David Ignatius’ Curious Role in the Mike Flynn Story

I’m traveling again, so I’m running on delayed coverage of the Trump circus.

But I wanted to point out something that has been puzzling me: David Ignatius’ curious role in the events leading up to the forced resignation of Mike Flynn as President Trump’s National Security Adviser.

After all, Ignatius set off the events with this article. The article included two curious details. First, in an update to the story, Ignatius stated as fact that the Russian plane carrying a military choir to Syria had been shot down.

This official later added that Flynn’s initial call was to express condolences to Kislyak after the terrorist killing of the Russian ambassador to Ankara Dec. 19, and that Flynn made a second call Dec. 28 to express condolences for the shoot-down of a Russian plane carrying a choir to Syria.

Perhaps this was a mistake, but no cause for the crash has been reported (and it’d be even more curious if Trump’s people knew this was a shoot-down right away, given the lack of public accounting for it). There has been no follow-up about who shot down this plane (and little claim that it was terrorism).

More importantly for the Flynn story, Ignatius reported the December 29 calls between Sergey Kislyak and Flynn, the first public mention of them.

According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. Was its spirit violated? The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

If the Trump team’s contacts helped discourage the Russians from a counter-retaliation, maybe that’s a good thing. But we ought to know the facts.

Ignatius not only knew of the calls, but he knew enough to ask the question — which the FBI would later pose to Flynn in an interview — about whether Flynn had undercut US sanctions. In response to his mention of the calls, other journalists followed up with Mike Pence, which ultimately led to the excused reason for Flynn’s firing, that he had lied to Pence about the calls. Frankly, that questioning also clearly led to Flynn correcting his story between February 8 and 9, which suggests he may have reviewed the transcripts in the interim.

While Ignatius’ report is mentioned in a WaPo timeline of these events, he’s not bylined in either of the two big bombshells from WaPo on this, even though up to seven journalists are mentioned.

There are two obvious explanations. First, that Ignatius’ column, which serves as a mouthpiece for the IC (and especially CIA), is not generally treated in the same way other journalism at the WaPo is. And possibly, specifically in this case, if that reference were treated as reporting rather than speculation, it might lead Trump’s leak investigation back to the source that kicked off this leak fest. But by posing it as speculative questioning, it protects that original source.

Whatever the explanation is, I think the odd circumstances surrounding the story invite further attention to two of the other questions Ignatius poses in that column. He asked, for example, whether Obama delayed his response to the Russian out of fears Russia would do something worse to Hillary.

Did the administration worry that the Russians would take additional steps to hurt Clinton and help Trump, and might disrupt balloting itself?

According to public reports, Obama twice raised probes of registration databases directly with Putin; after the election the IC included them among Russia’s roles. What exactly was the Obama Administration worried about here?

And Ignatius also asked a question I’ve heard floated (which is one reason I focused so intently on the curious forensic details about the dossier): that the Russians themselves released the anti-Trump dossier compiled by Christopher Steele to sow further chaos (and, presumably, to hurt Trump).

Finally, what’s the chance that Russian intelligence has gamed its covert action more subtly than we realize? Applying a counter-intelligence lens, it’s worth asking whether the Russians hoped to be discovered, and whether Russian operatives fed the former MI6 officer’s controversial dossier deliberately, to sow further chaos.

Clearly, Ignatius’ source on the Flynn call with Kislyak advanced the story in a direction that led to Flynn’s firing. What else were Ignatius’ source or sources for the this story trying to lead reporting to?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

86 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    Wait, after Trump complaining about IC leaks, it gets sillier — the IC is concerned about White House leaks.
    “U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.” — The Wall Street Journal

    This is open war. But it’s to be expected that when an outsider gets himself elected president the entire establishment will come down on him. Now the IC has cut the president out of the loop. That’s serious. That’s dangerous.

    • John Casper says:

      Don,

      Was HRC even more of an “outsider?”

      If the intelligence community wanted to “come down on him,” why didn’t they do it during the GOP primaries or leading up to the general election?

      • Phil Perspective says:

        Because they thought, like most other people, that there was no way HRC could fuck things up that badly to lose to Agent Orange.

      • lefty665 says:

        NO! Hillary is a made neocon. She was the insider choice, chronically more militant and aggressive than most of the guys so they’d let her in the club.  She was the neocons and inside the beltway crowds dream.  Her loss is what this has all been about. Phil is right, they, like the Dems did not believe she could be so terrible she would lose to Trump. The rest of their collective judgement is equally perceptive.

        Don’t be distracted by sideshows like Pence vs Flynn. This is a wholesale war to overturn an election. If Trump does not get control of the IC, or roll over and let them run him like Obama did, we’re just at the beginning of the ugliness. EW has it exactly right, Ignatius is the gold plated tipoff of where this garbage is coming from.

        If Ignatius is right that it was a shootdown that was inspired by US, that’s cause for war and we owe Flynn and Trump double thank yous for defusing it instead of chasing them with mobs brandishing torches and pitchforks.

