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USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!
As for Bolton - that is the single most frightening thing Trump has done so far of many! I think I'm afraid for the future of the USA and World now much more than before.....only very bad things can come of that......war and more war and then more war...... Trump is going all neocon now and picked a BIG one - in the Rummy & Chaney camp. We might even get another '911'. For sure many millions will die soon for nothing but Trump's inflated and corrupt ego along with his corrupt and deluded crew.

As for Mueller. It is clear he played a part in the 911 cover-up on several different levels. I don't see that he was pivotal in that, but he certainly did the wrong things in covering-up what happened on that day and in the very related Anthrax [Patriot Act] thing. Yes, he has bad genes. He was FBI and they have been organized evil and cover-up since their inception. A good and honest FBI man was and is a rare thing - and most of them quit in disgust at some point in their career [William Turner comes to mind]. Corrupt, lying, anti-democratic, anti-law, anti-Constitution, racist, hateful, spiteful, paranoid moral idiots like Dame Hoover were more the norm than the exception. The FBI is the American Gestapo-light. That said, I think (and am willing to accept as evidence comes that I am wrong) that Mueller is really after Trump and his crew's real crimes, money-laundering, and dirty business dealings despite his bad showing on 9-11 and his familial past. Time will tell, and I think quite soon. Of course some in the upper management of FBI as with some in the upper management of the Military and CIA and several other powerful agencies are part of the Hidden Government - although I think the real power there are persons not in any government purchased seat. Not everything and not everyone is part of some grand conspiracy, and I think too many who study in this field are prone to make such assumptions without sufficient evidence. There are even gradations of how much individuals participate in real ongoing conspiracies vs. following the law and Constitution - it is not black/white on/off. Trump had it in for the intelligence agencies and vice-versa from the day of his taking the oath of office - even before. The real reasons for this are murky - as they are all right-wing and basically anti-democratic, anti-rule of law, authoritarian, even proto-fascist. There is very little glue holding what little remains of US polity together, a three-part governance, any rule of law, any adherence to the Constitution, anything but using office to enrich themselves and turn the US into a police state with endless war. While I'll never forgive Mueller for his role in the cover-up of 911, if he indites or presents evidence that indites Trump, he'll have earned a gold star along with his black one. I think he is going to do that. Now, what his motives [or those he is working for/with] are is perhaps another thing.....

collection of articles on Mueller and 911 http://911truth.org/tag/robert-mueller/
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply

MAR 18, 2018[Image: print.svg][URL="https://www.truthdig.com/articles/building-the-iron-wall/#"]
[/URL]TD ORIGINALS

