M.N.: Trump’s common sense toward Pakistan is very reasonable, whatever these reasonings and their origins are. Pakistan’s role in 9/11 does not appear to be explored sufficiently; the reputation of its intelligence services as “the number one in the world” is suspect and somewhat dubious. Pakistan’s deeply deceitful tactics in serving their own interests first and most of all are in no doubt. The extraordinary closeness with China, with all its ramifications, is also an issue. Pakistan’s belligerent nuclear Islamic hubris is very much in the show and is the reason for concern. At the same time, the larger geopolitical perspective of the open Russian arms (and selling them, too), is very much a reality around which the players dance around carefully. The emerging Israeli – Saudi alliance, with Pakistan in the opposing corner of this triangle is another part of the picture and the apparent focus of the recent activities.
5:46 AM 1/3/2018
Quotes from the Atlantic article:
“While the topic of U.S. assistance for Pakistan may seem an odd one for Trump’s first tweet of the year, he’s long signaled his intention to get Pakistan to adhere to U.S. interests in Afghanistan. Those interests don’t always align with Pakistan’s own interests in the region. Pakistan has worked with the U.S. at times, Haley said, but it also “harbor[s] the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan.” McMaster told VOA that Pakistan “goes after terrorist and insurgent groups very selectively and uses others as an arm of their foreign policy.” While the U.S. has long urged Pakistan to do more to curb militancy in Afghanistan, it has never explicitly appeared to link aid to cooperation, as Trump did in his New Year’s day tweet. But that missive was a long time coming…
What is perhaps most significant is that Pakistan views the Taliban as an ally, and is believed to provide safe haven to many of its senior leaders. The U.S., which ousted the Taliban regime during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has been trying to bring stability to the country for the past 16 years. Yet the group now controls more of Afghanistan than at any point since the U.S.-led invasion. Its fighters have continued to wage a military campaign, attacking U.S. and Afghan troops, foreign embassies, government facilities, and civilians. Any lasting political stability in Afghanistan depends on either the defeat of the Taliban—unlikely at this point—or its integration into the political process. But Pakistan’s support of the group all but ensures that it will have little incentive to join talks with the Afghan government.
Ultimately, as far as the Taliban is concerned, Washington and Islamabad have competing interests. Pakistan is not interested in being sandwiched between two unfriendly nations—Afghanistan and India. The Taliban gives Pakistan enough leverage inside Afghanistan to maintain its regional interests. It is this difference in how the Taliban is viewed—detrimental to Afghan stability versus pivotal to Pakistan’s regional interests—that underlie the misunderstanding between the U.S. and Pakistan.
“Trump is disappointed at the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan,” Asif, the foreign minister, told GEO TV, “and that is the only reason he is flinging accusations at Pakistan.””
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit <a href=”http://www.npr.org/” rel=”nofollow”>http://www.npr.org/</a>.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
It’s a new year, but the Russia imbroglio – the sprawling, long-running saga about Moscow’s attack on the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath – is still going strong. Washington spent much of last year simply trying to determine what happened in that attack, and there are still many questions that haven’t been answered.
We’re going to take the next few minutes to look at how that investigation might evolve this year. And here to talk about that is NPR’s national security editor, Phil Ewing. Hi, Phil.
PHILIP EWING, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: Let’s start with one big story coming up this year, the midterm elections. Are they likely to be like 2016 in the sense of so-called fake news, the use of trolls, bots, that sort of thing?
EWING: Well, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the answer is yes. The FBI director, Christopher Wray, has already said the bureau has a special task force set up to watch for foreign interference in the new year. Plus, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and his predecessor and many others in and out of the administration have said they fully expect more dirty tricks in this election and also in the 2020 presidential race. In the spy world, these are called active measures. A nation state uses its intelligence and diplomatic and other tools to shape the information environment by putting out false stories like you mentioned or exacerbating controversies, in our case, that already exist.
This never really stopped happening after the 2016 election. There were Russian Twitter accounts that turned up the volume on the Charlottesville unrest last year or the NFL protests over the national anthem or the Alabama special election and other stories. But what we can’t know today is whether the government and the states will be ready to deal with the full gamut of things we saw in 2016 – the cyberattacks that targeted politicians, institutions like the Democratic National Committee or some other new kind of technique for mischief that nobody has thought about yet.
SIEGEL: As you’ve said, though, Russia has kept up a lot of the social media agitation. Why? What’s in it for Russian President Vladimir Putin?
EWING: I think it’s a low-cost option for him to be a player in the West, not just the United States but in Europe, in the U.K. There were indications of Russian interference in European elections in the vote that the Brits had for getting out of the European Union, the so-called Brexit controversy. And it enables him to increase Russia’s throw weight on the global stage. And it’ll be very interesting because he has an election this year as well, and he may make the case to his own voters that he continues to be a player and increase Russia’s prestige on the world stage through these kinds of measures.
