Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘russia’

Comey’s big lie

Posted by Richard on July 25, 2018

A.F. Branco wondered whether Comey lied in 2016 or in 2017. The answer is “Yes, and probably plenty of other times too.”

Comey's Oath

For instance, earlier this year Comey appeared to claim that the Steele dossier wasn’t critical to getting a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page (and his “contacts,” meaning practically anyone in the Trump campaign).

Former FBI Director James Comey does not believe the infamous Steele dossier was necessary to obtain surveillance warrants against President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page, Comey said Monday.

“Could there have been a FISA warrant without the Steele dossier?” PBS “News Hour” host Judy Woodruff asked Comey.

“It’s not my recollection that it was an essential part of any application,” he replied.

But note the weasely, Clintonesque wording, specifically the placement of the negative. Someone not parsing his words carefully to shade the meaning would have said, “It’s my recollection that it was not an essential part…”

Now that the Page FISA applications have been released (albeit heavily redacted), we know that the Nunes memo denounced by Democrats as full of lies was almost 100% accurate, that the Steele dossier was the first and primary evidence cited, that the FISA court was not made aware that it was paid for by Fusion GPS on behalf of Clinton and the DNC, and that James Comey signed off on the assertion that the information had been verified (emphasis in original):

On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.

Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:

The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

Consider this: The representation that the FBI’s verification procedures include sending the application to “appropriate field offices” is standard in FISA warrant applications. It is done because the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) mandates that the bureau “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.”

In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had “reviewed this verified application for accuracy.” But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been “thoroughly vetted and confirmed”? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.

When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what “verification” means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by “verified”?

No, they were not.

Bottom line: We have evidence of collusion all right. There’s evidence of collusion between CIA Director George Brennan and the Russians. There’s evidence of collusion among various FBI and Justice officials to stop Trump before the election and to undermine his presidency afterward. What we don’t have is any credible evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

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QOTD, Helsinki edition

Posted by Richard on July 17, 2018

Condemnation of Trump and the Helsinki summit has been near-universal. Media commentary has spanned the spectrum from “Trump should be removed from office by any means necessary” to “Trump should be summarily hanged for treason.” Democrats and Republicans (with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul) seem to be in bipartisan agreement that every word Trump uttered was reprehensible and deplorable, and that we must punish Russia with more sanctions at the very least, and possibly go further.

Which brings me to today’s quotes, a couple of reminders concerning bipartisanship:

We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.
— M. Stanton Evans

Universal, bipartisan agreement on anything is usually the first sign that something deeply unwise is about to happen, if only because there is nobody left to ask skeptical questions.
— Tucker Carlson

As for skeptical questions, a friend sent some of us a link to this Disobedient Media article about Mueller’s indictments of a dozen Russians for hacking the DNC et al. Confession: my eyes started to glaze over about a third of the way through this very dense and detailed dissection of the Russian hacking claims, and I only skimmed the rest. But if even a third of what I read is correct, Mueller’s claims regarding Guccifer 2.0 fall completely apart.

A more likely conclusion is that someone went to considerable trouble to make it look like Guccifer 2.0 was Russian government operatives. Pure speculation on my part, but I’m thinking that that someone might be CrowdStrike, hired by the DNC to look into its server breach(es) and the only organization that ever had access to the DNC servers (the FBI never did).

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Quagmire in the making: understanding the Syria situation

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2017

NetRightDaily has posted an excellent Syria explainer by Printus LeBlanc. How did the Syrian civil war come about? What foreign powers are entangled in it and why? Well, it’s about the Arab Spring. And it’s about the Sunni-Shia conflict. And it’s about gas and oil pipelines. And it’s about Russia’s only naval base on the Mediterranean Sea.

LeBlanc’s conclusion:

Regardless if this is a religious conflict, a political conflict, pipeline politics, or more likely a combination of all three, President Donald Trump must weigh all options — and get authorization from Congress — before acting to get the U.S. involved with a civil war with so many possibilities to become a wider regional or even global conflict.

A student of history might look at the situation in Syria, and see Europe leading up to WWI. One misstep could trigger alliances and defense pacts that lead to all-out war.