Building the Iron Wall

[URL="https://www.truthdig.com/articles/building-the-iron-wall/#"]
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[Image: Fish-Hedges-Truth-3-18-18-1-850x712.jpg]Mr. Fish / Truthdig
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, along with 18 members of the House of Representatives15 Republicans and three Democratshas sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding that the Qatari-run Al-Jazeera television network register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The letter was issued after Al-Jazeera said it planned to air a documentary by a reporter who went undercover to look into the Israel lobby in the United States. The action by the senator and the House members follows the decision by the Justice Department to force RT America to register as a foreign agent and the imposition of algorithms by Facebook, Google and Twitter that steer traffic away from left-wing, anti-war and progressive websites, including Truthdig. It also follows December's abolition of net neutrality.
The letter asks the Justice Department to investigate "reports that Al Jazeera infiltrated American non-profit organizations." It says that the "content produced by this network often directly undermines American interests with favorable coverage of U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's branch in Syria."
"American citizens deserve to know whether the information and news media they consume is impartial, or if it is deceptive propaganda pushed by foreign nations," the letter reads.
The ominous assault on the final redoubts of a free press, through an attempt to brand dissidents, independent journalists and critics of corporate power and imperialism as agents of a foreign power, has begun. FARA, until recently, was a little-used regulation, passed in 1938 to combat Nazi propaganda. The journalists Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah do a good job of addressing the issue in this clip on The Real News Network.
Those who challenge the dominant corporate narrative already struggle on the margins of the media landscape. The handful of independent websites and news outlets, including this one, and a few foreign-run networks such as Al-Jazeera and RT America, on which I host a show, "On Contact," are the few platforms left that examine corporate power and empire, the curtailment of our civil liberties, lethal police violence and the ecocide carried out by the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries, as well as cover the war crimes committed by Israel and the U.S. military in the Middle East. Shutting down these venues would ensure that the critics who speak through them, and oppressed peoples such as the Palestinians, have no voice left.
I witnessed and was at times the victim of black propaganda campaigns when I was a foreign correspondent. False accusations are made anonymously and then amplified by a compliant press. The anonymous site PropOrNot, replicating this tactic, in 2016 published a blacklist of 199 sites that it alleged, with no evidence, "reliably echo Russian propaganda." More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were progressive, anti-war and left-wing. They included AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot charged that these sites disseminated "fake news" on behalf of Russia, and the allegations became front-page news in The Washington Post in a story headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread fake news' during the election, experts say." Washington Post reporter Craig Timberg wrote in that article that the goal of "a sophisticated Russian propaganda effort," according to "independent researchers who have tracked the operation," was "punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy."
To date, no one has exposed who operates PropOrNot or who is behind the website. But the damage done by this black propaganda campaign and the subsequent announcement by Google and other organizations such as Facebook last April that they had put in filters to elevate "more authoritative content" and marginalize "blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information" have steadily diverted readers away from some sites. The Marxist World Socialist Web Site, for example, has seen its traffic decline by 75 percent. AlterNet's search traffic is down 71 percent, Consortium News is down 72 percent, and Global Research and Truthdig have seen declines. And the situation appears to be growing worse as the algorithms are refined.
Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post and the founder and CEO of Amazon, has, like Google and some other major Silicon Valley corporations, close ties with the federal security and surveillance apparatus. Bezos has a $600 million contract with the CIA. The lines separating technology-based entities such as Google and Amazon and the government's security and surveillance apparatus are often nonexistent. The goal of corporations such as Google and Facebook is profit, not the dissemination of truth. And when truth gets in the way of profit, truth is sacrificed.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN have all imposed or benefited from the algorithms or filtersoverseen by human "evaluators." When an internet user types a word in a Google search it is called an "impression" by the industry. These impressions direct the persons making the searches to websites that use the words or address the issues associated with them. Before the algorithms were put in place last April, searches for terms such as "imperialism" or "inequality" directed internet users mostly to left-wing, progressive and anti-war sites. Now they are directed primarily to mainstream sites such as The Washington Post. If you type in "World Socialist Web Site," which has been hit especially hard by the algorithms, you will be directed to the sitebut you have to ask for it by name. Searches for associated words such as "socialist" or "socialism" are unlikely to bring up a list in which the World Socialist Web Site appears near the top.
There are 10,000 "evaluators" at Google, many of them former employees at counterterrorism agencies, who determine the "quality" and veracity of websites. They have downgraded sites such as Truthdig, and with the abolition of net neutrality can further isolate those sites on the internet. The news organizations and corporations imposing and benefiting from this censorship have strong links to the corporate establishment and the Democratic Party. They do not question corporate capitalism, American imperialism or rising social inequality. They dutifully feed the anti-Russia hysteria. An Al-Jazeera report on this censorship begins at 14:07 in this link.
The corporate oligarchs, lacking a valid response to the discrediting of their policies of economic pillage and endless war, have turned to the blunt instrument of censorship and to a new version of red baiting. They do not intend to institute reforms or restore an open society. They do not intend to address the social inequality behind the political insurgencies in the two major political parties and the hatred of the corporate state that spans the political spectrum. They intend to impose a cone of silence and the state-sanctioned uniformity of opinion that characterizes all totalitarian regimes. This is what the use of FARA, the imposition of algorithms and the attempt to blame Trump's election on Russian interference is about. Critics and investigative journalists who expose the inner workings of corporate power are branded enemies of the state in the service of a foreign power. The corporate-controlled media, meanwhile, presents the salacious, the trivial and the absurd as news while fanning the obsession over Russia. This is one of the most ominous moments in American history. The complicity in this witch hunt by self-identified liberal organizations, including The New York Times and MSNBC, will come back to haunt them. When the voices for truth are erased, they will be next.
The steps to tyranny are always small, incremental and often barely noticed, as Milton Mayer wrote in "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945." By the time a population wakes up, it is too late. He noted:
But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and the worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked. If, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the "German Firm" stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33. But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying "Jew swine," collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you lived inyour nation, your peopleis not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.
Despots, despite their proclaimed ideological, national and religious differences, speak the same language. Amoral, devoid of empathy and addicted to power and personal enrichment, they are building a world where all who criticize them are silenced, where their populations are rendered compliant by fear, constant surveillance and the loss of basic liberties and where they and their corporate enablers are the undisputed masters.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Qatari government is seeking to improve relations with the Trump administration by forging alliances with right-wing Jewish organizations in the United States. It has promised Jewish leaders, the paper reported, not to air the Al-Jazeera documentary about the Israel lobby. Al-Jazeera in 2016 shut down Al-Jazeera America, which broadcast to U.S. audiences. With no broadcaster in the U.S., the program would have reached few American viewers even if Al-Jazeera had put it on the air.
Haaretz reported that Jewish organizational leaders who have visited Qatar in recent months include Mort Klein of the Zionist Organization of America; Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Jack Rosen of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi Menachem Genack of the Orthodox Union; Martin Oliner of the Religious Zionists of America; and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
"What these leaders share is that none of them are considered critics of the right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel or the Trump administration in Washington," Haaretz correspondent Amir Tibon wrote in the newspaper.
The despotism of the United States and the despotism of Israel have found an ally in the despotism of Qatar. Professed beliefs are meaningless. Israel is bonded with the regime in Saudi Arabia and the Christian right in the United States, each of which is virulently anti-Semitic. Dissidents, including Jewish and Israeli dissidents, are attacked as "self-hating Jews" or anti-Semites only because they are dissidents. The word "traitor" or "anti-Semite" has no real meaning. It is used not to describe a reality but to turn someone into a pariah. The iron wall is rising. It will cement into place a global system of corporate totalitarianism, one in which the old vocabulary of human rights and democracy is empty and where any form of defiance means you are an enemy of the state. This totalitarianism is being formed incrementally. It begins by silencing the demonized. It ends by silencing everyone.
"You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand," Bob Dylan sang in "Ballad of a Thin Man." "You see somebody naked and you say, Who is that man?' You try so hard but you don't understand just what you will say when you get home. Because something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"






"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
Peter Lemkin Wrote:As for Bolton - that is the single most frightening thing Trump has done so far of many! I think I'm afraid for the future of the USA and World now much more than before

Trump has declared war on the world.
Reply
The Untold Story of John Bolton's Campaign for War with Iran

Quote:In my reporting on U.S.-Israeli policy, I have tracked numerous episodes in which the United States and/or Israel made moves that seemed to indicate preparations for war against Iran. Each timein 2007, in 2008, and again in 2011those moves, presented in corporate media as presaging attacks on Tehran, were actually bluffs aimed at putting pressure on the Iranian government.

But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy.
His is not merely a rhetorical stance: Bolton actively conspired during his tenure as the Bush administration's policymaker on Iran from 2002 through 2004 to establish the political conditions necessary for the administration to carry out military action.

More than anyone else inside or outside the Trump administration, Bolton has already influenced Trump to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton parlayed his connection with the primary financier behind both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump himselfthe militantly Zionist casino magnate Sheldon Adelsonto get Trump's ear last October, just as the president was preparing to announce his policy on the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He spoke with Trump by phone from Las Vegas after meeting with Adelson.

