Nel's New Day

March 15, 2018

Russian Interference in U.S. to Expand Chaos

No matter how bad the Russia collusion and hacking have gotten, the Republicans have seemed rather blasé about this involvement, even supporting Russia over the people in the United States. Will these Republicans change their position if they lose their electric power? Russian hackers have been attacking the U.S. infrastructure, including electricity, water, and transportation as well as nuclear and manufacturing sectors, and the federal government is getting worried. Last summer, the news that Russia had gotten into over a dozen power plants in seven states didn’t get much attention in the first year of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Oval Office. Now Russians have moved into dozens of states with their attacks on the infrastructure. Eric Chien, a security technology director at the digital security firm Symantec, said:

“We now have evidence they’re sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allow them to effectively turn the power off or affect sabotage…. They have the ability to shut the power off.”

Today’s public alert from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI warned that these hackers have been targeting U.S. infrastructure for the past two years. They started by staging malware and spear phishing at small commercial networks before obtaining remote access in energy sector networks which allowed them to collect information connected with Industrial Control Systems. At least three simultaneous Russian cyber hacking attacks are going into infrastructure controls, stealing documents and using a “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency to spread misinformation on social media for chaos and discord, and focusing on disrupting the infrastructure of U.S. and European countries.

Last summer, Congress passed a law mandating that DDT place sanctions on Russia, but he  ignored the law.  A letter from 140 House Democrats asked DDT to impose these sanctions on Russia, an action that the Treasury Department took after the chemical attack on a Russian double agent in Britain followed by the death of a Russian exile. Even these sanctions are weak, because they are only on the entities and people indicted by Robert Mueller. The State Department also released a condemnation of Russia’s “campaign of coercion and violence” in the Russian annexation of Crimea four years ago this week, but no sanctions.

A serious problem for Republicans this week comes from the House Intelligence Committee GOP announcement that it closed down its investigation into the Russian scandal before finishing its job. The committee issued a brief summary with a 150-page report supposedly to follow, explaining the GOP position that intelligence agencies were wrong in its evidence of how Russia supported DDT in the presidential election. DDT saw the GOP whitewash as a vindication.

Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), forced from leadership of the committee after he briefed White House officials on committee information, has always protected DDT, even leaking information, and announced last June that they wouldn’t find any collusion. GOP members limited topics under discussion and witnesses’ questions while following White House restrictions and refusing to investigate phone and bank records corroborating witness claims. Nunes consistently undermined Robert Mueller’s investigation with false information. The person ostensibly in charge of the House Intelligence Committee investigation claimed ignorance of George Nadar, a key witness about secret meetings in the Seychelles.

The report was so biased that hard-right GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who led the Benghazi/private email server email against Hillary Clinton said that the GOP evidence was “motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm [Clinton’s] candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed.” Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that “there is evidence” showing the Russians attempted to help President Trump during the 2016 presidential election, contradicting a draft report from the panel. Rooney also warned that the government needs to act to prevent foreign interference in the upcoming midterm elections.

The GOP spin from other committee members, however, is that the intelligence community is wrong about Russian interference just as they were about Iraq weapons—ignoring the fact that the intelligence community denied “specific information” about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction before George W. Bush invaded Iraq. Then, as now with the GOP members of the “no Russian interference” group, the politicians were wrong in their perspective about the documents given them.

Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah made an awkward statement by saying that DDT would have been aware of any such collusion if it did occur. In Shah’s words, proof of collusion would also be proof of DDT’s knowledge about it. Luckily for him, it appears to be an opinion.

