Thursday, April 13, 2017

4.13.17 - Trump: "THE CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT" | The CIA's Director Went In Hard Against Wikileaks — Unlike His Boss | » New 'Concrete Evidence' Of Conspiracy 13/04/17 14:58 | British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia - G | Can FBI director James Comey untangle the Trump-Russia allegations?



The case for impeaching President Donald J. Trump. (Too soon?)

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President Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, March. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
THE CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT
by Allan J. Lichtman. Dey St. Books. 290 pp. $24.99
Too soon?
opinions
Any discussion of presidential impeachment that arrives before journalists have even embarked on their ritualistic “first hundred days” coverage could rightly be deemed premature, and to publish an entire book arguing the case, the height of partisanship. Yet, given our new president’s disdain for constitutional checks and balances, the investigations already underway, and the turmoil knifing through this White House, it doesn’t seem entirely unrealistic, either.
This is a young administration that at times feels not just exhausting but exhausted. Airstrikes may give it a quick boost of pundit-powered presidentialism, but that high doesn’t last.
(Dey St.)
Allan J. Lichtman, the American University historian who in September predicted Donald Trump’s electoral victory (earning a “Professor — Congrats — good call” note from the candidate) is issuing another bold forecast: Trump will be impeached. Unlike his election pick, which was based on a systematic evaluation of 13 political indicators that have helped Lichtman call every presidential contest since 1984, the professor’s views on impeachment are more impressionistic. He bases his conclusion on Trump’s questionable practices throughout his real estate and entertainment career, his early overreach in office, the conflicts between his financial interests and public obligations, and his soft spot for verifiable falsehoods. “A president who seems to have learned nothing from history is abusing and violating the public trust and setting the stage for a myriad of impeachable offenses,” the author writes.
Much of what Lichtman compiles in these pages is by now excruciatingly familiar — a one-stop shop for #NeverTrump diehards and resistance marchers — and there are moments when he stretches his rationalizations so far that they snap back and smack him. But it is still striking to see the full argument unfold and realize that you don’t have to be a zealot to imagine some version of it happening.
“The Case for Impeachment” is hardly airtight. I’d sooner bet on reelection than impeachment, and a full, single term seems likelier than either. Yet there is power in plausibility, especially when impeachment may hinge, more than anything, on Trump remaining true to himself.
***
Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only presidents ever impeached by the House of Representatives — although both survived in the Senate — but Lichtman fixates on the parallels between Trump and President Richard Nixon, who opted to resign rather than be fired. “Even early in his presidency, Donald Trump exhibits the same tendencies that led Nixon to violate the most basic standards of morality and threaten the foundations of our democracy,” he writes. “They also shared a compulsion to deflect blame, and they were riddled with insecurities. They exploited the resentments of white working class Americans and split the world into enemies and loyalists. . . . Neither man allowed the law, the truth, the free press, or the potential for collateral damage to others to impede their personal agendas. . . . They obsessed over secrecy and thirsted for control without dissent.” Lichtman likens press secretary Sean Spicer’s M.O. to that of Nixon’s Ron Ziegler (“Deny. Lie. Threaten. And blame the messengers.”) and believes that Nixonian abuses of power will provoke Trump’s downfall.
Prof. Allan Lichtman was one of the few professional prognosticators to call a Donald Trump win – and now he has another prediction. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)
Prof. Allan Lichtman was one of the few professional prognosticators to call a Donald Trump win – and now he has another prediction. Professor predicts Trump will be impeached (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)
Under the premise that impeachment “need not be limited to violations that occur during the president’s term in office,” Lichtman devotes much space to Trump’s pre-presidential misdeeds, including alleged breaches of the Fair Housing Act in the 1970s, the scams of Trump University, the exploitation of undocumented immigrants in his construction business and modeling agency, and his decidedly uncharitable giving. Morally and legally, Lichtman may be right to cover this ground, but politically, his stronger case involves the clash between Trump’s vast business dealings — which the president has neither fully divulged nor relinquished — and his duties to the public.
“A president’s family should not be profiting from his public office, whether through a lawsuit or a branded enterprise,” Lichtman writes. “It’s impossible to disentangle Trump’s financial interests from those of his family.” He provides the obligatory tutorial on the emoluments clause of the Constitution, then delves into Trump’s licensing deals in the Philippines, trademark contracts in China, the debts his businesses have incurred — the sort of links that give foreign and commercial interests potential leverage over this president.
Lichtman spins some dubious scenarios, too. He imagines that Trump could be ousted, for instance, if the International Criminal Court charged him with crimes against humanity for opposing policies and accords that combat climate change. He admits the idea is “far-fetched” but contends that, though it would lack legal standing domestically, an ICC prosecution “would have the moral force to raise calls for President Trump’s impeachment.”
Hmm. Yes, other than the spread of nuclear weapons, there may be no graver long-term threat to the planet than climate change. But the notion that the House would impeach Trump because of the environmental concerns of some globocrats in The Hague . . . well, that’ll happen when the Arctic refreezes over.
The Trump administration’s Russia controversies offer a less-fanciful route to ruin. What began as revelations of interference by a foreign power in the 2016 U.S. election has become an exploration of ties between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign. Lichtman does not hesitate to go there: Trump, he contends, “stands a chance of becoming the first American president charged with treason or the failure to report treason by agents and associates.” Investigations by the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees mean that “a Russian sword of Damocles hangs over Trump’s head,” Lichtman writes. “If it falls, his presidency is over. Neither Republicans nor Democrats in Congress will tolerate a compromised or treacherous president. Impeachment and trial will be quick and decisive.”
Of course, quick and decisive are not what we’ve come to expect from the legislative branch of late. The author imagines a “wave of popular revulsion” against the president restoring Democratic control of the House in the 2018 midterm vote, though he acknowledges the tough odds. And when pondering whether a Republican House would move forward on impeachment — recall Gerald Ford’s definition of an impeachable offense as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment” — Lichtman posits, not quite convincingly, that Trump could prove vulnerable no matter what he accomplishes as president.
If the GOP manages to pass all the tax cuts, deregulation and reforms on its to-do list and feels it no longer needs Trump, lawmakers could drop the president should he become a liability, he writes. And if their agenda falters, House members could ditch the president in favor of the more conventional Vice President Pence, whom Lichtman considers a “dream president” for conservatives. Either way, he assumes, Trump is gone.
For Lichtman, Trump’s personality aggravates the risks to his presidency. He displays “extreme narcissism,” the author argues, and he lies compulsively, with deceit as “an ingrained way of life.” Lichtman suggests that these tendencies could lead to a Clinton-style “impeachment trap,” in which Trump is tempted to speak untruthfully while under oath in, say, a sexual harassment legal proceeding. He might also lie to cover up his campaign’s ties to Moscow. “The response of Trump and his team to allegations of communications with Russian officials fits the classic pattern of a cover-up,” Lichtman suggests. “First conceal and deny, then when outed by press claim that the communications were routine, innocuous, or incidental — kind of like a ‘third-rate burglary.’ ”
Lichtman points to the fiasco of the executive order banning entry into the United States by people from several Muslim-majority countries as exemplifying Trump’s impeachment-friendly impulses. “Through the drafting, implementation, and defense of his first travel ban, Trump trampled on core American traditions and principles,” he writes. “He has effectively claimed absolute presidential authority and breached the separation of powers that the framers established as a check against tyranny.” Trump’s knee-jerk disparagement of judges blocking the ban also “preemptively piled blame on the courts for any future terrorist attack against the United States,” Lichtman cautions, suggesting ominously that in the event of a major attack, Trump could blame the courts and other political enemies “as a pretext for taking charge under martial law.”
Lies. Abuse of power. Treason. Crimes against humanity. Martial law. Lichtman throws everything Trump’s way, and after a while, it is hard to tell when the historian is predicting, hoping, or just reprimanding.
***
It is possible that incompetence, more than malevolence, will prove this administration’s legacy. So in case the president just doesn’t know any better, Lichtman halfheartedly recommends some moves Trump could make to hang on: Divest yourself from all your business interests. Have all your speeches and tweets fact-checked beforehand. Treat women with respect. Stop demeaning immigrants and delegitimizing judges. Abandon your war on the press. Cut out the Mussolini act. He even urges Trump to hire an official White House shrink. All things, in other words, that involve President Trump ceasing to behave anything like President Trump. Lichtman also encourages Trump to fire chief strategist Steve Bannon — the most realistic item on this docket.
“Justice will be realized in today’s America not through revolution, but by the Constitution’s peaceful remedy of impeachment — but only if the people demand it,” Lichtman concludes. He seems to want them to, stoking fears of global annihilation, saying that Trump’s “hair-trigger outbursts are frightening in a man who controls a nuclear arsenal with the power to end civilization. . . . Americans have a right to ask whether the impulsive Trump would have the calm deliberation needed to respond to seemingly hostile blips on a radar screen.”
Yes, Americans absolutely have the right to ask that question and many others Lichtman raises — and they asked them plenty of times during an interminable 2016 race packed with revelations about Trump’s career, ideas and values. You can be disappointed, even horrified, by this president, but what you really can’t be is surprised. And impeachment is not a gift receipt for citizens suddenly feeling buyer’s remorse.
This book joins the campaign for Trump’s removal that started as early as Inauguration Day. Lichtman’s case for impeachment is plausible, certainly, but it is far stronger as an argument for why Americans never should have elected Trump in the first place. Yet we did.
So it may not be too soon for this book, after all. It may be too late.
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Read the whole story

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British spy agencies knew about...

