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Will the CIA Retaliate Against Trump?

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In a truly remarkable bit of honesty and candor regarding the U.S. national-security establishment, new Senate minority leader Charles Schumer has accused President-elect Trump of “being really dumb.”

Was Schumer referring to Trump’s ideology, philosophy, or knowledge about economics or foreign policy?

None of the above. According to an article in The Hill, he told Rachel Maddow on her show that Trump was dumb for taking on the CIA and questioning its conclusions regarding Russia.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you…. He’s being really dumb to do this.”

Maddow then asked Schumer what he thought the intelligence community might do to Trump to get back at him.

Schumer’s response was fascinating and revealing. He responded, “I don’t know.”

So, Schumer knows that there are six ways from Sunday for the intelligence community to get back at Trump but then, a few seconds later, can’t enumerate even one of those ways? That makes no sense, unless he was a bit scared to go into the details for fear that one of those “six ways from Sunday” might be employed against him.
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Where Was Meryl Streep When Obama Was Prosecuting Whistleblowers & Bombing Weddings?

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Okay, first let’s get one thing out of the way: I adore Meryl Streep. Judge all you want, but The Devil Wears Prada is a classic and I won’t apologize for saying it.

Streep’s anti-Trump speech on Sunday night at the Golden Globes was a sublime performance. It was delivered with emotion and grace. A real tear-jerker for anyone worried about the oncoming era of Trump.

And yet... it also stank. It reeked, in fact. Of pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. Because Streep, sadly, is that common breed of liberal Hollywood hypocrite. You know, the ones whose bleeding heart credentials are suddenly nowhere to be found when the occupant of the White House is a cool Democrat who’s besties with Beyonce.

In her impassioned speech, Streep called on her peers and fans to join with her in donating to the Committee to Protect Journalists: “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution,” she said.

She’s right, of course. But one wonders is Streep even aware, for instance, that the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all of his predecessors combined? It’s a tradition Trump is likely to continue, of course, but it’s rather strange that the issue never crossed her mind until now.
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Confirmation: Tillerson's Turn In The Hot Seat

President-elect Trump's choice for Secretary of State, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, has infuriated Senators and the mainstream media by doing business with Russia, doing business with Iran even while sanctions were in place, and having personal investments in China and Russia. We may argue that these "shortcomings" may indicate that he will be more hesitant to endorse counterproductive sanctions on those countries that resist Washington's will. However, it remains to be seen whether he will "grow" while in office to adopt the prevalent neocon view of the world. Our preview of tomorrow's confirmation hearing in today's Liberty Report...
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Washington Invented Hacking and Interfering in Elections

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Is the United States the victim of an unprovoked cyber and media attack by Russia and China or are the chickens coming home to roost after Washington’s own promotion of such activity worldwide? On Thursday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while no foreign government had been able to interfere with actual voting machines, “US agencies are more confident than ever that Russia interfered in America’s recent presidential election. And he called the former Cold War foe an ‘existential threat’ to the nation.” Pressed by Senator John McCain whether the “attack” constituted an “act of war,” Clapper demurred, saying that it would be a “very heavy policy call” to say so. He also said that he could not judge if the election outcome had been changed due to the claimed outside interference.

Clapper also claimed that the Russian effort included including the creation and dissemination of fake stories, explaining that “ While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted.” Clapper singled out Russian state funded TV channel RT, previously called Russia Today. “Of course RT…was very, very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system.” [Full disclosure: I have been on RT numerous times.]

Apart from the nonsense about foreign broadcasters being part of a conspiracy to “disparage our system” and destroy our democracy, I confess that I was willing to be convinced by what seemed to be the near-unanimous intelligence and law enforcement agency verdict but, any such expectations disappeared when the 17 page report on the hack was actually released on Friday. Entitled Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, the report is an exercise in speculation minus evidence indicting alleged Russian interference in the recent election. It even came with a significant caveat, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”
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Sen. Jeff Sessions: Libertarian Or Authoritarian?

Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee takes up Donald Trump's nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be his Attorney General. Sessions is billed as a "Constitutional conservative" but how is his record on civil liberties? The drug war? Whistleblowers? We hold a pre-hearing hearing in today's Liberty Report...
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The Globalists’ Russia Game

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Thanks to Barak Obama’s most recent expression of his low character and a foreign policy weirdly akin to fantasy-baseball gone bad, thirty-five US-resident Russian diplomats and their families targeted for rapid deportation feared a frantic search in the holiday crunch for open seats on flights to Moscow.

