Freedom Rider: Russiagate Covers Up Black Vote Theft

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“The Democrats want our votes, but if we aren’t allowed to vote at all they pretend not to know.”

“They want me on, as long as I talk about Russia. And I said, ‘What about black voters?’ ‘Well that’s race issues.’ The reason I’m allowed on MSNBC is because I’m with people like Joy Reid and Al Sharpton and others. Where’s the pale faced guys? Because they consider the vote theft issue a racial issue, and that ain’t their viewers.”
Greg Palast

The corporate media and their friends in the Democratic Party are whipping up so much hatred and disinformation that it is almost impossible to discuss Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. Putin is a multi-purpose villain. He is blamed for the vote theft conducted by white Americans against black people that resulted in the Donald Trump presidency.

Because so much of the ginned up vitriol is conducted on orders from the Democratic Party, black people have joined in spreading the misinformation. The headline for a recent article in The Root proclaimed , “Evidence Shows Hackers Changed Votes in the 2016 Election but No One Will Admit It.” The alleged hackers in the story are said to be Russian. But apparently too much was alleged in this piece because The Rootlater removed the article with a disclaimer . “This story was an opinion piece asserting there was evidence that hackers changed votes in the 2016 election. However, a number of statements in the piece are disputed by experts. As a result, we have pulled it down for editorial review, and will update it once that review is completed.”

“Black people have joined in spreading the misinformation.”

What is clear is that the Republicans stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump with a combination of voter suppression and outright theft directed against black people. Trump supposedly won the state of Michigan) by a 10,000 vote margin, but more than 75,000 votes  cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of “malfunctioning” voting machines. An additional 449,000 voters in that state were purged from the rolls through the infamous Crosscheck  system.

The National Security Agency (NSA) planted a story of Russians breaching voting data. That claim was and is still denied by some of the states alleged to be victims. Like almost every other charge lodged against Russia there is no corroboration from a disinterested source. It is true that the state of Georgia mysteriously deleted voter data  from servers.That happened because the scope of vote theft carried out with a paperless and easily hackable voting machine was about to be revealed in a lawsuit.

But all talk of stolen elections is forbidden in this country, even though it happens on a regular basis. While Republicans are the vote thieves the Democrats say little or nothing about the resulting defeats and the loss of their most loyal constituents’ citizenship rights. That is just one of the reasons they need to flog the Russiagate horse incessantly. They have nothing else to offer and are no more eager than Republicans to be associated with black people. They want our votes, but if we aren’t allowed to vote at all they pretend not to know.

“More than 75,000 votes cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of “malfunctioning” voting machines.”

Rootcolumnist Michael Harriott writes eloquently about the Republican vote theft schemes that guarantee victory for them. He rightly points out that purges of black voters  are accelerating with millions of people at risk of losing their rights. But he lost objectivity when he claimed that Russian hackers breached voting systems and actually changed votes. Even Robert Mueller says that did not happen. But the trauma of the Trump presidency and the irresponsible behavior of those explaining away their role in the debacle creates bad journalism. In the retracted piece Harriott actually uses the obsolete word Soviet not once but four times. Apparently the correct word Russian isn’t scary enough.

The 2016 election is a story of miscalculation by many people. Trump didn’t think he would win, the media who gave him free air time did so because they didn’t think he would win, and Hillary Clinton was so certain of victory that she didn’t campaign in the states that flipped and gave him an electoral college win. A sustained get out the vote effort and protection of the franchise by the Democrats might have countered the electoral larceny that made Trump the 45th president.

Who are the real villains in the story of the 2016 presidential election? Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, the greedy “consultants” who made off with $1 billion in campaign funds and still didn’t get their person into office, and Republicans who have perfected vote thievery. They will strike again and they will do so without any help from Vladimir Putin.

By Margaret Kimberley/BlackAgendaReport

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Breaking My Silence on RussiaGate