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British spy agencies knew about Trump-Russia connections back in 2015

Salon - ‎2 hours ago‎
While the British intelligence agency GCHQ never wiretapped Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign — despite what press secretary Sean Spicer claimed last month — it appears that British intelligence had known for a while that members of ...

'There's something not right here': British spies warned the US about 'extensive' contact between Trump team and Russia

Business Insider - ‎4 hours ago‎
Britain's Government Communications Headquarters became aware of suspicious "interactions" between associates of Donald Trump and suspected or known Russian operatives in late 2015, The Guardian reported on Thursday. The Guardian's report ...

Report: British spies first spotted Trump-Russia links in 2015

The Hill - ‎1 hour ago‎
Britain's spy agencies helped alert U.S. intelligence officials to possible links between President Trump's campaign and Russia after first noticing interactions in late 2015, The Guardian reported Thursday. The report said Britain's Government ...

Trump Idiots DEFINITELY Colluded With Russia To Hack Election, According To NOBODY KNOWS WHO

Wonkette (blog) - ‎1 hour ago‎
Oh hey, The Guardian British English newspaper thingie, do you have a scoop you'd like to bury in a really long article? You do???? TELL US IT! One source suggested the official investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and ...

UK Intel First Detected Alleged Ties Between Trump's Team, Moscow - Reports

Sputnik International - ‎1 hour ago‎
The United Kingdom's intelligence organization was the first to spot alleged ties between the US President Donald Trump's campaign team and Russian intelligence, the Guardian newspaper reported Thursday. MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Toward the end of 2015, ...
Read the whole story

· · ·

Trump Idiots DEFINITELY Colluded With Russia To Hack Election, According To NOBODY KNOWS WHO - Wonkette (blog)

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Wonkette (blog)



Trump Idiots DEFINITELY Colluded With Russia To Hack Election, According To NOBODY KNOWS WHO
Wonkette (blog)
Oh hey, The Guardian British English newspaper thingie, do you have a scoop you'd like to bury in a really long article? You do???? TELL US IT! One source suggested the official investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and ...

and more »

Report: British spies first spotted Trump-Russia links in 2015 - The Hill

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The Hill



Report: British spies first spotted Trump-Russia links in 2015
The Hill
Britain's spy agencies helped alert U.S. intelligence officials to possible links between President Trump's campaign and Russia after first noticing interactions in late 2015, The Guardian reported Thursday. The report said Britain's Government ...

and more »

Trump Russia Investigation Told 'Follow Dead Russians'

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A former FBI agent who is now a private counterterrorism analyst told the Senate committee investigating the connections between Donald Trump and Russia that their investigation needs to “follow the trail of dead Russians.” Senate Intelligence Committee witness Clinton Watts told the senators that Russians who may have knowledge of the Trump Russia connections have been dying in mysterious ways at an alarming rate in recent months.
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News Reviews and Opinions: » Syria's Assad discusses alleged chemical attack and terrorism - YouTube 13/04/17 12:49 | Trump’s Previous View of NATO Is Now Obsolete Thursday April 13th, 2017 at 1:28 PM

British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia | UK news | The Guardian

Trump Russia Collusion: New 'Concrete Evidence' Of Conspiracy

GCHQ 'told US security services about...

GCHQ 'told US security services about meetings between Donald Trump's team and Russia'

Trump Russia Investigation Told 'Follow Dead Russians' 


US berates Syria at OPCW meeting on Syria chemical attack - SFGate

Russian Disinformation Technology - MIT Technology Review




"The issue of GCHQ’s role in the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and Moscow is highly sensitive. In March Trump tweeted that Barack Obama had illegally “wiretapped” him in Trump Tower.

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, claimed the “British spying agency” GCHQ had carried out the bugging. Spicer cited an unsubstantiated report on Fox News. Fox later distanced itself from the report.

The claims prompted an extremely unusual rebuke from GCHQ, which generally refrains from commenting on all intelligence matters. The agency described the allegations first made by a former judge turned media commentator, Andrew Napolitano, as “nonsense”.

“They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” a spokesperson for GCHQ said.

Instead both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”.

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.

“It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’

“The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”



