump did was wrong or even criminal while insisting that what Joe Biden did was normal business?

They can't. Pelosi knows that there is no case to impeach Trump. That's why she does not have a plan how to do proceed with it:

Although Ms. Pelosi's announcement was a crucial turning point, it left many unanswered questions about exactly when and how Democrats planned to push forward on impeachment. ... And Ms. Pelosi said she had directed the chairmen of the six committees that have been investigating Mr. Trump to "proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry." In a closed-door meeting earlier in the day, she said the panels should put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. That could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

Pelosi has nothing. Six committees have investigated Trump issues but so far found nothing to charge him with. Neither did the Mueller investigation find anything damaging. How will combining all those nothing-burgers make an impeachment meal?

Trump should be impeached for his crimes against Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

But the Democrats will surely not touch on those issues. They are committing themselves to political theater that will end without any result. Instead of attacking Trump's policies and proposing better legislation they will pollute the airwaves with noise about 'crimes' that do not exist.

There is no case for impeachment. Even if the House would vote for one the Senate would never act on it. No one wants to see a President Pence.

The Democrats are giving Trump the best campaign aid he could have wished for. Trump will again present himself as the victim of a witch hunt. He will again argue that he is the only one on the side of the people. That he alone stands with them against the bad politicians in Washington DC. Millions will believe him and support him on this. It will motivate them to vote for him.

Why is it so hard for Democrats to understand this?

Posted by b on September 25, 2019 at 18:03 UTC | Permalink


DG , Sep 25 2019 18:08 utc | 1

Just another HUGE mistake... democrats will do anything to get him re-elected ...

Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 18:18 utc | 2

It is likely Biden and son are being investigated in Ukraine and dirt or charges will come from it. Dems blowing smoke about impeachment to take attention away from what may come out of Ukraine.
SteveK9 , Sep 25 2019 18:27 utc | 3
What seems even more idiotic, is that Pelosi made this announcement BEFORE the transcript was published. Is everyone senile in the Democratic leadership?
TG , Sep 25 2019 18:31 utc | 4
Missing the point. It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Now that Trump has effectively betrayed his base, and - tweets aside - is governing like Hilary Clinton would have, the only way for him to hold on to his base is for them to think that he's being treated unfairly. Make it all about fake impeachment, and nothing about real issues.

Remember, the corporate Democrats and the corporate Republicans are all paid by the same masters, they all read form the same script. This is just theater to distract the proles. It's like professional wrestling without the muscles.

so , Sep 25 2019 18:34 utc | 5
Just continued self destruction of my government. Federal State and Local all corrupt. Play On! We'll Clean up the mess later.
TheBAG , Sep 25 2019 18:35 utc | 6
I would like to suggest another reason for this impeachment malstorm at this point. Trump is acting presidential at the UN. He made a very nationalistic speech that I'm sure the MSM would like to erase. See The future does not belong to globalists.

In a continuation of the anti-globalist, sovereign-nations theme, Trump warned against totalitarianism and the erosion of democracy and individual freedoms. "We must always be skeptical of those who want conformity and control," he told the assembly. "Even in free nations, we see alarming signs and new challenges to liberty."

Obviously, the MSM needs some very negative news about Trump to breathlessly report instead.

Seer , Sep 25 2019 18:37 utc | 7
"Projecting"...

Keep in mind that when when we're talking Biden, Pelosi et al we're talking CORPORATE Dems. CORPORATE Dems will do anything, even lose an election, to ensure that there is the least disruption to their corporate funders -- they would rather have Trump in office than say Sanders. The Dem's campaign is showing a lot of weakness in their CORPORATE Dem puppets in which case they're afraid of allowing Sanders to rise (working really hard to push up the CORPORATE Wishy-Washy-Warren).

With Gabbard now making it to the next debate the CORPORATE Dems are running scared. Gabbard will be taking someone out, perhaps it'll be either Warren or Biden: maybe "Beto" or "Pete" just to put a stake in the hearts of these clowns (Harris is already fatally wounded -- just waiting for her to finally drop).

james , Sep 25 2019 18:45 utc | 8
fully agree with you b... thanks... the dems are more insane then the repubs and that is saying something..
Cemi , Sep 25 2019 18:45 utc | 9
Instead of attacking Trump's policies and proposing better legislation

This is exactly the point. They can't! They are paid by the same 0.1 % as the Republicans. They can only propose to secure the Mexican border by other means (drones! lol), they would continue to deport small children just as Obama did, continue all illegal wars, and try to enrich the ruling class even further. Just like Trump. That's why they got rid of candidates like Gabbard that fast and instead install an old man suffering from dementia.

The Dems cannot attack Trump's policies. They are bound to sing the same song as Trump, just to a different melody. They have the very same masters, and those who pay the bill dictate the music. It is that simple.

karlof1 , Sep 25 2019 18:48 utc | 10
Yep, b's 100% correct that there're plenty of grounds on which to impeach the entire upper echelon of TrumpCo that won't ever make it into whatever Articles of Impeachment are generated. The Ukrainian stuff is all political with absolutely no impeachable offense incurred.

The Current Oligarchy is behind the strings controlling Pelosi's mouth and teleprompter as Biden won't be nominated, and it can't totally count on Warren's allegiance. Gabbard has already voiced her opposition to Trump's impeachment, arguing that it's better to beat him at the polls.

Sanders in contrast, has endorsed impeachment . IMO, Gabbard's approach is best. However, IMO, both Sanders and Gabbard must plan on what to do when the DNC again throws the nomination to someone other than the best candidate to beat Trump as the DNC is wholly owned by the Current Oligarchy.

james , Sep 25 2019 18:50 utc | 13
karlof1 - if sanders had any character he would have left the dem party and ran as an independent... at this point the dem party is completely insane..
c1ue , Sep 25 2019 18:56 utc | 14
Trump re-election chances just shot up. Not just the Biden collateral damage, but this is a clear reprise of the Russiagate nonsense. This will re-energize the Trump base - and Trump is going to cry all the way back to the White House saying he's being unfairly prosecuted. Saker is saying this is a literal reprise, but it is irrelevant if that is true or not.
Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 19:04 utc | 15
snake "USA and Israel cannot compete with the Chinese?"

China leads in 5G, but US is also gearing up for a long war with China, which is perhaps the main reason for banning Huawei comms.

casey , Sep 25 2019 19:05 utc | 16
"Why is it so hard for Democrats to understand this?"

I think they understand that they need a big distraction, even if it later swirls down the toilet like the previous turd, because Brennan's tit is in the wringer. If Brennan is indicted, then the whole corrupt Russia-hoax starts unraveling. I think the DNC gerontocracy are playing for time with this fiasco out of desperation on several fronts.

Bemildred , Sep 25 2019 19:14 utc | 17
Anything is better than trying to run on the real past record here of failure, mediocrity, decay, and decline.
karlof1 , Sep 25 2019 19:16 utc | 18
james @13--

I don't think the issue is Sanders's "character;" if you follow his Twitter , you'll quickly discover he has a fine character, as with this proposal:

"We are going to end homelessness and build millions of new affordable housing units -- paid for with a tax on the billionaire class."

Sometimes, I don't think he wants to become POTUS, which has allowed him to get rather radical by US political norms. I also wonder how closely those promoting him pay attention to the DC Circus. Given Pelosi and Co's opposition to a host of Bernie's proposals--particularly Medicare For All--it seems wise to put them into the oppositional camp too, as I have.

ben , Sep 25 2019 19:19 utc | 19
Mistake or not, I'll enjoy the theater, IF, it's on MSM. Personally, I'd like to know if the "whistle blowers" accusations can hold water. It needs to be released.

If this regime has nothing to hide, let your people respect lawful summons to testify. If DJT continues to advise them to ignore 'em, that's obstruction..

P.S. This coming circus will be a massive distraction, and keep relevant issues from the public a little longer, which, the corporatists will love.

Pass the popcorn please....

Miss Lacy , Sep 25 2019 19:21 utc | 20
The Dims seem to be setting new records in Stupid, and, as we all know - you can't fix Stupid. Surely they see that while Trump is an appalling scoundrel elected almost by accident due to the Stupid factor in the Dims prior campaign - Pense is a certifiable Lunatic. Too scary for words.

I think maybe casey # 18 is right. The Dims are running scared because they think something Really wicked this way comes.

On the other hand, it is a nice distraction from the Greta Pet Rock Whinging Society - itself a distraction from, well, reality....

Martin , Sep 25 2019 19:31 utc | 21
The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots – #Trump to #UNGA

https://twitter.com/RT_com/status/1176539289355603968

ben , Sep 25 2019 19:33 utc | 22
A bit off topic, but, DJT's speech at the UN was a eff'en joke. Everything he said about Iran, Venezuela, and other countries negatively, was the most blatant use of "projection" I've ever heard.
ben , Sep 25 2019 19:35 utc | 23
For the edification of whomever;

https://psychologydictionary.org/projection/

nil , Sep 25 2019 19:37 utc | 24
I think what's going in the brain trust of the DNC is something like this:

i. Biden is a non-starter with the public. He'll be devoured alive by the Republicans, who only need to bring up his career to expose his mendacity. ii. Warren might be co-opted, having been a Republican and fiscal conservative up to the mid-90s, but what if she isn't? iii. Sanders is a non-starter, but with the "people who matter".

Rather than having to threaten him with the suspicions around his wife, or go for the JFK solution, they'd rather he didn't even get past the primaries, much less elected. iv. As a CNN talking head said weeks ago, it's better for the wealthy people the DNC is beholden to that their own candidate loses to Trump if that candidate is Sanders.

So better to hedge their bets. Start impeachment hearings, give Trump ammunition to destroy Sanders or Warren. That way, the rich win in all scenarios:

a. If Biden wins the nomination, the campaign will be essentially mudslinging from both sides about who is more corrupt. The rich are fine with whoever wins. b. If Warren gets the nomination and is co-opted, the media will let the impeachment hearings die out, or the House themselves will quickly bury it. c. If Warren gets the nomination and is not co-opted, or if Sanders get it, the impeachment will suck up all the air of the room, Trump will play the witchhunt card and be re-elected.

Martin , Sep 25 2019 19:58 utc | 30
"Love your nation, wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first."

Trump gives an anti-globalist speech in defense of nationalism during his #UNGA address. https://twitter.com/tictoc/status/1176505390818836481

Adrian E. , Sep 25 2019 20:00 utc | 31
If during that phone call, Trump would have said in Biden's style "I expect an indictment of Hunter Biden until next week, otherwise Ukraine won't receive any money any more." the push towards indictment would be understandable. But just mentioning Biden's corruption, for which there are strong indications, can be no basis can hardly be a basis for impeachment.

If the new rule was that any contact with foreign governments relating to information that can be relevant in elections, Hillary Clinton should have been disqualified before the election because her team and the DNC worked with Ukraine to get dirt on Manaford (and anything they could find about people around Trump, let alone the Steele dossier for which rumors were also collected abroad).

The behavior of Democrats seems a bit odd. They start impeachment procedures although a majority of Americans is against this (so, despite the polarization, a sizable percentage is against Trump, but wants him to be defeated in elections rather than be impeached, which hardly won't happen anyway when it is tried). I think there are probably mainly two possible reasons.

One is that, although a majority of Americans overall is against impeachment, a majority of Democratic voters is currently in favor of impeachment. Obviously, as to many issues, Democrats don't do what a majority of their voters want (they generally don't when their voters want something different from what their donors want), but sometimes, they do what a majority of their voters wants, even if it is rather stupid strategically.

A second reason that may be plausible is that Joe Biden is quite influential within the Democratic party, he may have been enraged that someone dared to speak about his corruption and therefore have demanded impeachment.

Perhaps impeachment is also meant to distract from the findings about the origins of Russiagate and FISA abuse that will probably soon come out. But it may still be a bit unwise to choose something that is so closely connected with Biden's corruption (and probably also with the fabrication of Russiagate for which the DNC's Ukraine connections were also used).

An interesting question is what the influence on the primaries will be. Obviously, it will be rather inconvenient for those candidates who are senators (Sanders, Warren, and others that may or may not be in the race at that time) if there are impeachment hearings in the Senate at the same time as primaries. Michael Tracey thinks the impeachment procedure would rather help Elizabeth Warren (who had been demanding impeachment for some time) and Joe Biden, while it would be quite inconvenient for Bernie Sanders because he would primarily want to talk about things like economic inequality and healthcare, and constant headlines about impeachment only hinder this.

But Michael Tracey said this before the contents of the phone call was known, and I think it is fair to say it is rather underwhelming, and impeachment could end in an embarrassment for Democrats. The suspicious profiteering of the Biden family will inevitable constantly be an ubiquitous subject, and even if the media who support the Democrats attempt to frame this in a way that protects Biden, in the end, it can hardly be good for him. Of course, a significant part of the Democratic basis is now completely consumed by conspiratorial thinking (in some online forums, we can see constant claims that Trump has been found guilty of conspiring with Russia and that the Mueller report confirmed this because it did not "exonerate" him) - they will support impeachment without caring on what basis is done. But if they continue with such a weak case, support for impeachment could weaken even among Democratic primary voters, and then fervent impeachment proponents like Elizabeth Warren may not profit from this.

I think Tulsi Gabbard who so far seems to be the only Democrat who clearly spoke out against impeachment proceedings could profit from this - even though a majority of Democrats currently seems to be in favor of impeachment, the percentage of Democrats who oppose impeachment on such dubious grounds and prefer campaigning on real political issues is probably much higher than Gabbard's current rating, and some of those could be motivated to support her. That way, she might move up. At the moment, it seems unlikely that she could win outright, but if she has good results and Sanders is elected, there might be a chance that she is appointed to an important position (e.g. Secretary of State) where she has influence on foreign policy.

If a corporate Democrat who is fully behind impeachment is nominated, the chances in the general election are probably not that great, anyway. Even though polls now show the opposite, I hardly think Biden could win against Trump - not only because of the profiteering of the Biden family from his vice presidency, but mainly because of the clear signs of mental decline. Maybe Sanders can, like with the Russiagate conspiracy theory, nod to the establishment enough that he does not get in trouble, but not invest himself too much in that partisan bickering that he is not damaged too much when it fails.

t r u t h , Sep 25 2019 20:05 utc | 32
Posted by: snake | Sep 25 2019 18:50 utc | 12

Huawei Chairman Liang Hua told China-Germany-USA Media Forum that the US putting Huawei on entity list has had no substantial impact on Huawei's business. All of the company's flagship products are shipped normally. Ecosystem of Huawei's end products will be built in 2-3 years.

https://twitter.com/HuXijin_GT/status/1176465008974123008

GeorgeV , Sep 25 2019 20:09 utc | 33
B is once again a sane voice that is being drowned out by a chorus of screaming DC morons. The stupidity of those cretins that run the US of A has no limits. It is indeed infinite! Get ready America, the orange haired jackass (with my apologies to that durable, noble beast of burden) will get another four years in the White House thanks to the Democratic Party's leadership. Reason and logic roll-off what passes for their brains like water on a duck's back. The late journalist, critic and cynic H.L. Mencken was once asked why if he so disliked America why then did he remain in it? He replied, "why do men go to zoos?"
Piotr Berman , Sep 25 2019 20:15 utc | 34
The only way this will help Democrats is that perhaps Biden will vanish from the political scene more expeditiously. I theorize that his current "support" is not related to any particular position but nostalgia and a certain amiability -- that vanishes when you try to understand what (the hell) is he saying. That said, Trump is a master of assorted serious facial expression, can spontaneously coin an insult, for him Biden is a lamb waiting to be roasted.
Fixer , Sep 25 2019 20:17 utc | 35
The Democratic impeachment process isn't a mistake it's a strategy. As with Bojo's Brexit or the Canadian election centrally planned to result in a weak minority, the UK-centred financiers of the Leviathan Soviet needs weak governments to enact their derivative flushing and fiat takedown exercise + the inevitable Financial Patriot Act that follows, as Mark Carney essentially promised several weeks ago.

Sever the head of the beast. Arrest and prosecute the gangsters and financiers when they make their only possible move. The Lubavitcher mob will be used as scapegoats but we can't stop there. Those directing this centuries long crime spree against humanity must be held accountable for their perfidy and their every pilfered asset must be returned to the people from which they stole.

vk , Sep 25 2019 20:18 utc | 36
There's probably an internal struggle in the Democratic Party between the "democratic socialists" (Sanders, Warren?, Gabbard, AOC etc.) and the liberals (the "establishment": Pelosi, Biden, DNC etc. etc.).

The term "democratic socialism" comes from the early Cold War in the UK, more precisely, in the right-wing of the Labour party at the time (also called "Gaitskellites"). It proposes general welfare state policies in order to best manage the capitalist boom of post-war Britain while, at the same time, embracing the idea of capitalism. Democratic socialists are not really socialists -- but they still represent a radical leftwards turn for the political spectrum of the USA, hence are seen as an existential threat to the American electoral machine.

My guess is the liberal faction of the Democratic Party sees Biden as its last hope of aborting the historical process that brought Trump to power thus reconnecting American recent history with Obama's legacy. It's either that or a permanent transformation of American political landscape for the forseeable future.

The problem is that Biden is probably extremely corrupt and has a lot of skeletons in Ukraine. If said investigation proceeds honestly and quickly in Ukraine, my hypothesis is that Biden will go down and even be arrested (alongside his son). That would permanently damage the liberal faction.

The American people still is rabidly anti-socialist (or "anti-communist", in Cold War terminology that they still use nowadays). However, American capitalism has reached its structural limits and even mild socialistic reforms such as universal healthcare free at the point of use is too much for the country to handle without collapsing. For practical purposes, the American elite must consider democratic socialism (Gaitskellism) as full-fledged socialism simply because they are very fragile -- that's also why dumbed down leftists such as Elizabeth Warren and AOC are disferring such devastating blows to the liberals and are so popular.

At the same time, Trump's reelection would still be bad for the American capitalist class as whole because he is eroding America's image to its allies. This is specially true to its First World allies (Western Europe and Japan). The special case here is Atlanticism, i.e. the ideology that posits the existence of a unified Western Civilization in the North Atlantic that strikes envy to the rest of the world (in Asia and India in particular). Besides, a lot of very powerful American billionaires owe their social status to outsourcing to China, so they prefer a Russophobe in the White House instead of a Sinophobe. The American elite is divided.

Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 20:20 utc | 37
james karlof1

That Sanders and Gabbard work within the duopoly is all that needs to be known. One person can only make a difference if there is a party that is independent of the duopoly behind them. We had one here for a bit. Took the combined efforts of the duopoly and media plus splitting her electorate and then jailing her to bring her down. I didn't agree with some of the policies, but that was the first time in my life I voted as they were not part of the system.

Paul Bogdanich , Sep 25 2019 20:20 utc | 38
While it's true that there is nothing impeachable here (replace the name "Biden" with "Assange" or "Snowden" and imagine if anyone would have even batted an eyelash at this). That said Trump talks too much. I only hope that this was a rookie mistake as it was done a long time ago but he just talks too much. People make too much of too many unguaraded comments. Anyway, as to why the democrats need this instead of talking policy, that's easy. All their large campaign contributors are very much against the ideas of the progressive wing in their party and without the progressive wing their policies are the same as the republicans on every major issue. They think it helps them in the election. Kinda stupid but Schumer, Pelosi, Leahey, Grassley and the rest of the gang will drive the party straight into the ground rather than upset their large campaign contributors because that's the seat of their power and why all their policies are identical to republican policies.
Piotr Berman , Sep 25 2019 20:23 utc | 39
OMG! Trump and Zelensky talk again, now on TV. The recording snap I have seen shows Trump saying thoughtfully "I hope that you and Putin will get together and sort out your problems. I know that this is what you were planning to do, and it would be a tremendous achievement. Zelensky looks as if he just learned about the death of his beloved babushka.
sad canuck , Sep 25 2019 20:25 utc | 40
The Democratic Party position is only incomprehensible if you assume they actually want to win and govern in the people's interest. They clearly do not. Late empire circumstances dictate that the pseudo-left choice on the ballot cannot actually adopt any positions opposing the elite, so all that is left is identity politics and orange man bad to veil this increasingly obvious and embarrassing scam. Trump will prevail against any non-progressive Democratic candidate running an orange man bad campaign. Book it.
jt , Sep 25 2019 20:27 utc | 41
News that an impeachment inquiry is being initiated instantly sent stock prices tumbling on Tuesday, but that small jolt is nothing compared to what we will experience if Donald Trump is actually impeached. Over the past couple of years we have seen a tremendous boom in stock prices, and one of the big reasons for that boom is the fact that the folks on Wall Street know that Trump is always going to be looking out for their best interests. Trump understands that his chances of winning again in 2020 will be greatly enhanced if stock prices are rising and most Americans believe that we have a "booming economy", and so he wants to do everything in his power to try to make those things happen. That means that Trump's short-term interests are perfectly aligned with Wall Street's short-term interests, but things will shift dramatically if someone like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders ends up in the White House. Wall Street knows that they have a friend in Donald Trump, and losing that friend would potentially be absolutely devastating.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/if-donald-trump-is-impeached-you-should-expect-the-mother-of-all-stock-market-crashes-to-happen

Ort , Sep 25 2019 20:29 utc | 42
B.'s post and the comments (so far) are a refreshing change of pace from the US mass-media coverage, which as usual treats this as another "bombshell" event to be taken at face value.

Since I try to avoid corporate mass-media infoganda, I can only assume that the Biden video referenced in the post has not gotten much mainstream airplay. As the quoted bit shows, Biden is openly and smugly bragging to an enthusiastic audience about how he successfully gave Ukraine's leaders an ultimatum: either fire the prosecutor who was investigating his crooked son, or lose "a billion dollars" in aid.

Sounds like an, er, quid pro quo , no? Unlike the accusation against Trump, Biden's motives and actions don't have to be hyped, massaged, and spun to create the "impression" of misconduct-- the video speaks for itself.

I've seen alternative-media speculation that the DNC, or some faction within the Democratic Party leadership, actually want this "bombshell" to boomerang back upon Biden and force him to withdraw his candidacy. There are indications that Elizabeth Warren has been moved to the on-deck circle.

I lack expertise and interest in electoral-politics handicapping, but it may be that since the odious Kamala Harris isn't exactly a "hit" with the public, and the charade of Sanders being an "independent" may exclude him from the position of the Democratic Party's 2020 "standard-bearer", Warren is considered "electable".

Warren has issues too, but if Biden drops out for one reason on another, the Dem strategists probably see her as a New! Improved! version of Hillary: a "historic" candidate by identity-politics standards, a reassuringly "safe pair of hands" in contrast to Wild 'n Crazy Trump, and though hardly "charismatic", more personable than Hillary and with less baggage.

Given the Democratic Party leadership's TDS-saturated hysteria and groupthink, it's plausible that the Dems hope that their ongoing assault on Trump's character will prime the public to enthusiastically turn to a reformist "clean as a hound's tooth" schoolmarm type for political salvation.

EtTuBrute , Sep 25 2019 20:30 utc | 43
"No one wants to see a President Pence."

Theory 1) Perhaps given Trump will not agree to a launch a war with Iran, there are those who do, assuming Pence is the idiot who will agree to starting such a war?

"Biden used his power as vice-president to ask the Ukraine to fire a prosecutor he didn't like.... Pelosi has nothing"

Theory 2) Perhaps the Dems have faced reality after all and know Biden who will lose to Trump. Is this a backhanded way to smear Biden, forcing him to pull out of the race once this inevitably blows up in his face?

juliania , Sep 25 2019 20:33 utc | 44
This is puzzling. I can't see why the thread has been stymied into overshoot but it has. Never mind, the issue was so important that it is worth doing our best to scroll sideways on the comments.

I also cannot see why Sanders has shot himself in the foot. Perhaps he thinks, with all the pressures of the office, it is better left to Trump.

Thank you b, for analyzing the phone call. How can this be seen as an impeachable issue? It is all very strange indeed, since calling attention to the situation with Biden's son cannot be in the best interests of the Democratic party, and yet that is what Pelosi has done.

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain..." Is that it?

Piotr Berman , Sep 25 2019 20:39 utc | 45
stupidity of those cretins that run the US of A has no limits. It is indeed infinite! Get ready America, the orange haired jackass (with my apologies to that durable, noble beast of burden) <-- GeorgeV | Sep 25 2019 20:09 utc | 33

As anyone with some contact with computing knows (using a laptop should be sufficient), information processing power comes from small size of processing units and their number. In a living mammal, the but has some trillions of bacteria in the gut, and this is the source of ideas for some (they pull them out of their anus), used sparingly it yields a few megacretins, but we use most of them, we can reach teracretins and more. But if we assemble more than 1000 experts, politicians, commentators, bloggers etc., we can get petacrektins. I would need to check calculations, I think that we will not see exacretins.

Also, noble or not, which beasts of burden have sparse orange manes? Baltimore orioles do not count.

d dan , Sep 25 2019 20:39 utc | 46
I am not sure I agree with the author. The Ukraine call is definitely a bigger scandal than the Mueller's fishing trip, and it may sway some independents. Much depends on what Trump actually said, how he said it, etc, i.e. the actual phone recording will decide whether Democrats make the right decision to impeach this time.
Sasha , Sep 25 2019 20:42 utc | 47
@Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 25 2019 19:16 utc | 18
which has allowed him to get rather radical by US political norms

If pointing out the crucial problems the US society faces and adding solutions vis "getting radical by Us political norms", what is radical is not Bernie Sanders discourse, but "US political norms"

Painting him as radical contributes to avoid discussion of those crucial issues by US society.

https://twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1176915518290182146

According with Ivan Redondo ( in an interview with Pablo Iglesias for the program "Otra Vuelta de Tuerka" ) current chief of staff of President ( in functions ) of Spain, Sánchez, and "spin doctor" ( a la Surkov...) in fashion in Spain now, who so advices the right of the Popular Party, as advices the fake left of PSOE, the past Sanders campaign was the best designed and he points at the merit of having placed many issues on national debate that were long abscent from it and strongly due to do it...

On Ivan Redondo, Basque, formed at private jesuit Deusto University, and then at the US in political communication, presents himself as "respectful of all ideologies", amongst which he thinks "we must reach an agreement"...He assures, at his parents home there is of almost all ideologies ( although I very doubt that there is anyone of the left in his home...but I may be wrong...) and recommends reading the "suspicious", Freud, Nietzsche, Marx..if not for to learn....An interesting guy, no doubt...

Jackrabbit , Sep 25 2019 20:43 utc | 48
Sturm und Drangk the Kool-Aid

Elite malfeasance is not a crime if it's bi-partisan or part of covert ops .

But the 'gotcha!' shell game makes for great public entertainment.

Welcome to the rabbit hole.

Jay , Sep 25 2019 20:44 utc | 49
"Trump should be impeached for his crimes against Syria, Venezuela and Yemen" and the Muslim ban, and separating kids from parents at the US-Mexico border, the denial of asylum too.

Impeachment hearings will give Biden cover for his racism, jingoism, and his flailing memory.

Right Biden and son should be prosecuted for corruption by the USA, but that's true of Trump and his adult children too.

Trump stepped over line and invited Ukraine to work against the candidacy of Biden, doesn't matter what Biden foolishly said about the prosector in Ukraine.

Sasha , Sep 25 2019 20:59 utc | 50
@Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 25 2019 20:20 utc | 37
One person can only make a difference if there is a party that is independent of the duopoly behind them.

But, is it at all possible in the US, with its current electoral system, present yourself as "independent" for presidential elections, out of the "duopoly"?

The system in Spain ( although not only of Spain...the "system"...) managed to thwart the popular support of even new third political force born out of the "15M Movement" ( kinda Occupy...) Podemos, by using a it of kabuki and political machinations amongst oligarchic powers and monarchy ( and I do not discard also US Embassy, as happened during the NATO referendum... )....Sánchez flew to have dinner with Macron as soon as he won the past presidential elections...the same night!

DontBelieveEitherPr. , Sep 25 2019 21:00 utc | 51
DNC just got scared that their front man Biden's dirt is being on the front page. ANYTHING to deflect the attention NOW. They dont think about long term fallout anyway.

Beautiful. Now that Trump after some years more and more realizes he is indeed president, we may finally see some of his promises full filled in the coming years. Only question is at what cost. But with Bibi and Bolton out, MBS shaky after Aramco attack, the neocons influence my finally decrease. Though it may all end out much worse we can imagine. We will see.

JohnH , Sep 25 2019 21:00 utc | 52
News reports are saying that Pelosi changed her position on impeachment because Democrats representing Trump districts suddenly changed to a pro-impeachment position. Pelosi and Schumer bend over backwards to accommodate these Republicans posing as Democrats, using them as their excuse for not getting anything meaningful done.

When it became obvious to them that Trump was going all out for Biden, their savior, I believed they got spooked, seeing their reelection chances plummet if anyone but Biden got the nomination. So of course Pelosi stepped in, as she always does for corrupt, corporate Democrats, and tried to preempt the Ukraine investigation. It may well backfire.

Democrats will spend the next six months trying to make Trump the issue. Republicans will spend the next six months making Biden's corruption the issue. Because Ukraine is such a swamp of corruption, the facts of the matter will remain murky. Ukrainian politicians are likely to say whatever the person controlling the purse strings wants them to say. Back then, it was Obama/Biden. Now it's Trump until it becomes obvious that Trump won't control the money.

In the process let's hope that a lot of dirty laundry about how the US conducts foreign policy gets aired. One of the major goals of US foreign policy is to promote US business abroad and any politician would prefer that his supporters and donors get helped the most which means that tacit, corrupt quid pro quos are the norm.

james , Sep 25 2019 21:13 utc | 53
@37 peter au... thanks.. how is it working out in australia since you voted? has the system reverted to another duopoly?

@46 d dan... did you watch the 1 1/2 minute video on biden speaking that b shared up above and i am again sharing in this link here? check it out and let us know what you think..

@49 jay.. i agree it was a mistake on trumps part, but biden is caught in a much more serious bind as i see it.. ultimately this impeachment idea of pelosi's is very dead in the water and will sink biden too.. maybe that is the point?

Sasha , Sep 25 2019 21:20 utc | 54
@Posted by: Sasha | Sep 25 2019 20:42 utc | 47

According to Ivan Redondo at that interview, the Sanders campaign in 2016 was the one really counterposed to that of Trump.... Thus, attacking Sanders now could equate campaigning for The Donald...hwen who must be attacked is Biden...

Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 21:22 utc | 55
Sasha I do not know enough about the system in Spain to make any comment in that direction.

Re US and an independent president. The two party system or duopoly would take an independent down immediately using impeachment. Impeachment is somewhat different to criminal investigation and trial. A claim can be made and is voted on first by congress. If enough votes it then goes to the senate who vote as to guilty or not. For any president to survive, they must have backers in either the congress or senate.

https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/09/open-thread-on-the-effort-to-expel-trump-from-office-through-impeachment.html "It takes a simple majority (218) for the House of Representatives to pass a bill of impeachment against any federal official. The Democrats have 232 seats in the present congress. The Bill (equivalent to an indictment) then is transferred to the US Senate where the impeached person is tried before the US Senate with the Chief Justice of the United State presiding.. 2/3 of the senators must vote for conviction for that to occur. Two presidents have been impeached. None has been convicted."

Jackrabbit , Sep 25 2019 21:29 utc | 56
james

Biden is in no trouble. He is/will make the case that the removal of the Ukrainian prosecutor was supported by many people and allies that saw the prosecutor as slow/unwilling to tackle corruption in Ukraine.

This is whole thing is truly a nothing-burger distraction from the fact that we are on the cusp of war.

Brendan , Sep 25 2019 21:33 utc | 57
When Joe Biden's son, Hunter was appointed to the board of Burisma, the Vice-President's spokesperson described Hunter as just "a private citizen".

In case anyone believes that the Ukrainian company appointed Hunter Biden purely on merit (and not because of who his father is), there are a few things that should be considered:

- Hunter had no previous experience either in eastern Europe or in the gas industry.

- His appointement was made just a few days before his Dad visited Ukraine:

"Company documents in Cyprus show that Joe Biden's son, R. Hunter Biden, became a member of the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, which describes itself as Ukraine's largest private natural gas producer, on April 18." https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/maxseddon/bidens-son-polish-ex-president-quietly-sign-on-to-ukrainian

- Joe Biden gave a speech during his visit, in which he encouraged Ukraine's 'energy security'( to Ukrainian Legislators in Kiev on April 22, 2014).

- The day before that speech (three days after Hunter's appointment), the White House announced that the USA would help with Ukraine's 'energy security' by sending expert teams in the following weeks. The aim was "to help Ukraine meet immediate and longer term energy needs" and "to increase conventional gas production from existing fields to boost domestic energy supply". https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/21/fact-sheet-us-crisis-support-package-ukraine

The Democrats have made a big mistake by drawing attention to the Bidens' interests in Ukraine.

guest , Sep 25 2019 21:35 utc | 58
Ukraine is right next to Russia. it's easy to get them confused.
Brendan , Sep 25 2019 21:36 utc | 59
When Joe Biden's son, Hunter was appointed to the board of Burisma, the Vice-President's spokesperson described Hunter as just "a private citizen".

In case anyone believes that the Ukrainian company appointed Hunter Biden purely on merit (and not because of who his father is), there are a few things that should be considered:

- Hunter had no previous experience either in eastern Europe or in the gas industry.

- His appointement was made just a few days before his Dad visited Ukraine:

"Company documents in Cyprus show that Joe Biden's son, R. Hunter Biden, became a member of the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, which describes itself as Ukraine's largest private natural gas producer, on April 18." https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/maxseddon/bidens-son-polish-ex-president-quietly-sign-on-to-ukrainian

- Joe Biden gave a speech during his visit, in which he encouraged Ukraine's 'energy security'( to Ukrainian Legislators in Kiev on April 22, 2014).

- The day before that speech (three days after Hunter's appointment), the White House announced that the USA would help with Ukraine's 'energy security' by sending expert teams in the following weeks. The aim was "to help Ukraine meet immediate and longer term energy needs" and "to increase conventional gas production from existing fields to boost domestic energy supply". https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/21/fact-sheet-us-crisis-support-package-ukraine

The Democratics have made a big mistake by drawing attention to the Bidens' interests in Ukraine.

pretzelattack , Sep 25 2019 21:42 utc | 60
the people at the dnc don't really care about winning, they just have to make sure the dollars keep rolling in, and that people like gabbard and sanders lose. to that end, they try political grandstanding like talking about impeaching trump and keeping russiagate alive.
Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 21:43 utc | 61
Yeah, straight back to the duopoly. Greens always get a few votes but they're no different. Put a vote on a long shot one time. He had a falling out with his side of the duopoly and set up a new party. Gained the ballance of power and all roads from both sides of the duopoly led to his door. Literally he sat back in his chair, big obese clown shirt half unbuttoned and held court there. In the end the duopoly caved in and gave him the required permits for to run a rail line from a new coal mine he was kicking of to the coast. Straight away he was one of the boys again, and those of his party that had been elected left him and become independents. Entertaining while it lasted though.
Don Bacon , Sep 25 2019 21:46 utc | 62
from Pelosi statement : "The president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.'

presidential oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." It comes from Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

So: > It's not clear why a US president asking a foreign president to investigate the actions of an American to cause the firing of a prosecutor is wrong. > The only way such an investigation could benefit Trump politically is if that American (Biden) had done something wrong. > So obviously Biden did do something wrong. > Therefore we must conclude that wrongdoing by Americans in other countries must not be publicized because that might affect elections. > Americans voters should not be allowed access to information about US politicians acting badly in foreign countries, and any president who requests such information should be impeached. > The integrity of our elections requires the withholding of some information from voters, when it impacts badly on Democrats.

CD Waller , Sep 25 2019 21:47 utc | 63
Oh the irony of the Democrats building their impeachment case on information from a whistleblower. After the record shattering prosecutions of the Obama Presidency, I didn't think there were any left. This instance of Biden's oral incontinence is just one reason he's a poor choice. Besides being on the wrong side of history on every issue of importance, according to another whistleblower Edward Snowden, Biden was responsible for EU nations denying him asylum and was the primary reason he ended up in Russia.
sorghum , Sep 25 2019 21:52 utc | 65
I find it impossible to believe the narrative we are being fed that politicians with decades of experience with shrewdness and the swamp of DC under their belts could possibly step on their own dicks this many times in a row by accident. This has the feel of being orchestrated reality TV playing to the Trump victim narrative that barely pushed him over the hump in 2016.
karlof1 , Sep 25 2019 21:53 utc | 66
And impeachment provides another topic to help avoid discussion of the Empire, its wars, and the financial burden it places on everything. The very sour state of the Empire's economy was mentioned above; in that light, I suggest this excellent if somewhat technical essay , as a multitude at the bar have voiced their approval of the topic: "Are We Approaching the End of Super Imperialism?"
Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 21:56 utc | 68
Jackrabbit I reckon we are going to see Netanyahu but with Lieberman who is worse (more homicidal lunacy) even than nutty, calling some of the shots. I think it was Lieberman behind the downing of the Russian plane.
John Sanguinetti , Sep 25 2019 22:02 utc | 71
This is my go to site now for real news and evaluation, thanks b. The overall thread here fits my perceptions in many ways except for the elephant in the room and that is the tremendous influence (power) that the Zionist/Neocon/Israeli Fifth column has over US government, political parties, media and foreign governments. Why is this so lightly touched on here or dismissed as "corporate interests"? Is this site vulnerable to those special interests or $$? Or are there so many shills here ready to destroy anyone mentioning it? I guess I will see?
karlof1 , Sep 25 2019 22:06 utc | 72
Don Bacon @62--

Bravo!! Your next pint's on me! I merely stated no impeachable offense was committed while you laid out the illogic of it all!

As with Bill Clinton's impeachment, none of the Articles focused on the genuine crimes he committed, and the same will prove true with Trump. Lots of Jonesing for Pence as POTUS, a desire by many D-Partyites since Trump's win. My guess is the election will occur before the trial's resolved in the Senate if it even gets that far.

Kadath , Sep 25 2019 22:11 utc | 73
After 3 years of the Democrates being totally up their own asses, I've come to the sad conclusion that they must be paid to lose, there's simply no rational explanation for how insane they've behaving, 3 or 4 crazy Democrates shouting at trees is one thing, but there's not one Democrat pointing out how deranged they've been behaving. I can only imagine that their campaign contributors are laughing into their sleeves as they wright one check to the Republicans and then a slightly smaller one for the Democrates.
Peter AU 1 , Sep 25 2019 22:17 utc | 74
John Sanguinetti Israel does have strong influence on the US. I have noticed that many who would like to concentrate on just that aspect in anything that happens, Try to place all blame on Israel and depict the US as an innocent baby led astray. It was a conscious choice for the US to side with Israel and unless the yanks can clean up their act, there will always be an Israel. In fact there are many Israels behind anything political in the US. To name them all is just a matter of looking up who puts money into politics, be it sponsorship or lobbying or has in any way a hold over one or more elected politicians. You will find that virtually nobody can run for a public office in the US and hope to win without having a sugar daddy.
Joerg , Sep 25 2019 22:27 utc | 75
Please, see this excellent interview of The Duran: "BIDEN SCANDAL EXPLODES: UKRAINE FRACKING, MONEY LAUNDERING, BANK OF CHINA PAYOFFS" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxk9Pnw4tbM
Piotr Berman , Sep 25 2019 22:43 utc | 77
With Gabbard now making it to the next debate the CORPORATE Dems are running scared. Gabbard will be taking someone out, perhaps it'll be either Warren or Biden: maybe "Beto" or "Pete" just to put a stake in the hearts of these clowns (Harris is already fatally wounded- just waiting for her to finally drop).

