Three Things: CRC—What? An Indictment, Plus Shut Downs Ahead

[NB: As always, check the byline. / ~Rayne]

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation process is an 800-pound gorilla in the media, as is the potential for the obstructive removal of Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General. They suck up enormous amounts of mental wattage, sitting wherever they want to sit.

Here are three things which are in some way related and worth more of our attention, whatever is left after the gorillas are done with it.

~ 3 ~

CRC: One degree from Manafort

Thomas Fine went prowling around FARA filings, landing this juicy find (pdf):

Yes, Creative Response Concepts, Inc., the same firm for which Ed Whelan has worked, registered in 2005 as a foreign agent for Viktor Yanukovych — the same Yanukovych for which Paul Manafort also worked as an illegal foreign agent. CRC was paid $10,000 by Potomac Communications Group, for which Aleksei Kiselev worked. Kiselev also worked for Paul Manafort to assist Yanukovych.

What a small, small world.

Should note CRC’s registration was after the fact — they were contracted for April-October 2003. Why so late?

(Thanks to @JamesFourM for the PCG-Kiselev-Manafort link.)

~ 2 ~

Indictment yesterday related to Trump Towers…in Azerbaijan

Didn’t see this until late last night: DOJ indicted Kemal “Kevin” Oksuz (pdf) on one count of hiding or falsifying material facts and four counts of making false statements to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics. The filings were related to a Congressional trip to Azerbaijan ultimately paid for by State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), the wholly state-owned national oil and gas company of Azerbaijan.

Oksuz is now a fugitive.

Ten members of Congress and 32 staffers traveled in 2013 to attend a U.S.-Azerbaijan convention in Baku after Azerbaijan had asked Congress for an exemption from sanctions on Iran for a $28 billion natural gas pipeline project. The members and staffers were later cleared as it appeared they believed the trip’s funding was provided by Oksuz’s nonprofit organization.

Personally, I think those members and staffers needed a rebuke. Nonprofits don’t print money; they rely on money from donors. Follow the money to the donors before accepting a trip and incidentals. It’s not rocket science.

Worth keeping in mind the Trump International Hotel & Tower built in Baku, overseen by Ivanka Trump, which burned in late April this year — an amazing two fires, same day. What are the odds?

~ 1 ~

Shutdowns Ahead: U.S.-Canada and U.S. Government?

Doesn’t look like negotiations between the U.S. and Canada are going to make this Saturday’s deadline. No idea what will happen after that. We all know the Trump administration has been at fault; how could anybody screw up a long-term peaceful relationship like U.S.-Canada, our second largest trading partner after China, without deliberate bad faith? Without the intent to screw over another NATO member’s economy?

And the U.S. government itself faces a budget deadline. If the “minibus” budget bill isn’t signed by midnight this coming Sunday we’re looking at a shutdown and it appears the bottleneck may be Trump. The jerks at Breitbart are fomenting to encourage a shutdown by insisting Trump refuse to sign the bill — they’re just plain malicious, thinking not at all about the impact on fellow Americans or the economy.

Putin must be laughing his ass off at how easily the GOP’s white nationalist base has subverted U.S. and NATO stability by giving up control to a mobbed-up, golf-addicted, attention-deficient wig.

~ 0 ~

Don’t miss Marcy’s interview on Democracy Now in which she talks about Rod Rosenstein’s status and the Kavanaugh confirmation process.

Treat this like an open thread — have at it.

p.s. A note on site operations: Please be sure to use the same username and email address each time you log into the site. It makes it easier for community members to get to know you. Deliberate sockpuppeting is not permitted.

The Committee Playing Games with Perjury Referrals Swears They Can Make Mark Judge Tell the Truth without Testifying

Chuck Grassley and the other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are still trying to push Christine Blasey Ford testimony through in time to vote Kavanaugh out of the committee next week. As part of that, a Grassley Counsel who asserted, “Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” is also boasting about his tough questioning in lieu of a formal investigation. As part of that, SJC Republicans are asserting that they “obtained a statement under penalty of perjury” from Mark Judge, who really doesn’t want to testify, in part because he has written extensively about his own misogyny and alcohol abuse.

Right.

This is the committee, remember that referred Christopher Steele to the FBI for lying to the FBI, but that refuses to make Don Jr testify a second time to clarify problems with his testimony, much less refer him to FBI for lying about a second meeting at which he accepted election assistance from a foreign government (actually two: the Saudis and the Emirates).

Chuck Grassley has already demonstrated his view of lying to the committee: He’s perfectly okay with it, so long as helps Republicans.

So that statement from Mark Judge, without public testimony, is absolutely worthless.

Graphic: Quino Al via Unsplash (mod by Rayne)

Whip It, Whip It Good: Krunchtime on Kavanaugh

[NB: AS ALWAYS, check the byline. This post is by moi, Rayne.]

On this last day of Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, witnesses spoke regarding Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness (or lack thereof) to serve a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

The last three days have been both grueling and enlightening. It looks more than ever like a concerted effort between interested parties selected and nominated Kavanaugh — not in a manner typically of previous nominees, but in the interest of those whose personal fortunes and legal status hinge directly on the existence of a conservative on the court who will decide in their favor.

