Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Today's links 3

1--NYT Writes Epic Cover For Comey's FBI - Its Sole Source: "Officials Said"

In July 2016 the FBI under its director James Comey launched an investigation against the Donald Trump campaign and "Russian influence" on it.

Comey and the FBI is under pressure to explain why they launched this investigation. The assumption has been that the Steele dossier, fabricated by a former British agent hired by the Clinton campaign, was handed to the FBI and led to the launch of its investigation.

If that is true (as it likely is), the FBI and Comey are in deep trouble. The dossier was full of hearsay and abstruse rumors. It was obviously made up and fake stuff paid for by Trump's opponent. To use it to launch an official investigation against a candidate in the presidential election and to get FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign stinks of partisan motives and may well have been a criminal offense.

On Saturday the New York Times came up with a story that is designed to usher the question away and to give cover to the FBI.
The headline already tells the reader what to believe: How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt
See - it wasn't the Clinton paid Steele dossier that triggered the FBI!...

That the claim is implausible is also suggested by an additional fact. The FBI officially interviewed Steele, the author of the Clinton paid dossier, in October 2016. It waited until January 2017 to interview Papadopoulos. If the hearsay from the drunken Papadopoulos was so important that it triggered the investigation - and not the Steele dossier - why did the FBI neglect him that long?
The Saturday NYT story claims that the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign, which was tightly supervised by Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, was based on some rumor out of London and not based on the Steele dossier. Its sole source for that is "officials said...

Update: Just last April the NYT claimed that it was the Carter Page trip to Moscow, publicly known but also reported in the Steele dossier, that triggered the investigation:
Ever since F.B.I. investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau’s attention.
That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials.

2--NYT Publishes Report 'Debunking' FBI Use Of Dossier, Gets Immediately Shredded For Fake News


3--NYT's latest coverup


The drunken bragging of a twenty eight year old man in a London bar presumably with attractive young women present is not usually considered grounds to initiate a top secret investigation resulting in the secret surveillance of people against whom no other evidence of wrongdoing exists.

The known timeline of the Russiagate inquiry anyway strongly argues against this claim...This was however after the FBI had interviewed Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier, in early July 2016.  The Trump Dossier’s first two entries are dated 20th June 2016 and 19th July 2016 – ie. before publication of the DNC emails – and it is likely that before the FBI launched the Russiagate inquiry in late July 2016 it had seen them.


The DNC emails were published by Wikileaks on 22nd July 2016.  The FBI launched the Russiagate inquiry in late July 2016, probably after the DNC emails were published....

What the article does highlight is the pressure the FBI and the Mueller investigation are under as the doubts about the Trump Dossier grow.

It is the Trump Dossier which remains however the key to the affair.  This latest attempt to deny the fact and to distract from it does not refute it.  On the contrary it confirms it.


3--Brennan's testimony may 23,2017


In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday morning, former CIA director John Brennan bluntly told lawmakers that during the 2016 election, he reviewed intelligence that showed “contacts and interactions” between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign. By the summer of 2016, Brennan said, he was “convinced” that Russia was engaged in an “aggressive” and “multifaceted” effort to interfere in our election — and as a result, he believed “there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation” by the FBI....


he only repeated his refrain that, because the CIA is not a law enforcement agency, he turned over its intelligence gathering about contacts between the Trump camp and Russians to the FBI, so that the FBI could conduct its investigation into whether there was collusion....


Brennan’s testimony ended up making it very clear that there was a sufficient intelligence basis for the FBI to conduct an investigation into whether those “contacts and interactions” amounted to collusion....


James B. Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 and publicly confirmed, for the first time, that the bureau was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”...


Brennan, who reminded lawmakers that the CIA engages in intelligence gathering and assessments, not criminal investigations and prosecutions, repeated that he knew only of “contacts and interactions.” And those, he said, made him concerned “because of known Russian efforts to suborn” targeted individuals. Those “efforts to suborn,” he elaborated, begin with Russians targeting and then cultivating people of influence or who are “rising stars,” to “try to get them to do things on their behalf


4--Brennan again


BRENNAN: So I can only repeat what I said, which is that I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion -- cooperation occurred.

Gowdy--Director Brennan, last time, we were talking about at the inception of your investigation, 2016 -- I want the next question to include the inception, the pendency, up until your very last day at the CIA.

Did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russian state actors?

BRENNAN: I saw information and intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the Bureau to determine whether or not such cooperation or conclusion (sic) was taking place......

BRENNAN: I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.

I don't know whether or not such collusion -- and that's your term, such collusion existed. I don't know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.


BRENNAN: It is traditional intelligence collection tradecraft in terms of you meant, which is to identify individuals that you think are either very influential or rising stars, and you will try to develop a relationship with them in the Russians frequently will do that through cutouts or through false flag operations. They won't identify themselves as Russians or as members of Russian government. They will try to develop a personal relationship and then over time they will try to get individuals to do things on their behalf.