4.13.17 

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» Trump Says the U.S. Will Deal With North Korea With or Without China's Help - NextShark
13/04/17 10:01 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump as samson - Google News. NextShark Trump Says the U.S. Will Deal With North Korea With or Without China's Help NextShark Trump Says the U.S. Will Deal With North Korea With or Without China's Help. B...
» FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page
13/04/17 10:01 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin Trump. The Washington Post
» Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout
13/04/17 10:01 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin Trump. The Associated Press
» After campaign exit, Manafort borrowed from businesses with Trump ties
13/04/17 10:01 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin Trump. The New York Times
» Just who was the Russian agent after all? - WND.com
13/04/17 09:46 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin and American political process - Google News. WND.com Just who was the Russian agent after all? WND.com Ever since President Trump's missile strike on Syria on April 6, which angered Russia's Vladimi...
» Internal Trump administration...
13/04/17 09:42 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Google News. Internal Trump administration documents signal plans for robust US deportation force AOL  - ‎5 minutes ago‎ Donald Trump ran a presidential campaign focused on rule of law and...
» How Jeff Sessions Is Laying the Groundwork for an Authoritarian State - AlterNet
13/04/17 09:41 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump authoritarianism - Google News. AlterNet How Jeff Sessions Is Laying the Groundwork for an Authoritarian State AlterNet With Donald Trump appearing to be on the verge of blowing up the world, it stan...
» In abrupt shift, Trump warms to China and NATO, sours on Russia - Reuters
13/04/17 09:34 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump and russia - Google News. Reuters In abrupt shift, Trump warms to China and NATO, sours on Russia Reuters WASHINGTON After less than three months in office, President Donald Trump has abruptly shifte...
» Comey: We must be transparent | Government & Politics
13/04/17 09:30 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from hanfordsentinel.com - RSS Results in news/national/govt-and-politics of type article. Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK...
» Comey: We must be transparent - Hanford Sentinel
13/04/17 09:30 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Comey - Google News. Comey : We must be transparent Hanford Sentinel Comey : We must be transparent. Apr 12, 2017 Updated 7 min ago; 0. FBI Director James Comey discussed voter confidence in the election p...
» Space arms race as Russia, China emerge as 'rapidly growing threats' to US
13/04/17 09:25 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . U.S. satellites may be vulnerable to attacks that could make our whole way of fighting war riskier, according to experts. "Every major space-faring nation that can track a satellite and launch into outer spac...
» Trump's Tilt to China Spells Trouble for Putin
13/04/17 09:23 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . The Democrats in their unremitting (and increasingly self-destructive) zeal to prove Trump has been colluding with Russia completely missed the red dragon in the room.  It's Beijing o...
» Trump warms to Xi Jinping as relationship with Putin chills - Yahoo News
13/04/17 09:22 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin Trump - Google News. Yahoo News Trump warms to Xi Jinping as relationship with Putin chills Yahoo News Trump spoke glowingly on Wednesday of a personal connection with Xi that he said had developed d...
» Donald Trump says it's unlikely Russia was unaware of Syria gas attack - Livemint
13/04/17 09:21 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from donald trump russia - Google News. Livemint Donald Trump says it's unlikely Russia was unaware of Syria gas attack Livemint Washington: US President Donald Trump said he thinks it's “unlikely” Russia had n...
» Morgan: Trump Showed Press He Isn't Russia's 'Poodle' - Fox News Insider
13/04/17 09:21 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Trump and Russia - Google News. Fox News Insider Morgan: Trump Showed Press He Isn't Russia's 'Poodle' Fox News Insider Daily Mail editor Piers Morgan said President Trump's response to the gas attack in S...
» Comey OK's new TV series to boost FBI's image - New York Post
13/04/17 09:21 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Comey - Google News. Comey OK's new TV series to boost FBI's image New York Post FBI director James Comey said he let cameras into the New York FBI offices to film a new television series in hopes that he ...
» How to Fight Back Against Russian Hacking - MIT Technology Review
13/04/17 09:20 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence, organized crime and war on police - Google News. MIT Technology Review How to Fight Back Against Russian Hacking MIT Technology Review It briefly brought Ukraine's war into focus in a...
» 'Great chemistry': Trump abandons China criticism as Russia ties suffer - The Guardian
13/04/17 09:20 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from russia helping trump - Google News. The Guardian 'Great chemistry': Trump abandons China criticism as Russia ties suffer The Guardian “We're not getting along with Russia at all,” Trump said on Wednesday a...
» Who are the new jihadis? - The Guardian
13/04/17 09:19 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from crime and terror link - Google News. The Guardian Who are the new jihadis? The Guardian From the other side, I have been accused of disregarding the link between terrorist violence and the religious radica...
» How Donald Trump came to love NATO - CNN
13/04/17 09:19 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump - Google News. CNN How Donald Trump came to love NATO CNN Trump's newfound enthusiasm for NATO brings him into alignment with a long-standing bipartisan consensus in Washington, exemplified by...
» Bill Straub: Trump's tent didn't expand the GOP electorate; it's white voters who are the difference - KyForward.com
13/04/17 09:19 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from analysis of trump electorate - Google News. KyForward.com Bill Straub: Trump's tent didn't expand the GOP electorate ; it's white voters who are the difference KyForward.com The list is long but any fair a...
» Trump administration shifts rhetoric on Russia - KTVU San Francisco
13/04/17 09:18 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin and American political process - Google News. KTVU San Francisco Trump administration shifts rhetoric on Russia KTVU San Francisco WASHINGTON (KTVU/BCN) - President Donald Trump switched his rhetoric...
» Spicer, Bannon Critics Okay with Anti-Semitic Sharpton and Ellison - American Thinker
13/04/17 09:18 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Abedin has to resign - Google News. American Thinker Spicer, Bannon Critics Okay with Anti-Semitic Sharpton and Ellison American Thinker Spicer's remarks have met with calls from House Minority Leader Nanc...
» China's Split With Russia on Syria Signals Warmer Xi-Trump Ties - Bloomberg
13/04/17 09:18 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump russia ties - Google News. Bloomberg China's Split With Russia on Syria Signals Warmer Xi- Trump Ties Bloomberg China's abstention from a United Nations resolution condemning the chemical attack in S...
» Alleged Plot, Coming Trial In Montenegro Reads Like a Thriller - NPR
13/04/17 09:18 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from organized crime and intelligence - Google News. NPR Alleged Plot, Coming Trial In Montenegro Reads Like a Thriller NPR The tiny Balkan country of Montenegro may be best known for its stunning coastline on ...
» Trump and China: Master diplomat or paper tiger? - CNN
13/04/17 09:17 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump - Google News. CNN Trump and China: Master diplomat or paper tiger? CNN Trump's statement came days after he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. The two then sp...
» Trump declares US-Russia relations may be at 'all-time low' - SFGate
13/04/17 09:17 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump russian ties - Google News. SFGate Trump declares US- Russia relations may be at 'all-time low' SFGate WASHINGTON (AP) — Laying bare deep and dangerous divisions on Syria and other issues, President ...
» Trump's Tilt to China Spells Trouble for Putin - PJ Media
13/04/17 09:16 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin Trump - Google News. Trump's Tilt to China Spells Trouble for Putin PJ Media The Democrats in their unremitting (and increasingly self-destructive) zeal to prove Trump has been colluding with Russia ...
» Trump's Syria Strike Was Constitutional - National Review
13/04/17 09:16 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump as danger to National Security - Google News. National Review Trump's Syria Strike Was Constitutional National Review The Framers gave presidents broad powers to take the lead in matters of national ...
» Putin risks Trump wrath with cluster bombs attack in Syria - Daily Mail
13/04/17 09:16 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from putin and trump - Google News. Daily Mail Putin risks Trump wrath with cluster bombs attack in Syria Daily Mail This is the shocking moment Vladimir Putin risked the wrath of Donald Trump after dropping cl...
» Reaching Out to the Voters the Left Left Behind - New York Times
13/04/17 09:16 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump electorate - Google News. New York Times Reaching Out to the Voters the Left Left Behind New York Times As the last election demonstrated, the compact geographical distribution of Democratic voters w...
» Ex MI6 chief suggests Trump may have borrowed Russia money - Daily Mail
13/04/17 09:15 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from trump russian money - Google News. Daily Mail Ex MI6 chief suggests Trump may have borrowed Russia money Daily Mail A former MI6 chief has accused President Donald Trump of borrowing Russian money at the h...
» All the President's Flip-Flops - The Atlantic
13/04/17 09:15 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Putin and American political process - Google News. The Atlantic All the President's Flip-Flops The Atlantic Subscribe to The Atlantic's Politics & Policy Daily, a roundup of ideas and events in Americ...
» Police warn organized crime, including the Hells Angels, has infiltrated the medical marijuana market - CBC.ca
13/04/17 09:15 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from organized crime and intelligence - Google News. CBC.ca Police warn organized crime , including the Hells Angels, has infiltrated the medical marijuana market CBC.ca An RCMP report obtained by CBC-Radio Can...
» Ex-MI6 chief says Donald Trump may have borrowed money from Russia to keep his empire afloat - Mirror.co.uk
13/04/17 09:15 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from donald trump russia - Google News. Mirror.co.uk Ex-MI6 chief says Donald Trump may have borrowed money from Russia to keep his empire afloat Mirror.co.uk The President came to power pledging to build bridg...
» FBI's Comey: People 'confused' by bureau's actions last year - ABC News
13/04/17 09:10 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Trump FBI file - Google News. FBI's Comey: People 'confused' by bureau's actions last year ABC News FILE - In this March 20, 2017, file photo, FBI Director James Comey, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washing...
» Can FBI Director James Comey Untangle the Trump-Russia Allegations?
13/04/17 08:39 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Caption Settings Dialog Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window. Caption Settings Dialog Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window. Caption Settings Dialo...
» Interview: Richard Dearlove—I spy nationalism
13/04/17 08:09 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Richard Dearlove: “The deterioration of European politics… is a far more serious problem for the UK” than terrorism ©Cate Gillon/Getty Images Richard Dearlove frowned at the coffee pot ...
» Ex MI6 chief suggests Trump may have borrowed Russia money
13/04/17 07:31 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from News | Mail Online. Sir Richard Dearlove accused Donald Trump of borrowing Russia money in 2008 Helped keep his businesses afloat when others in the west wouldn't lend to him As Trump's 'bromance' with Put...
» News Reviews and Opinions: Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the financial crisis Wednesday April 12th, 2017 at 7:12 PM
13/04/17 07:28 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from News Reviews and Opinions. Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the financial crisis Wednesday April 12th, 2017 at 7:12 PM Ex-MI6 ch...
» Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia - Google Search
13/04/17 07:27 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from ... The Sun - 13 hours ago A FORMER MI6 chief has accused Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during ...
» Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the financial crisis
12/04/17 19:12 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from The Sun. Bombshell accusation from ex-spymaster Sir Richard Dearlove comes as rumours continue to swirl about the president’s past business dealings with Moscow A FORMER MI6 chief has accused Donald ...
» Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the ... - The Sun
12/04/17 19:12 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Russia - Google News. The Sun Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the ... The Sun A FORMER MI6 chief has accused Donald Trump of se...
» Tillerson's Moscow Meeting Is a Reminder of How Dangerous Russia Is - Fortune
12/04/17 19:11 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Russia international behavior - Google News. Fortune Tillerson's Moscow Meeting Is a Reminder of How Dangerous Russia Is Fortune It has challenged Western norms and global security with Crimean annexation,...
» Trump Says It's Likely Russia Knew of Syrian Gas Attack in Advance - New York Times
12/04/17 19:11 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Russia - Google News. New York Times Trump Says It's Likely Russia Knew of Syrian Gas Attack in Advance New York Times WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that Russia likely knew of the Syrian g...
» Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft - Google Search
12/04/17 17:03 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Syria chemical attack: Sarin gas was used in Khan Sheikhoun strike ... The Independent - 6 hours ago Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the UN Security ... for a sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun on 4 ...
» britain syria un security council - Google Search
12/04/17 17:02 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Russia blocks UN Security Council condemnation of Syria attack Reuters - 1 hour ago Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the Security Council that samples taken from the site of the April 4 attack h...
» Dept. Of Defense / James Mattis Press Conference on President Trump's Actions, Russia & North Korea - YouTube
12/04/17 16:43 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Streamed live on Apr 11, 2017 LIVE: Defense Department Briefing From The Pentagon on Russia, North Korea and China (4/11/2017) James Mattis press conference On President Trump's Actions - UN Security Council ...
» Trump says NATO the 'bulwark of international peace and security - YouTube
12/04/17 16:35 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Published on Apr 12, 2017 Trump says NATO the 'bulwark of international peace and security' during a joint press conference with visiting NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. SOUNDBITE
» Tillerson and Putin Find Little More Than Disagreement in Meeting
12/04/17 16:16 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Mr. Tillerson reiterated the American view that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Russia’s chief Middle East ally, was responsible for the chemical weapons assault in northern Syria on April 4 that le...
» WATCH LIVE: Secretary of State Tillerson joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov - YouTube
12/04/17 16:10 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Streamed live 3 hours ago Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds a joint news confernece with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
» Rex Tillerson Sergey Lavrov Vladimir Putin Joint Press Conference 4/12/2017 video - YouTube
12/04/17 15:49 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Published on Apr 12, 2017 Rex Tillerson Sergey Lavrov Vladimir Putin Joint Press Conference 4/12/2017 video
» trump and fbi - Google Search
12/04/17 15:05 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . FBI Reportedly Got Court Order To Monitor Trump Adviser's ... NPR - 1 hour ago During the 2016 presidential campaign the FBI obtained a secret warrant to monitor the communications of Carter Page, who was the...
» Putin Meets With Tillerson in Moscow
12/04/17 15:03 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow on Wednesday as tensions between the two countries continued to escalate over the American military strike in Syria, R...
» Tillerson meets with Putin amid deepening tensions over U.S. missile strikes in Syria
12/04/17 14:52 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . (Reuters) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on April 12, acknowledging "sharp differences" with the Kremlin. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets Russia...
» Tillerson meets with Putin amid...
12/04/17 14:52 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Google News. Tillerson meets with Putin amid deepening tensions over US missile strikes in Syria Washington Post  - ‎2 hours ago‎ MOSCOW — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held his f...
» Trump says he has ‘confidence’ in FBI Director Comey but it’s ‘not too late’ to fire him
12/04/17 14:26 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . The inside track on Washington politics. Be the first to know about new stories from PowerPost. Sign up to follow, and we’ll e-mail you free updates as they’re published. You’ll receive free...
» 'It's not too late' to get rid of FBI...
12/04/17 14:25 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Google News. 'It's not too late' to get rid of FBI Director James Comey, Trump says ABC News  - ‎4 hours ago‎ President Trump is doubling down on the unsubstantiated wiretapping claims aga...
» Amid doubts and recriminations, Putin meets with Tillerson
12/04/17 13:34 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort, who was then chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Ukrainian investigators ca...
» Is Stephen Bannon getting pushed out? The latest signs point to Yes.
12/04/17 13:18 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Stephen K. Bannon. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) THE MORNING PLUM: Washington is abuzz with chatter about President Trump’s latest comments concerning his chief ideologist, Stephen K. Bannon, which suggest ...
» Trump: Jim Comey saved Hillary Clinton's life - YouTube
12/04/17 13:09 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Published on Apr 12, 2017 President Donald Trump on the obstacles to staffing his administration, FBI Director James Comey and former national security advisor Susan Rice.
» Trump Expresses Confidence In FBI Director
12/04/17 13:04 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from The Daily Caller. 5588859 President Trump offered up a mixed review of FBI Director James Comey in a new interview with Fox Business. Trump told the business network’s Maria Bartiromo that he st...
» (UPDATED) James Comey Helped Elect Donald Trump, But Could He Now Be His Greatest Foe? – The Moderate Voice
12/04/17 11:56 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from The Moderate Voice. There is little doubt that American intelligence agencies have long believed that Donald Trump’s inner circle and perhaps the man himself aided and abetted Russian efforts to thro...
» Americans are concerned by Trump’s Russian links
12/04/17 11:03 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from The Guilfordian. Ian Penny , World & Nation Editor • April 7, 2017 • The Trump administration is suspected of having ties to Russian politicians and business leaders. Photo Courtesy of Wiki...
» Sessions Is Wrong to Take Science Out of Forensic Science
12/04/17 10:52 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . <a href="http://NYTimes.com" rel="nofollow">NYTimes.com</a> no longer supports Internet Explorer 9 or earlier. Please upgrade your browser. LEARN MORE » Signed in as mikenova Share this story...
» US-Russia relations fray; Trump backs NATO expansion; Low public support for Syria strike; Army dusts off hypersonic arty concept; and just a bit more...
12/04/17 10:47 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Defense One - All Content. About that carrier strike group: Japan’s navy will exercise with the U.S. ships “in a display of military power aimed at deterring the North Korean regime from furthe...
» ‘No Doubt’ Syria Behind Chemical Attack, Mattis Says
12/04/17 10:34 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story from Defense One - All Content. He did lay pressure on Russia to pull their support for Assad. “This is Russia putting their name on the line. So it’s not a question of how long that alliance has la...
» Tillerson, Lavrov to hold joint presser after meeting - YouTube
12/04/17 09:14 from Mike Nova's Shared NewsLinks
mikenova shared this story . Published on Apr 12, 2017 Leland Vittert reports from Washington, D.C. 



