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Grassley’s, Lindsey Graham’s referral on Steele: did US media, Clinton campaign provide content for Trump Dossier?

Heavily redacted referral memo suggests US media, Clinton associates, had a hand in producing Trump Dossier

Alexander Mercouris

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Hot on the heels of the publication of the GOP memorandum (discussed by me here) has come another potentially even more extraordinary development in the Russiagate scandal.

This is the publication of a massively redacted version of the referral sent by Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requesting that the Justice Department consider whether a criminal prosecution of Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier, should be brought.

The Senators’ referral or memorandum is so heavily redacted (whole paragraphs have been entirely blacked out) that it is exceptionally difficult to follow, and any analysis of it must be treated as strictly provisional pending release of a less heavily redacted version.

However what can be read from the Senators’ memorandum is disturbing enough.

Moreover it is now clear that over and above the lies Christopher Steele is alleged by the GOP memorandum to have told to the FBI about his contacts with the media, the Senators’ concerns and their referral to Rosenstein extend to the content of the Trump Dossier itself.

In order to show how this is so I am going to set out the Senators’ memorandum in its entirety.  Given that the published version of this document is so incomplete, it seems to me that it might potentially distort it even further if I simply published extracts from it.

MEMORANDUM

FROM:

Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on the JudiciaryLindsey 0. Graham, Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime ~nd Terrorism,U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

TO:

The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of JusticeThe Honorable Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

RE:  Referral of Christopher Steele for Potential Violation of 18 U.S. C. § 1001

(1) As you know, former British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele was hired by the private firm Fusion GPS in June 2016 to gather information about “links between Russia and [then-presidential candidate] Donald Trump.”  Pursuant to that business arrangement, Mr. Steele prepared a series of documents styled as intelligence reports, some of which were later compiled into a “dossier” and published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.  On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia.  According to the law firm Perkins Cole, Mr. Steele’s dossier-related efforts were funded through Fusion GPS by that law firm on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign.

(2) In response to reporting by the Washington Post about………….the Judiciary Committee began raising a series of questions to the FBI and the Justice Department about these matters as part of the Committee’s constitutional oversight responsibilities.

(3) The FBI has since provided the Committee access to classified documents relevant to the…………… As explained in greater detail below, when information in those classified documents is evaluated in light of sworn statements by Mr. Steele in British litigation, it appears that either Mr. Steele lied to the FBI or the British court, or that the classified documents reviewed by the Committee contain materially false statements.

(4) In response to the Committee’s inquiries, the Chairman and Ranking Member received a briefing on March 15, 2017, from then-Director James B. Corney, Jr.

(5) ………….

…..………….

(6)………….

….………….

(7) Similarly, in June 2017, former FBI Director Corney testified publicly before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he had briefed President-Elect Trump on the dossier allegations in January 2017, which Mr. Corney described as “salacious” and “unverified.”

(8) ………….

…..…………

(9)………….

……………..

(10)………..

……………..

(11)………..

…………….

(12) But there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.

(13)………..

……………..

(14)………..

……………..

(15)………..

……………..

(16)………..

……………..

(17)………..

……………..

(18) However, public reports, court filings, and information obtained by the Committee during witness interviews in the course of its ongoing investigation indicate that Mr. Steele……provided dossier information……..to numerous media organizations prior to the end of…….October 2016.

(19) In Steele’s sworn court filings in litigation in London, he admitted that he “gave off the record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda [i.e., the dossier] in late summer/autumn 2016.” In another sworn filing in that case, Mr. Steele further stated that journalists from “the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN” were “briefed at the end of September 2016 by [Steele] and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction.” The filing further states that Mr. Steele “subsequently participated in further meetings at Fusion’s instruction with Fusion and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News, which took place mid-October 2016.” According to these court filings,”[t]he briefings involved the disclosure of limited intelligence regarding indications of Russian interference in the US election process and the possible co-ordination of members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian government officials.” In his interview with the Committee, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS confirmed this account by Mr. Steele and his company as filed in the British court.

(20) ….……..

….…………..

