Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

The Pronk Pops Show 941, August 7, 2017, Story 1: The United Nations Security Council Vote Was Unanimous (15-0) Including China and Russia Imposing Sanctions on North Korea — Videos — Story 2: Will American People Form A New Political Party ? Yes — American Independence Party? When? — 2024 When Over 50% Are Independents — No Longer Believe Democratic or Republican Parties Represent Their Interests/Concerns — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Takes 17 Day Working Vacation While White House Undergoes Needed Repairs — Videos — Story 4: Seymour Hersh Exposes The DNC Leaker — Seth Rich — Not The Russians — DNC Obstruction of Trust — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 941, August 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 940, August 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 939,  August 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 938, August 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 937, July 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 936, July 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 935, July 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934, July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934, July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933, July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932, July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931, July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930, July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929, July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928, July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927, July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926, July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925, July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924, July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923, July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922, July 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920, June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919, June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918, June 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 917, June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916, June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915, June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914, June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913, June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912, June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911, June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910, June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909, June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908, June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907, June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906, June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905, June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904, June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903, June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902, May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901, May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900, May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899, May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898, May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897, May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896, May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895, May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894, May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893, May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892, May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891, May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890, May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889, May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888, May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887, May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886, May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885, May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884, May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Image result for cartoons more sanctions on north koreaImage result for cartoons on 2020 presidential electionsImage result for seymour hersh seth rich murder source of wikileaks DNCImage result for seymour hersh seth rich murder source of wikileaks DNCImage result for cartoons 2020 presidential raceImage result for o cartoons 2020 presidential race

 

Story 1: The United Nations Security Council Vote Was Unanimous (15-0) Including China and Russia Imposing Sanctions on North Korea — Videos —

Image result for branco cartoons more sanctions on north korea

United Nations bans key North Korea exports over missile tests

Gen. Keane on new US sanctions for North Korea

Will tougher sanctions have any effect on North Korea?

North Korea hit with unprecedented economic sanctions

Amb. Nikki Haley: Sanctions are a ‘gut punch’ to North Korea

North Korea vows retaliation against the United States

Expert: Pyongyang believes only nukes ensure regime survival

Sen. Lindsay Graham: Time for new approach on North Korea

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton Calls For Military Option On North Korea

John Bolton: We’re running out of time on North Korea

Is America prepared for a confrontation with North Korea?

GETTING READY TO INVADE NORTH KOREA!! ~ WW3 IS ABOUT TO START ⚠️

WHY NORTH KOREA WON’T LAST EVEN FEW DAYS IN A WAR WITH U.S?

Experts Agree: Trump Is Planning Limited North Korean Strike Next Month

Does US have a ‘real’ military option with North Korea?

WHY U.S IS NOT USING MILITARY OPTION AGAINST NORTH KOREA?

How Big of a Threat is North Korea?

 

U.N. Security Council Approves New Sanctions on North Korea

By Chas Danner

Image
The unanimous vote on Saturday. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council has approved a U.S.-drafted resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korea, in response to its escalating nuclear- and ballistic-missile weapons programs. The new sanctions, which received unanimous support from the council on Saturday, will impose a full ban on roughly a third of North Korean exports, denying them more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

The sanctions are the seventh set to be imposed on North Korea since its first nuclear-weapon test in 2006, but the first international measure to be taken against the regime since President Trump took office. The resolution comes a little more than a week after North Korea successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that was capable of reaching the mainland U.S. It also received the crucial support of China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, and one of the countries that can veto any U.N. Security Council resolution.

In fact, Politico reports that the sanctions negotiations with China, which started following North Korea’s first successful test of an ICBM on July 4, succeeded in derailing a Trump-administration plan to open a trade investigation targeting China. That plan, which Trump and White House officials hinted at last weekend, was apparently due to be announced on Friday. Assuming the Politico report is accurate, staving off the White House represents a rare win for the State Department against other factions in the Trump administration. It also, for now, denies the White House a chance to test whether or not a trade war with China would be a smart way to protect the U.S. from a North Korean nuclear missile.

“This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation,” U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley declared before the U.N. Security Council vote on Saturday. Per the resolution, North Korea can no longer export coal, iron, lead, seafood, and a few other materials. New joint ventures with the country are also prohibited, as are new investments in existing ventures, and more North Korean individuals and entities have been added to the preexisting U.N. sanctions blacklist, which freezes assets and travel.

China’s U.N. ambassador, Liu Jieyi, declared on Saturday that the new resolution demonstrates that the world is “united in its position regarding the nuclear position on the Korean peninsula,” and said that China was glad that the U.S. said it was not seeking regime change in Pyongyang or reunification of the two Koreas. North Korea’s denuclearization (which is not very likely) is still a top U.S. priority, however. The U.S. will also continue to conduct its annual military exercises with South Korea, while both China and Russia reiterated their opposition to the deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile-defense system in South Korea, though that issue did not prevent them from supporting the final resolution.

The resolution does not, as the U.S. originally had sought, cut the amount of oil being delivered to North Korea, but the U.S. was apparently able to overcome the initial objections of China and Russia. All involved stressed that they saw the sanctions as a way to force North Korea to the negotiating table over its nuclear- and ballistic-missile weapons programs, but the successful implementation of this — or any — new sanctions on the country will rely almost exclusively on China following through on its end.

Sanctions against North Korea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sanctions against North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, have been imposed by various countries and international bodies. The current sanctions are largely concerned with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and were imposed after its first nuclear test in 2006.

United Nations sanctions

A North Korea cargo ship at the dock in Nampo

The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions since North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006.[1]

Resolution 1718 in 2006 demanded that North Korea cease nuclear testing and prohibited the export to North Korea of some military supplies and luxury goods.[2][3] A Sanctions Committee is established, supported by a Panel of Experts that issue annual reports.[4][5][6]

Resolution 1874, passed after the second nuclear test in 2009, broadened the arms embargo. Member states were encouraged to inspect ships and destroy any cargo suspected being related to the nuclear weapons program.[3][1]

Resolution 2087, passed in January 2013 after a satellite launch, strengthened previous sanctions by clarifying a state’s right to seize and destroy cargo suspected of heading to or from North Korea for purposes of military research and development.[3][1]

Resolution 2094 was passed in March 2013 after the third nuclear test. It imposed sanctions on money transfers and aimed to shut North Korea out of the international financial system.[3][1]

Resolution 2270, passed in March 2016 after the fourth nuclear test, further strengthened sanctions.[7] It banned the export of gold, vanadium, titanium, and rare earth metals. The export of coal and iron were also banned, with an exemption for transactions that were purely for “livelihood purposes”.[8][1]

Resolution 2321, passed in November 2016, capped North Korea’s coal exports and banned exports of copper, nickel, zinc, and silver.[9][10] In February 2017, a UN panel said that 116 of 193 member states had yet not submitted a report on their implementation of these sanctions, though China had.[11] Also in February 2017, China announced it would ban all imports of coal for the rest of the year.[12]

United States sanctions

In February 2016, President Obama enacted the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, which passed the House of Representatives and the Senate with nearly unanimous support.[3] This law:

  • requires the President to sanction entities found to have contributed to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program, arms trade, human rights abuses or other illegal activities.[3]
  • imposes mandatory sanctions for entities involved in North Korea’s mineral or metal trades, which comprise a large part of North Korea’s foreign exports.[3]
  • requires the US Treasury Department to determine whether North Korea should be listed as a “primary money laundering concern,” which would trigger tough new financial restrictions.[3]
  • imposes new sanctions authorities related to North Korean human rights abuses and violations of cybersecurity.[3]

This followed the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2013 which the Senate failed to pass.

South Korean sanctions

South Korea imposed sanctions against North Korea following the 2010 sinking of the South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan. These sanctions, known as the May 24 measures, included:[3]

  • banning North Korean ships from South Korean territorial waters.[3]
  • suspending inter-Korean trade except at the Kaesong Industrial Zone.[3]
  • banning most cultural exchanges.[3]

In 2016 President Park Geun-hye ordered the Kaesong complex shut in retaliation for the nuclear test in January and the rocket launch in February.[3]

Japanese sanctions

In 2016, Japan’s sanctions against North Korea included:[3]

  • banning remittances, except those made for humanitarian purposes and less than 100,000 yen in value.[3]
  • freezing assets of suspect individuals and organisations in Japan.
  • prohibiting North Korean citizens from entering Japan.[3]
  • renewing the ban on North Korean ships entering Japanese ports and extending it to include other ships that have visited North Korea.[3]
  • banning nuclear and missile technicians who have been to North Korea from entering Japan.[13]

European Union

The European Union has imposed a series of sanctions against North Korea since 2006. These include:[3]

  • an embargo on arms and related materiel.[3]
  • banning the export of aviation and rocket fuel to North Korea.
  • banning the trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with the North Korean government.[3]
  • banning the import of minerals from North Korea, with some exemptions for coal and iron ore.
  • banning exports of luxury goods.[3]
  • restrictions on financial support for trade with North Korea.[3]
  • restrictions on investment and financial activities.[3]
  • inspections and monitoring of cargoes imported to and exported from North Korea.[3]
  • prohibiting certain North Korean individuals from entering the EU.[14]

Assessment

A report by the United Nations Panel of Experts stated that North Korea was covertly trading in arms and minerals in defiance of the sanctions.[15]

The academic John Delury has described the sanctions as futile and counterproductive. He has argued that they are unenforceable and unlikely to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.[16]

On the other hand, Sung-Yoon Lee, Professor in Korean Studies at the Fletcher School, and Joshua Stanton, advocate continued tightening of sanctions, targeting Pyongyang’s systemic vulnerabilities, including blocking the regime’s “offshore hard currency reserves and income with financial sanctions, including secondary sanctions against its foreign enablers. This would significantly diminish, if not altogether deny, Kim the means to pay his military, security forces and elites that repress the North Korean public”.[17][18]

References

Story 2: Will American People Form A New Political Party? Yes — American Independence Party? When? — 2024 When Over 50% of American Voters Are Independents — No Longer Believe Democratic and/or Republican Parties Represent Their Interests/Concerns — Videos

Pence denies NYT report on 2020 presidential run

Mike Pence And Kellyanne Just Announced The BEST News About What Trump Just Decided To Do For Americ

Tucker Carlson Tonight 8/7/17 – Tucker Carlson Fox News August 7, 2017 TRUMP’S FIRST 200 DAYS

A Milestone For Women In Politics: Libertarians Reflect on Hillary’s Nomination

Richard Epstein Enriches Us with His Ideas on Inequality, Taxes, Politics, and Health Care

Richard Epstein: Obamacare’s Collapse, the 2016 Election, & More

What Is Libertarianism?

WOW! Hillary Wants To Run In 2020 (Will She Ever Learn)

What It Will Finally Take to Put Hillary Clinton Behind Bars

From white supremacy to Barack Obama: The history of the Democratic Party

The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party

Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?

How the Republican Party went from Lincoln to Trump

My Red Pill Moment: The Awakening

 

More Voters Voting Independent, Want Competitive Third-Party

Monday, August 07, 2017

Voters are more receptive to a political third party than they have been in recent years, and more than half now say they have voted for a candidate independent of the two major parties. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 1-2, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Questions – Third Party – August 1-2, 2017

See Toplines
See Crosstabs
Platinum Page

National Survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters

Conducted August 1-2, 2017
By Rasmussen Reports

 

1* Would it be good or bad for the United States if there was a truly competitive third political party? Or would it make no political difference?

 

2* Have you ever voted for an independent candidate not affiliated with either major party?

 

NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/questions/pt_survey_questions/august_2017/questions_third_party_august_1_2_2017

 

Voters See Republicans As Bigger Roadblock Than Democrats For Trump

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Voters are now more likely to believe Republicans in Congress are the bigger problem for President Trump than Democrats are.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters believe congressional Republicans are a bigger problem for the president, while 36% believe Democrats are the bigger problem. A sizable 22% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily email update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 20 & 23, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/july_2017/voters_see_republicans_as_bigger_roadblock_than_democrats_for_trump

 

Story 3: President Trump Takes 17 Day Working Vacation While White House Undergoes Needed Repairs — Videos —

Trump’s vacation looks a lot like those of modern presidents

2 Days Into White House Renovation Contractors Uncover Sick Find Trumps Were Forced To Live With 

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White House renovations begin as Trump starts 17-day working vacation in New Jersey

PODS are loaded from the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. The West Wing is getting a renovation while President Donald Trump is away on vacation. (AP Photo/Laurie Kellman)
PODS are loaded from the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. The West Wing is getting a renovation while President Donald Trump is away on vacation. (AP Photo/Laurie Kellman) 
 – The Washington Times – Saturday, August 5, 2017

White House renovators didn’t waste any time overhauling the West Wing once President Trump left for a 17-day vacation Friday.

Renovations at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue began hardly an hour after Mr. Trump boarded Air Force One en route to Bedminster, New Jersey, according to his social media manager, Dan Scavino. The president is scheduled to spend the next two and a half weeks at his golf resort there as the White House receives a well deserved makeover.

Mr. Scavino tweeted a picture of the Oval Office being emptied hardly an hour after Air Force One left Joint Base Andrews on Friday, and on Saturday he shared a photograph of the White House’s historic Resolute desk being removed for renovation.

The White House announced earlier in the week that the West Wing will undergo extensive renovations in Mr. Trump’s absence, including upgrades to the facility’s 27-year-old air-conditioning and heating systems, as well as the installation of new wiring, paint and carpets.

“Due to the 24/7, 365-day use a year, the estimated age of the system based off of usage is 81 years old,” deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters Thursday.

“I doubt that you would want to come to work on a hot summer day when the air-conditioning wasn’t working,” she said Friday.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/5/white-house-renovations-begin-trump-starts-17-day-/

Now that President Trump has left the White House and kicked off his 17-day getaway to his golf course in New Jersey, renovations at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are going full-steam ahead.

Dan Scavino Jr., the president’s director of social media, tweeted on Friday a photo of an empty Oval Office with a step ladder near the fireplace.

“Renovations underway at the @WhiteHouse,” he captioned the photo. “One hour after Air Force One is wheels up??the Oval Office is empty. West Wing is clearing out now.”

Renovations underway at the @WhiteHouse. One hour after Air Force One is wheels up🛫the Oval Office is empty. West Wing is clearing out now.

White House set for renovations as Trump takes first vacation

Trump denies he called White House a ‘dump’

As ABC News previously reported, the West Wing will be cleared out for several weeks for much-needed repairs.

Work has already begun on White House grounds to replace the 27-year-old heating and cooling system, the second stage of a renovation that started under the Obama administration.

Other work includes painting and new carpeting in the West Wing and refurbishments in the Oval Office. All of the renovations will be conducted by General Service Administration designers.

Trump took to Twitter Wednesday night to deny a golf.com report that while speaking with members at the Trump National Golf Club, he said the White House is a “dump.”

“I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen,” he tweeted. “But Fake News said I called it a dump – TOTALLY UNTRUE.”

I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen. But Fake News said I called it a dump – TOTALLY UNTRUE

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/trump-staffer-tweets-photo-white-house-renovations-kicking-053405552–abc-news-topstories.html

 

Story 4 Seymour Hersh Exposes The DNC Leaker — Seth Rich — Not The Russians — DNC Obstruction of Trust — Videos

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Seymour Hersh Bombshell: Seth Rich Leaked DNC Emails to WikiLeaks and Russian Hacking Story Is False

Seymour Hersh States Seth Rich Was WikiLeaks Source

Seymour Hersh: Seth Rich Indeed Leaked DNC Emails to Wikileaks (Confirmed by Wikileaks Itself)

SEYMOUR HERSH CONFIRMS KIM DOT COM STORY. SETH RICH WIKILEAKS LEAKER

Roger Stone – DNC and Seth Rich Murder Developments

The Truth About Seth Rich & The DNC⁄Wikileaks Scandal | Stefan Molyneux

The Seth Rich Story Changes Once Again

The Truth About Seth Rich & The DNC⁄Wikileaks Scandal | Stefan Molyneux

Seth Rich Just Latest Media Obfuscation in Grip of Mass Delusion

Unless Alternative Media Sees its Own Blindspots, We Won’t Be Effective With Change

Seth Rich Transferred 44,054 Emails to Wikileaks Per Federal Investigator

 

SEYMOUR HERSH: SPY CHIEFS INVENTED RUSSIA-COLLUSION STORY

Famous journalist claims they lied to Obama and lied about Trump

GARTH KANT

 

The entire Russia collusion story was a fiction made up by intelligence chiefs who lied about President Trump, and lied to President Obama and the media, according to a person on a just-released audio recording who is almost certainly legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

Further, the person who recorded the audio is almost certainly financier Ed Butowsky, who hired private investigator Rod Wheeler to investigate the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich last July.

Wheeler filed a defamation lawsuit against Butowsky and Fox News on Tuesday over a story the network retracted about the investigation.

 

WND did some digging and discovered those identical words appear on the audio recording, apparently verifying they were spoken by Hersh and taped by Butowsky. Judging by a report in the Washington Post, the conversation happened during, or before, February.

The audio was first posted late Tuesday afternoon on a site called Big League Politics then went viral after it was linked on Twitter by WikiLeaks.

Hersh, himself, acknowledged speaking with Butkowsy, during an NPR interview Monday in which he referred to the Seth Rich angle as gossip and said Butowsky “took two and two and made 45 out of it.”

But Hersh did not disavow what he said about the Russia collusion narrative.

On the recording, the reporter called the entire story that the Trump presidential campaign and transition team colluded with Russia “a Brennan operation.”

Hersh accused former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and current NSA Director Michael Rogers of peddling “disinformation” and misleading Obama and the press.

And he dded, “Trump’s not wrong to think they all f—ing lied about him.”

Hersh suggested Rogers falsely told the press that American intelligence agencies even knew who in the Russian military intelligence service “leaked it,” in apparent reference to the hacked Democratic emails that embarrassed the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign.

He also dismissively called Brennan an “a—hole,” Rogers a “f—ing moron” and Clapper “sort of a better guy but not a rocket scientist.”

Hersh ascribed a simple motive to the subterfuge by the top spies: They wanted to keep their jobs by assuring Clinton won the presidential election.

“With Trump they’re gone. You know, they’re done – they’re going to live on their pensions, they’re not going to make it.”

Hersh also explained why the story came to dominate the news cycle, portraying his colleagues in the establishment media as, essentially, too gullible.

“I worked at the New York Times for years and they have smart guys but they are totally beholden on sources. If the president or the head of the (unintelligible) tells them something they actually believe it,” he said.

And, speaking of those highly placed sources, he said, “These guys run the f—ing Times.”

Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for exposing the My Lai massacre and has become one of the nation’s best-known and most-accomplished investigative reporters.

According to his biography in the New Yorker, in addition to Hersh’s Pulitzer, his journalism and publishing awards include five George Polk Awards, two National Magazine Awards, and more than a dozen other prizes for investigative reporting.

Hersh made on-the-record comments critical of the Russia collusion story to The Intercept on Jan. 25, flatly saying he did not believe the assessment by the intelligence community that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a hacking campaign designed to elect Trump.

He also blasted the major media for uncritically accepting the claims by Obama’s intelligence officials as facts.

“The way they (the media) behaved on the Russia stuff was outrageous,” Hersh said two days after Trump was inaugurated. “They were just so willing to believe stuff.”

Hersh told the Intercept that if he had been covering the story, “I would have made Brennan into a buffoon. A yapping buffoon in the last few days. Instead, everything is reported seriously.”

The reporter zeroed in on questionable aspects of the intelligence assessment that would become highly relevant when Brennan and Clapper finally testified before congressional committees months after the inauguration of Trump.

“What does an assessment mean?,” asked Hersh. “It’s not a national intelligence estimate. If you had a real estimate, you would have five or six dissents. One time they said 17 agencies all agreed. Oh really? The Coast Guard and the Air Force — they all agreed on it?”

He continued, “And it was outrageous and nobody did that story. An assessment is simply an opinion. If they had a fact, they’d give it to you. An assessment is just that. It’s a belief.”

Hersh’s critique of the flimsiness of the intelligent assessment parallels the analysis made by a prominent former CIA analyst after Clapper revealed during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on May 8, that it was not true that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had compiled, and agreed with, the findings.

As WND reported, Clapper not only revealed that just three agencies, the NSA, FBI and CIA, were involved in the assessment.

He also revealed that those agencies did not do the assessment themselves.

The analysis and conclusion were made by an irregular and hand-picked panel of what were called experts, who actually may have been, according to former CIA officer Fred Fleitz, highly politicized.

Fleitz served in U.S. national security positions for 25 years at the CIA, DIA, Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff.

As someone intimately familiar with the inner workings of the intelligence community, Fleitz penned an article for Fox News on May 12, that spelled out what really happened.

He had written previously that when the U.S. Intelligence Community issued an ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ (ICA) on January 6, 2017, that found Russia deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential election to benefit Trump’s candidacy, he “was suspicious because it reached unusually clear judgments on a politically explosive issue with no dissenting views.”

Fleitz was then surprised to hear Clapper explain in his May testimony that two dozen or so “seasoned experts” were “handpicked” from the contributing agencies and drafted the ICA “under the aegis of his former office” (the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.)

Wrote Fleitz, “This process drastically differed from the Intelligence Community’s normal procedures.”

Describing just how unusual that was, he said, “Hand-picking a handful of analysts from just three intelligence agencies to write such a controversial assessment went against standing rules to vet such analyses throughout the Intelligence Community within its existing structure.”

Furthermore, “The idea of using hand-picked intelligence analysts selected through some unknown process to write an assessment on such a politically sensitive topic carries a strong stench of politicization.”

Fleitz also noted that former FBI Director James Comey had testified that the report’s conclusion of Russian interference was based on logic, not evidence.

“So we now know,” surmised the former CIA officer, “this was a subjective judgment made by a hand-picked group of intelligence analysts.”

“One has to ask how these hand-picked analysts were picked. Who picked them? Who was excluded?”

Fleitz called it a major problem that “the process gave John Brennan, CIA’s hyper-partisan former director, enormous influence over the drafting of the ICA.”

“Given Brennan’s scathing criticism of Mr. Trump before and after the election, he should have had no role whatsoever in the drafting of this assessment. Instead, Brennan probably selected the CIA analysts who worked on the ICA and reviewed and approved their conclusions.”

In other words, it seems Fleitz thought it not impossible that Brennan rigged the report to arrive at the conclusion he wanted.

Which makes Brennan’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on May 24, all the more relevant, because even though he testified he saw no evidence of collusion, the former CIA director admitted it was he who set in motion the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump team colluded with the Russians.

Fleitz wants Congress to investigate the spies. He wrote:

“The unusual way that the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment was drafted raises major questions as to whether it was rigged by the Obama administration to produce conclusions that would discredit the election outcome and Mr. Trump’s presidency. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees therefore should add investigations of whether this ICA was politicized to their investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

http://www.wnd.com/2017/08/seymour-hersh-spy-chiefs-invented-russia-collusion-story/#GCyp3JGqpJvbUcrE.99

 

Seymour Hersh audio transcript revealing Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks.

As reported by many alternative news websites, and as ignored by many corrupt mainstream media news outlets, audio recently emerged of award winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh stating that Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks.

You can listen to the audio here, or the transcript of the audio is provided below:

“I’ll tell you what I know. All I know comes off an FBI report. Don’t ask me how – you can figure out – you’ve been around long enough. I don’t think he was murdered because of what he knew. The kid was not an IT expert, but he learned stuff. He was a data programmer, but he learned stuff.

He’s living in a very rough neighborhood, and in the exact area where he lives – I’m sure you know – there’s been about 8 or 9 or 10 violent robberies, most of them with somebody brandishing a gun. And the kid’s hands – I’m sure you know – his hands are marked up, the cops included he fought off the people, tried to run and they shot him twice in the back with a .22 small caliber, and then the kids that did it ran – they got scared – didn’t take his wallet.

Okay, so what the cops do then, and here’s what nobody knows, what I’m telling you – or maybe you know something about it – when you have a death like that, DC cops, you have to get to the kid’s apartment and see what you can find. If he’s dead you don’t need a warrant, but most cops get a warrant because they don’t know if the guy has a room-mate. You need a warrant, so they get a warrant.

They go in the house, and they can’t do much with his computer, it’s password. The cops don’t know much about it. So the DC cops, they have a cyber unit in DC and they’re more sophisticated. They come and look at it. The idea is maybe he’s had a series of exchanges with somebody who says ‘I’m going to kill you, you mother ****er over a girl’ or… And they can’t get in. The cyber guys are a little better, but they can’t make sense of it, so they call the FBI cyber unit. The DC unit, the Washington field office is a hot s*** unit. The guy running the Washington field office, he’s like a three star at an army base. he’s ready for four. You know what I mean – he’s gong to go for a top job. There’s a cyber unit there that’s excellent.

What you get in a warrant – the public information you get in a warrant – doesn’t include the affidavit underlying why you’re going in – what the reason was. That’s almost never available. I can tell you that. The existence of a warrant is a public document 99% of the time.

So, and the same morning they call in the feds. The feds get through and here’s what they find. This is according to the FBI report. What they find is he makes contact.

First of all, you have to know some basic facts. One of the basic facts is that there are no DNC or Podesta emails that exist beyond May 21st or 22nd, the last email from either one of those groups.

And so what the report says is that sometime in late spring/early summer, he makes contact with Wikileaks. That’s in his computer, and he makes contact. Now, I have to be careful because I met Julian ten twelve years… I stay the f*** away from people like that. You know, he’s invited me, when I’m in London I always get a message, “Come see me at the Ecuadorian embassy.” F*** you, I ain’t going there. I got enough trouble without getting photographed. He’s under total surveillance by everybody.