Trump Russia Investigation Told 'Follow Dead Russians'

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A former FBI agent who is now a private counterterrorism analyst told the Senate committee investigating the connections between Donald Trump and Russia that their investigation needs to “follow the trail of dead Russians.” Senate Intelligence Committee witness Clinton Watts told the senators that Russians who may have knowledge of the Trump Russia connections have been dying in mysterious ways at an alarming rate in recent months.
“There have been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation, who have assets in banks all over world,” Watts testified. “They are dropping dead even in Western countries.”
According to a CNN report last week, eight “prominent Russians,” some with possible connections to the Trump Russia scandal, have died over the past five months alone. In one instance, former top KGB official Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in the back seat of his own car. Erovinkin is widely believed to have acted as a source for the “Steele Dossier,” a report compiled by a former British intelligence agent.
The Steele Dossier contains numerous allegations about Trump’s connections to the Kremlin — but it gained international notoriety for the claim that in 2013, Trump hired two Russian prostitutes to perform a “golden shower” urination show for him, on the same bed in a luxury hotel where President Barack Obama had recently slept.
Watts added that he, himself, expected to be the target of Russian cyber-attacks and may even be in physical danger following his testimony on Thursday — but that unlike under previous administrations, he could not count on the Trump administration to protect him, due to Trump’s connections to Moscow.
“My biggest fear isn’t being on Putin’s hit list or psychological warfare targeting me — I’ve been doing that for two years,” Watts told the committee.
“My biggest concern right now is I don’t know what the American stance is on Russia, on who is going to take care of me. After years in the Army and the FBI, working in the intel community — today, I’m going to walk out of here and ain’t nobody going to be covering my back. I’m going to be on my own, and so that’s very disconcerting.”
Watch highlights of Watts’ dramatic testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday in the videos below.



Watch the entire hearing held Thursday in the following video.

Watts is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute Program on the Middle East and Senior Fellow at the Center For Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University. He is also a former United States Army infantry officer and West Point graduate.
In his testimony, he also noted that Russian propaganda specialists targeted Trump and the Trump 2016 presidential campaign with “fake news” stories because they knew that Trump — for some reason — could be counted upon to repeat the propaganda, which in turn caused the Russian disinformation to spread throughout the American mainstream media.
“He (Trump) has made claims about voter fraud, that President Obama is not a citizen, that Congressman [Ted] Cruz is not a citizen,” Watts stated. “So part of the reason these active measures work, and it does today in terms of Trump Tower being wiretapped, is because they [the Trump team] parrot the same lines.”
Watts also cited Trump’s then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who last August in a CNN interview complained that the U.S. media ignored “the NATO base in Turkey being under attack by terrorists.”
But in fact, there was no terrorist attack on any NATO base in Turkey. The story was a hoax spread by the state-owned Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik.

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[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]
Read the whole story

· · · ·

British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia

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Exclusive: GCHQ is said to have alerted US agencies after becoming aware of contacts in 2015
Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.
Continue reading...

New 'Concrete Evidence' Of Conspiracy

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The United States congressional investigations into possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election now possess “concrete” evidence that there was indeed a conspiracy between the Trump team and Russian officials to use hacked emails and documents in a way that could alter the course of the race, a new report in The Guardian newspaper said on Thursday.
Quoting a source, the Guardian report filed by correspondents Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Nick Hopkins says that the evidence is “specific.”
“They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,” the newspaper quoted its source as stating. “This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”
The Guardian report follows a report by The New York Times last month, in which the Times revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies “began picking up conversations in which Russian officials were discussing contacts with Trump associates,” at the same time that hacked documents from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee began appearing online via the Wikileaks site.
The Guardian report came on the same day as a separate report in a British magazine quoting former British spymaster Richard Dearlove claiming that Trump, even today, is still struggling to pay off loans from Russian banks that kept his family business afloat in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
“What lingers for Trump may be what deals — on what terms — he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money when others in the west apparently would not lend to him,” Dearlove, the 72-year-old retired head of Britain’s Special Intelligence Service — a spy agency better known as “MI6” — told Prospect Magazine in an interview published on Thursday.
Earlier media reports as far back as the summer of last year revealed that Trump had borrowed massive sums from Russian lenders, and Trump collaborated on real estate projects with a Russian businessman, Felix Slater, with strong links to organized crime.
While Dearlove’s position as leader of Britain’s spy network allowed him inside knowledge of some of the world’s most secret and often sinister clandestine operations, he nonetheless called the alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia “unprecedented.”

