Some Sanity by way of Stephen Cohen’s ‘Russiagate or Intelgate?’


‘The publication of the Republican House Committee memo and reports of other documents increasingly suggest not only a “Russiagate” without Russia but also something darker: The “collusion” may not have been in the White House or the Kremlin’, the beginning of his Feb. 9 analysis was published at thenation.com, and picked up by rt.com.

The intro notes that this is the most recent weekly discussion he and John Batchelor  have been having on the latter’s radio program; other episodes are inked at the top in the intro.

You’ll likely know the issues, players, and documents far better than I, but these might be by way of the Cliffs Notes:

Cohen apparently notes in the podcast that as a Russian studies professor emeritus who’s studied Soviet-era (then) classified intel reports, all such must be put into contexts of time, other sources, and competing material as well.

But this episode features the Nunes memo, alluding to the (cough) questionable methods us by the Obama DoJ to obtain warrants to spy on Carter Page and ‘the role played in this by the anti-Trump “dossier” complied by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer whose career specialization was Russia. But he states that the memo’s implications are even larger.

Cohen asks salient questions about the timelines of the published episodes, Brennan’s first investigations into the matter, his opaque testimony to Congress,  but according to a  Guardian piece, he was receiving or soliciting foreign intel reports on “suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents.”  The characters in part include: James Comey’s obfuscations, lowly Trump advisor George Papadopoulos (not to be confused with: Richard Scarry’s ‘Lowly Worm’), an unnamed ambassador in a London bar, J. Edgar Hoover, a secret envelope likely given to Obama (<WaPo link), Bruce and Nellie Ohr, Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson…and aaaand the ‘papers of record’.   Yer heads spinning by now?  If so, good: mine sure is.

Cohen says in short, if these sources are to believed, [wd here: and of course, that’s Big IF, but it makes sense], it means that Brennan himself is the Godfather of Russiagate.  As to where Steele got his information, the deep state and stenographers claim that it was from Steele’s longtime connections ‘at or near the Kremlin’.  Cohen then jack-hammers some major (imo) holes into that now-reified meme.

“We are left, then, with a vital, ramifying question: How much of the “intelligence information” in Steele’s dossier actually came from Russian insiders, if any?”  He also notes that Hannityesque and Clinton ‘pro-Trump’ rubbish declaring that ‘the Kremlin used Steele to push its propaganda’ simply extends the new Cold War, which he’s long posited ‘could turn hot’ any day now.

Given that I’ve paraphrased a lot of this discussion already, and that a podcast is in the public weal in any event, I’m going to ‘liberate’ the rest.  I’d think Professor Cohen should mark all his op-eds as Creative Commons, but instead, at the Nation, the first four hits a month are free, then…ya pay to get in the door, just like the New York Slimes and Jeff Bezos’s WaPo.

“And so, Cohen concludes, we are left with even more ramifying questions:

  • Was Russiagate produced by the primary leaders of the US intelligence community, not just the FBI? If so, it is the most perilous political scandal in modern American history, and the most detrimental to American democracy. And if so, it does indeed, as zealous promoters of Russiagate assert, make Watergate pale in significance. (To understand more, we will need to learn more, including whether Trump associates other than Carter Page and Paul Manafort were officially surveilled by any of the agencies involved. And whether they were surveilled in order to monitor Trump himself, on the assumption they were or would be in close proximity to him, as the president once suggested in a tweet.)
  • If Russiagate involved collusion among US intelligence agencies, as now seems likely, why was it undertaken? There are various possibilities. Out of loathing for Trump? Out of institutional opposition to his promise of better relations—“cooperation”—with Russia? Or out of personal ambition? Did Brennan, for example, aspire to remaining head of the CIA, or to a higher position, in a Hillary Clinton administration?
  • What was President Obama’s role in any of this? Or to resort to the Watergate question: What did he know and when did he know it? And what did he do? The same questions would need to be asked about his White House aides and other appointees. Whatever the full answers, there is no doubt that Obama acted on the Russiagate allegations. He cited them for the sanctions he imposed on Russia in December 2016, which led directly to the case of General Michael Flynn (not for doing anything wrong with Russia but for “lying to the FBI”); to the worsening of the new US-Russian Cold War; and thus to the perilous relationship inherited by President Trump, who has in turn been thwarted by Russiagate in his attempts to improve relations through “cooperation” with Putin.
  • With all of this in mind, and assuming Trump knew most of it, did he really have any choice in firing FBI Director Comey, for which he is now unfairly being investigated by Mueller? We might also ask, given Comey’s role during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign (for which she and her team loudly condemned him), whether as president she would have had to fire him.

