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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Boris Ephsteyn, Michael Flynn and Google: Just how compromised ARE we?

As noted a couple of posts down, Boris Ephsteyn -- the formerly-ubiquitous Trump surrogate and inauguration planner -- has suddenly left his White House gig, for reasons unknown. As I noted in a previous post (which is belatedly getting much attention, thanks to the Palmer Report), Epshteyn is the likeliest candidate for Source E in the Orbis dossier, otherwise known as the Steele dossier.

Source E is the primary source for the most infamous claim in that dossier -- the "watersports" business.

Ephsteyn is the only person who fits the description in the dossier. He's a Russian national close to Trump, with extensive knowledge of Russian business. He knows Moscow well. He is close to Trump's son Eric.

The dossier does not explicitly say that Source E is, in fact, a Putin operative. However, that reading is a fair one, since he certainly seems to have deep knowledge of what Russian intelligence has been up to. Read for yourself; come to your own conclusions.

Every time I've written about Ephsteyn, I've reminded readers that his wife, the former Lauren Tanick, is an executive at Google. She is fairly young; I don't know how high she has risen in the Google hierarchy. Nevertheless, there may be some reason to worry about her position within that company.

Last night, thanks to YouTube, I finally caught up with Malcolm Nance's most recent appearance on A.M. Joy. He discussed the Devin Nunes situation. Nance briefly mentioned Intelink and other classified "internets" used by the American intelligence community. Repeatedly, Nance said that Nunes could have "googled" certain names.

Is he speaking literally? I wondered. Does Google power our classified systems?

Yes it does.
• SIPRNet is the military's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network

• Intelink is a SIPRNet search engine powered by Google

• Google infrastructure powering Intelink is largest outside Google

Google has long been considered a monopoly with close ties to the U.S. government.

Now it is learned the U.S. military's powerful classified intranet is not being processed through government servers, but is being powered by Google.
We must be cautious before jumping to conclusions. As I've said: Lauren Tanick Ephsteyn may not have risen that far within her company. I've seen no evidence that she has been made privy to anything having to do with SIPRNet. Still, the linkage does worry me -- at least to a degree.

The Michael Flynn situation is far more worrying, since SIPRNet is a project of the DIA, the agency which Flynn once headed. Worse, the DIA oversees the most highly classified of our secret communications systems, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS, pronounced "Jay-Wicks").

Flynn's ties to Russia are known. Even Team Trump is now calling Flynn a "Russian mole."

Flynn at DIA. Ephsteyn in the White House. Just how compromised are we? Do we have any secrets left?

When I think of all the nonsense that people believed about Hillary's emails...!
Flynn, who broke rules to install his own internet connection to his Pentagon office? LOL
Boris Ephsteyn is very likely being interviewed by the FBI right now. He won't be allowed to leave the country.
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A response to the Kossacks

Because the Palmer Report cited my work on Boris Ephsteyn (even though I'm right about him), I was smeared today in a comment published in Daily Kos:
Be wary of any story that uses Joseph Cannon as a source. He was one of the idiots pushing the “Whitey tape” nonsense in 2008. He also claimed Barack Obama was a CIA agent.
Kos won't allow me to respond to this smear. (Maybe it was the insulting cartoons I did of Markos Moulitsas? I kinda made his lips look like bananas.) Here's the response that they would not publish:

* * *

Am I allowed to defend myself against this smear? I took Larry Effing Johnson (the source for that "Whitey" claim) seriously — for a while — for two reasons: 1. He was a regular writer for Daily Kos. 2. He was a friend to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. When Johnson pointed to a specific speech at which Michelle Obama supposedly uttered that smear, I spent many (as in many) hours trying to track down someone who was in that room on that occasion. When I found out that Johnson lied, I understood, belatedly, his snake-in-the-grass nature, and we’ve been enemies ever since.

So it is fairer to say that I exposed the lie. I also learned not to trust someone's liberal bona fides simply because he or she wrote for Kos.

Yes, I still believe that Obama was working for the American intelligence community when he made that mysterious trip to Pakistan in 1981. If the evidence here is not enough to make the idea seem at least possible, then we must disagree.

But if you want to talk about weird, “out there” claims, may I remind you that during this same period (the 2008 campaign) Daily Kos published a fake news story — endorsed by Moulitsas himself — which claimed that Hillary doctored a video to make Obama’s face look darker? I was hardly the only writer to expose that particular lie.

May I also remind you that when it came out in 2008 that Austan Goolsbee (at Obama’s behest) visited Canada to tell officials privately that Obama was fibbing about his anti-NAFTA stance, a Daily Kos writer published a fake news story claiming that it was Hillary who did what Obama actually did? And that this fake Kos story led to a official Canadian investigation which exonerated Hillary?

May I remind you that Kos was an absolute cesspool of anti-Clinton hatred and prevarication at that time? May I remind you that Kos published actual, serious death threats against Hillary Clinton (as I documented in many articles — hell, the original Kos pages are probably still up)?

May I remind you that throughout 2008, the pages of Daily Kos were filled with every inane anti-Clinton conspiracy theory imaginable?

2008 was a difficult year, but I’ll happily match my record against that of the Daily Kos. Kos writers simply have no moral right to accuse me of writing over-the-top material. The way Kossacks acted throughout that period was worse than shameful: It was downright abominable. An unthinking, paranoid mob mentality overtook the entire site.

Also, may I remind you that I was THE first writer to discuss the Trump/Russia connection in a long piece that name-checked Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Carter Page? The piece predicted that the “Russia factor” would lead to a Trump victory. This was published on June 16, 2016 — months before Manafort left the Trump campaign, more than a month before other writers (not to mention the FBI) began to pay attention. At the time, most Kos readers would have pooh-poohed the notion.
Posted here:
You've been doing great work. Keep it up. Screw them.
Thanks for the reminder about D Kos's unforgivable vicious scorched earth attacks on HRC and their refusal to allow anyone to defend her. To this day I won't go on that site.
Thanks, Carolyn. Struck a nerve, I see.
I often do.
What everyone else said: screw them. Bravo, you!
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Out like Flynn, part 2 (Plus: Louise Mensch)

Seriously, you do get the headline, don't you? My favorite Errol Flynn movies are Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, both starring the Olivia de Havilland, the classiest star of that era, and one of my all-time great crushes. She's still with us.

I wish I could devote the rest of this post to listing all of the crush-worthy screen goddesses of yesteryear, but we have a president to impeach. So let's get down to business.

There are signs that Trump Dam is a-fixin' to crumble, and the little boy with his finger in the hole is named Michael Flynn. Or maybe I should say that Flynn is being used as a battering ram. I'm not sure which analogy to employ because the stories don't quite coalesce; at this point, all we can do is summarize the many reports.

CNN analyst Juliette Kayyam says that Michael Flynn has flipped. (And no, she doesn't mean "flipped" in the sense that I once flipped over Olivia de Havilland.) Allow me, once again, to translate Seth Abramson's twitter stream into standard prose:
First, as an attorney I want to make clear that, if this @CNN analyst's sources are correct, the #Russiagate scandal is blown wide open. FBI flips witnesses, turning them into cooperating individuals, only when they can help secure conviction of a bigger "target." Michael Flynn was the National Security Adviser for the President of the United States. The only bigger target is Donald J. Trump.

But Flynn also held a clandestine meeting with Russian ambassador/spy Sergey Kislyak and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in December '16. And Flynn coordinated with infamous Iran-Contra figure and Russian oil/gas pipeline advocate Bud McFarlane in hiring Trump's Deputy NSA. And of course Flynn had the highest possible clearance and greatest possible access to POTUS in discussing matters of national security.

Flynn's hire as NSA was controversial -- even suspicious -- when it was made due to Flynn's absolutely terrible reputation in Washington. This suggests the hire wasn't based on merit, but rather the fact that Flynn is known to have ties (in-person ties) to Vladimir Putin.

We should conclude from the foregoing that Flynn was in the best position of anyone involved in #Russiagate to see all its contours. Given all of the above, we can say that if any one person could bring down Trump due to #Russiagate, it's the man the FBI may now have.
I'll add this: As noted in a previous post, someone seems to have revealed to Putin the names of American moles within the Russian intelligence system. As a result, a growing number of Russians have ended up dead or disappeared.

Which highly-placed American went blabby? Was his name Michael, by any chance?

Now let us turn to former CIA officer Tony Schaffer. Remember him? The Able Danger guy? Correct me if I'm mis-recalling, but didn't the stories published at that time refrain from identifying him as CIA?

He says that there is basic truth behind Trump's "tapp" tweet, although he admits that Obama didn't order the "tapp" -- which was not a tap, and which was not targeted against Trump. As you read the following, keep in mind that it comes from a FOX news story, and is clearly designed for the Fox audience.
He said that Trump was not physically wiretapped, with a wire into his phone, and it may not have physically been Trump Tower, but his campaign apparatus instead.

Shaffer said that due to the simplicity required to "mask" an American's name during an incidental wiretap, that the leak of Gen. Michael Flynn's name was "accidental on purpose."

"Clearly they were after gossip because it was political," Shaffer said, maintaining that the alleged wiretap had nothing to do with Russia.

The "political appointees" in the intelligence community knew exactly what they were surveilling for, Shaffer said, adding that the case is "much worse than Watergate by an order of magnitude."

He said that even if the surveillance was done legally, the "unmasking" of Americans' names and the leaking of the information are felones.

Shaffer added that Trump's references to battling the "intelligence community" likely meant those political appointees involved in the alleged surveillance, and not the CIA or NSA writ large.
Schaffer is not telling you that Flynn was recorded speaking to the Russian ambassador, who is always a legitimate target for surveillance. The ambassador did not operate out of Trump Tower. Frankly, I see nothing in Schaffer's statement that justifies those tweets.

Although I would place this interview with Schaffer somewhere between problematic and propagandistic, the man does raise a good point: Someone made a conscious decision to reveal Flynn's name.

Looking at the matter from an ethical viewpoint, one has to ask: Is Schaffer suggesting that the name should have remained hidden? If the National Security Adviser speaks covertly with the Russian ambassador -- on a line that both men think is secure, but isn't -- and if the conversation comes very close to an infraction of the Logan Act, and if Flynn neglects to tell the truth about this interaction, isn't that something which the intelligence community ought to reveal?

Woolsey. You probably already know about James Woolsey's claim that Michael Flynn, now known to be a paid agent of the corrupt Erdogan regime in Turkey, discussed the kidnapping of a Turkish national whom Erodgan considers an enemy.
As a representative of his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Flynn met with senior representatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in September 2016, Woolsey said. Woolsey was a Trump campaign adviser at the time and attended the meeting, but said he arrived after it was already well underway.

Woolsey claims that those present discussed sending Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim leader who Erdogan has accused of being behind a failed military coup to overthrow him, back to Turkey to face charges -- possibly outside the legal US extradition system.

"What I saw and heard was sort of the end of the conversation -- it's not entirely clear what transpired because of that," Woolsey said on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon. "But it looks as if there was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able, the United States would be able, through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen, the rival for Turkey's political situation."

A spokesman for Flynn flatly denied Woolsey's characterization of the meeting.
Woolsey is an arch-neocon and a former pro-Trumper, so he's hardly my favorite person in the world. Nevertheless, it's hard to believe that a guy like Woolsey would simply make up a tale like this.

