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From Russian Nihilists to Al-Qaeda: The dark spectre of political correctness

By promoting a culture of relativism and denying the importance of objective truth Political Correctness has sown the seeds of today’s catastrophes.

Vladimir Golstein

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A spectre is haunting Europe—and it is not the spectre of communism.  Marx’s dream had been replaced by a much more primitive, pernicious, and grotesque spectre, that of Political Correctness and by its twin brother: equally primitive, grotesque and virulent xenophobia and racism.

This spectre replacement is hardly coincidental. Like a good cop, bad cop routine, these twin brothers seem to succeed in their insidious attempt to suppress any serious discourse of domestic or foreign policies, any attempt to go beyond the previously approved and predetermined lines of reasoning so that the ruling order remains protected from Marx’s or any other truly dangerous spectres.

Besides its philosophical poverty, PC had recently demonstrated its utter bankruptcy in the face of wars, invasions, population displacement, and cheap labor policies. It failed to formulate and carry out a proper response to the so-called refugee crisis that overwhelmed Europe first by the sheer amount of people indiscriminately admitted into Europe, and then by the amount and intensity of violent crimes that some of those refugees have committed.

It is getting painfully obvious, that neither brushing the violence under the rug, nor permitting skinheads to demand the banning of all refugees provide an adequate response to the problems raised by the years of colonialism, exploitation, and military adventures.

The situation appears to be beyond the intellectual league of a well-meaning PC politicians, like President Hollande or Chancellor Angela Merkel, to solve. 

For many Americans, PC belongs to the esoteric domain of academia. In Europe, however, PC’s reach is much deeper and wider, its philosophy dominates various aspects of society, as been amply demonstrated by the recent wave of violence.   

PC penetration into the social fabric of European life is much more thorough.

One day we read about Dutch museums, which intend to rename various paintings and other objects of art whose titles use terminology no longer acceptable by today’s PC commissars; next day we read of German decision to ban pork products in school cafeterias so that its Muslim students won’t be offended, on the third, we learn about Danish politician convicted for his 2014 complaint that new, “religiously intolerant” Muslim refugees bring old prejudices, such as anti-Semitism, into European discourse.

Persecuting people who write or tweet on the subjects that go against the main PC narrative became a popular past-time for the European politicians.

All these cases are usually relegated to the domain of curiosity, similar to some bizarre incidents on US campuses, be it complaints about micro aggression, demands for safe space and gender-neutral pronouns, or accusation of cultural appropriation.

Yet, the role of PC is much more insidious: it prevents the society from adequately addressing a new wave of violence and brutality.

PC’s role as the leading political force was made painfully obvious during the recent scandals connected with brutal attacks on women, the violence and mayhem against innocent bystanders in Nice and Berlin, and the failure of the police, press, and politicians to confront it in the adequate manner that can re-assure the public of its safety.

The warnings about the pervasive and pernicious power of PC discourse have been sounded on many occasions, ranging from radical politicians and journalists, to the counter PC humour.   

The German press, for example, awards an annual prize to a ‘weasel word,” that is to “an awkward or controversial term that has shaped public discourse.”

In 2015, such award was given to a term “gutmensch,” the word that became too popular to the point of mockery and which refers to uber-politically correct person, a well-meaning but utterly helpless individual.

That’s hardly a coincidence. The refugee crisis, destined to shape the public discourse for years to come, had exposed the total bankruptcy of “gutmensch” and his PC approach to social, political, and cultural life.

It is a mark of a “gutmensch” not to offend anyone’s sensitivity. But when it came down to mass media’s failure to report violent crimes out of the fear of instilling in the heads of populace the wrong information about perpetrators, it became clear that PC has gone too far, and that “gutmensch” has become an accomplice of a vicious criminal.

It is this role of a gutmensch, of a well-meaning enforcer of orthodoxy serving as an accomplice that I want to explore in this essay.

While many relegate the PC debate to the so-called culture wars, it is clear that what lies at the bottom of it, is the plain old struggle for power.

Numerous journalists and politicians, who failed to report, or tried to spin the real nature of the sexual assaults that took place in Germany, Sweden or Finland, have used only one argument as an excuse: we don’t want to give ammo to our political rivals.  As Peter Ågren, police chief in central Stockholm, put it:

‘Sometimes we do not dare to say how things really are because we believe it will play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats.’ [The Sweden Democrats are the anti-immigration party in Sweden—VG].”

In other words, while the impulse to hush the accusations directed at a group traditionally marginalised or suppressed might be understandable, especially when considered within the context of German and European genocidal and colonial wars, it is clear, that what drives politicians, is not the desire to correct the past abuses, or the fear of offending somebody’s sensitivity, but rather the fear of losing power.

Whatever it is, the impulse to control the flow of information is very human.  Consequently, the desire to prevent certain themes or doctrines from entering the public discourse turns censorship.

Those in power strive to impose a particular narrative, a particular way of looking at things that keeps rulers feeling useful and noble, and the ruled ones either hopeful and grateful, or hateful and paranoid, which in both cases distracts them from the comprehensive analysis of their exploitation and abuse.