Parties like Trump’s administration, his campaign donors, his personal business circle; parties like war criminals who served in previous administrations; and parties like Trump supporters, who expect their quid pro quo delivered in the form of religious freedom to deny others’ civil rights.

One could argue this is business as usual but it’s not, when the president himself is already implicated as an unindicted co-conspirator who may directly benefit from a swing justice who believes in unrestrained executive power.

How could a reasonable person not come to the conclusion that the collaborative, collective, concerted effort behind Kavanaugh is a conspiracy to obstruct justice?

Let’s fight fire with fire, get in ‘good trouble‘ as Rep. John Lewis calls it; let’s collaborate and collectively lay out before the public who is willing to support this obstruction and who is not before Kavanaugh’s nomination goes to the entire Senate for a vote. Are you ready to whip the people’s Senate? Are you willing to make phone calls and ask your senators where they stand on Kavanaugh?

I’ll go first; I’ll fill in your responses from your senators in the table below as you collect them and share them in comments below.

Congressional switchboard number: (202) 224-3121

Whip List

State

Party

Name

Seat up

Vote Y/N

Alabama

R

Richard Shelby

2022

Yes [1]
Alabama

D

Doug Jones

2020

WAFFLING
Alaska

R

Lisa Murkowski

2022

WAFFLING
Alaska

R

Dan Sullivan

2020

Yes [1]
Arizona

R

Jeff Flake

2018

LEAN YES [1]

