8:16 AM 11/29/2017 – Trump Investigation – Mike Flynn: Citing probes, military agency bars access to Flynn records – ABC News

1. Trump Investigation – Mike Flynn from mikenova (9 sites)
Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller Should Be Removed From Russia Probe for ‘Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct,’ Lawsuit Claims – Newsweek
Mike Flynn – Google News: Fox’s Gregg Jarrett suggests any evidence against Trump that Michael Flynn gives to Mueller will be a lie – Media Matters for America (blog)
Mike Flynn – Google News: Police Departments Aiding Immigration Crackdown, Michael Flynn May Be Approaching Plea Deal, Pope Francis in … – Reason (blog)
Mike Flynn – Google News: Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News
Mike Flynn – Google News: Flipping Michael Flynn: The real and imagined damage of a Mueller deal – The Hill
Mike Flynn – Google News: Trump impeachment Russia latest: Impeach odds now very high – Metro US
Mike Flynn – Google News: This Week in Washington: Is Flynn Ready to Flip in Russia Probe? – Vogue.com
Mike Flynn – Google News: New signs Michael Flynn may be cutting deal with special counsel Robert Mueller – ABC News
Mike Flynn – Google News: Dem on Flynn: ‘Karma can be very difficult’ – The Hill
Mike Flynn – Google News: Robert Mueller investigates Mike Flynn over involvement in documentary about exiled cleric accused by Turkey’s … – Daily Mail
Mike Flynn – Google News: Swindon Town 0-1 Newport County: Mike Flynn delighted as Ben Tozer strike helps Exiles silence critics – WalesOnline
Mike Flynn – Google News: Turkey No Longer Has Mike Flynn’s Back as Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman Team Up Against Him – AlterNet
Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman teaming up on Mike Flynn as … – Raw Story
Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller is eyeing Flynn’s involvement in a film his lobbying firm did not want anyone to know about – Business Insider

 

1. Trump Investigation – Mike Flynn from mikenova (9 sites)
Mike Flynn – Google News: Citing probes, military agency bars access to Flynn records – ABC News
 


Newsweek
Citing probes, military agency bars access to Flynn records
ABC News
FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2017 file photo, Michael Flynn arrives for a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The Defense Intelligence Agency is refusing to publicly release a wide array of documents related to former National …
Mueller Investigation: What Flynn’s Flip Flop on Turkey Tells UsNewsweek
Mueller’s Russia Probe May Now Include Flynn’s DIA TenureBuzzFeed News
Why I Think Trump Is Finished (And My Work Is Done)GQ Magazineall 32 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Mike Flynn’s Promotion of Nuclear-Plant Project Went Deep Into the White House – Wall Street Journal
 


Wall Street Journal
Mike Flynn’s Promotion of Nuclear-Plant Project Went Deep Into the White House
Wall Street Journal
Private-sector backers of a controversial Middle East nuclear-power plan worked with former national security adviser Mike Flynn to promote it inside the White House, to the point of sending him a draft memo for the president to sign authorizing theand more »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller’s Russia Probe May Now Include Flynn’s DIA Tenure – BuzzFeed News
 


BuzzFeed News
Mueller’s Russia Probe May Now Include Flynn’s DIA Tenure
BuzzFeed News
WASHINGTON Former national security adviser Michael Flynn appears to be under investigation for his activities while he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration, according to a letter the agency sent to BuzzFeed News.
Mueller Investigation: What Flynn’s Flip Flop on Turkey Tells UsNewsweekall 22 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Turkish businessman at centre of Michael Flynn investigation pleads guilty opening door to co-operation with … – The Independent
 


Raw Story
Turkish businessman at centre of Michael Flynn investigation pleads guilty opening door to co-operation with …
The Independent
The guilty plea by Reza Zarrab could have implications for former national security adviser Michael Flynn if it came as a part of Mr Mueller’s investigation. Mr Zarrab’s release was allegedly one of two issues that Turkish officials brought up with Mr 
Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as todayRaw Story
Gold trader Zarrab will be star witness in Iran sanction-busting trialNBCNews.comall 145 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller Investigation: What Flynn’s Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us – Newsweek
 


Newsweek
Mueller Investigation: What Flynn’s Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us
Newsweek
Many commentators anticipate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely indict retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn in part for the former National Security Advisor’s previously undisclosed work as a foreign agent of Turkey. Mueller’s team has …
Citing probes, military agency bars access to Flynn recordsABC News
Mueller’s Russia Probe May Now Include Flynn’s DIA TenureBuzzFeed News
Why I Think Trump Is Finished (And My Work Is Done)GQ Magazineall 32 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today – Raw Story
 


Raw Story
Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today
Raw Story
A Turkish-Iranian gold trader linked to both Mike Flynn and Rudy Giuliani has agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors. Reza Zarrab was scheduled to stand trial earlier this month in New York, where the U.S. attorney had filed charges in an 
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trialNBCNews.comall 87 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Michael Flynn is likely cooperating with Mueller and it could spell trouble for Trump – Business Insider
 


Business Insider
Michael Flynn is likely cooperating with Mueller and it could spell trouble for Trump
Business Insider
Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February after just 24 days on the job, when it emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US. According 
Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s …ABC News
Has Mike Flynn Already Flipped on Trump?Vanity Fair
Flipping Michael Flynn: The real and imagined damage of a Mueller dealThe Hill
CNBC –The Root –New York Daily News –New York Times
all 179 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller Should Be Removed From Russia Probe for ‘Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct,’ Lawsuit Claims – Newsweek
 


Newsweek
Mueller Should Be Removed From Russia Probe for ‘Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct,’ Lawsuit Claims
Newsweek
And, more recently, there has been speculations that the probe could also result in charges for Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., with NBC News reporting on November 5 that Mueller’s team had enough …and more »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Fox’s Gregg Jarrett suggests any evidence against Trump that Michael Flynn gives to Mueller will be a lie – Media Matters for America (blog)
 


Media Matters for America (blog)
Fox’s Gregg Jarrett suggests any evidence against Trump that Michael Flynn gives to Mueller will be a lie
Media Matters for America (blog)
I suspect that Flynn has nothing to say about so-called collusion between the Trump administration, or Donald Trump himself and the Russians. But that may not matter if he’s willing to, at the behest and under pressure of the special counsel Robert and more »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Police Departments Aiding Immigration Crackdown, Michael Flynn May Be Approaching Plea Deal, Pope Francis in … – Reason (blog)
 


Reason (blog)
Police Departments Aiding Immigration Crackdown, Michael Flynn May Be Approaching Plea Deal, Pope Francis in …
Reason (blog)
Mike Licht/NotionsCapital.com/flickrDozens of police departments around the country in towns are looking for or have been granted new powers to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the federal immigration crackdown. First Lady Melania Trump … 

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News
 


Business Insider
Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal
ABC News
The lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn met Monday morning with members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team the latest indication that both sides are discussing a possible plea deal, ABC News 
Michael Flynn is likely cooperating with Mueller and it could spell trouble for TrumpBusiness Insider
Has Mike Flynn Already Flipped on Trump?Vanity Fair
Flynn’s attorney met with Russia probe investigators Monday, hinting at possible plea talks: ReportCNBC
The Root –The Hill –New York Times –Wall Street Journal
all 179 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Flipping Michael Flynn: The real and imagined damage of a Mueller deal – The Hill
 


The Hill
Flipping Michael Flynn: The real and imagined damage of a Mueller deal
The Hill
News that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is talking to special counsel Robert Mueller has Trump critics virtually hyperventilating with excitement. Indeed, the prospect of flipping Flynn has led some to all but declare the end of the 
This Week in Washington: Is Flynn Ready to Flip in Russia Probe?Vogue.com
Flynn puts new distance between himself and Trump’s White HouseMSNBC
Trump impeachment Russia latest: Impeach odds now very highMetro US
Daily Mail –Raw Story –HollandSentinel.com –New York Times
all 122 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Trump impeachment Russia latest: Impeach odds now very high – Metro US
 


ABC News
Trump impeachment Russia latest: Impeach odds now very high
Metro US
The big deal this week is that Mike Flynn looks to be ready to spill the beans on a higher-up in the Trump administration, perhaps even the President himself. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, told Trump’s attorneys last week that he could no longer 
This Week in Washington: Is Flynn Ready to Flip in Russia Probe?Vogue.com
New signs Michael Flynn may be cutting deal with special counsel Robert MuellerABC News
Dem on Flynn: ‘Karma can be very difficult’The Hill
HollandSentinel.com –Raw Story –Daily Mail
all 78 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: This Week in Washington: Is Flynn Ready to Flip in Russia Probe? – Vogue.com
 


Raw Story
This Week in Washington: Is Flynn Ready to Flip in Russia Probe?
Vogue.com
… Trump tweeting Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named Man (Person) of the Year, a statement Time called incorrectthe biggest story by far was that shifty Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser 
Trump impeachment Russia latest: Impeach odds now very highMetro US
Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman teaming up on Mike Flynn as Turkey hangs him out to dryRaw Story
Robert Mueller investigates Mike Flynn over involvement in documentary about exiled cleric accused by Turkey’s …Daily Mail
HollandSentinel.com –POLITICO.eu –New York Times
all 96 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: New signs Michael Flynn may be cutting deal with special counsel Robert Mueller – ABC News
 


ABC News
New signs Michael Flynn may be cutting deal with special counsel Robert Mueller
ABC News
Back here at home in new signs former national security advisor Michael Flynn may be cutting a deal with special counsel Robert Lawler. ABC news confirming Wynn’s lawyers have severed talks with president Trump’s personal legal team over the rush …
This Week in Washington: Is Flynn Ready to Flip in Russia Probe?Vogue.com
Trump impeachment Russia latest: Impeach odds now very highMetro US
Dem on Flynn: ‘Karma can be very difficult’The Hill
HollandSentinel.com –Raw Story –Daily Mail
all 74 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Dem on Flynn: ‘Karma can be very difficult’ – The Hill
 


HollandSentinel.com
Dem on Flynn: ‘Karma can be very difficult’
The Hill
… Mueller’s apparent focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in his investigation into Russia’s election meddling is a sign that “karma can be very difficult.” In an interview with CNN on Friday, Quigley pointed to Flynn’s past 
Paul Waldman: Michael Flynn is key to the Russia scandal and he may have just flipped on TrumpHollandSentinel.com
Robert Mueller investigates Mike Flynn over involvement in documentary about exiled cleric accused by Turkey’s …Daily Mail
Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman teaming up on Mike Flynn as Turkey hangs him out to dryRaw Story
POLITICO.eu –NewHampshire.com –The Hindu
all 41 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Robert Mueller investigates Mike Flynn over involvement in documentary about exiled cleric accused by Turkey’s … – Daily Mail
 


Daily Mail
Robert Mueller investigates Mike Flynn over involvement in documentary about exiled cleric accused by Turkey’s …
Daily Mail
Former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for his work on an unfinished documentary film financed by a Turkish businessman. The documentary, per a report from the Wall Street 
Turkey’s torrid love affair with Michael FlynnPOLITICO.eu
Dem on Flynn: ‘Karma can be very difficult’The Hill
Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman teaming up on Mike Flynn as Turkey hangs him out to dryRaw Story
The Hindu –Business Insider –NewHampshire.com
all 31 news articles »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Swindon Town 0-1 Newport County: Mike Flynn delighted as Ben Tozer strike helps Exiles silence critics – WalesOnline
 


WalesOnline
Swindon Town 0-1 Newport County: Mike Flynn delighted as Ben Tozer strike helps Exiles silence critics
WalesOnline
We’re a different team with Joss and he’s a big loss when we haven’t got him, said Flynn. But again I’ve had to make two enforced substitutions today. That is seven now in four games. It’s not ideal but the boys were switched on for 95 minutes and more »

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Turkey No Longer Has Mike Flynn’s Back as Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman Team Up Against Him – AlterNet
 


AlterNet
Turkey No Longer Has Mike Flynn’s Back as Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman Team Up Against Him
AlterNet
As Politico reported Saturday, Mike Flynn would likely be in a Turkish prison if he were a citizen of that country, due to July 2016 comments supporting a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One year after the failed coup, 55,000 Turks still 

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman teaming up on Mike Flynn as … – Raw Story
 


Raw Story

Mike Flynn – Google News

Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller is eyeing Flynn’s involvement in a film his lobbying firm did not want anyone to know about – Business Insider
 


Business Insider
Mueller is eyeing Flynn’s involvement in a film his lobbying firm did not want anyone to know about
Business Insider
The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is examining former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s role in producing a documentary about an exiled Turkish cleric at the height of the 2016 presidential race, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday
Flynn’s lawyers no longer sharing information with Trump’s legal teamCNN
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times
Michael Flynn May Be Cooperating With Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe: ReportHuffPost
Newsweek –Fox News –Daily Beast –CNN
all 412 news articles »

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6:58 AM 11/29/2017 – Is Trump Truly Delusional?! M.N.: My answer: No, not at all. Or: we do not know yet. Or: do not rush with your primitive pseudo-psychiatric labels, save them for yourselves.

Image result for Trump Delusional

6:58 AM 11/29/2017 – Is Trump Truly Delusional?! M.N.: My answer: No, not at all. Or: we do not know yet. Or: do not rush with your primitive pseudo-psychiatric labels, save them for yourselves. The political demagoguery that he successfully employs is not the delusion, this is his style, his tool, and his weapon. 

Trump Delusional – GS

View image on Twitter

Saw this at a student art show. Titled “The New Nightmare”

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Trump Not a Liar, Is Truly Delusional

New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional – New York Magazine

Threat From North Korea No Longer Hypothetical, Arms Experts Warn
6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio – NPR
Race and Class and What Happened in 2016 – New York Times
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in U.S.
Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria? – Newsweek
The US Has Hit Rock Bottom With Russia. This Isnt Going to End Well
The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both
Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection? – Newsweek
The Left Is Losing Its Mind Over Trump, Russia and Putin
Dem. rep seeks answers on FBI’s failure to notify Russian hacking victims | TheHill
trump turkey flynn kurds – Google Search
Reza Zarrab – Google Search
U.S.-Turkish political stew: Kurds, Flynn and even Bharara
What Flynns Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us
trump turkey flynn – Google Search
Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today – Raw Story
Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? – Daily Beast
Russian jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept of US Navy aircraft – CNN
Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Interception Of US Navy P8-Poseidon Over Black Sea – International Business Times
6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post
9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT
Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Trump Not a Liar, Is Truly Delusional
 

mikenova shared this story from di.

The prevailing interpretation of Donald Trump, shared by all his enemies and many of his allies, is that he is a con man. It is a theory that explains both his career in business and politics, and has carried through his many reversals of position and acts of fraud against customers and contractors. It remains quite plausible. But new reporting has opened up a second possibility: The president has lost all touch with reality.

The Washington Post and New York Times have accounts from insiders suggesting Trump habitually insists upon the impossible in private. He does not merely tell lies in order to gull the public, or to manipulate allies. He tells lies in private that he has no reason to tell. He still questions the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth, despite the birth certificate. He insists voter fraud may have denied him a popular vote triumph. He tells people Robert Mueller will wrap up his investigation, with a total vindication of the president, by the end of the year.

He questions whether the Access Hollywood tape, on which he was recorded boasting of sexual assault, is even him. (Both the Post and the Times describe Trump repeatedly denying the validity of the tape in private, “stunning his advisers,” as the Times puts it.)

It is of course entirely possible that Trump is lying to everybody, including his own staff. But the lies in these articles do not always fit into any pattern of rational self-aggrandizement. Trump tells senators or his aides the Access Hollywood tape is not him, but they don’t believe him. He has no reason to bring up the birther fabrication in private.

His apparent belief that Mueller will complete his sprawling investigation by the end of the year is not only pointless but self-defeating – rather than prepare allies for a long defense, he is preparing them for a fantastical scenario. (It is also further evidence that, when Mueller fails to vindicate him by the new year, Trump will lash out wildly, firing him, Jeff Sessions, or others.)

If Trump actually has the ability to convince himself of his own lies, it would suggest a possibility far more dangerous than even his critics have previously assumed. He might be in the grip of a mental health issue, or at least one more serious than mere sociopathy. And the mutterings that he might need to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment could grow more serious than many of us expected.

New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional – New York Magazine
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump liar – Google News.


New York Magazine
New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional
New York Magazine
The prevailing interpretation of Donald Trump, shared by all his enemies and many of his allies, is that he is a con man. It is a theory that explains both his career in business and politics, and has carried through his many reversals of position and 
Will Trump ever have to answer to the women who say he harassed and assaulted them?Los Angeles Times
Does Trump Think The ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape Is Fake? Here’s Every Single Thing He’s Said About ItBustle
Donald Trump Reportedly Claims Access Hollywood Tape Wasn’t Authentic411mania.com
New York Times
all 174 news articles »
Threat From North Korea No Longer Hypothetical, Arms Experts Warn
 

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump.

Its the next logical step that we were expecting.”

6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio – NPR
 

mikenova shared this story from trump under federal investigation – Google News.


NPR
6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio
NPR
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference has passed the six-month mark, and President Trump’s staff is painting a picture of a process nearing its end. “We still expect this to conclude soon,” White Houseand more »
Race and Class and What Happened in 2016 – New York Times
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump anxiety – Google News.


New York Times
Race and Class and What Happened in 2016
New York Times
But we will never escape from purgatory until these points are treated as complements to the role that other forces played inTrump’s success, not as substitutes that somehow make the economic anxiety or anti-establishment analyses of Trumpism into …
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in U.S.
 

mikenova shared this story .

Turkish customs agents set off a half decade of intrigue when they boarded a plane that landed unexpectedly at Istanbul’s international airport. They found in the hold, undeclared, a ton and a half of gold.

Authorities subsequently determined that the shipment was part of a giant money-laundering operation to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran for oil and gas, skirting international sanctions intended to curb the country’s nuclear work. The scheme, they said, was overseen by a young Iranian-Turk named Reza Zarrab who greased the palms of top Turkish officials with watches, a piano and cash-stuffed boxes.

Photographer: Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s been quite a ride since then for Zarrab. Sprung from Turkish prison in early 2014, he was actually hailed by the country’s now president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He and his pop-star wife resumed their perch on Turkey’s society pages. Until, that is, he was arrested last year in Florida on his way to a Disney vacation and charged by federal prosecutors in a sweeping laundering and sanctions violations case. After 18 months in U.S. lockup, the onetime playboy with mansions and James Bond-style accessories — a jet, a personal submarine, a gold-plated pistol — is now cooperating with American prosecutors.

His evolution from a central character in a 2013 Turkish political battle to a key U.S. witness is expected to take center stage later today in a federal court in Manhattan where an executive of a prominent Turkish bank is accused in the scheme. Prosecutors say Zarrab, 34, will provide the inside story of a conspiracy that spanned a decade — all part of his guilty plea agreement.

That has the potential to send shock waves through Turkish politics and international relations. Prosecutors accused Zarrab of making bribes to then-senior ministers under Erdogan as part of his laundering scheme. As they have added more charges against more defendants in a case full of twists and turns, Turkish stock and currency markets have heaved.

Read more: A Q&A on how the trial is wreaking havoc on Turkish markets

Erdogan has demanded Zarrab’s return. The U.S.’s refusal has contributed to deteriorating Turkish-U.S. relations, now the most strained in decades. The case could spill over to U.S. politics, too, given the Trump administration’s efforts in its early days to strengthen its alliance with Turkey.

It could even brush up against a separate probe of Russian influence in the presidential election. The U.S. special counsel has delved into work done on behalf of Turkey by Michael Flynn, who was fired after a brief run as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Trump ally Rudy Giuliani was hired by Zarrab and met earlier this year with Erdogan in hopes of resolving the matter diplomatically, outside the courts.

Zarrab Family Vacation

It was a curious decision, in late March 2016, for Zarrab to gather his family for an American vacation. He no longer faced any charges in Turkey, but prosecutors there had made public a raft of documents marking him as a possible money launderer and a violator of U.S. sanctions.

Zarrab may have had an even bigger worry than U.S. arrest, though. Prosecutors in Iran had accused one of its wealthiest men, Babak Zanjani, of diverting $2.7 billion in oil proceeds from official coffers. An influential Iranian lawmaker said that if anyone knew where Zanjani put the money, it was Zarrab. (U.S. lawyers for Zarrab have denied the men were partners and Zanjani’s lawyers have called the case politically motivated.)

In early March 2016, Iran sentenced Zanjani to death. Two weeks later, Zarrab arrived in Florida, saying he was going to Disney. He was promptly arrested.

Though Zarrab may not have known it at the time, he was also the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation that the U.S. had started three years earlier, prosecutors said in court on Tuesday.

The money-laundering scheme by Zarrab — reconstructed from hundreds of Turkish and U.S. court filings including documents and phone transcripts — was built around complicated cross-border transactions and his personal connections in Turkey and Iran.

His father, a wealthy steel baron from Iran named Hossein Zarrab, moved the family to Turkey when Reza was still a toddler. At least one company used later by the son was founded in his name when he was 12 or 13. When Reza moved to Dubai with his family at the age of 16, he opened a tea-trading business with three employees. Three years later, back in Istanbul on his own, he started a gold brokerage and currency exchange and, later, shipbuilding and construction firms.

Meanwhile, his father kept a hand in Iranian trade. Hossein was among a team of people that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assembled, after he was elected Iran’s president in 2005, to help work around U.S. sanctions, according to the Turkish paper Hurriyet.

Still in his early 20s, Reza began his Turkish ascent. He became a Turkish citizen in 2005, adopting the local variation of his name, Riza Sarraf.

At his older brother’s wedding, he met a Turkish singer, Ebru Gundes. Reza, smitten, wrote two songs for her that were delivered by mutual friends. She agreed to meet him.

The two were married in 2010 and became a fixture on Turkey’s society pages — the glamorous Ebru and the boyish and stocky Reza, with a black beard and a mop of black hair coiffed up from his forehead. Turkish papers featured their mansions on the Bosphorus and Aegean, and showed them on the town, here with a Rolls Royce, there a Range Rover or an Aston Martin.

Chance Discovery

The possible source of Zarrab’s wealth began to emerge after Turkish customs officials made their chance discovery on New Year’s Eve 2012. An Airbus A330, flying from Ghana to United Arab Emirates, had been scheduled to refuel at a nearby regional airport when fog forced it to Ataturk. Customs agents impounded its gold cargo.

Earlier: 2014 article traces Zarrab’s journey from society pages to an Istanbul jail cell

Zarrab pressed into action. He called the country’s economy minister, Zafer Caglayan, among others. Caglayan was paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to keep the scheme running and conceal transactions from the U.S., according to federal prosecutors. Less than three weeks after the plane was detained, it took back off, resuming its journey to Dubai.

Turkish prosecutors, armed with wiretaps of Zarrab’s conversations, arrested Caglayan’s son in late 2013 on charges of facilitating bribery. As a minister and member of parliament, Caglayan the father had immunity, and he denied taking bribes. Like Zarrab, he was ultimately cleared in Turkey. He’s now charged in the U.S. case but remains outside the country.

The gold shipments to Dubai, the Turkish prosecutors said, were but one link in a chain that turned Iranian oil and gas into hard currency for Tehran. Turkey’s national oil company bought Iranian gas. It then deposited funds into special accounts at Turkey’s Halkbank. Using shell companies, Zarrab took the proceeds to buy gold that was shipped to Dubai, prosecutors say.

The gold was then sold for dollars and euros, running through international banks, which were unwitting participants, according to U.S. prosecutors, and were told the transactions were for food or humanitarian aid, according to Turkish and U.S. court documents. In a 10-month span, Zarrab helped move $900 million in Iranian funds through U.S. banks, U.S. prosecutors say.

Dubai Wheat

Millions of dollars in bribes were used to keep the scheme going. Once, according to U.S. filings, Zarrab discussed moving 150,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Iran on a 5,000-ton vessel, a logistical impossibility. He said another payment was for wheat exports from Dubai, which neither grows nor exports wheat. Surveillance in Turkey showed that Zarrab also tried to head off bad press, allegedly paying about $4 million to two politicians to help squelch negative coverage of him.

His contacts included the country’s ministers of the interior and EU affairs (who are not accused of wrongdoing by the U.S.). At an April 2013 wedding in Ankara, Zarrab cut a deal with Caglayan, then economy minister, to support his scheme, Turkish prosecutors said. U.S. prosecutors more recently hinted of a bigger grab for influence: Zarrab later boasted in a conversation caught on tape that he had also talked to Erdogan at the wedding, seeking support to buy a bank that could be a conduit for Iran transactions.

When Turkish prosecutors laid out their allegations, the three ministers resigned. Zarrab was detained.

But then the tables turned. Erdogan, prime minister at the time, portrayed Zarrab as a philanthropist whose businesses were a service to the country. The Turkish prosecutors’ case against Zarrab, Erdogan said, was part of a plot put into motion by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who runs an influential worldwide movement from his compound in Pennsylvania, to smear his government. Turkey’s parliament cleared all the ministers of wrongdoing. Prosecutors and police involved in the case were reassigned, dismissed or jailed by the thousands.

Zarrab was freed. A pro-government news channel placed him before a Turkish flag and interviewed him. In July 2015, Hurriyet published photographs of a notably slimmer Zarrab yachting on the Aegean. A few yards off the fantail of a large black yacht, he could be seen above the blue sea, held aloft by jets of water on a personal hovercraft.

Erdogan Enraged

Zarrab’s arrest the following year in the U.S. enraged Erdogan, who asked the Obama White House to send him home. Instead, Zarrab transited through a series of U.S. detention centers — in Tallahassee, Atlanta and Oklahoma City — before arriving in New York. Many of the details supporting the charges, brought by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, were similar to those originally revealed in Turkey.

Even after Zarrab’s testimony, which U.S. prosecutors say will reach the highest levels of Turkey’s government, the mystery may continue about whether he is helping the U.S. government in other ways and how much he knows about Iran, for example. The man who recently bribed a U.S. prison guard for a cell phone may finally be ready to spill his secrets.

— With assistance by Yalman Onaran

Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria? – Newsweek
 

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Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria?
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Yet he also senses that the Trump administration, like its predecessor, is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle: that when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says there is no future for the mass-murdering Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it has the 
Declaring Victory in Syria, Putin Stands to Lose the Elusive PeaceThe Jamestown Foundation
The Guardian view on Syria: Putin tests the westThe Guardian
The United States cannot allow Russia to take the lead in SyriaThe Hill
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The US Has Hit Rock Bottom With Russia. This Isnt Going to End Well
 

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This article first appeared on the Wilson Center site.

I am an American expert on Russia. It is my job to pay close attention to the ups and downs of the U.S.-Russia relationship, with the goal of helping U.S. policymakers, the press, and the wider public understand what is going on.

Under normal circumstances, such understanding would be useful for crafting better policy, and for more effectively managing both the challenges and the opportunities we face with Russia.

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But these are anything but normal circumstances, and there is little point in saying anything about policy unless we first acknowledge why our circumstances are what they are.

The U.S. has never had a more dysfunctional or less effective relationship with post-Soviet Russia than it does today. While it is more than fair to blame that dysfunction on Putin—and on Trump, Medvedev, Obama, and other heads of state past and present—I am afraid it now has far deeper causes than just state policies.

On the Russian side, the dysfunction builds on insecurities and grievances fanned by widely embraced conspiracy theories and historical narratives, all of which amount to branding the United States as public enemy number one.

It also draws on ordinary Russians’ tolerance of consolidated authoritarianism, from the Kremlin at the very top of the “power vertical” to corrupt and unchecked bullies at the bottom.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit leaders gala dinner in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 10, 2017. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty

On the American side, the dysfunction is different but arguably just as deep. It begins from a national mood that combines Cold War style paranoia about the Russian bogeyman with a zero-sum, “us versus them” view of everything from taxes to public safety.

These disturbing trends find welcome resonance in a media, political and civic culture in which any sense that there are rules of decency has been long since trampled.

We should have no illusions. Vladimir Putin is a huge problem for the United States, just as he is for his neighbors and for his own people.

He has crushed every bud of liberal democracy in Russia, has invaded Ukraine to seize its sovereign territory by force, at the cost of well over 10,000 lives, and he has backed the dictator Bashar Assad in Syria, with the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands.

The evidence is quickly mounting of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and of its ongoing operations, apparently aimed at eroding democratic politics, social cohesion and security alliances from Europe to Latin America. These are grave threats and they should be met with clarity, strength and resolve.

Yet not a single one of these threats posed by Russia has a military solution. We can hit the Russians as hard as we want, to “punish” them for bad behavior, but as long as they have the ability to hit back, they will do so, and the cycle will continue.

Such escalation carries unacceptable risks.

As Ronald Reagan said, a U.S.-Russian nuclear war cannot be won, and so must never be fought. That means that Americans will have to make difficult choices about which tools of our national power to use to manage relations with Russia.

The good news is we have an impressive arsenal, if we can bring it to bear intelligently.

Aside from our military, which is by any measure the world’s strongest, the U.S. economy is still the largest, and it far exceeds even a fast-growing China as a hub for investment and innovation for the entire world. America’s greatest asset has been its incomparable soft power—the attractive force of our culture, our values, our readiness to lead and, when necessary, to sacrifice.

These strengths can see us through to victory over the Russian threat—and any other—in the long term.

But in the meantime, our vital national interests, including our security, prosperity and our very identity, are at risk from the dysfunction gripping our national life.

This problem is far bigger than U.S.-Russia relations, but it comes to a head in the contest between Washington and Moscow.

Consider the treatment of Russia today in much of our national debate. It is somehow both a great menace—apparently capable of stealing all our secrets, manipulating our leaders, brainwashing our electorate—and yet is also the butt of jokes, not deserving of even the grudging respect a wise warrior accords his adversary.

In the rush to unearth and expunge nefarious Russian influence in our country, Americans have embraced a logic of conspiracy theories and strictly zero-sum thinking that is, if anything, familiar to Russians from decades of Soviet and post-Soviet life.

In this climate, efforts to understand and explain Russian conduct as something more than earthly expressions of evil are condemned as victories for Russian propaganda and calls for diplomatic engagement are dismissed as hopelessly naïve.

When it comes to Russia, there simply is no longer room for the pragmatism that has been at the very core of our American worldview, and that ensured our survival and success despite half a century of Cold War.

This is not who we are as Americans. This is not how the good guys behave. And, most importantly, this cannot end well.

Matthew Rojansky is Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both
 

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Earlier this month, the Russian oligarchs fired a thinly veiled warning shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin when they planted simultaneous stories in multiple major European newspapers claiming that Putin was considering quitting. Putin has no such plans, but it was the Russian billionaires’ way of reminding him that they control his fate and they’re unhappy about the costly sanctions corner he’s backed them into. Now the real reason for their impatience is coming to light, and it’s even uglier than previously known.

The new sanctions law passed by the United States in August will financially harm the Russian oligarchs far more severely than previously believed, according to a new profile from The Economist (link). These increased sanctions will serve to blacklist the oligarchs as if they were terrorists, preventing them from carrying various kinds of business deals, and devastating them in the wallet.