According to this DU thread...
Malcolm Nance just said with CONFIDENCE on AM Joy that 1st one to break will be Mike Flynn!
Nance said that James Woolsey has dropped the 'dime' on him.

Flynn is in deep shit for (allegedly) discussing how to kidnap Erdogan foe Fethullah Gulen and fly him back to Turkey.
I did not see the broadcast and cannot confirm that Nance actually said those words. From Nance's Twitter feed:
This is going to send Flynn to jail& force him to talk to see if Trump approved. Completely illegal to even discuss abduction of Americans.
Flynn and Nunes. Several sources have noted that, after Woolsey left Team Trump, there was another meeting between Flynn and Turkish officials at Donald Trump's hotel. And guess who was with him? Devin Nunes. This meeting was mentioned in the Turkish press but ignored by the American media.

Now let's turn to some non-Flynn news...

Blackmail? Palmer also reports that Russia is threatening to reveal some important secrets if the American government doesn't stop leaking information about what Russia is up to in Ukraine. Ooh! Does this mean that we might get a chance to see the watersports footage?
The lengthy briefing posted to Russian government website was conducted by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who speaks on behalf of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, and in turn speaks on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin briefing page is titled “The assassination of former Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov,” in reference to the former Russian politician-turned-dissident who fled to Ukraine, only to be gunned down earlier this week.

As Palmer Report has pointed out, Voronenkov would have been a star witness in the trial that the government of Ukraine is currently trying to assemble against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Voronenkov was murdered just one day after proof finally surfaced of the longstanding assertion that Manafort had taken tens of millions of dollars from the Kremlin. It’s widely believed that Vladimir Putin had former Kremlin insider Voronenkov murdered in order to prevent him from exposing Kremlin secrets during any Manafort trial.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson seems to be blaming the entire sequence of events on leaks from the United States government. In her briefing (source: she goes on to make the following claim, along with a rather dire threat: “I would like to say that if the practice of leaking information that concerns not just the United States but also Russia, which has become a tradition in Washington in the past few years, continues, there will come a day when the media will publish leaks about the things that Washington asked us to keep secret, for example, things that happened during President Obama’s terms in office. Believe me, this could be very interesting information.”
Are we to believe that the current Russian government and the current American government are protecting Obama? Doubtful. If Putin had dirt on Obama, Trump would know. More than that: Trump would tell. I'm fairly certain that any such material would have been all over our computer and teevee screens during the 2016 election.

Bye-bye Boris. This brand-new NYT report made me smile...
Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office who had a contentious relationship with television producers and was once a frequent presence on TV himself, is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move.

The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason Mr. Epshteyn, an old friend of President Trump’s son Eric, was expected to depart the post.
As readers will recall, this humble blog tentatively identified Epshteyn as a likely source for certain claims made in the Steele dossier.
Writers for the Washington Post -- who have apparently seen an unredacted version of the dossier -- identified Source E as a Russian emigre who is very close to Donald Trump. But so far, no-one has given you a name.

Until now.

An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump's inauguration.
Everything fits. EVERYTHING.

He's a Russian emigre. He knows Moscow very well. (Source E knew Source F, who works at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.) He's extremely close to Trump. He got "in" with the campaign via a relationship with Trump's son.
Here is the follow-up piece. If my informant was on the level -- if Boris really is "Source E" -- then he may be considering a move back to Moscow, now that the Russiagate scandal is starting to whirl out of control. The FBI may want to speak with him. A special prosecutor surely would seek an interview, given the man's expert knowledge of investment in Russia.

I'd also like to know just what it is that Ephsteyns' wife does at Google.

Finally: Did you catch Louise Mensch on Bill Maher's show last night? All of the guests were perfect, but she was plus‐que‐parfait. Russian propaganda outlets have launched an insane smear campaign against her which only gives her more credibility.

Yet I still don't trust her. Not completely. She's too close to the intelligence community.

All of our current "spooks against Trump" remind me of the role played by Bob Woodward in Watergate.

In 1973-75, liberals considered Woodward an unassailable hero because he helped to take down Nixon. Back then, everyone assumed that only a die-hard supporter of the Trickster would dare to suggest that Woodward had a covert side.

Only later did we learn (via Jim Hougan's book Secret Agenda) that Woodward had been a former intelligence briefer who got an important journalism gig at the Post despite a complete lack of experience or writing ability. In his Watergate coverage, he seems to have made a deal with CIA representatives to keep the Agency out of the WP's Watergate coverage. (See the Lukowski memo, published as an addendum in Secret Agenda. Also see what Hougan has to say here and here.)

Cut to: The current day.

Mensch, Schindler, and The Jester may be "pulling a Woodward." They are keeping everyone focused on the Putin connection while making sure that we all ignore the American intelligence community's role in Trump's election.

I'm simply asking you to keep Schindler's work in mind as you read this article in The Guardian, which reveals the important links between the Breitbart empire (funded by Robert Mercer) and Cambridge Analytica, a subsidiary of SCL Group, a company with strong ties to both the Trump campaign and (as we know from other sources) the American and British intelligence communities. Also see this interesting discussion of Breitbartiana.

Most of the "spooks against Trump" never talk about that stuff. With them, it's all Russia, all the time. They offer very few references to Cambridge Analytica or SCL Group, even though Mercer's firm specializes in propaganda and perception management.

The exception has been Louise Mensch, who has mentioned Cambridge Analytica: See here and here and here and here.

On Maher's show, Mensch did make the important point -- which too many have forgotten -- that Trump was (and is) protected by a coterie of FBI agents in New York. These agents may have been the ones who allowed Nunes to see those intercepts. In the course of her Twitter feed, Mensch has toyed with the notion that these FBI agents are Russian moles, a suggestion I consider silly. Still, we must never forget that this faction exists.

Beyond all of that: I may not trust Mensch completely, but I have developed a serious crush on her. She's just so damned brilliant and beautiful.

Kinda reminds me of Olivia de Havilland.
Seth Abramson article at HuffPo attempts to explain Comey's pre-election behavior...
Beyond all of that: I may not trust Mensch completely, but I have developed a serious crush on her. She's just so damned brilliant and beautiful.

Agree with you on this 100%. Beauty and brains...a lovely combination. :)
so joe, was it here i read about the mysterious connections between eric's wife lara yunaska and her NC roots, that being the 'location' of much of the cyber work behind the alleged weiner underage 'cyber-victim'? didn't she spill some revealing tweets or such around that time?

also, thx to p.leigh for that link; exceptional panorama provided there. mensch did note she believes comey is a good guy in a very messy agency, which abramson's piece also suggests. since (at the very least) 9/11, the rift/rivalry between the fbi and cia/etc has been quite suspect, without any public resolution. but perhaps worse than this would be a rift internal to the fbi, i'd guess between old school/hooverites and younger, more um, constitutionally motivated souls. the suggestions in that abramson piece, echoed by mensch, support this problem. and, i suppose, help explain the tightrope comey must be navigating. he may be the person most aware of the enormous powder keg he and the country are faced with now.

which leads to the question that's been nagging me since 11/9: namely, with all this control over our government, almost in toto, by the GOP/trumpsters, who would actually arrest them? i mean, it might be hard enough for comey to land an indictment, then get it thru DOJ (ha!), but then, who would take these suckers away?

dare we rely on the 'shame' of public exposure on the TV and twitter machines? might they simply mock us to our shocked faces? as they march us all off to our version of the gulag....

"I wish I could devote the rest of this post to listing all of the crush-worthy screen goddesses of yesteryear, but we have a president to impeach. So let's get down to business." haha!

There is another headline out there "In and Out like Flynn." In Like Flint and Our Man Flint are my kinda movies so I got confused. It's OK because I have no clue about what's going on, either. Explain away....going back in to read the rest...the best I can.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Out like Flynn

God, I love that headline. Wonder if younger readers will get the joke?

I'd like to direct your attention to this opinion piece in the Palmer Report. Yes, I am aware that some have (incorrectly) castigated the Palmer Report as a left-wing example of "fake news." I disagree with that characterization. I certainly would not apply it to this specific piece, which is clearly labeled opinion. We should have no objection to speculation as long as it comes clearly labeled as such, and as long as "casa conjecture" rests on a foundation of facts.

Palmer's thesis is that Michael Flynn has turned talker. He's either looking to cut a deal, or he has cut one already. That's why the Trumpers have decided to lay the blame for Russiagate on Flynn and Flynn alone.
Of the four Trump campaign advisers widely reported to be under FBI investigation, three of them – Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone – have suddenly volunteered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee (source: CNN and Washington Post). Their choice of the House, and not the Senate, seems obvious enough: the House Intel Committee is run by Trump-loyal stooge Devin Nunes. They’re probably hoping to team up with Nunes to run interference in front of the television cameras. But only one of the four Trump campaign advisers under investigation is remaining out of the dog any pony show: Michael Flynn.

Congressional hearings are essentially show-trials. The various Congressmen on the committee are each trying to make one case or another to the public. The witnesses who volunteer to testify are trying to convince the public that the scandal is not their fault. If you’re running to a committee to testify in front of the cameras, it means you’re merely playing games of appearances, and you’re not running to the FBI to offer real testimony. If Michael Flynn were running to one of these committees right now, I would assume he hasn’t cut a deal. But he’s been curiously quiet about it. In fact he’s been curiously quiet about everything throughout this scandal. And yet he’s been making definitive moves behind the scenes.
Interpreting someone’s silence is tricky business. But Flynn has been speaking, just not with words. Two weeks ago Flynn retroactively registered with the U.S. government as a foreign agent. In so doing, he essentially confessed to a past crime in an attempt to get back onto the right side of the law. If Flynn was deluded enough to think that he can beat the rap on all the felonies he’s apparently committed, the last thing he would be doing is officially admitting to one of his most severe crimes on government paperwork. Instead this is the behavior of someone who’s actively trying to come clean.

And there’s only one reason for Michael Flynn to come clean about the crimes he’s committed in relationship to the Donald Trump campaign: so the FBI can use his admitted crimes as a legal excuse to pursue the involvement of other Trump campaign members in those crimes. I’ve strongly suspected Flynn had already cut a deal with the FBI from the minute the story broke about him registering as a foreign agent. It was probably fairly easy for the FBI to convince him to go along with it, as they already have him nailed on the felony of lying to them about Russia several months ago (source: Washington Post).
I would add the following: The National Enquirer and its sister publications have functioned as a propaganda arm of the Trumpers. Each week, Trump's message is dumbed down -- way down -- in order to appeal to the naive ninnies who think that professional wrestling is real, that Alex Jones sells magic pills which can cure polonium poisoning, and that Breitbart publishes too many big words.

As Rachel Maddow noted at the end of last night's show, the National Enquirer is now pushing an absurd storyline in which Donald Trump -- that mighty He-Man -- personally uncovered the Russian spy in his midst. The name of that spy: Michael Flynn. Nobody else is at fault. Just Flynn. Blame it all on him.

Flynn is now Trump's official Judas.

Why would they Judas-ize Flynn now? Palmer's theory offers a tidy explanation. It makes more sense than anything else I can come up with.