SIEGEL: Back to Washington, there are several congressional investigations still underway about Russia’s activities. Are those likely to wrap up this year?
EWING: Members of Congress say that’s what they want to happen. There are several committees looking into this. The House and Senate intelligence committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee and a couple of others have also had hearings or spoken about this. We don’t know yet when their work might wrap up, but there have already been suggestions that the politics might actually be too fraught for them to come to any kind of consensus on this.
Republicans and Democrats might be – might not be able to get to the same findings, so they could release reports of their own – a majority Republican report, a minority Democratic report. And we’ll just have to see how that plays out. But 2018 might bring kind of a story of “Choose Your Own Adventure” depending on which version of the case you want to follow.
SIEGEL: What about special prosecutor Robert Mueller? What, if anything, do we know about what direction his investigation might take this year?
EWING: That’s one of the biggest and most important questions in this whole story, and I don’t think anybody outside of the special counsel’s office actually knows the answer. He has shown how effectively he can keep secrets. He, for example, reached a guilty plea with one former campaign adviser and then kept it completely secret until that was unsealed publicly. Mueller has never been the kind of guy to give interviews even before this when he was FBI director or talk openly about what he was doing. Plus, his office is under a gag order as part of the prosecution it brought against Trump’s former campaign chairman. So unless something changes drastically, the only way we’ll know what Mueller is doing is when he goes public or he takes more people to court.
SIEGEL: NPR’s Phil Ewing, thanks.
EWING: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
- 20-point gap between Democratic and Republican ratings of the FBI
- USPS, CDC, Secret Service and Homeland Security top ranked overall
Washington (CNN)Republicans’ reviews for a slew of government agencies have improved as Donald Trump’s administration puts its stamp on the federal bureaucracy, according to a new poll from Gallup, but there’s one agency whose ratings have shifted in the opposite direction among the President’s partisans: The FBI.
While 62% of Republicans gave the FBI “excellent” or “good” marks in a 2014 survey from Gallup, just 49% say the same now. The agency is the only one of 13 tested whose ratings among Republicans have worsened compared with 2014.
Trump has actively criticized the FBI throughout his time in office, from his firing of agency head James Comey in May through tweets in late December (sent after the completion of the Gallup poll) criticizing the agency’s retiring deputy director over donations to his Democratic wife’s campaign for state senate in Virginia.
Adding to the President’s criticism, Republicans on Capitol Hill have raised doubts about the fairness of both the agency’s treatment of Hillary Clinton during the investigation into her use of a private server for State Department emails and the investigation into Russian interference in 2016’s election, which is led by special counsel Robert Mueller, himself a former FBI director.
Among Democrats, the poll finds ratings for the FBI have actually improved over the same time frame: 60% said it was doing a good job in 2014, 69% say the same now.
Republicans’ views on several agencies in Gallup’s polling have improved markedly under Trump: Ratings for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have risen 33 points; the Federal Emergency Management Agency is up 28 points; up 27 points for the Secret Service; and 26 points for the Department of Homeland Security. Democrats’ ratings for most of the agencies tested have not changed enough to be significant, with exceptions for the Secret Service (+13), NASA (+11) and the CIA (+10) in addition to the shift on the FBI.
Overall, the poll finds the FBI ranks near the top of the 13 tested agencies, with 58% rating the job it is doing as “excellent” or “good,” behind just four other agencies — the US Postal Service (74% excellent or good), the CDC (66%), the Secret Service (63%) and Homeland Security (59%). The CIA (57%), NASA (56%) and FEMA (55%) also garner majority-positive reviews, ranking just behind the FBI’s numbers.
The improved ratings for individual government agencies come even as overall impressions of the government have remained negative.
in December found that just 28% of Americans were satisfied with the way the nation is being governed, with 68% reporting being dissatisfied. There, too, however, Republicans views have become sharply more positive under Trump (66% satisfied) than they were under President Barack Obama, a Democrat (10%).
The Gallup poll on government agencies was conducted by telephone from December 18-19 among a random national sample of 1,011 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Huma Abedin forwarded sensitive State Department emails, including passwords to government systems, to her personal Yahoo email account before every single Yahoo account was hacked, a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of emails released as part of a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch shows.
Abedin, the top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, used her insecure personal email provider to conduct sensitive work. This guarantees that an account with high-level correspondence in Clinton’s State Department was impacted by one or more of a series of breaches — at least one of which was perpetrated by a “state-sponsored actor.”