         

        • John Casper says:

          lefty,

          “Don’t be distracted by sideshows.”

          “This is a wholesale war to” among other things, overturn voting rights.

          Trump’s not supposed to control the IC. That’s called the “unitary executive.”

          IC is supposed to be “controlled” by the Constitution, which Trump swore an oath to defend.

          As you know, the nexus of Big Data, the IC, MIC, and Wall Street is serious.

    • Mitchell says:

      Sure, Trump’s an outsider. Look at his cabinet. Look at all the appointees from Goldman Sachs.

      Anyone who thinks Donald is a legitimate change agent — for the good, I mean — is, well, wrong.

  2. brightdarkness says:

    Ignatius is a well known mouthpiece for the CIA. His “Agents of Innocence” novel is lifted directly from the CIA’s contacts with, and considering him a prized asset, Ali Hassan Salameh. The so-called ‘Red Prince’ and leader of the Black September terrorist group. The ones that did the Munich Massacre.

  3. Firefly says:

    re: Shot down. Beloved Red Army Choir, heading to Syria, our Christmas Day (who’d notice? I did and felt sick). Post election meddling, Biden says: We’re sending a message. We have the capacity to do it. He’ll know it (Putin) … and it will be at the time of our choosing.” Russia is a “smaller weaker” country? Recall pipeline (BTC) explosion in Refahiye, Turkey two years before Stuxnet?

  4. person1597 says:

    What if Kelleyanne wasn’t lying when she said Flynn had Trump’s full confidence? Spicey spun it deferentially to the unholy trinity, revealing a root RNC bias. The winning narrative smacks of Rovian issue management at work. D.I. is Rove’s fixer from way back.

  5. Don Bacon says:

    Harper at Pat Lang’s site is asking if it’s an attempted coup. –extract
    HARPER: A COUP D’ETAT UNDERWAY?
    John Schindler, a former NSA analyst, posted a widely publicized message this week, boasting that “he’ll die in jail”–referring to President Trump–because elements in the US intelligence community have declared war on the White House.
    Are we witnessing a criminal assault against our Constitutional system by a bunch of Obama/Clinton linked “sore losers” who find themselves on the sidelines as the result of the November elections? Has the MSM gone totally over to the dark side? Is the plot against our Constitutional system coming from Moscow schemers or perhaps a network much closer to home, involving former President Barack Obama, George Soros and others who simply cannot believe that they have been cast out by American voters?
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/02/harper-a-coup-detat-underway.html
    — added: And is Pence in on it??

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’m not sure an IC community-inspired coup is what we need, certainly not if it leaves us with Mike Pence and whatever fundamentalist nut job replaces him as VP.  I would be more in favor of widespread defeats for sitting Republicans (and indistinguishable establishment Democrats) in 2018.  Trump is not a nut: he is far more representative of the establishment than the press credits him as being.  What makes Trump most frightening is that Main Street Americans might start to appreciate that – and themselves do something about their broken political system.

    • person1597 says:

      C’est exactement!  Pretty crafty of the RNC to float their boat on a sea of dem discontent.  Nice bait and switch consolidation opportunity.

       

      “Who, tho they were a people greedy of liberty, freed Augustus from the necessity of laws.”

      • lefty665 says:

        EoH, you’ve got it! Pence et al will have us on a new Crusade against the wrong Muslims and the Russians in a heartbeat.  It’s the Christian thing to do. We would be right back on the road to nuclear war. More here: https://www.salon.com/2017/02/16/is-michael-flynn-the-first-casualty-of-a-deep-state-coup-its-not-unthinkable/?source=newsletter

        person1597 Good observation, but perhaps not the right attribution.  The RNC is a small part of what we’re seeing and is arm in arm with the DNC. Rank and file, Hillaryfile, Dems are being profound morons, embracing the old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” philosophy.  But, they’d already bought Hillary’s neocon warmongering, so it was a small step to embracing the neocons, elites and IC  propaganda. After all it’s THE RUSSIANS don’t ‘ya know.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Any “great satan” will do so long as it keeps hoi poloi preoccupied: Russia has been the go to satan since the 1917 revolution frightened the Robber Barons into thinking they might be next.  WWI, the birth of the PR industry, and then FDR saved them.  FDR was thanked for his efforts by unending attempts to undo all that he did.

          That’s true as long as the identified great satan is not the right one.  Among the candidates for that that I would rank highly is the community of interests that continually elevates the economic, social and political brutality that constitutes being “sufficiently predatory”, the essential attribute for a competent bidnessperson.

          • lefty665 says:

            “the go to satan”. Very nice. You didn’t have a previous life as Church Lady on SNL did you? There’s a lot of history packed into that one sentence. Your conclusion is equally concise. I’ve been searching for a short descriptive label for that community of interests, deep state, elites, 1%, Borg don’t quite seem to do it.  You have any suggestions?