By the way: I found a temporary patch for my computer problem. I'll have to come up with a permanent fix fairly soon. If I'm suddenly tossed offline again, you'll know the reason.
Be careful about a patch. If you ever purchase a new computer and try to migrate all your data over, the patch that worked on the old computer may not work on the new computer. And because the prior computer is old, there may not be any diagnostics available to fix the original problem.
DailyPUMA warned last year well before the election that the constant faux headlines on both the National Enquirer and the Globe would over time damage Hillary Clinton's presidential election chances.
Mr. Cannon, the top rated DC Market station posted a story of Alex Jones apologizing for his role in the PizzaGate conspiracy. I think this is the first time I heard the rather conservative WTOP mention Alex Jones, so it seems rather strange to have them feature this as a front page story, especially for as long as they have. Thoughts?

I don't know anything about WTOP. I feel certain that Jones apologized only because he feared a lawsuit; I'm sure that he still believes that the Democratic party is run by child rapists.
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Spooks for Trump: Why Stone and Manafort are now eager to testify

My computer is malfunctioning so I must be brief. I've heard what Adam Schiff has had to say, and I've been giving a lot of thought to the actions of Devin Nunes. It is clear to all now that Nunes is as loyal to Trump as is, say, Kellyanne Conway (and maybe more loyal than Bannon or Melania). Everyone understands this.

What we must also understand is that these events make sense only when viewed in the light of my theory that there is a pro-Trump faction within the intel community.

The NSA showed intercepts to Nunes that were not shared with Schiff or any non-loyalist to Trump. Nunes immediately shared what he learned with Trump and no-one else.

Suddenly, Manafort and Stone and Page want to testify in open hearings. 

Think about it. The great trap inherent in such testimony is perjury. What if those three men give testimony which does not conform to information on an NSA intercept? Manafort, Stone and Page would naturally prefer to testify after learning what the NSA had overheard.

Finding out what the NSA had obtained was Nunes' purpose. Now that he has completed that task, the Trumpers know how to game the proceedings. They know what they may safely say -- and leave out -- without fear of a perjury trap.

In all likelihood, Trump loyalists in NSA helped Nunes screw us over.
Disagree. I think its the other way around. The WH tells/shows NSA incidental collection stuff to Nunes to get him to voice their distraction/chaff theories about unmasking. Then Nunes may be running back to them with info on the status of the committee investigation.

The others now want to testify in open hearings because they can smell someone turning witness on them. Flynn? About 8 shoes have dropped on him already (illegal op on US soil to extradite Gullen? WTF), and he's out of public sight. Also, they offer to testify in hearings but I suspect not under oath. That's the key distinction.

They can't back down if requested to testify under oath. Your theory doesn't explain the willingness, the eagerness to testify despite the potential perjury trap.

Clearly the offer was an "interview" in closed hearing, not testimony and not in the open. Some criminal liability applies but not like court.

I think they know they are pretty screwed, and looking for ways to mitigate/cut deals. Might even get so far as personal safety issue for Manafort and Page, who put himself all over tv interviews a couple of weeks ago. Their business partners/contacts/knowledge of dirt are in the life threatening category if they were in Europe and who knows how safe they feel even in the US.

Also, 3 guys eager and silence from Flynn. Hmmmm.

According to (was linked there through a Skydancing comment), the National Enquirer has come right out and branded Flynn a "Russian spy." They surely didn't do that because there were no more aliens-having-sex-with-top-Dem-official stories to flog. They didn't do it without permission from the White House. So they are throwing Flynn to the wolves, and I would think Manafort, at least, got the message they are sending. What he plans to do, whether spill the beans and go down fighting, or try and navigate the minefield, remains to be seen. If I were him, I wouldn't go above the first floor of any building for a while.

Hey Joseph:

Does this sound plausible to you?

"It’s not a secret that most Republicans in Congress, including Speaker Paul Ryan, view themselves as being more closely aligned with establishment Republican Mike Pence than with erratic outsider Donald Trump. So if Nunes came across evidence of Pence on a wiretap, it might explain why his first move was to panic and run to Ryan for advice. It would also explain why Nunes was of the belief that Trump himself might not have been aware of it, and felt compelled to take it to him."
Could Nunes have made his visit to the White House any more obvious? Couldn't he have used a back door or maybe thrown a brick through the window with a note attached? The public nature of this whole episode makes me wonder if there is less here than meets the eye--perhaps Nunes saw tomorrow's weather report, paraded over to the White House with the news that Trump was totally "tapped", Trump declares himself "mostly vindicated" and quicker than you can say Bob's your uncle, it is "truth".

Grant Stern -- "Trump Russia Dossier Decoded: Yes, There Really Was A Massive Oil Deal."

86 paths to Putin.

Devin Nunes has financial ties to Russia. Most of his money is invested in Alpha Omega Winery which has links to a major Russian alcohol distributor, one Swiss company, and no other EU outlets at all.
Kat: That is fascinating! You think it's possible?

Teller: when I saw that on the Maddow show I nearly died laughing.

Gavin: thanks and I will read those links.

Re: Devin Nunes has financial ties to Russia.
I would be a little cautious about this Alpha Omega Winery thing. Looks like the investment is about $100,000 (from which he derives 4-5K a year). Hardly high finance. And said company having wine distributer in Russia, (albeit one that sent Putin a lovely birthday message recently) hardly makes Nunes out as a Russian stooge.

Geesh, I can't believe I'm defending the guy.
My take is Ryan is using Nunes as leverage on Trump. Nunes is a political hack, he knows what this looks like, and he wouldn't be doing it so openly without support from the only guy who matters. And that is Ryan. In Don Corleone terms, Nunes is a pimp, it was Ryan all along. The problem is, Trump is such a back row child in politics class that he isn't playing ball. His antics on AHCA for example. With Nunes broadcasting he will slow walk this, or turn it to Trump's advantage, the decision on a special commission is up to Ryan. Can no one imagine Ryan telling Trump "Nice little presidency you got here, shame if something should happen to it...."
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Questions of evidence

Yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff spoke of new evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russia:
Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN Thursday that he had seen additional evidence, but would not specify what it was.

"We continue to get new information that, I think, paints a more complete picture of at least what we know at the outset of our investigation," Schiff said.

Asked to explain his comments earlier in the week when he said there was more than just "circumstantial evidence of collusion," Schiff said, "I do think that it's appropriate to say that it's the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation.

"It's not the kind of evidence that you take to a trial jury when you're trying to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. But we're at the beginning of an investigation, and given the gravity of the subject matter, I think that the evidence certainly warrants us doing a thorough investigation."
It's difficult to know what to make of all this until we can see this evidence for ourselves.

Meanwhile, the Fox Newsers are now claiming that the as-yet-unseen evidence described by Devin Nunes proves that Obama was using foreign surveillance as a "cover" for spying on the Trumpers. That's a ridiculous presumption. The truth is, we do not as yet even have any indication that anyone on Team Trump was directly recorded.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know "for sure" whether President Donald Trump or members of his transition team were even on the phone calls or other communications now being cited as partial vindication for the president’s wiretapping claims against the Obama administration, according to a spokesperson.

"He said he'll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure," a spokesperson for Nunes said Thursday. Nunes was a member of the Trump transition team executive committee.

At a press conference yesterday, Nunes announced he obtained "dozens of reports" showing the U.S. intelligence community -- through its "normal foreign surveillance" -- "incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."

But Nunes never said Trump or any of the president's associates personally participated in the communications that were intercepted.
In other words, the Trump associates may have been simply mentioned in the course of intercepted communications. We already know from the Flynn affair that the NSA had found a way to eavesdrop on Ambassador Kislyak, even though he spoke on a line he considered secure. We know that Flynn himself was recorded during that monitoring. Kislyak may have talked about other Trumpers.

I cannot see how any of this justifies Trump's tweets or the misleading Fox News report.

Seth Abramson, of HuffPo and the Dallas Morning News, claims to have Russiagate all figured out. Here's his Twitter feed, and here's a Daily Kos story which places the tweets in some sort of order. I will try to turn his tweets into normal prose. (Twitter is not really the right medium for a story like this). Everything between the asterisks was written by Abramson:

* * *

Per @NYMag, Paul Manafort took over the Trump campaign on April 16, just 72 hours before Trump mathematically eliminated his competition. The timing was intentional: Manafort, hired in March, was slated to become the campaign's key player as soon as Trump became the nominee.

On April 21, 48 hours after clinching, Trump announced the first major foreign policy address of his life. It was scheduled for April 27. The speech, arranged by Jared Kushner in mid-March, was to be hosted by the Center for the National Interest, a conservative think tank. The Center is _widely_ known to have "ties to the Russian regime of President Vladimir Putin," per Politico.

The speech was slated to be at the National Press Club, an august venue with a _long_ history of staging secure events with large crowds. Less than 24 hours before the speech, it was cancelled. The Trump campaign (i.e., Manafort) declared the venue was too small and unsafe.

So Manafort moved the event to the Mayflower Hotel: a smaller, less secure site. The decision confirmed the campaign's excuses were lies. The two things the Mayflower had that the NPC didn't were (a) 581 private rooms for private meetings, and (b) restricted, VIP-only areas. The latter was important because Manafort wanted Trump to hold an intimate, 24-person cocktail hour in the Mayflower's VIP Senate Room.

Among the 24 at the event: Trump, CNI event coordinator Heilbrunn, Jeff Sessions, Kushner, Lewandowski, Manafort, and four ambassadors. Another VIP at the event was Iran-Contra figure Bud McFarlane, one of America's chief advocates for a bargain with Russia on oil access.

The four ambassadors were the only four ambassadors in the world (out of 195 total) that the Putin-linked CNI had invited to the event.

The biggest oil deal in Russia's history occurred in December of 2016. It involved the coordination of entities from three countries. Individuals from those three countries -- RUSSIA, ITALY, and SINGAPORE -- negotiated the sale of 19.5% of Russia's state oil company, Rosneft. The #Russiagate scandal involves claims Trump was given 0.5% of Rosneft and aid in getting elected in exchange for lifting US sanctions.

The Rosneft deal closed Dec. 5-7. During that time McFarlane visited Trump Tower. It's believed Russian ambassador/spy Kislyak did too.

WSJ wrote in April 2016 that Trump met separately with the ambassadors at the Mayflower and was effusive. “Trump met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. He warmly greeted Kislyak and 3 other ambassadors." The ambassadors at the Mayflower: RUSSIA! ITALY! SINGAPORE! And the Philippines -- which is routinely cited as a Rosneft expansion target.

So Trump warmly, privately chatted with the 3 Rosneft-deal nations at a cocktail hour right before his first big foreign-policy event. In his speech Trump called for a Russian detente: "We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia...we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia is possible. [I hope to] make a deal under my administration that’s great for America but also good for Russia."

Richard Burt, CNI and Russian Alfa Bank adviser, crafted the speech. He was also Putin's pipeline lobbyist.

The only Kislyak meeting Sessions never disclosed to Congress, even after accusations of perjury, was the meeting at the Mayflower. But per the organizer of the Mayflower Hotel event, Jacob Heilbrunn of the CNI, a third Sessions-Kislyak meeting definitely occurred.

