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February 16, 2017


I've been working on a post on this very topic, Ugh, and I think a lot of this attitude from the IC is coming from the Trump White House's general disrespect for security.

It's not horseshit if you realize that, for many purposes, the US currently has no national security. The reason it's coming out now (rather than before the election or during the transition) is that the IC didn't imagine it would be this bad.

But this past weekend at Mar-a-Lago proved it, publicly. Classified and sensitive material given to the White House will *not* be treated with respect.

They also have growing evidence that there is actual treason taking place, collusion between people in the White House and foreign powers.

Why didn't they have it before the election? Because a) they're mostly Republicans, so they didn't look very hard, b) like everybody else, including Trump & Putin, they didn't think Trump would win so they didn't think it mattered.

I'll put up my post by early afternoon.

But doesn't the complaint from the guy in the interview go beyond Trump's disrespect and lack of care/security protocols for classified information? Because if that's their complaint then all this hyperventilating about constitutional crisis and worst thing since the Civil War looks more like the IC is feeling "disrespected" and their feelings are hurt.

Which as you note it does go beyond that w/r/t potential treason and Russia. But again, wasn't that sort of thing (as opposed to sharing classified information with the dinner guests) "this bad" before the election and during the transition?

Not that it can't be all of those things. I'd have greater respect for the IC's views if they came out and admitted they were actively/passively rooting for Trump to win - even if they think he wouldn't - and now are mea culping their way out of it through leaks, but then they wouldn't have any defenders on Capitol Hill or in the White House, but perhaps that's the way it should be.

Well which is it?

The two things are not mutually exclusive. Associating, meeting, communicating, working with, are not necessarily collusion. But, they have or at least could have, the appearance of collusion.

Is the guy being interviewed still in intel? Or is he retired? If he's retired, he's a private individual, and I think is allowed to say whatever he wants, short of divulging classified or otherwise protected information.

If he's still inside, the interview is perhaps not appropriate.

Your guess is as good as mine about WTF is actually going on. I basically assume that I'm just along for the ride at this point. I have some access to things via my House rep and Senators, and also at a local level via those folks.

But big picture, I have no freaking idea. I just hope we don't all get killed.

Rambling marginally relevant anecdote: back around the turn of the century, during my last year as an undergrad, I got a conditional offer of employment from a three-letter agency. I did the processing for the required clearance (as discussed in the other thread recently, and then some), but it was a competitive offer and multiple candidates were concurrently clearing because of the clearance attrition rate. Another one cleared before I did (protip: if you're undergoing a time-sensitive clearance process, and finishing your degree includes a 6-week study abroad during that period, figure out how to change that - also, somehow try not to have a lazy case officer handling your clearance who gets terminated 8 months or so into it), and I really regretted that... for a whole year or so. It didn't take long post-2001 for me to be actively glad that I wasn't in the IC...

(This was the period where I decided I needed to wake up politically, because if I was gonna work in that profession, I needed to be truly aware of what we were doing in the world. I may not of gotten the job, but going the process did turn me into the jaded, fervent pinko I am today. I can't even begin to imagine who I'd be psychologically and politically if I'd've spent the last decade and a half in that job...)

Argh, mouse is still doubleclicking...

russell - I believe he is retired and of course he can say anything he wants, if it wasn't clear I was using his views as a proxy for what the IC, or a significant portion of it, is thinking.

DocSci - when you get your post up I'll close comments on this one so any discussion can go on in a single thread.

Retired, so this is not as big a deal as it might be:

NV - FYI, deleted your double comment.

I must say Ugh it looks from the outside as if this (the whole Trump situation, including intelligence) is unprecedentedly serious and dangerous. Nobody would deny that the IC has done, and colluded in, a lot of heinous stuff over the years, but I guess they could always fool themselves that it (torture, rendition etc) was in the security interests of the nation. But here they (and we) are, faced with an incompetent Presidency and regime which is nakedly interested only in self-enrichment, probably involves treasonous behaviour, and damn the consequences to the nation. I agree with your point about why they didn't take this to e.g. McCain, and I can see that sensible people must be very worried about the precedent, but personally I'd be inclined to give them a pass for now.

GftNC - part of the interview I didn't quote was:

We're dealing with a man in Trump who doesn't accept a fact-based reality, who only acts for his own self-aggrandizement, and who views any action that does not serve him as a threat that must be destroyed.

That's not really what you want in a POTUS, but in my mind that's not a reason for the IC to actively undermine him either. I view it as another indication that the IC's real complaint is about Trump's contempt for them. If that's true (and again it doesn't have to be the only complaint), well, too bad.

