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Another story from the Deep State soft coup plotters: Kushner, Flynn and the ‘back channel’ to Russia

The latest story about Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn – discussing their perfectly legal proposal after the election to set up a back channel to Russia – once again shows how elements of the US bureaucracy are acting illegally to obstruct the President’s policy of improving relations with Russia.

Alexander Mercouris

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Yesterday I wrote that having failed to find any evidence against any of the other people involved in the Russiagate inquiry, the investigators have turned on Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Today predictably there is the leak intended to cause him harm from our old friends, ‘three anonymous current and former officials’.

This leak alleges that in early December at a meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak in Trump Tower which General Michael Flynn also attended Kushner discussed with Kislyak the setting up of a back channel between General Flynn and the Russians.

The idea apparently was that Flynn would use this back channel to discuss with the Russians the conflict in Syria and other security issues.  Here is how The New York Times describes the purpose of the ‘back channel’

…..the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues……

The idea behind the secret communications channel, the three people said, was for Russian military officials to brief Mr. Flynn about the Syrian war and to discuss ways to cooperate there.

Neither side followed up on it. And less than two weeks later, the idea was dropped when Mr. Trump announced that Rex W. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil who had worked closely with Russian officials on energy deals, was his choice to become secretary of state.

There is no suggestion here that the back channel was intended to discuss possible collusion between the Trump team and the Russians relating to the US political process.  Of course by this point the election was over, so this proposal for a back channel can have no bearing on the allegations of secret collusion during the election between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which are the subject of the Russiagate investigation.

It should be said clearly that there is nothing remotely unprecedented or even sinister about a US President having a back channel to the Russians that circumvents the bureaucracy.

The Kennedy administration used a back channel which ran through Alexander Feklisov, the KGB Resident at the Soviet embassy in Washington, to communicate directly with the Kremlin during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It is now generally acknowledged that the eventual agreement that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis – and with it the threat of nuclear war – was largely negotiated via Feklisov and the back channel.

The expression ‘back channel’ is however more closely associated with the actions of former US President Richard Nixon.

Before his election victory in November 1968 – ie. during the election campaign – Nixon established two back channels to the Kremlin, one set up by his friend Robert Ellsworth, which ran through Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and Soviet Charge d’Affaires Yuri Cherniakov, and the other set up by his future National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, which like Kennedy’s back channel ran through the KGB Resident at the Soviet embassy in Washington, who was by this point Boris Sedov.

Nixon’s back channels to the Kremlin continued to function after he became President. Eventually they evolved into the famous Kissinger-Dobrynin back channel, which enabled Nixon and Kissinger to conduct secret diplomacy directly with the Kremlin circumventing the State Department.

Nixon’s back channels to the Kremlin have remained controversial.  However there has never been any suggestion that they were illegal.  Most historians today credit them with easing the process of negotiation of the web of arms control and other agreements of the early 1970s which established the so-called period of detente.

Back in December, shortly after Kushner had his meeting with Kislyak, an article appeared in the Washington Post discussing the Nixon back channels and speculating that the Trump transition team might be thinking of copying them.  Kushner is specifically mentioned in the article.

The New York Times says that US intelligence learnt about the discussion between Kushner and Kislyak about setting up the back channel ‘months ago’.

The article in the Washington Post about Nixon’s back channels looks like it was inspired by the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.  Putting this together with what the New York Times says about US intelligence learning about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting “months ago”, that suggests that knowledge of the meeting was already widespread by mid December, in which case US intelligence must have learnt about the meeting almost immediately, probably as soon as it happened.

That suggests two possibilities, both hinted at by the New York Times

American intelligence agencies first learned about the discussion several months ago, according to a senior American official who had been briefed on intelligence reports. It is unclear whether they learned about it from intercepted Russian communications or by other means.

If US intelligence learnt about the Kushner-Kislyak discussion “from intercepted Russian communications” then once again the release of information to the media about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting constitutes a very serious leak of classified information, which will have alerted the Russians to the fact that their secret communications have been compromised.

Since the Russians will almost certainly in that case take steps to tighten up the security of their communications as a result of the publication of this story, that could lead to the US losing an important intelligence source.  If so then yet again individuals within the US intelligence community, obsessed with their feud with Donald Trump, have damaged the national security interests of the US.

The other possibility is that US intelligence learnt about the discussion “by other means”, either from a source within the Trump transition team or – what has to be more likely – from electronic bugging of Trump Tower.  In the latter case then this confirms that Trump Tower was bugged despite the heated denials to the contrary.

The back channel was never set up because Donald Trump decided to make Rex Tillerson rather than General Flynn his point man in his dealings with the Russians.

If the idea of the back channel came from Flynn – as is likely – then that supports my theory that Flynn was seeking to carve out a position for himself as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser akin to those held in the 1970s by Nixon’s and Carter’s National Security Advisers, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and that this was the real reason why he was forced to resign.

Putting that aside, the key question about this story is not why Kushner discussed with Kislyak the idea of setting up a back channel.  The New York Times professes to be mystified about it

Even if the proposal was designed primarily as a conduit to discuss policy issues, it is unclear why such communications would have needed to be carried out though a secret channel.

In fact – as the New York Times of course knows – the answer is obvious.  The attempted sabotage of every move the Trump administration has made to pursue a diplomatic opening to Russia shows why senior figures within the Trump transition team might have searched for ways to circumvent the bureaucracy in order to carry out the President’s policy.

Rather the key questions about this story relate to how the information about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting was obtained, and the use this information has been put to.

Specifically, was the information obtained because (1) Trump Tower was bugged; or (2) from an informer within the Trump transition team; or (3) through the interception of Russian communications; and (4) in the case of (3) has the leaking of this information to the media damaged the national security interests of the US?

Needless to say these are precisely the questions that the media in the US are not going to ask.

In any of these cases the story again shows how the leaking of classified information has once again been used illegally to damage the reputation of a US citizen – in this case the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – by insinuating that he has done something illegal and wrong, when in fact he has not.

I will finish with one general observation about the Russiagate affair.

Donald Trump won the election saying openly and frankly that he wanted to improve relations with Russia. He made it clear that this was his intention throughout the election campaign.  He was constitutionally elected to the Presidency specifically saying that he would carry out that policy.

Instead of being allowed to do as President what he said he would do before he was elected, and which was elected by the people to do – which is improve relations with Russia – elements of the US bureaucracy and the media are obstructing him whilst trying to destabilise him and his administration so as to drive him from office.

If that is not a soft coup by the Deep State – seeking to obstruct the foreign policy the President was elected to follow, and seeking to remove from office a constitutionally elected President for trying to carry out the policy the people elected him on – I do not know what is.

In 1964 there appeared a film in the US – Seven Days in May – about an attempted coup against the President of the United States provoked by his attempts to improve relations with Russia.

In the US – as happens all too often – fiction has now become fact.

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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

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Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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