quote:FBI lacked corroboration for Page wiretap; discredited dossier writer Steele ID’d as Yahoo source
Two pieces of evidence that have come together prove anti-Trump dossier writer Christopher Steele was the key source for a Yahoo News story that the FBI cited to support its wiretap application.
Identifying the source of that September 2016 article on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page has taken on added importance in recent weeks.
First, Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a declassified memo on Feb. 2. It said the FBI relied greatly on Mr. Steele’s discredited Democrat-financed dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on Mr. Page.
To bolster the dossier’s charge that Mr. Page met with two Kremlin figures in Moscow, the FBI cited the Yahoo News article, which said the same thing.
But the Nunes memo said the FBI, in its Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act application, wasn’t corroborating the dossier because the Page accusation in Yahoo came from the same source: Mr. Steele.
“The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow,” the memo states. “This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News.”
Mr. Nunes cited Mr. Steele’s testimony, through his attorneys, in a London court case in which he is being sued for libel.
Then came a Democratic rebuttal from Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, a leading dossier supporter.
Mr. Schiff, the House intelligence committee’s top Democrat, said Republicans failed to “cite evidence that Steele disclosed to Yahoo details included in the FISA warrant, since the British Court filings to which they refer do not address what Steele may have said to Yahoo.”
This assertion is important to Democrats. They are trying to bolster the FBI as it pursues collusion charges between the Trump campaign and Russia, and also support Mr. Steele, whose unverified accusations they have repeatedly cited.
The two pieces of evidence that say Mr. Steele was in fact the source:
⦁ In the London court case, Mr. Steele acknowledged that he came to the U.S. in September 2016 at the request of Fusion GPS, which paid him with Democratic Party money. He met with a number of major news representatives, including The New York Times and The Washington Post as he tried to sell his explosive charges. Included in Mr. Steele’s list of appointments was a meeting with Mr. Isikoff.
Mr. Isikoff subsequently wrote a story that matched the dossier. Both the dossier and the Yahoo story said Mr. Page met with two U.S.-sanctioned Russians, Rosneft oil chief Igor Sechin and Vladimir Putin aide Igor Diveykin. Mr. Isikoff sourced the information not to Mr. Steele but to a “Western intelligence source.”
Mr. Page, whose trip to Moscow was for a public speech at a university, has repeatedly denied under oath that he met the two men. The former Moscow resident and energy investor has decried the investigation into him, including the nearly one-year-long wiretap, which he says found no wrongdoing.
⦁ After Mr. Schiff wrote his rebuttal to the Nunes memo on Jan. 31, Mr. Isikoff, a longtime journalist in Washington with a number of scoops to his credit, posted an edition of his podcast, “Skullduggery,” on Feb. 2. Through the Nunes memo, Mr. Isikoff had just learned and said he was surprised that the FBI relied on his article before the FISA court judge.
He told about being summoned by his “old friend,” Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, to a private room in a Washington hotel to meet the former spy from Britain.
“Steele tells me an amazing story,” Mr. Isikoff said. “One of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers, Carter Page, had flown to Moscow and held private talks with close associates of Vladimir Putin about lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia. And Steele tells me something else that day that gets my attention. He has taken this information to the FBI, and the bureau is very interested. Why were they interested? What did the bureau know that would prompt them to take the next step of launching an investigation into an adviser to the Republican nominee for president?”
Mr. Isikoff subsequently wrote the article that ended up in the FBI’s FISA petition. His podcast sealed the case for Mr. Nunes.
This prompts the question: Why did the FBI believe that the dossier section about Mr. Page and the Isikoff article came from collaborating sources?
The answer lies in a declassified referral sent to the Justice Department from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.
The two said the evidence suggests that Mr. Steele lied to the FBI when he denied being the source. They have asked the Justice Department to investigate him.
“The FBI repeatedly represented to the court that Mr. Steele told the FBI he did not have unauthorized contacts with the press about the dossier prior to October 2016,” the senators’ referral said. “The FISA applications make these claims specifically in the context of the September 2106 Yahoo News article. But Mr. Steele has admitted — publicly before a court of law — that he did have such contacts with the press at this time and his former business partner Mr. Simpson has confirmed it to the committee.”
The referral says that the FBI either submitted false information or “Mr. Steele made materially false statements to the FBI when he claimed he provided the dossier information only to his business partner and the FBI.”
quote:DOJ Announces Fast and Furious Documents Withheld by Eric Holder Will Be Released
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday additional documents related to the Operation Fast and Furious scandal during the Obama administration will be released to the House Oversight Committee. The documents were previously withheld by Attorney General Eric Holder, who was voted in civil and criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to turn them over.
“The Department of Justice under my watch is committed to transparency and the rule of law. This settlement agreement is an important step to make sure that the public finally receives all the facts related to Operation Fast and Furious,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions released in a statement.
The Department stated the document release is part of “the conditional settlement agreement, filed in federal court in Washington D.C.” and “would end six years of litigation arising out of the previous administration’s refusal to produce documents requested by the Committee.”
During an interview with Fox and Friends Tuesday, the brother of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry called on the Trump administration to reopen the investigation into the operation and to release previously withheld documents.
"We need to find out the truth, exactly what happened, how it happened, why it happened. We need Mr. Trump, President Trump, to unseal the documents, reverse executive privilege so that we know what happened, and that we can hold the people accountable that are responsible," Kent Terry said.
Terry was murdered by Mexican cartel rip crew members in December 2010. They were carrying guns illegally trafficked by ATF to Mexico through the Fast and Furious program.
Operation Fast and Furious was a secret ATF program, overseen heavily at the highest levels at the Department of Justice, which took place between September 2009 and December 2010. ATF agents repeatedly and knowingly allowed individuals working for Mexican cartels to traffic thousands of AK-47s, .50 caliber rifles and handguns into Mexico. The operation ended in 2010 when Agent Terry was murdered and years of coverups surrounding his death and the extent of the operation ensued. Hundreds, if not thousands of Mexican citizens have been murdered as a result of the U.S. government putting guns into the hands of narco-terrorists and a number of firearms trafficked during the operation have been found at additional crime scenes in the United States.
quote:Who Believes in Russiagate?
Knowledgeable reporters on the left and right are frightened by the spread of an elite conspiracy theory among American media
Half the country hates Donald Trump, and even the half that thinks he’s doing a good job often flinch from his boorishness, his nasty public attacks, sometimes even on his own aides.
For all the top talent he says he’s surrounded himself with, the president repeatedly attracts among the worst that Washington -and New York- have to offer. No doubt that’s one reason why whatever is thrown at him seems to stick.
At the same time, there is a growing consensus among reporters and thinkers on the left and right -especially those who know anything about Russia, the surveillance apparatus, and intelligence bureaucracy -that the Russiagate-collusion theory that was supposed to end Trump’s presidency within six months has sprung more than a few holes. Worse, it has proved to be a cover for U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement bureaucracies to break the law, with what’s left of the press gleefully going along for the ride. Where Watergate was a story about a crime that came to define an entire generation’s oppositional attitude toward politicians and the country’s elite, Russiagate, they argue, has proved itself to be the reverse: It is a device that the American elite is using to define itself against its enemies—the rest of the country.
Yet for its advocates, the questionable veracity of the Russiagate story seems much less important than what has become its real purpose -elite virtue-signaling. Buy into a storyline that turns FBI and CIA bureaucrats and their hand-puppets in the press into heroes while legitimizing the use of a vast surveillance apparatus for partisan purposes, and you’re in. Dissent, and you’re out, or worse -you're defending Trump.
Recently, a writer on The New Yorker blog named Adrian Chen gave voice to the central dilemma facing young media professionals who struggle to balance their need for social approval with the demands of fact-based analysis in the age of Trump. In an article pegged to special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of the Internet Research Agency, Chen referenced an article he had written about the IRA for The New York Times Magazine several years ago. After the Mueller indictments were announced, Chen was called on to lend his expertise regarding Russian troll farms and their effect on the American public sphere -an offer he recognized immediately as a can’t-win proposition.
