What I Learned Last Year

By Ray McGovern

— That Bill Casey, Reagan’s CIA Director, has largely succeeded in the objective he set forth at a cabinet meeting in Feb. 1981:
“We’ll know when our disinformation program is complete, when everything the American public believes is false.”

— The media is the cornerstone of the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank) complex. Wall Street and Silicon Valley, of course, fit under that rubric — as does what has become of the Democratic (as well as the Republican) Party.

— “Trump Derangement Syndrome” also plays a significant role. The understanding accorded a broken clock — which is correct two times a day — is withheld from anything liar-in-chief Trump says. Accordingly, if he is correct in saying that he was spied upon, and that Russia-gate was a fraud (as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has proved), well, the very suggestion that Trump might be telling the truth — if only twice a day — is anathema. (Many are astute enough to realize that this has to do with politics, not truth.)

— The most “progressive” of analysts/editors can feign an inability to understand how the deep expertise of former NSA Technical Directors and other senior NSA analysts, the revelations of Edward Snowden, and the application of the very principles of physics allowed VIPS to prove, as with a theorem, that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked — QED. That was more than four years ago: (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/ .)

— Nevertheless, Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was able to hide the fact that there was no, repeat no, technical evidence that the Russians — or anyone else — hacked those DNC emails that were so embarrassing to the Clinton campaign. The head of CrowdStrike, Shawn Henry, testified to that under oath on Dec. 5, 2017; Schiff did not release his testimony until May 7, 2020, when he was forced to by the Director of National Intelligence. The NY Times has suppressed Henry’s testimony since May 7. What does that tell you? (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/09/ray-mcgovern-new-house-documents-sow-further-doubt-that-russia-hacked-the-dnc/ .)

— Simply stated: Russia-gate is too big to fail. The media, the sine qua non for the MICIMATT to succeed, rule the roost. To suggest that Establishment media and politicians are being flat-out dishonest on the “threat” and the frequent “attacks” from Russia is to put yourself, ipso facto, in “Putin’s pocket”. This is dangerous.

— The possible extradition of Julian Assange poses an extremely serious threat to the freedom of the press enshrined in the first amendment, but the corporate media do not give a rat’s patootie. As long as today’s journalists/stenographers keep feeding from the trough of the Security State, and criticize those who don’t as “conspiracy theorists”, they will continue to live high on the hog.

These thoughts, including Casey’s braggadocio, were brought into bas relief yesterday, as I read “Letters from an American”, the blog of Professor Heather Cox Richardson (See:
https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/december-30-2020/comments#comment-957134 ). I wrote the following”

Professor Richardson writes:
“… Trump was eager enough to make sure a Democrat didn’t win that, according to American intelligence services, he was willing to accept the help of Russian operatives. They, in turn, influenced the election through the manipulation of new social media, amplified by what had become by then a Republican echo chamber in which Democrats were dangerous socialists and the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a criminal….”

This is the prevailing narrative but it is seriously mistaken. The trust placed in “American intelligence services” by Establishment media and academe is stunningly misplaced. It seems nothing was learned from their noxious collaboration in adducing pre-Iraq-war “intelligence” that was “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even nonexistent” (Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, describing the bipartisan results of a five-year investigation). And, speaking of “non-existent”, the evidence for what Richardson writes about Russia-gate is equally “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even nonexistent”. It is, to put it politely, male bovine excrement consumed by the likes of NYT’s David Sanger (of WMD fame) and spit onto the pages of a paper that once bragged about publishing all the news that’s fit to print.

Here’s a small case study:

We no longer have to rely on what David Sanger is fed by “the American intelligence services” to figure out how blaming Russia got its big push. To experienced observers, what was happening was clear enough way back on the first day of the Democratic Party convention and the day that followed.

