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 on: September 20, 2017, 08:14:30 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
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Paul Manafort Is in Legal Jeopardy fullscreen Paul Manafort (Reuters file photo: Carlo Allegri) Share article on Facebook share Tweet article tweet Plus one article on Google Plus +1 Print Article Adjust font size AA by Andrew C. McCarthy September 20, 2017 7:28 AM @AndrewCMcCarthy But Trump may not be We already knew that Paul Manafort was in a heap of trouble. It was almost two months ago — July 26, to be precise — that his Virginia residence was raided by the FBI in the predawn hours. As I said at the time, prosecutors do not obtain warrants to toss the homes of people they regard as cooperating witnesses. When they are dealing with cooperators, prosecutors politely request that documents be produced, expecting the witness (and his lawyers) to comply. If some coercion is thought necessary, they will issue a grand-jury subpoena — an enforceable directive to produce documents, but one that still allows the witness to hand over the materials, not have them forcibly seized. The execution of a search warrant, even if it goes smoothly, is a show of force. It is intimidating. When we first learned of the raid, I also emphasized its timing: predawn. Under federal law, search warrants are supposed to be executed during daytime hours, when agents can be expected to knock on the door, announce their presence and purpose, and be admitted by the occupant of the premises. If investigators want to search a home before 6 a.m., they need permission. To get it, they have to convince the judge that, if the occupant were alerted to the agents’ presence before they entered, it is likely he would destroy evidence or pose a danger. When I pointed that out, some said I was reading too much into it. To promote agent safety, they countered, the FBI proceeds in the early morning whenever possible. In fact, that is not always the case; and, in any event, the FBI’s preference to proceed in “the early morning” (e.g., at 6 a.m.), is not the same thing as barging in even earlier — for which, again, special permission is required. But now you needn’t take my word for it. Assuming Monday’s New York Times report is correct, the FBI entered covertly by picking the lock on Manafort’s front door while he was sleeping. Clearly, that is not standard operating procedure — certainly not in a white-collar case. Mueller’s investigators wanted to start grabbing files and copying hard drives before Manafort had a chance to call his lawyers or impede the search in any way. It was their way of saying Manafort could not be trusted. That’s intimidating, too. Powered by In light of the latest revelations (which our David French has outlined well in a Corner post), I stand by what I said when news of the raid first surfaced: There are two possible rationales for a search warrant under the circumstances. First, the legitimate rationale: Investigators in good faith believed Manafort, who is either a subject of or witness in their investigation, was likely to destroy rather than surrender relevant evidence. Second, the brass-knuckles rationale: The prosecutor is attempting to intimidate the witness or subject — to say nothing of others who are similarly situated — into volunteering everything he may know of an incriminating nature about people the prosecutor is targeting. Note that these rationales are not mutually exclusive. A few points are worth mulling over at this stage. 1. The current Manafort probe is a criminal investigation, which special counsel Mueller is pursuing with a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. The July search involved a regular criminal-law search warrant. By contrast, the prior surveillances of Manafort were counterintelligence investigations conducted by the Obama Justice Department and FBI with the assistance of the secret court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Counterintelligence investigations are thus often called “FISA investigations” or “national-security investigations.” The difference, as we’ve pointed out several times, is significant. A criminal investigation is an effort to make a prosecutable case that a suspect has committed a crime. A FISA investigation is an effort to understand the actions and intentions of a foreign power by monitoring one of its suspected agents — i.e., by eavesdropping on communications or conducting searches under FISA. Being a foreign agent is not a crime, per se; whether the relationship is criminal depends on the nature of the actions the operative takes (including whether he has disclosed his agency, as required by federal law). So in a FISA investigation, it is not necessary to show probable cause that a suspect has committed a crime in order to search his home or tap his phone; all that is needed is probable cause that he is acting as an agent of a foreign power. According to CNN’s latest revelations, the FISA surveillance took place in two phases: the first, from 2014 until sometime in early 2016; the second in late 2016 into early 2017. This suggests that they were probably two separate FISA investigations: Initially, I suspect Manafort was investigated as an agent of the Kremlin-backed Yanukovich faction in Ukraine (for which he had done political consulting work for many years, reportedly for millions of dollars); subsequently, Manafort was investigated as a suspected agent of Russia in connection with the Putin regime’s meddling in the 2016 election. I am betting the probable-cause evidence was overwhelming in Phase I, and sketchy in Phase II. While criminal and FISA investigations are critically different, they can also be closely related — intelligence derived from FISA can incidentally bolster a criminal case, although the federal government is not permitted to use FISA as a ruse to conduct what is actually a criminal investigation. Mueller wants to prosecute Manafort, so criminal-law investigative tactics are now being used. 2. As I pointed out in the aforementioned column, the criminal search warrant executed at Manafort’s home on July 26 would give us insight into what suspected crimes Mueller is investigating. There would have to have been a probable-cause showing of specific crimes before a judge authorized the warrant; and the warrant itself had to have described the evidence the agents expected to find. We still do not know what crimes are under investigation, because the Justice Department did not comply with a regulation that calls for it to provide a factual description of the criminal investigation the special counsel has been authorized to conduct. But Manafort has a good idea of what Mueller is after, because the agents were required by law to provide Manafort with a copy of the warrant and an inventory of what they seized. These have not been publicly revealed. 3. Prosecutors do not like it when other investigative bodies, including congressional committees, are trying to scrutinize the same matters they are probing. We should bear this in mind in considering the timing of the search warrant. Not only did Manafort meet with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators the day before the search; he was also scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the very day of the search. Indeed, by pouncing at the precise time Manafort was cooperating with Congress, Mueller’s investigators were able to seize binders of documents that Manafort and his counsel had prepared to assist his Senate testimony. After the early-morning raid, Manafort ended up not testifying before the Judiciary Committee. The committee’s senior senators, chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), later issued a joint statement that their subpoena to Manafort had been withdrawn because he produced documents (reportedly over 300 pages’ worth) to the committee. Obviously, though, Manafort would not have the same willingness to testify before Congress if he suddenly had reason to believe he was likely to be indicted (such that any testimony he gave could be used against him in a criminal case). The New York Times reports that Mueller’s prosecutors have told Manafort they intend to indict him. That, too, is intimidating. It is more plausible that the first FISA surveillance was aborted because it was not turning up any useful intelligence about the Putin regime and its Ukrainian puppets. 