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Senate agrees with Intel report that Russia meddled in 2016 presidential election

The Senate’s findings are diametrically opposed to the findings of the House

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While a Senate delegation is in Moscow preparing for an upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Senate Intelligence Committee is releasing a report on the findings of the intelligence community on an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election of 2016.

That report relies on findings, or rather assertions, of intelligence personnel due to the fact that the actual findings and evidences are classified information, so the Senate has decided to take the intelligence community at its word that its findings conclusively show that Russia meddled in the election and that this meddling campaign came at the direct orders of the Russian President himself.

Sputnik reports:

The US Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that it agrees with the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) from January 2017 that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election and that President Vladimir Putin personally approved the meddling campaign, despite admitting that it didn’t have access to the sensitive data underpinning the report.

“The ICA [Intelligence Community Assessment] is a sound intelligence product,” the committee said in its report. “The Committee concurs with intelligence and open-source assessments that this influence campaign was approved by President Putin.”

The ICA mentioned Russian-funded media outlets RT and Sputnik News as having “contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.” The Senate report found, however, that the ICA only provided a summary of Russian state media operations in 2012, failing to provide an updated assessment of Russian media “capability” in 2016.

“The ICA provides a summary of Russian state media operations in 2012,” the Senate report notes, though it fails to explain how this would be relevant to alleged meddling in 2016, the time the report is intended to cover. It called this lapse a “shortcoming.”

The committee also came to its conclusion without access to much of the data the ICA supposedly relied on, acknowledging on the second page that “the Committee had to rely on agencies that the sensitive information and accesses had been accurately reported.” The Senate committee seems to have come to its conclusions that the ICA report was accurate by simply asking the drafters of the ICA report if it was accurate.

As some recall, the ICA was written by “hand-selected” analysts, as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in May 2017. These analysts were selected while President Barack Obama, an ally of defeated election candidate Hillary Clinton, completed the final weeks of his presidency.

Even though the CIA, NSA and FBI are supposed to be focused on American national security and law enforcement, the ICA reached a remarkably unified conclusion on a politically radioactive subject without so much as a single dissenting view, raising questions about potential bias and improper influence on the part of its authors.

Congress, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, have been investigating alleged Russian interference in the US election and alleged Russian collusion with US President Donald Trump’s election campaign for 14 months now. Mueller’s investigation has generated a number of indictments, notably of Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s campaign manager, and his associate Rick Gates, all having to do with financial fraud and conspiracy to cover up such fraud well before the US election. Indictments were also handed out to the operators of a private Russian “troll farm” for allegedly using false online personas to promote Trump’s candidacy. No links between theses individuals and the Russian government have been made public, and Moscow has consistently denied meddling in the US election and colluding with any candidate.

The content of the material which was used by the Russians to meddle in the elections is and was clearly publicly available material, in order to have had any influence on the American voter. But the intelligence community says that that evidence is classified, so that the Senate just has to be content with the fact that the intelligence agencies are above the bar in their assertions. What the Senate Intel Committee was allowed to purview was content published by Sputnik and RT from 2012, which is being lodged as somehow affecting the outcome of an election that didn’t happen for another four years, and before Trump was even in the extensive lineup of Republican candidates for the Presidency in 2016.

Even though no real evidence conclusively showing that Russia meddled in the 2016 election has come forward, the American media, intelligence community, and Senate Intelligence Community are sticking with the allegations, despite the political liabilities attached to it. Why has the Senate put itself at odds with the house? Why would they do something that effectively delegitimizes themselves when many of them ran on the coattails of Trump?

The apparent game behind this is not that it happened and there’s proof that it happened and that Putin was behind it, but that it happened, and Putin was behind it just because, because it just happened, and Putin was just behind it. It’s like the monster under the bed, it’s just there, even though you can’t see it.

 

 

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AM Hants
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AM Hants

How much has it cost the US tax payer to come up with 13 Russian trolls?

How much has it cost to the US tax payer to fund their regime change programme?

comment image

Why can the US interfere in the elections of others, but, freak out, when 13 Russian trolls take a dislike to Clinton. Who funded those Russian trolls?

A Brief History of the “Kremlin Trolls”… https://thesaker.is/a-brief-history-of-the-kremlin-trolls/

Gio Con
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Gio Con

the words “senate” and “intelligence” should never be used together in a sentence.

dave3200
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dave3200

This sounds like a dirty attempt by the Deep State to disrupt the Putin/Trump meeting in Finland. Why else would these clowns pull out something as incredulous as the ICA report and expect the American people to accept it as legit. These are some really dirty people.