Democrats on the committee had not seen the report when it was released and were not told about the conclusion before it was made public. Following the release of the GOP summary, the minority members of the House intelligence Committee released a 21-page “Status of the Russia Investigation.” The majority of the document is composed of four appendices, beginning in Appendix A with the outstanding lines of inquiry which have been partially or not at all addressed:

  • Hacking and dissemination of campaign emails by Russia to determine the specific of this cyber operation.
  • DDT’s campaign knowledge of the email hacks.
  • Elections security—or lack thereof.
  • Russian social media campaign.
  • Financial leverage in DDT’s business deals, perhaps for Russian money laundering and DDT’s actively negotiating a business deal in Moscow with a sanctioned Russian bank during the election, despite his assertion that he had no business dealings with Russia.
  • Money-laundering and foreign payments, already somewhat revealed by Robert Mueller’s special investigation which includes charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
  • Post-election effects and obstruction of justice, including intervention from and lies by Michael Flynn in U.S. affairs with Russia, DDT attempts to block James Comey to investigate Flynn, and DDT’s writing a memo to cover the June 2016 meeting in which his son Donald Trump Jr. and two other senior campaign advisers intended to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Appendix B lists over 30 key witnesses which had not been interviewed with brief descriptions of their potential involvement which needs further inquiry. Appendix C gives over 20 entities, including Deutsche Bank, which should be sent “indispensable” documents that directly connect to Russian election interference.  Fifteen other people and entities that should appear and/or present documents are in Appendix D. This list includes DDT, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Erik Prince, and the White House. A key line in the most recent report from this committee:

The Minority has a good faith reason to believe that the White House does in fact possess such documentation memorializing President Trump’s conversations with Director Comey.  Subsequent press reporting revealed the existence of a memorandum reportedly composed by President Trump and Stephen Miller that referenced President Trump’s communications with Director Comey.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May says that it is “highly likely” former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, England by Russia. DDT refuses to mention the word “Russia” in connection with the poisoning although Secretary of State Secretary Rex Tillerson said that the attack “clearly came from Russia.”

Today, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster used strong language to decry Russia’s actions and blamed the Kremlin for “the abhorrent nerve agent attack” in England. It may be his last speech because rumors from the White House indicate he is to be fired by the end of the month, despite the press secretary’s denial. DDT has told Chief of Staff John Kelly that McMaster is too rigid and his briefings are too long.

Earlier, Nunes tried to protect DDT with a GOP committee memo about the Russian investigation that DDT erroneously used to proclaim exoneration for himself. It was followed by a heavily redacted response from the Democrats showing the GOP’s “distortions and misrepresentations.” Complaints that Christopher Steele’s dossier on DDT were responsible for a warrant to surveil DDT’s associate and suspected foreign agent Carter Page where shown to be totally bogus.

Meanwhile Robert Mueller is continuing his investigation, this week with subpoenas to the Trump Organization for documents, some related to Russia, in its first approach to DDT’s business affairs. Despite DDT’s denial that it has no holdings in Russia, witnesses have been asked about DDT’s business plans to build in Moscow. DDT has talked to Emmet Flood, the lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, about hiring him. Lawyers have advised DDT not to talk with Mueller, but he may be considering an interview if Mueller restricts the scope of questioning and concludes the DDT-involved part of the investigation within 60 days of the interview. Good luck!

Meanwhile Conor Lamb defeated Vladimir Putin in a U.S. House race last Tuesday in the far southwest Pennsylvania district with an almost 96 percent white population and so badly gerrymandered that no Democrat ran against the Republican in the past two elections. DDT won that district by 20 points in the presidential election. The former representative resigned after the publicity that the anti-abortion Republican encouraged his lover to have an abortion. This news was followed by multiple stories of his inappropriate action from his staff. Murphy is a developmental psychologist with a wife and adult daughter.

October 22, 2017

Generals, ‘Adults in the Room,’ Go to War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 7:33 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Generals! Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) loves them. Since his inauguration, he’s fired lots of people–James Comey, Sean Spicer, Anthony Saramucci, Reince Priebus, Sebastian Gorka, and even his beloved Keith Schiller. But the generals have stayed. DDT campaigned on opposition to a big military presence abroad, but now he’s handed over his entire foreign policy to them and the Pentagon unless he’s trying to undo something like the Iran or Paris agreement.

Who are DDT’s generals?