Arizona

R

Jon Kyl

2020

Yes [1]
Arkansas

R

John Boozman

2022

Yes [1]
Arkansas

R

Tom Cotton

2020

Yes [1]
California

D

Dianne Feinstein

2018

No*
California

D

Kamala Harris

2022

No
Colorado

D

Michael Bennet

2022

No [1]
Colorado

R

Cory Gardner

2020

LEAN YES [1]
Connecticut

D

Richard Blumenthal

2022

No [1]
Connecticut

D

Chris Murphy

2018

No [1]
Delaware

D

Tom Carper

2018

No [1]
Delaware

D

Chris Coons

2020

LEAN NO [1]
Florida

D

Bill Nelson

2018

LEAN NO [1]
Florida

R

Marco Rubio

2022

Yes [1]
Georgia

R

Johnny Isakson

2022

Yes [1]
Georgia

R

David Perdue

2020

Yes [1]
Hawaii

D

Brian Schatz

2022

No [1]
Hawaii

D

Mazie Hirono

2018

No
Idaho

R

Mike Crapo

2022

Yes [1]
Idaho

R

Jim Risch

2020

Yes [1]
Illinois

D

Dick Durbin

2020

LEAN NO [1]
Illinois

D

Tammy Duckworth

2022

No
Indiana

D

Joe Donnelly

2018

WAFFLING
Indiana

R

Todd Young

2022

Yes [1]
Iowa

R

Chuck Grassley

2022

LEAN YES [1]
Iowa

R

Joni Ernst

2020

Yes [1]
Kansas

R

Pat Roberts

2020

Yes [1]
Kansas

R

Jerry Moran

2022

Yes [1]
Kentucky

R

Mitch McConnell

2020

Yes [1]
Kentucky

R

Rand Paul

2022

Yes [1]
Louisiana

R

Bill Cassidy

2020

Yes [1]
Louisiana

R

John Kennedy

2022

Yes [1]
Maine

R

Susan Collins

2020

WAFFLING
Maine

I

Angus King

2018

No
Maryland

D

Ben Cardin

2018

No
Maryland

D

Chris Van Hollen

2022

No
Massachusetts

D

Elizabeth Warren

2018

No
Massachusetts

D

Ed Markey

2020

No
Michigan

D

Debbie Stabenow

2018

No
Michigan

D

Gary Peters

2020

No
Minnesota

D

Amy Klobuchar

2018

No [1]
Minnesota

D

Tina Smith

2018

No [1]
Mississippi

R

Roger Wicker

2018

Yes
Mississippi

R

Cindy Hyde-Smith

2018

Yes
Missouri

D

Claire McCaskill

2018

WAFFLING
Missouri

R

Roy Blunt

2022

Yes
Montana

D

Jon Tester

2018

LEAN NO [1]
Montana

R

Steve Daines

2020

Yes [1]
Nebraska

R

Deb Fischer

2018

LEAN YES [1]
Nebraska

R

Ben Sasse

2020

LEAN YES [1]
Nevada

R

Dean Heller

2018

Yes [1]
Nevada

D

Catherine Cortez Masto

2022

LEAN NO [1]
New Hampshire

D

Jeanne Shaheen

2020

No
New Hampshire

D

Maggie Hassan

2022

No
New Jersey

D

Bob Menendez

2018

No [1]
New Jersey

D

Cory Booker

2020

No
New Mexico

D

Tom Udall

2020

No [1]
New Mexico

D

Martin Heinrich

2018

No
New York

D

Chuck Schumer

2022

No
New York

D

Kirsten Gillibrand

2018

No
North Carolina

R

Richard Burr

2022

Yes [1]
North Carolina

R

Thom Tillis

2020

Yes
North Dakota

R

John Hoeven

2022

Yes
North Dakota

D

Heidi Heitkamp

2018

WAFFLING
Ohio

D

Sherrod Brown

2018

No [1]
Ohio

R

Rob Portman

2022

Yes [1]
Oklahoma

R

Jim Inhofe

2020

Yes [1]
Oklahoma

R

James Lankford

2022

LEAN YES [1]
Oregon

D

Ron Wyden

2022

No
Oregon

D

Jeff Merkley

2020

No
Pennsylvania

D

Bob Casey Jr.

2018

No [1]
Pennsylvania

R

Pat Toomey

2022

Yes [1]
Rhode Island

D

Jack Reed

2020

No [1]
Rhode Island

D

Sheldon Whitehouse

2018

No [1]
South Carolina

R

Lindsey Graham

2020

Yes [1]
South Carolina

R

Tim Scott

2022

Yes [1]
South Dakota

R

John Thune

2022

Yes [1]
South Dakota

R

Mike Rounds

2020

Yes [1]
Tennessee

R

Lamar Alexander

2020

Yes [1]
Tennessee

R

Bob Corker

2018

Yes*
Texas

R

John Cornyn

2020

Yes [1]
Texas

R

Ted Cruz

2018

Yes [1]
Utah

R

Orrin Hatch

2018

Yes [1]
Utah

R

Mike Lee

2022

Yes [1]
Vermont

D

Patrick Leahy

2022

LEAN NO [1]
Vermont

I

Bernie Sanders

2018

No
Virginia

D

Mark Warner

2020

No [1]
Virginia

D

Tim Kaine

2018

No
Washington

D

Patty Murray

2022

No
Washington

D

Maria Cantwell

2018

No
West Virginia

D

Joe Manchin

2018

WAFFLING
West Virginia

R

Shelley Moore Capito

2020

Yes [1]
Wisconsin

R

Ron Johnson

2022

Yes [1]
Wisconsin

D

Tammy Baldwin

2018

No [1]
Wyoming

R

Mike Enzi

2020

LEAN YES [1]
Wyoming

R

John Barrasso

2018

Yes [1]

*  Qualified response, subject to final confirmation.

[1]  Firm Yes votes based on WhipTheVote.org‘s tally.

Latest  update: 12 September 2018 7:30 pm EDT

This is NOT an open thread. Please stay on on topic — the Kavanaugh confirmation — to make tracking votes easier. Thanks!

Open Thread: Take the Ride

Let’s acknowledge it: we’re in limbo vacillating between shock and cynical recognition. We can’t believe we’re reading/watching/hearing this escalating chaos and yet we’ve known and expected it since before Inauguration Day.

In the background there’s a clock ticking loudly, a countdown to mid-term election day. Many windows begin to close between now and then.

We’re pulling into Crazytown.

I’ve thought of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson too many times these past few weeks, wondering what he might have said about increasingly weird events unfolding. Would he have said once again,

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

I think we’ve doubled down on insanity and it’s clearly not working.

Nor can I subscribe to his philosophy,

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Somebody has taken this to heart and it’s cost the rest of us dearly — literally thousands of American lives lost, taken negligently by leadership living to their own extremes. This philosophy cares too little for others who are entitled to the same freedom to live fully.
But HST had a grasp on truth.

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

Those who have taken control of our country don’t really care about others; they don’t care about the social contract. They only worry about getting their well-paved road to their personal oblivion and not getting caught along the way.

HST did leave us a helpful hint, though, in spite of his go-out-guns-blazing approach to life:

“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.”

We may be pulling into Crazytown but we can teach the occupants a thing or two. Don’t shilly-shally about, either.

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

Buckle up and begin.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

This is an open thread. Bring it.

Reality Gets A Harsh Sentence

With Update Below!

As many of you may already know, this morning was the sentencing for Reality Winner. She was sentenced to 63 months of incarceration and three years of supervised release upon completion of her term. The supervised release term is rather standard. She will be housed at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. The stated reason was because she is bulimic, but it seems more like a nod to her, and her family, who requested a Texas posting so they would be near. There is no pecuniary fine. I have not seen the official sentencing order yet, but have little to no doubt she will be credited with the time served in pre-trial detention since her arrest on June 3, 2017; i.e. nearly 15 months. So, assuming that, she should be released in about 4 years.

Okay, that is the hard nuts and bolts of Ms. Winner’s sentencing. If you want some more background, please see our old friend Kevin Gosztola at Shadowproof, who has been covering all the Reality Winner court appearances.

All that said, let me address a couple of things. First, the sentence was not unexpected, indeed it was stipulated to in the plea agreement Ms. Winner both signed and allocuted to in open court. While the court technically “could” have deviated downward, there was little to no chance it would given the plea language. Anybody shocked by today’s sentencing has not been paying attention.

