Judge Emmet Sullivan Makes A Serious Holiday Move on DOJ and Flynn

I have expressed some qualms over Judge Sullivan naming John Gleeson as the court’s amicus on the crazy Flynn situation. But today there is a new player on the pitch, Beth Wilkinson.

Judge Sullivan has engaged a hired gun.

Folks need to understand the Yoda like move Emmet Sullivan made in hiring Beth Wilkinson.

First off, she is an absolutely fantastic advocate and tough as hell.

Second, she has serious DOJ cred.

Third, she still has major friends at Paul Weiss, and that counts below the surface.

Fourth, Brett Kavanaugh may well owe his Supreme Court seat to her.

Fifth, her husband is David Gregory, the former NBC guy and now senior political guy at CNN. That is some media contact potential whether direct or indirect.

Also, again, she is really kick ass. Beth Wilkinson is a serious player, and a killer advocate. Judge Emmet Sullivan is not going quietly into the night. I actually thought that, given the short response time the DC Circuit ordered, Sullivan and his clerks might do the response themselves. Obviously they will still have major input, but this battle is joined, and in a very big way.

Trump Pride and DOJ Prejudice: The Flynn Volume

As Marcy has already reported, the DOJ has formally moved to dismiss the Flynn case. Here is the pleading they filed. (Marcy also addressed here) Trump is, of course, calling the DOJ who just did his command influence bidding “scum” and accusing them of “treason”.

Let’s start with a little Q and A:

Q: Can DOJ do that?

A: Sure, but it is bizarre beyond belief.

Q: Does this mean the case is over?

A: No. As I have repeatedly said, the plea has been accepted, after full allocution, not just once (Judge Contreras), but twice (Judge Sullivan) and, arguably thrice (also Judge Sullivan). There is a technical difference between a plea being entered and a plea being accepted. The Flynn plea was very much accepted. Multiple times.

Q: So, what does that mean?

A: It means that there was a formal finding of guilt entered by the court.

Q: So is that finding of guilt gone now?

A: No. The DOJ can file whatever it wants, the final decision still remains with Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Q: Does that mean “Flynn is an innocent man” as Trump is bellowing?

A: No. Flynn has sworn to his guilt under oath and penalty of perjury multiple times, and the court accepted his sworn guilt.

Q: So, what happens now?

A: Yeah, I don’t know the answer to that. We shall have to await Judge Sullivan entering in with his thoughts. I have no idea where Judge Sullivan will go. For the sake of the rule of law, and, frankly, legal sanity, I hope Judge Sullivan takes this as the full on broadside to law and intelligence that it really is. As I importune relentlessly, courts and law are a function of men and women. They are us. They speak and act for us. Judge Emmet Sullivan is not a man that will take this affront to justice lightly. Nor should he. It is absurd, the court should treat it that way, and, if anything, sanctions ought be imposed on Powell and Flynn.

Okay, where does that leave things? Now that is not a very easy question to answer. Here are a few thoughts though. The first one is “prejudice”. It is absolutely critical whether a dismissal request by the DOJ (or any prosecutor for that matter) is “with prejudice” or “without prejudice”. Here, Tim Shea, and it is crystal clear that means Bill Barr, demands that any dismissal be “with prejudice”. That means that no case based on these facts could ever be brought again. It is a pardon by a corrupt DOJ, without Trump ever having to even issue a pardon. Anybody, including the national press, that describes it differently is straight up lying.

The statute of limitations on a 18 USC §1001 charge for false statements is (as pretty much any charge possible against Flynn save for an ongoing conspiracy allegation) is five years, which is the general statute in federal criminal law. But, you see, that exceeds the time of Trump and Barr if Trump is not reelected. And therein lies the problem and why Mr. Barr and his lackeys Shea and Jensen, are apoplectic to make any dismissal “with prejudice”. Does this ever occur in real criminal justice life? No. Hell no. Of course not, in fact it is always “without prejudice”. Always, unless the government is caught by incontrovertible facts beyond dispute, and even then they usually demur to “without prejudice” dismissal.

But, wait, there’s more, I have other questions! Let’s talk about “materiality” for a moment. It is replete in the position taken by Bill Barr, through his cutout, Tim Shea. To be kind to Mr. Shea, he is an eggplant installed by Trump and Barr. And, here, the eggplant has signed this pleading on his own. Normally any such pleading would be signed by underlings, including career prosecutors. But not here. Why? That is not clear, but apparently no career track lawyer in DOJ would undersign this garbage. So there is that.

Back to “materiality”: Peruse pages 12-20 of the DOJ motion. Good grief, law review articles will spend hundreds of pages in the future laughing at the arguments Tim Shea has signed off on. Because, presumably nobody but a Trump/Barr appointed toady would even touch that. Yes, it is truly that absurd.

Okay, a parting shot: Normally, when a client puts an attorney’s work in dispute through claims of malpractice, all attorney/client privilege is waived. That is generally how it works. And if Flynn and his Fox News addled lawyer Sid Powell have not accused Rob Kelner and Covington & Burling of malpractice, then there has never been such an accusation. Privilege is waived.

While I thought Judge Sullivan should have disregarded the nonsense, denied all the the Powell crazy (arguably unethical conduct) and just sentenced Flynn. Marcy was right, and I underestimated just how sick the DOJ could be under Barr.

Well, here we are. Flynn and Powell have waived privilege. The DOJ under Barr and, here, Shea, is corrupt beyond comprehension.

But the irreducible minimum is that Judge Emmet Sullivan is the one with jurisdiction and control of this case. Not Trump. Not Barr. An honest and good judge, and one that has proven that over decades. Sidney Powell was right about one, and only one, thing: The Stevens case is a template for the court to find the truth.

Emmet Sullivan is a judge that can appoint an honest and independent special prosecutor to make sure real justice is done. Trump and Barr cannot fire the truth if Judge Sullivan seeks the truth and justice. And he should, for all of us. Judge Sullivan is a lion of justice that has done this before, and he should again.

Judge Sullivan Was Prepared For Potential Flynn Perjury and Fraud On The Court

Okay, that was quite a morning at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in DC in regard to the Flynn plea and sentencing. In the windup this morning, well before the proceeding began, I cautioned that Flynn and his attorney Rob Kelner would have to back off the right wing Fox News Trumpian nonsense they stupidly included in their sentencing memo. See this report from Marcy on the sentencing memo, and this one as to how the FBI 302’s the Flynn team stupidly demanded be made public ate them alive. And, they really did.

There is already simply a ton of discussion on the Flynn proceeding today, I will leave that to others. But there was one little nugget I say from, I think, Glenn Kirshner, as almost a throwaway comment, on MSNBC that Judge Sullivan insisted Mike Flynn be sworn in before proceeding today. I was not really ready to write about this until confirming it from others in the courtroom this morning. I have now received that corroboration from multiple sources. In fact, Judge Sullivan directly said he was doing so because “he was doing basically an extension of the plea colloquy”. Wow!!

This is fairly notable. Defendants can get sworn in for their plea allocution, but not their sentencing. Judge Emmet Sullivan was laying in the weeds for Flynn from moment one. To be specific, here is what I said in a tweet well before the sentencing began regarding Flynn and Kelner having included the right wing nonsense about Flynn being innocent and tricked by the FBI in their sentencing memo:

“Keep in mind that this argument, if pursued to success, then makes his plea allocution effectively a fraud on the court.”

Well, apparently Judge Sullivan was on to the problem that such a direct repudiation by Flynn of his underlying guilt, and the previously sworn voluntariness of his plea, would pose if he was stupid enough to continue down that path. Sullivan was ready, because continuing down that path would have directly undermined everything Flynn swore to in his plea allocution on December 1, 2017.

What Judge Sullivan effectively did was set the first real “perjury trap” to date in the greater Mueller investigation (despite the idiocy purveyed relentlessly on Fox News and by Rudy Giuliani). And it was a federal court and judge that did it, not Mueller or his deputies. Emmet Sullivan was loaded for bear today on multiple fronts, but this is one the media does not seem to have caught on to yet.

Flynn and his attorneys were ready for it after the searing followup sentencing memo filed by the government, but clearly were not ready for just how seething Judge Sullivan really was. Frankly, I think the canard, as suggested by Sullivan himself, that “further cooperation” by Flynn really will change the dynamics for sentencing at this point is absurd. That said, assuming they can keep their client from doing further stupid things in the interim, giving Emmet Sullivan 90 days to calm down is not a bad idea for the defense I guess. What a mess. I remain convinced, however, that Flynn could have walked out of court sentenced to probation today if he had not included that right wing Fox News nonsense in his sentencing memo. Oh well!