Posted by: Seer | Sep 25 2019 18:37

Tulsi is making up for all those years wasted in the medical unit and shines in her new job: bomb throwing. One bomb hit Kamala the hanging prosecutor, the most recent "we are not Saudi prostitutes" is even better. I would most sincerely ask people here to contribute to her campaign and see your pennies at work. Of course, if you would rather see debates full of establishment collegiality then you should not do it.

JohnH , Sep 25 2019 22:48 utc | 78
One of the reasons that I doubt Biden's version of the story stems from my experience in Venezuela. After Chavez took power, Venezuelans told me that he had found that a critical subsidiary of the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA was basically a CIA shop. The names of CIA on the Board of Directors were not just ordinary CIA, but were recognizable figures at the very top. To me this is entirely plausible. Control of oil is critical to US global hegemony. And what better way to control foreign oil than to have trusted American asset sit on the BOD? This brings us to Hunter Biden's appointment to Ukrainian energy giant Burisma. After the coup in 2014, why wouldn't Biden want a trusted asset on the board of the biggest natural gas producer in Ukraine? IOW it was unpublicized standard operating procedure.
Duncan Idaho , Sep 25 2019 22:57 utc | 79
"For decades there has been a "catch me if you can" quality about Donald Trump, skipping from casino bankruptcies to fraudulent universities to porn actor payoffs." True--- But that may be coming to a end.
uncle tungsten , Sep 25 2019 23:05 utc | 80
Thank you Piotr Berman #77, I share that view with you. Tulsi Gabbard is changing the debate and corporate Dems AND Repugs are terrified of a wave.

I see that Bernie's moment is coming where he will have to choose to either step in line as a sheepdog or take a truly independent path. He is unlikely to run again in 4 years and given the vice grip that these corporate Democrat party thugs have on the machine it may well be time for a leader to go on strike against the machine and run as a people's president.

Tulsi is running hard and I dont expect her to break ranks but I do not see her capitulating as a sheep dog either given her profound focus on messages that the USA working and middle class support. They both need to consider their power and risk in taking direct action in this campaign when the watershed moment arises.

Michael Droy , Sep 25 2019 23:09 utc | 81
It is funny, The Dems spent 4 years trying to find the stain on the dress for Trump and impeach him for lying about it - and it seems that they have absolutely no other idea how to get into power. There is an election next year, and still they prefer to shoot themselves in the foot rather than appeal to voters. Step one of course would be to listen to voters - the ones telling them to shut up about impeachment and find a candidate under 65 with electable policies. In that sense the inevitable departure of Biden is good for the Dems.
Why is it so hard for Democrats to understand this?

Is the key question. Psychiatrists would call it projection. The Dems seem to take everything bad that they get accused of and accuse the oppo early. Thus The Russia smears on Trump came right after internal research told Hillary that she was vulnerable to corruption charges over Uranium One. (it is to the Trump campaign's great credit that they did not respond to the silly Russia gate charges by Hillary by pointing to the far more serious and credible corruption charges against HRC and the $145 million payment to the Clinton foundation by the guy that was permitted by HRC to sell his Uranium stake to Russia's Rosatom. Rather Trump ignored media chat and stuck to his message to voters - essentially that the Dems had abandoned the working man and that Trump at least listened to them.)

And clear criminal behaviour by Biden with Ukraine is the model to accuse Trump in the Biden coverup (though surely he gets ditched now - the Chinese $1 billion to the hedge fund run by Biden's son + Kerry Step-son + big drugs criminal and murder, Whitey Bulger's nephew is just dynamite - just wait till we get to discussing why Obama never faced down China over trade!!).

Has to be said that with all this media power but no policies the Dems are doing appallingly badly, with much of the blowback from the Mueller inquiry yet to hit them.

Josh , Sep 25 2019 23:16 utc | 82
That's a rather macabre balancing act that the creatures in DC are performing. They are certainly a strange lot. I wonder just how badly the faction being represented by the DNC and Democratic Party actually screwed up (on a global/cosmic scale that is). Because, they sure do seem to be stuck in freak out mode. I mean, it is a known fact that Obama, and Biden, were directly responsible for the Kiev coup (I'm sorry, but anyone who believes otherwise really needs a little cognitive adjustment therapy), so that's not really a bombshell. Everyone already knows that Clinton was on point for the Arab Spring and the Libya debacle (to include bumping off a US diplomat), not to mention in on the ground floor of the entire aggression against Syria (and possibly had a finger in the aggression against Yemen). So, these things are in no way able to be considered secrets (even if they do ammount to Nuremberg style war crimes). What else could these ridiculous creatures possibly be afraid of people finding out about, which would prompt them to behave so aggressively towards someone who merely mentions 'maybe looking into somebody's something'?
Jen , Sep 25 2019 23:20 utc | 83
Of all the various misdeeds committed by the Trump government over the last few years within US borders and without, the one crime Nancy Pelosi decides to go after Trump over turns out not only a non-crime but it is not even a pale shadow of a more egregious incident in which Joe Biden, while US Vice-President, pressured the Ukrainian government under Porky Pig Poroshenko to sack Viktor Shokin as Prosecutor General for launching an investigation into possibly corrupt activities of Burisma Holdings and in particular of one of its directors who happens to be Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

Incidentally wasn't a major shareholder of Burisma Holdings at one time (if not currently) the notorious Ihor Kolomoisky, governor of Dnepropetrovsk region in mid-2014, about the time that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing passenger jet fell from the sky in a region where Burisma Holdings had been granted a license to explore and prospect for shale oil?

Incidentally Dmitri Alperovich, CEO of Crowdstrike, the cyber-security company that worked for the DNC during the 2016 Presidential election campaign, is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and its Digital Forensics Research Lab where Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat is a non-resident advisor.

Kadath , Sep 25 2019 23:32 utc | 85
God, even the real news network is descending into madness over this Trump impeachment, they just interviewed Elie Mystal & Alexandra Flores-Quilty and they have drunk the cool-aid so hard they are basically convulsing on the floor. According to them investigating Joe Biden's video confession of extortion is a crime but Joe Biden's extortion is perfectly fine.

I feel that the Democrats' real problem with Trump is that he ended their corruption financing plan for the future. I would like to add Trump just replaced the Democrats corruption plan with his own, but OOPS, the Democrats haven't provided any evidence of that, instead they spent 3 years trying to prove something that never happened.

Millions of dollars, millions of manhours of political discourse and newsmedia coverage, all of it wasted. Those hours could have been used discussing foreign policy, economic policy, healthcare policy, industrial policy, environment policy but nope. Instead the Democrats chased a ghost for 3 years and now the Democrats have just signalled that they will spend the next 6 months trying to impeach Trump for investigating Joe Biden's corruption. The American people have, in effect, been defrauded of their political leadership time, how do the Democrats think this will go over with the American voters in 2020.

Don Bacon , Sep 25 2019 23:41 utc | 86
@ karlof1 66

impeachment provides another topic to help avoid discussion of the Empire, its wars,

Yes, the congress-critters get to enjoy a well-paying job with an annual salary of $174,000 and increase their already high likelihood of getting re-elected if they don't do anything notable that people might not like, but only play politics and sound important on presidential betrayals like (quoting Pelosi) "betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections."

Dems don't take the A Train, they take the B Trail! . . .sorry, I couldn't resist a corny joke (again)

[Sep 24, 2019] The Plan to Trip Up Trump Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about," Papadopoulos replied according to his recent book , "Deep State Target." But what if he had instead chuckled or said something stupid in order to puff himself up? Based on previous FBI entrapment cases , the answer seems clear: after threatening him with prosecution, the bureau would have outfitted him with a wire so that he could bring down other campaign officials. It wouldn't have stopped until it snared the ultimate prize –Trump himself. ..."
"... Trump told reporters in May he wanted Australia's role to be investigated by the Justice Department. Comey's Trump Tower meeting was important because it led directly to the publication of the notorious dossier that would generate endless headlines and cripple the incoming Trump administration even though it was full of baloney. ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Instead of electing presidents, Americans would merely submit them to the FBI for review. ..."
"... With the Electoral College and the Supreme Court already overturning the popular vote in two of the last five presidential elections, voters would have a fourth branch to contend with – the intelligence community. ..."
"... As Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer told MSNBC'S Rachel Maddow at the height of the Russiagate madness: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community – they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you." Had Comey succeeded in bringing down Trump, they may have had a seventh. ..."
"... Le Monde Diplomatique ..."
Sep 24, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Before the Trump Tower visit, Comey sat down with top FBI brass – Chief of Staff James Rybicki, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker, and others involved with the Russiagate investigation – to strategize about the upcoming meeting.

Page 17 of the OIG report tells of what they were up to:

"Baker and McCabe said that they agreed that the briefing needed to be one-on-one, so that Comey could present the 'salacious' information in the most discreet and least embarrassing way. At the same time, we were told, they did not want the President-elect to perceive the one-on-one briefing as an effort to hold information over him like a 'Hoover-esque type of plot.' Witnesses interviewed by the OIG also said that they discussed Trump's potential responses to being told about the 'salacious' information, including that Trump might make statements about, or provide information of value to, the pending Russian interference investigation."

As the final sentence shows, Comey's job was to confront Trump about the alleged 2013 Moscow incident and see whether he would give the FBI reason to advance its Russiagate investigation to a whole new level, that of the presidency itself.

This was the same approach the FBI would employ a couple of weeks later after listening in on a telephone conversation between Mike Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and not liking what it heard about plans to bolster U.S.-Russian relations. The solution was to send a couple of agents to quiz the newly-appointed national security adviser and see how he would respond. After telling Flynn not to bother bringing along a lawyer because it was just a friendly chat and "they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport" – as a follow-up memo noted – the agents caught the ever-voluble Flynn fudging various details. Three weeks later, he found himself out of office and in disgrace. Ten months after that, he was in federal court pleading guilty to making false and misleading statements.

Another Set-Up

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department's inspector general. (Wikimedia Commons)

Now we know from the OIG report that this was apparently the goal with regard to Trump.

Russiagate began nine months earlier with a smallarmy of intelligence agents buzzing around a naïve young Trump adviser named George Papadopoulos. [See " Spooks Spooking Themselves ," May 31, 2018.] An Anglo-Maltese academic named Joseph Mifsud, an individual with strong Anglo-American intelligence connections, wined and dined him and told him that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails."

An Australian diplomat, former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer , who was similarly connected, invited him out for drinks and then passed along the fruits of the conversation to Canberra, which related them to Washington. A Belorussian-American businessman who worked for Steele offered Papadopoulos $30,000 a month under the table. A U.S. intelligence asset named Charles Tawil presented him with $10,000 in cash. A long-time CIA informant named Stefan Halper flew Papadopoulos to London and barraged him with questions:

"It's great that Russia is helping you and the campaign, right, George? George, you and your campaign are involved in hacking and working with Russia, right? It seems like you are a middleman for Trump and Russia, right? I know you know about the emails."

"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about," Papadopoulos replied according to his recent book , "Deep State Target." But what if he had instead chuckled or said something stupid in order to puff himself up? Based on previous FBI entrapment cases , the answer seems clear: after threatening him with prosecution, the bureau would have outfitted him with a wire so that he could bring down other campaign officials. It wouldn't have stopped until it snared the ultimate prize –Trump himself.

Trump told reporters in May he wanted Australia's role to be investigated by the Justice Department. Comey's Trump Tower meeting was important because it led directly to the publication of the notorious dossier that would generate endless headlines and cripple the incoming Trump administration even though it was full of baloney.

Most of what we know about that meeting in the early days of the Trump administration comes from a memo that Comeydashed off minutes later and then lightly revised the next morning.

According to his memo, Comey met one-on-one with Trump to tell him about the Steele dossier because

"the content [was] known at IC [intelligence community] senior level and I didn't want him caught cold by some of the detail . I said I wasn't saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands. I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material and that we were keeping it very close-hold."

But Comey's memo was disingenuous, starting with his line about not wanting to give the media "the excuse to write that the FBI has the material." Leaks are an integral part of Washington, as an insider and a leaker like Comey knows.

As Comey must have also known, his very decision to brief Trump on the dossier wound up triggering press attention to it.

Four days later, Buzzfeed posted the dossier on its website. The source remains anonymous but it's easy to imagine that either Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or CIA Director John Brennan spilled the beans. They both accompanied Comey to the meeting and were appalled by Trump's call for a rapprochement with Russia.

Comey's memo also rings false where it says he "wasn't saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands."

Glenn Simpson, the ex- Wall Street Journal reporter whose private Washington intelligence firm, Fusion GPS, commissioned the dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, told the House intelligence committee that Steele began sharing his findings with the FBI "in July or late June" of 2016. (See p. 60 of testimony transcript ).

That means that the bureau had the Moscow Ritz-Carlton report in hand six months prior to the Trump Tower meeting. Surely, this is enough time to reach some conclusion as to its veracity.

'Might Make Statements'

Had Trump fallen into Comey's trap, millions of Americans would no doubt have cheered – and given Trump's dismal record in office, who can blame them? But the implications are chilling, and not just for rightwing dissidents. Instead of electing presidents, Americans would merely submit them to the FBI for review.

With the Electoral College and the Supreme Court already overturning the popular vote in two of the last five presidential elections, voters would have a fourth branch to contend with – the intelligence community.

As Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer told MSNBC'S Rachel Maddow at the height of the Russiagate madness: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community – they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you." Had Comey succeeded in bringing down Trump, they may have had a seventh.

Daniel Lazare is the author of "The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy" (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde Diplomatique and blogs about the Constitution and related matters at D aniellazare.com .


Richard A. , September 24, 2019 at 15:13

I think Russiagate is more than just smearing Trump, it's also about smearing Russia. The war lobby here in the US and the UK are trying to manipulate public opinion in to hating Russia.

R Zarate , September 24, 2019 at 05:02

And now there are calls to impeach Trump for asking for an investigation into Biden! It speaks volumes about the MSM that there was no uproar when H.B. took the job at Bursima, I remember the White House putting out a release at the time saying they could see no conflict of interest, I guess the lack of conflict was it was par for the course to enrich family members.

By the bye. So Trump gets impeached, then what? Didn't do Clinton any harm.

CitizenOne , September 23, 2019 at 23:26

It is an interesting history filled with plots within plots to destroy Trump for the audacity to win the presidential election. True he won the election with a lot of help from Cambridge Analytica and his election team which included Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos (the nube) Paul Manafort (the former partner in the Black, Stone, Manafort and Kelly lobby firm) , Rick Gates and Michael Flynn.

All these people were indicted under the Mueller probe but yet Trump escaped without a scratch on his record. To pull this off Trump abandoned all of them in turn claiming he hardly knew them and had no involvement. How Trump escaped from the Mueller investigation has nothing to do with his innocence and everything to do with the lack of evidence tying him to the crimes his associates admitted to under intense scrutiny by the Mueller Special Council Investigation into the alleged Russian Hacks which supposedly threw the election toward Trump. Michael Cohen, Trump's long time lawyer was also convicted of paying off two women that alleged Trump arranged for sex with the women and later paid them off handsomely allegedly by orders from Trump.

It is like Trump won his freedom because there was no evidence to convict him despite the many people who were closely associated with himwho fell as victims to the special prosecutors zeal for indictments of Trump's inner guard.

In the end the Mueller report all but exonerated Trump with Mueller claiming Trump had committed impeachable evidence but that Mueller could do nothing about that leaving his conclusions up to the court of popular appeal as to whether or not Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice in the entire Russia Gate story.

Trump accurately called out the testimony of Comey before Congress into what he knew about the Russian attempt to hack the election as fake news. Trump banked on what the intelligence community would share about the election result and he won big time when the Mueller investigation into Russian hacking of the election produced no tangible connection between Trump and the alleged hackers. The Steel dossier was also l shown to be just more fake news paid for by the democrats.

The longer Trump remains in charge the less likely that he will be implicated in a scandal although the new allegations that he attempted to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden has the potential to raise a new round of fake news decrying that the president has engaged in yet more impeachable offenses.

robert e williamson jr , September 23, 2019 at 21:23

Beware of the Department of Justice, mad dogs and dogs of war.

Appears to be FBI disruption of the domestic governmental tranquility for the unique purpose of disrupting a duly elected president.

I mean the FBI bill themselves as the domestic counter intelligence apparatus and CIA apparently agrees. Maybe CIA is actually running another of their counter intelligence covert mission that involves the undoing of Ole Donny J. .

No I didn't say it, no mention of the dreaded "executive action" my me.

My assumption is that this may be simply collateral damage from the investigation into the Russia meddling in the 2016 elec . . . . .

. . . and the beat goes on, la da da dee . . . !

That far away look in the eyes of the old democratic leaders is the look of "the fear" (H.S.T.). They watch as the repugs, their partners in crime get skewered , by the same DOJ that will skewer them in a New York second given a chance.

DOJ and the USAG leading the shock troops of the National Socialists take over.

Sandra Thompson , September 23, 2019 at 20:58

One of your best lines: "Instead of electing presidents, Americans would merely submit them to the FBI for review." Liked last couple of paragraphs too. Thank you

Abby , September 23, 2019 at 19:43

So Comey knowingly and blatantly lied to the incoming president and it was that incoming president that got investigated? How the hell does that make sense to the Russia Gaters? And then they elevated Comey after he got fired? This makes as much sense as people thinking that Robert Mueller was going to save the country.

After reading Parry's essay on Joe ByeDone from 2014 after the Obama coup in Ukraine that showed how corrupt the powerful people in our government are I don't even know why people bother to vote anymore. The country is run by people behind the scenes who use congress critters to do their dirty work and give them cover. And with our corrupt military industrial complex setting the world on fire I think it's time for the empire to burn.

Ray McGovern , September 23, 2019 at 18:46

VERY GOOD PIECE, DAN. THANKS. Ray McGovern

Martin , September 23, 2019 at 15:27

I read somewhere early on that someone was peddling the steele-dossier to many different outlets weeks or even months before trump's briefing, but they wouldn't bite (too fantastic) until the feds legitimized it. The people should be informed about these mechanics.

Dan Anderson , September 23, 2019 at 15:09

Here's the warning before being sworn in:
January 3, 2017 – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he is being really dumb to do this."
Rachel Maddow: "What do you think the intelligence community would do if they were motivated to?"
Schumer: "I don't know, but from what I am told, they are very upset with how he has treated them and talked about them," -- The Rachel Maddow Show Jan 3, 2017

[Sep 24, 2019] CIA decided under Dulles that they were the only ones capable of leading this country

Notable quotes:
"... CIA decided under Dulles that they were the only ones capable of leading this country, mainly because they wanted it ran their way and no other. Don't take my word for it though, read Arthur B. Darling's "THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, AN INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT TO 1950 copy right 1990 Penn State Press. (This work was classified for quite a long while.) ..."
"... So the first thing that works in CIA et al's favor is politicians who have been in DC long enough to be worn down and thoroughly compromised by blackmail of one sort or another and there fore vulnerable. ..."
Sep 24, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

SusanR , September 20, 2019 at 20:22

It has been my contention that Biden's powerful backers from the military-industrial-intelligence-media complex are fully aware of his mental state, and that is precisely why they want him to be president. Why? He would only be a figure-head president. He would be given a suggested running mate as well as a list of candidates for cabinet and other appointed positions (as Obama was given) and Biden would follow that in making appointments. Policies of his administration would be consistent with the interests of the military-industrial-intelligence-media complex.

robert e williamson jr , September 20, 2019 at 15:19

Kids this is exactly what the intelligence community wants, someone who they can claim needs to be told what to do or be kept discreetly out of the loop, so currently Joe maybe the chosen one just as Bill Barr is reported to have told Slick Willy.

We end up where we are at the moment because our security state apparatus is ran by the intelligence community who do not really want a strong intelligent, clear minded president who can actually think for himself. Ask Barrack Obama!

For years I've used this analogy, crude as it maybe, that when the newly elected president is called on for his national security briefing it is always a tense encounter because this "Newby" is about to have a come to Jesus meeting with this most abusive of all government entities. The intelligence community. He is "shown the way"he will act because if he doesn't this community who has relieved him of one his go -- -s will come and relieve him of the other.

This started as a joke on my part, I'm now convinced it reflects reality.

At some point many here will understand that since around the time of the murder of JFK , CIA has framed things in this manner.

CIA decided under Dulles that they were the only ones capable of leading this country, mainly because they wanted it ran their way and no other. Don't take my word for it though, read Arthur B. Darling's "THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, AN INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT TO 1950 copy right 1990 Penn State Press. (This work was classified for quite a long while.)

Doing so will help make your mind more flexible , jeesh what a slog to get through it.

So the first thing that works in CIA et al's favor is politicians who have been in DC long enough to be worn down and thoroughly compromised by blackmail of one sort or another and there fore vulnerable.

I figured if Caitlin could say "dog balls " which I think was a great analogy I could say gonads.

Time to sit down Joe.

Thanks again to Consortium News for their great efforts at informing the masses.

[Sep 23, 2019] Apparently now that the notion Russia interfered in the US presidential election to tip the vote to Trump has become an article of faith that much of the world regards as established fact

Highly recommended!
This is a apt demonstration of the raw power of the US neoliberal MSM propaganda.
Notable quotes:
"... This is a very interesting process: no matter how absurd is the particular notion and how many contravening facts exist, the power of neoliberal MSM is such that soon enough it is viewed as an established and indisputable fact. As you aptly call it "an article of faith". ..."
"... So we can state that neoliberal MSM are performing part of functions that in Medieval Europe was performed by the Church. Kind of giant televangelism pulpit in the mega church of neoliberalism ..."
Sep 23, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 21, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Interesting – apparently now that the notion Russia interfered in the US presidential election to tip the vote to Trump has become an article of faith that much of the world regards as established fact, it is safe to advance on that a little. Now Donald Trump actually asked Vladimir Putin to hack the emails of his democratic rival.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ukraine-if-youre-listening–how-trump-tries-to-quell-controversies-by-saying-the-quiet-part-out-loud/2019/09/20/8e68aad0-dbc1-11e9-adff-79254db7f766_story.html

Curiously, the Washington Post's recently-adopted new slogan is "Democracy dies in darkness". So telling the readers any old shit that you made up and can offer no proof whatsoever is true is infinitely better than darkness. And they wonder why academic standards are slipping, and why Americans faithfully believe things that few other countries accept as true. All the while they are cultivating a nation of dunces which believes anything it is told by its government.

likbez

"apparently now that the notion Russia interfered in the US presidential election to tip the vote to Trump has become an article of faith that much of the world regards as established fact,"

Mark, you are a very astute political observer!

This is a very interesting process: no matter how absurd is the particular notion and how many contravening facts exist, the power of neoliberal MSM is such that soon enough it is viewed as an established and indisputable fact. As you aptly call it "an article of faith".

So we can state that neoliberal MSM are performing part of functions that in Medieval Europe was performed by the Church. Kind of giant televangelism pulpit in the mega church of neoliberalism

[Sep 22, 2019] The US media has become a cesspool of bottom-feeders all looking for the 'gotcha' moment, while the business and profession of journalism in general has morphed to uncritical relay of government propaganda.

Sep 22, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 16, 2019 at 9:05 am

Young people in the west, generally speaking, are know-it-alls convinced of their own absolute currency of knowledge, and most of what they believe they know comes from reading newspapers and watching television. I say this from experience as, like all of us, I was young once and thought I knew it all, and I got almost all my information from newspapers and television news, although some came from professional journals like the US Naval Institute Proceedings. I grew up believing Russia was a grey and colourless place where hopeless people in shabby, ill-fitting clothes trudged dispiritedly from one line-up to another, then home to their tenth-floor walk-up concrete box shared with from eight to a dozen other family members and relatives.

Of course, it WAS like that for some people. Just as it likely was for the poor in the west, although they were all but invisible then save for occasional charity drives to 'help the less fortunate'. I was a huge fan of the United States, loving pretty much everything about it, as my first foreign trips with the Navy were to places like New London, Connecticut (right across the river from Groton, the headquarters of submarine builders Electric Boat) and Boston. I was a big fan of the U.S. Navy, and in many respects I still am – it was and is mostly a professional service with capable leaders and sound ethics common to seagoing services the world over.

It was in the area of the USA's political system that gradual and then total disillusionment took place. Any respect I might once have had for the media vanished at about the same time.

The media has become a cesspool of bottom-feeders all looking for the 'gotcha' moment, while the business and profession of journalism in general has morphed to uncritical relay of government propaganda.

From that same link, a very interesting dissection of the Salisbury poisonings. We've become used to mocking or horrified refutations of the UK government's line that it could only have been Russia, but this source does it with considerable detail; for instance, the formula originally devised by Vil Marzayanov and his compatriots in the Soviet Union was later patented by a US Chemical lab.

https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/briefing-note-update-on-the-salisbury-poisonings-2/

[Sep 22, 2019] The Beeb continues to blather on about Smolenkov being an absolutely top-hole high-level aide to Vladimir Putin, practically running the place, Darling, probably called each other 'Vladdy' and 'Smoky' when the peasants weren't around.

Sep 22, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

J.T. September 21, 2019 at 5:32 pm

How contrived.

What will they claim next? That Putin and Smolenkov were lovers?

[Sep 22, 2019] Is Epoch time yet another CIA controlled publication? The publisher, obscure sect called Fanul Gong is supported by NED and other usual players connected to CIA

Notable quotes:
"... As for Falun Gong's potential affiliations with the CIA and NED that's another quite plausible storyline altogether. ..."
"... One surely wondered (until how) how Falun Gong can fund The Epoch Times using the same business model that Sheldon Adelson uses to fund a pro-Netanyahu newspaper "Israel Hayom" in Israel that Netanyahu himself endorses and which he or other people in the Israeli government might privilege with news of events that the rest of the Israeli news media has no access to. In this way "Israel Hayom", offered for free in Israel, poses a threat to other Israeli newspapers which have no rich patron to fund their activities and pay their staff but must rely on people buying their papers or regularly subscribing to them. ..."
Aug 21, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Falun Gong is a cult which claims to have millions of followers. It was founded in China by Li Hongzhi who thinks of himself as a higher being . Falun Gong mixes some Taoism and Buddhism with nutty ideas, conservative politics and strong anti-communism :

Some of Mr Li's pronouncements are certainly unconventional, some would say just plain strange.

He believes aliens walk the Earth and he has reportedly said he can walk through walls and make himself invisible.

Mr Li says that he is a being from from a higher level who has come to help humankind from the destruction it could face as the result of rampant evil.

In 1999 the cult attempted to gain political power in China. The government shut it down for pushing its followers to not use medical therapies. Li Hongzhi and some of his followers moved to the United States. As the cult is strongly anti-communist the U.S. government used it to put pressure on China. Some institutions and companies related to Falun Gong are openly funded with U.S. government money.

The main media outlet of the Falun Gong organization is the Epoch Times . NBC reports of its astonishing growth as a pro-Trump social media force:

By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on Facebook than The Epoch Times.

The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook's advertising archive -- more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.

Those video ads -- in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the "Deep State," and criticize "fake news" media -- strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.
...
In April, at the height of its ad spending, videos from the Epoch Media Group, which includes The Epoch Times and digital video outlet New Tang Dynasty, or NTD, combined for around 3 billion views on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, ranking 11th among all video creators across platforms and outranking every other traditional news publisher.
...
The Epoch Times brought in $8.1 million in revenue in 2017 -- double what it had the previous year -- and reported spending $7.2 million on "printing newspaper and creating web and media programs." Most of its revenue comes from advertising and "web and media income," according to the group's annual tax filings, while individual donations and subscriptions to the paper make up less than 10 percent of its revenue.

New Tang Dynasty's 2017 revenue, according to IRS records, was $18 million, a 150 percent increase over the year before. It spent $16.2 million.


XXX

The NBC report says it is not clear where the "web and media" money that gets invested in pro-Trump advertisement actually comes from. I didn't realize it was the same Epoch Times that did a good job covering Russia-Gate:

Spygate: The True Story of Collusion [Infographic]

Spygate: The Inside Story Behind the Alleged Plot to Take Down Trump

jb , Aug 21 2019 18:32 utc | 1

"The Democrats could up their game by taking a deeper look into this issue." you mean the CIA democrats like Mark Warner? the US has nothing to offer the world except war, which is why the people of the US must destroy this country. there is 1000% bipartisan agreement on the war drive against both china & russia. both parties spend their days yelling at each other about who is the most commie, like moscow mitch or comrade nancy, b/c they are unified in their war drive. as they are on anything else that matters. this country exists to wage war, as the platform for projection of power, against competitors. nothing else. the illusion that any of the operators w/in the system, any of them at all, are doing anything but crafting a persona in relation to power for self-aggrandizement, not challenging power in the slightest, is not helpful.

c1ue , Aug 21 2019 20:22 utc | 7
Thanks for the info on Shen Yun.
In the Bay Area, it seems there are at least 3 or 4 permanent Shen Yun advertising billboards at any given time. Just yesterday, I passed one advertising tickets for 2020!
The Epoch Times is also very widespread in distribution, although unclear on the actual readers. It seems that every 2nd SF Weekly box has an Epoch Times one next to it, although my personal experience is mostly downtown where the large Cantonese speaking population is.
William Gruff , Aug 21 2019 20:40 utc | 12
Falun Gong is kinda like Scientology crossed with Amway. Get rich quick while simultaneously healing your goiters. In its best days it was a terrible scam. Now it is just a blunt instrument that the US State Department uses to try and beat China with.
FSD , Aug 21 2019 21:01 utc | 14
The Epoch Times' Jeff Carlson has been in the thick of uncovering the broad Democratic Party coup (in league with transnational intelligence assets) against the Trump Presidency. Thus b's depiction here of the Dems potentially acting in the role of white knight subverts mountains of evidence. As for Falun Gong's potential affiliations with the CIA and NED that's another quite plausible storyline altogether.
Lbanu , Aug 21 2019 22:21 utc | 16
Perhaps experience affords one the possibility of rapidly discerning the underbelly of an organized grouping like Falun Gong. Early in its manifestations on streets in Europe it became as apparent as the nose on one's face that it was a well financed propaganda tool for the gullible and naive. In short, its a ridiculous novelty, a con job and a rip off for all who are taken in by such preposterous pretensions when its plainly so assuming in its virulent hatred. Anyone who protests their disturbing, illegal and unacceptable behavior best be prepared to be bitten.. Like various other cults they are not what they appear. Rather they are a mish-mash of absurd fantasies and hypnotic imaginations. Finally, such groups can seem innocent enough and yet become highly dangerous to others. But ask around and expect the response they are nice, gentle, kind and harmless or other such understanding expressions. Don't be taken in by the setup folks!

Jen , Aug 21 2019 23:28 utc | 19

Thanks B for an excellent survey covering Falun Gong's business activities and cybersecurity connections with the US government and its agencies.

One surely wondered (until how) how Falun Gong can fund The Epoch Times using the same business model that Sheldon Adelson uses to fund a pro-Netanyahu newspaper "Israel Hayom" in Israel that Netanyahu himself endorses and which he or other people in the Israeli government might privilege with news of events that the rest of the Israeli news media has no access to. In this way "Israel Hayom", offered for free in Israel, poses a threat to other Israeli newspapers which have no rich patron to fund their activities and pay their staff but must rely on people buying their papers or regularly subscribing to them.

Also, when the sources of most news about prisoners having organs forcibly removed from them by the Chinese government go back to Falun Gong itself, one has to wonder about the veracity of such claims. If after 20, 30 years of such claims, there is still no independent verification of the claims of forced organ removals and transplants (and the British design firm Forensic Architecture hasn't yet been approached to create its 3D Bellingcrap-style visual recreations of the horrific surgery theatres in which the operations supposedly take place), then we must regard these claims with all the scepticism and scorn they may deserve.

[Sep 21, 2019] Edward Snowden On The NSA, His Book 'Permanent Record' And Life In Russia NPR

Sep 21, 2019 | www.npr.org

In 2013, Edward Snowden was an IT systems expert working under contract for the National Security Agency when he traveled to Hong Kong to provide three journalists with thousands of top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance of American citizens.

To Snowden, the classified information he shared with the journalists exposed privacy abuses by government intelligence agencies. He saw himself as a whistleblower. But the U.S. government considered him a traitor in violation of the Espionage Act .

After meeting with the journalists, Snowden intended to leave Hong Kong and travel -- via Russia -- to Ecuador, where he would seek asylum. But when his plane landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, things didn't go according to plan.

"What I wasn't expecting was that the United States government itself ... would cancel my passport," he says.

Snowden was directed to a room where Russian intelligence agents offered to assist him -- in return for access to any secrets he harbored. Snowden says he refused.

"I didn't cooperate with the Russian intelligence services -- I haven't and I won't," he says. "I destroyed my access to the archive. ... I had no material with me before I left Hong Kong, because I knew I was going to have to go through this complex multi-jurisdictional route."

Snowden spent 40 days in the Moscow airport, trying to negotiate asylum in various countries. After being denied asylum by 27 nations, he settled in Russia, where he remains today.

"People look at me now and they think I'm this crazy guy, I'm this extremist or whatever. Some people have a misconception that [I] set out to burn down the NSA," he says. "But that's not what this was about. In many ways, 2013 wasn't about surveillance at all. What it was about was a violation of the Constitution."

Snowden's 2013 revelations led to changes in the laws and standards governing American intelligence agencies and the practices of U.S. technology companies, which now encrypt much of their Web traffic for security. He reflects on his life and his experience in the intelligence community in the memoir Permanent Record.

On Sept. 17, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit to recover all proceeds from the book, alleging that Snowden violated nondisclosure agreements by not letting the government review the manuscript before publication; Snowden's attorney, Ben Wizner, said in a statement that the book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations, and that the government's prepublication review system is under court challenge.

[Sep 20, 2019] The Narcissism of the West

The USA clearly overextended itself with all those neocon global neoliberal empire games. So for Canada, to think of it as an independent country is somewhat naive. It is vassal of Washington at best, a colony at worst.
But RussiaGate is not about Russia and its attitude to the West. Russiagate is about crisis of neoliberalism and cracks in the facade of the neoliberal society, the cracks that the ruling elite tried to patch by redirecting anger to the external enemy.
This is the point that the author seems do not understand. all russigate stupidity is just at attempt to use the image of expernal enemy to rally the nation and produce at this some kind of artificial unity. Unity that now is severely lacking in the USA.
Sep 20, 2019 | irrussianality.wordpress.com
West. Boosted by victory in the Cold War, believing that our systems represent the 'end of history', we in the West have come to see ourselves as 'masters of the universe'. We are all that matters.

And so it follows that we must be at the top of everybody else's agenda, and that whatever anybody else in the world does, it must somehow be about us.

Take the paranoid stories I've been covering on this blog about how the Russians are bound to 'meddle' in Canada's upcoming general election. Why on earth do people here think that this is so likely, given that the choice is between a governing party whose foreign minister is banned from entering Russia and an opposition party whose leader is banned from entering Russia? The answer lies in our strange belief that we're actually really important. Canada is a G7 country after all. Of course the Russians will target us. We matter! Except that in reality we don't.

As was mentioned in the report by Sergey Sukhankin which I critiqued a week or so ago, Russians who study international affairs don't look at Canada as a truly independent country. To most of them, we're just an appendage of the United States. Our belief that the opposite is true – that we're a big player, that our elections really matter to foreign countries, that they're bound to try to undermine us because 'WE'RE IMPORTANT!' – is narcissism pure and simple.

Canadians aren't the only one guilty of this. Americans have a similar problem. It's why they had such a huge problem understanding what Saddam Hussein was up to after his defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. Faced with apparent Iraqi obstruction of US demands, they assumed that this meant that Saddam was plotting some sort of evil revenge against the United States. In fact, it turned out that he wasn't thinking of the Americans at all; his real concerns were to do with Iran. You can find lots of examples like that. Americans are told that they must fight the Taliban because of the danger that terrorists might again use Afghanistan to strike the United States. But is the average Talibani really thinking about America? Or is he thinking about his home, his family, his village – all things local? If the Iranians are helping the Syrian government, is it because they view the war in Syria as part of a global struggle against the United States, or is it because Syria is next door to Iran and what happens there is of direct importance to Iran's own security? The answers, I think, are pretty clear.

To put it another way, states (and non-state actors) have their own interests unconnected to us. The fact that their pursuit of their interests sometimes makes them clash with Western states who are pursuing different interests doesn't mean that they're doing what they doing because of us. Moreover, as the balance of power in the world shifts, it's likely that more and more often the West will become less and less of a factor in non-Western states' calculations. As Derek Averre says with reference to Russia in another part of the LSE report:

We are in danger of missing the fact that European norms are becoming less important as a reference point against which Russia's political elite measures its policy. Indeed, Ted Hopf's argument – that Russia constructs its identity in relation to the US/Europe as 'significant others' – should be subject to appraisal at this time of far-reaching change in Russian foreign policy.

In short, it's not all about us, and becoming less and less about us with every passing day. But arrogance and narcissism prevent us from seeing this. As a result we stumble from foreign policy blunder to foreign policy blunder . Unless and until we are able to come off our high horses and recognize that we're not the centre of the universe, we're going to keep getting things horribly wrong.

[Sep 19, 2019] Pelosi Unloads On Nadler; Tells Him To Drop 'Moby Dick' Like Impeachment Obsession

Notable quotes:
"... "Sadly, the country spent over three years and 40 million taxpayer dollars on these investigations," said Lewandowski. "It is now clear the investigation was populated by many Trump haters who had their own agenda -- to try and take down a duly elected president of the United States," Lewandowski said in his opening statement - later adding "We, as a Nation, would be better served if elected officials like you concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country, as opposed to going down rabbit holes like this hearing." ..."
"... Nadler and Schiff and those in their camp have a single-minded purpose: Never, ever , again allow the unwashed to get away with a successful rebellion. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler last week over his 'Moby Dick'-like obsession with impeaching President Trump - days before Trump's 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wiped the floor with Congressional Democrats during a contentious five-hour hearing on Tuesday in front of Nadler's panel.

Pelosi's comments came during a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting of Democrats last week, where she complained that Judiciary Committee aides have advanced the impeachment push "far beyond where the House Democratic Caucus stands," according to Politico .

" And you can feel free to leak this ," Pelosi added, according to several people who were there.

It was the latest sign of the widening schism between Pelosi and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, two longtime allies who are increasingly in conflict over where to guide the party at one of its most critical moments.

Both Pelosi and Nadler, who have served in the House together for more than 25 years, insist their relationship remains strong. But their rift over impeachment is getting harder and harder to paper over amid Democrats' flailing messaging on the topic and a growing divide in the caucus. - Politico

And while Pelosi aides told Politico that Nadler has coordinated with her office on investigations, legal strategy and messaging - and Pelosi has signed off on all the Judiciary Committee's court filings against Trump, the House Speaker has been expressing skepticism for months that a successful impeachment in the House would only lead to "exonerating" Trump on the campaign trail after the effort dies in the GOP-led Senate.

Pelosi has privately clashed with Nadler over his aggressive impeachment agenda, arguing the public does not support it and it does not have the 218 votes to pass on the House floor. So far, about 137 Democrats say they would vote to open an official impeachment inquiry.

...

The relationship between the two veteran lawmakers has become strained . While Pelosi has blocked the House from formally voting to open an impeachment inquiry, Nadler declared he is authorized to begin one even without a House vote. - Washington Examiner

"Am I concerned? The answer is yes!," Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala told the Washington Examiner . "In my district, I'm not getting asked about impeachment. I'm being asked about healthcare, I'm being asked about the environment, and about infrastructure. It's not like around the country they are thinking about impeachment. It's a Washington phenomenon as far as I can tell."

