9:41 AM 10/1/2017 – Tracing the connection between terrorism and offshore financing: Black Money and Tax Havens – Book Review

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Black money is a topic that has elicited much debate in recent times. In his new book — Black Money and Tax Havens — Prof R Vaidynathan provides an overview of black money — its generation, estimates and how and why it is spirited away to tax havens

Source: Black Money and Tax Havens: Tracing the connection between terrorism and offshore financing

Tracing the connection between terrorism and offshore financing

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Editor’s note: Black money is a topic that has elicited much debate in recent times. In his new book — Black Money and Tax Havens — Prof R Vaidyanathan provides an overview of black money — its generation, estimates and how and why it is spirited away to tax havens. The following is an excerpt from the chapter titled ‘Blood Money’. Reproduced here with permission from Westland Books.

Terrorism and Offshore Financing

The life-blood of an effective terrorist network is financing and shell companies facilitate the easy distribution of money. The Islamic State, popularly referred to as ISIS makes $1 million to $2 million a day in oil production, it has obtained over $100 million in ransoms from kidnapping and collects ‘taxes’ from the 6 million people it has gained control over.

Al-Qaeda’s worldwide operations require $30-50 million per year. The September 11 attacks, for example, cost approximately $500,000. But not every terrorist attack requires large sums of money. The London transit bombings cost a mere $15,000 and the Paris bombings cost about $10,000 or less. Regardless of the size of the operation, funding a terrorism enterprise is easily done under the cover of shell companies. In contrast, the United States has spent (as of 2014) over $1.6 trillion since September 11, 2001 on its major military operations abroad and $9 million a day just on fighting ISIS.

Cover of Prof R Vaidyanathan's Black Money and Tax Havens, published by WestlandCover of Prof R Vaidyanathan’s Black Money and Tax Havens, published by Westland

If we want to fight terrorism effectively, we should also be cracking down on terrorism financing. Given the ease and persistence of terrorist financing — particularly using shell companies — a shift in attention on financial regulations that would stop terrorism financing would be a good start. Also the Panama Papers incident shows how easy it is to finance terror using US shell companies. With the ease of incorporation, some may decide to create companies to hide assets in for tax evasion or money laundering purposes. However, even more alarming is that terrorists can easily disguise their true identities from law enforcement through shell companies. A potential terrorist cannot take a flight to neighbouring states without a passport or driver’s licence, but they can form a shell company without any information in a matter of minutes. In a high-profile instance of this, for many years, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout used shell corporations to anonymously supply terrorist groups around the globe with major weaponry like tanks and shoulder-file missiles.

Laws against money laundering and terror financing are used around the world. In the United States, the Patriot Act was passed after the September 11 attacks, giving the government anti-money laundering powers to monitor financial institutions. The Patriot Act has generated a great deal of controversy in the United States since its enactment. The United States has also collaborated with the United Nations and other countries to create the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. RAND Corporation has brought out a large body of literature and analysis on terror financing and its implications.

Terrorism Financing in India

In January 2015, the inaugural US-India Anti-Money Laundering/ Counterterrorism Finance (AML/CFT) dialogue was held. India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND) is also a member of the Egmont Group (an informal international gathering of financial intelligence units formed in 1995). Indian officials monitor and regulate money transfers, require the collection of data for wire transfers, oblige non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports, and regulate and monitor these entities to prevent misuse and terrorism financing.

Although the Government of India has aligned its domestic AML/ CFT laws with international standards by enacting amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in November 2012, the government has yet to implement the legislation effectively, especially with regard to criminal convictions. Law enforcement agencies typically open criminal investigations reactively and seldom initiate proactive analysis and long-term investigations. While the Indian government has taken action against certain hawala financing activities, prosecutions have generally focused on non-financial businesses that conduct hawala transactions as a secondary activity. Additionally, the government has not taken adequate steps to ensure that all relevant industries are complying with AML/CFT regulations though the reporting of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) relating specifically to terrorism financing has increased significantly.

From July 2014 to April 2015, the FIU-IND received 76,149 STRs and disseminated 52,485 STRs to various intelligence and law enforcement authorities. The degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime or terrorism-affiliated groups varies widely among the federal, state and local levels and depends on the financial resources and individual policies of various jurisdictions. More than 300 personnel from various zonal and sub-zonal offices of India’s Enforcement Directorate have participated in training programmes on financial investigation, money laundering, foreign exchange contraventions, effective prosecutions, and cyber crimes as part of an effort to build capacity.

US investigators have had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with their Indian counterparts. While intelligence and investigative information supplied by US law enforcement authorities has led to numerous seizures of terrorism-related funds, a lack of follow-through on investigational leads has prevented a more comprehensive approach. The Government of India has also taken steps to increase financial inclusion through expanding access to the banking sector and issuing biometric-enabled universal identification numbers.

Any expert on Indian stock markets knows that our markets are increasingly being moved by global flows — both inflows and outflows of funds. Secondly, such flows may be the ill-gotten wealth of Indians kept abroad in tax havens, or domestic funds sent out and brought back to facilitate some activities. This has to be seen in the context of concerns expressed by our then National Security Advisor MK Narayanan regarding the possibility of terror funds coming in through financial markets a few years ago. India has also taken steps to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 2178) related to foreign terrorist fighters and to advance efforts on Politically Exposed Persons (PEP). It recalls its decision in resolution 1373 (2001) that Member States shall afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with criminal investigations or proceedings relating to the financing or support of terrorist acts.

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Black Money and Tax Havens: Tracing the connection between terrorism and offshore financing – Firstpost

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Black Money and Tax Havens: Tracing the connection between terrorism and offshore financing
Firstpost
The degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime orterrorism-affiliated groups varies widely among the federal, state and local levels and depends on the financial resources and individual policies of 

Trump knows how to read the crowd but hasn’t learned to govern – New York Post

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New York Post
Trump knows how to read the crowd but hasn’t learned to govern
New York Post
As President Trump enters the stretch run of his first year in office, two big things are clear. He has not lost his remarkable instinct for reading the public mood, but neither has he found a way to harness that instinct into a successful governing 

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How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid Went Wrong

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LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLORIDA — Surely the most memorable moment from President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, and to the nation, came in his tribute to Ryan Owens, a fallen Navy SEAL.


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9:13 AM 10/1/2017 – Yemen Raid Latest: Still No Valuable Intel Produced, Ten Senior Officials Say: How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid Went Wrong, and some other interesting stories

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Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. John F. Kennedy  

Related: Still No Actionable Intelligence From Yemen Raid 

How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid Went Wrong

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LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLORIDA — Surely the most memorable moment from President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, and to the nation, came in his tribute to Ryan Owens, a fallen Navy SEAL.

“Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation,” the President said on Feb. 28. The SEAL’s tearful widow, Carryn Owens, sat in the place of honor above the chamber.

Chief Petty Officer Owens, a 36-year-old father of three, was indeed a warrior, experienced and combat-proven, the most elite of the elite, and a long-time member of SEAL Team 6.

“Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity,” President Trump continued, turning to look up at Ryan’s grieving widow.

Image: US-POLITICS-TRUMP-CONGRESS“Thank you.”

A gold star family member as guest of the White House. A presidential call out. The heartfelt applause and the raw emotions.

Watch Cynthia McFadden on Sunday Today for More

The scene was a time-honored ritual, a public tribute to the price paid by a warrior and his family. What made it unusual, however, was how Ryan Owens died. His death came just days into the new administration, in a country virtually unknown to the American public, on a troubled mission approved and ordered by a team that had never worked together before, for a purpose that Owens’ own father, a former special operator himself, questions.

“It was a screw-up from the start that ended badly,” Bill Owens told NBC News in an exclusive broadcast interview.

The retired police officer isn’t one to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He’s spent his entire life serving, in the Army as a green beret, in the Navy, and as a policeman in Florida, where he’s now retired.

But Bill Owens has severe doubts that his son or anyone else should have been in the line of fire that January night.

Image: William Owens holds a photo of his youngest son Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens in Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida.“Why did they do this mission at this time?” he asked.

The father is distressed that the Trump administration has insisted the mission was an unbridled success.

