Tag Archives: propaganda

Latest in the Putin-Trump campaign investigation

There are several new reports on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation front.

The New York Times reports that Trump Adviser’s Visit to Moscow Got the F.B.I.’s Attention:

Ever since F.B.I. investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau’s attention.

That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials.

It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page’s visit drew the F.B.I.’s interest: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else.

After Mr. Page, 45 — a Navy veteran and businessman who had lived in Moscow for three years — stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the F.B.I. obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the authorities to monitor his communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent.

From the Russia trip of the once-obscure Mr. Page grew a wide-ranging investigation, now accompanied by two congressional inquiries, that has cast a shadow over the early months of the Trump administration.

Continue reading

Trump’s phantom ‘armada’ leads to mockery and distrust in South Korea

The Trump White House and the Pentagon were either deliberately deceiving the American people last week, or they were so incompetent that they just didn’t know what they were doing. It’s likely a combination of both. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker reports, Donald Trump, North Korea, and the case of the phantom armada:

Some degree of delusion always has to be factored in with Donald Trump: when he referred to “the aircraft carriers” and, in another interview, with Fox Business, said that “we are sending an armada, very powerful,” he was widely understood to be referring to a single aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, and its support ships. In fairness, the Vinson would have been powerful and provocative enough—if it had, in fact, been speeding toward the Korean Peninsula, or the Sea of Japan, or even just the Pacific Ocean, which it was not. It was in the Indian Ocean, headed in the opposite direction, for exercises with what might be described as the Australian Armada. Just when you think you see the contours of Trump’s phantom menace, he comes up with a Phantom Fleet.

[T]he movements of a carrier group can’t be so hard to conceal, except, perhaps, from the people in charge of America’s foreign policy. Trump wasn’t alone on this one; it’s not a case of him just causing trouble with his phone and Twitter account, rambling about bad hombres. As the timeline makes clear, it’s even worse. (The Wall Street Journal and the Times have good versions.) On April 9th, three days before Trump’s Wall Street Journal interview, the Navy had said that it had ordered the Vinson “to sail north”; H. R. McMaster, the national-security adviser, reiterated that news on the same day, framing it as a response to North Korea’s own provocative moves. Secretary of Defense James Mattis followed that up on April 11th by saying that the Indian Ocean exercises were off, and said that the Vinson was “just on her way up there.” That was false. The next day, the Navy said again that the Vinson had been “ordered north”; it added that the effects of that deployment on “other previously scheduled activities are still being assessed during the transit.” The Pentagon is now trying to sell that last bit as a quiet correction of Mattis, which the press mysteriously missed—but that is, simply put, ridiculous. For one thing, there’s the phrase “during the transit,” which assumes that transit had begun. Or is the idea that the Vinson was on its way to the Sea of Japan, in the sense that we are all on our way from cradle to grave, or that Trump is in transit from the Oval Office to choosing items for the gift shop in his Presidential library? A lot can happen in between.

Continue reading

The GOP to smear Susan Rice to distract from Trump lies

I’ve posted about this previously, but it bears repeating: A review of the surveillance material flagged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes shows no inappropriate action by Susan Rice or any other Obama administration official, Republican and Democratic Congressional aides who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News. Susan Rice Did Nothing Wrong, Say Both Dems and Republicans:

Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees from both parties have traveled to NSA headquarters to review the relevant intelligence reports.

“I saw no evidence of any wrongdoing,” said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents, who would not agree to be identified further. “It was all completely normal.”

His assessment was shared by a senior Republican aide who had been briefed on the matter but declined to speak on the record.

The finding by lawmakers of both parties was first reported by CNN.

It was a fake “scandal” manufactured by the Trump White House to create a distraction in which House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes was a complicit participant. Ryan Lizza writes at the New Yorker, The Continuing Fallout From Trump and Nunes’s Fake Scandal:

Recently, several members and staffers on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s role in the Presidential election, visited the National Security Agency, in Fort Meade, Maryland. Inside the enormous black glass headquarters of America’s largest spy agency, the congressmen and their aides were shown a binder of two to three dozen pages of highly classified intercepts, mostly transcripts of conversations between foreign government officials that took place during the Presidential transition. These intercepts were not related to the heart of the committee’s Russia investigation. In fact, only one of the documents had anything to do with Russia, according to an official who reviewed them.

