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Everyone Is a Russian Asset

Everyone Is a Russian Asset

America laughed at Hillary Clinton’s remarks about Tulsi Gabbard, but her ideas fit perfectly in the intellectual mainstream

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reacts as she listens to a question from the audience during the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, in Des Moines, IowaElection 2020 Tulsi Gabbard, Des Moines, USA - 10 Aug 2019

Hillary Clinton, not long ago the nominee of the Democratic Party, had some choice words about the state of American politics Friday.

“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said on a podcast with former Barack Obama aide David Plouffe. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

Clinton appeared to be talking about Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a combat veteran. She wasn’t done, teeing off on former Green Party candidate Jill Stein:

“[Jill Stein’s] also a Russian asset… Yeah, she’s a Russian asset — I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate.”

She went on to talk about Donald Trump:

“I don’t know what Putin has on him, whether it’s both personal and financial … I assume it is.”

Hillary Clinton is nuts. She’s also not far from the Democratic Party mainstream, which has been pushing the same line for years.

Less than a week before Clinton’s outburst, the New York Times — once a symbol of stodgy, hyper-cautious reporting  ran a feature called, “What, Exactly, is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?” The piece speculated about the “suspicious activity” surrounding Gabbard’s campaign, using quotes from the neoconservative think-tank, the Alliance For Securing Democracy, to speculate about Gabbard’s Russian support.

This was the second such article the Times had written. An August piece, “Tulsi Gabbard thinks we’re doomed,“ hit nearly all the same talking points, quoting Clint Watts, an ex-spook from the same think-tank, calling Gabbard “the Kremlin’s preferred Democrat” and a “useful agent of influence.” The Times article echoed earlier pieces by the Daily Beast and NBC.com that said many of the same things.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t

The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t

It’s an insult to real whistleblowers to use the term with the Ukrainegate protagonist

Real American whistleblower, Chelsea Manning

Start with the initial headline, in the story the Washington Post “broke” on September 18th:

TRUMP’S COMMUNICATIONS WITH FOREIGN LEADER ARE PART OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT THAT SPURRED STANDOFF BETWEEN SPY CHIEF AND CONGRESS, FORMER OFFICIALS SAY

The unnamed person at the center of this story sure didn’t sound like a whistleblower. Our intelligence community wouldn’t wipe its ass with a real whistleblower.

Americans who’ve blown the whistle over serious offenses by the federal government either spend the rest of their lives overseas, like Edward Snowden, end up in jail, like Chelsea Manning, get arrested and ruined financially, like former NSA official Thomas Drake, have their homes raided by FBI like disabled NSA vet William Binney, or get charged with espionage like ex-CIA exposer-of-torture John Kiriakou. It’s an insult to all of these people, and the suffering they’ve weathered, to frame the ballcarrier in the Beltway’s latest partisan power contest as a whistleblower.

With that in mind, let’s look at what we know about the first “whistleblower” in Ukrainegate:

  • He or she is a “CIA officer detailed to the White House”;
  • The account is at best partially based upon the CIA officer’s own experience, made up substantially by information from “more than a half dozen U.S. officials” and the “private accounts” of “my colleagues”;
  • “He or she” was instantly celebrated as a whistleblower by news networks and major newspapers.

That last detail caught the eye of Kiriakou, a former CIA Counterterrorism official who blew the whistle on the agency’s torture program.

“It took me and my lawyers a full year to get [the media] to stop calling me ‘CIA Leaker John Kirakou,” he says. “That’s how long it took for me to be called a whistleblower.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Latest Russian spy story looks like another elaborate media deception

Latest Russian spy story looks like another elaborate media deception

The tale of Oleg Smolenkov is just the latest load of high-level BS dumped on us by intelligence agencies

When I was 20, I studied at the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, in the waning days of the Soviet empire. Most of the Russians I met were amusingly free of stress caused by following news. Why would they bother? Bull-factories like Rossiskaya Gazeta and Leningradsaya Pravda were basically collections of dreary government news releases rewritten to sound like news reports.