Devin Nunes Confirms Classified Information that “Henry Greenberg” Wasn’t Working for the FBI, and Other Tales of the Half-Wit Running our Intelligence Oversight

As I’ve been chronicling, Devin Nunes continues his effort to invent some reason to fire Rod Rosenstein. As part of his last extortion attempt, Nunes demanded information he thought would reveal that “Henry Greenberg,” a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, was secretly working for the FBI.

How did you use our nation’s counterintelligence capabilities. These are capabilities used to track terrorists and other bad guys around the globe. How did you weaponize that against a political campaign, against the Trump campaign, where ultimately it ended up in Carter Page having a FISA warrant put against him which allowed the government to go in and grab all of his emails and phone calls. So that’s primarily what we’ve been investigating for many many months. I will tell you that Chairman Gowdy was very very clear with the Department of Justice and FBI and said that if there was any vectoring of any informants or spies or whatever you want to call them into the Trump campaign before the investigation began, we better know about it by Sunday, meaning today. He was very very clear about that. And as you probably know there’s breaking news this morning that now you have a couple Trump campaign people who are saying that they were, that they’ve amended their testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, they sent in both Friday night and this morning, amendments to their testimony saying that in fact they feel like somebody, they’re not claiming that it was the FBI, but someone ran informants or spies into them to try to get information and offer up Russian dirt to the Trump campaign. Now this would have been in May of 2016. Which is obviously months before this counterintelligence investigation was opened by the FBI into the Trump campaign.


If I were them I would pick up the phone and let us know what this is about, this story that broke in the Washington Post, this morning, just hours ago. They probably ought to tell us whether or not they were involved in that or else they have a major major problem on their hands.

Last Friday, DOJ and FBI had provided most of the documents requested, pending a few technical issues and a review by Dan Coats of some intelligence equities. Included among those was a classified letter telling Nunes whether FBI used informants against the Trump campaign.

On June 22, 2018, the FBI submitted a classified letter to the Committee responding to the Chairman’s question regarding whether, in connection with the investigation into Russian activities surrounding the 2016 Presidential election, the FBI utilized confidential human sources prior to the issuance of the Electronic Communication (EC) initiating that investigation.

That answer clearly didn’t feed Nunes’ Witch Hunt conspiracies, so he’s reformulating his request, apparently certain that if he keeps trying he’ll discover the vast (yet totally ineffective) Deep State plot to undermine the Trump campaign. He’s asking for contacts not just between informants, but also undercover agents or confidential human sources who interacted with any of 14 Trump campaign associates.

The new request seeks information not only on “FBI informants,” but also on “undercover agents, and/or confidential human sources” who interacted with former Trump associates before July 31, 2016 — the start of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The list of Trump associates Nunes indicated he’s interested in includes: Michael Caputo, Sam Clovis, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Corey Lewandowski, Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, Sam Nunberg, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Walid Phares, Joseph Schmitz, Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr.

It’s a really awesome request. Aside from confirming the content of that classified letter (among other things, that “Henry Greenberg” wasn’t our intelligence asset when Roger Stone entertained offers of Hillary dirt), Nunes has given us a list of campaign associates who should be criminally investigated:

  • Michael Caputo
  • Sam Clovis
  • Michael Cohen
  • Michael Flynn
  • Corey Lewandowski
  • Stephen Miller
  • Peter Navarro
  • Sam Nunberg
  • George Papadopoulos
  • Carter Page
  • Walid Phares
  • Joseph Schmitz
  • Roger Stone
  • Donald Trump Jr.

Notably, a number of these people — Caputo, Cohen, Lewandowski, Miller, Stone, and Navarro — aren’t on the list of document requests Mueller had submitted to the White House by January. Perhaps for the first three plus Stone, that’s because they never worked in the White House (and in the case of Caputo and Stone, pretended not to work for the campaign so as to give the campaign plausible deniability from the rat-fucking).

Nevertheless, their inclusion here seems to confirm that Nunes believes they are targets or at least subjects of Mueller’s investigation. Of those not on Mueller’s January list, we know that Stone and Cohen are in deep shit, so maybe the others are too!

Thanks Devin! Let’s hope leaking that classified information doesn’t get you in trouble with your colleagues, though.

A pity for the guy running our intelligence oversight that he can’t figure out that a number of these targets came from Rick Gates flipping, and not informants planted way back in May 2016.

Michael Flynn’s “Revolution”

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn spoke in front of the Young Americans for Freedom a week after the 2016 election. His language is worth noting.

I’d seen this speech shortly after the inauguration and found it disturbing at the time, given its references to insurgency and revolution and borderline incitement. Now that we know more about foreign and domestic influences conspiring to defraud the U.S., Flynn’s speech is even more disquieting.

Following is a transcript of the speech embedded here; you may want to watch the speech in case it gets taken down. I’m skipping the rah-rah fluffy intro speech. It’s not really necessary; it includes highly predictable insults to the previous administration.

(An aside: the way he hangs onto and hugs the introductory speaker is icky. She looks distinctly uncomfortable at one point.)

[Begin 3:41] Well, um, somebody mentioned Dinesh D’Souza, I was with Dinesh D’Souza last night, and uh, and the other, for the young audience here, for the young ones here, and I mentioned it to a couple guys also with Milo Miopolous (sic). So, see a lot people in here won’t know who he is. I tag him on Twitter, you know, because he’s a phenomenal individual, and for, I’m mentioning him tonight, because he spoke alongside me last night to another group of folks and you know he’s definitely, he’s one of the most different, most brave people I have ever met. We have different views on different things, but he is deeply, deeply conservative in his views about this country. [4:36]

And uh, so he is going around this country at the undergraduate in our colleges and universities and he is fighting for you, for all of the people in here. We had two individuals last night, one from Bucknell and one from UC-Irvine who was with us, they were the presidents of the Republic associations of their schools, talking about their, what they were being assaulted for, they were being condemned for, [4:42] you know, and then all of a sudden of course we had the big victory on Tuesday and everybody broke out the red hats and was walking around campus.

But um, so you know what you are doing, what you’re doing is amazing, not only in this foundation, but also what you young people are demonstrating. I’m going to talk bit about that because this, this is about having courage, this is about having courage. When you think, when you think about what Donald Trump, you know, right here, right? (patting name on podium) I mean that, that, unbelievable, and I’m not sure, if this is probably the first time somebody actually used this room, maybe, huh? Maybe it probably is for an event like this. When you think about what DonaldTrump, what president-elect Trump and his family endured over the last eighteen months plus, and you can just count down the number of organizations and people on both sides of the uh, on both sides of sort of the electorate, right, on the establishment side. This was not an election, this was a revolution. [6:17] This was a revolution. And I have, uh, been doing this a bit for him.

One of the things that occurred in this revolution is, and I was just talking with Attorney General Meese about this [6:32], this was a digital election. Because the media, the normal media, ninety-nine percent of the media, was not on Donald Trump’s side, not on president-elect Trump’s side. And you saw the bombardment, the constant barrage and attacks every single day. I was with him one time, and we’re flying somewhere, and uh, you know we’re flipping through the channels on his plane, and like every single, every single channel we went to, it was him, it was a negative, a negative thing about him, but he’s like, “God, you can’t get better press than this,” you know? It was unbelievable. I mean, why not? So he’s like, he says, “Why the hell should I spend a dime on ads?” Right? I mean, and what happened was, he knew. Think about this, he’s essentially a real estate developer, he was a real estate developer, and in real estate, in real estate you find underappreciated real estate, you buy it, you develop it, and you sell it at a higher price, make some money, right? You find underappreciated real estate, and he did that, very well, for his whole life, pretty much, many of the things he was involved in. [8:00]

What he put his finger on, what he put his finger on was tens of millions of people in this country who felt deeply underappreciated by our government, by Washington DC. And he did it in a way that nobody saw, he did it in a way that everybody said, ah, this is a flash in a pan. This guy’s a joke, okay? When you think about it, about what he achieved, this is, and actually I was just, uh, in fact I was just going through social media ’cause social media is the only thing reporting it, and uh, I was just telling the folks at my table that he, uh, so he won the electoral college, obviously. The final count right now was that he got 306 to 232. But they are reporting, but the media’s not reporting this, this is being reported in social media. I’m going to spend a little time talking about social media, because there’s so much power in social media for your generation, for your generation. So it’s being reported now, and it’s flying around in social media, that he also won the popular vote in a big way, [9:16] probably somewhere close to, we’re looking at maybe seventy, maybe, to ninety thousand overall, but it could even be, it could even go higher because the mainstream media does not want to, they did not want to report Michigan. ‘Cause they felt so bad having to report Arizona. Now, you know, I can stand up here and say it doesn’t matter ’cause all he needed was 270, know? But it does matter, it does matter. [9:41]