Political correctness, however, does not present itself as an enforced censorship on behalf of the powerful. And herein lies its ingenuity. Since imposing the limits on conversation is clearly a manifestation of power, nobody should doubt that PC is the instrument that the ruling class uses to protect itself.

Yet, this imposition of the limits on the discourse is carried out in the name of the dispossessed, marginalised, and underprivileged. It is as if at a certain moment, crocodiles had agreed not to say anything bad about the rabbits that they devour, so that a crocodile that cracks up a joke about a particularly tender rabbit’s bone that he broke the other day, would get silenced and shunned.

Some agreed to do it for pragmatic reasons: why spook the rabbits, when it is more convenient to let them believe that one of these days they can turn into crocodiles themselves.

Others might have idealistic reasons: imagining that if nothing bad is said about rabbits, that might induce some of their fellow crocodiles to change their dietary habits.

And why not? The example of those converts can be used by rabbit propagandists, that is by rabbits, hired by the croc-collective for the sole purpose of convincing the rest of the rabbits that the crocodiles have suddenly become vegetarians, and therefore, there is no reason to be concerned, worried, or stay alert.

By imposing the rabbit-friendly discourse, crocodiles resort to a rather cynical or pragmatic game of masquerading their cruelty as sentimentality. They might even write stories about sweet little rabbits and their cruel treatment in the hands of some wolf or fox, or even some pre-historic crocodile, but not in the hands of the current croc-establishment. 

There is certain pragmatism to that: why say nasty things about rabbits, why be gratuitously rude or condescending: the less said about eating rabbits the better.

Of course, from the perspective of a devoured rabbit all this sounds like crocodile tears. Rabbits would prefer the real, moral improvement rather than the linguistic one.

It sometimes happens that rabbits wrestle the power from the crocodiles. At that moment, they immediately introduce new narratives, the ones stressing the unmitigated cruelty and malicious hypocrisy of crocodiles on the one hand, and the infinite nobility of the rabbits on the other. But by no means these new narratives would ever imply that the rabbits that gained power have become crocodiles themselves: the transformation so brilliantly exposed by Orwell’s Animal Farm.

When they came to power, Russian radicals — whose writings were diligently suppressed by the tsarist Empire–began to suppress the writings of the “exploiting classes” in their turn. Lenin’s wife, Krupskaia, drew a famous list of books that were supposed to be banned in the Soviet Union, the list that included everything from the Bible and Koran to Dante and Schopenhauer. She also proposed to ban ninety-seven children’s books, including famous folk tales, for their promotion of wrong ideology. “Children’s books are the weapons of social education,” she claimed, and therefore “the content of the books should be communist.”

What this cultural politics presupposes, as the case of Krupskaia reveals, is a particular moral stance, a particular sense of superiority, manifested by any victorious zealot, martyr, or revolutionary, This superiority results in accepting two highly dubious propositions as axioms:

(1) It presupposes certain moral and intellectual arrogance, implying that the regime that came to power, has an inherent knowledge of right and wrong; it can therefore proceed with instilling only “the politically correct” information into the heads of its population.

(2) That there is correlation between what one hears in schools or reads in books with what one becomes. This correlation is by no means straightforward, however. One can grow very delicate in a vulgar family, or visa versa.

Attempts to control the educational discourse also imply that there is a split between goodness and truth, the split, unknown to ancient Greeks, for example. Great Russian authors have constantly resisted this split as well.

This split presumes that goodness has by far greater value than truth, and therefore it is reasonable to sacrifice truth for the sake of some imaginary goodness.

This politically correct, or expedient approach to truth, has surely received an additional boost from recent theories claiming that since the category of truth is constructed in any case, it is our task to construct it in a particular, politically expedient way.

Granted that the truth of any complex event is elusive and depends on the eyewitnesses who always have their agenda, it does not mean that we should simply give up on our investigations and probing and concentrate on constructing stories any way we see fit.

Recent failures of western press to adequately cover major political events, be it the US presidential elections or the war in Syria, have revealed that the public is not ready to accept the fairy tales peddled to it by the mass media. As opposed to the irresponsible western journalists, the public still remembers the prophet Isaiah’s warning: 

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

The years of lies, perpetrated by all kinds of benevolent regimes, have taught us, that it is truth that is the best friend of anyone who is oppressed, no matter how elusive the search for truth is, or whatever facts it uncovers. In the long run, it is truth that sets us free, not lies, fantasies, or propaganda. Yet, it is this truth that is immediately sacrificed by any self-appointed PC regime that strives for some sort of imaginary goodness.

Dostoevsky had thoroughly explored this phenomenon of sacrificing truth for the sake of some imaginary goodness. His writings, Diary of a Writer in particular, provide a fascinating panorama of post-Reform Russia, the period that had abolished serfdom and introduced radically different economic and political situation with its new discourse.

Consequently, the old serf system began to be accused in all possible sins: it was this system that induced, if not forced the poor and underprivileged to commit crimes.

