Tag Archives: Russiagate

America’s Righteous Russia-gate Censorship, by Robert Parry

Russia is being used as the excuse for censorship. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: Arriving behind the anti-Trump “resistance” and the Russia-gate “scandal” is a troubling readiness to silence dissent in the U.S., shutting down information that challenges Official Narratives, writes Robert Parry.

A stark difference between today’s Washington and when I was here as a young Associated Press correspondent in the late 1970s and the early 1980s is that then – even as the old Cold War was heating up around the election of Ronald Reagan – there were prominent mainstream journalists who looked askance at the excessive demonization of the Soviet Union and doubted wild claims about the dire threats to U.S. national security from Nicaragua and Grenada.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin wall, Dec. 6, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Perhaps the Vietnam War was still fresh enough in people’s minds that senior editors and national reporters understood the dangers of mindless groupthink inside Official Washington, as well as the importance of healthy skepticism toward official pronouncements from the U.S. intelligence community.

Today, however, I cannot think of a single prominent figure in the mainstream news media who questions any claim – no matter how unlikely or absurd – that vilifies Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country. It is all Russia-bashing all the time.

And, behind this disturbing anti-Russian uniformity are increasing assaults against independent and dissident journalists and news outlets outside the mainstream. We’re not just entering a New Cold War and a New McCarthyism; we’re also getting a heavy dose of old-style Orwellianism.

Sometimes you see this in individual acts like HuffingtonPost taking down a well-reported story by journalist Joe Lauria because he dared to point out that Democratic money financed the two initial elements of what’s now known as Russia-gate: the forensic examination of computers at the Democratic National Committee and the opposition research on Donald Trump conducted by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

HuffingtonPost never contacted Lauria before or after its decision to retract the story, despite a request from him for the reasons why. HuffPost editors told a BuzzFeed reporter that they were responding to reader complaints that the article was filled with factual errors but none have ever been spelled out, leaving little doubt that Lauria’s real “error” was in defying the Russia-gate groupthink of the anti-Trump Resistance. [A version of Lauria’s story appeared at Consortiumnews.com before Lauria posted it at HuffPost. If you want to sign a petition calling on HuffPost to restore Lauria’s article, click here.]

To continue reading: America’s Righteous Russia-gate Censorship

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Mocking Trump Doesn’t Prove Russia’s Guilt, by Ray McGovern

Evidence is what would prove Russia’s guilt in the “Russiagate” affair, but so far evidence is almost completely missing. From Ray McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: President Trump is getting mocked for “trusting” Vladimir Putin’s denial about “meddling” in U.S. politics — and not accepting Official Washington’s groupthink — but ridicule isn’t evidence, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

 

If the bloody debacle in Iraq should have taught Americans anything, it is that endorsements by lots of important people who think something is true don’t amount to evidence that it actually is true. If endorsements were the same as evidence, U.S. troops would have found tons of WMD in Iraq, rather than come up empty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

So, when it comes to whether or not Russia “hacked” Democratic emails last year and slipped them to WikiLeaks, just because a bunch of people with fancy titles think the Russians are guilty doesn’t compensate for the lack of evidence so far evinced to support this core charge.

But the reaction of Official Washington and the U.S. mainstream media to President Trump saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed sincere in denying Russian “meddling” was sputtering outrage: How could Trump doubt what so many important people think is true?

Yet, if the case were all that strong that Russia did “hack” the emails, you would have expected a straightforward explication of the evidence rather than a demonstration of a full-blown groupthink, but what we got this weekend was all groupthink and no evidence.

For instance, on Saturday, CNN responded to Trump’s comment that Putin seems to “mean it” when he denied meddling by running a list of important Americans who had endorsed the Russian-guilt verdict. Other U.S. news outlets and politicians followed the same pattern.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a big promoter of the Russia-gate allegations, scoffed at what Trump said: “You believe a foreign adversary over your own intelligence agencies?”

The Washington Post’s headline sitting atop Sunday’s lede article read: “Trump says Putin sincere in denial of Russian meddling: Critics call that ‘unconscionable.’”