I saw newspapers in Leningrad shredded into slivers of toilet paper, used in place of curtains in dorm rooms, even stuffed into overcoat linings as insulation. But I can’t recall a Russian person actually reading a Soviet newspaper for the content. That’s how useless its “news” was.

We’re headed to a similar place. The cable networks, along with the New York Times and Washington Post increasingly act like house organs of the government, and in particular the intelligence agencies. 

An episode this week involving a tale of a would-be American spy “exfiltrated” from Russia solidifies this impression. Seldom has a news story been more transparently fraudulent.

The story was broken by CNN Monday, September 9th, under the headline, “Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017”:

In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

CNN’s lede relayed multiple key pieces of information, not one of which was really emphasized in the main of its unconfirmable story:

  • America not only had a spy inside Russia’s government, it had multiple spies, with the subject of this particular piece being merely one of America’s “highest level” sources
  • The “extraction” was completed “successfully”
  • The sources are “multiple Trump administration officials”

The story told us our spy agencies successfully penetrated Russian government at the highest levels (although apparently not well enough to foresee or forestall the election interference campaign the same agencies spent the last three years howling about). 

We were also told the agencies saved an invaluable human source back in 2017, and that the story came from inside the Trump administration. But the big sell came in the second and third paragraphs (emphasis mine):

The Liberal Embrace of War

The Liberal Embrace of War

American interventionists learned a lesson from Iraq: pre-empt the debate. Now everyone is for regime change

An anti-government protester dressed as Lady Liberty, wearing the colors of Venezuela's flag, hugs a fellow protester during a demonstration near La Carlota airbase in Caracas, Venezuela, . Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is calling for Venezuelans to fill streets around the country Wednesday to demand President Nicolás Maduro's ouster. Maduro is also calling for his supporters to rallyPolitical Crisis, Caracas, Venezuela - 01 May 2019

The United States has just suspended flights to Venezuela. Per the New York Times:

CARACAS — The United States banned all air transport with Venezuela on Wednesday over security concerns, further isolating the troubled South American nation…

A disinterested historian — Herodotus raised from the dead — would see this as just the latest volley in a siege tale. America has been trying for ages to topple the regime of President Nicholas Maduro, after trying for years to do the same to his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

The new play in the Trump era involves recognizing Juan Guaidó as president and starving and sanctioning the country. Maduro, encircled, has been resisting.

The American commercial news landscape, in schism on domestic issues, is in lockstep here. Every article is seen from one angle: Venezuelans under the heel of a dictator who caused the crisis, with the only hope a “humanitarian” intervention by the United States.

There is no other perspective. Media watchdog FAIR just released results of a study of three months of American opinion pieces. Out of 76 editorials in the New York Times, Washington Post, the “big three Sunday morning talk shows” or PBS News Hour, zero came out against the removal of Maduro. They wrote:

“Corporate news coverage of Venezuela can only be described as a full-scale marketing campaign for regime change.”

Allowable opinion on Venezuela ranges from support for military invasion to the extreme pacifist end of the spectrum, as expressed in a February op-ed by Dr. Francisco Rodriguez and Jeffrey Sachs called “An Urgent Call for Compromise in Venezuela”:

“We strongly urge… a peaceful and negotiated transition of power rather than a winner-take-all game of chicken…”

So we should either remove Maduro by force, or he should leave peaceably, via negotiation. These are the options.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD

It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD

The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it

Note to readers: in light of news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation is complete, I’m releasing this chapter of Hate Inc. early, with a few new details added up top.

Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media. 

As has long been rumored, the former FBI chief’s independent probe will result in multiple indictments and convictions, but no “presidency-wrecking” conspiracy charges, or anything that would meet the layman’s definition of “collusion” with Russia. 

With the caveat that even this news might somehow turn out to be botched, the key detail in the many stories about the end of the Mueller investigation was best expressed by the New York Times

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments.

