Sic Transit Gloria Mueller

By Ray McGovern

Friday’s surprising news that Robert Mueller had successfully sought an extra week to prepare for his House testimony on Russia-gate (now set for July 24) must have been scary news for those of his fans who can put two and two together. Over the past few weeks, it has become clearer that each of the two frayed findingsof Russian interference in the 2016 U.S, presidential election has now come apart at the seams.

Saturday’s NY Times reported 

 (See: ),

that “the Democrats said they chose to delay at the request of Mr. Mueller” after a day of negotiations, “as both Democrats and Republicans were deep in preparations for his testimony” earlier scheduled for July 17.  The Washington Post, on the other hand, chose not to report who asked for the delay.  Rather, it explained the abrupt change in timing with a misleading article entitled, “Mueller, House panels strike deal to delay hearing until July 24, giving lawmakers more time to question him” (as if that were the primary reason).  

(See: ).

How to Avoid Eating Crow

As the truth seeps out, there will be plenty of crow to go around.  To avoid eating it, the Democrats on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, the stenographers who pass for journalists at the NY Times and Washington Post, and the “Mueller team” will need all the time they can muster to come up with imaginative responses to two recent bombshell revelations from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Perhaps the most damning of the two came last Monday, when it was disclosed that, on July 1, Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered Mueller to stop pretending he had proof that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency”s supposed attempt to interfere via social media in the 2016 election.  While the corporate media so far has largely ignored Judge Friedrich’s order, it may well have been enough to cause very cold feet for those attached to the strained Facebook fable. (The IRA social-media “interference” has always been ludicrous on its face, as we discuss below citing investigative reporting by Gareth Porter.)

Ten days is not a lot of time to conjure up ways to confront and explain Judge Friedrich’s injection of some unwelcome reality.  Since the Democrats, the media, and Mueller himself all have strong incentive to “make the worst case appear the better” (one of the twin charges against Socrates), they need time to regroup and circle the wagons. The more so, since Mueller’s other twin charge — Russian hacking of the DNC — also has been shown, in a separate Court case, to be bereft of credible evidence.

No, the incomplete, redacted, draft, second-hand “forensics” that former FBI Director James Comey decided to settle for from the Democratic National Committee-hired CrowdStrike firm does not qualify as credible evidence (and we will also add a word about below).  Both new developments are likely to pose a strong challenge to Mueller.  On the forensics he decided to settled for what his former colleague James Comey decided to settled for from CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC despite it’s deeply flawed reputation and well known bias against Russia.  In fact, the new facts — emerging from the same U.S. District Court for the District of Columbiapose such a fundamental challenge to Mueller’s findings that no one should be surprised if Mueller’s testimony is postponed again.

Requiem for “Interference” by Russian Facebookers

Daniel Lazare’s July 12 excellent piece (See: ), shatters one of the twin prongs in Mueller’s case that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” — that prong dripped with incessant drivel about the Kremlin using social media to help Trump win in 2016.

Mueller led off his Russia-gate report, a redacted version of which was published on April 18, with the dubious claim that his investigation had “established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign, and then released stolen documents.”

Judge to Mueller: Put Up or Shut up

Regarding the social-media accusation, Judge Friederich has now told Mueller, in effect, to put up or shut up.  What happened was this: On February 16, 2018 a typically credulous grand jury — the kind that cynics say can be persuaded to indict the proverbial ham sandwich — was convinced by Mueller to return 16 indictments of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and associates in St. Petersburg, giving his all-deliberate-speed investigation some momentum and a much-needed, if short-lived, “big win” in “proving” interference by Russia in the 2016 election

It apparently never occurred to Mueller and the super-smart lawyers around him that the Russians would outsmart them by hiring their own lawyers to show up in U.S. court and seek discovery.  Oops.