“Either I could stay silent,” wrote Chen, “and allow the conversation to be dominated by those pumping up the Russian threat, or I could risk giving fodder to Trump and his allies.”
In other words, there’s the truth, and then there’s what’s even more important -sticking it to Trump. Choose wrong, even inadvertently, Chen explained, no matter how many times you deplore Trump, and you’ll be labeled a Trumpkin. That’s what happened to Facebook advertising executive Rob Goldman, who was obliged to apologize to his entire company in an internal message for having shared with the Twitter public the fact that “the majority of the Internet Research Agency’s Facebook ads were purchased after the election.” After Trump retweeted Goldman’s thread to reaffirm that Vladimir Putin had nothing to do with his electoral victory, the Facebook VP was lucky to still have a job.
Chen’s article serves to explain why Russiagate is so vital to The New Yorker, despite the many headaches that each new weekly iteration of the story must be causing for the magazine’s fact-checkers. According to British court documents, The New Yorker was one of the publications that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele briefed in September 2016 on the findings in his now-notorious dossier. In a New Yorker profile of Steele this week -portraying the spy-for-corporate-hire as a patriotic hero and laundering his possible criminal activities -Jane Mayer explains that she was personally briefed by Steele during that time period.
The New Yorker has produced tons of Russiagate stories, including a small anthology of takes on the Mueller indictments alone. Of course there’s one by the recently-hired Adam Entous, the former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the news that the Washington firm Fusion GPS, which produced the Steele dossier, had been hired by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee -a story that helped Fusion GPS relieve some of the pressure congressional inquiries had put on the firm to release its bank records. No doubt Entous will continue to use his sources, whoever they are, to break more such stories at The New Yorker.
One person at The New Yorker who won’t get on board with the story is Masha Gessen. Born in Moscow, Gessen knows first-hand how bad Putin is and dislikes Trump only a little less than she dislikes the Russian strongman. Yet in a recent New Yorker piece, Gessen mocked Mueller’s indictments: “Trump’s tweet about Moscow laughing its ass off was unusually (perhaps accidentally) accurate,” she wrote. “Loyal Putinites and dissident intellectuals alike are remarkably united in finding the American obsession with Russian meddling to be ridiculous.”
Another native Russian-speaking reporter, Julia Ioffe, formerly with The New Republic and more recently, The Atlantic, has some similar reservations. In a September 2016 article for Politico, she threw cold water on the legend of Carter Page, master spy and wheeler-dealer. As Ioffe reported, virtually no one in Moscow had ever heard of Page.
From the beginning, Gessen saw the collusion story as dangerous, not because she supported Trump but because it fed into a fantasy that convinced Trump’s opponents that they need not bother with the difficult and boring work of procedural politics. And who were the would-be agents of America’s salvation? Spies -the former British spy allegedly responsible for the dossier and countless American intelligence officials using anonymous press leaks to manipulate the American public.
“The backbone of the rapidly yet endlessly developing Trump-Putin story,” Gessen wrote in The New York Review of Books nearly a year ago, “is leaks from intelligence agencies, and this is its most troublesome aspect.”
The specter of an intelligence bureaucracy working in tandem with the press to preserve the prerogatives of a ruling clique is the kind of thing that someone who knows Russia from the inside and actually fears the specter of authoritarian government would naturally find worrying. And not surprisingly, concerns over the role of the intelligence community and its increasingly intrusive methods motivate other Russiagate critics on the left, like Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept, historian Jackson Lears writing at the London Review of Books, and Stephen Cohen at The Nation.
“One of the most bizarre aspects of Russiagate,” writes Lears, “is the magical transformation of intelligence agency heads into paragons of truth-telling -a trick performed not by reactionary apologists for domestic spying, as one would expect, but by people who consider themselves liberals.”
Cohen, a distinguished if often overly sympathetic historian of the Soviet Union, was even more alarmed. “Was Russiagate produced by the primary leaders of the US intelligence community?” asks Cohen, referring to former CIA director John Brennan as well as ex-FBI chief James Comey. “If so, it is the most perilous political scandal in modern American history and the most detrimental to American democracy.”
Yes, the left hates Trump. I didn’t vote for him, either. But what Gessen, Greenwald, Lears, and Cohen all understand is that Russiagate isn’t about Trump. He’s just a convenient proxy for the real target. Their understanding is shared by writers on the right, like Andrew McCarthy, a former lawyer at the Department of Justice, who has unfolded the Russiagate affair over the last year in the pages of National Review, where he has carefully explained how the DOJ and FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to spy on Carter Page and violate the privacy of an American citizen.
What unites Gessen, Greenwald, Lears, and McCarthy obviously isn’t politics—rather, it’s the recognition that the Russiagate campaign represents an attack on American political and social institutions, an attack on our liberties, an attack on us. Russiagate is a conspiracy theory, weaponized by political operatives, much of the press, as well as high-level intelligence and law enforcement bureaucrats to delegitimize an American election and protect their own interests, which coincide with those of the country’s larger professional and bureaucratic elite. [...]
quote:[...] The story of how the Russiagate collusion myth was made and marketed is much easier to understand -it’s social. Imagine a map of professional, academic, and family networks that connect people across professions like law, journalism, public relations, and lobbying, which intersect with political institutions, like the permanent bureaucracies that staff places like the FBI, CIA, Congress, and the White House. That map is largely blue, but there’s lots of red there, too.
The story of how spies and journalists came to collaborate on a disinformation campaign is also, as the left may not be surprised to find, partly explained by economics. With the rise of the internet and social media, and the resulting collapse of print advertising, it was no longer necessary for the media to mass so close to New York City ad firms. Surviving old-media outlets and their new-media cousins moved much of their operations to Washington, which offered one-stop shopping for “national” stories. Having insulated itself from the 2008 economic collapse, the capital thrived. Ambitious and inexperienced young journalists flocked to where the jobs were, staffing startup news and social media operations -which were often simply partisan war rooms that produced and solicited opposition research -just in time to cover Obama’s historic presidency.
For those like Gessen, Cohen, Lears, and others on the left who don’t understand how and when American journalists got in bed with the country’s spies, it started several years before Trump or Russiagate. It was while reporting on the Obama administration that the press came to rely on the White House’s political operatives, including intelligence officials, for sources and stories about American foreign policy. It got worse when the Obama administration started spying on its domestic opponents during the Iran deal, when the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for domestic political advantage. As Adam Entous, then of The Wall Street Journal, wrote in a December 2015 article, “the National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”
Obama administration officials had leaked the story to Entous in order to shape its reception. After all, the real news was pretty bad—Obama had spied on Americans and the Americans he spied on, Congress and Jewish community leaders, knew it. But in Entous’ account, it was only by accident that the National Security Agency had listened in on Americans opposed to the Iran deal, opponents whose communications had simply been “swept up.” While Entous’ evident lack of skepticism about that account was hardly good reporting, it was perfectly in keeping with the maxim of not biting the hand that feeds you.
What the White House really wanted to know, on Entous’ telling, was what the Israeli prime minister and his ambassador to Washington were doing to contest the Iran deal. Except, neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer makes U.S. policy: Congress does. As I explained in an April Tablet article, the purpose of the spying campaign was to help the White House fight U.S. legislators and other Americans critical of the deal -i.e., to win a domestic political battle. A pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the Iran deal fight told me last year, “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans.” With the Iran deal, as would later happen with Russiagate, the ostensible targets of intelligence collection -Israel, then Russia- were simply instruments that the Obama administration used to go after the real bad guys, namely its enemies at home.
