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A Politically Weaponized FBI is Nothing New, But Plenty Dangerous

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The Justice Department Inspector General is expected to release on Thursday its report on alleged FBI misconduct during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump supporters and opponents are already pre-spinning the report to vindicate or undercut the president. Unfortunately, the report will not consider fundamental question of whether the FBI’s vast power and secrecy is compatible with American democracy.

According to some Republicans, the FBI’s noble history was tainted by its apparent favoritism for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats have gyrated over the past 18 months, first blaming the FBI for Clinton’s loss and then exalting the FBI (along with former FBI chief and Special Counsel Robert Mueller) as the best hope to save the nation.

In reality, the FBI has been politically weaponized for almost a century. The FBI was in the forefront of the notorious Red Scare raids of 1919 and 1920. Attorney General Mitchell Palmer reportedly hoped that arresting nearly 10,000 suspected radicals and immigrants would propel his presidential campaign. Federal Judge Anderson condemned Palmer’s crackdown for creating a “spy system” that “destroys trust and confidence and propagates hate.” He said, “A mob is a mob whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals, loafers, and the vicious classes.”
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Mueller Scrambles To Limit Evidence After Indicted Russians Actually Show Up In Court

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller is scrambling to limit pretrial evidence handed over to a Russian company he indicted in February over alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, according to Bloomberg.

Mueller asked a Washington federal Judge for a protective order that would prevent the delivery of copious evidence to lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, one of three Russian firms and 13 Russian nationals. The indictment accuses the firm of producing propaganda, pretending to be U.S. activists online and posting political content on social media in order to sow discord among American voters. 

The special counsel's office argues that the risk of the evidence leaking or falling into the hands of foreign intelligence services, especially Russia, would assist the Kremlin's active "interference operations" against the United States. 

“The substance of the government’s evidence identifies uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment,” prosecutors wrote.
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Trump 'War Games' Announcement Shocks South Korea, US Military Forces

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In what was perhaps the most surprising announcement to emerge from today's Trump-Kim summit, president Trump agreed to suspend military exercises with South Korea in return for a commitment to denuclearisation from North Korea.

As we reported earlier, Trump said the war games were expensive and “very provocative”, and yet stopping them has been called a "major concession", something the US has previously rejected as non-negotiable on the grounds that the exercises are a key element of its military alliance with Seoul, and maintaining a deterrent against North Korea. In return, Trump said Kim had agreed in a joint statement to reassert “his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

In other words, Trump made it appear that he is negotiating from a position of weakness to achieve a diplomatic goal which would have remained unachievable had Trump not taken the initiative. In doing so, however, he infuriated the neocons in his immediate circle. Immediately after the announcement, the WaPo's Josh Rogin noted that "Everything Trump is saying and doing goes directly against everything Bolton has ever said or believed about North Korea."

On the surface, anything that neocon warmonger Bolton hates can only be good.
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Outcome of Assange Case Could Undermine the Rights of Millions

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As the sixth anniversary of his extended stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London approaches, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is faced with increasingly limited options. Barred from communicating with the outside world and from receiving most visitors, Assange’s only hope of avoiding extradition to the United States on trumped-up espionage charges comes down to the governments of the two countries of which he is a citizen: Australia and Ecuador.

In an unexpected move last week, the Australian government sent officials to meet with Assange and later confirmed that Australia would finally extend consular assistance to the Australian-born journalist after years of failing to do so and even threatening to revoke his Australian passport. The Australian government, in the past, has attempted to argue that it can do little to help Assange’s situation, asserting that it was “unable to intervene in the due process of another country’s court proceedings or legal matters.”

It has also failed to publicly comment on the UN’s finding that Assange has been subjected to arbitrary detention by the United Kingdom — asserting, as recently as last week, that the government’s position on the matter is “confidential,” and deflecting responsibility by claiming that the UN’s findings “are directed at the United Kingdom and Sweden, not at Australia.”
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German Officials Admit 'Still No Evidence' From UK That Russia Poisoned Skripals

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It seems notably fortuitous that the world is now distracted with the ongoing actions surrounding President Trump - whether in Quebec tweet-slamming PM Trudeau, or in Singapore ahead of his historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

We say "fortuitous" since it offers UK PM Theresa May some breathing room as her dramatic, quickly determined, and globally propagandized claims that Russia was the culprit for the poisoning of the Russian ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter; remain entirely unsubstantiated by any proof.

However, just as May was hoping the world had forgot dozens of nations expelled hundreds of Russian diplomats on nothing more than her word and the constant Russophobic narrative pumped thru the eyeballs and earholes of the rest of the world; the Germans just threw a rather loud wrench in the slient-running PR campaign that has taken the Skripal-murdering Putin off the frontpage.
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Trump/Kim Meeting Shows Value of Policy Over Politics

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When President Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, on October 11, 1987, it helped put into motion events that would dramatically change the global system. A line of communication was fully opened with an enemy of decades and substantive issues were on the table. Though the summit was initially reported as a failure, with the two sides unable to sign a final agreement, history now shows us that it was actually a great success that paved the way to the eventual end of the Cold War and a reduction in the threat of a nuclear war.
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Atlantic Council: Pro-NATO Pressure Group Uses Distortions to FIght ‘Disinformation’

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Fueling hysteria about "Russian disinformation," "Russian meddling," and "Russian propaganda" has quickly become a lucrative pastime. Now NATO’s Atlantic Council has gathered the leading proponents under one umbrella.

"Russian’s everywhere, everywhere Russians" – that’s long been the mantra of NATO’s propaganda wing, the Atlantic Council. And, since 1961, the American lobby group’s raison d’être has been to convince the world that Moscow presents an existential threat to the rest of Europe.

And as NATO has expanded, the "think tank’s" agitprop has evolved from the "reds in the bed" whispers of the Soviet-era to today’s new racket: "disinformation."

This week, Atlantic Council announced a new initiative known as the "DisinfoPortal."

Their latest wheeze is pitched as “an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad.” Something you can take to mean pretty much everything which contradicts NATO-friendly messaging, whether accurate or not.
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Still Waiting for Evidence of a Russian Hack

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If you are wondering why so little is heard these days of accusations that Russia hacked into the U.S. election in 2016, it could be because those charges could not withstand close scrutiny. It could also be because special counsel Robert Mueller appears to have never bothered to investigate what was once the central alleged crime in Russia-gate as no one associated with WikiLeaks has ever been questioned by his team.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity — including two “alumni” who were former National Security Agency technical directors — have long since concluded that Julian Assange did not acquire what he called the “emails related to Hillary Clinton” via a “hack” by the Russians or anyone else. They found, rather, that he got them from someone with physical access to Democratic National Committee computers who copied the material onto an external storage device — probably a thumb drive. In December 2016 VIPS explained this in some detail in an open Memorandum to President Barack Obama.

On January 18, 2017 President Obama admitted that the “conclusions” of U.S. intelligence regarding how the alleged Russian hacking got to WikiLeaks were “inconclusive.” Even the vapid FBI/CIA/NSA “Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections” of January 6, 2017, which tried to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for election interference, contained no direct evidence of Russian involvement.  That did not prevent the “handpicked” authors of that poor excuse for intelligence analysis from expressing “high confidence” that Russian intelligence “relayed material it acquired from the Democratic National Committee … to WikiLeaks.”  Handpicked analysts, of course, say what they are handpicked to say.
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