(21)…………

………………

(22)…………

………………

(23) Mr. Steele conducted his work for Fusion GPS compiling the “pre-election memoranda” “[b]etween June and early November 2016.”  In the British litigation, Mr. Steele acknowledged briefing journalists about the dossier memoranda “in late summer/autumn 2016.”  Unsurprisingly, during the summer of 2016, reports of at least some of the dossier allegations began circulating among reporters and people involved in Russian issues.  Mr. Steele also admitted in the British litigation to briefing journalists from the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN in September of 2016.  Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, in the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited – and unverified – allegations.  That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele “continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election.“

(24) ………….

……………….

(25) One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges…………, as well as……….. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from……US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with….., a contact of….., a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to….. .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

(26)…………

……………..

(27)…… ….

…………….

(28) On September 23, 2016, Yahoo News published its article entitled “U.S. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin.”  That article described claims about meetings between Carter Page and Russians, including Igor Sechin. Mr. Sechin is described in the article as “a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister” under sanction by the Treasury Department in response to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine.  The article attributes the information to “a well-placed Western intelligence source,” who reportedly said that “[a]t their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page.” This information also appears in multiple “memoranda” that make up the dossier.

(29) In sum, around the same time Yahoo News published its article containing dossier information about Carter Page, Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS had briefed Yahoo News and other news outlets about information contained in the dossier.

(29)…………

………..…….

(30)..………..

……………..

(31) Accordingly, we are referring Christopher Steele to the Department of Justice for investigation of potential violation(s) of 18 U.S.8. § 1001.

(all italics and bold lettering in the original; paragraph numbers added)

I have added paragraph numbers to make it easier to find my citations from the Senators’ memorandum.  I have also deleted the very extensive notes and references that can be found at the bottom of the pages of the original Senators’ memorandum.  These are probably as important as the text of the Senators’ memorandum itself.  However in its present heavily redacted form they make the Senators’ memorandum appear even more difficult to follow than it already is.  The notes and references can be found in a PDF of the original of the Senators’ memorandum, which can been seen by following this link.

The most important words in the Senators’ memorandum are in my opinion these

…….On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia…..

(from paragraph 1)

……..Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, in the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited – and unverified – allegations.  That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele “continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election.“

(from paragraph 23)

One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges…………, as well as……….. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from……US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with….., a contact of….., a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to….. .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

(paragraph 25)

The wording in paragraph 1 appears to cast doubt on the extent to which the Trump’s Dossier really is based on Russian sources (…….On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia…..);

The wording in paragraph 23 appears to say that because information from the Trump Dossier was being published by the media at the same time that the Trump Dossier was being compiled Christopher Steele, pressure increased on Steele from people who had thereby learnt of the Trump Dossier’s existence to include in the Trump Dossier information Steele has himself admitted was ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unverified’. It seems that some of this information was in fact included in it.

It is not at all clear who these people who the Senators say gave Steele this ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unverified’ information were, but the wording of the entirety of paragraph 23 suggests that some of them at least were people working in the US media.

If so, then the US media had a hand in the creation of the Trump Dossier.

The wording in paragraph 25 has attracted the most attention, with suggestions – eg, from Byron York – that the ‘unpublished entry’ of 19th October 2016 may refer to the compilation I have previously referred to as the ‘second Trump Dossier’ the existence of which was revealed by the Guardian in a recent article.

There are strong reasons to think this is correct.

The Guardian has said that Steele provided this ‘second Trump Dossier’ to the FBI in October 2016.

That corresponds closely with the date of the ‘unpublished entry’ referred to in paragraph 25, which is dated 19th October 2016;

Paragraph 25 says the this ‘unpublished entry’ refers to a report which was ‘the second in a series’.

This shows that there was more than one report and that they formed a series, which clearly points to the existence of a second dossier.   That plausibly is the ‘second Trump Dossier’ referred to by the Guardian.

Though paragraph 25 is heavily redacted, it seems that the report upon which Steele based his unpublished of 19th October 2016 entry was sourced to “a friend of the Clintons”.

That closely matches Cody Shearer, the person whom the Guardian says was the person who was responsible for the ‘second Trump Dossier’.

Byron York has set out the convoluted way in which the report from the ‘second Trump Dossier’ reached Christopher Steele

According to the referral, Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.