4. CNN claims that the first FISA surveillance of Manafort was shut down in 2016, after over a year, due to “lack of evidence.” That is strange. Again, the point of FISA surveillance is not to build a criminal case but to gather intelligence about the foreign power for which the subject is allegedly acting as an agent. To say FISA surveillance was aborted for “lack of evidence” makes it sound like Manafort was not an agent for the Ukrainian faction after all. But we know he was: Not only is this common knowledge; he belatedly registered as a foreign agent. It is more plausible that the first FISA surveillance was aborted because it was not turning up any useful intelligence about the Putin regime and its Ukrainian puppets. That implies that the Obama Justice Department and FBI concluded that Manafort was no longer an active foreign agent in early 2016 — before he (briefly) joined the Trump campaign. 5. CNN elaborates that the second FISA surveillance, apparently begun in late 2016, “was part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.” This is not news: Months ago, we began discussing reports that there may have been FISA surveillance of Manafort and longtime Trump confidant (and Manafort partner) Roger Stone, as well as Carter Page, a tangential figure who was identified by the Trump campaign as a foreign-policy adviser but does not seem to have been much of one or to have much of a relationship with Donald Trump. CNN says it is “unclear” when the second FISA surveillance started, but that the FBI’s interest in Manafort was rekindled “last fall because of intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves.” This FISA counterintelligence investigation of Manafort is said to have included a search warrant, executed in early 2017 on a storage facility he controlled. Because this was a FISA search warrant, it is classified; there has been no leak (yet) about what the Obama Justice Department’s application alleged and what the agents found. Assuming these claims are true (and of that we cannot be sure), the timing of the surveillance and search would be of great importance. Was it before the November election, in the immediate aftermath of which President Obama said the Russians did not and could not rig it? Or was it later, when Democrats had settled on a narrative that Russia stole the election in collusion with the Trump campaign? 6. It has been reported that during the campaign’s final weeks, the FBI was dealing with Christopher Steele, the former British spy retained to compile the so-called Trump dossier by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reports, the FBI and Justice Department have been stonewalling the House Intelligence Committee’s efforts to find out whether any part of the dossier factored into in the Russia investigation. The dossier’s allegations, which former FBI director James Comey has described as “salacious and unverified,” were said to come from Steele’s well-placed Russian sources, and the research effort was backed by wealthy Hillary Clinton supporters. So, the question naturally arises: Was any part of Steele’s claims used by the FBI in applications to the FISA court for surveillance and searches of Manafort or other Trump associates? 7. On a parallel track with the 2016–17 FISA investigation, we also know that Obama’s national-security team was involved in a startling amount of “unmasking” in intelligence reporting — i.e., revealing the names of Americans who were incidentally caught up in foreign-intelligence-collection efforts targeting other people. Normally, unmasking just means that these identities get revealed in classified reports disseminated among intelligence agencies, not that they get revealed to the public. Yet, we now know that there was considerable leaking — very likely by design. Thus, another obvious question: Was there correlation between (a) the intelligence generated by the FISA surveillance of Manafort and (b) the unmasking of people associated with the Trump campaign? Obama’s national-security team was involved in a startling amount of ‘unmasking’ in intelligence reporting. We should stress, of course, that if there was solid evidence of an espionage relationship between Manafort and the Kremlin, there would be nothing necessarily inappropriate in conducting surveillance and unmasking relevant American identities. The question is: Was there solid evidence? 8. Some Trump enthusiasts are suggesting that the latest revelations about the surveillance of Manafort “vindicate” the president in his March tweets, which accused his predecessor of tapping his phone lines at Trump Tower. Even if Trump had been proven 100 percent correct about this — and he clearly has not — he would not be vindicated. It was an irresponsible allegation for him to make, especially the way he made it: (a) FISA investigations are classified; (b) it was an explosive thing to accuse a former president of; (c) since Trump had access to the relevant information, he had a special responsibility to be ironclad accurate if he chose to speak about it; and (d) Twitter is not a proper or sensible forum in which to make a startling claim regarding a surveillance process that requires some explanation. All that said, though, I have been arguing for months that the Obama camp’s denials, for all their strident indignation, have been narrow and Jesuitical. Some Obama apologists made the point that the president neither orders FISA surveillance nor directs the steps taken to carry it out. This was silly: Every sentient person understood that Trump was talking about the Obama administration under Obama’s guidance; he was not claiming that Obama personally interacted with the FISA court or personally conducted any surveillance. When interviewed by the press, former Obama officials, such as his national intelligence director, James Clapper, gave denials that sounded sweeping but, when parsed, told us nothing more than that Trump’s tweet was literally wrong — his personal phone lines at Trump Tower had not been targeted for eavesdropping. That carefully avoided addressing other phone lines that may have been subjected to surveillance, and it was not a categorical denial that Trump’s conversations had ever been monitored. The artful answers left open the possibility that Trump, even though not named as a target in a FISA application, may have been monitored incidentally, perhaps even under circumstances in which his interception had been quite foreseeable (because the actual FISA targets were associates of his known to be in contact with him). Now we have more reason to believe Manafort was targeted for FISA surveillance at a time when he had a residence at Trump Tower and was in periodic contact with Trump. Again, this doesn’t make Trump’s tweets correct or justifiable. But it does once again raise the question whether Trump’s conversations were tapped. If they were, the Obama camp’s denials would seem, shall we say, lawyerly. Bottom line: Paul Manafort appears to be in serious jeopardy, but any suspected criminality may involve matters having nothing to do with President Trump. It is worth recalling former FBI director James Comey’s congressional testimony: Trump wanted it made clear that he personally was not under investigation, but agreed that “if some of my satellites did something wrong, it’d be good to find that out.” Maybe we’ll soon find out. It has never necessarily followed that legal trouble for Manafort is legal trouble for Trump — even if it does portend tremendous political trouble for the Trump administration.

