07/30/16

The U.S. has had a Russian Problem of Espionage for Decades

By: Denise Simon | FoundersCode.com

What is terrifying and pathetic is the Obama White House and both Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have been stooges of Putin….groveling for normalcy just as they have with the regime of Iran. This is an administration that is normalizing relations with all terror regimes across the globe that include North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. Hillary said thatBashir al Assad of Syria was a reformer when 400,000 Syrians are dead and 4-5 million have left their homes. Then, we all remember that the Obama White House negotiated with Qatar to released 5 Taliban commanders in exchange for one Army deserter. Talks have been ongoing with the Taliban for years until just recently.

But back to Russia….before the hacking, to sway and or interfere with U.S. elections.

Related reading: Hey FBI, the Investigation into the DNC Hacking is Over Here

No one is admitting that Russian in cadence with WikiLeaks has hacked Hillary’s campaign systems, DCC and the DNC as well as other government systems. Why? Perhaps diplomacy due to talks continued talks with Iran and ending the civil war in Syria. Remember that ‘red-line’ on chemical weapons use.

So, let’s go back a way, like over a decade and up to just a couple of years ago when it came to Russian spies in the United States, shall we? This is for perspective and how the Obama administration including his National Security Council and the State Department continue to ‘omit’ history…

Espionage continues and tactics have not changed for Russia where cyber intrusions have replaced in country operatives, however a look at those operatives’ skills and missions must not be overlooked or dismissed.

Image result for russian spies caught

Let’s begin with Anna Chapman, the Russian spy.

DailyNews: Sultry former Russian secret agent Anna Chapman ended an exchange with NBC News almost before it began when she was pressed about her playful Twitter marriage proposal to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Here is the official criminal complaint and summary of how the FBI tracked her actions filed in 2010. The file also includes an additional spy Mikhail Sememko. This actually began in 1990….yes 1990.

But actually there were 8 more Russian spies and this is the criminal complaint for that case. What is fascinating here is the many stopovers in Latin America…..

The spying spree finally came to its end in the summer of 2014, when the trio were propositioned by a self-described investor who wanted to develop casinos in Russia. The scheme immediately drew red flags among the group, with Sporyshev offering that the proposal felt “like some sort of set-up.”

But despite his misgivings, Sporyshev didn’t stop Buryakov from meeting with the supposed investor, who was, in fact, an FBI informant.

For six hours on Aug. 28, Buryakov and the informant met in the anemic gambling metropolis Atlantic City. The informant, who claimed he had a well-placed source in the U.S. government, handed Buryakov documents that were labeled “Internal Treasury Use Only” and contained a list of Russians who were essentially blacklisted from doing business with the United States.

The valuable document earned the informant another meeting that day, when he offered Buryakov another official document that contained “a list of Russian banks… on which to impose sanctions,” according to the criminal complaint. More from DailyBeast.

Then there was a dead Russian, Mikhail Lesin. found in a hotel in Dupont Circle, Washington DC. A story that came and went real fast.

Image result for russian Mikhail Lesin

Mr. Lesin was a major figure in Russian media after the fall of the Soviet Union, first as an advertising executive and later as a top government official and media executive.  

He had deep connections to the Russian state at the time Mr. Putin was reasserting his authority over the country’s rambunctious and freewheeling media. He was a crucial figure in that process, which began with the takeover of Russia’s first independent television channel, NTV, in the early 2000s, and was viewed with bitterness by many Russian journalists at that time.

07/28/16

Cold War 2.0 – Russian Trolls and Cybersecurity

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Hat Tips: Trevor Loudon, Renee Nal and Denise Simon

Russia

Cyberwarfare is Cold War 2.0 and the Russians are masters at it. There is no doubt now that Russia has used Internet troll factories to spread propaganda out there to promote Donald Trump for president. Putin would own Trump if he became president, but he would also control Clinton as he has tons of blackmail material on her. Behind all of this. whispering in Putin’s ear is Aleksandr Dugin, who wants chaos, power and the downfall of the US. Dugin is probably the most dangerous character in geopolitics today.

Freelance journalist Adrian Chen, now a staff writer at The New Yorker, did an expose on Russian trolls in 2015, entitled The Agency. In it, he lays out that there is a veritable army of well-paid trolls seeding the Internet with this propaganda and it has been going on for some time. These trolls have telltale signs… messages will be off by one misspelled word or the structure of their comments and writing won’t be quite right. Their arguments are scripted and sound identical. They have select sites that they visit over and over. Trevor Loudon’s New Zeal is one of those sites… Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze is another.

From Business Insider:

“A very interesting thing happened,” Chen told Longform’s Max Linsky in a podcast in December.

“I created this list of Russian trolls when I was researching. And I check on it once in a while, still. And a lot of them have turned into conservative accounts, like fake conservatives. I don’t know what’s going on, but they’re all tweeting about Donald Trump and stuff,” he said.

Linsky then asked Chen who he thought “was paying for that.”

“I don’t know,” Chen replied. “I feel like it’s some kind of really opaque strategy of electing Donald Trump to undermine the US or something. Like false-flag kind of thing. You know, that’s how I started thinking about all this stuff after being in Russia.”

These trolls have been behind a number of highly coordinated campaigns to deceive Americans. It’s a brand of information warfare, known as “dezinformatsiya,” that has been used by the Russians since at least the Cold War. The disinformation campaigns are only one “active measure” tool used by Russian intelligence to “sow discord among,” and within, allies perceived hostile to Russia.

“It is designed, as retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin once defined it, ‘to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare ground in case the war really occurs.’ The most common subcategory of active measures is dezinformatsiya, or disinformation: feverish, if believable lies cooked up by Moscow Centre and planted in friendly media outlets to make democratic nations look sinister.”