He is frustrated that the White House has asserted that anyone who questions the success of the mission is doing a disservice to the memory of his son. And he particularly resents the White House using his son’s death for political purposes.

Related: SEAL, American Girl Die in First Trump-Era U.S. Military Raid

In an extensive interview with NBC News, Bill Owens said as far as he is concerned there was no need for President Trump to burnish Ryan’s legacy. “I know how wonderful [Ryan] is, so I don’t need that reaffirmation from the president,” Owens said. But more importantly, he said, “I feel that somebody has to stick up for Ryan — and find out why this happened. And — I’m his father. And I’ll do it.”

So what did happen? Over the past eight months, NBC News has spoken to more than two dozen officials and special operations insiders to piece together the facts of this Top Secret mission.

The Raid on Yakla

Chief Petty Officer Owens was killed the night of Jan. 29 in a small village deep in the interior of southern Yemen, an ancient nation on the Arabian Peninsula, and one that has been in a state of civil war for two and a half years. Yemen is also home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terror group’s strongest affiliate, which has acquired arms and money as the country has descended into chaos.

Image: Ryan Owens, left, with his father Bill Owens.In early 2016, U.S. intelligence grew increasingly alarmed by the gathering strength of AQAP, and the Obama administration began deliberating a new counterterrorism “campaign” to weaken it. The campaign included accelerated drone strikes and even manned airstrikes, as well as ground raids.

SEAL Team 6 rotated elements into the region every six months, and was sequestered for the high-end kill-or-capture missions in places like Somalia and Uganda. The highly capable and in-demand “national mission force,” requiring Presidential approval to attack, had previously conducted a single stealthy raid inside Yemen, a failed hostage rescue mission in late 2014. In 2016, U.S. special operations forces also worked alongside forces of the United Arab Emirates and Yemen to retake control of coastal communities that had fallen under the control of AQAP.

In late 2016, as the Obama administration deliberated next steps in the country a new campaign plan was created. But it deferred a final decision, and as is customary in any handoff from one administration to another, President Trump was accorded the privilege of approving any new operations and commitments.

Image: Ryan OwensOne day after being sworn in, Secretary of Defense James Mattis was briefed on Yemen. While Washington was in transition, forces in the region continued planning. A Special Operations Task Force overseeing SEAL Team 6 prepared a series of raids on AQAP strongholds and leaders, even rehearsing operations in the nearby country of Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.

A specific raid was proposed. A small and isolated village where AQAP had congregated had been identified. U.S. intelligence, working with the UAE, concluded that important activity was taking place there. According to two officials in the Trump White House, the Special Forces of the UAE and the United States had increasingly been working together, and a coordinated raid on the village of Yaklawas proposed.

Related: Inside the Yemen SEAL Raid

Officially, the mission was labeled a sensitive site exploitation (SSE), a raid to capture electronics and documents that would reveal AQAP membership and concentrations. The plan was to then exploit that material and stage rapid follow-on strikes, according to multiple military and special operations experts.

Unofficially, and highly secret, even from many inside the Pentagon, was the far more sensitive kill-or-capture mission to go after AQAP leaders. Under the Obama administration, no explicit capture mission had ever been approved, the sources say. And, according to multiple special operations sources, it was highly secret that the national mission force would work hand-in-hand with a foreign counterpart, even in support of UAE objectives as opposed to American unilateral “high value target” kill missions. In addition, Yemen was what the national security community called “outside of a declared theater of war,” where the legality and implications of operations were far more sensitive.

Secretary Mattis supported the mission as presented to him, and the new Trump national security team met for the first time on the night of Jan. 25 to consider it. Present were the president, Vice President Pence, Mattis, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, CIA Director nominee Mike Pompeo, chief strategist to the President Steve Bannon, and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. Absent was any representative of the State Department, a departure from common practice in past administrations of both parties.

Over dinner, they discussed an upcoming raid to occur that very weekend.

Yemen Raid Latest: Still No Valuable Intel Produced, Ten Senior Officials Say 2:04

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“It’s certainly unusual,” said NBC News consultant Sean Naylor. “You don’t often hear about major combat actions being approved over a meal…”

Naylor is one of the country’s leading experts on the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the national mission force made up of SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force as well as other highly-prized counterterrorism elements.

Under the Obama administration, sources say, a mission of this sort would have been discussed and approved at multiple levels subordinate to the principals before being briefed inside the secure White House Situation Room.

Two White House sources tell NBC News that Mattis and Dunford walked the new president through the mission objectives in the dining room, offering unreserved endorsement. If AQAP leaders were present, there was a chance for a big win; if not, the presence of leadership in the past and the potential intelligence take on the ground promised at least a fruitful site exploitation that would lead off a series of follow-on raids.

According to the two sources, both Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner questioned acting on what they saw as a leftover Obama plan.

President Trump was disposed to approve the mission, but the next morning, he asked Flynn what he thought before he signed the so-called execute order or EXORD.

According to two White House officials, Flynn told the President that a tip from the UAE indicated that one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, Qasim al-Rimi, the leader of AQAP, might be at the Yemen target. He had been sighted there previously.

It wasn’t unusual for Mr. Trump to rely on Flynn for advice. The President had gotten to know his national security advisor over months of close quarters on the campaign trail. And he was uniquely qualified to offer judgment. Flynn had himself served as director of intelligence for the JSOC. He had reached out to his former colleagues at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina to gather his own intelligence on the upcoming mission both before and after Trump’s inauguration, sources say. And, according to multiple sources, he had himself spoken to his UAE counterparts.

Flynn said that capturing or killing al-Rimi would distinguish the president from Obama right out of the box, the sources said. Trump would be a risk taker where Obama was a hesitant and endless deliberator, Flynn said. And the president would be honor the Gulf allies who were operating in Yemen. Multiple sources say that Flynn labeled the first week raid a “game changer.”

On Jan. 26, the day after the mission was greenlighted at the dinner, Ryan Owens’ team of Navy SEALs, staged from Djibouti to the ships of the USS Makin Island amphibious readiness group operating off the coast. Onboard the ships were a 2,200 strong Marine Corps battalion task force as well as fighter aircraft and attack helicopters that would serve as a Quick Reaction Force should something go wrong. The SEALs and the Marines had been practicing together since December for a possible boots on-the-ground Yemen raid. Also present, according to multiple sources, were commandos and intelligence specialists of the UAE.

Just after midnight on Jan. 29, the force swooped into the village. SEAL Team 6 landed five miles downhill from the objective. The SEALs would hike to the village in silence, and surprise the AQAP element there.

But as the SEALs neared the outskirts, there was trouble. Overhead drones and spy planes detected unusual activity indicating the mission might have been compromised.

Related: Still No Actionable Intelligence From Yemen Raid

“Overhead surveillance of the target revealed individuals moving to fighting positions,” Naylor said.

The Special Operations Task Force headquarters in Djibouti and the command element still on board the Makin Island ships knew simultaneously that the element of surprise was lost. We may never know what the discussion was, nor who ultimately made the decision, but commanders discussed the risk versus the payoff and decided to proceed.

Entering the village, the SEALs met fierce and unexpected resistance. Land mines and defensive positions were prepared. Even women took up arms. Within the first five minutes of the firefight, Ryan Owens was mortally wounded, hit with a bullet just above his armored breast plate. A MEDEVAC element was immediately requested on the radio. In the next few minutes, at least two other SEALs were wounded.

Related: Trump Ducks Blame for Deadly Yemen Raid

Two Marine Corps CV-22 Osprey tilt rotor vertical take-off and landing aircraft were dispatched for the 15-minute flight from the Gulf of Aden. Additional Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump jets and attack helicopters followed to take on the AQAP force.

But then disaster struck again. One of the two Ospreys crashed on landing in Yemen. The Pentagon would later call it a “hard landing,” but the crash was serious enough that one of Harrier fighter jets bombed the crash site to destroy the plane to avoid any sensitive equipment falling into al Qaeda hands.