Because there are millions and millions of people, and I’m going to tell you we have two big problems in this country, two huge problems, one is Hollywood, and one is right down the street here, okay? We have two big problems, and you, you, young Americans, you’re the ones who are going to have to figure out, because we, we must, you have to, you have to fight for this country, you have to fight for this country. You can’t sit back. You have a responsibility. You can’t sit back. You’re part of something special. You’re here, because you’ve made a decision about something in your life, okay? You’ve made a decision about something in your life, and it’s really super important, super important. We cannot lose sight, we cannot lose sight of what our country was built upon, and we should not fear, we should not fear what our country is built upon. Our country was built upon the Judeo-Christian principles and values that make up our Constitution. [10:48] And our country is about individual liberties, it’s not about liberties for the government, it’s about liberties for the individual, individual rights. Just look at our Bill of Rights, it’s all about individual rights. Right to bear arms, peacably assemble, practice whatever religion you want honestly. So it’s individual rights, you have the right to go out here on the steps of Trump Tower and yell bad things about the next president. Or the current president, as long as you don’t, you know, do it in a damaging or a hurtful way physically. We allow that, right? It’s crazy, but we do it. It’s individual rights. That means you have the right to decide what you want to do, you have the right to decide what you want to do. [11:38]

So I will tell you that, uh, in the world of sort of digital media, ’cause I think this is super important to you all, ’cause it’s going to change again, going to change. I’ll give you one example. We were, on a Sunday afternoon just about a month ago, on a Sunday afternoon, we’re in our third stop, and we’re sitting there, and we, we’re going to Colorado the next stop, but we were go into Pueblo, Colorado. We ended up going into a place called Grand Junction, ’cause we had not been out into the western side of Colorado in all the stops. I don’t know how many people are here from Colorado, but, uh, but so we’re saying, okay, let’s, we’ve gotta’ go out and sort of touch the people out in the west, ’cause it’s very sparse in terms of populated area. And so, Sunday afternoon, we’re trying to figure out, well, we made some calls, how many people will show up, what’s the town we want to go into. We into a place called Grand Junction, it has about, like I think the population is about five thousand. So they said, well maybe we’re going to get in there about three o’clock in the afternoon, probably you’ll talk at about four, so maybe people will out of work, will come out of work, maybe there will be a few kids who’ll come out of school. [12:49] So, we said, how do we want to, you know, so let’s make some calls, let’s see what we want to do. So we gotta’ literally about thirty minutes later, yeah, we think we’re going to get about two thousand. So Trump said, let’s make, let’s go, it’s worth it, he hadn’t been out there, we have the time, and we’re traveling, we’re moving. So then we said this, why don’t you tweet out, tweet out, that you’re going to be in Grand Junction, Colorado tomorrow, that you’re going to arrive at three o’clock in the afternoon, okay? And that was about four-thirty the Sunday before the Monday that we showed up. Eleven thousand people showed up. [13:31] Eleven thousand, yeah. I mean, eleven thousand people showed up to a place, I mean, it’s a beautiful little place in the middle of nowhere. I give you that example because we have many of those. We have many of those. And we have an army, ‘kay, as a soldier and as a general, as a retired general, we have an army of digital soldiers. What we are now, what we call, what I call them, ’cause this was an insurgency, folks, this was run like an insurgency. This was irregular warfare at its finest, in politics. [14:11]

And that, that story will continue to be told here, but we have what we call citizen journalists, ‘kay, because the journalists that we have in our media did a disservice, to themselves actually more than they did to this country. They did a disservice to themselves because they displayed an arrogance that is unprecedented. And so the American people decided to take over the idea of information. They took over the idea of information [14:52] and they did it through social media. How many of you know about Periscope? ‘kay? Raise your hands up, it’s okay to raise your hands up, I’m not going to give you a question, I’m not going to give you a test question, yeah, okay, good.

Periscope. I didn’t know about Periscope until a few months ago, didn’t know about it. I watched one individual who’ll be nameless here, but one individual who has 650 thousand followers just on Twitter, which these days doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s a lot, enough. [15:28] This individual is a huge influencer, so he’s, we title him, he’s an influencer, ‘kay? So he puts out, he puts out a tweet to his 650 thousand followers, and says, “I’m going to be on Periscope doing a live media broadcast in fifteen minutes,” one-five, fifteen minutes. 35 million people viewed that. 35 million. Because everybody said, hey, because the guy’s great, he’s great, when he talks he’s out there, I mean, and he is a, he’s an American patriot, he’s an American patriot.

[16:09] So when we talk about patriotism, how do we fight as patriots today? We fight at the voting booth, we fight in our schools. You know in the military, when you’re a young officer or sargeant, corporal, private, you know we expect, we almost demand, we demand those individuals to be demonstrate physical courage, to be fearless. Demonstrate physical courage. Why? We want them to do it in, on the physical exercise field, we want them to do it in the very physical demanding extremes we put them through on training, because we want them to demonstrate physical courage in the face of all odds on the battlefield. The more senior that you get, and I learned this, but actually I, I am, I completely believe the opposite now for our younger generation. And it’s the most, the more, the older you get in the military we sort of begin to change that physical courage to what I call intellectual courage. And intellectual courage actually takes more bravery at times. Takes more bravery at times. Because to be intellectually courageous, and this is for you, this is really for this foundation, this is for the young people in this room, you are, you are demonstrating a level of intellectual courage that our country desperately needs.

[17:48] So for this election, for this particular election, I’m going to be professional, I’m going to be humble, because I think that’s a characteristic of the American, of just the American, of the American patriot. It’s humility in the face of odds, right? A good winner, not a sore loser, but we don’t have to be polite. In fact we have to stop being polite for our principles. We have to stop being polite for our values. We have to stop being polite for what we stand for. We have to stop apologizing for who we are and what we believe. We cannot have that anymore. And that’s you, so I’m looking and I’m trying to pierce through the lights that are in my eyes (sic) and looking at the young people.

[18:44] I’ll tell you two things I learned from my parents. Both of them are deceased now, my father was a World War II and Korea veteran, my mom, a wonderful, wonderful lady, she just died a year ago, a little over a year ago now, one of nine kids from a very small town up in Rhode Island, the state of Rhode Island. And they taught us all two things. The thing that my father taught me, was to treat, the Golden Rule, the Golden Rule is what you, is what existed in our home. Treat others like you want to be treated. That’s the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. And you’ll, and if you do that and if you go through life it’s the old adage by the time you’re ten years old you’ve learned to say Yes, ma’am, No, ma’am, Yes, sir, No, sir, thank you, please, all those little things. If you just use those words routinely, you’ll be highly successful in life with a few other, a few other traits that are brought out as you get older. [19:45] But treat others like you’d like to be treated. That’s what he taught us.

[19:50] The thing that my mother taught us was, my mother was an educator. She was a, she was, she got her law degree at the age of 69 years old. I mean uh, phenomenal, that’s after having nine children and moving around and all the kinds of things that you do. Because she was passionate, she was passionate about learning, and the idea, the notion to be a lifelong learner. Never stop learning. Never stop learning. Go to every single thing, look, you know, read, travel, pay close attention to what you’re doing. And I, I joke about this sometimes, and I say because of my own sort of upbringing and my own, uh the fight, and there’s mom in the middle of those nine, fighting for a position, fighting for a position I’m the ultimate [garbled] act of compromise, compromise a guy out of a pair of socks.

[20:52] So what I’m saying to you is that you have to think about what is it you plan on doing in your life, and you’ll find that there’s a path out there that will have many, many exits. And you have to decide do you stay on that course, and what is that course, is that course something that is, that is inherently part of your being. Is it you and your principles, you and your values, what your belief systems are, ’cause they will change. And there will also be other life changes, also be many other life changes.

[21:29] So a couple of things, because I think this is important on veterans, on veterans, on veterans I’m going to talk because this is Veteran’s Day weekend. And I’m not going to go without reminding people that if you watched the news today we had four killed in action in Afghanistan. Today. Fourteen wounded, numbers may go up a little bit in um, Bagram, Afghanistan. You know, and my wife, my wife got a text from a very good friend of mine when I was a brigade commander he was a battalion commander of mine, Mark Costello, and his wife Barbara. My wife texts, or my wife texts me with a message from his wife and says, “Hey, our son is serving in Bagram, is there anything that you guys can find out?” and I mean, you don’t know, so we went back, gave her some guidance on you know they called up the, the rear detachment, all this, because they’re very close, my wife and this gal Barbara are very close. Because it happened and it was big and it was a large gathering, her son is the commanding general’s aide for the unit that’s at Bagram. So there was an event and in this case it was a running race that they I guess we do there fairly routinely.