Russia2

Putin is not hiding the fact that he wants Donald Trump in the White House. Trump does not support NATO or the Ukraine and he is very friendly with Putin. He also has business dealings with a number of wealthy Russians. It would not surprise me if at some point money had flowed to Trump out of Russia and Putin is now calling in his marker.

The hack of the DNC, which went on for a year and was discovered last month, has been traced back to Russian military intelligence by the cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike. This is just the kind of cyberwarfare Russia would use for maximum effect here in the US. “The DNC hack and dump is what cyberwar looks like,” Dave Aitel, a cybersecurity specialist, a former NSA employee and the founder of cybersecurity firm Immunity Inc., wrote for Ars Technica last week.

With talented hackers for sale to the highest bidder out there, Russia has been on a shopping spree for digital talent. They are weaponizing information with the goal of bringing down the US. I’m just surprised they haven’t used it in other ways… against our power grid for instance.

There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is a useful tool to the Russians.

Per Ars Technica:

What occurred with the recently disclosed breach of the Democratic National Committee servers, and the dumping of stolen data on a WordPress site, is more than an act of cyber espionage or harmless mischief. It meets the definition of an act of cyberwar, and the US government should respond as such.

I could not agree more. This has stepped out of the league of simple espionage and right into an act of war. The US needs to take this very seriously and address it for what it is. If Trump does not do an about face on this, the Republicans are going to have an intelligence disaster on their hands.

Trump has surrounded himself with numerous individuals who are far too cozy with the Kremlin and that have financial interests intertwined with Russia. People such as Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. There are others as well, but his inner circle is shaping up to be a national security nightmare when it comes to the Russians.

Two separate agencies of the Russian spy services, the domestic FSB and the military GRU, gained access, independently of each other and without the other’s cognizance, to the DNC correspondence beginning in the summer of 2015 (the FSB) and followed by an intrusion registered in April of this year (the GRU). If this had happened during the Reagan era, it would have been viewed as an act of war and would not have gone unanswered.

I give you the Gerasimov Doctrine. Denise Simone explains:

General Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Federation’s military, developed The Gerasimov Doctrine in recent years. The doctrine posits that the rules of war have changed, that there is a “blurring of the lines between war and peace,” and that “nonmilitary means of achieving military and strategic goals has grown and, in many cases, exceeded the power of weapons in their effectiveness.” Gerasimov argues for asymmetrical actions that combine the use of special forces and information warfare that create “a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state.”

An overview of Russian activity in Latin America shows an adherence to Gerasimov’s doctrine of waging constant asymmetrical warfare against one’s enemies through a combination of means. These include military or hard power as well as shaping and controlling the narrative in public opinion, diplomatic outreach, military sales, intelligence operations, and strategic offerings of intelligence and military technology. All are essential components of the Russian presence and Gerasimov’s view that the lines between war and peace are blurred, and that non-military means of achieving power and influence can be as effective or more effective than military force. Read more here.

From The Daily Beast:

If Moscow Centre is indeed behind this bit of cyber skulduggery, then it represents the boldest intrusion ever by a past and present Cold War adversary into America’s political decision-making.

Indeed, the style and purpose of this intrusion bears an uncanny resemblance to old Cold War tradecraft.

I have said for many years, the Cold War never ended… it shifted and this is the result of that.

This Russian KGB propaganda model is cultivating widespread troll operations. It has hit many of the most popular websites in America. You see it in the comments over and over. Even more pervasive, you find them on Facebook in postings and comments all over the place. Once you know what to look for, they are not hard to find. They are spreading propaganda with ease and most just believe what they read. Big mistake.

There are whole media outlets who do the dirty work for the Russians in addition to their troll sweatshops: Alex Jones, Russia Today (RT), WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden are just a few of these. Through cyberespionage and cyberwarfare, those who are first to control the widespread use of digital propaganda are far ahead on an entirely new warfront. The Russians and the Chinese are spanking our butts in this field. A field that could easily be life and death for America. Welcome to Cold War 2.0.

Russia1

07/28/16

Why Putin Loves Hillary

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

Putin

The media are shedding crocodile tears for Hillary Clinton. “Why Putin Hates Hillary” is the headline over a Politico story by Michael Crowley and Julia Ioffe about the stolen Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. To the contrary, Russian President Vladimir Putin loves Hillary. He has taken advantage of her once, in the “Russia Reset,” and is preparing to take advantage of her again. She is the ultimate dupe. Putin has Hillary just where he wants her. He has access to some of Hillary’s deepest and darkest secrets.

The idea that Mrs. Clinton and the DNC have been victimized by Putin is absurd. This isn’t Putin’s fault. It’s the fault of the DNC. They didn’t maintain security over their email operations.

But, of course, neither did Hillary.

Politico says Putin is angry at Clinton for challenging the fairness of Russian elections. Almost on cue, Time magazine is out with a story taking a similar line. Time says Putin is mad that Hillary encouraged protests against his rule. In retaliation, the story goes, his hackers stole the DNC emails.

The other propaganda line from the media is that Putin favors Donald J. Trump over Hillary because Trump has business deals in Russia, and may even be in debt to some of Putin’s friends. According to this logic, which makes some sense, Putin has leverage over Trump, too.

There will be a way to test this theory.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggests that Trump’s views on Russia may change once he’s briefed on Russia’s aggressive intentions. This is an excerpt of an exchange with Cotton from a CNBC interview:

CNBC’s John Harwood: One of the questions that has been raised about Donald Trump is, ‘Is he more friendly with Russia than it is in America’s best interests to be?’

Senator Cotton: Vladimir Putin was a KGB spy and he never got over that. He does not have America’s best interests at heart and he does not have any American interests at heart. I suspect, after this week, when Donald Trump is the nominee and he begins to receive classified briefings, similar briefings to what I receive as a member of the Intelligence Committee, he may have a different perspective on Vladimir Putin and what Russia is doing to America’s interests and allies in Europe and the Middle East and Asia.”

