FOREIGN AGENTS, FBI FLUBS, FISA FUN
The Guardian reports, “Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives”. In late 2015, GCHQ became aware of “suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said.” The information was passed to American counterparts. A number of Western intelligence agencies shared information “on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians,” The Guardian’s sources said. Germany, Estonia, Poland and Australia passed on sigint or electronic intelligence. Another source said the French and Dutch intelligence agencies also contributed to the picture. This should quell any lingering misbeliefs that Putin and Trump are great strategic geniuses, they are not. Critically given the president Twitler’s conspiracies, The Guardian notes, “The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets.” “It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added to The Guardian. Yes, it looks that way from this side of the pond as well. Seems they were busy checking their soup and salad for terrorists. We also learn there was a “mid-October decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) court” that “gave permission for the justice department to investigate two banks suspected of being part of the Kremlin’s undercover influence operation.”
From The Guardian.
CIA LABELS WIKILEAKS “HOSTILE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE”
CNN reports CIA Director Mike Pompeo spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Thursday. Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service”. That’s a goddamn shame because our president really loves WikiLeaks, one might say even more than he does the CIA, who he has likened to “Nazis” in the past. Pompeo essentially said Julian Assange and Edward Snowden were narcissists who were recruited and who remain active out of a desire for celebrity. Do we really need the CIA to tell us that? Public sources would reveal the same. Defense One reminds us, “Remember When Mike Pompeo Loved WikiLeaks?” That would be last July when he wrote about the 19,000 Clintonworld emails the organization released for the website Red State, tweeting his article as well. Such is life aboard the Trump train wreck it seems, but remember Milan Kundera said, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” So never forget, never again and all that good stuff. And Wonkette reminds us that when it goes from “shrill women” like Hillary Clinton who “whine” to white men who say it, “people are talking” and its mainstream thought. Sorry Julian can never recover unless he goes all “Curveball” on us — but Curveball had real panache, which Julian lacks it, if you ask anyone who isn’t Pamela Anderson, and we all know how refined her taste is.
HUNT THEM AT THE HAGUE
The Washington Post reports the American Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Kenneth D. Ward told the watchdog group on Thursday the “Syrian authorities — ‘abetted by Russia’s continuing efforts to bury the truth’ — still possess and use chemical weapons”. According to the Post, “Ward used a hastily convened meeting of the organization’s executive council to launch a withering verbal attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies in Moscow.” For his part, “Assad, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, denied that any chemical weapons attack took place,” because of course Assad subscribes to the Russian school of public relations – what public, you crush them? The Washington Post notes, “Syria joined the OPCW in 2013 under severe international pressure following a deadly chemical attack on a Damascus suburb.” OPCW was the organization responsible for allegedly overseeing the destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons supplies, “but ever since there have been questions about whether Assad had declared all his weapons.” You don’t say.
From The Washington Post.
IT’S OFFICIAL, OPPOSITION LEADER ALEXEY NAVALNY MAKES PUTIN SCARED
And so Putin is calling out the hounds! Russian “businessman,” “One of Russia’s richest men, Alisher Usmanov, is suing opposition leader Alexei Navalny over a video alleging that one of Mr Usmanov’s property deals amounted to a bribe.” Do yourself a favor and look at a picture of this man. It is worth your time to Google to do so. The “steel and telecoms tycoon and part-owner of Arsenal football club” wishes to accuse Navalny of libel. Invitation to an upcoming show trial sent to the international media, who will be manhandled at the court!
From the BBC.
NATO IN POLAND, POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER IN RUSSIA’S POCKET?
Reuters reports that on Thursday, Poland welcome the first U.S. troops “in a multi-national force which is being posted across the Baltic region to counter potential threats from Russia.” According to Reuters, “1,100 soldiers — 900 U.S. troops as well as 150 British and 120 Romanians — are to be deployed in Orzysz, about 57 km (35 miles) south of Russia’s Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, where Moscow has stationed nuclear-capable missiles and an S-400 air missile defense system. Three other formations are due to become operational by June across the region.” However, as TRUMPISTAN WATCH told you yesterday, “the Polish armed forces have other problems,” namely the Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz acts as a Russian puppet even if he is not, the effect is the same in the end result. As such, “Nearly 30 top of its top generals and more than 200 colonels — a quarter and a sixth of the army’s total — have resigned over the last year,” citing “disagreements with Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz over personnel and other decisions.” Many of those forced out were U.S. trained despite the official excuse being the desire to purge the military of remnants of the pre-1989 communist regime. It’s nuts and depressing. And last year, “The military has also seen potential procurement delays after Macierewicz canceled a multi-billion-dollar deal with Airbus Helicopters”. What the hell is he doing? Listen to this quote from General Miroslaw Rozanski: “We were implementing NATO decisions. Minister Macierewicz would agree with my proposals and then different decisions would be taken,” which is crazy.