Secondly, the government did not “block” Winner’s defenses. I had a discussion on this point with a good friend, Will Bunch, who has admirably written extensively on, and in favor of, Reality. Sadly, the law here is what it is, and not what Will and I would like it to be. Winner’s attorneys filed every motion they could, both to try to win and to protect the record. But those motions were never going to work, they never do, and they did not here.

Jeffrey Sterling also tried all of that. It did not work then, for him, either. Sterling got 42 months in prison. It is hard to compare disparate cases, but in the long run, I personally have a hard time seeing why Reality Winner was worse or more damaging than Jeff Sterling, and yet she got 1.5 times as much incarceration as Sterling. Different DOJ’s, different times and the Trump Administration was already on the record as head hunting for leakers when Winner fell into their lap. So, I guess it is not shocking. They were looking to make an example and there she was.

Now to the after show doings. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Bobby L. Christine (never trust a man with two first names), cravenly issued a pompous press release on the sentencing. This is just a taste of the Christine hyperbolic:

The document Winner compromised did, in fact, contain TOP SECRET information about the sources and methods used to acquire the intelligence described in the report. That means it revealed how U.S. Intelligence Agencies obtained information. U.S. Government subject matter experts have determined that Winner’s willful, purposeful disclosure caused exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security. That harm included, but was not limited to, impairing the ability of the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information similar to the information the defendant disclosed. This was, by no means, a victimless crime.

What’s more, Winner’s exceptionally damaging disclosure was not a spontaneous, unplanned event, but was the calculated culmination of a series of acts. She researched whether it was possible to insert a thumb drive into a Top Secret computer without being detected, and then inserted a thumb drive, WHICH THE GOVERNMENT NEVER RECOVERED, into a Top Secret computer. She researched job opportunities that would provide her access to classified information. At the same time, she searched for information about anti-secrecy organizations, and she celebrated claimed compromises in U.S. classified information.

Note the Trump like raging capital letters? Ooof. It was an unnecessary and prickish public release by somebody that had won and driven the vanquished into the ground. And while Bobby L. Christine took all the glory, he did not do diddly squat himself, the matter was handled by a team of career AUSA’s that he did not even have the common courtesy to mention. Very Trump like.

Okay, so why did Ms. Winner end up here? There are a lot of reasons. First off, while Winner would have pretty clearly been discovered anyway, she disclosed her material to The Intercept, which was far from the only cause of her discovery, but did her no favors either. And the Government, especially the NSA, hates, with a capital H, The Intercept. But again, Reality’s discovery was inevitable even despite that, but it is a factor.

Secondly, the Government has thought all along that she had more material than what The Intercept and Matt Cole received and published. In its sentencing memorandum, the government addressed other areas of concern as to Winner including: her insertion of flash drive into a TS/SCI NSA computer at Fort Meade; her Internet history (which other filings make clear included details on Anonymous, Vault 7, Hal Martin, Assange, and Snowden); her download of Tor; her seeking out employment at Pluribus; and her screenshots of secure drop information.

These bases were generally also why she was detained without bail. That does not make it right, and it is, and remains true, that there is far too much secrecy and cheap classification in the face of the American public’s interest. This is a textbook example of just that. But Reality Winner tried to be a whistleblower and fell into the lurch where there are no such protections for the acts she did. She paid an overly, and draconian, price for what she did because the Trump Administration needed a head on a pike. They got hers. And this morning’s sentencing was the ugly culmination of that.

UPDATE: alright, Trevor Timm at The Intercept, has posted an interesting coda to the Reality Winner goings on today.

WHEN THE INTERCEPT first published the top-secret document, reporters and editors went to the government — as they do every time The Intercept publishes classified documents — to hear the NSA’s views about any information that might truly harm national security. After listening to the agency’s arguments, and out of an abundance of caution, The Intercept redacted a few pieces of information from the document before publishing it.

A key phrase that the government wanted withheld was the specific name of the Russian unit identified in the document. The government was particularly insistent on that point. Since it wasn’t vital to the story that the unit’s name be revealed, nor was it clear — at least at the time — that revealing the unit’s name was in the public interest, The Intercept agreed to withhold it.

But in the indictment of alleged Russian military intelligence operatives that Mueller’s office released last month, the Justice Department revealed the same name: GRU unit 74455. (The unit is also known as the Main Center for Special Technology or GTsST.) The indictment went on to reveal information almost identical to that contained in the document Winner admits to disclosing:

In or around June 2016, KOVALEV and his co-conspirators researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and other election-related entities for website vulnerabilities. KOVALEV and his co-conspirators also searched for state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites.

In or around July 2016, KOVALEV and his co-conspirators hacked the website of a state board of elections (“SBOE 1”) and stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers

In or around August 2016, KOVALEV and his co-conspirators hacked into the computers of a U.S. vendor (“Vendor 1”) that supplied software used to verify voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections. KOVALEV and his co-conspirators used some of the same infrastructure to hack into Vendor 1 that they had used to hack into SBOE 1.

