Monday, February 19, 2018

Today's Links

1-- Mueller's tyrannical Indictment

 We had a RevolutThe defendant has no right to present his side and the Supreme Court said that the trial jury will correct any injustice. This is what makes Mueller’s indictment fake news for he knows that there is zero chance of getting a trial so the indictment can say whatever he wants and CNN, New York Times, POLITICO etc., will all treat it as absolute proven fact.....

“Realistically, federal grand juries today provide little protection for criminal suspects whom a US Attorney wishes to indict. Nevertheless, that is not a realism to which judges are permitted to yield.”

“Grand Jury, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State in administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities.”

US v Ross, 412 F3d 771, 774 (7th Circuit 2005)
Judge Wachtler’s review of the Grand Jury became the famous phrase that a grand jury could “indict a ham sandwich,” if that’s what you wanted because the prosecutors are totally unsupervised in bringing indictments. He later said that he coined the phrase during a lunch interview with Marcia Kramer of the New York Daily News....

Anyone could write an allegation against anyone else and they did not have to disclose who they were.

The Grand Jury is just a political tool for they get to hear ONLY the evidence that the government selects. There is absolutely NO REQUIREMENT that a prosecutor must make a fair presentment of the facts and indeed they are NEVER true and correct for there is no obligation to present the alternative or the defense of the person being indicted.

The Supreme Court wrote quite eloquently what the Grand Jury was supposed to do. “The … grand jury … has the dual function of determining if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and of protecting citizens against unfounded criminal prosecutions.” Branzburg v Hayes, 408 US 665, 686-687 (1972).

What has long been held as common practice, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 ruled in Imbler v. Pachtman 424 U.S. 409 (1976), that prosecutors cannot face civil lawsuits for prosecutorial abuses, no matter how severe. Prosecutors have qualified immunity in other activities such as advising police and speaking to the press. This was the decision that means Mueller can say anything in an indictment for he is completely immune even if he is knowingly lying to the public. He gets to do what nobody else can do and this has undermined everything that the Constitution stood for.

2--- Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial

Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”...

 He unapologetically averred that, yes, a criminal trial might well be the outcome. “DOJ and FBI are not above the law,” he stated emphatically. “If they are committing abuse before a secret court getting warrants on American citizens, you’re darn right that we’re going to put them on trial.”..
Nunes is projecting calm confidence that once he and Trey Gowdey (R-Tenn.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, release documentary evidence showing what their investigations have turned up, it will be hard for DOJ and FBI officials to dissimulate.

In Other News …

In the interview with Attkisson, Nunes covered a number of other significant issues:
The committee is closing down its investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign; no evidence of collusion was found.

The apparently widespread practice of “unmasking” the identities of Americans under surveillance. On this point, Nunes said, “In the last administration they were unmasking hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of Americans’ names. They were unmasking for what I would say, for lack of a better definition, were for political purposes.”

3--Much ado....

The St. Petersburg based Agency was allegedly charged with a strategy favouring Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.  Hillary Clinton and Republican contenders such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, were subjects of denigration....

these actions, including the social media campaigns and advertising, were matters of minor significance, even if they did simulate the idea of grand chaos.  To suggest that they somehow tipped the balance is self-comfortingly delusional.

4---On February 18, Sheikho Bilo, an official of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), told Rudaw TV [based in Iraqi Kurdistan] that the SAA will enter Afrin area within the next 24hours. If true, this could mean that the crisis in Afrin is witnessing its final hours.

During the negotiations, which were held in the city of Aleppo, according to ANF’s source, the YPG and the Damascus government also discussed the possibility of launching a joint military operation against the Turkish Army and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in the cities of al-Bab and Jarablus east of the Afrin area.

The media outlet also claimed that Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) will establish a no-fly zone over the Afrin area as a part of the alleged agreement. An “expert” told ANF that such a strategic move will strip the Turkish Army from 80% of its firepower.
In a related development, Hassan Hassan a Syrian pro-opposition journalist said on Twitter that the Turkish Army will announce the end of its military operatio
n in the Afrin area once the YPG-Damascus government agreement is officially confirmed.