To continue reading: Mocking Trump Doesn’t Prove Russia’s Guilt

 

Spanking the Monkey, by James Howard Kunstler

The mainstream American media has become a pathetic joke. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The hysteria manufacturing business formerly known as the news media is enjoying multiple orgasms this morning in the outing of notoriously vulgar comedian Louis CK for exactly the sort of vulgar behavior offstage that he riffed about onstage. What a surprise. We also learn today that Jeremy Piven, beloved and admired for his role as a bimbo-berating Hollywood agent in the HBO comedy Entourage, is alleged to have groped a starlet in his trailer. Or was he just doggedly staying in character between set-ups? And what was she doing there, anyway? Stopping by to share the everything bagel with jalapeño cream cheese that she picked up at craft services?

I suppose these guys will be joining Kevin Spacey in his new dinner theater in Tampa, since they’ll never work in Hollywood again, and surely they have bills to pay, especially to their lawyers. Hollywood itself, being the vulgar place it has always been, must be nervously awaiting the inevitable next phase of this melodrama: when various actresses, and other women around the biz, are revealed to be sluts who screwed and blew their way to stardom — not to put too fine a point on it. Surely a few ladies out there have misbehaved in the way that ladies can, trading favors for fame and fortune — or do you suppose that never happens? Or only when men force them to? (Anyway, don’t count on hearing about that in The New York Times.)

Then the whole prurient cavalcade of cross-allegation and litigation will be as forgotten as a mass slaughter in Las Vegas, or Texas, or Lower Manhattan, and it will be back to business-as-usual in the news racket: nattering about contacts with Russia, a faraway land that, we’re told, is determined to corrupt the morals of our shining city on a hill.

To continue reading: Spanking the Monkey

 

The Tip of a Prosecutorial Iceberg? by Andrew P. Napolitano

Prosecutors often go after the small fry and threaten them with extended sentences if they don’t cough up information about the big fish. Sometimes, prosecutors are none too concerned if the information coughed up is truthful. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

Earlier this week, the government revealed that a grand jury sitting in Washington, D.C., indicted a former Trump presidential campaign chairman and his former deputy and business partner for numerous felonies.

Both were accused of working as foreign agents and failing to report that status to the federal government, using shell corporations to launder income and obstruction of justice by lying to the federal government.

The financial crimes are alleged to have occurred from 2008 to 2014, and the obstruction charges from 2014 to 2017. At the same time it announced the above, the government revealed that a low-level former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and become a government witness.

Does any of this relate to President Donald Trump? Here is the back story.

At the same time that Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates were guiding the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, Russian agents were manipulating American social media sites so as to arouse chaos in general and animosity toward Hillary Clinton in particular. The Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as independent counsel to determine whether any Americans had criminally helped the Russians.

The alleged crimes of Manafort and Gates appear to have nothing to do with Trump, nor have they any facial relationship to the Russians. So why were these two indicted by a grand jury hearing evidence about alleged American assistance to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential campaign?

When prosecutors confront a complex series of potentially criminal events, they often do not know at the outset of their investigation where the evidence will lead them. Sometimes they come upon a person who they believe has knowledge of facts they seek and that person declines to speak with them. Such a refusal to speak to the government is perfectly lawful in America, yet it often triggers a prosecution of the potential witness so that prosecutors may squeeze him — not literally, of course — for evidence to which they believe he can lead them.

To continue reading: The Tip of a Prosecutorial Iceberg?

Do Shifting Democrat Talking Points Confirm That “Trump Is Unlikely To Be Implicated” In Russia Probe? by Tyler Durden

The Democrats probably would like to shift the focus away from Russia, now that the Clintons and Obama may be implicated in the Uranium One probe. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Over the past several weeks, the Russia-related talking points of Democrats and their mainstream media echo chambers have shifted from constantly insisting that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election to focus on a seemingly irrelevant amount of advertising dollars that may have been spent on various social media platforms by people that “may have been connected” to the Kremlin…which, to our understanding, is defined as anyone with their browser language set to Russian.

Alas, as the Washington Examiner points out today, this shift in talking points could finally indicate that Democrats are admitting that there is no ‘there’ there when it comes to the ‘Trump collusion’ narrative.

Have you noticed? In recent public comments, the lawmakers investigating the Trump-Russia affair, along with some of the commentators who dissect its every development, seem to be focusing more on the facts of Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 election and less on allegations that Donald Trump or his associates colluded with those efforts.

Why the change?

“Because that’s where the evidence is going,” one lawmaker who follows the matter closely told me in a text exchange. “I mean, things could always change, but that observation is just the reality of the situation right now, as I see it.”