It was Bolton who persuaded Trump to commit to specific language pledging to pull out of the JCPOA if Congress and America's European allies did not go along with demands for major changes that were clearly calculated to ensure the deal would fall apart.

Although Bolton was passed over for the job of secretary of state, he now appears to have had the inside track for national security advisor. Trump met with Bolton on March 6 and told him, "We need you here, John," according to a Bolton associate. Bolton said he would only take secretary of state or national security advisor, whereupon Trump promised, "I'll call you really soon." Trump then replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with former CIA director Mike Pompeo, after which White House sources leaked to the media Trump's intention to replace H.R. McMaster within a matter of weeks.

The only other possible candidate for the position mentioned in media accounts is Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general who was acting national security advisor after General Michael Flynn was ousted in February 2017.

Bolton's high-profile advocacy of war with Iran is well known. What is not at all well known is that, when he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security, he executed a complex and devious strategy aimed at creating the justification for a U.S. attack on Iran. Bolton sought to convict the Islamic Republic in the court of international public opinion of having a covert nuclear weapons program using a combination of diplomatic pressure, crude propaganda, and fabricated evidence.

Despite the fact that Bolton was technically under the supervision of Secretary of State Colin Powell, his actual boss in devising and carrying out that strategy was Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton was also the administration's main point of contact with the Israeli government, and with Cheney's backing, he was able to flout normal State Department rules by taking a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without having the required clearance from the State Department's Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs.

Thus, at the very moment that Powell was saying administration policy was not to attack Iran, Bolton was working with the Israelis to lay the groundwork for just such a war. During a February 2003 visit, Bolton assured Israeli officials in private meetings that he had no doubt the United States would attack Iraq, and that after taking down Saddam, it would deal with Iran, too, as well as Syria.

During multiple trips to Israel, Bolton had unannounced meetings, including with the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, without the usual reporting cable to the secretary of state and other relevant offices. Judging from that report on an early Bolton visit, those meetings clearly dealt with a joint strategy on how to bring about political conditions for an eventual U.S. strike against Iran.

Mossad played a very aggressive role in influencing world opinion on the Iranian nuclear program. In the summer of 2003, according to journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins in their book The Nuclear Jihadist, Meir Dagan created a new Mossad office tasked with briefing the world's press on alleged Iranian efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. The new unit's responsibilities included circulating documents from inside Iran as well from outside, according to Frantz and Collins.

Bolton's role in a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy, as he outlines in his own 2007 memoir, was to ensure that the Iran nuclear issue would be moved out of the International Atomic Energy Agency and into the United Nations Security Council. He was determined to prevent IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei from reaching an agreement with Iran that would make it more difficult for the Bush administration to demonize Tehran as posing a nuclear weapons threat. Bolton began accusing Iran of having a covert nuclear weapons program in mid-2003, but encountered resistance not only from ElBaradei and non-aligned states, but from Britain, France, and Germany as well.

Bolton's strategy was based on the claim that Iran was hiding its military nuclear program from the IAEA, and in early 2004, he came up with a dramatic propaganda ploy: he sent a set of satellite images to the IAEA showing sites at the Iranian military reservation at Parchin that he claimed were being used for tests to simulate nuclear weapons. Bolton demanded that the IAEA request access to inspect those sites and leaked his demand to the Associated Press in September 2004. In fact, the satellite images showed nothing more than bunkers and buildings for conventional explosives testing.

Bolton was apparently hoping the Iranian military would not agree to any IAEA inspections based on such bogus claims, thus playing into his propaganda theme of Iran's "intransigence" in refusing to answer questions about its nuclear program. But in 2005 Iran allowed the inspectors into those sites and even let them choose several more sites to inspect. The inspectors found no evidence of any nuclear-related activities.

The U.S.-Israeli strategy would later hit the jackpot, however, when a large cache of documents supposedly from a covert source within Iran's nuclear weapons program surfaced in autumn 2004. The documents, allegedly found on the laptop computer of one of the participants, included technical drawings of a series of efforts to redesign Iran's Shahab-3 missile to carry what appeared to be a nuclear weapon.

But the whole story of the so-called "laptop documents" was a fabrication. In 2013, a former senior German official revealed the true story to this writer: the documents had been given to German intelligence by the Mujahedin E Khalq, the anti-Iran armed group that was well known to have been used by Mossad to "launder" information the Israelis did not want attributed to themselves. Furthermore, the drawings showing the redesign that were cited as proof of a nuclear weapons program were clearly done by someone who didn't know that Iran had already abandoned the Shahab-3's nose cone for an entirely different design.

Mossad had clearly been working on those documents in 2003 and 2004 when Bolton was meeting with Meir Dagan. Whether Bolton knew the Israelis were preparing fake documents or not, it was the Israeli contribution towards establishing the political basis for an American attack on Iran for which he was the point man. Bolton reveals in his memoirs that this Cheney-directed strategy took its cues from the Israelis, who told Bolton that the Iranians were getting close to "the point of no return." That was point, Bolton wrote, at which "we could not stop their progress without using force."

Cheney and Bolton based their war strategy on the premise that the U.S. military would be able to consolidate control over Iraq quickly. Instead the U.S. occupation bogged down and never fully recovered. Cheney proposed taking advantage of a high-casualty event in Iraq that could be blamed on Iran to attack an IRGC base in Iran in the summer of 2007. But the risk that pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq would retaliate against U.S. troops was a key argument against the proposal.

The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also well aware that Iran had the capability to retaliate directly against U.S. forces in the region, including against warships in the Strait of Hormuz. They had no patience for Cheney's wild ideas about more war.