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Dearlove also dismissed Trump’s allegations that President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s headquarters in Trump Tower in New York, calling Trump’s claims “deeply embarrassing” for the U.S. administration — especially Trump’s claim that Obama had relied on the British electronic spy agency, the Government Communications Headquartersm or GCHQ — Britain’s equivalent of the American National Security Agency.
“The only possible explanation is that Trump started tweeting without understanding how the NSA-GCHQ relationship actually works,” Dearlove said.
On the other hand, according to the Guardian report, it was GCHQ that first discovered the links between Trump and his associates and Russia — all the way back in 2015.
“GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said,” according the Guardian article on Thursday. “This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information.”
But it wasn’t only the British electronic surveillance agency that picked up and passed on information about the Trump contacts with Russia. Information also poured in from electronic eavesdrops carried out by Australia, Canada and New Zealand — as well as from the United States NSA itself, according to the report.
And that wasn’t all. Dutch and French surveillance teams also spotted communications between the Trump team and Russia, passing that data along to the United States during the first six months of 2016, The Guardian reported.
The GCHQ, however, was the main “whistleblower” regarding the suspicious “interactions” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian agents, the new report says.
[Featured Images By Chip Somodevilla, Pool/Getty Images]
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GCHQ 'told US security services about meetings between Donald Trump's team and Russia'

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GCHQ 'told US security services about...

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GCHQ 'told US security services about meetings between Donald Trump's team and Russia'

Telegraph.co.uk - ‎1 hour ago‎
GCHQ tipped-off security services in the US about alleged meetings between Donald Trump's presidential campaign team and potential Russian spies, it has been claimed. A source close to UK intelligence said that the listening post had become aware at ...

Donald Trump may have borrowed Russian money, claims ex-MI6 chief

Belfast Telegraph - ‎8 hours ago‎
A British former spy chief has suggested Donald Trump borrowed money from Russian lenders to keep his property empire afloat. Ex-MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove said financial links with Moscow may "linger" for the US president. Mr Trump has strenuously ...

Trump Russia Collusion: 'Concrete Evidence' Trump Team, Russia Conspired On Election Hacks, New Report Says

The Inquisitr - ‎17 minutes ago‎
The United States congressional investigations into possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election now possess “concrete” evidence that there was indeed a conspiracy between the Trump team and Russian ...

British spy chief claims Trump borrowed Russian cash to rescue business

The New European - ‎6 hours ago‎
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Interview: Richard Dearlove—I spy nationalism

Prospect - ‎16 hours ago‎
Richard Dearlove frowned at the coffee pot on the table before him, as he pondered the phenomenon of Donald Trump. “I think he's very strongly nationalist,” he said, pouring himself a small cup. The room, at a discreet location in central London, was ...
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US drops 'mother of all bombs' in Afghanistan - Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times



US drops 'mother of all bombs' in Afghanistan
Los Angeles Times
The U.S. military dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on a cave and tunnel complex that it said was used by Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan. The GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, a 30-foot-long, 21,600-pound ...
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Donald Trump and Putin: From bromance to frenemies in under 100 days - Mic

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Mic



Donald Trump and Putin: From bromance to frenemies in under 100 days
Mic
President Donald Trump's decision last week to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airfield in northern Syria has apparently ended the international bromance between the reality TV star-turned leader of the free world and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Trump’s Previous View of NATO Is Now Obsolete

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Mr. Trump’s about-face on NATO was only part of a day of flip flops at the White House. Within a matter of hours, the president determined that China is not a currency manipulator after all, embraced the Export-Import Bank that he once called unnecessary and suggested he might keep Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman he said he would replace after her term expired. Most striking, he pivoted 180 degrees on Russia, lashing it for supporting rogue nations after years of praising President Vladimir V. Putin.
The Russia reversal and the NATO turnabout were inherently linked, of course. As Russia appears more ominous, NATO seems more necessary. But the shift in attitude also offered one of the starkest examples yet of Mr. Trump’s evolving views on domestic and foreign policy, as the first president ever elected without political or military experience settles into the role of commander in chief.
“We must not be trapped by the tired thinking that so many have, but apply new solutions to face new circumstances, and that’s all throughout the world,” Mr. Trump said at his news conference with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general.
The president’s support for NATO heartened Mr. Stoltenberg and European leaders who one after the other have tried to impress upon Mr. Trump the value of the alliance, especially Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
“In a more dangerous and more unpredictable world, it is important to have friends and allies,” Mr. Stoltenberg said at the White House on Wednesday. “And in NATO, America has the best friends and the best allies in the world.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign criticism of NATO stunned many at home and abroad, especially when he suggested conditioning America’s commitment to defend its treaty allies on whether they had met their financial obligations. Just days before taking office, he dismissed the alliance as “obsolete.” No new American president had ever come to power expressing such disdain for NATO.
Mr. Trump’s shift on NATO has been a stutter-step transition. When he hosted Mrs. May a week after taking office in January, she turned to him at a joint news conference afterward and tried to put on the record what he had told her in private. “You confirmed that you’re 100 percent behind NATO,” she told him. He did not contradict her but he did not confirm it, either.
Even as Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Europe a few weeks later to reassure allies, Mr. Trump back home pressed his case that NATO allies do not spend enough on their own defense. “Many of these countries are very rich countries,” he complained at a rally in Florida. “They’re not paying their bills. They’re not paying their bills.” When Ms. Merkel visited last month, a British newspaper reported that Mr. Trump asked her to pay back unmet defense obligations from the last 15 years, forcing the White House to deny that he actually presented her with an invoice.
Mr. Trump’s drumbeat about spending by allies may be having an effect. He is simply repeating the same grievance lodged by other presidents, including Mr. Obama. But Mr. Trump does it louder and more insistently, forcing the issue to the front of the agenda in a way that Mr. Obama’s polite nudging did not.
Only five of the 28 members of NATO met their target of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense last year in accord with a 2014 agreement during Mr. Obama’s tenure, but Mr. Stoltenberg reported that the number would rise to eight by next year.
“President Trump is no different” from other presidents in complaining about allied spending, but “he has been far more aggressive in his statements and frankly, I think that’s had some effect,” said Joseph W. Ralston, a retired Air Force general and former NATO supreme allied commander.
Mr. Trump’s other main criticism of NATO appears to have had less impact. During the campaign, he said the alliance did not fight terrorism, which was not exactly the case. NATO has had troops in Afghanistan fighting terrorists since shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has provided assistance to Iraq in its own war against extremists.
Without directly contradicting Mr. Trump, Mr. Stoltenberg in his very diplomatic way reminded the president of that on Wednesday.
“Allies sent Awacs surveillance planes to help patrol American skies and we launched NATO’s biggest military operation ever in Afghanistan,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “Hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Canadian soldiers have served shoulder to shoulder with American troops. More than 1,000 have paid the ultimate price. Our mission in Afghanistan is a major contribution to the fight against international terrorism.”
Still, he agreed “that NATO can and must do more in the global fight against terrorism.”
Mr. Trump claimed credit for turning the alliance around on terrorism. “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism,” he said.
But he did not explain what change he meant and a subsequent inquiry to the White House for elaboration went unanswered. NATO created a new intelligence division headed by an assistant secretary general last year, but the idea predated Mr. Trump.
“It’s to better deal with hybrid warfare and crisis management, not just terrorism, but it will help in C.T. as well,” Alexander R. Vershbow, who served until last year as deputy secretary general of NATO, said, using initials for counterterrorism. There has been “nothing really new on terrorism beyond this.”
Still, NATO supporters welcomed the turnaround. Just this week, Mr. Trump signed ratification papers clearing the way for Montenegro to join as the alliance’s 29th member — over Russian objections — and he plans to make his first foreign visit as president to the NATO summit meeting in Brussels next month.
Mr. Ralston, the former NATO commander, said Mr. Trump’s criticisms have done some good but the president is now gaining a fuller understanding of NATO from his own team, which has considerable experience with the alliance and includes Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. Mr. Ralston recalled that John F. Kelly, the retired Marine general who is now secretary of Homeland Security, served as his special assistant at NATO.
“The president is getting advice from different people now than he did in the campaign,” Mr. Ralston said. “These guys are very good and I’m sure they’re giving their unvarnished advice to the president and I think the president is learning from that.”
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Syria's Assad discusses alleged chemical attack and terrorism - YouTube

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Published on Apr 13, 2017
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town was a "fabrication" to justify a US military strike, in an exclusive AFP interview.