Anyway, they found what he had done. He had submitted a series of documents, of emails, some juicy emails from the DNC. And you know, by the way all this s*** about the DNC, you know, whatever happened the democrats themselves wrote this s***, you know what I mean. All I know is that he offered a sample, an extensive sample, I’m sure dozens of emails, and said, “I want money.”

Then later Wikileaks did get the password. He had a DropBox – a protected DropBox – which isn’t hard to do. I mean you don’t have to be an IT wizard. He was certainly, he was not a dumb kid.

They got access to the DropBox. He also – this is also in the FBI report – he also let people know with whom he was dealing. I don’t know how he dealt with the Wikileaks and the mechanism but he also… The word was passed according to the NSA report, “I also shared this box with a couple of friends so if anything happens to me it’s not going to solve your problems.” Okay. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know whether he…

Anyway, Wikileaks got access, and before he was killed. I can tell you right now. Brennan’s1 an asshole. I’ve known all these people for years. Clapper2 sort of a (illegible) guy but not a rocket scientist. The NSA guy’s a f***ing moron. And the trouble with all those guys is the only way they’re going to make it to, you know, get hired by SAI (illegible) and delivered some fat cat contract is if Hillary stayed in. With Trump they’re gone. They’re done. They’re going to live on they’re pension. They’re not going to make it. And I got to tell you, guys in that job, they don’t want to live on their pension. They want to be on boards making six hundred thousand bucks.

I have somebody on the inside. I’ve been around a long time and I write a lot of stuff. I have somebody on the inside who will go and read a file for me. This person is unbelievably accurate and careful. He’s a very high level guy. He’ll do a favor. You’re just going to have to trust me. I have what they call in my business, long form journalism, I have a narrative of how that whole f***king thing began.

It’s a Brennan operation. It was an American disinformation operation f***ing the f***ing president. And at one point they even started telling the press, they were back-briefing the press, the head of the NSA was going and telling the press – f***ing c***sucker Rogers3 – was telling the press that we even know who in the Russian military intelligence service leaked it. I mean all bulls***.

I worked for the New York Times for f***ing years. The trouble with the New York Times is they have smart guys but they’re totally beholden on sources. If the president or the head of the (illegible) told them something, they actually believe it. I was hired by the Times to write about, go after the war, the Vietnam war in 72, because they were just locked in, so that’s what the Times is. These guys run the f***ing Times.

And Trump’s not willing to… I mean I wish he would calm down and had a better Press Secretary. Trump’s not willing to think they all f***ing lied about him.”

– – – – – – – – – –

This is arguably the biggest scandal in decades, and yet despite the magnitude of the scandal, it’s a sad reflection on just how corrupt and anti-American the mainstream media has become that the majority of them will attempt to cover this story up.

Everyone needs to share this story far and wide. Tell your friends. Tell everyone you know. Sydney Hersh, arguably the greatest investigative journalist of the last five decades, has stated:

* Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks.
* Obama’s intelligence chiefs, led by John Brennan, ran a disinformation campaign to mislead the American public.

#DrainTheSwamp

 

Murder of Seth Rich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Murder of Seth Rich
Date July 10, 2016
Time 4:20 a.m. EST (approximate)
Location Bloomingdale neighborhood
(Ward 5Washington, D.C.)
Cause Shooting
Outcome Under investigation by D.C. police
Inquiries Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Coroner Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Washington D.C.

Seth Conrad Rich (January 3, 1989 – July 10, 2016) was an American employee for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who was fatally shot in the Bloomingdaleneighborhood of Washington, D.C.[1][2][3] As of May 2017 the shooting is still under investigation by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.[4]

The murder spawned several right-wingconspiracy theories about the crime, including the claim that Rich had been involved with the leaked DNC emails in 2016, which runs contrary to U.S. intelligence that concluded the leaked DNC emails were part of 2016 U.S. elections interference.[5][6][7] These theories were debunked by law enforcement,[5][6] as well as by fact-checking websites like PolitiFact.com,[6][8]Snopes.com,[9] and FactCheck.org.[5] The fabrications were described as fake news and falsehoods by The New York Times,[10]Los Angeles Times,[11] and The Washington Post.[12]

Rich’s parents condemned the conspiracy theorists and said that these individuals were exploiting their son’s death for political gain, with their spokesperson calling them “sociopaths” and “disgusting”.[13][14][15] They requested a retraction and apology from Fox News,[16] and sent a cease and desist letter to the investigator Fox News used.[6][15][16] The investigator admitted he had no evidence to back up his claims, and Fox News issued a retraction.[5][6][17]

Seth Rich’s early life and career

Rich grew up in a Jewish family, in Omaha, Nebraska.[18][19][20] He volunteered for the Nebraska Democratic Party, interned for Senator Ben Nelson, was active in Jewish outreach,[21] and worked with the United States Census Bureau.[22][23] In 2011, he graduated from Creighton University with a degree in political science.[24][23] He moved to Washington, D.C. to work for pollster, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.[23] In 2014 he began working for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as the Voter Expansion Data Director. One of his tasks at the DNC was the development of a computer application to help voters locate polling stations.[2][25][26]

Shooting and death

On Sunday, July 10, 2016, Rich was shot about a block from his apartment in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[27][28][29]

Earlier that night he had been at Lou’s City Bar, a sports pub 1.8 miles from his apartment, in Columbia Heights, where he was a regular customer. He left when the bar was closing, at about 1:30 or 1:45 a.m.[30][31] Police were alerted to gunfire at 4:20 a.m. by an automated gunfire locator.[29][32] Within approximately one minute after the gun shots, police officers found Rich with multiple gunshot wounds, in a conscious and breathing state.[33] He was transported to a nearby hospital, where he later died.[34][35][36] According to police, he died from two shots to the back[27][28] and may have been killed in an attempted robbery, noting that the neighborhood had recently been plagued by robberies.[27] Rich’s mother told NBC‘s Washington affiliate WRC-TV, “There had been a struggle. His hands were bruised, his knees are bruised, his face is bruised, and yet he had two shots to his back, and yet they never took anything… They didn’t finish robbing him, they just took his life.”[37] The police told the family they had found a surveillance videotape showing a glimpse of the legs of two people who could possibly be the killers.[30]

Aftermath

On the day after the shooting, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued a statement mourning his loss and praising Rich’s work to support voter rights.[32][38] Two days after the shooting, Hillary Clinton spoke of his death during a speech advocating limiting the availability of guns.[2][19]

Bike rack and plaque outside the DNC headquaters

In October 2016, a plaque and bike rack outside the DNC headquarters were dedicated to Rich’s memory.[38] In September 2016, Rich’s parents and girlfriend appeared on the syndicatedtelevision show Crime Watch Daily to speak about the murder case.[39][40] In February 2017, the Beth El Synagogue in Omaha named after Rich an existing scholarship that helps Jewish children attend summer camps.[41]

The Rich family accepted the pro bono public relations services of Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman in September 2016.[11] The Rich family and Burkman held a joint press conference on the murder in November 2016.[11][42] In January 2017, Burkman launched an advertising campaign in Northwest D.C. searching for information regarding Seth Rich’s death. This included billboard advertisements and canvassing with flyers.[43][44] In late February, Burkman told media outlets he had a lead that the Russian government was involved in Rich’s death,[45] and the Rich family distanced itself from Burkman.[46] On March 19, 2017, Rich’s brother, Aaron, started a GoFundMe campaign to try to raise $200,000 for private investigation, public outreach activities, and a reward fund.[47] On March 24, Burkman started “The Profiling Project” with some forensics students at George Washington University, an independent investigative attempt to solve the murder of Seth Rich.[48][49] On June 20, 2017, the Profiling Project said that the conspiracy theories surrounding the death were unfounded, and published a report which speculated that the murder was caused by a serial killer.[50]

According to the Rich family spokesman, a Fox News contributor and financial adviser Ed Butowsky contacted the Rich family and recommended having former homicide detective and Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler investigate Seth Rich’s murder. The family gave Wheeler permission to investigate, though they did not hire him.[15][51] Instead, Wheeler’s investigation was financed by Butowsky himself.[52] NBC News reported that Butowsky initially denied involvement in the case, though he later told CNN he was involved in Wheeler’s investigation by offering financial support.[53][54] Butowsky told Dallas News that he advised the Rich family to hire a private investigator, and that they then chose to hire Wheeler.[53] After Wheeler asserted links between Rich and Wikileaks in a Fox affiliate interview on May 15, 2017—an assertion he later backpedaled from[55]—the family spokesman said that the family regretted working with Wheeler.[4] Wheeler then sued Fox News on August 1, 2017, for mental anguish and emotional distress, alleging that he had been misquoted in a story that was then published on the urging of President Donald J. Trump[56]

Rewards

The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC) posted its customary reward of $25,000 for information about the death.[2][33]

On August 9, 2016, WikiLeaks announced a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder leading to a conviction,[57][58][59] although Rich’s family said they were unable to verify this reward offer.[60] When making the offer for the reward, WikiLeaks said their offer should not be taken as implying Rich had been involved in leaking information to them.[2]

In November 2016, Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman stated he was personally offering a $100,000 reward in addition to those announced by the police department and WikiLeaks, and he added another $5,000 to his offer in December and another $25,000 in January.[60][61][30] Burkman said he hoped the money would help “get to the truth of what happened here and will either debunk the conspiracy theories or validate them”.[62]

American businessman and investor, Martin Shkreli offered $100,000 for information leading to the murderer.[63]

Conspiracy theories

Origins

Genesis

The murder stoked right-wingconspiracy theories that arose days after Rich’s death,[64][65][66] including an unsubstantiated claim that his murder was connected to the DNC email leak of 2016.[4] A post on Twitter before Rich’s memorial service originated the idea that he was killed related to a political assassination.[64] Subsequently the conspiracy theory was publicized on Reddit and then on the website Heat Street, later popularized by Donald Trump political adviser Roger Stone via his Twitter account.[64] Reddit users attempted to tie the homicide to prior “Clinton Body Count” conspiracy theories.[65] On July 13, 2016, conspiracy website WhatDoesItMean.com promoted a similar conspiracy theory.[66]

WikiLeaks statements

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said the police had no information suggesting a connection between Rich’s death and data obtained by WikLeaks.[2]Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, fueled speculation of a connection when, unbidden, he brought up the case.[30][67] People who worked with Rich said he was not an expert computer hacker helping to leak information to foreigners. Andrew Therriault, a data scientist who had mentored Rich, said although he had recently been working as a programmer, this “wasn’t his background”, and another co-worker said Rich was very upset when he heard hackers associated with Russian intelligence services had broken into the DNC computers and could be interfering with the election.[30]

Spread by social media and right wing

These conspiracy theories were promoted by Mike CernovichSean HannityGeraldo RiveraKim DotcomPaul Joseph WatsonNewt GingrichJack Posobiec, and others.[68][69][70]

The same venues that fomented the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory helped to promulgate the Seth Rich murder conspiracy theories,[71][72][11] and each shared similar features.[73][74][75] Both were promoted by individuals subcribing to far-right politics,[76] and by campaign officials and individuals appointed to senior-level national security roles by Donald Trump.[77][78][79] After prior coordination on Facebook, each theory was spread on Twitter by automated bots using a branded hashtag, with the goal of becoming a trending topic.[71] Both the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and the Seth Rich murder conspiracy theory were spread in the sub reddit forum promoting Donald Trump, called “The Donald”.[80] In both conspiracy theories, the promoters attempted to shift the burden of proof — asking others to attempt to disprove their claims, without citing substantiated evidence.[52]Slate called the claims about Seth Rich a “PizzaGate-like conspiracy theory surrounding Rich’s death”,[81]The Huffington Post described it as “the ‘alt-right’ idiocy of Pizzagate all over again”,[75]NPR‘s David Folkenflik said Fox News coverage of it “evokes the pizza-gate terrible allegations utterly unfounded”,[82] and Margaret Sullivan wrote for The Washington Post: “The Seth Rich lie has become the new Comet Ping Pong … Crazy, baseless and dangerous.”[83]

Debunking

The conspiracy theories have been debunked by law enforcement,[5][6] as well as by fact-checking websites like PolitiFact.com,[6][8]Snopes.com,[9] and FactCheck.org.[5]

The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia described the murder as related to a bungled attempted at theft.[5] Police further debunked claims by Rod Wheeler, and made a statement saying: “the assertions put forward by Mr. Wheeler are unfounded.”[5] The FBI told PolitiFact.com that the MPD was investigating the homicide.[8]

A representative of the Rich’s family members, Brad Bauman, disputed the notion of conspiracy theorists that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was involved in looking into the homicide.[5] Bauman stated: “The FBI is not now and has never been a party to this investigation.”[5]

FactCheck.org analyzed statements by Newt Gingrich related to the conspiracy theory, where Gingrich said Rich “apparently was assassinated” subsequent to “having given WikiLeaks something like … 53,000 [DNC] emails and 17,000 attachments”.[5] FactCheck.org determined this claim was “unsupported” and determined “there’s no evidence for his claim.”[5]

PolitiFact.com rated the assertion Rich gave emails to WikiLeaks as a “baseless claim”.[6] They called the claim “an unfounded conspiracy theory”.[6] PolitiFact.com analyzed the claims by Gingrich and rated their false nature as “Pants on Fire!”[6] PolitiFact.com concluded: “Gingrich and others are talking about an unfounded conspiracy theory as if it’s a matter of fact. It is far from it. We rate his claim Pants on Fire.”[6] In a separate analysis, PolitiFact.com concluded: “There’s no evidence there’s any link between Rich and WikiLeaks. The FBI has indirectly denied investigating the case, which Washington police consider a robbery gone wrong.”[8]

Snopes.com looked into the matter and stated: “We were able to confirm the FBI is not investigating Rich’s murder — it is an MPD investigation… All claims made by Mr. Wheeler are false and take fake news to a whole new level. The family deserves better and everyday MPD continues to work diligently to solve this case.”[9] Snopes rated the claim “DNC staffer Seth Rich sent ‘thousands of leaked e-mails’ to WikiLeaks before he was murdered.” as “False”.[9]

The fabrications were described as fake news and falsehoods by The New York Times.[10]The New York Times cited the conspiracy theories as an example of the persistence of false claims, concluding: “fake news dies hard”.[10]The Los Angeles Times called the conspiracy theories “unsubstantiated rumors”.[11]

The Washington Post cited the conspiracy theories as an example of the power of fake news to spread virally online.[12] The paper used the example as a case study of the persistence of fake news, and found that television news media can be a soft target for such false stories.[12]The Washington Post further found that the proliferation of fake news via Facebook had decreased, but remained powerful on Twitter due to spread via online bots.[12] They found that the conspiracy theories with the largest potential to spread on the Internet were those that held attraction for both the alt-right movements and the political left wing.[12]The Washington Post concluded that even if a particular false story had been sufficiently debunked, such fact-checking was unable to stop the spread of the falsehoods online.[12]

Fox News retracted reporting

Uncorroborated story

On May 15, 2017, Fox 5 DC (WTTG) reported the uncorroborated and later largely retracted[84] claims by Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former homicide detective, that there was evidence Seth Rich had contacted WikiLeaks and that law enforcement were covering this up;[85][84] claims that were never independently verified by Fox.[86] The next day, Fox News published a lead story on its website and provided extensive coverage on its cable news channel about what it later said were Wheeler’s uncorroborated claims about the murder of Seth Rich;[87][88][89] in the lead story Fox News removed from their website a few days later, they stated that Wheeler’s claims had been “corroborated by a federal investigator who spoke to Fox News.”[90][91][92] In reporting these claims, the Fox News report re-ignited conspiracy theories about the killing.[73][93][94] According to NPR, within a day of the original Fox report, “Google searches for Rich had overtaken searches for James Comey, even amid continuous news about the former FBI director’s conversations with Trump.”[52]The Washington Post noted Fox News chose to lead with this story at a time when most other media outlets were covering Donald Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russia.[88]

Other news organizations revealed Wheeler was a Donald Trump supporter, a paid Fox News contributor, and according to NBC News had “developed a reputation for making outlandish claims, such as one appearance on Fox News in 2007 in which he warned that underground networks of pink pistol-toting lesbian gangs were raping young women”.[93][95][4]The Washington Post noted it is “rare for a news organization to have such a close relationship with the people it is covering”, as Wheeler was “playing three roles at once: as a Fox source, as a paid contributor to the network and as a supposedly independent investigator of the murder”.[73] When Wheeler appeared on Sean Hannity‘s Fox News shows, these multiple roles were not disclosed to viewers.[73] Seth Rich’s family had hired Wheeler to investigate Rich’s death; after Wheeler’s Fox News interview on May 15, 2017, Brad Bauman, a communications professional and pro bono spokesman for the Rich family, said the family was asking Fox News and the Fox affiliate to retract their reports and apologize for damaging their son’s legacy.[4]

The family spokesperson, the Washington, D.C. police department, the Washington, D.C. mayor’s office, the FBI, and law enforcement sources familiar with the case all disputed Wheeler’s claims.[93][96] The family said, “We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers.”[93] Bauman criticized Fox News for its reporting, saying he believed that the outlet was motivated by a desire to deflect attention from the Trump-Russia story: “I think there’s a very special place in hell for people that would use the memory of a murder victim in order to pursue a political agenda.”[9]

Later that day, Wheeler told CNN he had no evidence that Rich had contacted Wikileaks.[84] Wheeler claimed that Fox had presented his quotes misleadingly and that he only learned about the possible existence of the evidence from a Fox News reporter.[84][52] Despite this, Sean Hannity’s show and Fox & Friends continued to promote the conspiracy theory for the remainder of the week.[97][98] Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Geraldo Rivera took part in spreading the conspiracy.[98][99][100] Hannity had on his program Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, who said the organization filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents from Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, and from the Metropolitan Police.[101] Sean Hannity furthermore promoted the uncorroborated claims of Kim Dotcom, a New Zealand resident sought by the United States on fraud charges who claimed without evidence that Rich had been in contact with him before his death.[102] Fox News host Julie Roginsky was critical of the conspiracy theory peddlers, stating on Twitter and on her television show: “The exploitation of a dead man whose family has begged conspiracy theorists to stop is really egregious. Please stop.”[103] Fox News was also criticized by conservative outlets, such as the Weekly Standard,[104]National Review,[105][106] and Red State,[107][108][109] and conservative columnists, such as Jennifer Rubin,[110] Michael Gerson,[111] and John Podhoretz.[112]

Cease and desist letter and retraction

On May 19, 2017, an attorney for the Rich family sent a cease and desist letter to Wheeler.[16]

Fox News issued a retraction of the story on May 23, 2017 and removed the original article, and did not apologize or specify what went wrong or how it did so.[17][113][114] Despite this, Hannity, who pushed the theory, remained unapologetic, saying “I retracted nothing” and “I am not going to stop trying to find the truth.”[115][102][114] In their May 23 statement, Fox News said,

The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.[115]

The Poynter Institute said that the retraction was “woefully inadequate”, noting that,

The two-paragraph statement, published under the “politics” category on the network’s website, doesn’t say what about Fox News’ reporting was inaccurate (that its original source backed away from his claim that he had information showing Rich was in touch with Wikileaks). It doesn’t replace the bad information with accurate information (that police believe Rich was murdered during a robbery). It doesn’t specify who in the organization is being held accountable. And the correction doesn’t appear on the original story to explain why it was removed, nor has it been shared in the on-air forums where the inaccurate story was promoted. As of this writing, the original URL displays a 404 error. Fox News isn’t even acknowledging to people who click the link to the original story that it’s been retracted.[116]

On May 23, 2017, Sean Hannity stated on his television program that he would cease discussing the issue.[117] Hannity said his decision to cease commenting on the matter was related to the family of the murder victim: “Out of respect for the family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing the matter at this time.”[117] In the same statement wherein he promised to cease discussion of the topic, he vowed to pursue facts in the future: “I promise you I am not going to stop trying to find the truth.”[117] Several advertisers including Crowne Plaza HotelsCars.comLeesa MattressUSAAPeloton and Casper Sleep pulled their marketing from his program on Fox News.[118][119][120] Crowne Plaza Hotels later said that it was not their policy to advertise on political commentary shows, and had not been aware of their sponsorship of the show.[121] USAA soon returned to advertising on Fox News after receiving customer input.[122]

Wheeler lawsuit

On August 1, 2017, Rod Wheeler, the private investigator hired by Butowsky who was the first to claim links between Seth Rich’s murder and the DNC hack on Fox, but who later appeared to retract his claims, filed a lawsuit (Case 1:17-cv-05807 Southern District of New York), in which 21st Century Fox, the Fox News Channel, Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and Ed Butowsky are named as defendants, stating that quotes attributed to him in the original Fox News piece were fabricated. The lawsuit also alleges that the fabricated quotes were included in the Fox News story at the urging of the Trump White House.[123][124]

Text messages and audio apparently supporting this assertion were included in the filing of the lawsuit. About a month before the story was aired on Fox News, Wheeler and Butowsky met at the White House with the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to review the planned story on Seth Rich’s murder. After talking to Wheeler and Butowsky, Zimmerman sent Wheeler a draft of a story without any quotes from Wheeler on May 11th. On May 14th Butowsky texted Wheeler saying “Not to add any more pressure but the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It’s now all up to you. But don’t feel the pressure.” Butowsky also left a voicemail for Wheeler which said “We have the full, uh, attention of the White House on this. And tomorrow, let’s close this deal, whatever we’ve got to do.”[124] Butowsky said Seymour Hersch confirmed a link between Rich and the FBI. Hersch confirmed the conversation with Butowsky but told NPR the link was “gossip” and that Butowsky exaggerated its significance.[125]

In an email to Fox News Bukowsky also wrote about the purpose behind the Seth Rich story: “One of the big conclusions we need to draw from this is that the Russians did not hack our computer systems and ste[a]l emails and there was no collusion (between) Trump and the Russians.” He also instructed Wheeler that “[T]he narrative in the interviews you might use is that you and [Zimmerman’s] work prove that the Russians didn’t hack into the DNC and steal the emails and impact our elections (…) If you can, try to highlight this puts the Russian hacking story to rest.”[124]

When the story aired on Fox News, it included supposed quotes from Wheeler and was written as if the accusations against the DNC came from him. Wheeler alleges that the quotes were fabricated and should not have been attributed to him.[123]

In later recordings Butowsky admits to Wheeler that the claims being attributed to him were false but says that “One day you’re going to win an award for having said those things you didn’t say.” He also says “I know that’s not true, if I’m under oath, I would say I never heard him say that.”[124]

Family’s reaction

In May 2017, Aaron issued a statement saying “We simply want to find his killers and grieve. Instead, we are stuck having to constantly fight against non-facts, baseless allegations, and general stupidity to defend my brother’s name and legacy.”[4]

The family spokesperson said “At this point, only people with transparent political agendas or sociopaths are still perpetuating Seth Rich conspiracies.”[126]

His parents authored a piece in The Washington Post on May 23, 2017 titled: “We’re Seth Rich’s parents. Stop politicizing our son’s murder,” in which they wrote:

We are asking you to please consider our feelings and words. There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.[13]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Seth_Rich

Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh (born April 8, 1937) is an American investigative journalist and political writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a longtime contributor to The New Yorkermagazine on national security matters and has also written for the London Review of Books since 2013.[5][6]

Hersh first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. In 2004, he notably reported on the US military‘s mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. He has also won two National Magazine Awards and five George Polk Awards. In 2004, he received the George Orwell Award.[7]

Early years

Hersh was born on April 8, 1937[8] in Chicago to Yiddish-speaking Lithuanian Jewish parents who emigrated to the US from Lithuania and Poland and ran a dry-cleaning shop in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a history degree, Hersh found himself struggling to find a job. He began working at Walgreens before being accepted into University of Chicago Law School but was soon expelled for poor grades.[9]After returning for a short time to Walgreens, Hersh began his career in journalism as a police reporter for the City News Bureau in 1959. He later became a correspondent for United Press International in South Dakota. In 1963, he went on to become a Chicago and Washington correspondent for the Associated Press. While working in Washington Hersh first met and befriended I. F. Stone, whose I. F. Stone’s Weekly would serve as an initial inspiration for Hersh’s later work. It was during this time that Hersh began to form his investigative style, often walking out of regimented press briefings at the Pentagon and seeking out one-on-one interviews with high-ranking officers. After a falling out with the editors at the AP when they insisted on watering down a story about the US government’s work on biological and chemical weapons, Hersh left the AP and sold his story to The New Republic. During the 1968 presidential election, he served as press secretary for the campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy.

After leaving the McCarthy campaign, Hersh returned to journalism as a freelancer covering the Vietnam War. In 1969, Hersh received a tip from Geoffrey Cowan of The Village Voice regarding an Army lieutenant being court-martialled for killing civilians in Vietnam. His subsequent investigation, sold to the Dispatch News Service, was run in thirty-three newspapers and exposed the My Lai massacre, winning him the Pulitzer Prize in 1970.[9][10]

In 1972, Hersh was hired as a reporter for the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he served from 1972 to 1975 and again in 1979. Hersh reported on the Watergate scandal, though most of the credit for that story went to Carl Bernstein and Hersh’s longtime rival Bob Woodward. Nonetheless, Hersh’s Watergate investigations led him in 1983 to the publication of The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, a damning portrait of Henry Kissinger that won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

In 1975, Hersh was active in the investigation and reporting of Project Azorian (which he called Project Jennifer), the CIA‘s clandestine effort to raise a Soviet submarine using the Howard Hughes‘ Glomar Explorer. This was one of the most complex, expensive, and secretive intelligence operations of the Cold War at a cost of about $800 million ($3.8 billion in 2015) dollars.