Read more at:

 on: September 20, 2017, 07:52:29 PM 
Started by ccp - Last post by G M

The Alt-Right and Antifa Are Waging a New Kind of Internet Warfare
Aug 30 2017, 8:25am

Intelligence and surveillance powers that once belonged only to militaries and state spooks are now available to anyone with a high-speed internet connection.

Live long enough and you may hear future historians recall the war between 4chan and an art collective called LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner.

They'll tell the story of how anonymous, interconnected imageboard users gathered clues from public video footage, like passing aircraft and the position of stars, to geolocate the roving, anti-Trump art project He Will Not Divide Us, put on by actor Shia LaBeouf and his collaborators. Records will show that the people on the group's trail—pro-Trump activists, impish saboteurs, and budding neo-Nazis—didn't need high-end spy gear. Instead, they found their mark by collecting and processing public information through decentralized and supposedly leaderless networks. It might one day look, in retrospect, like a form of social automation: continuously updating intelligence assessments converted into real-world effect by volunteer foot "soldiers" acting without orders.

Or maybe the saga will be remembered as a trial run of sorts, when tactics later used in domestic guerilla warfare first appeared as sinister pranks. Whatever happens next, the genie is out of the bottle, and intelligence and surveillance capabilities that once belonged only to militaries and state spooks are now available to anyone with a high-speed internet connection.