[22:46] Well, her son was wounded this morning. Thank God he wasn’t killed, but he was wounded, he was wounded pretty severely and he’ll re– he’ll probably recover, but he was wounded pretty severely. So, we must remind ourselves we’re over, we, the United States military, are in over a hundred countries. Right now we are engaged in direct combat in seven. Seven countries. So, on this Veteran’s Day weekend as we reflect about what just happened in this country, what just happened, we just went through a revolution. This is probably the biggest election in our nation’s history since bringing on George Washington when he decided not to be a king. That’s how important this is. You can compare this to Reagan, you can compare this to FDR, you can compare this to Teddy Roosevelt, you can compare this to Abraham Lincoln. But I’m telling you there’s no comparison. And the reason why I say that is the reason why I’m standing here, the reason why I decided to do what I, I’m doing because there is a sense, there is a sense in this country that we were going in a direction that was irreversible. It was irreversible to the point of, you know, it’s cool, and you all know this, all of you that mess around with this different college organizations so bravely. You know it’s cool to be called progressive, right, it’s a cool word. I’m a progressive. Who doesn’t want to be progressive? Right? I mean, it’s a cool thing to be, right? Progressive is socialism. Progressive equals socialism. The riots and the protests that we have out on our streets tonight, last couple of nights, that’s not Donald Trump’s fault. I mean, everybody’s blaming Donald Trump. It’s not Donald Trump’s fault. That’s the corruption in our government. That’s the sickness in our system. [24:50] That’s the lack of jobs and safety and security in our inner cities. Those are the kinds of things that people are protesting about. Now there’s some, you know, some paid anarchists in there, I can tell you that, I can guarantee it, you know in fact I know it for certain, and they’ll be dealt with through our law enforcement system. You know, we’ve had an assault on our law enforcement system. We can’t have an assault on our law enforcement.

[25:27] The most, the biggest strategic advantage that our country has, more than any other country on the planet, is something called the rule of law. I’ve been on six continents and I’ve been in some of the worst places that a human can go to, and seen some unbelievable things. The rule of law can never, can never break down in this country. It must never break down in this country to a point where people begin to wonder is it, you know, what’s going on here? and getting concerned. And when you don’t have leadership, when you don’t have leadership that stands up and says, “Hey, this is wrong! Stop it!” And here’s what we need to do. We have, and we experienced an incredible deficit of leadership. In my, in my first meeting with Donald Trump, because I’ll tell you, my, for me personally, the last time I was involved in politics was when I was in high school. Heh, you know, I mean, you’re, it’s like somebody said, “Hey, do you want to run for student class, you know, president?” because nobody else wants to and the election’s today. You know, okay, and you’ve got to go handle like the Coca Cola machine money or something, you know? Seriously. And I find myself here today, because we, we have a country, I know, I know what this country’s about. I know the threats that we face. I know the threats that we face. You knoW, and there’s people that think, “Aw, there’s nobody out there that wants to see our way of life go away.” Well, there’s plenty of people. There’s entire nation-states that do not appreciate the American way of life. And that’s why we have to fight for it, we have to fight for it. we find ourselves fighting for it more right here at home, sometimes, and especially in the last, in this political cycle, this political madness that we’re going through. But I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it now for probably the last two decades of my life. [27:40] And for me personally, I felt something, and that drove me to challenge, I mean in the intelligence business, it’s always truth to power, [garbled] do you always sort of challenge, the, always sort of bucking the system, because you know, nobody likes, nobody wants to see you, because it’s never good news. Nobody wants to see you, but I’m standing here, I, I get a call and asked to come up to New York to see Donald Trump a while ago, this is like the summer of 2015. And we met, wonderful, just a wonderful individual, just an incredibly wonderful person. Loves this country.

[28:28] And I, sitting down with him, I really only had two questions that I wanted to ask, and then we talked about the world situation and a whole bunch of other things. We spent a couple hours that day. And my first question was “Are you serious?” you know, because I’m a serious guy, and I’m not going to waste my time if you’re not serious. And so he convinced me that he was serious. He said, “Yeah, I’m absolutely serious. I’ve been paying very close attention to what’s going on and I just, I can’t, I, for me,” him, speaking about him, “for me this is my last chance if I think I’m going to help this country.”

‘Cause the second question really had to do with that. Second question was, which I think was the most difficult question to answer, and it was never asked in any of the debates. Chris Wallace kind of touched on it at the very end, but this is the most difficult question. The question is, why do you want to be president? Why do you want to be president? And he convinced me in about five minutes how much he loved this country, how much he saw what was happening to it, and how much he felt like he could actually do something about it.

And that to me, I was sold, I’m like, wow, and sort of from that moment on, my direction in life completely changed. And things like that are going to happen, particularly for the young folks in the room here. I’m going stop here in a second because I know we’re going to take a few questions here tonight, ’cause I was asked to maybe answer some questions from young folks here. But you know this and all the older folks here know that, that your life direction will change and could change on a dime sometimes, you know, it will change. And so what I ask you to do is reflect on what just occurred, study it, think about it, talk about it, debate about it, act, act on it.

[30:36] You know, one of the things Abraham Lincoln always used to say was, “Actions speak louder than words.” You know, and I think the Gettysburg Address, amazing, amazing, and I think it was 85 words in two minutes, wasn’t really even recorded at the time other than what they had on his notebook. It wasn’t until a couple years later when people started to go, “Whoa, look at this thing,” you know, where he says, “Let us not forget,” and he discusses and describes the sacrifice, that, this case, talking about the Battle of Gettysburg, where he talks about Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion on behalf of our country. On behalf of the United States of America at that time. Amazing, amazing resilience, amazing toughness. Not anger, determination, determined to protect what it is that we have.

[31:40] And so, I think, I believe this foundation, what you represent, so for the sponsors that are here I thank you so much for, you know, continuing to kind of strengthen this, this, this, you know, great idea. But for the young people that are here, you know, this is, you have to, you have to fight for what you believe in. You have to be prepared to fight for what you believe in. And you have to serve, you have to serve. You decide how you want to serve our country, whether it’s in uniform or whether it’s in some other capacity. Doesn’t matter. Serve this nation. Serve it bravely, serve it boldly, serve it honestly. If you want credibility, others will give you credibility. If you want credibility, maintain your integrity. Protect your integrity. People will give you credibility, you have to give yourself integrity.

[32:44] So on that note, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much and I’ll answer a few questions.

I came away from this speech with a number of questions:

— Isn’t Milo Yiannopoulos‘ nationality British? Why should Americans care at all about his “deeply conservative” views about the U.S.?
— Was Yiannopoulos’ tour of schools during 2016 a campaign tour providing a donation in kind to the Trump campaign which went unreported to the FEC?
— Who were these young Republicans from Buckness and UC-Irvine who were assaulted? Are there videos of these assaults and are there police reports?
— Why is Ed Meese still referred to as Attorney General and treated with such deference though he hasn’t been in government since the Reagan administration?
— Whose “revolution” was this? Was this a veiled reference to Cambridge Analytica’s work? Why did he call the campaign an insurgency? Was there more going on during the campaign which inspired this language, or is this simply an old soldier’s military hyperbole?
— Why did Flynn say social media was reporting Trump won the popular vote? Who or what fed this to Flynn, or fed it to social media? To what social media in particular was Flynn referring?
— Does Flynn have a history of fundamentalist Christianity that he inserts Judeo-Christianity as a foundation of the Constitution rather than deism?
— Did 11,000 people really show up in Grand Junction, or was this one of Team Trump’s frequent distortions, not unlike Flynn’s distortion of Grand Junction’s population, estimated at 61K. Did the Russian IRA team help boost promotion of this event? Was this an example of a “Flynn fact”?
— Is Flynn really advocating abandoning civil behavior among people who are frequently racist because “we have to stop being polite for our values”?
— How was Flynn so certain there were paid anarchists among the post-election protesters?
— Who coached Flynn on the propagandistic elements of his speech, like the points about protesters’ motivations, so-called assaults on law enforcement, the stress on the rule of law?
— How much of Flynn’s animus is pure racism? The reference to “safety and security in our inner cities” is more than a dog whistle. Was Flynn’s reference to a lack of leadership similarly a distaste for Obama as a non-white commander-in-chief, or just disgruntlement post termination?
— Flynn made several references to fighting in schools; how much of this is a theme shared to encourage actual violence in school systems?
— Was Flynn already engaged with Russian and Turkish contacts before he was terminated by Obama? Was this why he had a “forbidden” internet network connection installed in his Pentagon office, in defiance of military regulations? How/why/when did the Trump campaign know to approach Flynn in 2015?