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We are facing a precarious historic moment. Democracy is threatened by interference in our elections, and by interference in our civil liberties. Likewise we are endangered by warmongering, rampant militarism, nuclear confrontation and accelerating climate change. To solve any of these interlinked problems, we need a functioning democracy and a voting system we can have confidence in.
As first steps to restore trust in that system, we are calling for a nonpartisan Emergency Commission for Election Protection & Voting Justice, as well as international negotiations for an election non-interference treaty. These should be stepping stones toward broader international dialogue to address other urgent looming threats that endanger not only our democracy, but our very survival.
Handing Over Materials to Senate Committee
Today, cooperating with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, our campaign has completed the handover of materials in response to the Committee’s request. The information provided includes documents regarding my 2015 visit to Russia to speak at RT‘s 10th anniversary conference on media and international relations, an extension of my trip to the UN climate conference in Paris, where I also spoke with international leaders and activists. The materials include records of the campaign’s payment for my trip to Russia as well as longstanding Green Party policy objectives of promoting dialogue and diplomacy as essential alternatives to war, nuclear confrontation and climate catastrophe.
Interference in Our – or Any Country’s – Elections Is a Blow Against Democracy.
We take very seriously the issue of interference in our elections, as demonstrated by our continuing efforts to conduct the first and, according to public information, the only 2016 post-election examination of vulnerable US voting machines, a critical cross check on election security that should be routine.
Interference in our – or any country’s – elections is a strike against democracy – whether the intruder is a foreign government, criminal network or domestic actor.
While Pursuing Concerns About Foreign Interference, We Should Not Ignore Domestic Interference in Plain Sight
Concerns about foreign interference should not distract us from interference in plain sight originating from within our own borders. That includes the actions of the Democratic National Committee, which biased its party’s own primaries, effectively disenfranchising millions of Bernie Sanders’ voters; corporate media that gave Donald Trump billions in extra free airtime because he was “damn good” for network profits, in the words of CBS’ CEO; or voter suppression schemes like voter ID laws, Interstate Crosscheck and felon disenfranchisement that systematically deny millions of Americans their constitutional right to vote.
New Election Threats Posed by Big Data/Microtargeting/Psy-Ops Tower Over Primitive Russian Social Media Strategies
Recent revelations surrounding the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal underscore the expanding scope of election interference. The scandal represents a disturbing convergence of a massive data privacy violation with a “military-style”, “full-scale propaganda machine”, as described by whistleblower Christopher Wiley.
The cutting-edge tactics of the Cambridge Analytica scandal make alleged Russian social media meddling look primitive and insignificant by comparison. Cambridge Analytica is accused of using without permission the private information of up to 87 million people, assembling thousands of data points on individuals to craft micro-targeted messages in a campaign of mass manipulation with the scale and sophistication of military-style psy-ops. The actions of the Russian Internet Research Agency, on the other hand, appear to be the opposite of sophisticated and strategic. The lack of targeting, timing and relevance of the vast majority of their Facebook ads underscores the doubts expressed by investigative reporters who’ve suggested the Internet Research Agency may in fact be a “click-bait” factory intended to generate advertising revenue, and not an election meddling operation. The insignificant numbers of the Internet Research Agency’s social media posts – compared to the vastness of the social media universe – further diminishes the claim that it had significant impact on the election outcome. Facebook posts from the Internet Research Agency amounted to a mere 0.0004% of total Facebook content; Russian-associated tweets accounted for 0.02% of election related tweets, and Russian-linked Youtube videos had hit totals only in the hundreds, hardly the stuff of viral transmission.
While the full extent of the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal is as yet unknown, the huge quantities of data harnessed for state-of-the-art microtargeting and manipulative messaging suggest that it is the Cambridge Analytica-type threats that truly endanger our elections and demand protections to safeguard our democracy.
We Call for Emergency Commission to Advance Many Urgently-Needed Solutions
Cambridge Analytica is not alone in using this new, malignant form of election interference that combines big data, micro-targeting, and psyops. It adds yet another danger to the existing threats to secure and just elections. To restore confidence in our elections, each type of interference can and must be remedied, but time is short before the 2018 elections. Therefore, we are calling for a nonpartisan, Emergency Commission on Election Protection & Voting Justice to oversee urgently-needed immediate as well as longer-term solutions to ensure a secure and just vote.
We must end voter suppression schemes and ensure the constitutional right to vote. Prior to the 2018 election, we need a rapid transition to paper ballots, especially in the 12 states that still use the most vulnerable electronic machines lacking any paper record whatsoever; cybersecurity best practices, universal rigorous post-election audits, and routine post-election recounts as warranted. Congress has provided substantial funding for cybersecurity in the March, 2018 Congressional budget. The funding should prioritize paper ballots, and be expedited to ensure reforms are in place by the 2018 midterms.
