Posted tagged ‘Leaks’

Bloomberg: Manafort Alerted Authorities About Russian Meeting

August 10, 2017

Bloomberg: Manafort Alerted Authorities About Russian Meeting, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, August 10, 2017

Buried in a new article out of Bloomberg is an understated but potentially significant statement: “In fact, Manafort had alerted authorities to a controversial meeting on June 9, 2016, involving Trump’s son Donald Jr., other campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, according to people familiar with the matter.”  That would be a huge development in this controversy if true, particularly if the notice occurred before the Russian meeting occurred.

Much of the criticism directed at Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort has been that only chumps would have gone to this meeting or, at a minimum, alerted authorities.  Now Bloomberg is saying that it has sources saying that Manafort did indeed alert authorities.  That would go a long way to defusing the conspiracy theories surrounding the meeting and shatter the narrative put forward by critics.

What is also concerning is that, if true, this fact is one of the only facts not leaked out of Congress.  It seems that closed sessions have been mere precludes to media leaks.  Yet, members have been saying as a mantra that the FBI or some other agency should have been notified.  Ironically, this is the most significant part of the Bloomberg story but is buried without further comment.  Why?

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity

August 6, 2017

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity, American ThinkerJames G. Wiles, August 6, 2017

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

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Perhaps one James Woods said it best on Twitter (@realjameswoods) over the weekend: “I’ve never witnessed such hatred for a man who is willing to work for free to make his beloved country a better place. It is pathological.”

Mr. Woods did not exaggerate.  The last time the United States saw such a wholesale refusal to accept the result of a national election – and to overturn it – the year was 1861.

As the Trump administration moves past its 200th day in office, we have arrived at a moment of extreme clarity.  It is even – even by the standards of Watergate (which did not start, remember, until President Richard Nixon’s second term) – unprecedented in the history of the American Republic.

Just consider what we’ve learned since January 20 – and especially in the last two weeks.

1. Persons holding top positions in our national government (including its national security apparatus) are seeking to force the removal of an American president lawfully elected less than a year ago.  To achieve that goal, they have shown themselves willing to compromise the national security of the United States, including the conduct of its foreign affairs, and to commit serious felonies.

2. The MSM has united with these criminals (that is what the leakers of classified information are) in seeking to achieve this goal.  In particular, they are willing to facilitate achieving their objective by publishing information they know has been leaked to them in violation of federal law.

3. Democratic elected officials, at all levels of federal, state, and local government, oppose all aspects of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected, and vigorously seek to block its implementation.  They have made no secret (thank you, Maxine Waters) that, if given control of Congress again, they will impeach and remove the president and, possibly, the vice president.

4. In a return to the days of the George W. Bush administration, the left is using “lawfare” (litigation for its own sake) to obstruct or defeat implementation of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected.  A blog, Lawfareblog.com, offers daily info.  Another blog, The Intercept, promotes leaks of classified and other information.

5. For the first time since the Vietnam War years, there is a national mobilization – calling itself the Resistance – that can put people onto the streets and, occasionally, is willing to use mob violence in furtherance of its goals of ousting this president and stifling free speech.  Democratic elected officials have tolerated that violence.

6. Some Republicans in Congress have joined the Resistance.  Many more, even where they deplore the  Resistance, openly (or privately) oppose this president’s announced agenda, upon which he was elected.

7. Some Republicans in the Senate and the House who, for the last seven years, voted to repeal Obamacare, in fact, have refused to repeal it now that  a Republican president is in the White House who would sign such a repeal.

8. Prominent conservative media outlets and opinion leaders, such as Erick Erickson of theresurgent.com, redstate.com, the National Review and Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, oppose this president, hope for his removal or resignation from office and are, moreover, prepared to defend these national security breaches (which are occurring in an attempt to achieve that goal) asregrettable but necessary and to praise those who commit them.

In a signed editorial, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard wrote on Friday (emphasis added):

Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was an utterly forgettable political hack. But he said one thing before he was dismissed that’s worth reflecting on: “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. Okay?” Scaramucci was right about that. We know these people, and we admire them. We wish them every success.

9. Former Bush speech writer David Frum, writing in the Atlantic this week, both deplored and rationalized the leak of transcripts of presidential phone calls to foreign leaders.  Yes, he said, it’s illegal and compromises national security.  But it’s really Trump’s fault for making such breaches necessary.