             

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I don’t know if there is one word for the billionaires, their think tanks, trade associations, captured economics, law and business faculty at the great schools, Chicago, Stanford and Harvard among them, scores of lobbyists, lawyers, accountants and consultants, and the politicians (and bureaucrats) for whom they are patrons.  All are relentless enemies of their opponents, as best exemplified by the Powell Memo.  They elide oppositional ideas from the culture, especially methods of agency, so as to deprive their opponents of the fulcrums on which to set their levers.

              • lefty665 says:

                Thank you for the thoughtful response. Prospects for change are not bright. At least you make me feel a little better about my inability to frame it in shorthand.

                I’m still chuckling at “the go to satan.” The numeric portion of my nom de wheel puts me across the street from him so I best be a little discreet about it.

  7. Don Bacon says:

    We can always depend upon the Washington Post: –headlines
    Flynn’s swift downfall: From a phone call in the Dominican Republic to a forced resignation at the White House
    Flynn episode ‘darkens the cloud’ of Russia that hangs over Trump administration
    Flynn departure erupts into a full-blown crisis for the Trump White House
    Senators from both parties pledge to deepen probe of Russia and the 2016 election
    Flynngate? Kremlingate? Russiagate? The gate’s out of the gate
    Why do smart people in the White House do stupid things? Because Trump tells them to.

  8. Mister Lady says:

    The question might better be posed, What were Ignatius’ source or sources for the this story trying to lead reporting AWAY from?

    What guarantees any selector cast-iron surveillance? Threats to the prime US vital interest: impunity. The underlying tension here is CIA’s mass hysteria over external threats to its impunity.

    Russia has emerged as the international community’s most influential advocate for rule of law. In concert with Africa they have formally challenged the ICC’s impartiality. And Russia intelligence actually knows how to do HUMINT. They know where the “black site” death camp bodies are buried. That’s why CIA is frantic to shut down lines of communication with Russia – Russia can substantiate the US legal obligation to prosecute or extradite CIA crimes against humanity.

    This all has to be viewed in the context of ICC’s imminent decision on referral of CIA torture to the Pre-Trial Chamber. UN Special Procedures have characterized CIA torture with the term of art “systematic and widespread.” That means it is a crime against humanity, that is, legally, what the Nazis did. The Nuremberg Principles get invoked and it’s open season on CIA torturers in any jurisdiction in the world, with no statute of limitations. Torture is unique because of US accession to the Convention Against Torture. The treaty body has indicated unsatisfactory response to urgent issues and could make public the results of a confidential investigation. Italy and Portugal are cooperating on the international criminal law obligation erga omnes to prosecute and extradite suspects. Two treaty bodies have insisted on command responsibility as a requisite for treaty compliance. CIA can’t just lock up a couple hillbillies. CIA heads are on the chopping block.

    https://www.icc-cpi.int/afghanistan

    http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?CountryID=187&DocTypeID=5

  9. sponson says:

    Obama himself, in his final press conference, said that he warned off Putin about hacking of state voter databases, but that he also attempted not to anger Putin by making more noise about the pro-Trump hacking, lest it cause Russia to take actions on election day that would cloud/delegitimize the election-day voting process. What Obama didn’t explicitly say is that he still expected a Clinton win that day. That was the result he didn’t want tarnished. Russia put him in a bind.

  10. Jonf says:

    I will defer to the idea that Pence is no White Knight. But the Orange Turd is worse. I only have to look at his appointments to get an inkling of this guys character. Add that to his lying and duplicity, and I don’t like it.  Someone suggested he may put an end to the endless war footing. That would surely be good. But there is no guarantee he can, or even will,  do that. It seems a near certainty, on the other hand, he will join in increasing the wealth of the elite and impoverish the poor and middle class. That is unacceptable. So if the IC takes him down, so be it.

    • lefty665 says:

      You might want to take a closer look at Pence. That might cause you to be a little careful about what you wish for. It’s sort of like hoping for Duhbya’s good health because Cheney was lurking. Duhbya wasn’t much, but the question was compared to what?

        • lefty665 says:

          All our mileages may vary and likely will, but you clearly have not paid enough attention to Pence. I’m not a Trump fan, but Pence is a right wing, neocon fundamentalist who is even scarier than Trump. No one with any degree of sanity wants him close to the levers of power and Christian neocon warmongering. Praise the Lord.

        • John Casper says:

          Jonf,

          Appreciate your take.

          Impeaching and convicting Trump brings back the TPP.

          Although they haven’t tried it yet, there’s room for Democrats to work with Trump on issues that the GOP opposes.

          Trump’s nuts and might more quickly get us into WWIII.

          I’m fluid on who is the greater evil. Tonite I’m sticking with Trump.

          • John Casper says:

            Apologies for not being more clear. Tonite, I think Trump is the lesser evil.

            OT, Trump’s been good on is requiring the GOP to come up with something better than Obamacare before jettisoning it.

  11. person1597 says:

    Short and long term, the Trump Show exacerbates GOP reputational risk.

