Tuesday, September 10, 2019

September 10, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

The REAL Russia Hoax…and the “Pod People” Who Perpetrated It

The utterly fraudulent “Mueller Report”—despite the best attempts of Deep State operatives on the Mueller Commission staff and a raving and frenzied Media hoping for a “kill”—came up a dud. It goes without saying that both you and I, and many Americans now, are pretty much convinced that the Russia Hoax was a major and unprecedented gambit in what can only be seen as a very real “attempted silent coup” to “get” Donald Trump by the establishment managerial Deep State.

The plan was that the administrative elites, including our Intelligence agencies and foreign policy establishment, would either sink his campaign as it became obvious that he might well become president, or, after his election, they would force him out of office or impeach him for fake “high crimes and misdemeanors."

And it was the so-called collusion with Russia, said the highly-paid pundits on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and in the pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times, right before our eyes, which would do the trick and bring the president down. The fanatical minions of the Deep State, possessed of a devilish and lunatic fury that continues to control and direct their actions, were certain of that.

But despite their best efforts, and to their extreme outrage, that did not happen. So, since then the demonically-possessed “Orcs of the Night,” those infected carriers of a venomous ideology which destroys all that is good and right in our culture, have searched for new weapons with which to undo the 2016 election and put the genie—the counter-revolution of the Deplorables—back in the lamp.

Even though the Russia Hoax as a major issue no longer shows up on the front page of The New York Times and is no longer spewed forth daily out of the angry and foul mouths of a Rachel Maddow or a Don Lemon, the issue and its background and origin have not exactly gone away. The elites want such concerns to be buried: don’t ask any me any questions, and I won’t tell you any lies.

In particular, the role of our intelligence agencies—especially the CIA and its former Obama-era director John Brennan (now pontificating on CNN when he should be serving a life-sentence in Atlanta federal prison)—needs thorough examination and exposure.

For, very simply, it is there even more than with the nefarious head honchos, the Jim Comeys and Peter Strzoks of the FBI, that we actually had a “secret government within the government.” Despite the fatuous pundit A. B. Stoddard on Fox and others like her continuing to deny that Donald Trump was surveilled, and despite the “who, me?” professed innocence attitude, or the “we were just doing our job” response of the Intel agencies: despite all that, what we have witnessed, and in some ways continue to witness, is the face of an actual plot, an orchestrated plan, to overthrow a president and throw out an election.

And, in spite of the criticism that some of us have of Donald Trump’s failure to follow through on certain aspects of his policies, the one very significant thing he did accomplish through his election was this: he forced those dark powers, those self-satisfied and condescending elites who have controlled our lives and destinies for so long (and largely without our knowledge)—he forced them to emerge from the shadows and show their ugly and vicious faces for us all to see.

Remember the classic film Invasion of the Body Snatchers? [The 1956 movie is the one I recall, although a second one came out in 1978.] Literally thousands of “pod people” were taking over the bodies and souls of normal human beings. From all appearances those possessed persons seemed to be human, but they weren’t. They weren’t like you and me.

Our elites are, in effect, modern-day “pod people” who have infected (and control) our educational system, our entertainment, our media, and most of our politics. And until 2016 they were on their way to infecting us all, neutering all opposition and dissolving all doubts about their goal and objective: a globalist state where our mental and moral enslavement will have become fact.

In the 1956 film, towards the end, Dr. Miles Bennell goes out frantically into the streets of Los Angeles and screams: “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”  That has become our role in 2019, and that is our clarion call and why we must engage in total warfare against those carriers of destruction and abomination: no quarter, no compromise, for how can you “negotiate” with someone who wishes to destroy you, pervert your children, and dismantle your culture and your very faith?

Among the dozens of volumes and memoirs published on Russiagate, two have stood out for me as reasonably decent summaries of what has occurred during this dark period of American history: Gregg Jarrett’s The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump (2018), and Andrew McCarthy’s Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency (2019). But most folks don’t have time to dig deeply into all the accumulated skullduggery and plotting that went on over the past three years.

If you’ve watched the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” program during the past couple of years, you’ve seen appearances by Professor Stephen Cohen talking about the Russian collusion charge, its background, and its extreme danger to the very existence to what is left of the old republic.  Cohen, as host Carlson has made clear, is not a “man of the Right.” He’s Emeritus Professor of Russian Studies at Princeton and New York University, an historian of Russian-American relations, and, fascinatingly, married to Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, one this country’s most progressivist magazines, where Cohen is also a contributor.

