Consortium News’ Record on Russia-gate—How CN Covered the ‘Scandal’: No. 5—‘Spooks Spooking Themselves’

On Thursday Daniel Lazare wrote a review of a book about how intelligence agents set up aspects of the “collusion” story. But in May 2018 Lazare had already begun figuring out the story for himself.

By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News

With the news that a Cambridge academic-cum-spy named Stefan Halper infiltrated the Trump campaign, the role of the intelligence agencies in shaping the great Russiagate saga is at last coming into focus.  

It’s looking more and more massive.  The intelligence agencies initiated reports that Donald Trump was colluding with Russia, they nurtured them and helped them grow, and then they spread the word to the press and key government officials.  Reportedly, they even tried to use these reports to force Trump to step down prior to his inauguration.  Although the corporate press accuses Trump of conspiring with Russia to stop Hillary Clinton, the reverse now seems to be the case: the Obama administration intelligence agencies worked with Clinton to block Siberian candidate Trump.  

The template was provided by ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove, Halper’s friend and business partner.  Sitting in winged chairs in London’s venerable Garrick Club, according to The Washington Post, Dearlove told fellow MI6 veteran Christopher Steele, author of the famous “golden showers” opposition research dossier, that Trump “reminded him of a predicament he had faced years earlier, when he was chief of station for British intelligence in Washington and alerted US authorities to British information that a vice presidential hopeful had once been in communication with the Kremlin.”

Apparently, one word from the Brits was enough to make the candidate in question step down.  When that didn’t work with Trump, Dearlove and his colleagues ratcheted up the pressure to make him see the light.  A major scandal was thus born – or, rather, a very questionable scandal.

Besides Dearlove, Steele, and Halper, a bon-vivant known as “The Walrus” for his impressive girth, other participants include:

  • Robert Hannigan, former director Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, UK equivalent of the NSA.
  • Alexander Downer, top Australian diplomat.
  • Andrew Wood, ex-British ambassador to Moscow.
  • Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic.
  • James Clapper, ex-US Director of National Intelligence.
  • John Brennan, former CIA Director (and now NBC News analyst).

In-Bred

A few things stand out about this august group.  One is its in-bred quality.  After helping to run an annual confab known as the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, Dearlove and Halper are now partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.”  Both are connected to another London-based intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co. Halper is also connected via two books he wrote with Hakluyt representative Jonathan Clarke and Dearlove has a close personal friendship with Hakluyt founder Mike Reynolds, yet another MI6 vet.  Alexander Downer served a half-dozen years on Hakluyt’s international advisory board, while Andrew Wood is linked to Steele via Orbis Business Intelligence, the private research firm that Steele helped found, and which produced the anti-Trump dossier, and where Wood now serves as an unpaid advisor.

Everyone, in short, seems to know everyone else.  But another thing that stands out about this group is its incompetence.  Dearlove and Halper appear to be old-school paranoids for whom every Russian is a Boris Badenov or a Natasha Fatale.  In February 2014, Halper notified US intelligence that Mike Flynn, Trump’s future national security adviser, had grown overly chummy with an Anglo-Russian scholar named Svetlana Lokhova whom Halper suspected of being a spy – suspicions that Lokhova convincingly argues are absurd.

Halper: Infiltrated Trump campaign

In December 2016, Halper and Dearlove both resigned from the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar because they suspected that a company footing some of the costs was tied up with Russian intelligence – suspicions that Christopher Andrew, former chairman of the Cambridge history department and the seminar’s founder, regards asabsurd as well.

As head of Britain’s foreign Secret Intelligence Service, as MI6 is formally known, Dearlove played a major role in drumming up support for the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq even while confessing at a secret Downing Street meeting that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [regime-change] policy.”  When the search for weapons of mass destruction turned up dry, Clapper, as then head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, argued that the Iraqi military must have smuggled them into neighboring Syria, a charge with absolutely no basis in fact but which helped pave the way for US regime-change efforts in that country too. 

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Brennan was meanwhile a high-level CIA official when the agency was fabricating evidence against Saddam Hussein and covering up Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11. Wood not only continues to defend the Iraqi invasion, but dismisses fears of a rising fascist tide in the Ukraine as nothing more than “a crude political insult” hurled by Vladimir Putin for his own political benefit. Such views now seem distressingly misguided in view of the alt-right torchlight parades and spiraling anti-Semitism that are now a regular feature of life in the Ukraine.