The same process of weaponizing foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes that the Obama administration road-tested during the Iran-deal fight was used to manufacture Russiagate and get it to market. Except instead of keeping a close hold of the identities of those swept up during “incidental collection” of U.S. persons, departing Obama White House officials leaked the names to friendly reporters.
Leaking classified intelligence is a felony, which means that Obama officials, many in the intelligence community, who leaked the names of Americans whose communications were intercepted to the press, were breaking the law. A crucial concern, then, was the trustworthiness of the intermediaries chosen to publish classified intelligence. It is to those intermediaries that anyone seeking to understand how the press became an instrument of the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy’s information war must now turn.
Entous, now The New Yorker’s man in Washington, had already proved his trustworthiness by shaping the story about Obama administration spying on congressional and American Jewish-community leaders in a way that was favorable to the administration, and disguised blatant abuses of power. More stories would now come his way, courtesy of the U.S. intelligence community.
One of Entous’ most famous Russia-related scoops was a Dec. 31, 2016, Washington Post article reporting that “according to US officials,” Russians hackers had penetrated the computer system of a Vermont dam. As it turns out, the story was entirely wrong.
A statement from Burlington Electric released shortly after the Post’s story explained that a laptop unconnected to the company’s grid was affected by malware. There was no threat to the dam, never mind “the nation’s electrical grid,” as the anonymous U.S. officials quoted in the Entous story had claimed.
In other words, there was no story -which Entous or his co-writer would have discovered had they contacted the electricity company. They didn’t, because the story was not sourced to original reporting -i.e. discovering from sources on location in Vermont that the state’s electrical grid had in fact been compromised. In support of reporting like that, the journalists might well have sought supporting information or quotes from government officials, named or even anonymous. Instead, their story started with anonymous U.S. officials, who leaked to Entous and his colleague for the evident purpose of advancing the Russiagate narrative. Russia was everywhere -from a dam in Vermont to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
If Entous’ story about the Obama administration’s spying on Congress and U.S. Jewish leaders showed that the reporter was trustworthy, the Vermont-dam article showed he wasn’t going to ask many questions of the officials who pointed him toward a nonexistent story, whose purpose appeared to have less to do with the health of the state of Vermont than with fear-mongering about Russia.
Clearly, someone noticed. In the March 1, 2017, Washington Post, Entous was lead byline on an article breaking the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. A July 21, 2017, Post story on which Entous had the lead byline alleged that Sessions had discussed campaign-related matters with Kislyak. The latter story provides evidence of how the March and July articles were produced -U.S. officials leaked classified intelligence regarding intercepts of Kislyak’s communications with Moscow, in which he discussed Sessions. Officials then unmasked the identity of the attorney general and leaked it to Entous and the other reporters on the story.
Following close on the heels of those two pass-through DC-based “scoops,” Entous was lead byline on an April 3, 2017, story reporting a meeting in the Seychelles between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian banker, reportedly to set up a back channel between Trump and Putin. After publication of the story, Prince said he was shown “specific evidence” by sources from the intelligence community that his name was unmasked and given to the paper. “Unless The Washington Post has somehow miraculously recruited the bartender of a hotel in the Seychelles,” Prince told the House Intelligence Committee in December, “the only way that’s happening is through SIGINT [signals intelligence].” Recent news reports suggest that Prince’s meeting has become a key focus of the Mueller investigation. If those reports are accurate, it seems even more likely that classified intelligence was purposefully being leaked to put pressure on Prince. A week later, on April 11, 2017, Entous is bylined on yet another story based on a leak of classified intelligence that once again violated the privacy rights of an American citizen when the Post broke the news that the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Carter Page.
If you think Russiagate is real, then you will probably conclude that Sessions, Prince, and Page are all part of a single, monstrous criminal conspiracy -and that Adam Entous is one of the most important journalists in American history, an indefatigable shoe-leather reporter who helped whistleblowers inside the federal government put the truth before the American public, like Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Neil Sheehan combined. If you think the collusion story is nonsense, then Entous is just a political operative with a convenient byline. And if you think Russiagate is a campaign of political warfare waged in the shadows by bureaucrats who violated the privacy of American citizens in order to undo election results they disagreed with, then Entous is something worse—an asset whom sectors of the intelligence community have come to rely on in order to manipulate the public.
quote:The CIA Democrats: Part one
An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.
If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress.
Both push and pull are at work here. Democratic Party leaders are actively recruiting candidates with a military or intelligence background for competitive seats where there is the best chance of ousting an incumbent Republican or filling a vacancy, frequently clearing the field for a favored “star” recruit.
A case in point is Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA operative with three tours in Iraq, who worked as Iraq director for the National Security Council in the Obama White House and as a top aide to John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence. After her deep involvement in US war crimes in Iraq, Slotkin moved to the Pentagon, where, as a principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, her areas of responsibility included drone warfare, “homeland defense” and cyber warfare.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has designated Slotkin as one of its top candidates, part of the so-called “Red to Blue” program targeting the most vulnerable Republican-held seats—in this case, the Eighth Congressional District of Michigan, which includes Lansing and Brighton. The House seat for the district is now held by two-term Republican Representative Mike Bishop.
The Democratic leaders are promoting CIA agents and Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. At the same time, such people are choosing the Democratic Party as their preferred political vehicle. There are far more former spies and soldiers seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party than of the Republican Party. There are so many that there is a subset of Democratic primary campaigns that, with a nod to Mad magazine, one might call “spy vs. spy.”
The 23rd Congressional District in Texas, which includes a vast swathe of the US-Mexico border along the Rio Grande, features a contest for the Democratic nomination between Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force intelligence officer in Iraq, who subsequently served as an adviser for US interventions in South Sudan and Libya, and Jay Hulings. The latter’s website describes him as a former national security aide on Capitol Hill and federal prosecutor, whose father and mother were both career undercover CIA agents. The incumbent Republican congressman, Will Hurd, is himself a former CIA agent, so any voter in that district will have his or her choice of intelligence agency loyalists in both the Democratic primary and the general election.
CNN’s “State of the Union” program on March 4 included a profile of Jones as one of many female candidates seeking nomination as a Democrat in Tuesday’s primary in Texas. The network described her discreetly as a “career civil servant.” However, the Jones for Congress website positively shouts about her role as a spy, noting that after graduating from college, “Gina entered the US Air Force as an intelligence officer, where she deployed to Iraq and served under the US military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy” (the last phrase signaling to those interested in such matters that Jones is gay).
According to her campaign biography, Ortiz Jones was subsequently detailed to a position as “senior advisor for trade enforcement,” a post President Obama created by executive order in 2012. She would later be invited to serve as a director for investment at the Office of the US Trade Representative, where she led the portfolio that reviewed foreign investments to ensure they did not pose national security risks. With that background, if she fails to win election, she can surely enlist in the trade war efforts of the Trump administration.
How this article was prepared
The House of Representatives is currently controlled by the Republicans, with a majority of 238 compared to 193 Democrats. There are four vacancies, one previously held by the Democrats. To reach a majority of 218 seats in the next Congress, the Democrats must have a net gain of 24 seats.
The DCCC has designated 102 seats as priority or competitive, including 22 seats where the incumbents are not running again (five Democrats and 17 Republicans), and 80 seats where Republican incumbents could be defeated for reelection in the event that polls predicting a sizeable swing to the Democrats in November prove accurate.
The World Socialist Web Site has reviewed Federal Election Commission reports filed by all the Democratic candidates in these 102 competitive districts, focusing on those candidates who reported by the latest filing date, December 31, 2017, that they had raised at least $100,000 for their campaigns, giving them a financial war chest sufficient to run in a competitive primary contest. In addition, there a few cases where a candidate had less than the $100,000 cutoff, but was unchallenged for the nomination, or where last-minute retirement or resignation has led to late entry of high-profile candidates without an FEC report on file. These have also been included.