Frum said (emphasis added):

The risk of national-security establishment overreach looms even larger. The temptation is obvious: Senior national-security professionals regard Trump as something between (at best) a reckless incompetent doofus and (at worst) an outright Russian espionage asset. The fear that a Russian mole has burrowed into the Oval Office may justify, to some, the most extreme actions against that suspected mole.

The nature of this particular leak suggests just such a national-security establishment origin.

10. It is quite obvious, in short, that the president of the United States has good reason to believe that he is, literally, being spied on in his own White House, by members of his own staff and by others elsewhere in the Executive Branch – especially including the national security apparatus.  And, furthermore, that his most confidential communications are not secure.

11. This exceeds, by some orders of magnitude, the national security threat faced by President Richard Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger within the Nixon White House in 1970 and 1971.

Those are facts.  What does it all mean?

First, it means that next year’s congressional elections have grown enormously in importance since January 20.  The president will struggle to enact his agenda unless he has more allies on the allies on the Hill.

Second, it will probably take at least two full terms for the president to purge the Executive Branch.

But those are just politics and elections.  Here’s what should be concerning now:

If this pattern of the last six months continues, there will develop a real threat to the Republic and to the survival of democratic government.  While the national security threats the United States is presently facing – North Korean ICBMs, Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea, and an expansive Russia – are serious and pressing, the most serious threat may be within.

We may be confronting a national security threat comparable to that which the United States (unknowingly) faced in the 1940s when American communists and fellow travelers penetrated the federal government, the Executive Branch, and the White House.  It was pooh-poohed at the time, called a “witch hunt” and a “Red Scare,” but, decades later,  the release of the Venona Intercepts and the opening of Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union confirmed that, in fact, Soviet penetration of the highest levels of the U.S. government had occurred – and resulted in the loss of state secrets.

Here, there can be no dispute. The proof is appearing every day in our American media.

Attorney General Sessions is, therefore, amply justified in pursuing prosecution of the source(s) of these national security leaks – and, if necessary, targeting their media enablers.

The question of whether an American Deep State exists can be deferred until another time.  May cooler heads prevail until then.

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

Jeff Sessions warns government leakers: You ‘will be prosecuted’

August 4, 2017

Jeff Sessions warns government leakers: You ‘will be prosecuted’, Washington ExaminerKelly Cohen, August 4, 2017

(How about those who publish the leaked material? — DM)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled a new Department of Justice crackdown on leaks. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Justice Department is ramping up steps to investigate and prosecute government leakers, a day after transcripts of President Trump’s calls with two foreign leaders were leaked to the Washington Post.

“Criminals who would illegally use their access to our most sensitive information to endanger our national security are in fact being investigated, and will be prosecuted,” he said in a press conference.

Sessions stressed that his department doesn’t confirm or deny specific investigations, but made it clear there are many more leak investigations ongoing today than there were less than a year ago.

“Since January, the department has more than triple the number of active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the last administration,” he said. “And we’ve already charged four people with unlawfully disclosing classified material or with concealing contacts with federal officers.”

Sessions also stressed repeatedly that a way to solve the problem is to change the culture in government, which routinely leaks classified information.

“This culture of leaking must stop,” he said.

Sessions was joined by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina from the Justice Department headquarters on Friday in Washington.

Trump, who has criticized Sessions in recent weeks, said he wanted Sessions to crack down on the leaks that have plagued his administration since he took office. The attorney general told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last week that he has “not been happy with the past prosecutions and investigations of criminal leaks.”

The Washington Post released the transcripts of Trump’s calls in late January with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and noted the transcripts had notes indicating the National Security Council had classified them. The full transcripts, the Post said, were “produced by White House staff” and based on records kept by White House notetakers.

Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser

July 22, 2017

Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, July 21, 2017

Watergate ended with a whimper, not a bang. After months of sturm und drang, Richard Nixon finally mounted that helicopter, gave that famous farewell peace sign and flew away. Most Americans were relieved to see him go. Our long national nightmare was over.

If something similar happens to Donald Trump, it will be entirely different. A significant portion of the American public — myself admittedly among them — will be convinced he has been railroaded in a partisan hatchet job. The voters who elected the president are going to feel, at the very least, undermined, more likely betrayed,  by their own government and public officials. Many are going to feel this has nothing to do whatsoever with justice and will act accordingly.

The exact results of this mammoth national split are not easy to predict but they could range from massive civil disobedience to outright civil war.