It’s not widely understood, but Putin’s primary motivation for rigging the U.S. election in Trump’s favor was to get existing U.S. sanctions against Russia lifted. Those sanctions have personally cost Putin billions of dollars over the past few years, and they’ve cost his oligarchs even more. Instead, because Putin rigged the election in such a brazen way and got caught, and because Trump has been such a disaster, it’s prompted the U.S. to crack down with even harsher sanctions.

At this point the Russian oligarchs may only have one path for getting sanctions lifted and getting back on the good side of the United States: by ousting Vladimir Putin from within, and by taking down Donald Trump in the process. It’s why the oligarchs planted those stories about Putin’s supposed retirement in the media. This has been all about money, and lots of it, from the start. Putin helped make the oligarchs wealthy to begin with, but now he’s costing them money and they won’t tolerate it for much longer.

The post The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both appeared first on Palmer Report.

Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection? – Newsweek
 

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Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection?
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In 2014, Ross led a takeover of the Bank of Cyprus, whose biggest shareholder at the time was the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Some years earlier, Rybolovlev had purchased a Florida mansion from Trump for $95 million. The buying price was …and more »
The Left Is Losing Its Mind Over Trump, Russia and Putin
 

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This year, after nearly three decade abroad, I returned to the United States, and it has taken a while to adjust to the political climate. I keep going to press conferences, receptions and dinner parties and hearing politicians and political operatives fulminating about “the Russians.”

The refrain is pretty similar: They used to be known as the Soviets, but they never really changed. The damned KGB always ran the country, and it still does. And, you know, they stole the election last year. They colluded with our opponent! There’s a red in damned near every bed these days.

What’s a little discombobulating about this line is it’s mostly coming from Democrats and journalists in the mainstream press. A friend in New York—a Canadian, and thus not a participant in the ongoing drama in American politics—was recently at a dinner party hosted by a major Democratic donor and his wife. In passing, he said he was about to travel to see the refurbished Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and then enjoy a performance at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

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The others in attendance looked at him, my friend told me, as if he were nuts. “You know,” the host informed him, “that’s pretty much like going to Berlin in 1938.” My friend changed the subject.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had political opponents killed and destabilized two of Russia’s neighboring countries, but he isn’t Hitler. Even for the foot-stomping, tantrum-throwing Democrats in 2017, that comparison is ludicrous. But other lefties fall back on World War II for a different comparison: The Russian meddling in our democracy was “the equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman put it. That makes the Russian president the equivalent of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and the imperial Japanese.

Related: Robert Mueller is a hothead who can’t own up to his mistakes, former aides say 

U.S. President Barack Obama extends his hand to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

As someone who grew up during the Cold War, spent much of the ’90s covering Eastern and Central Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then Russia (including Putin’s ascent) later in the decade, this line of thinking seems bizarre. Democrats, it seems, have willfully tossed their past positions on Russia down the Orwellian memory hole.

In 1972, George McGovern won the Democratic nomination for president, and with that came the end of serious Soviet skepticism in the party. He had vanquished Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a senator from Washington and the party’s leading anti-Soviet hawk. Jackson tried again in 1976, only to lose to Jimmy Carter, who chided his political opponents for their “inordinate fear” of Communism. (To Carter’s credit, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, he admitted that the “scales” had fallen from his eyes.)

But unlike Carter, a lot of others on the left failed to sober up. When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the mainstream Democratic Party became consumed by nuclear hysteria—we were all gonna die!—and that fear infected the producers of pop culture. In 1983, ABC broadcast a propaganda film entitled The Day After, which was what life would be like after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Then, there was On the Eighth Day, a 1984 documentary about what would happen after a nuclear war. And around the same time period, Carl Sagan, a popular astronomer with a television series on public broadcasting, penned a widely read article on the same subject: “We have placed our civilization and our species in jeopardy,” he wrote. “Fortunately, it is not yet too late. We can safeguard the planetary civilization and the human family if we so choose. There is no more important or more urgent issue.”

The tenor of this and other doomsday nuclear narratives was that if the worst happened, it was going to Reagan’s fault. This fear sparked the nuclear freeze movement, as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Europe to protest the planned installation of intermediate-range nuclear weapons on the western part of the continent.

In those days, “colluding” with Moscow wasn’t a big deal. The Soviets tried to help the nuclear freeze movement, which they saw as in their interests. KGB agents occasionally funneled cash to so-called “peace groups” in the West, and some left-leaning arms-control groups acknowledged that Soviet agents would turn up at conferences to help with propaganda. Yet many Democrats thought the nuclear freeze movement had been a great success. Why? Because the anti-nuclear uprising “had a substantial impact upon mainstream politics, especially the Democratic Party,” wrote Lawrence Wittner, a professor of history at the State University of New York at Albany. “After the movement’s successes in 1982, the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination met with peace movement leaders, pledging their support for a nuclear freeze and other nuclear arms control measures. The Democrats pushed a freeze resolution through the House of Representatives in the spring of 1983 and made the freeze a part of the party’s campaign platform in 1984.” Never mind that Reagan, the man the left derided as a warmonger nuclear cowboy, won the 1984 election in a historic landslide.

Sixteen years later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin replaced a drunken and ailing Boris Yeltsin, who, however briefly, had brought democracy to Russia. At a New Year’s reception in 2000, President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Russia, Jim Collins, acknowledged the main reaction to Putin’s ascension in the U.S. government was one of “relief,” because Russia was so chaotic in those days. Secretary of State Madeline Albright would later call the former KGB man a “reformer.”

Putin for years was able to dupe U.S. presidents into thinking he was their friend—from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. In a 2012 presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney cited Putin’s Russia as the U.S.’s foremost foreign policy challenge, and Obama sarcastically said the “1980s are calling, and they want their foreign policy back.” The Democrats cheered. And Obama appeared to believe he could work with the Russian strongman. He famously asked Putin stooge Dmitry Medvedev to “tell Vladimir” that after the election he (Obama) would have more “flexibility’’ to work on arms control deals.

But the moment that really captured the credulity of the Democratic Party when it came to Russia and Putin had come earlier. In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, with a “reset” button, which meant the administration would replace the bad, anti-Russian policies of the past with new ones. The problem, however, is the word “reset” was misspelled on the button. Those who controlled Obama’s foreign policy evidently couldn’t find a Russian speaker competent enough to tell them that the button presented to Lavrov said “overcharged” in Russia. Clinton laughed at the mistake. Lavrov laughed at her.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during an interview with Mariella Frostrup at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in Cheltenham, England, on October 15. Reuters

Now, Democratic representatives all over Washington can’t stop ranting about Moscow. I asked David Satter, a Washington-based journalist—and the only Western reporter to be banned by Putin from entering Russia since the end of the Cold War—what I should make of all this. Are these people serious about their anti-Russian venom?

“Oh God, no,” he said, as we sat in a Russian restaurant called Mari Vanna in Manhattan. “This is all just politics, and hypocrisy is the mother’s milk of politics.”

I think he’s right. I’m agnostic on the question of whether President Donald Trump or his associates actually “colluded’’ with Putin to win the election. If they did, they should be strung up.

As for Putin, he’s undoubtedly an authoritarian thug. At home, he has eliminated many of the briefly won freedoms of the Yeltsin era, and abroad, he seems determined to again dominate Russia’s neighbors. But it would be hard to find many liberals in Washington who actually cared about any of this before Trump beat Clinton.

If the outcome had been reversed, Congress might still be working to figure out how exactly Russia meddled in the election—just as the Soviets had done in 1968 and 1976. But we most certainly wouldn’t have this anti-Russian circus going on in the nation’s capital—a show that will likely continue for quite some time.

Dem. rep seeks answers on FBI’s failure to notify Russian hacking victims | TheHill
 

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trump turkey flynn kurds – Google Search
 

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US-Turkish political stew: KurdsFlynn — and even Bharara

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President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to …

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Turkey ‘very happy’ as US stops arming Kurds in Syria

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ANKARA, Turkey — The United States seems set to cut off its supply of arms … Trump that is sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who …. of Trump’s inauguration about a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn …

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Reza Zarrab – Google Search
 

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Zarrab to Testify for Prosecution in Iran-Sanctions Case

Bloomberg38 minutes ago
Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of an international corruption case, is set to tell a New York jury the “inside story” of a …
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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The Talk of Turkey? A Politically Charged Trial in New York
In-DepthNew York TimesNov 26, 2017

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U.S.-Turkish political stew: Kurds, Flynn and even Bharara
 

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Eyes are on Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Eyes are on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen here in Ankara on Nov. 21, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Burhan Ozbilici

President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to foreign-policy news.

On Friday, the two leaders were due to speak by phone, with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort for the long holiday weekend. Subjects were to include Syria and conflicts in the region.

Turkey’s foreign minister, who said he was with Erdogan during the call, said afterward that Trump gave assurances his administration would stop supplying arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been U.S. allies.

After all, Kurdish separatists are a thorn in Erdogan’s side.

Such policy choices aside, the discussion of Turkish ties to Washington turns quickly and naturally to Trump’s short-tenured national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has his eyes on the retired lieutenant general, who failed to disclose a payment of $530,000 from Inovo BV, a Dutch consulting firm owned by a Turkish businessman closely tied to Erdogan.

Flynn’s lawyer said back in March that the work for the firm “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey,” which is why he belatedly filed it under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Flynn has been a campaign and White House adviser with close links to a president who rode to election proclaiming “America First.”

Late Thursday, it was reported that Flynn’s lawyer informed Trump’s legal team that he can no longer discuss the Mueller probe with him. That stirred speculation about Flynn’s cooperation with investigators and where it could lead.

This comes after reports that Erdogan’s men may have discussed with Flynn last year a paid mission that involved grabbing a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania — whom Erdogan blames for a coup attempt — and returning him to Turkey.

The intrigue seems to leach further into the American justice system than just the probe of Flynn.

There is also the long-lived case of Reza Zarrab — the Turkish-Iranian gold trader charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Erdogan calls the case a plot against his republic. Over the weekend he purportedly launched an investigation of his own into former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought the case against Zarrab, an ally of Erdogan.

Bharara was fired by Trump after the president asked him to stay in the job. Responding to Erdogan, Bharara’s interim successor Joon Kim and Judge Richard Berman issued a rare reply to the Turkish government.

On Tuesday, Kim said: “Needless to say, it’s our view that those claims are ridiculous on their face. It displays a fundamental misunderstanding or lack of understanding of how our system of justice works and, frankly, the rule of law works.”

Diplomatically, Berman said that if Turkish officials wish to help Zarrab, they could do so by “producing in court any Turkish evidence or witnesses that they may be aware of who could assist the defense in presenting their case.”

Trump doesn’t seem inclined to complain about the Erdogan regime’s conduct in this or any other controversy.

In fact, on the defense side of the case, the president finds two political allies — Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, and Michael Mukasey, the former attorney general.

By most accounts their job has been to try to get the case resolved through meetings away from courtroom arguments. Recent buzz has been about the prospect of a cooperation deal, but the matter is still apparently pending.

These are the shadowy complications of the moment in Turkish-American politics.

Melville.

By Dan JanisonDan Janison has been a columnist at Newsday since 2007.

What Flynns Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us
 

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This article first appeared on Just Security.

Many commentators anticipate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely indict retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn in part for the former National Security Advisor’s previously undisclosed work as a foreign agent of Turkey.

Mueller’s team has reportedly obtained enough evidence to indict Flynn and his son, according to an NBC News report earlier this month.

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There is no way to tell, based on current reporting, whether that body of indictable evidence includes the two alleged meetings in Sept. and Dec. 2016 where Flynn may have discussed a plot to forcibly remove U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, or initiate legal proceedings against him, in exchange for $15 million.

But in considering Flynn’s case, it is important to keep track of how he changed from a relatively hardline position against the government of Turkey to public positions in favor of Ankara.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Fllynn in the East Room of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Important questions for legal liability and moral responsibility include whether Flynn’s conflict of interest and efforts in favor of Turkey continued past the election and into his time in office.

Engaging in pro-Turkish government dealings was a major change in Flynn’s position on Turkey. In July 2016, Flynn gave a speech supporting the military coup against the Turkish government, specifically citing the country’s “move toward Islamism” under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the military’s secular orientation.

And previously, while serving as DIA Director under the Obama administration, Flynn says he alerted White House officials to Turkey’s indifference toward ISIS’ growth in Syria.

What explains why Flynn changed his position on Turkey and why did he persist in pro-Turkish positions after his firm’s contract to work on behalf of the Turkish government purportedly ended?

I. Flynn’s initial anti-Erdoğan, anti-Islamist public positions, and his later The Hill Op-Ed Reversal

  1. War Against “Cunning Radical Islamists” Tweet (Nov. 16, 2015)

Flynn has publicly spoken against what he views as a global threat of radical Islamism, which, according to his view, also implicated Erdoğan’s pro-Islamist government at one point. He tweeted in November 2015:

We are facing violent, but very serious and cunning radical Islamists. We can be war weary when we win. If we lose, we have nothing.

2. Flynn Expresses Concerns on Turkey’s Indifference to ISIS to Sy Hersh (January 2016)

Flynn seemed to view Turkey’s pro-Islamist attitudes as leading to the country’s indifference to ISIS growing next door. In January 2016, he told Seymour Hersh in a New Yorker interview:

If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic…We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.

He added that the Obama administration gave “enormous pushback” with respect to the DIA’s reporting on ISIS’s growth in Syria, including Turkey’s alleged indifference: “I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.”

3. Flynn Tweets that Fear of Muslims is Rational (Feb. 27. 2016)

In line with his prior statements, Flynn tweeted in Feb. 2016 that fear of Muslims was “rational:”

Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions… http://youtu.be/tJnW8HRHLLw

4. Flynn Lauds the Anti-Erdogan Coup at ACT! For America Speech (July 15, 2016)

On July 15, 2016, Flynn gave a speech at the Cleveland meeting of ACT! For America. The organization is an advocacy group that opposes what it calls “Islamofascism,” which Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s founder, believes comes from “one source: The Koran.” Flynn began his remarks by expressing support for the military-led coup d’état in Turkey:

[The Turkish military] has been just excised for many years by what, what really became a secular country, meaning a sort of, regular sort of nation-state, and then began to move toward Islamism. This is Turkey under Erdoğan, who is actually very close to President Obama.

So, I’m going to be very fascinated to see what happens, because if they, the military succeeds, then one of the things that came out of the military tonight, they’re about plus eight hours from here, so it’s probably about I don’t know, three-four o’clock in the morning there.

One of the things the military immediately said is: “We recognize our responsibilities with NATO, we recognize our responsibilities with the United Nations, we want to make sure that the world knows, we are, we want to be seen as a secular nation. This is the military.

[Applause]

So, yeah, I think that is worth clapping for.

5. New York Times Notes Flynn and Trump Share Islamophobic Outlook and Flynn’s Influence on the Campaign (November 2016)

The New York Times’s post-election profile of Flynn noted his anti-Islamist credentials throughout the campaign:

[Trump and Flynn] have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.

[Trump and Flynn] both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not).

As an adviser, General Flynn has already proved to be a powerful influence on Mr. Trump, convincing the president-elect that the United States is in a “world war” with Islamist militants and must work with any willing allies in the fight, including President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

6. Flynn Supports Erdoğan Government’s Goals in the Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 08, 2016)

On Election Day 2016, The Hill published an op-ed by Flynn titled, “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.”

The op-ed criticized the Obama administration for not being friendly enough toward Erdoğan’s government and portrayed Gülen as a cleric who “portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist.”

It compares Gülen to the founders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and labels him Turkey’s equivalent of Bin Laden:

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden.

It also ties Gülen to the Clinton Foundation:

[F]unding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gülen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.”

And concludes:

We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective. What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are.

When Flynn’s op-ed came out, Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who hired Flynn’s firm, told the New York Times : “This is not a guy who would be influenced by a contract. He wrote what he believes.”

Al Monitor ’s Turkey columnist Mustafa Akyol also told the paper of the warm reception Flynn’s op-ed had inside the government of Turkey: “You would expect to see [an Islamophobia] concern here, but quite the contrary: Flynn is quite a respected figure now in government circles, just because he wrote that Gülen should be extradited to Turkey.”

He added: “[Flynn’s op-ed] was greeted with great happiness here,” adding that Erdoğan supporters thought: “Finally, somebody in America who understands us.”

In late Nov., Alptekin denied that either Erdoğan or the Turkish government paid for Flynn’s op-ed, telling The Independent that the idea was “preposterous,” noting that the op-ed also criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Erdogan had sometimes supported.

He contended that Inovo’s contract with Flynn Intel Group was “not about representing the position of the Turkish government,” and Alptekin said that he was not affiliated with the Turkish government.

Flynn has a strong anti-Islamist streak, and yet he went from criticizing Turkey’s relatively pro-Islamist government and supporting the coup against Erdoğan, to publicly advocating for Gülen’s removal to face justice for the coup in Turkey. What changed between these two events—the coup and the op-ed—to cause Flynn to switch positions on Turkey?

II. A likely motive: lucrative lobbying contracts, and how Flynn’s private business activities may have affected his public positions

  1. Flynn Intel Group Signs Contract with Inovo BV (Aug. 2016)

In early August 2016, Flynn Intel Group was approached by Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Prs Erdoğan.

Alptekin proposed that Flynn work on a project repairing Turkey’s image in the United States with Alptekin’s Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV—work to be performed by Flynn’s firm over 90 days in exchange for $600,000. Flynn agreed.

Though Flynn later conceded in his belated filing that the Inovo work “could be construed to have principally helped the Republic of Turkey,” Flynn opted not to file this work with the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) database until strongly encouraged to do so by the Justice Department.

FARA requires lobbyists whose work directly or indirectly benefits a foreign government to file as agents of a foreign power. The Flynn firm would likely assert that because the Inovo work benefitted a business and not a foreign nation, the firm could instead file with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and it did so in Sept. 2016.

2. Flynn Meets with Turkish Ministers Alongside Woolsey in New York (Sept. 21, 2016)

On September 21, Flynn met in New York with the Turkish foreign minister and energy ministers (the latter is also Erdoğan’s son-in-law), alongside former CIA Director James Woolsey and a former FBI agent, according to Woolsey’s account of the deliberations.

Woolsey later told the Wall Street Journal that the meeting discussed a plot to remove Turkish cleric Gülen from the United States and take him to Turkey.

According to a report by the Daily Caller, one month after the Sept. 2016 meeting between Flynn and Turkish ministers in New York, Flynn attended an event with Halil Mutlu, former director of the Turken Foundation, a U.S. charity focused on Turkish issues, and President Erdoğan’s cousin. (Readers should note: The Daily Caller generally has a far-right ideological lens, and has been criticized for having a white nationalist problem in recent months.)

3. Flynn Intel Group Lobbies Congress on Inovo’s Behalf (Sept.–Oct. 2016)

After signing the contract with Inovo BV, Flynn’s Intel Group began lobbying Congress on Inovo’s behalf, though Flynn himself did not participate in the lobbying. Flynn’s Sept. 2016 Lobbying Disclosure Act forms reveal that Robert Kelley, Flynn’s lawyer and a former Chief Counsel to a House subcommittee, managed the lobbying portion of the Inovo contract.

According to the FARA registration, in Oct. 2016, VP Bijan R. Kian met twice with Miles Taylor, National Security Advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee, to discuss Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo and research related to Turkey and Gülen.

According to a Daily Caller source, at the second meeting, Kian and Inovo representatives discussed Gülen with Taylor, and what they called his “shady” Gülen Movement Schools.

The source added that House committee staff were not receptive to Kian’s approach, and that Flynn was not present for the meeting. Beyond this Congressional outreach, the FARA registration also notes that Flynn’s firm  oversaw a PR firm SGR LLC’s outreach to an Arkansas state government official with respect to the Inovo work.

The AP reported that as part of the Taylor meeting, Flynn Intel Group staff suggested that Congress hold hearings about Gülen.

At the time of the filing, Alptekin told the AP : “I disagree with the filing…It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government.” He said the filings were a response to “political pressure.”

4. Flynn Group’s VP Meets Alptekin Prior to The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 2, 2016)

According to an in-depth profile of Flynn by The New Yorker ’s Nicholas Schmidle, on November 2, 2016, Alptekin privately met Flynn Intel Group VP Bijan R. Kian and other corporate officers at the firm’s offices in Alexandria, Va. Alptekin, believing that Trump was likely to lose the election, emphasized that, “We have to generate something to show Turkey how successful we can be…What success can we show them now?”

As Schmidle points out, Flynn’s op-ed in The Hill was published a week later.

5. Flynn and Alptekin Statement to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2016)

Flynn told the Wall Street Journal in a Nov. 17 statement that he would end his relationship with his firm if offered to serve in the Trump administration. He said: “If I return to government service, my relationship with my company will be severed in accordance with the policy announced by President-elect Trump.”

Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin tells the Journal that he hired Flynn to advise him on the U.S.-Turkish security relationship, and more generally, to improve U.S.-Turkish relations.

6. WH Cabinet Secretary’s Post-Election Investigation into Flynn’s The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 19, 2016)

On Nov. 19, the day after Trump appointed Flynn as his National Security Adviser, lawyer Bill McGinley, who later became White House Cabinet Secretary, called Kian and others to investigate the Flynn op-ed. A source told The New Yorker:

Some people seemed skeptical as to whether Flynn had really woken up the day before the election and felt compelled to write an op-ed defending Erdoğan…McGinley wanted to know if Turkish government dollars touched that op-ed.

Kian reportedly told McGinley that Flynn wrote the op-ed entirely on his own, and that it was unrelated to his work for Alptekin.

However, the Flynn group’s FARA filing noted that in October and early November, Flynn developed the op-ed based partly based on research done for the Inovo work, and that a draft was shared with Inovo before publication. Further, SGR LLC, a public relations firm Flynn Intel Group hired as part of the Inovo contract, helped Flynn place The Hill op-ed.

7. Second Meeting with Turkish officials on Alleged Gülen Plot in New York (Dec. 2016)

Mueller’s investigation is reportedly looking into whether, during a second alleged meeting between Flynn and Turkish government representatives in mid-Dec. 2016, participants discussed a plan for Flynn and Flynn Jr. to remove Gülen in exchange for up to $15 million dollars.

It is also reportedly looking into whether they discussed a separate plan to free Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab. The Wall Street Journal reported that the alleged meeting took place in mid-December at the 21 Club in New York, and the discussion considered forcibly removing Mr. Gülen from the U.S. on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

If the December meeting were to be confirmed, even if the more sensational allegations about the content of the meeting were not established, it could contradict Flynn Intel Group’s filing statements, which state that the Flynn firm’s contract with Inovo terminated in November 2016, and that is when Flynn’s paid work that benefited the Turkish government ended. Intentional false statements on a FARA form are a felony.

8. Flynn Tells Susan Rice “We’ll Take it From Here” on Raqqa Campaign (Jan. 10, 2017)

On Jan. 10, outgoing National Security Adviser Susan Rice presented Flynn a plan to imminently take over the Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa, Syria, according to the Washington Post. The plan involved arming Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Syria, and Obama administration officials believed they had little time left to move forward with the operation.

The Post noted that Turkey’s Erdoğan had resisted their overtures to fight the Islamic State more robustly, leading in part to the U.S. plan to rely on the Kurds:

In contrast to Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not see the Islamic State as his country’s No. 1 threat. In private meetings with senior U.S. officials in 2014, Erdoğan said the Kurds were his top concern and that removing Assad ranked second, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Erdoğan has long been upset by the U.S. support for Syrian Kurds, which he considers part of a terrorist group that threatens Turkey’s national security.

According to the Post , Flynn responded to Rice:

Don’t approve it…We’ll make the decision.

McClatchy reported that it is not known if Flynn consulted other administration officials before telling Rice to hold off on the decision, or whether Flynn’s decision was approved by a higher-ranking official such as Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis.

Raqqa Plan is “Dead on Arrival” When Presented to Trump Officials (Jan. 17, 2017)

When the plan was turned over to the Trump administration on Jan. 17, per Flynn’s request, the Postreported that it “was dead on arrival.” According to McClatchy, “Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word ‘treason’ to describe Flynn’s intervention” with Rice.

And while there is no reporting whether Flynn advised Trump to hold off on the Raqqa assault, media outlets have noted that Trump only approved the plan weeks after he had fired Flynn.

10. Flynn, Turkish FM Meet over Breakfast at Trump Hotel (Jan. 18, 2017)

McClatchy reported that Flynn met Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over breakfast on Jan. 18 to discuss U.S.-Turkish interests. It was later reported by Business Insider that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was also present at the closed-door meeting at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported at the time of the breakfast that the meeting was “a first direct reachout between the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan administration and the incoming Donald Trump administration.”

An aide to Cavusoglu told the paper that that “Çavuşoğlu was the only foreign leader at the breakfast and the topics on the U.S.-Turkish agenda were discussed by the attendees.” Cavusoglu would later attend Trump’s inauguration.

Met w/General Flynn,who will assume the position of National Security Advisor, and other officials at a working breakfast in Washington D.C.

11. President Trump’s Call with Erdogan (Feb. 7, 2017)

On Trump’s first call with Erdoğan, the pair agreed to engage in joint action against ISIS positions in Syria, according to two sources in Erdoğan’s office, Reuters reported.

They added that Erdoğan urged Trump not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Al-Monitorreported based that a senior Turkish official said that Erdoğan “drew attention to the close ties between the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party,” the Turkish-based Kurdish group. Likewise, Reuters added that CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be in Turkey on Feb. 9 to discuss security issues with Turkish officials.

Considering the nature of Flynn’s pre- and alleged post-election work on behalf of the Turkish government, it appears that the money paid to him as part of the Inovo contract may have played a decisive role in changing his position on Turkey.

The extent of his reversal would have negatively implicated U.S. national security interests if it figured into his response to Susan Rice on the operation to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State’s so-called capital.

But why would Flynn remain motivated by pecuniary interests once he was named to be national security advisor and then served in the administration?

Perhaps it was not a financial interest at that point. Perhaps it was a case of a person’s judgment being clouded, convincing themselves that they believe in a new policy outlook to reduce the cognitive dissonance that would otherwise persist.

Another explanation is a more illicit one. If Flynn and his son were still interested in mid-December in being personally paid $15 million by Turkey, there’s reason to think Flynn would not have dropped such interests going forward on other policies favorable to Turkey.

The allegations reported in the Wall Street Journal and NBC News involving the mid-December meeting certainly raise this specter. The available information in the public domain does not provide a sufficient basis to reach any firm conclusion.

It will be up to Mueller’s investigation and others to tell.

Artin Afkhami Associate Editor at Just Security.

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?

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Flynn allegedly discussed getting paid $15 million to help free Reza … a joint defense agreement with the Trump defense team last week.
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
 

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Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty and will testify against his co-defendant, a federal court heard Tuesday. Zarrab’s cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted on behalf of Turkish interests to help free Zarrab.

Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of an Iran sanctions-busting case in which he used his companies and Turkish state-run banks to trade cash for gold in order to secretly buy oil from Iran. A former deputy general manager of one of those banks, Mehmet Atilla, is charged as part of that same conspiracy.

Atilla’s lawyers complained that co-defendant Zarrab had vanished in the weeks before trial was to start, an indication that he was no longer cooperating with them but instead federal prosecutors. He is expected to testify Tuesday or Wednesday.

Zarrab’s apparent cooperation with federal prosecutors raised speculation that he was also cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Flynn, because it seemed unlikely prosecutors would offer a plea deal to Zarrab in exchange for his cooperation for the comparatively lower-profile trial of Atilla.

Shortly after Zarrab seemed to flip, Flynn’s lawyers terminated a joint defense agreement with the Trump defense team last week. Flynn’s lawyer reportedly met with members of the Mueller probe on Monday, ABC News reported, a further indication that the embattled ex-national security advisor is also pursuing a plea deal.

Zarrab’s plight was reportedly raised by Turkish interests in a December 2016 meeting with Flynn, who was designated to be President Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn was supposedly offered $15 million to arrange Zarrab’s release and to kidnap an exiled Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen, and bring him to Turkey. (Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen, a former ally, of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup.)

The Zarrab case has roiled the upper echelons of the Turkish government and stems from a 2013 corruption scandal, which allegedly revealed that top-level ministers to bribes to sign off on the sanctions evasions — and even allegedly captured Erdogan and his son talking about how to hide money.

Erdogan has repeatedly raised Zarrab’s release with U.S. officials from the Obama and Trump administrations. Zarrab even retained friends of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, to negotiate a diplomatic release with the top levels of the Trump and Erdogan administrations.

After the jury was selected on Monday, Atilla’s lawyers asked the judge to delay the trial so they could prepare for a mystery witness.

“The government should also make clear that the mystery witness is Mr. Reza Zarrab,” Judge Richard Berman wrote in a ruling denying the motion to postpone trial on Monday. “This is something that experienced counsel knew or should have known about for months.”

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Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today – Raw Story
 

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Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today
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A Turkish-Iranian gold trader linked to both Mike Flynn and Rudy Giuliani has agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors. Reza Zarrab was scheduled to stand trial earlier this month in New York, where the U.S. attorney had filed charges in an 
A Manhattan Trial Wreaks Havoc on Turkish Markets: QuickTake Q&ABloombergall 87 news articles »
Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? – Daily Beast
 

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
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Zarrab’s cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly conspired to help free Zarrab while lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests. Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of and more »
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Russian jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept of US Navy aircraft
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(CNN) A Russian Su-30 fighter jet made an “unsafe” intercept of a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft Saturday while it was flying over the Black Sea, the Pentagon told CNN Monday. “The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to 
US Military Jets Have ‘No Business’ in Black Sea, Says Russian General After ‘Unsafe’ InterceptNewsweek
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US Navy plane has unsafe encounter with Russian fighter over Black SeaABC News
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A Russian Su-30 fighter jet had an unsafe interception with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane Saturday as the Russian aircraft used its afterburners while flying in front of American plane over the Black Sea. According to a CNN report, the …and more »
6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post
 

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Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! __________________________________ “Scores of U.S. diplomatic, military and government figures were not told about attempts to hack into their emails even though the FBI knew they were in the Kremlins crosshairs, The Associated Press has learned.”  FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets – … Continue reading“6:33 AM 11/28/2017 – FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets – Washington Post”

9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT
 

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__________________________________ M.N. This observation, once again, is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” (in Comey’s words: “They were unusually loud in their intervention. It is as almost they didn’t care that we knew, or they wanted us to see what they do. They were very noisy in their interventions…” – 2:48:55 … Continue reading“9:17 AM 11/28/2017 – M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” – Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – NYT”

Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
 

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“Please,” the senator said, “answer yes or no, sir. Can you do that?”

