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Tyler Durden

Obama Under 'Intense Pressure' To Release Evidence Proving Russians Hacked The Election

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As noted previously, at some point today the White House is set to unveil new sanction, and other retaliatory "measures" against Russia and specifically the Kremlin, in retaliation for what according to a constantly repetitive narrative has been Russian hacking of the US election. Obama will do so by using a 2015 executive order that would allow the president to freeze the US assets of Russians overseas who have engaged in cyber acts, even though such order only applies to actions that have threatened US national security or financial stability, neither of which have yet been invoked in the current "hacking" scandal. Further, per a "senior administration official," use of the existing law would require (1) actual election infrastructure to be designated as 'critical infrastructure' and (2) the administration to prove that such infrastructure was actually "harmed," conditions which the National Security Council say have not been met.

The problem is that if the administration relies on the 2015 Executive Order to launch this latest round of diplomatic "retaliation", it will also have to demonstrate some proof that the individuals or entities it names were involved in the scheme, and until now, the White House has provided no documentation to back up its official October assessment that the Russian government was attempting to “interfere” in the US election besides just repeating the allegation over and over and over, as if that somehow makes it true.

Which perhaps is why this morning The Hill writes that the Obama administration is "under intense pressure to release evidence confirming Russian interference in the presidential election before leaving office."
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Obama Quietly Signs The ‘Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act’ Into Law

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Late on Friday, with the US population embracing the upcoming holidays and oblivious of most news emerging from the administration, Obama quietly signed into law the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $611 billion for the military in 2017.

In a statement, Obama said that:
Today, I have signed into law S. 2943, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This Act authorizes fiscal year 2017 appropriations principally for the Department of Defense and for Department of Energy national security programs, provides vital benefits for military personnel and their families, and includes authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe. It continues many critical authorizations necessary to ensure that we are able to sustain our momentum in countering the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to reassure our European allies, as well as many new authorizations that, among other things, provide the Departments of Defense and Energy more flexibility in countering cyber-attacks and our adversaries’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles."
Much of the balance of Obama's statement blamed the GOP for Guantanamo's continued operation and warned that "unless the Congress changes course, it will be judged harshly by history," Obama said. Obama also said Congress failed to use the bill to reduce wasteful overhead (like perhaps massive F-35 cost overruns?) or modernize military health care, which he said would exacerbate budget pressures facing the military in the years ahead.
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US Sends 200 More Troops To Syria Days After Obama Lifts Ban On Arms Supplies To Rebels

With Assad on the verge of retaking Aleppo, and with it, regaining full control in the ongoing Syrian proxy war, we asked last week in "With Assad On Verge Of Historic Victory, Syrian Rebels Request A Ceasefire" how long before the US intervenes in an attempt to derail the sudden Syrian (and Russian) momentum.  We got the answer this morning, when US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Saturday that the US is sending 200 additional military personnel to Syria to help drive Islamic State from its de facto capital of Raqqa.

Speaking in Bahrain at the Manama Dialogue conference on Middle East security, Carter said the 200, including special forces trainers, advisers, and explosive ordnance disposal teams, would join 300 US special forces already in Syria. “These uniquely skilled operators will join the 300 US special operations forces already in Syria, to continue organizing, training, equipping, and otherwise enabling capable, motivated, local forces to take the fight to ISIL,” Carter said quoted by AP.

Three years ago Obama vowed that he would not put American boots on the ground in Syria.
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Hillary Reemerges, Slams 'Dangerous Epidemic' Of Fake News

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Having disappeared from the public scene for almost a month (with the occasional backwood spotting thrown in for dramatic effect), today Hillary Clinton reemerged from a self-imposed social quarantine, and in a exquisitely choreographed Podesta special, addressed the nation from Capitol Hill. What was first and foremost on the mind of person who the "impartial" media declared had a 90 percent chance of being America's next president: was it some intense introspection; perhaps it was some idea of how to reform and fix the imploding Democratic party; or maybe it was her finally accepting responsibility for her actions and her loss?

None of the above.

Instead, the one thing that appears to have preoccupied the former Secretary of State is the proliferation of so-called "fake news", a phenomenon she called an "epidemic." It was not immediately clear if she also lumped in the Washington Post into that bucket: recall that last night, in an editorial note to the WaPo's fake, slanderous story about "Russian Propaganda Fake News", the newspaper effectively distanced itself from its primary source, PropOrNot, which itself has allegedly been exposed as propaganda.

Speaking on Capitol Hill, Clinton said that “the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year — it’s now clear the so-called fake news can have real-world consequences." Like, perhaps, poring through thousands of emails which the co=opted and captured mainstream press - especially those who had dinner with John Podesta to offer their PR services to the Clinton campaign  - would not touch, revealing the crony and illicit dealings of the Clinton Family foundation, leading to - among other things - Clinton losing the presidency?
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War Breaks Out Between Neo-Cons And Libertarians Over Trump's Foreign Policy

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In late October, when it was still conventional wisdom that Hillary was "guaranteed" to win the presidency, the WaPo explained that among the neo-con, foreign policy "elites" of the Pentagon, a feeling of calm content had spread: after all, it was just a matter of time before the "pacifist" Obama was out, replaced by the more hawkish Hillary.