The U.S. later charged Russian intelligence agent Igor Sushchin with hacking 500 million Yahoo email accounts. The initial hack occurred in 2014 and allowed his associates to access accounts into 2015 and 2016 by using forged cookies. Sushchin also worked for the Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital, which paid former President Bill Clinton $500,000 for a June 2010 speech in Moscow.
A separate hack in 2013 compromised three billion accounts across multiple Yahoo properties, and the culprit is still unclear. “All Yahoo user accounts were affected by the August 2013 theft,” the company said in a statement.
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Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, regularly forwarded work emails to her personal <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a> address. “She would use these accounts if her (State) account was down or if she needed to print an email or document. Abedin further explained that it was difficult to print from the DoS system so she routinely forwarded emails to her non-DoS accounts so she could more easily print,” an FBI report says.
Abedin sent passwords for her government laptop to her Yahoo account on Aug. 24, 2009, an email released by the State Department in September 2017 shows.
Long-time Clinton confidante Sid Blumenthal sent Clinton an email in July 2009 with the subject line: “Important. Not for circulation. You only. Sid.” The message began “CONFIDENTIAL… Re: Moscow Summit.” Abedin forwarded the email to her Yahoo address, potentially making it visible to hackers.
The email was deemed too sensitive to release to the public and was redacted before being published pursuant to the Judicial Watch lawsuit. The released copy says “Classified by DAS/ A/GIS, DoS on 10/30/2015 Class: Confidential.” The unredacted portion reads: “I have heard authoritatively from Bill Drozdiak, who is in Berlin…. We should expect that the Germans and Russians will now cut their own separate deals on energy, regional security, etc.”
The three email accounts Abedin used were <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>, <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>, and <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Though the emails released by the State Department partially redact personal email addresses, the Yahoo emails are displayed as humamabedin[redacted].
Clinton forwarded Abedin an email titled “Ambassadors” in March 2009 from Denis McDonough, who served as foreign policy adviser to former President Barack Obama’s campaign and later as White House chief of staff. The email was heavily redacted before being released to the public.
Stuart Delery, chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, sent a draft memo titled “PA/PLO Memo” in May 2009, seemingly referring to two Palestinian groups. The content was withheld from the public with large letters spelling “Page Denied.” Abedin forwarded it to her Yahoo account.
Abedin routed sensitive information through Yahoo multiple times, such as notes on a call with the U.N. secretary-general, according to messages released under the lawsuit.
Contemporaneous news reports documented the security weaknesses of Yahoo while Abedin continued to use it. Credentials to 450,000 Yahoo accounts had been posted online, a July 2012 CNN article reported. Five days later, Abedin forwarded sensitive information to her personal Yahoo email.
Abedin received an email “with the subject ‘Re: your yahoo acct.’ Abedin did not recall the email and provided that despite the content of the email she was not sure that her email account had ever been compromised,” on Aug. 16, 2010, an FBI report says.
The FBI also asked her about sending other sensitive information to Yahoo. “Abedin was shown an email dated October 4, 2009 with the subject ‘Fwd: US interest in Pak Paper 10-04’ which Abedin received from [redacted] and then forwarded to her Yahoo email account…. At the time of the email, [redacted] worked for Richard Holbrooke who was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). Abedin was unaware of the classification of the document and stated that she did not make judgments on the classification of materials that she received,” the report said.
The U.S. charged Sushchin with hacking half a billion Yahoo accounts in March 2017, in one of the largest cyber-breaches in history, the Associated Press reported. Sushchin was an intelligence agent with Russia’s Federal Security Service — the successor to the KGB — and was also working as security director for Renaissance Capital, Russian media said.
“It is unknown to the grand jury whether [Renaissance] knew of his FSB affiliation,” the indictment says.
Renaissance Capital paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in 2010 that was attended by Russian officials and corporate leaders. The speech received a thank-you note from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Renaissance Capital is owned by Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who also owned the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. He unsuccessfully ran for Russian president against Putin in 2012.
Sushchin’s indictment says “the conspirators sought access to the Yahoo, Inc. email accounts of Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials,” and others. Information about the accounts such as usernames and password challenge questions and answers were stolen for 500 million accounts, the indictment says. The indictment does not mention Abedin’s account.
A hacker called “Peace” claimed to be selling data from 200 million Yahoo users.
The user data also included people’s alternate email addresses, that were often work accounts tying a Yahoo user to an organization of interest. The hackers were able to generate “nonces” that allowed them to read emails “via external cookie minting” for some accounts.
The New York Times reported that in the 2013 hack, which affected all Yahoo accounts, “Digital thieves made off with names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords of users that were encrypted with security that was easy to crack. The intruders also obtained the security questions and backup email addressed used to reset lost passwords — valuable information for someone trying to break into other accounts owned by the same user, and particularly useful to a hacker seeking to break into government computers around the world.”
