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War coming in the Gulf? Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Sarajevo moment with Qatar

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ultimatum to Qatar threatens a wider regional war pitting key allies of the US against each other.

Alexander Mercouris

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In July 1914 warmongers in the Habsburg government sent an insanely worded ultimatum to Serbia.  Emperor Franz Josef I – 84 and in poor health – did nothing to restrain them, whilst they were actually egged on by the Habsburg empire’s powerful but wilful ally, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

The result was a geopolitical catastrophe which brought about the end of the Habsburg empire.

In June 2017 warmongers in Saudi Arabia have sent an insanely worded ultimatum to Qatar.  King Salman – 81 and in poor health – is doing nothing to restrain them, whilst they are actually being egged on by the Saudi Kingdom’s powerful but wilful ally, President Trump of the United States.

Will the result be a similar geopolitical catastrophe that will bring about the end of the Saudi Kingdom?

It is impossible to believe that anyone in Riyadh seriously believes that Qatar can comply with the terms of the Saudi ultimatum, just as no-one in Vienna in 1914 seriously thought Serbia would comply with the Habsburg ultimatum.

In both cases complying with an ultimatum phrased in such an extreme way would result in a complete loss of independence and sovereignty. For proudly independent countries like Serbia and Qatar that is inconceivable.  Unsurprisingly the Saudi ultimatum has been rejected.  The people who drafted the Saudi ultimatum in Riyadh cannot have expected otherwise, just as the people who drafted the Habsburg ultimatum in Vienna never expected it to be accepted either.

If the Saudi ultimatum to Qatar is intended to be rejected, just as the Habsburg ultimatum to Serbia was also intended to be rejected, the big question is what happens next?

In 1914, despite weeks of frantic diplomatic activity and attempts by the Serbian government to find some diplomatic solution to the crisis, the Habsburg empire attacked Serbia, setting in train a series of events which within days resulted in an all-out European war, which eventually became a World War.  It is now universally accepted that this was the intention throughout, and that the Habsburg ultimatum was drafted so as to provide a pretext for war when the ultimatum was rejected.

Is there any risk of anything like that happening now?

Unfortunately the possibility cannot be excluded.

I have already written that the previously announced steps taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies – closing land and air links to Qatar and breaking diplomatic relations – look very like preparatory steps before an armed attack on Qatar

Whilst I do not know this for a fact, I think it is at least possible that Saudi Arabia’s breaking of diplomatic relations and the land and air blockade it imposed on Qatar were intended to be followed up by a ground invasion of Qatar.

Such an aggressive step would be very much in character for Saudi Arabia’s volatile de facto leader Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Much as former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1990 mistook a conversation with the US ambassador as a green light from the US to invade Kuwait, so it is possible that the equally foolhardy Prince Mohammed bin Salman misread some comments of US President Trump during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia as a green light for a Saudi attack on Qatar.

Since I wrote those words Turkey has further ramped up its support for Qatar, Rex Tillerson and the US State Department have become more increasingly critical of Saudi actions, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been promoted by his father Crown Prince, putting him in a position where he is possibly no more than a few months away from succeeding to the Saudi throne.

It would be entirely in character for Prince Mohammed bin Salman – pressed by Rex Tillerson and the US State Department to clarify what Saudi Arabia actually wants from Qatar – to respond by doubling down, by sending an impossibly worded ultimatum to Qatar via the Kuwaiti mediators.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s previous behaviour points to someone who consistently and recklessly overplays his hand, and even if he is not actually planning a war against Qatar it could be that like a bad poker player he is responding to a challenge by raising his stake to ridiculous levels in the belief that no-one will then dare to call his bluff.

The question is what will he do when his bluff is called and the 10 day time limit in the ultimatum expires with Qatar still having failed to comply with it?  Will he step back and permit the Kuwaiti mediators to do their work, or will he escalate further?

The list of demands in the ultimatum is so extreme that it is impossible to see how it can form the basis for a negotiation.  If there is going to be a negotiated solution to this crisis – which Prince Mohammed bin Salman has single-handedly created all by himself – then the ultimatum will have to be dropped in its entirety.

In theory Saudi Arabia could try to sustain the status quo indefinitely by persisting with its air and land blockade of Qatar.  However growing criticism of the blockade in the US might make that difficult, with US pressure probably increasing over time on Saudi Arabia to agree a compromise.