The behavior of special prosecutor Robert Mueller has exacerbated the situation. Even CNN admits he has staffed his investigation almost exclusively with Democratic Party supporters and donors. It’s hard to say whether this is brazen or stupid or both, but it certainly doesn’t lend credibility to his eventual decisions. At the very least it’s extremely unsophisticated for a former director of the FBI — but perhaps that’s really the way it is. Nothing (and no one) can stand in the way of prosecution.

And then there are the leaks that emerge from his supposedly confidential investigation at seemingly a mile a minute pace. The (always) anonymous creeps who do this are sleazy individuals who — under the mega-narcissistic pretense that they are informing the public of something of importance — undercut everything everyone has ever known about the rule of law. They are, effectively, enemies of the state and even more, of the American people — and pompous ones into the bargain.  It would be poetic justice to send them all to Gitmo.

The most recent of these leaks — published as is so frequently the case by that junk scandal sheet formerly known as The Washington Post — tells us that AG Sessions was supposedly talking about the Trump campaign with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. What Sessions said exactly, which could have been something completely innocuous and no more than a sentence or two, if indeed he did say anything at all, was of course not mentioned. If it was something serious, most likely it would have been specified, but then who knows. We don’t know if this leak is first, second or fifth hand. We don’t know anything about the source. We don’t know anything about the content. We just have the smear. Not surprisingly too, this leak — a character assassination really — was again anonymous (what else?). When Joe McCarthy made his famous character assassinations, at least he had the guts to do it under his own name. (Yes, I know McCarthy turned out to be right in some instances.)

Mr. Mueller runs a tight ship, no? (Maybe he doesn’t even want to. Comey certainly didn’t care. He leaked himself.)

The situation is grim all around. Trump, lawyering up, is obviously preparing for war against Mueller who, in his turn, is apparently digging into information regarding the president’s ten-year-old Russian business dealings. Again, this is a fraught decision because everyone in the informed public is aware of the myriad Clinton-Russia connections (including Uranium One) detailed in Clinton Cash that were, as far as we know, never investigated by the FBI, not to mention the well-documented Russian business connections of John Podesta and his brother.

If Trump and his family are singled out for this when the Democrats have skated, this will be regarded by a vast proportion of the public as selective prosecution further exacerbating the ominous possible results I referred to above.

To take any of this seriously as a search for truth is absurd. It’s more like a blood sport, the modern equivalent of a gladiatorial. Trump baiting. And Trump, as the bear, lashes out.

He has reason to. As everyone knows, cooks cook, plumbers fix the plumbing, and prosecutors prosecute. It’s what they do, part of their personality structure. Especially if the prey is big, and they don’t bring in at least one or two significant players, they feel as if they haven’t done their job. So they work and work until they do — nab someone for something. Trump knows this. The media know this. We all know it.

And bad as it may be for Trump, it’s going to be even worse for We the People.

En garde!

Assess This

July 15, 2017

Assess This, Power LineScott Johnson, July 15, 2017

Even this “eyes only” document must have left ambiguity about Putin’s “audacious objectives.” There is a rather big difference between the objective of damaging Hillary Clinton and the objective of defeating her. Given the unidentified sources of the leaks behind this revelation, however, one would have to be a fool to take the contents of the report or the validity of its assessments on faith.

One should think that the credibility of former government officials who betray their oaths to leak such information would be in question. Color me cynical. For whatever reason, however, the Post expresses no reservations regarding the credibility of these officials.

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Did Putin prefer Trump in the presidential election of 2016? According to the intelligence report dated January 6, 2017, Putin not only preferred Trump to Clinton. He mounted a so-called influence campaign to put him over. The report is posted online here.

Issued under the auspices of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the report is based on the intelligence and assessments of the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The report as released constitutes the “declassified version of a highly classified assessment that has been provided to the President and to recipients approved by the President.”

The authors of the declassified version of the report state that their conclusions “are all reflected in the classified assessment,” although “the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.” Our own ability to evaluate the report is necessarily limited by what has been disclosed to the public.

The report conforms to the line put out by Hillary Clinton’s communications team in the immediate aftermath of Clinton’s shocking loss. Perhaps that is a coincidence, or perhaps the Clintonistas were on to something.

The report also comports with the line peddled by former Obama administration officials who frequently retailed politicized “narratives” manufactured to support counterintuitive administration policies. See, for example, the long Washington Post article “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.”