The Justice Department is trying to have it both ways: It’s OK for Mueller to publicly release this information in an attempt to prosecute alleged Russian hackers because it’s in the public interest. But at the exact same time, the government is also claiming that a document including very similar information causes grave harm to national security when disclosed to the public by someone else.

There is a lot more there at Trevor’s post. Without doubling the size of this post, I would like to second the expert opinions submitted by Bill Leonard that Trevor Timm describes and have been long a staple here. There literally is no greater expert on classification than Bill Leonard. That said, it is like the discussion in the main original post. The fight is against archaic, authoritarian and totalitarian laws and legal precedent. Until those are changed, there is reality, and then there is the regrettable case of Reality Winner.

[Photo: Emily Morter via Unsplash]

Get Carter, Redux

[Note the byline, please — this is Rayne, NOT Marcy.]

[Get Carter by MGM c. 1971]

By now you’ve probably heard, viewed, read a lot about the Justice Department’s release of the four FISA applications submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requesting authorization to surveil U.S. citizen Carter Page.

All 412 pages of four applications.

Can I just say how much Carter Page annoys me? He’s perfected the art of acting like a complete doofus, which made reading his testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) absolute torture to read; he even gave Russian spies Evgeny Buryakov, Igor Sporyshev, and Victor Podobnyy pause back in 2014-2015 when he was in contact with them here in the U.S. I’ve yet to find a searchable text version of his HPSCI testimony because no one apparently wanted to OCR his babbling.

He’s also appeared on television frequently, producing bizarre interviews which undermine the idea he is capable of damage.

Yet this “idiot,” as Russian spies have called him, pulled off meeting contacts only one and two degrees of separation from Vladimir Putin. He’s weaseled and lied about these repeated contacts when he hasn’t refused to answer questions altogether.

But his crazy-pants interviews and patchy statements combined with intelligence from other credible sources establish a snapshot of what a reasonable person would believe is an agent of a foreign power.

He was already quite iffy given his contacts in 2014-1015 with Buryakov, Sporyshev, and Podobnyy. But his actions during 2016 were a magnitude more questionable, particularly with additional intelligence not all of which was Christopher Steele’s.

Come on now, on the face of it Page was worth monitoring: the “idiot” ends up on the Trump campaign team, travels to Moscow smack in the middle of the election season, ends up hobnobbing with Putin’s circle while watching Europa football exactly one month after a U.S. diplomat was physically attacked in Moscow, then gives U.S. foreign policy-bashing speeches two successive days in a row in front of Russian dignitaries at a university funded in part by oligarch Len Blavatnik.

Two weeks later he praised Trump campaign team members for their efforts to change the RNC platform which softened the party’s position on arming Ukraine.

All the while holding an investment stake of ADRs in PJSC Gazprom.

Nothing to see here, no probable cause, move along — right? [insert boldface snark tag]

It’s very easy for the uninitiated to see how much more suspicious the level of Page’s contacts and activities appeared to the FBI without doing a lot of fine reading. Here is an excerpt from the October 2016 FISA app (pages 32-33 of 412), consisting of the FBI’s conclusion:

And here is the conclusion from the subsequent January 2017 FISA app, filed when the October 2016 application was about to lapse:

Each excerpted Conclusion above ends at section 4 Proposed Minimization Procedures. Though both conclusions are heavily redacted, the second conclusion exploded from not quite two pages to nearly six pages, suggesting that Page’s statements and actions combined with other additional and new intelligence provided the FBI with even more reason to suspect Page was an agent of a foreign state who should be surveilled.

Could some of the redacted material consist of Steele dossier intelligence? Sure. But as Marcy pointed out earlier today, the dossier’s use will likely prevent Page from being prosecuted. However the second application contains a half-page-long footnote about Steele and the dossier:

Note the boldface; the FBI made certain to qualify “Source #1” (Steele) and his material. It also appears the FBI had adequate additional sources without Source 1 including intelligence from the Buryakov spy case.

~ | ~

A troll infestation across the internet continues its work, insisting the FBI didn’t make adequate disclosures to the FISC about Steele’s intelligence. It’s funny, though, how their elected-yet-trollish counterparts Representatives Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz, Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan look after the release of these applications.

The retweet at the top of Jordan’s feed as I draft this post:

Jordan sounds frantic in that embedded video. One could only wonder why a representative under pressure for ignoring sexual abuse claims might be so anxious about investigating the DOJ (denials about the sexual abuse scandal just happen to be the tweet preceding this one in Jordan’s timeline).

Meadows doubles down on stupid:

Does he really believe the declassification and unredacting any more of these FISA apps will make the HPSCI’s GOP members’ obstruction look any better?

Speaking of obstruction, Devin Nunes tweeted a little over 24 hours after the FISA apps were released that his memo was accurate:

So desperate and unhinged.

And Matt Gaetz appeared in denial with this tweet which remained at the top of his timeline for more than 24 hours, ignoring the FISA apps altogether; the retweet preceding it contains a Fox News video in which Florida’s Rep. Ron DeSantis blames Obama for Putin’s meddling:

Not a horse I’d bet money on.