... ... ...

During Tuesday's 'impeachment' hearing, Corey Lewandowski beat Congressional Democrats like a red-headed stepchild - starting with his opening statement:

"Sadly, the country spent over three years and 40 million taxpayer dollars on these investigations," said Lewandowski. "It is now clear the investigation was populated by many Trump haters who had their own agenda -- to try and take down a duly elected president of the United States," Lewandowski said in his opening statement - later adding "We, as a Nation, would be better served if elected officials like you concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country, as opposed to going down rabbit holes like this hearing."

" As for actual 'collusion,' or 'conspiracy,' there was none. What there has been, however, is harassment of the president from the day he won the election ."

"Corey Lewandowski was very precise," Rep. Matt Gaetz, a member of the House panel, told Fox News ' Sean Hannity. "And House Democrats looked like a dog that had chased a car and then caught it and then did not know what to do about it ."

Norm Corin , 8 minutes ago link

Nadler and Schiff and those in their camp have a single-minded purpose: Never, ever , again allow the unwashed to get away with a successful rebellion.

That's the reason a now 90% controlled Trump can't be allowed to escape unscathed, no matter how otherwise useless the exercise -- even by the standards of their own (apparent) issue agendas.

[Sep 18, 2019] "Why do Dems continue this charade?" Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked. Lewandowski replied: "I think they hate this president more than they love their country."

Dems still beat a dead horse, This is so stupid that there are chances that they will lose electins to Trump again.
Corey Lewandowski Opening statement - YouTube
Notable quotes:
"... "If instead of focusing on petty and personal politics, the committee focused on solving the challenges of this generation, imagine how many people we could help." ..."
"... He also took a swipe at Trump's 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, and her handling of emails, and criticized the "Obama-Biden administration" for its inability to stop Russia election interference -- dropping the name of the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate. ..."
"... Nadler is an incompetent idiot with a Napoleon complex. Why did this hearing ever happen and televised when it was certain it was going to be a bust. ..."
"... More of our vicious, counterproductive political duopoly. This was just one example of what is happening in general with our current political processes - a lot of stagnation. ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | www.washingtonpost.com

He set the tone in his opening statement, mocking Democrats and ridiculing what he called the "fake Russia collusion narrative."

"We as a nation would be better served if elected officials like you concentrated your efforts to combat the true crises facing our country as opposed to going down rabbit holes like this hearing," Lewandowski said. "If instead of focusing on petty and personal politics, the committee focused on solving the challenges of this generation, imagine how many people we could help."

... ... ...

He also took a swipe at Trump's 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, and her handling of emails, and criticized the "Obama-Biden administration" for its inability to stop Russia election interference -- dropping the name of the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate.

"Donald Trump was a private citizen and had no more responsibility than I did to protect the 2016 election," he said. "That fell to the Obama-Biden administration and they failed. "

... ... ...

At times the hearing was almost comical. When Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) asked Lewandowski, "Are you the hit man, bag man, the lookout or all of the above?" Lewandowski replied: "I think I'm the good-looking man, actually."

Lewandowski also scolded Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) for saying the tooth fairy was not real: "My children are watching, so thank you for that."

Republicans, meanwhile, used their time to praise the president and sympathize with Lewandowski because Democrats asked him to testify.

"Why do Dems continue this charade?" Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked. Lewandowski replied: "I think they hate this president more than they love their country."

=== 5 minutes ago Lewandowski made everyone including himself look foolish and today’s circus proved nothing except Nadler is an incompetent idiot with a Napoleon complex. Why did this hearing ever happen and televised when it was certain it was going to be a bust. 1 minute ago One of the commentators said this was exactly to be expected … He said the Dems requested this hearing because their constituents wanted it. I think plenty of us knew what was gonna happen -- as it often does in these situations, regardless of party. More of our vicious, counterproductive political duopoly. This was just one example of what is happening in general with our current political processes - a lot of stagnation.

I think we need to get away from parties, they naturally lead to antagonism, and an "us vs them" mentality, and fighting. I have some ideas (humble and basic) on doing away with parties at ourconstitution.info , Outreach, Other Comments.

We must do something; take back Washington's lead -- he couldn't stand parties. Much scarier stuff as well -- rise of the Medical-Military Industrial, " a lot of killers" (Trump to O'Reilly, video on my LInks page), in and out of hospitals. Some are concerned also that the military and CIA are running the Country -- I see a big problem with these career positions vs desires of an oncoming president. Apparently, these orgs, if they don't like a president or policy, just wait them out (or kill them), "contributing" to this current disgrace of a Constitutional Republic. What to do about that? Something needs to be done... Maybe those personnel should be changed out, they can be as much or more dangerous than a president for life...

It is Our Republic, Of, By, and For The People, as long as we can keep it. Protest with me in Miami, or wherever you are, before it is too late.

[Sep 18, 2019] Jerry Nadler is aiming to become the Rachael Maddow of Adam Schiffs

Humor aside Corey Lewandowski Opening statement deserves to be listened. Just 5 min.
This was obviously a Dog & Pony show by Nadler and his gang who can't shoot strait
Sep 18, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Seminole Nation , 5 hours ago

"Jerry Nadler is aiming to become the Rachael Maddow of Adam Schiffs" – Dan Bongino (3-24-19)

Gilbert Perea , 9 hours ago

You have to laugh , I wonder if Mr. Cowen has a chicken wing in his jacket pocket.

RIC shady , 7 hours ago

"The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all." - Valery Legasov, Soviet chemist

ZENIGMATV , 3 hours ago

Nadler:Corey what time is it? Corey :It's 2pm. Nadler: The clock shows 1:59 . Charge Corey for lying to Congress! All a gotcha game by a group of angry haters.

ZENIGMATV , 3 hours ago

Nadler:Corey what time is it? Corey :It's 2pm. Nadler: The clock shows 1:59 . Charge Corey for lying to Congress! All a gotcha game by a group of angry haters.

Jim Carpenter , 6 hours ago

Nadler provides so much comic relief!!!! He is definitely one of my all time favorite oafs.

Forever Joy , 9 hours ago

40 million tax payer dollars wasted...boom! Pathetic, thanks Democrats!

Bobwehada Babyitzaboy , 3 hours ago

3rd time. If that were good for the left they wouldn't shut up about it. This is another witch hunt with attempt to deceive

Dr.Roberto Rodriguez Jr. , 5 hours ago

What a joke. Democratic live in a fantasy world

Ricky Alfaro , 5 hours ago

Corey is toast!

Teresa Upchurch , 8 hours ago

This is obviously a Dog & Pony show by the Nadler nerd group of Demonrats! Can't even follow the House rules. Sickening !!!

[Sep 17, 2019] The Spy Who Failed by Scott Ritter

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The source was said to be responsible for the reporting used by the former director of the CIA, John Brennan, in making the case that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered Russian intelligence services to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election for the purpose of tipping the scales in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. ..."
"... On closer scrutiny, however, this aspect of the story falls apart, as does just about everything CNN, The New York Times ..."
"... "And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free," John 8:32, is etched into the wall of the main lobby of the Old CIA Headquarters Building. ..."
"... Every Russian diplomat assigned to the United States is screened to ascertain his or her susceptibility for recruitment. The FBI does this from a counterintelligence perspective, looking for Russian spies. The CIA does the same, but with the objective of recruiting a Russian source who can remain in the employ of the Russian government, and thereby provide the CIA with intelligence information commensurate to their standing and access. Turning a senior Russian diplomat is difficult; recruiting a junior Russian diplomat like Oleg Smolenkov less so. Someone like Smolenkov would be viewed not so much by the limited access he provided at the time of recruitment, but rather his potential for promotion and the increased opportunity for more essential access provided by such. ..."
"... The reality is, however, that the CIA and the FBI have different goals and objectives when it comes to the Russians they recruit. As such, Smolenkov's recruitment was most likely a CIA-only affair, run by NR but closely monitored by the Russian Operations Group of the Agency's Central Eurasia Division, who would have responsibility for managing Smolenkov upon his return to Moscow. ..."
"... But his job as foreman of the Rossotrudnichestvo coop was not the kind of job a Maurive Thorez graduate gets; Smolenkov had to have felt slighted. He allegedly turned to drink, and his marriage was on the rocks; his colleagues spoke of a man who believed his salary was too low. ..."
"... The enticements of money and future opportunity -- the CIA's principle recruitment ploys -- more than likely were a factor in convincing this dissatisfied diplomat to defect. ..."
"... the fact is, sometime in 2007-2008, Smolenkov was recruited by the CIA. ..."
"... He was granted a "second-level" security clearance, which allowed him to handle top secret information. ..."
"... Moscow Station, however, was having trouble carrying out its clandestine tasks. In the fall of 2011, the CIA's chief of station in Moscow, Steven Hall, had been approached by his counterpart in the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB, Russia's equivalent of the FBI) and warned that the CIA should stop trying to recruit agents from within the FSB ranks; the FSB had detected several of these attempts, which it deemed inappropriate given the ongoing cooperation between the intelligence services of the two countries regarding the war on terrorism. ..."
"... The loss of Hall at this very sensitive time created a problem for both the CIA and Smolenkov. Smolenkov's new assignment was a dream come true for the CIA -- never before had the agency managed to place a controlled agent into the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation. ..."
"... With communications down, and the chief of station evicted, Smolenkov was left in a state of limbo while the CIA trained up new case officers capable of operating in Moscow and sought a replacement for Hall. ..."
"... "To put it mildly," Ushakov said, "it is surprising that this extremely crude, clumsy attempt at recruitment took place in a situation where both President Obama and President Putin have clearly stated the importance of more active cooperation and contacts between the special services of the two countries." ..."
"... As a senior aide to Ushakov, Smolenkov was ideally positioned to gather intelligence about the Russian response. If he was able to communicate this information to the CIA, it would have provided Obama and his advisers time to prepare a response to the Russian letter. The situation meant that Smolenkov may have been reporting on events related to the expulsion of Hall, one of the CIA officers specifically trained to manage his reporting. ..."
"... Smolenkov's success was directly linked to the work of his boss, Ushakov. In June 2015, Ushakov was put in charge of establishing a high-level working group in the fuel and energy sector for the purpose of improving bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan. The reporting Smolenkov would have been able to provide on the work of this group would have been of tremendous assistance to those in the Obama administration working on U.S. energy policy, especially as it related to countering Russian moves in the former Soviet Republics. ..."
"... Ushakov's 10-year tenure as Russia's ambassador to the U.S. gave him unprecedented insight into U.S. decision making, experience and expertise Putin increasingly relied upon as he formulated and implemented responses to U.S. efforts to contain and punish Russia on the international stage. ..."
"... While Ushakov's meetings with Putin were conducted either in private, or in small groups of senior advisers, meaning Smolenkov was not present, Smolenkov was able to collect intelligence on the periphery by photographing itineraries and working papers, as well as overhearing comments made by Ushakov, that collectively would provide U.S. policymakers with important insight into Putin's thinking. ..."
"... According to the FSB, the Russians were adept at identifying CIA officers working under State Department cover and would subject these individuals to extensive surveillance. ..."
"... In addition to the decimation of its staff, Moscow Station was experiencing an alarming number of its agents being discovered by the FSB and arrested. While the Russians were circumspect about most of these cases, on several occasions they indicated that they had uncovered a spy by intercepting the electronic communications between him and the CIA. This meant that the Russians were aware of, and actively pursuing, the Google-based internet-based system used by the CIA to communicate with its agents in Russia. ..."
"... Sometime in early August 2016, a courier from the CIA arrived at the White House carrying a plain, unmarked white envelope. Inside was an intelligence report from Smolenkov that CIA Director Brennan considered to be so sensitive that he kept it out of the President's Daily Brief, concerned that even that restrictive process was too inclusive to adequately protect the source. The intelligence was to be read by four people only -- Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. The document was to be returned to the courier once it had been read. ..."
"... The contents of the report were alarming -- Putin had personally ordered the cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump. ..."
"... The White House found the Smolenkov report so convincing that in September 2016, during a meeting of the G-20 in China, Obama pulled Putin aside and told him to stop meddling in the U.S. election. Putin was reportedly nonplussed by Obama's intervention. ..."
"... It is not publicly known what prompted the report from Smolenkov which Brennan found so alarming. Was it received out of the blue, a target of opportunity which Smolenkov exploited? Was it based upon a specific tasking submitted by Smolenkov's CIA handlers in response to a tasking from above? Or was it a result of the intervention of the CIA director, who tasked Smolenkov outside normal channels? In any event, once Brennan created his special analytical unit, Smolenkov became his dedicated source. If Smolenko was in this for the money, as appears to be the case, he would have been motivated to come up with the "correct" answer to Brennan's tasking for information on Putin's role. By late 2016, Western media had made quite clear what kind of answer Brennan wanted. ..."
"... Brennan took the extraordinary measure of sequestering the source from the rest of the Intelligence Community. He also confronted the head of the Russian FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, about the risks involved in interfering in U.S. elections. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Smolenkov's firing occurred right before the Intelligence Community released its much-anticipated assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election ..."
"... Brennan had sold the Smolenkov reporting to both President Obama and President-elect Trump, along with the rest of the intelligence community, as "high-quality information." It was, at best, nothing more than uncorroborated rumor or, at worst, simple disinformation. This reporting, which was parroted by an unquestioning mainstream media that accepted it as fact, created an impression amongst the American public that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered and directed a Russian interference campaign during the 2016 election designed "to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible," according to the ICA. ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... Concerned that Smolenkov could be arrested by the Russians and, in doing so, have control over the narrative of Russian interference transfer to Moscow, the CIA once again approached Smolenkov to defect to the United States. This time the Russian agent agreed. ..."
"... Sometime in June 2018, Smolenkov and his wife bought a home worth nearly $1 million in northern Virginia. The couple used their real names. They were not afraid. ..."
"... I can only speculate as to the circumstances that led to Smolenkov's firing by secret decree. Normally, Russians charged with transmitting classified material to the intelligence services of a foreign state are arrested, placed on trial and given lengthy prison sentences, or worse. This did not happen to Smolenkov. ..."
"... In any case, the Smolenkov report in the white envelope represented a level of access that would have significantly deviated from what one could expect from a person in his position and which suggests he may have been telling the CIA what he knew Brennan wanted to hear. ..."
"... The third scenario is that Smolenkov, a low-level failure of a diplomat with drinking issues, marital problems and monetary frustrations, was recruited by the CIA, but only with the complicity of the Russian security services. ..."
"... The same red flags that the CIA looks for when recruiting agents are also looked at by Russian counterintelligence. At what point in the recruitment process the Russians stepped in is unknown (if they did at all.) ..."
"... Moreover, this muddling diplomat whose questionable behavioral practices scream "recruit me" is, within three years of returning to Moscow, given a significant promotion that enables him to follow Ushakov into the Presidential Administration–a posting which would require extensive vetting by the Russian security services. Smolenkov's promotion pattern is enough, in and of itself, to raise red flags within the counterintelligence offices tasked with monitoring such things. The fact that it did not indicates that the quality and quantity of reporting being provided by Smolenkov was deemed by the Americans too important to interfere with. ..."
"... In this scenario, Smolenkov would have been playing to a script written by the Russian security services. Since he, technically, had broken no laws by serving as a double agent, he would not be subjected to arrest and trial. But once his existence became the fodder of the U.S. media via inference and speculation, his services as a double agent were no longer needed. He was fired from his position, via a secret Presidential proclamation, and set free to live his life as he saw fit. ..."
"... In my view, if one assumes that the Smolenkov July 2016 report at the center of this drama was not a result of serendipity, but rather a product derived from a specific request from his CIA managers to find out how high up in the Russian decision-making chain the authorization went for what U.S. intelligence agencies were already publicly pushing as an alleged DNC cyber attack, then the answer I believe becomes clear–the Russians knew the U.S. had an intelligence deficit. ..."
"... In my view, the CIA, Russia and Smolenkov were happy to maintain the status quo, with Smolenkov living in comfortable retirement with his family, the CIA continuing to accuse Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, and Russia denying it. ..."
"... Trump's instructions to Barr are linked to a desire on the part of the president to hold to account those responsible for creating the narrative of possible collusion. Reports indicate that Barr is particularly interested in finding out how and why the CIA concluded that Putin personally ordered the Russian intelligence services to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. ..."
"... Seen in this light, the timing of the CNN and New York Times reports about the "exfiltration" of the CIA's "sensitive source" seems to be little more than a blatant effort by Brennan and his allies in the media to shape a narrative before Barr uncovers the truth. ..."
"... A few days following Smolenkov's "outing" by the U.S. media, the Russian government filed a request with Interpol for an investigation into how someone who had gone missing in Montenegro was now living in the United States. ..."
"... The only person at risk from this entire sordid affair is Brennan, whose reputation and potential livelihood is on the line. At best, Brennan is guilty of extremely poor judgement; at worst, he actively conspired to use the office of Director of the CIA to interfere in the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Neither option speaks well of the U.S. Intelligence Community and those in Congress charged with oversight of its operations. ..."
"... Watch Scott Ritter discussing this article on ..."
"... Consortium News does not necessarily endorse the views of its authors. ..."
"... If you value this original article, please consider ..."
"... making a donation ..."
"... to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one. ..."
"... Before commenting please read Robert Parry's ..."
"... Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed. If your comment does not immediately appear, please be patient as it is manually reviewed. ..."
"... And under the third scenario, with Smolenkov a double agent all along, Ritter writes: "But once his existence became the fodder of the U.S. media via inference and speculation, his services as a double agent were no longer needed. He was fired from his position, via a secret Presidential proclamation, and set free to live his life as he saw fit." ..."
"... That doesn't make sense to me. In fact I see the opposite: if he had been a successfully run double agent all that time, then when his usefulness had ended he would have been decently pensioned off – not simply cut loose to fend for himself – but *not* allowed to travel abroad unimpeded (with his whole family, no less) where he would have the opportunity to cause mischief. ..."
"... In the extremely sophisticated world of high grade intelligence I have repeatedly said that the Brennan, Clapper, Comey trio were lead-footed imbeciles ..."
"... Read The CIA as Organized Crime and Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack by Douglas Valentine. ..."
"... "Kiriakou also notes that the way Smolenkov's intelligence was handled raises echoes of the CIA's manipulation of intelligence to help justify the Iraq war. The information from Smolenkov was handled personally by then-CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan reportedly sidelined other CIA analysts and kept the Smolenkov information out of the Presidential Daily Briefing – instead delivering it personally to President Obama and a small group of officials." ..."
"... More like a Le Carre' film. The CIA was originally sold as an intelligence gathering and analysis organization, and was not supposed to be involved in operations. Thus, it was founded on lies and the lies have only grown since. ..."
"... Even the former communist state governments in Europe and the Soviet Union rued the day that they unleashed their secret police from accountability, and thereby became subservient to their power. ..."
"... I suspect Scott was provided a great deal of the reporting in this fascinating article from a disgruntled insider, or former insider. Knowledge of Brennan's break with protocol to form a select 'stand alone fusion cell' that reported only to him is something that I haven't seen reported before. In any case this story adds another red flag to the entire Russiagate hoax. ..."
"... Just as Mueller failed to interview Julian Assange or Christopher Steele for his report -- obvious red flags -- we should now watch the conduct of Barr's investigation. Will Barr's investigators interview Smolenkov? ..."
"... ( ) the timing of the CNN and New York Times reports about the "exfiltration" of the CIA's "sensitive source" seems to be little more than a blatant effort by Brennan and his allies in the media to shape a narrative before Barr uncovers the truth. ..."
"... "If Smolenkov was a spy, he could have delivered important insights about Russia's foreign policy thinking and planning to U.S. intelligence. But if he was the source for the U.S. intelligence community's certainty that Putin personally orchestrated a covert interference campaign, that certainty rests on a weak foundation. Smolenkov served the wrong boss in the Kremlin to get reliable information about such ventures." ..."
Sep 14, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

56 Comments

OPINION: Scott Ritter probes Oleg Smolenkov's role as a CIA asset and the use of his data by the director of the CIA to cast doubt over the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

Reports that the CIA conducted an emergency exfiltration of a long-time human intelligence source who was highly placed within the Russian Presidential Administration sent shock waves throughout Washington, D.C.

The source was said to be responsible for the reporting used by the former director of the CIA, John Brennan, in making the case that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered Russian intelligence services to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election for the purpose of tipping the scales in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump.

According to CNN's Jim Sciutto, the decision to exfiltrate the source was driven in part by concerns within the CIA over President Trump's cavalier approach toward handling classified information, including his willingness to share highly classified intelligence with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a controversial visit to the White House in May 2017.

On closer scrutiny, however, this aspect of the story falls apart, as does just about everything CNN, The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have reported. There was a Russian spy whose information was used to push a narrative of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; this much appears to be true. Everything else that has been reported is either a mischaracterization of fact or an outright fabrication designed to hide one of the greatest intelligence failures in U.S. history -- the use by a CIA director of intelligence data specifically manipulated to interfere in the election of an American president.

The consequences of this interference has deleteriously impacted U.S. democratic institutions in ways the American people remain ignorant of -- in large part because of the complicity of the U.S. media when it comes to reporting this story.

This article attempts to set the record straight by connecting the dots presented by available information and creating a narrative shaped by a combination of derivative analysis and informed speculation. At best, this article brings the reader closer to the truth about Oleg Smolenkov's role as a CIA asset; at worst, it raises issues and questions that will help in determining the truth.

"And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free," John 8:32, is etched into the wall of the main lobby of the Old CIA Headquarters Building.

The Recruit

Oleg Smolenkov

In 2007, Oleg Smolenkov was living the life of a Russian diplomat abroad, serving in the Russian embassy in Washington. At 33 years of age, married with a 1-year old son, Smolenkov was the picture of a young diplomat on the rise. A protégé of Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov, Smolenkov worked as a second secretary assigned to the Russian Cultural Center, a combined museum and exhibition hall operated by the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (better known by its common Russian name, Rossotrudnichestvo), an autonomous government agency operating under the auspices of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition to hosting Russian artists and musicians, Rossotrudnichestvo oversaw a program where it organized all-expense paid cultural exchanges for young Americans to travel to Russia, where they were accommodated in luxury hotels and met with Russian officials. Smolenkov's boss, Yegeny Zvedre, would also tour the United States, speaking at public forums where he addressed U.S.-Russian cooperation. As for Smolenkov himself, life was much more mundane -- he served as a purchasing agent for Rossotrudnichestvo, managing procurement and contract issues for a store operating out of the Rossotrudnichestvo building, which stood separate from the main embassy compound.

Rossotrudnichestvo had a darker side: the FBI long suspected that it operated as a front to recruit Americans to spy for Russia, and as such every Russian employee was viewed as a potential officer in the Russian intelligence service. This suspicion brought with it a level of scrutiny which revealed much about the character of the individual being surveilled, including information of a potentially compromising nature that could be used by the American intelligence services as the basis of a recruitment effort.

Every Russian diplomat assigned to the United States is screened to ascertain his or her susceptibility for recruitment. The FBI does this from a counterintelligence perspective, looking for Russian spies. The CIA does the same, but with the objective of recruiting a Russian source who can remain in the employ of the Russian government, and thereby provide the CIA with intelligence information commensurate to their standing and access. Turning a senior Russian diplomat is difficult; recruiting a junior Russian diplomat like Oleg Smolenkov less so. Someone like Smolenkov would be viewed not so much by the limited access he provided at the time of recruitment, but rather his potential for promotion and the increased opportunity for more essential access provided by such.

The responsibility within the CIA for recruiting Russian diplomats living in the United States falls to the National Resources Division, or NR, part of the Directorate of Operations, or DO -- the clandestine arm of the CIA. In a perfect world, the CIA domestic station in Washington, D.C., would coordinate with the local FBI field office and develop a joint approach for recruiting a Russian diplomat such as Smolenkov.

The reality is, however, that the CIA and the FBI have different goals and objectives when it comes to the Russians they recruit. As such, Smolenkov's recruitment was most likely a CIA-only affair, run by NR but closely monitored by the Russian Operations Group of the Agency's Central Eurasia Division, who would have responsibility for managing Smolenkov upon his return to Moscow.

The precise motive for Smolenkov to take up the CIA's offer of recruitment remains unknown. He graduated from one of the premier universities in Russia, the Maurice Thorez Moscow State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages, and he married his English language instructor. Normally a graduate from an elite university such as Maurice Thorez has his or her pick of jobs in the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Defense or the security services. Smolenkov was hired by the Foreign Ministry as a junior linguist, assigned to the Second European Department, which focuses on Great Britain, Scandinavia and the Baltics, before getting assigned to the embassy in Washington.

Felt Underpaid

But his job as foreman of the Rossotrudnichestvo coop was not the kind of job a Maurive Thorez graduate gets; Smolenkov had to have felt slighted. He allegedly turned to drink, and his marriage was on the rocks; his colleagues spoke of a man who believed his salary was too low.

The enticements of money and future opportunity -- the CIA's principle recruitment ploys -- more than likely were a factor in convincing this dissatisfied diplomat to defect. Did the CIA compromise him by dangling the temptation of contract-based embezzlement? Or did the FBI uncover some sort of personal or financial impropriety that made the Russian diplomat vulnerable to recruitment? Only the CIA and Smolenkov know the precise circumstances behind the Russian's decision to betray his country. But the fact is, sometime in 2007-2008, Smolenkov was recruited by the CIA.

After Smolenkov accepted the CIA's offer, there was much work to be done -- the new agent had to be polygraphed to ascertain his reliability, trained on covert means of intelligence collection, including covert photography, as well as on how to securely communicate with the CIA in order to transmit information and receive instructions. Smolenkov was also introduced to his "handler," a CIA case officer who would be responsible for managing the work of Smolenkov, including overseeing the bank account where Smolenkov's CIA "salary" would be deposited. Various contingencies would be prepared for, including procedures for reestablishing communications should the existing means become unavailable, emergency contact procedures and emergency exfiltration plans in case Smolenkov became compromised.

Took Away His Name, and Gave Him a Code

The recruitment of a diplomat willing to return to Moscow and be run in place is a rare accomplishment, and Smolenkov's identity would become a closely guarded secret within the ranks of the CIA. Smolenkov's true identity would be known to only a few select individuals; to everyone else who had access to his reporting, he was simply a codename, comprised of a two-letter digraph representing Russia (this code changed over time), followed by a word chosen at random by a CIA algorithm (for example, Adolf Tolkachev, the so-called "billion dollar spy," was known by the codename CKSPHERE, with CK being the digraph in use for the Soviet Union at the time of his recruitment.) Because the specific details from the information provided by Smolenkov could compromise him as the source, the Russian Operations Group would "blend" his reporting in with other sources in an effort to disguise it before disseminating it to a wider audience.

Smolenkov followed Ambassador Ushakov when the latter departed the United States for Moscow in the summer of 2008; soon after arriving back in Moscow, Smolenkov and his wife divorced. Ushakov took a position as the deputy chief of the Government Staff of the Russian Federation responsible for international relations and foreign policy support. Part of the Executive Office of the Government of the Russian Federation, Ushakov coordinated the international work of the prime minister, deputy prime ministers and senior officials of the Government Executive Office. Smolenkov took up a position working for Ushakov, and soon found himself moving up the ranks of the Russian Civil Service, being promoted in 2010 to the rank of state advisor to the Russian Federation of the Third Class, a second-tier rank that put him on the cusp of joining the upper levels of the Russian government bureaucracy. He was granted a "second-level" security clearance, which allowed him to handle top secret information.

Moscow Station

Ukashov, r. with Putin (Kremlin photo)

In 2013 Ushakov received a new assignment, this time to serve in the Presidential Executive Office as the aide for international relations. Smolenkov joined Ushakov as his staff manager. Vladimir Putin was one year into his second stint as president and brought Ushakov, who had advised him on foreign relations while Putin was prime minister, to continue that service. Ushakov maintained an office at the Boyarsky Dvor (Courtyard of the Boyars), on 8 Staraya Square.

The Boyarsky Dvor was physically separate from the Kremlin, meaning neither Ushakov nor Smolenkov had direct access to the Russian president. Nevertheless, Smolenkov's new job had to have pleased his CIA masters. In the five years Smolenkov worked at the Executive Office of the Government, he was not privy to particularly sensitive information. His communications with CIA would most likely have been administrative in nature, with the CIA more interested in Smolenkov's growth potential than immediate value of any intelligence he could produce.

Smolenkov's arrival in the Presidential Administration coincided with a period of operational difficulty for the CIA in Moscow. First, the CIA's internet-based covert communications system, which used Google's email platform as the foundation for accessing various web pages where information was exchanged between the agent and his CIA handlers, had been globally compromised. Smolenkov had been trained on this system, and it provided his lifeline to the CIA. The compromise first occurred in Iran, and then spread to China; in both countries, entire networks of CIA agents were rounded up, with many being subsequently executed . China is believed to have shared the information on how to detect the covert communication-linked web pages with Russia; fortunately for Moscow Station, they were able to make the appropriate changes in the system to safeguard the security and identity of its agents. In the meantime, communications between the CIA and Smolenkov were cut off until the CIA could make contact using back-up protocols and re-train Smolenkov on the new communications procedures.

Moscow Station, however, was having trouble carrying out its clandestine tasks. In the fall of 2011, the CIA's chief of station in Moscow, Steven Hall, had been approached by his counterpart in the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB, Russia's equivalent of the FBI) and warned that the CIA should stop trying to recruit agents from within the FSB ranks; the FSB had detected several of these attempts, which it deemed inappropriate given the ongoing cooperation between the intelligence services of the two countries regarding the war on terrorism.

But Hall had his orders, and after a year-long pause to review its operating procedures, Moscow Station resumed its targeting of FSB officers. Things went real bad real fast. In January 2013, a CIA officer named Benjamin Dillon was arrested by the FSB as he tried to recruit a Russian agent, declared persona non grata, and expelled from Russia. Then in May 2013 the FSB arrested another CIA officer, Ryan Fogle. Fogle was paraded before television cameras together with his spy paraphernalia, and like Dillon before him, expelled from the country. Moreover, the Russians, in condemning the CIA actions, revealed the identity of the CIA's Moscow chief of station (Hall), who because of the public disclosure was compelled to depart Russia.

A CIA Dream

Steve Hall (CNN/YouTube)

The loss of Dillon and Fogle was a serious blow to Moscow Station, but one from which the CIA could recover. But the near simultaneous loss of two case officers and the chief of station was a different matter altogether. Hall was one of the few people in the CIA who had been "read in" on the recruitment of Smolenkov, and as such was involved in the overall management of the Russian agent. The loss of Hall at this very sensitive time created a problem for both the CIA and Smolenkov. Smolenkov's new assignment was a dream come true for the CIA -- never before had the agency managed to place a controlled agent into the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.

But while Smolenkov had been able to provide evidence of access, by way of photographs of presidential documents, the CIA needed to confirm that Smolenkov hadn't been turned by the Russians and was not being used to pass on disinformation designed to mislead those who used Smolenkov's reporting. Normally this was done by subjecting the agent to a polygraph examination -- a "swirl," in CIA parlance. This examination could take place at an improvised covert location in Russia, or in a more controlled environment outside of Russia, if Smolenkov was able to exit on work or during vacation. But arranging the examination required close coordination between the CIA and its agent, as well as a healthy degree of trust between the agent and those directing him. With communications down, and the chief of station evicted, Smolenkov was left in a state of limbo while the CIA trained up new case officers capable of operating in Moscow and sought a replacement for Hall.

One of the ironies surrounding the arrest and expulsion of CIA officer Fogle, and the subsequent outing and eviction of Hall, was that Smolenkov was ideally positioned to provide an inside perspective on how the Russian leadership reacted to the incident. Smolenkov's boss, Ushakov, was tasked with overseeing Russia's diplomatic response. In a statement given to the Russian media, Ushakov expressed surprise at the timing of the incident. "To put it mildly," Ushakov said, "it is surprising that this extremely crude, clumsy attempt at recruitment took place in a situation where both President Obama and President Putin have clearly stated the importance of more active cooperation and contacts between the special services of the two countries."

Ushakov coordinated closely with the head of Putin's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, regarding the content of a letter Putin was planning to send in response to a previous communication from Obama. While the original text focused on missile defense issues, Ushakov and Patrushev inserted language about the Fogle incident. As a senior aide to Ushakov, Smolenkov was ideally positioned to gather intelligence about the Russian response. If he was able to communicate this information to the CIA, it would have provided Obama and his advisers time to prepare a response to the Russian letter. The situation meant that Smolenkov may have been reporting on events related to the expulsion of Hall, one of the CIA officers specifically trained to manage his reporting.

The Center

Amid the operational challenges and opportunity provided by Smolenkov's new position within the Russian Presidential Administration, the CIA underwent a radical reorganization which impacted how human agents, and the intelligence they produced, would be managed. The past practice of having intelligence operations controlled by insular regional divisions, which promoted both a physical and philosophical divide between the collectors and their analytical counterparts in the respective regional division within the Directorate of Intelligence, or DI, was discontinued by Brennan, who had taken over as director of the CIA in May 2013.

To replace what he viewed as an antiquated organizational structure, Brennan created what he called "Mission Centers," which combined analytical, operational, technical and support expertise under a single roof. For Moscow Station and Smolenkov, this meant that the Russia and Eurasia Division, with its Russian Operations Group, no longer existed. Instead, Moscow Station would take its orders from a new Europe and Eurasia Mission Center headed by an experienced CIA Russia analyst named Peter Clement.

Clement, who had earned a PhD in Russian history from Michigan State University, had a diverse resumé with the CIA which included service as the director for Russia on the National Security Council and as the CIA representative to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Clement served as the director of the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis and as the CIA's Russia issue manager from 1997 to 2003; as the President's Daily Brief (PDB) briefer for Vice President Dick Cheney from 2003-2004, and from 2005-2013, as the deputy director for intelligence for analytic programs. In 2015 Brennan appointed Clement to serve as the deputy assistant director of CIA for Europe and Eurasia, where he directed the activities of the newly created Europe and Eurasia Mission Center. If one was looking for the perfect candidate to manage the fusion of operational, analytical and technical experience into a singular, mission-focused entity, Peter Clement was it.

Peter Clement (C-Span)

As Clement got on with the business of whipping the Europe and Eurasia Mission Center into shape, Smolenkov was busy establishing himself as an intelligence source of some value. Smolenkov's success was directly linked to the work of his boss, Ushakov. In June 2015, Ushakov was put in charge of establishing a high-level working group in the fuel and energy sector for the purpose of improving bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan. The reporting Smolenkov would have been able to provide on the work of this group would have been of tremendous assistance to those in the Obama administration working on U.S. energy policy, especially as it related to countering Russian moves in the former Soviet Republics.

Another project of interest was Russia's sale of advanced Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan in support of their counterterrorism efforts. Coming at a time when U.S.-Pakistani relations were floundering, the Russian sale of advanced helicopters was viewed with concern by both the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Again, Smolenkov's reporting on this issue would have been well received by critical policymakers in both departments.

But the most critical role played by Ushakov was advising Putin on the uncertain state of relations between the U.S. and Russia in the aftermath of the 2014 crisis in Ukraine, and Russia's annexation of Crimea. Ushakov's 10-year tenure as Russia's ambassador to the U.S. gave him unprecedented insight into U.S. decision making, experience and expertise Putin increasingly relied upon as he formulated and implemented responses to U.S. efforts to contain and punish Russia on the international stage.

While Ushakov's meetings with Putin were conducted either in private, or in small groups of senior advisers, meaning Smolenkov was not present, Smolenkov was able to collect intelligence on the periphery by photographing itineraries and working papers, as well as overhearing comments made by Ushakov, that collectively would provide U.S. policymakers with important insight into Putin's thinking.

Managing an important resource like Smolenkov was one of the critical challenges faced by Clement and the Europe and Eurasia Mission Center. Smolenkov's reporting continued to be handled using special HUMINT procedures designed to protect the source. However, within the Center knowledge of Smolenkov's work would have been shared with analysts who worked side by side with their operational colleagues deciding how the intelligence could best be used, as well as coming up with follow-up questions for Smolenkov regarding specific issues of interest.

Given the unique insight Smolenkov's reporting provided into Putin's thinking, it would be logical that intelligence sourced from Smolenkov would frequently find itself briefed to the president and his inner circle via the PDB process, which was exacting in terms of vetting the accuracy and reliability of any intelligence reporting that made it onto its pages. As a long-time Russia expert with extensive experience in virtually every aspect of how the CIA turned raw reporting into finished intelligence, Clement was ideally suited to making sure his Center handled the Smolenkov product responsibly, and in a manner which maximized its value.

Meanwhile, Moscow Station continued to exhibit operational problems. By 2015 the CIA had managed to rebuild its stable of case officers operating from the U.S. embassy. But the FSB always seemed to be one step ahead. According to the FSB, the Russians were adept at identifying CIA officers working under State Department cover and would subject these individuals to extensive surveillance. As if to prove the Russian's point, in short order the FSB rounded up the newly assigned case officers, along with the deputy chief of station, declared them persona non grata, and expelled them from Russia. To make matters worse, the FSB released surveillance video of all these officers, who in some cases were joined by their spouses, as they engaged in elaborate ruses to evade Russian surveillance in order to carry out their covert assignments.

Moscow Station's string of bad luck continued into 2016, when one of its officers, having been detected by the FSB during a meeting, fled via taxi to the U.S. embassy, only to be tackled by a uniformed FSB officer as he tried to enter the compound. In the scuffle that followed, the CIA officer managed to make entry into the embassy building, compelling the FSB guard to release him once jurisdiction was lost. The CIA officer, who suffered a separated shoulder during the incident, left Russia shortly thereafter, together with a female colleague who had also been detected by the FSB while engaged in clandestine activities and subsequently declared persona non grata.

FSB Headquarters in the Lubyanka Building, Moscow.

The FSB indicated, at the time these two officers were being expelled, that it had evicted three other CIA officers during the year. In addition to the decimation of its staff, Moscow Station was experiencing an alarming number of its agents being discovered by the FSB and arrested. While the Russians were circumspect about most of these cases, on several occasions they indicated that they had uncovered a spy by intercepting the electronic communications between him and the CIA. This meant that the Russians were aware of, and actively pursuing, the Google-based internet-based system used by the CIA to communicate with its agents in Russia.

Meanwhile, Smolenkov continued to send his reports to his CIA handlers unabated, using the same internet-based system. Under normal circumstances, an exception to compromise would raise red flags within the counterintelligence staff that evaluated an agent's reporting and activity. But by the summer of 2016, nothing about the work of the CIA, and in particular the Europe and Eurasia Mission Center could be considered "normal" when it came to the Russian target.

Little White Envelope

Sometime in early August 2016, a courier from the CIA arrived at the White House carrying a plain, unmarked white envelope. Inside was an intelligence report from Smolenkov that CIA Director Brennan considered to be so sensitive that he kept it out of the President's Daily Brief, concerned that even that restrictive process was too inclusive to adequately protect the source. The intelligence was to be read by four people only -- Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. The document was to be returned to the courier once it had been read.

Brennan in Oval Office where he had envelope delivered. (White House photo/Pete Souza)

The contents of the report were alarming -- Putin had personally ordered the cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

The intelligence report was not a product of Clement's Europe and Eurasia Mission Center, but rather a special unit of handpicked analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI who were brought together under great secrecy in late July and reported directly to Brennan. These analysts were made to sign non-disclosure agreements protecting their work from their colleagues.