That would entail a climbdown, whilst doing nothing after the 10 day time limit of the ultimatum expires might anyway expose the ultimatum as too obviously a bluff.

That might be more than Prince Mohammed bin Salman can stand.  He might fear that if were to climb down or fail to act on the ultimatum that would humiliate him before his father the King and the other Saudi Princes.

It would also surely lead to more questions being asked within Saudi Arabia about the quality of his judgement.  Given that he is almost certainly already the target of criticism from some of the older Princes – including from some of his older brothers, who are being passed over for the throne – he might also fear that such a humiliation would weaken his position and damage his chances of succeeding his father.

In view of this there has to be a risk that rather than be humiliated by climbing down or having his ultimatum exposed as a bluff Prince Mohammed bin Salman might decide instead to double down further, and do what Saddam Hussein did in 1980, which is launch a ground invasion of a small but rich neighbouring Arab country which is daring to defy him.

After all like Saddam Hussein he already has form.  Just as before attacking Kuwait in 1990 Saddam Hussein had previously in 1981 attacked Iran, so in March 2015 – just weeks after his father became King – Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the prime instigator of the disastrous Saudi intervention in Yemen.

If Prince Mohammed bin Salman really does order an attack on Qatar then there is a serious danger that the situation could spiral out of control.

Though Qatar is obviously no match for Saudi Arabia it now has the support of the two military giants in the region: Turkey and Iran.  The Turks have already established a military base in Qatar (one of the Saudi demands is for Qatar to close it) and it is far from impossible that in the event of a Saudi attack on Qatar President Erdogan – who has denounced the Saudi ultimatum in the strongest terms – might feel that he has to come to Qatar’s rescue.

If so then just as the Habsburg officials in 1914 miscalculated the international reaction to their attack on Serbia, so Prince Mohammed bin Salman might find that he is miscalculating the regional reaction to a Saudi attack on Qatar.

The country which ought to be working diplomatically to prevent this disaster happening is the US.  Saudi Arabia is a key ally of the US, just as the Habsburg empire was Germany’s key ally in 1914.  Moreover just as Germany in 1914 wielded decisive influence in Vienna, so the US today wields decisive influence in Riyadh.  Strong diplomatic action by the US in Riyadh would be the one certain way of preventing a Saudi attack on Qatar.

Unfortunately President Trump is inexperienced in international affairs, apparently feels personally beholden to the Saudis after his recent visit to Riyadh, and is weighed down by the Russiagate scandal.  The result is that the US seems incapable of responding strongly to the crisis, with President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson sending out discordant signals.

I still believe that in the end sense will prevail and that there will come a point beyond which further escalation stops.  However the potential for things to go wrong – with Turkey and Iran coming to the aid of Qatar in a war with Saudi Arabia which pits two key US allies – Turkey and Saudi Arabia – against each other, cannot be completely excluded.

To the anxious contemplation of such dangerous scenarios do the unrestrained follies of Prince Mohammed bin Salman inexorably lead.

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THIS speech by Vladimir Putin is what started the anti-Russia hysteria (VIDEO)

Russian President spoke about Western assault on Christianity and traditional values in 2013 – just before anti-Russian troubles began

Seraphim Hanisch

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Sometimes it is possible to lose clear sight of the reality of politics because of the optics and all the “noise” associated with differing points of view. For the average American partaker of mainstream network news (and lately this applies to cable news outlets as well), the viewing public still tends to absorb the tone and rhetoric of the day. These people, often without any personal critical thought, simply go and echo it to their friends and neighbors, and even back to the news media or polling agencies. This has certainly been the case regarding Russia.

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Case in point: An opinion piece on the Fox News website, by Dan Gainor makes note of the absolute media carnage (not too strong a word in this case) concerning the reaction of the political establishment and almost ALL media outlets (including Fox) to President Trump’s conciliatory tone struck with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit, one week ago today.

We have excerpted from his piece, adding emphasis:

A raging epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome broke out among reporters covering the summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, as journalists gave the American president hellish reviews for his performance in Helsinki at a joint news conference.

No reporters knew what actually transpired in the main event of the day – the private meeting between the two presidents. So journalists put themselves in the position of critics, grading President Trump’s news conference performance…

…USA Today reported in a front-page story: “Every nation has an infamous traitor. … And now, after a news conference Monday in Finland, the term is being used in relations to the 45th president of the United States. Donald Trump, master of the political insult, finds himself on the receiving end.”