My view is also colored by a friend of mine who's a reporter based in Istanbul who covers Central Asia/Russia and in his view, and those he follows, (a) the public reporting supporting some sort of Russia/Trump conspiracy is vague and based mostly on anonymous sources and (b) even if true Russia is much less powerful than it is comically (to them) being portrayed in the US media.

One question - why the apparent certainty that it wasn't someone in the White House who leaked ?

Also note that to the extent the IC wanted Trump to win, they agreed with Putin!

From the front page of the WSJ today:

The [intelligence] officials' decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team's contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward the U.S. spy agencies.

My emphasis. In my view, you don't get to do this, Intelligence Community.

I am not happy about any segment of the executive branch, IC or otherwise, actively subverting the orders from the President. Not at all.

I have somewhat less concern about at least some leaks. Lots of people are involved in lots of government actions, but are not among those "authorized to speak for the agency." Having them, whether thru established whistle-blower mechanisms or otherwise, tell us what our government is doing can be a problem. Or not.

But I have a caveat due to my own history. One of the things I once learned (I think officially in the military, although it was a lot of years ago) was the concept of an "illegal order." And what you could/should do about it. Note that, if you are in the military, the easy "just resign en masse" option is not available.

Consider this scenario. Which, unfortunately, does not seem as unthinkable as it would have a year ago.

The President decides that he is being disrespected by some (small, for this purpose) group of US citizens. And orders up a Seal team or two to pick them up (from US soil) and pack them off to some facility.

That is, if memory serves, illegal. Do they do it anyway, because -- orders? Or do they point out that it is an illegal order and refuse? I would hope that they do refuse. I would also hope that they would take the information about those orders to Congress, since the standard process for protesting illegal orders is not available when it's the CinC who is giving them.

And when you say "Congress", wj, to whom? One of their Senators or Reps? Do they pick a Democrat or a Republican?

What if they say something to their Republican Senator, and he tells them they're traitors for disobeying POTUS and has them arrested? Or plain refuses to see them?

What if they say something to their Democratic Senator, and their charges get nowhere because they're obviously partisan and trumped-up?

We're dealing with a man in Trump who doesn't accept a fact-based reality, who only acts for his own self-aggrandizement, and who views any action that does not serve him as a threat that must be destroyed.

Well, taken in combination, the two bold phrases seem to me to define a someone who can order life-threatening actions based on fantasy, and a conception of his own self-interest, not to mention (because Carle doesn't) if he is being blackmailed. This to me verges on dangerously mentally impaired and compromised. And if the IC is complaining about Trump's contempt for them, given that he is not even listening to what they try to tell him (doesn't accept a fact-based reality) in favour of getting his info from Fox News, their complaint is justified. Nobody says he should *just* listen to them, but to *not even* listen to them?

Regarding Russia being "much less powerful than it is being portrayed", and the conspiracy stuff "vague and based mostly on anonymous sources" it depends how you look at it. Christopher Steele seemed quite a reliable source, and stuff in his dossier is still being confirmed. The Russian economy is certainly dire, and Putin's popularity is questionable, but his projection of power in Ukraine and Syria has achieved many of his aims, domestic and foreign, and his long-term project of destruction of the EU etc also seems to be proceeding nicely. So OK, not the powerful cold-war adversary, but still a wily, amoral actor who means no good to the US or the west generally.

And when you say "Congress", wj, to whom? One of their Senators or Reps? Do they pick a Democrat or a Republican?

Dr S, I was thinking more in terms of going simultaneously/jointly to the Chairman and the ranking minority member of the relevant committee. Say, in this case, the Armed Services Committee.

Maybe to their own Senators or Representatives as well, but definitely to the folks responsible for their part of the Executive.

It is just AMAZING how much trouble some people cause when they're feeling "disrespected".

Here's another report on the view from the (ex-)IC community:

I spoke to multiple former intelligence and national security professionals. To a person, each said such information picked up from monitored calls [of Flynn and other Trump campaign officials to Russians] would be classified, and in the normal course of an administration would not be leaked. One former senior intelligence official said, “Certainly not appropriate. Certainly with the investigation still ongoing.”
Note that the lady is a NeverTrump conservative. For whatever that says about her prejudices.

The ODNI denies that intelligence has been withheld:

It strikes me that people are rushing to judgment on this before there is any certainty about who did what.
I won't even comment on Trump's latest eructations.

This is also interesting, and murky:

Josh Marshall weighs in on this issue (in part).

Do they do it anyway, because -- orders?

If you're talking military officers, they do not. Their oath is to protect and defend the Constitution, not to obey the POTUS.

Enlisted people take an oath to obey chain of command.

What Josh says.

Agreed. Excellent piece, bringing much-needed clarity.