    The POTUS/RNC asymmetrical marriage of convenience wears thin with Pence, Priebus and Ryan, the unholy trinity, playing the abused spouse. Who benefits most from an annulment? Why, the Éminence grise himself — deserving target of Trump’s scorn — the “biased dope” who lost “100 percent” of the money he spent during the 2012 election cycle. Republican political capital losses will continue until The Show is cancelled. Dems can find higher ground through patience, persistence and organized opposition.

    Republicans likely favor an abbreviated relationship since the alternative is 47 more months of embarrassment.

  12. greengiant says:

    Who told Sessions to bring Carter Page on board as one of 5 foreign affairs experts?   How does Ignatius compare to Isikoff as mainline conduit?  By Sept 20,  Sept 23 2016,  already same old allegations of Trump people talking to Russia as the recent #failing NYTimes article that did not even have a 24 hour news cycle life.  Prior to Buzzfeed then,  the dossier seems to have been getting some play,   Politico’s Julia Ioffei reported calls from two   “corporate investigators” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/the-mystery-of-trumps-man-in-moscow-214283  in her article on Page.  Does that make Carter Page’s “batshit crazy”  FEC letter a warning shot of some kind?   https://theintercept.com/2017/02/15/carter-page-at-center-of-trump-russian-investigation-writes-bizarre-letter-to-doj-blaming-hillary-clinton     As for as salting Weiner’s laptop,  this one suspects Trump of helping do just that.    https://patribotics.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/the-carolina-conspiracy-putin-catfished-weiner-louise-mensch/
      Deep state salting Matt Dehart’s computer suggests no one should be exempt from suspicion.   Not only parallel reconstruction,  but fictional construction.

    • John Casper says:

      Don,

      It’s almost 14,000 words.

      Please quote the sentences that you thought warranted this thread’s attention.

    • greengiant says:

      War crimes.   And if there are literally buried bodies,  there you go.   There were bodies at Gitmo.  Bodies in forever war.   Elite US troops degraded into (name your noun ).   https://theintercept.com/2017/01/10/the-crimes-of-seal-team-6/   https://theintercept.com/2017/01/18/seal-team-6-responds-to-the-intercepts-investigation-of-its-war-crimes/   The irony of Russia advocating is lost on no one.

      • maybe ryan says:

        Green Giant,

        Five minutes in, about all I’ve learned in terms of war crimes is that someone stomped on the head of an Afghan non-com who was already dead.  That’s ugly.  But as war crimes go, I’m underwhelmed. You think the CIA is orchestrating a coup so that no one will prosecute a lone SEAL commander for mistreating someone who was already dead?

        Maybe it’s just a poorly written article that buried its lede.  But life is only so long.  And the article’s scroll bar made it look longer.

  13. Don Bacon says:

    re: “I appreciate that and agree there is an awful lot to find reprehensible, disgusting and scary about Trump.”
    I find it reprehensible, disgusting and scary that based on actual facts the former president, a man who never succeeded at anything, managed to preside over eight years of fruitless war, a worsening economy and a failed health plan all the while almost doubling the national debt and virtually destroying his own political party as measured by the loss of influence at the state level.

    • John Casper says:

      Don,

      How much did Obama inherit from his Dad?

      Trump was born on third and stranded himself at first.

      What did Obama spend money on that you disagreed with?

      How much is the national debt?

      How much higher should federal taxes go to pay it off?

      Who do we make the check out to pay off the “national debt?”

      Sounds like you’re giving Obama a pass on income inequality. Why do the elites have all the money? Do you understand the difference between the real economy–the part that makes stuff–and rentier income?

      What’s your plan to replace Obamacare? Please be specific.

      • Larry says:

        Bacon’s ‘facts’ show him to be delusional.  Cannot carry on a reality-based conversation.  Is he lying or lying?

    • lefty665 says:

      Don, since you quote me, please don’t mistake my dislike of Trump for admiration of Obama, or preference for neocon, corrupt, greedy Hillary, or right wing Christian fundamentalist neocon Crusader Pence.  Got my fingers crossed that Trump will get us off the path to war with Russia, and that is what the ongoing RUSSIA hysteria is all is about. If he is successful it will change the world.

      Obama promised Change and delivered eight years of Same. He gets most of a pass on the debt. The economy was in free fall (as the predictable result of Bill’s repeal of Glass Steagall and the Enron act)  when he took office, and his “stimulus” was only about half big enough (he listened to Larry Summers also of Enron Act infamy). It stopped the fall but did not get us recovery that would have by itself shrunk the deficit more and created jobs. By extending Duhbya’s tax cuts for the rich Obama did not do all he could to close the deficit, but that’s small potatoes in deficit numbers. Like proposals to ‘chain’ SS it was just morally offensive and a measure of the Dems sellout.