The total of such candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 102 districts is 221. Each has a website that gives biographical details, which we have collected and reviewed for this report. It is notable that those candidates with a record in the military-intelligence apparatus, as well as civilian work for the State Department, Pentagon or National Security Council, do not hide their involvement, particularly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They clearly regard working as a CIA agent in Baghdad, an Army special ops assassin in Afghanistan, or a planner for drone missile warfare in the White House or Pentagon as a star on their rťsumť, rather than something to conceal.
One quarter of all the Democratic challengers in competitive House districts have military-intelligence, State Department or NSC backgrounds. This is by far the largest subcategory of Democratic candidates. National security operatives (57) outnumber state and local government officials (45), lawyers (35), corporate executives, businessmen and wealthy individuals (30) and other professionals (19) among the candidates for Democratic congressional nominations.
Of the 102 primary elections to choose the Democratic nominees in these competitive districts, 44 involve candidates with a military-intelligence or State Department background, with 11 districts having two such candidates, and one district having three. In the majority of contests, the military-intelligence candidates seem likely to win the Democratic nomination, and, if the Democrats win in the general election, would enter Congress as new members of the House of Representatives.
There are some regional differences. In the Northeast, 21 of the 31 seats targeted by the Democrats have military-intelligence candidates. This area, not the South or Midwest, has the highest proportion of military-intelligence candidates seeking Democratic nominations.
In the West, only 7 of the 23 targeted seats have military-intelligence candidates, while in a half dozen seats the leading candidates are self-funded millionaires, mainly from the IT industry. There has been a wave of Republican retirements in California and wealthy people are bidding for these seats.
The military-intelligence candidates are disproportionately favored by the party apparatus, encouraged to run in districts that are the most likely takeover targets. Military-intelligence candidates account for 10 of the 22 districts selected for the most high-profile attention as part of the “red-to-blue” program, or nearly half. In some cases, military-intelligence candidates have amassed huge campaign war chests that effectively shut out any potential rivals, an indication that the financial backers of the Democratic Party have lined up behind them.
quote:The CIA Democrats: Part two
Agents and war commanders
There are 57 candidates for the Democratic nomination in 44 congressional districts who boast as their major credential their years of service in intelligence, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the State Department, or some combination of all three. They make up the largest single occupational group running in the Democratic primaries that began March 6 in Texas and extend through mid-September, selecting the candidates who will appear on the general election ballot on November 6.
Aside from their sheer number, and the fact that more than 40 percent, 24 of the 57, are women, there are other aspects worth considering.
Agents, but no longer secret
First: The number of candidates who openly proclaim their role in the CIA or military intelligence. In years past, such activities would be considered confidential, if not scandalous for a figure seeking public office. Not only would the candidates want to disguise their connections to the spy apparatus, the CIA itself would insist on it, particularly for those who worked in operations rather than analysis, since exposure, even long after leaving the agency, could be portrayed as compromising “sources and methods.”
This is no longer the case. The 2018 candidates drawn from this shadow world of espionage, drone murders and other forms of assassination positively glory in their records. And the CIA and Pentagon have clearly placed no obstacles in the way.
We’ve already reviewed the cases of Elissa Slotkin, running in Michigan’s 8th District, who served three tours with the CIA in Baghdad, and Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force intelligence officer in Iraq, running for the Democratic nomination in the 23rd District of Texas. There are many others.
Abigail Spanberger, seeking the Democratic nomination in a district in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, has the following declaration at the top of her campaign website: “After nearly a decade serving in the CIA, I’m running for Congress in Virginia’s 7th District to fight for opportunity, equality and security for all Americans. My previous service as a law enforcement officer, a CIA officer, and a community volunteer has taught me the value of listening.” Indeed!
Abigail Spanberger's campaign website
Spanberger worked for the CIA as an operations officer, in which capacity, “She traveled and lived abroad collecting intelligence, managing assets, and overseeing high-profile programs in service to the United States.” Her opponent for the Democratic nomination is a career Marine Corps pilot, Dan Ward, in one of nearly a dozen contests involving multiple military-intelligence candidates.
Jesse Colvin, running in the 1st District of Maryland, spent six years in Army intelligence, including four combat deployments to Afghanistan and a year near the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea. According to his campaign biography, “I am a proud graduate of the US Army’s Ranger Course, the premier leadership school in the military. I am even more honored to have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment—the Army Rangers. Rangers lead in many key roles throughout the Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) community, and I am lucky to have served and led with men and women of this caliber.”
His biography continues: “As a Ranger, my four combat deployments in Afghanistan took place within a Joint Special Operations Task Force. I led intelligence teams whose work facilitated capture/kill missions of Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist leaders. I managed a lethal drone program. I ran human intelligence sources. Every day, my team and I made dozens of decisions whose outcomes carried life and death consequences for my fellow Rangers, our Afghan partners, and Afghan civilians.”
Jesse Colvin (front right) with his unit in Afghanistan
Jeffrey Beals, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 19th District of New York, is now a school teacher, but writes on his website, “After beginning my career as a CIA intelligence officer, I joined the State Department … I answered the call to help our country in Iraq in 2004 and became one of the longest serving US diplomats of the Iraq War. Fluent in Arabic, I faced down insurgents to set up the first diplomatic talks between our ambassador, our generals and the insurgency. I helped bring warring factions together to create a constitution for Iraq and was decorated by both the US Army and the State Department.”
Unfortunately for Beals, his fundraising, $174,000 by December 31, 2017, is dwarfed by that of another military-intelligence rival for the nomination, Patrick Ryan, a West Point graduate with two tours of duty in Iraq, “including a tour as the lead intelligence officer for an infantry battalion of 1,000 soldiers and officers responsible for ground operations in Mosul,” according to his campaign website. Ryan had raised $906,000 by December 31, and two other candidates in that district, a politically connected lawyer and a medical device manufacturer, had raised more than one million dollars each, all seeking to challenge two-term Republican incumbent John Faso in the Hudson Valley district.
Jonathan Ebel, running in the 13th District of Illinois, served four years as a naval intelligence officer, including on the staff of the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He now teaches religion at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Then there is Shelly Chauncey, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 5th District of Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her website strikes a feminist note:
“Shelly served her nation for more than a decade with the Central Intelligence Agency. She began her career as a secretary and worked her way up to become a counter-intelligence officer. Shelly served as an undercover officer with the CIA in Latin America, East Asia and throughout the United States, providing logistical and counter-intelligence support to operatives abroad.”
The reference to undercover operations “throughout the United States” underscores the role of the intelligence apparatus in spying on the American people, although the CIA is, by law, prohibited from such activity.
Another campaign website touches on the domestic operations of the US spy machine. Omar Siddiqui, running in California’s 48th District, describes his background as follows: “On the front lines of national defense, Mr. Siddiqui serves as a private advisor and consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on issues of national security and counter-terrorism and was formerly an advisor and community partner with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Mr. Siddiqui is presently director of special projects of the FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association…”
Commanders and planners of the Iraq War
Barack Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination and the 2008 election in large measure by presenting himself as an opponent of the war in Iraq launched under George W. Bush. Once in office, however, he retained Bush’s defense secretary, former CIA Director Robert Gates, and continued the war for another three years, as well as escalating the long-running US war in Afghanistan.
It is noteworthy in this context that so many of the military-intelligence candidates for Democratic congressional nominations boast of their roles in the war in Iraq and even, in some cases, present it as the high point of their professional and even personal lives.
Thus Elissa Slotkin, already referred to above, met her future husband, the pilot of an Apache helicopter gunship, while working as a CIA agent in Baghdad. Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran turned “clean energy” multi-millionaire, backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the Democratic nomination in the 9th District of North Carolina, even claims to have found Jesus in Iraq, where he was baptized in water from the Euphrates River.
