Tag Archives: Russiagate

War Fever, by Daniel Lazare

The push towards war touts flawed logic and relies on unproven and dubious assertions. From Daniel Lazare at consortiumnews.com:

There is a fever that seizes this land from time to time and it is the fever of war, a condition that this time seems immune to all known cures, starting with reason, as Daniel Lazare explores.

What happens when an unthinkable war meets an unbeatable case of war fever?  Thanks to Russia-gate, unsubstantiated reports about the use of poison gas in Syria, and a slew of similar factoids and pseudo-scandals, the world may soon find out.

In saner times, including during the Cold War at even its most heated, political leaders knew not to push a conflict with a rival nuclear power too far.  After all, what was the point of getting into a fight in which everyone would lose?

Cooler heads thus prevailed in Washington while more excitable sorts were shipped off to where they could do no harm.  This is what kept the peace during the U-2 affair, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis and what promised to continue doing so even after the advent of American “unipolarity” in 1989-92.

But that was then.  Today, the question is no longer how to avoid a fight that can only lead to catastrophe, but how to avoid a showdown with a country that “in the past four years has annexed Crimea, intervened in eastern Ukraine, sought to influence the American election in 2016, allegedly poisoned a former Russian spy living in Britain and propped up the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” to quote the bill of indictment in a recent front-page article in The New York Times.

Given that the list of alleged atrocities expands with virtually each passing week, the answer, increasingly, is: no way, no how.  Since Russia is bent on spreading “conflict and discord” throughout the west – if only in the eyes of the U.S., that is – confrontation grows more and more likely.

 

To continue reading: War Fever

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March Madness, Washington-Style, by Andrew P. Napolitano

If nothing else comes of Russiagate, at least the FBI’s use of the Trump dossier before the FISA court demonstrates just how much FISA and the court have overtstepped their original bounds, shredding the Fourth Amendment. Whether the American people and their politicians will do anything about it are another matter. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

For the past few days, the nation’s media and political class have been fixated on the firing of the No. 2 person in the FBI, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe became embroiled in the investigation of President Donald Trump because of his alleged approval of the use of a political dossier, written about Trump and paid for by the Democrats and not entirely substantiated, as a basis to secure a search warrant for surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser who once boasted that he worked for the Kremlin at the same time that he was advising candidate Trump.

The dossier itself and whatever was learned from the surveillance formed the basis for commencing the investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia by the Obama Department of Justice, which is now being run by special counsel Robert Mueller and has been expanded into other areas. The surveillance of the Trump campaign based on arguably flimsy evidence put McCabe into President Trump’s crosshairs. Indeed, Trump attacked McCabe many times on social media and even rejoiced when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him at 10 p.m. last Friday, just 26 hours before his retirement was to have begun.

Why the fixation on this? Here is the back story.

After the unlawful use of the FBI and CIA by the Nixon administration to spy on President Nixon’s domestic political opponents, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. This statute outlawed all domestic surveillance except that which is authorized by the Constitution or by the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

That court, the statute declared, could authorize surveillance of foreigners physically located in the United States on a legal standard lesser than that which the Constitution requires. Even though this meant Congress could avoid the Constitution — an event that every high school social studies student knows is unconstitutional — the FISC enthusiastically embraced its protocol.

To continue reading: March Madness, Washington-Style

If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It, by James Howard Kunstler

A money sentence: “And why, these days, would any sane American take pronouncements from the CIA and NSA at face value?” From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Various readers, fans, blog commenters, Facebook trolls, and auditors twanged on me all last week about my continuing interest in the RussiaRussiaRussia hysteria, though there is no particular consensus of complaint among them — except for a general “shut up, already” motif. For the record, I’m far more interested in the hysteria itself than the Russia-meddled-in the-election case, which I consider to be hardly any case at all beyond 13 Russian Facebook trolls.

The hysteria, on the other hand, ought to be a matter of grave concern, because it appears more and more to have been engineered by America’s own intel community, its handmaidens in the Dept of Justice, and the twilight’s last gleamings of the Obama White House, and now it has shoved this country in the direction of war at a time when civilian authority over the US military looks sketchy at best. This country faces manifold other problems that are certain to reduce the national standard of living and disrupt the operations of an excessively complex and dishonest economy, and the last thing America needs is a national war-dance over trumped-up grievances with Russia.