This new analytical unit focused on three new sensitive sources of information -- the Smolenkov report, additional reporting provided by a former MI6 officer named Christopher Steele, and a signals intelligence report provided by a Baltic nation neighboring Russia. The Steele information was of questionable provenance, so much so that FBI Director James Comey could not, or would not, vouch for its credibility. The same held true for the NSA's assessment of the Baltic SIGINT report. By themselves, the Steele reporting and Baltic SIGINT report were of little intelligence value. But when viewed together, they were used to corroborate the explosive contents of the Smolenkov intelligence. The White House found the Smolenkov report so convincing that in September 2016, during a meeting of the G-20 in China, Obama pulled Putin aside and told him to stop meddling in the U.S. election. Putin was reportedly nonplussed by Obama's intervention.

It is extraordinarily difficult for a piece of intelligence to be deemed important and reliable enough to be briefed to the president of the United States. The principal forum for such a briefing is the Presidential Daily Brief, which prior to 2004 was a product produced exclusively by the CIA. When the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was signed into law in 2004, the responsibility for the PDB was transferred to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), a newly created entity responsible for oversight and coordination of the entire Intelligence Community, or IC. The PDB is considered to be an IC product, the production of which is coordinated by ODNI's PDB staff in partnership with the CIA Directorate of Intelligence (DI)'s President's Analytic Support Staff.

Since he began reporting about his work in the Russian Presidential Administration in 2013, Smolenkov had, on numerous occasions, produced intelligence whose content and relevance was such that it would readily warrant inclusion in the PDB. After 2015, the decision to submit a Smolenkov-sourced report for inclusion in the PDB would be made by Clement and his staff. For a report to be nominated, it would have to pass an exacting quality control review process which evaluated it for accuracy, relevance and reliability.

U.S. Embassy Moscow ( Wikimedia Commons)

Sometime in the leadup to August 2016, this process was halted. Oleg Smolenkov was a controlled asset of the CIA. While he was given certain latitude on what information he could collect, generally speaking Smolenkov worked from an operations order sent to him by his CIA controllers which established priorities for intelligence collection based upon information provided by Smolenkov about what he could reasonably access. Before tasking Smolenkov, his CIA handlers would screen the request from an operational and counterintelligence perspective, conducting a risk-reward analysis that weighed the value of the intelligence being sought with the possibility of compromise. Only then would Smolenkov be cleared to collect the requested information.

It is not publicly known what prompted the report from Smolenkov which Brennan found so alarming. Was it received out of the blue, a target of opportunity which Smolenkov exploited? Was it based upon a specific tasking submitted by Smolenkov's CIA handlers in response to a tasking from above? Or was it a result of the intervention of the CIA director, who tasked Smolenkov outside normal channels? In any event, once Brennan created his special analytical unit, Smolenkov became his dedicated source. If Smolenko was in this for the money, as appears to be the case, he would have been motivated to come up with the "correct" answer to Brennan's tasking for information on Putin's role. By late 2016, Western media had made quite clear what kind of answer Brennan wanted.

Every intelligence report produced by a controlled asset is subjected to a counterintelligence review where it is examined for any evidence of red flags that could be indicative of compromise. One red flag is the issue of abnormal access. Smolenkov did not normally have direct contact with Putin, if ever. His intelligence reports would have been written from the perspective of the distant observer. His report about Putin's role in interfering in the 2016 election, however, represented a whole new level of access and trust. Under normal circumstances, a report exhibiting such tendency would be pulled aside for additional scrutiny; if the report was alarming enough, the CIA might order the agent to be subjected to a polygraph to ensure he had not been compromised.

This did not happen. Instead, Brennan took the extraordinary measure of sequestering the source from the rest of the Intelligence Community. He also confronted the head of the Russian FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, about the risks involved in interfering in U.S. elections.

Whether Brennan further tasked Smolenkov to collect on Putin is not known. Nor is it known whether Smolenkov produced more than that single report about Putin's alleged direct role in ordering the Russian intelligence services to intervene in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

Despite Brennan's extraordinary effort to keep the existence of a human source within the Russian Presidential Administration a closely-held secret, by December 2016 both The Washington Post and The New York Times began quoting their sources about the existence of a sensitive intelligence source close to the Russian president. The timing of these press leaks coincided with Smolensky being fired from his job working for the Presidential Administration; the method of firing came in the form of a secret decree. When the CIA found out, they desperately tried to convince Smolenkov to agree to extraction, fearing for his safety should he remain in Moscow. This Smolenkov allegedly refused to do, prompting the counterintelligence-minded within the CIA to become concerned that Brennan and his coterie of analysts had been taken for a ride by a Russian double agent.

Trump and Barr on Feb. 14, 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Smolenkov's firing occurred right before the Intelligence Community released its much-anticipated assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election . Like the special analytical unit created by Brennan to handle the intelligence about Putin ordering the Russian intelligence services to intervene in favor of Trump in the 2016 election, Brennan opted to produce the Russian interference assessment outside the normal channels. Usually, when the IC opts to produce an assessment, there is a formal process which has a national intelligence officer (NIO) from within the National Intelligence Council take the lead on coordinating the collection and assessment of all relevant intelligence. The NIO usually coordinates closely with the relevant Mission Centers to ensure no analytical stone was left unturned in the pursuit of the truth.

The 2016 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) was produced differently -- no Mission Center involvement, no NIO assigned, no peer review. Just Brennan's little band of sequestered analysts.

Smolenkov's information took top billing in the ICA, "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," published on Jan. 6, 2017. "We assess," the unclassified document stated, "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump." Smolenkov's reporting appears to be the sole source for this finding.

The ICA went on to note, "We have high confidence in these judgments." According to the Intelligence Community's own definition, "high confidence'" generally indicates judgments based on high-quality information, and/or the nature of the issue makes it possible to render a solid judgment. A "high confidence" judgment is not a fact or a certainty, however, and still carries a risk of being wrong.

The same day the ICA was published, Brennan, accompanied by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, met with President-elect Trump in Trump Tower, where he was briefed on the classified information behind the Russian ICA. Included in this briefing was the intelligence from "a top-secret source" close to Putin which sustained the finding of Putin's direct involvement.

Brennan had sold the Smolenkov reporting to both President Obama and President-elect Trump, along with the rest of the intelligence community, as "high-quality information." It was, at best, nothing more than uncorroborated rumor or, at worst, simple disinformation. This reporting, which was parroted by an unquestioning mainstream media that accepted it as fact, created an impression amongst the American public that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered and directed a Russian interference campaign during the 2016 election designed "to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible," according to the ICA.

As CIA director, Brennan understood very well the role played by intelligence in shaping the decisions of key policy makers, and the absolute need for those who brief the president and his key advisers to ensure only the highest quality information and derived assessments are briefed. In this, Brennan failed.

Coming in From the Cold

Tivat, Montenegro

After being fired from his position within the Presidential Administration, Smolenkov continued to live in Moscow, very much a free man. By this time he was the father of three children, his new wife having given birth to two daughters. Following Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, Brennan resigned as CIA director. By May, Brennan was testifying before Congress about the issue of Russian interference. Increasingly, attention was being drawn to the existence of a highly-placed source near Putin, with both The New York Times and The Washington Post publishing surprisingly detailed reports.

Concerned that Smolenkov could be arrested by the Russians and, in doing so, have control over the narrative of Russian interference transfer to Moscow, the CIA once again approached Smolenkov to defect to the United States. This time the Russian agent agreed.

In July 2017, Smolenkov, accompanied by his wife and three children, travelled to Montenegro on vacation. They arrived in the resort city of Tivat, flying on a commercial air flight from Moscow. The CIA took control of the family a few days later, spiriting them away aboard a yacht that had been moored at the Tivat marina. Upon his arrival in the U.S., Smolenkov and his family were placed under the control of the CIA's resettlement unit.

According to the Russian media, Smolenkov's disappearance was discovered in September 2017. The FSB opened an investigation into the matter, initially suspecting foul play. Soon, however, the FSB reached a different conclusion -- that Smolenkov and his family had defected to the United States.

Normally a defector would be subjected to a debriefing, inclusive of a polygraph, to confirm that he or she had not been turned into a double agent. Smolenkov had, over the course of a decade of spying, accumulated a considerable amount of money which the CIA was holding in escrow. This money would be released to Smolenkov upon the successful completion of his debriefing. In the case of Smolenkov, however, there doesn't seem to have been a detailed, lengthy debriefing. His money was turned over to him. Sometime in June 2018, Smolenkov and his wife bought a home worth nearly $1 million in northern Virginia. The couple used their real names. They were not afraid.

I can only speculate as to the circumstances that led to Smolenkov's firing by secret decree. Normally, Russians charged with transmitting classified material to the intelligence services of a foreign state are arrested, placed on trial and given lengthy prison sentences, or worse. This did not happen to Smolenkov.

But this does not mean the Russian authorities were ignorant of his activities. This raises another possibility, that Smolenkov could have been turned by the Russian security services before he had compromised any classified information, and that he operated as a double agent his entire CIA career. Since the only classified information he transferred would, in this case, be approved for release by the Russian security services, he would not have technically committed a crime. If Smolenkov was working both sides, it could have been a Russian vehicle to create distrust between the U.S. intelligence community and Trump.

Smolenkov was fired, and left to his own devices, once his utility to Russia had expired. Having escaped being arrested as a spy, Smolenkov believed he might be able to live a normal life in Moscow. But when the potential for compromise arose due to leaks to the press, I assess that it was in the CIA's interest to bring Smolenkov in, if for no other reason than to control the narrative of Russian interference.

Three Scenarios

Old CIA building in Langely, Virginia.

There are three scenarios that could be at play regarding Smolenkov's bone fides as a human intelligence source for the CIA. First, that this was a solid recruitment, that Smolenkov was the high-level asset the CIA and Brennan claim he was, and the information he provided regarding the involvement of Putin was unimpeachable. Mitigating against this is the fact that when Smolenkov was fired from his position in late 2016, he was not arrested and put on trial for spying.

Russia is fully capable of conducting secret trials, and controlling the information that is made available about such a trial. Moreover, Russia is a vindictive state–persons who commit treason are not tolerated. As Putin himself noted in comments made in March 2018, "Traitors will kick the bucket. Trust me. These people betrayed their friends, their brothers in arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those thirty pieces silver they were given, they will choke on them." The odds of Smolenkov being fired for committing treason, and then being allowed to voluntarily exit Russia with his family and passports, are virtually nil.

The second scenario is a variation of the first, where Smolenkov starts as a solid recruitment, with his reporting commensurate with his known level of access–peripheral contact with documents and information pertaining to the work of the aide to President Putin on international relations. Sometime in July 2016 Smolenkov produces a report that catches the attention of DCI Brennan, who flags it and pulls Smolenkov out of the normal operational channels for CIA-controlled human sources, and instead creating a new, highly-compartmentalized fusion cell to handle this report, and possibly others.

Three questions emerge from the second scenario. First, was Smolenkov responding to an urgent tasking from Brennan to find out how high up the Russian chain of command went the knowledge of the alleged DNC cyber attack, or did Smolenkov produce this report on his own volition? Was Brennan arranging evidence to show that there was indeed a Russian hack. After all, all the FBI had to go by was a draft of a report by the virulently anti-Russian private security firm CrowdStrike. The FBI never examined the DNC server itself.

In any case, the Smolenkov report in the white envelope represented a level of access that would have significantly deviated from what one could expect from a person in his position and which suggests he may have been telling the CIA what he knew Brennan wanted to hear. As such, normal counterintelligence procedures should have mandated an operational pause while the intelligence report in question was scrubbed to ensure viability. Under no circumstances would a report so flagged be allowed to be put into the Presidential Daily Brief. However, by pulling the report from the control of the Europe and Eurasian Mission Center, turning it over to a stand-alone fusion cell, and bypassing the PDB process to brief the president and a handful of advisors, there would be no counterintelligence concerns raised. This implies that Brennan had a role in the tasking of Smolenkov, and was waiting for the report to come in, which Brennan then took control of to preclude any counter-intelligence red flags being raised.

The third scenario is that Smolenkov, a low-level failure of a diplomat with drinking issues, marital problems and monetary frustrations, was recruited by the CIA, but only with the complicity of the Russian security services.

The same red flags that the CIA looks for when recruiting agents are also looked at by Russian counterintelligence. At what point in the recruitment process the Russians stepped in is unknown (if they did at all.) But it is curious that this professional failure was suddenly transferred from running a co-op to being the right hand man of one of the most influential foreign policy experts in Russia–Yuri Ushakov.

Moreover, this muddling diplomat whose questionable behavioral practices scream "recruit me" is, within three years of returning to Moscow, given a significant promotion that enables him to follow Ushakov into the Presidential Administration–a posting which would require extensive vetting by the Russian security services. Smolenkov's promotion pattern is enough, in and of itself, to raise red flags within the counterintelligence offices tasked with monitoring such things. The fact that it did not indicates that the quality and quantity of reporting being provided by Smolenkov was deemed by the Americans too important to interfere with.

In this scenario, Smolenkov would have been playing to a script written by the Russian security services. Since he, technically, had broken no laws by serving as a double agent, he would not be subjected to arrest and trial. But once his existence became the fodder of the U.S. media via inference and speculation, his services as a double agent were no longer needed. He was fired from his position, via a secret Presidential proclamation, and set free to live his life as he saw fit.

The most pressing question that emerges from this possibility is why? Why would the Russian security services want to cook the books, so to speak, in a manner which made the Russians look guilty of the very thing they were publicly denying?

In my view, if one assumes that the Smolenkov July 2016 report at the center of this drama was not a result of serendipity, but rather a product derived from a specific request from his CIA managers to find out how high up in the Russian decision-making chain the authorization went for what U.S. intelligence agencies were already publicly pushing as an alleged DNC cyber attack, then the answer I believe becomes clear–the Russians knew the U.S. had an intelligence deficit.

I am speculating here, but if the Russians provided an answer guaranteed to attract attention at a critical time in the U.S. presidential election process, it would inject the CIA and its reporting into the democratic processes of the United States, and thereby politicize the CIA and the entire intelligence community by default. This would suppose, however, that the agencies did not have their own motives for wanting to stop Trump.

Rogers, Comey, Clapper and Brennan all in a row.

In this scenario, the Russians would have been in control of when to expose the CIA's activities–all they had to do was fire Smolenkov, which in the end they did, right as Smolenkov's report was front and center in the post-election finger-pointing that was taking place regarding the allegation of Russian interference. The best acts of political sabotage are done subtlety, where the culprit remains in the shadows while the victims proceed, unaware that they have been played.

For the Russians, it didn't matter who won the election, even if they may have favored Trump; simply getting President Obama to commit to the bait by confronting Putin at the G20 meeting in September 2016 would have been a victory, because I assess that at that point the Russians knew that they were driving the American narrative. When the President of the United States acts on intelligence that later turns out to be false, it is an embarrassment that drives a wedge between the intelligence community and the Executive Branch of government. I have no solid evidence for this. But in my speculation on what may have happened, this was the Russian objective–to drive that wedge.

An Idyllic Truce

In my view, the CIA, Russia and Smolenkov were happy to maintain the status quo, with Smolenkov living in comfortable retirement with his family, the CIA continuing to accuse Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, and Russia denying it. As well, Russia seems to have brushed off the sanctions that resulted from this alleged "interference." This idyllic truce started to unravel in May 2019, when Trump ordered Attorney General William Barr to "get to the bottom" of what role the CIA played in initiating the investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians that led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller's investigation concluded earlier this year, with a 400-plus page report being published which did not find any evidence of active collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Trump's instructions to Barr are linked to a desire on the part of the president to hold to account those responsible for creating the narrative of possible collusion. Reports indicate that Barr is particularly interested in finding out how and why the CIA concluded that Putin personally ordered the Russian intelligence services to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr's investigation will inevitably lead him to the intelligence report that was hand couriered to the White House in early August 2016, which would in turn lead to Smolenkov, and in doing so open up the can of worms of Smolenkov's entire history of cooperation with the CIA. Not only could the entire foundation upon which the intelligence community has based its assessment of Russian interference collapse, it could also open the door for potential charges of criminal misconduct by Brennan and anyone else who helped him bypass normal vetting procedures and, in doing so, allowed a possible Russian double agent to influence the decisions of the president of the United States.

Seen in this light, the timing of the CNN and New York Times reports about the "exfiltration" of the CIA's "sensitive source" seems to be little more than a blatant effort by Brennan and his allies in the media to shape a narrative before Barr uncovers the truth.

At the end of the day, Smolenkov and his family are not at risk. If the Russian government wanted to exact revenge for his actions, it would have done so after firing him in late 2016. In any event, Smolenkov and his family would never have been allowed to leave Russia had he been suspected or accused of committing crimes against the state. A few days following Smolenkov's "outing" by the U.S. media, the Russian government filed a request with Interpol for an investigation into how someone who had gone missing in Montenegro was now living in the United States.

The only person at risk from this entire sordid affair is Brennan, whose reputation and potential livelihood is on the line. At best, Brennan is guilty of extremely poor judgement; at worst, he actively conspired to use the office of Director of the CIA to interfere in the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Neither option speaks well of the U.S. Intelligence Community and those in Congress charged with oversight of its operations.

Watch Scott Ritter discussing this article on CN Live! Episode 9 .

Consortium News does not necessarily endorse the views of its authors.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

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Linda Wood , September 17, 2019 at 00:34

Brennan may have written the white envelope report and attributed it to Smolenkov, who may or may not have been a double agent. The Russian interference story is not just something Brennan wanted to hear, it's what the military industrial complex needs us to believe.

Dan Anderson , September 16, 2019 at 22:09

I trust Scott Ritter. Had we listened to him, the USA would not have invaded Iraq over WMDs. Reading the piece added to my distrust of our intelligence community, remembering this haunting exchange on live TV.

David G , September 16, 2019 at 18:32

I'm surprised Scott Ritter thinks it likely that Russia engineered the "Putin meddled" narrative – that just seems unbelievable to me. There are enough moving parts here that one doesn't have to commit to one of Ritter's three scenarios: numerous variations are possible. For instance, Smolenkov may have been fired for some mundane mix of reasons going to performance and reliability. He may have been considered dubious without Russian counterintelligence having fingered him as a U.S. agent.

And under the third scenario, with Smolenkov a double agent all along, Ritter writes: "But once his existence became the fodder of the U.S. media via inference and speculation, his services as a double agent were no longer needed. He was fired from his position, via a secret Presidential proclamation, and set free to live his life as he saw fit."

That doesn't make sense to me. In fact I see the opposite: if he had been a successfully run double agent all that time, then when his usefulness had ended he would have been decently pensioned off – not simply cut loose to fend for himself – but *not* allowed to travel abroad unimpeded (with his whole family, no less) where he would have the opportunity to cause mischief.

JOHN CHUCKMAN , September 16, 2019 at 15:26

Were it not so powerful militarily and financially, the United States would be the laughingstock of the world. This entire business is just another avenue travelled in America's nonstop Russophobia lunatic wanderings. The DNC material was not hacked as a number of true experts have told us, including the key one now languishing in a British prison. Putin had no plan because nothing ever happened.

Nothing. And I think we've all seen that when Putin plans something, it happens. The article is interesting for its laying out of elaborate security procedures – kind of a high-level almost academic "police procedural" – but I do feel in the end it is not that helpful, much as I respect Mr Ritter.

When nothing has happened, it does seem a bit odd to scrutinize every piece of fiber and bit of dust and to construct a massive scenario of "what ifs."

Meanwhile, the murder of Seth Rich, a genuine and meaningful event, goes virtually uninvestigated.

No wonder you are in so much trouble, America, and no wonder you make so much trouble for others.

Anonymot , September 16, 2019 at 15:16

In the extremely sophisticated world of high grade intelligence I have repeatedly said that the Brennan, Clapper, Comey trio were lead-footed imbeciles. That has been the CIA tradition since Dulles left. All of those in our intelligence racket have led us to the trough of poisoned water and all of our Presidents drank. They have all become very rich, but not from book sales nor from consulting fees.

It says a lot about the entire echelon of those who decide our fates. There is no way to know whether it stems from ignorance or incompetence, but those with the Deep State mindset like each other, hire each other, and have been in some sort of daisy chain since university. We not only need to describe How it happens as this article does very well, but even more importantly Why. Only then can we start to do something about it, although it is probably far too late – it would be like taking the shell off of an egg and leaving that delicate interior membrane just inside the shell intact.

Clods like these (add the Clintons) should have their post-employment millions confiscated and put on trial.

JOHN CHUCKMAN , September 16, 2019 at 15:39

Sorry, but "Big Intelligence" is always a failure, and on many levels. It is not a matter of any "clods." It is a matter of the very nature of the institution and the nature of the people who use its output. The CIA only has a good record at doing bad things. I refer to its operations side and the havoc and violence they have released through the decades. It is an army of richly-equipped thugs without uniforms interfering in the business of others, "lying, cheating, and stealing."

The true intelligence side of things fails and always has to a great extent. https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/why-the-cia-always-will-be-a-costly-flop/

jessika , September 16, 2019 at 15:11

I find it maddening that we "puppet proles" are treated like stupid fools, lied to constantly, and nothing happens to stop the mad lying/false flag garbage that keeps on. Now, today, after Bolton departure, out of the weirdness comes Pompous Pompeo spewing even worse madness that could tip "us" into attacking Iran! Saudis are insane, Netanyahu faces his electorate tomorrow, and we should believe MbS and cronies? Trump is nothing but a stooge!

Maricata , September 16, 2019 at 19:28

Read The CIA as Organized Crime and Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack by Douglas Valentine.

Please, CN, have Mr. Valentine on your livc broadcast

Jeff Harrison , September 16, 2019 at 14:36

It occurs to me that this may have an inappropriate title. Plausibly Mr. Ritter has pegged what Smolenkov was eventually – a double agent. In which case I would probably call him pretty successful.

hetro , September 16, 2019 at 13:06

Also published yesterday, this Aaron Mate interview with John Kiriakou on Smolenkov:

"Kiriakou also notes that the way Smolenkov's intelligence was handled raises echoes of the CIA's manipulation of intelligence to help justify the Iraq war. The information from Smolenkov was handled personally by then-CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan reportedly sidelined other CIA analysts and kept the Smolenkov information out of the Presidential Daily Briefing – instead delivering it personally to President Obama and a small group of officials."

"That is a highly highly unusual thing to do, but I think [Brennan] did it because he knew that the source wasn't well placed, he knew that the source was lying about his access to Putin -- or information coming from Putin -- and I think that for whatever reason John Brennan really wanted the president to run with this narrative that the Russians were trying to somehow impact the 2016 election, when the intelligence just simply wasn't there," Kiriakou says.

https://thegrayzone.com/2019/09/15/outing-of-cias-kremlin-mole-echoes-iraq-wmd-hoax/

dean 1000 , September 16, 2019 at 11:53

When Trump campaigned against the bloody foreign policies of the duopoly he was also campaigning against an out of control, coup making, drug running, blackmailing, imperial CIA. my comment to The Brennan wanted to 'get' Trump to save his own hide, the CIA, and the duopoly from further embarrassment.

If Smolenkov is missing from his Virginia home (Chancellor below at 9.15.19 at 23:40) hopefully he is in hiding to assure he can tell a Grand Jury about any instructions or suggestions he may have received from Brennan, or others regarding the election of Donald Trump.

Zhu , September 16, 2019 at 05:25

Re John 8:32, people forget Pilate's remark, "what is truth"?

Igor Bundy , September 16, 2019 at 04:29

The next report from the CIA will be from hogwarts and how the measter is concatenating a secret potion on how to turn dykes into donkeys.. This is especially impotent to the CIA and such.. to hide in plain sight..

Imagine them trying to make a bond movie from this. Or more of Bourne.. But now it makes sense of all the shows that show the CIA as protector of humanity and the good guys.. There are no righteous intelligence agencies anywhere, only how evil and their limits.. Why their powers should be limited and their actions also limited to a small sphere. Because where does it stop? Once given the power to shape reality, then the entire world is shaped according to a few with psychopathic tendencies. Which normal person would want to control everyone according to their own reality? When you cant control your very own family, you have to be one heck of a control freak to do it globally and to force everyone to do as told. But these are the dreams and aspirations of an ape.. To remake the world in his own image.. and the prize is the banana..

John Wright , September 16, 2019 at 15:11

More like a Le Carre' film. The CIA was originally sold as an intelligence gathering and analysis organization, and was not supposed to be involved in operations. Thus, it was founded on lies and the lies have only grown since.

Neither the CIA nor the FBI are salvageable at this point. They need to be abolished, their functions reconsidered and new institutions which adhere to the Constitution created. Of course, the entire military intelligence complex needs to be dismantled, starting with the DHS, but that will require a revolution in this country.

Perhaps after the crash

junaid , September 16, 2019 at 03:12

US President Donald Trump dismissed another official – National Security Advisor John Bolton. what threatens relations between the US and Russia What threatens relations between the US and Russia

Fran Macadam , September 16, 2019 at 01:49

Even the former communist state governments in Europe and the Soviet Union rued the day that they unleashed their secret police from accountability, and thereby became subservient to their power.

Chancellor , September 15, 2019 at 23:40

"But his job as foreman of the Rossotrudnichestvo coop was not the kind of job a Maurive (sic) Thorez graduate gets;"

Of course it isn't, because that was never really his job. My guess is that his real job all along was to be recruited by the CIA, when, in fact, he was always a double agent. The rumors that he drank too much, was dissatisfied with his pay, and so on, strike me as too obvious a come-on to an over-confident CIA. If Mr. Ritter knows that this is the type of individual the CIA looks for, then the Russian security services know this as well. After all, they tagged every American on the Moscow Station. Clearly, they have excellent tradecraft.

The final coup by the Russian security services was to create a situation where Smolenkov would have to be extracted by the CIA, although the Russians probably didn't think it would take so long. Now it appears that Smolenkov is missing from the Virginia home that he purchased openly under his own name. I wouldn't be surprised if he is living comfortably somewhere back in Russia–this time having been "extracted" by the Russians, since his cover as a CIA asset was finally blown.

Clearly this is speculation, but no more so than the scenarios Mr. Ritter posits.

Fabrizio Zambuto , September 16, 2019 at 14:11

Third scenario seems possible. He starts to drink, he shows how unsatisfied he is, knows Americans will target him.
Meanwhile he gets spoonfed the intel he will have to share with the CIA.

According to Lavrov, he was a employee with little access to the echelons.

Last but not least: Putin said traitors will be punished but they don't get killed, they're sent to Prison and handed years like Skripal which managed to go to UK thanks to a swap.

Overall I like the article but too much Hollywood in the story. Why was he fired?

John Wright , September 15, 2019 at 23:38

[The Chinese play Go, the Russians Chess and the Americans Poker (badly)]

I think it's pretty clear that Mr. Ritter's third scenario is the correct interpretation of the facts. I wouldn't even be surprised if the Russians surreptitiously got the U.S. media to out their double agent. Timing is everything, after all, and now he's Langley's problem to deal with.

The Russians know that the corrupt Anglo-American Deep State will work against any relationship which is beneficial to Russia, so they have absolutely nothing to lose by feeding the Deep State a narrative that can potentially wreak havoc within it.

Having Smolenkov feed this narrative into the bowels of the CIA clearly helped advance the Deep State's rather obvious operation to create the appearance of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, all the more reason for Brennan and company to swallow it hook, line and sinker.

So Deep State tool Obama bites on the interference narrative, confronts Putin and takes illegal actions that, if exposed, have the potential to seriously damage his legacy and the presidency. This plausible result would cause Americans to lose even more faith in their increasingly corrupt and dysfunctional government and affect world opinion.

We now see that if Barr actually does his job as mandated by the Constitution, then this becomes a very distinct possibility.

Had the rabid neocon Clinton won, her administration would've undoubtedly buried Obama's unconstitutional indiscretion, but fingerprints would've lingered for a future Republican to possibly uncover and cause chaos with. It's even possible that Smolenkov would've remained in place and continued to feed even more poisonous disinformation to the U.S. intelligence morass, setting Clinton up for who knows what.

However, the unstable, narcissistic and easily played Trump miraculously wins. He's immediately and continuously hit with RussiaGate. Trump reacts predictably by fanning the flames of distraction when he calls out the Deep State and keeps punching back. The Executive Branch is divided against itself, Congress and the electorate are further polarized and a significant amount of energy is tied up with unproductive domestic political machinations.

Almost three years of noise and crisis worked to increase Trump's natural dysfunction while the Russians and Chinese quietly manage their coordinated effort to transform the global power structure in their favor.

Will this Russian gift keep on giving?

Will Barr, or someone else if Trump fires him, dig into the entire RussiaGate mess and expose all the lies and blatant illegality potentially causing a serious national crisis, further damaging the reputation and credit worthiness of the U.S. ?

Or will Barr remain a faithful Deep State fixer, convince Trump that taking down Obama would not be good for the economic health of the country (and his re-election), and carefully steer everything he can down the memory hole?

Are those vodka glasses I hear clinking in Beijing?

[I'm just left wondering who will produce the deliciously embarrassing (to the U.S.) film that this would make.]

Taras77 , September 15, 2019 at 19:42

Remarkable detail on the recruitment and control of agents by the CIA. In this case, it would appear that Brennan has been played big time. IMO, to see Smolenkov walk away with his loot in the bank, there can not be any other conclusion.

Hence, the obvious panic by brennan to use the likely suspects, NYT and wapo, to cast more haze on the story. If there were treason, I doubt Smolenkov would be walking because the Russians do not take that lightly. Actually, they have acted and are acting with competence and confidence in the face of the bumbling, fumbling bombast and threats of the group around trump which passes themselves off as diplomats and security advisors.

Brennan in his obsession to interfere with the political process prob contributed to his malfeasance and a possible crime-I am no legal expert but it certainly seems that he committed crimes.

Of course, this raises the question as to whether barr et al will act accordingly and bring him to justice-I have strong doubts about barr taking on the cia as they will certainly close ranks to protect him. My doubts about barr, however, go well beyond this particular issue vis-a-vis the cia.

SilentPartner , September 15, 2019 at 18:58

I suspect Scott was provided a great deal of the reporting in this fascinating article from a disgruntled insider, or former insider. Knowledge of Brennan's break with protocol to form a select 'stand alone fusion cell' that reported only to him is something that I haven't seen reported before. In any case this story adds another red flag to the entire Russiagate hoax.

Just as Mueller failed to interview Julian Assange or Christopher Steele for his report -- obvious red flags -- we should now watch the conduct of Barr's investigation. Will Barr's investigators interview Smolenkov? This should be an important metric to determine how serious his investigation is. Another metric for Barr will be whether Ghislaine Maxwell is indicted and arrested in the Jefferey Epstein affair. If not, we will soon know just how deep goes the corruption of the ruling class.

Sam F , September 15, 2019 at 18:28

Many thanks to Scott Ritter for this information and cogent argument.

However it is not clear how Russia would expect to benefit by allowing Smolenkov to deceive the CIA that Putin directly ordered interference in the US election. While later discrediting of the US "Russia-gate" nonsense would make the US IC look bad, it is unclear that this could be done, and it would have been done by now to reduce political tensions, but still has not been done. Putin himself denied the accusations as nonsense.

So something is missing: if that was not the plan, Smolenkov was not asked to do that, and he would not have been viewed as harmless when fired for that. If he had other incriminating info on decision makers there, he would not have been allowed to leave, and having escaped, he would have concealed his new location. Perhaps his superiors ill-advisedly asked him to make false statements, for which he was not blamed.

Anon , September 16, 2019 at 07:09

I agree. The logic of "embarrassing" the CIA and dividing them from the president by passing inflammatory information seems a stretch. On the other hand, I agree there do appear a number of "red flags."

I'm wondering about the merit of the idea that this guy cooked up the story himself, though I'm not sure that works either. It just seems to me something is missing.

Ojkelly , September 16, 2019 at 12:00

I thought the idea was that a Brennan minion planted or asked for the "Putin is interfering " report, or even made it up and attributed it to a minor asset.

Brendan , September 15, 2019 at 15:00

( ) the timing of the CNN and New York Times reports about the "exfiltration" of the CIA's "sensitive source" seems to be little more than a blatant effort by Brennan and his allies in the media to shape a narrative before Barr uncovers the truth.

That's very likely to be true, but I think there's more to it than just getting Brennan's version of events published before anyone elses. If you want to implant your narrative in the public's mind it certainly does help to get your story out first, but in this case there's an additional motive for leaking the spy story.

One effect of the leak was that Smolenko suddenly disappeared. His family apparently fled their house in a hurry, leaving belongings lying around according to media reports.

Normally the CIA would never 'out' a valued asset, even a used one, because that would discourage potential informers. And CNN and the NYT would not reveal details that would identify a Russian defector – as happened in this case when Russian Kommersant identified Smolenkov. American mainstream media would first check that it was OK to publish those details.

This looks far too unusual to be simply a result of incompetence by Americans. A much better explanation is that some powerful people were really desperate to make Smolenko disappear. And the reason is that he knew too much. And now he has gone into hiding, supposedly to escape vengeance from Putin. What is most significant is that he does not face as many questions about his role in Russiagate.

Abe , September 15, 2019 at 14:31

As far as spying is concerned, "a different set of calculations" prevails under Trump
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/12/israel-white-house-spying-devices-1491351

The Blue Fairy , September 16, 2019 at 00:57

A general search for Intel on google doesn't yield an abundance of articles that mention its move to Israel in 1974, but I discovered it when the Spectre/Meltdown (intentional Israeli processor security flaws, I mean "features") became known in 2018. "Nothing is ever impossible, in this life" except for a computer that's not infested with the US-Israeli partnership. We are also not surprised that Intel was not on Donald Trump's list of American companies to bring back to the US.

Mike from Jersey , September 15, 2019 at 14:23

Good article. This is the kind of analysis you will not find in the New York Times or the Washington Post. This is why I come to the Consortium News.

hetro , September 15, 2019 at 13:46

If I'm following properly, the white paper from Smolenkov is at the heart of the January 6, 2017, "assessments" that the case would be made–Trump as dupe of Putin.

Recall, too, that these "assessments" differed. Brennan's and Comey's were "high"; Clapper's was "moderate."

And, as Scott Ritter points out, they were "estimates" not based on hard proof; they were essentially "guesses."

Why the discrepancy? (Related: William Binney says this "moderate" from Clapper means the NSA knows Russia did not hack the DNC.)

I think this discrepancy question is important. How could a (supposedly) verifiable report via white paper from a verifiable double agent Smolenkov be anything but a slam dunk (unanimous) "high" for the major intelligence agencies?

The other question is Scott's WHY the Russian intelligence apparatus, with Putin complicit, would set out to embarrass the US intelligence agencies with a cooked up story–that made Putin look bad?

Of course, they could not know back at that time how the story would cook and proliferate across US mainstream media with all the glee of Russia-bashing run amok and its TDS.

This view would also suggest a belief that somewhere in the US justice system was the integrity to dig everything out and expose the fraud.

nwwoods , September 15, 2019 at 17:56

I believe that it was NSA which declared "moderate confidence", so no, not Clapper. Clapper, in my opinion, was in on the gambit, a witting confederate of ringleader Brennan.

hetro , September 16, 2019 at 11:30

Yes. Technically Clapper resigned as head of the NSA in 2016, and it was Mike Rogers, the new head in 2017 who declared the assessment "moderate." Clapper had been involved with Brennan and Comey in forming the January 6, 2017 assessment.

https://www.conservativereview.com/news/trump-is-right-to-doubt-the-obama-intelligence-communitys-claims/

The question still remains: why the discrepancy in this "assessment" at the very beginning of Trump's presidency, with its powerful impact.

JP McEvoy , September 15, 2019 at 12:33

One thing is for sure, if anything bad happens to the mole, it's won't be the Russians who did it. Watch your back Mr. Skrip – er – I mean Smolenkov.

Robert Emmett , September 15, 2019 at 11:25

Damn! Please allow me to toss the "curveball" too. What's that? The real one or the fake, you say? Ha ha. Yes, exactly! O, Vaunted sacred screed of PDB where the truth shall set you free to prime the pump with lies. (hint: to spare your soul don't look into their eyes)

I haven't exactly been able to figure out what's wrong with Brennan's face, 'til I just got it. He's been double-yoked! His own plus Barrack's (truer sp.). Egg that just won't wash off! So you have to wear it everywhere, every day. Talk about serviceable villains hiding in plain sight. Hey, Clapper! Don't get any on ya! Haha. Too late!

Carroll Price , September 15, 2019 at 10:43

Another example of checker champions competing with chess masters.

CortesKid , September 15, 2019 at 10:33

Brilliant and thorough. As I was reading Mr. Ritter's analysis, an overwhelming impression was building, analogous to the third scenario, that Smolenkov , indeed, was a lure perfectly placed to catch an intelligence agency or three. As I've watched and read many Russian official's communications, especially their diplomatic efforts, it has become obvious to me that, on average, they are some of the few "adults in the room." In broadstrokes, they are playing chess, while the whole of the West, with its increasingly senile elites, is at the Checkers table.

And in even broader strokes, I believe that at the heart of all of these shenanigans, is a foundational turning away from a matured-and-deflating West, to an energized and expanding Eurasia (Brezhinki's nightmare). As you know, changes on the scale of hegemon are never easy. "Dying empires don't lay down, they double-down."

And I don't necessarily think Smolenkov and family are safe–from, for instance, "Novichok" delivered via some American ally's secret service–as a pretense for further demonization of Russia.

Brendan , September 15, 2019 at 07:51

Sorry but the theory that's proposed above is a bit too convoluted to be believable – that Russia manipulated the CIA with the fake hacking story from Smolenkov and then the CIA chief Brennan used it to manipulate Obama who then unwittingly revealed to Putin that the USA was fooled by the story.

I'd rather follow Occam's razor and go for a simpler scenario. Brennan and the CIA persuaded Smolenkov to invent the story (that he had inside knowledge that Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC).

Not only that, but Obama suspected that the story was fake, since it was passed on to him outside the normal channels and was investigated in a similar unconventional way. It's hard to believe that Obama was easily hoodwinked and simply accepted the story as fact without any convincing evidence.

The Democratic Party's fingerprints are all over the Russiagate story. The DNC commissioned the Steele dossier and Steele met officials in the Obama administration's State Department before the 2016 election. We're expected to believe that this all went on behind President Obama's back.

We're also expected to believe that Obama innocently believed Smolenkov's report, as if the CIA and FBI would never tell a lie. He's not completely stupid – at the very least he must have had serious doubts about the allegations, or he could even have been in on the Russiagate fabrication himself.

Maricata , September 16, 2019 at 19:34

It is more and more difficult to ascertain reality from fantasy, certainty from assumptions. And this all plays into the hands of the ruling elites and their international and national pratorean guards.

Americans do not ask questions. They prefer to believe than to know and thus the {swirl} will yield nothing.

F. G. Sanford , September 15, 2019 at 07:05

Putin must surely have smirked. The little white envelope worked.
The debate made it plain he had pulled Brennan's chain,
And behind the scene subterfuge lurked!

Only four people went to the meeting. Connections might prove rather fleeting.
The "puppet" rebuke at the time seemed a fluke,
No one dared claim that Clinton was cheating!

Brennan's confidence level was high. He had sources and methods to spy.
He had top secret stuff that he claimed was enough,
But no evidence he'd specify!

Then Clinton claimed Russian subversion. In retrospect, not a diversion.
She must have been tipped by somebody loose lipped,
And she ran with the Putin incursion!

Strzok and Page were kept out of the loop. They didn't get insider poop.
They found no 'there' there, Comey's cupboard looked bare,
Brennan's spy had not yet flown the coop.