The Iraq War veterans are either officers, giving them command responsibility in one of the great crimes of the 21st century, or served in special forces units like the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs, engaging in covert operations that were among the bloodiest and most brutal of the war, or had high-level responsibility at the Pentagon or the National Security Council.
Daniel Helmer, running in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District against five other well-financed candidates—including former State Department official Alison Friedman, who has already topped the $1 million mark—says remarkably little about what he did in Afghanistan and Iraq, although his photograph in military fatigues is on the front page of his website. But Helmer boasts perhaps the most extensive list of endorsements by retired national security officials of any candidate in the country, including eight generals and admirals, two former deputy directors of the CIA, Avril Haines and David Cohen, and Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy. What he did to earn their support is left to the imagination.
Richard Ojeda, elected as a West Virginia state senator in 2016, is now seeking the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District, covering the southern third of the state. As the WSWS has reported, Ojeda has based his political career on more than two decades in the US Army Airborne, including repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he reached the rank of major. His last post was as executive director of Army recruiting in Beckley, seeking to convince youth in West Virginia and Virginia to become cannon fodder for the Pentagon.
Josh Butner, running in the 50th District of California against Republican Duncan Hunter, Jr., “served for 23 years in the United States Navy where he saw multiple combat deployments, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The career Navy SEAL says almost nothing about what he actually did in the top military assassination unit, but that is to be expected. His campaign website features the slogan “Service, Country, Leadership,” alongside a photograph of Butner in desert fatigues.
Dan Feehan is running to succeed incumbent Democrat Tim Walz in the 1st Congressional District of Minnesota, after Walz announced his candidacy for governor of that state. From 2005 to 2009, according to his campaign biography, Feehan “served as an active duty soldier and completed two combat tours of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.” He then joined the Obama administration, first as a White House aide, then as an acting assistant secretary of defense in the Pentagon.
Andy Kim, running in the 3rd District of New Jersey, has actually raised more money than the incumbent Republican, Tom MacArthur. Kim worked at the Pentagon and as a strategic adviser to generals David Petraeus and John Allen while they were in command of US forces in Afghanistan. He then moved to the National Security Council, where he was Obama’s director for Iraq for two years.
Maura Sullivan, seeking the Democratic nomination in New Hampshire’s 2nd District, where incumbent Democrat Carol Shea-Porter is retiring, was a Marine Corps officer, rising to the rank of captain and deploying to Fallujah, Iraq, scene of some of the bloodiest battles and most horrific US war crimes of that war. She too joined the Obama administration as a civilian administrator at both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon.
Jason Crow is running in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Mike Coffman, where he was selected by the DCCC as one of its top candidates in the “Red-to-Blue” program. He is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, leading a paratrooper platoon during the invasion of Iraq. He then joined the Army Rangers and served two tours in Afghanistan “as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force,” where he rose to the rank of captain.
Matthew Morgan had a 20-year career in the Marine Corps “where I would deploy routinely overseas, culminating in several senior staff roles where I’d provide counsel to numerous military leaders, including the secretary of defense.” He did two tours in Iraq and also worked in counterterrorism on the Horn of Africa. Now he is the unopposed candidate for the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, which has switched back and forth between the two big business parties and is currently held by first-term Republican Jack Bergman.
quote:The CIA Democrats: Part three
From the State Department to Capitol Hill
The final category of military-intelligence candidates consists of veterans of the US State Department during the Obama years, most of them former aides to Hillary Clinton. These are among the best financed and most publicized of the likely Democratic nominees. In the event of a Democratic “wave” in November, most would find themselves with seats in Congress.
Tom Malinowski, a former congressional aide and Clinton administration official, headed the Washington office of Human Rights Watch for 13 years before joining the Obama administration under Secretary of State John Kerry as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor. He is seeking the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Leonard Lance.
Lauren Baer was a legal adviser to both Secretaries Clinton and Kerry, as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. She is now seeking the Democratic nomination in the 18th District of Florida, where her principal opponent is Pam Keith, a former judge advocate general in the US Navy and now general counsel to Florida Power & Light. Both women push additional buttons for identity politics, as Baer is openly gay and Keith is African-American.
Nancy Soderberg is a longtime US foreign policy figure going back to the Clinton administration, first at the National Security Council, then as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs, then as an alternate US representative at the UN Security Council with the rank of ambassador. She has spent much of her time since then heading private overseas operations like the International Crisis Group, while playing a prominent role in the Florida Democratic Party. She is effectively unchallenged for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 6th Congressional District (Daytona Beach), where the incumbent Republican Ron DeSantis is running for governor.
Edward Meier was a senior adviser to the State Department. According to his campaign website, he “was responsible for coordinating the military-to-civilian transition in Iraq—ensuring our diplomats and aid workers would be safe and secure after the withdrawal of US troops. In this role, he traveled to Iraq on multiple official trips working closely with the US military and the Iraqi government. …” He went on to be director of policy outreach for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Meier fell short Tuesday in his bid for the Democratic nomination in the 32nd District of Texas, finishing fourth out of five Democrats running against incumbent Republican Pete Sessions in a suburban Dallas district Clinton carried over Donald Trump, even though he spent the most money.
Sara Jacobs is another State Department official turned Clinton campaign aide, working on “conflict zones in East and West Africa,” particularly the campaign against Boko Haram in Nigeria, and helping to “spearhead President Obama’s efforts to improve governance in the security sector of our counterterrorism partners,” according to her campaign website. She was a foreign policy adviser to the Clinton campaign and is now seeking the Democratic nomination in California’s 49th District, where incumbent Darrell Issa is retiring.
Jacobs is the best-financed Democrat in the race, as befits the granddaughter of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, but at age 29 she would be the youngest congresswoman ever, and she has been snubbed in favor of several more experienced rivals by recent Democratic Party caucuses. One of her opponents is Douglas Applegate, a career Marine Corps judge advocate general with combat tours in Fallujah, Baghdad and Ramadi, who narrowly lost the 2016 race to Issa.
Talley Sergent, yet another State Department official turned Clinton campaign aide, is running in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Charleston, against two-term incumbent Republican Alex Mooney. A former aide to Senator Jay Rockefeller, Sergent worked on slavery and sex trafficking at the State Department, then managed Clinton’s disastrous campaign in West Virginia before becoming a public relations executive for The Coca-Cola Co.
Challenging her for the Democratic nomination is Aaron Scheinberg, West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran, deployed first as a platoon leader in the 4th Infantry Division, then as a civil affairs officer in Haswah, Iraq. Scheinberg is now executive director of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit promoting the employment of veterans, whose board of directors includes such figures as Michele Flournoy, Pentagon undersecretary in the Obama administration; Meghan O’Sullivan, Iraq director for the National Security Council under George W. Bush; and retired General Ray S. Odierno, former commander of US forces in Iraq.
Jessica Morse was Iraq country coordinator for the State Department in the course of “over a decade as a national security strategist,” according to her website. She worked for the US Agency for International Development, a longtime CIA front, then as adviser to the US Pacific Command, where she “strengthened the US-India defense relationship … and worked to counter terrorist threats in South Asia.” Her opponent for the Democratic nomination in the 4th District of California, to face Republican incumbent Tom McClintock, is another former State Department officer, Regina Bateson, who was a vice-consul in Guatemala and “studied terrorist travel and border security,” according to her campaign website.
A stealth candidate—and some celebrities
The American corporate media has been slow to comment on the extraordinary influx of military and intelligence officers into the Democratic Party’s 2018 congressional campaign. The media prefers to cover the campaign from the standpoint of secondary characteristics, focusing on the great number of women running for office, mainly as Democrats, supposedly in response to Trump’s misogyny.
An exception to this pattern was the article February 8 by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, under the headline, “Active-Duty Candidates Can Run—But Can They Campaign?” The article profiled a Tennessee Democratic congressional candidate, Matt Reel, who was called up from his reserve status for a five-month deployment with the 20th Special Forces Group (Green Berets). According to the article, “Even Matt Reel’s staff doesn’t know where he’s deployed.”