The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative has unspooled since Christmas and is blowing back badly through the FBI, now with the firing (for cause) of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe hours short of his official retirement (and inches from the golden ring of his pension). He was axed on the recommendation of his own colleagues in the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and they may have been influenced by the as-yet-unreleased report of the FBI Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, due out shortly.

The record of misbehavior and “collusion” between the highest ranks of the FBI, the Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign, several top political law firms, and a shady cast of international blackmail peddlars is a six-lane Beltway-scale evidence trail compared to the muddy mule track of Trump “collusion” with Russia. It will be amazing if a big wad of criminal cases are not dealt out of it, even as The New York Times sticks its fingers in its ears and goes, “La-la-la-la-la….”

To continue reading: If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It

Drums Along the Potomac, by James Howard Kunstler

Sooner or later the whole Russiagate farce will fizzle to its inglorious end. Paying much attention to it now is like watching the end of football game where one team is ahead by six touchdowns. The Rout Is On, and its continuance says more about the people trying to keep it alive than it does about the substantive merits  of the investigation, which are paltry at best. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The amateur psychologist in me suspects that the more the USA heaps Russia with censorious opprobrium and punishments, the closer this floundering polity actually is to completely losing its shit. Friday morning’s front-page headline in The New York Times appears to have been written by Pee Wee Herman:

I can just hear Vlad Putin blowing a raspberry out of the Kremlin: “Nyah, nyah, nyah… I know you are, but what am I…?” We’re also informed today by that august journal that U.S. Accuses Russia in Cyberattacks on Power Plants. (Oh, wait a second, they changed the headline at 8:02 to Russia Wormed Its Way Into Access at Power Plants, U.S. Says.) Hmmmm… well, the amateur detective in me suspects that A) this is exactly the kind of bullshit that US intel excels at making up; plus B) the public was actually told last year that our intel has the ability to place any kind of cyber-footprint and time-stamp it wants on digital information, so that C) this assertion can be neither proved nor disproved.

The amateur international relations analyst in me sees in these shenanigans a desperate search for a casus belli, an excuse to go to war. But that only brings me back to amateur psychology: the US apparently wants to commit suicide. Wouldn’t war be a great idea a week after Russia announced it had new hypersonic missiles that the US can’t defend itself against?  Hmmmm. Maybe the Russians made that shit up. And maybe they didn’t. Perhaps we’d like to test that, say, by bombing a bunch of Russian military personnel in Syria, just to see what happens.

There is also the matter of the poisoning in Salisbury, UK, of the Russian Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a suspected nerve toxin, Novichok, first developed by the old Soviet military. The two remain in critical condition. A nasty bit of business. Skripal was a Russian-to-British double agent who was exchanged some years back in one of the infrequent swaps of captured intel “assets” by the so-called great powers. British Prime Minister Theresa May had a whack attack over the Skripal hit, reeling out new sanctions and booting a boat-load of Russian diplomats off-island.

To continue reading: Drums Along the Potomac

Intel Committee Rejects Basic Underpinning of Russiagate, by Ray McGovern

The House Intelligence Committee Republican majority came to the same conclusion about Russiagate that SLL reached when it all began: there’s nothing to it. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

Let’s try to make this simple: The basic rationale behind charges that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help candidate Donald Trump rests, of course, on the assumption that Moscow preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton. But that is wrong to assume, says the House Intelligence Committee, which has announced that it does not concur with “Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump.”

So, the House Intelligence Committee Republican majority, which has been pouring over the same evidence used by the “handpicked analysts” from just the CIA, FBI, and NSA to prepare the rump Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017, finds the major premise of the ICA unpersuasive. The committee’s “Initial Findings” released on Monday specifically reject the assumption that Putin favored Trump.

This puts the committee directly at odds with handpicked analysts from only the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who assessed that Putin favored Trump – using this as their major premise and then straining to prove it by cobbling together unconvincing facts and theories.

Those of us with experience in intelligence analysis strongly criticized the evidence-impoverished ICA as soon as it was released, but it went on to achieve Gospel-like respect, with penance assigned to anyone who might claim it was not divinely inspired.

Until now.