The Times tried to soften the emotional blow for the millions of Americans trained in these years to place hopes for the overturn of the Trump presidency in Mueller. Nobody even pretended it was supposed to be a fact-finding mission, instead of an act of faith. 

The Special Prosecutor literally became a religious figure during the last few years, with votive candles sold in his image and Saturday Night Live cast members singing “All I Want for Christmas is You” to him featuring the rhymey line: “Mueller please come through, because the only option is a coup.” 

The Times story today tried to preserve Santa Mueller’s reputation, noting Trump’s Attorney General William Barr’s reaction was an “endorsement” of the fineness of Mueller’s work:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?

Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?

While a noisy Supreme Court fight captivated America last fall, an obscure federal accounting body quietly approved a system of classified money-moving

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Aerial view of the Pentagon building.     Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

October 4th, 2018, was a busy news day. The fight over Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination dominated the cycle. The Trump White House received a supplemental FBI report it said cleared its would-be nominee of wrongdoing. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens meanwhile said Kavanaugh was compromised enough that he was “unable to sit as a judge.”

#NationalTacoDay trended on Twitter. Chris Evans told the world production wrapped on Avengers 4.

The only thing that did not make the news was an announcement by a little-known government body called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board — FASAB — that essentially legalized secret national security spending. The new guidance, “SFFAS 56 – CLASSIFIED ACTIVITIES” permits government agencies to “modify” public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows federal agencies to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered.

To Michigan State professor Mark Skidmore, who’s been studying discrepancies in defense expenditures for years, the new ruling — and the lack of public response to it — was a shock.

“From this point forward,” he says, “the federal government will keep two sets of books, one modified book for the public and one true book that is hidden.”

Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecywas one of the few people across the country to pay attention to the FASAB news release. He was alarmed.

“It diminishes the credibility of all public budget documents,” he says.

I spent weeks trying to find a more harmless explanation for SFFAS 56, or at least one that did not amount to a rule that allows federal officials to fake public financial reports.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We Know How Trump’s War Game Ends

We Know How Trump’s War Game Ends

Nothing unites our political class like the threat of ending our never-ending war

President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd as he arrives to speak to navy and shipyard personnel aboard nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., . The ship which is still under construction is due to be delivered to the Navy later this yearTrump, Newport News, USA - 02 Mar 2017

President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd as he arrives to speak to navy and shipyard personnel aboard nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.

AP/Shutterstock

So we’re withdrawing troops from the Middle East.

GOOD!

What’s the War on Terror death count by now, a half-million? How much have we spent, $5 trillion? Five-and-a-half?

For that cost, we’ve destabilized the region to the point of abject chaos, inspired millions of Muslims to hate us, and torn up the Geneva Convention and half the Constitution in pursuit of policies like torture, kidnapping, assassination-by-robot and warrantless detention.

It will be difficult for each of us to even begin to part with our share of honor in those achievements. This must be why all those talking heads on TV are going crazy.

Unless Donald Trump decides to reverse his decision to begin withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, cable news for the next few weeks is going to be one long Scanners marathon of exploding heads.

“Today’s decision would cheer Moscow, ISIS, and Iran!” yelped Nicole Wallace, former George W. Bush communications director.

“Maybe Trump will bring Republicans and Democrats together,” said Bill Kristol, on MSNBC, that “liberal” channel that somehow seems to be populated round the clock by ex-neocons and Pentagon dropouts.

Kristol, who has rarely ever been in the ballpark of right about anything — he once told us Iraq was going to be a “two month war” — might actually be correct.

Trump’s decisions on Syria and Afghanistan will lay bare the real distinctions in American politics. Political power in this country is not divided between right and left, and not even between rich and poor.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why You Should Care About the Julian Assange Case

Why You Should Care About the Julian Assange Case

Forget Jim Acosta. If you’re worried about Trump’s assault on the press, news of a Wikileaks indictment is the real scare story

Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the Ecuador Embassy after Sweden's director of public prosecutions Marianne Ny drops rape investigation.Julian Assange rape investigation dropped by Swedish authorities, London, UK - 19 May 2017

Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the Ecuador Embassy after Sweden’s director of public prosecutions.

