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Susan Rice admits Trump team placed under surveillance

Susan Rice uses meeting with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to justify surveillance and ‘unmasking’ of Trump officials

Alexander Mercouris

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Publication of Hillary Clinton’s book, which I have not read but which I gather characteristically blames everyone for her election defeat but herself, and which assumes all the Russiagate allegations to be true, begs the question of what stage the Russiagate investigation has reached, and whether we are any closer to a final end to this affair.

The answer is that the investigation – predictably enough – appears to be going nowhere, and that the affair is now probably close to its end.

Firstly, there has been a dearth of new ‘revelations’ driving the scandal, which suggests that the well of such ‘revelations’ from our old friends the ‘anonymous sources’ has finally dried up.  In place of these ‘revelations’ the media has had to content itself with reports of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s activities, including details of the various people he has had interviewed or intends to have interviewed.

The fact that Mueller and his people are carrying out these interviews and are going through the evidence is in my opinion a good thing.  Whilst Comey was in charge of the Russiagate investigation it proceeded at a snail’s pace, almost certainly because Comey had a vested interest in keeping it going as long as possible.  Mueller by contrast appears to be taking his job seriously, which means that (finally!) the people who have been publicly implicated in the scandal are being interviewed, giving them at last an opportunity to state their case and to respond to the allegations which have made against them.

Apart from this the pro-Russiagate media has had only thin fare to work with.  A front page article in the New York Times dated 28th August 2017 about an individual called Felix Sater (described by the New York Times as a “Trump associate”) who bragged in emails he sent in November 2015 to Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen about his high profile connections in Moscow and of his ability to get Russian project financing for a real estate deal in Moscow, is shown to be a red herring by this admission in the New York Times article itself

There is no evidence in the emails that Mr. Sater delivered on his promises, and one email suggests that Mr. Sater overstated his Russian ties. In January 2016, Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, asking for help restarting the Trump Tower project, which had stalled. But Mr. Cohen did not appear to have Mr. Peskov’s direct email, and instead wrote to a general inbox for press inquiries.

The project never got government permits or financing, and died weeks later.

As the independent journalist Robert Parry rightly says, the episode does not show that Trump has links to Moscow.  On the contrary if anything it proves that he has none.

In the meantime there are indications that even of the most fervid supporters of the Russiagate theory have been rattled by the forensic analysis questioning the evidence of a Russian hack of the DNC provided by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  Supposedly the analysis has now been shown to Attorney General Sessions and to Mueller himself, though Sessions has no role in the Russiagate investigation since he recused himself from it.

The fact that the analysis is causing concern is shown by the fact that there have apparently been – most unusually in the Russiagate affair – attempts to refute the analysis in the mainstream media, which is contrary to the media’s usual practice of simply ignoring evidence which calls into question the allegations made over the course of the Russiagate scandal.

Meanwhile, whilst there has been a dearth of revelations driving the scandal, there has now been an important admission from Susan Rice – Obama’s National Security Adviser – that some people close to Donald Trump were indeed placed under surveillance during the transition period, and that she did indeed demand that the identities of these people be circulated within the US government’s bureaucracy (“unmasked”).

This was previously widely denied, including implicitly by Susan Rice herself, for example in this interview

Woodruff: We’ve been following a disclosure by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, that in essence, during the final days of the Obama administration, during the transition, after President Trump had been elected, that he and the people around him may have been caught up in surveillance of foreign individuals in that their identities may have been disclosed. Do you know anything about this?

Rice: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.

(bold italics added)

Here by contrast is what CNN reports actually happened

Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.

The Obama administration felt misled by the United Arab Emirates, which had failed to mention that Zayed was coming to the United States even though it’s customary for foreign dignitaries to notify the US government about their travels, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

Rice, who served as then-President Obama’s national security adviser in his second term, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that she requested the names of the Americans mentioned in the classified report be revealed internally, a practice officials in both parties say is common.

CNN claims that members of the House Intelligence Committee were satisfied with Susan Rice’s explanations.  By contrast I find them nothing short of bizarre.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan is as it happens the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, not of the United Arab Emirates, which is a confederation of Gulf Arab states which includes Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai, and which therefore does not have a “Crown Prince”.

At this point it is worth saying that Abu Dhabi is one of the US’s strongest and most trusted allies in the region.  The fact that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan failed to inform the Obama administration of his visit to Washington to meet with officials of the incoming Trump administration in the run up to the inauguration scarcely seems a reason to place him under surveillance.  At worst it was a mere act of discourtesy.  Certainly, since there appears to have been nothing secret about his visit, it was hardly a reason to place him under surveillance when all he appears to have been intent on doing was meeting with senior incoming officials of the US government.

CNN reports “a senior Middle East official” saying

The meeting was about ascertaining the Trump team’s view of the region and sharing the UAE’s view of the region and what the US role should be.  No one was coming in to sell anything or arrange anything.