Listening almost daily to the legion of former US intel officers condemn Russiagate skeptics ever more loudly and persistently in the media, we may wonder if they are increasingly fearful it will become known that Russiagate was mostly Intelgate. For that we will need a new bipartisan Senate Church Committee of the 1970s, which investigated and exposed misdeeds by US intelligence agencies and which led to important reforms that are no longer the preventive measures against abuses of power they were intended to be. (Ideally, everyone involved would be granted amnesty for recent misdeeds, ending all talk of “jail time,” on the condition they now testify truthfully.) But such an inclusive investigation of Intelgate would require the support of Democratic members of Congress, which no longer seems possible.”

A competing piece of intel?  Or is this an already known known?

@wikileaks Feb 7

Email reveals that Michael Isikoff, whose Yahoo News article based on the “Steele dossier” was used to obtain the FISA interception warrant against the Trump campaign’s Carter Page, was secretly “working with” the DNC’s Alexandra Chalupa. https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/emailid/3962 …

In a different direction altogether, I’ll add ‘U.S. Intelligence Crisis Poses a Threat to the World’; Privatized and politicized intelligence is undermining the mission of providing unbiased information to both high-level decision makers and the American public, explains George Eliason in this first of a three-part series’, February 11, 2018, consortiumnews.org, although I haven’t taken the time to read it, so  I won’t recommend it. ;-)  Eliason writes from the Donbass region of Ukraine.

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

35 responses to “Some Sanity by way of Stephen Cohen’s ‘Russiagate or Intelgate?’

  1. There are issues wrapped up in the Mueller investigation that need investigating and are significant relative to Presidential accountability. All of them have been endlessly itemized: emoluments, obstruction of justice in firing Comey, and so on. Multiple opportunities for perjury (what eventually nailed Slick Willie).

    Until we can get beyond the “sources and methods” classification bullshit, we don’t know whether there is a there there or not. There is some strong animus between the old Obama hands (including Obama) and Putin’s Russia. There is some huge bad blood there personally that has just come out.

    It is clear that Clinton was setting up foreign policy in a way that some people did not want to go and that the GOP’s own ideology prevented it from being a brake on those moves. The GOP primary was essentially contentless as far as policy. If what Stephen Cohen suspects is true, Clapper’s ODNI reports threw a huge Hail Mary to try to destroy Trump and stamped a Democratic victory in Congress. And it failed. At the same time, Russia was maneuvering in an already existing system of sanctions to try to get more freedom of action and that movement included all of the agencies of the Russian state (why wouldn’t it? Nations play hardball.)

    If that reading is true, Trump digs himself into a hole trying to silence Mueller’s report. Is it embarrassment or illegality that is at the base of T’s sensitivity about this investigation. I start from the embarrassment of having his followers see exactly how he operates in his vaunted hardnosed negotiations. Max drama; close to sniveling fear. Those seem to be his marks of negotiation.

    I still maintain that this investigation if Mueller handles it properly by playing it straight can have the result of creating a major realignment in American politics disadvantageous to the business-as-usual folks in both parties.

    Clinton has lost hard. She will never reclaim that no matter what the outcome of investigation. Her career as a politician is over. Her influence in politics is with a fractional group of the Democratic base. Bill is as relevant as W. What comes out of this is something altogether different than we’ve had before. World War II is no longer the touchstone for American politics. If we are lucky, neither is 9/11. If we are very lucky, the Constitutional Crisis spawned by the 2016 election and its resolution will be. If we are unlucky the resolution after the chaos and disruption that comes out of a Mueller report will be. And that disruption has a broad range of possibilities with much broader political forces than have been in US politics in quite some time.

    Cohen is again on track relative to Russian realities, but the evidence is that the Steele dossier, started as oppo research for a GOP operative in the primaries and reshopped to the Democrats after the general election was not what triggered a counterintelligence investigation (which would not exclude FBI as one of the intelligence community). Brennan might have been point for speaking and Michael Hayden might have been point for relations with anti-Trump GOP, but Clapper likely was not an innocent bystander.