The Feb. 2018 indictment referred repeatedly of the IRA simply as a “Russian organization.”  But in Mueller’s report 14 months later, the “Russian organization” had somehow morphed into “Russia.” The IRA’s lawyers argued, in effect, that Mueller’s ipse-dixit “Russia did it” does not suffice as proof of Russian government involvement.  Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed and ordered Mueller to cease promoting his evidence-less charge against the IRA; she added that “any future violations of her order will trigger a range of potential sanctions.”  (See: )

More specifically, at the conclusion of a hearing held under seal on May 28, U.S District Court Judge Friedrich ordered the government “to refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government or its agencies.”  The judge ordered further that “any public statement about the allegations in the indictment . . . must make clear that, one, the government is summarizing the allegations in the indictment which remain unproven, and, two, the government does not express an opinion on the defendant’s guilt or innocence or the strength of the evidence in this case.”

Reporting Thursday on Judge Dabney Friedrich’s ruling, former CIA and State Department official Larry C. Johnson described it as a “potential game changer,” observing that Robert Mueller “has not offered one piece of solid evidence that the defendants were involved in any way with the government of Russia.” After including a lot of useful background material, Johnson ends by noting: 

Some readers will insist that Mueller and his team have actual intelligence but cannot put that in an indictment. Well boys and girls, here is a simple truth–if you cannot produce evidence that can be presented in court then you do not have a case. There is that part of the Constitution that allows those accused of a crime to confront their accusers. 

(See: .)

IRA Story a “Stretch” 

Last fall, investigative journalist Gareth Porter dissected and debunked the NY Times’s far-fetched claim that 80,000 Facebook posts by the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg helped swing the election to Donald Trump.  (See: .)  What the Times story neglected to say is that the relatively paltry 80,000 posts were engulfed in literally trillions of posts on Facebook over the two-year period in question — before and after the 2016 election.

In testimony to Congress in October 2017, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch had cautioned earlier that from 2015 to 2017, “Americans using Facebook were exposed to, or ‘served,’ a total of over 33 trillion stories in their News Feeds.”  Shamefully misleading “analysis” by NYT reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti in a 10,000-word article on September 20, 2018 (See: .) made the case that the IRA’s 80,000 posts helped deliver the presidency to Trump.

Shane and Mazzetti neglected to mention the 33 trillion number for much needed context, even though the NY Times’ own coverage of Stretch’s 2017 testimony stated outright, (See: .) “Facebook cautioned that the Russia-linked posts represented a minuscule amount of content compared with the billions of posts that flow through users’ News Feeds everyday.”

The chances that Americans saw any of these IRA ads—let alone were influenced by them—are infinitismal.  Gareth Porter and others did the math and found that over the two-year period, the 80,000 Russian-origin Facebook posts represented just 0.0000000024 of total Facebook content in that time; he commented that this particular NYT contribution to the Russia-gate story “should vie in the annals of journalism as one of the most spectacularly misleading uses of statistics of all time.”

And now we know, courtesy Judge Friederich, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has never produced proof, beyond his say-so, that the Russian government was responsible for the activities of the IRA — feckless as they were.  And that they swung the election is dual stretch, thanks to Facebook’s Colin Stretch.

The Other Prong: Hacking the DNC

The second of two major accusations of Russian interference, as noted above, charged that “a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign, and then released stolen documents.”  Sadly for Russia-gate aficionados, the evidence behind that charge does not hold water.

CrowdStrike, the controversial cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee chose over the FBI in 2016 to examine its compromised computer servers, never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, the Justice Department has admitted.  (See: .)

The revelation (See: came in a court filing (See: ) by the government in the pre-trial phase of the trial of Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative who had an unofficial role in the campaign of candidate Donald Trump. Stone has been charged with misleading Congress, obstructing justice and intimidating a witness.

The filing was in response to a motion by Stone’s lawyers asking for “unredacted reports” from CrowdStrike, thereby challenging the government to prove that Russia hacked the DNC server. “The government … does not possess the information the defendant seeks,” the DOJ filing says.

Small wonder that Robert Mueller had hoped to escape further questioning.  If he doesn’t call in sick on July 24, his testimony is likely to be a classic.  Don’t miss it.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and a presidential briefer. In retirement he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. His colleagues and he have been following closely the ins and outs of Russia-gate.

Ray’s Play-By-Play on FBI-gate; the Media

July 10, 2019
NOTE: Do not be confused by the way this “Critical Hour” is described (namely; “Acosta Sticks to Script as Media Points Out Holes in Sex Scandal Story.”) That title refers only to the first segment. The two segments on which Ray and Mark Sleboda are interviewed start at minute 18:50 and go to 38:50 (for the 1st segment); after a very short break the second segment begins at minute 39:16 and goes to the end at minute 57:10.

