Hello !
Recent Appearances... Rantburg

Home Front: Politix
Ukrainian company tied to Hunter Biden supported U.S. think tank, paid for trips
2019-11-14
[Yahoo via MSN] WASHINGTON — A Ukrainian company that employed Hunter Biden paid more than $450,000 to a prominent Washington think tank, including picking up the tab for energy-related conferences as part of a campaign to burnish its image in the United States after it was accused by Western officials of corruption.

Burisma’s support of the Atlantic Council was detailed last week by the Wall Street Journal, which said the company had given the think tank $100,000 per year for three years starting in 2016. The council lists Burisma as a contributor on its website.

The Atlantic Council told Yahoo News Tuesday that in addition to the $100,000 given annually by Burisma, the company “also reimbursed speaker travel and event costs, which ... amounted to around [$50,000 to $70,000] per year.”

In the public impeachment proceedings starting Wednesday, Republicans, led by House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., will likely focus on Burisma to justify efforts by President Trump and his associates to pressure the Ukrainian government to publicly announce it was investigating the company. Republicans have already delved deep into the dealings of Burisma in closed-door depositions over the past month.

The Democrat-led impeachment inquiry in the House is based on the allegation that because Trump wanted the Ukrainians to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden — a leading rival for the presidency — he attempted “to coerce a foreign nation to engage in political investigations designed to help his campaign,” as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., put it on Tuesday.

There is also the issue of an Atlantic Council-sponsored trip that brought a dozen or so congressional staffers to Ukraine in August. The trip included Republican and Democratic staffers, but one — Thomas Eager — worked for Schiff’s Intelligence Committee, and the group at one point met with Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
Link


Britain
Christopher Steele: Russians cultivating Tories and Boris Johnson for . . . five years.
2019-11-09
[The Guardian via Rolling Stone] Fresh evidence has also emerged of attempts by the Kremlin to infiltrate the Conservatives by a senior Russian diplomat suspected of espionage, who spent five years in London cultivating leading Tories including Johnson himself....

The committee’s report is based on analysis from Britain’s intelligence agencies, as well as third-party experts such as the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele....

Christopher Steele became famous in the United States as the author of a "dossier" that claimed Russians had been "cultivating, supporting, and assisting" Donald Trump "for at least 5 years."

Now Steele is back, claiming that the Russians have been cultivating the Tories and Boris Johnson for . . . five years.

You can’t make this stuff up. The only thing comparable would be Iraqi defector Ahmed Chalabi lobbying for a sequel invasion after the WMD hunt came up empty, and having the same humiliated media figures and politicians reach for pompoms all over again.

Steele first appeared in connection with the Trump story as a "well-placed Western intelligence source" in a 2016 Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff. The piece claimed a Trump aide named Carter Page was discussing the lifting of sanctions with Igor Sechin, chief of the major Russian oil company Rosneft.
Link


-Obits-
Jacques Chirac Departs To The Big Eiffel Tower
2019-09-26
I just remember one distinct thing about him - in conversations with other people, he'd correct other people's French. Overall rememberance of him - arrogant, condescending and snobbish. In other words, a typical Parisian Frenchman.
"Chirac est un ver"
[Yahoo News] - Former French President Jacques Chirac, a major force in French politics who opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, died in Paris on Thursday at the age of 86.

A seasoned politician, Chirac’s career included two presidential terms, two stints as prime minister and nearly two decades as mayor of Paris.

Charming, statuesque and a consummate political animal, Chirac was a presence on the French political arena for more than four decades. But he is best known internationally for his final term at the Élysée presidential palace, a five-year period that proved extraordinary from start to finish.
Not for the faint of heart - serious ball washing ensues from there...
Link


-Short Attention Span Theater-
Exclusive: The true origins of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. A Yahoo News investigation.
2019-07-10
For sure. If it hadn't been for the Russians, nobody would have ever thought of this.
[Yahoo News] In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony "bulletin" ‐ disguised to read as a real intelligence report ‐about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.
Link


-Lurid Crime Tales-
New Evidence Shows WITH CERTAINTY the FBI Lied to Court to Obtain FISA Warrant to Spy on Trump
2019-05-11
Key bits, because we’ve already had the notes of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016.
[GatewayPundit] The key point as we all know is that the FBI has to hide the fact that they knew the dossier was fake and unverified because they used it in the FISA warrant application to spy on Trump.