It was late October, and Minnesota’s Al Franken was two hours into a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russia’s manipulation of social media, including its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Sitting across from him and the other senators at a long table was a lawyer from Facebook. Franken tried to get the man to say whether the social media network would reject political ads purchased with foreign currency. But the attorney remained obtuse, and the senator dropped his head into his hands in frustration.

That hearing came a day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced the first charges in its probe of Russian interference in the election and possible coordination with President Donald Trump’s campaign. A grand jury charged Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, another former campaign member, with money laundering, among other things. The special counsel also announced that George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, had pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his ties to suspected Russian agents.

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It’s been less than seven months since Mueller’s work began, and already his investigation seems to be the only one that matters in Washington. The federal lawmakers digging into the same subject typically lack the mandate to conduct raids and make arrests, and their lists of potential witnesses are likely to shrink with each Mueller indictment, since no one wants to interfere with the criminal probe. But a primary reason the congressional investigations have moved slowly is that they’re mired in partisan politics, according to interviews with more than a dozen members of Congress.

Similar divides have hindered congressional investigations before, such as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2004 report on Iraq. But with lawmakers on at least one committee talking about possibly releasing separate Russia reports, the current dramas seem to go further.

“As much as this committee…has traditionally sort of been insulated from partisanship over the years,” says Representative Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, “this issue has thrown all that out the window.”

Congressional investigators jumped on the Russia matter not long after the U.S. intelligence community declared in January that the Kremlin had tried to sway the election against Hillary Clinton. In May, President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, implying in an NBC News interview that the decision was partly due to the bureau’s Russia investigation. About a week later, the Justice Department appointed special counsel Mueller, and by June, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House and Senate intelligence committees had opened probes into Russian interference and other related topics.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was making progress over the summer. It issued bipartisan requests for documents from the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. But by late October, cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on the committee broke down. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member, told Mother Jones that she and her Democratic colleagues would be moving forward with the Russia probe without the Republicans. Days later, she sent letters requesting information from people or companies, without the signature of Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman. That suggested he was too slow to approve the Democrats’ requests for information, or unwilling to do so. (Neither senator was available for an interview.)

Today, critics say Republicans on the committee seem mostly focused on Comey’s conduct as FBI director and an allegedly questionable uranium deal with Russia that Clinton’s State Department helped approve. The Republican side of the committee, says Senator Chris Coons, a committee Democrat from Delaware, “treats the Russia investigation as a Democratic priority.” The GOP, he adds, acts as if every time the probe moves forward, they should pursue “something that goes after Hillary Clinton.” It wasn’t until November 16, for example, that the chairman and the ranking member sent their first bipartisan letter in almost two months, seeking information from the lawyer for Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser.

US president Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin talk after a meeting on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Alamy Live News

Part of the problem is that the GOP controls the committee (and the others probing Russian collusion), so the Democrats generally need Republican approval to compel people to turn over documents or to testify. “There’s nothing the minority can do but say ‘Mother, may I?’ to the majority to get an agreement to have these witnesses come before us,” says Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California on the House Intelligence Committee. “It is a tap dance that we have to do to get them to cooperate.”

The probe by the House Intelligence Committee has been even more contentious. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman, recused himself as reports swirled that he had provided Trump with unauthorized intelligence about government surveillance of the president’s transition team. (Nunes has called the complaints about him “entirely false and politically motivated.”) Despite interviews in November with high-profile witnesses, including Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, and Keith Schiller, the former director of Oval Office operations, the committee is dealing with political divides that threaten to derail its progress.

The Senate Intelligence Committee seems to be making the most progress. In June, it held a dramatic hearing in which Comey said he had kept memos of his encounters with Trump because he expected the president to lie about them. In early October, Republican Senator Richard Burr, the committee chairman, and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman, held a joint press conference to announce that their panel had reviewed almost 100,000 pages of documents and conducted more than 250 hours of interviews with at least 100 people. That work suggests the Senate Intelligence Committee is the public’s best hope for a timely and thorough bipartisan report on the Russian meddling and possible collusion by some of Trump’s people.

But even if the committee puts out a detailed report, the question of whether anyone committed crimes will ultimately fall to Mueller. And as he moves forward, the congressional committees could find it harder to complete their inquiries. Lawmakers may be reluctant to ask those whom the special counsel indicts to testify before Congress, for fear of disrupting Mueller’s work. (If a suspect gives different testimony to Congress from what he or she gives to Mueller, it could create legal problems for prosecutors.) It’s also likely that anyone indicted would invoke his or her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination and decline to testify before Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee had called on Manafort to testify before his indictment, and both intelligence committees have been in touch with Papadopoulos or his legal team, but those appearances now seem less likely to happen. The special counsel and committees are trying to work out any conflicts, yet committee staffers and members remain cautious.

As the congressional investigations crawl forward, the parties are split over when the probes should end and whether they will find evidence of collusion. On the House Intelligence Committee, the Republicans claim Democrats are prolonging the investigation to hurt them in the 2018 midterm elections. “We could drag this out,” says Representative Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah, “but it’s not serving the American people if we do.”

New York activists demonstrated inside the Trump Tower atrium to voice their objection in response to reports that Donald Trump is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller and to pardon administration members who have broken the law. Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/Alamy Live News

Some Republican investigators still don’t believe there was any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. “We have not had one witness or one shred of evidence” suggesting collusion, says Rooney, the Republican congressman from Florida.

The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee disagree. And they believe the Republicans are working to shut down the probe quickly to leave the question of collusion unsolved. “This investigation is still closer to the beginning than the end,” says Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois. “People ask me, ‘Are you connecting dots?’ My answer is: ‘We’re still finding our dots.’”

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the committee, says they are still receiving new information and have “a long list” of witnesses to interview. As for collusion, Schiff adds, “You have to, I think, willfully blind yourself to what we’ve seen to suggest there’s no evidence.” He has said it’s possible each party will issue its own report.

Across the committees, there’s one thing lawmakers from both parties agree on: Americans shouldn’t expect their probes to unfold the way Mueller’s is developing. As part of that investigation, federal agents raided Manafort’s home and arrested Papadopoulos in the middle of an airport, leading to his stunning confession.

Now that Mueller’s team has reportedly requested documents from the Justice Department and plans to interview senior White House officials, and as speculation grows that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has flipped and is working with the special counsel, Americans may soon find out the truth about the Trump team’s alleged obstruction and collusion. As Representative Denny Heck of Washington, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, puts it, “I’ll be very surprised if there aren’t people that are going to jail.”

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6:20 AM 11/29/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: 6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio – NPR

Eyes are on Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio – NPR

Race and Class and What Happened in 2016 – New York Times
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in U.S.
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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? – Daily Beast
Russian jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept of US Navy aircraft – CNN
Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Interception Of US Navy P8-Poseidon Over Black Sea – International Business Times
6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post
9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT
Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
Trump’s and Putin’s connections with organized crime – Google News: Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – New York Times
Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump
Trump tells Turkish president U.S. will stop arming Kurds in Syria – The Washington Post

 

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6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio
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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference has passed the six-month mark, and President Trump’s staff is painting a picture of a process nearing its end. “We still expect this to conclude soon,” White Houseand more »
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Race and Class and What Happened in 2016
New York Times
But we will never escape from purgatory until these points are treated as complements to the role that other forces played inTrump’s success, not as substitutes that somehow make the economic anxiety or anti-establishment analyses of Trumpism into …
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in U.S.
 

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Turkish customs agents set off a half decade of intrigue when they boarded a plane that landed unexpectedly at Istanbul’s international airport. They found in the hold, undeclared, a ton and a half of gold.

Authorities subsequently determined that the shipment was part of a giant money-laundering operation to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran for oil and gas, skirting international sanctions intended to curb the country’s nuclear work. The scheme, they said, was overseen by a young Iranian-Turk named Reza Zarrab who greased the palms of top Turkish officials with watches, a piano and cash-stuffed boxes.

Photographer: Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s been quite a ride since then for Zarrab. Sprung from Turkish prison in early 2014, he was actually hailed by the country’s now president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He and his pop-star wife resumed their perch on Turkey’s society pages. Until, that is, he was arrested last year in Florida on his way to a Disney vacation and charged by federal prosecutors in a sweeping laundering and sanctions violations case. After 18 months in U.S. lockup, the onetime playboy with mansions and James Bond-style accessories — a jet, a personal submarine, a gold-plated pistol — is now cooperating with American prosecutors.

His evolution from a central character in a 2013 Turkish political battle to a key U.S. witness is expected to take center stage later today in a federal court in Manhattan where an executive of a prominent Turkish bank is accused in the scheme. Prosecutors say Zarrab, 34, will provide the inside story of a conspiracy that spanned a decade — all part of his guilty plea agreement.

That has the potential to send shock waves through Turkish politics and international relations. Prosecutors accused Zarrab of making bribes to then-senior ministers under Erdogan as part of his laundering scheme. As they have added more charges against more defendants in a case full of twists and turns, Turkish stock and currency markets have heaved.

Read more: A Q&A on how the trial is wreaking havoc on Turkish markets

Erdogan has demanded Zarrab’s return. The U.S.’s refusal has contributed to deteriorating Turkish-U.S. relations, now the most strained in decades. The case could spill over to U.S. politics, too, given the Trump administration’s efforts in its early days to strengthen its alliance with Turkey.

It could even brush up against a separate probe of Russian influence in the presidential election. The U.S. special counsel has delved into work done on behalf of Turkey by Michael Flynn, who was fired after a brief run as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Trump ally Rudy Giuliani was hired by Zarrab and met earlier this year with Erdogan in hopes of resolving the matter diplomatically, outside the courts.

Zarrab Family Vacation

It was a curious decision, in late March 2016, for Zarrab to gather his family for an American vacation. He no longer faced any charges in Turkey, but prosecutors there had made public a raft of documents marking him as a possible money launderer and a violator of U.S. sanctions.

Zarrab may have had an even bigger worry than U.S. arrest, though. Prosecutors in Iran had accused one of its wealthiest men, Babak Zanjani, of diverting $2.7 billion in oil proceeds from official coffers. An influential Iranian lawmaker said that if anyone knew where Zanjani put the money, it was Zarrab. (U.S. lawyers for Zarrab have denied the men were partners and Zanjani’s lawyers have called the case politically motivated.)

In early March 2016, Iran sentenced Zanjani to death. Two weeks later, Zarrab arrived in Florida, saying he was going to Disney. He was promptly arrested.

Though Zarrab may not have known it at the time, he was also the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation that the U.S. had started three years earlier, prosecutors said in court on Tuesday.

The money-laundering scheme by Zarrab — reconstructed from hundreds of Turkish and U.S. court filings including documents and phone transcripts — was built around complicated cross-border transactions and his personal connections in Turkey and Iran.

His father, a wealthy steel baron from Iran named Hossein Zarrab, moved the family to Turkey when Reza was still a toddler. At least one company used later by the son was founded in his name when he was 12 or 13. When Reza moved to Dubai with his family at the age of 16, he opened a tea-trading business with three employees. Three years later, back in Istanbul on his own, he started a gold brokerage and currency exchange and, later, shipbuilding and construction firms.

Meanwhile, his father kept a hand in Iranian trade. Hossein was among a team of people that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assembled, after he was elected Iran’s president in 2005, to help work around U.S. sanctions, according to the Turkish paper Hurriyet.

Still in his early 20s, Reza began his Turkish ascent. He became a Turkish citizen in 2005, adopting the local variation of his name, Riza Sarraf.

At his older brother’s wedding, he met a Turkish singer, Ebru Gundes. Reza, smitten, wrote two songs for her that were delivered by mutual friends. She agreed to meet him.

The two were married in 2010 and became a fixture on Turkey’s society pages — the glamorous Ebru and the boyish and stocky Reza, with a black beard and a mop of black hair coiffed up from his forehead. Turkish papers featured their mansions on the Bosphorus and Aegean, and showed them on the town, here with a Rolls Royce, there a Range Rover or an Aston Martin.

Chance Discovery

The possible source of Zarrab’s wealth began to emerge after Turkish customs officials made their chance discovery on New Year’s Eve 2012. An Airbus A330, flying from Ghana to United Arab Emirates, had been scheduled to refuel at a nearby regional airport when fog forced it to Ataturk. Customs agents impounded its gold cargo.

Earlier: 2014 article traces Zarrab’s journey from society pages to an Istanbul jail cell

Zarrab pressed into action. He called the country’s economy minister, Zafer Caglayan, among others. Caglayan was paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to keep the scheme running and conceal transactions from the U.S., according to federal prosecutors. Less than three weeks after the plane was detained, it took back off, resuming its journey to Dubai.

Turkish prosecutors, armed with wiretaps of Zarrab’s conversations, arrested Caglayan’s son in late 2013 on charges of facilitating bribery. As a minister and member of parliament, Caglayan the father had immunity, and he denied taking bribes. Like Zarrab, he was ultimately cleared in Turkey. He’s now charged in the U.S. case but remains outside the country.

The gold shipments to Dubai, the Turkish prosecutors said, were but one link in a chain that turned Iranian oil and gas into hard currency for Tehran. Turkey’s national oil company bought Iranian gas. It then deposited funds into special accounts at Turkey’s Halkbank. Using shell companies, Zarrab took the proceeds to buy gold that was shipped to Dubai, prosecutors say.

The gold was then sold for dollars and euros, running through international banks, which were unwitting participants, according to U.S. prosecutors, and were told the transactions were for food or humanitarian aid, according to Turkish and U.S. court documents. In a 10-month span, Zarrab helped move $900 million in Iranian funds through U.S. banks, U.S. prosecutors say.

Dubai Wheat

Millions of dollars in bribes were used to keep the scheme going. Once, according to U.S. filings, Zarrab discussed moving 150,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Iran on a 5,000-ton vessel, a logistical impossibility. He said another payment was for wheat exports from Dubai, which neither grows nor exports wheat. Surveillance in Turkey showed that Zarrab also tried to head off bad press, allegedly paying about $4 million to two politicians to help squelch negative coverage of him.

His contacts included the country’s ministers of the interior and EU affairs (who are not accused of wrongdoing by the U.S.). At an April 2013 wedding in Ankara, Zarrab cut a deal with Caglayan, then economy minister, to support his scheme, Turkish prosecutors said. U.S. prosecutors more recently hinted of a bigger grab for influence: Zarrab later boasted in a conversation caught on tape that he had also talked to Erdogan at the wedding, seeking support to buy a bank that could be a conduit for Iran transactions.

When Turkish prosecutors laid out their allegations, the three ministers resigned. Zarrab was detained.

But then the tables turned. Erdogan, prime minister at the time, portrayed Zarrab as a philanthropist whose businesses were a service to the country. The Turkish prosecutors’ case against Zarrab, Erdogan said, was part of a plot put into motion by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who runs an influential worldwide movement from his compound in Pennsylvania, to smear his government. Turkey’s parliament cleared all the ministers of wrongdoing. Prosecutors and police involved in the case were reassigned, dismissed or jailed by the thousands.

Zarrab was freed. A pro-government news channel placed him before a Turkish flag and interviewed him. In July 2015, Hurriyet published photographs of a notably slimmer Zarrab yachting on the Aegean. A few yards off the fantail of a large black yacht, he could be seen above the blue sea, held aloft by jets of water on a personal hovercraft.

Erdogan Enraged

Zarrab’s arrest the following year in the U.S. enraged Erdogan, who asked the Obama White House to send him home. Instead, Zarrab transited through a series of U.S. detention centers — in Tallahassee, Atlanta and Oklahoma City — before arriving in New York. Many of the details supporting the charges, brought by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, were similar to those originally revealed in Turkey.

Even after Zarrab’s testimony, which U.S. prosecutors say will reach the highest levels of Turkey’s government, the mystery may continue about whether he is helping the U.S. government in other ways and how much he knows about Iran, for example. The man who recently bribed a U.S. prison guard for a cell phone may finally be ready to spill his secrets.

— With assistance by Yalman Onaran

Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria? – Newsweek
 

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Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria?
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Yet he also senses that the Trump administration, like its predecessor, is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle: that when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says there is no future for the mass-murdering Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it has the 
Declaring Victory in Syria, Putin Stands to Lose the Elusive PeaceThe Jamestown Foundation
The Guardian view on Syria: Putin tests the westThe Guardian
The United States cannot allow Russia to take the lead in SyriaThe Hill
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The US Has Hit Rock Bottom With Russia. This Isnt Going to End Well
 

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This article first appeared on the Wilson Center site.

I am an American expert on Russia. It is my job to pay close attention to the ups and downs of the U.S.-Russia relationship, with the goal of helping U.S. policymakers, the press, and the wider public understand what is going on.

Under normal circumstances, such understanding would be useful for crafting better policy, and for more effectively managing both the challenges and the opportunities we face with Russia.

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But these are anything but normal circumstances, and there is little point in saying anything about policy unless we first acknowledge why our circumstances are what they are.

The U.S. has never had a more dysfunctional or less effective relationship with post-Soviet Russia than it does today. While it is more than fair to blame that dysfunction on Putin—and on Trump, Medvedev, Obama, and other heads of state past and present—I am afraid it now has far deeper causes than just state policies.

On the Russian side, the dysfunction builds on insecurities and grievances fanned by widely embraced conspiracy theories and historical narratives, all of which amount to branding the United States as public enemy number one.

It also draws on ordinary Russians’ tolerance of consolidated authoritarianism, from the Kremlin at the very top of the “power vertical” to corrupt and unchecked bullies at the bottom.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit leaders gala dinner in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 10, 2017. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty

On the American side, the dysfunction is different but arguably just as deep. It begins from a national mood that combines Cold War style paranoia about the Russian bogeyman with a zero-sum, “us versus them” view of everything from taxes to public safety.

These disturbing trends find welcome resonance in a media, political and civic culture in which any sense that there are rules of decency has been long since trampled.

We should have no illusions. Vladimir Putin is a huge problem for the United States, just as he is for his neighbors and for his own people.

He has crushed every bud of liberal democracy in Russia, has invaded Ukraine to seize its sovereign territory by force, at the cost of well over 10,000 lives, and he has backed the dictator Bashar Assad in Syria, with the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands.

The evidence is quickly mounting of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and of its ongoing operations, apparently aimed at eroding democratic politics, social cohesion and security alliances from Europe to Latin America. These are grave threats and they should be met with clarity, strength and resolve.

Yet not a single one of these threats posed by Russia has a military solution. We can hit the Russians as hard as we want, to “punish” them for bad behavior, but as long as they have the ability to hit back, they will do so, and the cycle will continue.

Such escalation carries unacceptable risks.

As Ronald Reagan said, a U.S.-Russian nuclear war cannot be won, and so must never be fought. That means that Americans will have to make difficult choices about which tools of our national power to use to manage relations with Russia.

The good news is we have an impressive arsenal, if we can bring it to bear intelligently.

Aside from our military, which is by any measure the world’s strongest, the U.S. economy is still the largest, and it far exceeds even a fast-growing China as a hub for investment and innovation for the entire world. America’s greatest asset has been its incomparable soft power—the attractive force of our culture, our values, our readiness to lead and, when necessary, to sacrifice.

These strengths can see us through to victory over the Russian threat—and any other—in the long term.

But in the meantime, our vital national interests, including our security, prosperity and our very identity, are at risk from the dysfunction gripping our national life.

This problem is far bigger than U.S.-Russia relations, but it comes to a head in the contest between Washington and Moscow.

Consider the treatment of Russia today in much of our national debate. It is somehow both a great menace—apparently capable of stealing all our secrets, manipulating our leaders, brainwashing our electorate—and yet is also the butt of jokes, not deserving of even the grudging respect a wise warrior accords his adversary.

In the rush to unearth and expunge nefarious Russian influence in our country, Americans have embraced a logic of conspiracy theories and strictly zero-sum thinking that is, if anything, familiar to Russians from decades of Soviet and post-Soviet life.

In this climate, efforts to understand and explain Russian conduct as something more than earthly expressions of evil are condemned as victories for Russian propaganda and calls for diplomatic engagement are dismissed as hopelessly naïve.

When it comes to Russia, there simply is no longer room for the pragmatism that has been at the very core of our American worldview, and that ensured our survival and success despite half a century of Cold War.

This is not who we are as Americans. This is not how the good guys behave. And, most importantly, this cannot end well.

Matthew Rojansky is Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both
 

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Earlier this month, the Russian oligarchs fired a thinly veiled warning shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin when they planted simultaneous stories in multiple major European newspapers claiming that Putin was considering quitting. Putin has no such plans, but it was the Russian billionaires’ way of reminding him that they control his fate and they’re unhappy about the costly sanctions corner he’s backed them into. Now the real reason for their impatience is coming to light, and it’s even uglier than previously known.

The new sanctions law passed by the United States in August will financially harm the Russian oligarchs far more severely than previously believed, according to a new profile from The Economist (link). These increased sanctions will serve to blacklist the oligarchs as if they were terrorists, preventing them from carrying various kinds of business deals, and devastating them in the wallet.

It’s not widely understood, but Putin’s primary motivation for rigging the U.S. election in Trump’s favor was to get existing U.S. sanctions against Russia lifted. Those sanctions have personally cost Putin billions of dollars over the past few years, and they’ve cost his oligarchs even more. Instead, because Putin rigged the election in such a brazen way and got caught, and because Trump has been such a disaster, it’s prompted the U.S. to crack down with even harsher sanctions.

At this point the Russian oligarchs may only have one path for getting sanctions lifted and getting back on the good side of the United States: by ousting Vladimir Putin from within, and by taking down Donald Trump in the process. It’s why the oligarchs planted those stories about Putin’s supposed retirement in the media. This has been all about money, and lots of it, from the start. Putin helped make the oligarchs wealthy to begin with, but now he’s costing them money and they won’t tolerate it for much longer.

The post The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both appeared first on Palmer Report.

Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection? – Newsweek
 

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Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection?
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In 2014, Ross led a takeover of the Bank of Cyprus, whose biggest shareholder at the time was the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Some years earlier, Rybolovlev had purchased a Florida mansion from Trump for $95 million. The buying price was …and more »
The Left Is Losing Its Mind Over Trump, Russia and Putin
 

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This year, after nearly three decade abroad, I returned to the United States, and it has taken a while to adjust to the political climate. I keep going to press conferences, receptions and dinner parties and hearing politicians and political operatives fulminating about “the Russians.”

The refrain is pretty similar: They used to be known as the Soviets, but they never really changed. The damned KGB always ran the country, and it still does. And, you know, they stole the election last year. They colluded with our opponent! There’s a red in damned near every bed these days.

What’s a little discombobulating about this line is it’s mostly coming from Democrats and journalists in the mainstream press. A friend in New York—a Canadian, and thus not a participant in the ongoing drama in American politics—was recently at a dinner party hosted by a major Democratic donor and his wife. In passing, he said he was about to travel to see the refurbished Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and then enjoy a performance at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

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The others in attendance looked at him, my friend told me, as if he were nuts. “You know,” the host informed him, “that’s pretty much like going to Berlin in 1938.” My friend changed the subject.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had political opponents killed and destabilized two of Russia’s neighboring countries, but he isn’t Hitler. Even for the foot-stomping, tantrum-throwing Democrats in 2017, that comparison is ludicrous. But other lefties fall back on World War II for a different comparison: The Russian meddling in our democracy was “the equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman put it. That makes the Russian president the equivalent of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and the imperial Japanese.

Related: Robert Mueller is a hothead who can’t own up to his mistakes, former aides say 

U.S. President Barack Obama extends his hand to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

As someone who grew up during the Cold War, spent much of the ’90s covering Eastern and Central Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then Russia (including Putin’s ascent) later in the decade, this line of thinking seems bizarre. Democrats, it seems, have willfully tossed their past positions on Russia down the Orwellian memory hole.

In 1972, George McGovern won the Democratic nomination for president, and with that came the end of serious Soviet skepticism in the party. He had vanquished Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a senator from Washington and the party’s leading anti-Soviet hawk. Jackson tried again in 1976, only to lose to Jimmy Carter, who chided his political opponents for their “inordinate fear” of Communism. (To Carter’s credit, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, he admitted that the “scales” had fallen from his eyes.)

But unlike Carter, a lot of others on the left failed to sober up. When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the mainstream Democratic Party became consumed by nuclear hysteria—we were all gonna die!—and that fear infected the producers of pop culture. In 1983, ABC broadcast a propaganda film entitled The Day After, which was what life would be like after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Then, there was On the Eighth Day, a 1984 documentary about what would happen after a nuclear war. And around the same time period, Carl Sagan, a popular astronomer with a television series on public broadcasting, penned a widely read article on the same subject: “We have placed our civilization and our species in jeopardy,” he wrote. “Fortunately, it is not yet too late. We can safeguard the planetary civilization and the human family if we so choose. There is no more important or more urgent issue.”

The tenor of this and other doomsday nuclear narratives was that if the worst happened, it was going to Reagan’s fault. This fear sparked the nuclear freeze movement, as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Europe to protest the planned installation of intermediate-range nuclear weapons on the western part of the continent.

In those days, “colluding” with Moscow wasn’t a big deal. The Soviets tried to help the nuclear freeze movement, which they saw as in their interests. KGB agents occasionally funneled cash to so-called “peace groups” in the West, and some left-leaning arms-control groups acknowledged that Soviet agents would turn up at conferences to help with propaganda. Yet many Democrats thought the nuclear freeze movement had been a great success. Why? Because the anti-nuclear uprising “had a substantial impact upon mainstream politics, especially the Democratic Party,” wrote Lawrence Wittner, a professor of history at the State University of New York at Albany. “After the movement’s successes in 1982, the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination met with peace movement leaders, pledging their support for a nuclear freeze and other nuclear arms control measures. The Democrats pushed a freeze resolution through the House of Representatives in the spring of 1983 and made the freeze a part of the party’s campaign platform in 1984.” Never mind that Reagan, the man the left derided as a warmonger nuclear cowboy, won the 1984 election in a historic landslide.

Sixteen years later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin replaced a drunken and ailing Boris Yeltsin, who, however briefly, had brought democracy to Russia. At a New Year’s reception in 2000, President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Russia, Jim Collins, acknowledged the main reaction to Putin’s ascension in the U.S. government was one of “relief,” because Russia was so chaotic in those days. Secretary of State Madeline Albright would later call the former KGB man a “reformer.”

Putin for years was able to dupe U.S. presidents into thinking he was their friend—from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. In a 2012 presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney cited Putin’s Russia as the U.S.’s foremost foreign policy challenge, and Obama sarcastically said the “1980s are calling, and they want their foreign policy back.” The Democrats cheered. And Obama appeared to believe he could work with the Russian strongman. He famously asked Putin stooge Dmitry Medvedev to “tell Vladimir” that after the election he (Obama) would have more “flexibility’’ to work on arms control deals.

But the moment that really captured the credulity of the Democratic Party when it came to Russia and Putin had come earlier. In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, with a “reset” button, which meant the administration would replace the bad, anti-Russian policies of the past with new ones. The problem, however, is the word “reset” was misspelled on the button. Those who controlled Obama’s foreign policy evidently couldn’t find a Russian speaker competent enough to tell them that the button presented to Lavrov said “overcharged” in Russia. Clinton laughed at the mistake. Lavrov laughed at her.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during an interview with Mariella Frostrup at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in Cheltenham, England, on October 15. Reuters

Now, Democratic representatives all over Washington can’t stop ranting about Moscow. I asked David Satter, a Washington-based journalist—and the only Western reporter to be banned by Putin from entering Russia since the end of the Cold War—what I should make of all this. Are these people serious about their anti-Russian venom?

“Oh God, no,” he said, as we sat in a Russian restaurant called Mari Vanna in Manhattan. “This is all just politics, and hypocrisy is the mother’s milk of politics.”

I think he’s right. I’m agnostic on the question of whether President Donald Trump or his associates actually “colluded’’ with Putin to win the election. If they did, they should be strung up.

As for Putin, he’s undoubtedly an authoritarian thug. At home, he has eliminated many of the briefly won freedoms of the Yeltsin era, and abroad, he seems determined to again dominate Russia’s neighbors. But it would be hard to find many liberals in Washington who actually cared about any of this before Trump beat Clinton.

If the outcome had been reversed, Congress might still be working to figure out how exactly Russia meddled in the election—just as the Soviets had done in 1968 and 1976. But we most certainly wouldn’t have this anti-Russian circus going on in the nation’s capital—a show that will likely continue for quite some time.

Dem. rep seeks answers on FBI’s failure to notify Russian hacking victims | TheHill
 

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trump turkey flynn kurds – Google Search
 

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US-Turkish political stew: KurdsFlynn — and even Bharara

NewsdayNov 26, 2017
President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to …

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Turkey ‘very happy’ as US stops arming Kurds in Syria

<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>Nov 25, 2017
ANKARA, Turkey — The United States seems set to cut off its supply of arms … Trump that is sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who …. of Trump’s inauguration about a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn …

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Reza Zarrab – Google Search
 

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Zarrab to Testify for Prosecution in Iran-Sanctions Case

Bloomberg38 minutes ago
Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of an international corruption case, is set to tell a New York jury the “inside story” of a …
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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The Talk of Turkey? A Politically Charged Trial in New York
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U.S.-Turkish political stew: Kurds, Flynn and even Bharara
 

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Eyes are on Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Eyes are on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen here in Ankara on Nov. 21, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Burhan Ozbilici

President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to foreign-policy news.

On Friday, the two leaders were due to speak by phone, with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort for the long holiday weekend. Subjects were to include Syria and conflicts in the region.

Turkey’s foreign minister, who said he was with Erdogan during the call, said afterward that Trump gave assurances his administration would stop supplying arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been U.S. allies.

After all, Kurdish separatists are a thorn in Erdogan’s side.

Such policy choices aside, the discussion of Turkish ties to Washington turns quickly and naturally to Trump’s short-tenured national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has his eyes on the retired lieutenant general, who failed to disclose a payment of $530,000 from Inovo BV, a Dutch consulting firm owned by a Turkish businessman closely tied to Erdogan.

Flynn’s lawyer said back in March that the work for the firm “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey,” which is why he belatedly filed it under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Flynn has been a campaign and White House adviser with close links to a president who rode to election proclaiming “America First.”

Late Thursday, it was reported that Flynn’s lawyer informed Trump’s legal team that he can no longer discuss the Mueller probe with him. That stirred speculation about Flynn’s cooperation with investigators and where it could lead.

This comes after reports that Erdogan’s men may have discussed with Flynn last year a paid mission that involved grabbing a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania — whom Erdogan blames for a coup attempt — and returning him to Turkey.

The intrigue seems to leach further into the American justice system than just the probe of Flynn.

There is also the long-lived case of Reza Zarrab — the Turkish-Iranian gold trader charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Erdogan calls the case a plot against his republic. Over the weekend he purportedly launched an investigation of his own into former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought the case against Zarrab, an ally of Erdogan.

Bharara was fired by Trump after the president asked him to stay in the job. Responding to Erdogan, Bharara’s interim successor Joon Kim and Judge Richard Berman issued a rare reply to the Turkish government.