    • could you explain why you believe the election caused a constitutional crisis, thd? i’d certainly heard that claim due to the fact that clinton won the popular vote, but not by the electoral college’s protocols. my take is that cohen’s also correct that only a church committee 2.0 w/ immunity to those who testify (under oath, so many these days ain’t sworn in) will bring us closest to the truth.

      but here we have CNN hiring serial liar james clapper and michael hayden in 2017, NBC giving john brennan a gig in feb., etc. to spew their ‘sides of the story’. and what’s the new obomba bad blood info of which you speak?

      also, explain this please: “Russia was maneuvering in an already existing system of sanctions to try to get more freedom of action and that movement included all of the agencies of the Russian state.” implying that russia really had thrown in behind trump? or am i too twitchy after hearing ‘russians hacked the elections’ claimed so many times? no, scratch that: ‘putin hacked our election!’ ;-) and pompeo is famously stating that he’ll hack the midterms as well.

      if there’s a D party classified memo that T won’t declassify as i’ve heard implied, that is a huge blunder on his part.

    • The Constitutional crisis springs from the amount of voter suppression that was done in the states, especially around registration and provisional ballots. This was not an election intended to be regular; it was a war by both sides. That sort of animus does not get settled through negotiation but through a moderately impartial arbitration.

      The small number of votes by which the electoral vote was won has created a Constitutional crisis in the sense that there is an opposition not just to the authority and policies of the Trump administration but also to its legitimacy. Until an impartial reporter (taken by the press to be Mueller) can report why the events turned out so strange and what did and did not happen, there is not a narrative that can join both sides of the argument in a truce.

      Failure to do this carefully takes us back to the “home rule” election enivironment of 1876 up to 1964. There is a clear intent among some actors in this to do just that. That is dangerous in both the short and long term.

      The current maneuvering by the Trump/Republican spokepersons are to bend that Mueller view to be favorable to Republican political fortunes whether that is what Mueller delivers or not. A little bit of whipping the refs before public opinion becomes crucial.

      Cohen is correct about the need for a Church committee to air out the dirty laundry in the intelligence community once again, but neither the Trump administration nor the Republican Party would like where that would have to go; after all, for all Obama’s cheerleading, the surveillance state was W’s (properly, Cheney’s) creation to avoid another Watergate; worked like a charm, didn’t it?

      Obama disses Putin himself as being unwilling to negotiate. Did not specify about what issues. After all, Putin could deliver another START agreement, and Obama could not likely deliver Senate approval. Obama bent to McCain and Graham on Syria and not trusting Russia and to Nuland/Pyatt on the view from Ukraine.

      Russia was behaving itself in order to get the sanctions added after the annexation of Crimea lifted and normalization returned after the election. Wonder what they heard about those prospects from Hillary Clinton? Given the conventional wisdom about Trump, they would have been wise to follow the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “When you strike the king, you must kill him.” They now are still under the sanctions imposed by Obama. Interesting that. They really did not have to draw those additional sanctions.

      What that Russian full-court press looked like and why Clinton drew it is something that will come out of many investigations and historians ventures. What we have is imputed symptoms of Russian activity; that is all over the lot and ranges from crazy to outright wild. And we have Julian Assange’s baiting of Clinton and the Democrats and now the US government; the guy has an understandable beef.

      As for hacking elections, that’s been going on in enough places for 18 years that it is now a perennial concern over what was taken for granted until the election of 2000.

      Any failure to be even-handed on Trump’s part plays into reinforcement of the sentiment that he’s really obstructing justice and hampering clearing the air. Especially when the shock jocks are ramping up the propaganda. But then there’s Joy Reid now. You get the point.

      The media are manufacturing advertising revenues and subscription revenues from cable fees and holding audiences by the eyeballs and controversy. Thus Hayden and Brennan and others who state the elite national security industry agenda. Hang the public interest. No different from Clearchannel (or whatever its called these days) and Fox News. And yes, the elite national security industry is CNN’s beat within Time Warner. Not D, maybe but not exclusively Clinton, definitely austerian neoliberal; you see it.

      • looks like ‘later’ has turned into ‘tomorrow’, ‘lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise’. RL and all that jazz.