After the New York Times

His 1983 book The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House won him the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times book prize in biography. In 1985, Hersh contributed to the PBS television documentary Buying the Bomb. In 1993 Hersh became a regular contributor to The New Yorker.[11]

Hersh has appeared regularly on the syndicated television news program Democracy Now![12]

Selected stories

My Lai Massacre

On November 12, 1969, Hersh reported the story of the My Lai Massacre, in which hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians were murdered by US soldiers in March 1968.[13] The report prompted widespread condemnation around the world and reduced public support for the Vietnam War in the United States. The explosive news of the massacre fueled the outrage of the US peace movement, which demanded the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. Hersh wrote about the massacre and its cover-up in My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath (1970) and Cover-up: The Army’s Secret Investigation of the Massacre at My Lai 4 (1972). For My Lai 4, Hersh traveled across the United States and interviewed nearly 50 members of the Charlie Company.[14]A movie called “Interviews with My Lai Veterans” won an Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subjects in 1971. A movie was also produced, based on this book, by Italian director Paolo Bertola in 2009.[15]

Project Jennifer

In early 1974, Hersh had planned to publish a story on “Project Jennifer” (later revealed to be named Project Azorian and Operation Matador), a covert CIA project to recover a sunken Soviet navy submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. CIA director William Colby discussed the operation with Hersh in 1974, but obtained his promise not to publish while the operation was active. Bill KovachThe New York Times Washington, D.C. bureau chief at the time, said in 2005 that the government offered a convincing argument to delay publication in early 1974—exposure at that time, while the project was ongoing, “would have caused an international incident”. The NYT eventually published Hersh’s account on March 19, 1975, after a story appeared in the Los Angeles Times, and included a five-paragraph explanation of the many twists and turns in the path to publication. It is unclear what, if any, action was taken by the Soviet Union after learning of the story. It was later revealed that the leaks prevented a second recovery attempt of the submarine after a small portion of it was raised in the summer of 1974.[16]

Korean Air Flight 007

In The Target Is Destroyed (1986), Hersh alleged that the shooting down of Korean Air Flight 007 in September 1983 by the Soviet Union was due to a combination of Soviet incompetence and United States intelligence operations intended to confuse Soviet responses.

Later releases of government information confirmed that there was a PSYOPS campaign against the Soviet Union that had been in place from the first few months of the Reagan administration. This campaign included the largest US Pacific Fleet exercise ever held, in April to May 1983.

Mordechai Vanunu and Robert Maxwell

In The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy (1991), Hersh wrote that Nicholas Davies, the foreign editor of The Daily Mirror, had tipped off the Israeli embassy in London about Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu had given information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program first to The Sunday Times and later to the Sunday Mirror. At the time, the Sunday Mirror and its sibling newspaper, the Daily Mirror were owned by media magnate Robert Maxwell who was alleged to have had contacts with Israel’s intelligence services. According to Hersh, Davies had also worked for the Mossad. Vanunu was later lured by Mossad from London to Rome, kidnapped, returned to Israel, and sentenced to 18 years in jail. Davies and Maxwell published an anti-Vanunu story that was claimed by critics to be part of a disinformation campaign on behalf of the Israeli government.[17]

Hersh repeated the allegations during a press conference held in London to publicize his book. No British newspaper would publish the allegations because of Maxwell’s famed litigiousness. However, two British MPs raised the matter in the House of Commons, which meant that British newspapers were able to report what had been said without fear of being sued for libel. Maxwell called the claims “ludicrous, a total invention”. He fired Davies shortly thereafter.[18]

Attack on pharmaceutical factory in Sudan

Hersh strongly criticized Bill Clinton‘s decision to destroy, on August 20, 1998, the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Al-Shifa, the largest pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, accounted for half the country’s domestically produced medicines.[19]

Iraq

Hersh has written a series of articles for The New Yorker magazine detailing military and security matters surrounding the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. In March 2002, he described the planning process for a new invasion of Iraq that he alleged had been on-going since the end of the First Gulf War, under the leadership of Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Fried and other neo-conservatives. In a 2004 article, he alleged that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld circumvented the normal intelligence analysis function of the CIA in their quest to make the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Another article, “Lunch with the Chairman”, led Richard Perle, a subject of the article, to call Hersh the “closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist.”[20]

A March 7, 2007, article entitled, “The Redirection” described a recent shift in the George W. Bush administration‘s Iraq policy, the goal of which Hersh said was to “contain” Iran. Hersh asserted that “a by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”[21]

In May 2004, Hersh published a series of articles which described the treatment of detainees by US military police at Abu Ghraib prison near BaghdadIraq.[22] The articles included allegations that private military contractorscontributed to prisoner mistreatment and that intelligence agencies such as the CIA ordered torture in order to break prisoners for interrogations. They also alleged that torture was a usual practice in other US-run prisons as well, e.g., in Bagram Theater Internment Facility and Guantanamo. In subsequent articles, Hersh wrote that the abuses were part of a secret interrogation program, known as “Copper Green“. According to Hersh’s sources, the program was expanded to Iraq with the direct approval of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both in an attempt to deal with the growing insurgency there and as part of “Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.”[23] Much of his material for these articles was based on the Army’s own internal investigations.[24]

Scott Ritter, a disaffected former arms inspector, asserted in his October 19, 2005 interview with Seymour Hersh that the US policy to remove Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from power started with US president George H. W. Bushin August 1990. Ritter concluded from public remarks by President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker that the Iraq sanctions would only be lifted when Hussein was removed from power. The justification for sanctions was disarmament. The CIA offered the opinion that containing Hussein for six months would result in the collapse of his regime. According to Hersh, this policy resulted in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.[25]

Iran

In January 2005, Hersh alleged that the US was conducting covert operations in Iran to identify targets for possible strikes. Hersh also wrote that Pakistan and the United States had struck a “Khan-for-Iran” deal in which Washingtonwould look the other way at Pakistan’s nuclear transgressions and not demand handing over of its infamous nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan, in return for Islamabad‘s cooperation in neutralizing Iran’s nuclear plans. This was also denied by officials of the governments of the US and Pakistan.

In the April 17, 2006 issue of The New Yorker,[26] Hersh wrote that the Bush administration had plans for an air strike on Iran. Of particular note in his article was that a US nuclear first strike (possibly using the B61-11 bunker-busternuclear weapon) is under consideration to eliminate underground Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. In response, President Bush cited Hersh’s reportage as “wild speculation.” [27]

When, in October 2007, he was asked about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s hawkish views on Iran, Hersh stated that Jewish donations were the main reason for these:

During one journalism conference, Hersh stated that after the Strait of Hormuz incident, members of the Bush administration met in vice president Dick Cheney‘s office to consider methods of initiating a war with Iran. One idea considered was staging a false flag operation involving the use of Navy SEALs dressed as Iranian PT boaters who would engage in a firefight with US ships. According to Hersh this proposed provocation was rejected. Hersh’s allegation has not been verified.[29]

Lebanon

In August 2006, in an article in The New Yorker, Hersh wrote that the White House gave the green light for the Israeli government to execute an attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon. Supposedly, communication between the Israeligovernment and the US government about this came as early as two months in advance of the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight others by Hezbollah prior to the 2006 Lebanon War in July 2006.[30] The US government denied these allegations.[31]

Killing of Osama bin Laden 

In September 2013, during an interview with The Guardian, Hersh commented that the 2011 raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was “one big lie, not one word of it is true”. He said that the Obama administration lies systematically, and that American media outlets are reluctant to challenge the administration, saying “It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]”.[32] Hersh later clarified that he didn’t dispute Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan, and rather meant that the lying began in the aftermath of bin Laden’s death.[33]

On May 10, 2015, Hersh published the 10,000-word article “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” in the London Review of Books (LRB) on the fourth anniversary of the Abbottabad raid that killed bin Laden (Operation Neptune Spear). It immediately went viral, crashing the LRB website.[34] Hersh outlined with extensive quoting of both named and unnamed sources the background to how bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad came to be known to the U.S. government and how the SEAL raid was in fact known to the Pakistanis and had ISI cooperation. Hersh alleges the U.S. government’s narrative was in fact an elaborate cover story meant to conceal Pakistan’s relationship with the Al Qaeda leader and to yield maximum political payoff for President Barack Obama in the runup to the 2012 election season:

The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account.[35]

Operation Neptune Spear is often contrasted[citation needed] with a low point—Operation Eagle Claw, the botched 1980 attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran ordered by President Jimmy Carter that killed eight troops and freed no captured Americans.

The official U.S. version is that bin Laden’s location at Abbottabad was identified by the CIA by tracking an al-Qaeda courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Hersh reports that in August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer walked into the office of Jonathan Bank, the CIA station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad and betrayed the secret of bin Laden’s whereabouts in return for part of the $25 million reward, and has since been relocated with his family to Washington and is a consultant to the CIA. The ISI had captured bin Laden in 2006; he had lived undetected from 2001 to 2006 with some of his wives and children in the Hindu Kush mountains. The ISI got to him by paying some of the local tribal people to betray him. Bin Laden was very ill and was living as prisoner under ISI control in the garrison town of Abbottabad less than two miles from Pakistan’s National Military Academy at Kakul (equivalent of United States Military Academy at West Point). The Saudi government also knew about Osama’s presence in Abbottabad and had advised the Pakistanis to keep him as a prisoner and gave financial assistance. Major Amir Aziz, a Pakistani Army doctor, was ordered to move near his compound to provide treatment. Aziz was also given a share of the $25 million reward because he got the DNA sample which conclusively proved that it was bin Laden. A real casualty in the whole affair was the doctor named Shakil Afridi. His perfectly legitimate hepatitis B vaccination programme was claimed to be the way the US obtained bin Laden’s DNA. Afridi became the sacrificial lamb because the US wanted to protect its real CIA informant, Amir Aziz, who had been held by the Pakistanis. Afridi was sentenced to 33 years by the Pakistanis. Other vaccination programmes were canceled once this lie was put forth.[35]

Hersh writes that the Pakistan Army and intelligence service was warned about the U.S. Navy SEALs’ raid and made sure that the two helicopters carrying the SEALs to Abbottabad crossed Pakistani airspace without triggering an alarm: “The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders—General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI—were never informed of the US mission.”[35] The report also states that Pakistani officials knew about the raid before it happened in May 2011 and instructed those monitoring bin Laden’s compound to allow the SEALs to conduct the operation unobstructed.

Since his killing in 2011, the U.S. media has reported that bin Laden was given a perfunctory naval funeral off the deck of an aircraft carrier, to prevent any gravesite from becoming a symbol of martyrdom. According to Hersh’s account of the assassination, bin Laden’s corpse never made it to the USS Carl Vinson, because it had been torn apart by automatic fire at point-blank range before the CIA took whatever shreds were left: “Some members of the SEAL team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains.” And bin Laden’s wives and children were never turned over to the Americans for questioning.

Hersh’s story drew harsh criticism from media commentators and officials. Peter Bergen disputed Hersh’s contentions, saying they “defy common sense”;[36] Hersh responded that Bergen simply “views himself as the trustee of all things Bin Laden”.[37] A similar dismissal of Hersh’s account came from former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell.[38] A former intelligence official who had direct knowledge of the operation speculated that the Pakistanis, who were furious that the operation took place without being detected by them, were behind the false story as a way to save face.[39]

Others criticized the press response. In an article for the Columbia Journalism ReviewTrevor Timm wrote that “barely any follow-up reporting has been done to corroborate or refute his [Hersh’s] claims”, and observed that Slate, for example, “ran five hit jobs on Hersh within 36 hours”.[40]

On May 12, the Pakistan-based journalist Amir Mir disclosed that the “walk-in” who had provided the CIA with the information about bin Laden’s whereabouts was Brigadier Usman Khalid of ISI.[41][42]

On May 20, a former CIA officer, Philip Giraldi, opined in The American Conservative that he found Hersh’s story credible:

Syrian Civil War

During the Syrian Civil War US President Obama argued in a 2012 speech that a chemical attack in Syria would constitute crossing a “red line” and that this would trigger a US military intervention against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[44]

After this speech, and prior to the chemical attacks in Ghoutachemical weapons were suspected to have been used in at least four attacks in the country.[45] On 23 March 2013, the Syrian government requested the UN to send inspectors in order to investigate an incident in the town of Khan al-Assal, where it said opposition forces had used chlorine-filled rockets.[46] However, on 25 April US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated that US intelligence showed the Assad government was likely to have used chemical weapons – specifically sarin gas.[47]

On 8 December 2013, the London Review of Books published “Whose Sarin?”, in which Hersh argued that President Obama had “omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts” in his assertion during his televised speech of 10 September that the Syrian government had been responsible for the use of sarin gas in the Ghouta chemical attack of 21 August 2013 against a rebel-held district of Damascus.[48] In particular, Hersh wrote of anonymous intelligence sources telling him that the Syrian army was not the only agency with access to sarin, referring to the Al-Nusra Front Jihadist group, and that, during the period before the Ghouta attack, secretly implanted sensors at the country’s known bases had not detected suspicious movements suggesting a forthcoming chemical attack in the period.[48]

On 22 December 2015, the London Review of Books published Hersh’s article “Military to Military”[49] in which he exposed the divide between the US top brass and the politicians in the White House when it came to dealing with Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq. Hersh reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States Department of Defense has indirectly supported Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad with quality intelligence in an effort to help him defeat jihadist groups, providing said intelligence via GermanyIsrael and Russia – to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. Hersh also writes the military even undermined a US effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joint Chiefs’ maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the US arming of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally Russia, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Saudi ArabiaQatar and Turkey over their support of extremist groups in Syria. These countries had armed extremists with modern weapons – which gave them the upper hand in subduing the Syrian Army – and resulted in huge territorial losses by 2013. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government supported Jabhat al-Nusra. The US JCS reported the Erdogan government were “doing the same for Islamic State” in order to disrupt the balance in the Middle East. The Turkish government refused to halt the flow of foreign militants going through Turkey.[50][51]

On 25 June 2017, Welt am Sonntag published Hersh’s article “Trump’s Red Line”[52] in which he claimed to expose the divide between the US ‘intelligence community’ and Donald Trump, the President of the United States, over the alleged ‘sarin attack’ at the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib on 4 April 2017 … ‘Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.’ A chat conversation delivered to Hersh by his informants and published by Welt am Sonntag, “We got a fuckin‘ problem”[53] seems to evidence much upset on the part of at least one ‘American soldier’ in Syria in conversations with an American ‘security advisor’ as well. However, at least one journalist accused Hersh of sloppy journalism: “Hersh based his case on a tiny number of anonymous sources, presented no other evidence to support his case, and ignored or dismissed evidence that countered the alternative narrative he was trying to build.”[54]

Criticism

Kennedy research

Hersh’s 1997 book about John F. KennedyThe Dark Side of Camelot, made a number of controversial assertions about the former president, including that he had had a “first marriage” to a woman named Durie Malcolm that was never terminated, that he had been a semi-regular narcotics user, and that he had a close working relationship with mob boss Sam Giancana which supposedly included vote fraud in one or two crucial states in the 1960 presidential election. For many of these allegations, Hersh relied only on hearsay collected decades after the event. In a Los Angeles Times review, Edward Jay Epstein cast doubt on these and other assertions, writing, “this book turns out to be, alas, more about the deficiencies of investigative journalism than about the deficiencies of John F. Kennedy.”[55] Responding to the book, historian and former Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called Hersh “the most gullible investigative reporter I’ve ever encountered.”[56]

A month before the publication of The Dark Side of Camelot, newspapers, including USA Today, reported Hersh’s announcement that he had removed from the galleys, at the last minute, a segment about legal documents allegedly containing JFK’s signature.[57] The documents signed by “John F. Kennedy” included a provision, in 1960, for a trust fund to be set up for the institutionalized mother of Marilyn Monroe.[58][59] A paralegal named Lawrence Cusack had shared them with Hersh and encouraged the author to discuss them in the book.[58] Shortly before Hersh’s publicized announcement, federal investigators began probing Cusack’s sale of the documents at auction.[58] After The Dark Side of Camelot became a bestseller, Cusack was convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan of forging the documents and sentenced to a long prison term.[60] In 1997 the Kennedy family denied Cusack’s claim that his late father had been an attorney who had represented JFK in 1960.[58]

Use of anonymous sources

There has been sustained criticism of Hersh’s use of anonymous sources.[55][61][62] Critics, including Edward Jay Epstein and Amir Taheri, say he is over-reliant on them.[55][61][62] Taheri, for example, when reviewing Hersh’s Chain of Command (2004), complained:

As soon as he has made an assertion he cites a ‘source’ to back it. In every case this is either an un-named former official or an unidentified secret document passed to Hersh in unknown circumstances. […] By my count Hersh has anonymous ‘sources’ inside 30 foreign governments and virtually every department of the U.S. government.[61]

In response to an article in The New Yorker in which Hersh alleged that the U.S. government was planning a strike on IranU.S. Defense Department spokesman Bryan G. Whitman said, “This reporter has a solid and well-earned reputation for making dramatic assertions based on thinly sourced, unverifiable anonymous sources.”[63]

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, maintains that he is aware of the identity of all of Hersh’s unnamed sources, telling the Columbia Journalism Review that “I know every single source that is in his pieces. … Every ‘retired intelligence officer,’ every general with reason to know, and all those phrases that one has to use, alas, by necessity, I say, ‘Who is it? What’s his interest?’ We talk it through.”[64]

Speeches

In an interview with New York magazine, Hersh made a distinction between the standards of strict factual accuracy for his print reporting and the leeway he allows himself in speeches, in which he may talk informally about stories still being worked on or blur information to protect his sources. “Sometimes I change events, dates, and places in a certain way to protect people. … I can’t fudge what I write. But I can certainly fudge what I say.”[62]

Some of Hersh’s speeches concerning the Iraq War have described violent incidents involving U.S. troops in Iraq. In July 2004, during the height of the Abu Ghraib scandal, he alleged that American troops sexually assaulted young boys:

Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children, in cases that have been recorded, the boys were sodomized, with the cameras rolling, and the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking. That your government has. They’re in total terror it’s going to come out.[62]

In a subsequent interview with New York magazine, Hersh regretted that “I actually didn’t quite say what I wanted to say correctly. … It wasn’t that inaccurate, but it was misstated. The next thing I know, it was all over the blogs. And I just realized then, the power of—and so you have to try and be more careful.”[62] In Chain of Command, he wrote that one of the witness statements he had read described the rape of a boy by a foreign contract interpreter at Abu Ghraib, during which a woman took pictures.[62]

Link between the US government and Fatah al-Islam

In March 2007, Hersh asserted in a New Yorker piece that the United States and Saudi governments were funding the terrorist organization Fatah al-Islam through aid to Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.[65] Following the publication of the story, journalist Emmanuel Sivan in Beirut wrote that Hersh put forth the allegation without any reliable sources.[66][67]

Morarji Desai libel suit

Hersh wrote in his 1983 book The Price of Power that former Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai had been paid $20,000 a year by the CIA during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. Desai called the allegation “a scandalous and malicious lie” and filed a $50 million libel suit against Hersh. By the time the case went to trial Desai, by then 93, was too ill to attend. CIA director Richard Helms and Henry Kissinger testified under oath that at no time did Desai act in any capacity for the CIA, paid or otherwise. A Chicago jury ruled in favor of Hersh, saying Desai did not provide sufficient evidence that Hersh had published the information with intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth, either of which must be proven in a libel suit.[68][69]

Controversy

On August 1, 2017, Hersh was interviewed by National Public Radio for a story on a lawsuit related to an investigation into the 2016 death of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. In the interview, Hersh denied a claim by investigator Ed Butowsky that Hersh had said he’d spoken to a Federal Bureau of Investigation source who confirmed the existence of information on Rich’s laptop computer showing he had been in contact with Wikileaks prior to his death. In the NPR interview, Hersh dismissed the claim as “gossip.”[70]

Later that same day, a purported audio recording of Hersh was made public, in which he states that his “high level” and “unbelievably accurate” source provided him with information from an FBI report confirming Rich had been in contact with Wikileaks prior to his death. Hersh has not publicly denied the authenticity of the recording, nor his alleged statements on it.[71]

Awards, honors and associations

His journalism and publishing awards include the 1970 Pulitzer Prize, the 2004 National Council of Teachers of English George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, two National Magazine Awards, 5 George Polk Awards – making him that award’s most honored laureate – and more than a dozen other prizes for investigative reporting:

  • 1969: George Polk Special Award (for his My Lai reporting)
  • 1970: Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting
  • 1973: George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting; Scripps-Howard Public Service Award; Sidney Hillman Award
  • 1974: George Polk Award for National Reporting
  • 1981: George Polk Award for National Reporting
  • 1983: National Book Critics Circle Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House.
  • 2003: National Magazine Award for Public Interest for his articles “Lunch with the Chairman”, “Selective Intelligence”, and “The Stovepipe”.
  • 2004: following Hersh’s 2004 articles in the New Yorker magazine exposing the Abu Ghraib scandal: National Magazine Award for Public Interest, Overseas Press Club Award, National Press Foundation’s Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award, and his fifth George Polk Award.

Publications

Books

Articles and reportage

Forewords

  • Hersh, Seymour M. (foreword) (2005) in Scott RitterIraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein (Hardcover), Nation Books, ISBN 1-56025-852-7

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Hersh

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 940, August 3, 2017, Breaking News — Story 1: Special Counsel Robert Mueller III Impanels Grand Jury for Russian Investigation and Alleged Russia/Trump Collusion Conspiracy Theory — Videos — Story 2: Proposed Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act will Expose Hypocrisy of Democrats and Republicans In Promoting Open Borders with 30-60 Million Illegal Invasion of United States Over The Last 30 Years and  Rising Legal Immigration Instead of Protecting The American Worker and Middle Class — The Betrayal Of American People By The Political Elitist Establishment — Videos

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Image result for cartoon mueller investigate russia trump collusionImage result for cartoons illegal alien invasion of united states

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Illegal Alien Invasion of United States

For Every 1 Apprehension A Minimum of 3 Get Away

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Breaking News — Story 1: Special Counsel Robert Mueller III Impanels Grand Jury for Russian Investigation and Alleged Russia/Trump Collusion Conspiracy Theory — Videos —

TRUMP BREAKING NEWS 8/3/17 WSJ: MUELLER IMPANELS GRAND JURY IN RUSSIA PROBE

Report: Mueller empowers grand jury in Russia investigation

Trump attorney: Grand jury not a surprise, not unusual

Mueller using grand jury as part of Russia investigation

Senators Take Action to Protect Robert Mueller’s Trump Investigation

Mary Clare Jalonick / AP
10:54 AM ET

(WASHINGTON) — Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are moving to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s job, putting forth new legislation that aims to ensure the integrity of current and future independent investigations.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware plan to introduce the legislation Thursday. The bill would allow any special counsel for the Department of Justice to challenge his or her removal in court, with a review by a three-judge panel within 14 days of the challenge.

The bill would apply retroactively to May 17, 2017 — the day Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

“It is critical that special counsels have the independence and resources they need to lead investigations,” Tillis said in a statement. “A back-end judicial review process to prevent unmerited removals of special counsels not only helps to ensure their investigatory independence, but also reaffirms our nation’s system of check and balances.”

Mueller was appointed as special counsel following Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey. Mueller, who was Comey’s predecessor as FBI director, has assembled a team of prosecutors and lawyers with experience in financial fraud, national security and organized crime to investigate contacts between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Trump has been critical of Mueller since his appointment, and the president’s legal team is looking into potential conflicts surrounding the team Mueller has hired, including the backgrounds of members and political contributions by some members of his team to Hillary Clinton. He has also publicly warned Mueller that he would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family’s finances.

Mueller has strong support on Capitol Hill. Senators in both parties have expressed concerns that Trump may try to fire Mueller and have warned him not to do so.

“Ensuring that the special counsel cannot be removed improperly is critical to the integrity of his investigation,” Coons said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another member of the judiciary panel, said last week that he was working on a similar bill that would prevent the firing of a special counsel without judicial review. Graham said then that firing Mueller “would precipitate a firestorm that would be unprecedented in proportions.”

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also working on Graham’s legislation, according to Booker’s office. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has yet to signal support for either measure.

The Tillis and Coons bill would allow review after the special counsel had been dismissed. If the panel found there was no good cause for the counsel’s removal, the person would be immediately reinstated. The legislation would also codify existing Justice Department regulations that a special counsel can only be removed for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or other good cause, such as a violation of departmental policies.

In addition, only the attorney general or the most senior Justice Department official in charge of the matter could fire the special counsel.

In the case of the current investigation, Rosenstein is charged with Mueller’s fate because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all matters having to do with the Trump-Russia investigation.

http://time.com/4885770/robert-mueller-investigation-senate-legislation/

 

Exclusive: top FBI officials could testify against Trump

The acting head of the bureau told top officials to prepare.

Shortly after the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller in May, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told several of the highest-ranking managers of the bureau they should consider themselves possible witnesses in any investigation into whether President Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, according to two senior federal law enforcement officials.

McCabe has told colleagues that he too is a potential witness in the probe of whether Trump broke the law by trying to thwart the FBI’s Russia investigation and the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Two senior federal law enforcement officials have told me that the new revelations illustrate why they believe the potential case against Trump is stronger than outsiders have thought.