Reel announced his campaign for the 7th District seat shortly after incumbent Republican Marsha Blackburn announced that she was leaving the House of Representatives to run for the US Senate seat from Tennessee currently held by Bob Corker, who is retiring. Because of the late announcements, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has not yet targeted the district and Reel is not included in the figures cited earlier in this article.
The unusual situation for Reel is that, under Pentagon rules, he cannot direct his own campaign while he is on active duty. His aides and supporters can continue to campaign, but he is barred communicating with them in any way. Reel is not even allowed to tell them where he is, since the military deployment is covert. This truly “dark horse" candidate left his campaign having shot a few commercials and other video material, and will return a month or so before the August 2 primary.
Reel is one more example of a candidate from the “black ops” section of the military running as a Democrat. In his case, the two cannot be separated: he has been a Democratic Party functionary and a Green Beret since completing college. A former chief of staff to Alabama Representative Terri Sewell, his most recent position was deputy staff director for the Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
While Reel is considered an extreme long-shot as a candidate, running in a district won by the Republicans in 2016 by a 3-1 margin, the DCCC is heavily promoting a number of career military candidates, most of them women, as star recruits for the most competitive districts in 2018, those where a switch from Republican to Democratic control is most likely. These candidates have access to funding far beyond what would be expected for first-time candidates without huge personal resources.
Running in the 31st District of Texas is Mary Jane Hegar, a helicopter pilot and certified military celebrity—Angelina Jolie is cast to play her in a biographical film based on her memoir, Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front. Hegar came to prominence through a lawsuit against the Pentagon policy of barring women from combat. Opposing her for the nomination to face incumbent Republican John Carter is Kent Lester, a West Point graduate and career military officer who retired as a lieutenant colonel after deployments to Panama and Bosnia, among other locations.
Shoot Like A Girl
In Virginia’s 2nd District, which encompasses the Norfolk-Hampton Roads area with its complex of naval bases and shipyards, the DCCC has promoted Elaine Luria, one of the first Navy women to serve as an officer on a nuclear-powered ship, as its favored candidate under the “Red-to-Blue” program. Luria has “deployed six times to the Middle East and Western Pacific as a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer.” She was second-in-command of a guided missile cruiser and commanded assault craft supporting a Marine Corps deployment.
Other military candidates who had already raked in more than one million dollars in campaign funds in 2017, the year before the election, and have been widely publicized in local media in their districts, include:
Mikie Sherrill, a career Navy helicopter pilot, with ten years’ active service in Europe and the Middle East, now a federal prosecutor. She reported raising $1,230,000 by December 31, 2017 for her campaign for the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Rodney Freylingheusen is retiring.
Chrissy Houlahan, a former US Air Force captain, has raised $1,228,000 for her campaign in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, against incumbent Republican Ryan Costello.
Amy McGrath, a career Marine fighter pilot with 89 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has raised $1,133,000 for her campaign in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Andy Barr.
Some political conclusions
There is growing popular hostility to the Trump administration, but within the political straitjacket of the two-party system, it is trapped without any genuine outlet. In November 2016, faced with the choice of equally repugnant ruling class figures—Hillary Clinton, the longtime stooge of Wall Street and the Pentagon, and Donald Trump, the corrupt billionaire from the financial underworld of real estate swindling and casino gambling—millions refused to vote. But disappointment and anger over the bankrupt, right-wing policies of the Obama administration led a sufficient number of working people to vote for Trump, particularly in devastated industrial states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, that he could eke out an Electoral College victory despite losing the popular vote.
The 2018 elections could well see a similar process, but in reverse. Angered by the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, the gutting of social programs like Medicaid and food stamps, the attacks on immigrants and democratic rights more generally, and Trump’s threats of military violence and even nuclear war, millions of working people, however reluctantly, will go to the polls to cast their ballots for the official “opposition,” the Democratic Party, which does not actually oppose Trump at all.
It is by no means certain that the Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm election on November 6. But the details presented in this report demonstrate that a Democratic victory would in no sense represent a shift to the left in capitalist politics.
In a sense, the Democratic Party’s promotion of a large number of military-intelligence candidates for competitive districts represents an insurance policy for the US ruling elite. In the event of a major swing to the Democrats, the House of Representatives will receive an influx of new members drawn primarily from the national security apparatus, trusted servants of American imperialism.
Parenthetically, it should be noted that there would be no comparable influx of Bernie Sanders supporters or other “left”-talking candidates in the event of a Democratic landslide. Only five of the 221 candidates reviewed in this study had links to Sanders or billed themselves as “progressive.” None is likely to win the primary, let alone the general election.
When the dust clears after November 6, 2018, there will almost certainly be more former CIA agents in the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives than former Sanders activists. It is the military-intelligence operatives who constitute the spine of the Democratic Party, not the Sanders “Our Revolution” group. This is a devastating verdict on the claims of the Vermont senator, backed by various pseudo-left groups, that it is possible to reform the Democratic Party and push it to the left.
The preponderance of national security operatives in the Democratic primaries sheds additional light on the nature of the Obama administration. Far from representing a resurgence of liberal reformism, as apologists for the Democrats like the International Socialist Organization claimed at the time of his election, Obama’s eight years in office marked the further ascendancy of the military-intelligence apparatus within the Democratic Party.
This is demonstrated by the subsequent role of his top personnel. Among the former Obama civilian officials who are running in the Democratic primaries for seats in the House of Representatives, 16 served in the State Department, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security or National Security Council, while only five served in domestic agencies. One of those, Haley Stevens, was chief of staff for the Obama auto industry task force, which imposed 50 percent wage cuts on newly hired auto workers. Among the five, only Stevens is considered a likely winner in the primary.
The Democratic Party has always been a party of the American capitalist class, and that means, from the dawn of the 20th century on, it has been a party of imperialism and imperialist war, whatever the occasional “peace” noises made by its candidates for the purpose of diverting and derailing mass antiwar sentiment among the American people.
For more than a century, a major political task of the Marxist movement in the United States has been to combat illusions in the Democratic Party, particularly those engendered by its comparatively brief periods of reformist politics, under President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, and again during the Kennedy-Johnson years of the 1960s. The struggle against the Democratic Party, as well as the Republicans, remains the main focus of the effort to establish the political independence of the working class.
But the 2018 campaign represents something qualitatively different. Neither party offers any credible prospect of significant social reform. Both offer right-wing nostrums, laced with militarism, while seeking to split the working class along the lines of race, gender and national origin.
The campaign takes place in the wake of more than a year of unrelenting focus by the Democrats on the anti-Russian campaign, a narrative claiming that Trump’s victory in the presidential election was the result of Russian interference and that Trump is, for all practical purposes, a Russian stooge in the White House.
Not a shred of evidence has been provided either of Russian interference or of collusion with Russia on the part of the Trump campaign. Nor is there any suggestion that there was any significant element of fraud in either the vote or its tabulation by local and state governments.
But the Democratic Party has deliberately sought to whip up and appeal to the most right-wing, McCarthyite, chauvinist sentiments. It denounces Trump not for his right-wing policies, his immigrant baiting, his consorting with fascists and white supremacists, or his tax cut bonanza for the wealthy, but because he is allegedly insufficiently committed to confronting Russia militarily in the Middle East, Central Asia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Baltic.
Clinton ran in 2016 as the favored candidate of the military-intelligence apparatus, amassing hundreds of endorsements by retired generals, admirals and spymasters, and criticizing Trump as unqualified to be the commander-in-chief.
This political orientation has developed and deepened in 2018. The Democratic Party is running in the congressional elections not only as the party that takes a tougher line on Russia, but as the party that enlists as its candidates and representatives those who have been directly responsible for waging war, both overt and covert, on behalf of American imperialism. It is seeking to be not only the party for the Pentagon and CIA, but the party of the Pentagon and CIA.