And that's why again, having been involved in a lot of counterintelligence cases over the years and seeing this pattern over and over again, my radar goes up when I see that the Russians are actively involved in a particular intelligence operational campaign and that U.S. persons are being contacted by a Russian officials.


I met with some of my officers who were involved in it (the ODNI). I asked them questions, I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable with sort of the language that was being used



BRENNAN: Mr. Putin and Russian intelligence services are determined to do what they can to influence, in a very inappropriate and illegal way, activities within Western democracies to undermine the Western- led liberal democratic order.

They do that on a regular basis. They see that as -- Western democracies as a threat to them. And so that's why the cyber domain right now is a growing playground for Russian activities. And they will use that and exploit it whatever way they can....


BRENNAN: They use all sorts of tools. As I've said, they have been able to control various media outlets. Obviously they use RTTV here in the United States, which has a fairly significant audience. They use individuals who have -- who are writers or publishers, editorialists.

Again, some of this is -- is very obvious to those who are involved because they're on the payrolls. I'm talking globally now -- they're on the payrolls of Russian intelligence, and so they place pieces that advance Russia's interests.... it's very clear that the GRU was responsible for hacking into the -- the networks of the DNC, DCCC, and were responsible, through a cutout, releasing it through places like Guccifer 2.0, WikiLeaks and -- and others.

they amplified a lot of fake new stories that tried to denigrate Secretary Clinton. So it was a mixture of propaganda, it was cyber collection and it was the release of information that was, again, seen as damaging to -- to one of the candidates that they were trying to -- to harm

BRENNAN: We are this nation's forward-deployed radar. We are the ones that need to make sure that we understand what is going on, but also what is underway in the future.


5-- Anderson Cooper — who spent two summers as an “intern” at the CIA


6--Trump Has Blood on His Hands


7--Who Rules America: Power Elite Analysis, the Deep State, and American History

8--First they came for Jill Stein



Last June, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham joined Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley to ask the Justice Department to turn over documents showing whether the FBI used the Trump dossier as a basis to secure warrants to spy on Americans. Noting "media reports claiming the FBI submitted and received approval of a [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] application in the investigation that was based on the political opposition research dossier," Graham and Grassley asked to inspect all warrant applications related to the broadly-defined Trump-Russia affair.
The Justice Department was not forthcoming, to say the least. But with an assist from the aggressive efforts of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, the Justice Department was finally persuaded/cajoled/forced to reveal at least some of the requested information.


In a Fox News interview Friday night, Graham strongly suggested there is something untoward in the dossier material.
I
I've spent some time in the last couple of days, after a lot of fighting with the Department of Justice, to get the background on the dossier, and here's what I can tell your viewers: I'm very disturbed about what the Department of Justice did with this dossier, and we need a special counsel to look into that, because that's not in Mueller's charter. And what I saw, and what I've gathered in the last couple of days, bothers me a lot, and I'd like somebody outside DOJ to look into how this dossier was handled and what they did with it.
Host Brian Kilmeade asked Graham, "So, you've found out something you did not know?
"Yes," Graham answered.
Kilmeade asked whether Graham was disturbed by the contents of the dossier or how the Justice Department used it in the Trump-Russia investigation.
"I've been a lawyer most of my life, a prosecutor, and a defense attorney," Graham began. He continued:
And the one thing I can say, every prosecutor has a duty to the court to disclose things that are relevant to the request. So any time a document is used to go to court, for legal reasons, I think the Department of Justice owes it to the court to be up-and-up about exactly what this document is about, who paid for it, who's involved, what their motives might be. And I can just say this: After having looked at the history of the dossier, and how it was used by the Department of Justice, I'm really very concerned, and this cannot be the new normal.


ut by discussing when "a document is used to go to court," Graham seemed to refer to the dossier and the FISA court. And he seemed to suggest that, if the FBI used revelations from the dossier to secure a warrant to spy on Americans, it was not fully transparent about the source of those revelations, which was an opposition-research project funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign. FBI and Justice Department officials have told Congress they have not been able to verify the dossier's substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Further, Graham found the dossier affair serious enough to warrant an entirely new investigation. It's not in Mueller's charter, Graham said. And Graham does not appear to trust the Justice Department to investigate itself on this particular issue.



 David Kramer told House investigators that he knew the identities of the Russian sources for the allegations in Steele's dossier. But when investigators pressed Kramer to reveal those names, he declined to do so.
Now, he is under subpoena. The subpoena, issued Wednesday afternoon, directs Kramer to appear again before House investigators on Jan. 11


Knowing Steele's sources is a critical part of the congressional dossier investigation, for both sides. If one argues the document is unverified and never will be, it is critical to learn the identity of the sources to support that conclusion. If one argues the document is the whole truth, or largely true, knowing sources is equally critical.
Beyond that, there is another reason to know Steele's sources, and that is to learn not just the origin of the dossier but its place in the larger Trump-Russia affair. There is a growing belief among some congressional investigators that the Russians who provided information to Steele were using Steele to disrupt the American election as much as the Russians who distributed hacked Democratic Party emails. In some investigators' views, they are the two sides of the Trump-Russia project, both aimed at sowing chaos and discord in the American political system.
Investigators who favor this theory ask a sensible question: Is it likely that all the Russians involved in the attempt to influence the 2016 election were lying, scheming, Kremlin-linked, Putin-backed enemies of America – except the Russians who talked to Christopher Steele?