What Cotton is saying is that Trump’s soft-on-Russia policies could, and should, change after these briefings have occurred. If they do not, then Republicans will have a serious problem with their nominee.

On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton was burned once by Putin, during the Russian reset, and could get burned again. Remember that the Associated Press reported last October that the private email server running in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s home basement when she was secretary of state “was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers while using software that could have been exploited…”

FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the emails were at risk. He said that while investigators did not find direct evidence that “hostile actors” hacked into Mrs. Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, “given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence” (emphasis added). He did say that hostile actors “gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account.” He added, “We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”

From a security standpoint, therefore, one has to assume that these hostile actors did in fact gain access to her email system. Those hostile actors have to include Russia. You cannot proceed on any other assumption.

In a July 25 editorial, The Washington Post blamed Trump for the Russian hack of the DNC, saying he had somehow given them the “motivation” for such an attack because of his soft-on-Russian foreign policy positions. The Post said that Russia favors Trump over Hillary and wanted to sabotage her candidacy with the leak of the DNC emails on the eve of her convention.

But if Russia has Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and the evidence strongly points in that direction, it can be safely assumed they have potential blackmail material to use against her. Those emails probably involve not only a number of sensitive government activities but information about Mrs. Clinton personally, her family, the Clinton Foundation and her aides. The material could involve information of a financial or personal nature.

Moscow’s judgment, the Post editorial claimed, is that “it stands to reap a geopolitical windfall if Donald Trump is elected president.” That will only be the case if Trump persists in his pro-Russia policy and ignores the intelligence information about Russia’s aggressive intentions that Senator Cotton says he will receive. Trump still has time to reverse course on matters involving Russia, NATO and national security.

By contrast, Moscow already reaped a geopolitical windfall when Hillary was secretary of state and used the reset to invade Ukraine and expand militarily into the Middle East. Despite anti-Russian language in the 2016 Democratic platform, Mrs. Clinton has shown extremely bad judgment on Russia in the past. It’s possible she has changed her position. But Putin has so much potentially damaging information about Mrs. Clinton in those emails that this former KGB officer may think he can keep her in line. All that he has to do to keep a President Hillary Clinton in line is threaten to release some of the damaging information already in his possession. The leaks could come through WikiLeaks, the source of the DNC emails, or the Edward Snowden network.

These are the choices: Trump can reverse course and say and do the right thing about Russia. Hillary can talk tough about Russia during the campaign and do Putin’s bidding under threat of blackmail as president.

In short, Mrs. Clinton is a proven risk to national security. She is under effective Russian control. Trump could turn out to be a security risk if he deliberately ignores the evidence of hostile Russian intentions and aggression that is being presented to him. We can assume that Senator Cotton will follow up on his comments to CNBC and watch Trump for changes in his approach to Russia. America will also be watching.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

07/27/16

What Does Putin Have on Hillary?

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

Putin

Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times examines the question of who hacked the Democratic National Committee and whether the trail leads to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We know from reliable reporting that Russian hackers are not independent actors, and that they have been busy,” he writes. “And it’s eerie, at best, that Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks chose this moment to release the stolen emails (and complete a strange triangle that runs from him to Putin to Edward Snowden).”

For his part, on his Twitter page, Snowden said, “If Russia hacked the #DNC, they should be condemned for it. But during the #Sony hack, the FBI presented evidence.”

This is funny on Snowden’s part. Snowden sits in Russia, a guest of Putin, and Assange has acted like an agent of Russia. Trevor Loudon’s report on Assange documents his service to Moscow and associations with a number of Marxist or pro-Russian groups. Snowden is probably personally involved in the leak and could easily get to the bottom of why it happened.

“This has the appearance of a foreign power directly interfering in an American election, and that’s not something to take lightly,” Noah Rothman writes in Commentary. He goes on, “Rather than applaud and leverage this development, as he has, Donald Trump would be much better served by condemning it. If the Russians are set on undermining the Democratic Party in this election, it won’t be long before the public is asked to consider why that might be.”

Rothman has a point, but the more important issue is why the DNC and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used private or unsecure servers that were open to these foreign adversaries. One can argue that Mrs. Clinton, in particular, invited this foreign meddling in the election. Who knows what the Russians still have in their bag of tricks? The point is that Mrs. Clinton is a security risk and the Russians may still have emails to use against her.

Pro-Putin commentator Don Hank reported back in June, “I was invited to participate in a conversation among a group of friends who are hoping that the Kremlin will turn over their cache of Hillary emails obtained via the Romanian hacker ‘Guccifer’ just in time to smear her prior to the November election.”

Even earlier, Catherine Herridge of Fox News reported back in May that the Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer” had claimed he easily—and repeatedly—breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server in early 2013. The Clinton campaign denied the charge, but Herridge reported that “Guccifer” said “he first compromised Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal’s AOL account, in March 2013, and used that as a stepping stone to the Clinton server.”

“Guccifer” has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice.

Mrs. Clinton’s emails may be even more valuable than the documents stolen and released by Snowden. After all, Clinton’s emails discussed the intentions of U.S. policymakers.

This is actually an old story involving the Clintons. As Reed Irvine and I reported back in 1998, the Ken Starr report on President Clinton revealed that Clinton had warned his sexual plaything Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, “that a foreign government may be monitoring their telephone conversations and that they should concoct a cover story to explain them.” Here is exactly what the Starr report says about this matter: “According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President had a lengthy conversation that day. He told her that he suspected that a foreign embassy (he did not specify which one) was tapping his telephones, and he proposed cover stories. If ever questioned, she should say that the two of them were just friends. If anyone ever asked about their phone sex, she should say that they knew their calls were being monitored all along, and the phone sex was just a put-on.”

Nothing has really changed, except that emails have now been monitored and compromised in Mrs. Clinton’s case.