“What you are going to have is the potential for a powerful obstruction case,” a senior law enforcement official said. “You are going to have the [former] FBI director testify, and then the acting director, the chief of staff to the FBI director, the FBI’s general counsel, and then others, one right after another. This has never been the word of Trump against what [James Comey] has had to say. This is more like the Federal Bureau of Investigation versus Donald Trump.”

Trump and his supporters have long argued that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the special counsel to bring an obstruction case against Trump. The case would rely on the word of one man versus another, that of the president of the United States versus the FBI director he fired. But this was never the case.

Including Comey, as many as 10, and possibly more, of the nation’s most senior law enforcement officials are likely to be questioned as part of the investigation into whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, according to two government investigators with firsthand knowledge of the matter. Comey’s notes on his conversations could also be used as evidence, according to many reports.

The White House declined to comment. First contacted by email by on July 27, White House spokesperson Kelly Love responded late Wednesday saying, “This would be a question for outside counsel.” Love did not name which of the president’s many lawyers to contact. Marc E. Kasowitz, an attorney for the president, did not respond to a phone message Wednesday evening. The FBI also declined to comment.

FBI agents are experienced witnesses who routinely testify in high-pressure cases. Plus, the FBI itself is a rare public institution that is widely respected and trusted by the American public. The witness list and breadth of possible evidence, including notes Comey and several other senior FBI officials made at the time, could add up to a much stronger obstruction of justice case than Trump ever could have imagined.

Among those who McCabe and other law enforcement officials have privately believed are potential witnesses are six of the highest-ranking officials of the agency: They include McCabe himself; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff; James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI; David Bowdich, who as the FBI’s associate director is the agency’s third-highest official; and Carl Ghattas, the head of the FBI’s national security division and a legal adviser to McCabe. McCabe was deputy director of the FBI until May, when he became acting director after President Trump fired Comey.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and a third senior Justice Department official are believed by law enforcement officials to be crucial fact witnesses in the obstruction probe. Their testimony is likely to support Comey and harm Trump, according to investigators and outside experts.

Mueller’s case is looking stronger than Trump surrogates say

In May, Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate whether Trump colluded with the Russian government to help defeat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. A related area of inquiry for the special counsel is whether Trump obstructed justice when he allegedly asked Comey to shut down his inquiry of Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump made sure he and Comey were alone when he allegedly pressured the then-FBI director to curtail the FBI’s Russia investigation. At a private White House dinner on January 27, Trump allegedly pressed Comey to pledge his personal loyalty. The dinner came right after the president learned Flynn was under criminal investigation.

Later, on February 14, Trump allegedly leaned on Comey privately in an Oval Office meeting to shut down the FBI’s investigation of Flynn. Comey did not drop the investigation or take other steps Trump requested that the then-director of the FBI felt were improper. Trump then fired Comey on May 9.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s pressure on Comey to shut down his investigation — combined with other efforts to thwart the investigation, including firing Comey — are an obstruction of justice. As such, Comey is the central witness against Trump in any such obstruction investigation. That Trump was ordinarily alone with Comey when these various incidents occurred has led Trump and his surrogates to argue that it would be difficult for any obstruction of justice case to be brought because it would be based solely on Comey’s word.

“We have to keep in mind that is one person’s record of what happened,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said on Fox News in one typical comment repeated by White House surrogates. “The only two people who know what happened in these meeting are the president and James Comey.”

But even though Trump took great pains to try to be alone with Comey when they spoke, Comey regularly spoke to the six high-ranking FBI managers, often right after a distressing conversation with Trump about the Russia probe.

Comey spoke to these FBI officials almost always within 24 to 48 hours after such a contact took place, according to two senior federal law enforcement officials. A person familiar with the matter told me they know for certain there were at least eight such conversations — and likely more than a dozen — that Comey had with these high-ranking FBI managers, sometimes one on one, sometimes in groups of several officials. More than one such meeting was longer than an hour.

And in at least one previously unreported instance — that of a phone conversation between the president and Comey, during which Trump pressed Comey to say that Trump wasn’t personally under investigation — Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, was present for the entirety of the phone call.

Trump had unexpectedly called Comey while Comey was in a meeting with Rybicki. As Trump and the then-FBI director spoke, Rybicki stayed put and listened to the entirety of Comey’s side of the conversation, according to Comey’s testimony to Congress and a senior federal law enforcement official.

In addition, Comey often emailed Rybicki accounts of his troublesome discussions with Trump about the Russia investigation — if not immediately after, sometimes the same day, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.

Baker, the FBI general counsel, took methodical notes during his discussions with Comey and others in the FBI hierarchy about Trump’s efforts to thwart the FBI’s investigation, according to these same sources.

Law enforcement officials are likely to be questioned

I interviewed current and former law enforcement officials, including some who, though not directly involved in the investigation, have held key positions working for independent counsels or special prosecutors investigating earlier presidents. They told me they agree with McCabe’s assertions that the senior FBI managers are almost certainly to be questioned for any investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice.

Sam Buell, a Duke University law professor who has previously served as a federal prosecutor in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, and Houston, similarly told me that Mueller will almost certainly interview all six senior FBI officials that Comey confided in, as well as Sessions and Rosenstein: “In any high-stakes matter, you are going to want to talk to anyone in the vicinity of a conversation. It doesn’t mean that they end up as trial witness. But at an investigative stage, you are going to talk to all of these people. You want their stories locked in. You want to know if what they have to say would help you or hurt you.”

John Keker, who during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations prosecuted retired Lt. Oliver North for the Iran-Contra special prosecutor, explained to me: “Think of any crime. The defense might make the case that the accuser made it up. The questions for the witness are: ‘Did you just make this up?’ ‘Are you just saying this now?’ ‘Why didn’t you say something before?’ ‘Whom did you say something to? Did you write it down?’

“But if they told people when it happens, it makes their story more plausible. It helps their credibility. In this case, the people Comey told were multiple senior FBI officials.”

Other evidence is there too

In addition to the actual testimony of Comey and nine other senior federal law enforcement officials against the president, there is other related corroboratory evidence created as a result of those conversations. And this could bolster any potential obstruction of justice case against Trump.

There are Comey’s now-famous notes, which are careful, meticulous accounts of his meetings with the president. They are powerful not only for their detail but even for the atmospherics that tell a compelling story, according to people who have read portions of them.

Explaining why he took these notes, Comey told Congress: “I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself but also to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function. … [I]t was a combination of circumstances, subject matter, and the particular person.”

FBI agents and managers are inveterate note takers. It is part of the culture of the FBI. Several of the senior FBI managers Comey consulted with are also attorneys, who have similar traditions of memorializing important matters by taking careful and contemporaneous notes.

“That’s the culture of the FBI — you habitually document everything you do,” Lauren C. Anderson, a former senior FBI official who worked for the bureau for 29 years, told the New York Times, explaining why Comey made notes of his crucial conversations with the president. Her comments also would appear to explain why other senior FBI managers might have made similar sets of notes about their conversations with Comey.

Although it is unclear which FBI managers took notes and which did not, at least one person familiar with the matter said that James Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, made detailed notes of virtually every conversation with Comey or others about the Russia probe.

Those notes by Baker are crucial to investigators because Baker was a lively participant in discussions about whether to inform the Justice Department of the president’s pressure on Comey to end the Flynn investigation. During discussions about whether Comey or the Justice Department should give in to Trump’s request to say the investigation had not focused on him, Baker was the primary and strongest proponent that they not do so.

The potential testimony by Comey, McCabe, and so many other FBI witnesses could prove damning to Trump for other reasons. FBI agents and their managers are more than just highly credible witnesses. In the course of a typical FBI agent’s career, he or she works closely with federal prosecutors in making cases based on the testimony of witnesses first interviewed by the agent, and often testifies as a witness in cases, some dozens of times in the course of a career.

While most major governmental institutions have, according to most polls and surveys, faced some of their lowest ratings ever, the American public still retains strong confidence in its FBI. A November 2015 Pew Research national survey found that 68 percent of all Americans viewed the FBI favorably. Only four other federal agencies ranked higher: the US Postal Service, the National Park Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and NASA.

Even Trump allies could hurt Trump

Comey testified to Congress that he shared with senior managers of the FBI the president’s efforts to thwart the bureau’s Russia investigation. But he did not inform the Justice Department of those efforts prior to Trump firing him. A major reason he didn’t do so, Comey said, was because the FBI’s leaders told him, “Look, it’s your word against the president’s. There’s no way to corroborate this.”

But Comey testified that during a private meeting with Sessions about another matter — “the president’s concerns about leaks” — he took the opportunity “to implore the attorney general to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me.” Comey told Sessions that leaving him alone with Trump “was inappropriate and should never happen again.” Comey said that Sessions “did not reply at all, his body language suggesting he was helpless or unwilling to do anything.”

Comey also testified that he expressed similar concerns to Rosenstein: “I explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI.”

In his own testimony to Congress, Sessions sharply disputed Comey’s claim that he said or did nothing when Comey raised these concerns, saying he told Comey “that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to follow department policies regarding appropriate contact with the White House.”

But more importantly, while taking issue with that one aspect of the story, Sessions largely corroborated Comey’s account under oath — about how uncomfortable the then-FBI director felt with the president’s interactions with the FBI. Sessions is a Trump loyalist, the first US senator to endorse Trump, and the Trump administration’s attorney general — this only enhances his credibility as a witness whose testimony would harm Trump. (Of course, that relationship is now severely strained.) That Sessions recommended Comey’s firing as FBI director also, ironically, enhances his credibility as a corroboratory witness of Comey’s and against the president.

Rosenstein is yet to be heard from.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/3/16084246/mueller-obstruction-case-stronger-trump-surrogates

Story 2: Proposed Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act will Expose Hypocrisy of Democrats and Republicans In Promoting Open Borders with 30-60 Million Illegal Invasion of United States Over The Last 20 Years and  Rising Legal Immigration Instead of Protecting The American Worker and Middle Class — The Betrayal Of American People By The Political Elitist Establishment — Videos

Image result for cartoons illegal alien invasion of united states

Trump Endorses Bill That Reduces Legal Immigration

Trump To Cut LEGAL Immigration IN HALF

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Immigration battle brewing in the GOP

Republicans are barreling toward a fight over immigration policy that could expose deep divisions in the party.

A renewed push by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) to crack down on legal immigration is threatening to pit President Trump, who endorsed their legislation, against GOP senators who want broader reforms.

The bill, which got a White House rollout on Wednesday, would fundamentally overhaul the immigration system. It would curtail the number of legal immigrants admitted into the country, cutting the total roughly in half.

The legislation, supporters say, would help enshrine a shift in Republican Party politics that was prominent in Trump’s campaign rhetoric, where he frequently warned that immigrants were taking American jobs.”As a candidate I campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects American workers and tax payers,” Trump said at the White House while standing next to Cotton and Perdue.

The measure faces a difficult path to 60 votes in the Senate, which would require the support of at least eight Democrats, not to mention every GOP senator — a scenario that appears highly unlikely.

Pressed Wednesday about how the bill could pass Congress, White House aide Stephen Miller said the legislation represented a “major promise” to Americans.

“This is what President Trump campaigned on. He talked about it throughout the campaign, throughout the transition, and since coming into office,” said Miller, who was formerly a staffer for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), one of the Senate’s most vocal immigration hawks who is now attorney general.

But many in the GOP are opposed to reshaping the party’s immigration policies in Trump’s image

Critics of Trump’s approach fear opposition to immigration reform will damage the party’s long-term electoral chances, given the nation’s growing Latino and Asian populations. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 65 percent of the Latino and Asian vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to exit polling.

There are already early signs of pushback from multiple factions within the Senate GOP conference to the legal immigration limits, including members who are worried about the impact on businesses.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said there could be an “awful lot” in the bill that he could support but warned against limiting his state’s labor pool.

“Dairy farmers need migrant labors. … So we really need to take a look at the reality of the situation,” Johnson, who has close ties to the business community, told reporters. “I don’t want to limit what our economy needs.”

Cotton, responding to some of his colleague’s criticism, noted the legislation wouldn’t touch the guest worker program, which allows immigrants to temporarily come into the country.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), part of the “Gang of Eight” that helped craft the 2013 immigration bill, ripped the Cotton–Perdue proposal within hours of its White House rollout.

“If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant workforce,” Graham said.

He added he is worried the legislation “incentivizes more illegal immigration,” saying “after dealing with this issue for more than a decade, I know that when you restrict legal labor to employers it incentivizes cheating.”

Illustrating the wider disagreement in the GOP about immigration policy, Graham has worked on two bills this year with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that would allow undocumented immigrants brought into country as children to remain here legally, at least temporarily.

GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) have signed on to at least one of Graham’s bills. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is currently undergoing treatment for brain cancer, also signaled earlier this year that he was opposed to attempts to crack down on legal immigration.

The Cotton–Perdue bill seems likely to rekindle the long-running debate over which section of the party — those who want broader immigration reforms or the protectionist strain that rose to new prominence with Trump — has the public’s support.

The legislation would curb the number of green cards, which give immigrants permanent residence, issued each year and establishes a “merit-based” points system for individuals who want to come into the country.

Cotton and Perdue will have to walk a political tightrope to get their bill enacted. They will be under pressure from moderate GOP senators and Democrats to make fundamental revisions to their bill, but any move to make it more lenient toward or address undocumented immigration could erode conservative support.

Perdue said for the moment he is focused on trying to garner support for the legislation.

“We have had conversations with them. We’ve met with [Senate Judiciary Committee] Chairman [Chuck] Grassley. … We know we’re going to work it through committee and go regular order, obviously. What we’re trying to do right now is garner support inside the Senate,” he said, when asked if he has talked to GOP leadership.

The bill could face its first test in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Republicans have a two-seat advantage. Graham and Flake are both members of the committee and signaled concern about an earlier version of the legislation rolled out in February.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, is working on a border security bill that is expected to include some immigration components. That legislation is expected to unveiled on Thursday.

Asked if his legislation could be wrapped in with border security, Perdue said he wants the bill to move on its own.

“What we’ve done in the past with these immigration issues is we keep adding on and adding on and adding on. I think this one stands on its own merit,” he said.

Republican lawmakers have shown little appetite for another big debate on immigration.

But once Trump makes a decision on the 750,000 immigrants who are protected from deportation by former President Barack Obama‘s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, they might not be able to avoid one.

Johnson warned against trying to package the legislation into a broader immigration bill.

“I don’t think we do a very good job at it. … If you demand comprehensive, you pretty well limit what you can accomplish,” he said.

Moderate GOP senators and Democrats will also be under pressure from conservative outside groups, not to mention the White House, to support the Cotton–Perdue bill.

Perdue noted that while it was early, he was hopeful that he would be able to win some Democratic backing for the bill.

“We’re trying to now get coordinated and start moving out to develop Republican and Democratic support,” he said. “I just think that we’ve got an opportunity to get some bipartisan support.”

There are 10 Senate Democrats running for reelection in states Trump won in 2016, and those members could face pressure to support tougher immigration laws.

“Ultimately members of Congress will have a choice to make … and whatever happens as a result of that would be somewhat predictable,” Miller said.

But Democratic senators are showing no immediate signs of being willing to support the bill. The earlier version of the legislation, introduced in February, garnered zero cosponsors.

“Instead of focusing on xenophobic half measures, the Trump administration should support comprehensive immigration reform and help create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants who are our family members, neighbors, co-workers and friends,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

“Still shocking to see senior WH staff misunderstand American values,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said on Twitter. “I just realized I should be more specific. I’m talking about Miller.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/345052-immigration-battle-brewing-in-the-gop

RAISE Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
RAISE Act
Great Seal of the United States
Full title Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act
Introduced in 115th United States Congress
Introduced on February 13, 2017
Sponsored by Tom Cotton and David Perdue
Legislative history

The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act is a bill introduced in the United States Senate in 2017. Co-sponsored by Republican senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, the bill seeks to reduce levels of legal immigration to the United States by 50% by halving the number of green cards issued. The bill would also impose a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year and would end the visa diversity lottery. The bill received the support of President Donald Trump, who promoted a revised version of the bill in August 2017, but was opposed by Democrats, immigrant rights groups, and some Republicans.

History

The bill is co-sponsored by Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, who introduced the bill to the Senate on February 13, 2017, as S. 354.[1][2][3] The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.[2]

On August 2, 2017, Cotton introduced a revised version of the bill, designated S. 1720; this bill was also referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.[4] President Donald Trump, along with Cotton and Perdue, announced it at the White House.[5] Within the Trump White House, Trump advisers Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon promoted and helped shape the bill.[6] The odds of the bill being enacted are seen as remote.[3][7][6] The bill has not attracted any additional co-sponsors, and Republican leaders in Congress have no plans to vote on immigration in 2017.[8]

Provisions and analysis

The bill would cut the legal immigration by half, reducing the number of green cards from more than 1 million to about 500,000.[3] The bill would also remove pathways for siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to apply for permanent lawful residency status in the U.S., limiting the family path to spouses and minor children.[7] The bill would also impose a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year and would end the visa diversity lottery.[3]

In promoting the legislation, Trump administration officials contend that the bill would increase economic growth and increase wages.[9][10][11] This contention was challenged by economists,[10] who “overwhelmingly predict” that cuts in immigration would have a negative impact on GDP growth.[11] In April 2017, a group of more than 1,400 economists, with views ranging across the political spectrum, sent an open letter to Trump noting the “near universal agreement” on “the broad economic benefit that immigrants to this country bring” and urging him not to seek immigration cuts.[11] Cato Institute immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh said that the legislation “would do nothing to boost skilled immigration and it will only increase the proportion of employment-based green cards by cutting other green cards. Saying otherwise is grossly deceptive marketing.”[3]

The “only evidence that the administration has cited as justifying its proposals” is the work of economist George Borjas,[12] who has defended the bill, arguing that it “makes sense” and that “low-skill immigration, which would likely suffer the largest cuts in the proposed bill, imposes costs on taxpayers and it imposes costs on low-skill workers already here.”[13] Other economists have sharply contested Borjas’s conclusions; economist Giovanni Peri stated that “The average American worker is more likely to lose than to gain from immigration restrictions” and “most studies put the negative impact on low-skilled wages closer to zero,”[12] and Michael Clemens argues that Borjas’s position is based on a study with critical flaws.[14][15]

Support and opposition

The bill and Trump’s support for it was hailed by groups favoring restrictive immigration policies, such as NumbersUSA[3] and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.[16] The bill was also seen as likely to appeal to anti-immigration Republican base voters.[17]

The bill is opposed by Democrats as well as some Republicans.[7] Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said that “Trump wants to tear apart communities and punish immigrant families that are making valuable contributions to our economy.”[7] Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called the bill “nothing but a series of nativist talking points and regurgitated campaign rhetoric that completely fails to move our nation forward toward real reform.”[3] Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the proposal would be “devastating” to South Carolina’s economy.[18] The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and immigrant rights groups both condemned the legislation.[3]

The National Immigration Law Center called the bill “cruel and un-American” and issued a statement saying that it would “devastate families, eliminating the traditional and long-accepted means by which family members such as grandparents, mothers, fathers and siblings are able to reunite with their families who have emigrated to the United States.”[16] The technology industry immigration-policy advocacy group FWD.us said the bill, if enacted, “would severely harm the economy and actually depress wages for Americans.”[16] The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and NAFSA: Association of International Educators also oppose the bill, describing it as flawed and a step backward.[16] The Anti-Defamation League also opposed the legislation, calling it “cruel, anti-family and un-American.”[19]

References

 

 

  1. ADL slams Trump-backed GOP plan on immigration as ‘cruel, un-American’, Times of Israel/Associated Press (August 3, 2017).

 

 

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Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The National Security Agency and FBI violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama administration by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department’s national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn’t due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.

The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1 percent — when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

But critics say the memos undercut the intelligence community’s claim that it has robust protections for Americans incidentally intercepted under the program.

“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers and to retain and use certain intercepted data that was incidentally collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. Wrongly collected information is supposed to be immediately destroyed.

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching the NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

The NSA also admitted it was slow in some cases to notify fellow intelligence agencies when it wrongly disseminated information about Americans. The law requires a notification within five days, but some took as long as 131 business days and the average was 19 days, the memos show.

U.S. intelligence officials directly familiar with the violations told The Hill that the memos confirm that the intelligence agencies have routinely policed, fixed and self-disclosed to the nation’s intelligence court thousands of minor procedural and more serious privacy infractions that have impacted both Americans and foreigners alike since the warrantless spying program was created by Congress in late 2008.

Alexander Joel, who leads the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency under the director of national intelligence, said the documents chronicle episodes that have been reported to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for years in real time and are a tribute to the multiple layers of oversight inside the intelligence community.

“We take every compliance incident very seriously and continually strive to improve compliance through our oversight regime and as evidence by our reporting requirements to the FISC and Congress,” he told The Hill. “That said, we believe that, particularly when compared with the overall level of activity, the compliance incident rate is very low.”
The FBI said it believes it has adequate oversight to protect Americans’ privacy, while signaling it will be pushing Congress hard this fall to renew the Section 702 law before it expires.

“The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States,” the bureau said in a statement to The Hill. “When Congress enacted Section 702, it built in comprehensive oversight and compliance procedures that involve all three branches of government. These procedures are robust and effective in identifying compliance incidents. The documents released on July 11, 2017 clearly show the FBI’s extensive efforts to follow the law, and to identify, report, and remedy compliance matters.

“Section 702 is vital to the safety and security of the American people. It is one of the most valuable tools the Intelligence Community has, and therefore, is used with the utmost care by the men and women of the FBI so as to not jeopardize future utility. As such, we continually evaluate our internal policies and procedures to further reduce the number of these compliance matters.”

The new documents show that the NSA has, on occasion, exempted itself from its legal obligation to destroy all domestic communications that were improperly intercepted.

Under the law, the NSA is supposed to destroy any intercept if it determines the data was domestically gathered, meaning someone was intercepted on U.S. soil without a warrant when the agency thought they were still overseas. The NSA, however, has said previously it created “destruction waivers” to keep such intercepts in certain cases.

The new documents confirm the NSA has in fact issued such waivers and that it uncovered in 2012 a significant violation in which the waivers were improperly used and the infraction was slow to be reported to the court.

“In light of related filings being presented to the Court at the same time this incident was discovered and the significance of the incident, DOJ should have reported this incident under the our immediate notification process,” then-Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco wrote the FISA court in Aug. 28, 2012, about the episode, according to one memo released through FOIA.

The NSA declined to say how often destruction waivers are given. But Joel, of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has supervised such waivers and affirmed they are “consistent with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and the statutory requirements of Section 702.”

Other violations cited in the memos:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” in which the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

The NSA now targets more than 100,000 individuals a year under Section 702 for foreign spying, and some individual targets get multiple taskings, officials said.

“The actual number of compliance incidents remains classified but from the publicly available data it is irrefutable that the number is in the thousands since Section 702 was fully implemented by 2009,” said a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The increasing transparency on Section 702 violations is having an impact on both critics and supporters of a law that is up for renewal in Congress at the end of this year. Of concern are the instances in which Americans’ data is incidentally collected and then misused.

Retired House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, a Republican who strongly supported the NSA warrantless spying program when it started under President George W. Bush, said he now fears it has now become too big and intrusive.

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstra, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

“One percent or less sounds great, but the truth is 1 percent of my credit card charges don’t come back wrong every month. And in my mind one percent is pretty sloppy when it can impact Americans’ privacy.”

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343785-newly-declassified-memos-detail-extent-of-improper-obama-era-nsa

 

Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

In 1972, some employees of President Nixon’s re-election committee were caught when they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters to plant a bug. This led to Nixon’s resignation and probably would have led to his felony prosecution had he not been pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

But if a single bugging of the political opposition is enough to bring down a presidency — and maybe lead to an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president — then what are we to make of the recently unveiled Obama administration program of massively spying on political opponents in violation of clearly established law?

Because that’s what was unveiled last week.

When the FBI wants to wiretap a domestic suspect, it goes to court for a warrant. But when listening in on foreigners, the National Security Agency hoovers up a vast amount of stuff in bulk: Conversations between foreigners, conversations between Americans and foreigners, conversations between Americans who mention foreigners, and sometimes just plain old conversations between Americans.

There are supposed to be strict safeguards on who can access the information, on how it can be used and on protecting American citizens’ privacy — because the NSA is forbidden by law from engaging in domestic spying. These safeguards were ignored wholesale under the Obama administration, and to many Republicans, it is no coincidence that intelligence leaks damaged Democrats’ political opponents in the 2016 election.

A report from journalists John Solomon and Sara Carter last week, based on recently declassified documents, exposed what went on. As Solomon and Carter write:

More than 5%, or one out of every 20, searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards President Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa. …

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying that the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor,” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans. …  The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard Americans’ privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

As former anti-terrorism prosecutor and national security expert Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review, this is a very serious abuse. And potentially a crime. If such material were leaked to the press for political advantage, that’s another crime.

McCarthy observes: “Enabling of domestic spying, contemptuous disregard of court-ordered minimization procedures (procedures the Obama administration itself proposed, then violated), and unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence to feed a media campaign against political adversaries. Quite the Obama legacy.”

 Will the Justice Department investigate and prosecute former Obama officials? It seems hard to imagine. But then, so did Nixon’s resignation, when the Watergate burglary was first discovered.

This debacle also raises serious questions about the viability of our existing “intelligence community.” In the post-World War II era, we gave massive power to the national security apparatus. In part, that power was granted in the belief that professionalism and patriotism would lead people in those agencies to refuse to let their work be used for partisan political purposes.