The durable lie picked up traction. Their spook would require extraction.
How could Clinton be sure that the blame would endure,
And the Steele Dossier would get action?

The 'Agent in Place' was a double. He didn't get in any trouble.
Hillary's pride had some hubris to hide,
In the end it would burst Brennan's bubble!

The big secret meeting was leaked. On the stage, "He's a puppet!" she shrieked.
Perhaps Susan Rice was inclined to be nice,
And her duty to Hillary peaked!

So now, they blame Trump for the outing. But it's over except for the shouting.
The 'insurance' is void, the illusion destroyed,
And poor Hillary just keeps on pouting!

David Otness , September 14, 2019 at 23:41

Scott -- so glad I got the head's-up on this via the CN Live show. I just now finished it and am putting it into perspective. Well-researched, and well-written -- it's truly a web so very reminiscent of what should have remained Cold War 1.0 finis.

And Episode Nine of CN Live is showing us where this internet platform can go with the assembled experience and talent exhibited. The tech glitches were too bad, but the audio was quite good enough.

Thanks for this travel guide to the heart of the labyrinth. Hopefully good things come of it. I do worry about Barr's too many allegiances to his CIA incubator though, especially with all of the ongoing coverups of the Epstein fiasco (engineered or not,) that complicate and obfuscate the twin scandals that both end up under Barr's purview.

Ya done good, nonetheless. Thank you.

Abe , September 14, 2019 at 22:07

"After the U.S. reports came out, an anonymous, well-informed Russian Telegram channel, The Ruthless PR Guy, reported that the asset was Kremlin official Oleg Smolenkov. On Tuesday (10 September 2019] morning, the Moscow daily Kommersant published a story confirming that it was him based on anonymous sources and some pretty convincing circumstantial evidence. [ ]

"If Smolenkov was a spy, he could have delivered important insights about Russia's foreign policy thinking and planning to U.S. intelligence. But if he was the source for the U.S. intelligence community's certainty that Putin personally orchestrated a covert interference campaign, that certainty rests on a weak foundation. Smolenkov served the wrong boss in the Kremlin to get reliable information about such ventures."

Was this man the prized US asset in the Kremlin? By Leonid Bershidsky http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0919/bershidsky091119.php3#Asy3R8hJ2mAQPm1y.99

Ojkelly , September 14, 2019 at 22:01

Mr Ritter, Very lightly done. " Curveball made me do it" is the defense.
Brennan, well,I am not knowledgeable , but tight with Barry, unprofessional to my view, has an issue. He made the most outrageous statements, Commander believing his own BS, NYT magazine. Imagine going around saying that Trump was a Russian agent . Did incomparable harm.And Morrell endorsing Hillary Clinton :beyond the pale , Professional members of the agency must've been? Shocked appalled, whatever.

Jeff Harrison , September 14, 2019 at 21:52

Whooof! Obviously the MSM won't touch any of this stuff. I also don't have a lot of confidence in the US government's ability to clean up the mess it has made. Amusingly, I've watched the US's ham handed operations around the world and wondered when somebody would return the complement. If Mr. Ritter is to be believed, it seems the Russians have started. As Mr. Lawrence pointed out on CN live, Americans need to dispense with the notion that we are exceptional. That's a weakness as it leads to complacency. How many more bricks of trust in our government will we have to see broken before the entire edifice collapses? I would also like to point out that we wouldn't be having these kind of problems if we weren't hell bent on being the global hegemon.

Clark M Shanahan , September 14, 2019 at 22:54

"If Mr. Ritter is to be believed"
Jeffrey, I've followed Mr Ritter.
You can believe what he is stating, he's a good man.

he follows soon, here w/G. Galloway:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NutNHIj2nU8

Clark M Shanahan , September 15, 2019 at 08:46

my bad: Ritter starts at 48 minutes, before Nixon & Maupin

Jeff Harrison , September 15, 2019 at 17:43

I'm hip, Clark. I said that simply because I have no other collaborating commentary. Ritter had my vote when he stood up to Shrub over Iraq's WMDs. But you do have to keep the realization that you could be wrong so if Mr. Ritter is to be believed. I think that the odds that Ritter is wrong are in the general vicinity of the odds that the US will start acting like a normal nation.

[Sep 17, 2019] Explaining CIA's 'Agent Smolenkov'

Notable quotes:
"... This damage to supposed bastions of US journalism cannot be overstated. More than two years of spinning speculation-cum-reporting about Russian collusion with Trump and/or interference in US politics has produced not a crumb of substantive fact. ..."
"... So when they got the chance to seemingly resurrect their buried "Russiagate" yarn with this latest fable about agent Oleg Smolenkov being exfiltrated from Russia to the US, they leapt at it because their equally buried reputations are also at stake. ..."
"... As far as we can tell, an anonymous intelligence source started the ball rolling. The source is likely to be former CIA chief John Brennan or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Both are hangouts for the anti-Trump media since they lost their intel jobs at the beginning of 2017, and both are believed to have seeded the "Russiagate" narrative in 2016 from before Trump was elected. ..."
"... Thus, if Smolenkov is peddling fiction to his former handlers in the CIA, that means he has no credibility as a "top mole". ..."
"... Again, opportunism is the key. Somebody came up with a lurid story about "Russian interference" in US democracy and "collusion" with Trump. Maybe it was Smolenkov who saw an opportunity to win a big pay day from his CIA patrons by flogging them a blockbuster. ..."
"... CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Brennan and Clapper are so much damaged goods from past failure of "Russiagate" fabrications, they find an opportunity to salvage their disgraced names by outing the hapless Smolenkov at this juncture. ..."
"... There is a sinister similarity here to the Sergei Skripal case in England. Is Smolenkov being set up for hit which can then be conveniently blamed on Russia as "revenge" by the Russophobic, anti-Trump, deep state US media? ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

The saga of daring escape by a supposed Russian CIA agent from the Kremlin's clutches and then the added twist of a security-risk American president putting the agent's life in danger does indeed sound like a pulp fiction novel, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov put it.

How to explain this sensational story? "Opportunism" is one word that comes to mind.

The news media who pushed the story, CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post, are vehemently "anti-Trump". Any chance to damage this president and they grab it.

Also, perhaps more importantly, these media are desperate to salvage their shot-through journalistic credibility since the "Russiagate" narrative they had earnestly propagated died a death, after the two-year Mueller circus finally left town empty-handed.

This damage to supposed bastions of US journalism cannot be overstated. More than two years of spinning speculation-cum-reporting about Russian collusion with Trump and/or interference in US politics has produced not a crumb of substantive fact. That means those media responsible for the "Russiagate" nonsense have forfeited that precious quality – credibility. They no longer deserve to be categorized as news services, and are more appropriately now listed as fiction peddlers.

So when they got the chance to seemingly resurrect their buried "Russiagate" yarn with this latest fable about agent Oleg Smolenkov being exfiltrated from Russia to the US, they leapt at it because their equally buried reputations are also at stake.

As far as we can tell, an anonymous intelligence source started the ball rolling. The source is likely to be former CIA chief John Brennan or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Both are hangouts for the anti-Trump media since they lost their intel jobs at the beginning of 2017, and both are believed to have seeded the "Russiagate" narrative in 2016 from before Trump was elected.

Notably, the current CIA assessment of the latest US media reporting on the exfiltrated spy is that the reporting is "false" and "misguided". In particular, the CNN spin that the agent (Smolenkov) had to be extricated from Russia in 2017 because Langley feared that Trump may have endangered the supposed Kremlin mole when he hosted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House in May 2017.

Also of note is the dismissive response from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who rubbished the reports. He was head of the CIA during 2017. (Admittedly, Pompeo is a self-confessed liar.)

According to CNN, NY Times and Washington Post, the former spy in the Kremlin, named as Oleg Smolenkov by subsequent Russian media reporting, was a top mole with direct access to President Vladimir Putin. It is claimed that Smolenkov confirmed allegations about a Putin-directed plot to interfere in US presidential elections. The agent is said to have also confirmed that Putin (allegedly) ordered the hacking of the Democratic party's central database to obtain scandalous material on Hillary Clinton which was then fed to the Wikileaks whistleblower site for the purpose of scuttling her bid for the presidency in November 2016, thus favoring Trump.

Smolenkov was allegedly providing this information on a purported Kremlin interference campaign in 2016.

The US media claim Smolenkov was exfiltrated from Russia by the CIA in June 2017 – out of concern for his safety, which CNN reported was being jeopardized by President Trump due to his implied compromised relations with Putin. Smolenkov and his family disappeared while on a holiday in Montenegro in June 2017.

After the story broke earlier this week about the exfiltrated Kremlin mole, subsequent media reporting tracked down Oleg Smolenkov and his wife living in a $1-million-dollar mansion in Stafford, Virginia. Curiously, public records showed the house purchase was in their names, which seems odds for a supposed top-level spy, who had apparently committed extreme betrayal against the Kremlin, to be living openly. The family apparently fled the house to unknown whereabouts on September 9 after the story about his alleged spy role broke this week.

Who is Oleg Smolenkov? The Kremlin said this week that he previously worked in the presidential administration, but he was sacked "several years ago". He did not have direct access to President Putin's office, according to the Kremlin. For his part, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says he never heard of the man before, never mind ever having met him.

It is understood that Smolenkov previously worked in the Russian embassy in Washington under ambassador Yuri Ushakov (1999-2008). Smolenkov reportedly continued working for Ushakov when the diplomat returned to Moscow after his ambassadorial tenure in the US.

Here is where we may speculate that Smolenkov was recruited by the CIA during his diplomatic assignment in the US. But we assume that the Kremlin's assessment is correct; he did not have a senior position or access to Putin's office. By contrast, the US media are claiming Smolenkov was "one of the CIA's most valuable assets" in the Kremlin and that he was providing confirmatory information that Putin was (allegedly) running an interference campaign to subvert the US presidential elections.

The discerning detail as to the truth of the imbroglio is revealed by the US media claims that Smolenkov corroborated the alleged hacking into the Democratic party database in 2016. However, that specific allegation has been disproven by several top hacker experts, notably William Binney who was formerly technical head at the US National Security Agency. There was no hacking. The damaging information on Hillary Clinton was leaked by a Democratic party insider, possibly Seth Rich, who soon after was shot dead by an unknown attacker. In short, the entire narrative about the Kremlin hacking into the Democratic party is a fiction. The premise to "Russiagate" is baseless.

Thus, if Smolenkov is peddling fiction to his former handlers in the CIA, that means he has no credibility as a "top mole".

Again, opportunism is the key. Somebody came up with a lurid story about "Russian interference" in US democracy and "collusion" with Trump. Maybe it was Smolenkov who saw an opportunity to win a big pay day from his CIA patrons by flogging them a blockbuster. Or maybe, Brennan and Clapper (known liars in the public record) dreamt up a scheme of Kremlin malignancy to benefit Trump, and if that could be tied to Trump then his election would be discredited and nullified. But what they needed was a "Kremlin source" to "corroborate" their readymade story of "Russian interference". Step forward Oleg Smolenkov – fired and out of work – to do the needful "corroboration" and in return he gets a new life for himself and family with a mansion in a leafy Virginian suburb.

CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Brennan and Clapper are so much damaged goods from past failure of "Russiagate" fabrications, they find an opportunity to salvage their disgraced names by outing the hapless Smolenkov at this juncture.

That then raises the grave question of why he was permitted to live openly in his own name?

There is a sinister similarity here to the Sergei Skripal case in England. Is Smolenkov being set up for hit which can then be conveniently blamed on Russia as "revenge" by the Russophobic, anti-Trump, deep state US media?

[Sep 17, 2019] The Devolution of US-Russia Relations by Tony Kevin

Highly recommended!
Sep 17, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

A retired Australian diplomat who served in Moscow dissects the emergence of the new Cold War and its dire consequences.

I n 2014, we saw violent U.S.-supported regime change and civil war in Ukraine. In February, after months of increasing tension from the anti-Russian protest movement's sitdown strike in Kiev's Maidan Square, there was a murderous clash between protesters and Ukrainian police, sparked off by hidden shooters (we now know that were expert Georgian snipers) , aiming at police. The elected government collapsed and President Yanukevich fled to Russia, pursued by murder squads.

The new Poroshenko government pledged harsh anti-Russian language laws. Rebels in two Russophone regions in Eastern Ukraine took local control, and appealed for Russian military help. In March, a referendum took place in Russian-speaking Crimea on leaving Ukraine, under Russian military protection. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, a request promptly granted by the Russian Parliament and President. Crimea's border with Ukraine was secured against saboteurs. Crimea is prospering under its pro-Russian government, with the economy kick-started by Russian transport infrastructure investment.

In April, Poroshenko ordered full military attack on the separatist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. A brutal civil war ensued, with aerial and artillery bombardment bringing massive civilian death and destruction to the separatist region. There was major refugee outflow into Russia and other parts of Ukraine. The shootdown of MH17 took place in July 2014.

Poroshenko: Ordered military attack.

By August 2015, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates, 13,000 people had been killed and 30,000 wounded. 1.4 million Ukrainians had been internally displaced, and 925,000 had fled to neighbouring countries, mostly Russia and to a lesser extent Poland.

There is now a military stalemate, under the stalled Minsk peace process. But random fatal clashes continue, with the Ukrainian Army mostly blamed by UN observers. The UN reported last month that the ongoing war has affected 5.2 million people, leaving 3.5 million of them in need of relief, including 500,000 children. Most Russians blame the West for fomenting Ukrainian enmity towards Russia. This war brings back for older Russians horrible memories of the Nazi invasion in 1941. The Russia-Ukraine border is only 550 kilometres from Moscow.

Flashpoint Syria

Russian forces joined the civil war in Syria in September 2015, at the request of the Syrian Government, faltering under the attacks of Islamist extremist rebel forces reinforced by foreign fighters and advanced weapons. With Russian air and ground support, the tide of war turned. Palmyra and Aleppo were recaptured in 2016. An alleged Syrian Government chemical attack at Khan Shaykhun in April 2017 resulted in a token U.S. missile attack on a Syrian Government airbase: an early decision by President Trump.

NATO, Strategic Balance, Sanctions

An F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2014. The 48th Fighter Wing sent an additional six aircraft and more than 50 personnel to support NATO's air policing mission in Lithuania, at the request of U.S. allies in the Baltics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nunez/Released)

Tensions have risen in the Baltic as NATO moves ground forces and battlefield missiles up to the Baltic states' borders with Russia. Both sides' naval and air forces play dangerous brinksmanship games in the Baltic. U.S. short-range, non-nuclear-armed anti-ballistic missiles were stationed in Poland and Romania, allegedly against threat of Iranian attack. They are easily convertible to nuclear-armed missiles aimed at nearby Russia.

Nuclear arms control talks have stalled. The INF intermediate nuclear forces treaty expired in 2019, after both sides accused the other of cheating. In March 2018, Putin announced that Russia has developed new types of intercontinental nuclear missiles using technologies that render U.S. defence systems useless. The West has pretended to ignore this announcement, but we can be sure Western defence ministries have noted it. Nuclear second-strike deterrence has returned, though most people in the West have forgotten what this means. Russians know exactly what it means.

Western economic sanctions against Russia continue to tighten after the 2014 events in Ukraine. The U.S. is still trying to block the nearly completed Nordstream Baltic Sea underwater gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Sanctions are accelerating the division of the world into two trade and payments systems: the old NATO-led world, and the rest of the world led by China, with full Russian support and increasing interest from India, Japan, ROK and ASEAN.

Return to Moscow

In 2013, my children gave me an Ipad. I began to spend several hours a day reading well beyond traditional mainstream Western sources: British and American dissident sites, writers like Craig Murray in UK and in the U.S. Stephen Cohen, and some Russian sites – rt.com, Sputnik, TASS, and the official Foreign Ministry site mid.ru. in English.

In late 2015 I decided to visit Russia independently to write Return to Moscow , a literary travel memoir. I planned to compare my impressions of the Soviet Union, where I had lived and worked as an Australian diplomat in 1969-71, with Russia today. I knew there had been huge changes. I wanted to experience 'Putin's Russia' for myself, to see how it felt to be there as an anonymous visitor in the quiet winter season. I wanted to break out of the familiar one-dimensional hostile political view of Russia that Western mainstream media offer: to take my readers with me on a cultural pilgrimage through the tragedy and grandeur and inspiration of Russian history. As with my earlier book on Spain 'Walking the Camino' , this was not intended to be a political book, and yet somehow it became one.

I was still uncommitted on contemporary Russian politics before going to Russia in January 2016. Using the metaphor of a seesaw, I was still sitting somewhere around the middle.

My book was written in late 2015 – early 2016, expertly edited by UWA Publishing. It was launched in March 2017. By this time my political opinions had moved decisively to the Russian end of the seesaw, on the basis of what I had seen in Russia, and what I had read and thought during the year.

I have been back again twice, in winter 2018 and 2019. My 2018 visit included Crimea, and I happened to see a Navalny-led Sunday demonstration in Moscow. I thoroughly enjoyed all three independent visits: in my opinion, they give my judgements on Russia some depth and authenticity.

Russophobia Becomes Entrenched

Russia was a big talking point in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the initially unlikely Republican candidate Donald Trump's chances improved, anti-Putin and anti-Russian positions hardened in the outgoing Obama administration and in the Democratic Party establishment which backed candidate Hillary Clinton.

Russia and Putin became caught up in the Democratic Party's increasingly obsessive rage and hatred against the victorious Trump. Russophobia became entrenched in Washington and London U.S. and UK political and strategic elites, especially in intelligence circles: think of Pompeo, Brennan, Comey and Clapper. All sense of international protocol and diplomatic propriety towards Russia and its President was abandoned, as this appalling Economist cover from October 2016 shows.

My experience of undeclared political censorship in Australia since four months after publication of 'Return to Moscow' supports the thesis that:

We are now in the thick of a ruthless but mostly covert Anglo-American alliance information war against Russia. In this war, individuals who speak up publicly in the cause of detente with Russia will be discouraged from public discourse.

In the Thick of Information War

When I spoke to you two years ago, I had no idea how far-reaching and ruthless this information war is becoming. I knew that a false negative image of Russia was taking hold in the West, even as Russia was becoming a more admirable and self-confident civil society, moving forward towards greater democracy and higher living standards, while maintaining essential national security. I did not then know why, or how.

I had just had time to add a few final paragraphs in my book about the possible consequences for Russia-West relations of Trump's surprise election victory in November 2016. I was right to be cautious, because since Trump's inauguration we have seen the step-by-step elimination of any serious pro-detente voices in Washington, and the reassertion of control over this haphazard president by the bipartisan imperial U.S. deep state, as personified from April 2018 by Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser Bolton. Bolton has now been thrown from the sleigh as decoy for the wolves: under the smooth-talking Pompeo, the imperial policies remain.

Truth, Trust and False Narratives

Let me now turn to some theory about political reality and perception, and how national communities are persuaded to accept false narratives. Let me acknowledge my debt to the fearless and brilliant Australian independent online journalist, Caitlin Johnstone.

Behavioural scientists have worked in the field of what used to be called propaganda since WW1. England has always excelled in this field. Modern wars are won or lost not just on the battlefield, but in people's minds. Propaganda, or as we now call it information warfare, is as much about influencing people's beliefs within your own national community as it is about trying to demoralise and subvert the enemy population.

The IT revolution of the past few years has exponentially magnified the effectiveness of information warfare. Already in the 1940s, George Orwell understood how easily governments are able to control and shape public perceptions of reality and to suppress dissent. His brilliant books 1984 and Animal Farm are still instruction manuals in principles of information warfare. Their plots tell of the creation by the state of false narratives, with which to control their gullible populations.

The disillusioned Orwell wrote from his experience of real politics. As a volunteer fighter in the Spanish Civil War, he saw how both Spanish sides used false news and propaganda narratives to demonise the enemy. He also saw how the Nazi and Stalinist systems in Germany and Russia used propaganda to support show trials and purges, the concentration camps and the Gulag, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, German master race and Stalinist class enemy ideologies; and hows dissident thought was suppressed in these controlled societies. Orwell tried to warn his readers: all this could happen here too, in our familiar old England. But because the good guys won the war against fascism, his warnings were ignored.

We are now in Britain, U.S. and Australia actually living in an information warfare world that has disturbing echoes of the world that Orwell wrote about. The essence of information control is the effective state management of two elements, trust and fear , to generate and uphold a particular view of truth. Truth, trust and fear : these are the three key elements, now as 100 years ago in WWI Britain.

People who work or have worked close to government – in departments, politics, the armed forces, or top universities – mostly accept whatever they understand at the time to be 'the government view' of truth. Whether for reasons of organisational loyalty, career prudence or intellectual inertia, it is usually this way around governments. It is why moral issues like the Vietnam War and the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq were so distressing for people of conscience working in or close to government and military jobs in Canberra. They were expected to engage in 'doublethink' as Orwell had described it:

Even in Winston's nightmare world, there were still choices – to retreat into the non-political world of the proles, or to think forbidden thoughts and read forbidden books. These choices involved large risks and punishments. It was easier and safer for most people to acquiesce in the fake news they were fed by state-controlled media.

'Trust, Truth and False Narratives'

Fairfax journalist Andrew Clark, in the Australian Financial Review , in an essay optimistically titled "Not fake news: Why truth and trust are still in good shape in Australia", (AFR Dec. 22, 2018), cited Professor William Davies thus:

"Most of the time, the edifice that we refer to as "truth" is really an investment of trust in our structures of politics and public life' 'When trust sinks below a certain point, many people come to view the entire spectacle of politics and public life as a sham."

Here is my main point: Effective information warfare requires the creation of enough public trust to make the public believe that state-supported lies are true.

The key tools are repetition of messages, and diversification of trusted voices. Once a critical mass is created of people believing a false narrative, the lie locks in: its dissemination becomes self-sustaining.

Caitlin Johnstone a few days ago put it this way:

" Power is being able to control what happens. Absolute power is being able to control what people think about what happens. If you can control what happens, you can have power until the public gets sick of your BS and tosses you out on your ass. If you can control what people think about what happens, you can have power forever. As long as you can control how people are interpreting circumstances and events, there's no limit to the evils you can get away with."

The Internet has made propaganda campaigns that used to take weeks or months a matter of hours or even minutes to accomplish. It is about getting in quickly, using large enough clusters of trusted and diverse sources, in order to cement lies in place, to make the lies seem true, to magnify them through social messaging: in other words, to create credible false narratives that will quickly get into the public's bloodstream.

Over the past two years, I have seen this work many times: on issues like framing Russia for the MH17 tragedy; with false allegations of Assad mounting poison gas attacks in Syria; with false allegations of Russian agents using lethal Novichok to try to kill the Skripals in Salisbury; and with the multiple lies of Russiagate.

It is the mind-numbing effect of constant repetition of disinformation by many eminent people and agencies, in hitherto trusted channels like the BBC or ABC or liberal Anglophone print media that gives the system its power to persuade the credulous. For if so many diverse and reputable people repeatedly report such negative news and express such negative judgements about Russia or China or Iran or Syria, surely they must be right?

We have become used to reading in our quality newspapers and hearing on the BBC and ABC and SBS gross assaults on truth, calmly presented as accepted facts. There is no real public debate on important facts in contention any more. There are no venues for dissent outside contrarian social media sites.

Sometimes, false narratives inter-connect. Often a disinformation narrative in one area is used to influence perceptions in other areas. For example, the false Skripals poisoning story was launched by British intelligence in March 2018, just in time to frame Syrian President Assad as the guilty party in a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma the following month.

The Skripals Gambit

The Skripals gambit was also a failed British attempt to blight the Russia –hosted Football World Cup in June 2018. In the event, hundreds of thousands of Western sports fans returned home with the warmest memories of Russian good sportsmanship and hospitality.

How do I know the British Skripals narrative is false? For a start, it is illogical, incoherent, and constantly changes. Allegedly, two visiting Russian FSB agents in March 2018 sprayed or smeared Novichok, a deadly toxin instantly lethal in the most microscopic quantities, on the Skripals' house front doorknob. There is no video footage of the Skripals at their front door on the day. We are told they were found slumped on a park bench, and that is maybe where they had been sprayed with nerve gas? Shortly afterwards, Britain's Head of Army Nursing who happened to be passing by found them, and supervised their hospitalisation and emergency treatment.

Allegedly, much of Salisbury was contaminated by Novichok, and one unfortunate woman mysteriously died weeks later, yet the Skripals somehow did not die, as we are told. But where are they now? We saw a healthy Yulia in a carefully scripted video interview released in May 2018, after an alleged 'one in a million' recovery. We were assured her father had recovered too, but nobody has seen him at all. The Skripals have simply disappeared from sight since 16 months ago. Are they now alive or dead? Are they in voluntary or involuntary British custody?

A month after the poisoning, the UK Government sent biological samples from the Skripals to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons , for testing. The OPCW sent the samples to a trusted OPCW laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland.

Lavrov Spiez BZ claims, April 2018

A few days later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dramatically announced in Moscow that the Spiez lab had found in the samples a temporary-effect nerve agent BZ, used by U.S. and UK but not by Russia, that would have disabled the Skripals for a few days without killing them. He also revealed the Spiez lab had found that the Skripal samples had been twice tampered with while still in UK custody: first soon after the poisoning, and again shortly before passing them to the OPCW. He said the Spiez lab had found a high concentration of Novichok, which he called A- 234, in its original form. This was extremely suspicious as A-234 has high volatility and could not have retained its purity over a two weeks period. The dosage the Spiez lab found in the samples would have surely killed the Skripals. The OPCW under British pressure rejected Lavrov's claim, and suppressed the Spiez lab report.

Let's look finally at the alleged assassins.

'Boshirov and Petrov'

These two FSB operatives who visited Salisbury under the false identities of 'Boshirov' and 'Petrov' did not look or behave like credible assassins. It is more likely that they were sent to negotiate with Sergey Skripal about his rumoured interest in returning to Russia. They needed to apply for UK visas a month in advance of travel: ample time for the British agencies to identify them as FSB operatives, and to construct a false attempted assassination narrative around their visit. This false narrative repeatedly trips over its own lies and contradictions. British social media are full of alternative theories and rebuttals. Russians find the whole British Government Skripal narrative laughable. They have invented comedy skits and video games based on it. Yet it had major impact on Russia-West relations.

The Douma False Narrative

I turn now to the claimed Assad chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018.This falsely alleged attack triggered a major NATO air attack on Syrian targets, ordered by Trump. We came close to WWIII in these dangerous days. Thanks to the restraint of the then Secretary of Defence James Mattis and his Russian counterparts, the risk was contained.

The allegation that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used outlawed chemical weapons against his own people was based solely on the evidence of faked video images of child victims, made by the discredited White Helmets, a UK-sponsored rebel-linked 'humanitarian' propaganda organisation with much blood on its hands. Founded in 2013 by a British private security specialist of intelligence background, James Le Mesurier, the White Helmets specialised in making fake videos of alleged Assad regime war crimes against Syrian civilians. It is by now a thoroughly discredited organisation that was prepared to kill its prisoners and then film their bodies as alleged victims of government chemical attacks.

White Helmets

As the town of Douma was about to fall to advancing Syrian Government forces, the White Helmets filled a room with stacked corpses of murdered prisoners, and photographed them as alleged victims of aerial gas attack. They also made a video alleging child victims of this attack being hosed down by White Helmets. A video of a child named Hassan Diab went viral all over the Western world.

Hassan Diab later testified publicly in The Hague that he had been dragged terrified from his family by force, smeared with some sort of grease, and hosed down with water as part of a fake video. He went from hero to zero overnight, as Western governments and media rejected his testimony as Russian and Syrian propaganda.

In a late development, there is proof that the OPCW suppressed its own engineers' report from Douma that the alleged poison gas cylinders could not have possibly been dropped from the air through the roof of the house where one was found, resting on a bed under a convenient hole in the roof.

I could go on discussing the detail of such false narratives all day. No matter how often they are exposed by critics, our politicians and mainstream media go on referencing them as if they are true. Once people have come to believe false narratives, it is hard to refute them.

So it is with the false narrative that Russian internet interference enabled Trump to win the 2016 U.S. presidential elections: a thesis for which no evidence was found by [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller, yet continues to be cited by many U.S. liberal Democratic media as if it were true. So, even, with MH17.

Managing Mass Opinion

This mounting climate of Western Russophobia is not accidental: it is strategically directed, and it is nourished with regular maintenance doses of fresh lies. Each round of lies provides a credible platform for the next round somewhere else. The common thread is a claimed malign Russian origin for whatever goes wrong.

So where is all this disinformation originating? Information technology firms in Washington and London that are closely networked into government elites, often through attending the same establishment schools or colleges like Eton and Yale, have closely studied and tested the science of influencing crowd opinions through mainstream media and online. They know, in a way that Orwell or Goebbels could hardly have dreamt, how to put out and repeat desired media messages. They know what sizes of 'internet attraction nodes' need to be established online, in order to create diverse critical masses of credible Russophobic messaging, which then attracts enough credulous and loyal followers to become self-propagating.

Firms like the SCL Group (formerly Strategic Communication Laboratories) and the now defunct Cambridge Analytica pioneered such work in the UK. There are many similar firms in Washington, all in the business of monitoring, generating and managing mass opinion. It is big business, and it works closely with the national security state.

Starting in November 2018, an enterprising group of unknown hackers in the UK , who go by the name 'Anonymous', opened a remarkable window into this secret world. Over a few weeks, they hacked and dumped online a huge volume of original documents issued by and detailing the activities of the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) and the Integrity initiative (II). Here is the first page of one of their dumps, exposing propaganda against Jeremy Corbyn.

We know from this material that the IfS and II are two secret British disinformation networks operating at arms' length from but funded by the UK security services and broader UK government establishment. They bring together high-ranking military and intelligence personnel, often nominally retired, journalists and academics, to produce and disseminate propaganda that serves the agendas of the UK and its allies.

Stung by these massive leaks, Chris Donnelly, a key figure in IfS and II and a former British Army intelligence officer, made a now famous seven-minute YouTube video in December 2018, artfully filmed in a London kitchen, defending their work.

He argued – quite unconvincingly in my opinion – that IfS and II are simply defending Western societies against disinformation and malign influence, primarily from Russia. He boasted how they have set up in numerous targeted European countries, claimed to be under attack from Russian disinformation, what he called 'clusters of influence' , to 'educate' public opinion and decision-makers in pro-NATO and anti-Russian directions.

Donnelly spoke frankly on how the West is already at war with Russia, a 'new kind of warfare', in which he said 'everything becomes a weapon'. He said that 'disinformation is the issue which unites all the other weapons in this conflict and gives them a third dimension'.

He said the West has to fight back, if it is to defend itself and to prevail.

We can confirm from the Anonymous leaked files the names of many people in Europe being recruited into these clusters of influence. They tend to be significant people in journalism, publishing, universities and foreign policy think-tanks: opinion-shapers. The leaked documents suggest how ideologically suitable candidates are identified: approached for initial screening interviews; and, if invited to join a cluster of influence, sworn to secrecy.

Remarkably, neither the Anonymous disclosures nor the Donnelly response have ever been reported in Australian media. Even in Britain – where evidence that the Integrity Initiative was mounting a campaign against [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn provoked brief media interest. The story quickly disappeared from mainstream media and the BBC. A British under-foreign secretary admitted in Parliamentary Estimates that the UK Foreign Office subsidises the Institute of Statecraft to the tune of nearly 3 million pounds per year. It also gives various other kinds of non-monetary assistance, e.g. providing personnel and office support in Britain's overseas embassies.

This is not about traditional spying or seeking agents of influence close to governments. It is about generating mass disinformation, in order to create mass climates of belief.

In my opinion, such British and American disinformation efforts, using undeclared clusters of influence, through Five Eyes intelligence-sharing, and possibly with the help of British and American diplomatic missions, may have been in operation in Australia for many years.

Such networks may have been used against me since around mid-2017, to limit the commercial outreach of my book and the impact of its dangerous ideas on the need for East-West detente; and efficiently to suppress my voice in Australian public discourse about Russia and the West. Do I have evidence for this? Yes.

It is not coincidence that the Melbourne Writers Festival in August 2017 somehow lost all my sign-and-sell books from my sold-out scheduled speaking event; that a major debate with [Australian writer and foreign policy analyst] Bobo Lo at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne was cancelled by his Australian sponsor, the Lowy institute, two weeks before the advertised date; that my last invitation to any writers festival was 15 months ago, in May 2018; that Return to Moscow was not shortlisted for any Australian book prize, though I entered it in all of them ; that since my book's early promotion ended around August 2017, I have not been invited to join any ABC discussion panels, or to give any talks on Russia in any universities or institutes, apart from the admirable Australian Institute of International Affairs and the ISAA.

My articles and shorter opinion commentaries on Russia and the West have not been published in mainstream media or in reputable online journals like Eureka Street, The Conversation, Inside Story or Australian Book Review . Despite being an ANU Emeritus Fellow, I have not been invited to give a public talk or join any panel in ANU (Australian National University) or any Canberra think tank. In early 2018, I was invited to give a private briefing to a group of senior students travelling on an immersion course to Russia. I was not invited back in 2019, after high-level private advice within ANU that I was regarded as too pro-Putin.

In all these ways – none overt or acknowledged – my voice as an open-minded writer and speaker on Russia-West relations seems to have been quietly but effectively suppressed in Australia. I would like to be proved wrong on this, but the evidence is there.

This may be about "velvet-glove deterrence" of my Russia-sympathetic voice and pen, in order to discourage others, especially those working in or close to government. Nobody is going to put me in jail, unless I am stupid enough to violate Australia's now strict foreign influence laws. This deterrence is about generating fear of consequences for people still in their careers, paying their mortgages, putting kids through school. Nobody wants to miss their next promotion.

There are other indications that Australian national security elite opinion has been indoctrinated prudently to fear and avoid any kind of public discussion of positive engagement with Russia (or indeed, with China).

There are only two kinds of news about Russia now permitted in our mainstream media, including the ABC and SBS: negative news and comment, or silence. Unless a story can be given an anti-Russian sting, it will not be carried at all. Important stories are simply spiked, like last week's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivistok, chaired by President Putin and attended by Prime Ministers Abe, Mahathir and Modi, among 8500 participants from 65 countries.

The ABC idea of a balanced panel to discuss any Russian political topic was exemplified in an ABC Sunday Extra Roundtable panel chaired by Eleanor Hall on July, 22 2018, soon after the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki. The panel – a former ONA Russia analyst, a professor of Soviet and Russian History at Melbourne University, and a Russian émigré dissident journalist introduced as the 'Washington correspondent for Echo of Moscow radio' spent most of their time sneering at Putin and Trump. There were no other views.

A powerful anti-Russian news narrative is now firmly in place in Australia, on every topic in contention: Ukraine, MH17, Crimea, Syria, the Skripals, Navalny and public protest in Russia. There is ill-informed criticism of Russia, or silence, on the crucial issues of arms control and Russia-China strategic and economic relations as they affect Australia's national security or economy. There is no analysis of the negative impact on Australia of economic sanctions against Russia. There is almost no discussion of how improved relations with China and Russia might contribute to Australia's national security and economic welfare, as American influence in the world and our region declines, and as American reliability as an ally comes more into question. Silence on inconvenient truths is an important part of the disinformation tool kit.

I see two overall conflicting narratives – the prevailing Anglo-American false narrative; and valiant efforts by small groups of dissenters, drawing on sources outside the Anglo-American official narrative, to present another narrative much closer to truth. And this is how most Russians now see it too.

The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in July 2018 was damaged by the Skripal and Syria fabrications. Trump left that summit friendless, frightened and humiliated. He soon surrendered to the power of the U.S. imperial state as then represented by [Mike] Pompeo and [John] Bolton, who had both been appointed as Secretary of State and National Security Adviser in April 2018 and who really got into their stride after the Helsinki Summit. Pompeo now smoothly dominates Trump's foreign policy.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Gage Skidmore)

Finally, let me review the American political casualties over the past two years – self-inflicted wounds – arising from this secret information war against Russia. Let me list them without prejudging guilt or innocence. Slide 20 – Self-inflicted wounds: casualties of anti-Russian information warfare.

Trump's first National Security Adviser, the highly decorated Michael Flynn lost his job after only three weeks, and soon went to jail. His successor H R McMaster lasted 13 months until replaced by John Bolton. Trump's first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lasted just 14 months until his replacement by Trump's appointed CIA chief (in January 2017) Mike Pompeo. Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon lasted only seven months. Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is now in jail.

Defence Secretary James Mattis lasted nearly two years as Secretary of Defence, and was an invaluable source of strategic stability. He resigned in December 2018. The highly capable Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman lasted just two years: he is resigning next month. John Kelly lasted 18 months as White House Chief of Staff. Less senior figures like George Papadopoulos and Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen both served jail time. The pattern I see here is that people who may have been trying responsibly as senior U.S. officials to advance Trump's initial wish to explore possibilities for detente with Russia – policies that he had advocated as a candidate – were progressively purged, one after another . The anti-Russian U.S. bipartisan imperial state is now firmly back in control. Trump is safely contained as far as Russia is concerned .

Russians do not believe that any serious detente or arms control negotiations can get under way while cold warriors like Pompeo continue effectively to control Trump. There have been other casualties over the past two years of tightening American Russophobia. Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning come to mind. The naive Maria Butina is a pathetic victim of American judicial rigidity and deep state vindictiveness.

False anti-Russian Government narratives emanating from London and Washington may be laughed at in Moscow , but they are unquestioningly accepted in Canberra. We are the most gullible of audiences. There is no critical review. Important contrary factual information and analysis from and about Russia just does not reach Australian news reporting and commentary, nor – I fear – Australian intelligence assessment. We are prisoners of the false narratives fed to us by our senior Five Eyes partners U.S. and UK.

To conclude: Some people may find what I am saying today difficult to accept. I understand this. I now work off open-source information about Russia with which many people here are unfamiliar, because they prefer not to read the diverse online information sources that I choose to read. The seesaw has tilted for me: I have clearly moved a long way from mainstream Western perceptions on Russia-West relations.

Under Trump and Pompeo, as the Syria and Iran crises show, the present risk of global nuclear war by accident or incompetent Western decision-making is as high as it ever was in the Cold War. The West needs to learn again how to dialogue usefully and in mutually respectful ways with Russia and China. This expert knowledge is dying with our older and wiser former public servants and ex-military chiefs.

These remarks were delivered by Tony Kevin at the Independent Scholars Association of Australia in Canberra, Australia on Wednesday.

Watch Tony Kevin interviewed Friday night on CN Live!

Tony Kevin is a retired Australian diplomat who was posted to Moscow from 1969 to 1971, and was later Australia's ambassador to Poland and Cambodia. His latest book is Return to Moscow, published by UWA Publishing.


Bruce , September 17, 2019 at 08:58

Excellent article. It's very interesting to see how the state and its media lackey set the narrative.

Most of this comment relates to the Skripals but also applies to other matters (the Skripals writing was some of Craig Murray's finest work in my opinion). One of the hallmarks of a hoax is a constantly evolving storyline. I think governments have learned from past "mistakes" with their hoaxes/deception where they've given a description of events and then scientists/engineers/chemists etc have come in and criticised their version of events with details and scientific arguments. Nowadays, governments are very reluctant to commit to a version of events, and instead rely on the media (their propaganda assets) to provide a scattergun set of information to muddy the waters and thoroughly confuse the population. The government is then insulated from some of the more bizarre allegations (the headlines of which are absorbed nonetheless), and can blame it on the media (who would use an anonymous government source naturally). Together with classifying just about everything on national security grounds, they can stonewall for as long as they want.