On the ground, the SEALs continued to battle. Though 14 AQAP fighters were killed, including what the U.S. claims were two leaders, al-Rimi was not at the target. In addition to Owens’ death and multiple American injuries, the unraveling of the mission also resulted in the death of at least 16 civilians, according to U.S. intelligence sources. Ten of those civilians were children under the age of 13, NBC News has determined from official documents verified by U.S. intelligence.

11th MEU conducts Sustainment TrainingWithin 50 minutes it was over. Ryan Owens was dead. At least five additional American servicemen were injured. The site exploitation was also compromised. Sources say because of the injuries, the destruction and the quick exit, the SEALs did not have enough time to collect documents and electronics.

‘There Was a Casualty’

NBC News went to Djibouti to further investigate the decisions made that night. Though we were not able to interview members of the SEAL Team or the Special Operations Task Force on camera, we did talk to Brig. Gen. David Furness, the commander of Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, a Marine Corps officer who oversees the region and includes Yemen in his “area of interest.”

Though he says he had no direct operational role, Furness says he closely monitored the mission that night.

He called what happened “complicated.”

“There was a casualty.”

“I can tell you … that they did everything in their power to prevent loss of life for innocent civilians,” said Furness. But, he said, “[Combat is] a dirty business, especially up close and personal on missions like were performed that night in Yemen.”

Related: No Significant Intelligence Gathered in Yemen Raid

Was the mission crucial? How was it compromised? What was the value of the intelligence gathered at the site?

Sources differ, and Gen. Furness demurred in talking about specifics. It’s clear though,that whatever happened in Yemen might have been chalked up to the tragedy and fog of war had it not been for what happened in Washington afterward..

Within hours of the Yemen mission, White House spokesman Sean Spicer was at the podium declaring the raid a great success.

Image: US-POLITICS-TRUMP-CONGRESS“This weekend we carried out a very successful raid against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Spicer said the morning of Jan. 30.

He doubled down the next day. “Obviously, we recovered a tremendous amount of information,” said Spicer on Jan. 31.

Criticism mounted.

And then Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was briefed on the mission He went public to challenge the administration’s characterization.

“When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American … life is lost and [there are] wounded I don’t believe that you can call it a success,” the Arizona Republican told NBC News.

The White House shot back.

“I think anybody who, who undermines the success of that raid …owes an apology and a disservice to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer offered.

Watching at home in Florida, Bill Owens grew disgusted.

“Don’t hide behind the death of my son to try and justify that this raid was a success,” he told NBC News. “Because it wasn’t.”

Little official information was forthcoming on the mission or Ryan’s death.

On Monday, Feb. 27, NBC Nightly News reported that the Yemen raid had “yielded no significant intelligence.”

The next morning, President Trump appeared on Fox and Friends, offering an odd description for a mission that he as commander-in-chief had approved.

“Well this was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something that was, you know, just, they wanted to do,” Trump said.

McCain Explains Why He Wouldn’t Label Yemen Raid A Success 0:26

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“They explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I would, I believe,” he added.

“And they lost Ryan.”

“That’s it in a nutshell,” said Bill Owens, recalling the President’s statement that morning, the morning of his address to Congress and tribute to Ryan. “He evidently doesn’t feel responsibility, even though he’s the one that signed off on it and initiated the action. So it kind of speaks for itself. ”

Bill Owens said that he is not “a supporter” of the President. But he also said that “it’s much bigger than politics. … I want to know how [a similar disaster] can be prevented in the future.”

On March 9, a little over a week after the President spoke about the Yemen raid on Fox and Friends and before Congress , the U.S. military commander for the entire Middle East testified at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel took responsibility for the Yemen raid, and spoke bluntly.

Pres. Trump Blames Yemen Mission on Obama Administration, Generals 1:37

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“I accept the responsibility for this. We lost a lot on this operation. We lost a valued operator, we had people wounded, we caused civilian casualties, we lost an expensive aircraft…”

But Votel also maintained, like the Pentagon and the administration, that valuable intelligence was gathered.

NBC News interviewed Republican Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia, himself a former Navy SEAL, to put the raid and the controversy into perspective. “Any Gold Star family member,” Taylor said, that is, an American family that has lost a loved one in combat, has the right to speak up and ask questions. “They can say whatever they want … you know … I mean … They have earned that right.”

Taylor believes the Yemen raid provides the nation an opportunity to look at a critical issue.

“What the American people need to know and need to be engaged in is a debate on how we’re using [our] forces” in the war on terror.

Image: Bill Owens kneels at the gravestone of his son, Ryan Owens.“I believe that there’s been sort of an over-use of Special Forces in the past decade,” Taylor said.

Two of the most important questions that came from NBC News’ multi-month investigation are: Why was Ryan Owens’ mission launched nine days after President Trump took office, and what did the mission achieve in terms of weakening al Qaeda?

Bill Owens merely wants straight answers.

The assurances he’s gotten from Washington — that the SEALs gathered intelligence that will save American lives in the future — don’t put his mind at peace.

“That’s not credible,” he said. “Let’s look at it for what it was. Tell the truth.”

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How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid Went Wrong – NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com
How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid Went Wrong
NBCNews.com
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLORIDA — Surely the most memorable moment from PresidentTrump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, and to the nation, came in his tribute to Ryan Owens, a fallen Navy SEAL. “Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and …

How a 2012 attack ushered in an era of terror for France – San Francisco Chronicle

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San Francisco Chronicle
How a 2012 attack ushered in an era of terror for France
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Beginning in 2012, we entered an age of terrorism, where before we believed ourselves protected. It was a turning point in French history,” Mathieu Guidere, a professor of Islamic studies in Paris and author of “Islamic Fundamentalism.” Merah, who had and more »

Donald Trump Is Using Puerto Rico’s Crisis To Push His War Against The Media – HuffPost

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HuffPost
Donald Trump Is Using Puerto Rico’s Crisis To Push His War Against The Media
HuffPost
While residents of Puerto Rico struggle to get access to basic necessities like potable water and food, President Donald Trump has launched a full-fledged attack on the news media and, even more concerning, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. Cruz, the …
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Interpol’s invitation to terrorism – New York Post

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New York Post
Interpol’s invitation to terrorism
New York Post
It’s tragic: Nations committed to fighting terror (the United States, Israel) may now have to withhold info from Interpol for fear of leaks — weakening its effectiveness and paving the way for more crime and terror. Until Palestinian leaders end their 

One Photo Stands Out After Trump Says Puerto Rico Wants ‘Everything Done For Them’

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This writer served Trump some ice cold tea.

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Former CIA Director John Brennan Stands By Athletes Taking The Knee

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Brennan released a statement addressing freedom of expression and Trump’s response to Puerto Rico in one fell swoop.

Donald Trump’s psychotic break 

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It’s never appropriate to accuse others of having mental or psychological problems simply because you disagree with them or you don’t like them. But what happens when someone is displaying so many alarming signs of a psychological meltdown, even a non-doctor can spot it from a mile away? That was the case with Donald Trump’s behavior during a twelve hour period on Saturday, which can only be described as some kind of psychotic break.

None of this is meant as an insult to good natured people who are dealing with mental and psychological problems the best they can. In contrast, Trump is a demented, evil, sexist, racist, uncaring, greedy, mean spirited piece of crap. But during the course of Trump’s twenty-plus tweets on Saturday, we witnessed a mountain of disturbing evidence suggesting that he really did have some kind of psychotic breakdown. I’m no doctor, but take a look at this list of symptoms from WebMD:

Let’s take a look at how these symptoms match up with Trump’s various tweets on Saturday. Agitation? He started off the day by attacking the Mayor of San Juan, even as her city is drowning. Anxiety? He’s clearly worried about, well, everything. Intellectual impairment? At one point on Saturday, he began ranting that the candidate he endorsed in Alabama went up in the polls after the election. That doesn’t even make sense. Delusions and hallucinations? Trump appears to have come to honestly believe that his administration has mounted some massive relief effort in Puerto Rico that largely doesn’t exist – even though he can see on television that it doesn’t exist.

So now we have a guy in the White House who, in addition to being a complete piece of filth and a traitor who answers to a foreign government, has no ability to distinguish between reality and hallucination. This is why Article Four of the 25th Amendment was created.