This jumped out at me:

As a purely constitutional matter, as unfortunate as it may be, if the President decides he wants to share information with Russia, that is a call which his election gives him the power and authority to make. Of course, Presidents can also be impeached. But the President also doesn't have to tell anyone what he's done, certainly no one who would have the power to impeach him. As you can see, there are some situations which our constitutional structure doesn't provide easy remedies for.


My takeaway from the Marshall piece is that's it's one thing to bring someone down with inconsequential bullsh1t (e.g. Comey-Clinton), and it's another thing to bring someone down with very consequential non-bullsh1t (alleged IC leakers-Trump).

Neither, however, is desirable. But it looks like there is no desirable outcome from a Trump presidency.

I grant that it's hard for Congress to impeach a President for something they don't know that he's done. OTOH, they (or at least the intelligence committees) do get regular intelligence briefings where an unhappy IC can make their views know, presumably (and maybe I'm wrong).

Enlisted people take an oath to obey chain of command

...and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice...

So yes and no. The guidance I consistently received was fairly clear that we were only bound to obey lawful orders, and an order was not lawful if it was illegal, immoral, or unethical. Ofc, we were also expected to accept orders at face value, and if we refused to obey "the order was unlawful" would be a defence we could then raise as exculpatory or mitigating at our Court Martial or other disciplinary proceedings... but there would be a presumption of wrongdoing in re: our refusal, and it would be treated accordingly. Which is entirely in keeping with notions of good order and discipline.

Of course, from reports I've read from Trump's press conference a little bit ago, perhaps anything that gets him to resign/impeached should be okay.

I still haven't got over this, from his press conference with Netanyahu yesterday:

Question: Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States and in Israel and maybe around the world, who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?

Trump: Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had. Three hundred and six Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221 but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there. I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on. Because a lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time. I think one of the reasons I won the election is because we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided and hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And I — you know, something that was very important to me.

As far as people, Jewish people — so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now. A son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot of different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. Okay? Thank you.

if the President decides he wants to share information with Russia, that is a call which his election gives him the power and authority to make.

Is this actually true? True for all information and circumstances?

That seems unlikely to me, but IANAL.

The guidance I consistently received was fairly clear that we were only bound to obey lawful orders

Yes, and thank you for the correction, I think my original comment was not accurate.

My intent was to contrast the oaths taken by officers vs enlisted military - the officers' oath is specifically to protect and defend the Constitution, without any reference to the POTUS.

The enlisted military oath does refer to chain of command, including the POTUS as CiC. But you are correct, no military person is required to, or is expected to, follow unlawful orders.

Thanks NV.

There are levels. I have used tactics such as delay and obfuscate, request studies, etc. To 'win' a battle with a senior officer. Sometimes it just waits someone out. Sometimes it was because I really felt my way was safer and accomplished the mission better. Sometimes I found ways to keep that officer from needing my services. I never lied, and never refused information. But I didn't make it easy to do something I thought was dumb.

Question: Mr. Trump, it appears your left shoe is on fire, any comment?

A: You know, you are really dishonest people. So negative, nasty. Just ugly. I know your ratings are down, really dying to be honest, so sad. I'd be a good journalist you know, but sad. I will say that this country is the best, and I will fix it, what a mess Obama made, and I beat Hillary, what, by, by 3,000 electoral votes, on this paper information I have. Biggest landslide. So good.

As far as burning shoes, so many brands, some burn better, others not so much, you'll see a lot of that in the coming days, with winning, the phenomenal programs we're going to roll out, on the taxes, the people, just really great. The best.

San Dimas High School Football rules!

"I grant that it's hard for Congress to impeach a President for something they don't know that he's done."

Impeachment would be proceeding apace in both houses and the entire media would be kissing lying Republican ass to get a piece of it were Hillary Clinton had been elected the President of the United States.

The New York Office of the FBI, at Comey's urging, would be dishing furiously to fan the flames, the anti-American filth.

In November 10th, 2016, violent bloody riots would have broken out in the streets of every American city with the angry, armed republican trump sociopaths, who spent the past year and a half attacking innocent people at Trump rallies and threatening violent retribution if the election went against them, laying waste to everyone swarthy, everyone Muslim, everyone wearing pink .. everyone not them, the scum.

Trump, Flynn, Bannon, Spicer, Conway, any number of republican officeholders at all levels of government, would be bullhorned up and leading the bloody chaos.

The Secret Service would have by now contracted out to hire private security forces to augment their protection of Clinton, her Vice President, her Cabinet, and her appointees, if some of them weren't already gunned down.

The Russian media, some it based here, would be counseling "strong leadership" from trump and that he "hold the line" against the illegitimate election of Clinton. Brietbart, FOX, and numerous fascist republican internet trolls would be carrying "reportage" with Russian bylines.