The result is a diplo-espionage gang that is very bad at the facts but very good at public manipulation – and which therefore decided to use its skill set out to create a public furor over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It Started Late 2015

The effort began in late 2015 when GCHQ, along with intelligence agencies in Poland, Estonia, and Germany, began monitoring what they said were “suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents.”  

Since Trump was surging ahead in the polls and scaring the pants off the foreign-policy establishment by calling for a rapprochement with Moscow, the agencies figured that Russia was somehow behind it.  The pace accelerated in March 2016 when a 30-year-old policy consultant named George Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign as a foreign-policy adviser.  Traveling in Italy a week later, he ran into Mifsud, the London-based Maltese academic, who reportedly set about cultivating him after learning of his position with Trump. Mifsud claimed to have “substantial connections with Russian government officials,” according to prosecutors.  Over breakfast at a London hotel, he told Papadopoulos that he had just returned from Moscow where he had learned that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

This was the remark that supposedly triggered an FBI investigation.  The New York Times describes Mifsud as “an enthusiastic promoter of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia” and “a regular at meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual conference held in Sochi, Russia, that Mr. Putin attends,” which tried to suggest that he is a Kremlin agent of some sort.  But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange later tweeted photos of Mifsud with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and a high-ranking British intelligence official named Claire Smith at a training session for Italian security agents in Rome.  Since it’s unlikely that British intelligence would rely on a Russian agent in such circumstances, Mifsud’s intelligence ties are more likely with the UK.

After Papadopoulos caused a minor political ruckus by telling a reporter that Prime Minister David Cameron should apologize for criticizing Trump’s anti-Muslim pronouncements, a friend in the Israeli embassy put him in touch with a friend in the Australian embassy, who introduced him to Downer, her boss.  Over drinks, Downer advised him to be more diplomatic.  After Papadopoulos then passed along Misfud’s tip about Clinton’s emails, Downer informed his government, which, in late July, informed the FBI.

Was Papadopoulos Set Up?  

Suspicions are unavoidable but evidence is lacking.  Other pieces were meanwhile clicking into place.  In late May or early June 2016, Fusion GPS, a private Washington intelligence firm employed by the Democratic National Committee, hired Steele to look into the Russian angle.  

On June 20, he turned in the first of eighteen memos that would eventually comprise the Steele dossier, in this instance a three-page document asserting that Putin “has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years” and that Russian intelligence possessed “kompromat” in the form of a video of prostitutes performing a “golden showers” show for his benefit at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.  A week or two later, Steele briefed the FBI on his findings.  Around the same time, Robert Hannigan flew to Washington to brief CIA Director John Brennan about additional material that had come GCHQ’s way, material so sensitive that it could only be handled at “director level.”  

One player was filling Papadopoulos’s head with tales of Russian dirty tricks, another was telling the FBI, while a third was collecting more information and passing it on to the bureau as well.   

Page: Took Russia’s side.

On July 7, 2016 Carter Page delivered a lecture on U.S.-Russian relations in Moscow in which he complained that “Washington and other western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption, and regime change.”  Washington hawks expressed unease that someone representing the presumptive Republican nominee would take Russia’s side in a growing neo-Cold War.

Stefan Halper then infiltrated the Trump campaign on behalf of the FBI as an informant in early July, weeks before the FBI launched its investigation. Halper had 36 years earlier infiltrated the Carter re-election campaign in 1980 using CIA agents to turn information over to the Reagan campaign. Now Halper began to court both Page and Papadopoulous, independently of each other.

On July 11, Page showed up at a Cambridge symposium at which Halper and Dearlove both spoke. In early September, Halper sent Papadopoulos an email offering $3,000 and a paid trip to London to write a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean, his specialty. “George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?” Halper asked when he got there, but Papadopoulos said he knew nothing. Halper also sought out Sam Clovis, Trump’s national campaign co-chairman, with whom he chatted about China for an hour or so over coffee in Washington.  

The rightwing Federalist website speculates that Halper was working with Steele to flesh out a Sept. 14 memo claiming that “Russians do have further ‘kompromat’ on CLINTON (e-mails) and [are] considering disseminating it.”  Clovis believes that Halper was trying “to create an audit trail back to those [Clinton] emails from someone in the campaign … so they could develop a stronger case for probable cause to continue to issue warrants and to further an investigation.”  Reports that Halper apparently sought a permanent post in the new administration suggest that the effort was meant to continue after inauguration.