That Pentagon caution remains unchanged. But two minds in the White House unhinged from reality could challenge that warinessand push the United States closer towards a dangerous war with Iran.
Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to TAC. He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter.
"We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

"We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl
Reply
The Intercept published a blockbuster revelation that Jared Kushner may have leveraged U.S. intelligence to tell the crown prince of Saudi Arabia the identities of opponents within his royal family and that the prince purportedly said Kushner was "in his pocket." Kushner sometimes communicated with the prince using the messaging platform WhatsApp but was told to stop, reported The Intercept's Alex Emmons and Ryan Grim, along with investigative journalist Clayton Swisher. In another piece this week, Ryan and Clayton described how Joshua Kushner, brother of Jared, met with the Qatari government last year to discuss potential investments.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
Kushner was probably involved in more illegalities than Manafort, General Flynn and Gates all put together. But nobody will even discuss indicting him because he is tight with Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is people like Kushner who spend all their time linking up with foreign governments to shake down Uncle Sam. Kushner fits the profile of the CNN talking heads like former CIA intern Anderson Cooper--rich and from New York and no particular loyalty except for "insiders," the wealthy, and overseas special interests.

James Lateer
Reply
I have been mixing business with pleasure recently and have watched the two excellent movies "The Departed" with Leonardo di Caprio and "Black Mass" starring Johnny Deppe. Each of these movies is a slightly different version of the dramatization of the Whitey Bulger saga.

Fox anchor Sean Hannity (who I have always disdained in the past) is accusing Robert Mueller of being one of the FBI or other officials involved in this FBI-Bulger mess. Specifically, Hannity charges Mueller with being responsible for the fake "frame-up" of four innocent people as a result of the Bulger problem.

I normally don't put a lot of credibility in Fox per se, but on the Mueller investigation, it is apparently the only source available whatsoever. Watching Mueller's methodology, he seems to fit the "corrupt cop" mold which is the essence of the Hannity criticism.

I have been invited to a Democratic volunteer meeting in my home town, but since the Dems are supporting this "Mueller as J Edgar Hoover" apparent corruption scenario, I don't know how I can feel comfortable attending, at least until this gets cleaned up.