Back three decades ago I found Cohen’s writings and scholarship to be far too friendly towards the old Soviet Union. Indeed, back then I also believed William Appleman Williams’ The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959), which I had to read in my diplomatic history course at UVa, and the revisionism it represented, to be “anti-American.” But now in 2019, in retrospect, both Williams’ examination of what the Kennedy brothers, Ronald and Donald, have called the “Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic At Home,” and Cohen’s careful investigation of Russian-American relations, seem a bit more reasonable, somewhat more defensible in the days of the Russia Hoax and our failed foreign exploits in Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Cohen has written extensively on the Russia Hoax, and two of his essays are perhaps the most succinct summaries that I’ve seen: about what we still don’t know, and about the origins of this silent coup.  Again, Cohen is in many ways a “man of the Left,” not a conservative; but maybe that’s to his advantage, as he brings to his insights years of understanding, research, and realism that far too many in the established “conservative movement” sorely lack…too many of them are still dependent on and, yes, part of the Deep State.

So, these following two pieces are excellent encapsulations…you won’t hear Lindsay Graham or John Bolton or most GOP senators saying these things, but, then, they are part of the problem, and not part of its solution.

What We Still Do Not Know About Russiagate
Vital questions about perhaps the worst alleged presidential scandal in US history remain unanswered

It must again be emphasized: It is hard, if not impossible, to think of a more toxic allegation in American presidential history than the one leveled against candidate, and then president, Donald Trump that he “colluded” with the Kremlin in order to win the 2016 presidential election—and, still more, that Vladimir Putin’s regime, “America’s No. 1 threat,” had compromising material on Trump that made him its “puppet.” Or a more fraudulent accusation.

Even leaving aside the misperception that Russia is the primary threat to America in world affairs, no aspect of this allegation has turned out to be true, as should have been evident from the outset. Major aspects of the now infamous Steele Dossier, on which much of the allegation was based, were themselves not merely “unverified” but plainly implausible.

Was it plausible, for example, that Trump, a longtime owner and operator of international hotels, would commit an indiscreet act in a Moscow hotel that he did not own or control? Or that, as Steele also claimed, high-level Kremlin sources had fed him damning anti-Trump information even though their vigilant boss, Putin, wanted Trump to win the election? Nonetheless, the American mainstream media and other important elements of the US political establishment relied on Steele’s allegations for nearly three years, even heroizing him—and some still do, explicitly or implicitly.

Not surprisingly, former special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. No credible evidence has ever been produced that Russia’s “interference” affected the result of the 2016 presidential election in any significant way. Nor was Russian “meddling” in the election anything akin to a “digital Pearl Harbor,” as widely asserted, and it was certainly far less and less intrusive than President Bill Clinton’s political and financial “interference” undertaken to assure the reelection of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996.

Nonetheless, Russiagate’s core allegation persists, like a legend, in American political life—in media commentary, in financial solicitations by some Democratic candidates for Congress, and, as is clear from my own discussions, in the minds of otherwise well-informed people. The only way to dispel, to excoriate, such a legend is to learn and expose how it began—by whom, when, and why.

Officially, at least in the FBI’s version, its operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign that began in mid-2016 was due to suspicious remarks made to visitors by a young and lowly Trump aide, George Papadopoulos. This too is not believable, as I pointed out previously. Most of those visitors themselves had ties to Western intelligence agencies. That is, the young Trump aide was being enticed, possibly entrapped, as part of a larger intelligence operation against Trump. (Papadopoulos wasn’t the only Trump associate targeted, Carter Page being another.)

But the question remains: Why did Western intelligence agencies, prompted, it seems clear, by US ones, seek to undermine Trump’s presidential campaign? A reflexive answer might be because candidate Trump promised to “cooperate with Russia,” to pursue a pro-détente foreign policy, but this was hardly a startling, still less subversive, advocacy by a would-be Republican president. All of the major pro-détente episodes in the 20th century had been initiated by Republican presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan.

So, again, what was it about Trump that so spooked the spooks so far off their rightful reservation and so intrusively into American presidential politics? Investigations being overseen by Attorney General William Barr may provide answers—or not. Barr has already leveled procedural charges against James Comey, head of the FBI under President Obama and briefly under President Trump, but the repeatedly hapless Comey seems incapable of having initiated such an audacious operation against a presidential candidate, still less a president-elect. As I have long suggested, John Brennan and James Clapper, head of the CIA and Office of National Intelligence under Obama respectively, are the more likely culprits.

The FBI is no longer the fearsome organization it once was and thus not hard to investigate, as Barr has already shown. The others, particularly the CIA, are a different matter, and Barr has suggested they are resisting. To investigate them, particularly the CIA, it seems, he has brought in a veteran prosecutor-investigator, John Durham.