To begin addressing the abuses of big data, micro-targeting and military-style psyops, privacy protections must be created for personal data and internet/social media communications. In the rush to guard against propaganda and “fake news”, however, we must ensure that the rights of free speech and political opposition – increasingly stifled in current social media and conventional press – are restored and protected.
We must also take on the fundamental corruption of our elections that has been so normalized that it’s rarely even discussed: the stranglehold of big money over the entire process. We can break this stranglehold by establishing public financing for political campaigns and free air time for ballot-qualified candidates, which would greatly diminish the cost of political campaigns. We can expand voter choice and end fear-based elections through Ranked Choice Voting, which liberates voters to vote for what they want, instead of against what they dislike. And we can ensure voters are informed about the greater range of choices that they are clamoring for – by creating a new presidential debate commission not controlled by the two establishment parties. For further details see http://www.votingjustice.us .
We Must Also End US Interference in Other Countries’ Elections
To effectively deal with foreign election interference, we must address the fact that the US is not only a victim of election interference, but a leading perpetrator of it as well, whether through nonviolent or violent means. Given our track record, it is simply unrealistic and unethical to expect other countries to respect the sovereignty of foreign elections unless we commit to doing so as well. Effectively ending election interference requires international diplomacy and treaties. The Emergency Commission would provide consistent long-term public education, advocacy and watch-dogging that will be required to overcome resistance to the reforms required to achieve truly fair elections.
We Support Corruption Probe but Decry Misuse of “Russiagate” for Warmongering, Censorship, Political Repression
We support the investigation of potential concrete crimes related to corruption, quid pro quo deals, money laundering, financial conflicts of interest, and obstruction of justice. Such investigations should not be tainted by misuse of “Russiagate” in broader political discourse for the purpose of promoting censorship, warmongering and politically-motivated efforts to intimidate and silence political opposition to the bipartisan political establishment.
The letter we are releasing today from our lead attorney, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, to the Senate Intelligence Committee details how their bipartisan investigation into our campaign – the flagship of an independent opposition political party – intrudes into First Amendment rights protecting freedom of speech and political liberty for all Americans. While we provided documents responsive to the Committee’s requests, we declined to provide Constitutionally protected materials, including the internal policy deliberations of our campaign, the flagship for an opposition political party. This request intrudes into the First Amendment rights of political and associational freedom that are critical to political liberty for all Americans.
Such Constitutional threats add to the dangerous current climate in which progressive political opposition, social movements, and the anti-war community are being targeted with censorship, surveillance and political intimidation. This includes recent censoring of social media and the internet, blacklisting progressive and anti-war media and organizations, restricting the right to protest, expanding surveillance, and disparaging social movements like Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock water protectors, anti-pipeline activists, and the gun control movement as “tools” of “Russian interference”.
“Russiagate” is also being used to argue for aggressive foreign policies, disparage peace advocates and justify massive military expenditures. This is all the more alarming in the setting of the resurgent cold war, accelerating nuclear arms race, and 17 years of unbridled US militarism that has proven disastrous abroad and devastating to human needs at home.
Emergency Commission and Treaty Can Restore Confidence in our Elections & Act As Stepping Stone to International Dialogue for Peace, Nuclear Weapons Ban & Climate Action.
In short, we are endangered by interference in our elections, interference in our civil liberties, by unbridled militarism and needless warmongering. On all these counts, we must defend our imperiled future and the democracy it depends on.
A military-industrial-surveillance complex is now deeply entrenched within the bipartisan political establishment and much of the corporate media. This dangerous juggernaut must not be allowed to twist legitimate concerns about election interference into support for political repression, censorship and warmongering. Instead, we can begin restoring confidence in our democracy right now with a nonpartisan Emergency Commission for Election Protection & Voting Justice and international negotiations for an election non-interference treaty. These should be stepping stones toward broader international dialogue for nuclear disarmament as called for in the recent UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons, for major reductions in military budgets, and for steeply accelerated climate action. These actions would go a long way to actually begin reducing dire threats that endanger not only our democracy, but civilization as we know it. Time is short. We must not be diverted from this task.