      Obama did his best to kill state and local parties, but that die was cast in ’92 when the Dems sold their souls to Wall St and the fat cats with Bill, Hill and the right wing, DLC, triangulating Repub wannabe ‘New Dems’. Obama also spent a year or more avoiding single payer, so he owns big health care problems, although I would not call it failure.  He rolled over for the Neocons, kept Gates as Sec Def, and let Hillary lead on Libya as the wars rolled on. What he did right was let Putin pull his butt out of cracks with Syrian chemical weapons and nuclear reprocessing with Iran. You missed travesties like TPP that we can thank Trump for putting a fork in.

      There’s more, but I think you get the idea, dislike of scarily lightly informed, erratic and profoundly narcissistic Trump does not make me a fan of his predecessor, his alternative, or his potential successor.  I do think if he is able to get us off the path to war with Russia he could save the world.  I’m holding my breath, but it’s not turning me back to blue until the Dems get a clue.  There are few signs of that happening yet. We’ll see what happens next week with the DNC.

      • Don Bacon says:

        @ lefty665
        I didn’t assume any views of yours. I took your phrase as an opportunity to dump on Obama who has been a huge failure in many ways, some of which I remark on. We ought not to lose sight of that when judging others, and also that a Clinton presidency would have been an Obama continuance with a war on Russia added in. That would have been unacceptable and the American people, often mislabeled as “sheeple” in various blogs, thankfully recognized that.

      • John Casper says:

        lefty,

        WRT the debt, we can run out of drinkable water, safe food, sustainable energies, some metals, minerals, and medicines.

        Can’t run out of dollars. They are a public monopoly. Unfortunately, the vast majority of federal welfare goes to the elites–start with $193 trillion in free derivative insurance. Annual U.S. GDP’s only around $18 trillion.

        For more see Modern Monetary Theory #MMT. @StephanieKelton , chair of UMKC’s Econ department was Bernie’s choice to advise Dems  on the Senate Budget committee.  She’s tight with @wbmosler who is respected by D’s and R’s. .

        • lefty665 says:

          I certainly agree that “the vast majority of federal welfare goes to the elites” and believe that sucks. Enabling that is part of how the Dems self destructed.

          Our derivative exposure is now greater than it was in 2008. It is another disaster lurking. Dodd Frank was thin gruel and is getting thinner. That Obama/Holder prosecuted not a single Wall Streeter for trashing the world is itself criminal. Trump has changed mastersto Goldman from Citi under Obama. I’m not holding my breath waiting for regulation.

          We may not be able to run out of dollars, especially since almost all of them today are created with the flap of a keyboard and click of a mouse rather than a printing press. But we can do enough stupid things with them to devalue them. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up with tales to tell our grand kids of taking virtual wheelbarrows full of bits and bytes to the store to buy real bread like they did with real wheelbarrows and money in the Wiemar Republic.

  14. John Casper says:

    greengiant,

    I’m aware of the war crimes.

    Neither you or Mister Lady mentioned the domestic crimes against people of color. Has Russia?

    Aren’t casualty estimates for domestic and international war crimes dwarfed by the lethality of climate change?

    Doesn’t Russia have issues?
    “Ex-KGB Chief Thought Dead As Source Of Trump Blackmail Dossier Leak”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ex-kgb-spy-cited-in-the-trump-blackmail-dossier-just_us_588e3f0de4b0cd25e4904a24

    “Russian spy purge after suspected leaks to U.S. intelligence”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/27/mystery-death-ex-kgb-chief-linked-mi6-spys-dossier-donald-trump/

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/01/news/fsb-kaspersky-arrests/

  15. maybe ryan says:

    Green Giant,
    That patribotics link is quite a read. The blog started from scratch a month ago, and it’s opening post is surely the most ambitious opening blog post I’ve ever read. I’m not sure what everyone here would make of his Comey-as-white-knight theory. But he’s knitted together some interesting patterns.

    • greengiant says:

      Did not read that start post until today.   Jan 17th,  naming John Schindler,  famous for forwarding Feb 16th “He (Trump) will die in jail” and observer.com.  But since Jared Kushner owns the observer,  WTF.   A lot of rabbit holes here just chasing the curious role of “journalists”.   As an aside note that Mattis seems to be a made member of the Atlantic Council clique and was on the board of the billion dollar suicided ridden scam Theranos. As far as the mob, FBI and New York is concerned, you need to spend several days reading deepcapture.com

  16. maybe ryan says:

    Bacon,

    The most important thing to know about Lang’s site is that he’s scared to death of dissent, to a degree that is not normal for an American blogger, and makes one wonder whether he’s afraid someone might be offended by what shows up in his comment stream. You can’t even say “the Kurds just won a battle” without getting ousted as a ‘Borgist’ over there. Give the slightest sense that you don’t think the ‘gotterdammerung’ in Aleppo as he kept calling it wasn’t the greatest thing that ever happened, and you’ll never post again, nor anyone from your IP address. His praise of the Russian-Assad alliance goes well beyond any idea of a necessary strategic alliance with some extremely unsavory people.

    I’m far from a Borgist.

    It’s interesting to think of that damn Confederate spy novel of his as an autobiographical roman a clef. From the way his blog works, I can’t help but wonder whether Lang takes money from Russians.