      • you may be correct as to why the orange one’s presidency is seen as illegitimate now, as in: trump collusion w/ putin, etc., but it was seen first as illegitimate because of natavism, racism, pussy-grabbing, and the electoral college vote. yet no Ds have ever made moves to abolish it, at least as far as i know.

        what bothers me the most is the strong likelihood that the intel was being arranged around the collusion, as in the wapo piece linked above, under the obomba administration. why on earth would i trust clapper, brennan, hayden, and the others? looks as though some folks had to be kinda strong-armed into agreeing with the ‘sixteen agencies’ or whatever number. but a number of actual journalists have parsed all that before, and others have shown (via wikileaks’ leaks) how easy it is to cause an email IP address to look as though it came from Roooosia, and so on.

        the simplest answer is that the Red Queen was desired by the deep state intel to be in the white house, and that plan was thwarted. and the bernistas are livid because the dlc burned him, as well, w/ a battle cry of “he could have beaten trump!”

        is mueller impartial? i don’t even know. but from your mouth to the gods’ ears that he is. ha! re the ovien queen, a commenter at c995 quoted her as calling putin ‘hitler’ after he stole crimea. loved the dickens outta that. ‘nother thing so many people forget is that impeachment doesn’t mean ‘removed from office’ which is why that document about article 5-ing him (or whatever number) for being insane was everywhere. it really wasn’t a parlor game.

        ach, that’s enough for now. it’s time for brekkie. ;-)

      • pt. IV, lol. “Cohen is correct about the need for a Church committee to air out the dirty laundry in the intelligence community once again, but neither the Trump administration nor the Republican Party would like where that would have to go….”

        i suppose that would depend on what the ground rules were. as in: the ‘sixteen intel agencies’ would have provide evidence, not just keep saying: “these documents are just too sensitive for the public (and especially “our enemies” to know. somehow i’d neglected to provide the guardian link in this section of cohen’s transcribed interview:

        The question therefore becomes: When did Brennan begin his “investigation” of Trump? His House testimony leaves this somewhat unclear, but, according to a subsequent Guardian article, by late 2015 or early 2016 he was receiving, or soliciting, reports from foreign intelligence agencies regarding “suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents.”

        well, it’s bloody luke harding, stenographer to the imperium again, and ooof, how much breaking and condemnatory news is totally unsourced.

        ‘… the Guardian has been told.’ ‘Over the next six months…sources said.’
        ‘The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence …one source said.’ ‘Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.’ and a har, har moment: ‘The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed.’

        and it does seem as though the schiff memo (the D corrections and responses) is the one embargoed by Orange Julius. wikileaks has offered a bounty on it.

        but it put me in mind of some comments at Very.Progressive.Website recently:

        B: ‘Police officers don’t go far out of their way to not kill white people. That’s so ignorant of the facts. In a police stop or arrest whites are more likely to get killed then black. That’s facts. Black males commit more of the crime proportionally to their demographic representations. That’s a fact. Black males also get arrested and stopped more proportionally. That’s a fact. If you take these into account it looks like police go out of their way not to kill black people. I would hypothesize because it’s to not look racist. Your statement that black peoples are targeted to be killed by police is so beyond facts, statistics, and reality – it’s disappointing.’

        P: @Brian ‘Thanks for opening this can of worms because this misuse of one unexamined statistic about very different populations is being used for a dangerous agenda. The SJW’s want this to be viewed as a racist class war useful for their larger NWO agendas. We have already seen some bloody killings because of this incitement but most people seem to understand they are being manipulated. The SJW’s aren’t giving up as we see here even though their target audience has mostly rejected their claims and agenda.
        One account of police killings showed 50 each of unarmed Black and White subjects killed out of under 2000 total mostly armed people. Most of those unarmed people’s deaths were determined to be justified leaving a handful of cases where racism or mental breakdown by the cops might be factors. While everything possible should be done to eliminate these deaths portraying this small number of killings as rascist class war is agitprop and intentionally misleading.’

        an other such ‘fact-based’ comments. no one seriously pushed back. not even ‘innuendo is not a fact’, ‘convictions’ don’t equal guilt, statistics are most often manipulated, etc.

        but lol; this was so fine to hear:

        underneath:
        ⌛‏ @JulianAssange Jan 27
        As a side note, in 2016 the UN unanimously found in my favor, except for one jurist–from Ukraine. The former Chair, international law professor Mads Adenas of Norway/Oxford stated that the US and UK had tried to pressure the jurists. https://justice4assange.com/UN-Working-Group-Decision.html

  2. bless your heart, but this is too long for me to answer now, a i need to fix dinner. but i’ll have to stick a pin in ‘voter suppression’, on accounta ignorance, though i’ve seen you mention it before. and “a Constitutional crisis in the sense that there is an opposition not just to the authority and policies of the Trump administration but also to its legitimacy” as in the wikileaks on the podesta and dlc emails? if so: too bad, imo. they simply showed massive corruption and that the bern…got burned. more later.

  3. From the Herr T’s Department of Homeland Security:

    https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/06/21/written-testimony-ia-cyber-division-acting-director-dr-samuel-liles-and-nppd-acting

    Suspecting a hidden agenda in the solutions.