We need to keep an eye on the senate delegation sent to Moscow to supposedly “prepare” for the meeting. They could easily sabotage the meeting if they’re not watched closely. But, I expect Trump knows that., as does Putin.

tom
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tom

How on earth can a bunch of ignorant career politicians have an informed opinion about highly technical intelligence work?

I am reminded of the excuse often given by politicians when confronted by the fact that they have given incorrect “health” advice. “We took the best medical advice”.

But since they have no medical knowledge at all, how can they distinguish between good and bad medical advice? (Hint: the man with the peerage is NOT necessarily the better, or more honest, doctor).

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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Roman Catholic priest removed from parish for burning LGBT flag

Priest’s removal ordered by his bishop, alleging the priest was mentally ill.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported that a Roman Catholic priest was removed from his post in a Chicago neighborhood by his cardinal (bishop) and sent away for “pastoral support” for burning an LGBT “rainbow flag”, after reciting a prayer of exorcism.

The original newspiece, by Mitchell Armentrout of The Chicago Sun-Timeshas this to say:

The priest who ignited controversy last week by burning an LGBTQ-friendly flag on church grounds against the orders of Cardinal Blase Cupich has been removed from his Avondale parish.

Cupich sent two of his top deputies to Resurrection Catholic Church on Friday to notify the Rev. Paul Kalchik that he was being removed as pastor, according to two sources close to the priest.

In a letter to parishioners and staff released Saturday evening by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cupich wrote that he has “become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish.

“It has become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed,” Cupich wrote.

Kalchik could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the sources, Kalchik and his elderly parents have received death threats since he defied Cupich on Sept. 14 by burning the banner, which featured a cross superimposed over a rainbow. There also have been threats of vandalism to the church, the sources said.

Kalchik told the Sun-Times during an interview in his office on Tuesday that at least one person had forced their way into the church at 3043 N. Francisco Ave. last weekend, leaving a door open but not causing any damage.

The 56-year-old priest first announced in a Sept. 2 church bulletin that he planned to burn the flag, after he found it in storage where it apparently sat for more than a decade.

Cupich, who has shared Pope Francis’ more welcoming attitude toward gays in the church, told Kalchik not to burn the flag, but the priest said he did it anyway “in a quiet way” during a closed ceremony with seven parishioners, featuring a prayer of exorcism over the torched banner.

The flag-burning drew the ire of LGBTQ-equality activists, including Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), who led a small demonstration across the street from the church on Wednesday, calling on Pope Francis and Cupich “to send this hateful bigot packing.”

Kalchik — who has said he was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child, and again by a priest when he began working for the church at 19 — previously said the sex-abuse crisis plaguing the church is “definitely a gay thing.”

“What have we done wrong other than destroy a piece of propaganda that was used to put out a message other than what the church is about?” Kalchik said Tuesday.

Cupich wrote that he removed Kalchik “out of concern for Fr. Kalchik’s welfare and that of the people of Resurrection Parish.

“I have a responsibility to be supportive of our priests when they have difficulties, but I also have a duty to ensure that those who serve our faithful are fully able to minister to them in the way the Church expects,” Cupich wrote.

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This brings up some interesting questions:

  • While no one is supposed to hate sinners, Christianity strongly calls its supporters to hate sin. This priest’s flag-burning is very-clearly an example of taking this teaching to heart.
  • What kind of message is the Cardinal sending people about the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Father Paul Kalchik was abused twice, and once by a priest, and his acknowledgment of the sex-abuse cases as a “gay thing” is well known in church circles. The Roman Catholic prohibition on married priests, which itself is not in line with Apostolic teachings, has contributed to the growing network of “gay” seminaries within that Church. Why does Rome go on hiding this?
  • All this comes down to the biggest question: Who is Rome serving? Homosexuality and its cousins are serious sins and they cause enormous and frightful trauma to those so impacted. If the Roman Church cannot call the truth out for what it is, then, what are they doing?

Further information about this situation, described on the Fox News website notes that Cardinal Blase Cupich had cautioned Kalchik not to burn the flag, but he reportedly went ahead with it and recited a prayer of exorcism before doing so.