July 25, 2016: writer/journalist Patrick Lawrence wrote this:
“How the DNC fabricated a Russian hacker conspiracy to deflect blame for its email scandal,” https://www.salon.com/2016/07/25/shades_of_the_cold_war_how_the_dnc_fabricated_a_russian_hacker_conspiracy_to_deflect_blame_for_its_email_scandal/ (For more on this, see: https://raymcgovern.com/2020/09/30/uh-oh-was-hrc-behind-the-russian-dnc-hack-canard/ )

July 26, 2016: This day saw the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services”, according to a letter from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sept. 29, 2020. (https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/09-29-20_Letter%20to%20Sen.%20Graham_Declassification%20of%20FBI’s%20Crossfire%20Hurricane%20Investigations_20-00912_U_SIGNED-FINAL.pdf .)


In his letter Radcliffe indicates that, according to then-CIA Director John Brennan’s handwritten notes, Brennan briefed President Obama and other senior officials on this information, which came from “Russian intelligence analysis”. The Russian analysis was deemed serious enough that on Sept. 7, 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding “U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.” James Comey testified on Oct. 30, 2020 that this does not “ring a bell”.
(https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/05/ray-mcgovern-comeys-amnesia-
makes-senate-session-an-unforgettable-hop-skip-jump-to-fraud/
)

July 26, 2016: David Sanger, the NYT’s Chief Washington Correspondent, shows that he “got the Memo”. Sanger co-authors an article with Eric Schmitt titled: “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.”
(See: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/us/politics/spy-agency-consensus-grows-that-russia-hacked-dnc.html .)
“WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.”

About Sanger: those who were alert before the Iraq war may remember that David Sanger was second only to Judith Miller in spreading the party line on the existence of WMD in Iraq.  For example, Sanger apparently “got the Memo” from his intelligence leakers shortly after July 20, 2002, when then-CIA Director George Tenet told his British counterpart that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. …” (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-secret-downing-street-memo-xh9h29xhqzr )

Lapping up “intelligence” from sources in the intelligence community nine days later, Sanger’s sewing machine went into full swing weaving WMD out of whole cloth.  With co-author Thom Shanker, Sanger flat-facted WMD into Iraq no fewer than seven times in “U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike As Iraq Option on July 29, 2002”, of July 29, 2020 (http://nytimes.com/2002/07/29/world/us-exploring-baghdad-strike-as-iraq-option.html ).

Fast forward to 2016: In my view, Trump won in 2016 mostly because too many Americans saw Mrs. Clinton as a deeply flawed candidate.  Perhaps enough voters saw through the “Russia-hacked” diversion and actually read some of the DNC emails showing how Bernie was cheated out of the nomination — maybe enough disenchanted Bernie supporters to make a difference and give clown Trump the edge in key states.  Attentive voters (who read more than the Establishment media) could also see that Clinton was let off the hook by the same Security State seniors who did their best to sabotage Trump as candidate (and then succeeded in emasculating him as president).  But you will not read about this in what has become of the New York Times regurgitating leaks from “American intelligence services”.

Empathy

I’m trying to understand.  I am from New York City, was educated there, and I remember how much trust most of us put in the NY Times several decades ago. Most of my well educated friends still believe it publishes all the news that’s fit to print — and that if it’s not in the Times it didn’t happen and cannot be true.  And Trump Derangement Syndrome makes it virtually impossible for them to believe that anything Trump has claimed — like Russia-gate being a hoax — could possibly be true.

In addition, I am aware that my intelligence veteran friends and I enjoy the freedom of not having to teach, administer and mark exams, and navigate university bureaucracies.  I appreciate that, truly, just as I did during the many years I spent as a CIA analyst.

But still.  Well, let me put it this way: What are we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and the work we have painstakingly put forward on these neuralgic issues? Chopped liver?

I close with Voltaire and John Adams:

“If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize.”  Voltaire

“Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.” John Adams

Why Russia Must Be Demonized

By Ray McGovern

Yesterday I had a chance to devote the first 7 minutes of an interview to explaining why the MICIMATT (including Wall St., Silicon Valley, & the Democratic Party) have all joined together to portray Russia (and now also China) as the enemies it desperately needs in order to “justify” spending more than half of the discretionary budget on “defense”. It is necessary, of course, to be able to “explain” — defense against what?