Heilbrunn on the VIP event: "At a reception in the Senate Room of the Mayflower, a number of politicians and Trump advisers, such as Senator Jeff Sessions and ambassadors [from Russia and the other nations] congregated before the event." The VIP event wasn't just a receiving line as Trump claimed. It was a "cocktail meet-and-greet" -- a full event.

That Sessions would feel the need to hide his contact with Kislyak at the Mayflower event after accusations of perjury raises red flags. The White House saying it has “no recollection” of any of the VIPs at Trump's biggest-ever foreign policy event is also a red flag.

When Kislyak was asked if he’d met Trump or members of his team during the campaign he replied, "What do you consider a campaign?" Kislyak went on to fail to disclose his meeting with Trump at the Mayflower, citing only a meeting at the RNC.

We know Manafort and Kislyak would have known each other, as Manafort indirectly worked for Putin for years. We know Manafort set up the Mayflower event and was available for meetings at it -- as was Kushner, who later met secretly with Kislyak. Congress must investigate any Mayflower meetings between Sessions, Manafort, Kushner, Kislyak and the Italian/Singaporean ambassadors.

We know the White House lied about Mayflower. We know Sessions has. We know Kislyak has. And we know the Rosneft players were present. We know there was ample time/space for "sidelines" meetings. And we know Walid Phares was also there, and Trump Jr., and Stephen Miller. So other than the RNC and suspicious Trump Tower meetings in December, the Mayflower Speech should get the most attention in Congress.

* * *

Cannon here: Much of this is new and, I think, significant. The Rosneft deal still has not received the attention it deserves.

Bud McFarlane? My god. Has that man wandered into another scandal? Iran-Contra nearly killed him -- and I speak literally.

And in an alternate universe: Did you catch the tabloids this week? As you know, they are all owned by the same company, and they are all deep in the tank for Trump. I was surprised to see that they were both still in campaign mode. In tabloid-land, Trump is in no danger of impeachment, while Obama and Clinton are this close to jail. The upcoming Obama trial will be the Trial of the Century.

The Globe offers no named sources for its cover-story claim that Hillary Clinton used the Obama White House as an ATM machine. Yeah, that allegation makes no sense to me either. But it does fit the wider pattern of mirror imaging: Trump is almost always guilty of the very accusations which he and his foot soldiers levy against the Clintons.

The National Enquirer's cover story is all about the "tapp" tweets, which -- we are told -- have been completely validated. Now, this story does name sources. First and foremost is, of course, David Nunes. As noted above, his evidence does not validate those tweets -- at least, that's the way the evidence stands right now.

The Enquirer story also references Edward Snowden -- glowingly.

It also cites Larry fucking Johnson, about whom I wrote a long diatribe a few days ago. It's odd to see Johnson show up in the Nat Enq, since he seems to have evaporated from the internet in recent days. He excised his Twitter feed and No Quarter has disappeared.

The National Enquirer also named NSA whistleblower William Binney, who is quoted at some length. I don't have the paper in front of me right now, but trust me: That quotation is robustly pro-Trump.

About five days ago, many news reports talked about Binney. He said that Trump was indeed monitored -- but only in the sense that everyone is monitored by the NSA. As I've said in previous posts, I believe that the NSA scoops up pretty much everything; data is not considered intercepted until human eyes look at it.
But Binney told Sean Hannity's radio show earlier Monday, "I think the FISA court's basically totally irrelevant."

The judges on the FISA court are "not even concerned, nor are they involved in any way with the Executive Order 12333 collection," Binney said during the radio interview. "That's all done outside of the courts. And outside of the Congress."

Binney told Fox the laws that fall under the FISA court's jurisdiction are "simply out there for show" and "trying to show that the government is following the law, and being looked at and overseen by the Senate and House intelligence committees and the courts."

"That's not the main collection program for NSA," Binney said.
Executive Order 12333 lays out the roles played by various services within the American intelligence establishment; here is the Thing-In-Itself. Wikipedia thus summarizes the issues involved:
Executive Order 12333 has been regarded by the American intelligence community as a fundamental document authorizing the expansion of data collection activities.[9] The document has been employed by the National Security Agency as legal authorization for its collection of unencrypted information flowing through the data centers of internet communications giants Google and Yahoo!.[9]

In July 2014 chairman David Medine and two other members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a government oversight agency, indicated a desire to review Executive Order 12333 in the near future, according to a report by journalist Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian.[9]
We will have to leave for another time the question of whether Binney is right about all of this. Marcy Wheeler has been having a complicated discussion of these issues in her blog and twitter feed.

Right now, I'd like to step back and note the strangeness of this post-Trump universe. Not long ago, William Binney got respectful attention only from lefty places like Democracy Now and oddball blogs like the one you're reading at this very moment. Now, Binney receives huzzahs from Breitbart, Hannity, and the National Enquirer. And conservatives shower equal love on Larry Johnson, William Binney and Ed Snowden -- the man Trump thinks should be tried and executed.

I just want the world to make sense again.

Are you feeling the Trump fatigue? I sure am. I can't tear myself away from the news, even though I often hate reading it. At least three times a day, I think: "Gotta write a post about this!" But by the time that post is written -- or half-composed in my mind -- some new Trumpy tale has captured the world's attention.

In fact, when I sat down to write this very post, my intent was to talk about several completely separate Trump-related news stories. 

Many years ago, Crocker Bank in California advertised itself with this slogan: "The bank you don't have to think about." The idea was that people thought about their bank only when the institution did something wrong. I long for a government that I don't have to think about.
I noticed the Philippines were mentioned. Didn't the U.S. have some type of friction with the Philippines during Obama's administration. Makes one wonder if a country or two were not encouraged to dis the Obama administraiton as a pre–emptive strike by the Republican National Party.
Please don't get too fatigued! And yet...they are counting on fatigue. I believe it's another reason wages are so low, so that more people have to work longer just to stay nose above water. Of course, then there's the corporate class. Some are making enough to buy the hideous McMansions cropping up all over Northern VA.

My hotspot seems to allow me better access to the internet these days (I quit Comcast. No TV, no high-speed internet)....but I don't know yet how much my smart phone company's gonna gouge me. If I could go completely off-grid, I would. I don't know how you keep up...please take care!
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stone notes: "face/body/meat"

The Smoking Gun has a remarkably good rundown of all the known antics of Roger Stone since Trump announced. Some of this material was news even to me. You probably already knew about the "swingers" ad which forced him to resign from the 1996 Dole campaign -- but were you aware of the repeat?
Undaunted by the Dole disaster, the Stones continued swinging. In a December 2006 post on the Dark Cavern web site, the couple advertised for a male partner who “must be 22-40, lean, muscular and hung like a horse.” The ad, which included Stone’s Hotmail address, offered a graphic description of Nydia’s body and the notation that “Obidient husband shares her cunt.” Respondents were directed to “Contact me/us with a photo of face/body/meat.” The Stone ad was found on a meetup page for Florida swingers.

Dark Cavern (motto: “We unite black and white”) is dedicated to facilitating and chronicling sexual encounters between “black studs” and white women (usually while the husband looks on). The site offers recaps from couples about “going black” and has a section where “wives and studs” can suggest “new ways to humiliate the wimp hubbies.”

The news that one of their beloved “Deplorables” once advertised for “huge hung black Cock” might not go over well in alt-right circles, where masculinity, virility, and racial prominence are prized. In fact, there is a favorite pejorative used by Breitbartians when they sense that someone is weak, effeminate, or a supporter of someone other than Trump. If only Pepe & Co. knew there was a real-life cuck in their midst.
I don't care about what people do with their wee-wees. As long as all parties are consenting adults, I don't care about the mental or physical games they play in private, even if those games involve feces or "furry" suits or blood drinking or Charlie Chaplin costumes or coital seppuku. In other words -- and I say this sincerely -- I'm glad that Roger and his wife are having fun.

What bothers me is not the libertine attitude of Roger Stone but the hypocrisy of the right, or at least of the Alt-Right. They would never tolerate "cuck" roleplaying games if practiced by a liberal, a moderate, or even someone they deem a RINO. They would never have tolerated Milo if he were even slightly more liberal-ish. The rule seems to be this: Once you say the magic words "I like Trump," then all is permitted.

Who makes these rules?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Told ya

Did I call the shot or what?

For a while now, I've been mentally preparing an apology for my repeated claim that Trump would not have asked Congress to investigate his "tapp" allegation unless he knew from the get-go that doing so would work to his political advantage. Nobody agreed with my scenario. Everyone said that Trump was simply a fool who would not let go of a conspiracy theory.

Finally, last night, I myself became converted to the theory that Trump was simply a bullheaded, paranoid ignoramus.

And then Devin Nunes -- clearly functioning as either a dupe or willing partner of Trump's conspiracy -- provided evidence that my original read might turn out to be the correct one.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes went to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to personally brief President Trump about intelligence he says he has seen regarding surveillance of foreign nationals during the presidential transition.

The surveillance could have inadvertently picked up the president or members of his transition team, the chairman said.

“What I’ve read seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal. I don’t know that it’s right,” Nunes said to reporters outside the White House. “I don’t know that the American people would be comfortable with what I’ve read.”
Trump is now saying that his tweets were vindicated.
Before heading to the White House, Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on what he learned, and he also spoke with reporters. He said that U.S. intelligence agencies may have picked up communications involving Trump as part of court-approved surveillance of foreign intelligence targets in the period between Trump’s election and his inauguration.

Nunes did not, however, brief his ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), about the contents of what Schiff said were intercepts.
He gave Schiff short shrift? This indicates that the Nunes "investigation" was part of a partisan hit all along. I don't yet know what Nunes saw, but I'm fairly confident, right now, that Trump knew all along that the events of this day would happen.

Also see here and here.

Nunes viewed those documents at the originating agency. Right now, we do not know which agency. NSA? Seems as good a guess as any.

I keep telling you people -- not that anyone has listened -- that Breitbart is and always has been seriously tied to the intelligence community. Here, let me put in boldface:

Breitbart is and always has been seriously tied to the intelligence community.

You doubt my word? You want a few links that will help you start to investigate this claim? Okay.

Here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

Everyone keeps talking "Russia Russia Russia." Russia is important, but the matter isn't so simple as many think.

Remember, the Russians hired people like Manafort and Stone and Devine to tell them how to rig elections in their own part of the world.

Did you ever see this film? Do you really think that the Russians would know how to rig an American election? Do you really think they "know the territory" (as they say in The Music Man)? Do you really think that the FSB has a subtle enough grasp of our politics to understand (for example) how to transform Bernie supporters into virulent Clinton-haters?

No. It may be more accurate to posit that Putin provided some plausibly deniable manpower. He was hired muscle.

People like Mensch and Schindler keep pushing a simplistic narrative of "virtuous spooks versus the Trump/Putin conspiracy."

For weeks now, I've been telling you: NO. That's not it. It's a partial truth at best.

I don't have a clear counter-narrative formulated yet. All I know is that the Mensch/Schindler "Virtuous spooks vs. Evil Trumpers" scenario won't suffice, because that scenario completely ignores the truth about Breitbart. I'm not saying that Mensch is operating in bad faith: I'm saying that her deference (allegiance?) to the intelligence community means that she is giving you a woefully incomplete picture.