Rep. K. Michael Conway (R-Texas), who led the House Committee investigation, has told the media that the committee is preparing a separate, in-depth analysis of the ICA itself. Good.

The committee should also take names – not only of the handpicked analysts, but the hand-pickers. There is ample precedent for this. For example, those who shepherded the fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq 15 years ago were named in the NIE. Without names, it is hard to know whom to hold accountable.

To continue reading: Intel Committee Rejects Basic Underpinning of Russiagate

The Neocon Full Court Press For War is Here, by Tom Luongo

Out of defeat and desperation, the neocons press for war. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The events of the past two weeks have been stunning.   Since Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled new ‘doomsday’ weapon systems at his State of the Union address, the West has gone completely bonkers.

In the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, ““I simply don’t have any normal terms left to describe all this,”

With the U.K. expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last week, the push to isolate Russia and create conditions for a World War is here.

The questions are Who is behind this?  And Why?

Theresa May’s response is a joke.  This is a woman who can’t stand up to EU shakedown artists over the mildest of disagreements in Brexit talks but can grandstand to high heaven over an incident with no evidence of Russian action.

This situation is straight out of the neoconservative play book, creating a horrific incident and rushing a government into a confrontation and major policy decision.

And these are happening all over the world right now.

Covering Fire

If you look at the circumstances of Skripal’s associations in light of the collapsing Russia-Gate story in the U.S., the Who?  becomes obvious.  As Moon of Alabama first pointed out, Skripal was an associate of both Pablo Miller and Christopher Steele, both former MI-6 agents working for Orbis Business Intelligence.

What motive would the Russians have for taking out Skripal in such a sloppy manner on the eve of Presidential elections?

They wouldn’t.   In the same way that the Assad government had everything to lose last April over the chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikoun, Russia has nothing to gain by killing Skripal and his daughter today.

But, if Skripal was in the position to corroborate the worst fears about the Dossier, then it makes sense to ties up loose ends.

This is a false flag.  It’s far more plausible than the drivel Theresa May peddled to Parliament.

Anyone with three brain cells to rub together knows this in their heart of hearts.  So, why play coy?

Answer these questions.  Where is Christopher Steele?  Why hasn’t he testified?  If he refuses, why isn’t he being hounded by the media to answer questions about his Trump Dossier?

Now ask the more salient question, who benefits from this?  Not Russia.  Not the U.K. people.  Not Europe.

To continue: The Neocon Full Court Press For War is Here

America’s Troll Farm Media, by Gerald Sussman

For good reason, most Americans no longer trust the media. From Gerald Sussman at counterpunch.org:

Despite all the smoke and mirrors, most Americans seem to see where the stenographers of corporate capitalism are taking us. A recent Gallup poll found that while 84% of Americans see media as “critical” or “very important” to democracy, only 28% see the corporatist mainstream news media (MSM) as actually supporting democracy. They’re right on both counts of course.  The quality of a democracy is only as good as the information people have to make informed judgements about public policy and politicians.

Even as the mainstream news media continue to lose street cred, they persist in a rumor-saturated full court press against the “Trump-Putin presidency,” which only further exposes their lack of professionalism and increasing vulgarity. MSM management and their boardroom bosses have long understood that as long as they spice up their “nothing burger” news, ratings and advertising rates will keep them in business and please their commercial and government clients. Tabloid journalism, which can describe most American mainstream media these days, even when wrapped up as “all the news that’s fit to print,” is in constant search of sensation, scandal, gossip, and profit – and only occasionally in public-oriented investigative integrity.

What else does the citizenry have to say? A mere 18% have “a lot” of trust in the MSM, while 74% see them as “biased” (Pew Research, July 2016). A study by the Harvard-Harris polling organization in May 2017 confirmed this, finding that 65 percent of Americans consider the so-called “free press” biased, obsessed with scandal, and full of “fake news” and therefore cannot be trusted. Among the concurring are a majority of both Democrats (53%) and Independents (60%) as well as 80% of Republicans. Amongst the “informed public,” trust in American institutions in general, that is, the government, business, NGOs, and the MSM, is going through the worst crisis in recorded history, according to the marketing firm Edelman in 2018. The US is the lowest rated of the 28 countries surveyed by the firm on this measure. This is not consistent with the image of a serious “democracy.”

To continue reading: America’s Troll Farm Media