Because they’ve been spinning their wheels on something for which evidence has yet to emerge,” said another lawmaker.

“I think it’s 1) the Mueller probe means that stuff [allegations of collusion] is sort of in his wheelhouse now,” said yet another lawmaker, “and 2) I think there’s recognition that Trump himself is unlikely to be implicated in this.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times admitted over the weekend that the 3 separate Congressional investigations are seemingly going nowhere as the hopes of a “comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling.”

To continue reading: Do Shifting Democrat Talking Points Confirm That “Trump Is Unlikely To Be Implicated” In Russia Probe?

“No Devilishly Effective Plot” – Clinton Chief Strategist Admits “You Can’t Buy The Presidency For $100,000”, by Mark Penn

Even the Democrats are admitting Russiagate is bunk. From Mark Penn (former chief strategist on Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, and Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign), via The Wall Street Journal via zerohedge.com:

Russia didn’t win Trump the White House any more than China re-elected Bill Clinton in 1996.

The fake news about fake news is practically endless. Americans worried about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election have seized on a handful of Facebook ads—as though there weren’t also three 90-minute debates, two televised party conventions, and $2.4 billion spent on last year’s campaign. The danger is that bending facts to fit the Russia story line may nudge Washington into needlessly and recklessly regulating the internet and curtailing basic freedoms.

After an extensive review, Facebook has identified $100,000 of ads that came from accounts associated with Russia. Assume for the sake of argument that Vladimir Putin personally authorized this expenditure. Given its divisive nature, the campaign could be dubbed “From Russia, With Hate”—except it would make for a disappointing James Bond movie.

Analyzing the pattern of expenditures, and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it’s clear this was no devilishly effective plot. Facebook says 56% of the ads ran after the election, reducing the tally that could have influenced the result to about $44,000. It also turns out the ads were not confined to swing states but also shown in places like New York, California and Texas. Supposing half the ads went to swing states brings the total down to $22,000.

Facebook also counted ads as early as June 2015. Assuming they were evenly spread and we want only those that ran the year of the election, that knocks it down to $13,000. Most of the ads did not solicit support for a candidate and carried messages on issues like racism, immigration and guns. The actual electioneering then amounts to about $6,500.

To continue reading: “No Devilishly Effective Plot” – Clinton Chief Strategist Admits “You Can’t Buy The Presidency For $100,000

The Russiagate scandal descends into total absurdity, by Alexander Mercouris

The only problem with the headline is that Russiagate has been totally absurd from day one. From Alexander Mercouris at theduran.com:

US government paralysed as frantic searches for evidence to prove scandal true fail one by one

Even as the Trump administration disintegrates – with the President publicly quarrelling with his Secretary of State, and his Chief of Staff forced to deny he is about to resign – the scandal which more than anything else has defined this Presidency has disintegrated into total lunacy.

Consider these facts

(1) The Mueller investigation

Just a few weeks ago the media was full of reports of how Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation was “closing in” on the President and his campaign team.  The focus of media interest was on an early morning search in July of the house of Paul Manafort, the campaign professional who at one time acted as the Trump campaign’s chairman, with lurid headlines that he was about to be indicted, though it was never made clear for what.

Since then there has been nothing, a clear sign that the search of Manafort’s house has come up with nothing, and that the pressure to get Manafort to talk by dangling threats of indictment in front of him have resulted in nothing.

In all other respects a curtain of silence has fallen on Mueller’s investigation, a strong sign that after its failure to “break” Manafort it no longer has a clear strategy of what to do.

(2) The Senate Intelligence Committee

This held a portentous press conference recently to announce the findings of its nine month investigation into the Russiagate allegations.  As a result of that press conference we learnt that

…….the committee and its staff have conducted more than 100 interviews, comprising 250 hours of testimony and resulting in 4,000 pages of transcripts, and reviewed more than 100,000 documents relevant to Russiagate. The staff, said Warner, has collectively spent a total of 57 hours per day, seven days a week, since the committee opened its inquiry, going through documents and transcripts, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing both classified and unclassified material.

The result of all this impressive activity?  Precisely nothing.  Here is what Senator Richard Burr, its Republican chairman, had to say

There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion?  The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. Now, I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any.

To continue reading: The Russiagate scandal descends into total absurdity