    • i plead ignorance, as i didn’t see much in the way of anything in there but a blizzard of words that had little significance. what did i miss? no actual russian hacking, just hints of ‘scanning’ some data bases (didn’t bernie say the same of his supporters’ database?) oh, school board, my stars. tighten up cyber security of electoral processes in states, but no federal takeover of same? but no way the roosians would have been able to affect vote tallies? wth?

      now i’m agog the wapo let me in again, but a few Rs had objected to the federal takeover of the systems when jeh johnson had suggested it, and dagnabbit, i started collecting paragraphs. but jeez louise, once again, it’s all this high drama and giant photos steeped in blood red (talk about a psyop). sit room meetings like killing bin laden!, eyes only, give us back the envelope later…cripes. anyhoo, since i’d grabbed some stuff:

      Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault’, june 23, 2017

      “The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

      (aside from expelling 35 diplomats, ‘o, so narrow weak-sacuce sanctions’),
      “Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyberweapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.

      “Before departing for an August vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Obama instructed aides to pursue ways to deter Moscow and proceed along three main paths: Get a high-confidence assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent; shore up any vulnerabilities in state-run election systems; and seek bipartisan support from congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal help

      “Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.”
      at the end, the US cyber response “The operation was described as long-term, taking months to position the implants and requiring maintenance thereafter. Under the rules of covert action, Obama’s signature was all that was necessary to set the operation in motion.

      U.S. intelligence agencies do not need further approval from Trump, and officials said that he would have to issue a countermanding order to stop it. The officials said that they have seen no indication that Trump has done so.”

      but remember, the dems gave trump some $43 billion for the military than even herr t had asked for, because: russia.

      • Yep, you got it. Miller, Nakashima, and Entous are observable stenographers for the IC. They had more to worry about the state election administrators in a few states than from Putin is my reading. I have a clear suspicion of which states would not follow Jeh Johnson’s procedures for protecting elections in their states. It looks a lot like the Southeastern collegiate sports conference. map. Interesting that Trump is pursuing parallel tracks on these issues.

        Yes to your last statement.

        The article shows that there are facts there, even if Democratic election protection operations by local lawyers didn’t succeed in covering them off.

        What it does not show is that those attacks occurred in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

        USians, it seems are quite capable of making a hash of their own elections.

        And I find the “we heard Putin’s orders” line laughable unless they want to classify and quote the statement.

        Ah, but the end game seems to be moving rapidly if superficially in Trumpublicans’ direction. Democrats likely are going to stonewall the appropriation for domestic spending because it is so “harsh”. Means that October will be a failed continuing resolution right before the election. And who knows when the next debt crisis will be popped up.

        • any thanks for answering in several comments, as that make it far easier for me to try and respond, esp. given limited time. yes, it may be the southern states who won’t follow jeh’s wishes, but as the wapo link said, it may not really matter, unles the T adminisration tanks O’s EO. but you really think that finagling the vote did our in WI, MI, and PA? why?

          my understanding was that the ovien queen had blown off stopping by since the election was in the bag for her. hence, jill stein’s petitions for recounts were even more…fucked up.

          dunno if i’ll make it back tonight, but thanks for engaging all of this.

    • ha. i was binging to see if there’s an offishull head of dhs by now, and instead ran into this from 2 hrs ago:

      ‘Homeland Security calls NBC report on election hacking ‘false’, msn.com

      “Recent NBC reporting has misrepresented facts and confused the public with regard to Department of Homeland Security and state and local government efforts to combat election hacking,” Jeanette Manfra, the department’s chief cybersecurity official, said in a statement.

      • Whooey….game on. Full internal information war.

        Not expecting any clarity about what is happening for a while.

        There are a lot of very busy squirrels feeding the supposed “common media” as if Cronkite and Huntley/Brinkley are still around.

        From Pepe’s last, even Eurasia is being swallowed up in Trump fog.

  4. Marcy’s point in “When I retweeted the video above (h/t K), suggesting maybe Dilanian could educate viewers about what both “compromise” and “penetrate” mean, he responded “Or you could focus on your own reporting.”

    What are voters supposed to understand actually happened relative to one or more of their precincts in the allegations be hurled about the election?

    Both side are vague so they can keep it to the level of t’is-t’aint.