On July 10, 2019 Ray, Mark Sleboda, an international affairs analyst in Moscow, and Dr. Wilmer Leon, moderator of Sputnik’s “Critical Hour” discussed recent developments in the Russia-gate/Deep-State-gate story, most of which are being avoided like the plague in corporate media.  Earlier, when Leon’s producer called with the invitation, Ray mentioned that he had just tweeted out related comments, giving his take on a new tidbit from the NY Times, of all places.  Here’s the tweet [Horowitz is the Department of Justice Inspector General]:
Uh-oh! More horror from Horowitz? Has sleazy Jonathan Steele ratted out his pro-Hillary US/UK intelligence handlers? NYT p1 above-the-fold article today hints at this … but you must read between lines. Will NYTimes fold before Isikoff & Wheeler do?

Skimming through the article linked immediately below can provide additional context:
Ray’s fortuitous mention in his tweet of Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff, Yahoo’s “chief investigative correspondent and also editor at large for reporting and investigations,” turned out to be timely, since Dr. Leon wanted to discuss Isikoff’s latest attempt to give disingenuousness a bad name — you guessed it, by blaming the Russians again.  This time for allegedly exploiting the murder of former DNC employee Seth Rich.  (If you have the stomach for it, see: .)

Isikoff has been way out in front for a long tme in pushing the theme of Russian interference in the 2016 election.  This can be seen, for example, in the way his reporting played a key role in facilitating the infamous “FISA application” to approve surveillance of Carter Page.  A September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article written by Isikoff was actually cited by federal authorities in a FISA warrant application — even though some of them were fully aware that his article was no more than circular confirmation — “false confirmation” is what we called it in the trade.

Despite all that, Ray had harbored some hope that Isikoff might let a little more light shine through, after the “modified limited hangout” he managed to perform last December (See: ) while cutting his losses on “Russian Roulette” — the name, actually, of a book he and David Corn wrote, promoting, inter alia, the “Steele dossier.”  Alas, Isikoff evidently decided to choose the safer, more lucrative course; namely, to double down on the Russians instead writing what might have been a highly instructive apologia.  It may be, of course, that Yahoo’s owner, Verizon, prefers to keep the saga of Russia-gate going.

Ray and Mark discussed other front-burner issues with Dr. Leon, but this particular “Critical Hour” saw a lot of criticism of what might be called “the Isikoff Syndrome,” since his behavior seems emblematic of the recent experience of many folks who are no dopes, and who used to be keen, honest reporters.

The discussion provided a chance for Ray to point out that, although the media has been bought — and today’s media is more corrupt than any Ray has ever observed — this is hardly a new phenomenon.  Ray appended this bit of sad-but-true history to the piece he wrote on Isikoff’s short-lived flash of honesty cum a bit of contrition back last December:   

One evening, probably in 1880, John Swinton, then the pre-eminent New York journalist was honored at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft.  Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press.  Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying: “There is no such thing as an independent press.  You know it and I know it. … What folly is this toasting an independent press?

“We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes.  We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance.  Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.  We are intellectual prostitutes.”

Plus ca change ….

A Secret Meeting to Plot War?

(Iran-Israel analysis with additional commentary: Pompeo Channels Peter Strzok; Will Deep State Prevail?)
A Secret Meeting to Plot War? by Philip Giraldi, July 6, 2019

Phil Giraldi again tells the bitter truth about Israel’s inordinate influence over U.S. policy, a bitter truth not tolerated elsewhere — not at The American Conservative, for example, from which Giraldi has been banned since early September 2017.  Those deprived of Phil’s outspoken commentary are left largely to themselves in trying to figure out what is the main factor — by far — behind U.S. policy toward the Middle East.  And good luck on that!  The “mainstream media,” heavily influenced by pro-Israel bias, make it even harder.

“We Will Stop Him” … Corbyn, This Time

Giraldi’s mention of Pompeo’s determination to “push back” against Jeremy Corbyn in deference to UK Zionists calls to mind Peter Strzok’s assurance in an August 8, 2016 text message to paramour Lisa Page — “We will stop him [Trump].”