On Friday, Russia sent an Ilyushin 11-96 to collect everyone and the families’ panic that they might not make their deportation deadlines receded.  The embassy’s two retreats, one in New York and another in Maryland, were closed on schedule. Thus was the Obama administration’s maximally-inconvenient timing accommodated.

Everybody was home again on New Year’s Day, and America was Russkiifrei!

That’ll fix it, Team Obama thought, “it” being the lack of traction propaganda-wise that the administration’s unsubstantiated claim that President-elect Trump owed his victory to Russian hacking of DNC and Hillary Campaign Chairman John Podesta emails.

It cannot be said that Vladimir Putin’s response was anything but stylish. Instead of booting American diplomats out of Russia in retaliation, he invited everybody and their kids to a party!  Well, to several in fact, which the Kremlin stages annually in celebration of the New Year and the coming Orthodox Christmas.
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Trump Must Expose Obama-era Power Grabs

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President-elect Donald Trump will face pervasive doubts about his legitimacy from the day he takes office. His opponents will likely portray him as governing in unprecedented and reckless ways. The best response to such charges is to open the books and expose how the Obama administration commandeered far more power than most Americans realized.

Trump should follow the excellent precedent set by President Obama. In 2009, shortly after he took office, Obama released many of the secret Bush administration legal memos that explained why the president was supposedly entitled to order torture,deploy troops in American towns and cities, and ignore the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless, unreasonable searches. The disclosures signaled a new era in Washington and helped give Obama a reputation as a champion of civil liberties.

Turnabout is fair play. Trump should quickly reveal the secret memos underlying Obama’s “targeted killing” drone assassination program.

Administration lawyers defeated lawsuits by the ACLUThe New York Times, and others seeking disclosure of key legal papers on how the president became judge, jury and executioner. A Trump administration could disclose the memos and white papers without endangering anything other than the reputation of the soon-to-be former president and his policymakers.
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Will Obama’s ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Continue?

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Last week, as the mainstream media continued to obsess over the CIA’s evidence-free claim that the Russians hacked the presidential election, President Obama quietly sent 300 US Marines back into Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. This is the first time in three years that the US military has been sent into that conflict zone, and it represents a final failure of Obama’s Afghanistan policy. The outgoing president promised that by the end of his second term, the US military would only be present in small numbers and only on embassy duty. But more than 8,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan as he leaves office.

When President Obama was first elected he swore that he would end the US presence in Iraq (the “bad” war) and increase US presence in Afghanistan (the “good” war). He ended up increasing troops to both wars, while the situation in each country continued to deteriorate.
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Stop Demonizing North Korea and Talk Business

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North Korea has "entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM)." So crowed North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, in his New Year’s Day message aimed at tough-talking US president-elect, Donald Trump.

In case there was any doubt about Pyongyang’s meaning, Kim warned his nation would continue to build its  ‘capability for preemptive strike’ as long as the US and its allies continued their nuclear threats and "war games they stage on our doorstep."

Trump fired back, tweeting that North Korea’s nuclear threats against the US ‘won’t happen.’ Well, not if tweets can shoot down incoming ICBM’s.

A lot of Americans dismissed Kim’s braggadocio as more hot air from a world-class producer. But one should not quickly dismiss North Korea’s claims. The US has always underestimated North Korea.

But there is no need to squander trillions on new anti-missile defenses based in Alaska and California that may not work as advertised. North Korea’s missiles are designed to deter a US attack.

The alleged dire threat from North Korea can be better and more swiftly resolved by intelligent diplomacy and some calm thinking.
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Is That All There Is? Intel Community Releases Its Russia 'Hacking' Report

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The much-anticipated Intelligence Community report backing up its claims that the Russians hacked the US elections in November has just been released. Titled "Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections," the report is long on speculation and short on any evidence for the claims it was supposed to prove. It even came with a warning label stating that though the conclusions are reached with "high confidence," that "does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgements may be wrong." We who lived through the 2002 "high confidence" in Iraqi WMDs remember this well.
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