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Notwithstanding Clovis’s nutty rightwing politics, his description of what Halper may have been up to makes sense as does his observation that Halper was trying “to build something that did not exist.”  Despite countless hyper-ventilating headlines about mysterious Trump Tower meetings and the like, the sad truth is that Russiagate after all these months is shaping up as even more of a “nothing-burger” than Obama administration veteran Van Jones said it was back in mid-2017.  Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has indicted Papadopoulos and others on procedural grounds, he has indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for corruption, and he has charged a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency with violating US election laws.  

But the corruption charges have nothing to do with Russian collusion and nothing in the indictment against IRA indicates that either the Kremlin or the Trump campaign were involved.  Indeed, the activities that got IRA in trouble in the first place are so unimpressive – just $46,000 worth of Facebook ads that it purchased prior to election day, some pro-Trump, some anti, and some with no particular slant at all – that Mueller probably wouldn’t even have bothered if he hadn’t been under intense pressure to come up with anything at all.  

The same goes for the army of bots that Russia supposedly deployed on Twitter.  As The Washington Post noted in an oddly, cool-headed Dec. 2 article, 2,700 suspected Russian-linked accounts generated just 202,000 tweets in a six-year period ending in August 2017, a drop in a bucket compared to the one billion election-related tweets sent out during the fourteen months leading up to Election Day.

The Steele dossier is also underwhelming.  It declares on one page that the Kremlin sought to cultivate Trump by throwing “various lucrative real estate development business deals” his way but says on another that Trump’s efforts to drum up business were unavailing and that he thus “had to settle for the use of extensive sexual services there from local prostitutes rather than business success.”

Why would Trump turn down business offers when he couldn’t generate any on his own?  The idea that Putin would spot a U.S. reality-TV star somewhere around 2011 and conclude that he was destined for the Oval Office five years later is ludicrous.  The fact that the Democratic National Committee funded the dossier via its law firm Perkins Coie renders it less credible still, as does the fact that the world has heard nothing more about the alleged video despite the ongoing deterioration in US-Russian relations.  What’s the point of making a blackmail tape if you don’t use it?

Steele: Paid for political research, not intelligence.

Even Steele is backing off. In a legal paper filed in response to a libel suit last May, he said the document “did not represent (and did not purport to represent) verified facts, but were raw intelligence which had identified a range of allegations that warranted investigation given their potential national security implications.”   The fact is that the “dossier” was opposition research, not an intelligence report. It was neither vetted by Steele nor anyone in an intelligence agency. Opposition research is intended to mix truths and fiction, to dig up plausible dirt to throw at your opponent, not to produce an intelligence assessment at taxpayer’s expense to “protect” the country. And Steele was paid for it by the Democrats, not his government.

Using it Anyway

Nonetheless, the spooks have made the most of such pseudo-evidence. Dearlove and Wood both advised Steele to take his “findings” to the FBI, while, after the election, Wood pulled Sen. John McCain aside at a security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to let him know that the Russians might be blackmailing the president-elect.  McCain dispatched long-time aide David J. Kramer to the UK to discuss the dossier with Steele directly. 

Although Kramer denies it, The New Yorker found a former national-security official who says he spoke with him at the time and that Kramer’s goal was to have McCain confront Trump with the dossier in the hope that he would resign on the spot. When that didn’t happen, Clapper and Brennan arranged for FBI Director James Comey to confront Trump instead.  Comey later testified that he didn’t want Trump to think he was creating “a J. Edgar Hoover-type situation – I didn’t want him thinking I was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way.”  

But how could Trump think otherwise? As Consortium News founding editor Robert Parry observed a few days later, the maneuver “resembles a tactic out of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook on government-style blackmail: I have some very derogatory information about you that I’d sure hate to see end up in the press.”  

Since then, the Democrats have touted the dossier at every opportunity, The New Yorker continues to defend it, while Times columnist Michelle Goldberg cites it as well, saying it’s a “rather obvious possibility that Trump is being blackmailed.”  CNN, for its part, suggested not long ago that the dossier may actually be Russian disinformation designed to throw everyone off base, Republicans and Democrats alike.

It sounds more like CIA paranoia raised to the nth degree.  But that’s what the intelligence agencies are for, i.e. to spread fear and propaganda in order to stampede the public into supporting their imperial agenda.  In this case, their efforts are so effective that they’ve gotten lost in a fog of their own making.  If the corporate press fails to point this out, it’s because reporters are too befogged themselves to notice.