Military theorist and futurist John Robb, who wrote the influential 2008 book Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, developed the concept of "open-source insurgency" to describe emerging forms of conflict. You can see a version of it at work in the current season of political upheaval and clashes in American cities. Of course, it's violence in the streets that captures most of the attention, especially after a car plowed into a crowd amid the neo-Nazi spectacle in Charlottesville, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring many more. But in the background, much of the fighting is being done online. Memes, trolls, bans, doxes, sock puppets, and targeted disruption campaigns like the one used against LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner are being deployed in a cycle of attacks and counterattacks that, much like traditional military intelligence and information operations, set conditions for the next round of physical confrontation.

The foundation of open-source insurgency is what Robb calls "superempowerment": "an increase in the ability of individuals and small groups to accomplish tasks/work through the combination of rapid improvements in technological tools and access to global networks." That increase, Robb argues, "has enabled small groups to radically increase their productivity in conflict."

It's a concept that helps make sense of the seemingly outsized cultural clout of the alt-right, a movement built on beliefs that fail to attract more than fringe support in national surveys.

"History doesn't repeat, it rhymes," Robb said in an interview, echoing an adage attributed to Mark Twain.

What distinguishes the current political conflict from past episodes of fascists, communists, and anarchists clashing in the streets of Western cities, according to Robb, "is the whole social networking thing."

"They exercise power in this new environment through online disruption," he added. "You keep everything chaotic, you don't know what's up and down, who to trust and who not to trust, and what news is right or wrong. In that environment, they can exercise some level of control."

There are other names like "hybrid warfare" and "fourth-generation warfare" to describe the evolving nature of political and military conflict. The idea is that war has moved beyond the battlefield into an all-encompassing struggle in economics, politics, and culture, along with old-school physical confrontation. In this new kind of warfare, where the allegiance of civilian populations is crucial, control over narrative and messaging is often more important than killing the enemy or holding a particular piece of ground.

The fact that much of this applies to what's going on in America now doesn't mean a civil war has already begun. But it suggests that after a long period of relative quiet in the West, when war and peace appeared to be distant, unbridgeable states, they have begun bleeding back into each other.

A signature tactic in the new conflict, honed on sites like 4chan and 8chan, is forensic analysis of digital imagery and geospatial data—fields specialized enough to have their own acronyms, IMINT and GEOINT, in military jargon. Sometimes this work is carried out by distributed networks without any clear leaders or permanent organization. But there are more formalized approaches as well. The Atlantic Council–affiliated Bellingcat mixes investigative journalism with open-source forensic analysis to do things like geolocate ISIS training camps. Groups on 4Chan and Anonymous have also repeatedly waded into foreign wars, notably in Ukraine and Syria, where they have typically taken different sides, with 4chan showing a strong pro-Assad and pro-Russia bias.

The tactics involved aren't exactly neutral—they favor actors skilled at processing and manipulating high volumes of information—but they are promiscuous. What works against an anti-Trump art installation can be used by ISIS, antifa, or the alt-right, or turned against any of these groups. Similar systems can even be implemented to coordinate volunteers in highly effective disaster relief efforts.

Probably the most famous recent example of this method in action involves Eric Clanton, the former college professor charged with assaulting three people with a metal bike-lock during a Berkeley free speech rally in April. Clanton appears to have been first identified as the alleged assailant on 4Chan, despite his face being completely covered in the only footage of the attacks. 4Chan users identified him by isolating unique non-facial visual characteristics and then going frame by frame through imagery from the event, hunting for matches.

This method has spread as political violence picked up. A Twitter account associated with 4Chan's alt-right-infested/pol/board is now promoting the process in detail, in an apparent attempt to attract new volunteers to scale the tactic up:

In Charlottesville, antifa protesters used many of the same techniques to identify and publicize information about alt-right attendees. The process also led to misidentifications and accusations against innocent people, something right-wing internet activists have repeatedly done in the past. The rush to judgement and lack of restraint follows a different pattern set in 2013, when a crowdsourced investigation conducted in part on Reddit falsely accused innocent people of involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing—a mistake also made on the front page by the semi-pros of the New York Post.

After the violence had abated in Virginia this month, a twitter account called @yesyoureracist posted information about people ostensibly identified at the "Unite the Right" rally, eventually gathering 408,000 followers and setting up a Patreon to support its efforts. In turn, 8Chan has reportedly begun targeting Logan Smith, who runs the account, allegedly threatening his family.

Peter W. Singer is a strategist and military theorist with the Brookings Institution and New America Foundation who writes about the future of warfare. He has examined this kind of conflict for years, and offered some perspective on outing people at protests, doxes, and other methods of 21st-century combat. "Octavian did it to Mark Antony," Singer said, referencing a contest for power in Rome's Second Triumvirate that included the public release of a stolen will.

In the current landscape, Singer sees plenty of continuity with classic intelligence techniques, along with some clever innovations.