The corporate media gave relatively little attention to the “soft coup” implications of that statement by Strzok, who at the time was deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI and had just played a leading role in letting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walk, despite her dismissive attitude toward keeping the country’s most sensitive secrets.
Worse still, one could not look to so-called progressive media for more balanced reporting.  For example, Democracy Now! chose to highlight Strzok’s lame explanation of what he really meant when he told Page, “We will stop” Trump.  Strzok explained that the “we” he referred to was “the American population [which] would not elect somebody” who behaves like Trump.  Really.
The context of that text exchange, however, makes it unmistakably clear who the “we” was.

So how could it be that we did not learn until June 2018 of the damning Peter Strzok text message: “We will stop him.”  Short answer: That particular text was withheld from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz until a half-year after he released the first batch of Strzok-Page texts — several of which were damning enough.

Robert Parry, founder of Consortium News jumped on the initial release (on Dec. 12, 2017) with an article the following day titled “The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal.”  Parry wrote that the Strzok-Page text message exchange “has turned the supposed Russian-election-meddling ‘scandal’ into its own scandal, by providing evidence that some government investigators saw it as their duty to block or destroy Donald Trump’s presidency.”  (See: .)

Most of the Deep-State-friendly media played down the “We will stop him” message and the fact that the FBI had such trouble finding it, but in June 2018 Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R, Virginia), then chair of the House Judiciary Committee singled out this lapse, adding it to other evidence that the FBI was not fully cooperating with the Justice Department. (See:
below ).
So Where is the IG Report on FISA

That’s the big one. If Horowitz is able to speak freely about what he has learned, his report could lead to indictments of John Brennan, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Rod Rosenstein, and Dana Boente — Boente being the only signer of the relevant FISA applications still in office. (No, he has not been demoted to file clerk in the FBI library; he is FBI General Counsel!).

And the grand-jury-indictment process after criminal referrals goes where for action?  To the Department of Justice.

The DOJ inspector General’s investigation, launched in March 2018, has centered on whether the FBI and DOJ filing of four FISA applications and renewals beginning in October 2016 to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page amounted to abuse of the FISA process.  (Fortunately for the IG, Obama’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials were so sure that Hillary Clinton would win that they did not do much to hide their tracks.)

Journalist Jerry Dunleavy reported Tuesday, “The Justice Department inspector general’s investigation of potential abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is complete, a Republican congressman said, though a report on its findings might not be released for a month.”  (See: .)  Dunleavy continued:

“House Judiciary Committee member John Ratcliffe (R, Texas) said Monday he’d met with DOJ watchdog Michael Horowitz last week about his FISA abuse report. In a media interview, Ratcliffe said they’d discussed the timing, but not the content of his report and Horowitz ‘related that his team’s investigative work is complete and they’re now in the process of drafting that report.  “I would expect that a draft of that would be completed in short order,” Ratcliffe said.

Don’t Hold Your Breath

“Ratcliffe said he was doubtful that Horowitz’s report would be made available to the public or the Congress anytime soon.  ‘He did relay that as much as 20% of his report is going to include classified information, so that draft report will have to undergo a classification review at the FBI and at the Department of Justice,’ Ratcliffe said. ‘So, while I’m hopeful that we members of Congress might see it before the August recess, I’m not too certain about that.’”

Dream on, John. “Declassification” has been one of the Deep State’s favorite tactics to stymie progress — especially when the material it it is free to make “classified” brings embarrassment or reveals crimes.  And the stakes this time are huge.

Judging by past precedent, Deep State intelligence and law enforcement officials will do all they can to retain the option of using the “but-it’s-classified” excuse to avoid putting themselves and their former colleagues in legal jeopardy.  It is far from clear that DOJ IG Horowitz and Attorney General Barr will prevail in the end, even though President Trump has given Barr nominal authority to declassify as necessary.  Why are the the stakes so extraordinarily high?

What Did Obama Know, and When Did He Know It?

