rolling trump-russian collusion

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maybe it's time to de-poll

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 2 December 2017 23:49 (five months ago) Permalink

a quick poll about Russia and Donald Trump

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 2 December 2017 23:49 (five months ago) Permalink

On Dec. 29, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a colleague that sanctions announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump's victory. The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, "which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him," she wrote in the emails obtained by The Times.

It is not clear whether Ms. McFarland was saying she believed that the election had in fact been thrown. A White House lawyer said on Friday that she meant only that the Democrats were portraying it that way.

But it is evident from the emails - which were obtained from someone who had access to transition team communications - that after learning that President Barack Obama would expel 35 Russian diplomats, the Trump team quickly strategized about how to reassure Russia. The Trump advisers feared that a cycle of retaliation between the United States and Russia would keep the spotlight on Moscow's election meddling, tarnishing Mr. Trump's victory and potentially hobbling his presidency from the start.

As part of the outreach, Ms. McFarland wrote, Mr. Flynn would be speaking with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, hours after Mr. Obama's sanctions were announced.

"Key will be Russia's response over the next few days," Ms. McFarland wrote in an email to another transition official, Thomas P. Bossert, now the president's homeland security adviser.

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 2 December 2017 23:50 (five months ago) Permalink

Cost of Mueller investigation to date: $5 million
Number charged or pled guilty as a result: Four

Cost of investigation of Hillary Clinton's role in Benghazi: $100+ million
Number charged or pled guilty as a result: None

Cost of GOP Tax Scam: $1,500,000,000,000
Number damaged: 323,000,000 give or take a few dozen.

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 3 December 2017 00:14 (five months ago) Permalink

U.S. House Republicans are drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, claiming stonewalling in producing material related to the Russia-Trump probes and other matters.

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and other committee Republicans, after considering such action for several weeks, decided to move after media, including the New York Times, reported Saturday on why a top FBI official assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia-Trump election collusion had been removed from the investigation.

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 3 December 2017 19:34 (five months ago) Permalink

we need to stand by our russian allies

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:17 (five months ago) Permalink

ten cups of coffee says Haley was just shooting from the hip with that random shit

El Tomboto, Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:21 (five months ago) Permalink

"The obstructionist Democrats are going to shut down the olympics, because weak on crime, and Alabama, and the Supreme Court!"

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:22 (five months ago) Permalink

I read it again - that’s pretty classic completely-unprepared-for-the-question ad-libbing, except as an unelected official with a limited remit she could’ve said “nothing’s changed about our commitment to the Olympic Games but we are of course keeping a close eye on the situation” - but no, full derp; then again it accidentally throws the State Department under the bus, so that’s a bonus for this administration

El Tomboto, Thursday, 7 December 2017 13:29 (five months ago) Permalink

and then there were five . . . bannon, kushner, pence, don jr, don sr

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 7 December 2017 14:02 (five months ago) Permalink

maybe six if you count sessions

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 7 December 2017 14:04 (five months ago) Permalink

Don Jr.'s b.s. attorney-client privilege defense - that he doesn't have to reveal a conversation with his dad because there was an attorney in the room or whatever - seems like such shit that I assume he's begging for a subpoena or otherwise risks contempt.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 7 December 2017 14:46 (five months ago) Permalink

It’s as if his counsel did a completely terrible job preparing him for the interview

El Tomboto, Thursday, 7 December 2017 15:06 (five months ago) Permalink

& I’m guessing most of these fucking yokels are stupid enough to lie to their own lawyers, so it might not even be his attorneys’ fault

El Tomboto, Thursday, 7 December 2017 15:07 (five months ago) Permalink

We're dealing with matryoshka dolls of lawyers with their own lawyers.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 7 December 2017 15:16 (five months ago) Permalink

former KGB agents pulled off the most epic maskirovka troll of all time -- hijack the GOP/koch/fox nation put an un-dentured (pun intended!) servant in the white house whose debt they own. go capitalism

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 7 December 2017 15:21 (five months ago) Permalink

even charter school chait is starting to catch on

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 7 December 2017 15:48 (five months ago) Permalink

a greek, stephanopolous is providing cover for another greek here, a covfefe boy merely ~

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 8 December 2017 13:51 (five months ago) Permalink

uh oh sure looks like ol' 2spurs instructed general flynndictment to lie to the FBI. who ever would have guessed?

reggie (qualmsley), Monday, 11 December 2017 20:04 (five months ago) Permalink

Excited to see the progresssion of these nicknames.