James Lateer
Reply
[TABLE="width: 835"]
[TR]
[TD]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Welcome to Radio WhoWhatWhy. With a fresh interview podcast, I'm Peter B. Collins in San Francisco. Joining me today is James Bamford. He is a worldwide-acknowledged expert on America's intelligence community, and in particular, the National Security Agency. He is the author of numerous books including Body ofSecrets and The Shadow Factory. And Jim Bamford joins me by Skype today. Thanks for being with us, Jim.[/TD]
[/TR]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]My pleasure, Peter.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]I always enjoy talking with you, and I appreciate your deep knowledge of the so-called deep state in this country. And you just published a piece recently at the New Republic, which I think is a really balanced recap of the so-called Russiagate narrative.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]You open your article with a recap of Bill Binney's near arrest. His house was raided and his computers and other information were taken. And Bill Binney was a top technical officer at the National Security Agency. I've been talking with Bill for about 10 years now, and his theorem that, fundamentally, the initial charge about Russiagate, that Russian agents hacked the DNC servers and then gave that information to Wikileaks, I find his theorem and his arguments quite compelling. And you recap them in the opening paragraphs of your story.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]What is your sense when Bill Binney says that he knows that if Russia or anybody else remotely hacked the DNC servers, that the NSA would know about it because they have tracing systems in virtually every network and node across the globe? That, to me, is an argument that certainly deserves full investigation. I find it compelling, and I find that it hasn't been investigated. What's your take?[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, I think the Russians did hack the DNC computers and so forth, and I think the NSA does have that information. I mean, the US did say that they were convinced that Russia did hack. So, yeah, I think the NSA knows that they hacked and that's what the intelligence community is basically saying.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]But in the January 6th, 2017 release, it was described that the NSA did not have the same high level of confidence in the assertions that the FBI and the CIA claimed.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, I think that might be because of the intermediaries that the Russians might have used. You know, you had this Guccifer 2.0 that showed up, and nobody knows really who Guccifer 2.0 is. Guccifer 2.0 got a lot of the emails and passed them on to Wikileaks. Was Guccifer 2.0 an agent of the Russian government, or was Guccifer 2.0 an independent contractor, or both? I mean, you could actually be both.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So, you know, that might be where the ambiguity is. But I have little doubt. I don't have any doubt, really, that the Russians penetrated the DNC. That's what they do. That's what we do. That's what everybody does. I mean, we did it to the Mexicans; Mexican election a few years ago in their last election. We not only penetrated their election data and their computers, we planted malware and we stole, I think it was 85,000 text messages. So the fact that the Russians entered, looked around, and looked around the DNC digital infrastructure, I have little doubt about that.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]But the questions that I have are who leaked the documents to Wikileaks? That could have been the Russians. It could have been an independent contractor. It was apparently somebody going by the name of Guccifer 2.0. So there's a lot of mystery about that. But I don't really have any doubt that the Russians penetrated the DNC. It wasn't really that hard to penetrate, for one thing.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Well, let me approach this from a couple of angles. First, why hasn't our government provided any evidence of this? It's a very critical allegation that's been made, and it's been used to impose several rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals and some entities there. And some people have declared that this was the equivalent of Pearl Harbor, which I find extreme and bellicose, but we're struggling because this has been offered as assertions based on high confidence, using language like "consistent with". But we don't have any public evidence that this is how it happened.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, welcome to the NSA, the National Security Agency. I've written three books about it. I've been following them for 35 years. That's the way they are. They just don't release information like that. I mean, I did a documentary on cyberwarfare for PBS and we had all kinds of evidence that Iran, after we attacked Iran's nuclear centrifuges with our digital attacks known as Stuxnet, the Iranians came back and attacked one of our friendly, what do you call it, companies that was doing business with the United States: Saudi Aramco; wiped out their computers. And then they attacked … the Iranians attacked the banking computers in New York. I mean, all that was very well documented. But even with all of that information, the NSA still wouldn't actually admit that they had evidence that Iran attacked those computers, even though it was rather obvious and the Iranians weren't even denying it.[/TD]
[/TR]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So that's the way the NSA is. It hides all this stuff in secrecy, and that's just what you have to kind of expect from them, is that they're not going to come out and say, "This is what we know about the Russians."[/TD]
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[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]I recently interviewed Scott Ritter, who was a UN weapons inspector prior to our invasion of Iraq. He also served four years in marine intelligence in Moscow. And he argues, based on the leaks that came through Dutch intelligence in a Dutch newspaper, there is this other unproven narrative that the Dutch were able to hack in to an office near the Kremlin at Moscow University, where they believe there was a center for hackers. And the Dutch were able to gain access in a kind of brazen way. They claimed they even could see the security cameras at the entry points to this facility.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]And the claim is that the Dutch witnessed a knock-down, drag-out cyber fight between the US and Russia. And this was pegged in around 2014 or 2015. The Dutch story goes on to say that they then watched as Russians hacked in to the DNC. But the timeframe is well before the 2016 election cycle.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]What level of credibility do you give to that Dutch narrative, Jim?[/TD]
[/TR]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, I have absolutely no knowledge whether it's true or not, and I certainly don't take things at face value. But, look, I mean, this is the way the world works. I can't imagine that there wasn't a time when the Russians first got the ability to actually penetrate the DNC computers. I mean, you had a Democratic president. Wouldn't that be one of your targets if you're in Russia and you're wondering what the Democrats are doing and what the Democratic party is doing? Wouldn't that be one of your key targets? Or at least maybe one of your top 10?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So, yeah, of course they probably did that. So what's the big surprise? We do the same thing to them. We do the same thing to the Chinese. We probably do the same thing to the French. We certainly did it to the Mexicans. I wrote all about that. I mean, that was based on documents leaked from Edward Snowden. So, yeah, what's the big surprise that the Russians were looking around inside the DNC computers?[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Now, in your article you shift from Bill Binney's assertions or his theories, and you say his analysis was widely disputed and apparently changed few minds with the intelligence community. And you reference that he was invited by CIA director Mike Pompeo, to share his thinking with the director. And you go on to say, "This is a fact made clear," this apparently changing few minds, "is a fact made clear by special council Mueller's indictment in February of 13 Russians and three companies," you say, "involved in the scandal." Now, I would argue that that's a very different arc, Jim. And that there's no indication that the people at the internet agency in Saint Petersburg were involved with the DNC hack. They were pushing out social media propaganda and more targeted messaging. Wouldn't you agree?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Sure, yeah. But that doesn't eliminate the fact that I also believe that the Russians were penetrating the DNC computers. I don't know if they were doing it from that same location in Saint Petersburg, but, like I said, as a person who's been doing this stuff for a long time, I don't have any doubt that they were penetrating it. The only question I have is whether they were the ones who actually leaked the physical, or actual digital copies of the emails to Wikileaks.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]The nexus here has to focus on that. I just don't see any evidence that this was a leak from an insider who passed information on to somebody else through a flash drive who took it. I mean, it's not that hard to penetrate the DNC's computers. The security was very weak. Even Hillary's campaign manager [/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Podesta.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Podesta, had the simplest access code. I think it was "password123" or something. So you're not dealing with … This is not penetrating the nuclear secrets of the United States. It's penetrating amateur computer people working for a political party. So I don't have any doubt that the Russians penetrated it. And they've probably been penetrating it for years, if not decades. So I don't buy the argument, unless I see more evidence, that there was somebody who walked out with a flash drive and passed it on to somebody. You don't need that. You don't need to have a flash drive. All you need is an internet connection.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now, in terms of the transfer to Wikileaks, I share your view there, that we don't have any evidence to establish that. It's been denied by Julian Assange, and many people say so. He also has been accused by Pompeo of essentially being an arm or an extension of the Russian government, which I find quite extreme, if not preposterous. And so that is a significant gap in this story. And we have heard reporting that Robert Mueller will be focusing on this in the next phase of his investigation. But to date, we don't have any proof right? of how information reached Wikileaks.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]No. And I don't buy in to any of the hyperbole on either side. I don't think this is anywhere near Pearl Harbor. I don't think it even comes close to even the slightest amount towards Pearl Harbor. It's everyday stuff, basically. And I also don't buy the hyperbole that Julian Assange is an agent of the Russians. Yes, he denied that he got it from the Russians, because I don't think Guccifer 2.0 walked in and showed some Russian passport before he gave him the information. I think this is passed digitally by people. I don't think he actually ever met anybody. So he doesn't know. The whole idea of Wikileaks was to set up their receiving end in such a way that it could be done anonymously. So there's no reason to suspect that he would know it was the Russians, if it was the Russians. And there's no reason to suspect that Guccifer 2.0 would overtly go out of his, or her, or their way to tell Wikileaks that they're the Russians.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So that's where the mystery is. And I have no idea, since I don't have any whistleblowers running out and telling me, I don't have any idea of who Guccifer 2.0 is, whether it's a he, or a she, or a they, or what nationality they are. I mean, you have the original Guccifer who self-identified themselves, but this is somebody … or self-identified himself. But these or this is somebody else.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Now, if we look at the big picture, Jim, the intelligence community has suffered a lot of losses in recent years. We have Vault 7, we have the hacking tools that were stolen from the NSA and put up on eBay or somewhere by shadow brokers, we have the effort by the CIA to retrieve, or at least to identify what was stolen, and they got sucked into paying $100,000 on a down payment of a $1 million bounty to some murky figure, and they got hosed. So the recent performance of the intelligence community on policing its own operations, and on failures, for example, predicting the developments in North Korea. We didn't hear any warnings from our intelligence community about Putin's March 1st announcement of a new generation of Russian weapons. Clearly, Syria has been a major failure for the CIA and its covert operations. So because of this, I have a hard time really giving any credibility to the claims that came from John Brennan and James Clapper.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, obviously this whole series of loss of data has been a series of keystone spies, basically. It reminds me of the old MAD magazine cartoon, the Spy vs. Spy.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Don Martin was the artist, yeah.[/TD]
