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Ray McGovern

Will Comey’s Words Come Back To Haunt Him?

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On Jan. 12, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey attested to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the now-discredited information from former British spy Christopher Steele regarding Russian collusion had been "verified". Thanks to an FOIA request, we now have documentary evidence showing Comey pressing ahead to validate Steele amid a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of other agency heads. Clearly, the latter were reluctant to push Steele’s salacious storytelling, lest they throw additional doubt on their own threadbare tales of Trump’s collusion with Russia.

Comey wanted to use Steele’s reporting to buttress an already flaw-filled FBI filing for a warrant to prolong eavesdropping on Carter Page. (Page was a foreign policy adviser who began working with the Trump campaign in March 2016.). Trouble is that on the same day (Jan. 12, 2017) that Comey told the FISA Court that Steele’s reporting was "verified", Comey emailed then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper admitting that the FBI was "not able to sufficiently corroborate the [Steele’s] reporting".

If you find it difficult to reconcile those two statements, you are not alone. Was Steele’s reporting "verified"? Or was it uncorroborated? How to explain.

Comey was hell-bent on renewing the original (October 21, 2016 ) 90-day warrant he signed to surveil Carter Page. And if that required morphing "uncorroborated" into "verified", no big deal? The rubber-stamp FISA judge would be none the wiser, and who knows what juicy tidbits might turn up in that surveillance.
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Can Burns Change the CIA?

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In nominating former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to be CIA director, President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a highly experienced diplomat to lead a hydra-headed agency.

But, if past is precedent, the highest hydras who head calcified fiefdoms at CIA can be expected to resist any real control from the top. They are more likely to try to co-opt top management or make end runs around it. This is not new.

Most senior CIA operations officers, in particular, have never been comfortable with meaningful supervision, lest it lead to reining them in or impinging on their ample budgets. With secrecy always in play (including strict application of the “need-to-know” principle), Burns will need a good deputy — preferably a strong outsider — to avoid being blind-sided — or diddled.

Burns lacks proven experience managing organizations as large and variegated as the agency, so the jury is out on whether he will be able to do it.

One endemic challenge is to ensure that substantive intelligence analysis is not tainted by CIA’s operations. In recent years, analysts have been thrown together with operations officers, making it very difficult for analysts to maintain the distance needed to evaluate objectively the efficacy of policies and actions in which operations colleagues close by are fully engaged.
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Why Michael Morell Cannot Be CIA Director

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As President-elect Joe Biden names his cabinet and other chief advisers, what has escaped wide attention is the fact that none of his hawkish national security advisers — except for his nominee for defense secretary, Gen. Lloyd Austin — has served in the military.
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What is John Brennan So Worried About?

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Former CIA Director John Brennan is apparently so worried that Donald Trump might release certain classified intelligence that he suggested this week that Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet remove Trump via the 25th amendment.

Brennan appeared this week on both CNN and MSNBC to spread alarm about what Trump might do as he continues to contest the election results and appoints new people at Defense, NSA (and possibly CIA) who may do his bidding. 

Brennan warned on CNN that it was “very, very worrisome” that Trump “is just very unpredictable now … like a cornered cat — tiger. And he’s going to lash out.”

Brennan told MSNBC he was worried that Trump has called for the “wholesale declassification of intelligence in order to further his own political interests.”

Whom would he lash out at and what classified documents might Brennan be referring to?
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Ex-CIA Director John Brennan: Biting Fingernails for Next 70 Days — or Maybe Less

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Siamese twins John Brennan/David Ignatius teamed up yesterday to show, clearly if unwittingly, why the former CIA director is biting his nails to the bone. Would Trump release sensitive information exposing what actually happened with Russia-gate? Oops.

Remember: NSA intercepts EVERYTHING electronic; so all Trump has to do is to have the new Acting Secretary of Defense ORDER the NSA director to release materials spelling out chapter and verse on the R-gate cabal headed by Brennan, Comey, and Clapper.

Don’t be misled; virtually all of it can be released with ZERO danger to intelligence “sources and methods”. But release won’t happen, of course, if Trump confines himself to whining to Fox News — or if he simply “authorizes” release of that key information (he’s already done that — to no effect).

What Brennan fears is that Trump might wake up one day to find that someone has written on his mirror, “Hey, I thought YOU were the president.” At that point there would be an outside chance he might act like one.
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Russiagate’s Last Gasp

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On Friday The New York Times featured a report based on anonymous intelligence officials that the Russians were paying bounties to have US troops killed in Afghanistan with President Donald Trump refusing to do anything about it. The flurry of Establishment media reporting that ensued provides further proof, if such were needed, that the erstwhile “paper of record” has earned a new moniker — Gray Lady of easy virtue.

Over the weekend, the Times’ dubious allegations grabbed headlines across all media that are likely to remain indelible in the minds of credulous Americans — which seems to have been the main objective. To keep the pot boiling this morning, The New York Times’ David Leonhardt’s daily webpiece, “The Morning” calls prominent attention to a banal article by a Heather Cox Richardson, described as a historian at Boston College, adding specific charges to the general indictment of Trump by showing “how the Trump administration has continued to treat Russia favorably.” The following is from Richardson’s newsletter on Friday...
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How an Internet ‘Persona’ Helped Birth Russiagate

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Four years ago today, on June 15, 2016, a shadowy Internet persona calling itself “Guccifer 2.0” appeared out of nowhere to claim credit for hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee on behalf of WikiLeaks and implicate Russia by dropping “telltale” but synthetically produced Russian “breadcrumbs” in his metadata.

Thanks largely to the corporate media, the highly damaging story actually found in those DNC emails — namely, that the DNC had stacked the cards against Bernie Sanders in the party’s 2016 primary— was successfully obscured.

The media was the message; and the message was that Russia had used G-2.0 to hack into the DNC, interfering in the November 2016 election to help Donald Trump win.

Almost everybody still “knows” that — from the man or woman in the street to the forlorn super sleuth, Special Counsel Robert Swan Mueller III, who actually based indictments of Russian intelligence officers on Guccifer 2.0.
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US-Russia Ties, from Heyday to MayDay

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Russian hopes dashed: Whatever hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had for a more workable relationship with the Trump administration have been “trumpled,” so to speak. This came through loudly and clearly in acerbic remarks by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in an interview Friday with The National Interest.

Ryabkov lamented the sad state of Russia-US relations, while pointing, not very subtly, to China as Russia’s ace in the hole. He was simply acknowledging that what the Soviets used to call “the correlation of forces” has changed markedly, and strongly implied that the US should draw the appropriate conclusions.

No amateur diplomat, Ryabkov used unusually sharp, almost certainly pre-authorized, words to drive home his message:
We don’t believe the US in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing … we cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further.
In other words: We Russians and Chinese will stand together as the US tries to paint both of us as arch-villains, all the while isolating itself and painting itself into a corner.
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Twin Pillars of Russiagate Crumble

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House Intelligence Committee documents released Thursday reveal that the committee was told two and half years ago that the FBI had no concrete evidence that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee computers to filch the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks in July 2016.

The until-now-buried, closed-door testimony came on Dec. 5, 2017 from Shawn Henry, a protege of former FBI Director Robert Mueller (from 2001 to 2012), for whom Henry served as head of the Bureau’s cyber crime investigations unit. 

Henry retired in 2012 and took a senior position at CrowdStrike, the cyber security firm hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to investigate the cyber intrusions that occurred before the 2016 presidential election.

The following excerpts from Henry’s testimony speak for themselves. The dialogue is not a paragon of clarity; but if read carefully, even cyber neophytes can understand...
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