Gen. Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Secretary of Defense, once said about the Taliban, “It’s quite fun to shoot them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.” He also told soldiers in Iraq, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Mattis defended himself after bombing a wedding party by saying, “How many people go to the middle of the desert… to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?” He was “retired” from his command five months early when he wanted to take out an Iranian oil refinery that would have set off another war. Mattis promoted John Kelly to brigadier general in Iraq, but Kelly never fought in Afghanistan.

DDT has given Mattis unprecedented authority to set troop levels and launch airstrikes around the world—and Congress doesn’t stop DDT.

Gen. H.R. McMaster, now national security adviser, “liberated” Tal Afar (Iraq) only to have it overcome by sectarian violence a year later and one of the first Iraqi cities that ISIS took. He considers the war in the Middle East “generational” (aka unending). He’s willing to start a “preventive” war against North Korea, just as George W. Bush against Iraq.

Gen. John Kelly was seen as a force for good when he became chief of staff, restraining much of DDT’s impulsivity except for his offensive tweets—until the past week when he decided to defend his boss with a collection of lies and smears. After DDT faced criticism for his offensive remarks to the widow of fallen Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger, Kelly came to a press conference to give his side. It wasn’t pretty, especially when he called a black U.S. representative from Florida, Frederica Wilson, an empty barrel—insinuating that she was too loud and too stupid to have a role in the government.

Even worse, Kelly blatantly lied about his experience with Wilson at the dedication of a new FBI field office in Miami. He claimed that she bragged about getting the funding at the ceremony, but the building was funded before she was elected. Kelly’s speech was wrong about a fallen FBI agents’ name and his length of service, and he quoted the price of the building at $20 million instead of its cost of $194 million. A video of the event shows Wilson talking about getting the building named for two killed FBI agents and gave credit to two Republican members of Congress for their participation.  She also asked law-enforcement officials to stand so “we can applaud you and what you do” before she said,

Kelly said that he was “stunned” and “heart-broken” that the “empty barrel” would listen in on a “sacred” conversation between the president and the widow. Wilson was with Myeishia Johnson because she is a family friend, and Kelly obviously heard the conversation because he knew what was said. Like DDT who failed to use the name of Johnson’s widow, Kelly never named Rep. Wilson while he was sneering at her.

In his speech, Kelly attacked Gold Family Khizr and Ghazala Khan for appearing at the Democratic convention. Yet he ignored DDT’s attacks on that Gold Family and DDT’s comment about Sen. John McCain that he “prefers people who aren’t captured.” Kelly lamented that people no longer “honor” women while defending a sexual predatory. His anger about politicizing the war dead ignored DDT’s initiation of the political involvement of the subject after a simple question about the mission itself.

Presented with the truth about Kelly’s false statements about Wilson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that people should not disagree with a “four-star Marine general.”

Kelly’s background:

  • While in charge of the Guantanamo Bay Detention facility, he undermined President Obama’s attempts to close the facility.
  • He opposed and publicly criticized the integration of women into military ground combat units, arguing it would lead to lower standards.
  • He defended “enhanced interrogation techniques” (aka torture) such as waterboarding and rectal feeding and dismissed the criticisms of human rights groups as “foolishness.”
  • He testified in support of an officer caught urinating on Talibani corpses.
  • He supports the imprisonment of terror suspects without trial.
  • He supports the war on drugs and opposes legalization or decriminalization of any drugs, including marijuana.
  • Kelly says that the military men and women are the best one percent that this nation produces.
  • While head of the Department of Homeland Security, he ordered immigration officials to portray undocumented immigrants swept up in mass raids as criminals to support the claims of raids motivated by public safety concerns.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is supporting DDT’s three hawks in declaring war in Niger. He explained that counterterrorism will move to “status-based targeting,” meaning that “lethal force” can be used even if “they don’t have to present an immediate threat.” Decision-making will also be done in the field instead of the White House, according to Graham. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plan a public hearing the evening of October 30 to gin up people in the U.S. for DDT’s war.