The British are masters of propaganda. They maintained a global empire for a very long time, and the prevailing view (in the west at least) was probably one of tea-drinking cricket playing colonials/gentlemen. But you don't maintain an empire without being absolutely ruthless and brutal. They've been doing this for a very long time.

When we hear something from the BBC or ABC, we should think "State Media".
That's probably why its got a nice folksy nickname of "aunty" .build up the trust.

Leslie Louis , September 17, 2019 at 04:00

Society is suffering the extreme paradox; there is the potential for everyone to have a voice, but the last vestiges of free speech have been whittled away. Fake news is universal, assisted by the fake "left". It is impossible to get published any challenge to even the most outlandish versions of identity politics. As the experience of Tony Kevin exemplifies, all avenues for dissent against hegemonic orthodoxies are closed off.
Disinformation is now an essential weapon in waging hot and cold wars. Cold War historians are well informed on false flags, "black ops", and other organised dirty tactics. I do not know what happened to the Skripals, and while it is legitimate to bear in mind KGB assassinations, despite the enormous resources at its disposal, the English security state has been unable to construct a credible case. Surely scepticism is provoked by the leading role being played by the notorious Bellingcat outfit.

Zenobia van Dongen , September 17, 2019 at 00:29

Here is part of an eyewitness account:
"After the Orange Revolution which began in Kiev, the country was divided literally into two parts -- the supporters of integration with Russia and the supporters of an independent Ukraine. For almost 100 years belonging to the Soviet Union, the propaganda about the assistance and care from our "big brother" Russia, in Ukraine as a whole and the Donbass in particular has borne fruit. At the end of February 2014, some cities of the Southeast part were boiling with mass social and political protest against the new Ukrainian government in defense of the status of the Russian language, voicing separatist and pro-Russian slogans. The division took place in our city of Sloviansk too. Some people stood for separation from Ukraine, while Ukrainian patriots stood for the unity of our country.
On April 12, 2014 our city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region was seized by Russian mercenaries and local volunteers. From that moment onward, armed assaults on state institutions began. The city police department, the Sloviansk City Hall, the building of the Ukraine Security Service was occupied. Armed militants seized state institutions and confiscated private property. They threatened and beat people, and those who refused to obey were taken away to an unknown destination and people started disappearing. The persecution and abduction of patriotic citizens began."

Michael McNulty , September 16, 2019 at 11:36

Watching Vietnam news coverage as a kid in the '60s I noticed the planes carpet-bombing South East Asia were American, not Russian. And as I only watched the footage and never listened to the commentary (I was waiting for the kids programs that followed) the BS they came out with to explain it all never reached me. I saw with my own eyes what the US really was and is, and always believed growing up they were the belligerent side not Russia. Once the USSR fell it was clear there were no longer any constraints on US excesses.

dean 1000 , September 15, 2019 at 18:17

Doublethink, not to mention doublespeak, is so apt to describe what is happening. If Orwell was writing today it would have to be classified as non-fiction.

Free speech is impossible unless every election district has a radio/TV station where candidates, constituents, and others can debate, discuss and speak to the issues without bending a knee to large campaign contributors or the controllers of corporate or government media. It may start with low-power pirate radio/TV broadcasts. No, the pirate speakers will not have to climb a cell tower to broadcast an opinion to the neighborhood or precinct.
If genuine free speech is going to exist it will start as something unauthorized and unlawful. If it sticks to the facts it will quickly prove its value.

Download a free pdf copy of '1984.' https://www.planetebook.com/free-ebooks/1984.pdf

Njegos , September 15, 2019 at 03:39

Excellent article. The only exhibit missing was reference to Bill Browder's lies. Browder's rubbish has been exposed by intrepid journalists and documentary makers such as Andrei Nekrasov, Sasha Krainer and Lucy Komisar but to read or listen to our media, you'd think BB was some sort of human rights hero. That's because BB's fairy tale fits nicely into the MSM's hatred of Putin and Russia. Debunk Browder and a major pillar of anti-Russia prejudice collapses. Therefore, Browder will never face any serious questions by the MSM.

John A , September 16, 2019 at 09:18

judges of the European Court of Human Rights published a judgement a fortnight ago which utterly exploded the version of events promulgated by Western governments and media in the case of the late Mr Magnitskiy. Yet I can find no truthful report of the judgement in the mainstream media at all.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/09/the-magnitskiy-myth-exploded/

MSM propaganda by omission. Anything that doesn't fit the government narrative gets zero publicity.

Jim Ingram , September 14, 2019 at 21:12

Well said and needing to be said Tony.

Mr. Dan , September 14, 2019 at 19:41

I have stopped following australian mainstream media including the darlings of the 'left' ABC/SBS over a decade ago, completely. My disgust with their 'coverage' of the 2008 GFC was more than enough. Since 2008-9 things have deteriorated drastically into conspiracy theory propaganda by omission la-la land *it seems*, given I don't tune in at all.

The author has a well supported view. I find it a little naive in him thinking that the MSM has that much power over shaping public opinion in australia.

People who want to be informed do so. The half intelligent conformists on hamster wheel of lifetime mortgage debt have 'careers' to hold onto, so parroting the group think or living in ignorance is much easier. The massive portion of australian racists, inbred bogans and idiots that make up the large LNP, One Nation etc. voting block are completely beyond salvation or ability to process, and critically evaluate any information. The smarter ones drool on about the 'UN Agenda 21' conspiracy at best. Utterly hopeless.

I don't expect things to change as the australian economy is slowly hollowed out by the rich, and the education system (that has always been about conforming, wearing school uniform and regurgitating what the teacher/lecturer says at best) is gutted completely. Welcome to australistan.

Fran Macadam , September 14, 2019 at 19:21

Note that the prohibition against false propaganda to indoctrinate the domestic population by the American government was lifted by President Obama at the tail end of his administration. The Executive Order legalizes all the deceptive behavior Tony itemizes in his article.

Josep , September 17, 2019 at 04:10

I thought it was Reagan who did that by abolishing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. At least in terms of television and radio (?) broadcasts.

Stephen Morrell , September 14, 2019 at 19:02

Thank you Tony for your thoughtful talk (and interview on CN Live! too).

What's encouraging is this cohort of what might be called 'millennial journalists' coming through willing to do 'shoe-leather' journalism and stand up to smears and flack for revealing uncomfortable facts and truth. They're the online 5th estate holding the 4th to account (to steal Ray McGovern's apt view), and they're congealing against the onslaught.

Some include Max Blumenthal and Rania Kahlek (both now being pilloried by MSM and others for visiting Syrian government held areas and reporting that life isn't hellish as MSM would have everyone believe heaven forbid); Vanessa Bealey who's exposed a lot of White Helmet horrors and false-flag attacks in Syria (and being attacked by all and sundry for exposing the White Helmets in particular); Abby Martin whose Empire Files are excellent and always edifying; Dan Cohen who has written the best expose of the actors behind the Hong Kong rioting and co-authored the best expose of the background of Guaido et al.; Whitney Webb of Mint Press whose series on Epstein is overwhelming and likely a ticking timebomb; Caitlin Johnstone of course; and Aaron 'Buzzsaw' Mate who made his first mark with a wonderful takedown interview of Russiaphobe MI6 shill Luke Harding. Others too of course, with most appearing or having written pieces on CN. John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Greg Palast, et al. won't drop off their twigs disappointed.

This, along with the fact that MSM -- that cowed and compromised fourth estate -- increasingly is held in such laughable contempt by most people under about 50 yr, is highly encouraging indeed. Truth is the new black.

nwwoods , September 15, 2019 at 11:49

The Blogmire is an excellent resource for detailed analysis of the Skripal hoax. The author happens to be a long-time resident of Salisbury, and is intimately familiar with the topography, public services, etc., and a very thorough investigator.

John Wright , September 14, 2019 at 18:35

I'm not surprised that Mr. Kevin is being isolated and shunned by the Australian establishment. Truth and truth tellers are always the first casualties of war. I do hope that his experience will encourage him to increase his resistance to the corrosiveness of mendacious propaganda and those who promulgate it.

Truth is the single best weapon when fighting for a peaceful future.

If Australia is to flourish in the 21st century, it really needs to understand Russia and China, how they relate to each other, and how this key alliance will interface with the rest of the world. Australia and Australians simply cannot afford to get sucked down further by facilitating the machinations of the collapsing Anglo-American Empire. They have served the empire ably and faithfully, but now need to take a cold hard look at reality and realign their long-term interests with the coming global power shift. If not, they could literally find themselves in the middle of an unwinnable and devastating war.

* * *

The first Anglo-American Russian cold war began with the Russian revolution and was only briefly suspended when the West needed the Soviet people to throw themselves in front of the Nazi blitzkrieg in order to save Western Europe. Following their catastrophically costly contribution to the victory on the Continent, the Russians were greeted with an American nuclear salute on their eastern periphery, signalling their return to the diplomatic and economic deep freeze.

While the Anglo-American Empire solidified and extended its hold on the globe, the enlarged but war-ravaged and isolated Soviet Union hunkered down and survived on scraps and sheer will until its collapse in 1989. Declaring the cold war over, and with promises to help their new Russian friends build a prosperous future, the duplicitous West then ransacked their neighbors resources and sold them into debt peonage. The Russians cried foul, the West shrugged and Putin pushed back. Unable to declaw the bear, the west closed the cage door again and the second cold war commenced.

* * *

The first cold war was essentially an offensive war disguised as a defensive war. It enabled the Anglo-American Empire to leverage its post-war advantage and establish near total dominance around the globe through naked violence and monetary hegemony.

Today, with its dominance rapidly slipping away, the Anglo-American Empire is waging a truly defensive cold war. On the home front, they fight to convince their subjects of their eternal exceptionalism with ever more absurd and vile propaganda denigrating their adversaries . Abroad, they disrupt and defraud in a desperate attempt to delay the demise of the PetroDollar ponzi.

The Russians and the Chinese, having both been brutally burned by the Western elites, will not be fooled into abandoning their natural geographic partnership. They are no longer content to sit quietly at the kids' table taking notes. While they may not demand to sit at the head of the table, it is clear that they will insist on a round table, and one that is large enough to include their growing list of friends.

If the Americans don't smash the table, it could be the first of many peaceful pot lucks.

John Read , September 15, 2019 at 02:11

Well said. Great comments. Thanks to Tony Kevin.

Mia , September 14, 2019 at 18:33

Thank you Tony for continuing to shine light on the pathetic propaganda information bubble Australians have been immersed in .. you demonstrate great courage and you are not alone ??

Peter Loeb , September 14, 2019 at 12:58

WITH THANKS TO TONY KEVIN

An excellent article.

There is a lack of comments from some of the common writers upon whose views I often rely.

Personally, I often avoid the very individual responses from websites as I have no way
of checking out previous ideas of theirs. Who funds them? With which organizations are they
affiliated? And so forth and so on.

Peter Loeb, Boston, Massachusetts

Peter Sapo , September 14, 2019 at 10:24

As a fellow Australian, everything Tony Kevin said makes perfect sense. Our mainstream media landscape is designed to distribute propaganda to folk accross the political spectrum. Have you noticed that the ABC regurgitates stories from the BBC? The BBC has a long history (at least since WW2) of supporting government propaganda initiatives. Based on this fact, it is hard to see how ABC and SBS don't do the same when called upon by their minders.

Francis Lee , September 14, 2019 at 09:48

I just wonder where the Anglo-Zionist empire thinks it is going. It should be obvious that any NATO war against Russia involving a nuclear exchange is unwinnable. It seems equally likely the even a conventional war will not necessarily bring the result expected by the assorted 'experts' – nincompoops living in their own fantasy world. The idea that the US can fight a war without the US homeland becoming very much involved basically ended when Putin announced the creation of Russia's set of advanced hypersonic missile system. But this was apparently ignored by the 'defence' establishment. It was not true, it could not possibly be true, or so we were told.

Moreover the cost of such wars involving hundreds of thousands of troops and military hardware are massively expensive and would occasion a massive resistance from the populations affected. It was the wests wars in Korea, and Indo-China that bankrupted the US and led to the US$ being removed from the gold standard. The American military is rapidly consuming the American economy, or at least what is left of it. From a realist foreign policy perspective this is simply madness. Great powers end wars, they don't start them. Great powers are creditor nations, not debtor nations. Such is the realist foreign policy view. But foreign policy realists are few and far between in the Washington Beltway and MIC/NSA Pentagon and US/UK/AUSTRALIAN MSM.

Thus the neo-hubris of the English speaking world is such that if it is followed to its logical conclusion then total annihilation would be the logical outcome. A sad example of not very bright people who face no domestic opposition, believing in their own bullshit:

"American elites proved themselves to be master manipulators of propaganda constructs But the real danger from such manipulations arises not when those manipulations are done out of knowledge of reality, which is distorted for propaganda purposes, but when those who manipulation begin to sincerely believe in their own falsifications and when they buy into their own narrative. They stop being manipulators and they become believers in a narrative. They become manipulated themselves." (Losing Military Supremacy – Andrei, Martyanov)

Or maybe just the whole thing is a bluff. Those policy elites maybe just want to loot the US Treasury for more cash to be put their way.

John Wright , September 15, 2019 at 19:15

The self-serving Israeli Zionists know that the American cow is running dry and their days of freely milking it are coming to an end. They have an historic relationship with Russia and, leveraging their nuclear arsenal, know they can make a deal with the emerging China-Russia-centric global paradigm to extort enough protection to maintain their armed enclave for the foreseeable future. Their no so hidden alliance with the equally sociopathic Saudis will become even more obvious for all to see.

Israel, like China and Russia, knows how to play a long game. Thus, Israel will consolidate its land grab with the just announced expansion into the Jordan Valley and quietly continue as much ethnic cleansing as possible while the rest of the world is preoccupied with the incipient global power shift (True victims of history, the Palestinians have no real friends). While they will bemoan the loss of their muscular American stooge, Israel enjoyed a very lucrative 70 year run and will part with a pile of useful and deadly toys. They're also fully aware that no one else will ever let them take advantage to the degree they've been able to with the U.S.A. (Unlimited Stupidity of Arrogance?)

Eventually, the social schizophrenia that is the state of Israel will catch up with them and they will implode. Let's hope that breakdown doesn't involve the use of their nuclear arsenal.

Yes, the U.S. Treasury will continue to be looted until the last teller turns the lights out or the electricity is shut off, whichever comes first.

The Western transnational financial elites will accept their losses, regroup and make deals with the new bosses where they can; but their days of running the game unopposed are over.

Today is a good day to learn Mandarin (or Russian, if you prefer to live in Europe).

Bill , September 16, 2019 at 03:36

Very well said and I agree with a lot of what you say.

Tiu , September 14, 2019 at 06:01

Won't be too long before writing articles like this will get you busted for "hate-speech" (e.g. anything that is contrary to the official version prescribed by the "democratically elected" government)
https://www.zerohedge.com/political/uk-tony-blair-think-tank-proposes-end-free-speech
Personally I always encourage people to read George Orwell, especially 1984. We're there, and have been for a long time.

geeyp , September 14, 2019 at 01:15

Tony Kevin – Nice rundown of what ails society. You have a fine writing style that gets the point across to the reader. Kudos and cheers.

Michael , September 13, 2019 at 22:34

The 'modernization' of the Smith Mundt Act in 2013 "to authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material [PROPAGANDA] about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences" was a major nail in the Democracy coffin, consolidating the blatant ruling of the US Police State by our 17 Intelligence Agencies (our betters). The Telecommunications Act of 1996 lead to ownership of (>80%) of our media (the MSM by a handful of owners, all disseminating the same narratives from above (CIA, State Department, FBI etc) and squelching any dissenting views, particularly related to foreign policies.
Tony's article sadly just confirms the depth and breadth of our Global Stasi, with improved, innovative and (mostly) subtle surveillance, and the controlling constant interference with alternate viewpoints and discussions, the real basis for free societies. It is bad enough to be ruled by neoliberal psychopathic hyenas and jackals, soon we won't be able to even bitch about what they are doing.

Tom Kath , September 13, 2019 at 21:42

The most impressive article I have read in a very long time. I congratulate and thank Tony.
I have myself recently addressed the issue of whether it is a virtue to have an "open mind". – The ability to be converted or have your mind changed, or is it the ability to change your own mind ?
Tony Kevin clearly illustrates the difference.

Litchfield , September 13, 2019 at 16:11

Great article.
Please keep writing.
Do start a website, a la Craig Murray.
There are people who are proactively looking for alternative viewpoints and informed analysis.
How about starting a website and publishing some excerpts of your book there?

Or, sell chapters separately by download from your website?
You could also have a discussion blog/forum there.

John Zimmermann , September 13, 2019 at 16:02

Excellent essay. Thanks Mr. Kevin.

rosemerry , September 13, 2019 at 15:37

At least Tony Kevin was an Australian ambassador, not like Mike Morrell and the chosen russop?obes the USA assumes are needed as diplomats!! Now he is treated as Stephen Cohen is- a true expert called "controversial" as he dares to go by real facts and evidence, not prejudice.

If instead of enemies, the West could consider getting to understand those they are wary of, and give them a chance to explain their point of view and actually listen and reflect on it.
(Dmitri Peskov valiantly explained the Russian official response as soon as the "Skripal poisoning" story broke, but it was fully ignored by UK/US media, while all of Theresa May's fanciful imaginings were respectfully relayed to the public).

geeyp , September 14, 2019 at 23:26

As you usually are with your comments, you are spot on again, rosemerry.

Martin - Swedish citizen , September 13, 2019 at 14:46

Excellent article!
I find the mechanics of how the propaganda is spread and the illusion upheld the most important part of this article, since this knowledge is required to counter it.
When (not if) the fraud becomes more common knowledge, our societies are likely to tumble.

Pablo Diablo , September 13, 2019 at 14:45

Whoever controls the media, controls the dialogue.
Whoever controls the dialogue, controls the agenda.

peter mcloughlin , September 13, 2019 at 13:40

' The present risk of global nuclear war is as high as it ever was in the Cold War.' And possibly higher. The Cold War, though dangerous, was the peace. The world has experienced periods of peace (or relative peace) throughout history. The Thirty Years Peace between the two Peloponnesian Wars, Pax Romana, Europe in the 19th century after the Congress of Vienna, to name a few. The Congress System finally collapsed in 1914 with the start of World War One. That conflict was followed by the League of Nations. It did not stop World War Two. That was followed by the United Nations and other post-war institutions. But all the indications are they will not prevent a third world war. The powers that are leading us towards conflagration see this as a re-run of the first Cold War. They are dangerously mistaken.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

Guy , September 13, 2019 at 13:21

With so many believing the lies ,how will this mess ever come to light . I don't reside in Australia but anywhere in the Western world the shakedown is the same .In my own house ,the discussion on world politics descends into absolute stupidity . As one can't get past the constant programming that has settled in the minds of the comfortable with the status quo of lies by our media. There are intelligent sources of news sources but none get past the absolutely complete control of MSM.So the bottom line is ,for now ,the lies and liars are winning the propaganda war.

Anton Antonovich , September 13, 2019 at 13:16

He speaks the truth. Liars and dissemblers have won over the minds and hearts of so many lazy shameful citizens who will not accept the truth Tony Kevin wants to share with the world.

junaid , September 13, 2019 at 13:08

Washington resumes military assistance to Kyiv. According to American lawmakers, Ukraine is fighting one of the main enemies. "Contain Russia": what the US pays for Ukraine

"Contain Russia": what the US pays for Ukraine

Lily , September 13, 2019 at 23:42

The Pentagon is using the Ukrainian territory for experiments on chemical weapons.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3T9ktfz_FfA

John A , September 14, 2019 at 06:55

Anyone or article who spells Kiev as Kyiv can be safely ignored as western anti-Russia propaganda. It's a true tell.

Robert Edwards , September 13, 2019 at 12:53

The Cold war is totally manufacture to keep the dollars flowing into the MIC – what a sham . and a disgrace to humanity.

Cavaleiro Marginal , September 13, 2019 at 12:52

"The key tools are repetition of messages, and diversification of trusted voices. Once a critical mass is created of people believing a false narrative, the lie locks in: its dissemination becomes self-sustaining."

This had occurred in Brazil since the very first day of Lula's presidency. Eleven years late, 2013, a color revolution began. Nobody (and I mean REALLY nobody) could realize a color revolution was happening at that time. In 2016, Dilma Rousseff was kicked from power throughout a ridiculous and illegal coup perpetrated by the parliament. In 2018 Lula was imprisoned in an Orwellian process; illegal, unconstitutional, with nothing (REALLY nothing) proved against him. Then a liar clown was elected to suppress democracy

I knew on the news that in Canada and Australia the police politely (how civilized ) went to some journalist's homes to have a chat this year. Canadians and Aussies, be aware. The fascism's dog is a policial state very well informed by the propaganda they call news.

Robert Fearn , September 13, 2019 at 12:48

As a Canadian author who wrote a book about various tragic American government actions, like Vietnam, I can relate to the difficulties Tony has had with his book. I would mail my book, Amoral America, from Canada to other countries, like the US, and it would never arrive. Book stores would not handle it, etc. etc.

Josep , September 17, 2019 at 05:21

Not to disagree, but some years ago I read about anecdotes of anti-Americanism in Canada, coming from both USians and Canadians, whether it be playful banter or legitimate criticism. I believe it is more concentrated among the people than among the governmental elites (with the exception of the Iraq War era when both the people and the government were against it). And considering what you describe in your book and the difficulty you've faced in distributing it abroad, maybe the said people are on to something.

Stephen , September 13, 2019 at 11:44

This interview by Abby Martin with Mark Ames is a little dated but is a fairly accurate history. I post it to try and counter the nonsense.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7HwvFyMg7A

All the empire wants is to do it all again.

Jeremy Kuzmarov , September 13, 2019 at 10:33

Outstanding article and analysis. Thank you Sir! Jeremy Kuzmarov

Jeff Harrison , September 13, 2019 at 10:17

Thank you, sir. A far better peroration than I could have produced but what I have concluded nonetheless.

Skip Scott , September 13, 2019 at 10:10

Fantastic article. Left unmentioned is the origin of the west's anti-Russia narrative. Russia was being pillaged by the west under Yeltsin, and Russia was to become our newest vassal. Life expectancy dropped a full decade for the average Russian under Yeltsin. The average standard of living dropped dramatically as well. Putin reversed all that, and enjoys massive popular support as a result. The Empire will never tolerate a national leader who works for the benefit of the average citizen. It must be full-on rape, pillage and plunder- OR ELSE. Keep that in mind as we watch the latest theatrical performances by our DNC controlled "Commander in Chief" wannabes.

Realist , September 17, 2019 at 05:48

?The ongoing success of the "Great Lie" (that Washington is protecting the entire world from
anarchy perpetrated by a few bad actors on the global stage) and all of its false narrative subtexts
(including but far from limited to the Maidan, Crimea, Donbass, MH-17, the Skripals, gassing
"one's own people," piracy on the high Mediterranean, etc) just underscores how successful was
the false flag operation known as 9-11, even as the truth of that travesty is slowly being
unraveled by relentless truth-seekers applying logic and the scientific method to the problem.
Most Americans today would gladly concur, if queried, that Osama bin Laden was most certainly
a perfidious tool of Russia and its diabolical leader, Mr. Putin (be sure to call him "Vlad," to
conjure up images of Dracula for effect). The Winston Smith's are rare birds in America or in
any of its reliable vassal states. Never mind that the spooks from Langley (and the late
"chessmaster") concocted and orchestrated all these tales from the crypt.

Lily , September 13, 2019 at 07:54

Great summary of the developement of a new cold war. The narrative of the Mainstream Media is dangerous as well as laughable. I am glad to hear the Russian reaction to this bullshit propaganda. As often the people are so much wiser than their government – at least in the West.

During the Football WM a famous broadcaster of the German State TV channel ARD, who is a giftet propagandist, regrettet publicly the difficulty to convince the stubborn Germans to look at Russia as an enemy because they have started to look at Russia as a friend long ago.

Contrary to the people and the big firms who are completely against the sanctions against Russia and 100 % pro Northstream the German government with Chancelor Merkel is one of the top US vassalles. Even the Green Party which started as an environmental and peace party are now against North Stream and in favour of the filthy US fracking gas thanks to NATO propaganda although Russia has never let them down. Most of "Die Grünen" party have been turned into fervent friends of our American occupants which is very sad.

Thank you Tony Kevin. It has been great to read your article. I cant wait to read your book 'Return to Moscow' and to watch your interview on CN Live.

Godfree Roberts , September 13, 2019 at 07:37

Good summary of the status quo. From my experience of writing similarly about China, precisely the same policies and forces are at work.

The good news is that they are failing.

junaid , September 13, 2019 at 07:15

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the end of the war in Syria and the country's return to a state of peace. "Syria is returning to normal life": Lavrov announced the end of the war

"Syria is returning to normal life": Lavrov announced the end of the war

Gezzah Potts , September 13, 2019 at 05:47

You hit several nails squarely on the head with your excellent article Tony. Thank you for the truth of how the media is in Australia. It is indeed chilling where all this is leading. The blatant lies just spewed out as fact by both ABC and SBS. They, in my opinion are nothing but stenographers for the Empire, of which Australia is a fully subservient vassal state, with no independence.
I try to boycott all Australian presstitutes . Oops, I mean 'media' now. Occasionally, I do slip up and watch SBS or The Drum or News on ABC.
Virtually all my news comes from independent news sites like this one.
I have been accused of being a 'Putin lover', a Russian troll, a conspiracy theorist, while people I know have claimed that "Putin is a monster whose murdered millions of people".
On and on this crap goes. And the end result? Ask Stephen Cohen. Things are very surreal now. Sadly, you've been made an Unperson Tony.

Robyn , September 13, 2019 at 04:08

Bravo, Tony, great article. I enjoyed your book and recommend it to CN readers who haven't yet read it.

The world looks entirely different when one stops reading/watching the MSM and turns to CN, Caitlin Johnstone and many others who are doing a sterling job.

Cascadian , September 13, 2019 at 03:52

I don't know which is worse, to not know what you are (reliably uninformed) and be happy, or to become what you've always wanted to be (reliably informed) and feel alone.

Realist , September 14, 2019 at 00:19

Knowing the truth has always seemed paramount to me, even if it means realising that the entire world and all in it are damned, and deliberately by our own actions. Hope is always the last part of our essence to die, or so they say: maybe we will somehow be redeemed through our own self-immolation as a species.

Deb , September 13, 2019 at 02:54

As an Australian I have no difficulty accepting what Tony Kevin has said here. He should do what Craig Murray has done start a website.

[Sep 17, 2019] Meddling schmeddling by PaulR

Notable quotes:
"... dezinformatziia, active measures ..."
"... active measures ..."
"... "We vote for one party which is 100% anti-Russian rather than for another party which is 100% anti-Russian? Is that the point? Because here in Canada, that's basically the choice on offer [A]t the end of the day we're still going to end up electing somebody determined to prove that he or she is more anti-Russian that the next guy or girl. " ..."
"... For Heaven's sake, the worst country for meddling in other nations' internal affairs is the US, by far! With respect to the Arctic, both Canada and Russia signed the Treaty of the Sea, under which various challenges to ownership of the seabed are settled by the terms of the treaty. The US, of course didn't sign it. Why would they when they sincerely believe that their impressive military can just grab whatever pieces of the Arctic they want. ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | irrussianality.wordpress.com

September 10, 2019

15 Comments

You may have missed it in the all the excitement around the world, but Canada has a general election coming up in October. As you know, elections equal Russian meddling. They're when our Eastern friends pull out all their computer bots, fire up their trolls, and start spreading shedloads of disinformation in order to confuse and disorientate us, so that we lose our faith in democracy and then we we well I'm not sure what we're meant to do then; the ultimate aim of it all rather defeats me. We vote for one party which is 100% anti-Russian rather than for another party which is 100% anti-Russian? Is that the point? Because here in Canada, that's basically the choice on offer. Those pesky Russkies can confuse us all they like with their dezinformatziia, active measures , and maskirovka , but at the end of the day we're still going to end up electing somebody determined to prove that he or she is more anti-Russian that the next guy or girl. Meddling, schmeddling – it's not going to make a blind bit of difference to the result.

None of this stops the fearmongers, however, and so it was that yesterday the Canadian press was happily quoting a new report from the University of Calgary, saying that, 'Russia could meddle in Canada's election due to "growing interest" in Arctic'. Now, I've been saying for a while now that these worries are exaggerated, but for some reason 'Professor at University of Ottawa says it's a load of nonsense' doesn't generate any headlines, whereas 'part-time lecturer in Calgary says it's so' is national news. Well, so be it. We all know that the press has its biases. So rather than rely on the media, I thought I'd better check out what the report in question actually has to say, and it turns out that it's not quite what you'd imagine, at least not entirely.

The report is written by one Sergey Sukhankin who is said to be 'a Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation' in Washington DC, and to be currently 'teaching at the University of Alberta and MacEwan University (Edmonton)'. According to his Linkedin page, he has a 3 month contract to teach a single course at the former, and a 9 month contract as a lecturer in the latter. He's also listed as an 'Associate Expert at the International Center for Policy Studies (Kyiv).' Anyway, he starts off his report encouragingly enough by declaring that he aims 'to give a more balanced and nuanced picture of the situation, particularly with regard to Canada', and it is a 'tactical error to label as disinformation or propaganda every news item emanating from Russia. This creates the perception of a Russian disinformation machine that is much more powerful than it really is.' Personally, I would say that it's not a 'tactical error', it's just plain wrong, but at least Sukhankin isn't trying to overdo things. But this praiseworthy restraint doesn't mean that he wants us to let down our guard. No, he says, 'the peril is real', 'the West must stick to confronting the Kremlin', and (and this is the bit which got the headlines):

The Kremlin has a growing interest in dominating the Arctic, where it sees Russia as in competition with Canada. This means Canada can anticipate escalations in information warfare Perceived as one of Russia's chief adversaries in the Arctic region, Canada is a prime target in the information wars, with Russia potentially even meddling in the October 2019 federal election.

There's a leap of logic here which I must admit I failed to understand. Why does 'competition' in the Arctic 'mean' that Canada 'can anticipate escalations in information warfare', let alone 'meddling' in the election? Why does the one necessarily lead to the other? I don't see it. It would only make sense if the second part (the meddling) helped achieve some objectives in the first part (competition in the Arctic) but Sukhankin doesn't show how they would. He just connects two unconnected things. But we'll get back to the Arctic a little later. For now, let's return to the report.

This essentially has two parts. The first is a fairly standard summary of the general argument that Russia is engaged in some sort of information war designed to undermine the West from within. It makes reference to the normal vocabulary of Soviet active measures and the like, as well as to the conventional list of sources, such as Peter Pomerantseve, Michael Weiss, and Edward Lucas (not the most reliable types in my opinion). In short, it doesn't add anything new. By contrast, the second part, which specifically focuses on alleged Russian information operations against Canada, is much more interesting.

Russian disinformation about Canada, says Sukhankin, is centred on four themes:

  1. 'Canada as a safe haven of russophobia and (neo)fascism.
  2. 'Canada as part of the colonial forces in the Baltic Sea region'.
  3. 'Canada as Washington's useful satellite'.
  4. 'Canada as a testing ground for the practical implementation of immoral Western values.'

The extent to which these could all be called 'disinformation' is debatable ('Canada as Washington's useful satellite' doesn't seem entirely inaccurate to me). But the key point Sukhankin makes is that these themes reflect the Russian government's own internal, domestic political priorities – i.e. its desire to convince its own citizens that its policies are right, by means of discrediting others. In general, says Sukhankin, Russian propaganda targets 'the following audiences, prioritized from the greatest to the smallest'.

Canada, therefore, falls into the lowest priority of targets. This reflects the fact that, as Sukhankin says, 'Russians don't see Canada as a fully independent political actor'. To be frank, we're not high on Russia's information war hitlist. The Russian government doesn't care that much about us, and it cares even less about our internal politics. Consequently, says Sukhankin, while the Russian media and social media do publish anti-Canadian stories, the point of them isn't to 'meddle' in Canadian internal affairs. Rather, he says, in what to me is the most crucial statement in his report:

Russia's anti-Canadian propaganda, which still plays a marginal part compared to other theatres, is primarily tailored for domestic Russian consumption – it is not designed for a Canadian audience. [my underlining]

Here, therefore, we run into a huge problem. We're told to fear the genuine 'peril' of Russian disinformation, and Russian 'meddling' in Canada's election, but we're also told that Russia doesn't actually care very much about Canadian internal affairs and that in any case Russian disinformation isn't targeted at Canadians. It seems to me that you can't have it both ways. If it's not targeted at Canadians, then it doesn't constitute meddling, interference, or anything else of the sort. The logical conclusion of Sukhankin's analysis is that we should calm down a little and stop worrying so much.

That, however, would not fit with the current zeitgeist . Although his logic points him in one direction, Sukhankin apparently feels a desperate need to nonetheless throw in something about the dangers of Russian interference in Canadian internal affairs. So all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, and unconnected with anything else, in his final paragraph he suddenly throws in a quotation from the head of that most neutral of trustworthy academic sources, the head of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alexandra Chiczij, saying that, 'The Kramlin's propaganda machine will increasingly target our country with anti-Canadian fabrications in an attempt to sow discord, conflict, and to undermine our democratic institutions.' Sukhankin then adds that this might happen 'during the 2019 Canadian federal election.' No evidence to support this claim – which is entirely at odds which everything which preceded it – is produced. Why would Russia suddenly become so interested in Canadian internal affairs? Sukhankin thinks he has an answer, 'from this author's point of view, Moscow's next theme could be the Arctic', he says. But since this is his last paragraph, he doesn't have time to develop this thought. As I said, it just comes out of the blue.

It's also rather odd. As I said earlier, it's not at all clear why interfering in Canada's election (exactly how, Sukhankin never makes clear) would promote Russia's interests in the Arctic. But more than that it ignores the nature of Russian-Canadian Arctic politics. In my conversations with both Canadian and Russian officials, the Arctic is always mentioned as a zone of cooperation rather than competition. In an era when Canadian and Russian diplomats barely talk to each other, the Arctic is the one subject they both think it's actually possible to discuss in a constructive manner. Conversations about how to improve Canada-Russia relations generally take the form of something like, 'Let's not aim too high. Let's just take little steps, and focus on areas where agreement is possible, especially the Arctic'. To pick on the Arctic as the subject likely to provoke Russia (for purposes unknown) to 'meddle' in Canada's oncoming election (by means and to effect unknown) seems to me to completely misread the situation.

In short, what we have here is a report which tells us that Canada doesn't matter much to Russians, and that to date Russians have shown little or no interest in targeting Canadian public opinion, let alone interfering in Canadian politics, and yet which nonetheless concludes that we face the 'peril' of Moscow 'potentially even meddling in the October 2019 federal election'. I don't know about you, but that doesn't make any sense to me.

  1. Mitleser says: September 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm "4. Canada as a testing ground for the practical implementation of immoral Western values.'"

    Reminds me of one of the comments to an another article of yours.

    " Canada has generally been the test case for new features of this "western universalism," and, as a peripheral resource-based economy tightly tied into globalized value-chains, we have often been intellectually colonized by liberal-internationalist views (for good and ill). Unlike Russia, as we are small in population and sit next to the US, we have rarely had the capacity (or the will) to resist US-led "universalism," but our analysis when we have tried has been much the same as Remizov's ."
    https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/interview-with-mikhail-remizov/#comment-6953

    Like Like Reply

  2. Mao Cheng Ji says: September 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm "in order to confuse and disorientate us"

    May I ask: do you, Canadians, typically say " disorientate ", in the British manner? Or was it your British identity speaking?

    Anyhow. I envy the hack who thought of "sow discord". I love it. It's so biblical: "he that soweth discord among brethren."

    Clearly, it could only be SATAN.

  1. dewittbourchier says: September 10, 2019 at 4:13 pm We should not be surprised at how febrile things are.

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/01/the-real-story-behind-the-havana-embassy-mystery

    Quite literally US diplomats in Cuba, and with them many US policymakers and journalistic organisations descended into mass hysteria about Cicadas.

  1. Alex Kramer says: September 10, 2019 at 6:35 pm Makes sense to me as both Canadian academia and media are full of dipshit Russophobes.
  1. Karl Kolchak says: September 10, 2019 at 8:22 pm If Russia wants the weakest possible Canada, wouldn't it be in their interests to see a feckless little poodle like Trudeau remain as PM?
  1. Lyttenburgh says: September 11, 2019 at 5:21 am "We vote for one party which is 100% anti-Russian rather than for another party which is 100% anti-Russian? Is that the point? Because here in Canada, that's basically the choice on offer [A]t the end of the day we're still going to end up electing somebody determined to prove that he or she is more anti-Russian that the next guy or girl. "

    [WARNING/ATTENTION/УВАГА!]

    This is very lowbrow, but relevant

    Now, on a more serious note – about propacondom Sergey Sukhankin (formerly from Kaliningrad oblast, RF).

    He's one of those "professional victims of the Putinist Regime", that "miraculously" escaped our Northern Mordor, and now spends ink, bytes and bodily fluids in a ceaseless struggle with the Dark Overlord. "Russian interference" is both his idea fix and bread and butter. E.g., check out his logorrhea on "Russian trace" in Catalonia's referendum (published by his sponsors in Jamestown foundation AKA CIA). There are many stock accusations, about RT, "pro-Kremline profiles" in FB and Twitter, and, the horror of horrors, the fact that the Immortal Regiment now dares to happen on the sacred soil of the country, which dispatched the Blue Division to the Abode of all Evil. He admits, that to proof the fact that the "Russian meddling" was the cause of what transpired in Catalonia (uh, you remember what happened back then, right?) is difficult, but what is without doubt, is that it benefits Kremlin and the Terrible Russkiy Mir.

    Sukhankin is also an active participant in the anti-Russian propaganda efforts of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), where he regularly rubs shoulders and tries to imitate another well known "researcher" and expert on Russian maskirovka, dezinformatsiya and active measures, Russophobic fantasy and sci-fi author Mark Galeotti.

    1. archie1954 says: September 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm For Heaven's sake, the worst country for meddling in other nations' internal affairs is the US, by far! With respect to the Arctic, both Canada and Russia signed the Treaty of the Sea, under which various challenges to ownership of the seabed are settled by the terms of the treaty. The US, of course didn't sign it. Why would they when they sincerely believe that their impressive military can just grab whatever pieces of the Arctic they want.

      As a matter of fact, the US wants to separate Canada right across the middle by designating the waterway between the mainland and the Arctic Islands as an international one. It is the US which is meddling in Canada's internal affairs, not Russia!

      Like Like Reply

  1. Patrick Armstrong says: September 11, 2019 at 7:35 am The guys just trying to get a job by saying what the Boss wants to hear.
  1. Josh says: September 11, 2019 at 8:45 am It always baffles me how, usually motivated by an American Russophobe, the Arctic gets used or abused for this polemic. As you correctly point out, the Arctic council is an example of multipolar peaceful talks. In addition, we forget that when we look at the Arctic sea routes opening up, that it is primarily the NEP – the route along Russia and in Russian waters – is the one more navigable. Yet even to keep that one open for the small amount of time per year, Russia has a lot of maintenance to do with expensive ice breakers. It follows quite logically that Russia puts a lot of effort and money into this; and the regimented discipline of the army is the better and cheaper option for the safety and rescue services.

    If Canada wanted to do the same thing in the NWP, not only is this route much more treacherous, iced up and difficult, the investment would be higher than that which Russia is making, while global warming will only help this passage marginally.