I also came away with a few observations:

— Flynn has a weak grasp of the Constitution, let alone the First Amendment, demonstrated by his near-proselytization of Judeo-Christian ideology while advocating a freedom of religion.
— The Grand Junction campaign event merits more scrutiny — see Denver Post coverage and compare it to Flynn’s remarks.
— Flynn’s public statements in 2014-2015 were very much at odds with White House foreign policy; he also avoided being direct about Russia when he wasn’t glossing over Russia’s aggression.
— He’s a horrible public speaker. I hope he didn’t talk like this extemporaneously to our troops. I certainly hope this wasn’t a prepared speech. He comes off as disorganized and rambling as a certain resident of the White House.

Depending on whether Flynn had contacts with Russian and Turkish agents before and during the election season — before the post-election transition — I have to wonder if he pleaded guilty because his language and behavior met the definition of seditious conspiracy when it wasn’t captured on public camera. Is this what Team Mueller might hold over Flynn for leverage?

Michael Flynn: Serial Doublecrosser

Yesterday, Representative Elijah Cummings, along with the rest of the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, released blockbuster information from a whistleblower who was at a celebratory event on Trump’s inauguration day. The whistleblower met and talked with Alex Copson, founder and managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners. Recall that I have been posting recently on Michael Flynn’s advocacy for a deal to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia. I have focused so far on IP3 and their security arm, Iron Bridge Partners. First, I noted that IP3 believes US strategy in the Middle East has been to “resource conflict“. Next, I asked whether the Iron Bridge vision for security surrounding the proposed nuclear power plants actually anticipated the Saudi orb. Most recently, I described the chilling plans IP3 had for diversifying the Saudi economy.

Flynn’s reported association with IP3 was preceded by an association with ACU. In the discussion to follow, it is important to remember that the Saudi proposals from ACU have concentrated on Russia building the nuclear power plants while IP3 initially proposed working with China and then moved to advocating the US building the power plants.

When reviewing the information released yesterday, it becomes abundantly clear that Michael Flynn has been remarkably dishonest in his dealings since he was fired from his role as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Obama. Here is just a partial list of key times Flynn has doublecrossed various entities.

Doublecrossing the United States

A key feature of the treasure trove of information Cummings and his colleagues released yesterday is a timeline on Flynn. Early developments on the timeline center on an appearance Flynn made on June 10, 2015 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As noted in the timeline, Flynn did not disclose his work at that time on behalf of ACU. Here is a key clip from his testimony, where he mentions one of two trips to the Middle East he made that month. Note especially that he is stating that he wants the US to be “in the driver’s seat” on building nuclear power plants in the region, despite being paid at that time by ACU, who wanted to have Russia build the plants (the video should start at the beginning of the relevant words from Flynn at 1:50:20; the comment lasts just under three minutes):

Note that Flynn says he doesn’t want Egypt talking to Russia about building nuclear power plants. We have learned that on one of his June 2015 trips, Egypt was one of the countries that Flynn visited. Was Flynn merely ineffective on this and other trips to the Middle East, or was he being duplicious? Just a few months later, we see this announcement from Egypt, on November 19, 2015, that Egypt and Russia have finalized a deal for Russia to build a nuclear reactor in Egypt. Further, the announcement mentions that a memorandum of understanding on the reactor had been signed back in February of 2015, several months before the Flynn trip that we know of.

But that’s not all. Just over a week after this appearance before the committee advocating for the US to be in control of the Saudi nuclear plans, both Saudi Arabia and Russia announced an agreement for Russia to build the plants. A careful reading of these announcements and in some of the contemporary press accounts of them makes it look as though the agreement signed was very preliminary and seemed to be setting the stage legally for the two countries to get into more detailed discussions. In other words, it seems even more preliminary than the memorandum of understanding between Russia and Egypt the previous February, but it certainly seemed to set the stage for Russia to be seen as clearly the frontrunner for a later agreement on actual construction of the power plants.

The information Cummings released yesterday makes me think that Flynn, despite his claims to the Foreign Affairs Committee, has actually been working to push a deal for Russia to build the power plants. From the Cummings timeline:

On January 20, 2017, according to a whistleblower, Alex Copson of ACU claimed that Flynn sent him a text while President Trump was delivering his inaugural address indicating that the nuclear project was now “good to go” and directing his business colleagues to move forward. Copson reportedly stated that “Mike has been putting everything in place for us” and that “This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people.” He added that Flynn was making sure that sanctions would be “ripped up” as one of his first orders of business and that this would allow money to start flowing into the project.

Wow. There’s just no other way to read this than that Copson felt Flynn had been working for his group all along and that “ripping up” the sanctions against Russia were a key to getting the project rolling. And that has to mean that Russia building the plants was a central feature of their plans and their excitement over Trump taking office.

That leads us to the next level of doublecrossing.

Doublecrossing Business Partners

Excerpts from a recent Washington Post article give us some dates on Flynn’s association with ACU and then IP3:

The proposal — to develop a “Marshall Plan” of investment in the Middle East — was being pushed by a company that Flynn said he had advised during the 2016 campaign and transition. The firm was seeking to build nuclear power plants in the region.

His advocacy for the project in the White House surprised some administration officials and raised concerns that Flynn had a conflict of interest. From August to December 2016, he said he served as an adviser to the company, IP3, reporting later on his disclosure forms that he ended his association with the firm just weeks before joining the administration.


Before his association with IP3, Flynn served as an adviser from April 2015 until June 2016 to ACU Strategic Partners, which had its own plan to help build nuclear plants in the Middle East, in conjunction with Russian interests.

In June 2015, he traveled to Egypt and Israel on a trip paid for by ACU to promote the plan. Flynn later failed to disclose the trip in his security clearance renewal application in 2016, according to Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, an omission they said may have violated federal law.

Got that? Flynn was with ACU from April 2015 until June 2016 and then IP3 from August 2016 until December 2016. But, the Post article notes that Flynn pushed an IP3-related article in the first week of Trump’s presidency, while we saw above that during the inauguration he was texting the head of ACU. [Note: I am still working separately to decipher the many changes of alliances of ACU, IP3, Iron Bridge and others] even though he had supposedly ended his relationships with both. It is very hard to come to any other conclusion than that Flynn may well have been trying to play the two groups off one another, only to then reclaim association with whichever one came out on top, doublecrossing the losing side.

Doublecrossing Trump

Now that Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts and is cooperating with Mueller’s probe, it is clear that he has doublecrossed Trump.

Doublecrossing Himself

Remember that this happened during the Republican National Convention:

After advocating for Hillary Clinton to be locked up, now it’s pretty hard to see how Flynn avoids prison time for his own crimes, even with a sentence that is likely to be reduced due to his participation in the Mueller probe. But given Flynn’s propensity for doublecrossing, I fully expect him to get caught violating the terms of his agreement with Mueller and wind up with some very serious time behind bars. It’s just who he is.

The Ridiculous — and Chilling — IP3 Plan for Saudi Economic Diversification

Last week, I pointed out that the retired military generals of IP3, one of the companies that Michael Flynn dabbled with while looking into Saudi Arabia’s plan to develop nuclear power, viewed the US strategy in the Middle East as one of “resourcing conflict“.  I then looked a bit further into the security aspect of IP3’s proposals. But as we see in slide 9 of the IP3 PowerPoint presentation for the Saudi king from August of 2016, IP3 derives its name from “Peace” (the security plan), “Power” (the nuclear power plant construction) and “Prosperity”:

It seems that IP3 views “Prosperity” as encompassing diversification of the Saudi economy, and that somehow it will come about from the lower costs involved in nuclear power, a newly skilled workforce, water desalination and a “smart city”. But, if we also look at the IP3 article at Medium that I found earlier, we see more information on this economic plan. In fact, part of it is found in the same sentence as the “resourcing conflict” phrase:

We need a strategy that doesn’t rely solely on resourcing conflict with weapons sales, arms agreements, or new deployments of U.S. military forces, but one of empowerment through the intellectual capital and industrial might of our nation’s private sector.