By Jill Stein/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Real Goal of “Russiagate” is to Prepare for Endless Austerity and War

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The Real Goal of “Russiagate” is to Prepare for Endless Austerity and War

“The ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the government of the home country.”

Robert Mueller, the former head of the national political police (FBI), has indicted 13 Russian nationals for the crime of sowing “discord in the U.S. political system” and encouraging “U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.” The defendants’ nationality makes their acts of political speech a crime, in Mueller’s legal view, but “at least 20 Americans” are embedded in the document as unindicted co-conspirators “ because they interacted in various ways with the Russian team’s activities during the 2016 presidential campaign.

These U.S. citizens “were just engaging in politics,” said independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, on Democracy Now! “They were putting together campaign events. They were engaging in online speech. That’s like, you know, the most sacred part of being an American citizen. And yet, they were unknowingly interacting with Russians….”

The Russians will never face trial in the U.S., and it is highly unlikely that the unindicted Americans will be criminally charged — but that is not the purpose of Mueller’s indictment. The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States. The witch hunt has found a legalistic vocabulary.

The New York Times’ in-house witch-hunting Negro, Charles Blow , has worked his mojo to the bone, fulminating against the dark forces that refused to support Hillary Clinton’ return to the White House. Mueller’s indictment is the charm Blow has been seeking to remove the hex of resistance to the established duopoly. Blow quotes Mueller’s document: “On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the Instagram account ‘Woke Blacks’ to post the following message: ‘Particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.’”

“The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States.”

These are the Russians’ words, but the sentiment is not at all alien to the contemporary and historical Black political conversation. Yet, for Blow, it is heresy and devilment to urge Black people to vote for third parties, or to refrain from voting. There ought’a be a law against it! — or some string of words that can be made to sound like a law. “What happened in this election wasn’t just a political crime, it was specifically a racialized crime, and the black vote was a central target,” wrote Blow.

Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin. To prove that anti-Clinton Blacks are in league with foreign and domestic devils, Blow quotes a Trump operative who bragged that the Republican campaign reminded Black voters about Hillary Clinton’s “suggestion that some African-American males are ‘super predators,’” in order to discourage them from voting. Mueller’s legal framework requires that we forgive such trivial history as mass Black incarceration.

Black Bernie Sanders activists are co-conspirators, in Blow’s view: “Even after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, rapper Killer Mike, a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, was still promoting the position that ‘If you’re voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton, you’re voting for the same thing.’”

Which is true, in that both are corporate capitalist politicians and warmongering racists that don’t deserve the vote of any decent person. But, saying so can now be construed as giving “aid and comfort” to a foreign “enemy” – either directly to Putin or to his “surrogate,” Trump. It must be a crime, because “the Russians” were indicted for it, right? Mueller’s “law” spells it out: “In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”

“Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin.”

Funny thing, though: the Democrats refused to cite the Republicans’ systematic, mass suppression of Black voters through the Cross Check scheme which, as Margaret Kimberley points out in this week’s Freedom Rider, caused 400,000 heavily Black votes to disappear in Michigan. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein called for a recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and found that Black voter suppression was a major factor, particularly in Detroit. “We are seeing again this evidence in Michigan that communities of color are systematically disenfranchised through the machinery that constitutes really another form of electoral Jim Crow,” Stein told The Guardian . “It’s pretty staggering. Eighty-seven optical scanners [in Detroit] broke on election day.”

The Democratic Party reluctantly added its name to the recount petition, while at the same time claiming it had seen no “actionable evidence ” of grounds for challenging Trump’s victory. But that’s par for the course. The Democrats have never confronted the GOP’s blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes. They are bound, apparently, by a gentleman’s agreement among the two parties. John Lewis, the Black congressman from Atlanta who wears his voting rights credentials like a robe of glory, abides by that agreement. The first thing out of Lewis’ mouth after Trump was declared the winner, in November, was a denunciation of “the Russians” – but not Black voter suppression by Republicans.

“The Democrats have never confronted the GOP’s blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes.”

Roughly one year later, Jill Stein — who fought Black voter suppression harder than the Democrats — was targeted for investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a possible collaborator with the Russians .

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered “treason” or any kind of “high crime” by the Democratic Party, but the siphoning of Black votes away from the corporate duopoly, through voluntary non-voting or support of third parties, is cause to bring out the pitchforks.

Under the Mueller legal formula, there are many more potential co-conspirators. The highest political crimes are “sowing discord” and “spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general” – for which one can theoretically go to prison, if you are a foreigner (Russian, not Israeli), or become an unindicted party to the charge, if American.

The Republicans, of course, have been sowing racial discord as a matter of policy ever since they adopted their “Southern Strategy” in 1968, and it’s been key to their success ever since. The United States is the nation that invented apartheid, and has served as a model for racists around the world. Racial discord is part of its DNA, and is the principal reason for the historical lack of a social contract and the weakness of the Left in this country. Corporate political hegemony would not exist in the U.S., were it not for the endemic nature of white supremacy in this society. The Russians have nothing to do with it — especially the Russian amateurs from St. Petersburg.

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered ‘treason’ or any kind of ‘high crime’ by the Democratic Party.”