The New York Daily News screamed “OPEN TREASON” on its cover page with a cartoon showing Trump holding Putin’s hand and holding a gun in his other hand and shooting Uncle Sam in the head. Really.

CNN host Fareed Zakaria wasn’t satisfied with “treason” as a descriptor. “I feel like treasonous is too weak a word, because the whole thing has taken on an air of such unreality,” he said.

Zakaria had lots of company: CNN analyst Max Boot, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, and, of course, former CIA Director John Brennan, who now works for NBC and MSNBC.

CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said “the spirit of what Trump did is clearly treasonous,” and declared that the president “came off as being a puppet of Putin.”

The list of network reactions in Mr. Gainor’s article is very long and deserves a careful read. But all of those reactions and more led to this point:

The hellish outrage over the Helsinki news conference had its desired effect … for now. Newsweek posted a story on an opinion poll that declared: “According to a new Ipsos poll, 49 percent of Americans said Trump was “treasonous” during the summit and ensuing press conference, with only 27 percent disagreeing.”

In other words the viewing, listening and reading public did absorb this very unified tirade. One of the most unusual aspects of this which we have reported on here, is that the media’s unity included many conservative elements. In all but a few cases, most notably that of Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, even very respected conservative voices still bought into “Russian meddling” as though this were some sort of issue. It really isn’t, because as even some of these hosts acknowledged, “everyone does it.”

But as to why this is happening, the explanation really has to do with the establishment reaction to a speech that President Putin himself gave several years ago about the situation in the West. It is this speech that spurred most of the sanctions and actions taken against Russia. It is NOT the “invasion” of Crimea or the 25 invasions of Ukraine that were reported during the years 2014-2016. It is the alignment that the Russian President noted in the West, and Russia’s refusal to follow that same path.

Blackpilled offered this video clip and a translation of the speech in English. We offer that clip and the relevant part of the speech’s transcript here.

It is of tantamount importance to understand that this is the main factor in all the opposition against President Trump, because his presence threw a major monkey wrench into “the plan.”

Two things of note: 1. The narrator of the video here offers a translation that is slightly different than the one offered on the Kremlin’s own website. The link to the relevant page is included here.

2. The narrator of “BlackPilled is incorrect in attributing this speech as being given “shortly after Trump was elected.” The actual speech was given at the Valdai conference in 2013. If we consider this, and the timeline of events following – such as the Sochi Olympics and the concurrent list of “scandal after scandal” concerning Russia, then the pieces fall into place:

From the site Kremlin.ru, emphasis added:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of migration. Without the values embedded in Christianity and other world religions, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values . One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.

At the same time we see attempts to somehow revive a standardised model of a unipolar world and to blur the institutions of international law and national sovereignty. Such a unipolar, standardised world does not require sovereign states; it requires [slaves].”

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‘Treasonous’ Trump in the Conspirators’ Crosshairs

Every effort will continue to be made to ensure no concrete progress can be made on whatever was discussed in Helsinki while maintaining the 24/7 drumbeat of demonization.

Jim Jatras

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At least the White House can be happy that the resident Hitler-in-Chief’s inhuman separation of innocent migrant children from adults caught illegally crossing the US border with Mexico matters to nobody anymore.

Everyone’s moved on. “Children in cages” is yesterday’s news.

The issue now is treason, a crime carrying the death penalty.

On that score America and the entire world owe former CIA Director and onetime communist voter John Brennan a debt of gratitude for pointing out that President Donald Trump’s expressing the slightest hint of doubt about conclusions reached by the US Intelligence Community is both impeachable and treasonous.

Brennan didn’t just make that up, you know. It’s in the Constitution of the United States, right there in black and white:

Article II, Section 1: “The executive Power shall be vested in an Intelligence Community of the United States of America.”

Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist in doubting the Intelligence Community in any way, shape, or form.”

There you have it, it’s an open and shut case of treason, committed in full view of the global public within feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin – who, as the crack journalists of our intrepid Fourth Estate have now revealed through their diligent investigative work, was once an officer in the Soviet  KGB!  Trump’s unmasking, through his very own perfidious words, now adds “traitor” to all the other terms of opprobrium already justly appertaining to him.

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We all know what happens to traitors, don’t we?