Let that soak in for a second: we are talking here in the context of diversifying the Saudi economy, and IP3 is saying that the Saudis will be “empowered”, but that will come about “through the intellectual capital and industrial might of our nation’s private sector”. It’s the business brainpower and the actual businesses themselves from the US that are to drive building a vibrant Saudi economy that relies on more than just oil. From another part of the article:

The people of the Middle East and North Africa need clean, reliable electricity. They need water. They need more career opportunities, and jobs that do not rely on fossil fuel exports alone. They have bold ambitions for a more prosperous future and more inclusive societies.

Note also that this pitch from IP3 is meant to provide the US as an alternative to growing Russian influence in the Middle East. The PowerPoint presentation suggests working with China, although the Medium article proposes a US-only plan. [Side note: I’m currently very deep in the rabbit hole of the various corporate groups and their changing alliances through the past few years, along with the various power plant agreements that countries in the area have executed to date. It’s very complex and has changed very many times. If I find anything useful in the analysis, especially how Flynn fits into the various groups, it will be another post in this series.] In that context, IP3 laments that the US is at a disadvantage, because the competing operations from Russia and China are state-supported:

As a recent report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes, both countries “receive significant state support for their ambitious technology export plans,” …

It really seems that what IP3 wants is a situation in which the the company gets all the benefits of “free enterprise” but also enjoys the sizable advantage of being the “chosen one” to get the imprimatur of the US government so that competing groups are excluded. That would explain why Flynn faces so much more potential legal trouble if the reports of him continuing to push one or more of the competing proposals once he became National Security Advisor turn out to be true, especially if he still stood to profit from the work.

But why nuclear in the first place? Of course, peak oil is coming, and so the Saudis know they have to wean themselves from their dependence on oil for domestic energy consumption. The World Nuclear Association gives some hard numbers for Saudi needs and the evolution of their plans for diversification:

Saudi Arabia’s population has grown from 4 million in 1960 to over 31 million in 2016. It is the main electricity producer and consumer in the Gulf States, with 338 TWh gross production in 2015, 150 TWh from oil and 189 TWh from gas. It consumes over one-quarter of its oil production, and while energy demand is projected to increase substantially, oil production is not, and by 2030 a large proportion will be consumed domestically, much of it for electricity generation. Its per capita consumption is about 9000 kWh/yr, heavily subsidised.

Generating capacity is over 30 GWe. Demand is growing by 8-10% per year and peak demand is expected to be 70 GWe by 2020 and 120 GWe by 2032, driven partly by desalination increase.

I was pretty surprised by this. I viewed Saudi oil production as being much larger than domestic consumption, so the fact that they already consume a quarter of their production and their domestic generation capacity will need to expand up to four fold in only 15 years puts them on the brink of catastrophe. Their planning to diversify has started, but changed recently:

It had plans to install 24 GWe of renewable electricity capacity by 2020, and 50 GWe by 2032 or 2040, and was looking at the prospects of exporting up to 10 GWe of this to Italy or Spain during winter when much generating capacity is under-utilised (cooling accounts for over half the capacity in summer). The 50 GWe in 2032 (later: 2040) was to comprise 25 GWe CSP [Ed note: CSP = Concentrated Solar Power], 16 GWe solar PV, 4 GWe geothermal and waste (together supplying 150-190 TWh, 23-30% of power), complementing 18 GWe nuclear (supplying 131 TWh/yr, 20% of power), and supplemented by 60.5 GWe hydrocarbon capacity which would be little used (c10 GWe) for half the year. The nuclear target date has now been put back to 2040. In 2016 renewables targets were scaled back from 50% to 10% of electricity (by 2040?) as plans shifted more to gas, so that it would increase its share from 50% to 70%.

That earlier plan looked pretty reasonable, with most of the increases in power generation coming from a mix of renewable sources. But that all changed in 2016, with renewables getting cut substantially, from a 50% target down to only 10% and the share of generation accounted for by natural gas actually increasing from 50% to 70%. So what happened to cause this switch away from renewables and back to natural gas (even while some of the discussions on nuclear are continuing)? [Note that a 1.2 GWe solar power plant is opening soon elsewhere in the Middle East, so the Saudis are falling behind on solar.] For one thing, the price of natural gas dropped by about 60% from early 2014 to the beginning of 2016. That timeframe also coincides with the rising influence of Mohammed bin Salman, as his father became king in 2015 and MBS was named Crown Prince this summer.

As Vox explained to us recently, MBS’s “purge” was all about Saudi life after oil. But like his best buddies in the Trump Administration, he can’t really seem to get anything right. Note that gas prices have now re-stabilized at only about 25% lower than they were during most of 2013 to 2015. Also, remember the “smart city” in the IP3 presentation? Bruce Riedel described that and other bits of MBS’s “reforms” to the New Yorker:

“The Saudi Vision 2030 is increasingly turning out to be a failure in economic terms. It has more and more the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme. This new city, Neom, in the Gulf of Aqaba that is supposed to attract five hundred billion dollars of investment and where normal rules of Saudi society aren’t going to apply—meaning women can do things—will have more robots than people. This isn’t serious. This is the kind of thing used to divert people from the real issues,” Riedel said.

The Crown Prince’s regional strategy has also either stalled or backfired, too. “His signature policy is the Yemen war, which has come home to haunt Riyadh,” Riedel, now at the Brookings Institution, said. “Its Qatar blockade is a failure. It wants Qatar to be like Bahrain, just an appendage. And Qatar hasn’t given in.”

That’s pretty much how it seems to me, too. I really don’t buy any of the lip service that the changes MBS is bringing about are aimed at bringing more liberal thought into the kingdom or improving the lives of the general population. I see a huge power grab at a level that makes Trump and MBS buddy Kusher jealous. A purge that results in torture of those detained looks much more like consolidation of power than a move toward a more open society.

And that’s why the collection of technology aimed at “security” of the proposed nuclear sites makes me think it’s all about keeping the population in line as more and more rivals are eliminated. I also think that’s why various US companies have been jostling to be in line when contracts start getting handed out.

As a postscript, I would also note this Intercept article on Erik Prince and the push for privatized intelligence sources. Recall I felt like he had a hidden hand in the Iron Bridge model of security ostensibly around the power plants, as well. Somehow, all these plans with private companies and governments working together in new areas starts to get pretty creepy.

10 Years of emptywheel: Jim’s Dimestore

As you saw in Marcy’s posts yesterday, emptywheel is celebrating the ten year anniversary of the move from The Next Hurrah to Firedoglake.   You will notice that the current version of the blog comes to you without ads. If you want this wonderful state of affairs to continue, contributions are a must. A new subscription option helps to make sure the hamsters keep turning the wheels on the magic blog-hosting machines and the ever more sophisticated mole-whacking machinery stays up to date.

Marcy’s outstanding work over the years has received great acclaim. A huge part of the success of the blog, though, has been its ongoing tradition of the best commenting community on the internet. Over the years, the conversations that have taken place on each seminal post have helped to decipher the meaning of cryptic government documents, bring in alternate views and point out new information as it breaks. In the end,  emptywheel isn’t just a blog, it’s a community. For all of your support and participation during these trying times, we thank you.

In keeping with the “10” theme, Marcy has a post highlighting her favorite surveillance posts over each of the last ten years. She has graciously allowed a few of us hangers-on to participate with posts of our own.  I haven’t been an official emptywheeler for all of those ten years.  I did spend a year as an evening editor at Firedoglake around the time of the migration from TNH, so I got to start my friendship with this group of writers and commenters around that time.  I’m going to list my favorite ten posts from the time I started posting here, shortly after the blog moved from Firedoglake to the independent site. Several of these posts link back to earlier work at MyFDL. Sadly, the archives of that work were imperfectly migrated to the Shadowproof successor to Firedoglake, and so searching for those is imperfect and many of the graphics are lost.

So here is Jim’s Dimestore listing my 10 favorite posts on, in chronological order:


Sandia National Laboratories image of attack spore. In the upper frame, silicon, in green, is found exclusively on the spore coat and not on the exosporium (outer pink border).

Perhaps my favorite topic over the years has been a technical analysis of the evidence presented by the FBI in its Amerithrax investigation. It is absolutely clear from this analysis of the anthrax attacks of 2001 that the FBI failed to demonstrate how Bruce Ivins could have carried out the attacks on his own. This post goes deep into the technical weeds of how the spores in the attack material were treated so that they would disperse easily and seem to float on air. The bottom line is that high amounts of silicon are found inside these spores. The silicon could not have gotten there naturally, and it took very sophisticated chemistry to get it there and treat it to make sure it stayed. Ivins had neither the expertise nor the equipment to achieve this highly advanced bioweaponization. Earlier work I did in this series showed that Ivins also could not have grown the anthrax used in the attacks.  My favorite candidate for where it was produced is an isolated lab built by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency on what is now called the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site) that Judy Miller described on September 4, 2001.  That article by Miller has always stood out to me as the ultimate limited hangout presented by DoD before the fact, where we see a facility of the perfect size for producing the amount of material used in the anthrax attacks. Those attacks occurred just a short time after the article was published. Miller’s assurance in the article that the site only was used for production of harmless bacteria sharing some characteristics with anthrax just never smelled right to me.