Daniel Lazare is the author of The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde Diplomatique, and his articles about the Middle East, terrorism, Eastern Europe, and other topics appear regularly on such websites as Jacobin and The American Conservative.  

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24 comments for “Consortium News’ Record on Russia-gate—How CN Covered the ‘Scandal’: No. 5—‘Spooks Spooking Themselves’

  1. robert e williamson jr
    April 9, 2019 at 22:57

    It seems to me that we have a DOJ / CIA, NSA etc. problem here of gargantuan proportions. In replies here the comments reveal the various directions and entities, humans included, from all sides have proven untruthful.

    That said at the same time the POTUS seems to be building himself a dictatorship type of administration. He has always had the dimocraps right where he wanted them and his right wing repugniklan base has been very successful beating the living hell out of their opposition in congress. Nothing new there.

    Am I actually getting this wrong has not the DOJ and CIA showed they are completely deaf to the will of the American people with respect to being held accountable here and releasing the factual story of what the hell happened here.

    It seems to me that everyone commenting would do well to read the re-release of Loch K Johnson’s “Season of Inquiry Revisited”, The Church Committee Confronts America’s Spy Agencies.

    I read it and it reveals the lack of the intelligence communities oversight mentioned in some comments and the author did a great job of describing the how it broke down and why. Loch K Johnson book was evidently largely ignored in 1985 when he wrote it. Stupid exceptional Americans. You want to know whats good for all of us. Get the new book and read it. We the People have lost control of our government. Once everyones perception has caught up with the current reality we can argue about who did what and why.

    It is way past time to get pro-active in reining in a run away secret arm of the government.

    The oversight failure was because congress either didn’t want to be bothered, too busy and not enough knowledge, they didn’t want to embarrass themselves by not knowing what the hell was going on , how or why. Bill Russell was running the oversight committee if you can call it that. There was no oversight. The CIA had terrified politicans and no one dared cross them. Oversight fell into “good ole boy” ploy. If you wanted the power of knowledge from CIA you hoped you would be one of those who met and talked with the CIA official , off the record. You leaked or got out of line you info stopped. The result was CIA once again proved to be untouchable.

    This behavior with the DOJ stance that CIA was exceptional in that the Agency had every right to conceal their sources and methods and this claim is a fraud on the American people.

    Proof exists now that proves CIA lied and lied about their involvement in the JFK murder and this proof exposed the real reason congress became a cowardly body. Some of those in congress read between the lines and got terrified or crossing CIA.

    Something sure as hell happened that should not have with Kennedy’s death and something is happening again.

    I would love to believe the CN angle on Russia Gate but I cannot just accept these explanations with out understanding what else happened. I, at this point in time question everything. I ask the question “WHY”, we all so. I for one see no reason not to go after CIA here. They are way out of line according to CN reporting so far. But why.

    Ever wonder why Barrack Obama toed the OHS and Patriot Act party line? He learned very quickly after having his NSA CIA briefing who ran what. We are in very big trouble if we don’t start putting tremendous pressure on congress to call DOJ, CIA, NSA and the other fifteen agencies on their seizure of authority from congress and the president. We all are about to be toast. Trump and his crazy buddy Netinyahoo are wacky racist criminals. They give the mafia a bad name.

    People feigning surprise and shock at what Barr has done, that is simply BS! I knew exactly what he would do and he has done that.

    We are all not responsible for this idiot getting elected but to give him a pass because the intell community went after him is completely missing the point. This is all wrong. Hillary got beat because no one liked her and for good reason. That failure falls directly on the democrapic party or what is left of it. The dims and the repugs got caught playing both ends against the middle, by the way that middle, that would be us. So what the hell is with CIA and DOJ? They are protecting something. What? maybe the Deep State.

    All fingers should be pointed at DOJ and CIA. Why is it that the ICIJ, International Consortium of Investigative Journalist has been very successful world wide cracking the secrets of the off shore banking industry and CIA and DOJ have themselves and our country tied in knots. I am not buying what is trying to be sold here or in DC. I don’t want to cast disparaging remarks or insults or accusations here directed at CN reporting but I am not about to buy any of this until I see facts and linkage. Seriously, I know I cannot trust the intell community, Trump or congress so if I seem cynical so be it but this all wreaks of something very bad.