The post Donald Trump’s psychotic break appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Robert Mueller begins dropping the hammer on Donald Trump’s White House senior staff 

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It’s begun. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was always going to go full throttle against Donald Trump’s White House senior staff in order to get them to flip on Trump by any legal means necessary. Several of them have lawyered up, out of fear they might end up facing obstruction of justice charges or worse. Now that process is officially underway.

Mueller began “interviewing” Trump’s White House senior staffers on Friday, starting – as expected – near the bottom of the food chain with National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg, according a report from The Hill (link). This comes a few days after CNN reported that Mueller was about to get underway (< href=”http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/26/politics/white-house-special-counsel-robert-mueller/index.html?sr=twCNN092617white-house-special-counsel-robert-mueller0254PMVODtop” target=”_blank”>link). From here he’ll quickly work his way up that food chain, with the goal of getting the people on the lower rungs to flip on the upper rungs, thus forcing the upper rungs to flip on Trump directly.

There are scattered reports that Trump’s senior staffers have become paranoid toward each other, and are going so far as to accuse each other of wearing a wire while on the job. That kind of paranoia plays directly into Mueller’s hands. The more these staffers believe their colleagues may have already cut deals, the more likely they are to hurry up and try to cut a deal themselves, because there will only be a certain number of good deals to go around.

By the way, the word “interviewing” is in quotation marks above because the process is anything but a traditional interview. Donald Trump’s staffers will be grilled on every detail of every relevant conversation they’ve ever had with Trump. If they lie, it’s a crime. If they refuse to cooperate, it’s a crime. If they participated in a coverup, they’re guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice. If they witnessed a felony and failed to report it, they’re guilty of misprision of a felony. One way or another, they’ll all end up guilty of something. Who will flip on Trump first?

The post Robert Mueller begins dropping the hammer on Donald Trump’s White House senior staffappeared first on Palmer Report.

CASEY: Last fall, Russians sought to monitor Virginia’s presidential election – Roanoke Times

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Roanoke Times
CASEY: Last fall, Russians sought to monitor Virginia’s presidential election
Roanoke Times
The states turned the Russians down because their election laws bar out-of-state or foreign observers. Afterward, Russian news outlets published stories suggesting American electionofficials had something to hide. The U.S. State Department branded 

Trump’s nasty tweets on Puerto Rico highlight masochistic side of his narcissistic personality – U.S. News

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Kim Philby – Google Search

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Story image for Kim Philby from New York Times

Even in Death, the Spy Kim Philby Serves the Kremlin’s Purposes

New York Times7 hours ago
A new portrait of the British double agent Kim Philby, second from right, at a state art gallery in Moscow. Mr. Philby defected to the Soviet Union …

Story image for Kim Philby from CNN

In Russia, an old spy story comes in from the cold

CNNSep 28, 2017
It’s been more than 60 years since Kim Philby, an upper-class Englishman with legendary charm, slipped aboard a Russian freighter in Beirut …

Story image for Kim Philby from The Guardian

Documents that Kim Philby passed to USSR on display for first time

The GuardianSep 22, 2017
Kim Philby was the most notorious of the “Cambridge five”, British communists who spied for Moscow and evaded suspicion for years due to …

Story image for Kim Philby from Le Point

Des archives de l’agent double Kim Philby dévoilées à Moscou

Le Point4 hours ago
Kim Philby était le plus efficace de ceux que les historiens ont appelé les “Cinq de Cambridge”, cinq anciens étudiants de la prestigieuse …

Story image for Kim Philby from The Weekly Standard

The Spy Who Loved Animals

The Weekly StandardSep 15, 2017
The Cambridge spies—Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross—who burrowed into the heart of the …

Story image for Kim Philby from Reuters

John le Carre’s George Smiley beats James Bond, British spy …

ReutersSep 28, 2017
… trapped in a wilderness of mirrors inside British intelligence which was reeling from the betrayal of Kim Philby who fled to Moscow in 1963.
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Cambridge Five – Google Search

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Moscow reveals cables sent to USSR by British double agent

The Sun Daily8 hours ago
Philby was one of the legendary “Cambridge Five” spy ring of upper class men embedded in the British establishment who were recruited to …

Moscow reveals cables sent to USSR by British double agent, Europe News & Top Stories

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MOSCOW (AFP) – A new exhibition in Moscow has made public for the first time secret documents that British double agent Kim Philby sent to his Soviet handlers.

Considered one of the KGB’s most productive Western recruits – and Britain’s biggest Cold War traitor – Philby passed information to Moscow from the 1930s until he was discovered and fled to the Soviet Union in 1963. He died in 1988 at the age of 76.

Philby is still celebrated as a hero by the KGB’s successor agency, the FSB, and Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR.

SVR director Sergei Naryshkin opened the exhibition “Kim Philby in espionage and in life” at the Russian Historical Society last month. It will run until Oct 5.

“Philby was able to do a lot to change the course of history, to do good and bring about justice. He was a great citizen of the world,” Naryshkin said at the opening, where guests included KGB veterans mentored by Philby.

Philby was one of the legendary “Cambridge Five” spy ring of upper class men embedded in the British establishment who were recruited to spy for the Soviet Union during their time at the University of Cambridge in the 1930s.

Most of the documents displayed in the exhibition are from the 1940s and come from the archives of the SVR.

The British cables are marked “top secret” in red. Some of them have been translated into Russian, with one addressed personally to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and his foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.

One of the documents is a 1944 cable intercepted by Philby from the Japanese ambassador in Italy back to Tokyo about a meeting with fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Another reveals information on British and American operations in Albania in 1949.

‘Patriot of both his homelands’

“Thanks to Philby, all of these reached Stalin’s desk,” said Konstantin Mogilevsky, head of the Kremlin-backed History of Fatherland Foundation, which helped organise the exhibition.

“Philby was a patriot of both his homelands: Britain and the Soviet Union,” said Mogilevsky, claiming “he never put the lives of his British colleagues in danger”.

Mogilevsky compared Philby to Edward Snowden, who leaked details of US surveillance programmes and was later granted asylum in Russia.

“What Snowden did was not for money or to make his life better – quite the opposite, he made it a lot worse. In that sense they are similar,” he said.

“Russia has always valued those kind of motives,” he added.

The exhibition also includes Philby’s account of fleeing Beirut on Jan 23, 1963, after a KGB handler warned him he had been uncovered.

After telling his wife at that time, Eleanor, he would meet her at a restaurant for dinner, he escaped on a cargo ship headed for Odessa in Ukraine.

Philby’s 85-year-old Russian widow Rufina Pukhova-Philby, who met him after his defection, attended the opening.

She contributed cigars Cuban leader Fidel Castro gave to Philby and an armchair formerly owned by Guy Burgess, another member of the Cambridge Five who defected to Moscow and died in 1963.

Cold War nostalgia

The exhibition opened ahead of Russian state-controlled Channel One television airing a three-part documentary series based on Philby’s career and love life later this autumn.

The Russian intelligence community has a sense of nostalgia for their Soviet heyday, said Sergei Grigoryants, a rights activist who studies Russia’s secret services.

“There is a huge longing for those years,” he said.

“They are upset that Russia’s current spies are people who are in it for money or as a result of blackmail – not for ideological motives like in the 1930s.” But for the Cambridge Five, the reality in Moscow proved far from the socialist dream they imagined back in Britain.

The exhibition makes no mention of Philby’s struggle to adapt to life in the USSR, where he was kept under surveillance and never fully mastered the language.

“He didn’t understand the world around him,” Grigoryants said.

Nevertheless, Philby remained an avowed Communist until his death.

The exhibition displays his address in 1977 to KGB officers on the 100th birthday of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.

“May we all live to see the red flag hanging over Buckingham Palace!” Philby said.

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Even in Death, the Spy Kim Philby Serves the Kremlin’s Purposes

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Mr. Philby, highly educated, well spoken and driven by hostility to fascism rather than by greed, fits perfectly with the image that Soviet and Russian intelligence operatives have of themselves. “He was an idealist,” said Mikhail P. Lyubimov, a former K.G.B. officer in London who saw Mr. Philby frequently in Moscow after his defection. “I knew him quite well. His idea was that he was not serving Stalin but the people.”