This is a perfectly valid and sufficient reason for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to want to meet with the officials of an incoming US administration.  Note that according to this unnamed “senior Middle East official” relations with Russia were not the subject of the discussion.  Other sources who have spoken to CNN confirm this

It’s unclear precisely which Trump officials Rice discussed at the House meeting. But multiple sources have confirmed to CNN that Zayed met at the time with Flynn, Kushner and Bannon. The three-hour discussion focused on a range of issues, including Iran, Yemen and the Mideast peace process, according to two sources who insisted that opening up a back-channel with Russia was not a topic of discussion.

CNN – presumably on the strength of claims by Susan Rice or possibly from sources within the House Intelligence Committee – tries to get round this by linking the meeting between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the incoming officials of the Trump administration in December with a meeting which happened shortly after in January in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, the founder of the security firm Blackwater, and an unnamed Russian official.

The Seychelles meeting — and the circumstances around it — has been a subject of interest to Hill investigators looking at any potential link between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Washington Post initially reported in April that the UAE brokered a pre-inauguration meeting between the founder of the security firm Blackwater, Erik Prince, who is a close Trump ally, and an associate of Vladimir Putin’s in the Seychelles Islands. The purpose of the meeting was part of an effort by the UAE to persuade Russia to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, according to the Post.

And it occured shortly after Bannon, Flynn and Kushner also met in Trump Tower with Zayed, whom the Post said helped arrange the Seychelles meeting with Russia government officials to set up the private discussions with the Trump team.

However all this is expressly denied by the White House – which says that Erik Prince was in no sense a representative of the incoming Trump administration – as well as by the unnamed “senior Middle East official”, and by Erik Prince himself

But the senior Middle East official told CNN this week that Prince’s name was not discussed at the Trump Tower meeting. And Prince himself has said he did nothing wrong, telling CNN’s Erin Burnett last month: “I was there for business.”

Both the White House and Prince have strongly denied that Prince was working as a liaison for the Trump administration.

Prince said he met with a Russian while at the Seychelles but “I don’t remember his name.”

“It probably lasted about, as long as one beer,” he said about the meeting.

In truth Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan scarcely seems a likely person to want to set up a covert ‘backchannel’ between the incoming Trump administration and Russia, or someone likely to be used for such a purpose either by Donald Trump or his associates or by the Russians, and it is scarcely credible that either the Obama administration or the US intelligence community ever thought he was.

Given that this is so, and given that he is a close friend and ally of the US who had come to Washington for no other purpose than to meet with incoming officials of the US government, it is difficult to see what reason there was to put him or the people he was meeting under surveillance.

Frankly the meeting between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the officials of the incoming Trump administration in December, as well as the meeting between Erik Prince and the unnamed Russian in the Seychelles in January, look to me to have been introduced into the Russiagate story in order to excuse the fact that incoming officials of the Trump administration were indeed placed under surveillance and – at Susan Rice’s urging – had their identities “unmasked” despite the fact that they had done nothing wrong and when there was no good reason to do it.

I have previously written that the true scandal of 2016 is that US citizens who have committed no wrong were placed under surveillance during the election and after, without proper cause.  Susan Rice’s admission seems to me a further big step towards confirming this.

In addition to the Susan Rice admissions certain other allegations have been circulating in alternative media which if true are even more explosive.

These claim that the FBI was the ultimate client of Christopher Steele, and paid him in excess of $100,000 for the Trump Dossier, and that this happened after Steele was introduced to the FBI by Senator McCain, for whom Steele supposedly produced the earliest entries of the Trump Dossier.

Supposedly there are now recriminations within the FBI about this, as the bogus nature of the Trump Dossier has become increasingly clear.

These allegations would be explosive if they were true, and they are not intrinsically implausible.  After all intelligence and police agencies regularly pay foreign informers for information, which is essentially all that is being alleged in this case.  The scandal would not be that this is what happened.  Rather it would be that the FBI was so easily gulled that it paid so much money for such an obviously false concoction as the Trump Dossier, and that it failed after the existence of the Trump Dossier became known either to admit to this or to admit its own role in producing it.

However I have to say that I do not trust these claims because I do not trust the sources that report them, and until some more reliable confirmation of these claims appears I will disregard them.

Overall it is difficult to avoid the impression that the Russiagate investigation is drawing to a close without any result to report.  Perhaps this explains the sudden shift towards attacking Russian media outlets like RT, which has suddenly and outrageously been called upon to register itself as a foreign agent.

It is a consistent pattern of the Russiagate scandal that whenever evidence to support its central allegations fails to appear its advocates turn on RT as the most readily available scapegoat.  The point was well made recently by Peter Lavelle

If Robert Mueller’s inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is now focusing on RT and Sputnik, then the only conclusion to draw is he has found nothing. Blaming RT and Sputnik is cost free for him and the Swamp. Another travesty of justice and a mortal blow against free speech.