US berates Syria at OPCW meeting on Syria chemical attack

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Mike Corder, Associated Press
Updated 7:33 am, Thursday, April 13, 2017

Photo: Ivan Sekretarev, AP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a shared news conference with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Amid a fierce dispute over Syria, the United States and Russia agreed Wednesday to work together on an international investigation of a Syrian chemical weapons attack last week.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a shared news conference with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Amid a
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Photo: Ivan Sekretarev, AP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson look at each other as they shake hands after the news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Amid a fierce dispute over Syria, the United States and Russia agreed Wednesday to work together on an international investigation of a Syrian chemical weapons attack last week.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson look at each other as they shake hands after the news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April
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Photo: Ivan Sekretarev, AP
Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari address Security Council after a resolution vote condemning Syria's use of chemical weapons failed to pass, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.
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Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari address Security Council after a resolution vote condemning Syria's use of chemical weapons failed to pass, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at U.N.
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Photo: Bebeto Matthews, AP
United Nations U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley address the Security Council after a vote on a resolution condemning Syria's use of chemical weapons failed, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.
United Nations U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley address the Security Council after a vote on a resolution condemning Syria's use of chemical weapons failed, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.
Photo: Bebeto Matthews, AP
US berates Syria at OPCW meeting on Syria chemical attack
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Syrian authorities — "abetted by Russia's continuing efforts to bury the truth" — still possess and use chemical weapons, an American diplomat told the international chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday.
The strong comments by Kenneth D. Ward, the American ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, came amid ongoing diplomatic skirmishes over last week's deadly attack in Syria.
Ward used a hastily convened meeting of the organization's executive council to launch a withering verbal attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies in Moscow.
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The meeting was called to discuss the April 4 attack on the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun that killed nearly 90 people. The United States and other Western governments blame Assad's regime. Washington in retaliation launched missile strikes on a Syrian air base they say was the starting point for the chemical weapons attack, a move that ratcheted up tensions between the United States and Syria's ally Russia.
Russia and Syria claim the Khan Shaykhun victims were killed by toxic agents released from a rebel chemical arsenal hit by Syrian warplanes.
But Ward insisted it was a deliberate attack that amounted to "a direct affront to the Chemical Weapons Convention and, indeed, a direct affront to human decency, carried out by a State Party" to the OPCW, according to the text of his speech that was posted on the organization's website.
Syria joined the OPCW in 2013 under severe international pressure following a deadly chemical attack on a Damascus suburb. Assad's government told the organization it had a 1,300-ton stockpile of chemical weapons and chemicals used to make them. That stockpile was destroyed in an operation overseen by the Nobel Peace Prize winning-group OPCW, but ever since there have been questions about whether Assad had declared all his weapons.
"On April 4, the lifeless bodies of innocent victims, grotesquely contorted and twisted by the nerve agent sarin, tell the real story," Ward said. "Syria provided a grossly incomplete declaration to the OPCW of its chemical weapons program. Iit continues to possess and use chemical weapons."
He added that "this outrage is abetted by Russia's continuing efforts to bury the truth and protect the Syrian regime" form consequences of using chemical weapons.
Britain's Ambassador, Sir Geoffrey Adams, told the meeting that U.K. scientists have analyzed samples from Khan Shaykhun and they "tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, or a sarin-like substance."
Earlier this week, Turkish doctors also said that test results conducted on victims confirmed that sarin gas was used.
The OPCW's Fact Finding Mission for Syria is conducting an investigation and is expected to report its findings in three weeks. The organization has not revealed any details, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the probe and the safety of OPCW staff.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that OPCW inspectors should visit both the Syrian air base, which the U.S. said served as a platform for the attack, and Khan Sheikhoun to get a full and objective picture.
He said Russia vetoed a draft U.N. resolution Wednesday because it failed to mention the need to inspect the area of the attack.
"We are deeply worried by our partners in the U.N. Security Council trying to evade an honest investigation into that episode," he said.
Lavrov said he emphasized the need for a wide-ranging OPCW probe during Wednesday's talks in Moscow with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, suggesting that Western nations, Russia and some regional powers could dispatch additional experts to join the investigation.
____
Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed.
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Russian Disinformation Technology - MIT Technology Review