Byron York has also dropped a heavy hint about who were the people involved

Published accounts in the Guardian and the Washington Post have indicated that Clinton associate Cody Shearer was in contact with Steele about anti-Trump research, and Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer was a connection between Steele and the State Department during the 2016 campaign.

What paragraph 25 says, especially when it is read in combination with paragraph 23, gives rise to deep concern.

Paragraph 23 says that as news that Steele was compiling the Trump Dossier spread he came under growing pressure to include in it “unsolicited” and “unverified” information from a variety of different sources.

Though given the way in which the Senators’ memorandum has been redacted it is hard to be sure, it looks as if the unpublished entry of 19th October 2016 was one of the products of this pressure, with a ‘friend of the Clintons” (Cody Shearer?) directly implicated on this occasion as a source.

Moreover it seems that the US State Department – which was once headed by Hillary Clinton – was somehow involved.

The Senators do not hesitate to spell out the implications of this

It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

Beyond this there has to be the obvious concern of this having given rise to a feedback loop, with Steele’s own disclosures being reported back to him in a way which might make it appear that they were being independently reported to him.

By way of example, the article in the Guardian claims that the ‘second Trump Dossier’ somehow corroborates the first Trump Dossier.

Given that Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS had been working hard throughout the summer and autumn of 2016 to spread information drawn from the Trump Dossier far and wide across the US media landscape, and given that top members of the Clinton campaign (including Bill and Hillary Clinton) would of course have known about the information which appeared in the Trump Dossier, it is entirely likely that the ‘second Trump Dossier’, instead of corroborating the Trump Dossier is actually based upon it.

Something very like that – of information originating with Steele being used to ‘corroborate’ information originating with Steele – is after all what the GOP memorandum says happened with the 23rd September 2016 story which appeared in Yahoo News.

The FBI mistook this story as providing independent corroboration of the information in the Trump Dossier, and told the FISA court this when they used information from the Trump Dossier and from the Yahoo News story to apply on 21st October 2016 for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page.

In fact the September 2016 Yahoo News story did not corroborate the Trump Dossier since it was based on information drawn from the Trump Dossier provided to Yahoo News by Christopher Steele.

In summary, the Senators’ memorandum appears to paint an alarming picture in which the Trump Dossier far from being based on information provided to Christopher Steele by his network in Russia was actually a kind of collaborative effort, with lots of people across the US media and in the Clinton campaign involved in producing it.

That would explain why its entries so closely followed the news cycle.

Some of these people perhaps were not fully aware of what they were doing, but there has to be a concern that some of them – especially those involved in the Clinton campaign – were, and of course Steele himself would have known all along what was going on.

I say all this in part because the convoluted way in which the ‘second Trump Dossier’ reached Steele looks frankly like an attempt to create ‘distance’ between associates of the Clintons and Steele.

The reference to the State Department suggests that elements of the US bureaucracy were involved, and certain comments Representative Nunes has made in an interview with Fox News suggest that more revelations about the involvement of the State Department are on the way.

In passing, involvement by the State Department might explain the reference in the Trump Dossier to the Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin.

An article by the BBC dated 30th March 2017 – which revealed that the Trump Dossier was providing the ‘frame narrative’ for the Russiagate investigation – claimed that the single reference to Kalugin in the Trump Dossier was being treated by US intelligence as a reason for taking its claims seriously.  This despite the fact that the Trump Dossier had misspelled Kalugin’s name as “Kulagin”

……sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.

It is not clear if the American intelligence agencies already believed this when they got Steele’s report on the “diplomat”, as early as May 2016.

But it is a judgment they made using their own methods, outside the dossier….

Steele’s work remains fiercely controversial, to some a “dodgy dossier” concocted by President Trump’s enemies.

But on this vitally important point – Kalugin’s status as a “spy under diplomatic cover” – people who saw the intelligence agree with the dossier, adding weight to Steele’s other claims.

Based on what the Senators’ memorandum tells us, there now has to be at least a possibility that Steele got the information about Kalugin not from his sources in Russia but from the State Department. That might explain why he got the spelling of Kalugin’s name wrong.