They also knew Steele was providing the dossier information to the press before they fired Steele, but they can’t let anyone know they knew this because they already stated that they did not know this.

In the Grassley letter to Rosenstein at the DOJ and Wray at the FBI dated January 4, 2018, the Senator says that in an interview Comey said in March 2017 that Steele was reliable –
Image at link.
Note that the FBI does not say “Isikoff” or “Yahoo News”, it says “the press”. Is this what was provided to the FISA Court for the Carter Page application?

Also, now looking back at the FISA application, the second paragraph states that the information for the warrant came from the State Department –
This image also at the link.
If the information from the State Department noted above was from Kavalec, this would mean that the FBI knew without a doubt that Steele was speaking to the press BEFORE obtaining the Carter Page FISA warrants, but they lied to the FISA court, saying Steele didn’t speak to the press, and then they fired Steele afterwards, claiming it was because Steele spoke to the press.
Link


Africa North
Libyan war escalates amid lack of U.S strategy for secret missions in Africa
2019-04-10
[Yahoo] The advance of a rogue militia on Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, has forced the hasty evacuation of U.S. troops from that country, highlighting the lack of a cohesive strategy for ongoing U.S. military operations in Africa and a seeming White House ambivalence about the continent, according to former officials.

For several years, from a handful of outposts in Libya, U.S. special operators have been conducting counterterrorism missions with names like Obsidian Lotus and Odyssey Resolve. These are just two of dozens of named operations that, largely unknown to the American public, have been launched from a string of bases across the northern half of Africa, according to information obtained by Yahoo News via the Freedom of Information Act.

Despite the large number of military operations in the region, some former officials say neither the Obama administration nor the current White House has taken much interest in coming up with a coherent policy for U.S. military operations on the continent. "During my time at the White House with the Trump administration there wasn’t a great deal of concern about doing much in northern Africa," said a former official who recently served on the National Security Council. "There was not a lot of interest or focus on Africa during the time I was there."

President Donald Trump, who reportedly referred to African states as "shithole countries" in January 2018, has faced criticism for essentially ignoring the continent. But in December, his administration announced a new Africa strategy, which a National Security Council spokesperson said committed the United States to helping its African allies build up their security forces while reserving the right to take unilateral action "when necessary to protect the homeland or United States citizens and interests."
Link


-Lurid Crime Tales-
Will Democrats finally admit the Obama DOJ and FBI lied to the FISA court?
2019-03-22
[Washington Examiner] The recently released transcript of Department of Justice lawyer Bruce Ohr’s congressional testimony confirms what conservatives have long been saying: The DOJ and FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process to obtain a court order to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Page served as a volunteer foreign policy adviser for then-presidential candidate Trump from March 2016 until he stepped away from the Trump campaign in late-September 2016, following a Yahoo News report that U.S. intelligence officials were investigating alleged meetings between Page and senior Russian officials. Shortly after Isikoff’s article ran, the DOJ and FBI filed the first of four FISA applications, seeking court approval to surveil Page. The FISA court granted all four surveillance requests.

While the FISA applications remained sealed before the secret FISA court, in early February 2018, then-House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-Calif., released a four-page memo detailing abuse by the DOJ and FBI in seeking to surveil Page. Then-House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., soon countered with his own memo, which did nothing to dispel concerns. Later, the four FISA applications themselves were released which, though heavily redacted, added to the mosaic of abuse.

Related: Washington Examiner - DOJ inspector general confirms yearlong investigation into FISA abuse is still active
Link


-Lurid Crime Tales-
Steele-ing an Election
2018-12-20
[American Thinker] The infamous "Steele Dossier" seems to have assumed a permanent place in American presidential politics. Just this week the Dossier was cited by numerous pundits in the mainstream media as proof of Trump-Russia collusion. In the remote event you missed it, the Dossier is a compilation of salacious allegations against President Trump made by unnamed Russian sources and compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy and one-time FBI informant. For unknown reasons, Steele was reportedly desperate to prevent Trump’s election. He was not alone in his angst.