"There's sock puppeting, someone trying to appear as if they're someone else," Singer told me. "And then a riff on that is trying to appear as if you're a supporter but with the goal of trying to undermine that group, doing something embarrassing or provocative and steering them toward a bad end. That was a classic Cold War move. You see this now with groups registering as if they're all part of the violent left."

There has been a recent surge of fake antifa social media accounts and forgeries of supposed antifa documents, promoted by major right-wing figures like Rush Limbaugh. Many of these accounts operate between parody and partisan sabotage operations. They take actual positions held by antifa's anarchist wing, like the embrace of political violence and opposition to liberal ideals of free expression, and exaggerate these already divisive qualities to make the group appear even more radical and threatening. Some fake antifa accounts seem designed to sow suspicion among prospective supporters. But many have the cartoonish quality of early anti-communist propaganda—too implausible to sway anyone on the fence, but great for riling up the home team against the bad guys.

In response, antifa-affiliated outlets have doxxed people behind the fake sites, releasing names and other personal details.

We seem to be entering a new phase of bottom-up cyberwar. Robb originally described open-source insurgency as "a large collection of small... superempowered groups [working] together to take on much larger foes (usually hierarchies)." What's going on these days looks even messier than that. Instead of smaller sub-state groups forming strategic alliances to fight the government or private power brokers, affinity groups organized around ideology and ethnic identity are battling one another.

Old intelligence practices and spy vs. spy tools are evolving and being adapted. There are dossiers and black lists, agents and double agents, "good trolls" spying on Trump supporters and fake antifa accounts, disinformation and counter-intelligence campaigns carried out on message boards and chat rooms like Discord and sometimes in full view on social media. Practices have clearly evolved in these new digital network, but old problems remain. Infiltration is perhaps the most obvious: In a world of spies, how do you know who to trust?

More than anything else, it was the election of Donald Trump that turned information-warfare into a familiar concept among average Americans. Reports of Russian "troll farms" and "meme armies" drove interest in the subject, though it's not yet clear what consequences all that new attention will bring.

In Singer's estimation, the most important question now is how these widely available tools will actually be used.

"What are the goals here? Is it to mobilize? Is it to intimidate? Is it to inspire violence?" he asked. "Breaking that down is really important, and that's the challenge private companies are now dealing with, because they're being asked both by governments and by their customers—the public—to do more to police the spaces to make what are at the end of the day political decisions."

Looming in the background behind all of this is the disruption of centralized state power. Even as the US government remains an 800-pound hegemon, it has faltered at enforcing order in digital spaces and arbitrating disputes that arise over its use. That doesn't mean, however, that the internet is ungoverned. Into the vacuum rise new, undemocratic power verticals, centered on the tech titans in Silicon Valley.

The recent case of network and security company Cloudflare booting a prominent neo-Nazi site in the wake of Charlottesville illustrated the point. (And, as Cloudflare's CEO himself acknowledged, it showed the dangers in leaving these decisions up to the prerogatives of private businesses.)

This new civil conflict in America is still in its early stages, and far from an existential crisis. But what we are witnessing is an incipient, low-level version of the sort of violent multipolar insurgency that has torn apart other countries.

"What's frustrating," Singer said, "is seeing the sort of people and tactics you were used to seeing in war being used in the United States."

"These groups," he added, "the tactics that they use, the types of battles that they fight are not an anomaly, they're the new normal. Not just in the United States but across the world."

You've probably heard Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz's famous adage, "War is the continuation of politics by other means." Clearly he was on to something. But Andrew Breitbart, svengali of the new right-wing media that spawned former White House adviser Steve Bannon, also had a point in his own oft-repeated line, "Politics is downstream from culture." The lines between culture, news, politics, war, and entertainment have blurred, and are now streaming in every direction through the internet's cracked screen.

 on: September 20, 2017, 07:48:49 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by G M


 on: September 20, 2017, 07:44:24 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

Will Facebook become the World's Most Powerful Government Contractor?
Facebook, with a COMPLETE social graph, becomes more than an advertising platform. It becomes an arm of government. 

Facebook's Network
Here's how.  Facebook recently passed:

2 billion monthly users.
That’s~70% of the 2.8 billion Internet users living outside of China/Russia (they use a different social networking system).
With slowing rates of growth for Facebook and the Internet (due to saturation), Facebook is likely to hit 3.5 billion monthly users by 2025.
The Complete Social Graph
At 3.5 billion users in 2025, Facebook’s social network will be more than half of the 6.5 billion people living outside of China/Russia. That’s a network that is large enough and deep enough to:

create a global census that can “see” nearly everyone on the planet , even if they don’t have a Facebook account.
enable real-time tracking on nearly everyone on the planet using smartphone GPS data and ancillary information (mentions of location/who you are with/pictures).
create the largest micro-targeting database on earth, from pictures to posted links to likes. Details on the interests and desires of billions of people.
What Does Facebook do with a Complete Social Graph?