Yahoo published a notification on Sept. 22, 2016, saying: “Yahoo has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.”
Clinton downplayed the risks of her email use days later, saying it was simply a matter of convenience.
“After a year-long investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and there is no evidence that anyone can point to at all, anyone who says otherwise has no basis, that any classified materials ended up in the wrong hands. I take classified materials very seriously and always have,” Clinton said on Oct. 9, 2016, at the second presidential debate,
Abedin’s use of Yahoo email is consistent with the determination by the FBI that Clinton associates’ emails were, in fact, compromised. “We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private email accounts of individuals with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her private account,” then-FBI director Jim Comey said in 2016.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — 8:30 a.m.
President Donald Trump is accusing the Justice Department of being part of the “deep state” and suggesting it “must finally act” against a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey.
The “deep state” refers to an alleged shadowy network of powerful entrenched interests that some Republicans argue are trying to undermine Trump.
Trump tweeted Tuesday: “Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others.”
Trump appeared to be referring to a report in the conservative Daily Caller that Abedin sent government passwords to her Yahoo email before it was hacked. Trump’s reference to sailors probably referred to the Navy sailor convicted of taking photos of classified areas inside a submarine.
President Donald Trump has returned from an end-of year holiday to face fresh legislative challenges, midterm elections and threats abroad.
Trump is hoping for more legislative achievements after his pre-Christmas success on taxes. He plans to host Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Camp David next weekend to map out the 2018 legislative agenda.
Republicans are eager to make progress before attention shifts to the midterm elections. The GOP wants to hold House and Senate majorities in 2018, but must contend with Trump’s historic unpopularity and some recent Democratic victories.
Trump’s foreign relations challenges include North Korea’s nuclear missile program. On Monday, Trump criticized Pakistan in a sharp tweet accusing the nation of lies and deceit while taking American aid.
President Trump on Tuesday suggested the Department of Justice “must finally act?” to investigate longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin after the State Department last week released emails belonging to her, including some marked classified that were found on her husband’s laptop.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols,” he wrote on Twitter. “She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others .”
The State Department last Friday released parts of 2,800 emails that belonged to Abedin but were recovered by the FBI on the laptop of her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, during an investigation into his sexting with a female high school student.
The discovery of the emails, some marked as classified, prompted former FBI Director James Comey to announce in October 2016, just weeks before the presidential election, that he would reopen the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
He reversed himself two days before the vote, saying nothing of significance had been found in her emails.
Trump fired Comey, who had been heading the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election, in May.
The president was also referring to a report on the Daily Caller website on Sunday that said Abedin forwarded sensitive work emails to her private Yahoo account – and some of the messages contained passwords for her government laptop.
The report noted that 500 million Yahoo accounts had been hacked in 2014.
Among those indicted by the Department of Justice in March 2017 for the hack was Igor Suschin, a former Russian intelligence agent.
Here’s how rogue electors can still steal the election
Here’s how rogue electors can still steal the election
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|The Times Rides to Mueller’s Rescue – Townhall|
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|How The Russia Investigation Might Evolve In 2018 – NPR|
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What is Mike Pence even doing? First he postponed his planned trip to the Middle East at the last minute, claiming he needed to remain in Washington DC in case the tax scam bill ended up being a tie, even though there were only 99 Senators in town and there couldn’t have been a tie. Then, after the media called him out for the lie, he seemed to try to cover for it by popping up in Afghanistan instead. Now he’s making yet another bizarre panic move.Pence’s planned trip to Israel in January now has been postponed indefinitely. Why? No one knows. But Pence and his people appear to have made the move so hastily that they didn’t even have a proper excuse prepared. When an Israeli news outlet broke the news, Pence’s office responded by insisting that the trip had not been postponed (link), which we suppose is a way of buying time until they can come up with an excuse for why it has been postponed. So what’s really going on here?These actions by Mike Pence are self contradictory and just don’t seem to make any sense. First he cancels a high profile overseas trip and lies about the reason, causing many to question if perhaps he was staying home to prepare his own defense in the Trump-Russia scandal as Robert Mueller comes calling. Then he suddenly flies to Afghanistan for an unscheduled photo shoot with U.S. military personnel, seemingly to try to prove that he’s not hunkering down. Now he’s apparently blowing off yet another high profile trip for reasons he doesn’t want to admit to. Why?When people are backed into a corner, they often begin making a series of panic moves that don’t make any sense. Mike Pence appears to be correcting, then overcorrecting, with no idea what to do. As we’ve reported, it’s become clear that Robert Mueller is targeting Pence for his role in the Trump-Russia scandal. It’s safe to assume that every strange decision Pence makes going forward will be at least partially a result of his fear of the inevitable.The post Mike Pence makes another bizarre panic move appeared first on Palmer Report.
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