Ray on Critical Hour 12/29/2020

Is there any hope that Biden will extend an olive branch to President Putin? He could, but — unlike Trump — he knows quite well that the war machine would eat him alive.  Should a U.S. president wish to reduce tensions and make war less likely, that president must be able to move adroitly, step-by-step, sometimes in secret — as President Kennedy demonstrated. And look what happened to him.

I believe all successor presidents are quite aware of what happened to JFK, and why.  (The best book on this is James Douglass’s “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters”.)

The Security State (SS), with the FBI, CIA, & NSA in the lead, has just won big, even as the danger of exposure seemed to loom large.  ( See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2020/12/04/barr-kicks-durham-can-down-the-street/  and https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/FBI-Another-Fraud-on-the-by-Ray-McGovern-Assange_Fraud_Media_Russia-201230-938.html .)

The SS functions as enforcer for the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex.  Improved ties with Russia are to be thwarted at all, repeat all, costs.

If extending genuine olive branches is out of the question, will Biden, during his proverbial “honeymoon period”, at least be able to extend the New START treaty limiting strategic arms?  Will even this small step be thwarted, lest it lead to a step-by-step relaxation in U.S.-Russia tensions?  The treaty expires on Feb. 5, 2021, so we’re likely to know soon enough.

In the full (13 min) interview I gave yesterday, I had time to do a short tutorial, citing a number of not well known “flat facts” — very unlike those to be found on the pages of the the Washington Post.

FBI: Another Fraud on the Court?

By Ray McGovern, Dec. 21, 2020

Can the FBI be trusted?  You decide, but only after you learn about the Bureau’s most recently revealed fraud on the court.

Establishment media are ignoring the latest FBI flip-flop (surprise, surprise); they are reporting instead that incoming president Joe Biden wants Christopher Wray to stay on as FBI director? What’s that all about?

Again, you decide after reading what follows.  The latest known FBI caper involves hiding materials regarding the neuralgic, (dont-even-think-about-it) issue of why the Democratic National Committee 27 year-old insider, Seth Rich, was murdered on July 10, 2016.

Media coverage of L’Affaire Rich has been so scant in recent years that some background seems needed to grasp the facts, their relevance, and the implications for the ever-increasing immunity enjoyed by the Security (aka Deep) State.  Those generally aware of some of the detail may find this background a helpful refresher. Those who wish to can scroll down for a discussion of the most recent episode of FBI malfeasance.

Context

On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced he had “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.”  Those emails had been copied in late May 2016 onto an external storage device (probably a thumb drive) and given to WikiLeaks.

— On July 10, 2016, Seth Rich was shot and killed.  The motive was said to be robbery, but nothing is known to have been taken from him.

— On July 22, 2016, three days before the Democratic National Convention began, WikiLeaks published the DNC emails.

There was speculation at the time that Seth Rich was involved in the leak of the damaging emails (which showed how the DNC had stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders), and that perhaps the leaker had been identified by DNC cyber-sleuths.

Adding fuel to the fire, on August 9 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange publicly implied that Rich may have been a WikiLeaks’ source. ( See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G21u6YnLoA ) That same day, WikiLeaks announced “a $20,000 reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich”.  (See: https://www.businessinsider.com/wikileaks-20000-seth-rich-dnc-2016-8 )

An Insider, Not Russia

On Dec. 12, 2016, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) formally ruled out, on technical grounds, the possibility that the Russians “hacked” those DNC emails.  Drawing on the expertise of former technical directors at NSA, material revealed by Edward Snowden, and applying the principles of physics, VIPS concluded that:

“… the emails were leaked by an insider – as was the case with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Such an insider could be anyone … with access to NSA databases, or perhaps someone within the DNC.” (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/ )