Among other things, Great Reforms introduced the trial by jury with concomitant adversarial legal procedures. It is these procedures that fell victim to new politically correct discourse. The commission of crimes began to be attributed to the evil effects of environment (the faults of the previous regime, in other words), while the lawyers manipulated the newly minted and inexperienced jury, into issuing endless acquittals.   

Reading the reports of such acquittals, Dostoevsky became shocked and bewildered. He mounted an attack upon it, which sounds as fresh today as it was 150 years ago; it clearly contains both analysis and warning. 

“I came away [from reading these reports –VG] with a troubled feeling, almost as if I had been personally insulted.  In these bitter moments I would sometimes imagine Russia as a kind of quagmire or swamp on which someone had contrived to build palace.” (Dostoevsky, Fyodor. “Environment.” In his Writer’s Diary. Vol. 1873-1876. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1997: 132-136)

This failure to use common sense or common morality, made Dostoevsky to compare unfavourably Russian jurors’ propensity for mindless acquittals– which  were turning Russia into swamp–to that of their British counterparts:

Yet, over there the juror understands from the very moment he takes his place in the courtroom that he is not only a sensitive individual with a tender heart but is first of all a citizen. He even thinks … that fulfilling his civic duty stands even higher than any private victory of the heart…. the English juror grudgingly pronounces the guilty verdict, understanding first of all that his duty consists primarily in using that verdict to bear witness to all his fellow citizens that in old England (for which any one of them is prepared to shed his blood) vice is still called vice and villainy is still called villainy, and that the moral foundations of the country endure—firm, unchanged, standing as they stood before.

Dostoevsky, in other words, refuses to separate morality from truth. The ability to achieve and assert truth (when vice is called vice, and not virtue) is viewed by him as the very foundation of society. That’s why he despairs over the corruption of morality and understanding, as the result of which, crime becomes a duty or noble protest. 

These moral and intellectual principles are so important for Dostoevsky, that he is willing to attack – for the sake of them –- the generosity, compassion, and religiosity of his fellow Russians, who were acquitting the criminal due to sympathy or the sense of their own moral inadequacy.

Dostoevsky insists that truth and the pain of dealing with a guilty verdict is infinitely preferable to some simplistic and well-meaning acquittal. The writer offers a complex moral scheme instead of the PC fantasy: if the reality is ugly, it is our task to improve it without hiding behind the flights of rhetorical well-meaning fancy: “how is it that our people suddenly began to be afraid of a little suffering?’ ‘It’s a painful thing,’ they say, ‘to convict a man.’ And what of it? So take your pain away with you. The truth stands higher than your pain.” And then he adds these profound words:

If this pain is genuine and severe, then it will purge us and make us better. And when we have made ourselves better, we will also improve the environment and make it better. And this is the only way it can be made better. But to flee from our own pity and acquit everyone so as not to suffer ourselves -–why, that’s too easy. Doing that, we slowly and surely come to the conclusion that there is no crimes at all, and ‘the environment is to blame’ for everything. We inevitably reach the point where we consider crime eve a duty, a noble protest against the environment.

Dostoevsky’s rejection of legal newspeak, of the false compassion that under the guise of understanding of the downtrodden, has ignored their true predicament, fell –predictably –on dead ears. Dostoevsky’s complex scheme of condemning the criminal while simultaneously engaging in hard work at improving reality was ignored by the majority of his contemporaries who –in their propensity for “simplifications” –preferred much more linear schemes.

Similar dismissals of common sense and hard work, characterise all sorts of PD doctrinaires, ranging from Nadezhda Krupskaia to Angela Merkel, the political leader of today’s Germany who prefers the politically correct approach to reality, resorting to the Obama-like speeches instead of the hard work of addressing and stopping the causes of Middle Eastern emigration, while simultaneously organising the proper procedures for the integration of refugees into a different culture.

It is always easy to do nothing, while pontificating on the virtues of an open society.

Consequently, one indeed feels that Europe has been plunged into a swamp or quagmire of Dostoevsky imagination, a groundless entity incapable of dealing with concrete reality.

By insisting on discourse that obfuscates reality, the leaders of Europe turn it into a swamp, into a primeval mud and chaos. The language usually develop into a particular direction, it strives toward more nuanced and complex understanding of reality.

Politicians and media have to have courage to dismiss the charges of Islamophobia, while differentiating between the Islamic fanatics, criminals, and terrorists on the one hand, and the law abiding Muslims on the other.

The deliberate obfuscation, the obliteration of distinctions, the piling of everyone into generic “refugees” helps no one.

The Biblical God operated by turning chaos into a set of distinctions and differences, dividing dry from wet, light from darkness, heaven from earth, and man from woman.

PC acts in the opposite direction, it obliterates the distinctions, it clearly pushes us back into chaos.

There is an expression “to fish in troubled waters” (Russian uses the term “in muddy waters”). PC practitioners deliberately muddy waters, so that the criminals can fish, abuse, violate, and destroy with impunity.

The angels of political correctness have turned into the demons of chaos and destruction. The events that shake European cities are the grim reminder of this process.

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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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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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