When Michael Hastings’ article in Rolling Stone led to Stanley McChrystal’s firing, little did we know that this would be the beginning of the fall from grace for David Petraeus and his all-star band of torture enablers. These “operators”, as Hastings termed the team, relied on night raids and illegal detentions as the core of their counterterrorism initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan. These foolishly evil practices fueled massive growth in the insurgencies in response. In this post, Flynn reveals to us that he felt McChrystal, and everyone else, has a “dark side”. As we now await fallout from Flynn’s guilty plea for his lies to the FBI about conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak (mainly, his testimony against the rest of Trump’s team), it appears that Flynn himself found the dark side to be quite compelling.


Another favorite topic of mine over the years has been the utter futility of the military’s efforts to “train” troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been an endless sequence of the military getting countless “do-overs”, with Congress rolling over and believing every single utterance of “This time it will work for sure!”. Part of the military’s strategy in hiding their training failures was to keep changing how Afghan troops were counted and evaluated for combat readiness. A corollary to the futility of the training effort is the horrific death toll of “green on blue” attacks, where the Afghan or Iraqi trainees attacked and often killed those who were training them. When this problem got especially bad in Afghanistan in 2011, DoD commissioned a sociological analysis that returned a result the military did not like. The report indicated that the military was utterly failing to address vast cultural differences between Afghan and coalition troops.  The military, in its infinite wisdom, decided to classify the report, but did so after it already had been released in unclassified form.  Oops.


Detail from the photo carried in CNN’s story showing the pink tarp over the building said to contain the blast chamber.

Neocons have long lusted after violent regime change in Iran. Cooked up allegations on Iran’s nuclear capabilities have played a central role over the years in how they wished to achieve that war. Despite the neocons’ best efforts to sabotage negotiations, Iran agreed to a comprehensive set of severe restrictions on its nuclear capabilities in return for “dropping” (quotes because the US has claimed other grounds for maintaining other sanctions) the worst of the US sanctions that crippled Iran’s economy. Along the way, I had a ton of fun picking at two of the worst offenders in spreading anti-Iran propaganda: David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security and George Jahn of AP. Reports that Iran had constructed a high explosives blast chamber at the Parchin military site became quite a point of argument. Albright spent countless hours scouring satellite images of the site and claimed the photographs showed that Iran was attempting to clean radioactivity from the site. Iran seemed to have a lot of fun with this process. I’m sure the pink tarps in the post here were added just to punk Albright. I maintained that the real evidence of what had taken place at the site couldn’t be scrubbed, because the accused activity would have resulted in the steel chamber itself being made radioactive throughout its entire thickness. Perhaps Iran made the same assessment, because once the IAEA gained access to the site, there was no steel chamber to be found. Was there ever a blast chamber there? Who knows? In the end, whether Iran carried out that work is immaterial, as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has the most aggressive inspection regime ever agreed to by a country that hasn’t just lost a war.  We can rest assured that Iran has no capability at the current time of assembling a nuclear weapon, and the neocons are left to pout about diplomacy working better than their war ever could have. If you want to know why Donald Trump put Rex Tillerson in charge of dismantling the Department of State, look no further than the success diplomacy played in achieving the JCPOA.


When a massive explosion in West, Texas killed 15 people, injured over 250 and destroyed 500 homes, it was clear to me who had killed these Texans: Ayn Rand’s mythical libertarian hero John Galt. How else do  you explain a site being allowed to store hundreds of thousands of pounds of ammonium nitrate with inadequate fire protection and fatally close to inhabited structures than the misguided libertarian belief that free enterprise should rule?  In the post, I pointed to the dangers inherent in the lack of zoning laws that allowed this fatal mixture of structures. As we later learned from the Washington Post,  John Galt’s influence on the destruction was decades in the making:

The plant was a mom-and-pop operation, a distribution center where farmers picked up custom mixes of fertilizer to boost crop yields. It was built in 1962 a half-mile outside West. As the harvests grew, so did the town. In 1967, the rest home opened 629 feet from the plant. In the early ’70s, a two-story apartment complex was built even closer. Then a playground and basketball court, a mere 249 feet away.

We learned last year that ATF has determined that the fire that preceded the blast was intentional.  So while we don’t know who started the fire itself, we know for a fact that, ultimately, it was John Galt who killed these 15 Texans.


The current concern that Donald Trump will lash out in fury with a nuclear strike, somewhere, anywhere, just to vent his anger over Mueller’s noose tightening over his entire administration is not the first time that it was appropriate to be concerned about an  enraged high-ranking government official killing innocent people. In the case of John Brennan, poorly targeted rage attacks carried out as retaliation for a perceived wrong happened repeatedly. In the post linked here, a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal area seemed timed as retaliation for Pakistan refusing to reopen supply routes that had been closed six months earlier when the US killed 24 Pakistani troops in an erroneous attack. The post goes on to detail other rage drone strikes that Brennan ordered, with the worst probably being the killing of over 40 people who were simply gathered to discuss mineral rights. That strike was carried out the day after the CIA’s Raymond Davis was finally released and was clearly carried out without proper evaluation of targeting criteria, as it seems few if any actual terrorists were killed.



Scary, color-enhanced electron micrograph of Ebola virus particles. Creative Commons license courtesy of Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine.

The Ebola outbreak in 2014 led to widespread fear in the US, especially when it was announced that medical personnel who had been treating Ebola patients in Africa and became infected would be transported to Atlanta for treatment. There was no appreciation for how the disease actually is spread, what the conditions were where the medical workers became infected in Africa and how such spread would be much less likely in a properly run US hospital. A poorly run hospital in Texas, however, did manage to have personnel treating Ebola acquire infections. Of course, the treatment at CDC in Atlanta was carried out without incident, and the virus did not spread in the US, even after the Texas hospital had its initial failure. In fact, as the virus wound down, those who study and understand the virus were shown to have been completely correct in their analysis when they modeled how large the outbreak would get before receding once proper intervention was carried out. But the fears of Ebola wiping out the US weren’t the only bit of bad science that had to be knocked down during the outbreak. Conspiracy theories started spreading that the Ebola virus in the 2014 outbreak had been genetically engineered in a bioweapons lab and was accidentally released from a lab in Africa. DNA sequence analysis quickly debunked that one.


Yes, the Iran nuclear agreement is so important that it is the only topic repeated in my ten favorite posts. In this post, we are in the time just a few months before the agreement is finalized, and the neocon opponents of the deal are reaching a fever pitch. The post outlines a horrible failure of full disclosure by the Washington Post. This occurred after Bezos purchased the paper, but clearly was a failure of beating back the darkness in which democracy dies. In this case, the Post carried an op-ed opposing the Iran deal. Besides allowing an incendiary headline (The Iran Time Bomb) and giving voice to Michael Hayden and neocon nightmare Ray Takeyh, the Post made its biggest failure regarding the middle author, Olli Heinonen. The Post allowed Heinonen to identify himself only by his current Harvard affiliation and his former role in IAEA. What is left out of that description is that Heinonen was also playing a prominent role on the Advisory Board of United Against Nuclear Iran, shadowy group with even more shadowy funding sources. Somehow, in the course of its “advocacy” work against Iran, UANI had come into possession of US state secrets that suddenly allowed it to avoid a civil case for defamation of a businessman they accused of breaking sanctions against Iran. Why, yes, of course the New York Times also allowed Heinonen to deceptively carry out his work on their pages, too. This time it was in a “news” story that came out shortly after the UANI civil court case was dismissed when the judge stated the case could not proceed because of the state secrets involved. Of course, even after more than two and a half years, neither the Washington Post nor New York Times have admitted their omissions in describing Heinonen’s affiliations in the cited articles. It is really remarkable that diplomacy defeated this full court press by the neocons who were working with the full cooperation of the media.


I waved my pocket copy of the Constitution at Nancy Pelosi on July 19,2008. Khizr Khan waved his at Donald Trump on July 28,2016.

I waved my pocket copy of the Constitution at Nancy Pelosi on July 19,2008. Khizr Khan waved his at Donald Trump on July 28,2016.