Nerdstrom Poindexter, Monday, 11 December 2017 20:10 (five months ago) Permalink

i started callin him "ol cloggy veins" but it's not caught on.

correlated noise of conformity (Hunt3r), Monday, 11 December 2017 20:15 (five months ago) Permalink

just don't call him 2terms

reggie (qualmsley), Monday, 11 December 2017 20:21 (five months ago) Permalink

Ol Rexxon accidentally spilled the beans?? Pretty sure little yam hands isn’t gonna like that.

Nerdstrom Poindexter, Tuesday, 12 December 2017 18:47 (five months ago) Permalink

"a pussy-grabbing casino bankrupt who’s coherent for about 20 minutes in the morning" doesn't quite roll off the tongue nerdstrom poindexter

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 12 December 2017 19:58 (five months ago) Permalink

settle down

Literally no part of this is "exclusive." This meeting was televised live to entire @StateDept press corps. And Tillerson says this all the time. See: Wilson Center speech two weeks ago, OSCE speech last week in Vienna

— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) December 12, 2017

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 12 December 2017 19:59 (five months ago) Permalink

what does sir richard dearlove know about anything anyways?

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 14 December 2017 22:37 (five months ago) Permalink


BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Saturday, 16 December 2017 01:38 (five months ago) Permalink

Yeah, but other than all those facts, what do they have? Nothing! Fake white paper!

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 17 December 2017 22:52 (five months ago) Permalink

deep lurching dread, all this stuff gives me

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Monday, 18 December 2017 02:24 (five months ago) Permalink

fake news, witch hunt, drivel

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 19 December 2017 01:27 (five months ago) Permalink

the 'law & order' republican congress is investigating the FBI (who refused to disclose to the american public that they were investigating russia for influence on the trump campaign) . . . for bias against donald trump. you go, jim jordan and devin nunes. this is where america is in the age of putin :)

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 21 December 2017 15:35 (five months ago) Permalink

The GOP have taught me that I can do basically whatever I want as long as I couch it in terms that sound reasonable to those affected by my actions.

Me: 'I'm a patriot, and law and order are my paramount concerns.' (simultaneously and impressively burns down someone's house while shitting on an American flag)
My victims: 'He's such a patriot, and his respect for law and order is truly admirable.'
Me: 'PS, I can't believe the Democrats just burned down your house. Sad!'

Encyclopedia Beige and the Case of the Bland Sandwich (Old Lunch), Thursday, 21 December 2017 15:47 (five months ago) Permalink

a GOParable: FBI agent preter strzok reacting to the trump campaign lying about russian contacts they were warned to avoid is the real villainy here

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 21 December 2017 16:11 (five months ago) Permalink

I know modern conservatives have no politics outside of resentment but it’s still been pretty wild watching the “blue lives matter” crowd call for the disbanding and prosecution of the entire FBI

— KT NELSON (@KrangTNelson) December 14, 2017

frogbs, Thursday, 21 December 2017 16:42 (five months ago) Permalink

“this secular religion” *closes lrb*

y'know, LIBS! libertarians, libertines, even liberians and librarians (Hunt3r), Sunday, 31 December 2017 16:55 (four months ago) Permalink

not interested in male opinions on this particular theory tbh

maura, Sunday, 31 December 2017 17:02 (four months ago) Permalink

Intriguing question asked: what does it mean that Rod Rosenstein has not yet recused himself?

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 5 January 2018 17:38 (four months ago) Permalink

2/2 Imagine a case involving a major drug ring. Investigators bypass the leaders, their lieutenants, regional dealers, money people & so forth and go straight to prosecuting a neighbor who disclosed the gang to the press. This makes just about that much sense.

— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) January 5, 2018

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 5 January 2018 20:24 (four months ago) Permalink

to go with the bad analogy: the major drug ring is being investigated and no drugs have been found

khat person (jim in vancouver), Friday, 5 January 2018 20:30 (four months ago) Permalink

but they're swimming in contraband vodka

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 5 January 2018 21:04 (four months ago) Permalink

Hard to process the idea of anyone currently thinking there’s nothing to the Russia investigation.