The Archdiocese released a letter saying that “Father Kalchik needs to take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support,” amid a swirl of allegations that Cupich had threatened – through his vicars – for Kalchik to be forcibly committed to St. Luke’s Institute for further evaluation and treatment.

Kalchik had first announced that this flag, which was found in storage, would be burned in a church bulletin in early September. He was immediately warned by the Archdiocese of Chicago not to move forward with such an act. However, Kalchik did go ahead – later telling a local NBC reporter that the did so “in a quiet way” and that the flag, which also had a cross adorned over it, “was cut into seven pieces, so it was burned over stages in the same fire pit that we used for the Easter vigil Mass.”

The rainbow flag, set alight by parishioners earlier this month, once hung in the back of the sanctuary. Kalchik had reportedly spoken out in recent months, and even written to Pope Francis, about his own trauma as a victim of a predatory Roman Catholic priest.

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Syria is a Lost Cause and America Must Move On

America must realize it has no military role to play in Syria’s future.

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Candidate Donald Trump sounded different from his predecessors. He criticized endless war-making in the Middle East and wanted U.S. forces out of Syria. But U.S. administration officials recently said they are in no hurry to exit the Syrian civil war and threatened military strikes if the Assad government again used chemical weapons.

Why?

The seven-year conflict is in its endgame. Backed by Russian airpower and Iranian ground forces, the Assad government has steadily defeated various rebel groups across the country. Damascus is now secure, with rebels finally driven from nearby suburbs. Some neighborhoods in Homs and Aleppo lie in ruins, but fighting has ceased. The regime is in firm control over most of the country.

Only Idlib province remains under insurgent control, and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are preparing what may be the final offensive. The region is crammed with refugees, sparking fears of a humanitarian disaster. But with Iran’s and Russia’s aid Damascus almost certainly will reestablish its control, destroying or displacing rebel forces that are now mostly Islamist radicals. At that point, only territories in the north and southeast—which have U.S. bases—lie outside the Assad regime’s control.

U.S. policy has been counterproductive, even irrational, throughout the extended conflict. The Obama administration originally labeled Assad a “reformer.” Then Washington demanded his ouster—reducing the incentive for both him and the opposition to negotiate. As the conflict developed the United States initiated combat operations against the Islamic State while pushing to oust Assad, who fielded the strongest forces opposing ISIS. American aid then went to so-called moderates even as they fell behind more radical groups, often surrendering to the latter.

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While targeting ISIS, Washington backed Islamists such as Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate. Washington also sought to work with Turkey’s Erdogan government, even as the latter facilitated Islamic State operations in Syria. America turned to Kurdish forces to lead the ground attack on the Islamic State but refused to defend its allies when Ankara intervened militarily to expel Kurds from their homes near the Turkish-Syrian border. Furthermore, Washington encouraged the involvement of the Gulf States, which underwrote the most radical rebel factions. Although nominally arrayed against ISIS, Washington’s allies largely shifted their militaries away from America’s priority of fighting ISIS to Yemen.

While avoiding direct involvement in Syria’s conflict, the United States launched missile strikes in response to alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons. Yet the vast majority of the conflict’s casualties—with deaths estimated at around a half million—were the result of conventional military action by all sides. Bombs and bullets killed far more people than chemical weapons. Washington, however, preened morally while Syrians still died in by ever-increasing numbers.

Finally, the Obama administration steadily increased U.S. involvement in Syria, a distant conflict with no significant impact on American security, yet while also denouncing both Iran and Russia for intervening in support of their far greater interests. The administration introduced U.S. forces without congressional authorization while Tehran and Moscow, both long allied with Damascus, responded to the Assad government’s request for support.

Overall, U.S. policy was not just a failure, but a disaster. Washington managed to do little more than raise expectations among Assad’s opponents, prolonging the war and increasing its toll. American aid strengthened radical jihadists, which pose a far greater challenge to America than Damascus. Washington’s focus on ISIS allowed the governments most threatened—Syria, Turkey, and the Gulf States—to focus on other enemies (“moderate” insurgents, Kurds, and Yemenis, respectively).

Finally, Washington reinforced its well-earned reputation for being not just careless but irresponsible in attacking countries without considering what was likely to follow. Assad is a tribal leader with strong support, especially from Syrian minorities who saw the consequences of America’s invasion of Iraq and didn’t want a repeat. One Alawite told me that disagreements with Assad ended when the fighting started.