The entire stinking Republican edifice, in and out of government, would have to contract out to rent every parking garage in the Nation to have enough places to meet Breitbart and FOX "reporters" for their nightly clandestine leaking, and believe me, the savvy punk businessmen running the rest of the traditional media would know which side their advertising dollars were buttered on and join in with both feet.

They would have nothing, of course, but when did that ever stop the conservative movement from trying to f*ck up every normative institution in my country, just to get their way.

Meanwhile Paul Ryan would grin his murderous grin and tell us that well, you never know how anger might take its unruly course, and geez, he doesn't condone what's going on, after all, there are legitimate concerns that some guy in Nebraska may have voted twice for the wrong person when he should have been voting twice for the RIGHT person, but if you'll excuse me, I have some f*cking Obamacare recipients to kill.

Yes, so, this right here is all bad, sure. Bad, real bad. I don't like it either.

It's going to get much worse.

Step back and look at who is fighting whom. All of them are conservatives and republicans, on all sides of this. nearly to a man. It's like trying to get a bead on which "side" I should arm in Syria.

As Marshall points out, despite lame, whining filth in the Republican Party who want to make us think the CIA and FBI are Democrats and liberals, please, they are ex-military, many of them have deep ties to the neo-conservative movement.

Add in all of the crypto religious nutcases, your mainstream racists like Sessions and plenty of others, and every wackadoodle sociopathic mouthbreather hanging on to the "conservative movement" for dear life urging on its worst, subhuman impulses, and I'd say what we have here is a monstrosity that needs to f*cking die.

ALL of it.

The rest of us are bystanders at best, beggars at worst. Oh please, we beg, don't hurt our institutions, we might need them some day.

Too late. I mean, Clarence Thomas dumbass wife has just been caught out organizing against immigrants with the worst of the worst, thereby, in a normal polity, causing danger to any of trump's anti-immigrant "laws' that might be taken to the Supreme Court. You know, conflict of interest and all that, like he will give a sh*t, the scum.

I hope all of them kill each other. And I hope the institutions die along with them.

That will the monument over the mausoleum housing the steaming remains of the so-called conservative movement where we can meditate far in the future on how to ever again let such a monstrosity rise again.

Let me get this right? Michael Ledeen ... Michael f*cking Ledeen ... has emerged from his coffin once again? What, are we in the midst of yet another "The Exorcist" sequel?

Michael Flynn and his son, with plenty of help from the usual suspects, sicced a gunman on a fucking pizza shop and its owner via social media, that technology for hopeless romantics, as all of them tried to catch Hillary Clinton and whomever the hell else diddling little children.

That f*cking happened. And this guy was named National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, with nary a peep from so-called traditional fucked up conservatives.

I hope the rest of the world is watching us to learn how to kill their conservative* movements as well.

*Yeah, conservative. If you no longer like the word "conservative" applied to yourselves, get a new title. I don't blame you. I won't hold it against you. Most people named Mussolini rushed down to the Registry offices and changed their names too, once Benito's viscera hit the pavement.

I don't think Putin is using the Republican Party and Trump. It's the other way around. These ilk aren't victims.

They are going to be though.

Have a good weekend.

I'm with Girl from the North Country here. (Maybe it's less troubling for non-Americans, since it's not our spooks or our president, but it still feels like our problem because of the empowerment of Russia.)

Seems to me you have a deliberately complex multi-dimensional system of checks and balances - created not just by the Founders but in the centuries after, especially in the years after WW2 when nukes appeared and so the power of the presidency was vastly increased - and that some of that system at least is working. The IC is clearly terrified because they think the Russians have some significant measure of control over the President and perhaps access to confidential national security information. That would be extremely perilous, for the US and the world, and under those circumstances, time is of the essence because he is likely working to shut them down. Leaking seems a pretty good way of making it hard for him to do that.

Of course personal and institutional politics will play a part in any such decision. That's not ideal, but if you're gonna compare the CIA to Nazis and then turn up there with rentacrowd to dupe people into thinking they're cheering you, when you already know they suspect you're a traitor, well... welcome to management.

'Feinberg has been described as "secretive" in The New York Times.[12] In 2007, Feinberg told Cerberus shareholders, "If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper and a picture of his apartment, we will do more than fire that person. We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it." '

One of the operatives who engineered Putin's operation to enable trump and the republican party to steal the 2016 Presidential election and all of the downmarket elections as well (corrupt coattails disqaulify filth from holding office), doubles down:

As calls for trump's impeachment from all directions are ignored by republican filth in Congress, expect the Justice Department under Sessions to bring charges against Hillary Clinton and numerous of her aides, as a diversion like the black ops, so-called terrorist attacks on American soil now being planned by trump operatives to further his foreign policy and immigration sociopathies, and military sabre-rattling by Putin around the world each time trump seems vulnerable.