    • lefty665 says:

      You far overstate and misstate the case against SST. Lang is a testy old Colonel, and makes it clear that it is his blog and his terms determine who and what gets to post. He is driving and moderates every post.  He and his regulars from around the world have profound knowledge and experience with both warfare and the middle east.  Some it appears are still on active duty. In the last couple of years I have learned more there about what is going on in Syria than from everywhere else I hang out combined. I too disagree with things that are posted, particularly political, but that is not why I go there. At SST they have called the shots and turns in Syria with remarkable prescience. I do not have to agree with all their politics to value that.

      If there is anything wrong with the belief that turning jihadis, ISIL and their ilk into fertilizer as rapidly and widely as possible it escapes me. That was/is the take at SST in Aleppo and elsewhere in the ME and the world. The Russians have prevented ISIL from taking over Syria. Do you have a problem with that?  Some of us think we should be saying ‘thank you’ and partnering with them there to achieve our common goal of defeating terrorism. There are some inklings that has started to happen.

      Sounds like Lang banned you for cause. Your final comment is disgusting.

       

      • Don Bacon says:

        OMG the reply seems to be working.

        I agree with you on Lang. I’ve been shot down and insulted by him . . but not banned. . .and he actually apologized to me! There’s a lot of good info there on SST. He’s a crusty old military guy who knows his stuff, and what’s wrong with that. As to banning, I’ve been banned by a number of sites over the years by stating unpopular views and unfortunately it exists. Free speech? Uh-uh. For example, I was recently banned from Facebook because of my opinion that females don’t belong in the infantry. I “violated community standards!” (Actually I’ve been in the infantry and if females had been about, I’m sure that it would be more than community standards which might be violated.)

        • lefty665 says:

          Thanks. “crusty” was my first choice, but I weenied out and went with “testy”.  I respect Lang, expect he was a good CO, ran no bullshit operations and took care of his guys when shit started happening. I would not have wanted to be opposing him on the battlefield.

          We got crossways early on too, sorted it out and have been fine since. I suspect that poking at new posters and seeing what he gets back is how he figures out who he is dealing with.  Reminds me of an old cartoon, a sign on a bosses door says “My door is always open, be careful you don’t wander in here by mistake”.

      • maybe ryan says:

        >The Russians have prevented ISIL from taking over Syria.

        I don’t know of an important Assad-ISIL engagement in years.  The only ones who’ve attacked ISIL are Kurds and Iraqis.  But making that factual point at SST is grounds for banning.  That’s a more succinct summary of why I think the site is destructive to an understanding of what’s happening in the Middle East, and why I sometimes wonder about what might inspire Lang to go to such lengths not only to deny the obvious but to suppress all mention of it from his site.

        When the Kurds hit Tishrin, and Assad might have found it in his interest to hit ISIL from behind at al-Bab, not even as assistance to the Kurds, but just to win the race to Al Bab, he didn’t.  When the Kurds hit Manbij, Assad again left ISIL alone.  As the Kurds began pressing south towards Taqba, simultaneous with the Mosul attack in Iraq, Assad let the opportunity slip to keep ISIL pressed on all fronts.  Whatever the Russians’ abstract beliefs about ISIL may be, the client they are propping up has ignored ISIL while focusing on what he considers more pressing, happy to let Kurdish casualties mount.

        Yes, I too am glad the Reply function is working here again.  I had thought the problem was with my browser, so I’m glad to see Don Bacon make reference to it.

         

         

  17. maybe ryan says:

    EW,

    That Christo blog’s theory might be a strike against the idea the Russians released the dossier intentionally.  He could be wrong.  I’m still waiting on his P. II.

  18. John Casper says:

    lefty,

    U.S. can run out of drinkable water, safe food, sustainable energy, some metals. minerals, and medicines.

    Can’t run out of dollars.

    Elites get the vast majority of federal welfare. From the Comptroller of the Currency:

    “The notional amount of derivative contracts held by insured U.S. commercial banks and savings associations in the first quarter increased by $12.0 trillion (6.6 percent) to $192.9 trillion from the previous quarter (see table 10).”

    https://www.occ.gov/topics/capital-markets/financial-markets/derivatives/dq116.pdf

    That’s an unfunded $193 trillion liability.

    For perspective, annual U.S. GDP—Gross Domestic Product—is around $18 trillion.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/263591/gross-domestic-product-gdp-of-the-united-states/

    “Congressional appropriations to the Pentagon from 2001-2016 have totaled more than $8.5 trillion.”

    http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/economic/budget/pentagon

    Social Security’s Trust fund is around $2.3 trillion.

    http://crfb.org/blogs/general-revenue-social-security-trust-funds

    On 2 March 2005 Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan explained the real economy–the part that makes stuff–to now Speaker Paul Ryan.

    Speaker Ryan:

    “So, having personal retirement accounts is another way of making future retiree benefits more secure for their retirement and also do you believe … that personal retirement accounts as a component to a system of solvency does help improve solvency, because when you have a personal retirement account policy it’s accompanied with a benefit offset with that feature in place do you believe personal retirement
    accounts help can us achieve solvency for the system and make those future retiree benefits more secure?”