[/TR]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Yeah. I mean, I wrote an op-ed piece for NBC news arguing that the director of the NSA should be fired for incompetence, for allowing all this data to escape. I mean, this isn't just data. These are actual cyber weapons that got out. So, yeah. I mean, I can't go any more than that, than to argue that the director should be fired for incompetence. Yeah, I agree.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]And, Jim, the other thing that I see, and in case anybody has any doubts, I am not in any way a supporter of the Trump candidacy, his presidency, the administration. But as I look at this, I see it as much more of kind of garden-variety corruption. It's complex, but corruption as opposed to the term collusion. We have Mike Flynn who took a half-million dollar contract from a businessman in support of the state of Turkey. And a former CIA director outed Flynn as scheming to kidnap Fethullah Gulen and return him to Turkey in a kind of off-the-books extraordinary rendition.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]We have Paul Manafort who volunteered to be Trump's campaign manager as he was scrambling to raise cash to pay off millions to a Russian oligarch. And then we have the crown prince, Jared Kushner, who has been using his perch at the White House to try to raise cash to refinance his bad project on 5th Avenue or Park Avenue in New York. So I see Trump being scammed by people around him. And that that is the feature so far that has been exposed by counsel Mueller.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Yeah, but he hasn't finished his investigation yet. I mean, I don't know one way or the other whether he's going to find collusion. I just know you've got an idiot in the White House. I mean, if there's a word that's worse than "idiot", I would use it. But that's the best one I could come up with. Like-minded idiots. You know? I mean, that's where we are. That's who we put in the White House these days. You've got a guy that certainly should not be anywhere near government clearance, now president of the United States.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So, you know. So there's going to be all kinds of fallout because he's got people around him who are not qualified for what they're supposed to be doing, and probably have been involved in a lot of bad things leading up to their appointments. But whether or not there's any collusion, I have no idea. I don't have a crystal ball. I don't have any leakers running out of the special counsel's office to tell me anything. But, you know, I'm fully prepared to hear what they have to say.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Well, and, Jim, you know, that suggests that you're actually practicing journalism; that you are trying to follow the facts and the evidence wherever they lead. And I fully embrace that. My issue has been that, particularly the corporate media, and most notably CNN and MSNBC have taken this to an extreme. And they conflate assertions with facts. Most recently, there was this exposure of efforts to hack in to the grid and to possibly disrupt the operations or even sabotage a nuclear power plant in this country. And the so-called evidence that was presented was a reconstruction by our intelligence people of what they expect a Russian hacker would have seen had they been able to get into the dashboard of the control center, say, of a nuclear power plant. And that strikes me as very weak. It's hardly evidence. It's an illustration of a theory. But I heard Rachel Maddow describe that as solid evidence that Russia has threatened our electrical grid.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, I've written a lot about this. I did a whole documentary on cyberwarfare and so forth. But Russia, China, a lot of other countries probably penetrate our electrical grid. It's not that hard if you actually look into it. It's very hard to take down the entire system, because these are individual components. It's not like you pull one switch and everything goes down. But where I really disagree is where you say that because they've entered it, it means they want to attack it. It just means that that's what you do in the digital world today. You have a potential adversary, and we're potential adversaries of the Russians and the Chinese at least, if not other countries, many other countries.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]And so if they have a digital capability, what they're going to do is do the same thing we do, and that's plant various forms of malware in systems so that we know how the systems work and how to take the systems down in case there's a war. I mean, that's just what countries do these days. If it comes as a surprise to somebody, then they should do a lot more reading on the issues of cyberwarfare and digital activity. I mean, we do it to them. They do it to us.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]The difference is, nobody has … except for the United States, the United States is the only country that's ever, as far as I know, thus far, committed a really serious act of cyberwarfare, which means actually destroying physical objects using cyber. We did that in Iran with the Stuxnet attack where we took down physical centrifuges. If Iran had come into the United States and taken down nuclear centrifuges in Oak Ridge or Tennessee or some place, it would have been an act … we would have declared it an act of war, which is what it would have been.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]However, if a foreign country like, say, North Korea comes in and simply erases things from a computer like was done in, I guess the movie studio in Hollywood [/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sony.[/TD]
[/TR]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Yeah, against Sony. That's not considered an act of cyberwar. And we really have to start watching the words we use when we're talking about digital activity. Again, entering another country's digital infrastructure simply to look around and maybe plant things, is not really an act of cyberwarfare. It's only cyberwarfare when you enact it. I mean, you can … we have numerous times when we've had close calls in terms of military activity. But cyber activity's an enormously different thing, because you penetrate borders anytime without regard of border guards or customs or anything, and you can plant these things. But it's not considered an act of war. And that's where I would disagree with calls saying that we were attacked, or almost attacked. It's just sort of nonsense.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]And did you see the Morgan Freeman video that was produced by Rob Reiner and Bill Crystal?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, if there was a video produced by Bill Crystal I probably would have picked something else to watch. That signaled to me that there's probably better things that I could occupy my time with. But, no, I've never seen it; never even heard of it.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Okay. Last November, Rob Reiner hired Morgan Freeman to appear in a video where Freeman says, "We're at war. We've been attacked." And Bill Crystal is on the same committee with Rob Reiner that produced and distributed that video. So take a look. I think you'll find it interesting.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]There's so much of that hype that's out there. I mean, it's hard to actually keep up with it because it's such a … there's so few people that actually know what they're talking about. And most of those that do aren't coming out and saying these things. I thought the video that Alex Gibney did called Zero Days was very, very good. I thought that was right on target. But I really … I think it's very dangerous for some of these people just to use this for fearmongering. I mean, that's where we've gotten to digital cyberwar fearmongering. And that video that you just mentioned sounds like a perfect candidate.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Well, you catch up with Morgan Freeman, and I'll catch up with Zero Days. I haven't seen that one. Jim, just to follow up, have you seen that screenshot that the government released as its alleged evidence of the power grid hacking?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]No, I haven't.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Okay. Well, it's interesting, because the New York Times reported about it, but didn't link to it or display it online or in the print edition. And the same was the way that MSNBC handled it. And I did an online search. Mashable published the so-called screenshot, and it is accurately described as a re-creation of what they believe a Russian hacker would have seen. And I find it insulting that they try to persuade somebody like me to believe in this threat and this level of threat, and they offer evidence that really is childish.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]I agree. I spent a year on this documentary and I've written, you know, about this endlessly, just lots of articles about NSA and cyber and all that. And that's why I try to avoid the hype. I know where to go to sort of read the more accurate, technical, unbiased information, so I don't really waste my time looking at things that I don't think are useful. But that's where I think the danger is for the public, is in buying in to this whole idea that we're coming under attack.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]It doesn't mean that that's not possible. I mean, one of the things I did show in my documentary was a dam in Russia; one of the biggest dams in the world. I think it's the sixth biggest. It's in Siberia. And it exploded one time two years ago. Not the actual dam itself, but the power plant in front of it, the turbines that use the water from the dam to create electricity. One of the turbines blew up and flew into the air, 50 feet, even though this thing weighs as much as two Boeing 747s. Crashed down, killed 75 people, destroyed the power plant, and almost brought down the dam, which would have killed thousands of people. And originally, both the Russians and the US thought that that was a result of a cyber attack, largely because there was no other good explanation for it at first, and also because a Czechian terrorist group that had just blown up a police station that morning took credit for it.