Sure, trump SAID he'd lay off Clinton.

I read the transcript of his press conference today. He'll say anything.

It was like this:

Oh, shit, it's Mr Creosote:

Meanwhile, among the downmarket violent republican filth:

“I need all patriots in attendance to protect Congressman Gaetz from any potential disruption of his speech,” Geoff Ross, the purported militia leader, wrote in a call-out on his private Facebook page. “Concealed carry permit holders most welcome - don’t forget your ammo.”

The women and their children need to bring their guns too. Don't forget the ammo, ladies.

I can't wait until a Republican threatens me with gun at a political function. To paraphrase trump, there will be so much dead, you'll get bored with dead.

Live in the full of shit country you have created republicans. Die in it too.

"JAKE TURX, A REPORTER FOR A SMALL ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH PUBLICATION: Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zaidy. However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it... There has been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to...

TRUMP: he said he was gonna ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not, its not, not — not a simple question, not a fair question. OK sit down, I understand the rest of your question.

So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti- Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person....See, he lied about — he was gonna get up and ask a very straight, simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media. But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge, I find it repulsive.

I hate even the question because people that know me and you heard the prime minister, you heard Ben Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and then he said, forget it. So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that."

Question: Mr. Trump, it appears your left shoe is on fire, any comment?

well played ugh!

i just think of Trump's public statements as drunken frat boy rambles, run through a Bill Burroughs cut-up editing process.

As far as Trump buddies, Robert and Rebekah Mercer are of interest, purely because nobody's really heard of them. Big hedge fund money. They put Trump and Bannon together. Either they or Bannon brought in Cambridge Analytica.

I march around in my pussy hat like a good citizen, but I don't have too many illusions about who's got juice and who doesn't. There's some serious shit going on that not one of us has a freaking clue about. Chumps like me are just along for the ride.

Members don't get weary. This mess is gonna land somehere, sooner or later, and somebody's gonna have to tidy up. Hopefully there will be something left to work with when the dust settles.

This mess is gonna land somehere, sooner or later, ...

Perhaps in a Friedman Unit...

Since Trump became president, three high-ranking FSB members have been arrested for spying for the U.S. I have to wonder whether the real issue with the intelligence community is that their assets' identities might have been revealed in briefings involving the highest levels of Trump's circle. If so, even a largely Republican intelligence community would find it necessary to act, especially if Trump was informed of it and did nothing.

At any rate, if I were writing a thriller, that would be the plot. Real life tends to make less sense.

If you're talking military officers, they do not.

I'd have said that myself, until about 2003.

When I was in the Army, we took a special training unit on the Geneva Convention.
Torture was right out.
I knew for a fact that the US military would never stoop so low.

But when Cheney and Yoo and Rumsfeld said "torture them", enough officers saluted and complied to produce Bagram and Abu Ghraib and the black sites and waterboarding and things too horrible to relate. Only poor Lyndie England had to pay for those sins. General "Gitmo-ize" Miller -- scot free. Rumsfeld ditto.

So I no longer believe that the US military is incapable of following a blatantly illegal order, or will even put up meaningful resistance.

It's worth noting that Adam Silverman and Omnes Omnibus over at Balloon Juice strongly disagree with me, but they have never offered an actual rebuttal to the above observation.

Milgram experiments. Banality of evil.

The real question is whether the lesson the US military learned from its great adventure in torture in 2003 with Dick John & Don was (i) don't torture, or (ii) don't take pictures of it.

"Or perhaps more to the point, under Bush when the CIA was happily torturing people in secret prisons around the world and then stuffing them in Gitmo under orders from the President and legal cover from the DOJ? Where was this kind of view then?"

Just heard a podcast from the Lowy Institute talking this week to Mike Morello, former acting CIA director. Asked whether they'd torture again* part of Morello's answer was that they were hung out to dry last time, and were very unwilling to be put in that position again. IOW they were doing what the administration wanted and repeatedly said was legal, then when it went bad Intel people were left to defend it, or face the consequences.

(He also said it wasn't torture, per def, at the time because torture is illegal, per def, and the people who say what the law is had said this wasn't).

It was a good discussion. Worth a listen.

Pardon my French, but it's deja vu all over again:

Why, it was just yesterday that Putin helped steal an entire Presidential election in another country in support of fascist, conservative, murdering scum like La Pen.

"hung out to dry"? It is to laugh.

If they were "hung out to dry", there would have been prosecutions up and down the chain of command.