If this is all correct, then it paints a most ominous picture.

It would mean that the US news media has been busy ever since the summer of 2016 reporting news about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which it had itself a hand in creating.

There also has to be concern that something more sinister was going on, and that what we are looking at is an intentional campaign of disinformation orchestrated during the Presidential election by people involved with the Clinton campaign.

I say this because – as the Senators point out – the DNC and the Clinton campaign not only paid for the Trump Dossier but people connected to the Clintons were also feeding information to Steele, some of which may have found its way into the Trump Dossier.

The very heavily redacted nature of the Senators’ memorandum means that conclusions about it such as those made in this article must be tentative.

However on any analysis the facts set out in the heavily redacted version of the Senators’ memorandum which has now been published are worrying enough.

Given the extent to which the Justice Department and the FBI have already been compromised by Christopher Steele’s activities it is now obvious that they cannot be expected to conduct what now looks certain to be a criminal investigation which may touch on their own conduct.

Appointing a second Special Counsel to carry out a proper investigation is now essential.

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Saudi Arabia’s version of events: Jamal Khashoggi died during a fist fight (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 5.

Alex Christoforou

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The BBC examines the stunning Saudi admission that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered from three angles:

What is Saudi Arabia’s version of events?

The kingdom says a fight broke out between Mr Khashoggi, who had fallen out of favour with the Saudi government, and people who met him in the consulate – ending with his death.

It says investigations are under way, and so far 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested.

Unnamed officials speaking to Reuters news agency and the New York Times say the Saudis did not know the whereabouts of the body after it was handed to a “local collaborator” to dispose of.

In addition to the arrests, two senior officials have been sacked over the affair – deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The Saudi authorities have yet to give evidence to support this version of events.

Observers are questioning whether Saudi Arabia’s Western allies will find their account of a “botched rendition” convincing – and whether it will persuade them not to take punitive action against them.

US President Donald Trump said what had happened was “unacceptable” but that the arrests were an important “first step”. The UK Foreign Office said it was considering its next steps after hearing the report.

What did Turkey say?

“Turkey will reveal whatever had happened,” said Omer Celik of Turkey’s ruling AKP party, according to Anadolu news agency.

“Nobody should ever doubt about it. We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don’t accept anything to remain covered [up].”

Publicly Turkey has so far stopped short of blaming Saudi Arabia for the killing.

Turkish investigators, however, say they have audio and video evidence which shows Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate and dismembered. Reports in Turkish media this week gave gruesome details of what are said to be his final minutes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Saudi King Salman on Friday evening, and the two agreed to continue co-operating in the investigation.

How have Saudi’s Western allies reacted?

President Trump praised the kingdom for acting quickly and said the official explanation was “credible”, despite many US lawmakers expressing disbelief over the Saudi account.

Mr Trump stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East, and pushed back against the need for sanctions against the country in light of the new information, talking about the effect of such a move on the US economy.

Earlier this week he warned of “very severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia was proved to have killed the journalist.

A number of US lawmakers, including a Republican highly critical of the Saudis, Senator Lindsey Graham, said they were sceptical about the report on the journalist’s death.

The UK Foreign Office described it as “a terrible act” and said the people behind the killing “must be held to account”.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a fist fight inside the Istanbul consulate…a story that the Trump White House has so far accepted, but many US Congressmen and mainstream media pundits outright reject.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile Reuters floated this story on turmoil inside the Saudi Kingdom as a trial balloon to see if anyone has the might to challenge a very unstable crown prince, by appealing to the frail King and his western allies.

Since he acceded to the throne in January 2015, the king has given MbS, his favorite son, increasing authority to run Saudi Arabia. But the king’s latest intervention reflects growing disquiet among some members of the royal court about MbS’s fitness to govern, the five sources said.

MbS, 33, has implemented a series of high-profile social and economic reforms since his father’s accession, including ending a ban on women driving and opening cinemas in the conservative kingdom.

But he has also marginalized senior members of the royal family and consolidated control over Saudi’s security and intelligence agencies.

His reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, a purge of top royals and businessmen on corruption charges, and a costly war in Yemen.

Khashoggi’s disappearance has further tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, deepening questions among Western allies and some Saudis about his leadership.