The simple and straightforward answer is to build a very profitable advertising platform. However, the success of that advertising platform will be based on the ability of Facebook to avoid intrusive government regulation. To accomplish that, Facebook will develop services it can provide governments to better secure, control, and manage their citizens in a volatile global environment. In exchange for these services, Facebook will avoid regulations that will limit its ability to make money. Here’s more detail on the services it could provide:

Surveillance. The ability to ID anyone using facial recognition AIs (trained on the trillions of photos uploaded to the platform) and then track their movements globally. Border security and access control (buildings and government services). Tracking movement domestically (from CCTVs to Fastlane pics).
Censorship. The ability to limit domestic political conversations to those approved by the government. As the primary source of news in nearly country (outside of China), Facebook has the ability to limit sources to approved channels, prevent the discussion of banned topics, and steer conversations in subtle ways.
Counter-terrorism. Facebook will peer into private conversations and do the network analysis to ID potential extremists. It will also actively sabotage or intervene in terrorist/extremist recruiting networks to damage their effectiveness in securing recruits. Facebook now has the ability to offer NSA scale services, with better data, to nations around the world.

 on: September 20, 2017, 06:22:57 PM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by ccp

So what did you think of Trump's mention of Venezuela in UN speech?

 on: September 20, 2017, 05:42:28 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ccp
What about the records of the Presidential briefings from that time period

(probably being burned in the archives as we speak) or the scheisters are dreaming up some argument to suppress

 on: September 20, 2017, 05:08:25 PM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by captainccs
News via email from Caracas Capital Markets

Venezuela's oil production continued to fall in August.

According to OPEC, Venezuela production fell 31,900 barrels per day (bpd) from July and is now 1.918 million bpd.  That is 52,000 bpd below Venezuela's OPEC quota.  Venezuela's rig count fell to 48 last month -- a low it also touched last year but the lowest rig count since the PDVSA strike of 2002.

India Withdraws Support for Joint Venture

India's state oil company ONGC Videsh has abandoned plans to raise funds for the $1.3 billion Petrolera Indovenezolana SA (PIVSA) joint venture project in Venezuela. ONGC had been seeking to syndicate a $304 million loan to fund PIVSA which it holds 40% of.  Venezuela had even been trying to entice India into buying another 10%.

Russia & Rosneft Riding to Venezuela's Rescue? (Part 1)

As you can see from our above Bill of Ladings data, in early August we began noticing a surge in Venezuela oil exports to the USA that were being paid to Rosneft (TNK is owned by Rosneft and operates out of the exact same Swiss address).  Now there are a whole host of things about this development that bothered the heck out of us.

The second thing that bothered us was that we were essentially paying sanctioned Russians for the sanctioned Venezuelans so that the sanctioned Russians could continue helping the sanctioned Venezuelans, enabling them both to continue subverting U.S. efforts to help clean up the Venezuelan mess.

Venezuela Misses Payment on Venezuela 9.25% of 2027

I am sorry to report that as of this morning, this $185 million interest payment that was due on September 15 has still not been received by bondholders.  Our inquiries to ONCP have received conflicting and confusing answers, but basically the conclusion we have been able to draw is that this $185 million interest payment on $4 billion of the oldest of Venezuela's bonds (issued pre-Chavez and re-tapped by Chavez) has not been paid as of Wednesday, September 20.

 on: September 20, 2017, 04:02:15 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

Sub sailor's photo case draws comparisons to Clinton emails
By JOSH GERSTEIN 05/27/2016 08:07 AM EDT Updated 05/27/2016 11:19 AM EDT
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A Navy sailor entered a guilty plea Friday in a classified information mishandling case that critics charge illustrates a double standard between the treatment of low-ranking government employees and top officials like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus.

Prosecutors allege that Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier used a cellphone camera to take photos in the classified engine room of the nuclear submarine where he worked as a mechanic, the USS Alexandria, then destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card after learning he was under investigation.

Last July, Saucier was indicted on one felony count of unlawful retention of national defense information and another felony count of obstruction of justice. He pleaded guilty Friday to the classified information charge, which is part of the Espionage Act, a prosecution spokesman confirmed. No charge of espionage was filed and no public suggestion has been made that he ever planned to disclose the photos to anyone outside the Navy.

The sailor now faces a maximum possible sentence of up to ten years in prison, but faced up to 30 years if found guilty on both charges. Federal guidelines discussed in court Friday appear to call for a sentence of about five to six-and-a-half years, although the defense has signaled it will seek a lighter sentence.