Breitbart did more than Putin did to put Trump in power. And Breitbart is spooked up. Schindler and Mensch and "The Jester" won't tell you that.

I don't know what is in those documents provided to Nunes. But I feel certain that the same spooks who have been in bed with Breitbart for many years knew all about those documents before Trump issued those tweets.

Added note: Since everyone seems to be referencing Watergate these days, let me tell you about a Watergate-era Jack Anderson column that few people now remember. I don't have the clip to hand, but some of my older readers may recall seeing it. In this column, Anderson interviewed Gordon Novel, a bizarre figure who always tended to pop in these scandals.

Novel revealed that the Nixonites had a tentative plan -- never enacted -- to undermine the Watergate investigation. It was a simple trick: Nixon's men would use actors to concoct a fake tape in which Nixon says incriminating things on the phone to E. Howard Hunt. The media would be subtly manipulated to insure that the entire Watergate controversy centered on the question of the legitimacy of that tape. Eventually, analysis would reveal the tape to be a hoax -- at which point, Nixon would look like the victim of a conspiracy, not the perpetrator of one.

Again: That scheme was never enacted. It was just an idea, a bit of spitballing. Nevertheless, I think that we should always keep this idea in the back of our minds as our current White House melodrama unfolds.
Put in as hired muscle. Manafort ' s role. Listening. Thanks.
The Nunes/Trump show was about as dumb as it gets. Weak. We will see about Breitbart. What if the spooks are double agents for Russia?

I have to say Watergate still is a bit bewildering to me and I am just old enough to remember the drip, drip, drip of the daily reveal front-paged on the old Seattle Post Intelligencer. (I also remember one of the few times my father, an extremely mild mannered man, whose only other moment of public rage involved a woman dumping a litter of kittens by the side of the road, tearing downtown in a rage to send a Western Union telegram after Nixon fired Elliot Richardson.)

I've read a few "alternative" histories of Watergate and I have to say I find Woodward's connection to military intelligence quite persuasive. However, to create this almost Rube Goldberg scenario in order to take down, elect, prop up or otherwise manipulate major elections including presidential ones * seems to violate what I assume is a fundamental rule of covert action: the more bells and whistles, the more elaborate an action, the more likely something could go very wrong. Why elect someone only to watch him be stripped of all credibility in the first two months of his presidency? What's the point? What's the agenda?

And if Trump thinks his current problems are going to go away by some Sunday morning tweetfest, I've got some property in Atlantic City he might want to consider.

* (excepting, of course, simple election fraud--that is manipulating the vote count--the most direct way to ensure the candidate of one's choosing wins)
Dear Louise Mensch is getting her due:

And this from "The Observer", which also publishes her twin John Schindler:

Ignoring -- for the moment -- whether Breitbart is spooked up, Jane Mayer's New Yorker article on billionaire Robert Mercer's support of Breitbart and Trump is informative.
I agree with you Joseph. I'm sure Russia is culpable in thesr matters but something tells me some of it is a smokescreen but I'm clueless about the subtext. A Breitbart connection makes sense but who is behind that? I definitely feel something else is going on. But then I've followed JFK murder for over 50 years.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How Batman and Spider-Man could bring down Trump

You never see my best posts, because I compose them in my mind while researching a complex matter. At the end of the day, the actual writing seems like too much of a chore, so I put it off for mañana

I don't want this line of inquiry to end up on my "to do" list. Today I've been piecing together an incredibly complicated chain of events involving criminal activity in Trump Tower, directly below Trump's own domicile. Lots of writers have given us large pieces of the story, but nobody has put the whole narrative together.

I can't either. At present, the best I can do is to jot down a few notes, offer some key quotes, and hand you some links. Follow the trail, if you are of a mind to.

First, this piece by Brian Ross. (You can always trust Ross to dig only so deep into anything even remotely spooky.)
There, indeed, was an FBI wiretap involving Russians at Trump Tower.

But it was not placed at the behest of Barack Obama and the target was not the Trump campaign of 2016. For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a sophisticated Russian organized crime money laundering network that operated out of unit 63A in Trump Tower.

The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Known as the “Little Taiwanese,” Tokhtakhounov was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.

Five months after the April 2013 indictment and after Interpol issued a “red notice” for Tokhtakhounov, the fugitive appeared near Donald Trump in the VIP section of the Moscow Miss Universe pageant. Trump had sold the Russian rights for Miss Universe to a billionaire Russian shopping mall developer.

“He is a major player,” said Mike Gaeta, the FBI agent who led the 2013 FBI investigation of Tokhtakhounov and his alleged mafia money laundering and gambling ring, in a 2014 interview with ABC News. “He is prominent, he has extremely good connections in the business world as well as the criminal world, overseas, in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, other countries.”
The "Taiwanchik" nickname stems from the fact that Tokhtakhounov...

...and the name is a stumbling block, isn't it? Oh fer chrissakes, it's not that difficult: "Tock ta KOON off."

Anyways, he looks Asian, so that's why they call him "little Taiwan" or Taiwanchik. He's a vor. In the Russian mafia, "vor" means "Godfather." Mr. Big.

David Corn wrote a very good piece about all of this back in September, back when everyone was transfixed by Hillary's emails. In order to tie Tokhtakhounov to Trump, Corn fixes on the beauty contest, which is indeed important, because it looks like Tokhtakhounov helped to make that happen.

But there's more.

Tokhtakhounov ran a high-stakes gambling operation which catered to Hollywood celebrities, Wall Streeters and other VIPs. He was also involved with the Olympics cheating scandalHere is a rather full bio of the guy, with all the known salacious details. A brief sample:
In 1998 French foreign intelligence service reported that Taivanchik was "ringleader of a criminal organization," "mediator for high-profile projects." Tokhtakhunov was mentioned in the Interpol report in April 2001. He was suspected of trafficking drug, weapons and stolen cars.

Source: Komok, 30 September 2002

On August 1, 2002 Tokhtakhounov was arrested in Italy on charges of rigging the competition in figure skating at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

American intelligence agencies asserted that he organized a mutually beneficial exchange so that the French judge Marie-Reine Le Gun voted for the Russian skaters in the pairs figure skating (Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze), and Russia voted for the French (Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat) in ice dancing.
Premiere anti-Trump investigator Adam Kahn published the following in his twitter stream. We will soon get to some of these other names:

Side note: When I first saw Khan's marginal note, I was immediately reminded of the prostitution/poker ring that former CIA head Porter Goss was linked to. It was run out of the Watergate, and it was used to acquire what we would now call kompromat on important people. We learned about that sleazy business in the wake of the Duke Cunningham bribery scandal. This ring was tied in with both of the parties that bribed Cunningham. One of those firms was MZM, which later became Mantech, which has strange links to Breitbart. (For some reason, Breitbart would publish Mantech press releases, even though Breitbart readers probably couldn't have cared less.)

Is that sordid history linked in any way to our present story? Dunno. For now, just remember that Putin is not the only guy who collects kompromat.

Back to our main story: Tokhtakhounov has partners in his New York enterprise -- Vadim Trincher and Anatoly Golubchik. (Trincher was the 2009 world poker champion.) They were tried and convicted. Guess who put 'em away?
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANATOLY GOLUBCHIK was sentenced yesterday in Manhattan federal court to five years in prison, and VADIM TRINCHER was also sentenced today to five years in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy in connection with their roles as members of a Russian-American organized crime enterprise. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER were also each ordered to forfeit more than $20 million in cash, investments, and real property. They were charged in April 2013 along with 32 other alleged members and associates of two Russian-American organized crime enterprises in an indictment that included racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and various gambling offenses. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The sentences meted out to Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher are just and appropriate penalties for the roles the defendants played in this far-reaching, Russian-American organized crime ring. I’d like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service for their tireless efforts in working to ensure that the members of this underground enterprise were held to account for their crimes.”

According to the indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at various proceedings in this case, including today’s sentencing:

The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization (the “Organization”) was a criminal enterprise with strong ties to Russia and Ukraine. The enterprise operated a high-stakes, illegal sports gambling business out of New York City that catered primarily to Russian oligarchs living in Ukraine and Russia. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER were U.S.-based participants in the enterprise. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER booked sports bets that reached into the millions of dollars and laundered the proceeds of the Organization’s international sportsbook. Between 2006 and April 2012, the enterprise laundered approximately $100 million in proceeds from their gambling operation in Russia and Ukraine through shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus; and of this $100 million, approximately $50 million was subsequently sent from Cyprus into the United States. Once the money had been transferred to the United States, it was either laundered through additional shell companies or invested in legitimate investments, such as hedge funds and real estate.
That's right: Preet Bharara -- the U.S. attorney famously fired by Donald Trump -- secured convictions against two guys running a criminal enterprise right below Trump's feet in Trump Tower.

Moreover, the 51st floor was occupied by another key figure in this scheme. He's the next on our list of persons of interest.

Dirty money must needs be laundered, right? One great way to launder money is via the world of art. Banks won't ask too many questions if you tell 'em that someone just paid twenty million for a Picasso.

Enter Helly Nahmad, who used to run a tony art gallery in Manhattan. His family is worth some $3 billion...
Little known outside the art market but a pivotal force within it, the family, whose worth is estimated at $3 billion, has amassed one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Modernist art in the world, including one of the largest holdings of Picasso in private hands. They did it with a purchasing style that has never been subtle: they chase as many as a third of the works offered in an evening and then warehouse them for years until it is the right time to sell.

With a mix of jealousy and skepticism, competitors have often marveled at how the Nahmads have pulled this off. “They are an entity unto themselves,” said James Roundell, a former director of Christie’s Impressionist and modern art department in London and a longtime dealer. “They do it their way. And it’s different from how other people do it or how other people are financially able to do it.”
Mr. Nahmad, a night-life fixture known for his showy extravagance and celebrity crowd — a $21 million Trump Tower apartment and friendships with people like Gisele Bündchen and Leonardo DiCaprio — was charged in April in a racketeering indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. He was accused of being part financier, part money launderer and part bookmaker in a network that organized poker games and sports betting operations and drew hundred-thousand-dollar wagers from celebrities and billionaires.
Continue reading the main story

But the case, in which investigators listened to Mr. Nahmad’s cellphone conversations over a period of months, also raises questions about how he conducted himself as an art dealer.
Yep, there really was at least one "tapp" in that Tower. Preet was monitoring Trump's tenant, who lived a few floors down in the same building. Was this little-known fact connected in any way to Trump's shocking firing of the nation's most famously incorruptible U.S. Attorney? You tell me.

(I hope I have the geography right. As near as I can tell, Donald, Melania and Barron live on floors 56-58 of the tower; "Taiwanchik" had his gambling ring on floor 55, and Nahmad -- the art dealer/money launderer -- had floor 51. I don't know who owned floors 52-54, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were somehow connected to all of this. Trump is known to invite cronies to live in his properties. Adding to our difficulty is the fact that Trump likes to pretend that his Tower is taller than it really is, so his numbers don't correspond to the actual numbers.)

Anways, Nahmad had a gambling problem. This problem led him into the world of Tokhtakhounov and Trincher.
But Helly’s interest in gambling led to trouble. The high-stakes poker and sports-betting ring that he is accused of helping to lead — with activity stretching from New York and Los Angeles — ultimately came to the attention of federal authorities who were investigating Russian organized crime figures.