The cabal has flipped the factual script. It was the Democrats and their allies in corporate media and the national security state that devised a calculated campaign to sow “discord” and “distrust towards the political system in general,” such as not seen in living memory. The initial goal was to depose or discipline the unpredictable, racist billionaire who in 2016 crushed the establishment leaders of the Republican Party — potentially destabilizing the duopoly system of corporate governance — rhetorically rejected the dogma of “free trade,” and spoke as if he would not maintain the momentum of his predecessor’s global military offensive. With the “intelligence community” on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations mission.

In other words, the ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the sitting government of the home country. They have inflicted great trauma and anxiety among the public in the process, but thanks to the corporate media component of the cabal, most of the blame has accrued to the targets of the campaign: Trump, “the Russians” and those defamed as “dupes” and “co-conspirators” with the fictitious Putin-Trump axis.

It is quite evident that this campaign of self-inflicted chaos is a project of the global corporate class, manifesting elsewhere in the “West” in remarkably similar fashion, but with local characteristics. Russia is, thus, charged with attempting to subvert governments around the world through minions like the St. Petersburg outfit. Through their servants in the Democratic Party, the corporate media, and the intelligence agencies, multinational capital has used Trump’s election to inflict a kind of shock treatment on their domestic polities — a very dangerous gambit, especially in the United States, with its weak social contract and immense capacity for civil violence.

“With the ‘intelligence community’ on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations campaign.”

More dangerous, is the whipping up of war fever based on Russia’s non-existent aggressions (Ukraine, Syria) and fabricated ambitions (the demise of the “West”).

We can be confident in blaming this politically engineered horror on the dominate elements of the U.S. capitalist ruling class, since they could surely call the project to a halt if it were merely a “rogue” enterprise mounted by a small section of their class-mates. Capital is using Russiagate to inflict extreme shocks to the very political system they claim to be defending. The trauma is necessary, they believe, because capital has nothing to offer to the masses of people, and must therefore dramatically weaken or destroy the political mechanisms through which the people make demands on the rulers. They are preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, and plan to suppress all opposition on the Left. That’s why Black Agenda Report and a dozen other Left web sites were named and defamed as Russian fellow travelers and purveyors of “fake news” by the Washington Post, the plaything of the CIA-partnered oligarch, Jeff Bezos.

A lot has happened in the space of a little over a year. Based on Russiagate-era interpretations of “law” and civil propriety, free speech is in the political eye of the corporate owners of media. The shrinking of the digital world that is accessible to the Left is well underway, with no workable alternatives in sight.

The Russiagate express keeps on rolling, despite the fact there is still no evidence for the original contention, that “the Russians” and Vladimir Putin conspired to steal and reveal the emails of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, emphasized that there is no evidence that any actual votes were altered or tampered with in the 2016 presidential election. No matter. The Democrats keep imagining other “Pearl Harbors” worthy of going to war over, because their project is to harden the political system for endless war and austerity.

By Glen Ford/BAR

Posted by The NON-ConformistR

Four Observations on the Latest Mueller Bombshell in ‘Russiagate’

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals and several Russian entities. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has blown the lid off the “Russiagate” scandal. In a 37-page grand jury indictment filed last Friday, Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian businesses with an elaborate conspiracy to defraud the United States aimed at disrupting the 2016 presidential race. At the intersection of law and politics, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.

Since news of the indictment broke, every interested party on the planet has worked hard to spin the story—from President Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the talking heads on cable news and the nettlesome trolls who haunt your favorite websites.

Taking to Twitter, Trump has insisted the indictment exonerates him of collusion and does nothing to tarnish his election, while Lavrov has blasted the filing as pure “blather.”

The talking heads have been all over the map, with some on MSNBC and CNN predicting Trump’s inevitable downfall, and others on Fox dismissing the indictment as insignificant. The trolls continue, as before, to wail about Mueller and the machinations of the “deep state.”

If all the noise has left you a bit dazed and confused, here are four observations to help make sense of the situation:

1. Russiagate isn’t a hoax.

Until the indictment, the official position of the White House and the president’s Fox News echo chamber—and even some pundits on the left and independent groups—was that there was no proof whatsoever to the claim that Russia or individuals acting on behalf of the Russian government attempted to intervene in the 2016 election. The scandal was trivialized as a hoax or fake news, or worse, a witch hunt and a new form of McCarthyism designed to discredit Trump’s victory.