On Tuesday, Kim said: “Needless to say, it’s our view that those claims are ridiculous on their face. It displays a fundamental misunderstanding or lack of understanding of how our system of justice works and, frankly, the rule of law works.”

Diplomatically, Berman said that if Turkish officials wish to help Zarrab, they could do so by “producing in court any Turkish evidence or witnesses that they may be aware of who could assist the defense in presenting their case.”

Trump doesn’t seem inclined to complain about the Erdogan regime’s conduct in this or any other controversy.

In fact, on the defense side of the case, the president finds two political allies — Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, and Michael Mukasey, the former attorney general.

By most accounts their job has been to try to get the case resolved through meetings away from courtroom arguments. Recent buzz has been about the prospect of a cooperation deal, but the matter is still apparently pending.

These are the shadowy complications of the moment in Turkish-American politics.

Melville.

By Dan JanisonDan Janison has been a columnist at Newsday since 2007.

What Flynns Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us
 

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This article first appeared on Just Security.

Many commentators anticipate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely indict retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn in part for the former National Security Advisor’s previously undisclosed work as a foreign agent of Turkey.

Mueller’s team has reportedly obtained enough evidence to indict Flynn and his son, according to an NBC News report earlier this month.

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There is no way to tell, based on current reporting, whether that body of indictable evidence includes the two alleged meetings in Sept. and Dec. 2016 where Flynn may have discussed a plot to forcibly remove U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, or initiate legal proceedings against him, in exchange for $15 million.

But in considering Flynn’s case, it is important to keep track of how he changed from a relatively hardline position against the government of Turkey to public positions in favor of Ankara.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Fllynn in the East Room of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Important questions for legal liability and moral responsibility include whether Flynn’s conflict of interest and efforts in favor of Turkey continued past the election and into his time in office.

Engaging in pro-Turkish government dealings was a major change in Flynn’s position on Turkey. In July 2016, Flynn gave a speech supporting the military coup against the Turkish government, specifically citing the country’s “move toward Islamism” under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the military’s secular orientation.

And previously, while serving as DIA Director under the Obama administration, Flynn says he alerted White House officials to Turkey’s indifference toward ISIS’ growth in Syria.

What explains why Flynn changed his position on Turkey and why did he persist in pro-Turkish positions after his firm’s contract to work on behalf of the Turkish government purportedly ended?

I. Flynn’s initial anti-Erdoğan, anti-Islamist public positions, and his later The Hill Op-Ed Reversal

  1. War Against “Cunning Radical Islamists” Tweet (Nov. 16, 2015)

Flynn has publicly spoken against what he views as a global threat of radical Islamism, which, according to his view, also implicated Erdoğan’s pro-Islamist government at one point. He tweeted in November 2015:

We are facing violent, but very serious and cunning radical Islamists. We can be war weary when we win. If we lose, we have nothing.

2. Flynn Expresses Concerns on Turkey’s Indifference to ISIS to Sy Hersh (January 2016)

Flynn seemed to view Turkey’s pro-Islamist attitudes as leading to the country’s indifference to ISIS growing next door. In January 2016, he told Seymour Hersh in a New Yorker interview:

If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic…We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.

He added that the Obama administration gave “enormous pushback” with respect to the DIA’s reporting on ISIS’s growth in Syria, including Turkey’s alleged indifference: “I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.”

3. Flynn Tweets that Fear of Muslims is Rational (Feb. 27. 2016)

In line with his prior statements, Flynn tweeted in Feb. 2016 that fear of Muslims was “rational:”

Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions… http://youtu.be/tJnW8HRHLLw

4. Flynn Lauds the Anti-Erdogan Coup at ACT! For America Speech (July 15, 2016)

On July 15, 2016, Flynn gave a speech at the Cleveland meeting of ACT! For America. The organization is an advocacy group that opposes what it calls “Islamofascism,” which Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s founder, believes comes from “one source: The Koran.” Flynn began his remarks by expressing support for the military-led coup d’état in Turkey:

[The Turkish military] has been just excised for many years by what, what really became a secular country, meaning a sort of, regular sort of nation-state, and then began to move toward Islamism. This is Turkey under Erdoğan, who is actually very close to President Obama.

So, I’m going to be very fascinated to see what happens, because if they, the military succeeds, then one of the things that came out of the military tonight, they’re about plus eight hours from here, so it’s probably about I don’t know, three-four o’clock in the morning there.

One of the things the military immediately said is: “We recognize our responsibilities with NATO, we recognize our responsibilities with the United Nations, we want to make sure that the world knows, we are, we want to be seen as a secular nation. This is the military.

[Applause]

So, yeah, I think that is worth clapping for.

5. New York Times Notes Flynn and Trump Share Islamophobic Outlook and Flynn’s Influence on the Campaign (November 2016)

The New York Times’s post-election profile of Flynn noted his anti-Islamist credentials throughout the campaign:

[Trump and Flynn] have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.

[Trump and Flynn] both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not).

As an adviser, General Flynn has already proved to be a powerful influence on Mr. Trump, convincing the president-elect that the United States is in a “world war” with Islamist militants and must work with any willing allies in the fight, including President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

6. Flynn Supports Erdoğan Government’s Goals in the Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 08, 2016)

On Election Day 2016, The Hill published an op-ed by Flynn titled, “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.”

The op-ed criticized the Obama administration for not being friendly enough toward Erdoğan’s government and portrayed Gülen as a cleric who “portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist.”

It compares Gülen to the founders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and labels him Turkey’s equivalent of Bin Laden:

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden.

It also ties Gülen to the Clinton Foundation:

[F]unding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gülen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.”

And concludes:

We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective. What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are.

When Flynn’s op-ed came out, Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who hired Flynn’s firm, told the New York Times : “This is not a guy who would be influenced by a contract. He wrote what he believes.”

Al Monitor ’s Turkey columnist Mustafa Akyol also told the paper of the warm reception Flynn’s op-ed had inside the government of Turkey: “You would expect to see [an Islamophobia] concern here, but quite the contrary: Flynn is quite a respected figure now in government circles, just because he wrote that Gülen should be extradited to Turkey.”

He added: “[Flynn’s op-ed] was greeted with great happiness here,” adding that Erdoğan supporters thought: “Finally, somebody in America who understands us.”

In late Nov., Alptekin denied that either Erdoğan or the Turkish government paid for Flynn’s op-ed, telling The Independent that the idea was “preposterous,” noting that the op-ed also criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Erdogan had sometimes supported.

He contended that Inovo’s contract with Flynn Intel Group was “not about representing the position of the Turkish government,” and Alptekin said that he was not affiliated with the Turkish government.

Flynn has a strong anti-Islamist streak, and yet he went from criticizing Turkey’s relatively pro-Islamist government and supporting the coup against Erdoğan, to publicly advocating for Gülen’s removal to face justice for the coup in Turkey. What changed between these two events—the coup and the op-ed—to cause Flynn to switch positions on Turkey?

II. A likely motive: lucrative lobbying contracts, and how Flynn’s private business activities may have affected his public positions

  1. Flynn Intel Group Signs Contract with Inovo BV (Aug. 2016)

In early August 2016, Flynn Intel Group was approached by Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Prs Erdoğan.

Alptekin proposed that Flynn work on a project repairing Turkey’s image in the United States with Alptekin’s Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV—work to be performed by Flynn’s firm over 90 days in exchange for $600,000. Flynn agreed.

Though Flynn later conceded in his belated filing that the Inovo work “could be construed to have principally helped the Republic of Turkey,” Flynn opted not to file this work with the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) database until strongly encouraged to do so by the Justice Department.

FARA requires lobbyists whose work directly or indirectly benefits a foreign government to file as agents of a foreign power. The Flynn firm would likely assert that because the Inovo work benefitted a business and not a foreign nation, the firm could instead file with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and it did so in Sept. 2016.

2. Flynn Meets with Turkish Ministers Alongside Woolsey in New York (Sept. 21, 2016)

On September 21, Flynn met in New York with the Turkish foreign minister and energy ministers (the latter is also Erdoğan’s son-in-law), alongside former CIA Director James Woolsey and a former FBI agent, according to Woolsey’s account of the deliberations.

Woolsey later told the Wall Street Journal that the meeting discussed a plot to remove Turkish cleric Gülen from the United States and take him to Turkey.

According to a report by the Daily Caller, one month after the Sept. 2016 meeting between Flynn and Turkish ministers in New York, Flynn attended an event with Halil Mutlu, former director of the Turken Foundation, a U.S. charity focused on Turkish issues, and President Erdoğan’s cousin. (Readers should note: The Daily Caller generally has a far-right ideological lens, and has been criticized for having a white nationalist problem in recent months.)

3. Flynn Intel Group Lobbies Congress on Inovo’s Behalf (Sept.–Oct. 2016)

After signing the contract with Inovo BV, Flynn’s Intel Group began lobbying Congress on Inovo’s behalf, though Flynn himself did not participate in the lobbying. Flynn’s Sept. 2016 Lobbying Disclosure Act forms reveal that Robert Kelley, Flynn’s lawyer and a former Chief Counsel to a House subcommittee, managed the lobbying portion of the Inovo contract.

According to the FARA registration, in Oct. 2016, VP Bijan R. Kian met twice with Miles Taylor, National Security Advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee, to discuss Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo and research related to Turkey and Gülen.

According to a Daily Caller source, at the second meeting, Kian and Inovo representatives discussed Gülen with Taylor, and what they called his “shady” Gülen Movement Schools.

The source added that House committee staff were not receptive to Kian’s approach, and that Flynn was not present for the meeting. Beyond this Congressional outreach, the FARA registration also notes that Flynn’s firm  oversaw a PR firm SGR LLC’s outreach to an Arkansas state government official with respect to the Inovo work.

The AP reported that as part of the Taylor meeting, Flynn Intel Group staff suggested that Congress hold hearings about Gülen.

At the time of the filing, Alptekin told the AP : “I disagree with the filing…It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government.” He said the filings were a response to “political pressure.”

4. Flynn Group’s VP Meets Alptekin Prior to The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 2, 2016)

According to an in-depth profile of Flynn by The New Yorker ’s Nicholas Schmidle, on November 2, 2016, Alptekin privately met Flynn Intel Group VP Bijan R. Kian and other corporate officers at the firm’s offices in Alexandria, Va. Alptekin, believing that Trump was likely to lose the election, emphasized that, “We have to generate something to show Turkey how successful we can be…What success can we show them now?”

As Schmidle points out, Flynn’s op-ed in The Hill was published a week later.

5. Flynn and Alptekin Statement to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2016)

Flynn told the Wall Street Journal in a Nov. 17 statement that he would end his relationship with his firm if offered to serve in the Trump administration. He said: “If I return to government service, my relationship with my company will be severed in accordance with the policy announced by President-elect Trump.”

Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin tells the Journal that he hired Flynn to advise him on the U.S.-Turkish security relationship, and more generally, to improve U.S.-Turkish relations.

6. WH Cabinet Secretary’s Post-Election Investigation into Flynn’s The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 19, 2016)

On Nov. 19, the day after Trump appointed Flynn as his National Security Adviser, lawyer Bill McGinley, who later became White House Cabinet Secretary, called Kian and others to investigate the Flynn op-ed. A source told The New Yorker:

Some people seemed skeptical as to whether Flynn had really woken up the day before the election and felt compelled to write an op-ed defending Erdoğan…McGinley wanted to know if Turkish government dollars touched that op-ed.

Kian reportedly told McGinley that Flynn wrote the op-ed entirely on his own, and that it was unrelated to his work for Alptekin.

However, the Flynn group’s FARA filing noted that in October and early November, Flynn developed the op-ed based partly based on research done for the Inovo work, and that a draft was shared with Inovo before publication. Further, SGR LLC, a public relations firm Flynn Intel Group hired as part of the Inovo contract, helped Flynn place The Hill op-ed.

7. Second Meeting with Turkish officials on Alleged Gülen Plot in New York (Dec. 2016)

Mueller’s investigation is reportedly looking into whether, during a second alleged meeting between Flynn and Turkish government representatives in mid-Dec. 2016, participants discussed a plan for Flynn and Flynn Jr. to remove Gülen in exchange for up to $15 million dollars.

It is also reportedly looking into whether they discussed a separate plan to free Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab. The Wall Street Journal reported that the alleged meeting took place in mid-December at the 21 Club in New York, and the discussion considered forcibly removing Mr. Gülen from the U.S. on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

If the December meeting were to be confirmed, even if the more sensational allegations about the content of the meeting were not established, it could contradict Flynn Intel Group’s filing statements, which state that the Flynn firm’s contract with Inovo terminated in November 2016, and that is when Flynn’s paid work that benefited the Turkish government ended. Intentional false statements on a FARA form are a felony.

8. Flynn Tells Susan Rice “We’ll Take it From Here” on Raqqa Campaign (Jan. 10, 2017)

On Jan. 10, outgoing National Security Adviser Susan Rice presented Flynn a plan to imminently take over the Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa, Syria, according to the Washington Post. The plan involved arming Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Syria, and Obama administration officials believed they had little time left to move forward with the operation.

The Post noted that Turkey’s Erdoğan had resisted their overtures to fight the Islamic State more robustly, leading in part to the U.S. plan to rely on the Kurds:

In contrast to Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not see the Islamic State as his country’s No. 1 threat. In private meetings with senior U.S. officials in 2014, Erdoğan said the Kurds were his top concern and that removing Assad ranked second, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Erdoğan has long been upset by the U.S. support for Syrian Kurds, which he considers part of a terrorist group that threatens Turkey’s national security.

According to the Post , Flynn responded to Rice:

Don’t approve it…We’ll make the decision.

McClatchy reported that it is not known if Flynn consulted other administration officials before telling Rice to hold off on the decision, or whether Flynn’s decision was approved by a higher-ranking official such as Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis.

Raqqa Plan is “Dead on Arrival” When Presented to Trump Officials (Jan. 17, 2017)

When the plan was turned over to the Trump administration on Jan. 17, per Flynn’s request, the Postreported that it “was dead on arrival.” According to McClatchy, “Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word ‘treason’ to describe Flynn’s intervention” with Rice.

And while there is no reporting whether Flynn advised Trump to hold off on the Raqqa assault, media outlets have noted that Trump only approved the plan weeks after he had fired Flynn.

10. Flynn, Turkish FM Meet over Breakfast at Trump Hotel (Jan. 18, 2017)

McClatchy reported that Flynn met Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over breakfast on Jan. 18 to discuss U.S.-Turkish interests. It was later reported by Business Insider that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was also present at the closed-door meeting at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported at the time of the breakfast that the meeting was “a first direct reachout between the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan administration and the incoming Donald Trump administration.”

An aide to Cavusoglu told the paper that that “Çavuşoğlu was the only foreign leader at the breakfast and the topics on the U.S.-Turkish agenda were discussed by the attendees.” Cavusoglu would later attend Trump’s inauguration.

Met w/General Flynn,who will assume the position of National Security Advisor, and other officials at a working breakfast in Washington D.C.

11. President Trump’s Call with Erdogan (Feb. 7, 2017)

On Trump’s first call with Erdoğan, the pair agreed to engage in joint action against ISIS positions in Syria, according to two sources in Erdoğan’s office, Reuters reported.

They added that Erdoğan urged Trump not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Al-Monitorreported based that a senior Turkish official said that Erdoğan “drew attention to the close ties between the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party,” the Turkish-based Kurdish group. Likewise, Reuters added that CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be in Turkey on Feb. 9 to discuss security issues with Turkish officials.

Considering the nature of Flynn’s pre- and alleged post-election work on behalf of the Turkish government, it appears that the money paid to him as part of the Inovo contract may have played a decisive role in changing his position on Turkey.

The extent of his reversal would have negatively implicated U.S. national security interests if it figured into his response to Susan Rice on the operation to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State’s so-called capital.

But why would Flynn remain motivated by pecuniary interests once he was named to be national security advisor and then served in the administration?

Perhaps it was not a financial interest at that point. Perhaps it was a case of a person’s judgment being clouded, convincing themselves that they believe in a new policy outlook to reduce the cognitive dissonance that would otherwise persist.

Another explanation is a more illicit one. If Flynn and his son were still interested in mid-December in being personally paid $15 million by Turkey, there’s reason to think Flynn would not have dropped such interests going forward on other policies favorable to Turkey.

The allegations reported in the Wall Street Journal and NBC News involving the mid-December meeting certainly raise this specter. The available information in the public domain does not provide a sufficient basis to reach any firm conclusion.

It will be up to Mueller’s investigation and others to tell.

Artin Afkhami Associate Editor at Just Security.

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?

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Flynn allegedly discussed getting paid $15 million to help free Reza … a joint defense agreement with the Trump defense team last week.
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
 

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Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty and will testify against his co-defendant, a federal court heard Tuesday. Zarrab’s cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted on behalf of Turkish interests to help free Zarrab.

Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of an Iran sanctions-busting case in which he used his companies and Turkish state-run banks to trade cash for gold in order to secretly buy oil from Iran. A former deputy general manager of one of those banks, Mehmet Atilla, is charged as part of that same conspiracy.

Atilla’s lawyers complained that co-defendant Zarrab had vanished in the weeks before trial was to start, an indication that he was no longer cooperating with them but instead federal prosecutors. He is expected to testify Tuesday or Wednesday.

Zarrab’s apparent cooperation with federal prosecutors raised speculation that he was also cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Flynn, because it seemed unlikely prosecutors would offer a plea deal to Zarrab in exchange for his cooperation for the comparatively lower-profile trial of Atilla.

Shortly after Zarrab seemed to flip, Flynn’s lawyers terminated a joint defense agreement with the Trump defense team last week. Flynn’s lawyer reportedly met with members of the Mueller probe on Monday, ABC News reported, a further indication that the embattled ex-national security advisor is also pursuing a plea deal.

Zarrab’s plight was reportedly raised by Turkish interests in a December 2016 meeting with Flynn, who was designated to be President Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn was supposedly offered $15 million to arrange Zarrab’s release and to kidnap an exiled Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen, and bring him to Turkey. (Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen, a former ally, of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup.)

The Zarrab case has roiled the upper echelons of the Turkish government and stems from a 2013 corruption scandal, which allegedly revealed that top-level ministers to bribes to sign off on the sanctions evasions — and even allegedly captured Erdogan and his son talking about how to hide money.

Erdogan has repeatedly raised Zarrab’s release with U.S. officials from the Obama and Trump administrations. Zarrab even retained friends of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, to negotiate a diplomatic release with the top levels of the Trump and Erdogan administrations.

After the jury was selected on Monday, Atilla’s lawyers asked the judge to delay the trial so they could prepare for a mystery witness.

“The government should also make clear that the mystery witness is Mr. Reza Zarrab,” Judge Richard Berman wrote in a ruling denying the motion to postpone trial on Monday. “This is something that experienced counsel knew or should have known about for months.”

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Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today
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A Turkish-Iranian gold trader linked to both Mike Flynn and Rudy Giuliani has agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors. Reza Zarrab was scheduled to stand trial earlier this month in New York, where the U.S. attorney had filed charges in an 
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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? – Daily Beast
 

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
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Zarrab’s cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly conspired to help free Zarrab while lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests. Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of and more »
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Russian jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept of US Navy aircraft
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(CNN) A Russian Su-30 fighter jet made an “unsafe” intercept of a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft Saturday while it was flying over the Black Sea, the Pentagon told CNN Monday. “The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to 
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A Russian Su-30 fighter jet had an unsafe interception with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane Saturday as the Russian aircraft used its afterburners while flying in front of American plane over the Black Sea. According to a CNN report, the …and more »
6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post
 

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Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! __________________________________ “Scores of U.S. diplomatic, military and government figures were not told about attempts to hack into their emails even though the FBI knew they were in the Kremlins crosshairs, The Associated Press has learned.”  FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets – … Continue reading“6:33 AM 11/28/2017 – FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets – Washington Post”

9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT
 

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__________________________________ M.N. This observation, once again, is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” (in Comey’s words: “They were unusually loud in their intervention. It is as almost they didn’t care that we knew, or they wanted us to see what they do. They were very noisy in their interventions…” – 2:48:55 … Continue reading“9:17 AM 11/28/2017 – M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” – Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – NYT”

Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
 

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“Please,” the senator said, “answer yes or no, sir. Can you do that?”

It was late October, and Minnesota’s Al Franken was two hours into a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russia’s manipulation of social media, including its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Sitting across from him and the other senators at a long table was a lawyer from Facebook. Franken tried to get the man to say whether the social media network would reject political ads purchased with foreign currency. But the attorney remained obtuse, and the senator dropped his head into his hands in frustration.

That hearing came a day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced the first charges in its probe of Russian interference in the election and possible coordination with President Donald Trump’s campaign. A grand jury charged Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, another former campaign member, with money laundering, among other things. The special counsel also announced that George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, had pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his ties to suspected Russian agents.

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It’s been less than seven months since Mueller’s work began, and already his investigation seems to be the only one that matters in Washington. The federal lawmakers digging into the same subject typically lack the mandate to conduct raids and make arrests, and their lists of potential witnesses are likely to shrink with each Mueller indictment, since no one wants to interfere with the criminal probe. But a primary reason the congressional investigations have moved slowly is that they’re mired in partisan politics, according to interviews with more than a dozen members of Congress.

Similar divides have hindered congressional investigations before, such as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2004 report on Iraq. But with lawmakers on at least one committee talking about possibly releasing separate Russia reports, the current dramas seem to go further.

“As much as this committee…has traditionally sort of been insulated from partisanship over the years,” says Representative Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, “this issue has thrown all that out the window.”

Congressional investigators jumped on the Russia matter not long after the U.S. intelligence community declared in January that the Kremlin had tried to sway the election against Hillary Clinton. In May, President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, implying in an NBC News interview that the decision was partly due to the bureau’s Russia investigation. About a week later, the Justice Department appointed special counsel Mueller, and by June, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House and Senate intelligence committees had opened probes into Russian interference and other related topics.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was making progress over the summer. It issued bipartisan requests for documents from the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. But by late October, cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on the committee broke down. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member, told Mother Jones that she and her Democratic colleagues would be moving forward with the Russia probe without the Republicans. Days later, she sent letters requesting information from people or companies, without the signature of Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman. That suggested he was too slow to approve the Democrats’ requests for information, or unwilling to do so. (Neither senator was available for an interview.)

Today, critics say Republicans on the committee seem mostly focused on Comey’s conduct as FBI director and an allegedly questionable uranium deal with Russia that Clinton’s State Department helped approve. The Republican side of the committee, says Senator Chris Coons, a committee Democrat from Delaware, “treats the Russia investigation as a Democratic priority.” The GOP, he adds, acts as if every time the probe moves forward, they should pursue “something that goes after Hillary Clinton.” It wasn’t until November 16, for example, that the chairman and the ranking member sent their first bipartisan letter in almost two months, seeking information from the lawyer for Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser.

US president Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin talk after a meeting on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Alamy Live News

Part of the problem is that the GOP controls the committee (and the others probing Russian collusion), so the Democrats generally need Republican approval to compel people to turn over documents or to testify. “There’s nothing the minority can do but say ‘Mother, may I?’ to the majority to get an agreement to have these witnesses come before us,” says Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California on the House Intelligence Committee. “It is a tap dance that we have to do to get them to cooperate.”

The probe by the House Intelligence Committee has been even more contentious. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman, recused himself as reports swirled that he had provided Trump with unauthorized intelligence about government surveillance of the president’s transition team. (Nunes has called the complaints about him “entirely false and politically motivated.”) Despite interviews in November with high-profile witnesses, including Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, and Keith Schiller, the former director of Oval Office operations, the committee is dealing with political divides that threaten to derail its progress.

The Senate Intelligence Committee seems to be making the most progress. In June, it held a dramatic hearing in which Comey said he had kept memos of his encounters with Trump because he expected the president to lie about them. In early October, Republican Senator Richard Burr, the committee chairman, and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman, held a joint press conference to announce that their panel had reviewed almost 100,000 pages of documents and conducted more than 250 hours of interviews with at least 100 people. That work suggests the Senate Intelligence Committee is the public’s best hope for a timely and thorough bipartisan report on the Russian meddling and possible collusion by some of Trump’s people.

But even if the committee puts out a detailed report, the question of whether anyone committed crimes will ultimately fall to Mueller. And as he moves forward, the congressional committees could find it harder to complete their inquiries. Lawmakers may be reluctant to ask those whom the special counsel indicts to testify before Congress, for fear of disrupting Mueller’s work. (If a suspect gives different testimony to Congress from what he or she gives to Mueller, it could create legal problems for prosecutors.) It’s also likely that anyone indicted would invoke his or her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination and decline to testify before Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee had called on Manafort to testify before his indictment, and both intelligence committees have been in touch with Papadopoulos or his legal team, but those appearances now seem less likely to happen. The special counsel and committees are trying to work out any conflicts, yet committee staffers and members remain cautious.

As the congressional investigations crawl forward, the parties are split over when the probes should end and whether they will find evidence of collusion. On the House Intelligence Committee, the Republicans claim Democrats are prolonging the investigation to hurt them in the 2018 midterm elections. “We could drag this out,” says Representative Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah, “but it’s not serving the American people if we do.”

New York activists demonstrated inside the Trump Tower atrium to voice their objection in response to reports that Donald Trump is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller and to pardon administration members who have broken the law. Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/Alamy Live News

Some Republican investigators still don’t believe there was any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. “We have not had one witness or one shred of evidence” suggesting collusion, says Rooney, the Republican congressman from Florida.

The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee disagree. And they believe the Republicans are working to shut down the probe quickly to leave the question of collusion unsolved. “This investigation is still closer to the beginning than the end,” says Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois. “People ask me, ‘Are you connecting dots?’ My answer is: ‘We’re still finding our dots.’”

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the committee, says they are still receiving new information and have “a long list” of witnesses to interview. As for collusion, Schiff adds, “You have to, I think, willfully blind yourself to what we’ve seen to suggest there’s no evidence.” He has said it’s possible each party will issue its own report.

Across the committees, there’s one thing lawmakers from both parties agree on: Americans shouldn’t expect their probes to unfold the way Mueller’s is developing. As part of that investigation, federal agents raided Manafort’s home and arrested Papadopoulos in the middle of an airport, leading to his stunning confession.

Now that Mueller’s team has reportedly requested documents from the Justice Department and plans to interview senior White House officials, and as speculation grows that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has flipped and is working with the special counsel, Americans may soon find out the truth about the Trump team’s alleged obstruction and collusion. As Representative Denny Heck of Washington, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, puts it, “I’ll be very surprised if there aren’t people that are going to jail.”

Trump’s and Putin’s connections with organized crime – Google News: Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – New York Times
 

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Trump tells Turkish president U.S. will stop arming Kurds in Syria – The Washington Post
 

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President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown in May, have agreed that the United States will stop providing arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Trump administration is preparing to stop supplying weapons to ethnic Kurdish fighters in Syria, the White House acknowledged Friday, a move reflecting renewed focus on furthering a political settlement to the civil war there and countering Iranian influence now that the Islamic State caliphate is largely vanquished.

Word of the policy change long sought by neighboring Turkey came Friday, not from Washington but from Ankara. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at a news conference that President Trump had pledged to stop arming the fighters, known as the YPG, during a phone call between Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Mr. Trump clearly stated that he had given clear instructions, and that the YPG won’t be given arms and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” the Associated Press quoted Cavusoglu as saying to reporters following the call.

Initially, the administration’s national security team appeared surprised by the Turks’ announcement and uncertain what to say about it. The State Department referred questions to the White House, and hours passed with no confirmation from the National Security Council.

In late afternoon, the White House confirmed the weapons cutoff would happen, though it provided no details on timing.

Armed fighters of the People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, gather in Kobane, Syria. The militia is made up of ethnic Kurds. (Ahmed Deeb/AFP/Getty Images)

“Consistent with our previous policy, President Trump also informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete and we are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that ISIS cannot return,” the White House statement said, referring to the recent liberation of the Syrian city that had served as the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

The decision to stop arming the Kurds will remove a major source of tension between the United States and Turkey, a NATO ally. But it is likely to further anger the Kurds, who already feel betrayed since the United States told them to hand over hard-won territory to the Syrian government.

Turkey has pointed to the YPG’s affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — a Kurdish rebel group that has fought the Turkish state for decades — as evidence of its terrorist ties. The YPG, which formed amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war, has worked with U.S. forces to oust the Islamic State from key areas there.

The Obama administration began arming the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, because they were considered the most effective fighters against Islamic State militants.

The phone call between Trump and Erdogan followed a summit on Syria held this week in Sochi, Russia. It was attended by Erdogan, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Both Russia and Iran backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and helped Syrian forces to rout the Islamic State.

The two powers, along with Turkey, have forged an alliance that is advancing its own peace plan, in which the United States would play little role beyond being an observer. They have said U.S. troops should leave Syria now that the Islamic State’s defeat appears imminent.

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But a U.S. withdrawal without a peace plan well on its way would be victory for Assad, and by extension, Iran and Russia.

So U.S. officials have said they plan to keep American troops in northern Syria — and continue working with Kurdish fighters — to pressure Assad to make concessions during peace talks brokered by the United Nations in Geneva, stalemated for three years now. “We’re not going to just walk away right now,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week.

James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 2008 to 2010, said the decision to cease supplying weapons to the Kurds appears to reflect an evolving strategy to keep playing a productive role in Syria and weaken Iranian-backed militias and Hezbollah, both of which fought alongside Syrian forces to regain territory from the militants.

“Fighting ISIS was such a priority, we had to focus on that before other things,” he said, using a common acronym for the Islamic State. “Now as the conventional fight is over, we’re trying to come up with a bigger policy. We can’t do it without Turkey. It’s pure geography. We have to mend fences with the Turks if we want to remain in Syria.”

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6:14 AM 11/29/2017 – A Creepy White House Christmas? | In White House, Flynn Pitched Nuclear Plan From Company He’d Advised: Reports

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John Kelly shows up at Capitol Building in middle of night
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In White House, Flynn Pitched Nuclear Plan From Company He’d Advised: Reports

New details have emerged on how the former national security adviser allegedly lobbied for a foreign business deal.
John Kelly shows up at Capitol Building in middle of night

In the midst of a week already filled with over the top storylines and unprecedented levels of attempted distractions, things just managed to get even weirder. General John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff for Donald Trump has arrived at the U.S. Capitol Building for a meeting in the middle of the night. That’s right, we’ve fully reached the cloak and dagger stage of whatever this is all about.John Kelly arrived at the Capitol well after dark on Tuesday night, according to CNN reporter Manu Raju, who matter-of-factly tweeted “John Kelly arrives in Capitol for late-night meeting.” What’s going on? No one knows for sure. But considering the sheer number of cartoonish storylines currently playing out around Donald Trump’s impending demise, a few distinct possibilities come to mind.The biggest story surrounding Congress right now is the Republican Party’s attempt at ramming through a tax scam for the wealthy, and it’s looking like the deciding vote will come down to John McCain. John Kelly has little influence over Congress in general, particularly on these kinds of issues, but is it possible he’s trying to use their shared military background to win McCain over? That seems like maybe a stretch. Is Kelly there to try to convince Congress to give Trump a declaration of war against North Korea? That seems unlikely, considering Kelly’s primary goal seems to be preventing Trump from starting a disastrous war. So what does that leave?