Mr. Nahmad helped not only to bankroll the operation, according to prosecutors, but was also personally involved in taking sports bets. In all, 34 people were indicted in the case. The lead defendant is Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whom authorities identify as a high-ranking Russian gangster known by his nickname, Taiwanchik. He is accused of directing an operation to launder money generated by a huge sports-betting operation in Russia and has been a fugitive since he was accused by United States authorities in 2002 of being part of a scheme to rig figure skating and ice dancing competitions at the Winter Olympics.
By now, I'm sure you are wondering: Why the hell does the headline refer to Batman and Spider-Man?

Well, as noted above, this coast-to-coast gambling operation (which I suspect also involved prostitution and blackmail) attracted some Hollywood heavy-hitters. To accomplish this, the Russian crime lord used the services of one Molly Bloom -- yes he did yes he did yes he did yes.

(I have no doubt that she is sick and tired of that joke, but I still couldn't resist making it.)
She made her name as the glamorous organiser of secret high-stakes poker games for a string of Hollywood's biggest stars.

But now some of Tinsletown's best-known celebrities are bracing themselves for potentially embarrassing revelations in her tell-all memoir.

Notorious poker madam Molly Bloom - who hosted card parties for celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Matt Damon - was arrested in Los Angeles as part of an investigation into an illegal big-money poker ring.
Tobey Maguire was, of course, the amazing Spider-Man. The ring also attracted the respectful attentions of Ben Affleck, a.k.a. Batman -- a role he seems to be just barely hanging onto. (Side note: I've always liked Affleck's work, even when others had turned against him for reasons I could never comprehend.) In fact, there is talk that Affleck's gambling issues led to the problems which have beset his marriage (which, in turn, seem to have affected his career).
But no one knew of Affleck’s $50,000 buy-in for that big game 10 years ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel until last year, when former “poker princess” Molly Bloom detailed it in her tell-all, Molly’s Game.
Bloom went from being a 26-year-old cocktail waitress in Los Angeles to masterminding Hollywood’s high-stakes, hush-hush poker games, to being hunted by the feds. Her book documents the apex of Hollywood’s long love affair with poker and gambling, when “every cardplayer in Hollywood wanted to come to the game, and everyone’s friends wanted to come and watch.” The Olsen twins showed up to the spectacle one night.
The women in their lives—wives and serious girlfriends—are largely absent from Bloom’s book, just as they are from the game. She writes about one regular player who misses his wife’s birthday because he can’t step away from the table, only to end up losing $500,000 in one night. Bloom keeps “their high turnover of girlfriends happy” and tends to their boys’ club atmosphere, which she describes like a scene in The Wolf of Wall Street. On a trip to Miami with her boss and his friends, they spend the day on “a fully functional floating mansion equipped with a formal living and dining room, a gym, even a helicopter...The women were waifish, impossibly glamorous models and socialites.” Bloom also hires attractive women “as decoration” to help her serve drinks during games.
Miami. Models. We suddenly seem to be in Trump territory, eh wot?

And that's how the actors who played Batman, Spider-Man, Jason Bourne and John Edgar Hoover could help uncover the sordid truth about Donald Trump. Although the gambling ring was coast-to-coast, the New York base appears to be Trump Tower. Given the celebrities and women involved, its hard to believe that The Donald himself would not stop by to see what was going on directly beneath his feet.

What we are looking for is simple: Eyewitness accounts of Donald Trump interacting with Tokhtakhounov, Trincher, Golubchik, Nahmad, and Bloom. (Tokhtakhounov has been in Russia for more than a decade, so I doubt that any American celebrity will place him in the same room with Trump. Then again, who knows?)

In this light, the following may be of interest:
Add Ben Affleck to the long list of public personas who can’t or won’t hide their distaste for Donald Trump. During an interview with The Guardian, Affleck shared his experience with the president-elect. “I met him once at a Fashion Week event in Milan,” Affleck said. “You knew you were at a cheesy party if Donald Trump was there. He would kind of trawl around them.”
Was that the only occasion? By any chance, Mr. Affleck, did you also see Mr. Cheesy in the company of Nahmad, Bloom, or those Russian gangsters?

As always, there's a difference between what we can prove what we suspect. I suspect that this operation was used to collect kompromat on America's rich and powerful. But right now, I can't prove it.

There's another link: Cyprus. When you follow the money trail, it always goes through Cyprus.

I'm an artist (in my own small way), so whenever I see that place-name, I always flash on the fact that Cyprus is where the best umber comes from. And you can score some primo-quality Cyprus Umber from Vasari, located right across the street from Trump Tower. Now that is a coincidence, although my inner Alex Jones wants to turn it into something diabolical.

But Cyprus is best known as the place where the Russian mob -- and, almost certainly, Putin himself -- stashes and launders money.

Google Tokhtakhounov and Cyprus and here's what you get:
In the other operation, Mr. Tokhtakhounov is accused of funneling Russian oligarchs’ losses to shell companies in Cyprus, disguised as phony loans. The scheme, prosecutors say, laundered more than $50 million.
Google Nahmad and Cyprus, and here is what you get:
The defendant was among more than 30 people charged earlier this year with having roles in the scheme to launder at least $100 million in illegal gambling proceeds through hundreds of bank accounts and shell companies in Cyprus and the United States.

The gambling ring catered mostly to super-rich bettors in Russia. But it also had tentacles in New York City, where it ran illegal card games that attracted professional athletes, film stars and business executives, prosecutors said. Some of the defendants are professional poker players.
Google Trump and Cyprus and -- well, you get a LOT. Here, for example.
The Democratic Coalition uncovered two Trump companies registered in Cyprus, the tax haven and money laundering center serving Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs.
Cyprus is notorious for being an often bailed out, off-shore banking center, who is also a member state of the European Union and part of the common currency.

Trump Cabinet nominee Wilbur Ross is the Vice Chairman of the island’s largest institution, the Bank of Cyprus.

This morning Mother Jones released a report detailing Trump cabinet pick Wilbur Ross’ deep ties to Cyprus, its largest bank and his big gamble on the ability to extract the island’s off-shore natural gas reserves.

Wilbur Ross invested $500 million into the once-failed Bank of Cyprus and which bank has been run by an ex-KGB friend of Putin.
In fact, the Bank of Cyprus released a formal congratulations statement to Ross the day Trump named him as his nominee for Commerce Secretary.

It was at Wilber Ross’ suggestion, that Josef Ackermann - the former Chairman of Deutsche Bank - one of Trump’s major creditors, who is facing a massive DoJ settlement for misdeeds in 2008 - was named as Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus.

Deutsche Bank has been accused of making over $10 billion dollars in transactions to assist Russian money laundering, and is trying to clawback Ackermann’s compensation for misdeeds on his watch - though it will probably be too late.

Former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO John Hourican was also brought in by Ross’ management. He resigned from RBS after being implicated in the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal is the CEO of Ross’ Bank of Cyprus, which sold its Russian operations and is going public on the London Stock Exchange shortly.
Cyprus is, in essence, a vassal state of Russia. (You may also want to check out this WBUR investigation, which hit just yesterday.)

So the question is: Just how tight is Donald Trump with the folks downstairs? Why didn't he perform any "extreme vetting" of the sleazeballs living directly below him in his own building? Did these Russian gangsters obtain kompromat on America's rich and powerful? Was Donald Trump a witting part of the operation? Are these gangsters the ones who introduced Trump to the magic of Cyprus-based finance?
This is going to be off-topic, but here goes.

Tonight, Rachel Maddow did a segment on the Russian "nuclear" cyber attack on the US. Her theory is that the ugly, anti-Hilary stuff that Bernie Bros posted last year (that earned your visceral hatred) were actually part of the Russian cyber war to affect our election. Bernie's campaign had nothing to do with them. They were Russian bots. Or rather, Macedonian bots at the direction of the Russians.

Video of Maddow's piece will be posted tomorrow (or repeated tonight in certain time zones).

Credit for digging this stuff up mainly goes to McClatchy. Details here:
"Was this little-known fact connected in any way to Trump's shocking firing of the nation's most famously incorruptible U.S. Attorney?"

Famously incorruptible? He's an ass. (To Balko's comments I'd add he also had no problem overstepping his boundaries to gain indictments while looking the other way at poor behavior in his own shop.) He wasn't fired because he's incorruptible; he was fired because he got his widdle feelings hurt because Donny pwomised he could stay. Another egotistical, self-righteous knowitall. Don't we have enough of those in the Federal government?
Excellent post, Joseph. It is all very strange.

OT - Eric Garland is putting together the fishy threads between DT and Nunes.

How could DT survive the level of surveillance brought to bear on his property without being swept up and indited himself?

Based on the circumstances you have outlines DT could have been either a confidential informant and/or aiding security services in a sting operation. The floor above the suspects would be a great place to monitor old school bugs and/or newer types of surveillance that are undetectable, but require close proximity to the subject. DT could have been aware and cooperating with one or more agencies in a sting operation, but unaware of other surveillance operations conducted by other three-letter agencies.

If DT did agree to aid in a sting operation, it would have come with certain guarantees, confidentiality agreements, cover stories, and security arrangements that both he and the security agency would want to protect in perpetuity.

At the root here is the disingenuous of Donald Trump opining that the wiretapping of Trump Towers meant Trump was personally wiretapped. Yet Trump Towers houses many well to do business people. Trump's Trump Towres wire tapping comments could be construed to mean that any activity that occurred in Trump Towers is his responsibility since Trump is now trying to dredge up sympathy for anything that happens or happened at Trump Towers.
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Jail for Jones? JOY! JOY! JOY!

Okay, the FBI's probe of Alex Jones almost certainly will not result in the imprisonment of Porky Paranoid. But a man can dream, can he not?
The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is looking into the role far-right news sites including Breitbart, InfoWars and the Kremlin-backed RT might have played in Russia’s influence campaign during the U.S. presidential election, McClatchy reported Monday.

Automated computer bots strategically deployed unabashedly pro-Trump articles, which often contained falsehoods, from those sites on social media at moments when Trump’s campaign was flagging, anonymous FBI sources told McClatchy. The probe reportedly is looking at whether those publications willingly coordinated with Russian operatives in promoting their stories.
Would Russian trolls have any reason to communicate directly with Alex Jones? I doubt it -- unless AJ were paid by foreign sources, and no-one has made that suggestion. Maybe Vladimir Putin bought a lifetime supply of AJ's super-studliness pills?

Here's a more interesting hypothetical: Let us suppose that a Russian really did communicate with AJ, giving him directives as to what sort of stories to run. What laws have been broken?

Christo Grozev just tweeted:
As i've said before, i never understood why breitbart had Russian search engine tags in its code.
It did? (Does?) First I've heard of it. I can't find that claim anywhere else on the internet.

Ivanka and Wendi. Here's an interesting thought: What if those girly-girl get-togethers between Ivanka and Wendi Deng (who denies being Putin's girlfriend, even though many people continue to say that she is) were a cover for Trump-Putin coordination?
Just because he's paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get him.
From source of current front page:

<meta name='yandex-verification' content='48776dffe0b99888' />

Perhaps that's what he means.
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Monday, March 20, 2017


I don't know how your news covered the hearings, but the Fox affiliate here in Bawlmer pretended that the whole thing was a huge nothingburger. They wanted us to think that the hearings completely exonerated Team Trump.

