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Ray McGovern

Americans Dumbed Down on Russia

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Five years ago today (Dec. 5th), Congress learned from sworn, horse’s-mouth testimony that there is no technical evidence that Russia (or anyone else) hacked the DNC emails showing how the DNC had stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination.

I can almost hear readers new to this website cry out in disbelief: "That cannot be. Official Washington and the media assured us that the Russians hacked those emails in order to help Trump win. And didn’t Obama throw out 35 Russian diplomats in reaction? And what about those 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted for hacking?" Were US officials and media mistaken?

No, not mistaken. They were lying.

"But … but, does this mean Special Counsel Robert Mueller knew there was no concrete evidence of Russian hacking just six months into his 22-month investigation into Trump-Russia collusion?"
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Ukraine: Will US Back Off as Russia Did on Cuba?

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Sixty years ago today (October 28) the US and Russia stepped back from the brink of nuclear war by making a deal. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev would yield to President John F. Kennedy’s demand that Soviet missiles be removed from Cuba; Kennedy pledged not to invade. There is an instructive analogy with Ukraine today.

Soviet documents that were revealed after the USSR imploded show how this all went down – and how we all would have "gone down," literally, were it not for the statesmanlike behavior of both leaders and their acute realization of the stakes involved.

Some of what I include below is drawn from a book by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali that is based on those documents. They called it One Hell of a Gamble: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The book is one hell of a book. US officials now dealing with the war in Ukraine would profit immensely by reading chapters 12 to 14.

On October 28, 1962, Khrushchev wrote Kennedy:

"I thank you for the sense of proportion you have displayed. … The Soviet Government has given a new order to dismantle the arms which you describe as offensive, and to crate and return them to the Soviet Union."

And so, we all got to live another 60 years – so far.
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Putin: If Finns, Swedes Get NATO ‘Military Infrastructure,’ We’ll Respond

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On May 16, just before I was interviewed for The Critical Hour, Putin addressed Finland’s and Sweden’s plans to join NATO, using words far milder than had most expected:

“Russia has no problems with these states. There is no direct threat to Russia in connection with NATO’s expansion to these countries.”

Then, the kicker:

“But the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to these territories will certainly evoke a response on our part. We will see what it will be like based on the threats that are created for us.”

So Who’s Already Got ‘NATO’s Military Infrastructure’?

The interview with The Critical Hour, provided an opportunity to underscore what the Russians seems to fear the most — the emplacement of what they call “offensive strike missiles” in sites near Russia’s border. In other words, THAT kind of “military infrastructure”. For several years Putin has complained that so-called “ABM” sites already completed in Romania and almost complete in Poland can be converted overnight into launchers for “offensive strike missiles” — Tomahawk cruise missiles, for example, and, later, hypersonic ones.
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What the Media Still Isn’t Telling You About Russiagate

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Two years ago last Saturday (May 7, 2020) Adam Schiff (D, California), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was forced to perform what Nixon co-conspirator John Ehrlichman famously called a "modified limited hangout."

On that day, Schiff released sworn testimony that there was zero technical evidence that Russia – or anyone else – hacked those DNC emails so prejudicial to Hillary Clinton (later published by WikiLeaks).

Now, please, before you put me in Putin’s or Trump’s pocket, read on: The testifier was Shawn Henry, the head of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. For reasons former FBI Director James Comey would never really explain, he deferred to CrowdStrike to do the forensic work on the DNC computers that were supposedly "hacked." Comey told Congress that CrowdStrike "would share with us what they saw."

In June 2019, it was revealed that CrowdStrike never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, according to the Justice Department.

Are you starting to smell a rat? What about the "modified limited hangout"?
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Old Soldier Mark Milley Should ‘Fade Away’

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A week after President Harry Truman fired WWII war hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur in April 1951, MacArthur addressed a joint session of Congress with some self-pity about being overruled and under-appreciated by that civilian Truman: "Old soldiers never die – they just fade away."

MacArthur had publicly criticized Truman for denying him permission to nuke "Red China" after it sent troops into Korea to fight US troops there. That was in April 1951, 70 years ago. Truman explained: "I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President…I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was."

Given, comparisons can be invidious, but the most charitable explanation for the behavior of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 4-star Gen. Gen. Mark Milley – and the explanation most often adduced by those who know him – is that he merits the sobriquet Truman gave to 5-star MacArthur. I tend to be less charitable, seeing Milley as insubordinate and duplicitous, and – most important – trying to illegally insert himself into the sensitive chain of command to authorize the use of nuclear weapons.
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Plenty of Intelligence To Prevent 9/11

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Shortly before 9/11 the National Security Agency (NSA) asked Thomas Drake to join its senior staff. As things turned out, Sept. 11 was his first day on the job. Already au courant with key NSA programs via his earlier contract work, Tom was immediately tasked to find out how much information NSA had on terrorist attacks before 9/11.