5--Record Turnout at Sochi Investment Forum - Russia Not Isolated

6--Nail in the Russiagate Coffin---the latest indictment when considered properly is a further huge nail in the coffin of the Russiagate conspiracy theory and in the already disintegrating credibility of the Trump Dossier, which is the foundation document for that theory

There will be understandable disappointment in many quarters that the latest indictments delivered by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, once again failed to nail Donald Trump. Although the charges levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are extraordinarily serious, they do not directly support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded with Moscow to rig the vote....

There was further comfort for Mr Trump, which he was quick to celebrate with a tweet. The investigation uncovered no evidence “that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity”. That includes, so far, anybody involved in the Trump campaign. If there is a smoking gun it has yet to emerge, though Robert Mueller’s investigation will grind on. Presi­dent Vladimir Putin is a malign and dangerous mischief maker. It has not been proved that he is an evil genius with the ability to swing a US election....

Special Counsel Mueller has provided further details in his latest indictment of actual albeit unknowing contacts between members of the Trump campaign and various Russian employees of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency, LLC, apparently both in person and online....

Given that Steele was outed by Russian intelligence in 2006, with his intelligence operation in Russia dismantled by the FSB that year, it beggars belief that ten years later in 2016 he still had access to high level secrets in the Kremlin.

What we now know in fact proves that he did not.

7--- Fred on Russiagate

"Bruce Ohr, the Department of Justice official who brought opposition research on President Donald Trump to the FBI, did not disclose that Fusion GPS, which performed that research at the Democratic National Committee’s behest, was paying his wife, and did not obtain a conflict of interest waiver from his superiors at the Justice Department,....."

Well, at least after more than a year we finally have some indictments. So what kind of conduct that influenced the election is criminal, according to the indictment handed down by the Mueller team?
Count 1: ".... U.S. law also bars agents of any foreign entity from engaging in political activities within the United States without first registering with the Attorney General. And U.S. law requires certain foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States to obtain a visa by providing truthful and accurate information to the government."  If you have someone fly to london and get that info is that OK or is that criminal?

Count 2:    "... defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016."  If you delete all your emails -  384 pages  does that count as "imparing, obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of government"? Has the Mueller team interviewed Strzok and Page? How about not telling anyone your wife works for Fusion GPS, creator of the dossier that was essential to obtaining the FISA court indictment?

Count 3:  "....... ORGANIZATION began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendant ORGANIZATION received funding for its operations from ....  and companies he controlled .... Defendants ....  spent significant funds to further the ORGANIZATION’s operations and to pay .... other uncharged ORGANIZATION employees, salaries and bonuses for their work at the ORGANIZATION."
 Who paid Fusion GPS at each stage of their work? Is that criminal?

Count 4: "..... operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences....."
If a firm knowingly changes the ranking of social media pages others have created does that affect the "attraction of US audiences" and thus count as interference in the electoral process? How about just making sure users of social media never see the content?    ex1     ex2

8--Who's meddling??

A Russian parliamentary commission has prepared a report that lists over 100 cases of US interference in other nations’ internal affairs since the end of World War Two.

“We have counted approximately 100, about 101 or 102 absolutely verified and recorded facts of American involvement in the sovereign affairs of over 60 UN member-nations since the approval of this organizations’ charter that bans any such involvement – since 1946 till this day,” the head of the upper house Commission for Protection of State Sovereignty, Senator Andrey Klimov, was quoted as saying on Monday by TASS.

The senator named one particular example from the list – the 1973 coup d’état in Chile that installed Augusto Pinochet as a military dictator and as a result of which the country’s parliament was dissolved and numerous human rights violations were committed. “Every such fact has a multitude of episodes of the US interference,” he noted....

At the same time, Klimov noted that not all cases of US involvement in other nations’ affairs could be formally described as such and thus were not included in the report. As an example, he named Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, in which the US president said that Washington was constantly meddling in other nations’ affairs and called for an end to such practices. “And these were the words of an inaugurated president, the commander-in-chief of the US military forces, who had been briefed through all files,” he said.

Another example was the 2003 speech of George W. Bush in which the then-US president urged change in political regimes in between 40 and 50 foreign countries.

9--Shut it down now!