Sorry, Fox. I know what nothingburger tastes like, and it sure doesn't taste anything like what we were served today. Today we learned that the FBI has been investigating the Trump/Russia link since "late July" -- and that ain't nothin'. Josh Marshall adds:
Let's now look at the reference to the investigation starting in "late July." This is highly significant since it appears to have well predated much of the public discussion of the Trump/Russia issue. Indeed, it came only weeks after Comey's extraordinary public statement on the end of the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.

Back on July 23, I published a lengthy post on Trump and Russia ("Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing"), my first on the subject as far as I can remember. No, you can relax. I'm not going to claim my post triggered anything. What I do believe is that there were a series of developments coming together at right around that time which built up to a critical mass of intriguing and suspicious evidence that something was afoot.
(Dare I mention it again? Yes: The election of Trump taught us that this country likes immodesty.)

I wrote about the Trump/Putin connection on June 16, 2016, in a piece that name-checked Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Caputo and Carter Page. I got there more than a month before Josh Marshall did. More than a month before the FBI decided that something weird was going on.

(Yee-OWTCH! Felt a twinge while patting myself on the back just now. An old rotator cuff injury. Never quite healed.)

David Corn says that Devin Nunes "just told me he's never heard of Carter Page or Roger Stone. And he's in charge of the investigation?" Obviously, Nunes should have been reading Cannonfire.

(OW! There it goes again. Time to stop congratulating myself.)

Did we lose a war? Yale professor Timothy Snyder's NY Daily News piece argues that psy-war can be just as powerful and decisive as boom-boom war -- which means that Americans lost a war in 2016 without quite understanding that they were in a fight.
In 2011, a Russian information war manual concluded that operations in what Russians like to call the "psychosphere" were more important than conventional military engagements. The chief of staff of the Russian armed forces concurred in 2013. The basic aim of war, he averred, was to get inside the national mind of the enemy, reconfiguring habits of mind and frames of discourse so that Americans would do what the Russian leadership wanted.
The information manual very well describes the experience of being an American citizen in 2016: "the population doesn't even feel it is being acted upon. So the state doesn't switch on its self-defense mechanisms." Even though many American citizens had a vague sense that something was uncanny about the presidential campaign, and those who read the newspaper knew that Russia was interfering, few realized the scale of the operation or its significance.
Still more important was the unexpected advantage Trump displayed over Hillary Clinton in social media. The Trump staff did not exhibit much technical expertise. And yet, somehow, the generators and distributors of fake news were, as if magically, on his side. The Clinton "ground game" was crushed by the Trump meme game. The bots worked 24/7 for Trump.

We know that hackers tried to steal data about registered voters from more than 20 states, and succeeded in at least four cases. The FBI and CIA issued official reports blaming Russia. Last week, the Justice Department issued indictments for two Russian secret policemen, accused of harvesting data from hundreds of millions of Yahoo accounts. Big political data allows fake news to be targeted to the right demographic, thereby changing political discourse.
During the campaign, I called it a Facebook war. Every time Hillary pulled ahead -- and there were several occasions when her lead seemed insurmountable -- the bots, the trolls, the fake newsers and the social engineers made her numbers evaporate.
In campaigns that received less media attention than they deserved, Russia used the internet to export alternative reality to Estonia, Poland, Ukraine, France and Germany. The 2016 Russian cyberwar against America, like these previous ones, aimed at very real weaknesses — just like a sniper aims for the head or the lungs.
Actually, I think that the Russians got a lot of their  best ideas from us. Y'see, there were similar theorists here in America back in the 1990s, writing for the Army War College. They called it "The Revolution in Military Affairs." It's possible that Team Putin read their work put some of those ideas into practice.

Russiagate and the British connection. The Guardian is running a series which I have not yet read, although it looks very promising. Start here, then go here.
Contrary to what Hollywood wants us to believe when or how many times did we ever won over Russia. I count Afghanistan. They wouldn't have attacked us at home( and I consider what happened to us in 2016 an attack) unless they a history of winnings against us. Democrats are cowards. If it was Repblicans war would be going on now
@Anonymous: I don't know what kind of BS you were spewing out there...but it stinks.

@Joseph: Yep, you did warn us about this way back in July of 2016, Joseph--plus you gave us the goods on Roger Stone, who up until that time I had never heard of.

Still, it was extremely frustrating to see Trump and company (including the Bernie-Bros and the Stein fans) constantly give Putin and Wikileaks verbal fellatio while the media looked on...and yawned...and went back to whining about Hillary's emails.

Some things sadly have not changed--H.A. Goodman is melting down on Twitter, clinging to the short reeds by claiming that the Trump/Russia connection is a DNC distraction--a "Jedi mind trick" to prevent us from seeing the real truth that we are all ignoring the most important thing ever--Bernie Sanders' revolution!!

Ditto the nonsense from Greenwald and the "Justice Democrats" who are too busy pursuing actual Democrats to primary and insult instead of going after Republicans.

A foreign power helped get a corrupt gang into the highest office in the land, and some people insist on running after the small fry instead of the big fish. Ugh.
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Hey, Roger! You see that bus? It's coming right for you! (Updated)

Update: Melissa has officially declared that Paul Manafort "played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time" on the Trump campaign. Really? I was under the impression that Manafort ran the Trump campaign. Of course, we must never forget that Paul Manafort is Roger Stone's long-term business partner.

And now back to our original post...

Although the major media are focusing on Trump's wiretapping claim (which has NOT been verified) the big news is that Comey has confirmed the FBI's investigation of the Russia-Trump connection.

And guess whose name kept coming up?
Much of the questioning focused on the Trump confidante Roger J. Stone Jr. and his public bragging that he was in contact with the hacker Guccifer 2.0, believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials. Mr. Comey would not confirm or deny the subject of the F.B.I.’s investigation, but Mr. Stone, never a shrinking violet, did speak up on Twitter.
Roger's twitter feed has indeed become quite entertaining. He's following Stone's Rules to the end: Always attack, never apologize, proceed with the jackass self-assurance that you can lie and smear your way out of anything. Anyone who acts this way might as well be wearing a "GUILTY" t-shirt.

Jon Cooper, Chairman of The Democratic Coalition, just tweeted: "Based on FBI Director Comey's testimony so far, I'd say @RogerJStoneJr is pretty much fucked."

Update: Roger Stone has responded, calling Adam Schiff's statement an example of "McCarthyism." That's pretty funny coming from him. Roger Stone learned about politics from Roy Cohn, Joe McCarthy's partner-in-perfidy.
"I had no contacts with Russians. This one has been manufactured by the intelligence service with a nice assist from [billionaire philanthropist George] Soros and [David] Brock..."
Oh, right. Evil Soros and Evil Brock. Their fingerprints are all over this. Surrrrrrrrrrre.

Hey Rog -- maybe next time you can also toss in a reference to the Illuminati? That'll make AJ's penisette shoot up to its full three-inch glory.

And now, back to our original post...

A similar odor of desperation perfumes Trump's twitter feed. The man is swimming in fear-sweat, as the examples below demonstrate. His insane attempt to "mirror image" the Russia accusation against the Democrats is being furthered by David Nunes and other congressional Republicans:
“If this committee or anyone else for that matter, someone from the public, comes with information to you about the Hillary Clinton campaign, or their associates, or someone from the Clinton Foundation, will you add that to your investigation?” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) asked FBI Director James Comey. “If they have ties to Russian intelligence services, Russian agents, would that be something of interest to you?”
This is Clinton Derangement Syndrome at its most absurd. But the apparent coordination between Trump and Nunes tells me that the Republicans have a plan of counterattack. I've said all along that they are going to gin up evidence against their foes in order to distract from the real evidence against Trump. What other play is left to the Trumpers?

Republicans are also claiming that the mainstream journalists are getting their information from insidious Russian secret agents posing as government officials. I wonder when they're going to bring in David Icke's "reptilian overlord" theory?

Things are looking bad for the GOP: Democratic Representative Jackie Speier has predicted that this investigation will be "bigger than Watergate." I've embedded Adam Schiff's statement above. (Roger Stone feels that Schiff "defamed" him and wants "hearings NOW." Apparently, he means hearings on Schiff.)

Hillary's former campaign manager, Robby Mook, wants treason charges brought against Trump aides who colluded with Russia...
Mook warned that if Russian interference is proved true, it sets a dangerous precedent for other nations to meddle in U.S. affairs.

"If we allow this practice to continue, Russia and other foreign nations could have a dangerously powerful influence on our legislative and executive branches," he said.
Comey said that the Russians released hacked data to Wikileaks using a cut-out. This confirms what I've been saying all along.

Man those swiftboats! Meanwhile, over on Alex Jones' site "Putinwars," Jerome Corsi -- the original swiftboater -- is trying to turn the guns around: have obtained credible information from law enforcement sources regarding individual records of U.S. citizens under National Security Agency (NSA) electronic surveillance in the years 2004 through 2010 – a database that suggests both Donald J. Trump and Alex Jones were under illegal, unauthorized government monitoring during those years.
And where does this information come from...?
Michael Zullo, formerly the commander and chief investigator of the Cold Case Posse (CCP), a special investigative group created in 2006 in the office of Joseph M. Arpaio...
Oh, of course. Joe Arpaio, America's most beloved sheriff, the man who still thinks that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery. Zullo was his lead investigator on that front as well. Can you name a more trustworthy source? I mean, aside from every other human being, dog, cat, hamster and talking parrot in America...

The new laptop of death. Here's a story that I should have mentioned earlier. Right now, I'm not sure what to make of it -- but as Francois Truffaut says in Close Encounters: "Ziss means something. Ziss is important."
Authorities are frantically searching for a Secret Service-issued laptop — containing floor plans for Trump Tower, information about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and other national security information — that was stolen from an agent’s car in Brooklyn, police sources told the Daily News Friday.

The computer was lifted Thursday morning and officials are trying to determine if Agent Marie Argentieri was targeted or if the robbery was random.

NYPD cops are assisting in the investigation, sources said.

“It’s a very big deal,” a police source said. “There’s data on there that’s highly sensitive. They’re scrambling like mad.”

Sources and neighbors said the thief stepped out of a dark-colored sedan, possibly an Uber, and darted into Argentieri’s Bath Beach driveway about 3 a.m.

He grabbed the computer, a backpack, and other goods and walked away, sources said.

The crook, dressed in black, didn’t get back in the car he arrived in. He was seen on surveillance video strolling away from the brick home wearing a backpack and holding a laptop, sources said.
Other items stolen include “sensitive” documents, an access keycard, coins, a black zippered bag with the Secret Service insignia on it and lapel pins from various assignments — including ones involving President Trump, the Clinton campaign, the United Nations General Assembly and the Pope’s visit to New York, sources said.
I've read various ideas as to what it all means; none of the scenarios have made much sense to me. But this was no random robbery; I'm sure of that much.