It now seems apparent that we overestimated the patriotism and professionalism of the people in these agencies, who allowed them to be politically weaponized by the Obama administration. That being true, if we value democracy, can we permit them to exist in their current form?

That’s a decision that President Trump and Congress will have to face. Ironically, they may be afraid to — for fear that intelligence agencies will engage in further targeted political leaks.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/30/obama-admin-illegal-spying-worse-than-watergate-glenn-reynolds-column/102284058/

 

 

Declassified Memos Show Obama’s NSA Spied On Americans Way More Than You Thought

Back in May the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) found that the National Security Agency (NSA), under former President Obama, routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.   

“The October 26, 2016 Notice disclosed that an NSA Inspector General (IG) review…indicated that, with greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S.-person identifiers to query the result of Internet “upstream” collection, even though NSA’s section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queriesthis disclosure gave the Court substantial concern.”

FISA

The court order went on to reveal that NSA analysts had been conducting illegal queries targeting American citizens “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court”…an issue which the court described as a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collection under Section 702.  The October 26, 2016 Notice informed the Court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court.”

“At the October 26, 2016 hearing, the Court ascribed the government’s failure to disclose those IG and OCO reviews at the October 4, 2016 hearing to an institutional ‘lack of candor’ on NSA’s part and emphasized that ‘this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.'”

FISA

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that President Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect an Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,”said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

Samples of other violations included:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” where the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstrak, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

Of course, the NSA would like for you to take solace in the fact that they spy on you so much that the 1,000’s of reported violations only amount to ~1% of the estimated “taskings.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael T. Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “…The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

Though we do wonder whether our government would be as dismissive if American citizens just decided to keep 1% of the taxes they owe each year…somehow we suspect the IRS wouldn’t be so forgiving of such a ‘small’ error-rate.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-26/declassified-memos-show-obamas-nsa-spied-americans-way-more-you-thought

 

CIA Sought FBI Probe Into Russian Targeting of Trump Campaign

Brennan says Trump campaign contacts with Russians coincided with Moscow’s election hacking

Former Director of the CIA John Brennan

Former director of the CIA John Brennan / Getty Images

BY: 
May 23, 2017 3:59 pm

Former CIA Director John Brennan told a House hearing on Tuesday the CIA first asked the FBI last summer to investigate contacts between Russian intelligence officials and Americans in the Trump campaign.

Skirting concerns involving classified information, John Brennan, President Obama’s CIA chief, provided few details on the intelligence related to Russian recruitment attempts against Trump aides, who he described as “U.S. persons.”

Asked if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Brennan said he did not know. But he said Russian intelligence was actively seeking to suborn Americans and that a number of contacts had taken place with campaign officials.

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind whether or not the Russians were able gain the cooperation of those individuals, ” Brennan told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“I don’t know whether or not such ‘collusion’ existed. I don’t know,” he added. “But there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation to determine whether U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Brennan testified that he knew the names of the Americans but declined to provide the names in the public hearing. He also did not describe the nature of the intelligence on the Americans.

Brennan, a career CIA analyst, was considered among the CIA’s more liberal directors. As a student he voted for a Communist Party USA candidate for president, Gus Hall, during the height of the Cold War. He voiced worries the vote for a communist president would disqualify him from a job in the CIA when he joined in 1980.

As CIA director, Brennan initiated a number of reforms that critics say have weakened the agency, including weakening the CIA operations directorate, its spying branch, by mixing in analysts with espionage and covert action specialists.

Brennan said in July he set up a task force that included FBI agents and National Security Agency officials to look into Russian election meddling. Sometime last summer, he then formally referred intelligence reports on the Russia-Trump campaign contacts to the FBI for further investigation.

The testimony is part of the House committee’s investigation into whether Russian intelligence was able to penetrate the Trump presidential election campaign. It is also investigating how electronic intelligence related to the U.S. investigations of the matter was leaked to the press.

Brennan, in declining to specify the CIA intelligence on the Russian contacts, said documents related to the matter have been provided to the committee by the agency.

FBI Director James Comey announced to Congress in March that the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence probe into “any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

President Trump has dismissed the Russian collusion allegations as a hoax. He fired Comey earlier this month in part over concerns that the FBI was pursuing an unwarranted probe into the Russia ties.

A Justice Department special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, was appointed earlier this month to investigate the Russian effort to penetrate the Trump campaign.

Brennan was asked several times during the hearing whether he could confirm collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and said he could not. However, the context of the contacts—Russian intelligence had hacked and disseminated Democratic Party-related documents—raised concerns that he said needed to be investigated.

Brennan said, “I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”

Brennan said on August 4 that he spoke to Alexander Bortnikov, director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main intelligence agency, as part of an intelligence-sharing arrangement related to Syria.

The former CIA chief then complained about Russian mistreatment of U.S. diplomats in Moscow before shifting to the topic of Russian election meddling.

“I next raised the published media reports of Russian attempts to interfere in our upcoming presidential election,” he said. “I told Mr. Bortnikov that if Russia had such a campaign underway, it would be certain to backfire. I said that all Americans regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption. I said American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in election.”

The FBI counterspy probe had begun about two months earlier. Brennan was not asked during the hearing whether he raised Russian attempts to try and recruit Trump campaign officials during the conversation with Bortnikov.

Bortnikov, in the conversation, denied Moscow was engaged in an influence operation against the election, Brennan said.

Brennan also disclosed under questioning that the FBI sought to pursue information contained in a private intelligence dossier done by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

The CIA did not rely on the dossier for its intelligence reporting on Russian activities related to the campaign. “It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence” on Russian influence activities and was not made part of the final report, Brennan said.

The FBI, however, tried to confirm elements of the report, Brennan noted.

The dossier, produced by a private company linked to the Democratic Party, asserted that Russia has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for five years. The document has been widely discredited as containing false information, however.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah) said he has reviewed raw CIA intelligence related to the intelligence community assessment of Russian election meddling and said he does not agree with its conclusion that Moscow sought to boost Trump’s chances of winning.

“I don’t agree with the conclusion [of the intelligence community assessment] particularly that it’s such a high level of confidence,” Stewart said.

“I just think there should have been allowances made for some of the ambiguity in that, and especially for those who didn’t share in the conclusion that there is a high degree of confidence.”

Allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign remain unconfirmed but have set off a bitter political battle.

Democrats in Congress have charged the Russians secretly worked with Trump campaign associates to skew the election against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Since the election that brought Trump to power, many Democrats have alleged the win was the result of a conspiracy between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign to defeat Clinton.

Republicans have questioned whether there is any solid evidence linking Moscow to the Trump campaign.

Congressional Republicans also are investigating whether highly classified intelligence gathered against foreign officials in the United States was misused to gather political intelligence against Trump and his transition team.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the House intelligence committee chairman, has charged that documents he has reviewed indicate that Americans were improperly spied on during an Obama administration foreign intelligence monitoring operation between November and January—the period when the Trump transition team was functioning.

Nunes, who was sidelined from the Russian investigation by an ethics probe related to the intelligence disclosures, also has said there are indications intelligence agencies may have improperly “unmasked” the identities of Americans that are normally blacked out in foreign intelligence reports to protect privacy rights.

The New York Times reported in March that during this period, the Obama administration was frantically seeking to uncover and preserve intelligence on Russia-Trump campaign ties, fearing the new president would destroy it once in power.

Three Trump aides have been the focus of the Democrats’ allegations. They include former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and unofficial campaign adviser Carter Page.

“Every day the American public is bombarded with news about the Russian interference in our elections,” said the committee’s acting chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas).

“Many of [these] reports are false and/or misleading,” he said. “Today is an opportunity to focus on the truth and the truth can be only found through a full and fair investigation of all the facts.”

Committee Vice Chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) called the Russian influence operation during the 2016 campaign “an unprecedented attack on our democratic institutions.”

Schiff during earlier hearings had asked several questions of intelligence and law enforcement witnesses based on the discredited dossier.

http://freebeacon.com/politics/cia-sought-fbi-probe-russian-targeting-trump-campaign/

Trump’s Tweets Don’t Excuse Media Ignoring Obama Surveillance Story

The media need to separate anger over Trump’s unfounded wiretap tweets from legitimate questions about Obama administration surveillance.

By Mollie Hemingway

In an interview released earlier this week, John Dickerson of CBS News asked President Donald Trump 10 times about his claims of surveillance by the Obama administration. Dickerson began by asking if Obama had given Trump any helpful advice. Trump said Obama had been nice but that words were less important to him than deeds, and referenced “surveillance.”

Trump said the surveillance was inappropriate and Dickerson asked him what that meant. They went back and forth a bit, with Dickerson asking if Trump stood by his claims regarding Obama being “sick and bad” — a reference to his March tweets claiming Trump Tower had been wiretapped.

Let’s revisit those tweets from March 4. They said:

  • Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
  • Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
  • I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
  • How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

Now, by the time Trump tweeted this in early March, it had been reported for months that Trump Tower had been wiretapped in October, but the reporting was mostly done by conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch, so it was not taken very seriously. She had also reported that an initial request for a FISA warrant against Trump and associates had been turned down.

The media responded to these tweets from the president by, reasonably, asking him for proof of President Obama literally wiretapping Trump Tower. No evidence of wiretaps being laid down in Trump Tower has been provided by the president or anyone else. Congressional committees investigating both Russian meddling and illegal leaks by U.S. officials have said they have no evidence of literal wiretaps, much less ones placed personally by President Obama. And intelligence agency chiefs have said they have no evidence of literal wiretaps of Trump Tower.

Because President Trump made incendiary and unsubstantiated claims about wiretapping that he’s been unable to prove, the media have interpreted this, for some reason, as an excuse to pretend that there is nothing at all whatsoever to claims that the Obama administration spied on members of the Trump campaign and the incoming administration. That question — of surveillance of Trump and associates by intelligence agencies — is a separate question from whether President Obama snuck into Trump Tower one night on hands and knees to personally lay down some taps on Trump’s phone lines.

When I’ve raised this point with journalists, most if not all of them have been unable to separate these issues. Some have accused me of wanting to talk about Obama administration surveillance against Trump in order to defend Trump’s erroneous tweets. One claimed I was “twisting theories to try to make a Trump falsehood true.” Wrong. I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that Trump has provided no evidence for his surveillance tweets. With full credit to the literal-serious divide on the president’s rhetoric, he should be more precise with his language if he wanted to talk about general surveillance instead of the comparatively specific claims he made in his tweets.

In any case, I’m beginning to wonder if journalists’ refusal to discuss, much less really dig into, the information collection and dissemination on Trump associates is itself a desire to not give any credence to Trump’s more outlandish claims in his tweets. It reminds me a bit of an ex-boyfriend who accused me of cheating on him. I wasn’t, but he was not faithful.

Journalists need to know that they can and should separate Trump’s irresponsible tweets from the general questions about Obama officials and others in intelligence agencies surveilling a political campaign and presidential transition.

A ‘Shockingly High Percentage’

Last week, ABC News and the Washington Post put out a poll that “alarmed” CNN’s Jake Tapper. He focused on it for an end-of-show lecture on fake news. “A shockingly high percentage of Americans believe President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign,” Tapper reported.

He mentioned Trump’s tweets and showed clips of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and FBI Director James Comey saying there was no evidence of wiretaps. He could have mentioned the many other knowledgeable people denying the presence of a Trump Tower wiretap. He went on:

So that would have seemingly been that, except that the president and his team kept pushing ways to try to make this evidence-free claim somewhere sort of possibly in the neighborhood of almost not entirely false. Now they failed, but they muddied the waters quite a bit. And now here are the shocking numbers from today.

32 percent of the public thinks President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign and 52 percent of Republicans believe this charge. A charge that there is literally no evidence to support. It is the definition of fake news.

There are several problems with this complaint. The poll question was fairly broad, if awkwardly worded. The wording is slightly different than characterized above. It was: “Do you think the Obama administration intentionally spied on Trump and members of his campaign during the 2016 election campaign, or not?” What is “intentional” spying referring to, exactly? And would respondents have an agreement about what that means? Who is considered a part of the Obama administration, exactly? Is the timing of the question meant to exclude the leaks that occurred after Trump won the election? After the Electoral College voted? Until inauguration?

Still, the only shocking thing about the number is that it isn’t higher. What Tapper doesn’t mention is that CNN itself reported the previous week that the FBI began spying on a Trump campaign advisor last summer. Here’s how their story began:

The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump’s campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

That story, which probably arose out of a desire to cushion the blow from questions Sen. Chuck Grassley began asking about the FBI’s use of a shady and discredited dossier, explained that the FBI was spying on a member of the Trump campaign named Carter Page. I repeat, the FBI had secured a FISA warrant to spy on a member of the Trump campaign, according to CNN. I know that the media have serious credibility problems, but you can’t get mad at people for believing what you report.

The FBI is in the executive branch’s Justice Department, although its intelligence activities are overseen by the director of national intelligence. Obama’s DNI was James Clapper, who has repeatedly denied the frequent speculation of his involvement with leaks against Trump.

Another complicating factor is what we know about unmasking of Trump associates. In an era where nearly all the stories regarding intelligence officials leaking information on Trump come from anonymous sources, we have Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, saying on the record that he’d seen documents that show:

1) Information was collected on the Trump team by Obama administration agencies.
2) This information, which was politically valuable, had little to no reason to be shared in intelligence reports to Obama officials, but was disseminated widely.
3) Obama officials may have flouted legally required attempts to minimize and mask personal identifying information.
4) The unmasking had nothing to do with Russia.

It was later reported that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security advisor, was one of the Obama officials who had requested the unmasking. While some anonymous sources, some of whom have been included in news reports despite not having seen the documents in question, claim there are non-nefarious reasons for such unmasking and dissemination of politically sensitive information on political opponents, it doesn’t change the claim that unmasking and dissemination of politically valuable information with no intelligence value was committed by the Obama administration.

Would it be reasonable to answer a question on the Obama administration spying on Trump and associates in the affirmative with the knowledge of this claim of unmasking and dissemination of politically sensitive information with little to no intelligence value?

Our media have been little other than anonymous leak receptacles for months. Whether it was leaks about Trump campaign associates supposedly having nefarious ties to Russia, the criminal leak of Mike Flynn’s name, the criminal leak of information about a FISA warrant being secured against Carter Page, the orchestrated release of information about the presentation of a shoddy dossier to President-elect Trump and President Obama, or any of the dozens of leaks used to orchestrate a Russia scare narrative, it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of smarts to figure out that when transcripts or snippets of information are shipped to reporters, the information must first be collected via surveillance and other means. Many of these leaks were sourced to senior intelligence officials during the last days of the Obama administration, after which many of these leaks were sourced to former senior intelligence officials.

There’s also the issue that the same ABC News/Washington Post poll mentioned above showed that 72 percent of Clinton voters think not only that Russia tried to influence the election, but that the Trump campaign intentionally tried to assist such an effort. A few months ago, the last time I saw the question asked, a majority of voters believed that Russians had actually hacked the vote tallies in the election. Needless to say, there is as much evidence to support these claims as there is to support Trump’s wiretap tweets, which is to say none at all.

Is it more alarming that 52 percent of Republicans believe the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign or that 72 percent of Clinton voters think that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in their hacking and release of Democratic emails? Is it embarrassing to mention the Clinton voter figure on account of how much media outlets have perpetuated this unfounded story?

In his segment, Tapper intoned:

We learned in the campaign that Donald Trump can be cavalier about facts and truth. We learned in his first 100 days that that’s not going to change. Indeed, that some in the government and some of his friends and conservative media will even work to tried and make his falsehoods seem true.

Again, while all of that may be true, it’s also true that we have a media establishment that works to downplay, denigrate, and dismiss legitimate stories if they fear that those stories in any way help a president they oppose.

That reflexive refusal to fairly cover — or just cover, period — stories that might help the president is not how readers or viewers are served. Journalists should go where the stories lead, even if they threaten to harm their best Obama intelligence sources and leakers from the last few months or help a president they worked very hard to defeat. If they need to mention their frustration with his tweets 18 times before they cover FISA warrants, unmasking, or other intelligence actions, that’s fine. But they can’t let that frustration keep them from covering a big story in the public interest.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/30/obama-admin-illegal-spying-worse-than-watergate-glenn-reynolds-column/102284058/

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The Pronk Pops Show 932, Story 1: O.J. Simpson Granted Parole When Eligible — The Juice Will Soon Be Loose — Videos — Story 2: President Trump’s First Six Months — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Will Keep Attorney General Sessions For Now — Videos

Posted on July 20, 2017. Filed under: Blogroll, Breaking News, Congress, Constitutional Law, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Employment, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Freedom of Speech, Government Dependency, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Human, Independence, Insurance, Investments, Language, Law, Life, Media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Security, Senate, Success, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

 

Story 1: O.J. Simpson Granted Parole When Eligible — The Juice Will Soon Be Loose — Videos

Image result for o j simpson paroled today

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Image result for trump first six months list of achievements

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O.J. Simpson granted parole

Nevada Board Grants OJ Simpson Parole

OJ Simpson’s parole hearing decision

BBC – OJ Simpson the Untold Story

Alan Dershowitz on OJ trial: We didn’t win, they lost

Will OJ Simpson see financial windfall if paroled?

What to know about O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing

Why Psychopath Double Murderer O.J. Simpson Was Paroled to No One’s Surprise

O.J. Simpson is granted parole after serving 9 years for Vegas robbery

By David Montero and Matt PearceContact Reporter

O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday for convictions connected to a robbery in Las Vegas about a decade ago. He could be out of jail as early as October.

The moment the former football star received his fourth and final vote from the Nevada Board of Parole recommending release, Simpson dropped his head before responding, “Thank you.”

He didn’t look at his attorney or his daughter Arnelle Simpson, who had come to argue for his release. After nine years in prison, Simpson, 70, instead bowed his head again and placed his hands on the simple wooden table; once again, his every movement was broadcast to millions of people on national television who were curious to see his fate.

On social media, a familiar cry rang out: “The Juice is loose.”

The ruling came after a hearing in which Simpson testified that he longed to be reunited with his family and children and that he has no interest in returning to the media spotlight following his conviction for the armed robbery of two memorabilia dealers.

Prison had separated the Hall of Fame running back from the glitzy lifestyle he once led, Simpson testified at the hearing. He hasn’t drunk alcohol in nine years and said he didn’t miss it. He has been the commissioner of an 18-team prison softball league. He took a prison computer class not because he was interested in computers, but so he could exchange electronic messages with his four children, because, he said, his kids were less responsive to phone calls.

“Are you humbled by this incarceration?” parole commissioner Susan Jackson asked.

“Oh, yes, sure,” Simpson responded. “I wish this would have never happened. … If I would have made a better judgment back then, none of this would have happened.”

Simpson expressed some regret but did not appear overly apologetic during the hearing. Remorse, however, is not a requirement for parole under Nevada law. “The board does not require that an inmate state or indicate that they are remorseful,” Board of Parole spokesman David M. Smith said.

During the hearing, Simpson was assured by one of his victims that the former football star and actor already has a ride waiting for him when he gets out.

“I feel that it’s time to give him a second chance; it’s time for him to go home to his family, his friends,” Bruce Fromong, a sports memorabilia dealer and a friend of Simpson’s, told the Nevada Board of Parole.

Fromong was threatened and robbed by Simpson and some of his associates in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007, and his testimony in that case led to Simpson’s imprisonment. But, Fromong told the board, “if he called me tomorrow and said, ‘Bruce I’m getting out, would you pick me up?….’ ” At that point, Fromong paused, turned to Simpson and addressed the former USC gridiron star by his nickname: “Juice, I’d be here tomorrow. I mean that, buddy.”

The board recessed late Thursday morning after hearing more than an hour of testimony from Simpson; Arnelle Simpson, his oldest daughter; and Fromong. The panel returned about a half-hour later and unanimously voted to grant parole.

Arnelle Simpson became emotional shortly after beginning her testimony, sometimes stopping to shake her head.

“No one really knows how much we have been through, this ordeal the last nine years,” she said. She stopped and exhaled deeply, excusing herself before putting her fist up to her mouth to steady herself. “My experience with him — is that he’s like my best friend, my rock.”

She added: “As a family, we recognize he is not a perfect man. … But he has done his best.”

Simpson looked upbeat during his first public appearance in years, smiling and nodding to parole commissioners through a video link.

But while the parole hearing was specific to the 2008 robbery conviction, many of his answers to the four commissioners brought back memories of his acquittal in the 1995 double-murder of Ron Goldman and Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

“I’m in no danger to pull a gun on anybody. I’ve never been accused of it,” he said. “Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them.”

Goldman and Brown were killed with a knife.

Simpson lawyer Malcolm LaVergne noted the murders — and how they played no part in Thursday’s proceedings — during a televised news conference in Lovelock, Nev., after the board’s decision.

“Obviously, there’s a 10,000-pound elephant in that room, and I think we were very successful in making sure that that elephant was sleeping and that it was washed and very clean and that it never started to rear its head,” LaVergne said.

Simpson, who turned 70 this month, only barely resembles the athletic younger man who was tried and acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife and her friend in 1994.

Wearing standard-issue blue jeans, a blue button-down shirt and a white T-shirt, Simpson appeared with close-cropped gray hair, and he looked slightly stiff as he sat at a plain wooden table inside a prison five miles outside Lovelock, where he has served nine years in prison for a robbery and kidnapping conviction in 2008.

Through a slight delay, Simpson blinked rapidly and blew out a deep breath at one point as he listened to state parole chairwoman Connie Bisbee read off the list of charges that landed him a sentence of nine to 33 years in prison.

“Mr. Simpson, you are getting the same hearing everyone else gets,” Bisbee said, then acknowledging the media firestorm that Simpson’s hearing has generated — one of the few news events to edge President Trump off the national news broadcasts. “Thank you, ma’am,” Simpson replied, laughing.

This was Simpson’s second parole hearing. His last one in 2013 resulted in parole on one of the charges stemming from the robbery and kidnapping conviction in 2008.

The commissioners asked Simpson a series of questions about how he had conducted himself in prison, what he thought his life would be like outside prison and whether he felt humbled by his convictions.

Simpson said on several occasions he was “a good guy” and indicated that he mostly wanted to spend time with his family in Florida — bemoaning missed graduations and birthdays — and that the state of Nevada might be glad to be rid of him.

“No comment,” one of the commissioners said to some laughter.

He expressed regret at being involved with the crime, but drew some pushback from commissioners who took issue with his version of events, in which he said he didn’t know a gun had been brandished in the hotel room during the robbery.

But Simpson held to his version, repeatedly apologizing and expressing regret that he had left a wedding in Las Vegas to go recover memorabilia he said was his.

“I am sorry things turned out the way they did,” Simpson said. “I had no intent to commit a crime.”

At one point, Simpson said he had not made any excuses for what he did during the years he’d spent in prison, but in the same sentence, he turned the blame toward the men who had joined him in intimidating the memorabilia dealers.

“I never should have allowed these alleged security guys to help me,” Simpson said. “These guys took over.”

Because it’s Simpson, there was high interest. On Wednesday night, media satellite trucks already were camped in the dusty parking lot facing the fences and guard towers of the prison. In Carson City, where the parole board met 100 miles to the southwest, trucks were lined up in a business park. The commissioners received hundreds of letters from members of the public, either urging them to release Simpson or keep him in prison, with many of them referencing the 1994 case.

In his testimony, Simpson referred to the effect of the incident on Fromong. “Bruce was traumatized by it,” Simpson said, adding, “He accepted my apology.” Another victim of the robbery, Alfred Beardsley, died in November.

Simpson has tangled with the legal system over the last three decades — most famously in 1995 when he was acquitted of charges that he murdered Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. His robbery conviction in 2008 was for his attempt at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to steal memorabilia he said belonged to him.

The same four board members who granted Simpson parole four years ago were at Thursday’s hearing: Bisbee, Jackson, Tony Corda and Adam Endel.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-oj-simpson-parole-board-20170720-story.html

Story 2: President Trump’s First Six Months — Videos

Donald Trump’s first six months as US President in 90 seconds

Summary Video of President Donald Trump’s First Six Months

President Trump’s Six Months of America First

Victory After Victory In Trump’s First 6 Months

Panel Discuss Surprises from Trump’s First Six Months in Office. #POTUS #Presidency

President Trump’s first six months: by the numbers

Donald Trump’s 6 Month Report Card: 991 Tweets, 836 Lies, 0 Legislative Accomplishments

Pros and Cons: Trump’s First Six Months in Office

2 Million Illegals Just Got SERVED By Trump’s DHS Sec Who Issued Sudden Shock Announcement

Trump sent over 1,000 tweets in first six months as president

President Trump has tweeted more than 1,000 times since taking office six months ago, and more than 9,000 times since launching his campaign in 2015.

Trump has tweeted 1,002 times since taking office, a 45 percent drop in activity from the same length of time before his January inauguration, according to a Mashable report released Thursday.

Since he announced his campaign on June 16, 2015, Trump has tweeted 9,146 times.

The president’s six-month Twitter milestone was also captured by a CNN news alert, which cited a slightly lower number of tweets. It’s unclear exactly which dates CNN used to count Trump’s tweets.

“In 6 months, Pres. Trump has tweeted 991 times, spent 40 days at Trump golf properties, and passed 0 pieces of major legislation,” CNN’s news alert reads.

According to Mashable, if Trump keeps his Twitter habit up at its current levels, he will tweet more than 8,000 times before the end of his first term.

Last month, top White House aides advised Trump to dial back his use of the social media platform, warning him that his unvetted tweets could “paint him into a corner” and staging a Twitter “intervention.”