“Even if he is his favorite son, the king needs to have a comprehensive view for his survival and the survival of the royal family,” said a fourth Saudi source with links to the royal court.

“In the end it will snowball on all of them.”

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

MISCALCULATION

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But the sources familiar with the royal court said the reaction from the United States, an ally for decades, had contributed to the king’s intervention.

“When the situation got out of control and there was an uproar in the United States, MbS informed his father that there was a problem and that they have to face it,” another source with knowledge of the royal court said.

The crown prince and his aides had initially thought the crisis would pass but they “miscalculated its repercussions”, this source said.

Turkish officials have made clear they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and two Turkish sources have told Reuters police have audio recordings to back up that assertion.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican close to President Donald Trump, on Tuesday accused MbS of ordering Khashoggi’s murder and called him a “wrecking ball” who is jeopardizing relations with the United States. He did not say what evidence he was basing the allegation on.

Trump said on Thursday he presumed Khashoggi was dead but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened. Asked what would be the consequences for Saudi Arabia, Trump said: “Well, it’ll have to be very severe. I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens.”

Trump has previously said “rogue killers” may have been responsible and has ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. On Tuesday, Trump said he had spoken with MbS and that the crown prince told him he did not know what had happened in the consulate where Khashoggi went missing.

The case poses a dilemma for the United States, as well as Britain and other Western nations. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter, spends lavishly on Western arms and is an ally in efforts to contain the influence of Iran.

But in a sign of the damage, a succession of international banking and business chiefs, including IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Chairman Bill Ford, have pulled out of a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday also abandoned plans to attend, as did Britain’s trade minister and the French and Dutch finance ministers, putting the event in question.

Saudi officials have said they plan to move forward with the conference, scheduled for Oct. 23-25, despite the wave of cancellations.

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend and did not comment on whether concerns about the disappearance of Khashoggi were a factor.

Lagarde had previously said she was “horrified” by media reports about Khashoggi’s disappearance. An IMF spokesperson did not give a reason for her deferring her trip to the Middle East.

TAKING CONTROL

Before the king’s intervention, Saudi authorities had been striking a defiant tone, threatening on Sunday to retaliate with greater action against the U.S. and others if sanctions are imposed over Khashoggi’s disappearance. A Saudi-owned media outlet warned the result would be disruption in Saudi oil production and a sharp rise in world oil prices.

“Reaction and threats to the possible sanctions of the last 24 hours were still (coming) from the crown prince,” the businessman close to royal circles said on Monday. “The king is now holding the file personally … and the tone is very different.”

The king has spoken directly with Erdogan and Trump in recent days. Both the king and his son met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he visited Riyadh on Tuesday.

King Salman, 82, spent decades as part of the inner circle of the Al Saud dynasty, which long ruled by consensus. In four decades as governor of Riyadh, he earned a reputation as a royal enforcer who punished princes who were out of line.

Whether he is willing or able to resume that role in this crisis remains unclear, palace insiders say. One source with links to the royal court said the king was “captivated” by MbS and ultimately would protect him.

Still, there is precedent for the king’s intervention.

He stepped in this year to shelve the planned listing of national oil company Saudi Aramco, the brainchild of MbS and a cornerstone of his economic reforms, three sources with ties to government insiders told Reuters in August. Saudi officials have said the government remains committed to the plans.

And when MbS gave the impression last year that Riyadh endorsed the Trump administration’s still nebulous Middle East peace plan, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king made a public correction, reaffirming Riyadh’s commitment to the Arab and Muslim identity of the city.

Despite these rare instances of pushback, several of the sources close to the royal family said that King Salman had grown increasingly detached from decisions taken by MbS.

“He has been living in an artificially-created bubble,” said one of the sources. Lately, though, the king’s advisers have grown frustrated and begun warning him of the risks of leaving the crown prince’s power unchecked.

“The people around him are starting to tell him to wake up to what’s happening,” the source said.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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Claims of Khashoggi death by fistfight expose Saudi brutality

The brutality of both state claims and unproven allegations in Khashoggi’s death raise serious questions about American alliances.