    • i’d had to search for emptywheel and dilanian, but i see that she’d seen the nbc hyperbole earlier. then: pooh flinging at dilanian (in absentia). ‘t’is/t’aint vagueness is right, but then there’s outright obfuscation and bullshit by ‘inside sources say’, and i’m sick to death of that con game.

      guess i’m once again glad i don’t watch any news on the teevee, or even more smoke’d be coming out my ears. but i’ll return to marcy again railing about wikileaks having published the CIA vaults 7 and 8: “OMG! that will really weaken the CIA!”. good!

      full on information warfare, yes indeed, but politicized ‘intelligence’ (such an oxymoron, lol) is the rule of the day, as are bogus ‘strategic leaks’, as w/ the steele dossier/s. the Wikileak in the OP featuring chalpa & isikoff has this inside:

      “A lot more coming down the pipe. I spoke to a delegation of 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine last Wednesday at the Library of Congress – the Open World Society’s forum – they put me on the program to speak specifically about Paul Manafort and I invited Michael Isikoff whom I’ve been working with for the past few weeks and connected him to the Ukrainians. More offline tomorrow since there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I’m working on you should be aware of.”

      assange has noted that the sole nay vote in his UN arbitrary detention case was…a ukrainian. ; -) how many proxy wars against The Bear?

  5. I did go to the consortium article, wendye, first part being about the ‘work’ of CIA being farmed out to contractors. Most comments were approving but it nagged me till I found this one:

    “Who can argue against how privatization of intelligence has corrupted it? The error is that this is implied to be the primary problem. The primary problem is why the intelligence is collected in the first place, not who the paymasters of the agents are. The intelligence is to keep the rich in power and those who they oppress in a state of servitude. This would not be changed if private contractors became civil servants. For all its merits, this article misses the more important point. The system needs to be changed, not one of its symptoms.” [Hat tip, Oakland Pete.]

    • I will just add to thd’s assessment of the unconstitutionality of the election that for some time we have not had “we the people”, but rather “we the oligarchs”, and the last election spelled that out for everyone to see.

    • ha! thank you for the 411 on that; i won’t need to read it, then. w/o reading, i’d jumped to comments, there were few then, and one said that he used to post at op-ed news. so i jumped there, found his oeuvre, looked for neo-nazis in ukraine. oh, there was a recent one, but kinda ho-hum reporting.

      now sadly, what’s constitutional is decided by the supreme court, and w/ citizens united and buckley v valeo, bribery is legal, (i mean money) is free speech, and corporations are people. but the constitution was of course notably set up in a very elitist framework, so…here we are now. constitutional expert glenn greenwald notably had declared that citizens united was ruled correctly.

  6. bloody hell.

    “Handing down her judgment before a packed courtroom at Westminster magistrates court, senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded by the argument from Assange’s legal team that it was not in the public interest to pursue him for skipping bail.

    She said: “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.

    “Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do the same. It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.”

  7. Here’s the Constitutional crisis stated objectively. The FBI has had a counterintelligence investigation practice of briefing the Executive branch (particular the National Security Council) first and then the relevant Congressional committees. That practice becomes contentious only when the executive and Congress are not on the same page, indeed when they are crossed in serious ways.

    Marcy again, this time against Grassley and Graham:
    https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/12/graham-and-grassley-are-seeing-christopher-steeles-ghost-where-mike-flynn-lurks/

    • i expect this is what you mean in a nutshell:

      “And, in a very significant way, the investigation did not proceed by the book, almost certainly because of Mike Flynn’s (and possibly even Jeff Sessions’) potential compromise. Back in March, Jim Comey admitted to Elise Stefanik that the FBI had delayed briefing Congress about the counterintelligence investigation into Trump because it had, in turn, delayed telling the Executive Branch until February.”
      but again, all of her ‘this story’ links are to dem mouthpieces waPo and NYT; when she cites byron york i always chuckle.

      now your points were good as to old reflexive anti-communism, but you seem to believe this: “And half of those people see the Democrats as communist and Putin as the authoritarian nationalist autocrat that he is.” stephen cohen, ‘putin apologist’ certainly doesn’t….

      but as for flynn, here’s philip giraldi at consortium news:

      “The so-called Nunes Memo prepared for the Republican majority on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee – even if possibly overblown – provides strong reason to believe that there was unwarranted and quite possibly illegal FBI surveillance of a former Trump staffer over completely legal Russian business dealings. Meanwhile, regarding the key allegations of election meddling at the heart of Russiagate, the nine month-long investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Moscow’s possible interference has so far only shown that it was Israel rather than Russia that meddled with the campaign by meeting with Trump associates and seeking favors.”