A day later Trump hastily sought to cover up his treachery with the lame suggestion that he had inadvertently dropped the semi-syllable “-n’t” during his Helsinki press conference with his Russian “handler.” (Actually, that “wouldn’t/would” dodge is pretty cute. Who thought it up – Steve Miller? Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Trump himself? Genius! One can almost hear them brainstorming over what explanation would most insult the limited intelligence of their critics.)

But try as he might, Trump can’t escape. His media pursuers have caught on to his Houdini routine:

‘President Donald Trump’s attempt on Tuesday to backpedal on his disastrous remarks siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which the stone-faced president read from a monotone prepared statement but deviated several times from it, was eerily reminiscent of the way he handled his infamous false equivalence in response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer.

‘After accepting Putin’s denial instead of affirming U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, Trump on Tuesday tried to reverse course. Reading from prepared remarks, he said that he accepts the intelligence agencies’ conclusion and claimed that he misspoke during Monday’s press conference. (He added ‘that perhaps “other people” were responsible, and reverted to his usual talking point that “there was no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, which appeared to be unscripted.) [ … ]

‘Many reporters, commentators and other political observers made similar observations, noting that Trump could quickly reverse himself again, just as he did in his response to the events in Charlottesville.’

Indeed, just the day after his “stone-faced,” “monotone” semi-contrition, Trump was right back at it, colluding with fellow Putin-puppet Tucker Carlson on Fox News. (Even worse, the Trump-Carlson duo even blasphemed against the holiest of holies of US national security, Americans’ willingness to risk nuclear annihilation in World War III over tiny, corrupt Montenegro.)

Not only did this two-man, latter-day analogue to the Gunpowder Plot belittle the supposedly proven fact of Russian hacking of the 2016 election (which nonetheless is still disbelieved by almost 40% of Americans!), they took the opportunity to inject a note of – you guessed it!  racism:

‘Carlson used literal white supremacy to defend Trump’s news conference.

‘“I mean I’m not a shrink, so I don’t fully understand it. I mean I don’t think Russia is our close friend or anything like that. I mean, of course, they tried to interfere in our affairs; they have for a long time. Many countries do. Some more successfully than Russia, like Mexico which is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate,” Carlson said, suggesting Mexican immigrants who become naturalized citizens and vote are somehow illegitimate voters.

‘Former FBI Director James Comey criticized Trump for sitting down with Hannity and Carlson.

‘“Having sold out our nation on an international stage, Mr. Trump will now explain it all to Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson? I’m guessing RT and [Sputnik] were unavailable.’

But aside from Carlson, virtually all of Trump’s supposed defenders (mostly on Fox News) agreed entirely with the President’s accusers that questioning the intelligence community was totally impermissible.

Indeed, both his defenders and even Trump himself have tried to deflect criticism by citing the myriad ways in which his Administration has been “tough” on the Russians: sanctions, expelling diplomats, striking Syria twice, and most of all reveling in the slaughter of Russian contractors in Syria.

This reflects a troubling fact that undermines optimism that the Helsinki summit will herald a change for the better in the US-Russia relationship. The fact is, Putin is master in his own house but Trump is not.

There is no order or instruction Trump can give that he can be sure will be carried out, either by the Pentagon or the intelligence community – and certainly not the Justice Department, which blatantly tried to sabotage the summit with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s issuance of avacuous indictment of 12 GRU officers. As described by former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer:

‘Why should any American worry about the unending, manic claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 election? This story, after all, has been made up and perpetuated by aspiring traitors like Clapper, Hayden, Tapper, Acosta, Hillary Clinton, Comey, John Podesta, Maddow, McCabe, Brennan, Page, Strzok, Wray, the reporting staffs of the Washington Post and the New York Times, the Council on Foreign Relations, and most of all, by the foreign-born Obama.

To believe this crew’s statements about anything at all is to believe that John McCain and Lindsay Graham can open their mouths without lying us into yet another interventionist war. […]

‘In the face of what Jefferson surely would call a “long train” of perfidy, treason, obsessive avarice, and murder by the national government, one must ask why would any commonsensical American fail to see that the Russian-meddling narrative is transparently an attempt by Obama leftovers and the seething, quite mad Neocons to push the United States into a new Cold War with Russia, one that would lead to a hot war, as well as a means of keeping themselves out of the slammer and off the gallows.

‘Indeed, there is not a loyal American citizen who has a single credible reason to believe any intelligence-based claims made by the Obama administration, or the Obama leftovers in Trump’s administration, about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The citizenry’s only fair-minded conclusion is that Obama ordered his intelligence and military lieutenants to stand down on responding to “Russian hacking” in summer, 2016, because no such hacking occurred.