This is not merely a result of the political psychology or even the career paths of those who make up the upper echelon of the Democratic Party. It has a social and class character. The Democratic Party has long abandoned even a limited role as a party pledging social reforms in the interests of working people as a whole, in favor of the promotion of privileges for sections of the upper-middle class, doled out on the basis of identity politics.
The Democrat Party proposes a certain redistribution of wealth and power within the most privileged layer of the population, while leaving the essential social structure unchanged, with society divided between the super-rich at the top, a privileged upper-middle class, perhaps ten percent or less, and below them, the vast majority of working people, whose conditions of life continue to deteriorate as the economic “recovery” from the 2008 Wall Street crash approaches its tenth year.
The upper-middle-class layer that provides the “mass” base of the Democratic Party has moved drastically to the right over the past four decades, enriched by the stock market boom, consciously hostile to the working class, and enthusiastically supportive of the military-intelligence apparatus which, in the final analysis, guarantees its own social position against potential threats, both foreign and domestic. It is this social evolution that now finds expression on the surface of capitalist politics, in the rise of the military-intelligence “faction” to the leadership of the Democratic Party.
quote:Obamagate: Exposing the Obama deep state
Obama’s third term has begun. Our Republic is in danger
After Trump secured the nomination, Obama’s people filed a wiretapping request. As he was on the verge of winning, they did it again. After he won, they are doing everything they can to bring him down.
It was always going to come down to this.
One is the elected President of the United States. The other is the Anti-President who commands a vast network that encompasses the organizers of OFA, the official infrastructure of the DNC and Obama Anonymous, a shadow government of loyalists embedded in key positions across the government.
A few weeks after the election, I warned that Obama was planning to run the country from outside the White House. And that the “Obama Anonymous” network of staffers embedded in the government was the real threat. Since then Obama’s Kalorama mansion has become a shadow White House. And the Obama Anonymous network is doing everything it can to bring down an elected government.
Valerie Jarrett has moved into the shadow White House to plot operations against Trump. Meanwhile Tom Perez has given him control of the corpse of the DNC after fending off a Sandernista bid from Keith Ellison. Obama had hollowed out the Democrat Party by diverting money to his own Organizing for America. Then Hillary Clinton had cannibalized it for her presidential bid through Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Donna Brazile. Now Obama owns the activist, OFA, and organizational, DNC, infrastructure.
But that’s just half the picture.
Obama controls the opposition. He will have a great deal of power to choose future members of Congress and the 2020 candidate. But he could have done much of that from Chicago or New York. The reason he didn’t decide to move on from D.C. is that the nation’s capital contains the infrastructure of the national government. He doesn’t just want to run the Democrats. He wants to run America.
The other half of the picture is the Obama Deep State. This network of political appointees, bureaucrats and personnel scattered across numerous government agencies is known only as Obama Anonymous.
Obama Inc. had targeted Trump from the very beginning when it was clear he would be the nominee.
Trump had locked down the GOP nomination in May. Next month there was a FISA request targeting him. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the request, and it is still unknown whether the request targeted Trump, or only his associates, but it’s silly to pretend that the submission of such a request a month after he became the presumptive GOP nominee was apolitical.
The second, narrower, FISA request came through in October. This one was approved. The reason for getting a FISA request in October was even more obvious than June. October is the crucial month in presidential elections. It’s the month of the “October Surprise” when the worst hit pieces based on the keenest opposition research is unleashed. Obama’s opposition research on Trump involved eavesdropping on a server in Trump Tower. Nixon would have been very jealous.
After the election, Obama Inc. began to spread out its bets. Some of his people migrated into his network of political organizations. Others remained embedded in the government. While the former would organize the opposition, the latter would sabotage, undermine and try to bring down Trump.
An unprecedented campaign for full spectrum dominance was being waged in domestic politics.
Political opposition wasn’t a new phenomenon; even if a past president centralizing control of the organizational and activist arms of his party to wage war on his successor was unprecedented. But weaponizing unelected government officials to wage war on an elected government was a coup.
Obama Anonymous conducted its coup in layers. The first layer partnered congressional Democrats with OA personnel to retain control of as much of the government as possible by the Obama Deep State. They did it by blocking Trump’s nominees with endless hearings and protests. The second layer partnered congressional Democrats with the deeper layer of Obama operatives embedded in law enforcement and intelligence agencies who were continuing the Obama investigations of Trump.
This second layer sought to use the investigation to force out Trump people who threatened their control over national security, law enforcement and intelligence. It is no coincidence that their targets, Flynn and Sessions, were in that arena. Or that their views on Islamic terror and immigration are outside the consensus making them easy targets for Obama Anonymous and its darker allies.
These darker allies predate Obama. The tactics being deployed against Trump were last used by them in a previous coup during President Bush’s second term. The targets back then had included Bush officials, an Iran skeptic, pro-Israel activists and a Democrat congresswoman. The tactics, eavesdropping, leaks, false investigations, dubious charges and smear campaigns against officials, were exactly the same.
Anyone who remembers the cases of Larry Franklin, Jane Harman and some others will recognize them. Before that they were used to protect the CIA underestimates of Soviet capabilities that were broken through by Rumsfeld’s Halloween Massacre and Team B which helped clear the way for Reagan’s defeat of the Soviet Union.
Under Bush, the Deep State was fighting against any effort to stop Iran’s nuclear program. It did so by eliminating and silencing opposition within the national security establishment and Congress through investigations of supposed foreign agents. That left the field clear for it to force a false National Intelligence Estimate on President Bush which claimed that Iran had halted its nuclear program.
Obama broke out the same tactics when he went after Iran Deal opponents. Once again members of Congress were spied on and the results were leaked to friendly media outlets. Before the wiretapping of Trump’s people, the NSA was passing along conversations of Iran Deal opponents to the White House which were used to coordinate strategy in defense of the illegal arrangement with Islamic terrorists.
The same wall between government and factional political agendas that Nixon’s “White House Plumbers” had broken through on the way to Watergate had been torn down. NSA eavesdropping was just another way to win domestic political battles. All it took was accusing the other side of treason.
And worse was to come.
During the Iran Deal battle, the NSA was supposedly filtering the eavesdropped data it passed along.
In its last days, Obama Inc. made it easier to pass along unfiltered personal information to the other agencies where Obama loyalists were working on their investigation targeting Trump. The NSA pipeline now makes it possible for the shadow White House to still gain intelligence on its domestic enemies.
And the target of the shadow White House is the President of the United States.
There is now a President and an Anti-President. A government and a shadow government. The anti-President controls more of the government through his shadow government than the real President.
The Obama network is an illegal shadow government. Even its “light side” as an opposition group is very legally dubious. Its “shadow side” is not only illegal, but a criminal attack on our democracy.
When he was in power, Obama hacked reporters like FOX News’ James Rosen and CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson. He eavesdropped on members of Congress opposed to the Iran Deal. Two men who made movies he disliked ended up in jail. But what he is doing now is even more deeply disturbing.
Obama no longer legally holds power. His Deep State network is attempting to overturn the results of a presidential election using government employees whose allegiance is to a shadow White House. Tactics that were illegal when he was in office are no longer just unconstitutional, they are treasonous.
Obama Inc. has become a state within a state. It is a compartmentalized network of organizations, inside and outside the government, that claim that they are doing nothing illegal as individual groups because they are technically following the rules within each compartment, but the sheer scope of the illegality lies in the covert coordination between these “revolutionary cells” infecting our country.
It is a criminal conspiracy of unprecedented scope. Above all else, it is the most direct attack yet on a country in which governments are elected by the people, not by powerful forces within the government.