It’s been clear for a few days that Donald Trump thinks his time is growing short. Since it was revealed that Michael Flynn is cutting a plea deal against him in the Russia scandal, Trump has gone berserk even by his standards. He’s throwing everything at the wall, from the Access Hollywood tape to a renewed stab at birtherism against President Obama. Is it possible John Kelly is at the Capitol to negotiate Trump’s resignation? That might be a stretch as well. But at this point, any explanation for Kelly turning up at the Capitol in the middle of the night is going to end up being an odd one.

The post John Kelly shows up at Capitol Building in middle of night appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump Russia Collusion Scandal: Russian Cyber Expert Bragged In 2016 Facebook Posts About Helping Trump Win – The Inquisitr
 


The Inquisitr
Trump Russia Collusion Scandal: Russian Cyber Expert Bragged In 2016 Facebook Posts About Helping TrumpWin
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The man who made the posts, Kremlin propagandist Konstantin Rykov, may even have a connection to the supposed Trumppee tape described in the Steele Dossier, the private intelligence document alleging deep ties between Trump and Russia. … Klyushin and more »
Republican plutocrats’ greed could outlast Trump – Financial Times
 


Financial Times
Republican plutocrats’ greed could outlast Trump
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Donald Trump has been in office for slightly more than 10 months and despite the fact that during that time no meaningful legislation has been enacted he has managed, with the unqualified support of the Republican party and its Fox News propaganda 
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Keyser Mineral Daily News Tribune
Delegates heard from Laurinavicius that the Putin administration in Moscow is a kind of C-suite of corruption, built around the old KGB (where Putin was No. 2 in East Germany), mixed with the Russian mafia and collaborating oligarchs. Taken together, a …
The White House Reporter For A Pro-Trump News Site Was Arrested After Allegedly Accosting A Woman – BuzzFeed News
 

The White House Reporter For A Pro-Trump News Site Was Arrested After Allegedly Accosting A Woman
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In a post about Wintrich’s arrest, the Gateway Pundit declared that a “far left mob” had shut down the event. An update to the post stated that Wintrich was “missing” and that “police took him away and we have NO IDEA where they are holding him!” The and more »
Canadian faces prison for conspiring with Russians in hacking scheme – IT World Canada
 


Wccftech
Canadian faces prison for conspiring with Russians in hacking scheme
IT World Canada
A Canadian faces a U.S. prison sentence after admitting to hacking more than 11,000 Yahoo, Google and other webmail accounts for alleged members of Russia’s federal police and other customers for four years. … Where a foreign law enforcement or 
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How Trump turned up the heat on fake news, algorithms and privacy – Fin24
 


Fin24
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In Outside Insight, Lyseggen shows that by moving from a focus on lagging, internal data, toward an analysis that encompasses industry-wide, external data, businesses will be able to paint a more complete picture of their brand’s opportunities and 
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Those concerns began with mounting evidence of ties between Trump associates and Russia. His former campaign chairman and a campaign consultant have been charged with criminal conduct that involves their ties to Russia, and his former national …
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Trump confronts perilous North Korean test – CNN
 


CNN
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Washington (CNN) North Korea pushed President Donald Trump closer to a set of excruciating choices with its most potent missile test yet, which shattered a two-month calm in Northeast Asia and set nerves in Washington back on edge. Trump, who earlier …
North Korea Fires a Ballistic Missile, in a Further Challenge to TrumpNew York Times
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Marc Thiessen: Trump should take out the site where North Korea just launched a missileFox News
 
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Donald Trump is confused

It’s difficult to point to a single day in Donald Trump’s illegitimate, chaotic, and failing presidency in which he hasn’t come off as being in over his head and hopelessly confused. But in the days since he learned that Michael Flynn has decided to cut a devastating plea deal against him, Trump has become more confused and befuddled than ever and it’s time we begin asking if he’s completely lost whatever tentative grip he have might have still had on mental competence.Tuesday’s headlining debacle alone was enough to raise the question. After his deranged tweet about Democratic leaders prompted them to cancel their meeting with him, he went ahead and held a joint press conference with two empty chairs. If his goal was to make the Democrats look uncooperative, he instead came off a doddering fool who seemed to think Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi actually were in those empty chairs. But this was merely the tip of the iceberg when it came to just how thoroughly confused Trump was on Tuesday.Take, for instance, this tweet: “Just won the lawsuit on leadership of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB. A big win for the Consumer!” Nevermind that Trump is trying to install a corrupt clown to run the CFPB so he can destroy the agency’s ability to protect consumers. The lies are nothing new. The trouble here is that Trump is completely confused about the ruling. The judge merely refused to issue an emergency injunction against Trump’s side, and instead wants to hear the case.

To make things worse, Donald Trump decided on Tuesday to resume pushing the “birther” nonsense about President Obama supposedly having been born in Kenya, even though he’s previously publicly admitted that the phony scandal wasn’t real. He’s also suddenly claiming that it’s not really him on the Access Hollywood tape, even though again, he’s already admitted it was him. As it sinks in for Trump that his presidency and life are over thanks to Michael Flynn, he appears to be losing his cognitive abilities altogether.

The post Donald Trump is confused appeared first on Palmer Report.

Is Trump Going to Lie Our Way Into War With Iran? – New York Times
 


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Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. agent and the author of the new book Anatomy of Terror, dismissed the coverage of the C.I.A.’sdocuments as an oversimplification of the facts and a result of the Trump administration joining Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran and more »
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President Donald Trump‘s odd photo op on Tuesday with a pair of empty chairs has quickly turned into a new meme… and probably not the one he was hoping for. The chairs were supposedly reserved for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and …
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… by Michael Flynn, who was fired after a brief run as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Trump ally Rudy Giuliani was hired by Zarrab and met earlier this year with Erdogan in hopes of resolving the matter diplomatically, outside and more »
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If a phobia sufferer doesn’t come into contact with the source of their problem very often it may not affect their life – but in some cases even thinking about it can give a person “anticipatory anxiety“. If a phobia becomes very severe, the person 
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VICTOR DOLIDZE: As the EU-Georgia cooperation continues, Russia’s hybrid warfare strategy of sowing distrust in the European Union by spreading fake news has significantly intensified. Ethnic minorities are … The Kremlin applies very complex methods 
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But we will never escape from purgatory until these points are treated as complements to the role that other forces played inTrump’s success, not as substitutes that somehow make the economic anxiety or anti-establishment analyses of Trumpism into …
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Saipov, 29, of Paterson, New Jersey, was indicted last week for murder and attempted murder in aid of racketeering for mowing down victims with his rented truck in his Oct 31 terror attack. In addition to the eight dead, 12 were injured. He could face and more »
What now with this lethal North Korean mess? – Charlotte Observer
 

What now with this lethal North Korean mess?
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President Donald Trump announced Monday that the United States will designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terroramid heightened nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula. Trump … The goal was to change Putin’s policies. … A mob tore him apart and more »
Wars, violent conflicts main drivers of human trafficking, says nuncio – National Catholic Reporter
 


National Catholic Reporter
Wars, violent conflicts main drivers of human trafficking, says nuncio
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2331, which “refers to a correlation between trafficking in persons, sexual violence, armed conflict, terrorism and transnationalorganized crime.” Issued in 2016, the resolution followed by a year the first meeting on trafficking to be held by the and more »
A Creepy White House Christmas?

First Lady Melania Trump helped decorate the White House for Christmas, but critics are convinced she was inspired by Tim Burtons The Nightmare Before Christmas.
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12:55 PM 11/28/2017 – trump turkey flynn kurds – Google Search: “Trump speaks with Erdogan about crisis in Syria”…

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Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Interception Of US Navy P8-Poseidon Over Black Sea – International Business Times
6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post
9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT
Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
Trump’s and Putin’s connections with organized crime – Google News: Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – New York Times
Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump
Trump tells Turkish president U.S. will stop arming Kurds in Syria – The Washington Post
Pentagon ‘taking a look’ at halting weapons for Syrian Kurds as Turkey presses ban | TheHill
The Early Edition: November 28, 2017
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Pentagon says will continue arming PKK/YPG
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Russian Intelligence services – Google News: FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets – Washington Post
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Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News

 

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President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to …
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Turkey ‘very happy’ as US stops arming Kurds in Syria

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ANKARA, Turkey — The United States seems set to cut off its supply of arms … Trump that is sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who …. of Trump’s inauguration about a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn …
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Zarrab to Testify for Prosecution in Iran-Sanctions Case

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Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of an international corruption case, is set to tell a New York jury the “inside story” of a …
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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U.S.-Turkish political stew: Kurds, Flynn and even Bharara

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Eyes are on Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Eyes are on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen here in Ankara on Nov. 21, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Burhan Ozbilici

President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to foreign-policy news.

On Friday, the two leaders were due to speak by phone, with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort for the long holiday weekend. Subjects were to include Syria and conflicts in the region.

Turkey’s foreign minister, who said he was with Erdogan during the call, said afterward that Trump gave assurances his administration would stop supplying arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been U.S. allies.

After all, Kurdish separatists are a thorn in Erdogan’s side.

Such policy choices aside, the discussion of Turkish ties to Washington turns quickly and naturally to Trump’s short-tenured national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has his eyes on the retired lieutenant general, who failed to disclose a payment of $530,000 from Inovo BV, a Dutch consulting firm owned by a Turkish businessman closely tied to Erdogan.

Flynn’s lawyer said back in March that the work for the firm “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey,” which is why he belatedly filed it under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Flynn has been a campaign and White House adviser with close links to a president who rode to election proclaiming “America First.”

Late Thursday, it was reported that Flynn’s lawyer informed Trump’s legal team that he can no longer discuss the Mueller probe with him. That stirred speculation about Flynn’s cooperation with investigators and where it could lead.

This comes after reports that Erdogan’s men may have discussed with Flynn last year a paid mission that involved grabbing a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania — whom Erdogan blames for a coup attempt — and returning him to Turkey.

The intrigue seems to leach further into the American justice system than just the probe of Flynn.

There is also the long-lived case of Reza Zarrab — the Turkish-Iranian gold trader charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Erdogan calls the case a plot against his republic. Over the weekend he purportedly launched an investigation of his own into former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought the case against Zarrab, an ally of Erdogan.

Bharara was fired by Trump after the president asked him to stay in the job. Responding to Erdogan, Bharara’s interim successor Joon Kim and Judge Richard Berman issued a rare reply to the Turkish government.

On Tuesday, Kim said: “Needless to say, it’s our view that those claims are ridiculous on their face. It displays a fundamental misunderstanding or lack of understanding of how our system of justice works and, frankly, the rule of law works.”

Diplomatically, Berman said that if Turkish officials wish to help Zarrab, they could do so by “producing in court any Turkish evidence or witnesses that they may be aware of who could assist the defense in presenting their case.”

Trump doesn’t seem inclined to complain about the Erdogan regime’s conduct in this or any other controversy.

In fact, on the defense side of the case, the president finds two political allies — Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, and Michael Mukasey, the former attorney general.

By most accounts their job has been to try to get the case resolved through meetings away from courtroom arguments. Recent buzz has been about the prospect of a cooperation deal, but the matter is still apparently pending.

These are the shadowy complications of the moment in Turkish-American politics.

Melville.

By Dan JanisonDan Janison has been a columnist at Newsday since 2007.

What Flynns Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us

mikenova shared this story from Newsweek.

This article first appeared on Just Security.

Many commentators anticipate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely indict retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn in part for the former National Security Advisor’s previously undisclosed work as a foreign agent of Turkey.

Mueller’s team has reportedly obtained enough evidence to indict Flynn and his son, according to an NBC News report earlier this month.

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There is no way to tell, based on current reporting, whether that body of indictable evidence includes the two alleged meetings in Sept. and Dec. 2016 where Flynn may have discussed a plot to forcibly remove U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, or initiate legal proceedings against him, in exchange for $15 million.

But in considering Flynn’s case, it is important to keep track of how he changed from a relatively hardline position against the government of Turkey to public positions in favor of Ankara.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Fllynn in the East Room of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Important questions for legal liability and moral responsibility include whether Flynn’s conflict of interest and efforts in favor of Turkey continued past the election and into his time in office.

Engaging in pro-Turkish government dealings was a major change in Flynn’s position on Turkey. In July 2016, Flynn gave a speech supporting the military coup against the Turkish government, specifically citing the country’s “move toward Islamism” under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the military’s secular orientation.

And previously, while serving as DIA Director under the Obama administration, Flynn says he alerted White House officials to Turkey’s indifference toward ISIS’ growth in Syria.

What explains why Flynn changed his position on Turkey and why did he persist in pro-Turkish positions after his firm’s contract to work on behalf of the Turkish government purportedly ended?

I. Flynn’s initial anti-Erdoğan, anti-Islamist public positions, and his later The Hill Op-Ed Reversal

  1. War Against “Cunning Radical Islamists” Tweet (Nov. 16, 2015)

Flynn has publicly spoken against what he views as a global threat of radical Islamism, which, according to his view, also implicated Erdoğan’s pro-Islamist government at one point. He tweeted in November 2015:

We are facing violent, but very serious and cunning radical Islamists. We can be war weary when we win. If we lose, we have nothing.

2. Flynn Expresses Concerns on Turkey’s Indifference to ISIS to Sy Hersh (January 2016)

Flynn seemed to view Turkey’s pro-Islamist attitudes as leading to the country’s indifference to ISIS growing next door. In January 2016, he told Seymour Hersh in a New Yorker interview:

If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic…We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.

He added that the Obama administration gave “enormous pushback” with respect to the DIA’s reporting on ISIS’s growth in Syria, including Turkey’s alleged indifference: “I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.”

3. Flynn Tweets that Fear of Muslims is Rational (Feb. 27. 2016)

In line with his prior statements, Flynn tweeted in Feb. 2016 that fear of Muslims was “rational:”

Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions… http://youtu.be/tJnW8HRHLLw

4. Flynn Lauds the Anti-Erdogan Coup at ACT! For America Speech (July 15, 2016)

On July 15, 2016, Flynn gave a speech at the Cleveland meeting of ACT! For America. The organization is an advocacy group that opposes what it calls “Islamofascism,” which Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s founder, believes comes from “one source: The Koran.” Flynn began his remarks by expressing support for the military-led coup d’état in Turkey:

[The Turkish military] has been just excised for many years by what, what really became a secular country, meaning a sort of, regular sort of nation-state, and then began to move toward Islamism. This is Turkey under Erdoğan, who is actually very close to President Obama.

So, I’m going to be very fascinated to see what happens, because if they, the military succeeds, then one of the things that came out of the military tonight, they’re about plus eight hours from here, so it’s probably about I don’t know, three-four o’clock in the morning there.

One of the things the military immediately said is: “We recognize our responsibilities with NATO, we recognize our responsibilities with the United Nations, we want to make sure that the world knows, we are, we want to be seen as a secular nation. This is the military.

[Applause]

So, yeah, I think that is worth clapping for.

5. New York Times Notes Flynn and Trump Share Islamophobic Outlook and Flynn’s Influence on the Campaign (November 2016)

The New York Times’s post-election profile of Flynn noted his anti-Islamist credentials throughout the campaign:

[Trump and Flynn] have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.

[Trump and Flynn] both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not).

As an adviser, General Flynn has already proved to be a powerful influence on Mr. Trump, convincing the president-elect that the United States is in a “world war” with Islamist militants and must work with any willing allies in the fight, including President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

6. Flynn Supports Erdoğan Government’s Goals in the Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 08, 2016)

On Election Day 2016, The Hill published an op-ed by Flynn titled, “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.”

The op-ed criticized the Obama administration for not being friendly enough toward Erdoğan’s government and portrayed Gülen as a cleric who “portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist.”

It compares Gülen to the founders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and labels him Turkey’s equivalent of Bin Laden:

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden.

It also ties Gülen to the Clinton Foundation:

[F]unding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gülen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.”

And concludes:

We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective. What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are.

When Flynn’s op-ed came out, Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who hired Flynn’s firm, told the New York Times : “This is not a guy who would be influenced by a contract. He wrote what he believes.”

Al Monitor ’s Turkey columnist Mustafa Akyol also told the paper of the warm reception Flynn’s op-ed had inside the government of Turkey: “You would expect to see [an Islamophobia] concern here, but quite the contrary: Flynn is quite a respected figure now in government circles, just because he wrote that Gülen should be extradited to Turkey.”

He added: “[Flynn’s op-ed] was greeted with great happiness here,” adding that Erdoğan supporters thought: “Finally, somebody in America who understands us.”

In late Nov., Alptekin denied that either Erdoğan or the Turkish government paid for Flynn’s op-ed, telling The Independent that the idea was “preposterous,” noting that the op-ed also criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Erdogan had sometimes supported.

He contended that Inovo’s contract with Flynn Intel Group was “not about representing the position of the Turkish government,” and Alptekin said that he was not affiliated with the Turkish government.

Flynn has a strong anti-Islamist streak, and yet he went from criticizing Turkey’s relatively pro-Islamist government and supporting the coup against Erdoğan, to publicly advocating for Gülen’s removal to face justice for the coup in Turkey. What changed between these two events—the coup and the op-ed—to cause Flynn to switch positions on Turkey?

II. A likely motive: lucrative lobbying contracts, and how Flynn’s private business activities may have affected his public positions

  1. Flynn Intel Group Signs Contract with Inovo BV (Aug. 2016)

In early August 2016, Flynn Intel Group was approached by Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Prs Erdoğan.

Alptekin proposed that Flynn work on a project repairing Turkey’s image in the United States with Alptekin’s Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV—work to be performed by Flynn’s firm over 90 days in exchange for $600,000. Flynn agreed.

Though Flynn later conceded in his belated filing that the Inovo work “could be construed to have principally helped the Republic of Turkey,” Flynn opted not to file this work with the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) database until strongly encouraged to do so by the Justice Department.

FARA requires lobbyists whose work directly or indirectly benefits a foreign government to file as agents of a foreign power. The Flynn firm would likely assert that because the Inovo work benefitted a business and not a foreign nation, the firm could instead file with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and it did so in Sept. 2016.

2. Flynn Meets with Turkish Ministers Alongside Woolsey in New York (Sept. 21, 2016)

On September 21, Flynn met in New York with the Turkish foreign minister and energy ministers (the latter is also Erdoğan’s son-in-law), alongside former CIA Director James Woolsey and a former FBI agent, according to Woolsey’s account of the deliberations.

Woolsey later told the Wall Street Journal that the meeting discussed a plot to remove Turkish cleric Gülen from the United States and take him to Turkey.

According to a report by the Daily Caller, one month after the Sept. 2016 meeting between Flynn and Turkish ministers in New York, Flynn attended an event with Halil Mutlu, former director of the Turken Foundation, a U.S. charity focused on Turkish issues, and President Erdoğan’s cousin. (Readers should note: The Daily Caller generally has a far-right ideological lens, and has been criticized for having a white nationalist problem in recent months.)

3. Flynn Intel Group Lobbies Congress on Inovo’s Behalf (Sept.–Oct. 2016)

After signing the contract with Inovo BV, Flynn’s Intel Group began lobbying Congress on Inovo’s behalf, though Flynn himself did not participate in the lobbying. Flynn’s Sept. 2016 Lobbying Disclosure Act forms reveal that Robert Kelley, Flynn’s lawyer and a former Chief Counsel to a House subcommittee, managed the lobbying portion of the Inovo contract.

According to the FARA registration, in Oct. 2016, VP Bijan R. Kian met twice with Miles Taylor, National Security Advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee, to discuss Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo and research related to Turkey and Gülen.

According to a Daily Caller source, at the second meeting, Kian and Inovo representatives discussed Gülen with Taylor, and what they called his “shady” Gülen Movement Schools.

The source added that House committee staff were not receptive to Kian’s approach, and that Flynn was not present for the meeting. Beyond this Congressional outreach, the FARA registration also notes that Flynn’s firm  oversaw a PR firm SGR LLC’s outreach to an Arkansas state government official with respect to the Inovo work.

The AP reported that as part of the Taylor meeting, Flynn Intel Group staff suggested that Congress hold hearings about Gülen.

At the time of the filing, Alptekin told the AP : “I disagree with the filing…It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government.” He said the filings were a response to “political pressure.”

4. Flynn Group’s VP Meets Alptekin Prior to The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 2, 2016)

According to an in-depth profile of Flynn by The New Yorker ’s Nicholas Schmidle, on November 2, 2016, Alptekin privately met Flynn Intel Group VP Bijan R. Kian and other corporate officers at the firm’s offices in Alexandria, Va. Alptekin, believing that Trump was likely to lose the election, emphasized that, “We have to generate something to show Turkey how successful we can be…What success can we show them now?”

As Schmidle points out, Flynn’s op-ed in The Hill was published a week later.

5. Flynn and Alptekin Statement to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2016)

Flynn told the Wall Street Journal in a Nov. 17 statement that he would end his relationship with his firm if offered to serve in the Trump administration. He said: “If I return to government service, my relationship with my company will be severed in accordance with the policy announced by President-elect Trump.”

Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin tells the Journal that he hired Flynn to advise him on the U.S.-Turkish security relationship, and more generally, to improve U.S.-Turkish relations.

6. WH Cabinet Secretary’s Post-Election Investigation into Flynn’s The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 19, 2016)

On Nov. 19, the day after Trump appointed Flynn as his National Security Adviser, lawyer Bill McGinley, who later became White House Cabinet Secretary, called Kian and others to investigate the Flynn op-ed. A source told The New Yorker:

Some people seemed skeptical as to whether Flynn had really woken up the day before the election and felt compelled to write an op-ed defending Erdoğan…McGinley wanted to know if Turkish government dollars touched that op-ed.

Kian reportedly told McGinley that Flynn wrote the op-ed entirely on his own, and that it was unrelated to his work for Alptekin.

However, the Flynn group’s FARA filing noted that in October and early November, Flynn developed the op-ed based partly based on research done for the Inovo work, and that a draft was shared with Inovo before publication. Further, SGR LLC, a public relations firm Flynn Intel Group hired as part of the Inovo contract, helped Flynn place The Hill op-ed.

7. Second Meeting with Turkish officials on Alleged Gülen Plot in New York (Dec. 2016)

Mueller’s investigation is reportedly looking into whether, during a second alleged meeting between Flynn and Turkish government representatives in mid-Dec. 2016, participants discussed a plan for Flynn and Flynn Jr. to remove Gülen in exchange for up to $15 million dollars.

It is also reportedly looking into whether they discussed a separate plan to free Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab. The Wall Street Journal reported that the alleged meeting took place in mid-December at the 21 Club in New York, and the discussion considered forcibly removing Mr. Gülen from the U.S. on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

If the December meeting were to be confirmed, even if the more sensational allegations about the content of the meeting were not established, it could contradict Flynn Intel Group’s filing statements, which state that the Flynn firm’s contract with Inovo terminated in November 2016, and that is when Flynn’s paid work that benefited the Turkish government ended. Intentional false statements on a FARA form are a felony.

8. Flynn Tells Susan Rice “We’ll Take it From Here” on Raqqa Campaign (Jan. 10, 2017)

On Jan. 10, outgoing National Security Adviser Susan Rice presented Flynn a plan to imminently take over the Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa, Syria, according to the Washington Post. The plan involved arming Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Syria, and Obama administration officials believed they had little time left to move forward with the operation.

The Post noted that Turkey’s Erdoğan had resisted their overtures to fight the Islamic State more robustly, leading in part to the U.S. plan to rely on the Kurds:

In contrast to Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not see the Islamic State as his country’s No. 1 threat. In private meetings with senior U.S. officials in 2014, Erdoğan said the Kurds were his top concern and that removing Assad ranked second, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Erdoğan has long been upset by the U.S. support for Syrian Kurds, which he considers part of a terrorist group that threatens Turkey’s national security.

According to the Post , Flynn responded to Rice:

Don’t approve it…We’ll make the decision.

McClatchy reported that it is not known if Flynn consulted other administration officials before telling Rice to hold off on the decision, or whether Flynn’s decision was approved by a higher-ranking official such as Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis.

Raqqa Plan is “Dead on Arrival” When Presented to Trump Officials (Jan. 17, 2017)

When the plan was turned over to the Trump administration on Jan. 17, per Flynn’s request, the Postreported that it “was dead on arrival.” According to McClatchy, “Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word ‘treason’ to describe Flynn’s intervention” with Rice.

And while there is no reporting whether Flynn advised Trump to hold off on the Raqqa assault, media outlets have noted that Trump only approved the plan weeks after he had fired Flynn.

10. Flynn, Turkish FM Meet over Breakfast at Trump Hotel (Jan. 18, 2017)

McClatchy reported that Flynn met Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over breakfast on Jan. 18 to discuss U.S.-Turkish interests. It was later reported by Business Insider that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was also present at the closed-door meeting at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported at the time of the breakfast that the meeting was “a first direct reachout between the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan administration and the incoming Donald Trump administration.”

An aide to Cavusoglu told the paper that that “Çavuşoğlu was the only foreign leader at the breakfast and the topics on the U.S.-Turkish agenda were discussed by the attendees.” Cavusoglu would later attend Trump’s inauguration.

Met w/General Flynn,who will assume the position of National Security Advisor, and other officials at a working breakfast in Washington D.C.

11. President Trump’s Call with Erdogan (Feb. 7, 2017)

On Trump’s first call with Erdoğan, the pair agreed to engage in joint action against ISIS positions in Syria, according to two sources in Erdoğan’s office, Reuters reported.

They added that Erdoğan urged Trump not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Al-Monitorreported based that a senior Turkish official said that Erdoğan “drew attention to the close ties between the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party,” the Turkish-based Kurdish group. Likewise, Reuters added that CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be in Turkey on Feb. 9 to discuss security issues with Turkish officials.

Considering the nature of Flynn’s pre- and alleged post-election work on behalf of the Turkish government, it appears that the money paid to him as part of the Inovo contract may have played a decisive role in changing his position on Turkey.

The extent of his reversal would have negatively implicated U.S. national security interests if it figured into his response to Susan Rice on the operation to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State’s so-called capital.

But why would Flynn remain motivated by pecuniary interests once he was named to be national security advisor and then served in the administration?

Perhaps it was not a financial interest at that point. Perhaps it was a case of a person’s judgment being clouded, convincing themselves that they believe in a new policy outlook to reduce the cognitive dissonance that would otherwise persist.

Another explanation is a more illicit one. If Flynn and his son were still interested in mid-December in being personally paid $15 million by Turkey, there’s reason to think Flynn would not have dropped such interests going forward on other policies favorable to Turkey.

The allegations reported in the Wall Street Journal and NBC News involving the mid-December meeting certainly raise this specter. The available information in the public domain does not provide a sufficient basis to reach any firm conclusion.

It will be up to Mueller’s investigation and others to tell.

Artin Afkhami Associate Editor at Just Security.

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?

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Flynn allegedly discussed getting paid $15 million to help free Reza … a joint defense agreement with the Trump defense team last week.
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?

mikenova shared this story .

Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty and will testify against his co-defendant, a federal court heard Tuesday. Zarrab’s cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted on behalf of Turkish interests to help free Zarrab.

Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of an Iran sanctions-busting case in which he used his companies and Turkish state-run banks to trade cash for gold in order to secretly buy oil from Iran. A former deputy general manager of one of those banks, Mehmet Atilla, is charged as part of that same conspiracy.

Atilla’s lawyers complained that co-defendant Zarrab had vanished in the weeks before trial was to start, an indication that he was no longer cooperating with them but instead federal prosecutors. He is expected to testify Tuesday or Wednesday.

Zarrab’s apparent cooperation with federal prosecutors raised speculation that he was also cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Flynn, because it seemed unlikely prosecutors would offer a plea deal to Zarrab in exchange for his cooperation for the comparatively lower-profile trial of Atilla.

Shortly after Zarrab seemed to flip, Flynn’s lawyers terminated a joint defense agreement with the Trump defense team last week. Flynn’s lawyer reportedly met with members of the Mueller probe on Monday, ABC News reported, a further indication that the embattled ex-national security advisor is also pursuing a plea deal.

Zarrab’s plight was reportedly raised by Turkish interests in a December 2016 meeting with Flynn, who was designated to be President Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn was supposedly offered $15 million to arrange Zarrab’s release and to kidnap an exiled Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen, and bring him to Turkey. (Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen, a former ally, of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup.)

The Zarrab case has roiled the upper echelons of the Turkish government and stems from a 2013 corruption scandal, which allegedly revealed that top-level ministers to bribes to sign off on the sanctions evasions — and even allegedly captured Erdogan and his son talking about how to hide money.

Erdogan has repeatedly raised Zarrab’s release with U.S. officials from the Obama and Trump administrations. Zarrab even retained friends of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, to negotiate a diplomatic release with the top levels of the Trump and Erdogan administrations.

After the jury was selected on Monday, Atilla’s lawyers asked the judge to delay the trial so they could prepare for a mystery witness.

“The government should also make clear that the mystery witness is Mr. Reza Zarrab,” Judge Richard Berman wrote in a ruling denying the motion to postpone trial on Monday. “This is something that experienced counsel knew or should have known about for months.”

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Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today – Raw Story

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Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today
Raw Story
A Turkish-Iranian gold trader linked to both Mike Flynn and Rudy Giuliani has agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors. Reza Zarrab was scheduled to stand trial earlier this month in New York, where the U.S. attorney had filed charges in an 
A Manhattan Trial Wreaks Havoc on Turkish Markets: QuickTake Q&ABloomberg

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? – Daily Beast

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Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
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Zarrab’s cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly conspired to help free Zarrab while lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests. Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of 

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Russian jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept of US Navy aircraft
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(CNN) A Russian Su-30 fighter jet made an “unsafe” intercept of a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft Saturday while it was flying over the Black Sea, the Pentagon told CNN Monday. “The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to 
US Military Jets Have ‘No Business’ in Black Sea, Says Russian General After ‘Unsafe’ InterceptNewsweek
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US Navy plane has unsafe encounter with Russian fighter over Black SeaABC News
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Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Interception Of US Navy P8-Poseidon Over Black Sea – International Business Times

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Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Interception Of US Navy P8-Poseidon Over Black Sea
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A Russian Su-30 fighter jet had an unsafe interception with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane Saturday as the Russian aircraft used its afterburners while flying in front of American plane over the Black Sea. According to a CNN report, the …

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6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post

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Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! __________________________________ “Scores of U.S. diplomatic, military and government figures were not told about attempts to hack into their emails even though the FBI knew they were in the Kremlins crosshairs, The Associated Press has learned.”  FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets – … Continue reading“6:33 AM 11/28/2017 – FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets – Washington Post”

9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT

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__________________________________ M.N. This observation, once again, is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” (in Comey’s words: “They were unusually loud in their intervention. It is as almost they didn’t care that we knew, or they wanted us to see what they do. They were very noisy in their interventions…” – 2:48:55 … Continue reading“9:17 AM 11/28/2017 – M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” – Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – NYT”

Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs

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“Please,” the senator said, “answer yes or no, sir. Can you do that?”