Vianney Le Caer/REX Shutterstock

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since the summer of 2012, is back in the news. Last week, word of a sealed federal indictment involving him leaked out.

The news came out in a strange way, via an unrelated case in Virginia. In arguing to seal a federal child endangerment charge (against someone with no connection to Wikileaks), the government, ironically, mentioned Assange as an example of why sealing is the only surefire way to keep an indictment under wraps.

“Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case,” prosecutors wrote, “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told Rolling Stone he had “not been informed that Mr. Assange has been charged, or the nature of any charges.”

Pollock and other sources could not be sure, but within the Wikileaks camp it’s believed that this charge, if it exists, is not connected to the last election.

“I would think it is not related to the 2016 election since that would seem to fall within the purview of the Office of Special Counsel,” Pollack said.

If you hate Assange because of his role in the 2016 race, please take a deep breath and consider what a criminal charge that does not involve the 2016 election might mean. An Assange prosecution could give the Trump presidency broad new powers to put Trump’s media “enemies” in jail, instead of just yanking a credential or two. The Jim Acosta business is a minor flap in comparison.

Taibbi: Censorship Does Not End Well

Censorship Does Not End Well

How America learned to stop worrying and put Mark Zuckerberg in charge of everything

infowars facebook alex jones mark zuckerberg

Infowars’ Alex Jones and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Brooks Kraft/Getty Images, Alex Brandon/AP/REX Shutterstock

Silicon Valley is changing its mind about censorship.

Two weeks ago, we learned about a new campaign against “inauthentic” content, conducted by Facebook in consultation with Congress and the secretive think tank Atlantic Council — whose board includes an array of ex-CIA and Homeland Security officials — in the name of cracking down on alleged Russian disinformation efforts.­ As part of the bizarre alliance of Internet news distributors and quasi-government censors, the social network zapped 32 accounts and pages, including an ad for a real “No Unite the Right 2” anti-racist counter-rally in D.C. this past weekend.

“This is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros. It is not Russia. It is just us,” said the event’s organizers, a coalition of easily located Americans, in a statement.

Last week, we saw another flurry of censorship news. Facebook apparently suspended VenezuelaAnalysis.com, a site critical of U.S. policy toward Venezuela. (It was reinstated Thursday.) Twitter suspended a pair of libertarians, including @DanielLMcAdams of the Ron Paul Institute and @ScottHortonShow of Antiwar.com, for using the word “bitch” (directed toward a man) in a silly political argument. They, too, were later re-instated.

More significantly: Google’s former head of free expression issues in Asia, Lokman Tsui, blasted the tech giant’s plan to develop a search engine that would help the Chinese government censor content.

First reported by The Intercept, the plan was called “a stupid, stupid move” by Tsui, who added: “I can’t see a way to operate Google search in China without violating widely held international human rights standards.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Matt Taibbi Exposes The Sheer Absurdity Of The Ongoing Russian Witch Hunt

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has written perhaps the best summary of how absurd political discourse in the U.S. has become – as nonconforming opinions are now “blacklisted” over the manufactured specter of “red dawn” Putin puppets behind just about controversial topic.

“One of the first rules of a shunning campaign is that it doesn’t have to make sense,” Taibbi writes. “It just has to be what everyone’s saying. Since most Americans went to high school, we tend to be instinctively familiar with the concept.”

The crazy inverse logic of the new national blacklist was on full display after special prosecutor Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian “troll farm” operatives in February. In the wake of this foreign meddling charge, CNN reporter Drew Griffin banged on the door of an elderly female Trump supporter named Florine Goldfarb and accused her of being a Russia-collaborator. –Rolling Stone

Goldfarb attended a pro-Trump rally allegedly promoted over Facebook by “Russian trolls,” despite no Russians having attended, nor any pro-Russia topics discussed. As Taibbi writes “They were plain, ordinary, Floridian Trump supporters – idiots, maybe, but not traitors.”