A final note of caution. So far, the hearings look promising for our team. Huzzah and hurrah and all that -- but please proceed with caution. I'm old enough to recall the HSCA hearings as they were broadcast live. The first few days gave the appearance that we were seeing a real investigation, and that the "lone nut" theory would be tossed on the rubbish heap of history. Things changed, alas; the fix was in. 
Can someone some where just disconnect the Russians internet service? I mean wtf?
Re: Jimmy's grandpa's comment: Well, remember that the internet (DARPA?) was invented to forestall just such a circumstance (i.e. disruption of communications in time of war). Talk about blowback.
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Of spies and snakes

The story of those infamous Trump tweets -- the ones which claim that Obama tapped the phones at Trump Tower -- keeps getting stranger. Nearly every mainstream and liberal writer believes that Trump's claim has no basis in reality. Texas congressman Will Hurd -- a former CIA employee -- has advised the president to apologize

This WP story summarizes the situation:
Meanwhile, Trump will not let go of his claim that former president Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the election, despite no supporting evidence. The president has been offered numerous exit ramps to put this self-created controversy behind him. Instead, he remains stubbornly defiant, perpetuating rather than closing a damaging chapter in his presidency that in the past few days became an international embarrassment.
The story recounts how Trump, in his joint appearance with Angela Merkel, rather cloddishly reminded the world that the NSA under Obama had eavesdropped on her.

Allow me to raise two points:

1. Why hasn't Trump taken any of those exit ramps? If his tweets were based on nothing more than a paranoid fantasy, he should welcome any excuse to change the topic.

2. Trump's implied argument was sound: If the previous administration had spied on Merkel -- and it did -- why wouldn't Obama seek to learn more about the Russians who were communicating with Team Trump? Personally, I believe that Obama would have been remiss in his duties not to do so. A presidential candidate with ties to a hostile foreign power is a legitimate national security concern. We are not talking about using the power of the state to conduct partisan oppo research. .

Much of the nation scoffed when Sean Spicer quoted a Fox News "analyst" who suggested that Obama asked Britain's GCHQ (their version of the NSA) to monitor Trump. Northwest Research and Covert Book Report has published a piece which explores that very suggestion.

Northwest Research notes that John Schindler -- one of those "spooks against Trump" who has attracted so much recent attention -- derides the idea that the United States could ask the Brits to report on an American citizen. Yet for many years, respectable writers -- not Alex Jonesian conspiracy cranks -- have reported that the NSA and GCHQ have a reciprocal agreement. This arrangement (the origins of which trace all the way back the to wartime BRUSA agreement to share codebreaking information) has allowed the Americans to use the UK as a "cut out" in order to sidestep laws against spying on American citizens.

If you research this arrangement, you'll soon find that the writer most commonly cited is John Loftus, formerly of Army intelligence. Loftus deserves a post of his own: His ties to the Israelis are such that I sometimes call him the first Irish-American sayan. But that's a topic for another time.

If memory serves, Loftus first discussed this NSA/GCHQ agreement in The Secret War Against the Jews, published in 1994. Even then, his claim wasn't really new, at least not to me. I had read about it in the 1980s, though I can't quite recall where. (A newspaper op ed? Probably.) I don't believe that James Bamford ever offered an explicit discussion of the "You spy on mine and I'll spy on yours" arrangement in The Puzzle Palace, but he did provide this vivid account of the close relations between the two spy agencies.

All the way back in 1967, the government censored David Kahn seminal 1967 book The Codebreakers, the first book to describe "No Such Agency" at any length. The censored passages concerned the very sensitive NSA/GCHQ relationship. Naturally, the censorship only made that material more famous.

A lengthy segment of Loftus' Secret War Against the Jews appears on this rather quirky (but dense with data) site, which deserves to be read in full...
Here is how the game is played. The British liaison officer at Fort Meade types the target list of "suspects" into the American computer. The NSA sorts through its wiretaps and gives the British officer the recording of any American citizen he wants.

Since it is technically a British target of surveillance, no American search warrant is necessary. The British officer then simply hands the results over to his American liaison officer.

Of course, the Americans provide the same service to the British in return. All international and domestic telephone calls in Great Britain are run through the NSA's station in the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Menwith Hill, which allows the American liaison officer to spy on any British citizen without a warrant.

According to our sources, this duplicitous, reciprocal arrangement disguises the most massive, and illegal, domestic espionage apparatus in the world. Not even the Soviets could touch the U.K.-U.S. intercept technology.

Through this charade, the intelligence services of each country can claim they are not targeting their own citizens.
Does all of this buttress the claim made by Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News? Yes and no. Loftus speaks purely in terms of NSA-GCHQ teamwork; he says nothing about any American president making a direct request of the British. I can't think of a precedent for such a request. Of course, I am restricted to the published literature, which hardly tells the whole story.

Then came Johnson. Napolitano's main source has been known for a few days -- and every time I see the name of that source, I grimace: Former CIA man Larry Johnson

As longtime readers know, I've had my own run-ins with this creep. Throughout 2007 and 2008, he posed as a left-leaning supporter of Hillary Clinton, and he seemed to have impressive credentials as a progressive. He wrote regularly for Daily Kos, he advised (I am told) General Wesley Clark, and he befriended Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame/Wilson, the targets of Dick Cheney's scurrilous attack.

(I don't know if the Wilsons remain on friendly terms with Johnson. If so, we must rethink the Plame affair.)

Johnson glommed onto the PUMA movement, pretending to be Hillary's bravest defender. I confess that -- for a while -- he suckered me into accepting his "No Quarter" blog at face value. The best PUMA writers (Riverdaughter and Dakinkat led the movement) were brighter than I, and treated him with greater caution. Que je suis bête!

I didn't understand at the time that the PUMA movement really was infiltrated -- not controlled; infiltrated -- by Republican ratfuckers.

You'll get a very skewed version of this history from Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. The regular readers of those sites have yet to come to grips with how thoroughly they themselves fell under the sway of an online smear/troll operation. I believe that this operation was headed by David Axelrod, a far more devious individual than most comprehend. (That belief comes backed by evidence.)

Kos 2008 was every bit as monstrous as 4chan or Brietbart: The great "progressive" network became an insane asylum filled with raving, psychotic Clinton-haters. No, I am not exaggerating: See here and here and here. Moulitsas never apologized for publishing actual, serious death threats against Hillary Clinton.

Don't get me started on 2008! I will never get over it, I'll always be ready to re-fight those battles, and I refuse to let Kossack revisionists minimize the evils they committed. I remain quite proud of my part in that political battle...

...except for the brief period when I was fooled by Larry fucking Johnson. To whom we now return.

In those days, I made a daily stop at Johnson's blog for the same reason I now take a daily gander at Louise Mensch's twitter feed: Johnson had "connections" and he always seemed to be the firstest with the mostest. You want to know the real reason why I'm now wary of Mensch? Why I'm very wary of John Schindler? Why I'm incredibly wary of "The Jester"? The answer is simple: Larry fucking Johnson, the original spook-who-told-Clinton-supporters-what-they-wanted-to-hear.

Once a snake in the grass bites your ankle, you don't wander into the meadow without first donning a pair of calf-high boots.

Evidence of the man's inherent snakiness soon became difficult to ignore. Most of Johnson's compatriots were wretched right-wingers like the vile "Texas Darlin," and the ultra-mega-hyper-vile Pamela Geller. He stopped offering a left-wing critique of Obama and began parroting reactionary propaganda.

Most egregiously, he spread the smear that Michelle Obama had used the insulting term "whitey" in a speech. At one point, Johnson had pinpointed a specific speech. I spent quite a few hours tracking down someone who was in that room on that day -- and when I finally did, Johnson stood revealed as a liar.

Even then, I foolishly gave Johnson the benefit of the doubt: Maybe he was simply misinformed. But then he discovered birtherism.

As few now recall, Johnson was the first to push the "birth certificate" conspiracy theory in a public way, although the meme had apparently received some behind-the-scenes circulation for months beforehand. I played no small role in debunking the bullshit analysis published on Johnson's site.

Afterward, no amount of vegetation could disguise that man's serpentine nature.

Johnson eventually dropped the pretenses. He became a rabid Hillary-hater, a maniacal Trump advocate, and a welcome talking head on both Fox and RT. The former rattler-in-the-weeds had ascended to his Nāga-hide throne.

All of which brings us back to the Obama-bugged-Trump claim, and Johnson's important role in the spreading of that meme. The current progressive-approved narrative is threefold: 1) Johnson is a crank, 2) Napolitano was an idiot to believe a crank like Johnson, and 3) Team Trump was foolish to take Napolitano seriously.

I don't buy into that narrative. Why? Because I know Larry fucking Johnson of old. The bite wound on my ankle still aches on cold days.

Johnson is no mere crank. He's an operative.

Something is up.
Please don't malign snakes (the actual reptiles). It's not their fault people are assholes and their niche in nature is valuable.

On DailyPUMA there is a list of former Hillary Clinton blog supporters from 2008 who turned rabidly against her. Rather than simply be happy if either Clinton or Trump won, they suddenly hated Clinton. After the 2016 election results I had to lower their placement on DailyPUMA, aka draining the swamp.
The list of fraudulent Clinton bloggers is actually much longer than those who have remained Clinton loyalists from 2008. (they are listed on the left on DailyPUMA, but down on the page). Even female supporters who I thought would never leave Clinton totally went for Trump. Betty Jean turning Trump was probably the biggest shock to me. She actually picketed David Letterman once and demanded he resign for comments he made about Hillary Clinton. if anyone wants to check out the fake PUMA bloggers they can be found on below the archive links on the left side of the column.
I see the Clintons as having failed for believing they could maintain their grip and influence in politics through their speeches. At some point, they needed to get into video and make videos that tell their story from the 90's and all the weirdos they had to deal with. What has happened instead is the weirdos went video and like a thousand small bites, have continued to smear the Clinton legacy, even as Hillary Clinton keeps giving speeches, gasp.
he [Larry Johnson] befriended Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame/Wilson

My hazy recollection is that Plame and Johnson have known each other since they were CIA trainees. I believe they were in the same class at The Farm. It's been awhile, so I might be misremembering that.
I failed to understand that seemingly intelligent people as the Clintons not grasping the idea that the media will not allow them to win. For decades they allow this to happen. No one knows why. They have money to do something but they didn't. They had the chance in 2016 to tell the story the media wasn't telling the public but they couldn't. Because they hired the most incompetent and laziest strategists they could find. They just slapped whatever they wanted people to know on a website and told people to go read if they want to. You wouldn't do that in presidential election even if you're in the best place to begin with. But of all the people Hillary did that with all the hurdles on her way. I wish I could say she did it to herself. No she did it to all of us in America and the world. Anything that thing in the WH does to the poor and disenfranchised is a result of that mistake. I just couldn't for the life of me get what she was doing. A runner for Miss congenialialty would have gone with tougher campaign. Having said that I still in my gut believe some off happened to the machines
With all due respect to snakes, I have a request for anybody.

Trump loved to tell the story about the snake who was taken in, shown kindness, and then killed the host (I suppose-- I never watched the whole thing). He was captured on video at least once I saw, maybe more times, reciting it in whole or in part.

What I want to see is a brief clip from that tape, where in his own voice, Trump more or less shouts 'You knew I was a snake when you took me in!'

It would obviously be entirely out of context, yet such a fitting sound and video byte. I am surprised I havent' seen it anywhere so far.

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