A year later on Dec. 5, 2017, Shawn Henry, the head of the cyber-security firm CrowdStrike hired by the DNC (and highly touted by then-FBI Director James Comey) to do the forensics, testified under oath that there was “no concrete evidence” the emails were hacked — by the Russians or by anyone else.)  (See:  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/09/ray-mcgovern-new-house-documents-sow-further-doubt-that-russia-hacked-the-dnc/ )

 AND

( https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/sh21.pdf ). The supplementary “circumstantial” evidence that Mr. Henry adduced to blame Russia could not pass a smell test by anyone with a nose in working order.

But House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff did not release Henry’s testimony until May 7, 2020.  Establishment media picked up where Schiff left off and have been hiding Henry’s testimony since May 7.

Seth Rich

By almost all accounts, Seth Rich had excellent access to DNC computers. But the possibility that he played a role in leaking the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and then paid for it with his life, proved too much for Official Washington to handle.  Besides, the “Russian hack” canard was not only a handy way to attribute Mrs. Clinton’s loss to Russian interference and to prove Donald Trump wrong on Russia.

It also proved a convenient way to divert attention from the fate that befell Rich.  What would happen to the Russia-did-it story that media hacks were pushing, if it became widely known that there was a simpler way to explain how the DNC emails got to WikiLeaks. (Julian Assange had denied strongly that any state actor was involved.) 

Oddly, President Obama himself was not fully persuaded by the rump, misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” (written by “hand-picked” analysts from FBI, CIA, and NSA), that pinned the “hack” on Russia.  At his last press conference, less than two weeks after being fully briefed on the Assessment’s “high-confidence” findings, Obama pointed out that one of its conclusions — how the DNC emails reached WikiLeaks — was “inconclusive”. ( See: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/20/obama-admits-gap-in-russian-hack-case/ ).

As to the killing of Rich, there was no official investigation worthy of the name — despite a host of anomalies and unanswered questions.  Those who did try to look into it, and were willing to raise speculative hypotheses anathema to the official narrative, were branded “conspiracy theorists”. The same thing happened to highly experienced scientists who applied the principles of physics and took advantage of highly relevant information revealed by Edward Snowden.  Here’s one telling example of swords drawn by pundit mercenaries enlisted to promote the Establishment narrative — the (Democratic) party line, if you will — on Russia’s 2016 “hack”.

Risen on “Rising”

Erstwhile investigative journalist James Risen, now apparently a self-styled expert on the forensics of hacking, brought up Seth Rich during an interview on “Rising” on Aug. 5, 2019.  Risen charged that VIPS’s widely respected former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney (primary author of the Dec. 12, 2016 VIPS Memo) had gone into “conspiracy theory mode”.

The charitable explanation is that Risen had not performed due diligence by doing his homework before the interview.  Had he taken the trouble to read the December 12, 2016 VIPS Memo (with its revealing embedded charts from Edward Snowden), Risen would have known that it is not a matter of what Binney and the other NSA alumni in VIPS believe, it is what theyproved in writing four years ago — proved, as in QED. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OxZEhN9RBY

(The relevant part of Risen’s remarks runs from minutes 2:34 to 4:00.) Risen, by the way, is still at it ( See: https://theintercept.com/2020/12/23/assange-snowden-whistleblower-pardons-espionage/  AND  https://theintercept.com/2020/10/21/trump-presidency-summary/ ).

Question Most Awkward: If It Wasn’t the Russians …

By late last year, Seth Rich’s family was suing just about anyone who wrote or implied that Seth might have played a role in leaking the DNC emails.  As VIPS kept reporting new technical evidence that the culprit was not Russia, the avoid-at-any-cost, awkward question kept raising its ugly head. “If it wasn’t the Russians, then who gave those emails to WikiLeaks?”  There was only one known insider candidate, but mentioning his name could get you sued by a family with seemingly unlimited funds to pay lawyers close to the Democratic party.