Recall that in a Sept. 2, 2016 text to Peter Strzok, Lisa Page wrote that she was preparing talking points because the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”  [Emphasis added.]  It does not seem likely that the Director of National Intelligence, DOJ, FBI, and CIA all kept President Obama in the dark about their FISA and other machinations, although that they may have done so out of a desire to provide him “plausible denial.”

I think it more likely that Obama’s closest intelligence confidant, John Brennan, told him about the shenanigans with FISA, that Obama gave him approval (perhaps only verbally), and that Brennan was then able to harness the the top intelligence and law enforcement official behind the effort to defeat Trump and, later, to emasculate and, if possible, dethrone him.  Everyone was aware how close Brennan was to Obama.

Indeed, I would not rule out seeing in the coming months a “Obama-made-us-do-it” defense — whether grounded in fact or not — by Brennan and perhaps the rest of the gang. Brennan may even have a piece of paper recording the President’s “approval” for this or that — or could readily have his former subordinates prepare one that appears authentic.

Reining in Devin Nunes

That the Deep State retains formidable power in these matters can perhaps best be seen in the repeated Lucy-holding-the-football-then-pulling-it-away-from Charlie Brown treatment accorded House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member, Devin Nunes (R, California). On April 5, 2019, in the apparent belief he had a green light to go on the offensive, Nunes wrote that committee Republicans “will soon be submitting criminal referrals on numerous individuals involved … in the abuse of intelligence for political purposes. These people must be held to account to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future.” (See: .)

On April 7, Nunes was even more specific, telling Fox News that he was preparing to send eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice “this week,” concerning alleged misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation, including leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the FISA court. It seemed to be no-holds-barred for Nunes, who had begun to talk publicly about prison time for those who might be brought to trial. ( See: ).

Except for Fox, the corporate media ignored Nunes’s explosive comments.  The media seemed smugly convinced that Nunes’s talk of “referrals” could be safely ignored — even though a new sheriff, William Barr, had come to town.  And sure enough, now, three months later, where are the criminal referrals?

There is ample evidence that President Trump is afraid to run afoul of the Deep State functionaries he inherited and feels he must live with.  And the Deep State almost always wins.  But if Attorney General Barr leans hard on the president to unfetter Nunes, IG Horowitz, and like-minded investigators, all hell is likely to break lose, because the evidence of wrongdoing is staring them all in the face.

Vivisection of Robert Mueller After General Surgery

By Ray McGovern (tweets)

Aaron Mate, (often a writer for The Nation — but, oddly, not this time) yesterday published a detailed autopsy of the Mueller report, titled “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims.” ( See: .)

Mate’s article serves as a helpful update to a talk Ray gave a year ago titled “Can You Handle the Truth?”  ( See: , which has gotten over 200,000 views so far on YouTube. )

Ray now suggests, not totally in jest, that Robert Swan Mueller III may wish to call in sick — or perhaps say he needs to spend more time with his family — rather than show up to testify in Congress on July 17.

Are there any further questions as to why Mueller desperately hoped no one would be allowed to ask him, well, further questions? .. or about how dumb the Nadler/Pelosi House “leadership” is in compelling his testimony?
Is it possible they believe their own propaganda?  Stranger things have happened.

If Nadler were smart, he would cancel the hearing.  But Nadler is not smart, and neither is Pelosi.

And so the Dems continue to be the proverbial “gift that keeps giving” toward re-election of the worst U.S. president in history.  They should impeach him, and stop playing games.

Here are links to Ray’s tweets earlier this morning:

CIA: Mission Accomplished; Americans Believe What We Tell Them

By Ray McGovern, July 4, 2019
At his first White House performance with other senior officials of the incoming Reagan administration, freshly appointed (but veteran covert action operative) intelligence chief William Casey told President Reagan and the others assembled:“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

Hard to believe? Read below what an eye-witness has attested to:

“I am the source for this quote, which was indeed said by CIA Director William Casey at an early February 1981 meeting of the newly elected President Reagan with his new cabinet secretaries to report to him on what they had learned about their agencies in the first couple of weeks of the administration. The meeting was in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, not far from the Cabinet Room.  I was present at the meeting as Assistant to the Chief Domestic Policy Adviser to the President.