Shortly after his victory over Hillary Clinton but prior to taking office, the president suggested he would be more restrained as president on Twitter.

“I’m going to do very restrained. If I use it at all, I’m going to be very restrained,” Trump said in a November interview with “60 Minutes.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/342979-trump-sent-over-a-thousand-tweets-in-first-six-months-as-president

 

Story 3: President Trump Will Keep Attorney General Sessions For Now — Videos

Trump: ‘I Would Have Picked Somebody Else’ If I Knew Sessions Would Recuse Himself from Russia Probe

TRUMP NOT HAPPY WITH SESSIONS RECUSAL

President Trump Criticizes AG Sessions’ Handling Of Russia Investigation

President Trump Criticizes AG Sessions’ Handling Of Russia Investigation

 

Trump: ‘Sessions should have never recused himself’ from Russia investigation

President Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation Wednesday and warned special counselor Robert Mueller over alleged conflicts of interest in a New York Times interview published Wednesday.

In a remarkable denunciation of one of his earliest and most powerful supporters, Trump slammed Sessions’ recusal as “very unfair to the president” and said he would have never appointed Sessions attorney general if he had known he would do so.

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?” Trump asked rhetorically. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.'”

There was no immediate comment from Sessions, who announced March 2 that he would recuse himself from overseeing the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election campaign. Sessions stepped aside after media reports that he had two conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. and failed to disclose them to Congress during his confirmation process.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is overseeing Mueller’s investigation. In his interview, Trump told the Times that he had interviewed Mueller to replace the fired James Comey as FBI Director before Rosenstein appointed him special counsel.

He was up here and he wanted the job,” Trump said of Mueller. “Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

The president lobbed similar conflict of interest charges at Rosenstein and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He also accused Comey of briefing him on a dossier of unverified, incriminating information in an effort to gain leverage over the soon-to-be president.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the interview.

Trump also addressed a newly disclosed conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit earlier this month. Trump said the pair spoke for about 15 minutes at the dinner and said the conversation consisted of “pleasantries more than anything else” — though he said he and Putin also discussed adoption.

Russia had banned Americans from adopting Russian children in response to the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress in 2012, which allowed the U.S. to impose sanctions on Russians deemed as human rights violators.

It’s the same topic Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., says he discussed with a Russian lawyer at a meeting that has drawn intense scrutiny — a coincidence Trump described in the interview as “interesting.”

According to the Times, the 50-minute interview with Trump took place Wednesday afternoon, following a lunch with Republican senators during which he told them not to go on their August recess until they presented him with a bill repealing ObamaCare

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/07/19/trump-sessions-should-have-never-recused-himself-from-russia-investigation.html

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

While the interview touched on an array of issues, including health care, foreign affairs and politics, the investigation dominated the conversation. He said that as far as he knew, he was not under investigation himself, despite reports that Mr. Mueller is looking at whether the president obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey.

“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Describing a newly disclosed informal conversation he had with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a dinner of world leaders in Germany this month, Mr. Trump said they talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries.” But Mr. Trump did say that they talked “about adoption.” Mr. Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children in 2012 after the United States enacted sanctions on Russians accused of human rights abuses, an issue that remains a sore point in relations with Moscow.

Photo

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in June.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

Mr. Trump acknowledged that it was “interesting” that adoptions came up since his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that was the topic of a meeting he had with several Russians with ties to the Kremlin during last year’s campaign. Even though emails show that the session had been set up to pass along incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, the president said he did not need such material from Russia about Mrs. Clinton last year because he already had more than enough.

The interview came as the White House was trying to regain momentum after the collapse of health care legislation even while the president’s son, son-in-law and former campaign chairman were being asked to talk with Senate investigators. Relaxed and engaged, the president sat at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, with only one aide, Hope Hicks, sitting in on the interview. The session was sandwiched between a White House lunch with Republican senators and an event promoting “Made in America” week.

Over the course of 50 minutes, the often-fiery Mr. Trump demonstrated his more amiable side, joking about holding hands with the president of France and musing about having a military parade down a main avenue in Washington. He took satisfaction that unemployment has fallen and stock markets have risen to record highs on his watch.

At one point, his daughter Ivanka arrived at the doorway with her daughter, Arabella, who ran to her grandfather and gave him a kiss. He greeted the 6-year-old girl as “baby,” then urged her to show the reporters her ability to speak Chinese. She obliged.

But Mr. Trump left little doubt during the interview that the Russia investigation remained a sore point. His pique at Mr. Sessions, in particular, seemed fresh even months after the attorney general’s recusal. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy and was rewarded with a key cabinet slot, but has been more distant from the president lately.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Mr. Trump also faulted Mr. Sessions for his testimony during Senate confirmation hearings when Mr. Sessions said he had not had “communications with the Russians” even though he had met at least twice with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. “Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the president said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”

A spokesman for Mr. Sessions declined to comment on Wednesday.

The president added a new allegation against Mr. Comey, whose dismissal has become a central issue for critics who said it amounted to an attempt to obstruct the investigation into Russian meddling in the election and any possible collusion with Mr. Trump’s team.

Mr. Trump recalled that a little more than two weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower on Russian meddling. Mr. Comey afterward pulled Mr. Trump aside and told him about a dossier that had been assembled by a former British spy filled with salacious allegations against the incoming president, including supposed sexual escapades in Moscow. The F.B.I. has not corroborated the most sensational assertions in the dossier.

In the interview, Mr. Trump said he believed Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president. “In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Mr. Trump said. As leverage? “Yeah, I think so,” Mr. Trump said. “In retrospect.”

The president dismissed the assertions in the dossier: “When he brought it to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal.”

Mr. Comey declined to comment on Wednesday.

But Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials decided it was best for him to raise the subject with Mr. Trump alone because he was going to remain as F.B.I. director. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that he disclosed the details of the dossier to Mr. Trump because he thought that the news media would soon be publishing details from it and that Mr. Trump had a right to know what information was out there about him. A two-page summary about the dossier was widely reported the week before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, including by The Times.

Mr. Trump rebutted Mr. Comey’s claim that in a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on Feb. 14, the president asked him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that Mr. Trump kicked the vice president, attorney general and several other senior administration officials out of the room before having the discussion with Mr. Comey.

“I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Mr. Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?”

He expressed no second thoughts about firing Mr. Comey, saying, “I did a great thing for the American people.”

Mr. Trump was also critical of Mr. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, reprising some of his past complaints that lawyers in his office contributed money to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. He noted that he actually interviewed Mr. Mueller to replace Mr. Comey just before his appointment as special counsel.

“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Mr. Trump said. After he was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

The president also expressed discontent with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former federal prosecutor from Baltimore. When Mr. Sessions recused himself, the president said he was irritated to learn where his deputy was from. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” he said of the predominantly Democratic city.

He complained that Mr. Rosenstein had in effect been on both sides when it came to Mr. Comey. The deputy attorney general recommended Mr. Comey be fired but then appointed Mr. Mueller, who may be investigating whether the dismissal was an obstruction of justice. “Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”

In an interview with Fox News before Mr. Trump’s comments were published, Mr. Rosenstein said he was confident Mr. Mueller could avoid any conflict of interests. “We have a process with the department to take care of that,” he said.

As for Andrew G. McCabe, the acting F.B.I. director, the president suggested that he, too, had a conflict. Mr. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, received nearly $500,000 in 2015 during a losing campaign for the Virginia Senate from a political action committee affiliated with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is close friends with Hillary and Bill Clinton.

In his first description of his dinnertime conversation with Mr. Putin at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, Mr. Trump played down its significance. He said his wife, Melania, was seated next to Mr. Putin at the other end of a table filled with world leaders.

“The meal was going toward dessert,” he said. “I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”

He noted the adoption issue came up in the June 2016 meeting between his son and Russian visitors. “I actually talked about Russian adoption with him,” he said, meaning Mr. Putin. “Which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don had in that meeting.”

But the president repeated that he did not know about his son’s meeting at the time and added that he did not need the Russians to provide damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.

“There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” he said. “Unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-sessions-russia.html?referer=&_r=0

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The Pronk Pops Show 927, July 12, 2017: Story 1: Putin’s Sting — How Russian Intelligence Service (FSB) Played The Washington Political Elitist Establishment (Democrats and Republicans) And Big Lie Media And How They Fell Hook, Line and Sinker for Russian Intelligence Disinformation Campaign — Russian Trump Dossier — The Dangers of Opposition Research, Confirmation Bias, True Believers, Useful Idiots, Blind Ambition and Two Party Tyranny — The Sting Redux — Videos –Story 2: Republican Sellout The Republican Voter Base By Not Repealing Obamacare Completely — Leaves Many Obamacare Regulations, Subsidies, and Taxes In Place –Republican Replacement of Obamacare  Is A Big Bailout Bill of Insurance Industry — The Stupid Republican Party About To Commit Political Suicide — Rest In Peace — Videos

Posted on July 13, 2017. Filed under: American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, James Comey, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Life, Media, Monetary Policy, National Interest, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Security, Senate, Spying, Success, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, United Kingdom, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

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Image result for cartoons russian trump dossierImage result for cartoons russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons branco russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons branco russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons russian trump dossier

 

 

Story 1: Putin’s Sting — How Russian Intelligence Service (FSB) Played The Washington Political Elitist Establishment (Democrats and Republicans) And Big Lie Media And How They Fell Hook, Line and Sinker for Russian Intelligence Disinformation Campaign — Russian Trump Dossier — The Dangers of Opposition Research, Confirmation Bias, True Believers, Useful Idiots, Blind Ambition and Two Party Tyranny — The Sting Redux — Videos —

“You can fool all the people some of the time,

and some of the people all the time,

but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

“Perception is reality.”

~Lee Atwater

“People readily believe what they want to believe.”

~Julius Caesar

“Never give a sucker an even break.”

~W. C. Fields

Spoiler Alerts

Image result for The Sting poster

[Figuring out which con to pull on Lonnegan]

J.J. Singleton: I dunno know what to do with this guy, Henry. He’s an Irishman who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t chase dames. He’s a grand knight in the Knights of Columbus, and he only goes out to play faro. Sometimes plays 15 or 20 hours at a time, just him against the house.

Henry Gondorff: Roulette? Craps?

J.J. Singleton: He won’t touch ’em. The croupier at Gilman’s says he never plays anything he can’t win.

Henry Gondorff: Sports?

J.J. Singleton: Likes to be seen with fighters sometimes, but he doesn’t go to the fights or bet on ’em.

Henry Gondorff: Jesus. Does he do anything where he’s not alone?

J.J. Singleton: Just poker. And he cheats. Pretty good at it, too.

 

First con of The Sting

The Sting – Poker Game

The Sting (8/10) Movie CLIP – A Real Professional (1973) HD

The Sting (10/10) Movie CLIP – It’s Close (1973) HD

President Donald Trump: Meeting With Russian Lawyer Was ‘Opposition Research’ | CNBC

Donald Trump JR is being SETUP by Fusion GPS (FAKE DOSSIER)

Report: Senate to Investigate Democratic Ties to Trump Russian Dossier

Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump and his campaign aides.

 

How credible are reports that Russia has compromising information about Trump?

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Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West – Part 2

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KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov’s warning to America

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How To Brainwash A Nation

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BREAKING Dems Intentionally Used FAKE Russian Disinformation to Attack Trump

WOW Government Official Admits to FBI Coup Attempt on Trump

Propaganda, Disinformation, and Dirty Tricks: The Resurgence of Russian Political Warfare

Peter Pomerantsev: From Information to Disinformation Age – Russia and the Future of Propaganda Wars

Inside Russia’s propaganda machine

Russian propaganda war against West heats up | Moscow’s Version

The Propaganda of Propaganda

Inside the Democrats’ opposition research shop

12 Cognitive Biases Explained – How to Think Better and More Logically Removing Bias

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias (explained in a minute) – Behavioural Finance

Scott Adams talks about the Comey fog of confirmation bias

Scott Adams talks about Putin and President Trump

Trump’s “Tools of Persuasion” according to Dilbert creator Scott Adams

Scott Adams says stop obstructing my witch hunt \ 2017.06.23

Scott Adams predicts what happens after the public realizes President Trump is effective

Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump, campaign aides

 – The Washington Times – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

While the mainstream news media hunts for evidence of TrumpRussia collusion, the public record shows that Democrats have willfully used Moscow disinformation to influence the presidential election against Donald Trumpand attack his administration.

The disinformation came in the form of a Russian-fed dossier written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. It contains a series of unverified criminal charges against Mr. Trump’s campaign aides, such as coordinating Moscow’s hacking of Democratic Party computers.

Some Democrats have widely circulated the discredited information. Mr. Steele was paid by the Democrat-funded opposition research firm Fusion GPS with money from a Hillary Clinton backer. Fusion GPS distributed the dossier among Democrats and journalists. The information fell into the hands of the FBI, which used it in part to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign aides.

Mr. Steele makes clear that his unproven charges came almost exclusively from sources linked to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He identified his sources as “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure,” a former “top level Russian intelligence officer active inside the Kremlin,” a “senior Kremlin official” and a “senior Russian government official.”

The same Democrats who have condemned Russia’s election interference via plying fake news and hacking email servers have quoted freely from the Steele anti-Trump memos derived from creatures of the Kremlin.

In other words, there is public evidence of significant, indirect collusion between Democrats and Russian disinformation, a Trump supporter said.

“If anyone colluded with the Russians, it was the Democrats,” said a former Trump campaign adviser who asked not to be identified because of the pending investigations. “After all, they’ve routinely shopped around false claims from the debunked Steele dossier, which listed sources including senior Kremlin officials. If anyone should be investigated in Washington, it ought to be Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Mark Warner and their staffers.”

That is a reference to Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Sen. Mark R. Warner, Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California, Democrat on the House intelligence panel.

By his own admission, Mr. Steele’s work has proved unreliable.

As first reported by The Washington Times on April 25, Mr. Steele filed a document in a sealed court case in Londonacknowledging that a major dossier charge about hacking Democrats’ computers was unverified. The entire dossier never should have been made public and Fusion GPS should not have passed it around, Mr. Steele said in a filing defending himself against a libel charge.

About Carter Page

Other dossier targets vehemently deny the dirt thrown by the Kremlin sources.

Mr. Steele’s Russian sources accused Mr. Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, of attending a meeting with Russian agents in Prague to cover up their role in Moscow’s hacking. Mr. Cohen has said he has never been to Prague and was in California at the time.

One of the main targets of Mr. Steele’s Russian sources is Carter Page, who lived and worked in Moscow as a Merrill Lynch investor. He had loose ties to the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser and surrogate.

Mr. Steele’s Russian sources accused Mr. Page of a series of crimes: teaming up with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to help Russia hack Democratic computers, meeting in Moscow with two Putin cronies to plot against Mrs. Clinton and working out a shady brokerage deal with a Russian oligarch.

Mr. Page told The Washington Times that he has never met Mr. Manafort, knew nothing about Russian hacking when it was happening, never met the two Russians named by Mr. Steele and never completed the supposed investment deal.

The dossier accusations against Mr. Page surfaced during the campaign in a Yahoo News story, citing not Mr. Steelebut intelligence sources. It then went out on the U.S. government’s Voice of America.

In the meantime, the Clinton campaign used the Yahoo story to attack Mr. Trump: “Hillary for America Statement on Bombshell Report About Trump Aide’s Chilling Ties to Kremlin,” blared the Clinton campaign’s Sept. 23 press release.

Since the dossier was circulated widely among Democrats, Mr. Page said, he believes the Clinton team possessed it and relied on it based on what some of Mrs. Clinton’s surrogates said publicly.

“After the report by Yahoo News, the Clinton campaign put out an equally false press release just minutes after the article was released that afternoon,” said Mr. Page, who has tracked what he believes is a series of inaccurate stories and accusations against him.

“Of course, the [Clinton campaign representatives] were lying about it with the media nonstop for many months, and they’ve continued until this day,” Mr. Page said. “Both indirectly as they planted articles in the press and directly with many TV appearances.”

Democrats cite Russia’s dirt

Even before the Yahoo story, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, was using the Russian-sourced dossier.

On Aug. 27, with the campaign in high gear and knowledge that Russian hackers had penetrated Clinton campaign computers in the public domain, Mr. Reid released a letter to then-FBI Director James B. Comey.

Mr. Reid called for an investigation into Mr. Page’s trip to Moscow, where he supposedly “met with high-ranking sanctioned individuals. Any such meetings should be investigated and made part of the public record.”

Mr. Reid’s evidence surely came from the dossier and its Russian sources.

In the dossier, Mr. Steele clearly states that his anti-Trump accusations are from the Kremlin, which means some Democrats have been willingly repeating Moscow propaganda for public consumption in Washington.

No Democrats have embraced the Russian-sourced dossier more than members of the House intelligence committee, which is investigating Moscow’s interference in the election.

Mr. Schiff read from the dossier extensively at a March hearing featuring Mr. Comey and Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads the National Security Agency.

As Mr. Schiff and other Democrats were bemoaning Kremlin activities against Mrs. Clinton, they were more than willing to quote Kremlin sources attacking Mr. Trump during the election campaign.

Mr. Schiff lauded Mr. Steele for disclosing that Rosneft, a Russian-owned gas and oil company, planned to sell a 19.5 percent share to an investor and that Mr. Page was offered a brokerage fee.

Trouble is, the 19.5 percent share was announced publicly by Moscow before Mr. Steele wrote that memo. Mr. Page said he was never involved in any talk about a commission.

Mr. Schiff was more than willing to quote Kremlin sources.

“According to Steele’s Russian sources, the campaign has offered documents damaging to Hillary Clinton, which the Russians would publish through an outlet that gives them deniability like WikiLeaks,” he said.

Mr. Schiff also said: “According to Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, who is reportedly held in high regard by U.S. intelligence, Russian sources tell him that Page has also had a secret meeting with Igor Sechin, CEO of the Russian gas giant, Rosneft. Sechin is reported to be a former KGB agent and close friend of Putin’s.”

Mr. Page has said repeatedly that he does not know Mr. Sechin and did not meet with him in Moscow.

Meanwhile, Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, another Democrat on the House committee, lauded Mr. Steele’s Kremlin sourcing.

“I want to take a moment to turn to the Christopher Steele dossier, which was first mentioned in the media just before the election and published in full by media outlets in January,” Mr. Castro said. “My focus today is to explore how many claims within Steele’s dossier are looking more and more likely, as though they are accurate.

“This is not someone who doesn’t know how to run a source and not someone without contacts. The allegations it raises about President Trump’s campaign aides’ connections to Russians, when overlaid with known established facts and timelines from the 2016 campaign, are very revealing,” he said.

Rep. Andre Carson, Indiana Democrat, said: “There’s a lot in the dossier that is yet to be proven, but increasingly as we’ll hear throughout the day, allegations are checking out.”

On MSNBC in March, Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, said she believed the dossier section on Mr. Trumpand supposed sex acts with prostitutes in Moscow were true.

“Oh, I think it should be taken a look at,” she said. “I think they should really read it, understand it, analyze it and determine what’s fact, what may not be fact. We already know that the part about the coverage that they have on him with sex actions is supposed to be true. They have said that that’s absolutely true. Some other things they kind of allude to. Yes, I think he should go into that dossier and see what’s there.”

Fusion GPS widely circulated the dossier during the presidential race. The public got its first glance when the news site BuzzFeed posted it online in January, with its editor saying he doubted it was true.

One person who says he knows it is a fabrication is Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev.

The dossier quotes Russian sources as saying Mr. Gubarev’s technology company, XBT, used botnets to flood Democratic computers with porn and spying devices.

Mr. Gubarev is suing Mr. Steele for libel in London and is suing BuzzFeed in Florida.

It is in the London case that Mr. Steele acknowledged that his memo on Mr. Gubarev was unverified.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jul/11/democrats-spread-false-russian-information-on-trum/

The Trump Dossier Is Fake — And Here Are The Reasons Why

Researchers say they’ve uncovered a disinformation campaign with apparent Russian link

 May 25

 Researchers have discovered an extensive international hacking campaign that steals documents from its targets, carefully modifies them and repackages them as disinformation aimed at undermining civil society and democratic institutions, according to a study released Thursday.The investigators say the campaign shows clear signs of a Russian link.Although the study by the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto does not demonstrate a direct tie to the Kremlin, it suggests that the attackers are aiming to discredit the Kremlin’s opponents. The report also demonstrates overlap with cyberattacks used in the U.S. and French presidential elections, which American and European intelligence agencies and cybersecurity companies have attributed to hacking groups affiliated with the Russian government.
The campaign has targeted more than 200 government officials, military leaders and diplomats from 39 countries, as well as journalists, activists, a former Russian prime minister and a prominent critic of President Vladi­mir Putin, according to the report. The attackers seek to hack into email accounts using phishing techniques, steal documents and slightly alter them while retaining the appearance of authenticity. These forgeries, which the researchers have dubbed “tainted leaks,” are then released along with unaltered documents and publicized as legitimate leaks.

“Tainted leaks plant fakes in a forest of facts in an attempt to make them credible by association with genuine, stolen documents,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab. “Tainted leaks are a clever and concerning tool for spreading falsehoods. We expect to see many more of them in the future.”

The study details the hack in October of the email log-in details of David Satter, a renowned Kremlin critic who in 2016 published a book that links Putin’s rise to power with a series of deadly apartment bombings in Russia in 1999.

Hackers were able to access Satter’s emails when he clicked on what appeared to be a legitimate link, an attack that the study found to be technically similar to the 2016 breach of the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian intelligence agencies carried out hacks against the Democratic Party on Putin’s orders, which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

In studying Satter’s case, the Citizen Lab investigators developed a technique to identify the other phishing links that were being sent as part of the same operation.

The study describes how the pro-Russian hacking group ­CyberBerkut posted Satter’s emails, some of them carefully altered to create a false narrative of a U.S. government plot to plant negative articles about Putin’s regime in the Russian media. These forgeries were then reported by Russia’s state news agency as evidence of a CIA plot to support a “color revolution” in Russia.

The narrative supports a consistent theme of pro-Putin media: that Russia suffers not because of its leadership’s refusal to loosen its grip on power, but because of constant meddling in Russian affairs by the United States and its European proxies.

“The motivations behind Russian cyberespionage are as much about securing Putin’s kleptocracy as they are geopolitical competition,” said Ronald Deibert, professor of political science and director of the Citizen Lab. “This means journalists, activists and opposition figures — both domestically and abroad — bear a disproportionate burden of their targeting.”

Mark Galeotti, who studies Russia’s power structures as a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, called the use of tainted leaks “a step forward in Russia’s use of hacking as a weapon of political subversion.”

“In the case of the [Democratic National Committee] hacks, they leaked secret but real messages,” Galeotti said.

Galeotti said that “tainted leaks” are more likely to be used for domestic consumption, where the Kremlin is starting to feel the pressure from scattered, grass-roots protests, epitomized by the anti-corruption campaign of Alexei Navalny.

“While we’re not talking about the kind of critical mass likely to pose a challenge to Putin’s carefully orchestrated reelection in 2018, there is clearly a growing, generalized dissatisfaction across the country,” Galeotti said. “The attempts to paint Navalny and other critics as pawns of Western subversion suggest a degree of worry, even desperation.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/researchers-say-theyve-discovereda-global-disinformation-campaign-with-a-russian-link/2017/05/25/9a9637f6-414e-11e7-b29f-f40ffced2ddb_story.html?utm_term=.42c3d4956d15

 

Unidentified soldiers overran Crimea in March 2014. Russia reclaimed the territory from Ukraine, and President Vladimir V. Putin later admitted that the troops were Russian special forces.CreditSergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

“People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?” said Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist’s spokeswoman.

As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility.

In Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now Syria, Mr. Putin has flaunted a modernized and more muscular military. But he lacks the economic strength and overall might to openly confront NATO, the European Union or the United States. Instead, he has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia.

“Moscow views world affairs as a system of special operations, and very sincerely believes that it itself is an object of Western special operations,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, who helped establish the Kremlin’s information machine before 2008. “I am sure that there are a lot of centers, some linked to the state, that are involved in inventing these kinds of fake stories.”

The planting of false stories is nothing new; the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War. Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.

The flow of misleading and inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, particularly claims emanating from Russia.

The Kremlin’s clandestine methods have surfaced in the United States, too, American officials say, identifying Russian intelligence as the likely source of leaked Democratic National Committee emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The Kremlin uses both conventional media — Sputnik, a news agency, and RT, a television outlet — and covert channels, as in Sweden, that are almost always untraceable.

Russia exploits both approaches in a comprehensive assault, Wilhelm Unge, a spokesman for the Swedish Security Service, said this year when presenting the agency’s annual report. “We mean everything from internet trolls to propaganda and misinformation spread by media companies like RT and Sputnik,” he said.

The fundamental purpose of dezinformatsiya, or Russian disinformation, experts said, is to undermine the official version of events — even the very idea that there is a true version of events — and foster a kind of policy paralysis.

Disinformation most famously succeeded in early 2014 with the initial obfuscation about deploying Russian forces to seize Crimea. That summer, Russia pumped out a dizzying array of theories about the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, blaming the C.I.A. and, most outlandishly, Ukrainian fighter pilots who had mistaken the airliner for the Russian presidential aircraft.

The cloud of stories helped veil the simple truth that poorly trained insurgents had accidentally downed the plane with a missile supplied by Russia.

Moscow adamantly denies using disinformation to influence Western public opinion and tends to label accusations of either overt or covert threats as “Russophobia.”