The Philby exhibition, which opened just a few days after the unveiling in Moscow of a giant statue in honor of the inventor of the Kalashnikov automatic rifle, is “all part of the drive to create a national idea that revolves around the military and special services,” said Mark Galeotti, a researcher on Russian security and intelligence issues at the Institute of International Relations in Prague.

Mr. Gaelotti said the celebration of Mr. Philby’s exploits also fit into efforts by security service veterans to rehabilitate the reputation of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, the ruthless founder of the Soviet security apparatus whose statue in front of Lubyanka, the headquarters of the Soviet K.G.B., was toppled by pro-democracy protesters in 1991.

Among Mr. Philby’s personal papers now on display is the handwritten text of a message he sent to K.G.B. officers in 1977, the 100th anniversary of Dzerzhinsky’s birth. Hailing Dzerzhinsky as “your great founder,” he wished Soviet secret service officers “every success in your important and responsible labors” and expressed hope that “may we all live to see the red flag flying on Buckingham Palace and the White House.”

Mr. Philby, a senior officer in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, the intelligence agency also known as MI6, started working for Soviet intelligence in 1934 after falling in love with a young Austrian communist in Vienna. But while Mr. Philby’s 54 years of service to the K.G.B. were largely driven by an ideological commitment to Marxism, the spy has now been rebranded as a Russian patriot.

The Moscow exhibition, which also includes Mr. Philby’s favorite pipe and armchair, along with other homey personal knickknacks, presents Mr. Philby as a principled idealist who rallied to Moscow’s side — and stayed there – because of his love for Russia and his determination to battle injustice and fascism, a catchall category now used to vilify Ukraine’s pro-Western government and new NATO members in the Baltics.

The exhibition is put on by the Russian Historical Society, a state organization run by Sergei Y. Naryshkin, who is also the chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or S.V.R., the successor agency to the foreign intelligence arm of the K.G.B.

“He consciously chose to cooperate with the Soviet Union because of his antifascist beliefs, principles of fair world order, principles of liberty, of social fairness,” Mr. Naryshkin, a close ally of President Putin, said this month at the opening of the exhibition, “Kim Philby: The Spy and the Man.”

Konstantin Mogilevski, director of the historical society’s “fatherland history” collection and an organizer of the Philby exhibition, said the tribute to the K.G.B. spy “is not propaganda” but an effort to show the human face of a man “who made a choice to serve Moscow” and stuck with it.

Mr. Philby, who never wavered in his loyalty despite Moscow’s 1939-41 pact with Hitler and the invasions of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968, was long regarded as a hero in the Soviet Union, which hailed him as a committed Marxist, put his face on a postage stamp and buried him in the Kuntsevo cemetery in Moscow along with other Soviet heroes, including the secret police agent who murdered Leon Trotsky.

One of the documents on display, however, hints at the suspicion and distrust that greeted Mr. Philby when he first fled to Moscow in 1963, slipping out of Beirut, Lebanon, aboard a Soviet ship bound for Odessa. The partial transcript of a 1977 speech he gave to K.G.B. officers in Moscow records Mr. Philby saying: “It is the year of my first visit to the Soviet intelligence headquarters. It has taken me a long time to get here.”

Christopher Andrew, a Cambridge University professor and the author of classic books on Soviet espionage, said Mr. Philby had to wait 14 years after his arrival in Moscow before being received at the intelligence headquarters “because they didn’t trust him.”

Mr. Lyubimov, the former K.G.B. officer, said this was not true, explaining that Mr. Philby had fallen under suspicion among members of Stalin’s intelligence service during World War II but “was completely trusted” once he got to Moscow in 1963. Mr. Lyubimov also disputed widespread accounts by witnesses of Mr. Philby being drunk and despondent in Moscow. “When he first came to Russia, because of the shock of the whole affair, he was just drinking but this did not continue a long time,” Mr. Lyubimov said.

All the stolen British documents put on display — marked in red with the words “Top Secret. To be kept under lock and key. Never to be removed from the office” – relate to World War II. Most are reports on intercepted messages sent to Tokyo by Japanese diplomats on the state of the German military and other secret matters. They include a report by a Japanese envoy in Italy on Mussolini’s account of how Hitler had sustained “minor injuries” and had his hair burned during a failed assassination attempt in East Prussia in July 1944.

More significant – and far more damning to Mr. Philby, as far as the British are concerned – is a copy of a September 1949 intelligence report sent to Stalin and his foreign minister, Vyacheslav M. Molotov, based on information provided in London, presumably by Mr. Philby.

It details secret Anglo-American plans to train “émigré-fascists” from Albania in Malta and the Greek island of Corfu and send them back to Albania to start a “partisan movement” against the Communist government of Enver Hoxha. It says chillingly that the information had been passed on to a Soviet adviser to Albania’s Interior Ministry so that it could “take corresponding measures.”

Hundreds of Albanians died after the Western-trained anti-Communist agents were captured as soon as they landed by sea and were then either executed on the spot or killed after brutal interrogations that led to the arrest and often execution of their family members, too.

The betrayal of the 1949 Albania subversion operation, planned and executed by Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Mr. Philby’s employer at the time, and the C.I.A., was one of the most disastrous episodes for Western intelligence during the Cold War. Similar subversive operations into western Ukraine also failed miserably.

Debate continues about how much Mr. Philby contributed to the failure of these and other Anglo-American plots to undermine Communism but, from Russia’s perspective, one thing is clear: Western intelligence agencies have labored tirelessly to undermine Russia’s interests. This narrative has gained new force since street protests toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russian president in 2014, an event for which Russia blames “fascists” working in league with the C.I.A.

Mr. Philby, Mr. Galeotti said, was indeed a lifelong enemy of fascism but “would be spinning in his grave” over his portrayal in Moscow as a defender of narrow Russian national interests. “This was a man motivated by Marxism, not by love of Russia,” he said. “Presenting him as a great Russian patriot is far from the truth.”

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Moscow reveals cables sent to USSR by British double agent – The Straits Times

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Moscow reveals cables sent to USSR by British double agent
The Straits Times
The Russian intelligence community has a sense of nostalgia for their Soviet heyday, said Sergei Grigoryants, a rights activist who studies Russia’s secret services. “There is a huge longing for those years,” he said. “They are upset that Russia’s and more »

Big witnesses still missing from congressional Russia probe – Washington Examiner

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Big witnesses still missing from congressional Russia probe
Washington Examiner
Three congressional committees have been investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 electionsfor the last eight months, combing through thousands of documents, a torrent of leaks to the media, and dozens of interviews in public and behind closed doors.

Even in Death, the Spy Kim Philby Serves the Kremlin’s Purposes – New York Times

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New York Times
Even in Death, the Spy Kim Philby Serves the Kremlin’s Purposes
New York Times
Mr. Philby, a senior officer in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, the intelligence agency also known as MI6, started working for Soviet intelligence in 1934 after falling in love with a young Austrian communist in Vienna. But while Mr. Philby’s 54 
Moscow reveals cables sent to USSR by British double agentThe Straits Timesall 2 news articles »
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4:07 PM 9/30/2017 – Former CIA station chief warns of ‘authoritarian internet’ – by News 

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Former CIA station chief warns of ‘authoritarian internet’by News Saturday September 30th, 2017 at 12:58 PM News’s YouTube Videos 1 Share From: News Duration: 03:12 Daniel Hoffman speaks out about his concerns. European right wing alliance – Google Search Saturday September 30th, 2017 at 11:41 AM European Right Wing Alliance – Google News 1 Share Anti-EU parties face funding cuts EUobserver–Sep 15, … Continue reading “4:07 PM 9/30/2017 – Former CIA station chief warns of ‘authoritarian internet’ – by News”

Puerto Ricans fire back at Trump for critical tweets – CNN

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CNN
Puerto Ricans fire back at Trump for critical tweets
CNN
Several Puerto Ricans contacted by CNN stood up for San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who apparently provoked the Trump tweet with a call for more aid, and many said the Puerto Rican community at home and abroad is already working together.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Says Trump Is ‘Going Straight to Hell’New York Times
‘It’s a disgraceful job’: Puerto Rican congressman slams Trump over hurricane responseWashington Post
Trump picks risky Puerto Rico fightPolitico
Los Angeles Times –Fox News –Business Insider
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Social media companies must respond to the sinister reality behind fake news 

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Research highlights need for paid political content to come with clear disclosures, write Philip Howard and Bence KollanySocial media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have begun to share evidence of how their platforms are used and abused during elections. They have developed interesting new initiatives to encourage civil debate on public policy issues and voter turnout on election day.