Lavrov said the question should be “what the US could refrain from doing” in Syria and that the answer was “stop playing dangerous games” and cease trying to partition the nation.
Russia see as constructive Israel’s policy of turning every problem in the region into a vehicle for opposing Iran, he said.

“This is what we see in Syria, this is what we see in Yemen, and even the latest developments around the Palestinian issue, including Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive capital, are to a large extent caused by the very same anti-Iranian bias,” Lavrov explained. “Both attitudes pose a risk of further damaging the situation in the region, which is already very pitiful.”...

US troops must immediately shut down their zone of control in southern Syria in the area of Al-Tanf, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested when asked what should be done to help the Syrian peace settlement.

Lavrov was referring to an area on Syria’s border with Jordan and Iraq, which the US declared to be under its protection last year. Among other things, it contains the Rukban refugee camp. The facility is apparently used by radical militants, including members of UN-designated terrorist group best known by its former name Al-Nusra Front, to recover and raid other parts of Syria, Lavrov said at the Valdai Club conference on the Middle East in Moscow. The US is turning a blind eye to such abuses of its protection, he added.

“Inside the Al-Tanf zone, which the Americans unilaterally declared under their protection, and inside the refugee camp jihadists are regularly reported to recover strength. On several occasions they conducted raids from there into other territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. This zone must be shut down immediately,” the Russian minister said

10--Imitation is the highest form of flattery--Washington rips off China's infrastructure plan to compete 

The United States, Australia, India and Japan have reportedly been negotiating to establish a joint regional infrastructure plan as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative in a bid to counter Beijing’s increasing influence.

11-- Munich Security Conference threatens war on all fronts

Speaking Saturday, US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said, “We face a range of common threats. Rogue regimes that already imperil international security in the Middle East and northeast Asia.”

It was necessary to “act against Iran,” he insisted, which was cultivating a “network of proxies” and militias in Syria, Yemen and Iraq that were “becoming more and more capable, as Iran seeds more and more...destructive weapons into these networks.” Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad was still using chemical weapons against the US-backed Islamist insurgency, he also claimed, citing “public accounts and photos.”

Identifying Iran, but in a barely veiled reference to Russia and China, he added, “We know that Syria and North Korea are not the only rogue states developing, using, spreading dangerous weapons...

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel added that when it came to China and Russia, “the West does not have a new strategy to deal with these two powers.” Both China and Russia “constantly try to test and to undermine the [European Union’s] unity.” Through its Belt and Road Initiative, “China is developing a comprehensive alternative system; a system unlike ours that is not based on freedom, democracy, and individual human rights. China seems to have a real global strategic idea and they are pursuing this idea persistently.”

12-- The media and the Mueller indictment: A conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories

The 37-page document details an alleged operation of individuals in Russia to establish false identities on social media platforms and use them to influence political discussion in the US during the election. Conspicuously absent is any indication of direct Russian government involvement in the operation, which was funded by a Russian multimillionaire. Nor is there any claim that the Trump campaign collaborated with the activities of the Russian operatives, or that these activities had any impact on the course of the election....

The primary purpose of the indictment was to provide the media with a flimsy basis for headlines screaming about a massive operation by Russia to undermine American democracy.

The claim that this half-baked operation played any significant role in the outcome of the election is an absurdity. There were ample reasons for tens of millions of Americans, particularly working people, to be hostile to the campaign of Hillary Clinton, the favorite of Wall Street and the Pentagon. She ran a campaign of complacency and entitlement promising nothing to those suffering after eight years of supposed “economic recovery” under the Obama administration. That a section of working people, in desperation, cast their votes for Trump only testifies to the reactionary blind alley of the corporate-controlled two-party system

What is fueling this campaign? First, there is the effort to condition the population for war with Russia.

The Times and the Democratic Party are acting as the media and political spokesmen for a section of the US military-intelligence apparatus that objects to any turning away from the ferociously anti-Russian axis of US foreign policy established during the second term of the Obama administration....
Second, there is the effort to present all social opposition within the United States as the product of Russian operations. The ruling class is terrified of the mounting social tensions within the United States. It is this fear that is motivating the extremely rapid moves to censor the Internet and suppress free speech.