As we said back in May, “The evidence demonstrates that she is a full-blown security risk who should be indicted for her reckless criminal conduct as Secretary of State.” Hillary made herself into a security risk.

Now we are waiting for the next shoe to drop. Does it have something to do with Bill Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, or Hillary’s own personal scandals?

Whatever the scandal, it’s not the fault of Donald J. Trump. Trump may have something to explain regarding his own ties to the Kremlin, but so does Hillary. If the truth doesn’t come out before Election Day, it means that Moscow may have blackmail power over the possible first female president of the United States.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

07/26/16

Warning to Donald Trump: Get real on Russian threat, or lose to Hillary

By: Trevor Loudon | New Zeal

The Democrats plan to exploit Donald Trump’s seeming admiration for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and his lukewarm support for NATO as a stick to beat him with in the upcoming Presidential race.

Clinton

Two existential threats to America

While largely ignored by most of Trump’s base, their candidate’s perceived naivete regarding Putin and his entourage of pro-Russian acolytes (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Carter Page), is set to become a major campaign liability. Incredibly, Hillary Clinton, as far left as Bernie Sanders, if truth be told, plans to run to the right of Trump on foreign policy. Trump and the Republican Party will be backed into a pro-Putin corner that will be very difficult to break out of. Talk about irony.

Wesley Clark, a retired Army general, former Democratic presidential candidate and affiliate of the leftist Center for American Progress, thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin wants GOP nominee Donald Trump to win the presidency.

Clark said in a statement for VoteVets, a Democratic/leftist veterans’ group:

“Here’s what Putin probably wants longer term: the break-up of NATO, the pullback of the EU, takeover of Ukraine, dominance over Georgia, re-establishment of Russian control over Eastern Europe and greater Russian influence worldwide,” 

“And what does Trump suggest for his foreign policy? Conditional support for NATO, pulling America back behind walls, withdrawing forward-deployed deterrent forces, abandoning allies and encouraging the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” … “Is there any doubt that Putin might really like us to elect Donald Trump?”

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made it clear on Monday that WikiLeaks‘ recent dump of Democratic Party emails was no accident:

“Given Donald Trump’s well-known admiration for Putin and his belittling of NATO, the Russians have both the means and the motive to engage in a hack of the DNC and the dump of its emails prior to the Democratic convention…”

This site has been warning for months that Donald Trump’s softness on Russia and unsupportive statements on NATO would become a campaign issue. How did it come to this…a Republican nominee is being attacked by socialist Democrats over his softness towards a neo-Stalinist dictator?

To have any chance of victory in November, Donald Trump needs to fire all his pro-Russia advisers and start treating both Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin as the existential threats to America that they undoubtedly are.

Thanks to the Washington Examiner.

Read More:

07/25/16

The Trump-Sanders Coalition

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

Trump

You know the terms “left” and “right” are losing meaning when left-wing websites are praising the Republican presidential candidate and attacking the Democrat, and Russia seems to be intervening in favor of the GOP.

The Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), which has been pulling for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race, has sent out an advisory entitled, “What Trump is Right About: NATO.” On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton’s pick for her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), has been depicted by the same group as a creature of Wall Street.

The IPA is not alone. Journalism Professor Jeff Cohen, co-founder of RootsAction.org and communications coordinator of the Bernie Delegates Network, has been quoted as saying that Kaine is a “corporatist,” or stooge of Big Business. Cohen’s colleague, Norman Solomon, calls Kaine a puppet of the “oligarchy.”

At the same time, WikiLeaks has released an email database from the Democratic National Committee, demonstrating that the DNC intervened in the primary contest against Sanders and in favor of Clinton. Since Russian hackers obtained the DNC emails, it means that Moscow wants to cause mischief on the Democratic side just as Hillary is getting the presidential nomination this week in Philadelphia.

An explanation for this interesting series of events may be found in the IPA news release on Trump and NATO, quoting Professor David N. Gibbs as saying that “Trump’s recent criticisms of the NATO alliance are reasonable.” He adds, “Trump is right to question NATO’s value in promoting U.S. security, and also to raise the issue of the enormous financial cost of this alliance to the U.S. taxpayer.” Gibbs has appeared on RT, the Russia Today propaganda channel.

Trump’s pro-Russian outlook has caused great consternation among conservatives who see the Vladimir Putin regime as the aggressor in Europe and interfering in the Middle East. Trump’s allies vetoed tough language in the Republican platform urging heavy weapons for Ukraine to fight Russian aggression. Instead, the Trump forces inserted language about providing “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine.

By contrast, the Democratic platform is tough on Russia and attacks Trump’s position on NATO. It says, “Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions along its borders, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and attempting to recreate spheres of influence that undermine American interests. It is also propping up the Assad regime in Syria, which is brutally attacking its own citizens. Donald Trump would overturn more than 50 years of American foreign policy by abandoning NATO partners — 44 countries who help us fight terrorism every day — and embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin instead. We believe in strong alliances and will deter Russian aggression, build European resilience, and protect our NATO allies.”

These words sound great, except for the fact that, as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton had an opportunity to be tough with the Russians and blew it. Her Russian reset led to the invasion of Ukraine. It also masked the uranium deal highlighted in the movie “Clinton Cash,” based on the book, a deal in which the Russians bought 20 percent of America’s uranium production as millions of dollars flowed to the Clinton Foundation and hundreds of thousands of dollars went to Bill Clinton personally.

Has Hillary Clinton changed her mind on Russia? That’s what the platform would suggest. If so, it would be a big opening for Trump to pounce on her flip-flops. But he hasn’t done so. Instead, he refuses to take on Russian aggression in Europe or the Middle East.

In his speech, however, Trump openly appealed to Sanders supporters, saying they “will join our movement, because we will fix his biggest issue: trade deals that strip our country of its jobs and wealth.”