    Maybe because DOJ and CIA are worried about getting caught up in that same off shore industry. We know CIA launders money. I do read Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money, I notice the Kochs or the Olins have not sued her so far.

    Better start thinking big bad things folks . My Dog what a mess. Maybe it’s about time to have a 300 million citizens march or D.C. , everyone drive their nice shinny new exceptional SUV, loaded with said citizens to D.C. and fill the streets with parked vehicles for three or four hours and then leave with the promise to return if these idiots do not get the message. Especially before trump outlaws free travel around the country. One uses civil disobedience to get the government’s attention and that needs to be done. Trump and his nazi minions are a distinctive minority it the republican led Senate that needs to be reminded there is a tomorrow. Maybe!

  2. John Drake
    April 8, 2019 at 19:01

    The problem here is that the nation and the Democans in particular have been wasting their time on red herring issues designed to distract from the corruption of the party and the incompetent campaign of their warmongering influence peddler-the mad bomber of Libya.
    The underlying problem is the fealty to the all mighty corporate donors that obsess Pelosi, Schumer, Wasserman-Shultz, and their DNC compatriots, not real issues: We wouldn’t want to talk about climate change, health care, debt, the bloated military wasting our resources, and perpetual war etc. etc. would we DNC and DCCC?
    Trump’s policies and his merry band of interest conflicted corporadoes, that infect the agencies, constitute a target rich environment for criticism and criminal investigations- lets get real!!

  3. Litchfield
    April 8, 2019 at 18:56

    “Apparently, one word from the Brits was enough to make the candidate in question step down. ”

    Who was the candidate?
    Documentation please.

  4. David Otness
    April 8, 2019 at 18:34

    Here is a nice little companion piece to further illustrate formerly-Great Britain’s extensive skulduggery in twisting narratives and running lethal interference games and gaming of the U.S. political construct:

    “And then there is that hidden “meddler” behind the meddling; Britain. The extent of British meddling in American politics – at least since – the beginning of the 20thcentury would shock even the most devout cheerleaders of ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his “dirty dossier”.
    In a case reminiscent of America’s current hysteria over Russia, British intelligence even meddled with its own government back in the mid-1970s when right-wing elements of the military plotted a coup d’ etat of Labor Prime Minister Harold Wilson based on information generated by their own disinformation campaign about Soviet influence.
    The 1917 Zimmerman telegram and the creation of the British Security Coordination in 1940 directly intervened in American politics on behalf of Britain. But the 1970 Creation of the Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) by British secret agent Brian Crozier marked a key turning point in the transformation of officially sanctioned propaganda.

    As presented by Edward Herman and Gerry O’ Sullivan in their 1989 study, The Terrorism Industry, “The London-based Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) provides an especially well-documented case study of the use of a purportedly ‘independent’ institute as a front for propaganda operations of hidden intelligence agency and corporate sponsors.”
    The purpose of ISC was to give discredited right-wing, anti-Communist and anti-union clichés in Britain the cover of legitimacy. The “Institute” got off to a quick start in the U.S. by forging an alliance with the National Strategy Information Center, NSIC a right-wing neoconservative think tank founded by Frank Barnett, William Casey and Joseph Coors in 1962. ISC’s first major triumph came in collaboration with the ultra-right-wing Pinay Cercle when Crozier and his protégé Robert Moss produced an ISC Special Report attacking the legitimacy of détente with the Soviet Union called European Security and the Soviet Problem.
    The study, financed by the Pinay group made no bones about its “Soviet problem” actually being the old “Russia problem” that European Imperialists had been hoping to solve since Napoleon’s disastrous march on Moscow in 1812.
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/07/27/the-grand-illusion-of-imperial-power/

  5. herbert davis
    April 8, 2019 at 14:32

    Clapper and Brennan will be in the history books as leaders of the failed coup attempt. I hope the stooges(Comey and Mueller) don’t take the fall for the big shots behind the attempt.

    • David Otness
      April 8, 2019 at 22:22

      I hardly consider either Mueller or Comey “stooges,” herbert.
      More to the point they are ‘made-men’ in the Beast that is D.C.
      Both have extensive dubious, if not outright smelly bios and resumes.
      I’ll gladly provide examples of both upon request.

  6. Will
    April 7, 2019 at 14:44

    And yet Trump and his people lied and obstructed continuously regarding every detail…and yet trump was trying to do a multi million dollar deal with Russia for a hotel including offering Putin a free 1 million dollar condo while running for president and lying about it.