There were even … dare I say conspiracy theorists? … like an erstwhile British investigative reporter in the mold of the latter-day James Risen, who implied that we were — whether witting, or duped — agents of the Kremlin.  And so began a witch hunt into the computers of those VIPS members most directly involved.  In the fall of 2019, several VIPS members were served highly intrusive subpoenas on the Russian hacking issue.

I shall confess that, for a couple of months I had a touch of subpoena envy.  Then, alas, I was served — not once but twice.  In my initial response last December to the first subpoena, I took some pains to lay out, as concisely as I could, what VIPS had proven and why.  And I added enough links to help anyone seriously interested in learning the longer story. Readers may wish to skim through my response to the first subpoena.  ( See: https://raymcgovern.com/?s=subpoena.)

FBI Comes Clean — John Ehrlichman-Style

The expression “modified limited hangout” coined by Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman seems an apt description for what the FBI did two weeks ago when it blithely reversed an earlier sworn FBI Declaration that it had no records on Seth Rich. Readers of the barren Establishment media will be surprised to learn that, after three years of denial — the last two under Director Christopher Wray — the FBI has now admitted that it does, after all, have thousands of records relating to Seth Rich.  Its “initial search” has identified “approximately 50 cross-reference serials, with attachments totaling over 20,000 pages, in which Seth Rich is mentioned”, as well as “leads that indicate additional potential records that require further searching.”

The FBI also admitted to having custody of Seth Rich’s long-gone-missing laptop.  These confessions came in an unapologetic Dec. 9, 2020 letter to attorney Ty Clevenger  (See: Clevenger’s informative blog post, “FBI changes story, finally admits it has thousands of pages of documents about Seth Rich” at https://lawflog.com/?p=2410.)

In admitting to having thousands of records relating to Rich, the FBI ipso facto conceded that its Oct. 3, 2018 “Declaration”, sworn “under penalty of perjury”, was — at best — misleading. The FBI fall guy is David M. Hardy, who swore that he could find no records on Rich. (See: https://lawflog.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Hardy-Declaration.pdf .) Hardy was FBI Section Chief, Record/Information Dissemination Section, Information Management Division.  Those working for Hardy — the Hardy Boys & Girls, if you will — number in the hundreds; they appear well trained in how not to find information responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests, when zero results are the objective.

Ty Clevenger’s client, Brian Huddleston, had filed an FOIA request on April 9, 2020 for information regarding Seth Rich and Seth’s brother Aaron but initially was stiff-armed by the FBI.  Now, eight months later, thousands of records are to be made available. But wait.

Still Slow-Rolling: FBI Wants 3 More Months

“Can’t wait to find out what those magically appearing records on Seth Rich reveal,” you may be saying to yourself.

Not so fast, says the FBI which explained in its letter to Clevenger how it intends to proceed:

“At this time, FBI anticipates processing only the pages where Seth Rich is mentioned, along with perhaps another page or two in each situation to provide context. The issue right now with this batch of documents is the amount of labor required to ingest all of the material so that the responsive pages will, first, be in a page format, secondly, can be identified from among the thousands of non-responsive pages, and finally, be processed. The FBI is also currently working on getting the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format to be reviewed.  As you can imagine, there are thousands of files of many types.”

Pouring more cold water on eager anticipation, the FBI letter added, “Unfortunately, these efforts are hampered by FBI FOIA office’s reduction to a 50% staffing posture due to Covid.”

And here is an additional wet blanket for those still waiting:

“In light of the status of this search and the work left to be done, we propose an additional three months [Emphasis added] to complete the tasks described above.  At that time, we will propose a production schedule and briefing schedule.” If that were not enough to dampen spirits, the FBI adds that it “will continue to evaluate the responsiveness of these files under the FOIA.”

And one can certainly anticipate copious redactions of any politically/bureaucratically/embarrassing material.