Computational propaganda flourished during the 2016 US presidential election. But what is most concerning is not so much the amount of fake news on social media, but where it might have been directed. False information didn’t flow evenly across social networks. There were six states where Donald Trump’s margin of victory was less than 2% – Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If there were any real-world consequences to fake news, that’s where they would appear – where public opinion was evenly split right up to election day.

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British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters – The Guardian

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The Guardian
British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters
The Guardian
… targeted by the Trump campaign. David Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, has discovered a transatlantic legal mechanism that he hopes will give him access to information being sought by both the FBI and the 

British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters 

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Legal mechanism may help academic expose how Big Data firms like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook get their information

A US professor is trying to reclaim his personal data from the controversial analytics firm that helped Donald Trump to power. In what legal experts say may be a “watershed” case, a US citizen is using British laws to try to discover how he was profiled and potentially targeted by the Trump campaign.

David Carroll, an associate professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, has discovered a transatlantic legal mechanism that he hopes will give him access to information being sought by both the FBI and the Senate intelligence committee. In recent weeks, investigators looking at how people acting on behalf of Russia targeted American voters have focused on Trump’s data operation. But although the FBI obtained a court order against Facebook to make it disclose evidence, the exact way in which US citizens were profiled and targeted remains largely unknown.

In the US, Americans have almost no rights over their data whatsoever

It really is a David and Goliath fight and I think it will be the model for other citizens’ actions against other big corporations

Related: Big data’s power is terrifying. That could be good news for democracy | George Monbiot

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Justice allows Senate panel to interview FBI officials – CNNPolitics – CNN

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CNN
Justice allows Senate panel to interview FBI officials – CNNPolitics
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(CNN) The Justice Department has agreed to let the Senate judiciary committee interview two senior FBI officials who could provide firsthand accounts about the …and more »
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Robert Mueller Subpoenas an Associate of the Man Who … – ProPublica

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ProPublica
Robert Mueller Subpoenas an Associate of the Man Who …
ProPublica
The special counsel wanted to question a Turkish businessman with interests in Turkey, Russia and the U.S. — and ties to people with criminal records.
New Report Sheds Light On Mueller’s Inve | The Daily CallerThe Daily Caller
Mueller Subpoenas Biz Associate Of Flynn’s Turkish Lobbying Client …TPMall 3 news articles »

Special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a team of 16 seasoned prosecutors – ABC News

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Vanity Fair
Special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a team of 16 seasoned prosecutors
ABC News
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a team of more than a dozen seasoned prosecutors to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election, including any potential collusion between Russian agents and members of Donald Trump’s campaign.
Robert Mueller Is Facing His Biggest Question Yet: Should He Prosecute the Cover-Up Before He’s Certain There’s a …Vanity Fair
Mueller begins interviewing White House staff for Russia probe: reportThe Hill
Robert Mueller reportedly starts interviewing White House staff for Russia probeWashington Examiner
Asia Times –Politico –CBS News
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Mueller Subpoenas Biz Associate Of Flynn’s Turkish Lobbying Client – TPM

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TPM
Mueller Subpoenas Biz Associate Of Flynn’s Turkish Lobbying Client
TPM
Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a subpoena compelling a business associate of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Turkish lobbying client to testify before a grand jury earlier this month, ProPublica reported Friday. Sezgin Baran and more »

Senate Intelligence Committee to provide Russia investigation update – Washington Times 

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Capitol Hill’s leading investigation into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election will gather next week to provide a public update on their inquiry, in addition to issuing a warning that foreig Source: Senate Intelligence Committee to provide Russia investigation update – Washington Times

How Arnold Mesches Turned His FBI Surveillance Files Into Eerily Prescient Works of Art – The Intercept

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The Intercept
How Arnold Mesches Turned His FBI Surveillance Files Into Eerily Prescient Works of Art
The Intercept
Using a Freedom of Information Act request, Mesches obtained a box filled with his own 760-page FBI file, discovering that from 1945 to 1972, he’d been carefully watched. Throughout his life as an acclaimed painter as well as an activist, the FBI had 

Former CIA station chief warns of ‘authoritarian internet’

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From: News
Duration: 03:12

Daniel Hoffman speaks out about his concerns.

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European right wing alliance – Google Search

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Anti-EU parties face funding cuts

EUobserverSep 15, 2017
Anti-EU parties and their affiliated foundations may see their EU … the rightwing European Alliance for Freedom (EAF), and the European …

Story image for European right wing alliance from Modern Diplomacy

rightwing party in the new German government

Modern Diplomacy22 hours ago
The reasons to vote for rightwing AfD are the problems, not the AfD itself. … However, a non-representative survey by the Counter Narco-Terror Alliance … other countries and foremost Germany’s European partner countries.
Can Germany Make an Unwieldy Coalition Work?
SPIEGEL ONLINESep 29, 2017
Germany’s grave new world
MENAFN.COM19 hours ago

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SPIEGEL ONLINE
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rightwing alliance – Google Search

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Right Wing Alliance Launches Campaign To Strike ‘Mortal Blow …

PlunderbundSep 8, 2017
Just before Labor Day weekend, The Guardian dropped one helluva piece about a right wing allianceof so-called think tanks who have …

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German military investigating right-wing extremism within its ranks

Deutsche WelleSep 29, 2017
German military investigating right-wing extremism within its ranks … West Germany officially joined the trans-Atlantic alliance in 1955. However …

Story image for rightwing alliance from USA TODAY

There is meddling in Germany’s election — not by Russia, but by US …

USA TODAYSep 20, 2017
An alliance of mostly anonymous online trolls and extremist agitators … Instead, they said, right-winggroups in the United States were behind …
Euro slips on Merkel’s losses, fractured parliament
InternationalDeutsche WelleSep 25, 2017

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right wing alliance – Google Search

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Right Wing Alliance Launches Campaign To Strike ‘Mortal Blow …

PlunderbundSep 8, 2017
Just before Labor Day weekend, The Guardian dropped one helluva piece about a right wing allianceof so-called think tanks who have …

Story image for right wing alliance from Deutsche Welle

German military investigating rightwing extremism within its ranks

Deutsche WelleSep 29, 2017
German military investigating rightwing extremism within its ranks … West Germany officially joined the trans-Atlantic alliance in 1955. However …

Story image for right wing alliance from NPR

Germany’s Political Earthquake: Making Sense Of The Right Shift In …

NPRSep 24, 2017
… is that of nationalist rightwing party Alliance for Germany, or AfD. … Some members have espoused the values of the extreme right, and one …
Euro slips on Merkel’s losses, fractured parliament
InternationalDeutsche WelleSep 25, 2017

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Russian – German right wing alliance – Google Search

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There is meddling in Germany’s election — not by Russia, but by US …

USA TODAYSep 20, 2017
But everyone in Germany is getting these rightwing party … The Alliance for Securing Democracy has concluded that Russia has meddled in …
Merkel 4.0: centre stage in a turbulent world
InternationalExpatica GermanySep 24, 2017
AfD: What you need to know about Germany’s far-right party
InternationalDeutsche WelleJan 22, 2017

Media image for Russian - German right wing alliance from Reuters

Reuters

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Foreign Policy (blog)

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AfD Shakes Up Germany’s Election—But It Has an Espionage Backstory

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Leadership member of the hard-right party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) Alice Weidel addresses a press conference on the day after the German General elections on September 25, 2017 in Berlin. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

Germany went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new federal parliament—and a new national government—and the results stunned Europe and the world. Although center-right Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office, since her party came out on top in the vote tallies, in truth the election stands as a stern rebuke of her and her party’s governance since 2005. For a politician widely considered the de facto leader of the European Union, and even hailed as the “leader of the free world” by some, including Hillary Clinton, this is a serious setback.

Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) received one-third of the votes, 33 percent, far ahead of the second-place Social Democrats (SPD) with 20.6 percent, but for both parties this represented a big drop-off since the last elections. In 2013, the CDU and the SPD got 37 and 29 percent, respectively, and Sunday’s tallies are the lowest for both parties since the establishment of the Federal Republic in 1949, out of the ashes of Nazism and the Second World War.

The big news here is the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Founded only four years ago, this new right-wing party barely competed in the 2013 election, garnering only 1.9 percent of the vote, but on Sunday the upstart AfD won 12.6 percent, which will give them 94 seats in the incoming parliament in Berlin, what Germans call the Bundestag. For the first time since 1990, a new party will be seated in the Bundestag, and it’s on the far-right. The AfD did especially well in economically lagging regions of the former East Germany, where 26 percent of men voted for the party.

Several other parties hovered around the 10-percent mark, including the libertarian-leaning Free Democrats (10.7), the former East German Communists rebranded as Die Linke (9.2), and the environmentalist Greens (8.9). As the chastened Social Democrats show no interest in a grand coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the only way the chancellor can form a government will be in coalition with some of these smaller parties. The likeliest outcome is the so-called “Jamaica” coalition from the colors of that country’s flag: black for the CDU, yellow for the Free Democrats, and green (obviously) for the Greens.

Merkel will keep the upstart AfD out of government at all costs, viewing them as pariahs and extremists. Ironically, this new rival is very much her own creation, inadvertently. Born out of frustration with Berlin’s costly bailouts of Greece and other bankrupt EU states, the AfD takes its name from one of Merkel’s less popular aphorisms, when she repeatedly stated Germany had “no alternative” but to financially bail out Southern Europe from its insolvency.

This was far from popular with many Germans, a notoriously frugal bunch that loathes debt; as late as 2011, only one-third of Germans had a credit card, and most personal transactions are still in cash. Merkel then made things worse by opening Germany’s doors to migrants in 2015, which made her deeply unpopular with many working-class Germans. The arrival of two million migrants in 2015—relative to population, this would be like the U.S. taking in eight million migrants in 12 months—has caused serious political heartache in certain quarters.

That anger made up some of the AfD’s appeal on Sunday. There are definite wings of the party. Some supporters are financially-minded, worried about the cost of Germany’s dragging along the EU and its vast debts. Others fret about migrants, many of them Muslim, bringing crime, welfare skimming, and terrorism to the country. Then there’s the hard-right element of the party, people who are uncomfortably sympathetic to Germany’s troubled past.

In other words, there are neo-Nazis lurking in the AfD. This is a serious matter, since unlike in America, it’s not legal to fly Nazi flags and shout Hitlerian slogans in public. There is no free speech in Germany about such touchy matters, and people really do wind up in jail for acting out their Nazi fantasies. The march-turned-riot this country witnessed in Charlottesville in August would have been shut down in Germany the minute anybody unfurled a swastika.

Exactly how many neo-Nazis there are in AfD ranks is a tricky question. Some party bigwigs have walked close to the line. Alexander Gauland, a party leader, recently suggested that Germany should act like any other country and be “proud” of its soldiers in both world wars. Such a comment, which would be uncontroversial in most places, was greeted with outrage in Germany, where any public esteem for the Nazi period is verboten.

If the AfD is harboring neo-Nazis, this is a matter for Germany’s intelligence services too. Since the creation of the Federal Republic, the domestic intelligence agency, the mouthful Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), has monitored political extremists looking for unhealthy dissent, left and right. Uncovering subversion—specifically anything that threatens Germany’s democratic values—is one of the BfV’s main jobs, and it has watched the AfD closely since its birth.

Last month, Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister, frankly admitted that the security services had their eye on the AfD, looking for subversion. Although the party on the whole was “not extremist,” less moderate elements in the AfD did merit examination, de Maizière explained. At the same time, after a review of AfD online activities in part of the former East Germany, the security service concluded that the party was substantially right-wing but not engaged in openly subversive activities.

Germany has shut down neo-Nazi parties before. In 1952, the authorities banned the Socialist Reich Party, which saw itself as Hitler’s heirs and was staffed by former Nazis. It also had the secret backing of Soviet intelligence, which sought to manipulate West German politics during the Cold War.

More recently, the standard-bearer for such views has been the National Democratic Party (NPD). Founded in 1964, it’s a fringe party that has never won any seats in the Bundestag, although it’s intermittently won seats at the state level in Germany. The NPD doesn’t make much effort to hide its Hitlerian sympathies but usually stays on the right side of Germany’s restrictive laws on such matters, if only just.

The party has been of intense concern to the BfV from its birth, and here’s where things get interesting: German authorities have tried more than once to ban the NPD on the grounds that its aims are undemocratic, yet all efforts have failed to stand up in court. The biggest push came between 2001 and 2003, and the case went to Germany’s highest court. There the NPD triumphed on the revealing grounds that, since the party was so filled with BfV agents, it was impossible for the court to assess what the NPD really stood for. Many of its most Nazified members turned out to be clandestine government operatives. The BfV, in effect, was in control of the NPD, and its numerous agents provocateurs were running the show.

Given this recent history, questions must be raised about the AfD as well, not least because the party has worrisome ties to Russia. Party higher-ups are enthusiastic fans of Vladimir Putin, while Kremlin outlets like RT and Sputnik laud the party on a regular basis. Moreover, the election campaign witnessed an explosion of pro-AfD activity online, including Twitter bots, emanating from Russia—just as the Kremlin did in the United States last year.

To be fair, the former Communists of Die Linke are every bit as Russophile as the AfD—which means that Putin has friends on the left and right of Merkel, amounting to 22 percent of the vote on Sunday—while top SPD officials take Kremlin money without any concern for appearances or conflicts of interest. Germany has a problem with illicit Kremlin influence that extends far beyond just the AfD.

That said, the BfV’s interest in the AfD, now the country’s third-biggest political party, encompasses counterintelligence concerns as much as worries about extremism. The arrival of the AfD in the Bundestag will shake up German politics in a manner that’s not been seen in decades, even though the party will not be in government. They will force debate on issues that Chancellor Merkel would prefer to avoid, above all migration and assimilation of newcomers.

It would therefore be wise to watch how the AfD reacts to its newfound limelight. Already cracks are appearing in the party. Less than 24 hours after electoral triumph, Frauke Petry, the leader of the AfD’s more moderate wing, announced she would not take her parliamentary seat, citing chaos inside the party. This stunning news may push the AfD even further to the right. Expect more bumps in this road.

John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he’s also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. He’s published four books and is on Twitter at @20committee. 

AfD Shakes Up German Election—but It Has an Espionage Backstory

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Upstart AfD Shakes Up German Election–but It Has an Espionage Backstory 

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Germany went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new federal parliament – and a new national government – and the results stunned Europe and the world. Although center-right Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office, since her party came out on top in the vote tallies, in truth the election stands as a stern rebuke of her and her party’s governance since 2005. For a politician widely considered the de facto leader of the European Union, and even hailed as the “leader of the free world” by some, including Hillary Clinton, this is a serious setback.

Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) received one-third of the votes, 33 percent, far ahead of the second-place Social Democrats (SPD) with 20.6 percent, but for both parties this represented a big drop-off since the last elections. In 2013, the CDU and the SPD got 37 and 29 percent, respectively, and Sunday’s tallies are the lowest for both parties since the establishment of the Federal Republic in 1949, out of the ashes of Nazism and the Second World War.

The big news here is the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Founded only four years ago, this new right-wing party barely competed in the 2013 election, garnering only 1.9 percent of the vote, but on Sunday the upstart AfD won 12.6 percent, which will give them 94 seats in the incoming parliament in Berlin, what Germans call the Bundestag. For the first time since 1990, a new party will be seated in the Bundestag, and it’s on the far-right. The AfD did especially well in economically lagging regions of the former East Germany, where 26 percent of men voted for the party.