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On July 17, 2014, as passengers checked in at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, “Necro Mancer” (@666_mancer) tweeted about an unusual convoy 1,500 miles east in Ukraine. His citizen intelligence network had noticed a covered anti-aircraft missile system trundling through Donetsk on a low loader. Minutes later, half a world away in Brasilia, Vladimir Putin wrapped up a pre-dawn Russian press conference. His answer to the last question—about the Moscow Metro’s worst accident, two days earlier, which killed 24 people—was overlooked until Russian conspiracy theorists picked it up 15 months later. In the aftermath of the deadliest shoot-down in history, his words acquired a macabre resonance.
“Responsibility should always be personal,” said Putin. “There is a classic example from criminal law called a ‘shooting tragedy,’ when two hunters shoot at a bush thinking there is game there, and accidentally kill a man. Since experts cannot establish who did it, they are both set free … Investigators should expose the guilty party … and they should be held responsible, but only those specific individuals whose fault it was.” By day’s end, questions about guilt and responsibility for MH17’s downing were of global concern. International investigators would range from the official—well resourced and highly trained—to a self-organized group called Bellingcat. Using little more than laptops, open-source materials, and relentless dedication, these “citizen investigative journalists” would find the exact missile launcher, identify dozens of soldiers, and, eventually, reveal a senior Russian soldier with a key role in coördinating the missile launch.
The horror of the MH17 atrocity was peculiarly intimate: in the debris fields, stuffed toys spilled from children’s suitcases. It briefly brought Ukraine’s war into focus in a way that Russia’s misdirection over the annexation of Crimea, or their murky fight in the farthest corner of Europe, had failed to do. However, a deeper and wider war remained concealed.
Andrei Illarionov was Putin’s senior economic advisor, and personal representative to the G8 for five years, until he resigned in protest at growing corruption. Two months before the downing of MH17, he called Ukraine “an introductory chapter” in “the Fourth World War.” (Stalin’s dismal term for the Cold War was “World War Three.”) Illarionov dislikes the phrase, but he says it’s being used “by the Kremlin propaganda machine” for a war “being waged now by Russia against the rest of the world.”
“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
It took the weaponization of information in the 2016 U.S. presidential election for the Western world to start to notice. We now know of e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee by Russian hackers, of sophisticated botnets, of similar attacks across Europe; but the full extent of Russia’s activities is still being uncovered. Realizing that we are at war, and understanding how we can fight back, is now urgent business. The story of MH17, and Russia’s exposure, offers a grim but useful case study.
Devices of disinformation
As with the Soviets’ shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983, when 269 died, Russia’s reaction to the international outrage over MH17 was to contrive and deliver counternarratives. A buzzing and growing cloud of ever-changing claims emerged—placing the blame on a Ukrainian fighter jet, Ukrainians on the ground, or the CIA, or claiming that Putin’s private plane was the real target. Russia’s tactics, says Ben Nimmo, senior fellow in information defense at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, rely on what he calls “the 4D approach”: “Dismiss, distort, distract, dismay. Never confess, never admit—just keep on attacking.”
“The single most prevalent Russian response is to attack the critic,” he says. “They use a ‘vilify and amplify’ technique.” Critics are besmirched, sometimes in an official announcement, sometimes through proxies, sometimes through anonymous sources quoted in state media; then paid trolls and highly automated networks of bots add scale. In response, an ad hoc blend of civilians, private companies, and NGOs has evolved to cast a bright, shining light on MH17 and Russian aggression in Ukraine, Syria, and the Atlantic partnership. Exemplifying the values Italo Calvino outlined in Six Memos for the Next Millennium—lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency—their methods are in sharp contrast to the West’s generally sclerotic response to a revanchist Russia.
Nowhere is this weakness more brutally apparent than in Russia’s use of digital technology to reinforce its greatest tool of statecraft: maskirovka. The literal translation—“little masquerade”—disguises the density and importance of this elusive concept. “Military deception” misses its deep cultural roots: maskirovka involves camouflage, denial, and a deep finesse. As James Jesus Angleton, the founding counterintelligence chief of the CIA, put it, “The myriad stratagems, deceptions, artifices, and all the other devices of disinformation … confuse and split the West [with] an ever-fluid landscape, where fact and illusion merge, a kind of wilderness of mirrors.”
Disinformation confuses and splits the West with “an ever-fluid landscape ... a kind of wilderness of mirrors.”
The most powerful weapon in the maskirovka armory is disinformation, a word acquired in the 1950s from the Russian dezinformatsiya. A generation after the Cold War, the acknowledged masters of “deza” are deploying disinformation technology against the compromised immune system of liberal democracy. “And at this point,” says Andrew Andersen, a Russian-born security analyst at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, “the West is losing.”
“The first thing you need to understand is that this is a war,” says Andersen. “This is not a joke and not a game of any kind. It’s not ‘socializing with your friends on social networks’—it’s a real war. Even those who don’t want to take part have to behave in accordance with the laws of war,” he says, alluding to Trotsky’s notorious epigram, recalled by several of the interviewees for this story, that translates loosely as: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
Even the name of this new style of war is contested territory. “Ambiguous,” “hybrid,” “irregular,” and “nonlinear” warfare have all been suggested. Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at Prague’s Institute of International Relations, unpicks the issue in his new bookHybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina? Getting Russia’s Non-Linear Military Challenge Right. He admits to still worrying at it. “The more I think about what we should be calling hybrid war,” he says, “the more I think the answer is: war.”
“The Russians have, fortuitously for them, simply stumbled on a truth of the century.”
“The Russians have stumbled on how the nature of international contestation is changing and will be fought out in the 21st century. It’s an age when direct kinetic warfare [the military’s term of art for ‘things that go bang’] is ridiculously expensive, in political but also economic terms,” he says. “Instead, war will be fought out through a variety of other means, many which are covert, ambiguous, and so on. The Russians have, fortuitously for them, simply stumbled on a truth of the century.”
Foul deeds will rise
Exactly an hour before MH17 took off, Necro Mancer tweeted a tentative identification: “It visually resembles a BUK a lot.” (Buks are a family of Russian-made mobile medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.) A Donetsk man of around 50, he spends “almost all” his free time scanning popular Russian-language social-media sites like Vkontakte (“In Contact”), known as “Russia’s Facebook,” and Odnoklassniki (“Classmates”); listening to pro-Russian channels on the walkie-talkie app Zello; and sharing civilian reports of military activities. As an additional hobby, he uses open sources to curate a list, linked in his Twitter profile, of several thousand Russian and pro-Russian dead, “because they hide them.”
“I cannot fight as a soldier, so I try to do my best,” he says of a conflict that has led to more than 30,000 casualties and millions displaced. He’s just one of many keyboard partisans in the war dominating Europe’s largest country. After the annexation of Crimea, the subsequent invasion of eastern Ukraine, and the MH17 shoot-down, the world’s scrutiny of Russian behavior in the region dwindled. Yet Ukraine—site of the continent’s first military incursion by a neighbor since Stalin subjugated Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain—is, as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said in a speech in 2015, “an emerging laboratory for future 21st-century warfare.”
The 34-ton Buk-M1 TELAR (“transporter erector launcher and radar”), and its bodyguard of irregular troops, rolled through the southeast corner of what the Yale historian Timothy Snyder has christened the Bloodlands. Here, in living memory—between 1933 and 1945—a hellish amalgam of Nazis and Soviets (sometimes collaborating, more often at war) were responsible for 14 million civilian deaths. “During the years that both Hitler and Stalin were in power,” Snyder writes, “more people were killed in Ukraine than anywhere else in the Bloodlands, or in Europe, or in the world.”
Half an hour after MH17 took off, another Ukrainian curator, @WowihaY, tweeted that the convoy had passed through his hometown of Torez, 45 miles east of Donetsk, headed to the city of Snizhne. There, the Buk was unloaded from a white Volvo low-loader truck before continuing south under its own power. Passing through checkpoints held by Russian--backed insurgents, it set up in a field and, at 4:20 p.m. local time, fired a 1,500-pound missile 33,000 feet into the air. Carrying a high-explosive fragmentation warhead weighing 154 pounds, it nearly reached Mach 3. On board MH17 were 15 crew and 283 passengers, including 80 children in 20 family groups and a party, led by the virologist and former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange, heading for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.
The warhead exploded around four meters to the upper left of the airplane’s nose. Dying bodies fell “like confetti” for around 90 seconds. One female victim crashed through the corrugated roof of a house into a kitchen. Autopsies found hundreds of metal fragments in the captain’s corpse, another 120 in the first officer, and a bow-tie-shaped fragment—unique to the Buk-M1’s 9N314M warhead—embedded in one of the flight crew.
For long days, governments scrambled to negotiate access with hostile irregular forces, probably composed of what Galeotti calls “a mix of regular Russian units, ad hoc collections of nationalists and adventurers, and everything in between.” These auxiliaries, largely organized by the GRU (the Russian army’s foreign military intelligence agency), now controlled what a spokesman for investigators with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called “the biggest crime scene in the world.” The hot sun glittered. It was summer. It was very warm.
Penetrating the smog of war
Three days earlier Eliot Higgins, a highly regarded citizen journalist, had launched his crowdfunded project Bellingcat in beta. Bellingcat would use open-source information, he promised, “to investigate, collaborate, and report on worldwide issues that are being underreported and ignored … Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Jihadists, Shia armed groups, the U.K. phone hacking scandal, police corruption, and more.” That “and more” swiftly became the downing of MH17. Bellingcat could have been designed for the challenge. Less than six hours after the shoot-down, Higgins had found, identified, archived, uploaded, and shared a 35-second video—titled in Russian “The Murder Weapon Malaysians Snizhne”—in which the Buk, now led by a single vehicle, rumbled ominously through Snizhne. Two years later, the Dutch-led international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) would use the video in its findings.
The official investigation by the Dutch Safety Board, conducted in parallel with the JIT’s, embodied a century of hard-won knowledge about air accidents. Over 15 months, the $4.8 million investigation reconstructed substantial parts of the Boeing 777. A wealth of expertise fortifies every part of the 279-page report and its 26 appendices, showing precisely how flight MH17 was destroyed. In their effort to find out what happened—and who was responsible—the JIT’s hundreds of investigators have, among other tasks, processed 1,448 pieces of wreckage, heard over 200 witnesses, analyzed 150,000 intercepted calls as well as half a million photos and videos, and produced over 6,000 reports. Although determined to keep their powder exceptionally dry for future criminal prosecutions, last September they presented preliminary results. After noting the efforts of “research collectives like Bellingcat,” they reached an unequivocal conclusion: a Buk-M1 TELAR, armed with 9M38M1 missiles carrying 9N314M warheads, traveled from the Russian Federation into Ukraine, fired from a launch site roughly halfway between the villages of Pervomais’kyi (May Day) and Chervonyi Zhovten (Red October), and then returned to Russia.
On a shoestring budget, using social media and satellite photography, and tapping into a network of obsessives, Bellingcat’s detective work has produced impressive results. In a series of reports, participants identified the actual Buk—unit designation number 332—and its battalion in Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. Comparing dozens of Buks, and analyzing photos shared on Vkontakte between 2009 and 2013, they homed in on seven characteristic markers. These included exhaust deposit patterns, dents, the arrangements of cable connections to the missile erector, fonts (and spacing) on the digits, and the vehicles’ mix of hollow and spoked wheels on each side. A Bellingcat with an intelligence background developed an innovative type of “fingerprinting”: using 3-D software “to solve the problem of comparing two vehicles with perspective-distorted photos,” he noticed there were unique patterns of deformation in the protective rubber side skirts above the wheels.
Bellingcat was also the first to publicly describe the route the Buk took through Russia in late June and into and out of Ukraine before, during, and after July 17. The project has since identified several dozen soldiers associated with Unit 32406—the 53rd Brigade—by piecing together content and friend lists on Vkontakte, cross-referenced with posts on a forum for the often anxious mothers and wives of soldiers. (The murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya wrote movingly on this subject in her essay “My Country’s Army, and Its Mothers.”)
The penumbra of uncertainty
None of this cuts much ice in Russia. The Kremlin’s fog machine went into overdrive. The full panoply of Russian state media, troll farms, semi-automated botnets, and what Russian novelist Nikolai Leskov called “useful fools and silly enthusiasts” began their murky work. The Russian government’s response to the shooting down of MH17 was a charade, wrapped in a travesty, inside a miasma: a relentless campaign of abuse and deceit, trying to entangle every fact of the matter in a net of disinformation. Numerous attempts were made to hack the Dutch Safety Board. Several Bellingcats experienced spear-phishing attacks. Other targets included French and U.K. TV channels, NATOOSCE, and the PolishDutchFinnish, and Norwegian governments, as well as German political parties.
The primary “threat actor” was a cyber-espionage group called Fancy Bear (which has several names, including Tsar Team, APT28, Strontium, and Iron Twilight): Russia-based, and in all probability controlled by the GRU. As during the operations against the U.S. election last year, Fancy Bear seemed careless about disguising its activities. (FBI director James Comey, testifying to the House Committee on Intelligence in March, called the group “very noisy.”)
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People Power 2.0
How civilians helped win the Libyan information war.
Fighting this cyber-espionage is CrowdStrike’s Dmitri Alperovitch (in 2013, one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators under 35). He was the lead computer security consultant on the DNC hacks and has been instrumental in identifying major Chinese and Russian hacking groups. Alperovitch grew up in Russia until his family moved to the United States in 1995. Like many people of Russian origin, he has strong feelings about disinformation. “The power of cyber,” he says, “isn’t the ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’ scenario—which we’ve been talking about for 25 years now and hasn’t happened. The real power is in information.”
Alperovitch thinks Russia gets “the true nature of the battlefield” in a way the West does not: “They’ve been thinking about this for a very long time—it actually goes at least as far back as the Tsarist era in the 1860s, when they created one of the first modern intelligence agencies, the Okhranka.” After the 1917 revolution, when the Bolsheviks opened the Okhranka’s archives, “they were shocked to discover how infiltrated they were and how much disinformation had weakened their movement,” he says. “They modeled the KGB on the successes of Okhranka. So they didn’t invent it—they stole it.”
To sunlight we can now add another powerful disinfectant: global, peer-to-peer, open-source investigation.
The highest-ranking Soviet-bloc defector to the West—Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the former chief of Romania’s espionage service—has exposed even deeper roots. In a book he recently coauthored, Disinformation, Pacepa cites the Marquis de Custine, Russia’s Tocqueville, who wrote in 1839: “Everything is deception in Russia.” Custine quotes a distinguished and well-traveled Russian diplomat quietly confessing, “Russian despotism not only pays little respect to ideas and sentiments, it will also deny facts; it will struggle against evidence, and triumph in the struggle!” The tsar, and then Lenin, banned Custine’s work.
The U.S. diplomat George Kennan, whose “Long Telegram” to the U.S. State Department shaped the Cold War and NATO, so admired Custine that he wrote a book about him in 1971. Kennan thought that much of Custine’s analysis still rang true: “the neurotic relationship to the West; the frantic fear of foreign observation; the obsession with espionage; the secrecy; the systematic mystification; the general silence of intimidation; the preoccupation with appearances at the expense of reality; the systematic cultivation of falsehood as a weapon of policy; the tendency to rewrite the past.” (Among Putin’s methods, not least is the effort to ban history books as part of “the war of memories.”) Kennan called Russians “one of the world’s greatest peoples,” but he retained a clear-eyed mistrust of their leaders. 
Expectation in the air
“Answer in kind!” commands Edward Luttwak, the eminent if colorful military strategist and historian. Speaking from Moscow, he suggests that we respond aggressively to the global hacking of truth. “There are ample opportunities to hit back,” he says, “but nobody is using them.  There are a thousand stories here, openly circulated.” (He shares one picked up in the Beluga caviar bar from two billionaires the previous night.) Putinism can be likened to the Golden Horde “in advanced Mongol form,” he says. “It’s not just the Great Khan who must have billions of dollars: now the companions of the Court must also be multibillionaires.” He suggests using these stories “to ‘disassemble’ Putin.”
To sunlight we can now add another powerful disinfectant: global, peer-to-peer, open-source investigation. On the day Bellingcat opened for business in 2014, Russia began an artillery bombardment from within its own borders, using its own equipment and soldiers. It still lies about the barrage, as it does about most of its actions in Ukraine. Last December, Bellingcat fired back a salvo of truth: an interactive map showing hundreds of artillery strikes on Ukraine made from Russian territory. Open-source investigation was also used by Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a recent, virally shared video that exposed the scale of Russian corruption. Bolstered by drone footage documenting the leadership’s spoils, the facts brought out tens of thousands in protests across Russia.
Earlier this year, Bellingcat identified the man who called the instrument of MH17’s destruction “my Buk-M.” In several tapped phone calls released by SBU (Ukraine’s secret service) and the JIT, he was called Sergey Petrovsky. But Bellingcat uncovered his real identity: Sergey Dubinsky, a veteran of Russia’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. The calls begin as MH17 passengers are embarking: Dubinsky can be heard coördinating several still-unidentified people as they head to the launch site. Calling himself “Bad”—from his call sign, “Bad Soldier”—Dubinsky would later prove his identity to a skeptical user on a forum by confirming he owned a black Peugeot 3008: Bellingcat found a dash-cam video showing a black Peugeot 3008 leading the missile-launcher convoy east of Donetsk. Bellingcat also found evidence of Dubinsky acknowledging that he was indeed the voice on the recordings. Instrumental in smashing apart the lives of others, -Dubinsky responded to the Bellingcat reports with an e-mail to the BBC, sent from his home in Russia, that was openly contemptuous, describing his “Homeric laughter.”
Today, at any one time, facts keep a city of several hundred thousand people safely in the air. Most of those air dwellers carry smartphones equipped with the GPS technology that Ronald Reagan accelerated into civilian use in response to Russia’s shoot-down of KAL Flight 007. Perhaps we could gain something similar from MH17: a better global positioning system, this time for information. If it is to work, it is unlikely to be entirely technological.
John Pollock has written for MIT Technology Review about the role of social media in the Arab uprisings (“Streetbook,” July/August 2011) and that of civilians in the Libyan information war (“People Power 2.0,” March/April 2012).
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U.S. Takes Sharper Tone on Russia’s Role in Syria

