Tag Archives: Cyber War

The White House is stonewalling the Trump-Russia investigations (Updated)

A highly anticipated House Intelligence Committee interview with Stephen Bannon has been postponed until next week the committee said on Tuesday, as negotiations continue over the terms of his appearance. Bannon’s House Intel testimony postponed:

Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, was expected to skip his scheduled appearance Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, according to sources familiar with his plans. The move sets the stage for a showdown with lawmakers who had issued a bipartisan subpoena for his testimony.

“This is unacceptable, and the Committee remains united on this matter — the Committee’s subpoena remains in effect and his interview has been rescheduled for next week. Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the committee’s ranking Democrat said on Tuesday in a statement. “Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”

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(Update) Analysis by former FBI agent of Nunes Memo

In an earlier post, House Intelligence Committee releases controversial Nunes Memo – and an analysis that destroys it, I included a link to an analysis by Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent who has been through the process of obtaining these kinds of warrants under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), written before the release of the Nunes Memo. Five Questions the Nunes Memo Better Answer.

Asha Rangappa has updated her analysis in an op-ed at the Washington Post after the Nunes Memo has been released. Devin Nunes tried to discredit the FBI. Instead, he proved it’s onto something.

The point of the memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and released Friday afternoon was supposed to be to expose corruption at the highest levels of the FBI. But what the memo actually did — albeit surely not intentionally — was exactly the opposite. In a brief 3½ pages, Nunes managed to confirm that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia has a very solid basis and that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III must keep looking into the case.

As a former special agent for the FBI working on counterintelligence, I used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, so I’m familiar with the procedures Nunes implies the FBI abused in this case. To initiate surveillance on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page in October 2016, the government would have had to demonstrate that Page was “knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of” Russia. Importantly, the “knowingly” requirement applies only to “U.S. persons” such as Page, not to foreign nationals — which means the government had a slightly higher burden in his case. It takes months and even years to obtain enough relevant evidence for a FISA application, which can include details from physical surveillance, phone and financial records, items recovered from the target’s trash and intelligence obtained from other sources. So the FISA application would probably have outlined the bureau’s efforts going all the way back to 2013, when Page was approached by the FBI, which warned him, based on recordings of Russian intelligence officers, that he was being targeted for recruitment as a Russian spy. (That same year, Page also reportedly wrote in a letter to an academic publisher that he was an “informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin.”) In counterintelligence investigations, this kind of interview would have been intended to “neutralize” the Russians: The idea is that anyone who was being unwittingly developed as a spy, as Page appeared to be, would be dismayed to realize what was happening and would immediately cease further contact with their intelligence contacts.

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Donald Trump goes full authoritarian demagogue despot (Updated)

As Robert Mueller closes in, Donald Trump is becoming more authoritarian.  Now he is accusing anyone who does not bow down and kiss the feet of King Trump of “treason” (he is the one doing the bidding of his pal Putin).  If you are not one of his blindly loyal sycophant supporters in his cult of personality, you are “un-American.” Quite the opposite is true.  Trump accuses Dems of ‘treasonous’ behavior:

President Trump on Monday accused Democrats of “treasonous” behavior during his State of the Union address, escalating partisan tensions during a crucial stretch for Congress.

Trump took aim at Democratic lawmakers who refused to applaud during his speech last week when he mentioned his achievements during his first year in office, a reaction he called “un-American.”

Can we call that treason? Why not?” the president said during a speech in Ohio. “They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Trump signaled that Democrats’ refusal to cheer “very positive news” in his speech, such as low unemployment rates for Hispanics and African-Americans, will make it difficult for him to work with them on government spending and immigration.

He said the Democrats “would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well,” calling their behavior “very selfish.”

The president used the 47-minute speech as a warm-up act for the 2018 midterm elections, even though the White House billed it as an official event, and not a political one, meaning taxpayers footed the bill.

He took repeated shots at Democratic congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and praised Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, who is running for Senate in the fall.

Trump also attacked Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) for voting against his tax overhaul, which the president said is bolstering the economy.

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Senator John McCain’s response to GOP attacks on the FBI and DOJ

Arizona’s Senator John McCain responded to the release of the controversial Nunes Memo in a statement. STATEMENT BY SASC CHAIRMAN JOHN McCAIN ON PARTISAN ATTACKS ON THE FBI & DOJ:

U. S. Senator John McCain

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on partisan attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

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Donald Trump and his congressional allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy

For those of you who have been distracted by other less important matters, as of today we are officially in a constitutional crisis.

The threat to our democracy is now at DEFCON 1. To paraphrase, “Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country.” This is not a drill.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee disregarded a Justice Department  letter last week to Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee’s Republican chairman, from Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, advising him it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the “Nunes Memo” drawing on classified information without official review.

According to the ranking minority member on the committee Rep. Adam Schiff, and the Transcript of House Intelligence Committee Meeting Regarding the Nunes Memo, the committee chairman, Devin Nunes, despite meeting with FBI Director Wray on Sunday regarding the concerns of the FBI, refused to even hear from the FBI in the committee hearing regarding their concerns for national security sources and methods (pp.2-21):

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It should be noted that this committee hearing was the first time it was disclosed to Democrats on the committee that chairman Devin Nunes and several Republican members on his committee were conducting their own investigation into the FBI and Department of Justice, something that was not approved by a vote of the committee.

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Trump refuses to impose new sanctions on Russia despite ongoing cyber war attacks against the U.S.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in an interview with the BBC on Monday that he expects Russia to try to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections. The director of the CIA expects Russia will try to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections:

“I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” Pompeo told BBC reporter Gordon Corera. “But I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election (and) that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”

Pompeo also told the BBC that, despite some cooperation on anti-terrorism efforts, he views Russia as an adversary, stressing that they are still trying to influence the US and Europe.

Despite the fact that the U.S. is still under cyber war attacks from a hostile Russian government, Putin’s Puppet in the White House on Monday refused to impose new sanctions on Russia that Congress had overwhelmingly approved. Trump Administration Won’t Impose Sanctions on Buyers of Russian Arms:

The Trump administration announced Monday that it had decided against imposing any sanctions on countries that buy Russian military equipment, saying that a new law was already deterring billions of dollars in such purchases.

The law required that sanctions be imposed against large purchasers of Russian arms, but it granted exceptions for a variety of reasons. The administration explained the exceptions it was citing to members of Congress in a classified briefing on Monday.

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