~ | ~

Other takes on the FISA applications you’ll want to read:

David Kris at Lawfareblog: What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications

Julian Sanchez on Twitter 

Matt Tait (Pwnallthethings) on Twitter 

Leah McElrath on Twitter  noting changes in status to certain app signers

Charlie Savage on Twitter 

The Hoarse Whisperer on Twitter, who brings up an interesting point

and our good friend Cynthia Kouril via Twitter, bringing a prosecutor’s eye.

~ | ~

Now I have to go through the Carter Page timeline and see if anything in this 412 pages changes or adds to its content. Damn you, Page — as if I had nothing better to do this week.

Treat this as an open thread — leave comments in Marcy’s posts focused on topic.

Graphic: Quino Al via Unsplash (mod by Rayne)

Three Things: Call, Call, Call!

[As always, note the byline — this isn’t Marcy’s post. / ~Rayne]

Dial (202) 224-3121.

If you don’t already have this number memorized or logged as a contact, have it tattooed on your body where you can see it. Afraid of needles? Use henna for a temporary tattoo. You’re going to need this number until Congress breaks before the mid-term elections.

~ 3 ~

The White House’s occupant was supposed to announce today the nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Call your senators and tell them to refuse to hold hearings on this nomination.

If they are GOP, tell them it’s too close to the mid-term elections and the people deserve to have a say — in short, use the same argument Mitch “Turtlehead” McConnell used when he refused to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing to approve President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

If your senator(s) are Democrats or Independents, tell them they must deny a president who is under investigation any nominee to a lifetime seat as long as there is a cloud over the presidency. If they cannot fend off a Judiciary Committee hearing, insist they do not vote for any nominee who seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nor should they confirm a justice who will not recuse themselves from any case against Trump or his campaign arising from Department of Justice investigations, nor should they approve a justice who believes the president is in any way above the law, immune in ways the public is not.

I’ve come to resist The Hill as it has become ridiculously biased, but this op-ed is worth a read: The ‘McConnell Rule’ is law, and Senate Democrats should sue to enforce it.

Live by Turtlehead’s rule, die by it.

Need a script for your calls? See Celeste Pewter at this link.

~ 2 ~

Your next call is again to your senators, this time on the nomination of Brian Benczkowski to the Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General.

Senator Dick Durbin has already been working on this:

Read the letter’s text and the rest of his comments on Twitter at this link. Benczkowski’s nomination should be withdrawn; it is little more than another form of obstruction of justice.

This is another poisonous nomination; just as a president under investigation shouldn’t be permitted to appoint justices, neither should he be able to appoint nominees to the Justice Department with such serious conflicts related to the same investigation. Benckowski’s nomination is simply corrupt.

~ 1 ~

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?

Not the Thai students who’ve been trapped in cave but the thousands of children from infants to teens who have been separated from their asylum-seeking parents for no legal reason apart from institutionalized terror in the form of human trafficking.

The lack of a means to trace children as they were placed in camps, foster homes, gods know where else is a clear indication of intention: this administration meant for these children to be lost to their parents. This administration did not want to be held accountable by any tracking.

As I’ve said before, it’s criminal. Media shouldn’t expend one lick more time on scum like Alan Dershowitz (like The New York Times’ allocation of six journalists to his obstructionist ass) and instead should be hounding the government to find and unite these children with their parents, documenting application of immigration and asylum laws, and reporting on the creation of concentration camps (that’s exactly what they are).

Call your representatives in both houses of Congress and demand a legislative fix — Rep. Nadler’s Keep Families Together Act (HR 6135) and Sen. Schumer’s call for a Reunification Czar — to bar the executive branch from separating families. I also want to bar the use of military resources for this purpose.

See Celeste Pewter at this link if you need more overview and a script for calling.

Some of the children are being reunited under court order — like this one-year-old who appeared before a judge, alone — but if the government never had a plan in place to track children separated from families, how do we know all the children will be reunited?

~ 0 ~

Every Monday seems considerably worse, but I’m not going to face them on my knees. Instead I will be contacting Congress. What about you?

Angry Mom: Hey Attention Deficit Media, Catch a Clue!

I don’t even have a real post for this. I am so goddamned angry right now. Apparently the news media needs a recap on priorities.

There are thousands of children kidnapped by this administration, being trafficked under the guise of immigration control and border protection, shoved into all manner of care situations.

They don’t have anything to give them comfort; they are being permanently damaged at the cellular level by the stress they’ve been placed under by a heartless, thoughtless, incompetent bureaucracy.

There is no assurance so far that they are being tracked in any way.

There is no assurance they are not being abused.

Their parents are worried sick and equally damaged by these kidnappings, with no assurance they will ever be reunited with their children.

All for a misdemeanor offense of crossing a border in order to file for asylum.

The administration is making zero effort to address the root problems causing these refugees when they could be talking bilaterally with Mexico and Central American countries — they are simply not acting in good faith in any way.

The White House wants to rob Peter to pay Paul, expecting Defense Department to domestic policing.