As the WaPo reported, "there is one corner of Washington where Donald Trump’s scorched-earth presidential campaign is treated as a mere distraction and where bipartisanship reigns. In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief."
The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.
Oops.
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Iraq Will Use Sept 11 Bill To Sue US Government For 2003 Invasion, Demand Compensation

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As reported on Saturday, a September 11 widow was the first American to take advantage of the recently passed Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism (JASTA), aka the "Sept.11" bill courtesy of Congress which for the first time in Obama's tenure overrode his veto, by suing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stephanie Ross DeSimone alleged the kingdom provided material support to al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden leading to the death of her husband, Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, who was killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2009, when Stephanie was two months pregnant at the time with the couple's daughter. Her suit is also filed on behalf of the couple’s daughter. She sued for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

As we said last week, we expect many more such lawsuits to be filed in the coming days now that the "seal has been broken", forcing the Kingdom to defend itself in a court of law, perhaps leading to ever growing displeasure by Riyadh with the US administration, and potentially leading to punitive measures such as selling of US-denominated securities.

However, in an unexpected twist, over the weekend following the passage of JASTA, it was citizens of Iraq who asked their parliament to demand compensation for the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. As Al-Arabiya news channel reported on Saturday, an Iraqi group has requested parliament to prepare a lawsuit seeking compensation from the US for the invasion of Iraq.
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Russia Warns US Military ‘Aggression’ In Syria Would Lead To ‘Terrible, Tectonic’ Consequences

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As the drums of war beat louder, following last week's ultimatum by John Kerry that the US is contemplating a direct military intervention in Syria, including potentially sending US troops on the ground in the war-torn country for the first time, on Saturday Russia warned the US against carrying out any attacks on Syrian government forces, saying it would have repercussions across the Middle East. The warning comes as government forces captured a hill on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo under the cover of airstrikes.

It has been one year since Russia became officially involved in the Syria conflict. The maps below show zones controlled by different forces before Russian intervention in September 2015 and the situation now.

The most obvious change is the collapse in territory controlled by ISIS, as well as the expansion of territories held by the Syrian regime, which is the biggest concern to the US, whose main directive in the Syrian conflict has been less to crush the Islamic State as to minimize the influence and territory of Assad's regime, replacing it with US-controlled "rebel" forces.

And with Russia - long an ally to Assad as the conflict is fundamentally about Gazprom's loss of influence over Europe should a Qatari natgas pipelines cross under Syria - having become the biggest hurdle to US strategy in Syria, there has been a notable shift in the US strategy, with western media slamming Russia's "barbarous airstrikes," focusing on recent bombing strikes of the rebel-held city of Aleppo, a repeat of US strategy from the summer of 2013 when a doctored "chemical attack" YouTube video was used to justify US presence in the local conflict.
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Obama Humiliated: For The First Time, Congress Votes To Override President's ‘Sept 11’ Bill Veto

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The US Congress, first the Senate and then the House, humiliated the president when it voted on Wednesday to override Obama for the first time in his eight-year tenure, as the House voted 348-77 to reject a veto of legislation allowing families of terrorist victims to sue Saudi Arabia. The House easily cleared the two-thirds threshold to push back against the veto. The Senate voted 97-1 in favor of the override earlier in the day, with only Democratic Leader Harry Reid voting to sustain the president’s veto.

“We can no longer allow those who injure and kill Americans to hide behind legal loopholes denying justice to the victims of terror,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

The White House immediately slammed lawmakers following the Senate vote.

“I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One, an apparent reference to a 95-0 vote to override President Ronald Reagan that year.
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Shocking Report Finds U.S. Military Consistently 'Distorted, Suppressed, Or Substantially Altered' ISIS-Related Intel

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Last week the US House of Representatives Joint Task Force released their initial findings on the intelligence analysis of the US Military's Central Command (CENTCOM). The report found that, among other things, CENTCOM leaders "distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered analytic products" to paint US efforts to combat ISIS in a more positive light. Moreover, 50 percent of analysts within CENTCOM said that the "procedures, practices, processes and organizational structures hampered objective analysis" while another 40 percent said they had experienced attempts to "distort or suppress intelligence" within the past year.
The annual Analytic Objectivity and Process Survey , directed by the ODNI, was conducted from August through October 2015, and included responses from 125 analysts and managers within CENTCOM. The survey results were significantly worse than those of other IC agencies or COCOMs, and showed that a substantial number of CENTCOM respondents felt theirsupervisors distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered analytic products. Over 50 percent of analysts responded that CENTCOM procedures, practices, processes and organizational structures hampered objective analysis, and 40 percent responded that they had experienced an attempt to distort or suppress intelligence in the past year. Yet despite receiving these results in December 2015, CENTCOM and IC leaders did not take corrective actions to address many of the issues identified in the survey results
Frankly we're shocked by these findings which seem to suggest that the military intelligence gather process is motivated less by gathering quality intelligence intended to keep our country safe and more by political pressure intended to help re-elect the incumbent party to the White House.
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The Counter-Coup Begins: Erdogan Purges 2,745 Judges, Prosecutors; Arrests Hundreds

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When we described the aftermath of Turkey's failed, and painfully disorganized military coup attempt, we asked rhetorically, "Who wins?" To which we answered: "Why Erdogan of course. As he said during a press conference upon his arrival back in Istanbul in the early Saturday morning hours, the coup is an opportunity to "to purge the military." Erdogan also vowed to exact "the highest price" from the perpetrators. Or, to summarize, the military said Erdogan's power consolidation justifies the attempted coup; Erdogan said the coup justifies further consolidation of power."

Overnight, when analyzing the market's take of the coup, Renaissance Capital's Michael Harris said that "for markets to respond positively, we think Erdogan must go the reconciliation route, pledging not to hold elections for the coming year and committing to a consensus approach to constitutional change. More likely, though, Erdogan will seek to leverage this into a constitutional super-majority via a snap election."

Their conclusion: "A military coup has failed, but if Erdogan responds to this historic moment the wrong way, a democratic coup could be the result."

Not surprisingly, as of this morning, Erdogan is indeed responding to this historic moment the "wrong way." But before we get to that point, there are questions whether this coup was even that.
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