Now, "slightly disapproving frowns at DC cocktail parties", yeah, I guess so. Clearly that is a harsh punishment for Crimes Against Humanity, amirite?

the autumn of the patriarch, live on the tv

By the way, trump's attack on the Jewish reporter during his press "conference" and his complete ignorance of the death threats against synagogues and other Jewish community organizations was a direct signal to the violent Republican (they didn't f*cking vote for Clinton, so shut the f*ck up!) right wing that helped sweep him into power to have at it.

Unlike Hitler, trump knows some the "good" Jews, but his bannonites intend to intimidate the "bad" ... read liberal ... Jews, scare the living f*ck out of them, into coming around to their side on the coming martial crackdown of Muslim Americans and other immigrants.

Notice how those remarks dovetail with the order from the White House for government anti-terror units to ignore all domestic white nationalist terror suspects in the "Homeland" and concentrate solely on Muslim suspects.

That's a tip off to who will carry out the actual attacks on Jewish and other targets when they start.

Just heard a podcast from the Lowy Institute talking this week to Mike Morello, former acting CIA director. Asked whether they'd torture again* part of Morello's answer was that they were hung out to dry last time, and were very unwilling to be put in that position again. IOW they were doing what the administration wanted and repeatedly said was legal, then when it went bad Intel people were left to defend it, or face the consequences.

(He also said it wasn't torture, per def, at the time because torture is illegal, per def, and the people who say what the law is had said this wasn't).

This is, was, and always will be the CIA's defense: DOJ said it was legal and how can we be expected to second guess them?!!? It conveniently ignores that CIA was more than happy to do this, whether with encouragement from the WH or not, that when CIA got its asked for opinion from Yoo at OLC they then went beyond what Yoo claimed was OK and had to go back to get a second OLC opinion from Bybee. And even then CIA did things that were not authorized by the second opinion and still no consequences.

It was very much an agreement between CIA and DOJ (with WH blessing/encouragement/demand) of "we will lie to you about the facts if you lie to us about the law."

And if everything was hunky dory why are they still resisting, e.g., declassification of Senate torture report, why were the video tapes of interrogation destroyed, why the whining that they were "hung out to dry" if everything was perfectly legal?

This is a big reason why I'm not thrilled with this former CIA agent's perspective on things.

Further, if you are asking OLC for an opinion regarding whether what you're doing is torture or not, that's a pretty good clue that you shouldn't be doing it.

Interesting article on the face of Republican resistance:

His politics are a million miles from mine, but at least he's making the argument against sheer unreason.

Michael Morell. Here he is advocating covert killing of Russians last summer

And slightly off topic, but here is a tape of Kerry talking to Syrian activists. The NYT did a story on this, but left out the really interesting parts where Kerry admits the US watched the rise of Isis and hoped it would pressure Assad, but instead the Russians intervened to save Syria from Assad. Kerry also says the US poured tremendous amounts of weapons into Syria, but that it just led to escalation on the other side.

The interesting Kerry parts start around minute twenty five. My iPad keyboard froze up so I can't get to the number keys. No idea why it does this, so I had to spell the number.

Anyway, the war in Syria is a big part of this Russia obsession we have and there is a lot of mainstream dishonesty about this, including the claim that we stood by and let Assad do what he wanted. In fact Syria has been a proxy battle between the Saudi Gulf Arab and US vs Iran and despite some of the crap you read in the MSM, the Russian motivation to intervene directly was to stop ISIS. Kerry says that. The NYT story was exclusively on how frustrated Kerry and the Syrian activists were that we did not do more.

Hitler too had a few Jewish favourites, e.g. he protected the Jewish family doctor that had taken care of his mother (which is ironic since some wannabe historians claim that his anti-semitism rose from the suspicion that the guy had caused her death). The man died of natural causes before the final solution was put in motion.
Göring famously said "Wer bei mir Jude ist, bestimme ich." (It is I who decides who is a Jew around here) when one of his close associates turned out to have Jewish relatives.
So even the top Nazis could be quite flexible on the matter.

As far as Trump is concerned, I do not think that he cares about Jews as a group one way or another or religion in general either. Jews will get insulted on occasion of course as any other group will (an equal opportunity offender, The Donald).

Regarding Morell, only in America does a guy go on national TV/Youtube and announce that we should kill Russians and Iranians, and then when asked by the host, "Covertly?", answers "Yes".

If I know about it, it's not covert.

We're not only wrong, we're wrong in the dumbest way.

We're not only wrong, we're wrong in the dumbest way.

The best.

My take-away quote from the Josh Marshall piece (which struck me as wise, in a depressing way):

This is not a normal situation. Even what we know is all but incomprehensible and the issue is what we don't know.