"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,” President Lincoln declared at Gettysburg. “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Obama’s shadow government is not just a war on President Trump. It is a war on that government of the people, by the people and for the people. If he succeeds, then at his touch, it will perish from the earth.
Obama’s third term has begun. Our Republic is in danger.
quote:Unlawful FISA Spying Widespread Under Obama Administration
Relaxation of privacy policies paved the way for FBI and NSA to spy on Americans
The FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA), under the Obama administration, committed numerous violations of procedures intended to safeguard Americans’ personal data and communications collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Under the section, which was part of amendments to FISA passed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush, the intelligence community has broad powers to collect internet and telephone data to spy on foreign nationals.
Procedures to protect Americans’ data collected under the program were weakened under then-President Barack Obama in 2011, allowing the NSA to search through Americans’ data using their names. Previously, these types of searches, known as “queries using United States person identifiers,” were prohibited.
In its ruling in 2011, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) said the “relaxation of the querying rules” would be limited to queries “reasonably likely to yield foreign intelligence information.”
The FISC at the time also approved the broader collection of so-called upstream data, which is all internet data traveling through key internet backbone carriers.
However, in subsequent years, policies intended to defend against the misuse of this power, called minimization and targeting procedures, were systematically broken, resulting in numerous violations.
A declassified top-secret FISC report released in April 2017 revealed that the NSA had an 85 percent noncompliance rate when it came to searches involving Americans.
The 702 system, which was never designed to spy on Americans, but rather to safeguard U.S. national security, had become a powerful spying tool in the hands of the government.
Problems with the FISA system received nationwide attention in February after a declassified House intelligence committee memo revealed that the FBI and the Department of Justice had obtained a FISA warrant on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, using information paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The initial warrant, and its three subsequent renewals, could have been used to spy on anyone who was in contact with Page, including members of the Trump campaign. The NSA is allowed to analyze communications “three hops” from its original target. Anyone in direct communication with Page is one hop away; anyone in communication with those talking to Page is two hops away; and anyone talking to those who are twice removed from Page is three hops away.
Last year, it was already revealed that top Obama officials, including national security adviser Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, used so-called unmasking requests to obtain communications belonging to specific members of the Trump campaign and transition team.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on March 7 that he has appointed a person outside of Washington to look into the allegations of FISA abuse. Sessions’s statement came in response to a letter signed by 13 members of Congress calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the alleged abuse.
Problems With the FBI
According to the declassified top-secret FISC report, the FBI provided access to sensitive 702 data to employees that were not authorized to have access to the data. In some cases, this data was then exported by the employees, and it is unclear how it was subsequently used.
The agency also provided contractors with access to raw 702 data. The contractors maintained access to the data, even after their work for the FBI was finished.
In one case, an unauthorized private entity was given access by the FBI to 702 data. The unnamed private entity is mostly staffed by private contractors, whose access to 702 data was not controlled or monitored.
The “contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests,” wrote the FISC, in its report.
The FBI discontinued the private entity’s access to raw FISA data in April 2016, the same month in which the Clinton campaign and the DNC used law firm Perkins Coie to retain Fusion GPS to produce the so-called Trump dossier.
The dossier would eventually lead to the FBI obtaining the FISA warrant on Carter Page in October 2016.
While the FISC did recertify the FBI’s minimization procedures as being constitutional it wrote that it was “nonetheless concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI may be engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported.”
The scope of the FBI’s accessing of Americans’ data is unclear, as the government is not required to provide the FISC with numbers on violations. In the NSA’s case, it told the court that it was unable to provide a number for how many times Americans’ data had been unlawfully accessed. The scope of the NSA’s violations also remains unclear.
In response to the problems, as well as an internal review by the agency, the NSA stopped the collection of what are called multicommunication transactions (MCTs) to minimize violations. The term MCTs refers to the NSA’s mass collection of communications while targeting one communication.
The FBI and CIA will no longer have access to upstream data collected by the NSA at key internet junctions.
In January, President Donald Trump ordered his director of national intelligence to develop procedures for law enforcement agencies to obtain the identities of Americans in intelligence reports. This practice of unmasking is what was used to spy on the Trump campaign during the elections.
Trump did authorize Section 702 in January for another six years, stressing the importance of the program for national security.
quote:Explosive Text Messages Reveal Judge in Flynn Case Was Friends with Strzok
Newly redacted text messages discovered by congressional investigators reveal that an embattled FBI agent at the center of the Russia investigation controversy was close friends with a District of Columbia judge who recused himself from the criminal case over former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, congressional members said, and text documents show.
The never before seen text messages, which were a part of the texts given to congress by the Department of Justice, show that FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his paramour FBI attorney Lisa Page discussed Strzok’s relationship with U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, who presided over a Dec. 1, 2017 hearing where former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Strzok was removed from Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office last year after anti-Trump text messages between him and his FBI agent lover were discovered by the DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz. But on Dec. 7, without warning, Judge Rudolph Contreras was removed as the presiding judge on Flynn’s case. Little information was given at the time as to why Contreras was removed.
DOJ officials did not immediately respond for comment.
In a text message chain from Page to Strzok on July, 25, 2016 she writes, “Rudy is on the FISC! Did you know that? Just appointed two months ago.” At that point, the pair continues to discuss other issues but comes back to Contrares, “I did. We talked about it before and after. I need to get together with him.” Then later Strzok appears to return to his discussion about Contreras.
Page: “Thought of it because you had to Google FISC judges and him there. I’m telling you.”
Strzok: “….She brought up a good point about being circumspect in talking to him in terms of not placing him into a situation where he’d have to recuse himself.”
Page: “I can’t imagine you either one of you could talk about anything in detail meaningful enough to warrant recusal.” Page then goes back to discussing a different issue saying, “Anyway, maybe you meant to, but didn’t.’
Strzok: “Really? Rudy. I’m in charge of espionage for the FBI. Any espionage FISA comes before him, what should he do? Given his friend oversees them?”
Page: “Standards for recusal are quite high. I just don’t think this poses an actual conflict. And he doesn’t know what you do?”
Strzok: “Generally he does know what I do. Not the level or scope or area but he’s super thoughtful and rigorous about ethics and conflicts. (redacted) suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting. I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party. Of course you’ll be there. Have to come up with some other work people cover for action.”
Page: “Why more? Six is a perfectly fine dinner party.”
Investigators working with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mark Meadows, both with the House Oversight Committee, discovered the text messages during their ongoing investigation into the FBI’s handling of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion investigation, the Congressional members told this reporter. Under rules established by DOJ officials, congressional investigators could only review the less redacted version of the pairs’ text messages at DOJ headquarters and only the highly redacted version of the texts were allowed to be removed during the ongoing process, they said. Of the 1.2 million documents collected by Horowitz’s team, the House Oversight Committee has only received 3,162 “unique documents,” they added.
“Why did Contreras recuse himself?” said Jordan. “Text messages show he had a relationship with Strzok… Why did the DOJ make it difficult for us to get the information? To me those are the two fundamental questions. We don’t know that answers to either one of those ”
Jordan noted that the text messages provide some context but that some of the communications are not completely clear. He added what is “clear is that the back and forth exchange shows that Strzok and Page were friends. But we don’t know if the discussion regarding recusal has anything to do with Russia or if they were referring to another case. What we do know is that Contreras recused himself after the guilty plea but we still don’t know why?”
Meadows added that a “recusal for a judge is very high bar,” added Meadows. “I think from my stand point we’re asking the department of justice and the FBI to give us the documents we need to do proper oversight. Failing to be able to be able to provide Congress with those documents in an expeditious manner would certainly strengthen the case for a special prosecutor.”
Meadows also stated that the DOJ’s failure to be forthright with the information makes it extremely difficult for Congress to conduct oversight.
“The only thing we would not have access to is grand jury material and some classified documents,” said Meadows. “There is no reason why we cannot get the same documents the Inspector General has.”