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In Moscow, Mr. Tillerson came away from a two-hour meeting with Mr. Putin — the first such face-to-face session of the Trump administration — without reaching agreement on facts involving the chemical weapons assault in Syria or Russian interference in the American election. And sharply diverging from the meeting of the minds between the United States and Russia that Mr. Trump frequently aspired to when he was campaigning, there was no visible warming of the relationship.
“There is a low level of trust between our countries,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov. “The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship.”
The most immediate casualty of the clash was Russia’s decision last week to suspend a communication channel, set up in 2015, to share information about American and Russian air operations over Syria to avoid possible conflict. Mr. Lavrov said on Wednesday that “we’re willing to put it back into force” if Washington and Moscow can resolve their differences.
Further punctuating the Syria dispute, Russia on Wednesday vetoed a Western-backed resolution at the United Nations Security Council that condemned the chemical weapons attack. It was the eighth time in the six-year-old Syrian civil war that Russia, one of the five permanent Security Council members, had used its veto power to shield the government in Damascus. But in a possible sign of Russia’s isolation on the chemical weapons issue, China, the permanent member that usually votes with Russia on Syria resolutions, abstained.
The vote came the day after Mr. Trump spoke by phone to President Xi Jinping of China, whom he hosted last week at a summit at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Fla. White House officials said they credited the relationship between the two leaders that was forged during the visit, and the conversation Tuesday evening, with helping to influence China’s vote.
The day began with harsh words from Mr. Trump toward Mr. Putin, whom he had once praised effusively.
“I really think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Russia to make sure that peace happens, because frankly, if Russia didn’t go in and back this animal, we wouldn’t have a problem right now,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network, referring to Mr. Assad. “Putin is backing a person that’s truly an evil person, and I think it’s very bad for Russia. I think it’s very bad for mankind. It’s very bad for this world.”
Later, after a meeting at the White House with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, Mr. Trump went out of his way to praise the military institution, which he called a “great alliance,” and to express disappointment with Russia.
Asked whether it was possible that Syrian forces could have launched the chemical attack without Russia’s knowledge, Mr. Trump said: “It’s certainly possible; I think it’s probably unlikely.”
“I would like to think that they didn’t know, but certainly they could have. They were there,” Mr. Trump said of the Russians during a 30-minute news conference at the White House.
Even as they have intensified their criticism of Russia for backing Mr. Assad, other senior Trump administration officials, including Mr. Tillerson and Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, have been careful to say there is no consensus that Moscow had foreknowledge that the Assad government planned to launch a chemical assault.
“Right now, we’re not getting along with Russia at all — we may be at an all-time low in terms of a relationship with Russia,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. Still, he held out hope that the United States and Russia could come to terms, suggesting that Mr. Tillerson’s talks with Mr. Putin had gone better than expected.
A quick détente seemed a remote possibility, given the level of tension surrounding the aftermath of the Syrian chemical weapons attack. On Tuesday, the White House accused Mr. Putin’s government of covering up evidence that Mr. Assad had been responsible for the sarin assault, which was launched from a base where Russian troops are operating.
Mr. Putin shot back that the charge was fabricated and accused the administration of Mr. Trump, who American intelligence agencies believe benefited during the election campaign from Russian cyberattacks intended to embarrass his Democratic rival, of fabricating the evidence to create a fake confrontation.
Amid the rift with Russia, Mr. Trump made a striking reversal on NATO, saying the alliance had transformed into an effective one since he took office.
“I said it was obsolete; it’s no longer obsolete,” Mr. Trump said, standing beside Mr. Stoltenberg.
Mr. Trump attributed his change of heart to unspecified transformations within NATO, which he said were a direct response to criticism he had leveled that the alliance was not doing enough to combat terrorism.
“I complained about that a long time ago,” Mr. Trump said, “and they changed.”
It was not clear what the president was referring to; NATO forces have been fighting alongside the United States in Afghanistan for more than a decade, an effort focused on combating terrorist groups including the Taliban.
Still, the turnabout drew praise from some lawmakers who had been concerned with Mr. Trump’s previous stance.
“Without NATO, the Soviet Union would be quarterbacking half of Europe today and Putin knows it,” said Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska. “NATO is the most successful military alliance in human history. This was the right decision.”
His comments came hours after a senior White House official said the Trump administration had supported the admission of Montenegro into NATO this week, in part to counter the influence of Russia in the small Balkan nation. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official cited “credible reports” that Moscow had backed a plot for a violent Election Day attack there last fall.
Mr. Trump on Tuesday signed the paperwork allowing Montenegro to enter NATO, two weeks after the Senate approved the move in a March 28 vote. The country’s admission, White House officials said in a statement, should signal to other nations aspiring to join the alliance that “the door to membership in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations remains open and that countries in the western Balkans are free to choose their own future and select their own partners without outside interference or intimidation.”
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