Saucier’s friends, conservative commentators and others say the stiff charges leveled against Saucier were out of whack with more lenient treatment given to senior officials who face allegations of mishandling classified information, like Clinton.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” said Gene Pitcher, a retired Navy sailor who served with Saucier aboard the Alexandria. “In reality, what she did is so much worse than what Kris did. ... I think it’s just a blatant double standard.”

Clinton has not been charged with any crime, but the FBI has been investigating how information that intelligence agencies consider classified wound up on the private server that hosted her only email account during the four years she served as secretary of state. Some news reports have said charges are unlikely.

“Felony charges appear to be reserved for people of the lowest ranks. Everyone else who does it either doesn’t get charged or gets charged with a misdemeanor,” said Edward MacMahon, a Virginia defense attorney not involved in the Saucier case.

To some, the comparison to Clinton’s case may appear strained. Clinton has said none of the information on her server was marked classified at the time. In many cases, it was marked as unclassified when sent to her by people in the State Department more familiar with the issues involved.

By contrast, sailors are trained early on that the engine compartment of a nuclear sub is a restricted area and that much information relating to the sub’s nuclear reactors is classified.

Still, it’s far from obvious that the information Saucier took photos of is more sensitive than information found in Clinton’s account. Court filings say the photos were clear enough that they reveal classified details about the submarine that could be of use to foreign governments, such as the vessel’s maximum speed.

However, the Navy says the photos are classified “confidential,” which is the lowest tier of protection for classified information and is designated for information that could cause some damage to national security but not “serious” or “exceptionally grave” damage.

Intelligence agencies claim that Clinton’s account contained 65 messages with information considered “Secret” and 22 classified at the “Top Secret” level. Some messages contained data under an even more restrictive “special access program” designation.

Clinton and her campaign have disputed those findings, calling them a result of “overclassification” and urging that the messages be released in full.

However, Clinton’s critics and some former intelligence officials said she should have recognized the sensitivity of the information. They’ve also noted that about 32,000 messages on Clinton’s server were erased after her lawyers deemed them personal.

“The DOJ is willing to prosecute a former sailor to the full extent of the law for violating the law on classified material, in a situation where there was no purposeful unsecured transmission of classified material,” conservative blogger Ed Morrissey wrote last year. “Will they pursue Hillary Clinton and her team, at the other end of the power spectrum from the rank-and-file, for deliberate unsecured transmission of improperly marked classified nat-sec intelligence? Will they pursue the same kind of obstruction of justice charges for Hillary’s wiping of her server as they are for Saucier’s destruction of his laptop?”

Jury selection in Saucier’s case took place earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and opening arguments were scheduled to take place Tuesday, just after the Memorial Day holiday. The change of plea hearing Friday morning was not publicly noticed on the court's docket.

Judge Stefan Underhill set sentencing in the case for August 19. Both sides agreed that sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 63 to 78 months, but the judge will also calculate the guidelines range and can give a sentence outside the range. Plea documents indicate that the defense plans to ask for a more lenient sentence on the basis that Saucier's conduct was "aberrant."

A defense attorney for Saucier did not respond to messages seeking comment for this story.

The investigation into Saucier kicked off in a rather unusual way in 2012 when a supervisor at a dump in Hampton, Connecticut, found a cellphone “on top of a pile of trash approximately three to four feet into the middle of a dumpster at the transfer station,” a court filing read. The supervisor showed the images to a retired Navy friend who turned over the device to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Pitcher acknowledges that his friend violated Navy rules if he took the photos as prosecutors allege, but he says such infractions by submariners were not uncommon and were almost always dealt with through what the military calls “nonjudicial punishment” or Captain’s Mast. Those involved were demoted and docked some pay, but didn’t face a felony record or the prospect of years behind bars, the retired sailor said.

“Two guys in our boat were caught taking photos in the engine room on the nuclear side of things. Basically, all that happened to them was they … lost a rank,” Pitcher said. “I’ve seen quite a few cases like this and never seen any handled like Kris’.”

Redacted and declassified cell-phone photos of nuclear sub’s engine room/Justice Department Court Filing
One factor that may have led investigators and prosecutors to handle Saucier’s case more aggressively is the way he responded when confronted about the photos. Court filings say he initially denied he took the pictures. Prosecutors say he later smashed his laptop, camera and memory card and threw them in the woods.

On top of that, Saucier had a handgun not registered to him in his home, prosecutors allege. After the FBI and NCIS showed up to question him, he allegedly cleaned it with bleach and stashed it under the dishwasher.