Trump’s appeal to Sanders supporters is based on trade. But it appears that his pro-Russian foreign policy has some appeal to them as well. If the Sanders supporters perceive Hillary Clinton to be a hawk on foreign policy, as Sanders himself suggested during the campaign, it’s possible they could either sit out the race or vote for the New York billionaire.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

07/23/16

WikiLeaks, Trump, Manafort, Kremlin, Oligarchs, DNC

By: Denise Simon | FoundersCode.com

Today, July 22, 1016, WikiLeaks published 50,000 files from the DNC. For background, Julian Assange, the known manager of the entire WikiLeaks program appears to have some Belarus and Russia loyalties. Furthermore, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump have relationships as well. Could it be that Assange and the Kremlin have colluded in the U.S. elections and the DNC is waiting for the moment to destroy the general election process?

 

Julian Assange and Europe’s Last Dictator

The former WikiLeaks chief will moderate a public discussion about Belarus, more here.

*****

Related reading:   Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump

Related reading: Donald Trump and the Siberian Candidate

Manafort didn’t just represent oligarchs tight with the Kremlin. He became business partners with them. He ran a private equity fund in which the aluminum magnate (and Putin pal) Oleg Deripaska invested millions. As the Washington Post has shown, this fund didn’t exactly do much investing. In fact, Manafort struggled to account for the cash he received. And rather than pay back Deripaska, he apparently went underground. In 2014, Deripaska’s lawyers noted, “It appears that Paul Manafort and [his business partner] Rick Gates have simply disappeared”: Manafort’s vanishing became a joke in certain Republican circles. So why has Manafort suddenly felt comfortable re-emerging into public view? How did he square his debts with Putin’s ally? Another question for the campaign chairman: What are his dealings with the Kremlin? It’s clear that he has advanced its interests in Ukraine, where he managed the political rehabilitation of its favored candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. He also went into business with one of the Kremlin’s primary natural gas middlemen, Dmitry Firtash. To what extent did these relationships bring him into the inner sanctum of Russian power?  More here from Slate.

*****

Trump himself and Russian oligarchs:

Trump On His Meeting In Moscow About A Potential Hotel Development: “The Russian Market Is Attracted To Me. I Have A Great Relationship With Many Russians, And Almost All Of The Oligarchs Were In The Room.” “A replica of Bayrock/Sapir’s Trump Soho hotel may be Moscow’s first big new hotel in ten years. Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen of the Sapir Organization, co-developers on the Soho hotel at 246 Spring Street, met with Russian developer Aras Agalarov and Donald Trump over the weekend to discuss plans for the new project – Trump’s first in Russia. ‘The Russian market is attracted to me,’ Trump told Real Estate Weekly. ‘I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.’ Trump told REW that he is in talks with Agalarov and three other groups, and that there is no rush on a timeline for the project. He also did not disclose the hotel’s planned height or square footage, saying only that ‘it has to be a large development, big enough to justify the travel.’” [Real Estate Weekly, 11/12/13<http://therealdeal.com/2013/11/12/the-donald-sapir-execs-mull-bringing-trump-soho-to-moscow/>] More here.

*****

Taking this a step further due to known business relationships between Paul Manafort and the Kremlin, the cable below demonstrates one such item of evidence.

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s top campaign chief has had previous business interactions with the Kremlin and events regarding Ukraine. As noted by this cable:

(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly. Not for internet distribution. 1. (SBU) Summary: Party of Regions’ U.S. campaign consultants Paul Manafort, Phil Griffin, and Catherine Barnes called on DCM and poloff March 10 to share Regions’ concerns about election organizational problems that they feared could call the legitimacy of the March 26 election into question. Manafort complained about the indifferent attitude of OSCE/ODIHR. He also claimed that the identified inadequacies were not mere oversights, but were intentional on the part of those in power, specifically Yushchenko and Our Ukraine; he said that Regions’ past experience allowed them to “see what was coming around the corner.” If these shortcomings were not fixed by March 14, the day the Rada would consider technical amendments to address problems, warned Manafort, they could call into question the integrity of the March 26 vote. Manafort acknowledged that the 2006 election cycle was considerably better than in 2004 but stressed that the U.S., ODIHR, and other western countries and institutions needed to be as supportive of the democratic process in 2006 as they had been in 2004, lest the impression be given that there were two sets of standards depending on who was in power. Manafort added that the people who felt that the 2004 elections had been stolen from them — and since he was not in Ukraine in 2004, he could not judge what had happened — would feel that it was happening to them again. End Summary. Regions concerns about voter lists, precinct committees ——————————————— ———- 2. (SBU) Manafort stated that “massive inaccuracies” in voter lists and the lack of formation of polling station committees (PSC) made it impossible for some voters to check the lists and seek administrative remedies. We noted that Ukrainian NGOs had identified the same concerns (reftel). In response to a question, Manafort suggested that the inadequacies were not mere oversights but were intentional on the part of those in power, specifically Yushchenko and Our Ukraine, and said that Regions’ past experience allowed them to “see what was coming around the corner.” If these shortcomings were not fixed, warned Manafort, they could call into question the integrity of the March 26 vote, and an “explosion” could result. We asked if he thought the problems he had cited resulted from acts of commission or omission. He replied that those in power had the ability to correct the problems. 3. (SBU) Regions had delivered specific information on their concerns to the prosecutors’ office, the Central Election Commission, OSCE/ODIHR, and now to the Embassy. Manafort complained that the ODIHR deputy head of Mission, Robert Cherreli, had met with a Regions delegation including an MP earlier March 10 dressed completely inappropriately (jeans, hiking boots, shirt hanging out). He also characterized ODIHR’s response to Regions’ concerns as “indifferent; they didn’t seem to be bothered about the allegations and did not plan on taking any action.” We pointed out that ODIHR’s mandate was as an observer mission, not a lobbying participant, and that OSCE member-state Russia in particular had been highly critical of ODIHR, accusing it in the past of exceeding its observer mandate. 4. (SBU) Manafort disputed this line of argument, which ODIHR itself had used in response to the Regions’ concerns, claiming: “everyone knows what OSCE does in these sorts of situations.” Manafort warned that western countries like the U.S. and institutions like OSCE/ODIHR were risking the appearance of not pushing as hard for high standards of democratic process in 2006 as they had in 2004, and that there could be negative consequences in the eyes of people who saw the “West made certain demands on the one hand when one group was in power but reacted differently, or stayed silent, when another group was in power.” We made clear that the U.S. position on the importance of free and fair elections was unchanged from 2004 to 2006. Manafort replied that the “perception” nevertheless was “out there.” 5. (SBU) Manafort added that the people who felt that the 2004 elections had been stolen from them — rightly or wrongly, that was how they felt — would feel that it was happening to them again. In apparent anticipation of our next statement, Manafort offered that he was not in Ukraine in 2004 and could not make a judgment of what had happened. What was past was past; he was concerned about the present. 6. (SBU) Manafort’s associate Catherine Barnes opened a folder with documents she said supported the Regions’ complaints. The most specific example cited was a Luhansk precinct (Oktyabr district) in which 10,000 eligible voters were supposedly missing from the list, including entire apartment blocks; 16,000 were listed incorrectly, mainly due to mistakes in translating from Russian into Ukrainian. Barnes said that the possible remedy in the works was a series of technical amendments the parliament (Rada) could pass March 14 to address the problems. There was consensus among Rada factions about certain corrections, but disagreement on others. 7. (SBU) Manafort claimed that CEC Chair Davydovych supported all the amendments under consideration and had characterized the condition of the voters’ lists as being worse than in 2004. In contrast, according to Manafort, President Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine representative had rejected a mechanism to allow voters recourse on election day to have the PSC add their names, vowing that Yushchenko would veto it, either with a direct veto or fail to sign the legislation, which would have the same effect, since the election would be less than two weeks away after the March 14 vote. He also said that, except for Our Ukraine, there was broad agreement among all political forces including Tymoshenko’s Bloc that the amendments were needed. We observed in reply that in the 2004 election, a district court or the territorial election commission could add someone to the voter list, but not the PSC itself. Our understanding of the proposed legislative fix under consideration in the Rada was that it would allow a local court to authorize same-day additions to the voter list, not PSCs. 8. (SBU) Manafort suggested that on March 14, two sets of amendments could be put to a vote in the Rada, one with consensus support, and the other including fixes supported by Regions and other parties, “including some orange parties,” but likely to be rejected by Yushchenko/Our Ukraine. This rejection could cause a “major problem” for perceptions of the elections’ legitimacy. Even though “it would not change the result, it could change the magnitude.” 9. (SBU) Catherine Barnes, Project Manager for the “Ukraine Election Integrity Project,” a Manafort sub-project to train Regions’ poll watchers in the standards of the code of conduct adopted by the Party for the 2006 election cycle, briefly mentioned her efforts, which have trained over 1200 Regions’ members. The materials she handed to the embassy about the integrity issues brief notes that while Regions expects to win handily, it “has serious concerns about the political will of the current government to conduct free and fair elections, concerns that are increasingly shared by the CEC and other political parties in the Verkhovna Rada.” 10. (SBU) We noted the great differences between the 2006 and 2004 election cycles. On the streets of Zaporizhzhya, there were nearly a dozen political party tents representing the entire political spectrum lined up right next to each other, without incident or problem; on the same street in 2004, only one color was allowed to be seen. Manafort, Griffin, and Barnes nodded in agreement, with Manafort adding: “and that’s why we have to ensure this opportunity to cement gains made isn’t lost.” 11. (SBU) DCM raised the case of Black Sea TV, a Tymoshenko bloc-affiliated station