On the right, advocates of this viewpoint were motivated by a desire to defend Trump at all costs because they supported his positions on immigration, hostility to the media, rolling back voting rights and the social safety net, accelerating mass incarceration, dismantling Obamacare and redistributing the nation’s wealth even more obscenely in favor of the super-rich through a combination of tax cuts and economic and environmental deregulation.

Skeptics on the left were understandably leery of alleged Russian intervention because of the hypocrisy and lies the country has been fed for years about foreign policy and the threat of terrorism by the intelligence community (the federation of 17 agencies, including the FBI and CIA, responsible for monitoring and protecting national security). Some elements on the left also were doubtful because of their opposition to the destructive economic and social consequences of neoliberalism as a governing philosophy, as represented by the Clintons and the dominant corporate wing of the Democratic Party.

Some on the left even saw Trump as a “peace candidate” who would pursue détente with Vladimir Putin in contrast to Clinton, who would promote continued U.S. aggression. Some pushed the slogan during the campaign that “Trump is the symptom [of the illnesses of American capitalism], Clinton is the disease.”

Both groups of skeptics argued that if there were any substance to the theory of Russian intervention, we would have learned the details by now. It wasn’t enough for either group that emails from the Democratic National Committee or from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta Jr.’s personal account wound up being published by WikiLeaks. The skeptics countered that the DNC’s emails were leaked from the inside rather than hacked from the outside.

Other instances of Russian meddling, such as the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a collection of Russians led by Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, a well-connected lawyer with ties to the Russian Federal Security Service, were derided as inconsequential “nothing burgers.”

The new Mueller indictment undermines the skepticism. It lays out in meticulous detail the allegation of a conspiracy to “sow discord in the U.S. political system” through a variety of means, including, but not limited to, the creation and use of false and stolen social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and the opening of bank accounts based on Social Security numbers stolen from unsuspecting Americans. Although the conspiracy began in 2014, the indictment charges that ultimately it was directed at helping Trump win the 2016 election.

As alleged in paragraph six of the indictment:

“Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by

early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Defendants also staged political rallies inside the United States, and while posing as U.S. grassroots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities and ORGANIZATION affiliation, solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates. Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

The individuals responsible for the conspiracy are listed by name. They include a dozen computer hackers and operatives employed by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency LLC (IRA), long considered Russia’s premier espionage “troll factory.” Also named are the IRA’s parent companies, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, and Concord’s owner, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a Kremlin confidant who reportedly has made a fortune in the food-supply business. Moscow insiders jokingly have nicknamed Prigozhin “Putin’s chef.”

The defendants are accused in eight counts of the crimes of conspiracy against the United States in violation of federal election laws that prohibit foreign influence; wire and bank fraud; and aggravated identity theft.

The specific overt acts the defendants allegedly undertook in furtherance of the conspiracy are meticulously laid out in the indictment one by one, paragraph after lengthy paragraph, perpetrator by perpetrator, deed by deed, date by date, place by place. Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—the special counsel’s Justice Department supervisor, who announced the indictment at a Friday afternoon news conference—believe they can prove each and every allegation beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Although the chances are virtually nil that the defendants will ever be extradited, the indictment is clear and precise, and by no means the product of a hoax.

2. Although the indictment does not charge Trump and members of his inner circle with criminal conduct, it by no means clears them.

In his news conference, Rosenstein emphasized that no Americans were named as defendants in the indictment. Under the terms of the indictment, he explained, no Americans are accused of “wittingly” or “knowingly” participating in the conspiracy.

On the heels of the news conference, Trump and his supporters have seized on Rosenstein’s remarks to claim that the indictment clears the president and his campaign of any charges of colluding or plotting with the Russians.

They could not be more wrong.

The truth—always an elusive commodity in the hands of the 45th commander in chief—is that the indictment is silent on the criminal liability of any Americans. It does not prove there is no liability.

We know this because Mueller also disclosed on Friday that he and his team had secured a guilty plea earlier this month from a California man named Ricky Pinedo on charges of identity fraud for using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that he later unwittingly sold to the Russians to facilitate their social media mischief.

Nowhere is Pinedo, who has entered into an agreement to cooperate with Mueller, mentioned in the new indictment filed against the Russians. It is simply wishful thinking on the president’s part to conclude that additional Americans, including some possibly linked directly to the Trump campaign, won’t be subsequently prosecuted. Trump and his minions also seem to have forgotten, or wish the rest of us have, that Mueller also has secured guilty pleas from two other former Trump advisers—George Papadopoulos and Gen. Michael Flynn—for lying to the FBI. Like Pinedo, they have promised to cooperate with Mueller in his ongoing probe.