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]It turns out that it was a cyber incident that caused it. But it was an accidental cyber incident. It wasn't a deliberate incident. But the point of this whole story is that that is possible. What happened to that turbine is a digital device that was meant to control it gave it commands that it shouldn't have given it accidentally, and it caused the turbine to vibrate back and forth by going very fast and then very slow, very fast and very slow. That broke the bolts holding it to the floor, and that made it explode. Well, those are the exact same type of commands that were given to the centrifuges during the Stuxnet attack. So you can do that. You can take down a dam with the same type of digital technique that we used to take down the centrifuges. So that is the danger of cyberwarfare, is that it can be used for what the military likes to call kinetic activity. In other words, blowing up things. And so that's the danger.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]On the other hand, there's also the danger of all the fearmongering by saying, because they did penetrate the nuclear, or rather the electrical grid, that that was the end goal; for them to blow up the electrical grid or something. So that's the danger here. You have a capability of doing that with cyber, but you also have the danger of the fearmongering that goes along with it.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]We're talking with Jim Bamford here, and we're also talking about a recent article he published at The New Republic. We'll link to it in the show file for this podcast. And, Jim, you offer criticism of what has come to be known as the Nunes memo. This was written exclusively by the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee. You write, "The deliberately slanted memo criticized a secret warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of one-time Trump aide Carter Page."[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]And you, I think, characterize it accurately. The issue that I have is that both parties selectively praise and criticize the FISA Court, but they don't address the real elephant here in the room, which is that the secret FISA Court has been subject to manipulation. Judge Reggie Walton, who is no peacenik lefty, he presided over the FISA Court and he excoriated government representatives who came to him with what he considered to be incomplete or misleading information. And I recently reviewed a FISA Court document from April of last year, of 2017. And it showed that much of the business before the court was cleaning up past incidents where they felt they had been lied to by officers who came seeking a warrant.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]And the way I read the memo, it appears that the NSA has lied to the FISA Court more than the CIA. And the FBI appears to rank third. I don't know if you've happened to review any of those documents? But what is your sense of the FISA Court? And does it have any real useful role in the American system of government and justice?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, I've written a lot about the FISA Court over the years. I mean, going back 30 years I've been writing about the FISA Court. It was set up originally as a really good idea, because the NSA was violating all kinds of rules because there are all kinds of laws of eavesdropping on American citizens, because they felt they had the right to do it. And so the result was to create this secret court where NSA would have to actually submit a warrant in order to get … or submit an application in order to get a FISA warrant to eavesdrop on somebody in the United States.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]And it worked quite well for much of its life, up until, well, from when it was created in 1977 or '78, up until 2001. And then that's when the Bush administration decided to go around the court; commit what I regard as criminal violations by bypassing the court and getting secret, illegal warrants … or not … Let me back up. Bypassing the court and not getting any warrants to eavesdrop on people in the United States. What the Bush administration did was they worked out this arrangement where they would just tell the chief judge of the court what they were doing to a large degree, but required that judge not to tell any of the other judges. So that was a total disregarding of the entire idea of a FISA Court.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]And since then, the court has been watered down tremendously from the time before 2001. And that's why I would be happy to see somebody do a thorough investigation to see how well they're doing their job. Are they just now a rubber stamp? Or are they actually doing good work?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]I also wrote about, in one of my articles, last year I think it was, based on the Snowden documents, where the court really reamed the NSA for coming in with largely incomplete or inaccurate applications for these warrants. So you have this dual problem. You have the problem of the NSA trying to pull the wool over the FISA Court's eyes, and then you have the FISA Court. Are they strong enough, or is the accountability such that they can discover that?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So these are all very secret things since the court operates in secrecy and the NSA operates in secrecy, the FBI operates in secrecy. Those are the three players of the FISA Court. Theoretically, the CIA's not supposed to have much role with it at all. But, yeah, I mean, those are things hidden behind all of these curtains. And it would be nice to see if somebody could actually get to the bottom of it. But not in a pejorative fashion, and not in a political fashion; not the Republicans going in there looking to get one of their members off the hook, or the Democrats doing the same thing. I mean an impartial, independent review of the FISA Court and how it works.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]Agree. Certainly agree. Let me quote from your New Republic article again. You referred to the media, "They have squandered their objectivity and precious resources on a single story: Russian election hacking. Many of the same reporters who once labored to track down leads concerning civil liberties violations and war crimes are now dishing up breathless and questionable leaks about the Russia investigation. By devoting so much attention to this story, journalists are failing in the difficult job of developing sources within what the spy world calls "hard targets": the CIA, the NSA, and other parts of the intelligence community."[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]Well, what they're doing is really just setting up access so that they can receive more leaks, Jim. And this leak-driven reportage, I find very troubling. And it undermines the principles of journalism that we talked about a little bit earlier; that you look for evidence and you follow the facts and the evidence to a conclusion.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Yeah. I have no problem with leaks. I've never had any problem with leaks. My problem is with hyping every single minor leak that happens to come out. You know, if you're watching Fox all day, you're watching largely fake news. I think a lot of it is fake news on Fox. And if you're watching CNN, what you're watching is over-hyped stories about, constantly, one right after another, all day long, about one story: the Russia story. And I think both are … I can't stand either one of them, to tell you the truth. I watch BBC. I've got a box that I get British channels on, and I watch the BBC on it most of the time.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So I really don't like this politicization of journalism or the hyping of things. I mean, if you've got a minor little tidbit that comes out, all of a sudden it's got breaking news and we've got this sort of Hollywood Squares-style analysis of, you know, you get eight different people saying all of this for an hour about one little nuance that came out. I just don't think that's journalism and I don't think that's useful. So, yeah, I'm very critical about that.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]And one of the big takeaways from your article, Jim Bamford, is your concern about where this will leave us post-Trump, because people have chosen sides, some people have flipped sides. We have Democrats who used to attack the intelligence community who now embrace it as the source of truth and light. And after Trump we have seen the intelligence community and its leakers gain power in some ways at the expense of the representative Democracy.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, that's the problem. The problem is that we're focusing so much on this one story, which has, you know, it has value, but it's not … it shouldn't be 24/7 coverage of it. There are so many other important things. And the problem is, when you're trying to have 24/7 coverage of a story like this, that means that these very experienced reporters are not doing the really hard work of digging into or developing sources that some of these agencies like NSA and CIA to find out whether we're targeting … who we're targeting with the drones now. Are we going to begin targeting Americans again? Is the NSA beginning to eavesdrop again on Americans, like the lawyers for the immigrant community and so forth?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"][/TD]
[TD]So there's all these hard targets, as the intelligence community calls them: the NSA, the CIA, and so forth; the intelligence community, that are not really being closely looked at, at a time when you've got people running these organizations that really are frightening to a large degree. So that's the danger. And at the same time, there's really important stories that could be focused on. That doesn't mean getting every last tidbit of the Russian investigation. If we find out that indictment's coming down an hour ahead or a day ahead or two days ahead, so what? The point is, it's coming down. But to spend all of your resources trying to beat everybody else to try to get one last little tidbit more than your competitor, I just think is squandering an enormously valuable resource, and that's investigative reporting.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]And, Jim, as we wrap up, is there anything I haven't touched on that you'd like to mention?[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Well, the only other thing is that we really need news to be in context. And that's what's really missing, is the context. It's always, "America the victim, America the victim," and never, "America the perpetrator." So if we talk about how we're being penetrated by Russia, we also ought to talk about how we penetrate Russia, or how we penetrate our friends like Mexico and so forth, so that you have a more balanced, more nuanced reporting, and so the public doesn't think that, "Oh, wow, we're the victims of the world here," when in essence, this is how the world works. We do it to them. They do it to us. But that's just how it works. And I think that context is missing in most of the reporting that comes out, either print or television.[/TD]
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[TD="width: 155"]Peter B. Collins:[/TD]
[TD]James Bamford, always a pleasure to talk with you. Thanks for mixing it up with me today.[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="width: 155"]James Bamford:[/TD]
[TD]Appreciate it, Peter. Good talking to you.[/TD]
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"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
Sad to say--I just attended a Town Hall Tuesday with my Congressman. He his a high-ranking person in the House Progressive Caucus.