      (max blumenthal, and i’m pretty iffy on him, rania khalek, and ben norton cuz of their doing ome major 180s over the past several years,)
      https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/flynn-indictment-exposes-collusion-israel

      and juliania, george eliason’s part 2 says it all, and pffft: ‘Intel-for-Hire Undermines U.S. Intelligence (Part 2)’ a woman at jacobin magazine online did something kinda similar, only griping at length about how taxpayers trained cia spooks ‘and now they’re gone thru the revolving door and work as spies for corporations!!!!

      but today’s ‘Lip service to Russian threat & fears of China: Intelligence chiefs face Senate’ at RT is seriously funny reading, if indeed close to accurate. my bias says it is…

      “Absent such evidence, senators and intelligence chiefs redefined Russian meddling as media and social network activity.
      “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” said Coats.

      At a recent meeting with intelligence chiefs of 29 NATO members, each one of them was convinced Russia was meddling in their elections, Coats said.
      Answering Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) about concerns over the upcoming elections in NATO member Latvia, Coats said that “any elections that are coming up, we need to assume there might be interference,” by Russians or someone else.”

      yanno, the old ‘sowing chaos thru $100,000 worth of ads on facebook’ stuff.

      https://www.rt.com/usa/418719-senate-intelligence-russia-china/

  8. Onward Christian Soldiers For Paper Ballots

    For having long argued in favor of “disconnecting National Security from National Defense” came home again by the White House’s attempt to brow beat with their more nonsensical propaganda, and from being currently espoused by Vice President Pence as of yesterday. As such, Pence had this to say:

    “Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

    And yet, today’s reality is far different than Pence’s espoused belief in his Christian dispensation as well for his lack of attention of the Unassailable Facts. To wit, the national intelligence-gathering community had this to say and from a dozen months ago.

    “We did not make an assessment of the impact of Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US intelligence community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinions.”

    Unfortunately, Pence’s cavalier dismissal of this actualization in which 23 states (including Arizona) did receive this attention and affection via the cyber-security efforts from “foreign actors” especially from the Russians and it’s even possible from both China and North Korea, and which should not be surprising to anyone.

    And in a tad of self-promotion, I am in the middle of writing my seventh book on politics and where I delve deeply into the disconnection of National Security from National Defense. At present, the working title is “The Latino Politics for Challenging the GOP’s Defensive Desecration of Decency.”
    Jaango—posted on February 15, 2018

    Now, as to the Muellar investigation, my assessment continues to remain the same and from the inception of the overall investigation.
    Thus, Muellar’s investigation will come down to a big Fat Zero..Now, the intelligence community ‘briefed’ both Clinton and Trump, immediately after both nominees received their respective designations. Now, Muellar has access to this perceived ‘briefing paper’ and consequently, he will have to determine its viability, but from the following or given point. That being:

    1. As a political operative, was Trump advocating for specific political issues advantageous to himself?

    2. As a political operative, was Trump advocating for greater access to foreign monies and for furthering his financial viability? And the ‘back door’ is located in the perceived or actualized money laundering.

    Thus, the Pre-President Scenario does not include the emoluments clause since such legal niceties can be bypassed since any ‘gain’ for the Trump Organization is exempt from this Public Law. And that’s the dilemma facing Muellar.

    Further, any perceived “money laundering” by Trump or his Organization is the ‘stickler’ facing Muellar. And it’s for this sole reason that Muellar’s investigation will have an end result for “nothing of consequence.” As to the “collusion” between Trump and Putin, Trump brought into his campaign and administration, political operatives with a history of seeking out foreign monies for either Trump’s benefit or for the skilled political operatives of a wider circle for attempting to fatten their specific wallets. Consequently, Trump’s extended ‘circle of friends’ had and perfected their zeitgeist, but from a much higher political elevation.

    Jaango

    • congratulations on your seventh book, jaango. as to the rest, i’m not sure exactly what you’re trying t convey, so i’ll just say that i hope the unpoliticized truth can be found by mueller and his team. “the Truth is out there!” (agent fox mulder)

      on edit: now i know why someone you’d mentioned had referenced a ‘jaango decoder ring’, lol.

  9. “the decoder ring” has always been one of my fascinating moments when ‘history’ is being considered and when viewed through the prism of an umbrella that stretches across our Sonoran Desert. Thus, public policy has two unwavering components, and which are “national security” and “national defense.” Therefore, much gets lost within our national agenda for ‘elevating decency.’