Nerdstrom Poindexter, Friday, 5 January 2018 22:29 (four months ago) Permalink

If the Russians were out to defeat Hillary Clinton (which every intelligence agency says they were), why would try to damage her opponent?

If the Trump team is innocent, why have they consistently lied about almost every aspect of the Russia investigation?

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 5 January 2018 22:39 (four months ago) Permalink

Also there have been indictments, guilty pleas, publicly admitting to obstructing the investigation, almost everything Trump does and says etc

Nerdstrom Poindexter, Friday, 5 January 2018 22:44 (four months ago) Permalink

feel like there's enough out there in public to make a strong case for a half dozen cases of obstruction of justice, if nothing else

also think that if Trump & his gang were ever straight up offered a quid pro quo like this they'd gleefully accept w/o knowing that such a thing would even be illegal

all that said most likely outcome seems to be a zillion crimes getting uncovered and the House and Senate doing fuck all about it besides trying to throw Mueller in jail

frogbs, Friday, 5 January 2018 22:59 (four months ago) Permalink

the best.

by the light of the burning Citroën, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 22:24 (two months ago) Permalink

Calling someone dumb robs us of the opportunity to call them an asshole

fuck the NRA (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 21 March 2018 22:27 (two months ago) Permalink


Karl Malone, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 22:33 (two months ago) Permalink

yah 4real

gbx, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 23:08 (two months ago) Permalink

No it doesn't you dumb asshole.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 23:14 (two months ago) Permalink

(That was a joke)

Frederik B, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 23:14 (two months ago) Permalink

I mighta suspected my cause of death would be _not disagreeing_ with moo, but i swear i NEVER thought it would be on the issue of asshole of the western world ted cruz. dead now.

Hunt3r, Wednesday, 21 March 2018 23:49 (two months ago) Permalink

ladies and germs, the next National Security Adviser of the United States of America : )

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 22 March 2018 15:55 (two months ago) Permalink

i guess the politics of eternity style read is, "every famous thinker was spying for someone, always, glad you get it now."

Hunt3r, Monday, 2 April 2018 16:19 (one month ago) Permalink

lol ok I'm dying about Kristeva-as-spy

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Monday, 2 April 2018 16:24 (one month ago) Permalink

handler drew the short straw on that assignment

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 2 April 2018 16:35 (one month ago) Permalink

nyt wins the prize for most esoteric april fool i guess

someone’s burgling my miscellanea (bizarro gazzara), Monday, 2 April 2018 17:26 (one month ago) Permalink

guardian reported it on the 28th too, it’s not an April Fools thing

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 2 April 2018 17:49 (one month ago) Permalink

yeah i know, just amused me that such oddball news showed up in the nyt in the 1st

someone’s burgling my miscellanea (bizarro gazzara), Monday, 2 April 2018 18:08 (one month ago) Permalink


(THREAD) If you or someone you know suffers from Trump-Russia exhaustion, please read and RT this. Trump's strategy is to get us to cease caring about his coordination with Russia because investigating it takes too long. A long thread may seem an unusual antidote, but try it out.

— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) April 1, 2018

Moo Vaughn, Monday, 2 April 2018 22:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Abramson has been v good at convincing me not to care

Simon H., Monday, 2 April 2018 22:10 (one month ago) Permalink

it's all actually pretty simple if you just connect the dots

Karl Malone, Monday, 2 April 2018 22:39 (one month ago) Permalink

omg, is that yours?

how's life, Monday, 2 April 2018 22:45 (one month ago) Permalink

no way, i wish.

(i haven't actually visited that because i don't have facebook anymore, but that's the website listed for them at

Karl Malone, Monday, 2 April 2018 22:49 (one month ago) Permalink

(looks like they're also here:
that's just one part of the map, and they have more that i've seen elsewhere.
sorry for thread derail, but it's the cosmic truth)

Karl Malone, Monday, 2 April 2018 22:53 (one month ago) Permalink

Hope that Kristeva thing doesn't turn into another Paul de Man affair.

Meme Imfurst (Leee), Monday, 2 April 2018 23:17 (one month ago) Permalink

Trump's strategy is to get us to cease caring about his coordination with Russia

afaics, Trump's main strategy has been to tweet "NO COLLUSION" about 3-5 times a week. Sometimes to vary the message he says it into a microphone.