The former Obama administration officials feeding the Post feel free to blow such highly classified information as the administration’s putative cyber efforts against Russia. Trump administration officials decried the leaks to Adam Kredo for his Washington Free Beacon article on the subject.

The Washington Post article contains hints of the “highly classified” information that was omitted from the declassified version of the report. According to the Post, in August 2016 the CIA hand delivered an “eyes only” report “drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.”

The Post continued: “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” (emphasis added).

Even this “eyes only” document must have left ambiguity about Putin’s “audacious objectives.” There is a rather big difference between the objective of damaging Hillary Clinton and the objective of defeating her. Given the unidentified sources of the leaks behind this revelation, however, one would have to be a fool to take the contents of the report or the validity of its assessments on faith.

One should think that the credibility of former government officials who betray their oaths to leak such information would be in question. Color me cynical. For whatever reason, however, the Post expresses no reservations regarding the credibility of these officials.

The Post’s long article reminded me of the dialogue Woody Allen wrote for his voiceover spy parody What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? at the point where one character shows spy hero Phil Moscowitz a printed floor plan and explains: “This is Shepherd Wong’s home.” Moscowitz asks: “He lives in that piece of paper?” In the Post story, the lowdown on Putin lives in the piece of paper stuffed into the envelope transmitted by courier from the CIA to President Obama under extraordinary handling restrictions.

If we turn back to the declassified report to arrive at our own conclusions, we are underwhelmed by the presentation. It is, shall we say, thin.

Referring to the agencies’ finding that Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to help Trump win the election — a finding the agencies say they hold “with high confidence” — the Russian American journalist Masha Gessen (no friend of Trump) put it this way in her hilariously derisive account posted on January 9 at the site of the New York Review of Books:

A close reading of the report shows that it barely supports such a conclusion. Indeed, it barely supports any conclusion. There is not much to read: the declassified version is twenty-five pages, of which two are blank, four are decorative, one contains an explanation of terms, one a table of contents, and seven are a previously published unclassified report by the CIA’s Open Source division. There is even less to process: the report adds hardly anything to what we already knew. The strongest allegations—including about the nature of the DNC hacking—had already been spelled out in much greater detail in earlier media reports.

But the real problems come with the findings themselves….

The report is so poorly written that it makes for painful reading. Gessen makes this point and advances her analysis as well:

Despite its brevity, the report makes many repetitive statements remarkable for their misplaced modifiers, mangled assertions, and missing words. This is not just bad English: this is muddled thinking and vague or entirely absent argument. Take, for example, this phrase: “Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity.” I think, though I cannot be sure, that the authors of the report are speculating that Moscow gave the products of its hacking operation to WikiLeaks because WikiLeaks is known as a reliable source. The next line, however, makes this speculation unnecessary: “Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.”

Or consider this: “Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.” Did Putin’s desire to discredit Clinton stem from his own public statements, or are the intelligence agencies basing their appraisal of Putin’s motives on his public statements? Logic suggests the latter, but grammar indicates the former. The fog is not coincidental: if the report’s vague assertions were clarified and its circular logic straightened out, nothing would be left.

Gessen observes at one point: “That is the entirety of the evidence the report offers to support its estimation of Putin’s motives for allegedly working to elect Trump: conjecture based on other politicians in other periods, on other continents—and also on misreported or mistranslated public statements.”

Along with disparaging comments on Trump, Gessen concludes that the report “suggests that the US intelligence agencies’ Russia expertise is weak and throws into question their ability to process and present information[.]” I won’t try to summarize Gessen’s devastating assessment of the report. You really have to read the whole thing.

Power Line readers are probably already familiar with Andy McCarthy’s invaluable assessment of the report in his NRO column “Missing from the intelligence report: The word ‘Podesta.’” It too is necessary reading.

Why James O’Keefe Is a More Honest Journalist than the MSM

June 29, 2017

Why James O’Keefe Is a More Honest Journalist than the MSM, PJ MediaRoger L. Simon, June 28, 2017

The rap on James O’Keefe — whose latest bombshell caught CNN’s quasi-Marxist star pundit Van Jones with his well-tailored pants down — is that his Project Veritas videos are “unfairly edited.”

I have news for O’Keefe’s critics. All videos (and films) are basically unfairly edited, as Sergei Eisenstein and the early Soviet directors demonstrated a hundred years ago. It’s the nature of the medium. Some things get left out and others put in.