As in the war on Iraq, the reason may be “follow the oil.” In late 2016, the discovery of large crude oil deposits in Niger led to an interest building a pipeline to send the oil to Nigeria and then export it. The oil in Nigeria is owned by Western corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron with Shell providing a private militia of over 1,200 soldiers. After the destruction of Libya, Nigeria became the top oil-producing African country, supplying one-fifth of the U.S. needs. Although one reason for putting Niger on the travel ban was the terrorist group, Boko Haram, it is mostly confined to Nigeria and Cameroon with a small part in southeastern Niger–not in Chad. Nigeria’s local government officials tend to support the Boko Haram.

DDT has a double reason for a war: he can take over the oil production, and he might decrease his disapproval rating, growing every week. Attacking North Korea and/or Iran would be dangerous because they would fight back. Niger has a corrupt leader, and the people are extremely poor with an annual $415 income. DDT is already getting ready for war by signing an executive order to drastically expand his ability to call back any retired service members to service. The Air Force is recalling at least 1,000 retired pilots per year to active duty.

The movement toward war was set into action on September 24 when DDT put Chad onto his travel ban for harboring terrorists although it was fighting them. By the beginning of October, Chad began pulling out its 2,000 well-trained forces out of Niger. On October 4, an under-armed U.S. military force with no air cover was sent into an ambush. Four people died, and DDT plans to declare war.

On her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow drew lines between these recent events—not as a causal conspiracy theory but with attention to the timing of what has happened. Critics from both sides of the political spectra criticized her, one person saying that Chad was fighting Boko Hiram and not ISIS. Fox network complained about the media “putting in their own theories.” Yet both groups are tangentially linked. Maddows’ two show segments on the issue are here.

DDT loves power, and he gets it from being “commander in chief.” Last month he called for a Fourth of July parade filled with military hardware to show the nation’s “military might” to “top” the one he saw in France on Bastille Day.

The three generals in traditionally civilian positions want war and secrecy, and they achieve their goal by creating a massive fear of foreign terrorism. They control the military and the war policy, making sure that DDT follows their orders to increase the defense expenditures at the cost of people in the United States. DDT the bully finds his generals “sacred” and thinks that the war will make him more popular the way it seemed to do for George W. Bush—briefly. The United States, run by “adults” and permanently at war.

As DDT’s distraction of smearing Wilson in his tweets—the most recent one today—continues, watch for the saber-rattling of his generals and GOP congressional hawks.

May 21, 2017

Sunday Speeches: DDT Pandering; GOP Spin

The grand introduction to a nine-day tour by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was today’s pandering speech to over 50 Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, a speech written by Islamophobic Stephen Miller. Miller knew that DDT had to walk a fine line between not offending his racist U.S. base and the audience of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, including 3.3 million in the U.S. alone. Gone was the term “radical Islamic terrorism” which he used as a litmus test for conservatives, damning all people who refused to say this expression. Only once did he slip in “Islamic terrorism” among the 32 times that he referred to terrorism in the 34-minute speech. The teleprompter read “Islamist,” but DDT may be accustomed to his own term which refers to the religion rather than a political movement.

Saudi Arabia was the safest place to give the speech because DDT is in sync with the authoritarian regime there. In his desire to feel royal, DDT is comfortable with their ostentatious wealth, lack of concern for rule, and a disregard for democracy. He had also just favored them with the $110 billion arms sale that President Obama had delayed on the basis of human rights and how the weapons would be used as well as the proposed Qatar purchase by Qatar of “a lot of beautiful military equipment,” as DDT describes them. DDT brought them other multi-billion dollar deals such as $6 billion for Lockheed for 150 Black Hawk helicopters and $15 billion for General Electric.