“There is an impression that, like in a good orchestra, many Western countries every day accuse Russia of threatening someone,” Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a recent ministry briefing.

Tracing individual strands of disinformation is difficult, but in Sweden and elsewhere, experts have detected a characteristic pattern that they tie to Kremlin-generated disinformation campaigns.

“The dynamic is always the same: It originates somewhere in Russia, on Russia state media sites, or different websites or somewhere in that kind of context,” said Anders Lindberg, a Swedish journalist and lawyer.

“Then the fake document becomes the source of a news story distributed on far-left or far-right-wing websites,” he said. “Those who rely on those sites for news link to the story, and it spreads. Nobody can say where they come from, but they end up as key issues in a security policy decision.”

Although the topics may vary, the goal is the same, Mr. Lindberg and others suggested. “What the Russians are doing is building narratives; they are not building facts,” he said. “The underlying narrative is, ‘Don’t trust anyone.’”

The weaponization of information is not some project devised by a Kremlin policy expert but is an integral part of Russian military doctrine — what some senior military figures call a “decisive” battlefront.

“The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness,” Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian Armed Forces, wrote in 2013.

A prime Kremlin target is Europe, where the rise of the populist right and declining support for the European Union create an ever more receptive audience for Russia’s conservative, nationalistic and authoritarian approach under Mr. Putin. Last year, the European Parliament accused Russia of “financing radical and extremist parties” in its member states, and in 2014 the Kremlin extended an $11.7 million loan to the National Front, the extreme-right party in France.

“The Russians are very good at courting everyone who has a grudge with liberal democracy, and that goes from extreme right to extreme left,” said Patrik Oksanen, an editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper group MittMedia. The central idea, he said, is that “liberal democracy is corrupt, inefficient, chaotic and, ultimately, not democratic.”

Another message, largely unstated, is that European governments lack the competence to deal with the crises they face, particularly immigration and terrorism, and that their officials are all American puppets.

In Germany, concerns over immigrant violence grew after a 13-year-old Russian-German girl said she had been raped by migrants. A report on Russian state television furthered the story. Even after the police debunked the claim, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, continued to chastise Germany.

In Britain, analysts said, the Kremlin’s English-language news outlets heavily favored the campaign for the country to leave the European Union, despite their claims of objectivity.

In the Czech Republic, alarming, sensational stories portraying the United States, the European Union and immigrants as villains appear daily across a cluster of about 40 pro-Russia websites.

During NATO military exercises in early June, articles on the websites suggested that Washington controlled Europe through the alliance, with Germany as its local sheriff. Echoing the disinformation that appeared in Sweden, the reports said NATO planned to store nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe and would attack Russia from there without seeking approval from local capitals.

poll this summer by European Values, a think tank in Prague, found that 51 percent of Czechs viewed the United States’ role in Europe negatively, that only 32 percent viewed the European Union positively and that at least a quarter believed some elements of the disinformation.

“The data show how public opinion is changing thanks to the disinformation on those outlets,” said Jakub Janda, the think tank’s deputy director for public and political affairs. “They try to look like a regular media outlet even if they have a hidden agenda.”

Not all Russian disinformation efforts succeed. Sputnik news websites in various Scandinavian languages failed to attract enough readers and were closed after less than a year.

Both RT and Sputnik portray themselves as independent, alternative voices. Sputnik claims that it “tells the untold,” even if its daily report relies heavily on articles abridged from other sources. RT trumpets the slogan “Question More.”

Both depict the West as grim, divided, brutal, decadent, overrun with violent immigrants and unstable. “They want to give a picture of Europe as some sort of continent that is collapsing,” Mr. Hultqvist, the Swedish defense minister, said in an interview.

RT often seems obsessed with the United States, portraying life there as hellish. On the day President Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, for example, it emphasized scattered demonstrations rather than the speeches. It defends the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, as an underdog maligned by the established news media.

Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor in chief, said the channel was being singled out as a threat because it offered a different narrative from “the Anglo-American media-political establishment.” RT, she said, wants to provide “a perspective otherwise missing from the mainstream media echo chamber.”

Moscow’s targeting of the West with disinformation dates to a Cold War program the Soviets called “active measures.” The effort involved leaking or even writing stories for sympathetic newspapers in India and hoping that they would be picked up in the West, said Professor Mark N. Kramer, a Cold War expert at Harvard.

The story that AIDS was a C.I.A. project run amok spread that way, and it poisons the discussion of the disease decades later. At the time, before the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, the Kremlin was selling communism as an ideological alternative. Now, experts said, the ideological component has evaporated, but the goal of weakening adversaries remains.

In Sweden recently, that has meant a series of bizarre forged letters and news articles about NATO and linked to Russia.

One forgery, on Defense Ministry letterhead over Mr. Hultqvist’s signature, encouraged a major Swedish firm to sell artillery to Ukraine, a move that would be illegal in Sweden. Ms. Nyh Radebo, his spokeswoman, put an end to that story in Sweden, but at international conferences, Mr. Hultqvist still faced questions about the nonexistent sales.

Russia also made at least one overt attempt to influence the debate. During a seminar in the spring, Vladimir Kozin, a senior adviser to the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank linked to the Kremlin and Russian foreign intelligence, argued against any change in Sweden’s neutral status.

“Do they really need to lose their neutral status?” he said of the Swedes. “To permit fielding new U.S. military bases on their territory and to send their national troops to take part in dubious regional conflicts?”

Whatever the method or message, Russia clearly wants to win any information war, as Dmitry Kiselyev, Russia’s most famous television anchor and the director of the organization that runs Sputnik, made clear recently.

Speaking this summer on the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Information Bureau, Mr. Kiselyev said the age of neutral journalism was over. “If we do propaganda, then you do propaganda, too,” he said, directing his message to Western journalists.

“Today, it is much more costly to kill one enemy soldier than during World War II, World War I or in the Middle Ages,” he said in an interview on the state-run Rossiya 24 network. While the business of “persuasion” is more expensive now, too, he said, “if you can persuade a person, you don’t need to kill him.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/world/europe/russia-sweden-disinformation.html

UK was given details of alleged contacts between Trump campaign and Moscow

In December the UK government was given reports by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele on possible collusion between Trump camp and the Kremlin

Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US.
 Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

The UK government was given details last December of allegedly extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, according to court papers.

Reports by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, on possible collusion between the the Trump camp and the Kremlin are at the centre of a political storm in the US over Moscow’s role in getting Donald Trump elected.

UK was given details of alleged contacts between Trump campaign and Moscow

In December the UK government was given reports by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele on possible collusion between Trump camp and the Kremlin

Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US.
 Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

The UK government was given details last December of allegedly extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, according to court papers.

Reports by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, on possible collusion between the the Trump camp and the Kremlin are at the centre of a political storm in the US over Moscow’s role in getting Donald Trump elected.

It was not previously known that the UK intelligence services had also received the dossier but Steele confirmed in a court filing earlier this month that he handed a memorandum compiled in December to a “senior UK government national security official acting in his official capacity, on a confidential basis in hard copy form”.

The December memo alleged that four Trump representatives travelled to Prague in August or September in 2016 for “secret discussions with Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers”, about how to pay hackers secretly for penetrating Democratic party computer systems and “contingency plans for covering up operations”.

Between March and September, the December memo alleges, the hackers used botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs and steal data online from Democratic party leadership. Two of the hackers had been “recruited under duress by the FSB” the memo said. The hackers were paid by the Trump organisation, but were under the control of Vladimir Putin’s presidential administration.

Trump has rejected the allegations of collusion as a smear campaign. His lawyer, Michael Cohen, one of Trump representatives named in the memo, has described the claims in the memo as “totally fake, totally inaccurate”, and has said he had never been to Prague.

Since the memo became public in January, Steele had not spoken about his role in compiling it but he and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, have filed a defence in the high court of justice in London, in a defamation case brought by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian venture capitalist and owner of a global computer technology company, XBT, and a Dallas-based subsidiary Webzilla.

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Gubarev, who was named along with his company in the December memo as being involved in hacking operation, has denied any such involvement and is also suing Buzzfeed in the US courts for publishing the December memo alongside Steele’s earlier reports on election hacking.

A statement by Steele’s defence lawyers, endorsed by the former MI6 agent, said Orbis was hired between June and November last year by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based research consultancy to look into Trump’s links with Russia.

In that period, Steele produced 16 memoranda citing mostly Russian sources as describing a web of alleged contacts and collusion between Trump aides and Russian intelligence or other Kremlin representatives.

The document said that he passed the memos to Fusion on the understanding that Fusion would not disclose the material to any third parties without the approval of Steele and Orbis. They did agree to Fusion providing a copy to Senator John McCain after the veteran Republican had been told about the existence of Steele’s research by Sir Andrew Wood, a former UK ambassador to Moscow and an Orbis associate, at a conference in Canada on 8 November.

Senator McCain handed a copy of the Steele memos to James Comey, the FBI director, on 9 December.

After delivering these reports, the court papers say Steele and Orbis continued to receive “unsolicited intelligence” on Trump-Russia links, and Steele decided that to draw up another memo with this new information which was dated 13 December.

He handed one copy over to the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator McCain.

The defence argues that Steele and Orbis were under a duty to pass on the information “so that it was known to the United Kingdom and United States governments at a high level by persons with responsibility for national security”.

Steele and Orbis say they never gave any copies to news organisations although Steele said he gave off-the-record briefings about the dossier to a small number of journalists in late summer and early autumn 2016. The defence brief argues that neither Steele nor Orbis is liable for Buzzfeed’s decision to print the document.

The Steele dossier was referred to in an intelligence briefing provided by the FBI and US intelligence agencies to Obama and Trump in January. Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/28/trump-russia-intelligence-uk-government-m16-kremlin

 

Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails Sound Like the Steele Dossier

The president’s son offers evidence Trump’s team colluded with Putin’s regime.

Donald Trump Jr.Saul Loeb/AP, Pool

Smoke, meet gun.

On Tuesday morning, there was a stunning development in the Trump-Russia scandal: Donald Trump Jr. confessed. In yet another bombshell story, the New York Times reported on emails showing that the president’s oldest son had eagerly accepted an offer of help during the 2016 campaign from what he understood to be the Russian government. Trump Jr., the Times disclosed, had set up a meeting with a Russian attorney in the hopes of receiving derogatory information on Hillary Clinton straight from Putin’s regime. As the Times was publishing this story, Trump Jr. tweeted out those same emails.

The emails reveal that top Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner attended the meeting and suggest that all three Trump advisers colluded in what seemed to be a Russian government-backed attempt to hurt Clinton in order to help Trump win the presidency. This new development contradicts the long series of denials from Trump defenders who have claimed that there was no collusion, that there was no evidence Russian leader Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win, and that the Trump-Russia affair is merely a hoax perpetuated by loser Democrats and fake news outlets.

The Trump Jr. emails also provide partial support for some information within the Steele dossier.

The Steele memos, which Mother Jones first reported on a week before Election Day, were compiled during the campaign by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher David Steele, who was hired by a Washington, DC, research firm retained to unearth information on Trump. The documents contained troubling allegations about Trump and his connections to Russia and relayed unverified salacious information about the candidate. The first memo, dated June 20 and based on the former intelligence officer’s conversations with Russian sources, stated, “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It asserted that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.”

Steele made the memos available to the FBI during the campaign, and the bureau investigated some of the information they contained.

The memos made headlines after the election, when CNN reported that Trump, as president-elect, and President Barack Obama had been told about their contents during briefings on the intelligence community’s assessment that Putin had mounted a covert operation during the campaign to hack Democratic targets and disseminate stolen emails in order to benefit Trump.

Trump and his supporters have denounced the Steele memos as unsubstantiated trash, with some Trump backers concocting various conspiracy theories about them. Indeed, key pieces of the information within the memos have been challenged. But the memos were meant to be working documents produced by Steele—full of investigative leads and tips to follow—not finished reports, vetted and confirmed.

One interesting element of the Donald Trump Jr. emails now in the news is that they track with parts of the Steele memos.

In that first memo, dated June 20, Steele wrote that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” The Trump Jr. email chain began on June 3, 2016. This was shortly after Trump had secured the Republican presidential nomination. It was that day that Rob Goldstone, a talent manager for a middling pop-star named Emin Agaralov, contacted Trump Jr. and said Emin’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Putin-friendly billionaire developer, had met with the “crown prosecutor of Russia,” who offered to provide the Trump campaign with negative information on Clinton. The Agalarovs and Goldstone had a close relationship to the Trumps, because they all had worked together in 2013 to bring the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owned at the time, to Moscow. (Part of the deal was that Emin would get to perform two songs.) Following that event, both Trumps worked with both Agalarovs to develop a major project in Moscow. (It never happened.)

This email from Goldstone to Trump Jr. led to a meeting six days later, where a Kremlin-connected Russian attorney spoke to Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort about negative information on Clinton. In a statement, Trump Jr. says that what she offered was vague and meaningless, suggesting there was nothing to it. (But Trump Jr. has dissembled repeatedly about this meeting.)

Let’s turn to Steele’s June 20 memo. It stated:

Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years…This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in June 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”.

The memo also reported that there was anti-Clinton information that Putin was sitting on:

A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian intelligence services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct. The dossier is controlled by Kremlin spokesman, PESKOV, directly on PUTIN’s orders. However it has not as yet been distributed abroad, including to TRUMP. Russian intentions for its deployment still unclear.

There has been no confirmation that Putin steadily fed information to Trump’s camp or that a Kremlin-controlled anti-Clinton dossier existed. But one of Steele’s overarching points in this memo was that Putin’s regime was funneling derogatory Clinton material to Trump. The Trump Jr. emails suggest that the Russian government was aiming to do that and that the Trump campaign was willing and eager to receive assistance from Putin. So Donald Trump Jr. has done what Steele could not: produce evidence that the Trump campaign was—or wanted to be—in cahoots with a foreign adversary to win the White House.

Donald Trump–Russia dossier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Policy positions


International trips


2016 presidential election


Russia controversies





Donald Trump's signature

President of the United States

 

The Donald Trump–Russia dossier is a private intelligence dossier that was written by Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 intelligence officer. It contains unverified allegations of misconduct and collusion between Donald Trump and his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the period preceding the election. The contents of the dossier were publicly reported on January 10, 2017.[1]

The dossier primarily discusses possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The media and the intelligence community have stressed that accusations in the dossier have not been verified. Most experts have treated the dossier with caution, but in February, it was reported that some details related to conversations between foreign nationals had been independently corroborated, giving U.S. intelligence and law enforcement greater confidence in some aspects of the dossier as investigations continued. Trump himself has denounced the report, calling it “fake news” and “phony.”

The dossier was produced as part of opposition research during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The research was initially funded by Republicans who did not want Trump to be the Republican Party nominee for president. After Trump won the primaries, a Democratic client took over the funding; and, following Trump’s election, Steele continued working on the report pro bono and passed on the information to British and American intelligence services.

Contents

The 35-page dossier claims that Russia is in possession of damaging or embarrassing information about Trump which could be used for purposes of blackmail to get Trump to cooperate with the Russian government.[2] The material includes allegations about Trump’s sexual and financial dealings in Russia.[3] The dossier further alleges that Trump has been cultivated and supported by Russia for at least five years, with Putin’s endorsement, with the overall aim of creating divisions between Western alliances; that Trump has extensive ties to Russia; and that there had been multiple contacts between Russian officials and people working for Trump during the campaign.[2][4]

History

Creation of the dossier

According to reports, the dossier was created as part of opposition research on Trump. The investigation into Trump was initially funded by “Never Trump” Republicans and later by Democrats.[5][6][7] In September 2015, a wealthy Republican donor who opposed Trump’s candidacy in the Republican primary hired Fusion GPS, an American research firm, to do opposition research on Trump. For months, Fusion GPS gathered information about Trump, focusing on his business and entertainment activities. When Trump became the presumptive nominee in May 2016, the Republican donor withdrew and the investigation contract was taken over by an unidentified Democratic client.[7][8]

In June 2016 it was revealed that the Democratic National Committee website had been hacked by Russian sources, so Fusion GPS hired Orbis Business Intelligence, a private British intelligence firm, to look into any Russian connections.[7] The investigation was undertaken by Orbis co-founder Christopher Steele, a retired British MI6 officer with expertise in Russian matters. Steele delivered his report as a series of two- or three-page memos, starting in June 2016 and continuing through December. He continued his investigation even after the Democratic client stopped paying for it following Trump’s election.[7]

On his own initiative, Steele decided to also pass the information to British and American intelligence services because he believed the findings were a matter of national security for both countries.[9] However, he became frustrated with the FBI, which he believed was failing to investigate his reports, choosing instead to focus on the Hillary Clinton’s email investigation. According to The Independent, Steele came to believe that there was a “cabal” inside the FBI, particularly its New York field office linked to Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, which blocked any attempts to investigate the links between Trump and Russia.[9] In October 2016, Steele passed on what he discovered so far to a reporter from Mother Jones magazine.

Shortly after the presidential election, Senator John McCain, who had been informed about the alleged links between Kremlin and Trump, met with former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood. Wood confirmed the existence of the dossier and vouched for Steele.[9] McCain obtained the dossier from David J. Kramer and took it directly to FBI director James Comey on December 9, 2016.[7][6]

In a court filing in April 2017, Steele revealed previously unreported information that in December 2016 he gave one more report to “the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator McCain.” This memo, dated December 13, detailed possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. It described secret discussions between four named Trump representatives, Kremlin representatives, and associated operators/hackers about how to secretly pay the hackers who penetrated the DNC computer system and also how to cover up the operation. Although paid by the Trump organisation, the hackers were controlled by Putin’s administration. “Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.”[10]

Early indications of the dossier’s existence

By Fall 2016, many news organizations knew about the existence of the dossier, which had been described as an “open secret” among journalists. However, they chose not to publish information that could not be confirmed.[7] Finally on October 31, 2016, a week before the election, Mother Jones reported that a former intelligence officer, whom they did not name, had produced a report based on Russian sources and turned it over to the FBI.[11] The report alleged that the Russian government had cultivated Trump for years:

The “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.”[11]

The report further alleged that there were multiple in-person meetings between Russian government officials and individuals established as working for Trump.[12][13] The former intelligence officer continued to share information with the FBI, and said in October 2016 that “there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on.”[11]

In October 2016 the FBI reached an agreement with Steele to pay him to continue his work, according to involved sources reported by The Washington Post. “Steele was known for the quality of his past work and for the knowledge he had developed over nearly 20 years working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence.” The FBI found Steele credible and his unproved information worthy enough that it considered paying Steele to continue collecting information, but the release of the document to the public stopped discussions between Steele and the FBI.[14]

Trump and Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier by the chiefs of several U.S. intelligence agencies in early January 2017. Vice President Joe Biden has confirmed that he and the president had received briefings on the dossier, and the allegations within.[15][8][16][17]

Public release

On January 10, 2017, CNN reported that classified documents presented to Obama and Trump the previous week included allegations that Russian operatives possess “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump. CNN stated that it would not publish specific details on the memos because it had not “independently corroborated the specific allegations.”[18][19] Following the CNN report,[20] BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier that it said was the basis of the briefing, including unverified claims that Russian operatives had collected “embarrassing material” involving Trump that could be used to blackmail him.[21][22][19][23] NBC reported that a senior U.S. intelligence official said that Trump had not been previously briefed on the contents of the memos,[24] although a CNN report said that a statement released by James Clapper in early January confirmed that the synopsis existed and had been compiled for Trump.[25]

Many news organizations knew about the document in the fall of 2016, before the presidential election, but refused to publish it because they could not independently verify the information.[26] BuzzFeed was harshly criticized for publishing what Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan called “scurrilous allegations dressed up as an intelligence report meant to damage Donald Trump”[27] while The New York Times noted that the publication sparked a debate centering on the use of unsubstantiated information from anonymous sources.[28] BuzzFeed’s executive staff said the materials were newsworthy because they were “in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media” and argued that this justified public release.[29]

Authorship

When CNN reported the existence of the dossier on January 10, 2017,[30] it did not name the author of the dossier, but revealed that he was British. Steele concluded that his anonymity had been “fatally compromised” and realized it was “only a matter of time until his name became public knowledge,” and, accompanied by his family, he fled into hiding in fear of “a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash against him from Moscow.”[31][32][5] The Wall Street Journal revealed Steele’s name the next day, on January 11.[33] Christopher Burrows, director of Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, for whom Steele worked at the time the dossier was authored, and Orbis would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[30][7]

Called by the media a “highly regarded Kremlin expert” and “one of MI6’s greatest ‘Russia specialists”, Steele formerly worked for the British intelligence agency MI6 and is currently working for Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, a private intelligence company Steele had co-founded in London.[34][33][35] Steele entered the MI6 in 1987, directly after his graduation from college.[36]

Former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood has vouched for Steele’s reputation.[9] He views Steele as a “very competent professional operator… I take the report seriously. I don’t think it’s totally implausible.” He also stated that “the report’s key allegation – that Trump and Russia’s leadership were communicating via secret back channels during the presidential campaign – was eminently plausible.”[37]

On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, and President Putin. Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin’s death were “mysterious”. Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the Russian government.[38][39] Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specializes in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev’s hypothesis.[40][38]

On March 7, 2017, as some members of the U.S. Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today.”[41]

Veracity of the dossier

Observers and experts have had varying reactions to the dossier. Generally, “former intelligence officers and other national-security experts” urged “skepticism and caution” but still took “the fact that the nation’s top intelligence officials chose to present a summary version of the dossier to both President Obama and President-elect Trump” as an indication “that they may have had a relatively high degree of confidence that at least some of the claims therein were credible, or at least worth investigating further.”[42]

Vice President Biden told reporters that while he and President Obama were receiving a briefing on the extent of Russian hackers trying to influence the US election, there was a two-page addendum which addressed the contents of the Steele Dossier.[43] Top intelligence officials told them they “felt obligated to inform them about uncorroborated allegations about President-elect Donald Trump out of concern the information would become public and catch them off-guard.”[44]

According to Paul Wood of BBC News, the information in Steele’s report is also reported by “multiple intelligence sources” and “at least one East European intelligence service.” They report that there is “more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.”[45][33] He added that “the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat—or compromising material— on the next US commander in chief” and “a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign.”[46][47][45]On March 30, 2017, Wood revealed that the FBI was using the dossier as a roadmap for its investigation.[48] On April 18, 2017, CNN reported that corroborated information from the dossier had been used as part of the basis for getting the FISA warrant to monitor former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page during the summer of 2016.[49]

Former Los Angeles Times Moscow correspondent Robert Gillette wrote in an op-ed in the Concord Monitor that the dossier has had at least one of its main factual assertions verified. On January 6, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence released a report assessing “with high confidence” that Russia’s combined cyber and propaganda operation was directed personally by Vladimir Putin, with the aim of harming Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump.[50] Gillette wrote: “Steele’s dossier, paraphrasing multiple sources, reported precisely the same conclusion, in greater detail, six months earlier, in a memo dated June 20.”[51]

Susan Hennessey, a former National Security Administration lawyer now with the Brookings Institution, stated: “My general take is that the intelligence community and law enforcement seem to be taking these claims seriously. That itself is highly significant. But it is not the same as these allegations being verified. Even if this was an intelligence community document—which it isn’t—this kind of raw intelligence is still treated with skepticism.”[42][52] Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote that “the current state of the evidence makes a powerful argument for a serious public inquiry into this matter.”[52]

Former CIA analyst Patrick Skinner said that he is “neither dismissing the report nor taking its claims at face value,” telling Wired: “I imagine a lot more will come out, and much will be nothing and perhaps some of it will be meaningful, and perhaps even devastating.”[42] Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov writes that while “many of the report’s elements appear hastily compiled”, and there were many “shaky” claims, the document “rings frighteningly true” and “overall … reflects accurately the way decision-making in the Kremlin looks to close observers.”[53] Soldatov writes: “Unverifiable sensational details aside, the Trump dossier is a good reflection of how things are run in the Kremlin – the mess at the level of decision-making and increasingly the outsourcing of operations, combined with methods borrowed from the KGB and the secret services of the lawless 1990s.”[53]

Newsweek published a list of “13 things that don’t add up” in the dossier, writing that the document was a “strange mix of the amateur and the insightful” and stating that the document “contains lots of Kremlin-related gossip that could indeed be, as the author claims, from deep insiders—or equally gleaned” from Russian newspapers and blogs.[54] Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton stated that certain aspects of the dossier were inconsistent with British intelligence’s understanding of how the Kremlin works, commenting: “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in [the dossier] which look pretty shaky.”[55]

On February 10, 2017, CNN reported that some communications between “senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals” described in the dossier had been corroborated by multiple U.S. officials. Sources told CNN that some conversations had been “intercepted during routine intelligence gathering”, but refused to reveal the content of conversations, or specify which communications were detailed in the dossier. CNN was unable to confirm whether conversations were related to Trump. U.S. officials said the corroboration gave “US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents”.[56]

According to Business Insider, the dossier alleges that “the Trump campaign agreed to minimize US opposition to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine”.[57] In July 2016, the Republican National Convention made changes to the Republican Party’s platform on Ukraine: initially they proposed providing “lethal weapons” to Ukraine, but the line was changed to “appropriate assistance”. J. D. Gordon, who was one of Trump’s national security advisers during the campaign, said that he had advocated for changing language because that reflected what Trump had said.[57][58]