A "strategy" implies he is following his lawyer's advice (he isn't), so their message and actions are well-coordinated (they aren't), or else he has thought through his present and future actions carefully on his own (he hasn't).

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 2 April 2018 23:31 (one month ago) Permalink

It's like every word I never want to read again all in one place. Except vampirism - I'm still alright with Vlad Drac as far as I know.

how's life, Monday, 2 April 2018 23:35 (one month ago) Permalink

"A "strategy" implies he is following his lawyer's advice"

No it doesn't.

Moo Vaughn, Monday, 2 April 2018 23:55 (one month ago) Permalink

Well, someone has to form a strategy. I suggested his lawyers as one obvious source for a strategy, but also suggested he could also be the source. Neither seems true in my view. Who else would you suggest is creating this strategy Abramson says Trump is following?

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 3 April 2018 00:18 (one month ago) Permalink

Oh damn,people follow the the strategies that have worked for them(this has), strategies their advisors recommend (we dont know), and strats their masters require (i def dont know yet).

Hunt3r, Tuesday, 3 April 2018 02:15 (one month ago) Permalink

jesus somebody please hit all these dipshits in the head with a hammer until they're pronounced

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 4 April 2018 23:21 (one month ago) Permalink

As she tracked GOP presidential candidates in 2015, Butina touched down, repeatedly, in South Dakota, where Erickson lives. In July, she lectured at a camp for young Republicans with Erickson by her side. That same month, the duo appeared on a podcast in Manhattan. Erickson regaled the audience with a creation myth about Right to Bear Arms worthy of a Silicon Valley startup. "Maria is very humble," Erickson said. "She started the Right to Bear Arms in the Russian version of McDonald's with friends, and her work became noticed by the highest levels of the Russian government." In September, the pair partied by the graveside of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Maryland. Butina wore a flapper's silver headband and a long string of pearls; Erickson carried a bottle of rum and a copy of The Great Gatsby.

At the close of 2015, Torshin and Butina invited a new delegation of NRA members to a Right to Bear Arms convention in Moscow. The crowd included faces familiar and new, including Keene; Pete Brownell, CEO of one of America's largest gun-sellers who is now the NRA's president; Joe Gregory, the chair of the NRA's Golden Ring of Freedom; as well as Trump surrogate and then-Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke. Erickson reportedly also attended.

The Russians put on a wintry spectacle – replete with ornate Christmas trees and white chairs tied up like presents with red ribbons. Arnold Goldschlager, a major NRA donor who also attended, would tell McClatchy, "They were killing us with vodka and the best Russian food." In a public filing, Clarke estimated Right to Bear Arms spent $6,000 on his hotels, meals, excursions and transportation around Moscow.

I'm sorry if it is rude to use the word "dumbass fucking yokel" in 2018 but

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 4 April 2018 23:26 (one month ago) Permalink

pbs has provided quality educational content to all television owners for decades now, no one can use rural isolation as an excuse anymore

j., Thursday, 5 April 2018 00:07 (one month ago) Permalink

Ignorance is a tool that evil people intentionally deploy in an attempt to give themselves moral plausible deniability

Dan I., Thursday, 5 April 2018 00:21 (one month ago) Permalink

holy shit roger stone is a literal cuck

— Wu Weed™ (@WuTangCannabis) April 4, 2018

Allen (etaeoe), Thursday, 5 April 2018 02:27 (one month ago) Permalink


the late great, Thursday, 5 April 2018 03:33 (one month ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

What do we know about Manafort? We know he ran the campaign of a pro-Russian candidate on behalf of Russia previously; that he had taken on massive debt to a foreign patron, Oleg Deripaska; that Deripaska was working on behalf of the Russian government’s foreign policy; that Manafort accepted his position as Trump’s campaign manager for free; and that he hoped his work for Trump would help him “get whole” with Deripaska.

Want more evidence? Okay.

Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos met with a Russian agent who told him he had dirt on Hillary Clinton, later boasted that Russia had obtained damaging Clinton emails, and lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. That would also qualify as evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Peter W. Smith, a veteran Republican political operative, attempted to obtain stolen Clinton emails and told the people he contacted in pursuit of these emails he was working on behalf of the Trump campaign. When one of the cybersecurity experts he contacted warned Smith that his work might involve collusion with Russia, it did not dissuade him at all.