It was late October, and Minnesota’s Al Franken was two hours into a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russia’s manipulation of social media, including its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Sitting across from him and the other senators at a long table was a lawyer from Facebook. Franken tried to get the man to say whether the social media network would reject political ads purchased with foreign currency. But the attorney remained obtuse, and the senator dropped his head into his hands in frustration.

That hearing came a day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced the first charges in its probe of Russian interference in the election and possible coordination with President Donald Trump’s campaign. A grand jury charged Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, another former campaign member, with money laundering, among other things. The special counsel also announced that George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, had pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his ties to suspected Russian agents.

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It’s been less than seven months since Mueller’s work began, and already his investigation seems to be the only one that matters in Washington. The federal lawmakers digging into the same subject typically lack the mandate to conduct raids and make arrests, and their lists of potential witnesses are likely to shrink with each Mueller indictment, since no one wants to interfere with the criminal probe. But a primary reason the congressional investigations have moved slowly is that they’re mired in partisan politics, according to interviews with more than a dozen members of Congress.

Similar divides have hindered congressional investigations before, such as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2004 report on Iraq. But with lawmakers on at least one committee talking about possibly releasing separate Russia reports, the current dramas seem to go further.

“As much as this committee…has traditionally sort of been insulated from partisanship over the years,” says Representative Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, “this issue has thrown all that out the window.”

Congressional investigators jumped on the Russia matter not long after the U.S. intelligence community declared in January that the Kremlin had tried to sway the election against Hillary Clinton. In May, President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, implying in an NBC News interview that the decision was partly due to the bureau’s Russia investigation. About a week later, the Justice Department appointed special counsel Mueller, and by June, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House and Senate intelligence committees had opened probes into Russian interference and other related topics.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was making progress over the summer. It issued bipartisan requests for documents from the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. But by late October, cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on the committee broke down. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member, told Mother Jones that she and her Democratic colleagues would be moving forward with the Russia probe without the Republicans. Days later, she sent letters requesting information from people or companies, without the signature of Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman. That suggested he was too slow to approve the Democrats’ requests for information, or unwilling to do so. (Neither senator was available for an interview.)

Today, critics say Republicans on the committee seem mostly focused on Comey’s conduct as FBI director and an allegedly questionable uranium deal with Russia that Clinton’s State Department helped approve. The Republican side of the committee, says Senator Chris Coons, a committee Democrat from Delaware, “treats the Russia investigation as a Democratic priority.” The GOP, he adds, acts as if every time the probe moves forward, they should pursue “something that goes after Hillary Clinton.” It wasn’t until November 16, for example, that the chairman and the ranking member sent their first bipartisan letter in almost two months, seeking information from the lawyer for Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser.

US president Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin talk after a meeting on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Alamy Live News

Part of the problem is that the GOP controls the committee (and the others probing Russian collusion), so the Democrats generally need Republican approval to compel people to turn over documents or to testify. “There’s nothing the minority can do but say ‘Mother, may I?’ to the majority to get an agreement to have these witnesses come before us,” says Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California on the House Intelligence Committee. “It is a tap dance that we have to do to get them to cooperate.”

The probe by the House Intelligence Committee has been even more contentious. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman, recused himself as reports swirled that he had provided Trump with unauthorized intelligence about government surveillance of the president’s transition team. (Nunes has called the complaints about him “entirely false and politically motivated.”) Despite interviews in November with high-profile witnesses, including Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, and Keith Schiller, the former director of Oval Office operations, the committee is dealing with political divides that threaten to derail its progress.

The Senate Intelligence Committee seems to be making the most progress. In June, it held a dramatic hearing in which Comey said he had kept memos of his encounters with Trump because he expected the president to lie about them. In early October, Republican Senator Richard Burr, the committee chairman, and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman, held a joint press conference to announce that their panel had reviewed almost 100,000 pages of documents and conducted more than 250 hours of interviews with at least 100 people. That work suggests the Senate Intelligence Committee is the public’s best hope for a timely and thorough bipartisan report on the Russian meddling and possible collusion by some of Trump’s people.

But even if the committee puts out a detailed report, the question of whether anyone committed crimes will ultimately fall to Mueller. And as he moves forward, the congressional committees could find it harder to complete their inquiries. Lawmakers may be reluctant to ask those whom the special counsel indicts to testify before Congress, for fear of disrupting Mueller’s work. (If a suspect gives different testimony to Congress from what he or she gives to Mueller, it could create legal problems for prosecutors.) It’s also likely that anyone indicted would invoke his or her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination and decline to testify before Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee had called on Manafort to testify before his indictment, and both intelligence committees have been in touch with Papadopoulos or his legal team, but those appearances now seem less likely to happen. The special counsel and committees are trying to work out any conflicts, yet committee staffers and members remain cautious.

As the congressional investigations crawl forward, the parties are split over when the probes should end and whether they will find evidence of collusion. On the House Intelligence Committee, the Republicans claim Democrats are prolonging the investigation to hurt them in the 2018 midterm elections. “We could drag this out,” says Representative Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah, “but it’s not serving the American people if we do.”

New York activists demonstrated inside the Trump Tower atrium to voice their objection in response to reports that Donald Trump is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller and to pardon administration members who have broken the law. Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/Alamy Live News

Some Republican investigators still don’t believe there was any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. “We have not had one witness or one shred of evidence” suggesting collusion, says Rooney, the Republican congressman from Florida.

The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee disagree. And they believe the Republicans are working to shut down the probe quickly to leave the question of collusion unsolved. “This investigation is still closer to the beginning than the end,” says Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois. “People ask me, ‘Are you connecting dots?’ My answer is: ‘We’re still finding our dots.’”

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the committee, says they are still receiving new information and have “a long list” of witnesses to interview. As for collusion, Schiff adds, “You have to, I think, willfully blind yourself to what we’ve seen to suggest there’s no evidence.” He has said it’s possible each party will issue its own report.

Across the committees, there’s one thing lawmakers from both parties agree on: Americans shouldn’t expect their probes to unfold the way Mueller’s is developing. As part of that investigation, federal agents raided Manafort’s home and arrested Papadopoulos in the middle of an airport, leading to his stunning confession.

Now that Mueller’s team has reportedly requested documents from the Justice Department and plans to interview senior White House officials, and as speculation grows that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has flipped and is working with the special counsel, Americans may soon find out the truth about the Trump team’s alleged obstruction and collusion. As Representative Denny Heck of Washington, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, puts it, “I’ll be very surprised if there aren’t people that are going to jail.”

Trump’s and Putin’s connections with organized crime – Google News: Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – New York Times

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Trump tells Turkish president U.S. will stop arming Kurds in Syria – The Washington Post

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President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown in May, have agreed that the United States will stop providing arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Trump administration is preparing to stop supplying weapons to ethnic Kurdish fighters in Syria, the White House acknowledged Friday, a move reflecting renewed focus on furthering a political settlement to the civil war there and countering Iranian influence now that the Islamic State caliphate is largely vanquished.

Word of the policy change long sought by neighboring Turkey came Friday, not from Washington but from Ankara. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at a news conference that President Trump had pledged to stop arming the fighters, known as the YPG, during a phone call between Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Mr. Trump clearly stated that he had given clear instructions, and that the YPG won’t be given arms and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” the Associated Press quoted Cavusoglu as saying to reporters following the call.

Initially, the administration’s national security team appeared surprised by the Turks’ announcement and uncertain what to say about it. The State Department referred questions to the White House, and hours passed with no confirmation from the National Security Council.

In late afternoon, the White House confirmed the weapons cutoff would happen, though it provided no details on timing.

Armed fighters of the People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, gather in Kobane, Syria. The militia is made up of ethnic Kurds. (Ahmed Deeb/AFP/Getty Images)

“Consistent with our previous policy, President Trump also informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete and we are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that ISIS cannot return,” the White House statement said, referring to the recent liberation of the Syrian city that had served as the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

The decision to stop arming the Kurds will remove a major source of tension between the United States and Turkey, a NATO ally. But it is likely to further anger the Kurds, who already feel betrayed since the United States told them to hand over hard-won territory to the Syrian government.

Turkey has pointed to the YPG’s affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — a Kurdish rebel group that has fought the Turkish state for decades — as evidence of its terrorist ties. The YPG, which formed amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war, has worked with U.S. forces to oust the Islamic State from key areas there.

The Obama administration began arming the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, because they were considered the most effective fighters against Islamic State militants.

The phone call between Trump and Erdogan followed a summit on Syria held this week in Sochi, Russia. It was attended by Erdogan, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Both Russia and Iran backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and helped Syrian forces to rout the Islamic State.

The two powers, along with Turkey, have forged an alliance that is advancing its own peace plan, in which the United States would play little role beyond being an observer. They have said U.S. troops should leave Syria now that the Islamic State’s defeat appears imminent.

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But a U.S. withdrawal without a peace plan well on its way would be victory for Assad, and by extension, Iran and Russia.

So U.S. officials have said they plan to keep American troops in northern Syria — and continue working with Kurdish fighters — to pressure Assad to make concessions during peace talks brokered by the United Nations in Geneva, stalemated for three years now. “We’re not going to just walk away right now,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week.

James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 2008 to 2010, said the decision to cease supplying weapons to the Kurds appears to reflect an evolving strategy to keep playing a productive role in Syria and weaken Iranian-backed militias and Hezbollah, both of which fought alongside Syrian forces to regain territory from the militants.

“Fighting ISIS was such a priority, we had to focus on that before other things,” he said, using a common acronym for the Islamic State. “Now as the conventional fight is over, we’re trying to come up with a bigger policy. We can’t do it without Turkey. It’s pure geography. We have to mend fences with the Turks if we want to remain in Syria.”

Pentagon ‘taking a look’ at halting weapons for Syrian Kurds as Turkey presses ban | TheHill

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Pentagon 'taking a look' at halting weapons for Syrian Kurds as Turkey presses ban

The Defense Department on Monday said it is reviewing the process it uses to provide equipment and weapons to Kurdish fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but has not halted sending weapons.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning told reporters that the department is “reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners in as much as the military requirements of our defeat-[Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and stabilization efforts will allow us to prevent ISIS from returning.”

Turkey’s foreign minister said Friday that President Trump committed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the United States would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Turkey considers the SDF Kurds, known as the YPG, to be an extension of outlawed Kurdish insurgents within its country, the Kurdistan Workers Party.

“Mr. Trump clearly stated that he had given clear instructions and that the YPG won’t be given arms, and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a news conference last week.

The White House later released a statement that confirmed the topic was touched on but would not commit to a full-on ban.

“Consistent with our previous policy, President Trump also informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete and we are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that ISIS cannot return,” the White House statement read.

The U.S. military in May began providing the Kurds with equipment and weapons to aid in the SDF fight against ISIS after Trump signed off on the plan to help retake the Syrian city of Raqqa.

When asked about a potential weapons halt, Manning said the Pentagon had not yet implemented such a measure and is only “taking a look at it right now.”

“We’ve been clear with Turkey that weapons provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces — which include Kurdish elements of the SDF — would be limited, mission specific, and provided incrementally to achieve our objectives, and those objectives are targeting ISIS,” Manning said.

The Early Edition: November 28, 2017

mikenova shared this story from Just Security.

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.

SYRIA

A new round of U.N.-backed Syria peace talks in Geneva are scheduled to start today, ahead of the talks the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura called for real diplomacy and for Syrians to begin to find some common ground. The UN News Centre reports.

The talks are expected to focus primarily on a new constitution and elections, however there is little optimism that the talks would lead to a political solution to the Syrian conflict and there are questions over the ability of the groups opposed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to put on a united front. Barbara Bibbo reports at Al Jazeera.

Our goal in the negotiation will be the departure of Bashar al-Assad from the beginning of the transition, Nasr Hariri, the head of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (H.N.C.), which constitutes the opposition delegation, said yesterday. Stephanie Nebehay reporting at Reuters.

The Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned that Turkey could renege on its agreement with the E.U. on refugees if the U.S. and E.U. grant the Y.P.G. a role in the Geneva talks, saying after a meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday that Turkey sees the Y.P.G. as a terrorist organization and [it] has no place in the peace process. Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.

The Pentagon stopped short of saying that it would halt the supply of weapons to Syrian Kurdish (Y.P.G.) militia after Turkeys foreign ministry said on Friday that Trump had pledged to stop providing weapons to the group which heads the Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.), with Pentagon spokesperson Col. Robert Manning saying yesterday that the Defense Department would be reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners. Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.

Russia proposed a two-day ceasefire yesterday in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area near the capital of Damascus following reports of civilian deaths, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying that 18 were killed by bombing over the past two days. Reuters reports.

The shelling of the Eastern Ghouta area has been less intense following the Russian ceasefire proposal, according to witnesses and a war monitor, however there have been no indications that a ceasefire has been agreed. Reuters reports.

Russias defense ministry yesterday denied reports that it carried out airstrikes on the Islamic State-held village of Al Shafah in the Deir al-Zour province after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 53 civilians were killed by Russian strikes, the ministry saying in a statement that Russian forces target areas outside population centers, and only facilities of the international terrorist groups. The BBCreports.

The Syrian oppositions stance is seen by Assad and his allies as being unrealistic as pro-Syrian government forces have achieved a series of military victories and the rebels have almost been defeated, while the opposition have accused the Syrian government of refusing to seriously engage. Angus McDowall explains at Reuters why there is little prospect of success at the Geneva talks.

The image of Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin hugging in the Russian city of Sochi last week symbolizes the power dynamics in the Syrian conflict and Russias success in supporting the Assad regime, with Putin having been able to marginalize the U.S. and enlist the support of Turkey and Iran in his plan for Syria Russias achievements signaling an acceleration of the collapse of U.S. global leadership. The Washington Post editorial board writes.

NORTH KOREA

[We] cannot rule out the possibility Pyongyang may declare the completion of their nuclear program in a year, South Koreas Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said today, Reuters reporting.

Japan has detected radio signals that signal the preparations for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch, a Japanese government source said today, however noting that the signals are not unusual and are not enough to determine if there would be a launch soon. Reuters reports.

Russias Deputy Foreign Minister welcomed the fact that North Korea has not tested any weapons for more than two months during a visit to South Korea yesterday, however the pause in testing may be seasonal, rather than strategic and a full resumption may come in February. Adam Taylor observes at the Washington Post.

The U.S. and China must bridge gaps on key questions regarding North Korea before any lasting resolution the crisis becomes likely, including their approach to the Pyongyang regime and how they intend to bring North Korea to the negotiation table. Krishnadev Calamur writes at the Atlantic.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trumps foreign policy reflects current realities because it acknowledges what many experts have not yet grasped: that Americas post-Cold War national strategy has run out of gas. Walter Russell Mead writes at the Wall Street Journal, arguing that Trumps approach understands the limitations of U.S.s role, however the president must do more than demolish the old.

The Foreign Service is facing perhaps its greatest crisis, as the U.S. juggles with a plethora of national security challenges and complicated dynamics in conflicts in the Middle East, the Trump administration has weakened the Foreign Service by a series of misguided decisions since taking office. Former ambassadors Nicholas Burns and Ryan C. Crocker write at the New York Times, warning about the impact of deep cuts at the State Department.

The dynamics of power in the Middle East may provide Trump with the zero-sum game that he has wanted, however nuance regarding Saudi Arabia and Irans respective influence in the region is needed to try and defuse tensions. Ishaan Tharoor provides an analysis at the Washington Post.

The possibility of the presidents daughter Ivanka Trump becoming the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is not as preposterous as it would initially seem, the current ambassador Nikki Haley did not have expertise on the U.N. but has proven to be capable, Ivanka Trump could prove similarly capable and has some of the qualities to make a good ambassador. Richard Gowan writes at POLITICO Magazine.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Lawyers for Trumps former national security adviser Michael Flynn met with members of special counsel Robert Muellers team yesterday, raising the possibility that Flynn is preparing to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, however a member of Trumps legal team said that no one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about Gen. Flynn cooperating against the president. Matthew Mosk, Mike Levine and Brian Ross report at ABC News.

Flynn was involved in a project to build nuclear power plants in Egypt and Israel in partnership with Russia interests in June 2015, revealing another instance where Flynn may have had a personal interest in a project while he was advising Trump during the campaign for the presidency, and creating further potential legal questions in the wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig report at the Washington Post.

The U.S. needs to come to terms with substantial evidence that the president is in thrall to a foreign power, Michelle Goldberg writes at the New York Times, pointing to the cast of shady characters surrounding the president and the evidence of cooperation with the Kremlin documented in Luke Hardings new book Collusion.

RUSSIA

A Russian interception of a U.S. aircraft at the weekend was unsafe, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said yesterday, adding that the U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behavior. Ryan Browne reports at CNN.

Trumps tweets at the weekend attacking C.N.N. came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law requiring certain U.S. media outlets working in Russia to register as foreign agents, there are concerns about the implications of the requirement to register. Michael M. Grynbaum observes at the New York Times.

The Trump administration has two differing approaches to Russia, and is incoherent on Russias role in Ukraine, U.S.-Russia relations, Russias strategy in Syria and on a host of other issues. Susan B. Glasser writes at POLITICO Magazine referring to her interview of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Kurt Volker.

LEBANON

The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said yesterday that he does not wish to discuss the details of the events following his resignation announcement on Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, having now deferred his decision to resign. There has been intense speculation surrounding the situation and Hariri cited the destructive role of Iran and its Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah ally as the reason for his resignation. Al Jazeera reports.

Lebanon cannot resolve a question like Hezbollah which is in Syria, Iraq, everywhere because of Iran, Hariri also said yesterday, adding that he would stay on as Prime Minister if Hezbollah accepted to stick by Lebanons policy of staying out of regional conflicts. Reuters reporting.

EGYPT

The residents of the village of Rawda in Egypts Sinai Peninsula had been expecting an attack after months of increased threats, however they did not expect an attack as savage as the massacre on the mosque on Friday which killed at least 305 people. Sudarsan Raghavan and Heba Farouk Mahfouz explain at the Washington Post.

The mosque that was attacked had a Sufi character, many of the media reports have misrepresented Sufisms qualities and its role within mainstream Islamic thought. H.A. Hellyer writes at the Guardian, saying that the rhetoric deployed by many purist Salafis that push narratives about Sufism should be addressed if there is to be a counter-extremism approach.

IRAQ

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack southeast of Baghdad yesterday, killing 35 members of the Shiite paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces, Reuters reports.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 11 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between November 24 and November 26. [Central Command]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Pentagon was unable to explain inconsistencies regarding the number of U.S. troops in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere yesterday, the spokesperson Col. Robert Manning attempted to set out why there are discrepancies between official statements and statistics available on government-operated websites. Alex Horton reports at the Washington Post.

U.S. airstrikes on the Islamic State group in northeast Somalia killed one militant, the U.S. military said yesterday, Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

Broadcasts on Iranian state T.V. of a U.S. citizen and a British-Iranian citizen at the weekend suggest that Tehran has been trying to pressure the U.S. and U.K., the two detainees have been sentenced on espionage charges. Carol Morello reports at the Washington Post.

Today we are discovering a fifth estate that makes claims but up until now does not want to take any social responsibility, the head of Germanys domestic agency said yesterday, criticizing tech giants like Facebook for hiding behind legal privileges to avoid taking over editorial verification of their content. Reuters reporting.

The Islamic State may regroup in the Philippines since it has suffered territorial losses in Syria and Iraq, Patrick B. Johnston and Colin P. Clarke write at Foreign Policy, saying that the siege of the Philippine city of Marawi by militants supportive of the terrorist group may be a taste of things to come.

Read on Just Security »

Turkey, United States on same wavelength

mikenova shared this story from Cyprus Mail.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday his talks with US President Donald Trump last week were the first occasion in a long time the two Nato allies were “on the same wavelength” and they would speak against this week.

Diplomatic ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained by several disagreements, particularly over the United States’ support for the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.

“The telephone call which we had with Trump on Friday was the first in a long time in which we got on the same wavelength,” Erdogan said in a speech to deputies from his ruling AK Party in parliament.

He said discussions would continue in the coming days on the issues of the YPG, defence industry cooperation and the fight against the network of a US-based cleric whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating last year’s failed coup in Turkey.

According to Turkey‘s foreign minister, Trump on Friday told Erdogan he had issued instructions that weapons should not be provided to the Syrian Kurdish YPG.

However, the Pentagon said on Monday it was reviewing “adjustments” in arms for Syrian Kurdish forces, but it stopped short of halting weapons transfers, suggesting such decisions would be based on battlefield requirements.

Speaking to reporters in parliament after his speech, Erdogan said the Pentagon statement would be discussed at Turkey‘s National Security Council (MGK) meeting later on Tuesday.

He also said that Trump indicated that another call may happen this week.

“If he doesn’t call, I’ll call,” Erdogan said.

The YPG spearheads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State with the help of a US-led coalition.

Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and European Union.

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Russian jet intercepts US aircraft over Black Sea – Google Search

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Pentagon says will continue arming PKK/YPG

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Despite a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump to his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a phone call on Friday to stop providing weapons to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning told reporters on Monday that Washington would continue to support and arm the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The YPG is the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD), and dominates the SDF.

Col. Manning said that the U.S. Defense Department was “reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided” to the PKK/YPG.

The pentagon spokesman stated that the measure of halting military support to the group was not implemented.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Monday said that weapons provided by the U.S. to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) must be collected.Following a telephone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Friday, Trump said that Washington would not give weapons to the PKK/PYD terror group anymore.“The call marked a turning point in strained relations between the two countries, but Washington must honor a pledge to end weapons provisions to the terrorists,” Bozdağ said.US pledges to end arming PKK/PYD terroristsThe YPG is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in Turkey in 1984, tens of thousands of people have been killed.Bozdağ said the United States would be deceiving the world if it did not halt the weapons supplies to the PKK/YPG.Over 4,000 trucks of ammunition, hundreds of armored vehicles and weapons were sent to the PKK/PYD by the U.S.Erdoğan-Trump discussionThe White House said on Friday that Trump said that he had informed Erdoğan that Washington was “adjusting” military support to partners on the ground in Syria.Before his call with Erdoğan, Trump tweeted about the U.S. presence in the Middle East saying: “What a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!”President Erdoğan shared a photograph taken during the call his on Twitter account. It was seen that the call was conducted in his study of the Presidential Palace complex. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, National Intelligence Organization Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın, Chief of Cabinet Hasan Doğan and Senior Advisor Hamdi Kılıç were photographed.PM Yıldırım: US must end partnership with PKK/PYDUS wants to use Zarrab case to impose sanctions on AnkaraBozdağ said that the U.S. wanted to use the trial in New York of a Turkish gold trader to impose sanctions on Ankara. Bozdağ stated that the U.S. had pressured the trader, Reza Zarrab, to sign off on accusations against Turkey.”They may have told Zarrab, ‘Either you will remain in prison until you die, or you will sign under what we tell you,’ and they threatened him with retributions to sign off on accusations,” Bozdağ said.’The US interfered with Turkish trade relations’

“Weapons provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces, which include Kurdish elements of the SDF, would be limited, mission specific, and provided incrementally to achieve our objectives,” Col. Manning said.

In a Friday phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump “clearly stated that weapons will not be given to the YPG anymore and said that essentially this nonsense should have been ended before,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Friday.

While recognizing the PKK as a terrorist group, the U.S. has treated the PKK/PYD/YPG as an ally using Daesh as a pretext, despite its PKK ties as documented by Turkey.

Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in Turkey in 1984, tens of thousands of people have been killed.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in clear terms that it was “wrong” to supply weapons to the PKK/YPG, the Turkish prime minister has confirmed.Binali Yıldırım’s comments came during an interview with BBC World.”Mr. Trump understood what is important for Turkey,” Yıldırım said, in reference to Trump’s pledge to Erdoğan in a Friday phone call on ending the supply of arms to the terrorist PKK/PYD and PKK/YPG in Syria.”They [the U.S.] said this [cooperation with YPG or PYD] is not a choice. This is a necessity… Ok. We understand, although we do not accept. It is a temporary relation. Now, it is time to finish because Daesh is already defeated,” the premier said.”So, President Trump said it is wrong to provide weapons. This is clearly mentioned.”Stating that Turkish policy on fighting against Daesh had been quite “clear” since the beginning, Yıldırım said it was important to “choose the right partner” to fight Daesh.”You are not able to fight a terror organization using another terror organization,” he added.The U.S. later said it is “reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners in as much as the military requirements of our defeat-ISIS and stabilization efforts will allow to prevent ISIS from returning,” referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another name for Daesh.”We have always been clear with Turkey that the weapons provided to the SDF, to include its Kurdish elements, would be limited, mission-specific and provided incrementally to achieve military objectives,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Anadolu Agency. He said the U.S. would “continue our partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces to complete the military defeat of ISIS”.Pentagon says will continue arming PKK/YPGAt the White House, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said even though a complete defeat of Daesh is in sight, “that doesn’t mean stopping all support of those individual groups”.”Once we started winning the campaign against ISIS, the plan and part of the process is to always wind down support for certain groups,” she said. “Now that we’re continuing to crush the physical caliphate, we’re in a position to stop providing military equipment to certain groups.”No doubt about Gulen’s links to coup bidIn response to a question whether Turkey had submitted evidence to Washington showing Fetullah Gülen, the U.S-based leader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), had links to last year’s defeated coup attempt, Yıldırım said the necessary documents had been submitted.”For us, it is obvious. We have no hesitation. We have no doubt about it,” he said, referring to Gulen’s role in the defeated coup bid.FETÖ and Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.FETÖ is also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.Yıldırım also answered a question on accusations about the detentions since the defeated coup attempt.”This kind of accusation is there. I accept. But those who are accusing us should think about what happened on July 15,” he said.”Our parliament building [was] bombed. And their bombs killed 250 innocent people and [left] 2,194 heavily injured. What can we do then? We have to find [those] who committed crime. This is the situation in Turkey,” Yıldırım said.”We don’t detain people without evidence. This is for sure,” he said, adding the rule of law prevailed in Turkey.The Turkish premier called on Turkey’s critics to show “empathy” instead.”Did you face this kind of thing? If you face this kind of thing, then we will see what you are going to do,” he said.Yıldırım also dismissed accusations that Erdoğan had been becoming an “authoritarian” leader.”Erdoğan is not deciding who is going to jail or who is going to [be] freed. The court is deciding,” he said, adding there was freedom of the press in Turkey.”We have a free press,” he said. “Even the pro-PKK paper is published.”Video: Turkish PM meets with British foreign secretary

The deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said on Monday that the U.S. will need Turkey’s backing for staying in Syria after Daesh is defeated in the region.Speaking to journalists in the parliament, Ozturk Yilmaz called on the U.S. to cooperate with Turkey ahead of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva.“The U.S. will need Turkey and Turkey’s backing for staying in Syria after Daesh,” said Yilmaz.He added that this could lead to diffusing of tensions between the two countries.US must collect weapons distributed to PKK/YPG: Deputy PMThirty-six members of Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee will attend the peace talks in Geneva this week.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi to discuss Syria, last week.During the meeting, the three leaders agreed to gather a congress of Syrian groups to advance a political solution for the war-torn nation.Ozturk Yilmaz recalled that Iran, the Bashar al-Assad regime and Hezbollah did not want the presence of the U.S. in Syria’s future.Russian air strikes kill over 50 civilians in eastern SyriaHe added that only PKK/PYD/YPG terrorist group wants U.S. presence in Syria “which will not be at the solution table” in Geneva.”For this reason, the U.S. needs a powerful regional partner, which is Turkey,” said Yilmaz.Yilmaz also urged Turkey and the U.S. to take a joint step for the territorial integrity of Syria.The PYD and its military wing YPG are Syrian branches of the PKK terrorist network, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years.While recognizing the PKK as a terrorist group, the U.S. has treated the PKK/PYD as an ally in its anti-Daesh efforts.Syrian child escapes death after playing with bombSyria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting and more than 10 million displaced, according to claims by the UN.

FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets – The Washington Post

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Traffic along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington streaks past the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters building Wednesday night, Nov. 1, 2017. Scores of U.S. diplomatic, military and government figures were not told about attempts to hack into their emails even though the FBI knew they were in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, The Associated Press has learned. (J. David Ake/Associated Press)
 

November 27 at 9:21 PM

WASHINGTON — The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, The Associated Press has found.

Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting.

“It’s utterly confounding,” said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. “You’ve got to tell your people. You’ve got to protect your people.”

FBI policy calls for notifying victims, whether individuals or groups, to help thwart both ongoing and future hacking attempts. The policy, which was disclosed in a lawsuit filed earlier this year against the FBI by the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, says that notification should be considered “even when it may interfere with another investigation or (intelligence) operation.”

Last week, the FBI declined to discuss its investigation into Fancy Bear’s spying campaign, but did provide a statement that said in part: “The FBI routinely notifies individuals and organizations of potential threat information.”

Three people familiar with the matter — including a current and a former government official — said the FBI has known for more than a year the details of Fancy Bear’s attempts to break into Gmail inboxes. A senior FBI official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the hacking operation because of its sensitivity, declined to comment on when it received the target list, but said that the bureau was overwhelmed by the sheer number of attempted hacks.

“It’s a matter of triaging to the best of our ability the volume of the targets who are out there,” he said.

In the face of a tidal wave of malicious phishing attempts, the FBI sometimes passes on information about the attacks to service providers and companies, who can then relay information to clients or employees, he added.

The AP, which acquired a list of about 4,700 targeted email accounts, has reported in recent weeks on the global reach of the hacking operation and strategy used to break into emails of the Democratic Party and presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Tens of thousands of those emails were leaked online in advance of the November election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Fancy Bear works for the Russian government and meant to push the election in favor of Donald Trump. The Russian government has denied interfering.

The AP did its own triage, dedicating two months and a small team of reporters to go through a hit list of Fancy Bear targets provided by the cybersecurity firm Secureworks.

Previous AP investigations based on the list have shown how Fancy Bear worked in close alignment with the Kremlin’s interests to steal tens of thousands of emails from the Democratic Party . The hacking campaign disrupted the 2016 U.S. election and cast a shadow over the presidency of Donald Trump, whom U.S. intelligence agencies say the hackers were trying to help . The Russian government has denied interfering in the American election.

The Secureworks list comprises 19,000 lines of targeting data . Going through it, the AP identified more than 500 U.S.-based people or groups and reached out to more than 190 of them, interviewing nearly 80 about their experiences.

Many were long-retired, but about one-quarter were still in government or held security clearances at the time they were targeted. Only two told the AP they learned of the hacking attempts on their personal Gmail accounts from the FBI. A few more were contacted by the FBI after their emails were published in the torrent of leaks that coursed through last year’s electoral contest. But to this day, some leak victims have not heard from the bureau at all.