I haven’t written much in the last couple of years, but I just couldn’t avoid writing this one only ten days after surgery to replace my aorta. When I saw Khizr Khan’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention, I was really moved when he waved his pocket copy of the Constiution at Donald Trump. I had done the same thing in July of 2008 when Nancy Pelosi appeared at Netroots Nation in Austin. I was waving my Constitution at Pelosi to remind her of her failure to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for their roles in torture and illegal wars. Khan was calling out Trump for his campaign promises that so clearly violate the Constiution. Sadly, Trump has followed through in enforcing many of those policies Khan warned us about and we are left without much more recourse than continuing to wave our Constitutions at those who violate it on a daily basis.


My one minor contribution so far to the unfolding saga of Russian influence on the 2016 election was prompted by noticing a photo in my Twitter stream shortly after the George Papadopoulos plea agreement was made public. What initially caught my eye was that my Congressman, Ted Yoho, was in the photo with Papadopoulos while both appeared in a panel discussion in Cleveland in July of 2016. However, once I started digging into the circumstances of the photo, I discovered that when he appeared for the panel, Papadopoulos claimed an affiliation with an entity that was also an affiliation for the shadowy Joseph Mifsud. We still don’t have a satisfactory explanation of how these two came to have a shared cover organization where it seems both Papadopoulos and Mifsud had positions that were grossly inflated with respect to their previous career accomplishments. I still think that if we ever discover who was behind these two getting such inflated positions, we will learn much about who might have been orchestrating later events in which these two played roles.

[Photo: Emily Morter via Unsplash]

K. T. McFarland’s Big Fat Email [UPDATED]

[NB: Update at the bottom of this post.]

I am posting this on the fly, haven’t yet fully digested what I just read. All I can really do right now is roll my eyes as I wave my hands in the air and scream about the stupid that burns.

You need to read this article, Emails Dispute White House Claims That Flynn Acted Independently on Russia; this bit in particular just boggles my mind although it’s not the only thing in this article which made me ululate.

Excerpt, The New York Times

And of course it’s Obama’s or the Democratic Party’s fault she was taken out of context here. Uh-huh. And Clinton should be impeached.

This bit is nearly as mind-blowingly whack:

Excerpt, The New York Times

“Political malpractice” is not the first thing that comes to mind here, Mr. Cobb.

UPDATE — 9:00 PM EST —

NYT’s Michael Schmidt has now provided K. T. McFarland’s full quote to clarify what was meant in the email.

We’re supposed to believe the context is about spin McFarland anticipated Obama (or the unspecified Democrats in the NYT’s article) would employ against Trump.

However lawyer Ty Cobb’s explainer-cum-apologia doesn’t sound like McFarland and others on the transition team were merely indulging in speculation.

Any time now I expect someone in the administration will not only say openly that Trump authorized the transition team to discuss dropping the sanctions, but that it isn’t illegal when the president does it.

Except in the U.S. we only have one president at a time.

Did the Flynn-Associated IP3 Presentation Anticipate the Saudi Orb?

Yesterday, I pointed out that IP3, a company that claimed affiliation to Michael Flynn, admitted that US strategy in the Middle East has been to “resource conflict“. One of the two places the company made the claim was in a PowerPoint presentation addressed in July 2016 to the Saudi King but apparently never delivered. The presentation was made public by the Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee. Although the presentation is only 13 slides long, it is such a treasure trove of information that I anticipate several more posts with it as the central theme.

Today, I’d like to concentrate on only the security proposals in the presentation. Because Michael Flynn was previously the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and because the approach to security by IP3 is highly intelligence-based, one would think that Flynn was central to IP3’s thinking in assembling this part of their plan. Slides 7 and 8 address the security plan. Here is slide 7:

This slide is full of truly oppressive ideas and technology. Note the big reliance on cyber security in the lower left corner. With Keith Alexander on their team, IP3 is clearly relying on his “expertise” as the former head of NSA and his new business venture that he totally invented during his free time while having a job that did the exact same thing. In fact as Marcy pointed out to me, the name for IP3’s security subsidiary, Iron Bridge, echos closely Alexander’s company name of Iron Net. It should not come as a surprise, then, that many of the same suspects appear on both Iron Net’s “A-Team” and IP3.

Just what the heck are “Multi-Intelligence Surveillance Sensors”? When I Googled that phrase, one early result led me to this page , which appears to be a wish list of gadgets and technology put together by the military and intelligence community for the Office of Naval Research to fund in development. Much of that technology would seem to fit with a lot of the rest of the slide. Of course, the retired generals of IP3 would be aware of this and other technology believed to be in the pipeline and already in place for US capabilities. Although that page seems to rely on drones for the aerial cameras, the satellite in IP3’s slide would seem to be addressing similar capabilities.  The satellite definitely fits, though, for “large-area surveillance from tactical sensors across the radio frequency spectrum”. And just what are “Sensors that automatically produce metadata”? Those can’t be good news.

We couldn’t have a collection of retired US generals proposing any project abroad unless it has a major component of training. From the beginning of our time Iraq and Afghanistan, training has played a central role in both our plans and our failures. These guys just can’t get out of the belief that they can train foreign forces despite the ample evidence that we are utterly incapable of achieving any level of success in developing those foreign forces.

Any idea of “thought leadership” when put into a Saudi perspective is truly chilling. If these generals believe that the US “resources conflict” in the Middle East, then how can they escape acknowledging that Saudi madrassas resource terrorism? Of course, IP3 is claiming to be all about peace, so the thought leadership in this case would ostensibly be peaceful, but the entrenched nature of Saudi fostering of terrorist groups seems virtually impossible to stop from within.

Let’s move on to slide 8:

There is just so much to take in here. Notice that the outermost circle is labeled “Space and Cyber”, so the satellites and Alexander’s cyber wizardry are seen as covering everything. But there is a new element on this slide compared to the previous one: “Airborne Awareness”. Hmm, aerial based security. A relationship to China (the cover slide and several others bear the seal of China). That sounds very familiar. Who else has been hawking security services via aircraft and with a link to China? None other than Erik Prince. In fact, if you go to this Jeremy Scahill Intercept article from March of 2016 (just four months before the date of the PowerPoint) and click on the “Libya Border Solution” figure, you will see a schematic that doesn’t seem all that different from this one. Although Erik Prince isn’t mentioned in the IP3 presentation or listed on their website, it’s hard to escape the feeling that he’s lurking in the shadows for this group, ready and willing to broker his services, whether his board approves or not. Although Prince ostensibly is testifying today on his Seychelles meeting, I wonder if he will be questioned about any role he may have had in the IP3 proposal or any other group (say, Kushner’s Cambridge Analytica?) approaching the Saudis.

To finish up here, we have to move back to slide 7. You probably noticed I didn’t discuss the central feature, the “Security Operations Center”. That becomes a thing of beauty. Surely you remember the mysterious glowing Saudi orb and the photo of Trump touching it. It spawned weeks of wonderful memes in social media, but you might not have looked into just what was going on when the photo was taken. Here is the New York Times (hmm, the byline on this story is just “By The New York Times”):

The occasion was the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, based in Riyadh, and the orb was in fact a translucent globe, with the world’s waters represented in light gray and the continents in black. Its purpose appeared to be decorative.

The futuristic look of the darkened room may have helped to fire observers’ imaginations.

It was filled with computer terminals. At one end was a wall of monitors displaying feeds from news networks.


Among the many dignitaries at the event were Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, and the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef.

The globe did not appear to have any magical powers, but when the king and Mr. Trump touched it, background music of the kind that might accompany a reality show’s elimination sequence or introduce a cable news program soared and pulsed. The screens glowed with statistical displays and videos about fighting terrorism. An unnamed official who narrated the features of the new control center said the displays used artificial intelligence to track, in real time, news reports and online statements.

It would appear that the Saudis already have their Security Operations Center and that its artificial intelligence-based technology might be similar to some of the technologies suggested in the IP3 slide. That it ostensibly is intended to combat terrorism just seems to me that it’s also aimed at the whole Thought Leader approach.

In the end, though, note that this facility is almost certainly still resourcing conflict, not stability. If you look carefully at the map in slide 8, you see that  Egypt is bright like Saudi Arabia (that’s Egypt’s President el-Sisi on the left, touching the orb), but Yemen is darkened. Don’t forget the Saudis are relentlessly bombing Yemen, using military equipment we have provided them, ostensibly to fight Houthi “terrorists”. From what I can see on the website for the center, there is zero disclosure of what countries and what “international organizations” are participating, but the Layers of Business Operations look pretty familiar. I wonder who helped the Saudis build this center? Who is helping them run it?

Sleep well, folks.