In another late-breaking development, former Trump adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty to money laundering charges, and agree to testify against ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in a trial slated for early May.

As such cases illustrate, the Mueller investigation as a whole is concerned with far more than Russian efforts to disrupt the elections by infiltrating social media platforms. Most critically of all, the investigation is focused on the president’s personal liability for obstruction of justice stemming from the May 2017 firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and possible money laundering involving his business dealings with Russian interests both here and abroad.

3. The indictment does not prove the election was stolen from Clinton, but neither does it establish the opposite.

As the old saying goes: “Even a broken clock is right twice day a day.” In at least one respect, Trump was correct in asserting in a weekend tweetstorm on Mueller and the FBI that nothing alleged in the new indictment shows the conspiracy affected the outcome of the election. In his news conference, Rosenstein made the same observation, although without the histrionics.

Still, nothing alleged in the indictment will lift the cloud of illegitimacy that has surrounded the Trump presidency. In all likelihood, the indictment will have the opposite long-term effect, as it alleges that the Russian disinformation operation managed to reach millions of Americans.

The election was decided by under 78,000 votes in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Clinton may have been the worst candidate the Democrats could have nominated, but had she prevailed in all three, she would have won the Electoral College by a tally of 278 to 260.

4. For the moment, Rosenstein and Mueller are safe.

Since his appointment, Mueller has been a constant thorn in Trump’s side. According to The New York Times, he threatened to fire Mueller last June, when stories first circulated that Mueller was looking into the obstruction issue. Trump reportedly stopped short of giving the termination order only because White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II threatened to resign.

It’s also no secret that Trump distrusts Rosenstein. Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in March 2017 from overseeing the Russia investigation, Rosenstein is Mueller’s boss. Under the law, only Rosenstein has the authority to carry out a presidential order to fire Mueller, and he may do so only for good cause.

Should Rosenstein refuse, Trump could fire him or force his resignation, and command the official next in line in the Justice Department’s hierarchy to get rid of Mueller. With the impending retirement of Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the task would fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco, whose basic responsibility is to represent the administration before the Supreme Court. Francisco is a movement conservative long affiliated with the Federalist Society.

It’s by no means certain that Francisco would agree to fire Mueller, but if he did, he would follow in the footsteps of Robert Bork, who as Richard Nixon’s solicitor general fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973.

Whether by design or not, the new Russia indictment, with all the details it sets forth, should stave off a repeat of the massacre—but only for the time being. With Mueller negotiating with Trump’s attorneys to set up a face-to-face interview of the president under oath, anything could happen in the coming months.

By Bill Blum/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Hillary Clinton’s book signing was as insufferable as you’d expect

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Image: NY Post

Among the enduring criticisms of Hillary Clinton: Her sense of entitlement is limitless. She’s tone-deaf and doesn’t understand the average American — nor does she care to. Her greed is insatiable.

Add to this a gaping lack of self-awareness, and you have all the ingredients for the New York City launch of Hillary’s nationwide book tour Tuesday morning (also primary day, not that Hillary — who maintains she’s still here only for us — cares about that either).

Thousands of people lined up outside the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in hopes of meeting their idol. Some slept outside the night before. Clare Hogenauer, an older, disabled Upper West Sider, told me she rented a downtown motel room nearby. “I didn’t want to take a chance,” she said.

More from  the New York Post

Posted by Libergirl

The Surveillance State Behind Russiagate

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New reports raise questions about the relationship among House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, President Trump and other administration officials.

Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump.

This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?)

What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail.

This crisis (yes, “crisis” is an overused word, but in this highly unusual set of circumstances we believe it is appropriate) came to light mostly by accident after President Trump tweeted on March 4 that his team in New York City’s Trump Towers had been “wiretapped” by President Obama.

Trump reportedly was relying on media reports regarding how conversations of aides, including his ill-starred National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, had been intercepted. Trump’s tweet led to a fresh offensive by Democrats and the mainstream press to disparage Trump’s “ridiculous” claims.

However, this concern about the dragnets that U.S. intelligence (or its foreign partners) can deploy to pick up communications by Trump’s advisers and then “unmask” the names before leaking them to the news media was also highlighted at the Nunes-led House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, where Nunes appealed for anyone who had related knowledge to come forward with it.

READ: Trump’s Wiretapping Charge Could Contain Some Explosive Truth

That apparently happened on the evening of March 21 when Nunes received a call while riding with a staffer. After the call, Nunes switched to another car and went to a secure room at the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House, where he was shown highly classified information apparently about how the intelligence community picked up communications by Trump’s aides.