THE RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY DOTH PROTEST
Russia’s Foreign Ministry protested Montenegro’s ascension to NATO Thursday, calling it “deeply mistaken,” so another front in this NOT new Cold War fought via proxy might open up in the Balkans soon enough. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “We consider the course towards including Montenegro in NATO is deeply erroneous, goes fundamentally against the interests of people in this country and harms stability in the Balkans and in Europe as a whole”. Now who would destabilize a region by instigating some bizarre conspiracy and flood the zone with racist, hateful propaganda? Obviously whichever minority the Russians use as a foil. POLITICO notes, “U.S. President Donald Trump signed off on Montenegro’s accession to the military alliance on Tuesday.” Yes, he did that, despite spending months disparaging NATO, our generals, pretty much anyone who was not Donald Trump, or his precious Aryan princess Ivanka, on the campaign trail. Montenegro hopes to join the alliance later in the year.
TAKE AWAY HIS SECURITY CLEARANCE THEN LOCK HIM UP!
The Hill reports, “A group of House Democrats is calling for Jared Kushner’s security clearance to be suspended amid a federal investigation into whether associates of President Trump were in contact with Russian government officials during the 2016 campaign.” Totally reasonable if you do not want this inexperienced idiot anywhere near U.S. foreign policy. On the other hand, look at this fucking asshole. Their weakness is a source of our strength. Kushner is on the list of people the Senate intelligence committee plans to interview in its probe and he previously had meetings he failed to disclose with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the head of the sanctioned Vnesheconombank Segrey Gorkov.
From The Hill.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: MICHAEL COHEN’S MISSING $350K
BuzzFeed looks at a strange episode from the life of Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen. In 1999, Cohen was running an law firm in Hell’s Kitchen that “handled a little bit of everything, from personal injury cases to a Ukrainian investment fund to a fleet of taxis to a trust account he managed for clients” when a check for $350,000 was placed in a trust he was supposed to disburse to a woman in Florida. “As the lawyer in charge of the account, Cohen was supposed to ensure that she got the money. But he didn’t.” He doesn’t recall what happened to the money, which involves some interesting characters now and was never disciplined by the New York Bar Association over the missing funds. The funds “became the centerpiece of a 2009 lawsuit in Miami, where Cohen was accused of civil fraud. After years of litigation, Cohen prevailed, in part because the suit was filed past the statute of limitations.” Here is where it gets interesting: “The $350,000 mystery involves four other important characters: Vladimir Malakhov, a professional hockey player who wrote the original check; Yulia Fomina, a Russian woman who asked Malakhov to loan her the money and put her condominium up as collateral; Vitaly Buslaev, a Russian businessperson who was Fomina’s boyfriend; and Symon Garber, a Ukrainian-born taxi baron who was Cohen’s business partner.” Malakhov attracted the interest of Russian organized crime because of his NHL riches and high profile. Cohen deflected when asked about these characters and his signature on the check. All very strange.