Waiting for Godot …

Director Wray seems to have ordered the Hardy Boys & Girls to continue dragging their feet.  Let’s see; three months will take us well into the Biden administration with the Democrats calling the shots.  If, as has been reported, Joe Biden lets Christopher Wray remain as FBI director, well, Godot is likely to arrive before any significant material on Seth Rich.

… and for John Durham

In his blog entry ( See: https://lawflog.com/?p=2410 ), Ty Clevenger includes a link to an important October 12, 2020 letter ( See: https://lawflog.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020.10.12-Letter-to-Barr-Durham-redacted-v.1.pdf ) he sent to Attorney General William Barr, US Attorney John Durham (who for the past year and a half has been investigating the FBI inquiry into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia), and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz.  Clevenger writes that he has learned that “Durham will not be investigating whether former Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich provided DNC emails to WikiLeaks in 2016.” [Emphasis added.]

Mr. Clevenger says former FBI agent John Eckenrode explained to him that inquiry into a possible internal, non-Russian, source for the emails leaked to WikiLeaks does not have a direct bearing on Mr. Durham’s investigation.  Clevenger registered strong dissent, pointing out that “Robert Mueller himself acknowledged the possibility that the DNC emails were not transmitted remotely by email to Wikileaks, but were provided by hand delivery from someone originating in the United States.”

In his letter Clevenger notes: “Shawn Henry of Crowdstrike has testified under oath that Crowdstrike did not observe any exfiltration of emails from the DNC, but that had observed “preparation for exfiltration’, which would be consistent with a local download to a DNC user”.  Taking the gloves off, Clevenger claims that “the failure of the relevant agencies to investigate thoroughly the possibility of an internal source is an indication of the type of result-driven, error-ridden and highly damaging investigative work identified by Inspector General Horowitz in his review of various FISA abuses.”

Seymour Hersh Deposed

In his indictment of the Justice Department’s lackadaisical approach to the Seth Rich issue, Clevenger cites what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh asserted in a deposition in a pending court case.  Hersh stated that it was “absolutely true that his source told him that Seth Rich transmitted emails to Wikileaks and requested payment”.  Hersh described his source as “very, very knowledgeable”, someone “senior” in the intelligence community, and a person Hersh had known for over 30 years.

The information provided by Hersh’s source cries out for either confirmation or denial.  Such could readily come from the National Security Agency which collects everything on the Internet. Has NSA not been asked?

Hersh said during his deposition that he had not been contacted by anyone from Robert Mueller’s team, nor from Durham’s team, nor from the Attorney General’s office.  Clevenger added the following footnote, which speaks for itself:

“Likewise, no one from the Office of Special Counsel made any attempt to interview Julian Assange”, even though Assange had hinted that Seth Rich might have been a source for the DNC emails: “As far as I can determine, nobody from Mr. Durham’s team, the FBI, nor the Justice Department has made any attempt to interview Mr. Assange … even though Mr. Assange would know better than anyone else how and from whom he obtained the emails.”  VIPS called attention to this strange anomaly as soon as the Mueller report was released ( See: 

“VIPS Fault Mueller Probe, Criticize Refusal to Interview Assange”, https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/16/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/ ). 

Attorney General William Barr, who jumped ship on Dec. 23, has left John Durham to an unenviable, uncertain future.  ( See: https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2020/12/04/barr-kicks-durham-can-down-the-street/ .) 

So, Were the “Investigations” a Sham?

Seems so, from the looks of it.  By all appearances, the top officials at the Justice Department, the FBI, and intelligence agencies who — for political purposes —  conjured up the “Russian hack”, emasculated Trump, and led the U.S. into a new Cold War with Russia will walk free.  Section Chief David Hardy may get a slap on the wrist or a letter of reprimand in his personnel file.  And it is a safe bet that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who committed an earlier fraud on the court, by altering a consequential email relating to a FISA application, is not likely to face much, if any, jail time.