As he did to all the other secretaries of their departments and agencies, Reagan asked Casey what he saw as his goal as director for the CIA, to which he replied with this quote, which I recorded in my notes of the meeting as he said it. Shortly thereafter I told Senior White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, who was a close friend and colleague, who in turn made it public.” 
 Barbara Honegger

There are hundreds of examples that could be adduced to show that the major corporate-owned media — whether by intimidation, misguided “patriotism,” or self-censorship — have made Casey’s dream come true.  Such is the case, of course, with the bogus Russia-gate story, by which the media have succeeded, inter alia, in further tarring the reputation of WikiLeaks founder Julia Assange.
A glaring Assange-related example has come to light — all right, maybe not to light for those of you who depend on the “mainstream media” for “news.”  The following story tells itself.  It is worth reading in full — and reflecting upon, as we celebrate this July 4 the freedoms the Founders gave us.
In a word, absent a free media, there is no freedom.  None.

As UN Special Rapporteur for Torture Nils Melzer ends his “untouchable” op-ed (full text below), he aptly warns:
For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

It is a warning we would do well to heed — and do something about.

Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange
By Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.
None responded positively.
On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, 26 June 2019
I know, you may think I am deluded. How could life in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture? That’s exactly what I thought, too, when Assange first appealed to my office for protection. Like most of the public, I had been subconsciously poisoned by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years. So it took a second knock on my door to get my reluctant attention. But once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief.
Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the US had encouraged allies to find reasons to prosecute Assange, two women made the headlines in Sweden. One of them claimed he had ripped a condom, and the other that he had failed to wear one, in both cases during consensual intercourse — not exactly scenarios that have the ring of ‘rape’ in any language other than Swedish. Mind you, each woman even submitted a condom as evidence. The first one, supposedly worn and torn by Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure. The second one, used but intact, supposedly proved ‘unprotected’ intercourse. Go figure, again. The women even texted that they never intended to report a crime but were ‘railroaded’ into doing so by zealous Swedish police. Go figure, once more. Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Alright, I thought, but surely Assange must be a hacker! But what I found is that all his disclosures had been freely leaked to him, and that no one accuses him of having hacked a single computer. In fact, the only arguable hacking-charge against him relates to his alleged unsuccessful attempt to help breaking a password which, had it been successful, might have helped his source to cover her tracks. In short: a rather isolated, speculative, and inconsequential chain of events; a bit like trying to prosecute a driver who unsuccessfully attempted to exceed the speed-limit, but failed because their car was too weak.
Well then, I thought, at least we know for sure that Assange is a Russian spy, has interfered with US elections, and negligently caused people’s deaths! But all I found is that he consistently published true information of inherent public interest without any breach of trust, duty or allegiance. Yes, he exposed war crimes, corruption and abuse, but let’s not confuse national security with governmental impunity. Yes, the facts he disclosed empowered US voters to take more informed decisions, but isn’t that simply democracy? Yes, there are ethical discussions to be had regarding the legitimacy of unredacted disclosures. But if actual harm had really been caused, how come neither Assange nor Wikileaks ever faced related criminal charges or civil lawsuits for just compensation?
But surely, I found myself pleading, Assange must be a selfish narcissist, skateboarding through the Ecuadorian Embassy and smearing feces on the walls? Well, all I heard from Embassy staff is that the inevitable inconveniences of his accommodation at their offices were handled with mutual respect and consideration. This changed only after the election of President Moreno, when they were suddenly instructed to find smears against Assange and, when they didn’t, they were soon replaced. The President even took it upon himself to bless the world with his gossip, and to personally strip Assange of his asylum and citizenship without any due process of law.
In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. [Emphasis added.] Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.
Very well, you may say, but what does slander have to do with torture? Well, this is a slippery slope. What may look like mere «mudslinging» in public debate, quickly becomes “mobbing” when used against the defenseless, and even “persecution” once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.
Yes, living in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard may seem like a sweet deal when you believe the rest of the lies. But when no one remembers the reason for the hate you endure, when no one even wants to hear the truth, when neither the courts nor the media hold the powerful to account, then your refuge really is but a rubber boat in a shark-pool, and neither your cat nor your skateboard will save your life.
Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny. [Emphasis added.]