WHERE IS MY PAGE? KEEP ON KEEPING ON TROLLING THE TROLLS
ABC News George Stephanopoulos interviews former Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page, a man who is so in over his head and so not smart to keep talking that each interview is a Trump trainwreck in miniature. In reality TV terms, yeah, he’s that guy in the house. Can you believe? Like, TRUMPISTAN WATCH can’t either. Anyways, returning to adult-speak, Page tells Stephanopoulos, “that he has “no recollection” of discussing, during a trip to Moscow last summer, a possible easing of U.S. sanctions against Russia but that ‘something may have come up in a conversation.’” The FISA transcripts can tell us! Recall he was in Moscow in July to give a talk to those forced to suffer through it at the New Economic School, a prestigious thing for someone so obviously unworthy. The Guardian takes a dive into his past and finds he “was hired in 1998 by the Eurasia Group, a major US consulting firm that advises banks and multinational corporations, but left the firm shortly thereafter.” Evidently concerns were raised then but in the same period, Eurasia Group was courting Moscow’s rising elite, as documented by a New York Magazine story at the time. On Thursday, Ian Bremmer, the “young American,” took to Twitter to say, “Carter Page going down as the most wackadoodle @EurasiaGroup alum in history. #SoFar”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
THE MOTHER OF ALL PROXY WARS
The Washington Post reports on the increasing role Russia and Iran are playing in Afghanistan. “For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal.” As the White House “lacks a clear Afghan policy,” both Russia and Iran have come to play an increasing role bolstering different factions and have effectively “sidelined the United States from regional diplomacy on the war.” The Washington Post reports the Kremlin said it “will host high-level talks on Afghanistan with Iranian, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats” today. The U.S. will not attend given Moscow’s increased support for the Taliban. General John Nicholson Jr., the top U.S. Army Commander in Afghanistan, said, “Russia has ‘begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban’”. Currently the U.S. has approximately 8,400 troops in theater. Officially, “Iran and Russia have both denied providing the Taliban with weapons or cash.” However, “U.S. and Afghan officials say that the relationship between Russia, Iran and the Taliban goes beyond just diplomacy, and that conflict with the United States elsewhere could prompt Iran and Russia to raise the stakes here.” This seems to have happened with the U.S. dropping “the mother of all bombs” on the border region of Afghanistan-Pakistan to crush ISIS in a bunch of caves in a moment of total 2001 déjà vu, albeit the European missile shield would be the preferred form of defense-based nostalgia from that annus horribilis.
THE MOTHER OF ALL PLANTS ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
Newsweek profiles Ezra Cohen-Watnick, one of Trump’s political commissars, this time on the National Security Council. He has found his way by his volition into the political reality TV shit-show by volunteering the whole “unmasking” bullshit saga shit-show sideshow to “DARKNESS AT [Rep. Devin] NUNES”. What do we learn? He is wildly unqualified and has no business being where he is. Newsweek reports, “Cohen-Watnick, a 31-year-old with apparently only a single, allegedly trouble-filled, junior-level tour of duty with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Afghanistan on his résumé, managed to secure one of the most consequential jobs in the White House”. His job? Oh, “coordinating all of the U.S. intelligence community’s operations with the Oval Office and Congress”. Newsweek notes, “In less than a year, Cohen-Watnick had been raised from the equivalent rank of an army captain to a three-star general.” The fucking what? Recall the actual adult in the room, National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who replaced now registered foreign agent Flynn, wanted Cohen-Watnick gone. Through noted Islamophobe and Reagan era under-secretary in the Defense Department official Frank Gaffney, whose daughter Cohen-Watnick was close to in high school, he met now ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn “And that’s when his career gained altitude.” He even tweeted about the pizza-gate conspiracy theory. His wife, Rebecca Miller, has worked on the Russia account at Ketchum, a lobbying and public relations firm. The firm “drew flak for placing an op-ed purporting to be written by Russian President Vladimir Putin in The New York Times arguing that Syrian rebels, not President Bashar al-Assad, were responsible for chemical attacks on civilians.” Conclusion: “Cohen-Watnick’s principal credentials seem to be ideological.”
ACTIVE MEASURES WATCH: THE MOTHER OF ALL FRIENDS OF RUSSIA
Russian state-run Sputnik ran a fawning piece about the Russian Order of Friendship medal recipient ex-ExxonMobil CEO turned U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him a “brilliant negotiator” with “strong charisma”. Puke. He also looks terrible when photographed — did anyone in Moscow notice how not photogenic he is? Oh also, who is he loyal to beyond his own bank account, do we — the American people who our government is ultimately accountable to — know? No, we don’t. Some new Cold War this is, we are in the same boat as the Russian people now. Let’s call a spade a spade and say Tillerson is perhaps the most effective reach of active measures to date in decimating our State Department and imposing an ally as its head. Who among the now registered foreign agents that once formed Trump’s inner circle potentially recommended him for the job? Will we — the American people who our government is ultimately accountable to — ever find out?
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
RUSSIA WITHDRAWS FROM EUROVISION
As goes Eurovision, so goes Europe. The BBC reports “Russian broadcaster Channel One will not broadcast” the contest next month, a condition of Russia’s participation according to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) rules, which “removes any chance of Russia competing this year”. Ukraine has barred Yulia Samoilova, the wheel chair bound Russian contestant, from competing because in 2014 she entered Crimea from Russia after the annexation of the peninsula, thereby violating Ukraine’s sovereignty.
From the BBC.
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