“They love the obstruction charges,” MacMahon said. “What they look for is something that’s aggravating.”

The defense attorney noted that CIA Director David Petraeus was accused of lying to the FBI when first confronted about keeping top secret notebooks at home and sharing them with his lover. Many lawyers believe that fact may have tipped the case against Petraeus from something that might have cost him his job to one that resulted in criminal prosecution.

Still, Petraeus was never charged with obstruction of justice. Before any charges were filed, his attorney reached a deal with prosecutors in which the retired general pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.

A former military investigator who handled classified information cases said the military tends to treat such violations more seriously than civilian government agencies do and there are some valid reasons for that.

“It is exceedingly common for people in the military to be held accountable for classified information violations, much more so than in the civilian government or contractor world,” said Bill Leonard, former director of the government’s Information Security Oversight Office. “My sense is that’s just a reflection of the military’s emphasis on good order and discipline. ... It really does make a difference to the guy or gal next to you if [sensitive] information is compromised. That’s a very real consequence.”

Redacted and declassified cell-phone photos of nuclear sub’s engine room/Justice Department Court Filing
Since Saucier is still in the Navy, it’s unclear why he was charged in federal civilian court rather than sent to a court-martial. One possibility is that investigators may have considered charging others in civilian life with conspiring with the Navy sailor, but that has not happened.

Former Navy sailors said Saucier’s case also overlaps with a period during which the Navy was trying to strike a balance involving the boredom of submarine life during deployments as long as six months and the increasing popularity of smartphones, video-game players and similar devices.

While photography was always banned in engine rooms and taking a camera there would have been highly suspicious, ubiquitous phones with cameras have added new complexity to the situation, the sailors said.

With his friend set to plead guilty, Pitcher said he’s still convinced that Saucier is being treated more harshly than others in government of low or high rank.

“A lot of people were doing what Kris was doing,” Pitcher said. “Clearly, to an educated observer, this is not fair treatment in comparison to other highly visible cases.”

 on: September 20, 2017, 03:50:26 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material
BY JOHN SOLOMON - 07/09/17 08:12 PM EDT

More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend. He asked that friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director.

“So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Comey on June 8. “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”
“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership,” he testified about the one memo he later leaked about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

He added, “My view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

But when the seven memos Comey wrote regarding his nine conversations with Trump about Russia earlier this year were shown to Congress in recent days, the FBI claimed all were, in fact, deemed to be government documents.

While the Comey memos have been previously reported, this is the first time there has been a number connected to the amount of memos the ex-FBI chief wrote.

Four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the secret or confidential level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the FBI on Sunday declined to comment.

FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission, and it mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.

“Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law,” states the agreement all FBI agents sign.

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It adds that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”

Comey indicated in his testimony that the memos were in his possession when he left the bureau, leaving him in a position to leak one of them through his friend to the media. But he testified that he has since turned them over to Robert Mueller, a former FBI chief who is now spearheading the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the presidential race.

It is not clear whether Comey as director signed the same agreement as his agents, but the contract is considered the official policy of the bureau. It was also unclear when the documents were shown to Congress whether the information deemed secret or confidential was classified at the time Comey wrote the memos or determined so afterward, the sources said.

Congressional investigators had already begun examining whether Comey’s creation, storage and sharing of the memos violated FBI rules, but the revelation that four of the seven memos included some sort of classified information opens a new door of inquiry into whether classified information was mishandled, improperly stored or improperly shared.

That was the same issue for which the FBI investigated Clinton, a former secretary of State in the Obama administration, in 2015 and 2016 under Comey. Clinton used a private email server during her tenure that at times contained classified material.

Comey ultimately concluded in July 2016 that Clinton’s email practices were reckless, but that he could not recommend prosecution because FBI agents had failed to find enough evidence that she intended to violate felony statutes prohibiting the transmission of classified information through insecure practices. Clinton at the time was the Democratic nominee for president.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information," he said in a decision panned by Republicans and embraced by Democrats.

Now, congressional investigators are likely to turn their attention to the same issues to determine if Comey mishandled any classified information in his personal memos.

In order to make an assessment, congressional investigators will have to tackle key questions, such as where and how the memos were created, including whether they were written on an insecure computer or notepad; where and how the memos were stored, such as inside Comey's home, in a briefcase or on an insecure laptop; whether any memos were shown to private individuals without a security clearance and whether those memos contained any classified information; and when was it determined by the government that the memos contained classified information — before Comey took them and shared one or after.

One avenue for answering those questions is for a panel like Senate Intelligence, House Intelligence or Senate Judiciary to refer the matter to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, the inspector general, or to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its inspector general, aides said.

 on: September 20, 2017, 03:42:23 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

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