Whatever the truth is, if it gets covered up on the grounds that the IC shouldn't act this way - even if that is legally and morally the case - we'll never know.

And that worries me. More than Watergate (which I lived through) in which the question of whether Nixon personally approved the shenanigans or merely asked "Who will rid me of these pestilent Dems?" struck me as less pressing.

Thanks for this, Ugh.

I have the impression that this kind of behavior from the IC was what turned Obama in to a reluctant hawk. I think we only hear about the Trump stuff because Trump et al are so inept, and the press has gone to war with them.

I thought Trump would get rolled quickly by this crew; still kind of surprised how fast it has happened. Or perhaps not surprised, given how clumsy these folks are.

I don't know. I have two equal sides warring within me:

1. He has to be got rid of, as soon as possible, by almost any means necessary, leaks or otherwise leading to impeachment or invocation of 25th Amendment. He is a dangerous lunatic, and the catspaw of truly evil men, who could endanger millions of lives by various means, domestic and foreign.

2. There is almost no situation which cannot be made worse, contrary to immediate appearances (see assassination of Hendrik Verwoerd, deposing of Saddam Hussein etc). Pence as President might efficiently enact mainstream, rightwing republican agenda, harming probably millions of Americans in the process. I think JanieM and/or wonkie in particular have made this argument.

I'm leaning heavily towards 1. but terrified by 2. Is there a third alternative? Please? Someone?

To paraphrase Monty Python's Bruces sketch, there is Nooooooooooooo, option 3.

I mean, I don't see a scenario getting us to a potential Democratic House and/or Senate in January 2019 that doesn't involve Trump and/or Pence doing horrible things. Perhaps there will be so much chaos that nothing gets down on the legislative front. It already looks like tax reform is dead (or at least anything a neutral observer would call "reform," there may still be a big tax cut) and (hopefully) we can get there on ACA repeal as well.

But that still leaves Trump Bannon and Miller time to rampage through the Executive Branch domestically via the immigration laws and foreign policy.

Maybe there's a tiny chance Trump throws his alt-righters overboard and we get some normalcy with reasonable people helping him, but it doesn't seem likely.

"hung out to dry"? It is to laugh.

If they were "hung out to dry", there would have been prosecutions up and down the chain of command.

Objectively, they may not have been. But if they feel that way about what happened, it can impact how they react in the future.

If dr ngo is watching, I don't know if you read my last post re Sebastian Gorka in the other thread. (I believe there has been some controversy recently about his wearing of a Nazi-sympathiser-instituted decoration/medal). Anyway, my interest was rekindled last night when he gave an appalling defence of the Trump press conference to BBC's Newsnight, probably our premier current affairs program. His particular shtick, when asked an inconvenient question, is to attack and condescendingly and in a faux-worldly, weary way call it all fake news. It's a completely different tack to Kellyanne Conway, who seems hors de combat at the moment, presumably because people have stopped booking her.

So I was suspicious of his academic credentials, and no mention of which college of London University, and today Wikipedia suddenly reports that he graduated from Heythrop College with a 2.2 in Philosophy and Theology. This sounds very low-level to me, but I have questions out to my academic informants. I suppose this is really a displacement activity, and a way to scoff and sneer at a Trump spokesman on the principle of like master like servant. So sue me.

My academic informants have just got back to me after checking his twitter feed to ask if I am absolutely sure Sebastian Gorka is not really Sacha Baron Cohen! However, they confirm that Heythrop College was a perfectly respectable Jesuit College until it closed. Still, a 2.2 for someone who is posing as some kind of impressive intellectual theoretician?

Sucking up to liberal professors for grades is for losers. It is a badge of honor.

I have no idea what to make of all this, bad spy novel stuff?

All of these killers, Gorka, Miller, Sater et al seem very chicken-farmerish to me.

"Goebbels then returned home and worked as a private tutor. He also found work as a journalist and was published in the local newspaper. His writing during that time reflected his growing antisemitism and dislike for modern culture."

Lived in his mother's basement with his deformed foot, apparently, before Hitler plucked him from obscurity, but like Richard III, thought himself a spidery, sticky-webbed charmer of the ladies.

"dislike for modern culture."

A true anti-cosmopolitan conservative. He'd fit with our current Bannonish Death merchants.

Could it be that Russia somehow funded Trump's campaign or a large portion of it? He was talking about how much $$ he was going to spend and then not only did he not hit that target the money hadn't to be dragged out of him.

Milo the teenaged boy kneels in the sacristy and give thanks to the Church that honed his communion skills.

I'll bet he scored higher than Gorka's 2.2 grade point in theology.

No wonder Milo is dick deep into the conservative anti-woman gamer/rapey culture.