    All this to say that the sea routes are the most talked about issues here; mineral, oil and other deposits along the continental shelves are dealt with rigourously and with full support from all sides through the UN. The only small conflict is the disputed island between Canada and the US.

[Sep 17, 2019] Russia Absolutely Pwn3d The FBI During Obama Years Report

Sep 17, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Transmedia001 , 8 minutes ago link

Another media spin in preparation of the public proof that the Steale dossier and Russia Gate was a soft coup and media hoax. Articles like this allow the traitors to argue that they didn't know it was fake or that certain assets were not Russian because the Russians were several steps ahead manipulating the situation using FBI hacked coms.

Time to start setting fire to every MSM outlet and making s'mores as we watch it all burn.

Koba the Dread , 21 minutes ago link

What a terrible typographical error. Somehow the word "Russian" was inserted in this text when the word "Israeli" was supposed to be used. Hey, typographers, pay more attention.

MaxThrust , 25 minutes ago link

"The technical break-through allowed Russian spies in American cities, key insights into how FBI surveillance teams were operating. "

The Russians learned how the FBI goes about lying to cover up for it's actions. How "False Flag" operations are coordinated and how entrapment schemes are run.

NiggaPleeze , 31 minutes ago link

We didn't understand that they were at political war with us already in the second term

Spying is not political war, moron. But fact is the Evil Empire never stopped its war against Russia - under Yeltsin they just moved it inside the country with their *** oligarch traitors, getting Russia to dismantle its industry, etc.

beemasters , 47 minutes ago link

According to a report this week, Israel has been spying on the White House. While that news itself isn't shocking, the Trump administration's response – or lack thereof – has taken many in DC by surprise.

But, unlike past administrations, the Trump team has not taken any action against surveillance by one of its closest allies, and spying on US soil has had no real consequences for Israel, American officials said.

Israeli spying is not new – but the Trump administration's response is

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/israel-trump-spy-white-house-netanyahu-surveillance-a9104776.html

They are now voting for the next POTUS in Israhell, as we speak. Will it be Netanyahu again?

Neochrome , 52 minutes ago link

We didn't understand that they were at political war with us

Is that why US was (is) spying on Merkel?

youshallnotkill , 54 minutes ago link

Russia Absolutely Pwn3d The FBI During Obama Years

And this headline makes abundantly clear which side the Tylers cheer for.

(Not that there was any doubt about it).

Joiningupthedots , 1 hour ago link

So the FBI wants more money for "integrated" communications or something?

This **** is not dissimilar to the CIA/MI6 pet rock trasmitters in the Moscow parks.

Spy agencies spy on each other....its their job LOL

Heroic Couplet , 1 hour ago link

"Shortly before the Obama administration approved a deal granting Russia 20% of America's uranium," LInk? If Russia mines uranium in the Western Hemisphere, it cannot export it. See Forbes Magazine, 13Dec2018, the article debunking Hillary-Uranium One.

booboo , 1 hour ago link

All roads lead to that neocon infested festering cesspool of anti American shitlips called the State Department. With friends like that who needs "the Russians"

truthalwayswinsout , 1 hour ago link

How can you believe this?

If the Russians did crack certain communications and the US knew it, they would use that to really screw the Russians and let them think they had us by the balls.

And they certainly would no be admitting any of it in an article.

Totally_Disillusioned , 1 hour ago link

And all the while the FBI / DOJ was running cover for the Clintonn Foundation and the Clintons, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the Awan brothers and surveilling American citizens with help of contractors. NOT ONE FBI whistle blower came forward...

I have been asking "Why?" At first I thought perhaps the threats to self/family may be the reason, but I'm now convinced THEY WERE ALL IN ON THE CORRUPTION. This agency is totally and thoroughly corrupt and beyond redemption. This is why Wray continues to carry water for the corrupt FBI leadership. Time to completely dismantle and re-engineer into the US Marshalls office.

[Sep 16, 2019] Manhattan DA Subpoenas 8 Years Of Trump Tax Returns

Looks like very polarized decision: to friends everything, to enemies the law. And treatment by NY of Epstein and Harvey Weinstein supports this hypothesis.
Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Manhattan DA Subpoenas 8 Years Of Trump Tax Returns

by Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:45 0 SHARES

It never ends.

New York state prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, demanding eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns according to the New York Times , citing "several people with knowledge on the matter" - the gold standard in modern sources.

The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan DA's office last month following the launch of a criminal investigation into hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen - who pleaded guilty last year to eight charges; seven of which were unrelated to the Trump campaign, and one for breaking federal campaign finance laws. He is currently serving a three-year prison sentence.

At issue - Democratic Manhattan D.A. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (whose daddy was Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State - and who took money from Harvey Weinstein while declining to prosecute him for sexual assault - and who sought a reduced sex-offender status for Jeffrey Epstein) wants to see if Trump's reimbursement of Cohen violated any laws in New York , and whether Trump's accounting firm falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense.

In New York, filing a false business record can be a crime.

But it becomes a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the false filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud. The tax returns and other documents sought from Mazars could shed light on whether any state laws were broken . Such subpoenas also routinely request related documents in connection with the returns. - New York Times

Congressional Democrats have been hunting down Trump's tax returns for years after the billionaire refused to do so, citing an ongoing IRS audit as well as the position that Trump Organization competitors would then have access to industry secrets.

Congressional Democrats have taken an aggressive approach, subpoenaing six years of Mr. Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department, as well as personal and corporate financial records from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and Mazars USA.

The president has fought back to keep his finances under wraps, challenging the subpoenas in federal court. He has also sued to block a New York state law, passed this year, that authorized state officials to provide his state tax returns in response to certain congressional inquiries. By tying up the requests in court, Mr. Trump's team has made it diminishingly likely that Democrats in Washington will get the chance to review them before the election next year . - New York Times

And while Trump and the Treasury Department have proven thus far successful in thwarting Democratic lawmakers' inquiries, it may not be as easy to fend off a subpoena in Manhattan .

According to Mazars, they will "will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations," adding that the company was legally prohibited from commenting on its work.

If the Manhattan DA is able to obtain Trump's tax returns, the Times notes that "the documents would be covered by secrecy rules governing grand juries, meaning they would not become public unless they were used as evidence in a criminal case."

The Times does not note, however, that the records would likely be leaked within 30 minutes to the Washington Post or similar.

State prosecutors also subpoenaed the Trump Organization in early August for records of the payments to Daniels and Cohen's reimbursement - a request which has been complied with according to the report.

"It's just harassment of the president, his family and his business, using subpoenas as weapons," said Trump Org attorney, Marc L. Mukasey in a statement last month.

As part of its investigation, prosecutors from Mr. Vance's office visited Mr. Cohen in prison in Otisville, N.Y., to seek assistance with their investigation, according to people briefed on the meeting, which was first reported by CNN.

Mr. Cohen also helped arrange for American Media Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer, to pay Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who also said she had an affair with the president. Prosecutors in the district attorney's office subpoenaed American Media in early August, as well as at least one bank. - New York Times

Will the Democrats' gambit pay off? Or will the ongoing "witch hunts" into President Trump backfire and turn him into a martyr?


Tachyon5321 , 43 minutes ago link

There is no evidence that any crimes of any type has been committed.

There is no legal grounds for a subpoena to be issued without evidence that a crime has been committed.

Cearly, the Manhattan DA is violating the civil right of a citizen for asking for 8 years of tax records with no indication of a crime. Trump should sue the DA and the jutice department should look into the DA violation of due process and legal rights of a citizen.

rgraf , 53 minutes ago link

Has he subpoenaed Epstein's docs? Is he going to claim tax fraud is worse than child molestation? Why don't Trump supporters file a class action lawsuit and RICO against this clown?

William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

Perfect

"Democratic Manhattan D.A. Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

wants to see if Trump's reimbursement of Cohen violated any laws in New York , and whether Trump's accounting firm falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. "

Love to see the Bio on the Judge that approved the Subpeona

DBAustin , 3 hours ago link

How many people reading this think that the IRS never reviewed Trump's tax returns?

How many people reading this think that Obama's IRS did NOT make a special effort to go over Trump's taxes in great detail, even as Obama's FBI and DOJ spied on Trump and his campaign?

How many people reading this think that Obama's IRS would NOT have charged Trump with tax evasion even if they could have?

How many people reading this think that making Trump's tax return public is NOT an effort to twist, distort, and misinterpret complex tax returns in an attempt to make Trump look bad as bad as possible for taking legitimate, legal, but large tax deductions?

How many people reading this think that it is perfectly fine for democrat leaders, such as Pelosi, Schumer, and multimillionaire Maxine Waters NOT to have to release their tax returns while Trump has to release his?

beemasters , 4 hours ago link

Why did Weinstein and Epstein get such special treatment?

Both did get the same treatment- in escaping from justice. Oh, you mean not producing tax returns? No one is demanding them, for one plus they are not public servants. All government officials should submit their tax returns to ensure they are not compromised by those who have access to them.

[Sep 15, 2019] How the UK Security Services neutralised the country s leading liberal newspaper by Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis

Highly recommended!
Essentially neoliberal MSM were hijacked. Which was easy to do. The current anti-Russian campaign is conducted under the direct guidance of MI6 and similar agencies
Notable quotes:
"... committee minutes note the secretary saying: "The Guardian was obliged to seek advice under the terms of the DA notice code." The minutes add: "This failure to seek advice was a key source of concern and considerable efforts had been made to address it." ..."
"... These "considerable efforts" included a D-Notice sent out by the committee on 7 June 2013 – the day after The Guardian published the first documents – to all major UK media editors, saying they should refrain from publishing information that would "jeopardise both national security and possibly UK personnel". It was marked "private and confidential: not for publication, broadcast or use on social media". ..."
"... "The FT [Financial Times] and The Times did not mention it [the initial Snowden revelations] and the Telegraph published only a short". It continued by noting that only The Independent "followed up the substantive allegations". It added, "The BBC has also chosen to largely ignore the story." ..."
"... The British security services had carried out more than a "symbolic act". It was both a show of strength and a clear threat. The Guardian was then the only major newspaper that could be relied upon by whistleblowers in the US and British security bodies to receive and cover their exposures, a situation which posed a challenge to security agencies. ..."
"... The increasingly aggressive overtures made to The Guardian worked. The committee chair noted that after GCHQ had overseen the smashing up of the newspaper's laptops "engagement with The Guardian had continued to strengthen". ..."
"... But the most important part of this charm and threat offensive was getting The Guardian to agree to take a seat on the D-Notice Committee itself. The committee minutes are explicit on this, noting that "the process had culminated by [sic] the appointment of Paul Johnson (deputy editor Guardian News and Media) as a DPBAC [i.e. D-Notice Committee] member". ..."
"... The Guardian's deputy editor went directly from the corporation's basement with an angle-grinder to sitting on the D-Notice Committee alongside the security service officials who had tried to stop his paper publishing. ..."
"... In November 2016, The Guardian published an unprecedented "exclusive" with Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, Britain's domestic security service. The article noted that this was the "first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service's 107-year history". It was co-written by deputy editor Paul Johnson, who had never written about the security services before and who was still sitting on the D-Notice Committee. This was not mentioned in the article. ..."
"... The MI5 chief was given copious space to make claims about the national security threat posed by an "increasingly aggressive" Russia. Johnson and his co-author noted, "Parker said he was talking to The Guardian rather than any other newspaper despite the publication of the Snowden files." ..."
"... Just two weeks before the interview with MI6's chief was published, The Guardian itself reported on the high court stating that it would "hear an application for a judicial review of the Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to charge MI6's former counterterrorism director, Sir Mark Allen, over the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife who were transferred to Libya in a joint CIA-MI6 operation in 2004". ..."
"... The security services were probably feeding The Guardian these "exclusives" as part of the process of bringing it onside and neutralising the only independent newspaper with the resources to receive and cover a leak such as Snowden's. They were possibly acting to prevent any revelations of this kind happening again. ..."
"... The Guardian's coverage of anti-Semitism in Labour has been suspiciously extensive, compared to the known extent of the problem in the party, and its focus on Corbyn personally suggests that the issue is being used politically. While anti-Semitism does exist in the Labour Party, evidence suggests it is at relatively low levels. Since September 2015, when Corbyn became Labour leader, 0.06% of the Labour membership has been investigated for anti-Semitic comments or posts. In 2016, an independent inquiry commissioned by Labour concluded that the party "is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism. Further, it is the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race equality law." ..."
"... A former Guardian journalist similarly told us: "It is significant that exclusive stories recently about British collusion in torture and policy towards the interrogation of terror suspects and other detainees have been passed to other papers including The Times rather than The Guardian." ..."
"... The Guardian had gone in six short years from being the natural outlet to place stories exposing wrongdoing by the security state to a platform trusted by the security state to amplify its information operations. A once relatively independent media platform has been largely neutralised by UK security services fearful of being exposed further. Which begs the question: where does the next Snowden go? DM ..."
Jan 01, 2019 | dailymaverick.co.za

The Guardian, Britain's leading liberal newspaper with a global reputation for independent and critical journalism, has been successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the 'security state', according to newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists.

The UK security services targeted The Guardian after the newspaper started publishing the contents of secret US government documents leaked by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013.

Snowden's bombshell revelations continued for months and were the largest-ever leak of classified material covering the NSA and its UK equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters. They revealed programmes of mass surveillance operated by both agencies.

According to minutes of meetings of the UK's Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee, the revelations caused alarm in the British security services and Ministry of Defence.

" This event was very concerning because at the outset The Guardian avoided engaging with the [committee] before publishing the first tranche of information," state minutes of a 7 November 2013 meeting at the MOD.

The DSMA Committee, more commonly known as the D-Notice Committee, is run by the MOD, where it meets every six months. A small number of journalists are also invited to sit on the committee. Its stated purpose is to "prevent inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise UK military and intelligence operations". It can issue "notices" to the media to encourage them not to publish certain information.

The committee is currently chaired by the MOD's director-general of security policy Dominic Wilson, who was previously director of security and intelligence in the British Cabinet Office. Its secretary is Brigadier Geoffrey Dodds OBE, who describes himself as an "accomplished, senior ex-military commander with extensive experience of operational level leadership".

The D-Notice system describes itself as voluntary , placing no obligations on the media to comply with any notice issued. This means there should have been no need for the Guardian to consult the MOD before publishing the Snowden documents.

Yet committee minutes note the secretary saying: "The Guardian was obliged to seek advice under the terms of the DA notice code." The minutes add: "This failure to seek advice was a key source of concern and considerable efforts had been made to address it."

' Considerable efforts'

These "considerable efforts" included a D-Notice sent out by the committee on 7 June 2013 – the day after The Guardian published the first documents – to all major UK media editors, saying they should refrain from publishing information that would "jeopardise both national security and possibly UK personnel". It was marked "private and confidential: not for publication, broadcast or use on social media".

Clearly the committee did not want its issuing of the notice to be publicised, and it was nearly successful. Only the right-wing blog Guido Fawkes made it public.

At the time, according to the committee minutes , the "intelligence agencies in particular had continued to ask for more advisories [i.e. D-Notices] to be sent out". Such D-Notices were clearly seen by the intelligence services not so much as a tool to advise the media but rather a way to threaten it not to publish further Snowden revelations.

One night, amidst the first Snowden stories being published, the D-Notice Committee's then-secretary Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance personally called Alan Rusbridger, then editor of The Guardian. Vallance "made clear his concern that The Guardian had failed to consult him in advance before telling the world", according to a Guardian journalist who interviewed Rusbridger.

Later in the year, Prime Minister David Cameron again used the D-Notice system as a threat to the media.

" I don't want to have to use injunctions or D-Notices or the other tougher measures," he said in a statement to MPs. "I think it's much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility. But if they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act."

The threats worked. The Press Gazette reported at the time that "The FT [Financial Times] and The Times did not mention it [the initial Snowden revelations] and the Telegraph published only a short". It continued by noting that only The Independent "followed up the substantive allegations". It added, "The BBC has also chosen to largely ignore the story."

The Guardian, however, remained uncowed.

According to the committee minutes , the fact The Guardian would not stop publishing "undoubtedly raised questions in some minds about the system's future usefulness". If the D-Notice system could not prevent The Guardian publishing GCHQ's most sensitive secrets, what was it good for?

It was time to rein in The Guardian and make sure this never happened again.

GCHQ and laptops

The security services ratcheted up their "considerable efforts" to deal with the exposures. On 20 July 2013, GCHQ officials entered The Guardian's offices at King's Cross in London, six weeks after the first Snowden-related article had been published. At the request of the government and security services, Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson, along with two others, spent three hours destroying the laptops containing the Snowden documents.

The Guardian staffers, according to one of the newspaper's reporters, brought "angle-grinders, dremels – drills with revolving bits – and masks". The reporter added, "The spy agency provided one piece of hi-tech equipment, a 'degausser', which destroys magnetic fields and erases data."

Johnson claims that the destruction of the computers was "purely a symbolic act", adding that "the government and GCHQ knew, because we had told them, that the material had been taken to the US to be shared with the New York Times. The reporting would go on. The episode hadn't changed anything."

Yet the episode did change something. As the D-Notice Committee minutes for November 2013 outlined: "Towards the end of July [as the computers were being destroyed], The Guardian had begun to seek and accept D-Notice advice not to publish certain highly sensitive details and since then the dialogue [with the committee] had been reasonable and improving."

The British security services had carried out more than a "symbolic act". It was both a show of strength and a clear threat. The Guardian was then the only major newspaper that could be relied upon by whistleblowers in the US and British security bodies to receive and cover their exposures, a situation which posed a challenge to security agencies.

The increasingly aggressive overtures made to The Guardian worked. The committee chair noted that after GCHQ had overseen the smashing up of the newspaper's laptops "engagement with The Guardian had continued to strengthen".

Moreover, he added , there were now "regular dialogues between the secretary and deputy secretaries and Guardian journalists". Rusbridger later testified to the Home Affairs Committee that Air Vice-Marshal Vallance of the D-Notice committee and himself "collaborated" in the aftermath of the Snowden affair and that Vallance had even "been at The Guardian offices to talk to all our reporters".

But the most important part of this charm and threat offensive was getting The Guardian to agree to take a seat on the D-Notice Committee itself. The committee minutes are explicit on this, noting that "the process had culminated by [sic] the appointment of Paul Johnson (deputy editor Guardian News and Media) as a DPBAC [i.e. D-Notice Committee] member".

At some point in 2013 or early 2014, Johnson – the same deputy editor who had smashed up his newspaper's computers under the watchful gaze of British intelligence agents – was approached to take up a seat on the committee. Johnson attended his first meeting in May 2014 and was to remain on it until October 2018 .

The Guardian's deputy editor went directly from the corporation's basement with an angle-grinder to sitting on the D-Notice Committee alongside the security service officials who had tried to stop his paper publishing.

A new editor

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger withstood intense pressure not to publish some of the Snowden revelations but agreed to Johnson taking a seat on the D-Notice Committee as a tactical sop to the security services. Throughout his tenure, The Guardian continued to publish some stories critical of the security services.

But in March 2015, the situation changed when the Guardian appointed a new editor, Katharine Viner, who had less experience than Rusbridger of dealing with the security services. Viner had started out on fashion and entertainment magazine Cosmopolitan and had no history in national security reporting. According to insiders, she showed much less leadership during the Snowden affair than Janine Gibson in the US (Gibson was another candidate to be Rusbridger's successor).

Viner was then editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia, which was launched just two weeks before the first Snowden revelations were published. Australia and New Zealand comprise two-fifths of the so-called "Five Eyes" surveillance alliance exposed by Snowden.

This was an opportunity for the security services. It appears that their seduction began the following year.

In November 2016, The Guardian published an unprecedented "exclusive" with Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, Britain's domestic security service. The article noted that this was the "first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service's 107-year history". It was co-written by deputy editor Paul Johnson, who had never written about the security services before and who was still sitting on the D-Notice Committee. This was not mentioned in the article.

The MI5 chief was given copious space to make claims about the national security threat posed by an "increasingly aggressive" Russia. Johnson and his co-author noted, "Parker said he was talking to The Guardian rather than any other newspaper despite the publication of the Snowden files."

Parker told the two reporters, "We recognise that in a changing world we have to change too. We have a responsibility to talk about our work and explain it."

Four months after the MI5 interview, in March 2017, the Guardian published another unprecedented "exclusive", this time with Alex Younger, the sitting chief of MI6, Britain's external intelligence agency. This exclusive was awarded by the Secret Intelligence Service to The Guardian's investigations editor, Nick Hopkins, who had been appointed 14 months previously.

The interview was the first Younger had given to a national newspaper and was again softball. Titled "MI6 returns to 'tapping up' in an effort to recruit black and Asian officers", it focused almost entirely on the intelligence service's stated desire to recruit from ethnic minority communities.

" Simply, we have to attract the best of modern Britain," Younger told Hopkins. "Every community from every part of Britain should feel they have what it takes, no matter what their background or status."

Just two weeks before the interview with MI6's chief was published, The Guardian itself reported on the high court stating that it would "hear an application for a judicial review of the Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to charge MI6's former counterterrorism director, Sir Mark Allen, over the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife who were transferred to Libya in a joint CIA-MI6 operation in 2004".

None of this featured in The Guardian article, which did, however, cover discussions of whether the James Bond actor Daniel Craig would qualify for the intelligence service. "He would not get into MI6," Younger told Hopkins.

More recently, in August 2019, The Guardian was awarded yet another exclusive, this time with Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu, Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer. This was Basu's " first major interview since taking up his post" the previous year and resulted in a three-part series of articles, one of which was entitled "Met police examine Vladimir Putin's role in Salisbury attack".

The security services were probably feeding The Guardian these "exclusives" as part of the process of bringing it onside and neutralising the only independent newspaper with the resources to receive and cover a leak such as Snowden's. They were possibly acting to prevent any revelations of this kind happening again.

What, if any, private conversations have taken place between Viner and the security services during her tenure as editor are not known. But in 2018, when Paul Johnson eventually left the D-Notice Committee, its chair, the MOD's Dominic Wilson, praised Johnson who, he said, had been "instrumental in re-establishing links with The Guardian".

Decline in critical reporting

Amidst these spoon-fed intelligence exclusives, Viner also oversaw the breakup of The Guardian's celebrated investigative team, whose muck-racking journalists were told to apply for other jobs outside of investigations.

One well-placed source told the Press Gazette at the time that journalists on the investigations team "have not felt backed by senior editors over the last year", and that "some also feel the company has become more risk-averse in the same period".

In the period since Snowden, The Guardian has lost many of its top investigative reporters who had covered national security issues, notably Shiv Malik, Nick Davies, David Leigh, Richard Norton-Taylor, Ewen MacAskill and Ian Cobain. The few journalists who were replaced were succeeded by less experienced reporters with apparently less commitment to exposing the security state. The current defence and security editor, Dan Sabbagh, started at The Guardian as head of media and technology and has no history of covering national security.

" It seems they've got rid of everyone who seemed to cover the security services and military in an adversarial way," one current Guardian journalist told us.

Indeed, during the last two years of Rusbridger's editorship, The Guardian published about 110 articles per year tagged as MI6 on its website. Since Viner took over, the average per year has halved and is decreasing year by year.

" Effective scrutiny of the security and intelligence agencies -- epitomised by the Snowden scoops but also many other stories -- appears to have been abandoned," a former Guardian journalist told us. The former reporter added that, in recent years, it "sometimes seems The Guardian is worried about upsetting the spooks."

A second former Guardian journalist added: "The Guardian no longer seems to have such a challenging relationship with the intelligence services, and is perhaps seeking to mend fences since Snowden. This is concerning, because spooks are always manipulative and not always to be trusted."

While some articles critical of the security services still do appear in the paper, its "scoops" increasingly focus on issues more acceptable to them. Since the Snowden affair, The Guardian does not appear to have published any articles based on an intelligence or security services source that was not officially sanctioned to speak.

The Guardian has, by contrast, published a steady stream of exclusives on the major official enemy of the security services, Russia, exposing Putin, his friends and the work of its intelligence services and military.

In the Panama Papers leak in April 2016, which revealed how companies and individuals around the world were using an offshore law firm to avoid paying tax, The Guardian's front-page launch scoop was authored by Luke Harding, who has received many security service tips focused on the "Russia threat", and was titled "Revealed: the $2bn offshore trail that leads to Vladimir Putin".

Three sentences into the piece, however, Harding notes that "the president's name does not appear in any of the records" although he insists that "the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage".

There was a much bigger story in the Panama Papers which The Guardian chose to downplay by leaving it to the following day. This concerned the father of the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, who "ran an offshore fund that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents – including a part-time bishop – to sign its paperwork".

We understand there was some argument between journalists about not leading with the Cameron story as the launch splash. Putin's friends were eventually deemed more important than the Prime Minister of the country where the paper published.

Getting Julian Assange

The Guardian also appears to have been engaged in a campaign against the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who had been a collaborator during the early WikiLeaks revelations in 2010.

One 2017 story came from investigative reporter Carole Cadwalladr, who writes for The Guardian's sister paper The Observer, titled "When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange". This concerned the visit of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage to the Ecuadorian embassy in March 2017, organised by the radio station LBC, for whom Farage worked as a presenter. Farage's producer at LBC accompanied Farage at the meeting, but this was not mentioned by Cadwalladr.

Rather, she posited that this meeting was "potentially a channel of communication" between WikiLeaks, Farage and Donald Trump, who were all said to be closely linked to Russia, adding that these actors were in a "political alignment" and that " WikiLeaks is, in many ways, the swirling vortex at the centre of everything".

Yet Cadwalladr's one official on-the-record source for this speculation was a "highly placed contact with links to US intelligence", who told her, "When the heat is turned up and all electronic communication, you have to assume, is being intensely monitored, then those are the times when intelligence communication falls back on human couriers. Where you have individuals passing information in ways and places that cannot be monitored."

It seems likely this was innuendo being fed to The Observer by an intelligence-linked individual to promote disinformation to undermine Assange.

In 2018, however, The Guardian's attempted vilification of Assange was significantly stepped up. A new string of articles began on 18 May 2018 with one alleging Assange's "long-standing relationship with RT", the Russian state broadcaster. The series, which has been closely documented elsewhere, lasted for several months, consistently alleging with little or the most minimal circumstantial evidence that Assange had ties to Russia or the Kremlin.

One story, co-authored again by Luke Harding, claimed that "Russian diplomats held secret talks in London with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, The Guardian has learned". The former consul in the Ecuadorian embassy in London at this time, Fidel Narvaez, vigorously denies the existence of any such "escape plot" involving Russia and is involved in a complaint process with The Guardian for insinuating he coordinated such a plot.

This apparent mini-campaign ran until November 2018, culminating in a front-page splash , based on anonymous sources, claiming that Assange had three secret meetings at the Ecuadorian embassy with Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

This "scoop" failed all tests of journalistic credibility since it would have been impossible for anyone to have entered the highly secured Ecuadorian embassy three times with no proof. WikiLeaks and others have strongly argued that the story was manufactured and it is telling that The Guardian has since failed to refer to it in its subsequent articles on the Assange case. The Guardian, however, has still not retracted or apologised for the story which remains on its website.

The "exclusive" appeared just two weeks after Paul Johnson had been congratulated for "re-establishing links" between The Guardian and the security services.

The string of Guardian articles, along with the vilification and smear stories about Assange elsewhere in the British media, helped create the conditions for a deal between Ecuador, the UK and the US to expel Assange from the embassy in April. Assange now sits in Belmarsh maximum-security prison where he faces extradition to the US, and life in prison there, on charges under the Espionage Act.

Acting for the establishment

Another major focus of The Guardian's energies under Viner's editorship has been to attack the leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The context is that Corbyn appears to have recently been a target of the security services. In 2015, soon after he was elected Labour leader, the Sunday Times reported a serving general warning that "there would be a direct challenge from the army and mass resignations if Corbyn became prime minister". The source told the newspaper: "The Army just wouldn't stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent that."

On 20 May 2017, a little over two weeks before the 2017 General Election, the Daily Telegraph was fed the story that "MI5 opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn amid concerns over his links to the IRA". It formed part of a Telegraph investigation claiming to reveal "Mr Corbyn's full links to the IRA" and was sourced to an individual "close to" the MI5 investigation, who said "a file had been opened on him by the early nineties".

The Metropolitan Police Special Branch was also said to be monitoring Corbyn in the same period.

Then, on the very eve of the General Election, the Telegraph gave space to an article from Sir Richard Dearlove, the former director of MI6, under a headline: "Jeremy Corbyn is a danger to this nation. At MI6, which I once led, he wouldn't clear the security vetting."

Further, in September 2018, two anonymous senior government sources told The Times that Corbyn had been "summoned" for a "'facts of life' talk on terror" by MI5 chief Andrew Parker.

Just two weeks after news of this private meeting was leaked by the government, the Daily Mail reported another leak, this time revealing that "Jeremy Corbyn's most influential House of Commons adviser has been barred from entering Ukraine on the grounds that he is a national security threat because of his alleged links to Vladimir Putin's 'global propaganda network'."

The article concerned Andrew Murray, who had been working in Corbyn's office for a year but had still not received a security pass to enter the UK parliament. The Mail reported, based on what it called "a senior parliamentary source", that Murray's application had encountered "vetting problems".

Murray later heavily suggested that the security services had leaked the story to the Mail. "Call me sceptical if you must, but I do not see journalistic enterprise behind the Mail's sudden capacity to tease obscure information out of the [Ukrainian security service]," he wrote in the New Statesman. He added, "Someone else is doing the hard work – possibly someone being paid by the taxpayer. I doubt if their job description is preventing the election of a Corbyn government, but who knows?"

Murray told us he was approached by the New Statesman after the story about him being banned from Ukraine was leaked. "However," he added, "I wouldn't dream of suggesting anything like that to The Guardian, since I do not know any journalists still working there who I could trust."

The Guardian itself has run a remarkable number of news and comment articles criticising Corbyn since he was elected in 2015 and the paper's clearly hostile stance has been widely noted .

Given its appeal to traditional Labour supporters, the paper has probably done more to undermine Corbyn than any other. In particular, its massive coverage of alleged widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has helped to disparage Corbyn more than other smears carried in the media.

The Guardian and The Observer have published hundreds of articles on "Labour anti-Semitism" and, since the beginning of this year, carried over 50 such articles with headlines clearly negative to Corbyn. Typical headlines have included " The Observer view: Labour leadership is complicit in anti-Semitism ", " Jeremy Corbyn is either blind to anti-Semitism – or he just doesn't care ", and " Labour's anti-Semitism problem is institutional. It needs investigation ".

The Guardian's coverage of anti-Semitism in Labour has been suspiciously extensive, compared to the known extent of the problem in the party, and its focus on Corbyn personally suggests that the issue is being used politically. While anti-Semitism does exist in the Labour Party, evidence suggests it is at relatively low levels. Since September 2015, when Corbyn became Labour leader, 0.06% of the Labour membership has been investigated for anti-Semitic comments or posts. In 2016, an independent inquiry commissioned by Labour concluded that the party "is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism. Further, it is the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race equality law."

Analysis of two YouGov surveys, conducted in 2015 and 2017, shows that anti-Semitic views held by Labour voters declined substantially in the first two years of Corbyn's tenure and that such views were significantly more common among Conservative voters.

Despite this, since January 2016, The Guardian has published 1,215 stories mentioning Labour and anti-Semitism, an average of around one per day, according to a search on Factiva, the database of newspaper articles. In the same period, The Guardian published just 194 articles mentioning the Conservative Party's much more serious problem with Islamophobia. A YouGov poll in 2019, for example, found that nearly half of the Tory Party membership would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister.

At the same time, some stories which paint Corbyn's critics in a negative light have been suppressed by The Guardian. According to someone with knowledge of the matter, The Guardian declined to publish the results of a months-long critical investigation by one of its reporters into a prominent anti-Corbyn Labour MP, citing only vague legal issues.

In July 2016, one of this article's authors emailed a Guardian editor asking if he could pitch an investigation about the first attempt by the right-wing of the Labour Party to remove Corbyn, informing The Guardian of very good inside sources on those behind the attempt and their real plans. The approach was rejected as being of no interest before a pitch was even sent.

A reliable publication?

On 20 May 2019, The Times newspaper reported on a Freedom of Information request made by the Rendition Project, a group of academic experts working on torture and rendition issues, which showed that the MOD had been "developing a secret policy on torture that allows ministers to sign off intelligence-sharing that could lead to the abuse of detainees".

This might traditionally have been a Guardian story, not something for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times. According to one civil society source, however, many groups working in this field no longer trust The Guardian.

A former Guardian journalist similarly told us: "It is significant that exclusive stories recently about British collusion in torture and policy towards the interrogation of terror suspects and other detainees have been passed to other papers including The Times rather than The Guardian."

The Times published its scoop under a strong headline , "Torture: Britain breaks law in Ministry of Defence secret policy". However, before the article was published, the MOD fed The Guardian the same documents The Times were about to splash with, believing it could soften the impact of the revelations by telling its side of the story.

The Guardian posted its own article just before The Times, with a headline that would have pleased the government: "MoD says revised torture guidance does not lower standards".

Its lead paragraph was a simple summary of the MOD's position: "The Ministry of Defence has insisted that newly emerged departmental guidance on the sharing of intelligence derived from torture with allies, remains in line with practices agreed in the aftermath of a series of scandals following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." However, an inspection of the documents showed this was clearly disinformation.

The Guardian had gone in six short years from being the natural outlet to place stories exposing wrongdoing by the security state to a platform trusted by the security state to amplify its information operations. A once relatively independent media platform has been largely neutralised by UK security services fearful of being exposed further. Which begs the question: where does the next Snowden go? DM

The Guardian did not respond to a request for comment.

Daily Maverick will formally launch Declassified – a new UK-focused investigation and analysis organisation run by the authors of this article – in November 2019.

Matt Kennard is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Declassified . He was previously director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London, and before that a reporter for the Financial Times in the US and UK. He is the author of two books, Irregular Army and The Racket .

Mark Curtis is a leading UK foreign policy analyst, journalist and the author of six books including Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World and Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam .

[Sep 15, 2019] Demythologizing the Roots of the New Cold War by Ted Snider

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like the Cold War, the new cold war was triggered by an American lie. It was a lie so duplicitous, so all encompassing, that it would lead many Russians to see the agreement that ended the cold war as a devastating and humiliating deception that was really intended to clear the way for the US to surround and finally defeat the Soviet Union. It was a lie that tilled the soil for all future "Russian aggression." ..."
"... That key promise made to Gorbachev was shattered, first by President Clinton and then subsequently supported by every American President: NATO engulfed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009 and, most recently, Montenegro. ..."
"... When Clinton decided to break Bush's promise and betray Russia, George Kennen, father of the containment policy, warned that NATO expansion would be "the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-cold-war era." "Such a decision," he prophesied, "may be expected to . . . restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations . . .." ..."
"... As Matlock explains, the urgent transition allowed "privileged insiders[to] join the criminals who had been running a black market [and to] steal what they could, as fast as they could." The sudden, uncompromising transition imposed on Russia by the United States enabled, according to Cohen, "a small group of Kremlin-connected oligarchs to plunder Russia's richest assets and abet the plunging of some two-thirds of its people into poverty and misery." ..."
"... The rape of Russia was funded, overseen and ordered by the United States and handed over by President George H.W. Bush to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Much of their advice, Matlock says generously, "was not only useless, but sometimes actually damaging." ..."
"... The economic policies wrestled onto Russia by the US and the transition experts and international development experts it funded and sent over led to, what Cohen calls, "the near ruination of Russia." Russia's reward for ending the Cold War and joining the Western economic community was, in Cohen's words, "the worst economic depression in peacetime, the disintegration of the highly professionalized Soviet middle class, mass poverty, plunging life expectancy [for men, it had fallen below sixty], the fostering of an oligarchic financial elite, the plundering of Russia's wealth, and more." ..."
"... By the time Putin came to power in 2000, Cohen says, "some 75% of Russians were living in poverty." 75%! Millions and millions of Russian lives were destroyed by the American welcoming of Russia into the global economic community. ..."
"... But before Putin came to power, there was more Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a necessity for Clinton and the United States because Yeltsin was the pliable puppet who would continue to enforce the cruel economic transition. But to continue the interference in, and betrayal of, the Russian people economically, it would now be necessary to interfere in and betray the Russian democracy. ..."
"... Intoxicated with American support, Yeltsin dissolved the parliament that had rescinded his powers and abolished the constitution of which he was in violation. In a 636-2 vote, the Russian parliament impeached Yeltsin. But, President Clinton again sided with Yeltsin against the Russian people and the Russian law, backed him and gave him $2.5 billion in aid. Clinton was blocking the Russian people's choice of leaders. ..."
"... "Funded by the US government," Cohen reports, Americans "gave money to favored Russian politicians, instructed ministers, drafted legislation and presidential decrees, underwrote textbooks, and served at Yeltsin's reelection headquarters in 1996." ..."
"... Asserting its right as the unipolar victor of a Cold War it never won, betraying the central promise of the negotiated end of the cold war by engulfing Russia's neighbors, arming those nations against its written and signed word and stealing all Russian hope in capitalism and democracy by kidnapping and torturing Russian capitalism and democracy, the roots of the new cold war were not planted by Russian lies and aggression, as the doctrinal Western version teaches, but by the American lies and aggression that the fact checked, demythologized version of history reveals. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

When Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev received his peace prize in 1990, the Nobel Prize committee declared that "the two mighty power blocs, have managed to abandon their life-threatening confrontation" and confidently expressed that "It is our hope that we are now celebrating the end of the Cold War." Recently, U.N. General Secretary António Guterres funereally closed the celebrations with the realization that "The Cold War is back."

In a very short span of history, the window that had finally opened for Russia and the United States to build a new international system in which they work cooperatively to address areas of common interest had slammed back closed. How was that historic opportunity wasted? Why was the road from the Nobel committee's hope to the UN's eulogy such a short one?

The doctrinal narrative that is told in the U.S. is the narrative of a very short road whose every turn was signposted by Russian lies, betrayal, deception and aggression. The American telling of history is a tale in which every blow to the new peace was a Russian blow. The fact checked version offers a demythologized history that is unrecognizably different. The demythologized version is also a history of lies, betrayal, deception and aggression, but the liar, the aggressor, is not primarily Russia, but America. It is the history of a promise so historically broken that it laid the foundation of a new cold war.

But it was not the first promise the United States broke: it was not even the first promise they broke in the new cold war.

The Hot War

Most histories of the cold war begin at the dawn of the post World War II period. But the history of U.S-U.S.S.R. animosity starts long before that: it starts as soon as possible, and it was hot long before it turned cold.

The label "Red Scare" first appeared, not in the 1940s or 50s, but in 1919. Though it is a chapter seldom included in the history of American-Russian relations, America actively and aggressively intervened in the Russian civil war in an attempt to push the Communists back down. The United States cooperated with anti-Bolshevik forces: by mid 1918, President Woodrow Wilson had sent 13,000 American troops to Soviet soil. They would remain there for two years, killing and injuring thousands. Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev would later remind America of "the time you sent your troops to quell the revolution." Churchill would record for history the admission that the West "shot Soviet Russians on sight," that they were "invaders on Russian soil," that "[t]hey armed the enemies of the Soviet government," that "[t]hey blockaded its ports, and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed for its downfall."

When the cause was lost, and the Bolsheviks secured power, most western countries refused to recognize the communist government. However, realism prevailed, and within a few short years, by the mid 1920s, most countries had recognized the communist government and restored diplomatic relations. All but the US It was not until several years later that Franklin D. Roosevelt finally recognized the Soviet government in 1933.