which had been subject to a court ruling to shut it down, based on a petition from a local Party of Regions branch citing a clause in the election law universally condemned by free media advocates. Manafort said that the action had not come at the request of the national Party of Regions, claimed that the petitioning party was not a local Regions branch per se but were supporters of Yanukovych, and suggested that in fact Yushchenko-affiliated forces had inspired the shut down action in a “Black PR” effort to besmirch Party of Regions’ reputation. DCM asked if Yanukovych had or planned to distance himself from these actions. Manafort replied that this was deemed unnecessary, because “the courts would take care of this.” 12. (SBU) We also raised the March 9 statement of Regions’ Campaign Chief Kushnariov, who had attacked US policy towards Ukraine, accused it of meddling in the election process by passing the repeal Jackson-Vanik amendment, granting Market Economy Status, and signing a bilateral WTO accession agreement to keep in power an “orange” government willing to “take instructions” from across the Atlantic. Kusnariov’s statement was posted on the Regions’ website. Manafort said that he would talk to Kushnariov, who had not mentioned it to him in their daily morning meeting; the statement was in Russian, but had not been posted on the English version of the site, Manafort added. 13. (U) Note: In comments to the media in Uzhhorod March 9 picked up by the UNIAN wire service, Ambassador underscored concerns over the voters’ lists and sufficient staffing of precinct commissions. Other views ———– 14. (SBU) Our Ukraine’s Anton Klymenko held a press conference March 10 alleging that Regions, not Our Ukraine, was involved in voter list manipulation in eastern Ukraine, and that the “new” voter lists for some precincts in Donetsk which had stripped off many “dead souls” on the 2004 rolls had been replaced by the voter lists used in 2004, when fraud in the East was prevalent. Yarema Bachinsky, who runs a USAID-funded election-related education project, said that at this point there is no way to confirm the mutual accusations, which echo the charges and counter charges made in the 2004 election cycle. Since the Central Election Commission has not officially indicated how many PSCs are not fully functional, it is difficult to assess the extent of concerns about voter lack of access to a mechanism to check and possibly correct their names. 15. (SBU) This perspective was echoed by ODIHR’s Political analyst Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz, who told us that Regions, NeTak and Communists are making an issue of the transliteration of names, alleging that either their voters won’t be able to vote or there is a possibility of double listing/voting. ODIHR doesn’t have any way of verifying the lack of access to non-functional PSCs, though they cited a report that the CEC deputy Chair told the Rada in mid-February that 7000 PSCs lacked enough commissioners to function. CEC members are supposed to go out to the provinces over the weekend of March 11-12 to assess the current state of readiness. Regarding the Rada consideration of amendments, Martin-Rozumilowicz added that the CEC has proposed one set of technical amendments, and the Party of Regions has proposed its own. 16. (SBU) Note: Following is the original text of memo handed to DCM only at the conclusion of the meeting. The consultants did not voice the appeal in the final paragraph preceding the note. Begin text: MEMORANDUM To: Sheila Gwaltny, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Ukraine From: Paul Manafort, Davis Manafort Re: Meeting with OSCE-ODIHR Date: 10 March 2006 This morning, there was a meeting between the Party of Regions and OSCE-ODIHR to discuss the party’s grave concerns about massive inaccuracies in the Voters’ List and the problems in the formation and functioning of PECs which makes is impossible for voters in some areas to check the Voters’ List and seek administrative remedies. These meeting was not positively assessed by the Party of Regions, which interpreted the OSCE-ODIRH response as indifferent. During the meeting, POR representatives made a presentation on the massive problems with the Voters’ List that they have identified in there core regions in the South and East and provided extensive documentation on the magnitude of these problems. In once district in Lugansk, for example, 10,000 eligible voters are missing from the list and 16,000 are entered incorrectly. They also indicated that some 7,000 precinct election commissions have yet to be properly formed, which impedes the ability to check and correct the lists as envisioned by the law. POR sees these issues as potentially leading to the complete unraveling of elections in Ukraine if not dealt with before Election Day. It is working in consultation with other political parties in the Verhovna Rada and with the Chairman of the CEC to propose a series of technical amendments to the parliamentary election law to address these problems. These include steps to ensure the proper functioning of PECs, reducing the quorum required for PECs to make decisions, and providing for the addition of eligible voters to the Voters’ List at the polling stations on Election Day. There is broad consensus on the problems and on the technical remedies. The main hurdle to adoption of these technical amendments is the party of power, Our Ukraine. During the meeting with OSCE-ODIHR, the severity of the problems was established and documented. They indicated that there is a multi-party process underway in parliament to provide technical solutions was elaborated upon and that the key amendment, additions to the Voters’ List on Election Day is being opposed by Our Ukraine. POR asked for assistance from OSCE-ODIHR in urging the Government to join with other political parties to support the technical amendments to the law in order to avert a disaster on Election Day. These technical amendments must be adopted at the Verhovna Rada session that begins on 14 March and the President must immediately sign the amendments into law to ensure their implementation. OSCE-ODHIR indicated that it was aware of the problems and appreciated the documentation provided by POR. It promised to look into the problems and indicated that its long term observers were already in contact with POR representatives in the regions. It indicated, OSCE-ODIHR indicated however that as an observer mission that it cannot intercede in the political process. PbR impressions of the meeting where that OSCE-ODIHR, while cognizant of the problems and increasingly willing to investigate and report on them, appears to have no political will to prevent the impending disaster by encouraging the President to take the necessary and broadly supported steps to fix the problems that his Administration created. In order to stop this ticking time bomb, the intervention of the international community is needed. Without the leadership of the United States, it would appear that the time bomb is set to explode. Note: The meeting was attended by Elena Lukash, POR representative on the CEC and Victor Slauta, an MP representing POR and who serves on the parliamentary working group considering technical amendments to the parliamentary election law attended as did Catherine Barnes, election integrity advisor for Davis Manafort. OSCE-ODIHR was represented by the Deputy Head of Mission, Roberto Cherreli, the elections advisor Kamel Ivanov, and the legal advisor Hans Birchler. The Deputy Head of Mission showed up in casual attire (jeans, hiking boots, shirt hanging out), to meet a member of parliament, which suggests the seriousness with which the meeting was taken. End text. 14. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev’s classified website at: www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. HERBST