The latter was the only defense against “chaos and the jungle.” Washington officials might view that attitude as short-sighted. But somewhere between two hundred thousand and a million people died in the sectarian war unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Why would anyone trust America?

It is this record which candidate Trump understandably criticized for good reason.

But President Trump’s Syria policy has turned into that of his predecessor. Although Washington gave up supporting insurgents, there aren’t many left to aid. The Islamic State is largely defeated, but America is unwilling to shift responsibility back to Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and the Gulf States, all of which have interests in eradicating ISIS’s final elements.

With the Idlib offensive soon to begin, the Trump administration is threatening military action if, but only if, the Assad government uses chemical weapons, a minor factor in the conflict.

Even worse, the administration apparently plans to reinforce the U.S. presence in the southeast near the Iraqi border to pressure Iranian supply lines. And Washington hopes American forces cooperating with Kurdish militias in the north can both inhibit Iranian access to the rest of Syria and force Assad’s ouster by denying the regime access to people and resources, especially oil deposits.

These operations are illegal under both U.S. and international law. Congress never authorized an American invasion of Syria to oust its legally legitimate (however hostile) government. Nor was any action authorized to prevent the operation of an alliance between Damascus and other legally legitimate governments, including Iran.

Nor is it obvious why Washington should want to do so. Syria does not threaten the United States, or Israel, which is more than capable of deterring Damascus. Brutal authoritarian governments are unpleasant, but common in the Middle East. Moreover, they are often allied with America (think Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey).

Iran is a malign actor but is overstretched, and its alliance with Syria is defensive. Far more aggressive and dangerous is Washington’s “friend,” Saudi Arabia, which has invaded its neighbor Yemen. Saudi Arabia has used its troops to sustain a minority royal dictatorship in Bahrain, funded anti-Western radicals in Syria, and kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister.

In any case, it is hard to imagine how the administration can succeed. When visiting Syria at the end of August, I traveled widely, including to Homs and Aleppo. The reconstruction process will be painfully slow, but the war in these cities is over. The Assad regime is in firm control. He won’t leave because Washington wants him to.

Nor is there any chance that Moscow will oust its ally. Russia has paid heavily to sustain the Assad government; Putin will not risk his gains to please America, absent an unlikely offer of great value, such as lifting sanctions. Additionally, there is little Moscow can do to coerce Syria, other than halt support for military operations—but that won’t force out Assad.

The Russians have even less leverage over Iran, which is in Syria at the invitation of the Assad government. Nor are the Kurds, effectively abandoned by Washington when they were attacked by Turkey, likely to do the Trump administration’s dirty work. They are far more likely to strike a deal with Damascus.

America, with very little at stake in Syria, wants to dictate Syria’s future and limit or exclude countries with far greater interests at stake than America has. Washington policymakers are dreaming. Even if their objectives were realistic, the gain wouldn’t be worth the effort. Both the Obama and Trump administrations were living in a fantasy world when it came to Syria.

However, the greatest risk from American involvement is the possibility of triggering a military confrontation. For instance, when attacking Washington’s Kurdish allies, Turkey threatened to advance on areas containing American personnel. Also, should Washington order attacks on Syrian military units for whatever reason, Russia might respond by either defending its ally or targeting America’s regional friends.

As a sovereign state, Damascus might be willing to risk a confrontation to reassert its control. Iran, too, might be willing to play a dangerous game of chicken. The greatest danger likely is not an intentional war but accident and miscalculation. Given the dearth of serious American interests at stake in Syria, Washington would be risking much for little.

Syria was always beyond U.S. control. Of course, fans of intervention claim that if only America had done something earlier—criticized someone, supported someone, or attacked someone—the civil war would have ended, and a democratic, pro-Western Syria would have emerged.

This reminds one of Ronald Reagan’s doomed hopes when intervening in Lebanon’s bitter, horrid, confusing civil war. It also echoes the cakewalk promised by proponents of the Iraq invasion. But there are far too many contrary actors with far too many interests involved for Washington to have its way.

Whatever the United States hoped for in 2011 and 2012, that world disappeared long ago. Today the Trump administration looks desperate. It has neither leverage nor influence to change Syria and only hopes to affect events by risking a military confrontation with multiple hostile powers over minimal stakes. Candidate Donald Trump would never have agreed to such a policy. President Donald Trump needs to remember why he ran for president.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

Via The National Interest

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