Erstwhile Russian involvement is critical to the Resistance claim that the 2016 election was illegitimate. Too bad for the claim, none of the Steele allegations have been verified despite two years of heroic media effort. Yahoo News pundit Michael Isikoff, one of the first to break the story in 2016, has admitted Steele’s allegations are "likely false." Former FBI Director James Comey has testified that FBI had been unable to verify any of the allegations. Steele himself testified under oath to British authorities that he too is unable to verify any of the Dossier’s claims. Yet the media still uses the Dossier to make its "case" for collusion.

This is not to say the Russians didn’t try to interfere in the U.S. elections, only that the Steele Dossier provides no proof of Trump-Russia collusion. Neither do the reported findings to date of the Mueller probe. The DoJ indictment of Russian agents for attempted interference explicitly rules out witting involvement of any Americans. The indictments also disavow that any votes were corrupted by Russian efforts.
Link


-Lurid Crime Tales-
Rep. Nunes: FBI Officials Knew Of ‘Really Bad And Nefarious Activity' By Christopher Steele And Associates
2018-12-10
[Daily Caller via Political Insider] Chuck Ross on December 7, 2018

An FBI and Justice Department email chain shows that top government officials knew that dossier author Christopher Steele and his associates "were up to some really bad and nefarious activity," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Thursday.

In an interview on Fox News, Nunes claimed that the email constitutes "the first clear evidence" that the FBI committed a "major crime" by lying to federal judges in applications for spy warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

"It would be very clear that there were people within the FBI and DOJ that knew well and good before they went to the FISA Court that Christopher Steele and others were up to some really bad and nefarious activity," Nunes, a California Republican, said in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity.

The email chain is part of a group of documents that Nunes and other Republicans want President Donald Trump to declassify. The lawmakers claim that the documents will show that the FBI and Justice Department misled federal judges when they applied for four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page, an energy consultant who joined the Trump campaign in March 2016.

The FBI relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier, which was funded by Democrats, to obtain the warrants.

On Wednesday, The Hill reported some details of an email chain that appears to be the same being sought by Nunes for declassification.

According to The Hill, the email chain was exchanged in October 2016, before the FBI obtained its first FISA warrant against Page.

The emails, which included then-FBI Director James Comey, FBI officials, and Justice Department lawyers, show that the intelligence community expressed concerns about Steele’s reporting, The Hill reported. The documents also include evidence that the FBI was aware that Steele, a former MI6 official, was in contact with reporters before applying for the first Page FISA.

The FBI stopped formally using Steele as a confidential source on Nov. 1, 2016, after discovering that the private eye was in contact with Mother Jones reporter David Corn.

But Steele has revealed in a court case in London that he briefed reporters from several other news organizations in September and October 2016.

Steele was also the main source for a Sept. 23, 2016 article published by Yahoo News. That article, which was the first to level allegations contained in the dossier about Page, was cited in the FBI’s FISA applications.

Eight minutes by cab from Steele's Orbis Bus Ltd to HQ SIS. Note also the location of the U.S. Embassy, London. Yes, that would be the new £800m embassy that President Trump refused to visit back in January. The veracity of Christopher Steele? You decide.



Link


Home Front: Politix
House Pubs Ask Pres. Trump to Declassify 'Damning' Obama DOJ Emails
2018-12-07
[PJ] A long classified email chain from October 2016 reveals that a large group of Obama Justice Department officials -- including James Comey -- was aware that there was highly misleading information in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign, John Solomon of The Hill reported Wednesday.

According to Solomon's sources, the documents "may provide the most damning evidence to date" of potential FISA abuses.

The emails show that some in the intelligence community -- possibly the NSA -- had problems with the quality of the intelligence in the Steele dossier, which was used to obtain the surveillance warrant.

The emails also reveal that the officials knew that British spy Christopher Steele had talked to Yahoo News about his findings, as some on the email chain had expressed concerns about that.

Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS (funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC) to put together a (now discredited) dossier on candidate Donald Trump.

In January 2018, Senator Charles Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referred Steele to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation after he and Senator Lindsey Graham identified potential false statements Steele had made to the FBI.
Link


Government
Follow-up: 6 Questions About The Huge CIA Blunder That Allowed Enemies To Kill 70 U.S. Spies
2018-11-07
[Federalist] More than 70 foreign nationals working as spies for the CIA in Iran and China were systematically identified and slaughtered in the past decade, due to a ridiculously weak web-based system the CIA used to communicate with foreign assets it couldn’t reach directly. This according to a devastating November 2 report in Yahoo News written by journalists Zach Dorfman and Jenna McLaughlin (center-left, but generally trustworthy).