Presumably, many senior law enforcement and intelligence officials eagerly await the arrival of President Joe Biden, who has zero incentive to hold them accountable for what they did over the last four years.  (As if any president would be courageous or foolish enough to try to hold them accountable, in any case).

Biden has been on the Washington scene for so many years that he does not need Sen. Chuck Schumer to warn him — as Schumer warned President-elect Donald Trump indirectly via Rachel Maddow on Jan. 3, 2017 — not to get crosswise with the “intelligence community”, noting that it has six ways to Sunday to get back at you. (See: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/schumer-trump-being-really-dumb-to-fight-with-intel-agencies-847022147815 .)

President Donald Trump’s weird combination of arrogance, ineptitude, and naïveté made him an easy target. As the years went by, it became clearer and clearer that the president was not really in charge. The Security State is riding higher than ever.  And that’s not good. 

US risks confrontation with Russia

By M. K. Bhadrakumar, Dec. 27, 2020
https://indianpunchline.com/us-risks-confrontation-with-russia/

Bhadrakumar is a retired ambassador with 30 years in the Indian Foreign Service. He served in the Indian Embassy in Moscow (1975-1977; 1987-1998).  With that background and with no axes to grind, he writes with unique insight.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov remarked last week that Moscow expects nothing good in relations with a “deeply hostile” US under the incoming administration of Joe Biden. He further said in an interview with the Interfax published Wednesday, “We are heading from bad to worse. The next US president has been left with a bad legacy and it will take a long time for him to sort this out.”

Ryabkov disclosed that Moscow hasn’t had any contacts with Biden’s transition team “and we are not going to do this. In the end, it’s up to the Americans to decide what, when and how to make our bilateral relations.” He didn’t rule out a “selective dialogue” with the new administration, but estimated that “We definitely don’t expect anything good.”

For, Ryabkov concluded, it would be strange to expect better ties “from people who, many of them, have spent their careers engaging in Russophobia and throwing mud at my country.” Ryabkov oversees Russia-US relations in the Foreign Ministry and the plain-speaking was intended to convey to the incoming Biden administration that Moscow is in no mood to surrender and has the capability to take actions that adversely affected US security.

In fact, speaking in Moscow on the same day, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted that Russia will retaliate against US sanctions and in ways that will touch “on the entire range of Russian-American relations,” without elaborating. As he put it, “The United States has long been pursuing a hostile policy towards our country. A response will certainly follow, not only in terms of reciprocation, but we will also draw additional conclusions on the entire range of Russia-US relations.”

Lavrov was commenting on the latest US sanctions announced on Monday against a number of Russian companies that work with the armed forces. Lavrov said these sanctions were based on “a strategy” aimed at weakening Washington’s rivals on the global markets, “blatantly violating the rules of the World Trade Organization.”

To be sure, the Russian posturing has noticeably hardened in the recent weeks. Certain remarks by President Vladimir Putin at this annual press conference in Moscow on December 17 suggest that the Kremlin has had a rethink on the policy of “strategic patience” pursued so far and may allow the armed forces to act assertively in the face of US provocations.

Putin underscored emphatically that Russia not only outmatches the US with the hypersonic weapons it has developed, but “we are working, among other things, on the ‘antidote’ against future hypersonic weapons in other countries… I am confident we will do that and we are on the right path.”

Putin stressed that the very existence of Russia’s hypersonic missile systems influences the global situation and has changed it. He singled out the advanced RS-28 Sarmat silo-based system with a heavy liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile with a throw weight of 10 tonnes, Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicle, the Kinzhal and the Peresvet laser weapons, the Avangard hypersonic missile system whose speed exceeds Mach 20 and the Tsirkon long-range hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile flying at over eight times the speed of sound.

Putin noted, “Moreover, it (Tsirkon) can be placed both on stationary carriers and on surface and subsurface ships. Where can it be placed? In neutral waters. So, you can calculate the range and the speed and everything will become clear. Does this change and influence the (global) situation somehow? Of course, it changes and influences it.”