We’re looking at executive-sanctioned kidnapping. Child abuse. Genocide by separation. Violation of Posse Comitatus Act. Possible human trafficking to unknown entities outside of government custody.

And the goddamned news media is chasing Trump’s human shield — the illegal immigrant who became legal by sleeping with a rich white dude — because of her idiotic attire. Be fucking best, indeed.

PAY ATTENTION, DAMN IT.

Where are the girls, the babies, all of the children? Where are the sick ones? And where are the dead ones?

Democratic elected officials have been trying to get answers, but they are denied access. A bipartisan group of mayors was refused access today in Texas. There’s too little coverage of this systematic denial preventing us from knowing what’s been done in our name with our tax dollars.

Do your damned jobs, media, and catch a clue. Quit chasing a deliberate distraction. There is nothing going on in or around that cheap women’s jacket which will solve the massive human-caused humanitarian disaster under way.

____

Use this as an open thread. Emphasis on media failures under the Trump administration, please.

Angry Mom: Hiding the Trumpian Genocide’s Records

When I think can’t get any angrier at this miserable excuse for governance, the Trump administration proves there isn’t a limit to how low they will go.

Sleazy, unlawful executive action without adequate oversight followed by a fog of obfuscation and prevarication is bad enough. The administration will now double down now to hide what it’s done and hope like hell nobody notices.

It doesn’t help that members of Congress, journalists, and the public still haven’t grasped the true nature of the crimes before them.

The Trump administration hasn’t merely ignored or broken existing U.S. laws on handling of asylum seekers. See 8 U.S. Code § 1158:

(a) Authority to apply for asylum
(1) In general
Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title.

(2) Exceptions
(A) Safe third country
Paragraph (1) shall not apply to an alien if the Attorney General determines that the alien may be removed, pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement, to a country (other than the country of the alien’s nationality or, in the case of an alien having no nationality, the country of the alien’s last habitual residence) in which the alien’s life or freedom would not be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and where the alien would have access to a full and fair procedure for determining a claim to asylum or equivalent temporary protection, unless the Attorney General finds that it is in the public interest for the alien to receive asylum in the United States.

(B) Time limit
Subject to subparagraph (D), paragraph (1) shall not apply to an alien unless the alien demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the application has been filed within 1 year after the date of the alien’s arrival in the United States.

There’s more but the key part in boldface above. The “zero tolerance” approach to border protection violated this code. Asylum seekers do not have to apply from outside the country; they can apply once inside the country. I’m not a lawyer but I don’t see anything here that indicates asylum seekers are suddenly not eligible to apply for asylum because they crossed the border.

And nothing in the entirety of 8 U.S. Code § 1158 indicates the government may take custody of asylum seekers’ minor children with or without force.

Note also where the asylum seekers may apply — they are NOT limited to designated ports.

DHS Secretary Nielsen’s claim that border crossers had not applied through ports of entry is a lie because it wasn’t required of them.

What happens to the children appears to fit the description of kidnapping (18 U.S. Code § 1201), including section (a)(3), an “act against the person is done within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States as defined in section 46501 of title 49” for those children who are flown by aircraft to other destinations in the U.S. out of their parents’ physical custody. It’s no wonder carriers like United Airlines and American Airlines wrote and published letters yesterday telling DHS to stop using their services for moving the children across the country.

The conditions in which many of the children have been placed also appear to be abusive; based on the children seen so far there are reports of not enough food, sedation, restraints, disruption to sleep habits, etc.

But that’s not the end of it. The entire separation of children from their families appears to be genocide under The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which the U.S. has signed (1948) and ratified (1988):

Article 2
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed
with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious
group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

We have not yet seen evidence of child deaths, but section (b) is likely and (e) of Article 2 is definite — the children are now in custody of the United States government and disbursed to others’ care.

Wednesday’s executive order does nothing to remedy the situation. It doesn’t even stop the separation of children from families due to its murky wording. It exacerbates the problem by foisting some of the responsibility on the military, placing the Defense Department at odds with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S. Code § 1385) as the EO expects the military to perform a domestic function — DHS’ border patrol and immigration services — which is not in response to a natural disaster.

(Oh, this is definitely a disaster, but it is human made.)

Ordering the military to provide assistance also draws defense resources away from where they may be needed, potentially creating security risks.

And yet this is not enough insult. DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) last year if it could change its record retention practices, according to The Memory Hole:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has asked for permission to destroy all its documents about the deaths of detained immigrants in custody 20 years after a case is “closed.” (Deaths in ICE custody are almost always investigated by ICE itself. A minority are investigated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General. [report])

Similarly, ICE wants to destroy all its documents about sexual assaults of detained immigrants in custody. The time frame is 20 years after a case is “closed.” (Again, ICE almost always investigates itself in these cases. The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General investigates around 1% of complaints/reports. [article]) NARA argues that this information is “sensitive,” implying that documents containing the identities of victims and the accused should not be kept indefinitely. ICE itself did not offer this (or any) justification.