The next day, Nunes went to the White House to brief President Trump, who later said he felt “somewhat vindicated” by what Nunes had told him.

The ‘Wiretap’ Red Herring

But the corporate U.S. news media continued to heckle Trump over his use of the word “wiretap” and cite the insistence of FBI Director James Comey and other intelligence officials that President Obama had not issued a wiretap order aimed at Trump.

As those paying rudimentary attention to modern methods of surveillance know, “wiretapping” is passé. But Trump’s use of the word allowed FBI and Department of Justice officials and their counterparts at the National Security Agency to swear on a stack of bibles that the FBI, DOJ, and NSA have been unable to uncover any evidence within their particular institutions of such “wiretapping.”

At the House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers firmly denied that their agencies had wiretapped Trump Towers on the orders of President Obama.

So, were Trump and his associates “wiretapped”? Of course not. Wiretapping went out of vogue decades ago, having been rendered obsolete by leaps in surveillance technology.

The real question is: Were Trump and his associates surveilled? Wake up, America. Was no one paying attention to the disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 when he exposed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as a liar for denying that the NSA engaged in bulk collection of communications inside the United States.

The reality is that EVERYONE, including the President, is surveilled. The technology enabling bulk collection would have made the late demented FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water.

Allegations about the intelligence community’s abuse of its powers also did not begin with Snowden. For instance, several years earlier, former NSA worker and whistleblower Russell Tice warned about these “special access programs,” citing first-hand knowledge, but his claims were brushed aside as coming from a disgruntled employee with psychological problems. His disclosures were soon forgotten.

Intelligence Community’s Payback

However, earlier this year, there was a stark reminder of how much fear these surveillance capacities have struck in the hearts of senior U.S. government officials. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Trump was “being really dumb” to take on the intelligence community, since “They have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Maddow shied away from asking the logical follow-up: “Senator Schumer, are you actually saying that Trump should be afraid of the CIA?” Perhaps she didn’t want to venture down a path that would raise more troubling questions about the surveillance of the Trump team than on their alleged contacts with the Russians.

Similarly, the U.S. corporate media is now focused on Nunes’ alleged failure to follow protocol by not sharing his information first with Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats promptly demanded that Nunes recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

On Tuesday morning, reporters for CNN and other news outlets peppered Nunes with similar demands as he walked down a corridor on Capitol Hill, prompting him to suggest that they should be more concerned about what he had learned than the procedures followed.

That’s probably true because to quote Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” in a slightly different context, the mainstream media “cannot handle the truth” – even if it’s a no-brainer.

READ: Despite Growing Opposition, Devin Nunes Says He’ll Continue to Lead House Russia Inquiry

At his evening meeting on March 21 at the Old Executive Office Building, Nunes was likely informed that all telephones, emails, etc. – including his own and Trump’s – are being monitored by what the Soviets used to call “the organs of state security.”

By sharing that information with Trump the next day – rather than consulting with Schiff – Nunes may have sought to avoid the risk that Schiff or someone else would come up with a bureaucratic reason to keep the president in the dark.

A savvy politician, Nunes knew there would be high political cost in doing what he did. Inevitably, he would be called partisan; there would be more appeals to remove him from chairing the committee; and the character assassination of him already well under way – in The Washington Post, for example – might move him to the top of the unpopularity chart, displacing even bête noire Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But this episode was not the first time Nunes has shown some spine in the face of what the establishment wants ignored. In a move setting this congressman apart from all his colleagues, Nunes had the courage to host an award ceremony for one of his constituents, retired sailor and member of the USS Liberty crew, Terry Halbardier.

On June 8, 1967, by repairing an antennae and thus enabling the USS Liberty to issue an SOS, Halbardier prevented Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats from sinking that Navy intelligence ship and ensuring that there would be no survivors to describe how the Israeli “allies” had strafed and bombed the ship. Still, 34 American seamen died, and 171 were wounded.

At the time of the award ceremony in 2009, Nunes said, “The government has kept this quiet I think for too long, and I felt as my constituent, he [Halbardier] needed to get recognized for the services he made to his country.” (Ray McGovern took part in the ceremony in Nunes’ Visalia, Calif., office.)

Now, we suspect that much more may be learned about the special compartmented surveillance program targeted against top U.S. national leaders if Rep. Nunes doesn’t back down and if Trump doesn’t choose the road most traveled – acquiescence to America’s Deep State actors.

By Ray McGovern and Bill Binney / Consortium News

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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