Drake found an embarrassing abundance of such information. But when he told top NSA management, his investigation was abruptly shut down. On Jan. 7, 2014 in a VIPS Memorandum prepared for President Obama, “NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong.”

Drake wrote: “Make no mistake. That data [collected and analyzed by NSA] could have, should have prevented 9/11.”

As the post-9/11 months dragged on, Drake had to listen to NSA Director Michael Hayden’s gloating over the ease with which he was able to hide NSA’s egregious performance. It is a good guess that a huge part of that “ease” can be attributed to protection by Hayden’s very powerful patron, Vice President Dick Cheney. It is clear that the Vice President played a key role in “authorizing” unconstitutional surveillance. It is also possible that, BEFORE the 9/11 attacks, Hayden shared with Cheney some of the alarming evidence NSA had collected but otherwise kept to itself.
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New York Times Pushing the Envelope on Russia

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If Wednesday morning’s passive-voice ("Russian hackers are accused of"), evidence-free New York Times article titled "Attempted Hack of R.N.C. and Russian Ransomware Attack Test Biden" has a familiar ring, look who wrote it. The senior author is David Sanger, the NYT’s chief Washington correspondent. Based on Sanger’s unenviable record, the story he wrote with Nicole Perlroth can be dismissed as a proverbial nothingburger with Sanger sauce.

The article claims that Russian hackers breached a contractor for the Republican National Committee (RNC) last week "around the same time that Russian cybercriminals launched the largest global ransomware attack on record". Sanger and co-author Nicole Perlroth cannot resist editorializing in the first paragraph that the "incidents are testing the red lines set by President Biden" at the June 16 summit with Russian President Putin. Biden, they noted, "presented Mr. Putin with a list of 16 critical sectors of the American economy that, if attacked, would provoke a response".

The NY Times does not seem to know if the RNC is included among those 16. Indeed, there is little sign that the Times actually knows what those 16 critical sectors are. No worries, the Russians nonetheless "are accused" of activities that "test those red lines".

The Times, and Sanger in particular, have shown themselves receptive to parts of our government (especially the security services) as well as to those who need an enemy to justify huge defense spending – all of whom have a deep vested interest in painting Russia and Putin in the most dangerous colors. It is a safe bet that this is what is going on here.
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Biden-Putin Summit: Boon or Bust?

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Reading the tea leaves a week before Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva puts a premium on the kind of media analysis we old-school Kremlinologists had to rely on back in the day. Not all rhetoric is equal though; it is just as important to make an honest attempt to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding a major initiative like the summit proposal. The weird timing of the invitation cries out for explanation.

You Asked For It, Joe

Lest we forget, President Biden suggested a summit with Putin in the midst of very high tension over Ukraine. On March 24 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued an official decree that Ukraine would take Crimea back from Russia; Kiev’s strategy includes "military measures" to achieve "de-occupation." US and NATO voice "unwavering" (rhetorical) support for Zelensky, who sends tons of military equipment south and east. Russia sends troops and arms south and west into Crimea and the border area opposite Luhansk and Donetsk in the eastern Ukraine.

One Day in April

The following refresher on what all went down on April 13 may throw some light on why – in such tense circumstances – Biden proposed a summit with Putin.

- NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg slams Russia for sending "thousands of combat-ready troops to Ukraine’s borders."

- Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu says, in effect, Yes, Stoltenberg has that right; Moscow has sent "two armies and three airborne formations to western regions" over the prior three weeks.

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Will Comey’s Words Come Back To Haunt Him?

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On Jan. 12, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey attested to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the now-discredited information from former British spy Christopher Steele regarding Russian collusion had been "verified". Thanks to an FOIA request, we now have documentary evidence showing Comey pressing ahead to validate Steele amid a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of other agency heads. Clearly, the latter were reluctant to push Steele’s salacious storytelling, lest they throw additional doubt on their own threadbare tales of Trump’s collusion with Russia.

Comey wanted to use Steele’s reporting to buttress an already flaw-filled FBI filing for a warrant to prolong eavesdropping on Carter Page. (Page was a foreign policy adviser who began working with the Trump campaign in March 2016.). Trouble is that on the same day (Jan. 12, 2017) that Comey told the FISA Court that Steele’s reporting was "verified", Comey emailed then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper admitting that the FBI was "not able to sufficiently corroborate the [Steele’s] reporting".

If you find it difficult to reconcile those two statements, you are not alone. Was Steele’s reporting "verified"? Or was it uncorroborated? How to explain.

Comey was hell-bent on renewing the original (October 21, 2016 ) 90-day warrant he signed to surveil Carter Page. And if that required morphing "uncorroborated" into "verified", no big deal? The rubber-stamp FISA judge would be none the wiser, and who knows what juicy tidbits might turn up in that surveillance.
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