    • tom
      April 8, 2019 at 13:16

      A deal that never went through and they never even talked to Putin…..

      They lied to the FBI with no underlying crime and the best the FBI could do was Manafort for financial crimes identical to the Podesta group they worked with and with full knowledge of the Obama administration ….and had zero to do with TRUMP……

      Zero collusion….

    • April 8, 2019 at 14:45

      Too much LSD obviously. There is no evidence Trump ever met Putin before he became president and If you are referring to Trump’s visit to Moscow in the 1990s Putin was then only a former KGB agent who had no access to Trump. Go sell your fiction elsewhere.

    • Litchfield
      April 8, 2019 at 19:10

      And yet . . .and yet . . .
      Listen, buster: the charge was COLLUSION WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN.
      Can’t you get that through your head?
      Not trying to make some kind of hotel deal.
      It is most dispiriting that the people who fell for all the “gotcha” candies are now regurgitating tham as “and yet . . . and yet”

    • Zhu
      April 9, 2019 at 07:53

      Oh, Trump is a bad guy. But Putin did not make Trump president. No matter which oligarch is in the White House, constant warfare never ends, and ordinary Americans keep getting poorer. Nothing changes. Why would Putin care who wins?

  7. Mike Perry
    April 7, 2019 at 14:05

    Nine – Eleven, it has legally morphed into making every citizen of the planet a terrorist, (including Americans).

    Russia – gate, it has legally & culturally morphed the financial warfare for the Investor Class, with it’s full spectrum propaganda front, against any opposing Nation States (.. especially, on our airwaves..).

    These 2 quotes are from the State Department, you know, where we have the “Diplomacy In Action”:
    ” ADDRESSING THE FULL SPECTRUM OF MALIGN BEHAVIOR: The United States is committed to holding the Russian government accountable for its destabilizing activities around the world, including its efforts to subvert Western democratic processes and institutions through cyber-attacks and disinformation, support for the Assad regime in Syria, flagrant violations of human rights, use of violence against opponents at home and abroad, and other malign behavior.

    ATTEMPTS TO EVADE SANCTIONS: It is critical that all entities and individuals, including Russian persons, comply with U.S. sanctions to avoid exposure to sanctions or an enforcement action under U.S. law. For example, the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions that were lifted or waived in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the beginning of the most aggressive sanctions campaign in history. Maximum pressure means maximum pressure and there will be zero tolerance for any effort to evade our sanctions. ”
    This is the timeline from the State Department and it’s ratcheting up conduct, which make things with Russia – gate, very clear:
    https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/ukrainerussia/

    After ww2, we were given “Shamrock”. .. We were also given “Mockingbird”; as well as how many unknown others?

    And, after the assassination period of the 60’s, was the Church Committee, was it our last vestige of honesty?
    … In my opinion, this may be the most important 2 minutes and 53 seconds ever recorded on our airwaves:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAG1N4a84Dk

    • Bob Van Noy
      April 8, 2019 at 09:37

      Many thanks Mike Parry. The you tube link at the end with Senator Church really underscores the depth of which our Senate Oversight has deteriorated. If one watches that clip and then the one I provided one will clearly see the total loss of quality leadership in the press and Senate.

      And Skip Scott, Yes this site is like a small light flickering…

  8. JonnyJames
    April 7, 2019 at 12:32

    The absurdity is on so many levels here. If Trump were being blackmailed by or colluding with “The Russians” why then does the Trump regime:

    Impose more illegal sanctions (based on lies)? These are acts of economic warfare (Cold War 2.0)

    Support Russia’s enemies like supplying the far-right regime in Ukraine with heavy weapons?

    Attack Russia’s allies like Syria & Iran?

    Support expansion of NATO?

    Support ABM systems on Russia’s borders?

    Rip up the INF treaty & threaten to put nuclear missiles in Europe?

    Try to block the NorthStream 2 pipeline deal?

    Threaten Russia over its stance on Venezuela?

    In short, The Trump regime has escalated provocations against Russia, even more than the Obama regime. Policy continues no matter what media ridiculous media circus distractions are thrown at the public. No matter who sits in the White House or Congress, the Washington Consensus always prevails.

    For over two years now, the media largely ignores the important issues like institutionalized corruption, declining life expectancy rates, declining quality of life, climate/environmental collapse, war crimes, crumbling infrastructure, a fraudulent election system, lack of democracy, money is free speech, political bribery is legal, Israeli war crimes, lack of accountability of US war criminals & financial criminals, etc, etc. etc.