Trump confidant Roger Stone reportedly knew about stolen Clinton emails, emailed with the person who had the stolen material, publicly flaunted his advance knowledge of these emails, and also spoke regularly with Donald Trump during the period when he had this knowledge. It is a virtual certainty Stone colluded with Russia on the email hack, and highly probable he made Trump an accessory after the fact.

Then of course there is the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 1 May 2018 17:34 (three weeks ago) Permalink

But other than that stuff...

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 1 May 2018 17:40 (three weeks ago) Permalink

"should end" = "hurry up and get this guy in jail"

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 1 May 2018 23:53 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Heard some cynical real talk today that more and more want it to end not because they think he's not guilty of anything or this is a witch hunt but because he *is* guilty, and they want the report to come out when the house and senate are still both crazy GOP rather than wait for one or two of them to flip this fall.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 2 May 2018 02:08 (three weeks ago) Permalink

The accompanying questions in the article about the polling indicate it’s as simple as the relentless propaganda is working. It wears people down.

Nerdstrom Poindexter, Wednesday, 2 May 2018 02:50 (three weeks ago) Permalink

you can't spell "rubles" without rubes ; )

reggie (qualmsley), Monday, 7 May 2018 16:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

We found that @realDonaldTrump made an abrupt shift in 2006, from borrowing $ to buy properties to buying properties w/all cash. He's spent $400M in cash so far. But we're still reporting, trying to learn more abt 4 questions

Q1: Why did @realDonaldTrump make this change at that moment? @erictrump says it was an aversion to debt itself. But real estate is a debt business. Borrowing spreads out risk, lets you diversify investments, has tax benefits. As true in '06 as in '86.

Q2: Where was @realDonaldTrump's company getting all this ready cash? I'd like to know much more about the $ they had coming in, and costs going out, in that '06-'15 period.

Q3: If @realDonaldTrump's company had turned to a conservative, low-debt strategy in '06, why did they take on huge new loans ($295M in a year) in '12 to buy Doral and the D.C. hotel?

Q4: Have there been other, all-cash land purchases by @realDonaldTrump that we haven't found yet? He has a long list of LLCs, but w/names that don't always announce their purpose. "Trump Marks Asia," for instance, owns a townhouse in NoV

- David Fahrenthold (1978- (Harvard 2000 (?))), Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting (2017)

reggie (qualmsley), Monday, 7 May 2018 18:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

On the motivation Vekselberg payments: was it sanctions? Payments start in January, as Congress creates a sanctions bill. Trump fights the bill every step of the way, but it's passed unanimously. In August: Trump forced to sign the "seriously flawed" bill; Vekselberg's payments end ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 9 May 2018 20:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

'Veksel' in Danish means IOU. So Vekselberg kinda means 'Mountain of Debt' and everyone is comparing the name Viktor Vekselberg to Flintheart Glomgold and the like.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 9 May 2018 22:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

"Suggestion from source close to TRUMP and MANAFORT that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt business ties to China and other emerging countries."

— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) May 13, 2018

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 13 May 2018 22:26 (one week ago) Permalink

who you gonna believe: sean hannity and tucker carlson or james clapper ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Of course the Russian efforts affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point. Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.”

Was there active collusion between the Trump campaign — or the candidate himself — and Russian proxies or agents? Clapper does not go that far because he doesn’t have proof. But what he calls Trump’s “aggressive indifference” to the intelligence community’s detailed presentation of Russian activities is, in his view, damning enough. “Allegations of collusion and the results of the election were secondary to the profound threat Russia posed — and poses — to our system,” Clapper writes, and he does a fair job explaining why.

“I remember just how staggering the assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence were,” Clapper writes. “We showed unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence the election, that the campaign was multifaceted, and that Russia had used cyber espionage against US political organizations and publicly disclosed the data they collected through WikiLeaks, DCLeaks, and the Guccifer 2.0 persona. We documented Russian cyber intrusions into state and local voter rolls. We described Russia’s pervasive propaganda efforts through RT [satellite television], Sputnik, and the social media trolls, and how the entire operation had begun with attempts to undermine US democracy and demean Secretary Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their strategic goals. . . . The Russian government had done all of this at minimal cost and without significant damage to their own interests, and they had no incentive to stop.”