Certainly, the two indictments of Russians – written by Obama acolytes led by Rosenstein, Strzok, and old-man, disgrace-to-the-Marines Mueller and his merry band of Trump-hating attorneys — are clearly dreamed-up travesties that would disgrace a first-year law-school student and get him the boot therefrom.’

The bottom line is that, even after Helsinki, Trump remains besieged inside his own Administration. It cannot be said with any assurance that there is a single high official, including Trump’s own appointees, who agrees with the President’s desire for rapprochement with Russia.

Congress is almost entirely against him, as evidenced by a virtually unanimous Senate vote on a nonbinding resolution against treaty-based law enforcement cooperation with Russia (as discussed by the two presidents) and talk of fast-tracking more sanctions legislation.

Even in areas theoretically under Trump’s full control, most importantly his constitutional command of the military, there is pushback. One early deliverable of the summit should be US-Russia cooperation in Syria to help wind down that war.

But General Joseph Votel, who leads U.S. Central Command, was quick to point out that he’s received no instructions and that under prohibitory legislation enacted in 2014 no such cooperation would be legal without Congressional action to create an exception – which will not be forthcoming.

In a rule of law state, law enforcement should be politically neutral. In most countries it’s not, with those in power using police, prosecutors, and courts as weapons against the opposition. Only in America, and only since Trump’s election, has anyone seen the bizarre phenomenon of election losers abusing law enforcement against the winner.

Even as Trump talks optimistically of a second summit with Putin in Washington in a few months, the criminal Deep State conspiracy against him rolls on with the complicity of top appointees like Rosenstein.

Every effort will continue to be made to ensure no concrete progress can be made on whatever was discussed in Helsinki while maintaining the 24/7 drumbeat of demonization. (There’s even an attempt to force Trump’s interpreter in Helsinki, Marina Gross, to divulge what transpired in private between the presidents. Gross herself may draw suspicion on account of an unconfirmed report that she may actually speak Russian…)

For his part, Trump must seek support from the only direction he can: the tens of millions of “Deplorables” who voted for him. The more the media, the Democrats, and the GOP establishment trash him, the more they are convinced he is on the right track. By doubting the truth of Russian hacking and our sacred NATO obligation to every insignificant country few ordinary Americans could find on a map, he has increasingly mainstreamed those notions with his base.

Trump’s only way forward is continuing to be the wrecking ball he was elected to be. Twitter and his ability to change the subject with outrageous and “impermissible” utterances and actions are his main weapons. In that vein, as long as he’s being accused of treason, he might as well make the most of it:

Mr. Trump, fire Rosenstein and let the chips fall where they may.

Via Strategic Culture

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James Clapper rats out his former boss Barack Obama (Video)

Trump-Russia witch hunt started with order from former US President Barack Obama.

Alex Christoforou

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All roads in the Trump-Russia witch hunt lead to Barack Obama…at least that is what his former intelligence czar James Clapper admitted to fake news, CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper admitted in a CNN interview Saturday that former President Obama instigated the ongoing investigations into Donald Trump and his inner circle of advisors and staffer.

Speaking with Anderson Cooper, Clapper mad the stunning admission…

If it weren’t for President Obama we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set up a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today including Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. President Obama is responsible for that. It was he who tasked us to do that intelligence community assessment in the first place.

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Via Zerohedge

Recall in May, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired off a letter to the Department of Justice  demanding unredacted versions of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former bureau attorney Lisa Page, including one exchange which took place after Strzok had returned from London as part of the recently launched “Operation Crossfire Hurricane”  referring to the White House “running” an unknown investigation.

Strzok had been in London to interview Australian ambassador Alexander Downer about a drunken conversation with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who – after reportedly being fed information – mentioned Russia having Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Strzok: And hi. Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote: “the White House is running this.” My answer, “well, maybe for you they are.” And of course, I was planning on telling this guy, thanks for coming, we’ve got an hour, but with Bill [Priestap] there, I’ve got no control….

Page: Yeah, whatever (re the WH comment). We’ve got the emails that say otherwise.

With Clapper’s admission that Obama was in the know the whole time, it looks like Peter Strzok’s text message stating “the White House is running this” was spot on.

House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo that the American public needs to see an unredacted version of the Carter Page FISA application.

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