Charles Sowell, who previously worked as a senior administrator in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and was targeted by Fancy Bear two years ago, said there was no reason the FBI couldn’t do the same work the AP did.

“It’s absolutely not OK for them to use an excuse that there’s too much data,” Sowell said. “Would that hold water if there were a serial killer investigation, and people were calling in tips left and right, and they were holding up their hands and saying, ‘It’s too much’? That’s ridiculous.”

___

“IT’S CURIOUS”

The AP found few traces of the bureau’s inquiry as it launched its own investigation two months ago.

In October, two AP journalists visited <a href=”http://THCServers.com” rel=”nofollow”>THCServers.com</a> , a brightly lit, family-run internet company on the former grounds of a communist-era chicken farm outside the Romanian city of Craiova. That’s where someone registered <a href=”http://DCLeaks.com” rel=”nofollow”>DCLeaks.com</a>, the first of three websites to publish caches of emails belonging to Democrats and other U.S. officials in mid-2016.

DCLeaks was clearly linked to Fancy Bear. Previous AP reporting found that all but one of the site’s victims had been targeted by the hacking group before their emails were dumped online.

Yet THC founder Catalin Florica said he was never approached by law enforcement.

“It’s curious,” Florica said. “You are the first ones that contact us.”

THC merely registered the site, a simple process that typically takes only a few minutes. But the reaction was similar at the Kuala Lumpur offices of the Malaysian web company Shinjiru Technology , which hosted DCLeaks’ stolen files for the duration of the electoral campaign.

The company’s chief executive, Terence Choong, said he had never heard of DCLeaks until the AP contacted him.

“What is the issue with it?” he asked.

Questions over the FBI’s handling of Fancy Bear’s broad hacking sweep date to March 2016, when agents arrived unannounced at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn to warn her campaign about a surge of rogue, password-stealing emails.

The agents offered little more than generic security tips the campaign had already put into practice and refused to say who they thought was behind the attempted intrusions, according to a person who was there and spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversation was meant to be confidential.

Questions emerged again after it was revealed that the FBI never took custody of the Democratic National Committee’s computer server after it was penetrated by Fancy Bear in April 2016. Former FBI Director James Comey testified this year that the FBI worked off a copy of the server, which he described as an “appropriate substitute.”

___

“MAKES ME SAD”

Retired Maj. James Phillips was one of the first people to have the contents of his inbox published by DCLeaks when the website made its June 2016 debut.

But the Army veteran said he didn’t realize his personal emails were “flapping in the breeze” until a journalist phoned him two months later.

“The fact that a reporter told me about DCLeaks kind of makes me sad,” he said. “I wish it had been a government source.”

Phillips’ story would be repeated again and again as the AP spoke to officials from the National Defense University in Washington to the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado.

Among them: a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, retired Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes; a former head of Air Force Intelligence, retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula; a former defense undersecretary, Eric Edelman; and a former director of cybersecurity for the Air Force, retired Lt. Gen. Mark Schissler.

Retired Maj. Gen. Brian Keller, a former director of military support at the Geospatial Intelligence Agency, was not informed, even after DCLeaks posted his emails to the internet. In a telephone call with AP, Keller said he still wasn’t clear on what had happened, who had hacked him or whether his data was still at risk.

“Should I be worried or alarmed or anything?” asked Keller, who left the spy satellite agency in 2010 and now works in private industry.

Not all the interviewees felt the FBI had a responsibility to alert them.

“Perhaps optimistically, I have to conclude that a risk analysis was done and I was not considered a high enough risk to justify making contact,” said a former Air Force chief of staff, retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, who was targeted by Fancy Bear in 2015.

Others argued that the FBI may have wanted to avoid tipping the hackers off or that there were too many people to notify.

“The expectation that the government is going to protect everyone and go back to everyone is false,” said Nicholas Eftimiades, a retired senior technical officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency who teaches homeland security at Pennsylvania State University in Harrisburg and was himself among the targets.

But the government is supposed to try, said Michael Daniel, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House cybersecurity coordinator.

Daniel wouldn’t comment directly on why so many Fancy Bear targets weren’t warned in this case, but he said the issue of how and when to notify people “frankly still needs more work.”

___

“CLOAK-AND-DAGGER”

In the absence of any official warning, some of those contacted by AP brushed off the idea that they were taken in by a foreign power’s intelligence service.

“I don’t open anything I don’t recognize,” said Joseph Barnard, who headed the personnel recovery branch of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command.

That may well be true of Barnard; Secureworks’ data suggests he never clicked the malicious link sent to him in June 2015. But it isn’t true of everyone.

An AP analysis of the data suggests that out of 312 U.S. military and government figures targeted by Fancy Bear, 131 clicked the links sent to them. That could mean that as many as 2 in 5 came perilously close to handing over their passwords.

It’s not clear how many gave up their credentials in the end or what the hackers may have acquired.

Some of those accounts hold emails that go back years, when even many of the retired officials still occupied sensitive posts.

Overwhelmingly, interviewees told AP they kept classified material out of their Gmail inboxes, but intelligence experts said Russian spies could use personal correspondence as a springboard for further hacking, recruitment or even blackmail.

“You start to have information you might be able to leverage against that person,” said Sina Beaghley, a researcher at the RAND Corp. who served on the NSC until 2014.

In the few cases where the FBI did warn targets, they were sometimes left little wiser about what was going on or what to do.

Rob “Butch” Bracknell, a 20-year military veteran who now works in Norfolk, Virginia, said an FBI agent visited him about a year ago to examine his emails and warn him that a “foreign actor” was trying to break into his account.

“He was real cloak-and-dagger about it,” Bracknell said. “He came here to my work, wrote in his little notebook and away he went.”

Left to fend for themselves, some targets have been improvising their cybersecurity.

Retired Gen. Roger A. Brady, who was responsible for American nuclear weapons in Europe as part of his past role as commander of the U.S. Air Force there, turned to Apple support this year when he noticed something suspicious on his computer. Hughes, a former DIA head, said he had his hard drive replaced by the “Geek Squad” at a Best Buy in Florida after his machine began behaving strangely. Keller, the former senior spy satellite official, said it was his son who told him his emails had been posted to the web after getting a Google alert in June 2016.

A former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who like many others was repeatedly targeted by Fancy Bear but has yet to receive any warning from the FBI, said the lackluster response risked something worse than last year’s parade of leaks.

“Our government needs to be taking greater responsibility to defend its citizens in both the physical and cyber worlds, now, before a cyberattack produces an even more catastrophic outcome than we have already experienced,” McFaul said.

___

Donn reported from Plymouth, Massachusetts. Associated Press writers Vadim Ghirda in Carcea, Romania, Chad Day in Washington, Frank Bajak in Houston, Justin Myers in Chicago and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

___

Satter, Donn and Butler can be reached at:

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___

EDITOR’S NOTE — Raphael Satter’s father, David Satter, is an author and Russia specialist who has been critical of the Kremlin. His emails were published last year by hackers and his account is on Secureworks’ list of Fancy Bear targets. He was not notified by the FBI.

EDITOR’S NOTE _ One in a series of stories on the findings of an Associated Press investigation of the Russian hackers who disrupted the U.S. presidential election in 2016

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Russian Intelligence services – Google News: FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets – Washington Post

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Washington Post
FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets
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Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News

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9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT

__________________________________ M.N. This observation, once again, is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” (in Comey’s words: “They were unusually loud in their intervention. It is as almost they didn’t care that we knew, or they wanted us to see what they do. They were very noisy in their interventions…” – 2:48:55 … Continue reading“9:17 AM 11/28/2017 – M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative “loudness” – Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump – NYT”
Facebook and Twitter agree to work with the UK on Russian ad probe – MobileMarketing Magazine
 


MobileMarketing Magazine
Facebook and Twitter agree to work with the UK on Russian ad probe
MobileMarketing Magazine
Facebook Twitter Facebook and Twitter have both reportedly sent letters to the UK government to confirm they will cooperate with the nation on its investigation into Russian influence during the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election. According and more »

6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post

Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! __________________________________ “Scores of U.S. diplomatic, military and government figures were not told about attempts to hack into their emails even though the FBI knew they were in the Kremlins crosshairs, The Associated Press has learned.”  FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets – … Continue reading“6:33 AM 11/28/2017 – FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers’ US targets – Washington Post”
Donald Trump – Google News: Donald Trump is going to build a big, beautiful deficit and rely on China to help pay for it – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
Donald Trump is going to build a big, beautiful deficit and rely on China to help pay for it
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Dangerous mix of paranoia, narcissism
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Trump is a total narcissist; everything and every action is all about him, and only he can cure the ills of America. Cult leaders play on their members being marginalized by others, i.e., those with a different language, skin color or religion, thus  

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SitRep: Trump Envoy Sees No End to Russia’s War in Ukraine
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Ukraine grinds on. The Trump administration’s envoy tasked with ending the fighting in Ukraine tells Politico that he sees no end to the war there, which pits government troops against Russian-backed separatists and Russian troops. Ambassador Kurt …and more »

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What happens when the media gets it really wrong
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Unearthing proof of Nixon’s misconduct required the combined efforts of federal prosecutors, FBI agents, committees of both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court. The notion that the reporting of Woodward and Bernstein toppled Nixon is one of the and more »

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Jeff Sessions’s ‘failure to recall’ gives defense lawyers new argument in police shooting case
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In the November hearing, Sessions acknowledged for the first time that he remembered a meeting where a foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, floated a possible meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin …and more »

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Russia and the farce of Facebook – Norfolk Daily News (blog)
 


MobileMarketing Magazine
Russia and the farce of Facebook
Norfolk Daily News (blog)
The Russians, as far as we know, bought more than $100,000 in Facebook ads between June 2015 and May 2017. A little more than half was spent after last November, when, obviously, … The Trump campaign spent around $90 million on digital in2016 
Facebook and Twitter agree to work with the UK on Russian ad probeMobileMarketing Magazineall 21 news articles »

Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs – Newsweek
 


New Jersey Herald
Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
Newsweek
In May, President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, implying in an NBC News interview that the decision was partly due to the bureau’s Russia investigation. About a week later, the Justice Department appointed special counsel Mueller, …
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trump criminal investigation – Google News: Russia probes in Congress likely to spill into 2018 – Boston Herald
 


Boston Herald
Russia probes in Congress likely to spill into 2018
Boston Herald
As Congress returns from its Thanksgiving break, some Republicans would like to wrap up investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that have dragged on for most of the year. But with new details in the probe emerging on an almost daily  

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10:19 AM 11/28/2017 – Mueller’s Russia investigation – Google News: Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs – Newsweek

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Trump’s YouTube Videos: Trump Salutes Military Progress on Thanksgiving
 

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President Donald Trump is telling members of the military positioned across the globe that they’re winning big under his watch. He spoke with troops in a teleconference on Thanksgiving Day. (Nov. 23)

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Trump’s YouTube Videos: Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks; Trump Meets Duterte: A Closer Look
 

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Seth takes a closer look at how President Trump spent his trip to Asia cozying up to authoritarian strongmen and new information about the Trump campaigns relationship with WikiLeaks.
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Trump’s YouTube Videos: The Trump Presidency: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
 

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One year after the presidential election, John Oliver discusses what we’ve learned so far and enlists our catheter cowboy to teach Donald Trump what he hasn’t.

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Trump Investigations News Review

Trump Investigations from mikenova (30 sites)
Trump – Russia Investigations – Google News: Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs – Newsweek

Mueller’s Russia investigation – Google News: Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs – Newsweek

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Just Security: Where Does the Trump Administration Stand on Encryption?
1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Slaughterbots and Other (Anticipated) Autonomous Weapons Problems
elections 2016 russian ads on social media – Google News: Russia and the farce of Facebook – Norfolk Daily News (blog)
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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Just Security: The Backdoor Search Loophole Isnt Our Only Problem: The Dangers of Global Information Sharing
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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Just Security: The Early Edition: November 28, 2017
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Trump Investigations from mikenova (30 sites)
Trump – Russia Investigations – Google News: Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs – Newsweek
 


New Jersey Herald
Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
Newsweek
In May, President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, implying in an NBC News interview that the decision was partly due to the bureau’s Russia investigation. About a week later, the Justice Department appointed special counsel Mueller, …
Russia probes in Congress likely to spill into 2018New Jersey Heraldall 5 news articles »

Trump – Russia Investigations – Google News

Mueller’s Russia investigation – Google News: Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs – Newsweek
 


New Jersey Herald
Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs
Newsweek
In May, President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, implying in an NBC News interview that the decision was partly due to the bureau’s Russia investigation. About a week later, the Justice Department appointed special counselMueller, …
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Mueller’s Russia investigation – Google News

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Just Security: Where Does the Trump Administration Stand on Encryption?
 

The circumstances are familiar: a deceased criminal, a locked phone, a determined FBI and a defiant tech company.

After Devin Kelley murdered 26 people at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church in Texas earlier this month, law enforcement obtained a warrant to search his phone, reportedlyan Apple iPhone. But, they say, they cant get access to its encrypted contents because they dont have the passcode. The phone has been sent to the FBIs headquarters in Quantico, Virginia for analysis.

We are working very hard to get into the phone, special agent Christopher Combs told reporters Nov. 7. It could be tomorrow, it could be a week, it could be a month.

The situation echoes the circumstances that arose after the San Bernardino mass shooting in December 2015, when the FBI and Apple faced off in a tense legal and political fight over encryption. Back then, the FBI successfully asked a court to order Apple to write new software to allow them to bypass a security feature, which would wipe the phones data after 10 failed passcode attempts. Apple refused, arguing that creating a tool to hack the phone would undermine everyones security. Eventually, the FBI relented, paying a third party over $1 million to unlock the phone. The so-called crypto-wars cooled off.

Even before the Sutherland Springs shooting, there were signs the fight over encrypted communications was making a comeback. At the end of the summers G-20 meeting, world leaders issued a statement on countering terrorism. In its second-to-last paragraph, the document encouraged collaboration with industry to provide lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information where access is necessary for the protection of national security against terrorist threats.

Behind the carefully crafted diplomatic language an old battle rears its head: the crypto-wars. While the question of what to do with encrypted communications may have largely dropped out of the U.S. headlines after the FBI found its San Bernardino work-around, the problem at the heart of it has not been resolved.

Indeed, the encryption debate is still raging abroad. In Britain, Home Secretary Amber Rudd is calling for access to WhatsApp messages in the wake of terror attacks in Manchester and London. The Investigatory Powers Act, passed late last year, may empower the government to demand companies to break their encryption via technical capability notices. The law followed earlier suggestions by Prime Minister David Cameron that he would ban encryption entirely. In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in July that he will introduce legislation modelled on the UK laws which will require companies to give investigators access to encrypted communications. And in Germany, a law passed in June allows investigators to install malware on devices to allow them to read encrypted communications, after Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere declared that we cant allow here to be areas that are practically outside the law.

For all of these countries, though, the United States is key. The U.S. is home to most of the companies whose popular products figure centrally in these debates – including Apples iPhone, Facebook, and WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service. Its status as the driving force behind the worlds technological revolution over the last 40 years, combined with its market power and tradition of deep involvement in global issues, means that whatever direction the U.S. moves in the encryption debate will have a significant impact worldwide.

But in the U.S., the issue has grown quieter for now. Ten months into his presidency, President Donald Trump hasnt addressed the question, even as hes offered condolences on mass shootings and promised to fight back hard against terrorism. By saying nothing so far, Trump has maintained the encryption-rich status quo, in which people using end-to-end encrypted services like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook messenger can be relatively content that the government isnt reading their communications, even if law enforcement obtained a warrant. But its far from certain that Trump has taken a considered position on the matter (reporting suggests the issue has been controversial within his administration), and its possible he hasnt turned his mind fully to the issue yet, and wont until forced to.

While the question remains unresolved in Washington for now, it wont stay that way. Allies are ratcheting up the pressure on the U.S. to work towards a fix. In addition to the G-20 meeting, the issue was raised at Junes Five Eyes meeting between representatives of the intelligence alliance comprised of the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand. And eventually, perhaps in the next few weeks, another Apple v. FBI will come along and Trump will have to make a choice.

So what do we know about Trumps views and those of his advisers? Here is a look at all of the available clues.

Trumps Personal Views

Trump has never made any policy proposals about encryption. The most salient clue is probably his comments at the time of the Apple/FBI showdown, which were critical of Apple. In an interview on Fox & Friends, he said that Apple should give the FBI access to the phone in question, saying Who do they think they are?” He also suggested a boycott of Apple until they complied with the courts order.

In general, Trump has delivered strong rhetoric on counterterrorism and law enforcement, and has not demonstrated a concern for privacy. He has expressed concern over terrorists using the internet and recruiting people…literally brainwashing people, and opined that terrorists are using the internet better than we use the internet…our people dont have a clue. That said, two incidents have led Trump to advocate for privacy. In March, the president tweeted that Obama had Trumps wires tapped in Trump Tower during the election campaign and described it as McCarthyism. While theres no reason to believe that happened (and plenty of reasons to believe it didnt), his outrage implies a support for privacy rights over invasive investigatory strategies. Separately, Trump expressed anger over former National Security Adviser Susan Rices unmasking of the names of Trump campaign officials who met with the United Arab Emirates crown prince Zayed al-Nahyan in a secret meeting in New York after the election. Again, that position seems to value civil liberties over the demands of intelligence officials.

However, those positions were politically and personally convenient – in reality, they probably werent motivated by a concern for privacy. I think its fair to say that we shouldnt expect him to take a stand for privacy rights or civil liberties (although if special counsel Robert Mueller were to seek access to encrypted communications in the course of his Russia investigation, that could change things).

Trumps Advisers

And what about those around him? Heres where key figures influencing Trump stand:

1. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a strong anti-encryption voice within the administration. In his confirmation hearing, Sessions said that it was critical that national security and criminal investigators be able to overcome encryption. In a separate congressional hearing, he said the issue was more serious than Apple CEO Tim Cook understood, and could make all the difference in a criminal case or a life and death terrorist case.

2. Other Justice Department figures

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been the leading administration voice criticizing strong encryption. He addressed the question elliptically at a congressional hearing in June. Referring to the going dark challenge, Rosenstein said that law enforcements inability to access electronic communications severely impaired investigations and jeopardized public safety, and that the department had to keep adapting to evolving challenges. It wasnt explicit but the suggestion is there – that law enforcement needs greater powers to break encryption. In late August, the message became more explicit: in a speech in Utah Rosenstein cautioned that legislation may be necessary if tech companies dont cooperate. He developed his line of thinking even more in relation to the Devin Kelley case this month, telling an audience in Maryland that encryption costs a great deal of time and money. In some cases, it surely costs lives. In October, he hinted that the tech industry should be coerced into providing a technological solution to this problem. The approach taken in the recent past – negotiating with technology companies and hoping that they eventually will assist law enforcement out of a sense of civic duty – is unlikely to work, he told the U.S. Naval Academy. DOJs National Security Division head Dana Boente, who recently announced his resignation, also addressed the issue briefly at the Aspen Security Forum in July. Boente suggested that the U.S. might sit back and follow Europes lead, saying that The terrorism challenges in Europe are really kind of tough…they may lead the way and carry some of our water on this. Boente painted a picture of a kind of domino effect, where enough countries legislate that tech companies find a technological solution to this policy problem.3. FBI Director Christopher Wray His predecessor James Comey often spoke about the going dark challenge, and he was at the reins of the FBI when it took on Apple. But what about Wray? He hedged his bets at his July confirmation hearing, describing the question as one of the most difficult issues facing the country and urging for a balance to be struck between the importance of encryption and the importance of giving law enforcement the tools they lawfully need to keep us all safe.

4. CIA Director Mike Pompeo wont be a direct decision-maker on the issue but will probably influence where Trump stands. Last year he wrote an op-ed saying that the use of strong encryption in personal communications may itself be a red flag for terrorism, but conceding that a technological backdoor would lead terrorists to communicate via foreign or home-made encryption.

5. NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers has publicly adopted a strong pro-encryption position. Speaking to the Atlantic Council last year, he said that encryption was foundational to the future, and that it was a waste of time to argue about it. He went on: What weve got to ask ourselves is, given that foundation, whats the best way for us to deal with it? And how do we meet those very legitimate concerns from multiple perspectives?

6. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats In his confirmation hearing, Coats acknowledged the importance of encryption for security and privacy, and said there needed to be an ongoing conversation about legal authorities to access communications. As a senator, Coats supported the Burr-Feinstein draft law that would have given law enforcement the power to force companies to break into a suspects phone. The ODNIs former general counsel Bob Litt had previously told colleagues that a terrorist attack or criminal event might be the occasion for changing policymakers minds on encryption.

What Next?

Where Trump goes on this issue will probably be influenced by circumstances: In the case of a terrorist attack implicating end-to-end encryption, hell probably want to look tough on national security and may press for a legislative solution. Thats also a real possibility if the FBI pushes the Sutherland Springs issue further, publicly criticizing Apple or again bringing proceedings to try to force them to let them into Kelleys phone.

But if the issue evolves naturally, there is enough division among his advisers that the administration may not take firm action on its own. Its far more likely that the government will follow the playbook of allies who are trying to pass the ball, re-characterizing the issue as a technological problem rather than a policy one, and putting pressure on the tech world to solve it. In countries that are making moves to be able to access encrypted communications, governments seem to be shying away from talking about backdoors. Instead, theyre moving towards a discourse of cooperation and arguing that they want to work with tech companies to create solutions which address the problem. That idea was evident in the language of leaders statement after the G-20 conference, which called for collaboration with industry to provide access to information where necessary for national security. (Never mind that tech companies say theyre already cooperating to the extent they think they can without endangering cybersecurity.) In political terms, its probably fair to say that the FBI lost its battle with Apple, and so will probably be hesitant to take it on so directly again. But if the government drops its adversarial posture, and instead appears conciliatory and asks to work together to find technological solutions to the going dark problem, companies like Apple might lose their political advantage as they appear uncooperative and insensitive to national security concerns.  They would have to persuade the public that there could never be a technological solution that would allow access to terrorists communications while keeping everybody elses secure.

If tech companies remain intransigent, the U.S. may pursue an international solution. Boente hinted at something like this strategy in his address at the Aspen National Security Forum, suggesting that the U.S. could share the political cost of taking action with Europe. One option might be to enter a formal international agreement, as argued for by Australia, whereby allied states would impose coordinated legal obligations on tech companies to hand over communications in response to a warrant. If it seems being a first mover would be too politically difficult, Trump may find cover in being the second or third mover, or the first among many.

Its the policy challenge thats not going away any time soon: Expect the encryption debate to heat up within this presidential term, and possibly even in the coming weeks.  With the governments security heads publicly taking different approaches to the issue, and Trumps own views not obviously settled, its also an unpredictable one. Whichever way Trump moves in the crypto-wars, however, it will be sure to have a major impact on internet freedom and security worldwide.

Read on Just Security »

 Just Security

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Slaughterbots and Other (Anticipated) Autonomous Weapons Problems

The Future of Life Institute recently released Slaughterbots, a seven-minute video that looks like an episode of Black Mirror (a science-fiction anthology show focused on technology-induced nightmares). It describes a near future where a defense contractor develops small autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), the same size as a small toy and armed with a small, explosively formed penetrator (a small explosive which drives a small piece of metal though its victims skull). In short, a slaughterbot. It identifies and kills targets based on preprogrammed criteria and aggregated data. For example, the hypothesized UAVs in this video are capable of breaking a few windows, flying into the Senate and killing senators on only one side of the aisle.The Future of Life Institutes intent is to highlight the anticipated dangers posed by autonomous weapons. But I fear that autonomous weapons are inevitable; this isnt a hypothetical threat tomorrow, it is a real threat today. Simple estimation shows that these weapons would not be difficult to mass-produce. While the technology may not be widely available now, once it is, we are facing an issue of unprecedented scale. Our ability to defend ourselves against a threat like the one illustrated in the video is limited. We need to plan for malicious swarms of autonomous weapons in civilian environments.

First, how easily could one build such a weapon? Some back-of-the-envelope design suggests that I could build the computer necessary to run a slaughterbot, including all the inertial sensors and communications, with two outrider cellphone camerasin a package the size of a sugar cube. Give me a $10 million budget and I could produce slaughterbots with a manufacturing cost of roughly $200 per unit (if Im producing enough of them). After all, the base airframes and camera without the computer cost about $45.

Further amplifying the concern is that everything involvedfrom the silicon chips to the machines neededto crank out tens of thousands of these little nightmaresare available off-the-shelf. With only a little bit of smuggling effort, even North Korea could build such things. And since such systems would be autonomous, there will be no communications between an operator and the device to jam.

Slightly larger drones with two- to three-foot wingspans are even easier to produce. These drones can be cheaply manufactured using a consumer-grade 3-D printer, a vacuum forming table and some components ordered from Amazon; instead of requiring a specialized factory they can be produced in a garage. At that stage, if somebody designs a killer UAV, many people can manufacture them. Drug cartelshave already started producing armed UAVs and the Islamic State is adapting off-the-shelf drones and turning them into bombers.

We are seeing autonomous operations of UAV swarms not just as things in the research lab but also as student competitions among the U.S. military academies, where students develop software to turn their fleet of individual fixed-wings and quadcopters into a unified swarm tasked with defeating another swarm in air-to-air combat. Not only is the hardware growing cheaper and more common, the software understanding needed is no longer exotic; it is within the reach of advanced engineering students.

Defeating swarms of UAVs is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) level problem in a military environment. The current DARPA program is focused on developing systems that can defend a military convoy from attacking swarms. Although the program intends that the results should be low cost and low collateral damage, a military environment may have an uncomfortably high definition of low.

But there isnt the equivalent research and development aimed at the even more challenging problem that we will face in civilian environmentsenvironments where we cant just open fire with lasers or bullets and where a million-dollar system is considered outrageously expensive. Instead we need systems that are both inexpensive and as safe as possible, so that when an errant round hits someone, it will annoy or injure instead of maim or kill. And we cant have systems classified as secret spread over cities or in the back of police cars.

This is a hard research problem: Governments need to invest the research and development effort now so that, when the need arises, we can crank out anti-drone systems quickly. This effort will require a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. For example, I think that a collaboration between National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) might fit the bill. Using a large number of small grants (something the NSF is best at) in collaboration with DHSs focus on implementation will ensure that promising technologies can be made ready for production.

Because I fear the slaughterbots are coming.

 Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

elections 2016 russian ads on social media – Google News: Russia and the farce of Facebook – Norfolk Daily News (blog)
 


MobileMarketing Magazine
Russia and the farce of Facebook
Norfolk Daily News (blog)
The Russians, as far as we know, bought more than $100,000 in Facebook ads between June 2015 and May 2017. A little more than half was spent after last November, when, obviously, … The Trump campaign spent around $90 million on digital in2016 
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elections 2016 russian ads on social media – Google News

russian facebook ads – Google News: Russia and the farce of Facebook – Norfolk Daily News (blog)
 


MobileMarketing Magazine
Russia and the farce of Facebook
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It doesn’t appear that much of the Russian material was explicitly advocating for Trump’s election, and some of it wasn’t even right wing. One Russian Facebook page highlighted discrimination against Muslims. Another promoted anti-police videos for a
Facebook and Twitter agree to work with the UK on Russian ad probeMobileMarketing Magazine
The UK’s election watchdog is now investigating Google over Russian meddling in BrexitBusiness Insider
Facebook will cooperate with UK investigation into Russian interference in Brexit voteVerdict
Pars Herald (blog) –News World India
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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Just Security: The Backdoor Search Loophole Isnt Our Only Problem: The Dangers of Global Information Sharing
 

The upcoming expiration of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has launched a fresh wave of debate on how the statutes backdoor search loophole allows the U.S. government to access Americans communications by searching information gathered on foreign intelligence grounds without a warrant. But while discussion about domestic information sharing is important, a critical element of the debate is missing: the privacy risks posed by global information sharing between the United States and foreign powers. Like its domestic analog, global information sharing may also permit the U.S. government to access and search Americans data without appropriately accommodating their constitutional rights.

The U.S. is party to a number of international information-sharing arrangementsthe most prominent being the Five Eyes alliance. Born from spying arrangements forged during World War II, the Five Eyes alliance facilitates the sharing of signals intelligence among the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. These sharing arrangements are memorialized in the United Kingdom-United States Communication Intelligence (UKUSA) Agreement.

Still, little is known about the legal frameworks governing intelligence sharing among the Five Eyes. The UKUSA Agreement has been amended several times, but the most recent publicly available version dates back to 1955. That version of the agreement indicates that the Five Eyes are to share, by default, the products of operations relating to foreign communications, as well as the methods and techniques relating to such operations. An appendix to the agreement further indicates that the Five Eyes are to share continuously, currently, and without request both raw (i.e. unanalyzed) traffic in addition to analyzed end product.

Our limited understanding of how intelligence sharing might operate, particularly in the digital era, is informed by the U.S. governments intelligence programs under Section 702. Through Upstream surveillance, the NSA undertakes bulk interception of Americans international communications, including emails and web-browsing content, as they transit the cables, switches, and routers that constitute the internet backbone. The NSA then searches these communications using tens of thousands of selectors, or keywords. Media reports have revealed that the NSA has access to a U.K. bulk surveillance program similar to Upstream, which intercepts internet traffic as it flows through the undersea cables landing in the U.K. We do not know the extent to which the U.K. intelligence agencies have similar access to information stored within Section 702-derived databases. However, media reports have revealed that the Five Eyes (as well as other foreign partners) have access to databases storing information collected through various NSA programs, including MARINA, a metadata repository, and XKEYSCORE, which uses hundreds of servers around the world to store information acquired under various NSA programs.

Privacy Implications

Intelligence sharing raises significant privacy concerns. Technological advances have dramatically changed both communication methods and signals intelligence capabilities since 1955. The development of new technology, especially the internet, has transformed the way we communicate with each other and increased the amount of information that can be collected by orders of magnitude. As our communications have evolved, intelligence agencies have developed more advanced ways to acquire, store, analyze, and share this information. They can intercept in bulk communications and data transiting the internet. Computers permit revelatory analyses of types and amounts of data that were previously considered meaningless or incoherent. And the internet has facilitated remote access to information, easing sharing between agencies.

Critics of Section 702 note that the NSAs intelligence operations targeting foreigners could sweep in millions of Americans private communications. It is possible that under the UKUSA Agreement, the NSA both shares this information with foreign governments and receives U.S. persons communications that foreign agencies collect. It is not clear, for example, how the Five Eyes exchange raw signals intelligence intercepted in bulkcontinuously, currently, and without requestwhile constraining access to the data of their respective citizens.

The scarcity of information about the Five Eyes alliance compounds these privacy concerns. The U.S. government has not explained how the UKUSA Agreement currently operates, the types of information that the U.S. government accesses, or the rules that constrain U.S. intelligence agencies access to and dissemination of Americans private communications.

