How Did Russiagate Begin?


June 1, 2019 |

It cannot be emphasized too often: Russiagate—allegations that the American president has been compromised by the Kremlin and which may even have helped to put him in the White House—is the worst and (considering the lack of actual evidence) most fraudulent political scandal in American history. We have yet to calculate the damage Russsiagate has inflicted on America’s democratic institutions, including the presidency and the electoral process, and on domestic and foreign perceptions of American democracy, or on US-Russian relations at a critical moment when both sides, having “modernized” their nuclear weapons, are embarking on a new, more dangerous, and largely unreported arms race.

Rational (if politically innocent) observers may have thought that when the Mueller Report found no “collusion” or other conspiracy between Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, only possible “obstruction” by Trump—nothing Mueller said in his May 29 press statement altered that conclusion—Russiagate would fade away. If so, they were badly mistaken. Evidently infuriated that Mueller did not liberate the White House from Trump, Russiagate promoters—liberal Democrats and progressives foremost among them—have only redoubled their unverified collusion allegations, even in once-respectable media outlets. Whether out of political ambition or impassioned faith, the damage wrought by these Russiagaters continues to mount, with no end in sight.

One way to end Russiagate might be to discover how it actually began. Considering what we have learned, or been told, since the allegations became public nearly three years ago, in mid-2016, there seem to be at least three hypothetical possibilities:

1. One is the orthodox Russiagate explanation: Early on, sharp-eyed top officials of President Obama’s intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA and FBI, detected truly suspicious “contacts” between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians “linked to the Kremlin” (whatever that may mean, considering that the presidential administration employs hundreds of people), and this discovery legitimately led to the full-scale “counter-intelligence investigation” initiated in July 2016. Indeed, Mueller documented various foreigners who contacted, or who sought to contact, the Trump campaign. The problem here is that Mueller does not tell us, and we do not know, if the number of them was unusual.

Many foreigners seek “contacts” with US presidential campaigns and have done so for decades. In this case, we do not know, for the sake of comparison, how many such foreigners had or sought contacts with the rival Clinton campaign, directly or through the Clinton Foundation, in 2016. (Certainly, there were quite a few contacts with anti-Trump Ukrainians, for example.) If the number was roughly comparable, why didn’t US intelligence initiate a counter-intelligence investigation of the Clinton campaign?

If readers think the answer is because the foreigners around the Trump campaign included Russians, consider this: In 1988, when Senator Gary Hart was the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, he went to Russia—still Communist Soviet Russia—to make contacts in preparation for his anticipated presidency, including meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. US media coverage of Hart’s visit was generally favorable.(I accompanied Senator Hart and do not recall much, if any, adverse US media reaction.)

2. The second explanation—currently, and oddly, favored by non-comprehending pro-Trump commentators at Fox News and elsewhere—is that “Putin’s Kremlin” pumped anti-Trump “disinformation” into the American media, primarily through what became known as the Steele Dossier. As I pointed out nearly a year and a half ago, this makes no sense factually or logically. Nothing in the Dossier suggests that any of its contents necessarily came from high-level Kremlin sources, as Steele claimed. Moreover, if Kremlin leader Putin so favored Trump, as A Russiagate premise insists, is it really plausible that underlings in the Kremlin would have risked Putin’s ire by furnishing Steele with anti-Trump “information”? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that “researchers” in the US (some, like Christopher Steele, paid by the Clinton campaign) were supplying him with the fruits of their research.

3. The third possible explanation—one I have termed “Intelgate,” and that I explore in my recent book War With Russia?: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate—is that US intelligence agencies undertook an operation to damage, if not destroy, first the candidacy and then the presidency of Donald Trump. More evidence of “Intelgate” has since appeared. For example, the intelligence community has said it began its investigation in April 2016 due to a few innocuous remarks by a young, lowly Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. The relatively obscure Papadopoulos suddenly found himself befriended by apparently influential people he had not previously known, among them Stefan Halper, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, and a woman calling herself Azra Turk. What we now know—and what Papadopoulos did not know at the time—is that all of them had ties to US and/or UK and Western European intelligence agencies.

US Attorney General William Barr now proposes to investigate the origins of Russiagate. He has appointed yet another special prosecutor, John Durham, to do so, but the power to decide the range and focus of the investigation will remain with Barr. The important news is Barr’s expressed intention to investigate the role of other US intelligence agencies, not just the FBI, which obviously means the CIA when it was headed by John Brennan and Brennan’s partner at the time, James Clapper, then Director of National intelligence. As I argued in The Nation, Brennan, not Obama’s hapless FBI Director James Comey, was the godfather of Russiagate, a thesis for which more evidence has since appeared. We should hope that Barr intends to exclude nothing, including the two foundational texts of the deceitful Russiagate narrative: the Steele Dossier and, directly related, the contrived but equally ramifying Intelligence Community Assessment of January 2017. (Not coincidentally, they were made public at virtually the same time, inflating Russiagate into an obsessive national scandal.)