Robert Mueller, whatever else he is, is an experienced investigator.  He has now been heading the Russiagate investigation for several months, during which – as media reports confirm – his team of investigators have been extremely active.

It is difficult to believe that by now he does not realise that the central allegation of the Russiagate scandal – that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence to publish the emails which were stolen from John Podesta and the DNC – is untrue and unfounded.  If he ever had any doubts about this then the clear and comprehensive statement provided by Jared Kushner showing the very limited extent of the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Russians ought to have put such doubts to rest.

Mueller’s duty as an investigator requires him to see his investigation through to the end, and to go through each and every allegation which has been made over the course of the affair.  Leaving loose ends hanging around will simply provide an excuse for advocates of the scandal to go on making the claims they have been making, when the whole point of an investigation like this is to achieve closure.  No doubt that is how Mueller sees it, and for that reason he will see this thing through to its end.

However it is wrong to say that there is a mountain of evidence and testimony for Mueller and his team of investigators to go through.  On the contrary the number of individuals involved in the Russiagate affair is actually quite small.  By now Mueller’s investigators must have spoken to most of them, and must have picked through most of the files.

Earlier in the spring before Mueller was appointed Special Counsel I said that I expected the Russiagate scandal to collapse under its own weight by early summer.  Mueller’s appointment, and the snail’s pace at which the investigation was proceeding when Comey was in charge of it, means that it is taking longer than this.  However I now expect Mueller’s investigation to be completed and him to report before the end of the year.

At that point, though the true believers in the Russiagate conspiracy will doubtless go on believing in it, the worst period of the scandal will finally come to an end.

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Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

Muller is trying to break Flynn and Manafort. Can’t wait to hear Flynn’s story because as he said, he “certainly has a story to tell, and would like to tell it.” Oh, and check out VIPS on wikipedia, the group is the real deal, but their forensic analysis is crap. Our own intelligence services are sure that Russia was behind the hack. But thanks for siding with Russian intelligence over our own because it serves your partisan purpose, just like a real patriot.

niveb
Guest
niveb

“Our own intelligence services are sure that Russia was behind the hack. ” How do you know? They certainly haven’t said so publicly. On the contrary, apart from the conclusions of the “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies-which is worth nothing and adduces nothing in the way of evidence- there has been an embarrassed silence from intelligence professionals who are inclined to draw the line at sacrificing integrity and credibility for nothing more substantial than to maintain the neo-liberals’ grip on the internal machinery of the crumbling Democratic Party. Working for warmongers is had enough, working for the DNC and Donna… Read more »

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

“working for the DNC and Donna Brazile is an humiliation” and even deadly as in the case of Seth Rich.

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

I take it you didn’t watch any of the testimony. I wouldn’t ether if I were in your shoes. It’s too painful to watch your whole tin foil world get ripped apart. You’re gonna love the impeachment!

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

What I remember of Clapper was that he lied under oath to Congress, even after being given 12 months in advance to find out the CORRECT situation and reply back to congress. He came back with a lie. A huge one.
Lock Him Up? Lawmakers Renew Calls for James Clapper Perjury Charges

The video of his testimony is shown below and the outrageous lie can be found starting at 6:10.
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Clapper+Senate+Testimony%2C+Mar.+12%2C+2013&t=ffab&ia=videos&iax=1&iai=QwiUVUJmGjs

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Clapper is a liar. So is this ugly Cotler mofo.

Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

This from someone who hides behind a giant “D.” So, today Manafort’s emails showed that he offered a briefing to a Putin ally, i.e. he offered collusion. This isn’t the last shoe to drop. Too bad you guys won’t be around when he is convicted.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The only shoes dropping are the ones being thrown at you.

Voltaire
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Voltaire

There is an appalling and embarrassing absence of firm evidence against the Russians…

Do you really think you could prosecute anyone on the basis of what “anonymous officials” state?

OR HAS THE UNITED STATES JUST BECOME ANOTHER BANANA REPUBLIC…

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

“OR HAS THE UNITED STATES JUST BECOME ANOTHER BANANA REPUBLIC”, that was a rhetorical question I’m assuming?

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

We have no idea what Muller can prove. But we will find out. See you in court!

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

In case you did not know a person is innocent until proved guilty under US and UK law…

So STFU until someone is proved guilty…

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

Kindly give Susan Rice that same respect.

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

She has already incriminated herself as well as been caught lying to the House Intelligence Committee.

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

Has that been proven in a court of law? No? Then STFU!

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

I don’t think you understand. You do not need to PROVE a self-admission. Are you saying she led about that as well?