Nevertheless, the video or movie camera is a recording device. On close examination, looked at specifically, the actual photographs and recordings finally don’t lie, juxtapose them how you will. Van Jones did say “Russia is a nothingburger!” The network’s John Bonifield did call CNN’s Russia narrative “bullsh$t” concocted for the money. The repellent lady from Planned Parenthood did offer to sell fetal parts. The equally repellent Democratic Party operatives did instigate violent demonstrations at Trump rallies to make the candidate’s supporters look like thugs. O’Keefe himself did walk back and forth undeterred across the Rio Grande from Mexico to the USA dressed as Osama bin Laden to show the pathetic level of our border security.

I could go on. There are many more, including examples unmasking the shibboleths of voter registration, but the point is obvious. Despite some selective editing (but not any that materially alters the facts) and sometimes overly portentous music (why bother when you have the goods?), what James O’Keefe reports is true. It happened.

Because they so often rely on leaks — no photographs, videos or anything like them, often nothing concrete at all — what the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and so many others (even the front pages of the Wall Street Journal, alas) report is very often, one is tempted to say most often, either a distortion or an outright lie. This is particularly true when what they are reporting has political relevance — and so much does.

If not the root cause — that’s uncontrolled and unacknowledged bias — this excessive reliance on leaks has seriously exacerbated the precipitous decline of the mainstream media. For much of our media, leaks are an opium-like drug that clouds their thinking and to which they are literally addicted. They are waiting for the phone to ring like the junkie is waiting for his next fix. That the leakers all have motivations of their own, known and/or unknown, yet are able to remain anonymous to the public, makes what they leak almost de facto dubious and unreliable, in fact dangerous (as well as illegal, obviously).

Yet the MSM reporters gobble them up, eager to scoop their competitors and at the same time — much like overweight, self-satisfied picadors — weaken Trump and his administration for the final kill, doing, in their own eyes anyway, good works while advancing their careers.

O’Keefe has revealed them to be fools, remarkably unsophisticated in their response to his revelations. (Jeff Zucker, et al., looked like dimwits walking into the most obvious trap by dismissing Bonifield as a mere “medical” producer with the famous Van Jones already queued up for humiliation.)  At this point, only the most naive believe what the MSM says. CNN is already a joke, but the NYT, WaPo, etc. are not far behind. We are all reading Pravda now.

Ironically, Woodward and Bernstein are responsible for a lot of this. They made a giant success off leaks, turning journalists into culture heroes (really false gods) to be portrayed by Redford and Hoffman in the movies. Generations of aspiring journalists sought to follow in their footsteps — to be these false gods. Only there was no there there. No Nixon to upend. So they turned Trump into the New Nixon and manufactured a crime to go along with it.

W & B also inadvertently encouraged a new kind of leaker that is endemic today. Call him or her the “score settler,” a loathsome character lurking in the bowels of the Deep State or intelligence agencies, a remnant of the previous administration, who thinks his or her reasons for telling a partial, misleading truth are justified, are for the public good, when they are almost invariably only for their own good or some supposed ideological good they wish to impose regardless of the wishes of the voters in a democracy. (These are both often enmeshed.)

This created an extreme, almost pathological, will-to-believe the leakers on the part of the MSM as illustrated by the recent firings (sorry, “resignations”) of three CNN employees in the face of a $100M lawsuit. One of these credulous employees, Eric Lichtblau, was once a Pulitzer Prize winner at the New York Times.

Woodward, to his credit, seems to have recognized how extreme the situation has become. He chided the NYT today, saying, “Fair-mindedness is essential.” His own paper, under Bezos, has become even worse. But never mind. Give him credit for a half-truth. (By the way, CNN’s Jeff Zucker is a working stiff compared to Jeff Bezos. What’s Bezos’ excuse?)

But more importantly — it’s over. Well, if not over, a new, positive rung has been reached. The MSM, as we knew it, is, if not destroyed, seriously wounded.  They are — channeling a phrase from the Vietnam Era — a “pitiful, helpless giant.”  The work begun in 2004 when many of us spoke out against Dan Rather’s deceitful promulgation of the forged Bush National Guard papers on “Sixty Minutes” has, thanks to O’Keefe and others, not to mention the irrationality of the MSM itself, finally reached a critical mass. If only Andrew Breitbart were here to see it.

Celebrate for ten seconds. But as another of the original group, Glenn Reynolds, keeps reminding us — don’t get cocky.

How should Trump deal with the deep state?

June 15, 2017

How should Trump deal with the deep state? Fox News via YouTube, June 14, 2017