Thus far, Barr has been cautious in his public statements. He has acknowledged there was “spying,” or surveillance, on the Trump campaign, which can be legal, but he surely knows that in the case of Papadopoulos (and possibly of General Michael Flynn) what happened was more akin to entrapment, which is never legal. Barr no doubt also recalls, and will likely keep in mind, the astonishing warning Senator Charles Schumer issued to President-elect Trump in January 2017: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” (Indeed, Barr might ask Schumer what he meant and why he felt the need to be the menacing messenger of intel agencies, wittingly or not.)

But Barr’s thorniest problem may be understanding the woeful role of mainstream media in Russiagate. As Lee Smith, who contributed important investigative reporting, has written: “The press is part of the operation, the indispensable part. None of it would have been possible … had the media not linked arms with spies, cops, and lawyers to relay a story first spun by Clinton operatives.” How does Barr explore this “indispensable” complicity of the media in originating and perpetuating the Russiagate fraud without impermissibly infringing on the freedom of the press?

Ideally, mainstream media—print and broadcast—would now themselves report on how and why they permitted intelligence officials, through leaks and anonymous sources, and as “opinion” commentators, to use their pages and programming to promote Russiagate for so long, and why they so excluded well-informed, nonpartisan alternative opinions. Instead, they have almost unanimously reported and broadcast negatively, even antagonistically, about Barr’s investigation, and indeed about Barr personally. (The Washington Post even found a way to print this: “William Barr looks like a toad …”) Such is the seeming panic of the Russiagate media over Barr’s investigation, which promises to declassify related documents, that TheNew York Times again trotted out its easily debunked fiction that public disclosures will endanger a purported US informant, a Kremlin mole, at Putin’s side.

Finally, but most crucially, what was the real reason US intelligence agencies launched a discrediting operation against Trump? Was it because, as seems likely, they intensely disliked his campaign talk of “cooperation with Russia,” which seemed to mean the prospect of a new US-Russian détente? Even fervent political and media opponents of Trump should want to know who is making foreign policy in Washington. The next intel target might be their preferred candidate or president, or a foreign policy they favor.

Nor, it seems clear, did the CIA stop. In March 2018, the current director, Gina Haspel, flatly lied to President Trump about an incident in the UK in order to persuade him to escalate measures against Moscow, which he then reluctantly did. Several non-mainstream media outlets have reported the true story. Typically, The New York Times, on April 17 of this year, reported it without correcting Haspel’s falsehood.

We are left, then, with this paradox, formulated in a tweet on May 24 by the British journalist John O’Sullivan: “Spygate is the first American scandal in which the government wants the facts published transparently but the media want to cover them up.”

The Mistake We Make When Trying To Be Fair


May 31, 2019, Randy Conley

I coached youth baseball for over 15 years, from 5-year-old kids to 14-year-old teenagers, and at least two things were common across all the age groups: 1) the kids always kept score, and 2) they were the first ones to remind me if I wasn’t being fair.

Whether I was coaching a bunch of energetic 5-year-old kids in tee-ball where we didn’t keep an official score of the game, or with older kids playing a practice game against one another or an opposing team, the kids always kept score of who was winning and losing. And if I made a coaching decision that an individual player or the whole team didn’t like, one of their first complaints was, “That’s not fair!”

Switch the scene to the modern-day workplace. I’m a leader working with mature adults, yet I’ve found that not much is different from coaching kids in baseball. People still keep score, only now it’s about who received the new project, promotion, or corner office. And as soon as someone perceives I made an unjust decision, the first thing I hear is exactly what 5-year-old tee-ballers said: “That’s not fair!”

Leaders aiming to build trust in relationships need to pay attention to the issue of fairness. “No problem,” you may say, “I treat everyone the same, no matter what.”

Actually, treating everyone the same is the biggest and most frequent mistake leaders make when trying to be fair.

A quote from Aristotle speaks to this: “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” People should be treated equitably and ethically, given their individual needs and circumstances, and the differences between people should be recognized and valued, not diminished.