    Chairman Greenspan:

    “I wouldn’t say that the pay-as-you-go benefits are insecure in the sense that, there’s nothing to prevent the federal government from creating as much money as it wants and giving it to somebody, the question is how do you set up a system which assures that the ***real assets*** are created which those benefits are employed to purchase? So, it’s not a question of security. It’s a question of the structure of the financial system which assures that the ***real resources*** are created for retirement, as distinct from the cash, the cash itself is nice to have, but it’s got to be in the context of the real resources being created at the time those benefits are paid so that you can purchase real resources with the benefits, which of course are cash.”

    Asterisks are mine.

    • lefty665 says:

      Greenspan is a f*cking Ayn Rand worshiping moron. Why would you quote him or post a huge picture of his sorry ass?

      Nice string of factoids, and your point is?

  19. Don Bacon says:

    some minutia about the National Security Advisor:
    –The current NSA is Keith Kellogg.
    –Michael Flynn had the job for 24 days.
    —The previous three NSAs were Jones, Donilon and Rice.
    –A previous NSA, Kissinger, was both NSA and SecState for over two years.
    –Opinion: Perhaps the country is better off without a prominent NSA; it can’t get much worse.

    • lefty665 says:

      :)  and without the incredibly bloated staff too. It has gone 10x from around 40 at the end of old man Bush’s presidency to close to 400 now.

      Any bets the phone call leaks are coming from somewhere within that 400?

      Looks like Harward turned down the job in part because he could not get assurances that Bannon and Kushner would not be calling the NSC shots. Talk about less prominent!

       

      • Don Bacon says:

        The story is that Obama expanded the staff in order to concentrate “national security matters” in the White House, and look at the results of that — multiple wars with destruction, death, injury and displacement, principally in MENA and Afghanistan.

        • lefty665 says:

          Yeah, Obama about doubled it, but it was around a 5x growth from ’91 through ’08 and that’s not insignificant.  You’re right, staff size had something to do with the bleats about “micromanagement” that we were hearing from DoD. Rice is quoted with a ‘size matters’ comment, with regards to staff.  Multiple wars, death, drones were all coming straight out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That was a conscious choice. They worked hard to take over traditional cabinet structure.

  20. Don Bacon says:

    Trump didn’t mention the Washington Post directly in his press conference, but he did mention other media especially CNN and BBC. The latter as foreign media has taken an inordinate delight in dumping on Trump. Trump’s main complaint, besides the domestic problems, is that the fake news makes diplomacy with Russia more difficult. –quotes
    >The failing New York Times
    > Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Times’ story
    > I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. . . .The public gets it, you know. Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN. They want to throw their placards at CNN. You know. . . QUESTION: Just because of the attack of fake news and attacking our network, I just want to ask you, sir …TRUMP: I’m changing it from fake news, though.  QUESTION: Doesn’t that under …TRUMP: Very fake news. . . .as an example, you’re CNN, I mean it’s story after story after story is bad . . . You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred.
    >TRUMP: Where are you from? QUESTION: BBC. TRUMP: Here’s another beauty. QUESTION: That’s a good line. Impartial, free and fair. TRUMP: Yeah. Sure. QUESTION: Mr. President …TRUMP: Just like CNN right?
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/16/donald-trumps-grievance-filled-press-conference-annotated/?utm_term=.955e9698b323

     

    This brings to mind that following Obama’s goodbye speech, when Fox News was analyzing the speech on the TV, CNN didn’t even cover it and instead had a lengthy coverage of the fake dossier.

  21. Don Bacon says:

    @lefty665
    –reply not working–
    Re: drone assassinations
    Obama’s foreign drone assassinations, including of Americans, orchestrated out of the White House, have been a reversal of Reagan’s executive order halting foreign assassinations.

  22. Don Bacon says:

    @lefty665
    –reply not working–
    Re: “Prospects for change are not bright” –from Wall Street etc. above
    Actually Trump does represent a major change which is why there is so much animosity — that’s a good indicator right there.
    For more on that subject, and I’m not endorsing his POV, read — “Trump – business against war” by Thierry Meyssan.
    http://www.voltairenet.org/article195279.html

    • Don Bacon says:

      Giraldi’s “many people in the IC really have come to believe that Russia is a major and very active threat against the United States” is baloney. Russia is no way a threat to the US except as a brake on the US expansionism expressed in the US-sponsored neo-Nazi coup in Kyev, which was a naked attempt to drive Russia out of its historic naval presence in the Black Sea. The IC people have drunk the kool-aid and are on board with US world hegemony, not with any “Russian threat.”

  23. maybe ryan says:

    Setting aside the question of whether Russia is or should be a geopolitical threat (Geraldi, pace Don Bacon, actually seeks to soothe those fears), I think Giraldi’s article is really insightful about why the Flynn imbroglio happened:

    >Which leads to the possibility that the story about Flynn actually has little or nothing to do with either him personally or his having been indiscreet.

