Tag Archives: CIA

Support Sen. John McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel at CIA

For the past several days the media has been consumed by the story that White House communications special aide Kelly Sadler joked in a staff meeting about Sen. John McCain’s opposition to President Trump’s nominee for the CIA, Gina Haspel: “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.White House official mocked ‘dying’ McCain at internal meeting.

While Kelly Sadler has called the McCain family to apologize privately, she has not been terminated nor has she or the White House publicly apologized for her comment. The Trump White House crossed a new threshold for political debasement this week:

U. S. Senator John McCain

The White House probably thinks it cannot punish Kelly Sadler for her awful comment about John McCain because President Trump has also said nasty things about McCain. It may worry that showing her the door would set a troubling precedent for a president who may one day cross a very similar line.

Welcome to the ongoing degradation of our political discourse. Destination: No end in sight.

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What happened this week is worse than most anything we have seen — worse even, I would argue, than Trump questioning McCain’s war hero status. What’s more, the White House is trying to ignore it, which means the bulldozer is pressing forward.

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Either because the White House is afraid of setting a standard Trump cannot meet or because Trump is demanding it hold the line against the media’s outrage cycle, it is serving notice there are more important things than Sadler’s public accountability: things like confidentiality and politics.

Case in point, Trump blasts the White House leakers as ‘traitors and cowards’:

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Russia attacks Britain, Putin’s puppet fires his Secretary of State (Updated)

Events over the past week portend a developing international crisis.

On Sunday, March 4, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England. Was the Poisoning of a Former Russian Spy a Chemical Weapons Attack?

Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still in critical condition after they were found slumped on a park bench on March 4. The officer who found them is also still in the hospital but is communicative. At least 21 people received medical attention, and hundreds more who visited the restaurant where the nerve agent has been detected may have been exposed and have been urged to wash their clothes.

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The Skripal poisoning wasn’t a battlefield attack, of course, but the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which both Russia and Britain are signatories, prohibits the use of toxic chemicals such as nerve agents except for a few, specifically described purposes; assassinating ex-spies on foreign soil is not one of them.

British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed Parliament on Monday regarding the chemical weapon attack in Salisbury, England last week. In her address, she squarely placed the blame for the chemical weapons attack on the Russian government:

Mr. Speaker, this morning I chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in which we considered the information so far available. As is normal, the Council was updated on the assessment and intelligence picture, as well as the state of the investigation.

It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.

Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

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The Special Counsel focuses on the heart of the Russia investigation (updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is beginning to ask direct questions about whether Donald Trump knew about the stolen Democratic emails from the 2016 presidential election before their theft became public knowledge — as well as whether he was in any way involved in how they were released during the campaign. Mueller asking if Trump knew about hacked Democratic emails before release:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.

The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.

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Spy v. Spy: James Risen explains how the U.S. knows so much about the Russian cyber attack on the U.S. election

James Risen is a former New York Times national security reporter who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his stories about President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. He also was a member of The New York Times reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for coverage of the September 11th attacks and terrorism. Risen also authored two books about the CIA, The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB (Random House) (2003), and State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (The Free Press) (2006).

You may recall that Risen was subject to being held in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify about the sources of his information in United States v. Sterling. In the end, Risen was not called to testify at a trial, which ended a seven-year legal fight over whether he could/would be forced to identify his confidential sources.

James Risen is now working as an investigative reporter for The Intercept. In his first column for The Intercept, his latest investigative reporting is the provocatively titled IS DONALD TRUMP A TRAITOR?:Trump and Russia Part 1 (excerpts):

The fact that such an unstable egomaniac occupies the White House is the greatest threat to the national security of the United States in modern history.

Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor?

Did he gain the presidency through collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin?

One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment.

His 2016 campaign is the subject of an ongoing federal inquiry that could determine whether Trump or people around him worked with Moscow to take control of the U.S. government. Americans must now live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the president has the best interests of the United States or those of the Russian Federation at heart.

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Intelligence agencies are at odds with President Trump on Russian interference in 2018 midterms

The nation’s five intelligence heads, all Trump appointees, were on the Hill yesterday testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. All five testified that Russia interfered in our presidential election in 2016, and is already interfering in our 2018 midterm elections, and that President Trump has not issued them any express directives to stop the Russian interference. The nation’s top spies said Russia is continuing to target the U.S. political system:

The nation’s top intelligence chiefs were united Tuesday in declaring that Russia is continuing efforts to disrupt the U.S. political system and is targeting the 2018 midterm elections, following its successful operation to sow discord in the most recent presidential campaign.

Their assessment stands in contrast to President Trump, who has repeatedly voiced skepticism of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In fact, CNN reports, Trump still unconvinced Russia meddled in 2016 election: President Donald Trump still isn’t buying that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, even as his intelligence chiefs unanimously told a Senate panel Tuesday that Russia meddled in 2016 and is planning to do so again in 2018, three sources familiar with the President’s thinking say he remains unconvinced that Russia interfered in the presidential election.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, Democrats demanded to know what the intelligence community is doing to counter Russia’s actions and whether Trump has given explicit directions to do so.

“We cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, without a whole-of-government response when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

The disconnect between Trump and his senior-most intelligence advisers has raised concerns that the U.S. government will not be able to mount an effective plan to beat back Russian influence operations in the upcoming midterm elections. And Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said there is “no single agency in charge” of blocking Russian meddling, an admission that drew the ire of Democrats.

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Follow the money: the Trump connection to Deutsche Bank and Russian money

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Special Counsel Mueller Subpoenas Deutsche Bank Records Related to Trump:

Deutsche Bank received a subpoena earlier in the fall from U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s office concerning people or entities affiliated with President Donald Trump, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The subpoena requested documents and data about accounts and other dealings tied to relationships with Mr. Trump and people close to him, the person said. The bank has lent more than $300 million to entities affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to public disclosures.

Ty Cobb, the White House’s chief lawyer handling the Russia investigation, said bank records of Mr. Trump and his family weren’t subpoenaed. “Previous reports today about subpoenas for financial records relating to the president and his family are false,” Mr. Cobb said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said Tuesday that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.” The subpoena was earlier reported by German newspaper Handelsblatt.

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