The speech also avoided other such alien concepts to the Middle East as democracy, gender equality, and political reform—again matching DDT’s approach toward ruling. Even better for Saudi support, he blamed Iran instead of ISIS “fueling sectarian violence”; he spoke about the “despair” of the Iranians on the day after they freely elected a liberal reform president and demanded that the largest Shiite country in the Middle East be more isolated. According to DDT, Iran is to blame for “so much instability,” and Shiite Hezbolla and Yemienis were equally condemned.

DDT claimed his purpose was not to “lecture” before he launched into ponderous and repetitious demands of “drive them out” like an Old Testament prophet declaiming that the Muslims are totally responsible in this “battle between good and evil.” Nowhere did he mention that his hosts are responsible for the Wahhabi Salafit extremists who murder “innocent people.” DDT also praised Saudi Arabia for its “strong action against the Houthi militants in Yemen,” an action using U.S.-made cluster bombs in crowded cities indiscriminately killing people and exacerbating a massive humanitarian crisis.

“We are adopting a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” DDT told his audience, indicating that these “common values” can include misogyny, murder by beheading, and dictatorships in the name of oil and gas. He said, “Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination.” But the generality didn’t define “friends,” which could include Russia, Iran’s supporter, and the warring militias in the Middle East. DDT said:

“We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.”

Translations for this statement could  include that the U.S. can reverse its positions at a minute’s notice based on a knee-jerk reaction to an occurrence but that the U.S. will not oppose crimes against humanity unless it will be of some financial benefit.

DDT’s speech is being declared “presidential,” the common description for words he didn’t prepare that were carefully read with no off-script comments.

Yet former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams pointed out a major flaw, “an understanding of what produces extremism”:

 “The president’s approach would work if terrorists were coming from outer space, and our task were solely to organize against them militarily. That is no doubt part of the task—but not all of it, because they are coming from within the societies whose leaders he was addressing. He offered no explanation of what was producing this phenomenon…. Trump had no theory and therefore could not suggest what might be done to prevent more extremists from rising.”

While DDT was in Saudi Arabia trying to overcome the ghastly scandals of May, his faithful were spinning his actions on the Sunday talk shows.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that DDT talked about firing former FBI director James Comey with the Russian officials to prove he wasn’t distracted by any problems in Washington. As usual, Tillerson pressed his talking point that U.S. and Russian relations were “at a low point.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster explained DDT’s meetings with the Russians as a desire to “find areas of cooperation.” Asked about DDT’s statements about Comey, McMaster said:

“Well, I don’t remember exactly what the president said. And the notes that there apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript.”

DDT reportedly called Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job” as well as firing Comey relieving “great pressure because of Russia.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed with DDT that Comey is a “nut job.” On Face the Nation, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“This is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is no way, shape, or form a ‘nut job.’”

Even Republican members of Congress didn’t defend DDT’s statements. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the investigating committees on Russia’s meddling need to have “the notes.” He added:

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis…. People got what they voted for.”

Asked about DDT’s speech, Rubio said that he differed with him on DDT’s approach to human rights issues:

“I think it’s in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights. We just have a disagreement on the right way to approach it.”

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis,” Rubio said.

With the possibility of again running for president, Rubio may have felt the need to soft-pedal his response, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not shackled by any such requirement when he told Fox’s Chris Wallace that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey “had no business in the Oval Office” and cited Russia’s invasion into Crimea:

“Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murderer, who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who has committed human rights issues all over the place.”

McCain called himself “almost speechless” about the report that DDT told Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comey  to take “off” some of the pressure about Russia. Almost, but not completely. McCain said, “I don’t know why someone would say something like that,” he told Wallace.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in his interview today that the House Intelligence Committee investigation is examining possibly Russian collusion with DDT and his campaign. House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that the scandal surrounding Russia goes far beyond DDT.

DDT may be back on U.S. soil sooner than expected. His staffers say that he is “exhausted” after less than two days of travel into his nine-day trip and  is already canceling some of his performances. This from the man who said that Hillary Clinton “lacks stamina” after her constant travel around the world while she was Secretary of State. Maybe he’ll be too tired to tweet.

 

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