Responses

Donald Trump called the dossier “fake news” and criticized the intelligence and media sources that published it.[59] During a press conference on January 11, 2017, Trump denounced the unsubstantiated claims as false, saying that it was “disgraceful” for U.S. intelligence agencies to report them. Trump refused to answer a question from CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta on the subject and called CNN “fake news.” In response, CNN said that it had published “carefully sourced reporting” on the matter which had been “matched by the other major news organizations,” as opposed to BuzzFeed‘s posting of “unsubstantiated materials.”[60][20] James Clapper described the leaks as damaging to US national security.[61] This also contradicted Trump’s previous claim that Clapper said the information was false; Clapper’s statement actually said the intelligence community has made no judgement on the truth or falsity of the information.[62]

Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov insisted in an interview that the document is a fraud, saying “I can assure you that the allegations in this funny paper, in this so-called report, they are untrue. They are all fake.”[63] The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, called the people who leaked the document “worse than prostitutes”[64] and referred to the dossier itself as “rubbish.”[65] Putin went on to state he believed that the dossier was “clearly fake,”[66]fabricated as a plot against the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump.[67]

Some of Steele’s former colleagues expressed support for his character, saying “The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false – completely untrue. Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional. He’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip.”[68]

Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, in a denial of some allegations, said “I’m telling you emphatically that I’ve not been to Prague, I’ve never been to Czech [Republic], I’ve not been to Russia. The story is completely inaccurate, it is fake news meant to malign Mr. Trump.”[69] Cohen said that between August 23–29 he was in Los Angeles. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “A Czech intelligence source told the Respekt magazine that there is no record of Cohen arriving in Prague by plane, although the news weekly pointed out he could have traveled by car or train from a nearby EU country, avoiding passport control under Schengen zone travel rules.”[70]

Among journalists, Bob Woodward called the dossier a “garbage document,” while Carl Bernstein took the opposite view, noting that the senior-most U.S. intelligence officials had determined that the content was worth reporting to the president and the president-elect.[71]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported on January 12 that U.S. intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[72]

Aleksej Gubarev, chief of technology company XBT and a figure mentioned in the dossier, sued BuzzFeed for defamation on February 3, 2017. The suit, filed in a Broward County, Florida court,[73] centers on allegations from the dossier that XBT had been “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”[74] In the High Court of Justice, Steele’s lawyers said that their client did not intend for the memos to be released, and that one of the memos “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified.”[75]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to CNN’s report of February 10, of a partial corroboration of the dossier, by saying, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”[56]

On March 2, 2017, media began reporting that the Senate may call Steele to testify about the Trump dossier.[76]

On March 27, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley asked the Department of Justice to initiate an inquiry into Fusion GPS, who initially retained Steele to write the dossier.[77] Fusion GPS was previously associated with pro-Russia lobbying activities due to sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act. Grassley’s committee made direct inquiries of Fusion GPS: “When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics.”[78] The other basis for Grassley’s concern is the fact that Fusion GPS was working as a pro-Russia lobbyist at the same time it had retained Steele to research and write the Trump dossier.[79] Grassley was concerned that the FBI was improperly using the dossier as the basis for an investigation into Russian influence of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[77]

See also

Useful idiot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In political jargon, a useful idiot is a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware of, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

Usage in Russian

In the Russian language, the equivalent term “useful fools” (Russianполезные дуракиtr. polezniye duraki) was already in use in 1941. It was mockingly used against Russian “nihilists” of 1860s who, for Polish agents, were said to be no more than “useful fools and silly enthusiasts”.[1] The phrase is often attributed to Lenin in the West, and by some Russian writers including Vladimir Bukovsky in 1984.[2] However, in a 1987 article, American journalist William Safire noted that a Library of Congress librarian had not been able to find the phrase in Lenin’s works.[3] The book They Never Said It also suggests the attribution is false.[4]

Usage in English

In the memoir of actor Alexander Granach, the phrase was used in the description of a boyhood incident in a shtetl in Western Ukraine.[5]

In June 1948, The New York Times used the term in an article on contemporary Italian politics, citing the social-democratic Italian paper L’Umanità.[6] In January 1958, Time magazine started to use the phrase.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

In 2016, the term was used by the Editorial Board of The New York Times to describe President-elect Donald Trump.[13] Michael Hayden, former NSA director and former CIA director, described Trump as a polezni durak, translating the term as “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited”.[14]

Useful innocents

A similar term, useful innocents, appears in Austrian-American economist Ludwig von Mises‘ “Planned Chaos” (1947). Von Mises claims the term was used by communists for liberals that von Mises describes as “confused and misguided sympathizers”.[15] The term useful innocents also appears in a Readers Digest article (1946) titled “Yugoslavia’s Tragic Lesson to the World”, authored by Bogdan Raditsa (Bogdan Radica), a “high ranking official of the Yugoslav Government”. Raditsa says: “In the Serbo-Croat language the communists have a phrase for true democrats who consent to collaborate with them for ‘democracy.’ It is Korisne Budale, or Useful Innocents.”[16] Although Raditsa translates the phrase as “Useful Innocents”, the word budala (plural: budale) actually translates as “fool” and synonyms thereof.

The French equivalent, “Innocents utiles” or Useful innocents, was used in a newspaper article title in 1946.[17][18]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier

Federal Security Service

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации
Common name Federal Security Service
Abbreviation FSB (ФСБ)
FSB Emblem.png

Emblem of the Federal Security Service
FSB Flag.png

Flag of the Federal Security Service
Agency overview
Formed April 12, 1995
Preceding agency KGB
Employees around 200,000–300,000[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Russia
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Lubyanka Square, Moscow, Russia
Website
www.fsb.ru

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB; Russian: Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (ФСБ), tr. Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii; IPA: [fʲɪdʲɪˈralʲnəjə ˈsluʐbə bʲɪzɐˈpasnəstʲɪ rɐˈsʲijskəj fʲɪdʲɪˈratsɨjɪ]) is the principal security agency of Russia and the main successor agency to the USSR‘s Committee of State Security (KGB). Its main responsibilities are within the country and include counter-intelligence, internal and border security, counter-terrorism, and surveillance as well as investigating some other types of grave crimes and federal law violations. It is headquartered in Lubyanka Square, Moscow‘s centre, in the main building of the former KGB. The Director of the FSB since 2008 is general of the army Alexander Bortnikov.

The immediate predecessor of the FSB was the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) of Russia, itself a successor to the KGB: on 12 April 1995, Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a law mandating a reorganization of the FSK, which resulted in the creation of the FSB. In 2003, the FSB’s responsibilities were widened by incorporating the previously independent Border Guard Service and a major part of the abolished Federal Agency of Government Communication and Information (FAPSI). The two major structural components of the former KGB that remain administratively independent of the FSB are the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the State Guards (FSO).

Under Russian federal law, the FSB is a military service just like the armed forces, the MVD, the FSO, the SVR, the FSKN, Main Directorate for Drugs Control and EMERCOM‘s civil defence, but its commissioned officers do not usually wear military uniforms.

Overview

The FSB is mainly responsible for internal security of the Russian state, counterespionage, and the fight against organized crime, terrorism, and drug smuggling. Since 2003, when the Federal Border Guards Service was incorporated to the FSB, it has also been responsible for overseeing border security.[1] The FSB is engaged mostly in domestic affairs, while espionage duties are responsibility of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. However, the FSB also includes the FAPSI agency, which conducts electronic surveillance abroad. All law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Russia work under the guidance of FSB, if needed.[1]

The FSB combines functions and powers similar to those exercised by the United States FBI National Security Branch, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Protective Service, the National Security Agency (NSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, United States Coast Guard, and partly the Drug Enforcement Administration. The FSB employs about 66,200 uniformed staff, including about 4,000 special forces troops. It also employs about 160,000–200,000 border guards.[1]

Under Article 32 of the Federal Constitutional Law On the Government of the Russian Federation,[2] the FSB head answers directly to the RF president and the FSB director is the RF president’s appointment, though he is a member of the RF government which is headed by the Chairman of Government; he also, ex officio, is a permanent member of the Security Council of Russia presided over by the president and chairman of the National Anti-terrorism Committee of Russia.

History

Initial recognition of the KGB

The FSB headquarters at Lubyanka Square

The Federal Security Service is one of the successor organisations of the Soviet Committee of State Security (KGB). Following the attempted coup of 1991—in which some KGB units as well as the KGB head Vladimir Kryuchkov played a major part—the KGB was dismantled and ceased to exist from November 1991.[3][4] In December 1991, two government agencies answerable to the Russian president were created by president Yeltsin’s decrees on the basis of the relevant main directorates of the defunct KGB: Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR, the former First Main Directorate) and the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information (FAPSI, merging the functions of the former 8th Main Directorate and 16th Main Directorate of the KGB). In January 1992, another new institution, the Ministry of Security took over domestic and border security responsibilities.[5]Following the 1993 constitutional crisis, the Ministry of Security was reorganized on 21 December 1993 into the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK). The FSK was headed by Sergei Stepashin. Before the start of the main military activities of the First Chechen War the FSK was responsible for the covert operations against the separatists led by Dzhokhar Dudayev.[1]

Creation of the FSB

FSB medal for “distinguished military service”. The FSB had overall command of the federal forces in Chechnya in 2001–2003.

In 1995, the FSK was renamed and reorganized into the Federal Security Service (FSB) by the Federal Law of 3 April 1995, “On the Organs of the Federal Security Service in the Russian Federation”.[6] The FSB reforms were rounded out by decree No. 633, signed by Boris Yeltsin on 23 June 1995. The decree made the tasks of the FSB more specific, giving the FSB substantial rights to conduct cryptographic work, and described the powers of the FSB director. The number of deputy directors was increased to 8: 2 first deputies, 5 deputies responsible for departments and directorates and 1 deputy director heading the Moscow City and Moscow regional directorate. Yeltsin appointed Colonel-General Mikhail Ivanovich Barsukov as the new director of the FSB. In 1998 Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin, a KGB veteran who would later succeed Yeltsin as federal president, as director of the FSB.[7] Putin was reluctant to take over the directorship, but once appointed conducted a thorough reorganization, which included the dismissal of most of the FSB’s top personnel.[1] Putin appointed Nikolai Patrushev as the head of FSB in 1999.[5]

Role in the Second Chechen War

After the main military offensive of the Second Chechen War ended and the separatists changed tactics to guerilla warfare, overall command of the federal forces in Chechnya was transferred from the military to the FSB in January 2001. While the army lacked technical means of tracking the guerrilla groups, the FSB suffered from insufficient human intelligence due to its inability to build networks of agents and informants. In the autumn of 2002, the separatists launched a massive campaign of terrorism against the Russian civilians, including the Dubrovka theatre attack. The inability of the federal forces to conduct efficient counter-terrorist operations led to the government to transfer the responsibility of “maintaining order” in Chechnya from the FSB to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in July 2003.[8]

Putin reforms

President Putin meeting with Director of FSB Nikolai Patrushev on 9 August 2000

After becoming President, Vladimir Putin launched a major reorganization of the FSB. First, the FSB maybe was placed under direct control of the President by a decree issued on 17 May 2000.[5] Internal structure of the agency was reformed by a decree signed on 17 June 2000. In the resulting structure, the FSB was to have a director, a first deputy director and nine other deputy directors, including one possible state secretary and the chiefs of six departments: Economic Security Department, Counterintelligence Department, Organizational and Personnel Service, Department of activity provision, Department for Analysis, Forecasting and Strategic Planning, Department for Protection of the Constitutional System and the Fight against Terrorism. In 2003, the agency’s responsibilities were considered considerably widened. The Border Guard Service of Russia, with its staff of 210,000, was integrated to the FSB via a decree was signed on 11 March 2003. The merger was completed by 1 July 2003. In addition, The Federal Agency of Government Communication and Information (FAPSI) was abolished and the FSB was granted a major part of its functions, while other parts went to the Ministry of Defense.[5] Among the reasons for this strengthening of the FSB were enhanced need for security after increased terror attacks against Russian civilians starting from the Moscow theater hostage crisis; the need to end the permanent infighting between the FSB, FAPSI and the Border Guards due to their overlapping functions and the need for more efficient response to migration, drug trafficking and illegal arms trading. It has also been pointed out, that the FSB was the only power base of the new president, and the restructuring therefore strengthened Putin’s position (see Political groups under Vladimir Putin’s presidency).[5] On 28 June 2004 in a speech to high-ranking FSB officers, Putin emphasized three major tasks of the agency: neutralizing foreign espionage, safeguarding economic and financial security of the country and combating organized crime.[5] In September 2006, the FSB was shaken by a major reshuffle, which, combined with some earlier reassignments (most remarkably, those of FSB Deputy Directors Yury Zaostrovtsev and Vladimir Anisimov in 2004 and 2005, respectively), were widely believed to be linked to the Three Whales Corruption Scandal that had slowly unfolded since 2000. Some analysts considered it to be an attempt to undermine FSB Director Nikolay Patrushev‘s influence, as it was Patrushev’s team from the Karelian KGB Directorate of the late 1980s – early 1990s that had suffered most and he had been on vacations during the event.[9][10][11]

By 2008, the agency had one Director, two First Deputy Directors and 5 Deputy Directors. It had the following 9 divisions:[5]

  1. Counter-Espionage
  2. Service for Defense of Constitutional Order and Fight against Terrorism
  3. Border Service
  4. Economic Security Service
  5. Current Information and International Links
  6. Organizational and Personnel Service
  7. Monitoring Department
  8. Scientific and Technical Service
  9. Organizational Security Service

Fight against terrorism

FSB special forces members during a special operation in Makhachkala, as a result of which “one fighter was killed and two terrorist attacks prevented” in 2010.

Starting from the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, Russia was faced with increased levels of Islamist terrorism. The FSB, being the main agency responsible for counter-terrorist operations, was in the front line in the fight against terror. During the Moscow theater siege and the Beslan school siege, FSB’s Spetsnaz units Alpha Group and Vympel played a key role in the hostage release operations. However, their performance was criticised due to the high number of hostage casualties. In 2006, the FSB scored a major success in its counter-terrorist efforts when it successfully killed Shamil Basayev, the mastermind behind the Beslan tragedy and several other high-profile terrorist acts. According to the FSB, the operation was planned over six months and made possible due to the FSB’s increased activities in foreign countries that were supplying arms to the terrorists. Basayev was tracked via the surveillance of this arms trafficking. Basayev and other militants were preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in Ingushetia when FSB agents destroyed their convoy; 12 militants were killed.[12][13] During the last years of the Vladimir Putin‘s second presidency (2006–2008), terrorist attacks in Russia dwindled, falling from 257 in 2005 to 48 in 2007. Military analyst Vitaly Shlykov praised the effectiveness of Russia’s security agencies, saying that the experience learned in Chechnya and Dagestan had been key to the success. In 2008, the American Carnegie Endowment‘s Foreign Policy magazine named Russia as “the worst place to be a terrorist” and highlighted especially Russia’s willingness to prioritize national security over civil rights.[14] By 2010, Russian forces, led by the FSB, had managed to eliminate out the top leadership of the Chechen insurgency, except for Dokka Umarov.[15]

Increased terrorism and expansion of the FSB’s powers

President Dmitry Medvedev meeting with FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov on the way from Moscow to Dagestan‘s capital Makhachkala in June 2009

Starting from 2009, the level of terrorism in Russia increased again. Particularly worrisome was the increase of suicide attacks. While between February 2005 and August 2008, no civilians were killed in such attacks, in 2008 at least 17 were killed and in 2009 the number rose to 45.[16] In March 2010, Islamist militants organised the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings, which killed 40 people. One of the two blasts took place at Lubyanka station, near the FSB headquarters. Militant leader Doku Umarov—dubbed “Russia’s Osama Bin Laden”—took responsibility for the attacks. In July 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev expanded the FSB’s powers in its fight against terrorism. FSB officers received the power to issue warnings to citizens on actions that could lead to committing crimes and arrest people for 15 days if they fail to comply with legitimate orders given by the officers. The bill was harshly criticized by human rights organizations.[17]

Role

Counterintelligence

In 2011, the FSB said it had exposed 199 foreign spies, including 41 professional spies and 158 agents employed by foreign intelligence services.[18] The number has risen in recent years: in 2006 the FSB reportedly caught about 27 foreign intelligence officers and 89 foreign agents.[19] Comparing the number of exposed spies historically, the then-FSB Director Nikolay Kovalyov said in 1996: “There has never been such a number of spies arrested by us since the time when German agents were sent in during the years of World War II.” The 2011 figure is similar to what was reported in 1995–1996, when around 400 foreign intelligence agents were uncovered during the two-year period.[20] In a high-profile case of foreign espionage, the FSB said in February 2012 that an engineer working at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia’s main space center for military launches, had been sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges of state treason. A court judged that the engineer had sold information about testing of new Russian strategic missile systems to the American CIA.[21] An increasing number of scientists have been accused of espionage and illegal technology exports by the FSB during the last decade: researcher Igor Sutyagin,[22] physicist Valentin Danilov,[23] physical chemist Oleg Korobeinichev,[24] academician Oskar Kaibyshev,[25] and physicist Yury Ryzhov.[26] Ecologist and journalist Alexander Nikitin, who worked with the Bellona Foundation, was accused of espionage. He published material exposing hazards posed by the Russian Navy’s nuclear fleet. He was acquitted in 1999 after spending several years in prison (his case was sent for re-investigation 13 times while he remained in prison). Other cases of prosecution are the cases of investigative journalist and ecologist Grigory Pasko,[27][28] Vladimir Petrenko who described danger posed by military chemical warfare stockpiles, and Nikolay Shchur, chairman of the Snezhinskiy Ecological Fund.[20] Other arrested people include Viktor Orekhov, a former KGB officer who assisted Soviet dissidents, Vladimir Kazantsev who disclosed illegal purchases of eavesdropping devices from foreign firms, and Vil Mirzayanov who had written that Russia was working on a nerve-gas weapon.[20]

Counter-terrorism

FSB officers on the scene of the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011. Combating terrorism is one of the main tasks of the agency.

In 2011, the FSB prevented 94 “crimes of a terrorist nature”, including eight terrorist attacks. In particular, the agency foiled a planned suicide bombing in Moscow on New Year’s Eve. However, the agency failed to prevent terrorists perpetrating the Domodedovo International Airport bombing.[18] Over the years, FSB and affiliated state security organizations have killed all presidents of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria including Dzhokhar Dudaev, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Aslan Maskhadov, and Abdul-Khalim Saidullaev. Just before his death, Saidullaev claimed that the Russian government “treacherously” killed Maskhadov, after inviting him to “talks” and promising his security “at the highest level”.[29] During the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school hostage crisis, all hostage takers were killed on the spot by FSB spetsnaz forces. Only one of the suspects, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, survived and was convicted later by the court. It is reported that more than 100 leaders of terrorist groups have been killed during 119 operations on North Caucasus during 2006.[19] On 28 July 2006 the FSB presented a list of 17 terrorist organizations recognized by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, which published the list that day. The list had been available previously, but only through individual request.[30][31] Commenting on the list, Yuri Sapunov, head of anti-terrorism at the FSB, named three main criteria necessary for organizations to be listed.[32]

Foreign intelligence

According to some unofficial sources,[33][34][35] since 1999, the FSB has also been tasked with the intelligence-gathering on the territory of the CIS countries, wherein the SVR is legally forbidden from conducting espionage under the inter-government agreements. Such activity is in line with Article 8 of the Federal Law on the FSB.[36]

Targeted killing

In the summer of 2006, the FSB was allegedly given the legal power to engage in targeted killing of terrorism suspects overseas if so ordered by the president.[37]

Border protection

Border guards of the Federal Security Service pursuing trespassers of the maritime boundary during exercises in Kaliningrad Oblast

The Federal Border Guard Service (FPS) has been part of the FSB since 2003. Russia has 61,000 kilometers (38,000 mi) of sea and land borders, 7,500 kilometers (4,700 mi) of which is with Kazakhstan, and 4,000 kilometers (2,500 mi) with China. One kilometer (1,100 yd) of border protection costs around 1 million rubles per year.[38]

Export control

The FSB is engaged in the development of Russia’s export control strategy and examines drafts of international agreements related to the transfer of dual-use and military commodities and technologies. Its primary role in the nonproliferation sphere is to collect information to prevent the illegal export of controlled nuclear technology and materials.[39]

Claims of intimidation of foreign diplomats and journalists[edit]

The FSB has been accused by The Guardian of using psychological techniques to intimidate western diplomatic staff and journalists, with the intention of making them curtail their work in Russia early.[40] The techniques allegedly involve entering targets’ houses, moving household items around, replacing items with similar (but slightly different) items, and even sending sex toys to a male target’s wife, all with the intention of confusing and scaring the target.[40] Guardian journalist, Luke Harding, claims to have been the subject of such techniques.[40]

Doping scandal

Following allegations by a Russian former lab director about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, WADA commissioned an independent investigation led by Richard McLaren. McLaren’s investigation concluded in a report published in July 2016 that the Ministry of Sport and the Federal Security Service (FSB) had operated a “state-directed failsafe system” using a “disappearing positive [test] methodology” (DPM) from “at least late 2011 to August 2015.” However, WADA later admitted that there was not sufficient evidence from the report.[41][42]

2016 US presidential elections

On 29 December 2016, the White House sanctioned the FSB and several other Russian companies for helping the Russian military intelligence service, the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), to allegedly disrupt and spread disinformation during the 2016 US presidential election. In addition, the State Department also declared 35 Russian diplomats and officials persona non grata and denied Russian government officials access to two Russian-owned installations in Maryland and New York.[43]

Organization

The reception room of the Federal Security Service building located on Kuznetsky Most in Moscow

Below the nationwide level, the FSB has regional offices in the federal subjects of Russia. It also has administrations in the armed forces and other military institutions. Sub-departments exist for areas such as aviation, special training centers, forensic expertise, military medicine, etc.[5]

Structure of the Federal Office (incomplete):

Besides the services (departments) and directorates of the federal office, the territorial directorates of FSB in the federal subjects are also subordinate to it. Of these, St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast Directorate of FSB and its predecessors (historically covering both Leningrad/Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast) have played especially important roles in the history of this organization, as many of the officers of the Directorate, including Vladimir Putin and Nikolay Patrushev, later assumed important positions within the federal FSB office or other government bodies. After the last Chief of the Soviet time, Anatoly Kurkov, the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast Directorate were led by Sergei Stepashin (29 November 1991 – 1992), Viktor Cherkesov (1992 –1998), Alexander Grigoryev (1 October 1998 – 5 January 2001), Sergei Smirnov (5 January 2001 – June 2003), Alexander Bortnikov (June 2003 – March 2004) and Yury Ignashchenkov (since March 2004).

Directors of the FSB

On 20 June 1996, Boris Yeltsin fired Director of FSB Mikhail Barsukov and appointed Nikolay Kovalyov as acting Director and later Director of the FSB. Aleksandr Bortnikov took over on 12 May 2008.

Criticism of FSB political role in Russia

The FSB has been criticised for corruption and human rights violations. Some Kremlin critics such as Yulia Latynina and Alexander Litvinenko have claimed that the FSB is engaged in suppression of internal dissent; Litvinenko died in 2006 as a result of polonium poisoning.[45] A number of opposition lawmakers and investigative journalists were murdered in the 2000s while investigating corruption and other alleged crimes perpetrated by FSB officers: Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Galina Starovoitova, Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, Paul Klebnikov (US), Nadezhda Chaikova, Nina Yefimova, and others.[46][47]

The FSB has been further criticised by some for failure to bring Islamist terrorism in Russia under control.[48] In the mid-2000s, the pro-Kremlin Russian sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya claimed that FSB played a dominant role in the country’s political, economic and even cultural life.[49][50][51] FSB officers have been frequently accused of extortion, bribery and illegal takeovers of private companies, often working together with tax inspection officers. Active and former FSB officers are also present as “curators” in “almost every single large enterprise”, both in public and private sectors.[52][53]

Former FSB officer, a defector, Alexander Litvinenko, along with a series of other authors such as Yury Felshtinsky, David Satter, Boris Kagarlitsky, Vladimir Pribylovsky, Mikhail Trepashkin (also former FSB officer) claimed in the early 2000s that the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities were a false flag attack coordinated by the FSB in order to win public support for a new full-scale war in Chechnya and boost former FSB Director Vladimir Putin‘s, then the prime minister, popularity in the lead-up to parliamentary elections and presidential transfer of power in Russia later that year.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65]

In his book Mafia State, Luke Harding, the Moscow correspondent for The Guardian from to 2007 to 2011 and a fierce critic of Russian politics, alleges that the FSB subjected him to continual psychological harassment, with the aim of either coercing him into practicing self-censorship in his reporting, or to leave the country entirely. He says that FSB used techniques known as Zersetzung (literally “corrosion” or “undermining”) which were perfected by the East German Stasi.[66]

Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy criticised the continuing celebration of the professional holiday of the old and the modern Russian security services on the anniversary of the creation of the Cheka: “The successors of the KGB still haven’t renounced anything; they even celebrate their professional holiday the same day, as during repression, on the 20th of December. It is as if the present intelligence and counterespionage services of Germany celebrated Gestapo Day. I can imagine how indignant our press would be!”[67][68][69] In the same time, in 2007, during a memorial to the victims of the 1937 Great Purge at Butovo firing range Vladimir Putin honored the victims of the Stalin’s purge and told the audience that the Great Purge was prepared by the years of the previous hostilities of the Soviet regime including extermination of entire strata of the society: clergy, Russian peasantry and the Cossacks. In his speech Putin mainly criticized the Red Terror under the lead of Felix Dzerzhinsky as the then Cheka head, which resulted in the deaths of thousands, including opponents of the regime and the clergy.[70][71]

See also