  9. Bob Van Noy
    April 7, 2019 at 12:19

    “Since Trump was surging ahead in the polls and scaring the pants off the foreign-policy establishment by calling for a rapprochement with Moscow, the agencies figured that Russia was somehow behind it.” Daniel Lazare

    Thank you Daniel Lazare for that reference. Here is an interview with Charlie Rose and Mike Morrell that preceded Daniel’s concern for the truth at that time. It really wasn’t that hard to see who was telling the truth. I think…

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HaqgR0k_IrY

    • Skip Scott
      April 8, 2019 at 08:18

      Good link Bob. It really shows how the MSM all march in lock-step with the narrative of empire. It would be unthinkable for them to allow anyone with an alternative view any airtime. That is why they are so intent on coming after sites like this one.

  10. Jeff Harrison
    April 7, 2019 at 10:40

    I thought I’d posted a comment earlier but I’ll say it again. We are toast. Here we have the surveillance state openly breaking the law with no consequences. The US government is so corrupt, it’s hard to imagine an honest person being willing to work there.

  11. Joe Tedesky
    April 7, 2019 at 10:30

    It amazing too what is reported here at the Consortium is so much more informative than too what our MSM delivers to us as established propaganda. I feel exceptional to have started this journey through the Russiagate controversy path of deception by reading Robert Parry and Joe Lauria’s early on detailed assessments of this scandal and the better for it. Keep up the good work.

  12. Anon
    April 7, 2019 at 09:11

    Great reporting! The level of corruption and incompetence does not bode well.

  13. OlyaPola
    April 7, 2019 at 06:39

    “What’s the point of making a blackmail tape if you don’t use it?”

    Doubt is more “useful” than “knowledge” in matters of manipulation.

  14. OlyaPola
    April 7, 2019 at 05:10

    “But that’s what the intelligence agencies are for, i.e. to spread fear and propaganda in order to stampede the public into supporting their imperial agenda.”

    Relying on limited framing is to rely on misrepresentation.

    Relying on “What is” increases misrepresentation limiting “How to”.

    The opponents’ notions of how to spread fear and propaganda are often holograms based on projections which when disappointed limit the sum of some stampeded.

    “In this case, their efforts are so effective that they’ve gotten lost in a fog of their own making.”

    When projections are disappointed the opponents attempt to bridge doubt by belief including through positing chaos as their purpose, hence “their efforts are so effective that they’ve gotten lost in a fog of their own making” not restricted to “In this case…” – ‘Spooks Spooking Themselves’ being a recurring practice of the opponents not requiring external catalysation, although internally facilitated by “exceptionalist” self-absorption in the belief that others assign them the significance that they seek to assign to themselves.

  15. mrtmbrnmn
    April 6, 2019 at 23:50

    The minute NYT inadvertently outed Operation Crossfire Hurricane in May 2018 the whole John LeCarre-ish Intelligence Agencies plot that became PutinGate made sense. The next day, I read this by Daniel Lazare. And as per Occam’s razor: In a maze of nonsense, bloviating and Mueller-izing, the thing that makes the most sense is what most likely happened.

  16. Jeff Harrison
    April 6, 2019 at 23:24

    This comes as no surprise to me. Putin was very clear how he felt about things – Presidents come and Presidents go but the policy stays the same. Somebody who feels that way isn’t going to care who the head dog catcher is. It also comes as no surprise to me that the “Deep State” would seek, at all costs, to preserve their raison d’etre. It also doesn’t surprise me that the American public doesn’t actually care about the fact that the Deep State came very close to perpetrating a coup. They also don’t seem to care that the same surveillance state tailored their actions in such a way that they knew they could get away with blatantly illegal behavior because the presumptive dog catcher would let them slide.

    The Economist is being kind calling the US a flawed democracy.

    • KiwiAntz
      April 7, 2019 at 01:14

      Jeff, I wouldn’t even call the US a flawed Democracy, that’s being to kind a word too describe this? America is a Kleptocracy ruled by rich Elites, for Elites? Out of 167 Countries, the US is ranked at #25 on the Worldwide, Democracy rating scale, #25! How pathetic & sad is that? Flawed Democracy, more like a failed Democracy? Hardly a ringing endorsement or an example for other Countries to model their own Nations to follow this so called “Exceptional Nation”’which is more or less a massive pile of BS!

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