Skipping down to the 6 ques:

1. Have the specific problems been dealt with?
Considering the order of ineptitude on display, are there still exploitable copies of the web sites up on archive.org or elsewhere?

2. Are CIA foreign source communications actually fixed?
Have tried and true, centuries-old spycraft behaviors such as dead drops, brush passes, cypher pads, and the like been adapted and put in place in a modern setting? How anybody can be stupid enough to place the personal identities of spies for the United States in an electronic directory in the first place beggars the understanding. We don’t need to know the exact details, but has this practice been nixed and something better put in place?

3. Who let this happen?
Although Reidy’s reports were ignored during the Bush years, the real catastrophe got rolling during the Obama administration. As Michael Walsh points out at PJ Media, it played out under a carousel of changing directors. Walsh convincingly contends that administrative churn in an area the president disliked was a large reason for the failures. Can we get an accounting, and maybe even an apology to the American people for screwing up so badly?

4. Is the CIA itself fixed?
This is an agency that seems lately given to fantasy and bureaucratic truculence, especially for its role in the idiotic Russia collusion imbroglio. Did former director Mike Pompeo address any of these issues during his tenure? Most of all, can we trust that current director and CIA lifer Gina Haspel has gotten rid of the fools who set up, maintained, and defended the horrific transient communication system, and paid the knaves who ignored and hounded the stalwart Reidy out of a job?

5. Who are the spies who were killed?
Might as well tell us now. Whatever was going to be compromised is already shot to pieces. Whether these folks did it for money, revenge, sex, love, or purity of heart and love of freedom, they were doing the citizens of the United States, and the people of the free world, a huge service, obviously risking their lives in the process.

Have their surviving families been protected? Covertly rewarded with cash, tickets out, spots for their children in U.S. universities? We should do them right and take care of this debacle American-style, with more than an anonymous star on some wall at Langley. It is a pity we could not keep our spies safe, but at least we should honor their ultimate sacrifice.

6. What was revealed to China and Iran when these spies were interrogated?
How and when is this catastrophic failure going to come back and haunt us? Because it will.

Link


Government
The CIA's communications suffered a catastrophic compromise. It started in Iran.
2018-11-02
[Yahoonews.com] In 2013, hundreds of CIA officers ‐ many working nonstop for weeks ‐ scrambled to contain a disaster of global proportions: a compromise of the agency’s internet-based covert communications system used to interact with its informants in dark corners around the world. Teams of CIA experts worked feverishly to take down and reconfigure the websites secretly used for these communications; others managed operations to quickly spirit assets to safety and oversaw other forms of triage.

"When this was going on, it was all that mattered," said one former intelligence community official. The situation was "catastrophic," said another former senior intelligence official.

From around 2009 to 2013, the U.S. intelligence community experienced crippling intelligence failures related to the secret internet-based communications system, a key means for remote messaging between CIA officers and their sources on the ground worldwide. The previously unreported global problem originated in Iran and spiderwebbed to other countries, and was left unrepaired ‐ despite warnings about what was happening ‐ until more than two dozen sources died in China in 2011 and 2012 as a result, according to 11 former intelligence and national security officials.

The disaster ensnared every corner of the national security bureaucracy ‐ from multiple intelligence agencies, congressional intelligence committees and independent contractors to internal government watchdogs ‐ forcing a slow-moving, complex government machine to grapple with the deadly dangers of emerging technologies.

In a world where dependence on advanced technology may be a necessary evil for modern espionage, particularly in hostile regions where American officials can’t operate freely, such technical failures are an ever present danger and will only become more acute with time.

"When these types of compromises happen, it’s so dark and bad," said one former official. "They can burrow in. It never really ends."

A former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the compromise said it had global implications for the CIA. "You start thinking twice about people, from China to Russia to Iran to North Korea," said the former official. The CIA was worried about its network "totally unwinding worldwide."

Yahoo News’ reporting on this global communications failure is based on conversations with eleven former U.S. intelligence and government officials directly familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive operations. Multiple former intelligence officials said that the damage from the potential global compromise was serious ‐ even catastrophic ‐ and will persist for years.
Link


-12 More