Which raises other questions. Are Barr and Durham, whose own careers include associations with US intelligence agencies, determined to uncover the truth about the origins of Russiagate? And can they really do so fully, given the resistance already apparent? Even if so, will Barr make public their findings, however damning of the intelligence agencies they may be, or will he classify them? And if the latter, will President Trump use his authority to declassify the findings as the 2020 presidential election approaches in order to discredit the role of Obama’s presidency and its would-be heirs?

Equally important perhaps, how will mainstream media treat the Barr-Durham investigation and its findings? Having driven the Russiagate narrative for so long and so misleadingly—and with liberals perhaps finding themselves in the incongruous position of defending rogue intelligence agencies—will they credit or seek to discredit the findings?

It is true, of course, that Barr and Durham, as Trump appointees, are not the ideal investigators of Intel misdeeds in the Russiagate saga. Much better would be a truly bipartisan, independent investigation based in the Senate, as was the Church Committee of the mid-1970s, which exposed and reformed (it thought at the time) serious abuses by US intelligence agencies. That would require, however, a sizable core of nonpartisan, honorable, and courageous senators of both parties, who thus far seem to be lacking.

There are also, however, the ongoing and upcoming Democratic presidential debates. First and foremost, Russiagate is about the present and future of the American political system, not about Russia. (Indeed, as I have repeatedly argued, there is very little, if any, Russia in Russiagate.) At every “debate” or comparable forum, all of the Democratic candidates should be asked about this grave threat to American democracy—what they think about what happened and would do about it if elected president. Consider it health care for our democracy.

How Did Russiagate Begin?

Why Barr’s investigation is important and should be encouraged.

By Stephen F. Cohen  MAY 30, 2019

It cannot be emphasized too often: Russiagate—allegations that the American president has been compromised by the Kremlin, which may even have helped to put him in the White House—is the worst and (considering the lack of actual evidence) most fraudulent political scandal in American history. We have yet to calculate the damage Russiagate has inflicted on America’s democratic institutions, including the presidency and the electoral process, and on domestic and foreign perceptions of American democracy, or on US-Russian relations at a critical moment when both sides, having “modernized” their nuclear weapons, are embarking on a new, more dangerous, and largely unreported arms race.

Rational (if politically innocent) observers may have thought that when the Mueller report found no “collusion” or other conspiracy between Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, only possible “obstruction” by Trump—nothing Mueller said in his May 29 press statement altered that conclusion—Russiagate would fade away. If so, they were badly mistaken. Evidently infuriated that Mueller did not liberate the White House from Trump, Russiagate promoters—liberal Democrats and progressives foremost among them—have only redoubled their unverified collusion allegations, even in once-respectable media outlets. Whether out of political ambition or impassioned faith, the damage wrought by these Russiagaters continues to mount, with no end in sight.
One way to end Russiagate might be to discover how it actually began. Considering what we have learned, or been told, since the allegations became public nearly three years ago, in mid-2016, there seem to be at least three hypothetical possibilities:
1. One is the orthodox Russiagate explanation: Early on, sharp-eyed top officials of President Obama’s intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA and FBI, detected truly suspicious “contacts” between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians “linked to the Kremlin” (whatever that may mean, considering that the presidential administration employs hundreds of people), and this discovery legitimately led to the full-scale “counterintelligence investigation” initiated in July 2016. Indeed, Mueller documented various foreigners who contacted, or who sought to contact, the Trump campaign. The problem here is that Mueller does not tell us, and we do not know, if the number of them was unusual.
Many foreigners seek “contacts” with US presidential campaigns and have done so for decades. In this case, we do not know, for the sake of comparison, how many such foreigners had or sought contacts with the rival Clinton campaign, directly or through the Clinton Foundation, in 2016. (Certainly, there were quite a few contacts with anti-Trump Ukrainians, for example.) If the number was roughly comparable, why didn’t US intelligence initiate a counterintelligence investigation of the Clinton campaign?
If readers think the answer is because the foreigners around the Trump campaign included Russians, consider this: In 1986, when Senator Gary Hart was the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, he went to Russia—still Communist Soviet Russia—to make contacts in preparation for his anticipated presidency, including meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. US media coverage of Hart’s visit was generally favorable. (I accompanied Senator Hart and do not recall much, if any, adverse US media reaction.)
2. The second explanation—currently, and oddly, favored by non-comprehending pro-Trump commentators at Fox News and elsewhere—is that “Putin’s Kremlin” pumped anti-Trump “disinformation” into the American media, primarily through what became known as the Steele Dossier. As I pointed out nearly a year and a half ago, this makes no sense factually or logically. Nothing in the dossier suggests that any of its contents necessarily came from high-level Kremlin sources, as Steele claimed. Moreover, if Kremlin leader Putin so favored Trump, as a Russiagate premise insists, is it really plausible that underlings in the Kremlin would have risked Putin’s ire by furnishing Steele with anti-Trump “information”? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that “researchers” in the United States (some, like Christopher Steele, paid by the Clinton campaign) were supplying him with the fruits of their research.