One or two men in the audience stood up and berated him for his unquestioning support for the corrupt to officials at the FBI and for Russiagate in general. He is normally very honest-seeming, but he has apparently thrown in the trash any concern about forfeiting his good name by associating with certain obviously corrupt members of the National Security State. It amazes my how many (otherwise solid) people who used to be honest, freedom-respecting progressives, have just thrown their basic good judgment in the ash-can over this Russiagate.

The old saying is that "murder will out." In the intermediate and longer term, I don't see how they think that the voting public will support this third-world style criminalization of political opponents. They apparently don't realize that we are no longer in the era where Walter Cronkite can spoon-feed bogus information to a captive audience. Thank goodness for Deep Politics Forum and these similar sites!

James Lateer
Reply
Seven months ago, Michael Cohen was a bit player in the vast cast of the Russiagate saga. No one predicted he would take center stage in the conflict between President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. No one, that is, except WhoWhatWhy.
Last September we published an exhaustive look at Trump's personal attorney's professional and personal connections to powerful individuals from Russia and Ukraine. Seven months after WhoWhatWhy published this extraordinary investigation, FBI agents raided Cohen's home and office and seized his devices and records.
We connected the dots on topics only now surfacing in other media the full thrust of which is still missed by major news organizations:
  • Cohen's ties to infamous kleptocrats from across the former Soviet Union
  • His close working relationship with Felix Sater, a convicted felon, Russian-financed real estate developer, and former Trump Organization employee
  • His mysterious transformation from low-rate personal injury lawyer to mogul, as he and his family purchased an astonishing dozen luxury units in Trump-branded properties
  • His rumored 2016 meeting with Putin associates in Prague
  • His partnership with a Ukrainian immigrant to amass the single largest collection of coveted NYC taxi medallions
  • How Cohen rose from obscurity via this unlikely amassment of pricey Trump real estate, to win Trump's personal attention and a position as the protector of Trump's interests and secrets. Only because of this unusual path to the top did Cohen arrive in a position to potentially determine Trump's own fate
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply


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