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Rice is an unindicted felon.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The only thing Mueller could prove is that HE, Mueller, was front man for the Silverstine/Cheney demolition of the WTC.

Seán Murphy
Guest
Seán Murphy

Bs!

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

His profile links to The Hill. What can you expect?

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

“Our own intelligence services are sure that Russia was behind the hack.”
Really? Can you find out exactly when did any US “intelligence” agency, as opposed to US bought, corrupt and stupid agencies, examine the DNC server to find the EVIDENCE for this hack?
If they did not themselves examine the DNC server then their accusations are based on second hand allegations, not EVIDENCE gathered by the legal authorities. Do you understand the difference between the POLICE and private investigators in criminal cases?

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

You’re right, all we know are roomers and leaked info. And even the leaked info indicates there are no smoking guns (so far.) So we can argue in the dark all day long, but there is an investigation run by a real FBI guy that will get to the truth and then have to prove it in a court of law. And he won’t need a smoking gun if he’s got a rat or two. Do you really think Trump’s people had all those meetings with Russians (that they later “forgot” to mention on their security forms) and didn’t talk… Read more »

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Remind me, when did meeting Russians become a crime in the US? The US is descending into the worse kind of anti-Russian RACIST hysteria. This hysteria has gone on for over a year and no EVIDENCE has actually been presented. It is just disgusting gossip and hearsay. Let’s see Mueller comes up with. So, what EXACTLY has the FBI, NSA, and the rest of the 17 US intelligence agencies been doing this past year? Farting with their secretaries, male, female or neither? Based on this anti-Russian RACIST hysteria, the US has accused nuclear-armed Russia of interference that has been called… Read more »

mike2000917
Guest
mike2000917

How disappointed you will be when Trump celebrates New Year’s eve in the White House on December 31,2020. But persist in your fantasies if you wish. Everyone must have a hobby!

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

How is the weather in Tal Habib?

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

yeranidiot

mike2000917
Guest
mike2000917

Russian conspiracy theory believer are the equivalent of the birthers of 2008. Devoid of rational thought and facts yet stubbornly persistent in their beliefs.

seby
Guest
seby

russiagate has to be the most pathetic attempt at a drum beat for war in the history of humanity.

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

And the Constitution of the United States has been torn into shreds in the process of destroying the rights of thousands of people falsely attacked…

This is worse that McCarthyism…

seby
Guest
seby

See Scott Noble’s documentary on YT or at Metanoia films, PLUTOCRACY. The United States has never been a constitutional republic, let alone a democracy. These attacks on ordinary, working people have been going on from the beginning. FFS, if you didn’t have property, you didn’t get a vote until the 1850’s! In the late 1800’s, working Americans fought back and the same terms and language as today was used. WW1 killed that movement, no doubt part of the plutocracy’s reasoning to get involved. Watch out, the tRump and the repubelicans are chumming up now, always a sign when repubes and… Read more »

Mike Surack
Guest
Mike Surack

McCarthy was a goddamn hero

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The murder of Archie Duke was not that much better as an excuse to murder millions in WW1.

samo war
Guest
samo war
ke0vin
Guest
ke0vin

Misleading headline… Still incidental collection and not “they’re under surveillance”… It is a valid difference.

Herbert Dorsey
Guest
Herbert Dorsey

All this optimism about the Russia Gate non event hinges on Muller’s integrity. But, Muller was FBI head after 9/11, a time when the FBI was busy covering up evidence that 9/11 was an inside job.

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

All the Russia Gate nonsense indicates that the US is now a failed state. It has worked to enable other weaker countries to fail and now those chickens (of lies, faked stories and false flags) have come home to roost.

Clearly the instigators of these, the CIA, NSA, FBI have nothing left up their sleeves and the whole façade is crumbling.

Jonathan Jarvis
Guest
Jonathan Jarvis

considering almost all Russan athletes have been cleared of doping, yet calls are still made to ban Russia from future events: it will be the same regarding Russiagate-it will still be extant, as for example, Germans actively trying to find evidence in their current election activities, the new EU anti Russia website states Macron’s “facts” about RT and sputniknews international , yet Head of French Intelligence said there was no evidence of Russian hacking……so EU is believing its own “ministry of truth” so called>>>>>>>>> crazeeee.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The CIA/USSD just spent 150 million USD to influence the Moscow City election.

L Garou
Guest
L Garou

Susan and Valerie sitting in a tree, S-P-Y-I-N-G..
(and baby Barry makes three)

Defiant
Guest
Defiant

How are the American people to react to the more and more BLATANT fact that BIG Democrats don’t have to follow the same laws (or, ANY laws, it seems) as the rest of us?

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Oswald killed Kennedy. Osama Bin Laden bombed the Silverstein Center. Russia won the 2016 US Election. These things are now in the shitty fabric that makes up what passes for an American ‘mind’.

Latest

US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Latest

Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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