3. The third possible explanation—one I have termed “Intelgate,” and that I explore in my recent book War With Russia?: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate—is that US intelligence agencies undertook an operation to damage, if not destroy, first the candidacy and then the presidency of Donald Trump. More evidence of “Intelgate” has since appeared. For example, the intelligence community has said it began its investigation in April 2016 because of a few innocuous remarks by a young, lowly Trump foreign-policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. The relatively obscure Papadopoulos suddenly found himself befriended by apparently influential people he had not previously known, among them Stefan Halper, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, and a woman calling herself Azra Turk. What we now know—and what Papadopoulos did not know at the time—is that all of them had ties to US and/or UK and Western European intelligence agencies.

US Attorney General William Barr now proposes to investigate the origins of Russiagate. He has appointed yet another special prosecutor, John Durham, to do so, but the power to decide the range and focus of the investigation will remain with Barr. The important news is Barr’s expressed intention to investigate the role of other US intelligence agencies, not just the FBI, which obviously means the CIA when it was headed by John Brennan and Brennan’s partner at the time, James Clapper, then director of national intelligence.

As I argued in The Nation, Brennan, not Obama’s hapless FBI Director James Comey, was the godfather of Russiagate, a thesis for which more evidence has since appeared. We should hope that Barr intends to exclude nothing, including the two foundational texts of the deceitful Russiagate narrative: the Steele Dossier and, directly related, the contrived but equally ramifying Intelligence Community Assessment of January 2017. (Not coincidentally, they were made public at virtually the same time, inflating Russiagate into an obsessive national scandal.)

Thus far, Barr has been cautious in his public statements. He has acknowledged there was “spying,” or surveillance, on the Trump campaign, which can be legal, but he surely knows that in the case of Papadopoulos (and possibly of General Michael Flynn), what happened was more akin to entrapment, which is never legal. Barr no doubt also recalls, and will likely keep in mind, the astonishing warning Senator Charles Schumer issued to President-elect Trump in January 2017: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” (Indeed, Barr might ask Schumer what he meant and why he felt the need to be the menacing messenger of intel agencies, wittingly or not.)

But Barr’s thorniest problem may be understanding the woeful role of mainstream media in Russiagate. As Lee Smith, who contributed important investigative reporting, has written: “The press is part of the operation, the indispensable part. None of it would have been possible…had the media not linked arms with spies, cops, and lawyers to relay a story first spun by Clinton operatives.” How does Barr explore this “indispensable” complicity of the media in originating and perpetuating the Russiagate fraud without impermissibly infringing on the freedom of the press?

Ideally, mainstream media—print and broadcast—would now themselves report on how and why they permitted intelligence officials, through leaks and anonymous sources, and as “opinion” commentators, to use their pages and programming to promote Russiagate for so long, and why they so excluded well-informed, nonpartisan alternative opinions. Instead, they have almost unanimously reported and broadcast negatively, even antagonistically, about Barr’s investigation, and indeed about Barr personally. (The Washington Post even found a way to print this: “William Barr looks like a toad…”) Such is the seeming panic of the Russiagate media over Barr’s investigation, which promises to declassify related documents, that The New York Times again trotted out its easily debunked fiction that public disclosures will endanger a purported US informant, a Kremlin mole, at Putin’s side.

Finally, but most crucially, what was the real reason US intelligence agencies launched a discrediting operation against Trump? Was it because, as seems likely, they intensely disliked his campaign talk of “cooperation with Russia,” which seemed to mean the prospect of a new US-Russian détente? Even fervent political and media opponents of Trump should want to know who is making foreign policy in Washington. The next intel target might be their preferred candidate or president, or a foreign policy they favor.
Nor, it seems clear, did the CIA stop. In March 2018, the current director, Gina Haspel, then deputy director, flatly lied to President Trump about an incident in the UK [the supposed “poisoning” by the Russians of two Russian exiles, Sergei and Yulia Skripal] in order to persuade him to escalate measures against Moscow, which he then reluctantly did. Several non–mainstream media outlets have reported the true story. Typically, The New York Times, on April 17 of this year, reported it without correcting Haspel’s falsehood.

We are left, then, with this paradox, formulated in a tweet on May 24 by the British journalist John O’Sullivan: “Spygate is the first American scandal in which the government wants the facts published transparently but the media want to cover them up.”

Stephen F. Cohen    Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. A Nation contributing editor, his most recent book War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate is available in paperback and in an ebook edition. His weekly conversations with the host of The John Batchelor Show, now in their sixth year, are available at www.thenation.com.

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                                                        May 12, 2023      MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey   Ukraine, the Neoconservatives...