Several other parties hovered around the 10-percent mark, including the libertarian-leaning Free Democrats (10.7), the former East German Communists rebranded as Die Linke (9.2), and the environmentalist Greens (8.9). As the chastened Social Democrats show no interest in a grand coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the only way the chancellor can form a government will be in coalition with some of these smaller parties. The likeliest outcome is the so-called “Jamaica” coalition from the colors of that country’s flag: black for the CDU, yellow for the Free Democrats, and green (obviously) for the Greens.

Merkel will keep the upstart AfD out of government at all costs, viewing them as pariahs and extremists. Ironically, this new rival is very much her own creation, inadvertently. Born out of frustration with Berlin’s costly bailouts of Greece and other bankrupt EU states, the AfD takes its name from one of Merkel’s less popular aphorisms, when she repeatedly stated Germany had “no alternative” but to financially bail out Southern Europe from its insolvency.

This was far from popular with many Germans, a notoriously frugal bunch that loathes debt; as late as 2011, only one-third of Germans had a credit card, and most personal transactions are still in cash. Merkel then made things worse by opening Germany’s doors to migrants in 2015, which made her deeply unpopular with many working-class Germans. The arrival of two million migrants in 2015 – relative to population, this would be like the United States taking in eight million migrants in 12 months – has caused serious political heartache in certain quarters.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionage  

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Trump slams Facebook as lawmakers await ads amid Russia probe – Reuters

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Trump slams Facebook as lawmakers await ads amid Russia probe
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Facebook and other technology companies are coming under increased scrutiny amid the Russiainvestigations. The probes, being conducted by several congressional committees along with the Department of Justice, have clouded Trump’s tenure since …
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Can Trump Fire Mueller? President’s Powers Over Russia Investigation a Hot Debate – Newsweek

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s job security was a topic of debate Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and legal experts were torn over whether Congress could, in fact, protect the former FBI director were President Donald Trump to issue a 
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Trump-Russia investigators close in on sources named in explosive dossier – The Independent

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Trump-Russia investigators close in on sources named in explosive dossier
The Independent
Meanwhile, the team of special counsel Robert Mueller, leading a separate investigation into the Kremlins’ activities, have contacted and taken evidence from a number of figures named in the dossier, including one, The Independent has learned, who has …

Trump-Russia investigation may target Reddit posts, says senator’s aide – The Guardian

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The Guardian
Trump-Russia investigation may target Reddit posts, says senator’s aide
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Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announced last week that the site was “actively working with the US government on its ongoing investigations into Russian interference”, adding that: “I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy.
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Does Trump’s team have a Clinton email problem? – CNN

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CNN
Does Trump’s team have a Clinton email problem?
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The use of private email by senior Trump White House advisers creates an unacceptable risk that the activities of the Trump White House will not be properly documented, ongoinginvestigations by Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller will be …
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Trump’s Systematic, Deliberate Deception Is an Impeachable Offense – Foreign Policy (blog)

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Foreign Policy (blog)
Trump’s Systematic, Deliberate Deception Is an Impeachable Offense
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If there is evidence of obstructive intent, Trump’s repeated and emphatic public attacks on theinvestigation cannot fail to fill out to his detriment the picture of a president committed to undermining law enforcement. This is perhaps a risk that the and more »
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Looking for quick end to probes? Not likely

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Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has allegedly hired a lawyer to represent him in the Russian election meddling investigation. Aidan Kelley has the story. Buzz60

Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner and Chairman Richard Burr prepare to hear testimony on Russian intervention in the elections on June 28, 2017.(Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo, European Pressphoto Agency)

WASHINGTON — Anxious to see the results of all those Russia investigations going on in Congress and in special counsel Robert Mueller’s office? Well, take a deep breath. It’s likely to be awhile.

The constant stream of news about witnesses, subpoenas and closed-door testimony may make it feel like the Russia probes have been going on forever, but Mueller has only been on the job about four and a half months and the three congressional committees conducting inquiries didn’t really start digging in until spring.

That’s not long when you consider that the Watergate investigation of Richard Nixon took about 20 months — considered relatively fast — and the Whitewater investigation of Bill Clinton, which morphed into the Monica Lewinsky investigation, spanned about five years.

“The public and the press have always been impatient about how quickly these types of investigations are moving, but they have gotten more so,” said Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and the special deputy chief counsel for the House Iran-Contra Committee’s investigation of the Reagan administration. “The 24-hour news cycle means that speculation outruns the actual investigation and demands responses.”

Tiefer estimated that it could take Congress until spring and Mueller about a year to begin to show initial results, such as preliminary reports from the committees or the first round of indictments from the special counsel.

The special counsel, the Senate and House Intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee are all investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Read more:

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“They have difficult obstacles to overcome,” Tiefer said. Among them: convincing reluctant witnesses to cooperate, obtaining scores of documents from both inside the U.S. and Russia, and trying to persuade one of the targets to break ranks and become a witness for the prosecution.

Attorney Richard Ben-Veniste, who served as an assistant special prosecutor in the office of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force and chief minority counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee, said the Russia probe and Watergate are “roughly comparable in terms of the complexity.”

“Judged by other investigations and given the breadth of this one, I don’t think the public should be too expectant, but rather appreciate the complexity … and scope of the areas that both Mueller and congressional investigators are charged with looking into,” Ben-Veniste said.

Bruce Udolf, a criminal defense attorney in Florida who served as an associate independent counsel during the Whitewater investigation, said he believes Mueller is “moving at lightning speed” in putting together a team of investigators and questioning witnesses.

Mueller is dealing with complicated issues of money laundering and obstruction of justice, with witnesses and evidence scattered across the globe, Udolf said.

“Of necessity, it’s going to take a very long time,” he said. “I would be surprised if it was completed in less than a year. But it sounds like he’s making a lot of progress. I’m sure his team is working around the clock.”

It’s more important that an investigation be thorough than fast, Udolf said.

“You turn over one stone, and it leads you down another path,” he said. “And you’re dealing with people who are trying to prevent you from doing your job, which is getting to the truth.”

In this June 21, 2017, file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)

Lanny Davis, an attorney who specializes in crisis management and a former spokesman and special counsel for ex-president Bill Clinton, said no one wants these kinds of investigations over faster than an innocent target.

Davis said the best thing an attorney with an innocent client can do is cooperate fully with prosecutors and congressional investigators to help speed up the process.

“You have to do the opposite of what you’re taught to do as a private lawyer, which is to resist and drag things out,” Davis said. “In this situation, if investigators don’t ask for something, you offer it to them anyway. You drown them with paper, facts, and transparency.”

However, it can sometimes be difficult for attorneys to convince their clients that this counter-intuitive strategy is the best way to go. Often, Davis said, a client’s initial reaction will be: “What, are you kidding me? Whose side are you on?”

“You have to convince them that the way to end the investigation is to help investigators, not stop them,” he said.

However, when an attorney has a client who may be guilty, that strategy must change, Davis said. He said the response still can’t be “resist, resist, resist” because that could end up getting a client charged with obstruction of justice.

“You still have to cooperate,” he said. “But you don’t open the kimono and say come on in.”

Former senator Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who served as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2001 to 2003, is urging Congress to complete its investigations well before the midterm elections in November 2018.

“I think there needs to be a real sense of urgency by Congress because of the possible consequences to the country,” Graham said. “There could be another round of Russian meddling. They need to get to the bottom of what happened and prevent it from happening again.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a recent interview that “it’s still fairly early in the investigation.”

“We’re making progress, but it’s very hard to give a timeline,” he said.

Ben-Veniste said he has faith in both Congress and Mueller.

“I look forward with some confidence, having seen the people both in Congress and the special counsel’s office, to them conducting a credible and thorough investigation, and I feel confident we’ll have answers in due time,” he said.

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RUSSIA: THE SCANDAL TRUMP CAN’T SHAKE Special counsel Mueller is investigating Facebook ads linked to Russia | 0:49Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Facebook ads bought by bogus Russian-linked accounts. Video provided by Newsy Newslook


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