This was not the now-famous “dossier” compiled by a former British spy about prostitutes and conniving oligarchs, which Clapper calls “pseudo-intelligence” — this was solid stuff. But Trump set out to discredit the whole report before he’d so much as seen it, claiming that it was all a plot by the Democrats to explain away their loss and casting doubts on the reliability — and abilities — of the intelligence community as a whole.

Unfortunately, on that point, Trump might find plenty of extra ammunition in Clapper’s bland but frank memoir. In many places it’s a defensive chronicle of private disappointments and public failures by America’s intelligence services, from Vietnam to, well, the elections of 2016.

America’s spies famously missed the coming collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989; they judged that Saddam Hussein was bluffing about an invasion of Kuwait in 1990; they failed to predict with any actionable intelligence Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States in September 2001; and they completely misconstrued the evidence at hand (much of which was faked) about Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, which gave the George W. Bush administration the pretext it wanted to invade Iraq in 2003, with all the grim consequences that followed.

Clapper dismisses the excuses tendered by die-hard invasion rationalizers. They don’t “attribute the failure where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.”

The missteps continued after Obama made Clapper the director of national intelligence in 2010.

The Arab Spring came as a complete surprise, toppling several tyrants in the region who had been reliable partners to the intelligence community.

In September 2012, an attack on an ill-protected diplomatic compound and nearby CIA outpost in Benghazi, Libya, cost the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clapper concluded that it was largely improvised and that the militant group or groups involved probably had no operational ties to al-Qaeda, but the initial intelligence reports, repeated by Obama officials, suggested that the whole thing had started as a protest, which was not the case.

Internally, on Clapper’s watch the intelligence community did not detect or stop the flood of classified documents Chelsea Manning sent to WikiLeaks, which were “embarrassing,” as Clapper puts it, and completely missed the much more damaging activities of Edward Snowden, a “traitor” who absconded with vast quantities of America’s most closely held secrets about intelligence operations. Then the 17 agencies of the intelligence community failed to anticipate the defeat of the Iraqi army by the Islamic State when it took Mosul in 2014.

So it is perfectly possible for Trump to argue that these tellers of “truths” often do not know what they are talking about. But the situation is actually worse than that for intelligence gatherers under Trump, because the very concept of their basic product is discredited.

As Clapper points out: “Getting its target audience to conclude that facts and truth are ‘unknowable’ is the true objective of any disinformation campaign. . . . If someone actually believes the falsehood, that’s a bonus, but the primary objective is to get readers or viewers to throw their hands up and give up on ‘facts.’ Do vaccines cause autism? Maybe. Was Senator Ted Cruz’s father involved with President Kennedy’s assassination? Anything’s possible. Is Hillary Clinton running a child-sex ring out of the basement of a DC pizza parlor? Who knows?”

“Could be” and “could have been” are, of course, staples of Trumpian discourse. Maybe the Russians were hacking the Democratic National Committee, maybe it was the Chinese, maybe it was “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” or “some guy in New Jersey,” he said. Who knows?

Or maybe, just maybe, the problem is “the deep state,” which at least one member of Trump’s current legal team has suggested.

Given the overall tone and themes of the book, there are some passages by the old hand that readers may find surprising. At several points Clapper writes with considerable emotion about how unfairly LGBT intelligence officers were treated in the past and how pleased he is that they are fully accepted now.

Clapper is generally sympathetic to Obama’s leadership — but not always. On the problem of how to deal with North Korea, particularly, he thinks Obama’s “policy rationale of not discussing anything else until North Korea agreed to end its nuclear capability and ambitions was flawed.” Trump, “surprising everyone,” has agreed to talk, and Clapper concedes that as a result the situation is at least “poised for change,” although he adds grudgingly: “whether for better or for worse.”

Whatever progress is made on the Korea front or elsewhere, as Trump comes under increasing legal pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, allegations of a “witch hunt” and talk of a “deep state” conspiracy will continue to divide the country.

Trump will want to convince his hard-core supporters that people like Clapper, and the men and women of the intelligence community and law enforcement whom Clapper worked with for so many years — Mueller and fired FBI director James Comey, for instance — were the real power in the country before Trump took over, and it is he, Trump, who is now speaking truth to them.

Could be. Who knows?

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 23 May 2018 11:04 (three days ago) Permalink

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