The Decline and Fall of the U.S. Empire

By Michael Stevens Smith, July 4, 2019

If a modern-day Gibbons were to write about the decline and fall of the American empire, s/he would surely feature Trump’s bringing road crushing Abrams tanks and F15 fighter planes into Washington DC.  Gibbons wrote about Julius Caesar who brought his imperialistic troops into Rome. To do so they had to cross the Rubicon river. This ended the Roman Republic.

Today, July 4, 2019 symbolically marks the American crossing of the Rubicon. You can’t have democracy at home and imperialism abroad. That was the lesson of Gibbons’ three volume history.  But that won’t be discussed on “Fox and Friends,” so Trump will remain ignorant. 

The rest of us should be scared. If there is a shattering event in our country those tanks and planes will be aimed at us.  And of course if they do use troops against us it will all be legal.  No one can predict if or when this would happen but is certainly a possibility.
Gibbons wrote around the time of the American revolution. He would have certainly appreciated the irony. 

Michael Steven Smith is host of “Law and Disorder.” He is an author, speaker, and New York City attorney in the estimable tradition of the late Michael Ratner, who had been President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and of the National Lawyers Guild.

CrossTalk on North Korea: DMZ diplomacy

with Patrick Henningsen, Efrain Inbar, and Ray
July 2, 2019 (24 minutes)

Ray was invited to appear on CrossTalk yesterday on the strength of his Sunday commentary on the Trump-Kim DMZ meeting. ( See:  )

Moderator Peter Lavelle noted Ray’s dishevelled appearance, a sign of solidarity with Ray’s friend Julian Assange, whose beard was so prominent in the photos of Julian being unceremoniously carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, arbitrarily ending his political asylum. ( Ray’s earlier piece on the “Julian Assange Beard,” JAB, movement got lots of “looks” but no joiners: .)

The discussion on DMZ diplomacy and possible next steps addressed the main substantive points as well as obstacles — like how long John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are likely to be employed by Trump.  Bolton, who was exiled to Mongolia lest he play skunk at the DMZ picnic, seems clearly in jeopardy.

But so is Pompeo.  We posted Ray’s brief commentary on a highly interesting NY Times article last week, written by well plugged-in journalists who rang several changes on that theme.  ( See: “The Last Days of Pompeii-o? at  ).

Also (hopefully) available to President Trump is the VIPS MEMORANDUM, warning him that, in key respects, Pompeo’s agenda may not be the same as Trump’s. ( See: ).

Discussion of the almost 70-year Korean conundrum, especially the still formidable obstacles to real progress, was so heavy-weighty that Ray thought he would throw in a frivolously hopeful throwaway line: “Pompeo has been told there is a weight limit on the Rapture.”
Thus, the immediate danger of Pompeo’s bringing on Armageddon to hasten the Rapture has receded.  As for the longer term, Pompeo is still in a bind.  Surely, he does not want to miss being “lifted up,” while most of the rest of us are “left behind.”  But, if he slims down enough to meet the Rapture’s weight requirement, he may end up in Mongolia — like Bolton.  Generally speaking, President Trump, like Caesar, likes to keep men about him who are fat.

“Bureaucratic Tapeworm” (hat-tip to Tucker Carlson) Bolton is a notable exception.  By all indications, he would not mind being “left behind,” so long as he can continue to linger in neocon intestines and in those of the body politic.

As the Germans say, “Ein bisschen Spass darf sein,” or, It’s OK to have a little fun — even with these weighty issues.


Ray in freewheeling discussion taped on June 21, 2019
(Primo Nutmeg program #180)

After brief intro to the program, moderator Steve offers some personal comments on the Democratic debates (from minute 1:45 to 5:38).  He then turns to Ray with some good questions, leading to a relaxed, discursive (sometimes funny) discussion of several front-burner issues for the next 99 minutes.  Included are:

Iran; Israel; the greater Middle East; why relations with Russia went so sour in early 2014 (clues: HRC and MICIMATT); Russia-gate/Deep-State-gate; how the Department of Justice recently threw James Comey under the bus; Comey’s odd behavior in deferring to the shadowy firm CrowdStrike for forensics on DNC computers, and then never insisted on a final report from CrowdStrike; Ray’s friend Julian Assange; and Tulsi Gabbard.