Thankfully The Memory Hole followed up and asked for status on ICE’s request, to which NARA replied:

No final action has been taken on this schedule. NARA appraisal staff have reviewed the comments received, and held several meetings with ICE records management and program staff regarding the records being scheduled.

Proposed changes to the schedule are being reviewed internally by NARA stakeholders for internal concurrence, after which NARA will inform ICE of the required changes. NARA will then publish a follow-up Federal Register notice responding to the public comments we received. This notice will be open for public comment for 15 days from the date of publication.

But it is not yet impossible that records related to the current human-made disaster affecting thousands of children may be destroyed prematurely, depriving them of justice.

There’s simply no way that ICE should be allowed to change its records retention given the scale of the separated families disaster. And yet I have a horrible, angry feeling the Trump administration will do whatever it can to hide its role in this genocidal activity along the U.S. southwest border.

EDIT — 5:45 P.M. EDT —

I meant to add one more thing to this post. It’s imperative I add this now that the White House has tried to change the subject by using FLOTUS as a human shield with a target literally painted on her back. Do not be derailed by their bullshit. Keep asking:

Where are the girls?

Where are the babies?

Where are ALL the bodies???

Angry Mom: I See Dead Children

I see dead children.

There is no way to reconcile what the Trump administration has done — seizing children from their parents, some so young they are still breastfeeding — and the facilities they’ve established to house them without coming to the conclusion there are dead children.

@Asher_Wolf explains the situation in this Twitter thread, beginning with this tweet:

Only people who’ve never had or cared for infants and children would not know this already. If you are a parent you know this; you’ve already had to keep a child cool, calm, hydrated which can be challenging while traveling even under the best conditions.

The circumstances which drove these refugees to the border for asylum placed these children under enormous stress, unrelieved by travel across Central America and Mexico, worsened by heat across the southwest. Add the stress of interception and detention by Border Patrol on top of separation from parents — these children and babies are extremely vulnerable.

Stuff them in cages inside buildings not built to specifications for human occupation, or warehouse them in goddamned tents in unrelenting summer heat, with who knows how many qualified personnel to care for them.

There are reports some children have not received adequate food. Have they received enough water and other fluids? If they can’t feed themselves, have personnel offered the infants and toddlers enough bottles?

Looking at the best infant and child mortality rates in other countries, there would be several deaths. This is the U.S., though, which is the worst among the top 20 wealthiest countries. Looking at the recent history of refugees fleeing Syria and other parts of the middle east for EU states, there are likely more deaths than normal. We must face this truth and begin to account for all the children, alive or dead.

But so far no facilities with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers have been opened to members of Congress or journalists. Only boys have been seen on camera. Where are the girls? Where are the children under five years of age?

Journalists have asked where they are.

REPORTER: A couple of questions. One, why is the government only releasing images of the boys being held? Where are the girls? Where are the young toddlers?

NIELSEN: I don’t know. I’m not familiar with those particular images so I would have —

REPORTER: Do you know where they are? Do you know where the girls are? Do you know where the young toddlers are?

NIELSEN: We have children in D.H.S. care both, but as you know, most of the children after 72 hours are transferred to H.H.S. So I don’t know what pictures you’re referencing but I would have to refer you to H.H.S.

REPORTER: We’ve seen images of boys but we just haven’t seen any of the girls, any of the young toddlers and you’re saying they are being well cared for. So how could you make that claim if you don’t know where they are?

NIELSEN: It is not that I don’t know where they are. I’m saying that the vast majority of children are held by Health and Human Services. We transfer them after 72 hours.

 I don’t know what pictures you’re speaking about. But perhaps they’re —

REPORTER: Pictures have been released to the public, they’ve been aired all over national television.

NIELSEN: O.K., by D.H.S. or H.H.S.?

REPORTER: By [inaudible] .H.S.

NIELSEN: So let’s find out from H.H.S. I don’t think there is anything other than [cross talk] the pictures —

REPORTER: [cross talk] released by your department. I mean, they’ve have been aired all over national television throughout the day, the kids being held in the cages. We’ve only seen the boys.

NIELSEN: I will, I will look into that. I’m not aware that there’s another picture. Yes.

That DHS Secretary Nielsen can’t offer a coherent answer when asked is ridiculous and absolutely unacceptable.

That the entire administration cannot offer a consistent response to any questions is doubly so.

None of this assures me they aren’t hiding something behind all this prevarication. At this point the lack of a unified response to questions is deliberate; they’ve had ample time to get their shit together. The inconsistency itself might be a means to create a smoke screen, forcing journalists, Congress, and the public to track and compare their answers rather than storm the facilities and get the truth.

Right now, on the face of it, this administration is hiding children’s bodies, alive and possibly dead.

I don’t care about Trump’s bullshit kabuki gesture that he’ll sign something about the families separation policy. I don’t care who they point to within the administration to blame for this willful humanitarian disaster, this ethnic cleansing, this genocide waiting full disclosure, though the buck ultimately stops at the desk in the Oval Office. Until they show us otherwise and account for every single tiny human being which they have taken and for whom they are acting in parents’ or guardians’ stead, I see dead children.

image_print