    As he points out, Flynn had to expect the call would be monitored.  He must have believed that what he said was relatively unobjectionable.  As indeed it would have been, at least legally, if he’d made the call 3 weeks later.  If there was collusion between the Russians and any Trumpistas during the campaign, a phone call to say “we disagree with Obama on sanctions” was hardly needed, so if there’s a background there, this phone call is the least of it.  The “susceptible to blackmail” theory was always more than a little ridiculous.  Blackmail for doing the bidding of Boss Trump instead of that of sub-capo Pence?  There’s no blackmail potential there.

    What is there is huge disagreement between Trump on the one hand, and the man who he had told could basically run the government while Trump took a back seat – Pence.  Pence is the fulcrum here, the one who has diametrically opposed ideas on Russia, and the one who forced the issue.  Trump has been made to look ridiculous (in the eyes of the media and a chunk of the public who already dislike him) for three dozen different things.  He could have held on to Flynn in the fact of a media uproar.  What he couldn’t afford was to lose Pence.

    This was all about Pence making a play for control of Russia policy, intel, and foreign policy broadly.  Here’s an article that says more about what happened than a dozen belabored re-workings of the Flynn phone call and the leaks:

    http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/senate-confirms-rep-mike-pompeo-trump-pick-to-run-the-cia/

    Pompeo, sworn in by Pence in Pence’s office the night of his Senate confirmation.

    Rogue leaks?  I doubt it.  I suggest that this leaked Pompeo to Pence before it leaked to the press.  This was a gambit by a faction of the administration.

  24. greengiant says:

    Isikoff still attacking Flynn this time re Moscow speakers fee. https://www.yahoo.com/news/house-committee-begins-probe-of-payments-to-flynn-210144266.html. At least 4 Trump contacts with Russia? Who is superfluous? Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, “Pit bull” Michael Cohen, Roger Stone? Stone denies “regular” “officials” http://www.today.com/video/former-trump-adviser-roger-stone-i-had-no-contacts-with-russian-officials-878604355531

  25. Don Bacon says:

    news report — Retired Army lieutenant general Keith Kellogg, who’s serving as acting White House national security adviser, has told associates he would take the post permanently if President Donald Trump offered it, a person familiar with the matter said.

    If so, how might WaPo renege on its”full-blown crisis?”
    >recent Washington Post headlines–
    Flynn’s swift downfall: From a phone call in the Dominican Republic to a forced resignation at the White House
    Flynn episode ‘darkens the cloud’ of Russia that hangs over Trump administration
    Flynn departure erupts into a full-blown crisis for the Trump White House
    Senators from both parties pledge to deepen probe of Russia and the 2016 election
    Flynngate? Kremlingate? Russiagate? The gate’s out of the gate

  26. Mister Lady says:

    Fascinating thread starting 12:13. maybe ryan evidently hasn’t heard about dryboarding at the Camp No death camp or the hundreds of other victims disappeared and tortured to death. His government-issue ‘one bad apple’ argument is transparently obtuse. What part of ‘systematic and widespread’ does he not understand?

    And John Casper, what do GDP and industry composition have to do with anything? Russia advocates for rule of law and unlike the US, they comply with it. They’re hard to ignore because they have more gigatons than the US does and overwhelmingly superior missile technology. That makes them effective. John Casper sends up another non sequitur, inaccurately saying there was no mention of people of color in the 11:37 comment. In the links are Conclusions and Recommendations from the CERD treaty, including the institutionalized torture in Chicago that prototyped the US torture gulag.

    Hey, speaking of CIA impunity for crimes against humanity, looks like crazy psycho animal Trump is not crazy enough to stonewall for CIA torturers. Who woulda thunk it?

    https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3461478/SSCI-Deposit.pdf

    • maybe ryan says:

      Mister Lady,

      I wasn’t making that argument, nor any argument about the underlying facts really.  I just think if someone sends me to a link to justify an argument he or she is making, and I follow it in good faith, I should find relevant information within the first, oh, 2,000 words or so.  I did not.  If someone is going to send me to a 20,000 word opus, they should suggest things I might search for within that document.

  27. maybe ryan says:

    By the way, EW, you had commented in a previous thread on when exactly it was suspected that the voter registration database hacks were sophisticated and state-sponsored.  I knew the answer was earlier than you mentioned, through my work.  But I wasn’t clear whether I am at liberty to provide my source here, and without a source, I suspected that the date I gave might be dismissed.  But I just found a link that will fill you in.  The IL State Board of Elections release of mid-July, already saying “This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity.”

    https://blnnews.com/2016/07/20/im-from-the-government-and/

    also at http://capitolfax.com/2016/07/21/foreign-hack-attack-on-state-voter-registration-site/

    I know the person whose email is quoted there, and know that he was not the source of that description of the attack, nor was it coming from SBE staff.  They were already in touch with others to determine the origins and nature of the attack by then.

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