This lack of transparency weakens the oversight and accountability mechanisms available to check global intelligence sharing. Absent additional information regarding the UKUSA Agreement and Five Eyes alliance, Americans must rely on a 60-year-old, likely outdated, document; veiled government statements; and media reports to understand how their privacy might be implicated by foreign intelligence practices. Adding to this concern is that while the Five Eyes alliance is the best known intelligence sharing arrangement, the U.S. is also party to many more.

Privacy International, together with Yale Law Schools Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic, is currently pursuing litigation under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the updated text of the UKUSA Agreement and its minimization procedures. To date, however, the NSA, the agency primarily responsible for signals intelligence, has not yet disclosed any responsive records. (A similar request to the U.K.s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)the British signals intelligence agencywas denied on grounds that GCHQ is entirely exempt from the U.K.s freedom of information framework.)

Privacy advocates concerned about Section 702 should therefore broaden their attention to the privacy risks inherent in global information sharing. The U.S. government should make available the text of the current version of the UKUSA Agreement, as well as related implementing procedures. It should also make public subsequent revisions to the UKUSA Agreement and other agreements governing intelligence sharing with foreign parties. And to the extent that these documents reveal that the U.S. government receives Americans information without appropriate procedural safeguards, lawmakers should demand additional privacy protective restrictions.

As Congress turns its attention to Section 702, we should not ignore the privacy risks posed by longstanding international intelligence sharing practices that proposed domestic reforms will not touch. Without more information about the legal underpinnings of these agreements, and how they operate in practice, we cannot adequately protect the privacy of Americans and foreigners alike.

Image: Getty Read on Just Security »

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deutsche bank and trump – Google News: The Finance 202: Trump antagonists and Arizona senators are key to tax plan’s success – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
The Finance 202: Trump antagonists and Arizona senators are key to tax plan’s success
Washington Post
The Post’s Heather Long: Powell “has had formal meetings or calls 50 times this year with the heads of Wall Street investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank, according to a copy of his calendar through Sept.and more »

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): trump anxiety – Google News: Unprecedented power consolidation by Xi Jinping triggering anxiety: Hillary Clinton – Hindustan Times
 

Unprecedented power consolidation by Xi Jinping triggering anxiety: Hillary Clinton
Hindustan Times
The unprecedented consolidation of power by Chinese President Xi Jinping has triggered anxiety about bullying by a more assertive China among its neighbours, according to former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party … The 70  

 trump anxiety – Google News

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Trump anxiety – Google News: Unprecedented power consolidation by Xi Jinping triggering anxiety: Hillary Clinton – Hindustan Times
 


Hindustan Times
Unprecedented power consolidation by Xi Jinping triggering anxiety: Hillary Clinton
Hindustan Times
The unprecedented consolidation of power by Chinese President Xi Jinping has triggered anxiety about bullying by a more assertive China among its neighbours, according to former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party … The 70 
Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power ‘triggering anxiety‘, says Hillary ClintonSouth China Morning Post
China and the US are moving closer to a trade warBusiness Insiderall 75 news articles »

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Anthony Weiner – Google News: FLASHBACK: Al Franken Said Anthony Weiner’s Resignation Was ‘Right Thing To Do’ – Mediaite
 


Mediaite
FLASHBACK: Al Franken Said Anthony Weiner’s Resignation Was ‘Right Thing To Do’
Mediaite
In 2011 Sen. Al Franken said Anthony Weiner‘s resignation was ‘the right thing to do. Franken made the remark in an interview with Think Progress when he was asked about an apparent double-standard in how Weiner had been forced to step down from his … 

 Anthony Weiner – Google News

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Donald Trump: Trump Has A History Of Peddling Racist Rhetoric About Native Americans

President Trumps Pocahontas slur is just the example in his history of racist remarks aimed at Native Americans.

 Donald Trump

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Trump – Google News: A speech, a Tillerson snub and a palace dinner Ivanka Trump’s whirlwind India tour – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
A speech, a Tillerson snub and a palace dinner Ivanka Trump’s whirlwind India tour
Washington Post
HYDERABAD, India Ivanka Trump is only scheduled to be in India for two days, but her short trip dubbed a royal visit by the Indian media has been already peppered with controversies like studs on one of her made-in-China handbags. She 
India’s Hyderabad gets a makeover for Ivanka TrumpBBC News
Ivanka Trump’s pushes ‘women first, prosperity for all’ in IndiaNBCNews.com
Ivanka Trump Visits India Amid Criticism Of Clothing Line’s Labor PracticesHuffPost
CNN
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 Trump – Google News

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Your daily 6: Ash and airport don’t mix, students turn in teacher and will Flynn make a deal? – STLtoday.com
 


STLtoday.com
Your daily 6: Ash and airport don’t mix, students turn in teacher and will Flynn make a deal?
STLtoday.com
… stayed because they felt safe or didn’t want to abandon livestock. They have also warned people of the danger of mudflows from the volcano as it’s now rainy season in Bali.s report. …. The lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former national and more »

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Just Security: The Early Edition: November 28, 2017
 

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.

SYRIA

A new round of U.N.-backed Syria peace talks in Geneva are scheduled to start today, ahead of the talks the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura called for real diplomacy and for Syrians to begin to find some common ground. The UN News Centre reports.

The talks are expected to focus primarily on a new constitution and elections, however there is little optimism that the talks would lead to a political solution to the Syrian conflict and there are questions over the ability of the groups opposed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to put on a united front. Barbara Bibbo reports at Al Jazeera.

Our goal in the negotiation will be the departure of Bashar al-Assad from the beginning of the transition, Nasr Hariri, the head of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (H.N.C.), which constitutes the opposition delegation, said yesterday. Stephanie Nebehay reporting at Reuters.

The Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned that Turkey could renege on its agreement with the E.U. on refugees if the U.S. and E.U. grant the Y.P.G. a role in the Geneva talks, saying after a meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday that Turkey sees the Y.P.G. as a terrorist organization and [it] has no place in the peace process. Patrick Wintour reports at the Guardian.

The Pentagon stopped short of saying that it would halt the supply of weapons to Syrian Kurdish (Y.P.G.) militia after Turkeys foreign ministry said on Friday that Trump had pledged to stop providing weapons to the group which heads the Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.), with Pentagon spokesperson Col. Robert Manning saying yesterday that the Defense Department would be reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners. Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.

Russia proposed a two-day ceasefire yesterday in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area near the capital of Damascus following reports of civilian deaths, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying that 18 were killed by bombing over the past two days. Reuters reports.

The shelling of the Eastern Ghouta area has been less intense following the Russian ceasefire proposal, according to witnesses and a war monitor, however there have been no indications that a ceasefire has been agreed. Reuters reports.

Russias defense ministry yesterday denied reports that it carried out airstrikes on the Islamic State-held village of Al Shafah in the Deir al-Zour province after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 53 civilians were killed by Russian strikes, the ministry saying in a statement that Russian forces target areas outside population centers, and only facilities of the international terrorist groups. The BBCreports.

The Syrian oppositions stance is seen by Assad and his allies as being unrealistic as pro-Syrian government forces have achieved a series of military victories and the rebels have almost been defeated, while the opposition have accused the Syrian government of refusing to seriously engage. Angus McDowall explains at Reuters why there is little prospect of success at the Geneva talks.

The image of Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin hugging in the Russian city of Sochi last week symbolizes the power dynamics in the Syrian conflict and Russias success in supporting the Assad regime, with Putin having been able to marginalize the U.S. and enlist the support of Turkey and Iran in his plan for Syria Russias achievements signaling an acceleration of the collapse of U.S. global leadership. The Washington Post editorial board writes.

NORTH KOREA

[We] cannot rule out the possibility Pyongyang may declare the completion of their nuclear program in a year, South Koreas Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said today, Reuters reporting.

Japan has detected radio signals that signal the preparations for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch, a Japanese government source said today, however noting that the signals are not unusual and are not enough to determine if there would be a launch soon. Reuters reports.

Russias Deputy Foreign Minister welcomed the fact that North Korea has not tested any weapons for more than two months during a visit to South Korea yesterday, however the pause in testing may be seasonal, rather than strategic and a full resumption may come in February. Adam Taylor observes at the Washington Post.

The U.S. and China must bridge gaps on key questions regarding North Korea before any lasting resolution the crisis becomes likely, including their approach to the Pyongyang regime and how they intend to bring North Korea to the negotiation table. Krishnadev Calamur writes at the Atlantic.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trumps foreign policy reflects current realities because it acknowledges what many experts have not yet grasped: that Americas post-Cold War national strategy has run out of gas. Walter Russell Mead writes at the Wall Street Journal, arguing that Trumps approach understands the limitations of U.S.s role, however the president must do more than demolish the old.

The Foreign Service is facing perhaps its greatest crisis, as the U.S. juggles with a plethora of national security challenges and complicated dynamics in conflicts in the Middle East, the Trump administration has weakened the Foreign Service by a series of misguided decisions since taking office. Former ambassadors Nicholas Burns and Ryan C. Crocker write at the New York Times, warning about the impact of deep cuts at the State Department.

The dynamics of power in the Middle East may provide Trump with the zero-sum game that he has wanted, however nuance regarding Saudi Arabia and Irans respective influence in the region is needed to try and defuse tensions. Ishaan Tharoor provides an analysis at the Washington Post.

The possibility of the presidents daughter Ivanka Trump becoming the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is not as preposterous as it would initially seem, the current ambassador Nikki Haley did not have expertise on the U.N. but has proven to be capable, Ivanka Trump could prove similarly capable and has some of the qualities to make a good ambassador. Richard Gowan writes at POLITICO Magazine.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Lawyers for Trumps former national security adviser Michael Flynn met with members of special counsel Robert Muellers team yesterday, raising the possibility that Flynn is preparing to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, however a member of Trumps legal team said that no one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about Gen. Flynn cooperating against the president. Matthew Mosk, Mike Levine and Brian Ross report at ABC News.

Flynn was involved in a project to build nuclear power plants in Egypt and Israel in partnership with Russia interests in June 2015, revealing another instance where Flynn may have had a personal interest in a project while he was advising Trump during the campaign for the presidency, and creating further potential legal questions in the wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig report at the Washington Post.

The U.S. needs to come to terms with substantial evidence that the president is in thrall to a foreign power, Michelle Goldberg writes at the New York Times, pointing to the cast of shady characters surrounding the president and the evidence of cooperation with the Kremlin documented in Luke Hardings new book Collusion.

RUSSIA

A Russian interception of a U.S. aircraft at the weekend was unsafe, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said yesterday, adding that the U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behavior. Ryan Browne reports at CNN.

Trumps tweets at the weekend attacking C.N.N. came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law requiring certain U.S. media outlets working in Russia to register as foreign agents, there are concerns about the implications of the requirement to register. Michael M. Grynbaum observes at the New York Times.

The Trump administration has two differing approaches to Russia, and is incoherent on Russias role in Ukraine, U.S.-Russia relations, Russias strategy in Syria and on a host of other issues. Susan B. Glasser writes at POLITICO Magazine referring to her interview of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Kurt Volker.

LEBANON

The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said yesterday that he does not wish to discuss the details of the events following his resignation announcement on Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, having now deferred his decision to resign. There has been intense speculation surrounding the situation and Hariri cited the destructive role of Iran and its Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah ally as the reason for his resignation. Al Jazeera reports.

Lebanon cannot resolve a question like Hezbollah which is in Syria, Iraq, everywhere because of Iran, Hariri also said yesterday, adding that he would stay on as Prime Minister if Hezbollah accepted to stick by Lebanons policy of staying out of regional conflicts. Reuters reporting.

EGYPT

The residents of the village of Rawda in Egypts Sinai Peninsula had been expecting an attack after months of increased threats, however they did not expect an attack as savage as the massacre on the mosque on Friday which killed at least 305 people. Sudarsan Raghavan and Heba Farouk Mahfouz explain at the Washington Post.

The mosque that was attacked had a Sufi character, many of the media reports have misrepresented Sufisms qualities and its role within mainstream Islamic thought. H.A. Hellyer writes at the Guardian, saying that the rhetoric deployed by many purist Salafis that push narratives about Sufism should be addressed if there is to be a counter-extremism approach.

IRAQ

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack southeast of Baghdad yesterday, killing 35 members of the Shiite paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces, Reuters reports.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 11 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between November 24 and November 26. [Central Command]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Pentagon was unable to explain inconsistencies regarding the number of U.S. troops in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere yesterday, the spokesperson Col. Robert Manning attempted to set out why there are discrepancies between official statements and statistics available on government-operated websites. Alex Horton reports at the Washington Post.

U.S. airstrikes on the Islamic State group in northeast Somalia killed one militant, the U.S. military said yesterday, Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

Broadcasts on Iranian state T.V. of a U.S. citizen and a British-Iranian citizen at the weekend suggest that Tehran has been trying to pressure the U.S. and U.K., the two detainees have been sentenced on espionage charges. Carol Morello reports at the Washington Post.

Today we are discovering a fifth estate that makes claims but up until now does not want to take any social responsibility, the head of Germanys domestic agency said yesterday, criticizing tech giants like Facebook for hiding behind legal privileges to avoid taking over editorial verification of their content. Reuters reporting.

The Islamic State may regroup in the Philippines since it has suffered territorial losses in Syria and Iraq, Patrick B. Johnston and Colin P. Clarke write at Foreign Policy, saying that the siege of the Philippine city of Marawi by militants supportive of the terrorist group may be a taste of things to come.

Read on Just Security »

 Just Security

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): trump russian candidate – Google News: Jeff Sessions’s ‘failure to recall’ gives defense lawyers new argument in police shooting case – Washington Post
 

Jeff Sessions’s ‘failure to recall’ gives defense lawyers new argument in police shooting case
Washington Post
In the November hearing, Sessions acknowledged for the first time that he remembered a meeting where a foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, floated a possible meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin …and more »

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): former FBI agents power influence – Google News: What happens when the media gets it really wrong – CNN
 


CNN
What happens when the media gets it really wrong
CNN
Unearthing proof of Nixon’s misconduct required the combined efforts of federal prosecutors, FBI agents, committees of both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court. The notion that the reporting of Woodward and Bernstein toppled Nixon is one of the and more »

 former FBI agents power influence – Google News

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Donald Trump: Alec Baldwin Becomes ‘Professor Of Trumpology’ In Iowa Trump Roast

The actor also struck a serious tone with a call to action for Democrats.

 Donald Trump

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Trump and Russia – Google News: SitRep: Trump Envoy Sees No End to Russia’s War in Ukraine – Foreign Policy (blog)
 

SitRep: Trump Envoy Sees No End to Russia’s War in Ukraine
Foreign Policy (blog)
Ukraine grinds on. The Trump administration’s envoy tasked with ending the fighting in Ukraine tells Politico that he sees no end to the war there, which pits government troops against Russian-backed separatists and Russian troops. Ambassador Kurt …and more »

 Trump and Russia – Google News

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): trump and russia – Google News: SitRep: Trump Envoy Sees No End to Russia’s War in Ukraine – Foreign Policy (blog)
 

SitRep: Trump Envoy Sees No End to Russia’s War in Ukraine
Foreign Policy (blog)
Ukraine grinds on. The Trump administration’s envoy tasked with ending the fighting in Ukraine tells Politico that he sees no end to the war there, which pits government troops against Russian-backed separatists and Russian troops. Ambassador Kurt …and more »

 trump and russia – Google News

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

Trump digital operations from mikenova (2 sites): social media in trump campaign – Google News: The Daily 202: Trump keeps giving in-kind contributions to Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 campaign-in-waiting – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
The Daily 202: Trump keeps giving in-kind contributions to Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 campaign-in-waiting
Washington Post
Busby, who was lacking any formal campaign structure or even a working website as of Monday morning, said he is counting on social media to spread the word about his campaign. He said he plans to run as an independent on his record as an investment …and more »

 social media in trump campaign – Google News

Trump digital operations from mikenova (2 sites)

POTUS and VPOTUS Official Portrait
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5:07 PM 11/27/2017 – Mr. Trump and our “Collective Narcissism”

Saved Stories

Saved Stories – None
Russian propaganda on social media – Google News: Forget Facebook, Twitter or Google it’s the internet’s ‘dark triad’ that we need to protect ourselves against – CSO Online
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A key witness in the Russia probe had ‘a lengthy conversation’ with Trump at Mar-a-Lago – Business Insider
trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Russia Is Not the ‘No. 1 Threat’or Even Among the Top 5 – The Nation.
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1. Trump Investigation – Mike Flynn from mikenova (9 sites): Mike Flynn – Google News: Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News
Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News
Facebook defends advertising ‘principles’ after Russia, discrimination – USA TODAY
US elections and russia – Google News: The long shadow of Russia – The Hindu
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trump and intelligence community – Google News: Trump Is Better Than Obama on Cybersecurity Rules, ACLU Says – Newsweek
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Palmer Report: Was James Woolsey wearing a wire at Mar-a-Lago this weekend when he met with Donald Trump?
Palmer Report: Donald Trump goes completely berserk
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Accused Ancaster hacker to appear in California court Tuesday in plea hearing – TheSpec.com
Ex-Russian minister says he thought bag with $2 million cash was gift of alcohol
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After Tumultuous Week, Germanys Politics Look to the Familiar
Apocalyptic Scenario: Russian Diplomat Warns US Against Korean Military Exercises – International Business Times

 

Saved Stories – None
trump psychological assessment – Google News: ‘Collective narcissism’ a key factor in Brexit vote – BreakingNews.ie


BreakingNews.ie
‘Collective narcissism’ a key factor in Brexit vote
BreakingNews.ie
An outbreak of “collective narcissism” was a key factor that led the British population to vote for Brexit, psychologists claim. … In addition, an assessment of personality types showed that people who felt threatened by immigrants fell into three 

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Russian propaganda on social media – Google News: Forget Facebook, Twitter or Google it’s the internet’s ‘dark triad’ that we need to protect ourselves against – CSO Online


CSO Online
Forget Facebook, Twitter or Google it’s the internet’s ‘dark triad’ that we need to protect ourselves against
CSO Online
Thanks to the ongoing Senate hearings on election hacking we are learning about how the Russians interfered with our presidential elections by sponsoring numerous fake social media accounts and even placing advertisements on Facebook, YouTube and 

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Kushner attorney says Senate panel relaxed Monday document deadline – Politico


Politico
Kushner attorney says Senate panel relaxed Monday document deadline
Politico
Jared Kushner’s attorney said the Senate Judiciary Committee scrapped a Monday deadline for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law to turn over documents the panel wants for its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Senate panel drops deadline for Jared Kushner to hand over Wikileaks emailsNew York Daily News
Jared Kushner Delays Senate Deadline for Documents in Russia Investigation BattleNewsweek
Kushner team disputes today’s document turnover deadlineAxios
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Russia probes in Congress likely to spill into 2018 – The Detroit News


The Detroit News
Russia probes in Congress likely to spill into 2018
The Detroit News
Washington Some Republicans are hoping lawmakers will soon wrap up investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that have dragged on for most of the year. But with new details in the probe emerging almost daily, that seems unlikely.

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A key witness in the Russia probe had ‘a lengthy conversation’ with Trump at Mar-a-Lago – Business Insider


Business Insider
A key witness in the Russia probe had ‘a lengthy conversation’ with Trump at Mar-a-Lago
Business Insider
Franks confirmed late last month that Mueller’s team had interviewed Woolsey about the meeting. He said Woolsey and his wife had been in touch with the FBI since before Mueller began overseeing the bureau’s Russia investigation in May. “Ambassador …

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trump as danger to National Security – Google News: Russia Is Not the ‘No. 1 Threat’or Even Among the Top 5 – The Nation.


The Nation.
Russia Is Not the ‘No. 1 Threat’or Even Among the Top 5
The Nation.
1 threat to American national security. The primary explanation for this transformed perception, which began under President George W. Bush, became more insistent during the Obama Administration, and is now a virtual bipartisan axiom, lies in 

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1:21 PM 11/27/2017 Flynn could implicate any number of Trump officials and Trump himself Washington Post

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Russia investigations in Congress are likely to spill into 2018 – Stars and Stripes


Stars and Stripes
Russia investigations in Congress are likely to spill into 2018
Stars and Stripes
Three congressional committees are investigating Russian interference and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign was in any way involved. The panels have obtained thousands of pages of documents from Trump’s campaign and other officials, and …

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1. Trump Investigation – Mike Flynn from mikenova (9 sites): Mike Flynn – Google News: Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News


The Hill
Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal
ABC News
The lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn met Monday morning with members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, the latest indication that both sides are discussing a possible plea deal, ABC News has …
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Flynn’s lawyer meets with Mueller’s teamNew York Post
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 Mike Flynn – Google News

 1. Trump Investigation – Mike Flynn from mikenova (9 sites)

Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal – ABC News


POLITICO Magazine
Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal
ABC News
The lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn met Monday morning with members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team the latest indication that both sides are discussing a possible plea deal, ABC News 
Turkey’s Torrid Love Affair With Michael FlynnPOLITICO Magazine
Flipping Michael Flynn: The real and imagined damage of a Mueller dealThe Hill
Mueller and NY AG Schneiderman teaming up on Mike Flynn as Turkey hangs him out to dryRaw Story 
The Week MagazineHuffPost
 Napa Valley Register The Inquisitr –New York Times

all 160 128 news articles »
Facebook defends advertising ‘principles’ after Russia, discrimination – USA TODAY


USA TODAY
US elections and russia – Google News: The long shadow of Russia – The Hindu


The Hindu
The long shadow of Russia
The Hindu
The situation snowballed into a crisis post-election, as Mr. Trump became the first President to be suspected of having coordinated with a foreign government to manipulate a U.S. election. The fundamental questions are whether he colluded with the  
‘Russia, Russia, Russia’: Trump Is Getting Bored Of ‘Phony’ ProbeNewsweek
Trump denounces allegations of Russian election meddling as ‘phony Democrat excuse for losing’Los Angeles Times
Trump attacks ‘Democrat excuse for losing election, Russia, Russia, Russia’ during return from Thanksgiving breakWashington Examiner
Trend News AgencyThe Hill (blog)Blasting NewsNew York Times
all 138 
Trump’s Russian SchizophreniaPOLITICO Magazine

all 23 news articles »

 US elections and russia – Google News

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Egyptian security forces targeted militants in the Sinai peninsula after an attack on a mosque in a local village killed 305 people, the New York Times reported. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pledged to get vengeance against a group of 25-30 armed men that Egyptian authorities said carried an Islamic State flag during their massacre at the mosque in Bir al-Abed. According to Egyptian security officials, warplanes struck vehicles associated with the fighters. The attack is the latest escalation in the long-brewing conflict in Sinai, where the Egyptian military has struggled to contain an insurgency that took hold after the 2013 coup in which President Sisi took power.

Pakistans justice minister will step down after accusations of blasphemy against him sparked protests and violence from Islamic fundamentalist groups, the Times reported. After Zahid Hamid, the law minister, attempted to change religious language in an oath that Pakistani lawmakers take upon entering parliament, protests erupted that have paralyzed Islamabad, Pakistans capital, for weeks. Following military-led negotiations, Hamid agreed to step down, and a hard-line Islamic party promised not to issue an edict of blasphemy against him, an accusation that has led to killings in the past.

Pope Francis met the head of Myanmars military during an official visit, as the pontiff faces pressure to address the violence against the Rohingya Muslim population, Reuters reported. The pope discussed religious freedom and the countrys transition to democracy with General Min Aung Hlaing. Advisers have warned the pope against even using the word Rohingya, as Myanmars government says they are not a separate ethnic group. The pope will meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmars civilian leader, on Tuesday.

Michael Flynns lawyers told President Donald Trumps legal team they were halting their correspondence about the special counsels investigation, according to the Times. Flynns lawyers cancelled an agreement concluded between Trump and Flynns legal teams to share information about the investigation and their responses. Trumps lawyers said this development suggested Flynn was working on a deal with the special counsel. Special Counsel Robert Muellers team is looking into Flynns work on a Turkish documentary film, the Wall Street Journal reported. Flynn paid consultants to create a currently unfinished film attacking exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. The FBI is probing Flynns business connections to the Turkish government in connection with the film. Separately, Congressional officials referred allegations about Flynns role in a scheme to provide nuclear power to Middle East countries to the special counsels investigation, the Washington Post reported. Rep. Trey Gowdy sent a letter to Mueller referring congressional democrats concerns about Flynns sponsorship of a plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East while he was in office.

The U.S. will cease arming Kurdish fighters in Syria, CBS News reported. President Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the U.S. would stop its arms shipments to the YPG, a Kurdish group that forms an integral part of the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkey has called the YPG a terrorist organization because of its connections to rebel groups in Turkeys eastern mountains. The White House did not explicitly confirm the change in policy, but Turkish officials called on the U.S. to uphold its pledge, according to Reuters.

Aid shipments entered Yemen for the first time in the weeks since the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels blockaded major ports, the Times reported. A shipment of flour reached the seaport at Al Hudaydah and aid planes landed at Sanaa, Yemens capital. The U.N. said the Saudi coalition must continue to allow supplies to arrive as Yemen faces a devastating famine and health crisis. A cholera epidemic has threatened vulnerable members of Yemens population  as over 17 million people lack reliable access to food.

The FBI failed to inform dozens of current and former U.S. officials that the Russian hacking operation Fancy Bear had targeted their email accounts, the AP reported. Of more than 80 officials whose emails the Russian group aimed to compromise, the FBI notified only two of the potential threat. Many former intelligence and military officials learned about the attempted hacking only when journalists contacted them about the matter.

The head of the European Parliament asked the Polish government to take steps to ensure the security of Polish parliamentarians after far-right groups staged mock hangings of the politicians, Reuters reported. Extremists hanged the portraits of Polish representatives to Brussels who backed a resolution condemning a Polish far-right march in early November as fascist. The head of the European Parliament asked the Polish government to condemn the attacks on the politicians.

The Pentagon is likely to admit that there are over 2,000 U.S. soldiers in Syria, revising upwards its previously estimate of 500 troops on the ground, according to Reuters. The Department of Defense is expected to announce the revised number to reflect a more accurate accounting of troops present in Syria and not to announce an increase in troop commitments.

 

ICYMI: This holiday weekend on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes posted the Mother May I Launch a Missile edition of Rational Security.

Orin Kerr argued that the Fourth Amendment does not guarantee a general right to be secure against government surveillance.

Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview between Alina Polyakova and Arkady Ostrovsky on Russias far east.

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Kim Cragin argued that foreign fighters who are transferred to third countries that are not their homes are a major security risk.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

 Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

Putin and American political process – Google News: Little prospect of Syria peace progress seen in Geneva talks – Arab American News


Arab American News
Little prospect of Syria peace progress seen in Geneva talks
Arab American News
Russia has elections next year and President Vladimir Putin wants to show progress towards a political deal after two years of fighting far from Russian soil. Moscow has already said it will bring many troops home from Syria by the end of the year 
Syria talks: Could this round make real progress?The National
UN urges Syrian government to attend Geneva talksMedicine Hat News

all 108 news articles »

 Putin and American political process – Google News

trump and intelligence community – Google News: Trump Is Better Than Obama on Cybersecurity Rules, ACLU Says – Newsweek

Trump Is Better Than Obama on Cybersecurity Rules, ACLU Says
Newsweek
However, the civil rights and liberties defense group did not let the U.S. government or Trump off the hook over the debate about keeping cybersecurity vulnerabilities secret. The U.S. intelligence community already dealt with one such flaw earlier

 trump and intelligence community – Google News

crime and terror – Google News: Op-ed in PA daily claims Israel behind Sinai terror attack – The Times of Israel


The Times of Israel
Op-ed in PA daily claims Israel behind Sinai terror attack
The Times of Israel
Palestinian Liberation Front political bureau member Muhammad Al-Soudi said that the crime that was committed against the heroic Egyptian army soldiers in northern Sinai is not unrelated to the phenomenon of terror in the region, which is sustained

and more »

 crime and terror – Google News

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Is Iran Trying to Inflate Yemens Currency as a Tool of Warfare?

On Nov. 20, the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces sanctions, identified and designated individuals and entities connected to an operation by the Quds force, the special forces division of Irans Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to print counterfeit Yemeni money worth hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars using European equipment. Treasury only released limited information about the plot, but the sanctions are likely to spur policymakers to analyze carefully Irans next moves.

Two developments are important to watch. First, the U.S. should be paying close attention to whether, and how, Iran might use economic warfare to destabilize an adversarys economy. Second, the Quds force managed to draw Europe into its actions, tempting a European Union response; if Europe fails to respond adequately, it may embolden the IRGC.

The revelation that the Quds force was printing the Yemeni rial invites the question: Why did the Iran choose to counterfeit Yemeni currency in particular?

Yemen has been in the midst of a civil war since 2015, meaning that it has a weak government without the resources to stop a massive counterfeiting scheme. However, policymakers should also consider whether Iran is being more than opportunistic in choosing to counterfeit Yemeni currency. Perhapsand this remains conjecturalIran may be trying to circulate fake currency in order to destabilize the Yemeni economy through inflation. The World Bank estimates that Yemens economy contracted by about 37.5 percent since 2015 with a concurrent spike in inflation. Iran is currently supporting the Houthi rebellion against the Yemeni government, sending increasingly lethal weapons into the region, and therefore has an interest in weakening the government and the countrys economy.

It would not be the first time Tehran has used counterfeiting as a tool of economic warfare: Iran was tied to a counterfeiting scheme targeting the Iraqi economy in 1992. It flooded the economy with counterfeit money in order to increase inflation and destabilize the economy. This months recent counterfeiting revelation could be signaling that theyre implementing a similar scheme to increase inflation in Yemen.

The Treasury designation revealed that in addition to printing hundreds of millions of Yemeni rial, the Iranians boldly used European equipment to pursue their scheme. The Quds forces used front companies in Germany to circumvent European export controls and obtain equipment to print Yemeni rial.

Exposing that the Quds force used German front-companies to obtain the counterfeiting equipment has to give Europeans pause in their reintegration efforts with Iran, after the Iran nuclear deal. The EUs diplomatic service chief, Helga Schmid, explained that there was a 94 percent increase in Iranian-European trade in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period the previous year. Those billions of dollars in new trade will certainly incentivize European companies to pressure their governments to avoid applying additional sanctions against Iran. However, since Iran uses cash to pursue destabilizing activities such as its well-documented support of terrorism and even cyberattacks against the U.S. financial system, the use of German companies will likely increase the weight of Secretary of State Rex Tillersons calls on European governments to sanction the IRGC.

The U.S. should watch Irans response to these sanctions carefully. The failure of Europe to act may embolden the IRGC, which likely knows that Europe wants to avoid hurting trade with Iran again and losing out on the resultant revenue. The U.S. should especially be on the lookout for any efforts to evade sanctions.

Ultimately, any discussion of economic sanctions against the Iranian counterfeit ring should