The Cold War

It would be a very short time before the diplomatic relations that followed the hot war would be followed by a cold war. It might even be possible to pin the beginning of the cold war down to a specific date. On April 22 and 23, President Truman told Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov to "Carry out his agreement" and establish a new, free, independent government in Poland as promised at Yalta. Molotov was stunned. He was stunned because it was not he that was breaking the agreement because that was not what Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had agreed to at Yalta. The final wording of the Yalta agreement never mentioned replacing Soviet control of Poland.

The agreement that Roosevelt revealed to congress and shared with the world – the one that still dominates the textbook accounts and the media stories – is not the one he secretly shook on with Stalin. Roosevelt lied to congress and the American people. Then he lied to Stalin.

In exchange for Soviet support for the creation of the United Nations, Roosevelt secretly agreed to Soviet predominance in Poland and Eastern Europe. The cold war story that the Soviet Union marched into Eastern Europe and stole it for itself is a lie: Roosevelt handed it to them.

So did Churchill. If Roosevelt's motivation was getting the UN, Churchill's was getting Greece. Fearing that the Soviet Union would invade India and the oil fields of Iran, Churchill saw Greece as the geographical roadblock and determined to hold on to it at all cost. The cost, it turned out, was Romania. Churchill would give Stalin Romania to protect his borders; Stalin would give Churchill Greece to protect his empire's borders. The deal was sealed on October 9, 1944.

Churchill says that in their secret meeting, he asked Stalin, "how would it do for you to have ninety percent predominance in Romania, for us to have ninety percent predominance in Greece? . . ." He then went on to offer a fifty-fifty power split in in Yugoslavia and Hungary and to offer the Soviets seventy-five percent control of Bulgaria. The exact conversation may never have happened, according to the political record, but Churchill's account captures the spirit and certainly captures the secret agreement.

Contrary to the official narrative, Stalin never betrayed the west and stole Eastern Europe: Poland, Romania and the rest were given to him in secret. Then Roosevelt lied to congress and to the world.

That American lie raised the curtain on the cold war.

The New Cold War

Like the Cold War, the new cold war was triggered by an American lie. It was a lie so duplicitous, so all encompassing, that it would lead many Russians to see the agreement that ended the cold war as a devastating and humiliating deception that was really intended to clear the way for the US to surround and finally defeat the Soviet Union. It was a lie that tilled the soil for all future "Russian aggression."

At the close of the cold war, at a meeting held on February 9, 1990, George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State, James Baker, promised Gorbachev that if NATO got Germany and Russia pulled its troops out of East Germany, NATO would not expand east of Germany and engulf the former Soviet states. Gorbachev records in his memoirs that he agreed to Baker's terms "with the guarantee that NATO jurisdiction or troops would not extend east of the current line." In Super-power Illusions , Jack F. Matlock Jr., who was the American ambassador to Russia at the time and was present at the meeting, confirms Gorbachev's account, saying that it "coincides with my notes of the conversation except that mine indicate that Baker added "not one inch." Matlock adds that Gorbachev was assured that NATO would not move into Eastern Europe as the Warsaw Pact moved out, that "the understanding at Malta [was] that the United States would not 'take advantage' of a Soviet military withdrawal from Eastern Europe." At the February 9 meeting, Baker assured Gorbachev that "neither the President or I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place."

But the promise was not made just once, and it was not made just by the United States. The promise was made on two consecutive days: first by the Americans and then by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. According to West German foreign ministry documents, on February 10, 1990, the day after James Baker's promise, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told his Soviet counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze "'For us . . . one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.' And because the conversation revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: 'As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.'"

A few days earlier, on January 31, 1990, Genscher had said in a major speech that there would not be "an expansion of NATO territory to the east, in other words, closer to the borders of the Soviet Union."

Gorbachev says the promise was made not to expand NATO "as much as a thumb's width further to the east." Putin also says mourns the broken promise, asking at a conference in Munich in February 2007, "What happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them."

Putin went on to remind his audience of the assurances by pointing out that the existence of the NATO promise is not just the perception of him and Gorbachev. It was also the view of the NATO General Secretary at the time: "But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. [Manfred] Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: 'The fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.' Where are those guarantees?"

Recent scholarship supports the Russian version of the story. Russian expert and Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent, Richard Sakwa says that "[r]ecent studies demonstrate that the commitment not to enlarge NATO covered the whole former Soviet bloc and not just East Germany." And Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University and of Russian Studies and History at New York University, adds that the National Security Archive has now published the actual documents detailing what Gorbachev was promised. Published on December 12, 2017, the documents finally, and authoritatively, reveal that "The truth, and the promises broken, are much more expansive than previously known: all of the Western powers involved – the US, the UK, France, Germany itself – made the same promise to Gorbachev on multiple occasions and in various emphatic ways."

That key promise made to Gorbachev was shattered, first by President Clinton and then subsequently supported by every American President: NATO engulfed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009 and, most recently, Montenegro.

It was this shattered promise, this primal betrayal, this NATO expansion to Russia's borders that created the conditions and causes of future conflicts and aggressions. When, in 2008, NATO promised Georgia and Ukraine eventual membership, Russia saw the threat of NATO encroaching right to its borders. It is in Georgia and Ukraine that Russia felt it had to draw the line with NATO encroachment into its core sphere of influence. Sakwa says that the war in Georgia was "the first war to stop NATO enlargement; Ukraine was the second." What are often cited as acts of Russian aggression that helped maintain the new cold war are properly understood as acts of Russian defense against US aggression that made a lie out of the promise that ended the Cold War.

When Clinton decided to break Bush's promise and betray Russia, George Kennen, father of the containment policy, warned that NATO expansion would be "the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-cold-war era." "Such a decision," he prophesied, "may be expected to . . . restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations . . .."

The broken promise restored the cold war. Though it is the most significant root of the new cold war, it was not the first. There was a prior broken promise, and this time the man who betrayed Russia was President H.W. Bush.

The end of the Cold War resulted from negotiations and not from any sort of military victory. Stephen Cohen says that "Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush negotiated with the last Soviet Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, what they said was the end of the Cold War on the shared, expressed premise that it was ending 'with no losers, only winners.'"

The end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union occurred so closely chronologically that it permitted the American mythologizers to conflate them in the public imagination and create the doctrinal history in which the US defeat of the Soviet Union ended the cold war. But the US did not defeat the Soviet Union. Gorbachev brought about what Sakwa calls a "self-willed disintegration of the Soviet bloc." The Soviet Union came to an end, not by external force or pressure, but out of Gorbachev's recognition of the Soviet Union's own self interest. Matlock flatly states that "pressure from governments outside the Soviet Union, whether from America or Europe or anywhere else, had nothing to do with [the Soviet collapse]." "Cohen demythologizes the history by reinstating the chronological order: Gorbachev negotiated the end of the cold war "well before the disintegration of the Soviet Union." The Cold War officially ended well before the end of the Soviet Union with Gorbachev's December 7, 1988 address to the UN

Matlock says that "Gorbachev is right when he says that we all won the Cold War." He says that President Reagan would write in his notes, "Let there be no talk of winners and losers." When Gorbachev compelled the countries of the Warsaw Pact to adopt reforms like his perestroika in the Soviet Union and warmed them that the Soviet army would no longer be there to keep their communist regimes in power, Matlock points out in Superpower Illusions that "Bush assured Gorbachev that the United States would not claim victory if the Eastern Europeans were allowed to replace the Communist regimes that had been imposed on them." Both the reality and the promise were that there was no winner of the Cold War: it was a negotiated peace that was in the interest of both countries.

When in 1992, during his losing re-election campaign, President Bush arrogantly boasted that "We won the Cold War!" he broke his own promise to Gorbachev and helped plant the roots of the new cold war. "In psychological and political terms," Matlock says, "President Bush planted a landmine under the future U.S.-Russian relationship" when he broke his promise and made that claim.

Bush's broken promise had two significant effects. Psychologically, it created the appearance in the Russian psyche that Gorbachev had been tricked by America: it eroded trust in America and in the new peace. Politically, it created in the American psyche the false idea that Russia was a defeated country whose sphere of interest did not need to be considered. Both these perceptions contributed to the new cold war.

Not only was the broken promise of NATO expansion not the first broken American promise, it was also not the last. In 1997, when President Clinton made the decision to expand NATO much more than an inch to the east, he at least signed the Russia-NATO Founding Act , which explicitly promised that as NATO expanded east, there would be no "permanent stationing of substantial combat forces." This obliterated American promise planted the third root of the new cold war.

Since that third promise, NATO has, in the words of Stephen Cohen, built up its "permanent land, sea and air power near Russian territory, along with missile-defense installations." US and NATO weapons and troops have butted right up against Russia's borders, while anti-missile installations have surrounded it, leading to the feeling of betrayal in Russia and the fear of aggression. Among the earliest moves of the Trump administration were the moving of NATO troops into Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and nearby Norway.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who offered the West Russia and cooperation in place of the Soviet Union and Cold War, was rewarded with lies, broken promises and betrayal. That was the sowing of the first seeds of the new cold war. The second planting happened during the Yeltsin years that followed. During this stage, the Russian people were betrayed because their hopes for democracy and for an economic system compatible with the West were both destroyed by American intervention.

The goal, Matlock too gently explains, "had to be a shift of the bulk of the economy to private ownership." What transpired was what Naomi Klein called in The Shock Doctrine "one of the greatest crimes committed against a democracy in modern history." The States allowed no gradual transition. Matlock says the "Western experts advised a clean break with the past and a transition to private ownership without delay." But there was no legitimate private capital coming out of the communist system, so there was no private money with which to privatize. So, there was only one place for the money to come. As Matlock explains, the urgent transition allowed "privileged insiders[to] join the criminals who had been running a black market [and to] steal what they could, as fast as they could." The sudden, uncompromising transition imposed on Russia by the United States enabled, according to Cohen, "a small group of Kremlin-connected oligarchs to plunder Russia's richest assets and abet the plunging of some two-thirds of its people into poverty and misery."

The rape of Russia was funded, overseen and ordered by the United States and handed over by President George H.W. Bush to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Much of their advice, Matlock says generously, "was not only useless, but sometimes actually damaging."

Sometimes damaging? In the first year, millions lost their entire life savings. Subsidy cuts meant that many Russians didn't get paid at all. Klein says that by 1992, Russians were consuming 40% less than they were the year before, and one third of them had suddenly sunk below the poverty line. The economic policies wrestled onto Russia by the US and the transition experts and international development experts it funded and sent over led to, what Cohen calls, "the near ruination of Russia." Russia's reward for ending the Cold War and joining the Western economic community was, in Cohen's words, "the worst economic depression in peacetime, the disintegration of the highly professionalized Soviet middle class, mass poverty, plunging life expectancy [for men, it had fallen below sixty], the fostering of an oligarchic financial elite, the plundering of Russia's wealth, and more."

By the time Putin came to power in 2000, Cohen says, "some 75% of Russians were living in poverty." 75%! Millions and millions of Russian lives were destroyed by the American welcoming of Russia into the global economic community.

But before Putin came to power, there was more Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a necessity for Clinton and the United States because Yeltsin was the pliable puppet who would continue to enforce the cruel economic transition. But to continue the interference in, and betrayal of, the Russian people economically, it would now be necessary to interfere in and betray the Russian democracy.

In late 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin won a year of special powers from the Russian Parliament: for one year, he was to be, in effect, the dictator of Russia to facilitate the midwifery of the birth of a democratic Russia. In March of 1992, under pressure from the, by now, impoverished, devastated and discontented population, parliament repealed the dictatorial powers it had granted him. Yeltsin responded by declaring a state of emergency, re-bestowing upon himself the repealed dictatorial powers. Russia's Constitutional Court ruled that Yeltsin was acting outside the constitution. But the US sided – against the Russian people and against the Russian Constitutional Court – with Yeltsin.

Intoxicated with American support, Yeltsin dissolved the parliament that had rescinded his powers and abolished the constitution of which he was in violation. In a 636-2 vote, the Russian parliament impeached Yeltsin. But, President Clinton again sided with Yeltsin against the Russian people and the Russian law, backed him and gave him $2.5 billion in aid. Clinton was blocking the Russian people's choice of leaders.

Yeltsin took the money and sent police officers and elite paratroopers to surround the parliament building. Clinton "praised the Russian President has (sic) having done 'quite well' in managing the standoff with the Russian Parliament," as The New York Times reported at the time. Clinton added that he thought "the United States and the free world ought to hang in there" with their support of Yeltsin against his people, their constitution and their courts, and judged Yeltsin to be "on the right side of history."

On the right side of history and armed with machine guns and tanks, in October 1993, Yeltsin's troops opened fire on the crowd of protesters, killing about 100 people before setting the Russian parliament building on fire. By the time the day was over, Yeltsin's troops had killed approximately 500 people and wounded nearly 1,000. Still, Clinton stood with Yeltsin. He provided ludicrous cover for Yeltsin's massacre , claiming that "I don't see that he had any choice . If such a thing happened in the United States, you would have expected me to take tough action against it." Clinton's Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, said that the US supported Yeltsin's suspension of parliament in these "extraordinary times."

In 1996, elections were looming, and America's hegemonic dreams still needed Yeltsin in power. But it wasn't going to happen without help. Yeltsin's popularity was nonexistent, and his approval rating was at about 6%. According to Cohen, Clinton's interference in Russian politics, his "crusade" to "reform Russia," had by now become official policy . And so, America boldly interfered directly in Russian elections . Three American political consultants, receiving "direct assistance from Bill Clinton's White House," secretly ran Yeltsin's reelection campaign. As Time magazine broke the story , "For four months, a group of American political consultants clandestinely participated in guiding Yeltsin's campaign."

"Funded by the US government," Cohen reports, Americans "gave money to favored Russian politicians, instructed ministers, drafted legislation and presidential decrees, underwrote textbooks, and served at Yeltsin's reelection headquarters in 1996."

More incriminating still is that Richard Dresner, one of the three American consultants, maintained a direct line to Clinton's Chief Strategist, Dick Morris. According to reporting by Sean Guillory , in his book, Behind the Oval Office , Morris says that, with Clinton's approval, he received weekly briefings from Dresner that he would give to Clinton. Based on those briefings, Clinton would then provide recommendations to Dresner through Morris.

Then ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, even pressured an opposing candidate to drop out of the election to improve Yeltsin's odds of winning.

The US not only helped run Yeltsin's campaign, they helped pay for it. The US backed a $10.2 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan for Russia, the second-biggest loan the IMF had ever given. The New York Times reported that the loan was "expected to be helpful to President Boris N. Yeltsin in the presidential election in June." The Times explained that the loan was "a vote of confidence" for Yeltsin who "has been lagging well behind in opinion polls" and added that the US Treasury Secretary "welcomed the fund's decision."

Yeltsin won the election by 13%, and Time magazine's cover declared: "Yanks to the rescue: The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win". Cohen reports that the US ambassador to Russia boasted that "without our leadership we would see a considerably different Russia today." That's a confession of election interference.

Asserting its right as the unipolar victor of a Cold War it never won, betraying the central promise of the negotiated end of the cold war by engulfing Russia's neighbors, arming those nations against its written and signed word and stealing all Russian hope in capitalism and democracy by kidnapping and torturing Russian capitalism and democracy, the roots of the new cold war were not planted by Russian lies and aggression, as the doctrinal Western version teaches, but by the American lies and aggression that the fact checked, demythologized version of history reveals.

Ted Snider writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.

[Sep 13, 2019] Something to thank Russians for

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Robert McGregor , September 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm

I'm no fan of Trump, but I would like to see a comparison of the total "US instigated foreign fatalities" for his last 2 & 1/2 years compared with Obama's last 2 & 1/2 years, and what we guess the number would have been under Hillary. I'm sorry, but I think Trump's number would be the lowest. In coming up with an explanation, I like to use the "Reality Show Entertainment Value" theory which many have described. In this case, people like to watch Trump bullshitting and freaking out the establishment, but they really don't like watching dead bodies burn up or be carried away in body bags. That reality is not attractive entertainment, despite the fantasy of it being bankable entertainment when Tarantino flame throws a teenager at the end of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

Obama and Hillary are not "reality TV fans." They are more immersed in their megalomaniac view of themselves as world actors, and will willfully kill a few hundred thousand if they think it advances their misguided objectives.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , September 13, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Whoa there, buddy.

Spoiler alert.

-Tarantino fan :)

P.S. 'It 2' is def one of the best movies of the year. Still need to see Parasite and the Joker.

Punxsutawney , September 13, 2019 at 7:21 pm

Well, the "Liberal" excuse for this is that Putin is controlling him. Well if so, that's one thing to thank the Russians for.

[Sep 13, 2019] Trump the Russian Puppet. A Story That Just Will Not Die -- Strategic Culture

RussiaGate serves several very useful political purposes. First and foremost it supports exorbitant financing of MIC at the expense of everybody else, and as such it will not be abandoned, facts be dammed. In this sense Philip Giraldi is right. BTW intelligence agencies are apart of MIc and they (and first of all Brennan's faction of CIA and FBI (counterintelligence)) are the main force in RussiaGate. US government also was instrumental for the same reasons: for them maintaning EU hostility to Russia and preventing alliance of Russia and Germany is the ancient geopolitical goal, the goal which contributed to flaring two world wars.
But in view of Trump appointment of a war criminal and rabid warmonger Bolton as well as his track record of incompetence and impulsivity one can feel some sympathy to those who try to impeach Trump ;-)
Sep 13, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org
Philip Giraldi September 12, 2019 © Photo: Wikimedia Certainly, there are many things that President Donald Trump can rightly be criticized for, but it is interesting to note how the media and chattering classes continue to be in the grip of the highly emotional but ultimately irrational "Trump derangement syndrome (TDS)." TDS means that even the most ridiculous claims about Trump behavior can be regurgitated by someone like Jake Tapper or Rachel Maddow without anyone in the media even daring to observe that they are both professional dissemblers of truth who lie regularly to enhance their professional resumes.

There are two persistent bogus narratives about Donald Trump that are, in fact, related. The first is that his campaign and transition teams collaborated with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton. Even Robert Mueller, he of the famous fact-finding commission, had to admit that that was not demonstrable. The only government that succeeded in collaborating with the incoming Trumpsters was that of Israel, but Mueller forgot to mention that or even look into it.

Nevertheless, Russia as a major contributing element in the Trump victory continues to be cited in the mainstream media, seemingly whenever Trump is mentioned, as if it were demonstrated fact. The fact is that whatever Russia did was miniscule and did not in any way alter the outcome of the election. Similarly, allegations that the Kremlin will again be at it in 2020 are essentially baseless fearmongering and are a reflection of the TDS desire to see the president constantly diminished in any way possible.

The other narrative that will not die is the suggestion that Donald Trump is either a Russian spy or is in some other, possibly psychological fashion, controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin. That spy story was first floated by several former senior CIA officers who were closely tied to the Hillary Clinton campaign, apparently because they believed they would benefit materially if she were elected.

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell was the most aggressive promoter of Trump as Russian spy narrative. In August 2016, he wrote a New York Times op-ed entitled "I Ran the CIA. Now I'm endorsing Hillary Clinton." Morell's story began with the flat assertion that "Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president – keeping our nation safe Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security."

In his op-ed, Morell ran through the litany of then GOP candidate Trump's observed personality and character failings while also citing his lack of experience, but he delivered what he thought to be his most crushing blow when he introduced Vladimir Putin into the discussion. Putin, it seems, a wily ex-career intelligence officer, is "trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump's vulnerabilities In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."

How can one be both unwitting and a recruited agent? Some might roll their eyes at that bit of hyperbole, but Morell, who was a top analyst at the Agency but never acquired or ran an actual spy in his entire career, goes on to explain how Moscow is some kind of eternal enemy. For Morell that meant that Trump's often stated willingness to work with Putin and the nuclear armed state he headed was somehow the act of a Manchurian Candidate, seen by Morell as a Russian interest, not an American one. So much for the presumed insider knowledge that came from the man who "ran the CIA."

The most recent "former intelligence agents'" blast against Trump appeared in the Business Insider last month in an article entitled "US spies say Trump's G7 performance suggests he's either a 'Russian asset' or a 'useful idiot' for Putin." The article cites a number of former government officials, including several from the CIA and FBI, who claimed that Trump's participation at the recent G7 summit in Biarritz France was marked by pandering to Putin and the Kremlin's interests, including a push to re-include Russia in the G-7, from which it was expelled after the annexation of Crimea.

One current anonymous FBI source cited in the article described the Trump performance as a "new low," while a former senior Justice Department official, labeled Trump's behavior as "directly out of the Putin playbook. We have a Russian asset sitting in the Oval Office." An ex-CIA officer speculated that the president's "intent and odd personal fascination with President Putin is worth serious scrutiny," concluding that the evidence is "overwhelming" that Trump is a Russian asset, while other CIA and NSA veterans suggested that Trump might be flattering Putin in exchange for future business concessions in Moscow.

Another recently retired FBI special agent opined that Trump was little more than "useful idiot" for the Russians, though he added that it would not surprise him if there were also Russian spies in Trump's inner circle.

The comments in the article are almost incoherent. They come from carefully selected current and former government employees who suffer from an excess of TDS, or possibly pathological paranoia, and hate the president for various reasons. What they are suggesting is little more than speculation and not one of them was able to cite any actual evidence to support their contentions. And, on the contrary, there is considerable evidence that points the other way. The US-Russia relationship is at its lowest point ever according to some observers and that has all been due to policies promoted by the Trump Administration to include the continuing threats over Crimea, sanctions against numerous Russian officials, abrogation of existing arms treaties, and the expansion of aggressive NATO activity right up to the borders with Russia.

Just this past week, the United States warned Russia against continuing its aerial support for the Syrian Army advance to eliminate the last major terrorist pocket in Idlib province. Once against, Washington is operating on the side of terrorists in Syria and against Russia, a conflict that the United States entered into illegally in the first place. Either Donald Trump acting as "the Russian agent" actually thinks threatening a Moscow that is pursuing its legitimate interests is a good idea or the labeling of the president as a "Putin puppet" or "useful idiot" is seriously misguided.

[Sep 12, 2019] Dances With Bears: MARK GALEOTTI IS A FACT FAKER HIS BOOK ON RUSSIAN CRIME IS A HATE CRIME, A WAR CRIME

Sep 12, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 9, 2019 at 9:14 am

I only mentioned Mark 'Gerasimov' Galeotti recently linked to a MT source one of you posted and hey, presto

Dances With Bears: MARK GALEOTTI IS A FACT FAKER – HIS BOOK ON RUSSIAN CRIME IS A HATE CRIME, A WAR CRIME
http://johnhelmer.net/mark-galeotti-is-a-fact-faker-his-book-on-russian-crime-is-a-hate-crime-a-war-crime/

Repeating lies over and over makes old-fashioned Joseph Goebbels-type propaganda. Repeating lies, then contradicting them; moving them from one government-paid think-tank to another; footnoting a new lie to an older version; quoting policemen and gangsters saying fatuities; adding slang and the words of pop songs -- this is still Goebbels-type but stretched out and product-diversified to make its author more money. This is Mark Galeotti's method .
####

The rest at the link and a deep dive on Galeotti himself.

[Sep 11, 2019] John Brennan's and Jim Clappers' Last Gasp by Larry C Johnson

Highly recommended!
The fact that Smolenkov purchased house on his name excludes his "extraction" to the USA. He probably legally emigrated amazing some serious money in Russia
Notable quotes:
"... [Smolenkov] follows Ushakov back to Moscow, where he is a mid-level paper pusher doing administrative support for Ushakov. The CIA gets copies of Putin's itineraries that Smolenkov photographs. He is a big hit, but ultimately produces nothing of vital importance because all truly sensitive information is hand carried by principles, and never seen by administrative staff. Moreover Ushakov advises on international relations, and would not be privy to anything dealing with intelligence. Ushakov, as a long-serving Ambassador to the US, would be asked by Putin to opine on US politics. Smolenkov has access to Ushakov's post-meeting verbal comments, which he turns over to the CIA. ..."
"... The initial reports of the Steele Dossier appeared in June 2016. This coincided with John Brennan ordering Moscow Station to turn up the heat on Smolenkov to gain access to what Putin is thinking. But Smolenkov has no real direct access. Instead, he starts fabricating and/or exaggerating his access to convince his CIA handler that he is on the job and worth every penny he is being paid by US taxpayers. ..."
"... The information Smolenkov creates is passed to his CIA handler via the secure communications channel set up when he was signed up as a spy. But these reports are not handled in the normal way that sensitive human intelligence is treated at CIA Headquarters. Instead, the material is accepted at face value and not vetted to confirm its accuracy. My intel friend, citing a knowledgeable source, indicates that Smolenkov was not polygraphed. ..."
"... This raised red flags in the CIA Counterintelligence staff, especially when Brennan starts briefing the President using the information provided by Smolenkov. Brennan responds by locking most of the CIA's Russian experts out of the loop. Later, Brennan does the same thing with the National Intelligence Council, locking out the National Intelligence Officers who would normally oversee the production of a National Intelligence Assessment. In short, Brennan cooked the books using Smolenkov's intelligence, which had it been subjected to normal checks and balances would never have passed muster. It's Brennan's leaks to the press that eventually prompt the CIA to pull the plug on Smolenkov. ..."
"... The dossier attributed to Steele, it has seemed to me, showed every sign of being the proverbial 'camel produced by a committee.' ..."
"... Although I know that fabricating evidence and corrupting judicial proceedings is part of its supposed author's 'stock in trade', I think it is unclear whether he contributed all that much to the dossier. ..."
"... His prime role, I think, was to contribute a veneer of intelligence respectability to a farrago the actual origins of which could not be acknowledged, so it could be used in support of FISA applications and in briefings to journalists. ..."
"... Although it had started much earlier, the moving into 'high gear' of the conspiracy behind 'Russiagate, of which the dossier was one manifestation, and the phone 'digital forensics' produced by 'Crowdstrike' and the former GCHQ person Matt Tait another, were I think essentially panicky 'firefighting' operations. ..."
"... Part of this involved turning the conspiracy to prevent Trump being elected into a conspiracy to destabilise his Presidency and ensure he did not carry through on any of his 'anti-Borgist' agenda. ..."
Sep 11, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

A flood of news in the last 24 hours regarding Russiagate. I am referring specifically to reports that the CIA ex-filtrated Oleg Smolenkov, a mid-level Russian Foreign Ministry bureaucrat who reportedly hooked himself on the coat-tails of Yuri Ushakov, who was Ambassador to the US from 1999 through 2008. He was recruited by the CIA (i.e., asked to collect information and pass it to the U.S. Government via his or her case officer) at sometime during this period. Smolenkov is being portrayed as a supposedly "sensitive" source. But if you read either the Washington Post or New York Times accounts of this event there is not a lot of meat on this hamburger.

Regardless of the quality of his reporting, Smolenkov is the kind of recruited source that looks good on paper and helps a CIA case officer get promoted but adds little to actual U.S. intelligence on Russia. If you understood the CIA culture you would immediately recognize that a case officer (CIA terminology for the operations officer tasked with identifying and recruiting human sources) gets rewarded by recruiting persons who ostensibly will have access to information the CIA has identified as a priority target. In this case, we're talking about possible access to Vladimir Putin.

If you take time to read both articles you will quickly see that the real purpose of this "information operation" is to paint Donald Trump as a security threat that must be stopped. This is conveniently timed to assist Jerry Nadler's mission impossible to secure Trump's impeachment. But I think there is another dynamic at play--these competing explanations for what prompted the exfiltration of this CIA asset say more about the incompetence of Barack Obama and his intel chiefs. John Brennan and Jim Clapper in particular.

A former intelligence officer and friend summarized the various press accounts as the follows and offered his own insights in a note I received this morning:

[Smolenkov] follows Ushakov back to Moscow, where he is a mid-level paper pusher doing administrative support for Ushakov. The CIA gets copies of Putin's itineraries that Smolenkov photographs. He is a big hit, but ultimately produces nothing of vital importance because all truly sensitive information is hand carried by principles, and never seen by administrative staff. Moreover Ushakov advises on international relations, and would not be privy to anything dealing with intelligence. Ushakov, as a long-serving Ambassador to the US, would be asked by Putin to opine on US politics. Smolenkov has access to Ushakov's post-meeting verbal comments, which he turns over to the CIA.

The initial reports of the Steele Dossier appeared in June 2016. This coincided with John Brennan ordering Moscow Station to turn up the heat on Smolenkov to gain access to what Putin is thinking. But Smolenkov has no real direct access. Instead, he starts fabricating and/or exaggerating his access to convince his CIA handler that he is on the job and worth every penny he is being paid by US taxpayers.

The information Smolenkov creates is passed to his CIA handler via the secure communications channel set up when he was signed up as a spy. But these reports are not handled in the normal way that sensitive human intelligence is treated at CIA Headquarters. Instead, the material is accepted at face value and not vetted to confirm its accuracy. My intel friend, citing a knowledgeable source, indicates that Smolenkov was not polygraphed.

This raised red flags in the CIA Counterintelligence staff, especially when Brennan starts briefing the President using the information provided by Smolenkov. Brennan responds by locking most of the CIA's Russian experts out of the loop. Later, Brennan does the same thing with the National Intelligence Council, locking out the National Intelligence Officers who would normally oversee the production of a National Intelligence Assessment. In short, Brennan cooked the books using Smolenkov's intelligence, which had it been subjected to normal checks and balances would never have passed muster. It's Brennan's leaks to the press that eventually prompt the CIA to pull the plug on Smolenkov.

There is public evidence that Brennan not only cooked the books but that the leaks of this supposedly "sensitive" intelligence occurred when he was Director and lying Jim Clapper was Director of National Intelligence. If Oleg Smolenkov was really such a terrific source of intel, then where are the reports? It is one thing to keep such reports close hold when the source is still in place. But he has been out of danger for more than two years. Those reports should have been shared with the Senate and House Intelligence committees. If there was actual solid intelligence in those reports that corroborated the Steele Dossier, then that information would have been leaked and widely circulated. This is Sherlock Holmes dog that did not bark.Then we have the odd fact that this guy's name is all over the press and he is buying real estate in true name. What the hell!! If the CIA genuinely believed that Mr. Smolenkov was in danger he would not be walking around doing real estate deals in true name. In fact, the sources for both the Washington Post and NY Times pieces push the propaganda that Smolenkov is a sure fire target for a Russian retaliatory hit. Really? Then why publish his name and confirm his location.

That leaves me with the alternative explanation--Smolenkov is a propaganda prop and is being trotted out by Brennan to try to provide public pressure to prevent the disclosure of intelligence that will show that the CIA and the NSA were coordinating and operating with British intelligence to entrap and smear Donald Trump and members of his campaign.

I want you to take a close look at the two pieces on this exfiltration (i.e., Washington Post and NY Times) and note the significant differences

REASON FOR THE EXFILTRATION :

Let's start with the Washington Post:

The exfiltration took place sometime after an Oval Office meeting in May 2017, when President Trump revealed highly classified counterterrorism information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, said the current and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation.

What was the information that Trump revealed? He was discussing intel that Israel passed regarding ISIS in Syria. (See the Washington Post story here .) Why would he talk to the Russians about that? Because every day, at least once a day, U.S. and Russian military authorities are sharing intelligence with one another in a phone call that originates from the U.S. Combined Air Operations Center (aka CAOC) at the Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar. Trump's conversation not only was appropriate but fully within his right to do so as Commander-in-Chief.

What the hell does this have to do with a sensitive source in Moscow? NOTHING!! Red Herring.

The NY Times account is more detailed and damning of Obama instead of Trump:

But when intelligence officials revealed the severity of Russia's election interference with unusual detail later that year, the news media picked up on details about the C.I.A.'s Kremlin sources.

C.I.A. officials worried about safety made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. The situation grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family concerns -- prompting consternation at C.I.A. headquarters and sowing doubts among some American counterintelligence officials about the informant's trustworthiness. But the C.I.A. pressed again months later after more media inquiries. This time, the informant agreed. . . .

The decision to extract the informant was driven "in part" because of concerns that Mr. Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported. But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency's sources alone was the impetus for the extraction. . . .

But the government had indicated that the source existed long before Mr. Trump took office, first in formally accusing Russia of interference in October 2016 and then when intelligence officials declassified parts of their assessment about the interference campaign for public release in January 2017. News agencies, including NBC, began reporting around that time about Mr. Putin's involvement in the election sabotage and on the C.I.A.'s possible sources for the assessment.

Trump played no role whatsoever in releasing information that allegedly compromised this so-called "golden boy" of Russian intelligence. The NY Times account makes it very clear that the release of information while Obama was President, not Trump, is what put the source in danger. Who leaked that information?

WHAT DID THE SOURCE KNOW AND WHAT DID HE TELL US?

But how valuable was this source really? What did he provide that was so enlightening? On this point the New York Times and Washington Post are more in sync.

First the NY Times:

The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.'s most explosive conclusion about Russia's interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself . As the American government's best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the C.I.A.'s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump's election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee .

The Washington Post provides a more fulsome account:

U.S. officials had been concerned that Russian sources could be at risk of exposure as early as the fall of 2016, when the Obama administration first confirmed that Russia had stolen and publicly disclosed emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

In October 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement that intelligence agencies were "confident that the Russian Government directed" the hacking campaign. . . .

In January 2017, the Obama administration published a detailed assessment that unambiguously laid the blame on the Kremlin, concluding that "Putin ordered an influence campaign" and that Russia's goal was to undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process and harm Clinton's chances of winning.

"That's a pretty remarkable intelligence community product -- much more specific than what you normally see," one U.S. official said. "It's very expected that potential U.S. intelligence assets in Russia would be under a higher level of scrutiny by their own intelligence services."

Sounds official. But there is no actual forensic or documentary evidence (by that I mean actual corroborating intelligence reports) to back up these claims by our oxymoronically christened intelligence community.

Vladimir Putin ordered the hack? Where is the report? It is either in a piece of intercepted electronics communication and/or in a report derived from information provided by Mr. Smolenkov. Where is it? Why has that not been shared in public? Don't have to worry about exposing the source now. He is already in the open. What did he report? Answer--no direct evidence.

Then there is the lie that the Russians hacked the DNC. They did not. Bill Binney, a former Technical Director of the NSA, and I have written on this subject previously ( see here ) and there is no truth to this claim. Let me put it simply--if the DNC had been hacked by the Russians using spearphising (this is claimed in the Robert Mueller report) then the NSA would have collected those messages and would be able to show they were transferred to the Russians. That did not happen.

This kind of chaotic leaking about an old intel op is symptomatic of panic. CIA is already officially denying key parts of the story. My money is on John Brennan and Jim Clapper as the likely impetus for these reports. They are hoping to paint Trump as a national security threat and distract from the upcoming revelations from the DOJ Inspector General report on the FISA warrants and, more threatening, the decisions that Prosecutor John Durham will take in deciding to indict those who attempted to launch a coup against Donald Trump, a legitimately elected President of the United States.


blue peacock , 10 September 2019 at 02:34 PM

I'm always skeptical of NY Times and WaPo and CNN reporting on anything national security related. It seems there is always an axe to grind.

I don't know why folks believe these media outlets have any credibility.

Larry Johnson -> blue peacock... , 10 September 2019 at 03:16 PM
Important to focus on the fact they are telling different and even contradictory stories. That's confusion on the part of the deep state.
Ana said in reply to Larry Johnson ... , 11 September 2019 at 10:00 AM
... And what helps us to decode the plot!
turcopolier -> blue peacock... , 11 September 2019 at 09:47 AM
BP

As I told LJ yesterday while he was writing this piece I have a slightly different theory of this matter. It is true that CIA suffered for a long time from a dearth of talent in the business of recruiting and running foreign clandestine HUMINT assets. This was caused by a focus by several CIA Directors on technical collection means rather than espionage. This policy drove many skilled case officers into retirement but the situation has much improved in the last decade and it must be remembered that an agency only needs a few skilled case officers with the right access to human targets to acquire some very fine and useful well placed foreign agents (spies). IMO it is likely that CIA has/had several well placed Russian assets in Moscow of whom Smolenkov was probably the least useful and the most expendable. It may well be that Brennan was using the chicken feed provided by Smolenkov to fuel the conspiracy run by him and Clapper against Trump's campaign and presidency, but Brennan left office and then the CIA under other management was faced with the problem of a Russian government which was told in the US press by implication that either the US had deep penetrations of Russian diplomatic and intelligence communications or that there were deep penetration moles in Moscow. that being the case it seems likely to me that the Russians would have been beating the bushes looking for the moles. In that situation the CIA may have decided to exfiltrate Smolenkov and his wife while leaving enough clues along the way that would have indicated that he might have been THE MOLE. People do not need a lot of encouragement to accept thoughts that they want to believe. A point in favor of this theory is that once CIA had him in the States they quickly lost interest in him, terminated their relationship with him and paid him his back pay and showed him the door. No new identity, no resettlement, he was given none of that. Finding himself alone in a strange land, Smolenkov then bought a house in the suburbs of Washington in HIS OWN NAME. Say what? That would not have happened if CIA had maintained some sort of relationship with him. And then... someone in CIA leaked the story of the exfiltration as movie plot to "a former senior intelligence officer" who gives sit to Sciutto at CNN. Why would they do that? IMO they would have though that having the story appear in the media would reinfocer Smolenkov's importance in Russian minds. Well, pilgrims, Clapper fits the bill as the "former blah, blah". He is an employee of CNN. CNN hates Trump and they quickly broadcast the story far and away. Unfortunately for CNN the story immediately began to disintegrate even in the eyes of the NY Times. The Smolenkov/Brennan affair will undoubtedly be part of the road that leads to doom for Brennan and Clapper but the possible CIA story is equally interesting.

ambrit , 10 September 2019 at 03:51 PM
Sir;
The fact that Mr. Smolenkov is out and about in his new home in the West shows that he is a small fish. As you say, if he was really in danger, he would be living somewhere in the West now under a new name and maybe a new face. The fact that his 'handlers' allow this lax security to happen is a sign of how unimportant he is. Unless, my inner cynic prompts, he is destined to become one of the "honoured dead," perhaps by a false flag 'liquidation.'
How low will Clapper and Brennan et. al. go?
Thanks for keeping this matter front and centre.
Fred , 10 September 2019 at 04:22 PM
So the son of Our Man in Havana went to Moscow. It would make a decent movies if it weren't for the damage Brennan and company have done to us. Obama, of course, knew nothing......
Diana C , 10 September 2019 at 04:49 PM
I have lost hope that anyone--especially Brennan and Clapper--will be held accountable for their attempt to "launch a coup" (as you put it).

Since their coup attempt ultimately failed, most people will be wanting just to move on.

As an unimportant citizen liveing in a fly-over state, I feel very angry that my tax dollars were wasted on these many government hearings and enormously expensive investigations rather than on actually on governing and improving the governing of our country.

The least we should be able to expect is that people who live off our tax dollars should be held accountable for all that wasted expense and for the lack of actual governing going on in The House and The Senate. So many problems that need the attention of our elected representative and Senators were ignored while elected representatives and representatives got to capture the spotlight and try to become "media stars" while accomplishing nothing.

I also feel terrible that men have been sent to prison for seemingly nothing and have their lives ruined for nothing but the chance of some to grand stand and claim they are really doing the jobs they were sent to do. So many people with no real sense of honor or of what is right and what is wrong.

Thanks, Larry. You have been consistently one of the good guys. (And I bet you are happy now that Yosemite Sam Bolton is no longer advising the POTUS.)

fredw , 10 September 2019 at 06:09 PM
"The fact that his 'handlers' allow this lax security to happen is a sign of how unimportant he is."

It indicates to me that he