Seraphim Hanisch

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On October 2, 2018, Muslim Brotherhood member and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, never to be seen or heard from again.

This chilling report has been answered with some horrifying and grisly stories about what happened – that he was dismembered while still alive, that his body parts were dissolved completely in acid, leaving nothing left.

Now after two weeks, the Saudi official word on what happened came out: He died in an unexpected fistfight in the embassy.

Really. That is the Saudi’s explanation. A fistfight. In an embassy. With 18 people detained as suspects in the investigation.

And apparently the Saudi government expects the world to accept this explanation and just let it go.

This situation has just exposed the true nature of this “ally” of the United States. Even Rush Limbaugh, a staunch supporter of all conservative positions in America, has spoken from time to time about the amazing disconnect in American foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia. He continued that on his radio programs on both October 18th and 19th, 2018, as shown in this excerpted transcript, with emphasis added:

I’m simplifying this, folks, but generally that’s what happens. So, by the same token, you could say that this militant terrorist Islam that we’ve known since 9/11 and maybe 10, 15 years prior, that has been sponsored by Saudi Arabia, by the Saudi royal family. It’s why so many people have been upset with so many American presidents being buddy-buddy with the king, whoever he happens to be. The Saudis always fund former presidents’ libraries. I mean, the Saudis had a good thing going. They had relationships with every president, former president and so forth.

And while they were selling us oil, sometimes. Cooperative or uncooperative, depending on the time, with price. But during all of that, they were the primary thrust for Wahhabi Islam. Now, here comes MbS (Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and he wants to just reform the hell out of the country, get rid of Wahhabism, bring in petrodollars competitors such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and basically bring Saudi Arabia into the twenty-first century instead of the seventh. And there’s some people that don’t want that to happen.

And from the 19th:

Wahhabi Islam is where the really radical clerics and Imams are who are welcoming anybody they can into their mosques and just literally converting them into suicide bombers, terrorists, and what have you, under the auspices of Islam. And the Saudi royal family stood by and let it all happen. Whether they were instrumental in advocating it, don’t know, but Saudi-funded charities all over the world promoted Wahhabism.

And that’s when I went back to Mr. Buckley and said, “I don’t see how the Saudi royal family, the Saudi government can be separated from these 19 hijackers.”

Now in the rest of these transcripts, which are very interesting, Rush explains that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and as such, stood opposed to MbS’ reform plans and actions. However the brutality of the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the official “State version” account of his death are almost equally brutal. Death by fists? How is it that the United States considers such people allies?

President Trump is on record as saying that this explanation by the Saudi government is “credible.” However, this statement alone is out of context, so we bring you the entire statement:

This is not to be misunderstood as a Trump endorsement of belief. He points out that this is a first step, and that in his view it is a good one, but that is all.

Still, these events throw the real nature of the Saudi kingdom into sharp relief. They are the number one customer for US military equipment, now considered allies against Iran. In the complicated field of Middle East relations, the president’s caution is probably very wise for the moment. However, this is a nation which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, which is said to be the last voice in what Islam is, and so promotes a very violent interpretation of an already violent faith.

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The news and information media got a great lesson in following something like “due process” with this matter, and while the President is doing that, this situation still invites some strong speculation. Allies that simultaneously seek an allied nation’s destruction do not seem like allies much at all. And embassies are usually held to be very safe places for people, not places where they meet their death in any way at all, let alone the cruel means alleged and later claimed.

This event may actually be very damaging to the Saudi Crown Prince’s effort to bring his nation out of Wahhabism and into some more kind interpretation of Islam, and indeed the West’s assessment of Khashoggi has taken to calling him a “teddy bear” when he is a Muslim Brotherhood member. Former US President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and these people were so violent, killing Christians and destroying homes and businesses, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising was followed by a second uprising from the more reasonable people in Egypt (which Obama promptly dropped).

If reports are to be believed, Mohammed bin Salman wants to end Wahhabism. It would seem to logically make sense that his agencies were involved in what happened to Kashoggi, who is a known critic of bin Salman. But if it really is true that the Saudi royals were not involved, then whoever it was certainly succeeded in stopping bin Salman’s efforts to modernize his country, at least for now.

 

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