To build and maintain trust with followers, leaders need to exhibit fairness through the distribution of organizational resources and application of policies to all team members. It’s helpful to understand exactly what “fairness” means in an organizational context. Fairness is composed of two main elements: distributive justice and procedural justice. Distributive justice is fairness in the organization’s pay, rewards, and benefits for employees. Procedural justice is fairness in the organization’s decision-making processes in how those rewards and benefits are doled out. Of the two, procedural justice is the element most under control of individual leaders and is the aspect of fairness most closely linked with building or eroding trust with followers.

Based on research from The Ken Blanchard Companies, procedural justice was ranked as the most important organizational factor for employee retention. Additionally, over 60% of respondents believed the primary responsibility for influencing and improving procedural justice rested with their immediate supervisor.

So how can leaders be fair and build trust with their team members?

Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Be transparent – Share information about the criteria and process that you use to make decisions. Putting all your cards on the table eliminates doubt and mistrust.
  • Increase involvement in decision-making – As much as possible, involve the people who will be affected by your decisions in the process. People who plan the battle rarely battle the plan.
  • Play by the rules – Clearly establish the rules, play by them, and hold others and yourself accountable to following them.
  • Listen with the idea of being influenced – Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you know it all. Ask others for their input and genuinely listen with an open mind and be willing to change course if needed.
  • Don’t play favorites – No one likes a teacher’s pet, so don’t create one. That will eliminate a key source of jealousy.
  • Save spin for the gym, not the office – Be authentic and genuine in your communications. People see through the political spin.

Remember, people are keeping score of your every behavior. Broad-brushing everyone with the “same” treatment is the easy and lazy approach to being fair. Treating people equitably and ethically, given their unique circumstances, will help them see you are being a fair and consistent leader.

Shi’ites Set U.S Flag Ablaze In Abuja, Nigeria


BY CHECKPOINTCHARLEY on 31. MAY 2019 • ( 0 )

shiittes-us-flag

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiites, on Friday set ablaze the national flag of the United States and Israel during while protesting in Abuja.

The protesters, who gathered at the Wuse market junction, said both countries are enemies and oppressors of the Palestinians.

Three coffins wrapped with Palestinian flags were on display during the prtoest, showing the three children of Ibraheem El-Zakyzaky, leader of the group, who were killed by the security operatives during a protest in Zaria, Kaduna state, in 2015.

According to Abdullahi Musa, secretary of the academic forum of the movement, the flags were burnt to show anger against the countries over their “oppressive tendency” against Palestine.

The movement further said the protest was organised to press President Muhammadu Buhari to release El-Zakyzaky from “unlawful” detention to enable him seek medical attention.

They vowed to continue with the protest notwithstading the “intimidation” by the security agents.

Proverbs 31:10-12


Posted May 31, 2019 by asorensen

In Proverbs 31:10-12 Lemuel’s mother speaks to him about the qualities of a virtuous wife. This passage is traditionally understood as being addressed to women but is more accurately spoken by a woman to a man so he could know the character and potential character of a good wife before marriage, and value and praise his wife for her virtuous character once married. It is primarily a search-list for a man, and only secondarily a check-list for a woman. It describes the kind of wife the Christian man should pray for and seek after. It also gives a guide, a goal for the Christian woman, showing the kind of character she can have as she fears and follows the Lord.

The passage also reminds the Christian man that he must walk in the fear and wisdom of God so that he will be worthy of and compatible with such a virtuous woman. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” She is called an excellent wife, not because only married women can have these qualities, but because this is marriage guidance from a mother to a son. The virtuous woman can be single or married, but each will have particular ways their excellence is expressed, either in their singleness or as family. Coming at the end of the collection of proverbs, one might say that this is a strong woman – and her greatest strength is her wisdom, rooted in the fear of the Lord.

The woman described in the rest of the chapter is rare and valuable, but her value (worth) is greater than what she does. Her value or worth should not be reduced to performance of these qualities; she is excellent before she acts in that way. The excellent wife not only has the trust of her husband, but it is safely given to her. Her character is trustworthy, filled with integrity. She will speak, act, and live with wisdom – and therefore God’s blessing will be on their home. “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” A foolish woman who can’t be trusted, takes some measure of blessing away from the home, and this is often seen financially or materially.

In God’s plan, husband and wife bring each other gain. It is not a burden to be married, but brings blessing in great measure. We gave seen in previous Proverbs that a bad wife creates chaos and harm. But not a good one… “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”  The opposite is also true; an excellent wife does her husband good and not evil, and she continues to be a blessing all the days of her life. The sense is that her goodness and faithful character becomes deeper and greater through the passing years while her commitment to her husband’s well-being is constant.