    And if I toss into the continuing mix that is Today’s Chicano Movement that originated shortly after the end of World War Two and crafted and diligently pursued by Spanish-speaking military vets, not much has changed. Of course, one of these many tangents came about in Texas and where the “Grito” of the La Raza Unidos Party, was in the Grito that was an adulation/exclamation to the U.S. citizenship of Japanese ancestry and which, unfortunately was due to xenophobia, and culminated in the establishment of a Japanese concentration campo of our like-minded gusto for citizenship. And shortly thereafter, the labor movement via the Chicano Movement intersected with our behavior toward our Japanese citizens as owners/farmers in Nebraska and of such exotic locales which further led to the Farm Worker Movement via the late Cesar Chavez.

    Obviously I can go and on or until I bore you to death, but what’s more enjoyable is located in the Indigenous intelligence-gathering behavior that is continuing to this day and easily recognized as the “Fly-on-the-Wall” construct. And from this standpoint, today’s ongoing skim and skam practitioners are clearly visible, but cannot be publicly addressed directly, but only indirectly, since in doing so, creates a public ‘tension’ and where the One-Percenters adding up their ‘privilege’ for having received well-over 80% of their ‘ancestral’ benefits via the Trump’s Tax Act and Jobs Act, will cause an unknown reaction that reaches far beyond the like-minded aficionados that genuflect at the Altar of the Koch Brothers.

    And in closing, don’t get me started on the existential ‘benefit’ that comes forth from the “contractors” that is at best, a risible consequence, since Congressional Oversight is virtually non-existent. Or when public policy relative to Climate Change, becomes another fascinating moment that was faithfully unaddressed, even when done ineffectively.

    Alas, this post could be indicative of one too many cups of hot java for today…as I am a cynical cuss without the artful language.

    Jaango

    • java rant aside, jaango, to me y’all in the sonoran desert ougtta be trackin’ this one pretty closely, save for it’s likely over already given the house. but oh, those TINA dems in the senate! read it and weep. fuck.

      Danger of mass deportations grows as US Senate refuses to protect immigrant youth’, wsws.org but then they agreed to the budget cuz of herr T saying: ‘we’ll get to DACA soon!’

      http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/16/immi-f16.html

  10. Because you are avoiding news about Mueller’s investigation, an update of the latest minor event. Mueller has indicted 3 Russian corporations and 13 Russian or Russian/American individuals on conspiracy to defraud the United States. There is likely more in the pipeline as the squeeze begins on plea bargains. There seem to have been some bogus Black Lives Matter rallies sponsored by these folks. There might also be an attempt to smear dissenters by association. And there might also be some accountability for intelligence agency politicization.

    You can now safely ignore the furor for a few weeks.

    Like Watergate, this is going to be a drip….drip….drip investigation. Remains to be seen whether it will add up to a bucket.

    • “Because you are avoiding news about Mueller’s investigation”: kinda snotty, but why wouldn’t i try to? snooooooze on the indictment, sowing discord on facebook by russians to tank clinton. but yeah, it’s everywhere, and i can think of a hundred far more important things going on, to me any way.

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/robert-mueller-russians-charged-election

      but this ‘n made me laugh, and again: cia vault 7 and 8 exploits: ‘White House: 9croosout>)”Iraq Has Antrax (sic) Virus” “Russia Launched NotPetya”
      http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/02/white-house-says-iraq-has-wmd-russia-created-cyberattack.html

      • How can I accurately state your position without appearing to cast judgement. The fact of the matter is that the Mueller team has to prove those indictments before a jury unless there are plea bargains. And these things on the record begin to surface what the intelligence community thinks it knows. Finally, Russia was not the only country engaging in this behavior in 2016. And Mueller has not yet dealt with “legitimate” lobbyists working with similar election campaigns of foreign countries.

        I think that your policy of snoozing might be healthier and more productive. I still have my electoral addiction to deal with. Cheers.

        • lol. given your wording, then bringing the news anyway was funny, esp. as it’s utterly everywhere, as is the florida school massacre x 10. but i gave up half-way down the indictment page in a snooze. yes, i understand what plea bargains might lead to, but yeah, i guess this low-level facebook ad buys just don’t add up to a conspiracy, and certainly responsible for T-rump winning. i didn’t see the bit about funding black lives matter rallies, but some of it was just…silly.

          i did discover accidentally one thing i’d published here that had ‘comey’ in the title though, while digging out some wikileaks ones.

          love your last paragraph, though. wake me when they remove T from office, and we get…pence? cheers to you, too.

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