Continue reading

The conservative media entertainment complex is an ancillary to Russian ‘active measures’ propaganda

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post reports on how the conservative media entertainment complex and the Trump administration are amplifying “active measures” (propaganda) practiced by the Russians, as we learned from expert testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Anatomy of a fake scandal, ginned up by right-wing media and Trump:

President Trump started off his morning as he often does, by settling in to watch the festival of nincompoopery that is “Fox & Friends.” On the show, he saw something that he believes vindicates the bizarre and false charge he made that Barack Obama was tapping his phones during the presidential campaign.

I’ll try to sort through the substance of all this. But I also want to make a broader argument about how Trump’s support system — inside his government but especially in the conservative media and on Fox, which is where he apparently gets most of his intelligence information — is playing to his worst instincts, harming him politically, and making his presidency even more dangerous.

Today’s antics all started with a report on “Fox & Friends” in which correspondent Adam Housley reported that a high-ranking Obama administration official had requested the “unmasking” of the names of Trump officials who were caught up in surveillance of foreign targets. Ordinarily, when a U.S. person shows up in such surveillance — say, talking to a Russian ambassador whose communications are being monitored — that person’s identity is blacked out in reports on the surveillance. While Housley did not identify the Obama administration official, he did say that Trump associates were being picked up by this surveillance for a year before Trump took office.

Continue reading

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: Russia’s ‘active measures’ are ongoing

The Senate Intelligence Committee held its first hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. election on Thursday. The committee heard from a series of expert witnesses on Russia’s use of “active measures” and manipulating social media with “fake news” (propaganda) and “bots,” and an army of trolls to influence media narratives and voters.

One of the more compelling witnesses was former FBI special agent Clint Watts, who testified that “part of the reason active measures worked in this U.S. election is because the Commander-in-Chief [Trump] has used Russian active measures at times, against his opponents.” Think Progress reports, Former FBI agent details how Trump and Russia team up to weaponize fake news:

During the first public Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about Russia’s meddling in the presidential election on Thursday, former FBI special agent Clint Watts explained how Russia and the Trump campaign team up to weaponize fake news.

Asked by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) about why Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to make more of an effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election than in years past, Watts, who is now a a fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, said, “the answer is very simple and it’s what nobody is really saying in this room.”

“Which is, part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the Commander-in-Chief [Trump] has used Russian active measures at times, against his opponents,” Watts continued.

Continue reading

McClatchy News: Russia uses ‘bots’ and trolls for information war against U.S.

For those of you who live on social media sites and believe just about anything you see posted there (don’t deny it, I can tell from the comments and links I see posted), this latest report from McClatchy News should cause you to question your faith in social media and embarrass you for having been an “unwitting agent” or “useful idiot” of the Russians. Some of our blog trolls may not be who they claim to be. Just sayin’.

But first, make no mistake: we are engaged in a cyber war with Russia, in a new strategy for information warfare:

Andrey Krutskikh, a senior Kremlin adviser, made the startling comments at the Russian national information security forum, or “Infoforum 2016,” held Feb. 4 and 5.

* * *

Krutskikh as a “senior-level adviser” to President Vladimir Putin and “a long-standing player in cyber issues” at the foreign ministry. The official said he couldn’t confirm the details of Krutskikh’s remarks, but that “they sound like something Andrey would say.”

According to notes of Krutskikh’s speech, he told his Russian audience: “You think we are living in 2016. No, we are living in 1948. And do you know why? Because in 1949, the Soviet Union had its first atomic bomb test. And if until that moment, the Soviet Union was trying to reach agreement with [President Harry] Truman to ban nuclear weapons, and the Americans were not taking us seriously, in 1949 everything changed and they started talking to us on an equal footing.”

Krutskikh continued, “I’m warning you: We are at the verge of having ‘something’ in the information arena, which will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals.”

Continue reading