Indeed™.

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Russians enter “Crappy American Beer” market

Posted by Richard on September 26, 2014

The Russian beer and soft drink company Oasis Beverages has bought Pabst Brewing Company, makers of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Lone Star, and Colt 45, among others. The Washington Free Beacon’s Sonny Bunch is OK with that:

If we’re being honest, though, we would note that the Russians are getting into the “Crappy American Beer” market much too late. The time of bland suds has passed. The future is craft beer:

Craft beer makers have experienced huge jumps in market share while the overall beer market size has shrunk. The Census Bureau announced yesterday that the number of breweries in the in the U.S. doubled in five years–an increase largely due to craft beer. On average over the past two years, 1.2 craft breweries opened each day, contributing to a total of 15.6 million barrels of beer last year.

Now, granted, 15.6 million barrels is only a modest portion of the overall beer market. According to the Wall Street Journal article quoted above, craft beers account for just eight percent of the market—an increase of more than 300 percent in 15 years, but a distinct minority of the beer population nevertheless. Still, one can’t help but feel that the future is bright for the craft beer community.

The mass-produced American beers of years gone by have their place, of course, and hey: to each his own. A lot of people still like Bud and Miller, and they should drink what they like. But their time has passed. A new day dawns. A day of tasty craft brews with complex flavor profiles that you can match with a variety of dishes. I for one welcome our craft beer overlords—and am more than happy to let the Russians have our dregs.

I’ll drink to that!

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Those dueling demonstrations in Moscow

Posted by Richard on March 15, 2014

I saw a brief story on the news tonight about demonstrations in Moscow both for and against Putin and Russian intervention in Ukraine. Not much detail. AFP had more information:

Around 50,000 people marched through central Moscow on Saturday in protest at Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, a day before the Crimean peninsula votes on switching to Kremlin rule.

Waving Ukrainian and Russian flags and adopting the chants of Ukraine’s popular uprising, prominent and ordinary Russians urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull troops back from ex-Soviet Ukraine.

Marchers carried placards reading “Putin, get out of Ukraine” and others comparing Kremlin’s decision to send troops to Crimea with the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland as Europe rushed headlong into World War II.

Members of anti-Kremlin punk Pussy Riot compared Russia’s invasion of Crimea that plunged the country into a Cold-War style confrontation with the West to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

“How can a referendum under the barrels of guns be legitimate and fair?” Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina asked during a rally after the march, a Russian flag in her hand.

The Blaze has the AP story and some of the pictures tweeted from the protest march. As for the pro-Putin counter-demonstration (emphasis added):

Not far away near the Kremlin, several thousand people dressed in matching red costumes marched in formation to show their support for Russian intervention in the region.

Sounds like a real spontaneous grass-roots demonstration, doesn’t it?

What’s the Russian word for “astroturf”?

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The Georgia war conspiracy theory

Posted by Richard on August 14, 2008

When Russian troops attacked Georgia, I expected the "blame America first" crowd to claim it was somehow our fault. And I figured that the purveyors of moral equivalence would suggest that we were in no position to criticize Russia since we invaded Iraq. (Never mind that we liberated Iraq from a brutal, genocidal dictatorship after it defied 14 U.N. resolutions, whereas the Russsians are trying to topple a democratic government and want to take over a free country as a first step to reestablishing a Russian Empire.)

But I admit that even I was surprised by Robert Scheer's insane conspiracy theory claiming that the McCain campaign is behind the whole thing:

Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government, ending his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser.

Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. Iraq invasion.

In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia's membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Um, unless I'm mistaken, Saakashvili's "bellicose views" are that Russia should stop supporting rebel armies in two provinces that have long been a part of Georgia, should stop trying to intimidate and dominate Georgia, and has no right to annex Georgia. <snark>What a monster.</snark>

As for the rest of Scheer's screed, it criticizes Georgia's "imperial designs" on two of its own provinces, it attempts to demonstrate that the whole Georgia crisis was manufactured by McCain and his "neoconservative cabal" to further his election chances, and it paints Vladimir Putin as an innocent victim.

Wow. 

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