The same issue of the Times that claims Russia is at war with the United States carried an attack on Facebook, headlined, “To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook.” According to the Times, Russia used the most widely used social media platform to foment political and social discontent in the United States. The implication: Facebook must implement even more aggressive censorship methods.

It would be fatally wrong to underestimate the right-wing character of the political conceptions being propounded by the Times and Democrats through the anti-Russian campaign. In the 20th century, only dictatorial regimes were able to get away with lying on the scale now being carried out by the advocates of the anti-Russia narrative. But Hitler’s “big lie” and Stalin’s doctoring of history are the political forerunners of the campaign being waged by the intelligence agents who work in the guise of “editors” and “journalists” at the Times

One fact in the indictment is of genuine significance: the operation began in April 2014. This was well before Donald Trump was on anyone’s campaign radar screen except perhaps his own, and only a month after the right-wing US-backed political coup in Ukraine, which mobilized fascist mobs in the streets of Kyiv to drive an elected pro-Russian president out of office and replace him with an American stooge.

Leading the charge is the New York Times, which published a front-page “news” lead Sunday, authored by Peter Baker. The article was published online Saturday evening under the headline, “Trump’s Conspicuous Silence Leaves a Struggle Against Russia Without a Leader.” In the newspaper’s print edition, the “struggle” was upgraded to a “war … being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.”

The indictments, the Times argues, “underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda.” ...
Given that the US government has just issued a series of strategy documents that, among other conclusions, suggest that a significant cyberattack on the United States could justify retaliation with nuclear weapons, the implications of the argument put forward on the front page of the Times are chilling: What cyberattack could be more significant than an effort to hijack the US presidential election? By the logic of the leading “newspaper of record,” the US government would be justified in responding militarily to an alleged Russian election operation.

What is propounded in the media coverage is a conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and much of the media are espousing paranoid views that were once associated with the John Birch Society, which notoriously claimed that President Dwight Eisenhower was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party.

This supposed conspiracy is described in breathless terms in media accounts: “sophisticated,” “massive,” of “breathtaking” scope, one with “tentacles” that “reached deeply into American political life.” Even if one accepts the facts of the indictment as alleged—and that is hardly a legitimate assumption, given the capacity of the FBI and other intelligence agencies for fabrication—nothing in the indictment comes close to supporting what is being claimed by the Times and other media outlets

13--The GOPs stealth war against voters


So the inquisition will roll on as it is intended to do. How else can we explain that a year’s worth of investigation has produced no electronic evidence of collusion despite having the world’s largest surveillance system at its disposal? The scene of the alleged crime — the DNC computers and servers — have yet to be inspected; Seth Rich’s computers — the same; two key witness, Julian Assange and Craig Murray have never been interviewed by the investigation. The inquisition is not interested in evidence it is not interested in!

As Ann Garrison recently argued in Black Agenda Report:

If the Democrats wanted to inspire trust in Hillary’s three million vote margin or in any future electoral outcomes, they would call for junking all the electronic voting machines and instituting secure, nationally uniform methods of casting and counting ballots: paper ballots counted by hand and safely stored to make recounts possible. They would thereby propose to preclude any future election hacking by Russians, Republicans, or other potential miscreants, including their fellow Democrats. They would turn more attention to ending voter suppression than to $100,000 worth of Facebook ads generated by a troll farm.

Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent. Urie

A relatively small number of Facebook ads were used, many after the election, but no one from the investigation claims it had any impact. We are supposed to imagine it did. The Russian meme bombers may or may not be connected to the Russian government but Mueller provides no evidence. The indictments are little more than unconvincing accusations in keeping with the rest of the Russian narrative as eminent historian Jackson Lears has so thoroughly demonstrated.

By shifting the grounds from hacking, collusion and intervention to what is essentially campaigning — the use of information, speech and propaganda by those seeking to influence the outcome — Mueller continues the war on “Fake News.

The First Amendment was designed to protect the people from the power of government. It is our right and our right alone to evaluate and judge information. Anything else is tyranny. And make no mistake, these indictments target domestic dissent smearing Black Lives Matters, Berners and the Green Party as unwitting collaborators with the Russians.

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