Again, in an address on December 21 at the annual expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow, Putin flagged the “high risks of escalation in the South Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa and other regions. NATO’s military activity persists… it is necessary to maintain our nuclear weapons in high combat readiness and develop all components of the nuclear triad. This is of fundamental importance to ensure our national security and preserve strategic parity in the world…

Putin said, “we must be ready to respond in a timely manner to the Western countries’ deployment of counterpart missiles near our borders. If we are forced to, we must take all response measures and do this in the shortest time possible…I would like to emphasise that with respect to strategic forces, we have already done serious research and technology groundwork on pieces of equipment that have no counterparts in the world.”

In the American policy debates, there is a dangerous assumption that the pursuit of US hegemony can continue unquestioned, as Russia’s economy is not in the same league as the US’ and Moscow is not seeking confrontation with the US and NATO. But the signals coming from Moscow is that Russia will not surrender to the American notion of world domination. Moscow has drawn the conclusion that given the pervasive anti-Russia narrative that is firmly rooted among the American elite, any concessions on Russia’s part for the sake of a nominal improvement in relations with Washington no longer makes sense.

There is insufficient awareness on the American side that the danger of a nuclear confrontation is growing. An escalation of US-Russia military tensions is entirely conceivable. It could happen in Syria, Ukraine or in the high seas. The chief of General Staff of Russia’s armed forces General Valery Gerasimov told a news briefing for foreign military attaches in Moscow on December 24 that the NATO’s training activities — “with non-NATO countries getting increasingly involved” — have taken a pronounced anti-Russia direction and there are growing provocations near Russia’s western borders.

Gerasimov said, “The major increase in the number of NATO ships’ visits to the Black Sea, Baltic and Barents seas is alarming. Also, the number of flights by US strategic aircraft has grown.” He alleged that “there has been no reactions (from NATO) to this day” to Russian proposals to ease military activity along the line of Russia-NATO engagement on the basis of reciprocity and maximum transparency and for an effective mechanism to prevent dangerous military activity in the air and at sea — in the first place, in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.

Indeed, against this backdrop, Russia is not standing still, either. In a historical perspective, while the share of modern equipment in the Soviet Army was 54 percent, and in the strategic and nuclear forces 65 to 70 percent, which was a high level by world standards, today, the share of modern weapons and equipment is over 70 percent and stands at 86 percent for the nuclear forces. Reports keep appearing on induction of new weapons into the armed forces.

Meanwhile, the American strategists continue to turn a blind eye to the prospect of an alliance between Russia and China. They blithely assume that it is possible to successfully contain and gradually grind both countries through sanctions and restrictions on trade, investment, finance and technology and simultaneously undermining their internal stability by financing the domestic opposition to the regime, the indoctrination of “pro-Western” elements and information warfare, etc.

Equally, a range of issues — eg., the growing tensions over Taiwan and the key role of Ukraine in Biden’s foreign policy drafting — have spurred Russia and China to seek to hedge risks and deepen their partnership networks. It is a historic error of judgment to underestimate the grit of Russia and China to push back.

At some point, Moscow and Beijing would see no option but to cut the Americans down to size through joint efforts. The possibility of a Russia-China tactical alliance is rapidly growing, fueled by the common challenges they face from the US attempts to incessantly poke them and suppress them, interfere in their internal affairs and encircle them with hostile alliances.

McCarthyism, Version 2.0

“Have you no sense of decency, at long last?” We should ask this of The New York Times’ David Sanger and The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima, who are still singing the old Russia hacking song:
https://washingtonpost.com/national-security/dhs-is-third-federal-agency-hacked-in-major-russian-cyberespionage-campaign/2020/12/14/41f8fc98-3e3c-11eb-8bc0-ae155bee4aff_story.html

These are clear attempts to tie Biden’s hands on Russia. I discuss the pitiful exercise in a recent interview:

Critical Hour, 12/14/2020