(re: Torturers 'hung out to dry', yet never actually prosecuted)

"But if they feel that way about what happened, it can impact how they react in the future."

I am strangely lacking in tender regard for the precious fee-fees of torturers and their higher-up enablers.

So 'how they react' might well be 'GOOD, no worries, we can get away with it!'.

A careful reading of the Convention Against Torture allows "2nd Amendment Remedies" when the regular governmental mechanisms face-plant. As they have.

Ugh, I'd not read too much into Trump boasting about how much he'd spend and then not spending it. He kinda has a pattern of doing that, and it fits with him being both an unfiltered (and unreflective) braggert and a grifter. It's possible Russia was paying for his campaign, sure, but absent more substantial evidence this particular behavior probably reflects him blowing hot air up the nethers of everyone in earshot... He, Trump Himself most certainly included.

Very true. Trying to figure out WTH is going on with the NYTimes article Josh Marshall links to and his gloss on it.

Separately, this story, if true (the part about Miller calling the US attorney), is horrific, outrageous and shows we are in very much more deep doo-doo (legal term of art) with Sessions running DOJ than we may have thought.

I'm not at all sure that Sessions as AG is shown to be part of the problem. Unless, of course, he called the US Attorney and told him to follow Miller's lead.

That is to say, I think Miller would behave the same regardless of who was AG. You could have the previous AG still in place, and I bet Miller would have done exactly the same.

Miller might have but such a hypothesized AG would have shut it down (IMO). Here, since Miller is Sesssions' former top aide, Sessions is likely to validate it and/or collaborate in the process, making it that much more "official" DOJ policy.

Even then, the idea that there is supposed to be some sort of DOJ independence from the WH on these kinds of matters has completely been done away with in way that it hasn't been before. It's nuts.

I'll bet he scored higher than Gorka's 2.2 grade point in theology.

It's a small point, but in the interests of accuracy: I don't understand your degree levels, grade point averages etc. However our degrees are usually awarded in 4 categories above Fail. They are: a first (which I think is your summa cum laude, although one hears about a starred first, or a congratulatory first, but they are very rare), a 2.1 (pronounced "two one" which I have thought is your magna cum laude, although I am not sure), a 2.2 ("two two" which I doubt is a cum laude because it is pretty mediocre, although not the worst) and a third, which is the lowest, and is considered pretty dire. There are some universities who award Pass below third, but I think not many. More detail here, but I lost the will to live before finishing it:

"I'm not at all sure that Sessions as AG is shown to be part of the problem."

Your compartilization is impressive, wj.

Come now, jump in with both feet. ;)

A 2.20 in the U.S. would be pretty mediocre here too, if not deplorable.

But in trump's america, the full of sh*t profit from grade inflation and everyone gets a trophy or a certificate below a certain level. trump, for example, graduated very, very, I mean crazy very cum loud, so cum loud they grew bored of cum loud from Wharton.

Anyone above a 2.2 is shut out of the loop. Then the loopy take over.

After the experts weigh in and disappear down a trapdoor into a chute for confusing the issues with facts, trump turns to his staff and says "OK, my stupids, f*ck it up good and hard?"

You'll know them by their mushroom clouds.

That would be "compartmentalization".

Poor milo:

To quote Josh from twitter: "Imagine you invite a respected racist hatemonger to address your conference and it just all goes wrong"

CPAC, like UC Berkeley, is crushing dissent! Who will save free speech now? Where will Mr. Yiannopoulos be able to spread his message about how a Catholic priest taught him how to give "such good head"? Whither the marketplace of ideas?

CPAC, like UC Berkeley, is crushing dissent! Who will save free speech now?

I'd say the cognitive dissonance might make a few heads explode, but some folks just seem immune to it.

I'll ask the same thing I asked when the Berkeley College Republicans invited him on campus: what does Milo Y. have to say that is so interesting that CPAC needs to hear it (or needed him to say it)?

I mean, I don't think they're going to hear anything particularly innovative from Ted Cruz, but at least he's a US Senator and runner up in the GOP race for POTUS in 2016, whereas Milo is a douchebag.

Your compart[menta]lization is impressive, wj.

I didn't say Sessions wasn't part of the problem. I just said that this particular incident didn't prove that he was.

I think he was a terrible choice for AG. And that he will be a problem on a wide variety of issues. But that doesn't make him responsible for everything that gets done wrong.

Maybe they all trained as underage victims at the feet of the same hopelessly romantic priests, even the spit-shined Protestants among them.

I demand Milo's First Amendment rights not be censored by CPAC.

Unlike the politically correct Berkeley liberals, those free-speech haters, at least the CPACers would be carrying weapons into the hall to protect themselves from incoming spittle from the podium.

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