04/5/16

The Panama Papers – In The Beginning There Was Putin

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Putin

Looks like Vlad got caught big time with his mitts in the cookie jar. In the largest financial data leak in history, we are getting to see just how corrupt Vladimir Putin and his inner circle of cronies are. It’s revealing to say the least. It’s a dirty dozen of world leaders who are using offshore tax havens to hidey hole their wealth. But as in all things secret, the light of day is shining into the buried coffers of power brokers. Good times.

And Putin is far from alone… a cadre of celebrities, sports stars, British politicians and the uber wealthy of the planet are all mired in this scandal. Welcome to the Panama Papers. This is a collection of 11 million files or so that contain data to kill for. It makes Edward Snowden look like a rank amateur by comparison. But this wasn’t a hack… it was a mass collection of documents and data.

The leak is originating from one of the world’s most secretive entities… the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca. In the dirt dug up, the firm is exposed for helping clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxation. Among their clientele are megastars Jackie Chan and Lionel Messi who have invested their millions offshore. Chan is a big fan of communist China. The whole story is like a movie come to life… it’s also revealed that 26 million pounds that was stolen during the Brink’s Mat robbery in 1983 was possibly funneled into an offshore company set up by this firm.

Continue reading

06/3/15

ICYMI: KGB General: Of Course Snowden Is Working for Russian Intelligence

The Right Planet

The XX Committee

Edward-Snowden-FSB

May 23, 2014

As the Snowden Operation devolves into farce, with the inevitable falling-out between Wikileaks and the Greenwald axis happening online for the world to see, it seems that Edward Snowden isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. What contact, if any, he had with foreign intelligence services before he fled Hawaii for Hong Kong and then Russia, where he remains, is an important question that cannot be answered yet with publicly available information. Indeed, it may take years, perhaps decades for a reliable answer to emerge, given the nature of the espionage business. However, nobody familiar with spy games, particularly when Russians are involved, has any doubt the Ed is working for the Russians now. After all, what choice does he really have?

As if to deflect attention from this obvious truth, today President Vladimir Putin publicly denied that Ed is their guy: he “is not our agent, and gave up no secrets.” This should be taken about as seriously as any Kremlin utterance these days, such as claims that Jewish neo-Nazis are running things in Ukraine. For good measure, Putin added that the whole spectacle is really the fault of America’s “unprofessional” intelligence services, who failed to do their job and prevent this unprecedented disaster. Vlad sometimes can’t help himself, adding, “Russia is not a country that gives up champions of human rights,” meaning Ed.

More important is a new interview with Oleg Kalugin, who is a good deal more honest than Vladimir Putin. Titled “Snowden is cooperating with Russian intelligence,” this is an important development, given Kalugin’s position. He is something of a legend in espionage circles, since he was the youngest general in the KGB at the height of the Cold War, heading up the foreign counterintelligence office of the KGB’s elite First Chief Directorate, its overseas espionage arm. As such, Kalugin was responsible for overseeing the recruitment of foreigners working in the intelligence business…in other words, people just like Edward Snowden. Kalugin’s exploits working against U.S. intelligence are the stuff of exciting late-night spy stories, and you can read about some of them in his memoir, which I recommend (if you read Russian, that version is even better).

I don’t know of anybody in the West with better bona fides than Kalugin to discuss the modus operandi of Russia’s “special services,” particularly in their dealings with Western intelligence sources and defectors. Therefore I am including most of the article, since it merits reading:

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden probably never envisioned that he’d someday be working for the Russian federal security service, or FSB. 

But according to former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, he is now, albeit as a consultant or technical advisor.

“These days, the Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them. He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”

“The FSB are now his hosts, and they are taking care of him,” Kalugin boldly claimed in an interview with VentureBeat.

The 80 year-old retired Soviet intelligence officer is Russian spy royalty personified. At 34, he became the youngest KGB general in history, and Kalugin famously helped run Soviet spy operations in America during a career that spanned over three decades.

Kalugin and his wife relocated to Maryland after falling out of favor with the Russian regime in the 1990s. After becoming a vocal critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin (Kalugin called Putin a war criminal for his second invasion of Chechnya), a warrant was issued for his arrest. He’s been in the U.S. ever since.

Kalugin still has juice within Russian intelligence circles and maintains contacts with friends in Russia from his days as a Soviet spy. Kalugin teaches at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies and also sits on the advisory board for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Back in Russia, according to Kalugin, Snowden is being handled by the FSB, the KGB’s successor. Kalugin claims that Snowden has shared much of his vast trove of secrets about the NSA with his Russian hosts, and in the process, has allegedly handed the FSB one of their biggest intelligence hauls and propaganda coups since the end of the Cold War.

This claim echoes early warnings from congressman Michael McCaul, senator Dianne Feinstein, lieutenant generalMichael Flynn, and congressman Mike Rogers, yet no concrete evidence proves that such an exchange took place. Snowden has consistently denied claims that he took security documents with him to Russia.

“Whatever he had access to in his former days at NSA, I believe he shared all of it with the Russians, and they are very grateful,” Kalugin claims.

It has been over a year since Snowden downloaded thousands of top secret NSA documents from his stint as a NSA contractor and traveled first to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii. He arrived in Moscow August 1 after he failed to gain asylum in 30 other countries.

Snowden’s leaks revealed the NSA’s efforts to turn Facebook into a surveillance machine, the agency’s close ties with Google, and the theft of private user data from firms like Yahoo and Apple. In the wake of these revelations, many of the tech industry’s most powerful firms have frantically adopted new security protocols at unprecedented speeds.

Snowden shared his haul with security journalist Glenn Greenwald and other media outlets, like the Washington Post and Germany’s Der Spiegel, shedding unprecedented light on the prodigious intelligence gathering programs of his former employer and sending shockwaves around the world.

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil but is currently traveling in the U.S., did not return emails for comment.

These days, exile in Russia means Snowden, 30, has lots of time on his hands. A source in Moscow with connections to Russian intelligence said the American is believed to be living, at least part time, in a dacha 70 miles south of Moscow in an FSB retirement community reserved for favored cadres.

“He has lots of free time. He doesn’t need to go into the office anymore,” Kalugin said.

Snowden’s location could not be independently confirmed.

While free to leave Russia, Kalugin claims Snowden’s whereabouts are monitored by his FSB handlers, who allegedly control his spending budget and watch over whom he talks with.

In Kalugin’s view, Snowden is guilty of treason.

“Of course he is, by American standards. Snowden is a traitor,” Kalugin said. “When someone changes sides and goes over to the other side, it’s a victory,” he said.

Snowden’s value to his Russian handlers has not totally run its course, claims Kalugin, and the FSB will allegedly use him as a technical consultant and advisor on topics that interest them. His travel in the country also may be coordinated by the FSB, Kalugin said.

But the former KGB general believes that if he wants to, Snowden will have little trouble integrating himself into Russian culture and digging in for the long haul.

“He is not being left alone obviously. The Russians are trying their best to be hospitable,” Kalugin said.

“At this point,” said Kalugin, who has written three books on his 34 years in Soviet intelligence, “the reception in Russia for him has been exceptionally friendly.”

“And I’m sure that Snowden is enjoying it.”

Read more at 20committee.com …