House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Thursday slammed the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their "failure to fully produce" documents related to the Trump dossier, saying that DOJ and the FBI should investigate themselves....

The committee is seeking reports regarding meetings between the FBI and confidential human sources about the controversial dossier, as well as testimony from key DOJ and FBI officials.
Nunes also blasted the DOJ's response to the subpoenas as "disingenuous" because the department initially claimed the documents "did not exist."
“As it turns out, not only did documents exist that were directly responsive to the committee’s subpoenas, but they involved senior DOJ and FBI officials who were swiftly reassigned when their roles in matters under the committee’s investigation were brought to light,” Nunes said.


The House Intelligence Committee is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The dossier compiled by former M16 British spy Christopher Steele contains salacious and unverified allegations of misconduct and collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.




Bernstein: Your expertise was in the Soviet Union and so you must know a lot about bugging.  Do you believe that Russia hacked and undermined our last election?  Can Trump thank Russia for the result?

Binney:  We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) published an article on this in July.  First of all, if any of the data went anywhere across the fiber optic world, the NSA would know.  Just inside the United States, the NSA has over a hundred tap points on the fiber lines, taking in everything.    Mark Klein exposed some of this at the AT&T facility in San Francisco.

This is not for foreigners, by the way, this is for targeting US citizens.  If they wanted only foreigners, all they would have to do was look at the transatlantic cables where they surface on the coast of the United States.  But they are not there, they are distributed among the US population.

Bernstein: So if, in fact, the Russians were tapping into DNC headquarters, the NSA would absolutely know about it.

Binney: Yes, and they would also have trace routes on where they went specifically, in Russia or anywhere else.  If you remember, about three or four years ago, the Chinese hacked into somewhere in the United States and our government came out and confirmed that it was the Chinese who did it, and it came from a specific military facility in Shanghai.  The NSA had these trace route programs embedded by the hundreds across the US and all around the world.

The other data that came out from Guccifer 2.0, a download from the DNC, has been a charade.  It was a download and not a transfer across the Web.  The Web won’t manage such a high speed.  It could not have gotten across the Atlantic at that high speed.  You would have to have high capacity lines dedicated to that in order to do it. They have been playing games with us.  There is no factual evidence to back up any charge of hacking here.
Bernstein: So was this a leak by somebody at Democratic headquarters?
Binney: We don’t know that for sure, either.  All we know was that it was a local download.  We can likely attribute it to a USB device that was physically passed along.

Bernstein: Let me come at this from the other side.  Has the United States ever tried to hack into and undermine Russian operations in this way?
Binney:  Oh, sure.  We do it as much as anybody else.  In the Ukraine, for example, we sponsored regime change.  When someone who was pro-Soviet was elected president, we orchestrated a coup to put our man in power.
Then we invited the Ukraine into NATO.  One of the agreements we made with the Russians when the Soviet Union fell apart was that the Ukraine would give them their nuclear weapons to manage and that we would not move NATO further east toward Russia.  I think they made a big mistake when they asked Ukraine to join NATO.  They should have asked Russia to join as well, making it all-inclusive.  If you treat people as adversaries, they are going to act that way.
Bernstein: Did the US meddle in the Russian elections that brought Yeltsin to power?
Binney: I believe they did.  We try to leverage our power and influence elections around the world.

Bernstein: Is it your goal to defend people’s privacy and their right to communicate privately?
Binney: Yes, to defend privacy but also to defend the Constitution.  Right now, our government is violating the first, fourth and fifth amendments in various ways.  Mueller did it, Comey did it, they were all involved in violating the Constitution...

...
Bernstein:  There seems to be a new McCarthyite operation around the Russia-gate investigation.  It appears that it is an attempt to justify the idea that Clinton lost because the Russians undermined the election.
Binney: I have seen no evidence at all from anybody, including the intelligence community.  If you look at the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) report, they state on the first page that “We have high confidence that the Russians did this.”  But when you get toward the end of the report, they basically confess that “our judgment does not imply that we have evidence to back it up.”
Bernstein:  It was initially put out that seventeen intelligence agencies found compelling evidence that the Russians hacked into our election.  You’re saying it was actually selected individuals from just three agencies.  Is there anything to the revelations that FBI agents talked about taking action to prevent Trump from becoming president?
Binney: It certainly does seem that it is leaning that way, that is was all a frame-up.  It is a sad time in our history, to see the government working against itself internally.

 


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