While CNN’s treatment of Goldfarb is a prime example of Russophobia in action, its nebulous underpinnings are perhaps the most frightening aspect of the propaganda campaign which has gone completely off the rails.

Since Trump’s election, we’ve been told Putin was all or partly behind the lot of it: the Catalan independence movement, the Sanders campaign, Brexit, Jill Stein’s Green Party run, Black Lives Matter, the resignations of intra-party Trump critics Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, Sean Hannity’s broadcasts, and, of course, the election of Trump himself.

We’ve jumped straight past debating the efficacy of democracy to just reflexively identifying most anti-establishment sentiment as illegitimate, treasonous, and foreign in nature.Rolling Stone

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives

Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives

Whatever the truth about Trump and Russia, the speculation surrounding it has become a dangerous case of mass hysteria

Michael Flynn and Donald Trump John Locher/AP

So Michael Flynn, who was Donald Trump’s national security adviser before he got busted talking out of school to Russia’s ambassador, has reportedly offered to testify in exchange for immunity.

For seemingly the 100th time, social media is exploding. This is it! The big reveal!

Perhaps it will come off just the way people are expecting. Perhaps Flynn will get a deal, walk into the House or the Senate surrounded by a phalanx of lawyers, and unspool the whole sordid conspiracy.

He will explain that Donald Trump, compromised by ancient deals with Russian mobsters, and perhaps even blackmailed by an unspeakable KGB sex tape, made a secret deal. He’ll say Trump agreed to downplay the obvious benefits of an armed proxy war in Ukraine with nuclear-armed Russia in exchange for Vladimir Putin’s help in stealing the emails of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta.

I personally would be surprised if this turned out to be the narrative, mainly because we haven’t seen any real evidence of it. But episodes like the Flynn story have even the most careful reporters paralyzed. What if, tomorrow, it all turns out to be true?

What if reality does turn out to be a massive connect-the-dots image of St. Basil’s Cathedral sitting atop the White House? (This was suddenly legitimate British conspiracist Louise Mensch’s construction in The New York Times last week.) What if all the Glenn Beck-style far-out charts with the circlesand arrows somehow all make sense?

This is one of the tricks that keeps every good conspiracy theory going. Nobody wants to be the one claiming the emperor has no clothes the day His Highness walks out naked. And this Russia thing has spun out of control into just such an exercise of conspiratorial mass hysteria.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Swimming with the Sharks: Goldman Sachs, School Districts, and Capital Appreciation Bonds

Swimming with the Sharks: Goldman Sachs, School Districts, and Capital Appreciation Bonds

Remember when Goldman Sachs – dubbed by Matt Taibbi the Vampire Squid – sold derivatives to Greece so the government could conceal its debt, then bet against that debt, driving it up? It seems that the ubiquitous investment bank has also put the squeeze on California and its school districts. Not that Goldman was alone in this; but the unscrupulous practices of the bank once called the undisputed king of the municipal bond business epitomize the culture of greed that has ensnared students and future generations in unrepayable debt.

In 2008, after collecting millions of dollars in fees to help California sell its bonds, Goldman urged its bigger clients to place investment bets against those bonds, in order to profit from a financial crisis that was sparked in the first place by irresponsible Wall Street speculation. Alarmed California officials warned that these short sales would jeopardize the state’s bond rating and drive up interest rates. But that result also served Goldman, which had sold credit default swaps on the bonds, since the price of the swaps rose along with the risk of default.

In 2009, the lenders’ lobbying group than proposed and promoted AB1388, a California bill eliminating the debt ceiling requirement on long-term debt for school districts. After it passed, bankers traveled all over the state pushing something called “capital appreciation bonds” (CABs) as a tool to vault over legal debt limits. (Think Greece again.) Also called payday loans for school districts, CABs have now been issued by more than 400 California districts, some with repayment obligations of up to 20 times the principal advanced (or 2000%).

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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