North Korea humiliates Trump before the world

No diplomats anywhere enjoy dealing with North Korea. Pyongyang is difficult, indeed obstreperous at the best of times, while the Kim dynasty and its emissaries are notorious worldwide for their aggressive and undiplomatic trash-talking when they are displeased. Which they frequently are.

Donald Trump’s quixotic effort to make nice with the world’s strangest regime was therefore always a long shot, while his desire to denuclearize North Korea in exchange for diplomatic normalization and economic development was based in what can be kindly called fantasy thinking.

That has just been made painfully evident in Hanoi, where the much-ballyhooed second summit between President Trump and the North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un fell apart with no deal of any kind. After investing a considerable amount of his personal prestige, and that of the United States, in building a relationship with Kim, Trump is flying back to Washington, DC, with nothing. His reality-TV-based notion of how to solve intractable diplomatic problems has been revealed as just another Trumpian sham, alongside Don’s vodka, his steaks, and his ‘university’.

Read the rest at Spectator USA …

Who—or What—Was the FBI’s Mole at the Heart of the Trump Campaign?

Feds claim vaguely to know a lot about President Donald Trump’s secret Kremlin ties. What’s behind the spy mystery here? How much does the FBI know and how does it know it? At last, we have more than hints.

Ignominiously firing Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, on January 29, 2018, just 26 hours shy of his retirement, was one of Donald Trump’s more consequential missteps. Kicking the career G-Man out of the Bureau a day short of his pension guaranteed that McCabe would seek payback, and he has gotten it mightily.

McCabe’s memoir, out this month, has shot to the top of bestseller lists, thanks in part to President Trump’s public berating of the author. As is his custom, Trump’s hysterical tweets about the book have significantly boosted sales. Most recently, Trump’s insult that McCabe is a “poor man’s J. Edgar Hoover” got the reply, “I don’t even know what that means.” Really, none of us do at this point.

Trump seems unhinged by all the publicity McCabe’s been getting on his book tour, while the former FBI bigwig’s comments can’t sit well at the White House. McCabe has made clear that the Bureau investigated the president’s Kremlin connections because Trump so frequently parroted Russian propaganda in the Oval Office. In slightly more guarded language, McCabe stated, “I think it’s possible” when asked point-blank if President Trump might be an asset of Russian intelligence.

Read the rest at The Observer …

 

Bibi blows up Israel’s Central European alliance

Nationalism is a supremely powerful force in politics, but it’s perennially difficult to forge lasting alliances between competing nationalisms – as this week’s news demonstrates yet again.

No country has benefited more from the growing split between Brussels and the European Union’s formerly Communist member states than Israel. In Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, and Bratislava, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found receptive European audiences, which Israel needed as the EU has soured on Israel’s occupation policies towards the Palestinians and increasingly aggressive rhetoric towards Iran. Netanyahu invested in these new relationships, which were based in more than mere convenience.

The Visegrád Four, as they call themselves, made natural allies for Likud-run Israel. Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia all have right-wing governments which value ethno-nationalism and the preservation of the nation, while disdaining liberal multiculturalism and fearing Islam and migration – all the while not caring one whit what Brussels thinks. In other words, they’re a lot like Netanyahu’s Israel.

Read the rest at Spectator USA …

Trust me I’m a Russia hawk – the Democrats are going too far

If only President Richard Nixon could go to China, per the hoary Beltway cliché, perhaps only yours truly could write this column. Longer than just about anybody, I’ve warned the public about the threat to Western democracy posed by Vladimir Putin’s aggressive spies and weaponized lies.

As a counterintelligence officer for the National Security Agency, I was combating Russian propaganda, what they call Active Measures, two decades ago. When the NSA contractor Edward Snowden defected to Moscow in June 2013, I called him out as the Kremlin agent he is – as the Kremlin subsequently admitted – which won me few friends among the great and the good. Over the past six years, I’ve explained how Russian intelligence operations work in the real world, based on my professional experience, to any audience that will listen.

Now, however, it’s time to apply the brakes. While I will never cease denouncing Russian spy games that threaten the West, it’s past due to differentiate serious counterintelligence work from politically motivated hackery. Simply put, Russian clandestine support to Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the subject which Robert Mueller’s investigators are unraveling, has become nothing short of an obsession for many of President Trump’s political opponents.

Read the rest at Spectator USA…

Wokeness eats the Virginia Democrats

If there’s one word which symbolizes American progressivism in 2019 it’s wokeness. Asking what it means constitutes proof that one is not woke. Although wokeness can best be viewed as the pop-cult wing of the late-Marxist heresy called intersectionality by academics, it’s really more a cultivated posture than a coherent political program.

The challenge with wokeness is its fluidity. Its arbiters exist mainly on social media as an unelected Politburo of sorts, and their edicts can change without formal notice. What was sufficiently woke yesterday may not be deemed so today, with real-world costs for those eager to stay on the vaunted right side of history.

For politicians the hazards are real, as Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Democratic governor, discovered last week. No national figure until a few days ago, Northam burst to stardom on Wednesday when he gave an interview in which he discussed a bill before the Virginia legislature which proposes to ease access to third-trimester abortions. A pediatric neurologist by trade, Northam’s comments were a tad too clinical for some, and controversy ensued. While the Woke Brigade hailed Northam as a hero, many on the Right believed the governor had endorsed infanticide.

Read the rest at Spectator USA…

Inside the Spy Scandal at the Heart of Jeff Bezos’ War With the National Enquirer

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rocked American politics yesterday by exposing an effort by his nemesis American Media Inc., publisher of The National Enquirer, to blackmail the multibillionaire mogul. By publicly taking on the country’s most notorious scandal sheet, Bezos opened the door to an espionage scandal that threatens to rock the nation’s capital and beyond.

Posting salacious accusations of criminality on the web is no routine matter, especially when it’s the world’s wealthiest man doing it, but that’s just what Bezos did by explaining that AMI  attempted to coerce him into stopping his investigation into The National Enquirer’s activities.

This sordid saga burst into public view last month, when The National Enquirer published a salacious account of Bezos’ extramarital affair, complete with images of private text messages of an amorous nature between the Amazon CEO and his mistress. Bezos and his wife of 25 years soon announced their intent to divorce.

Not surprisingly, Bezos wanted to know how AMI got hold of his private messages, and when you’re worth upwards of $130 billion you can hire top-notch investigators. That’s when things got interesting. The National Enquirer isn’t accustomed to being in the hot-seat when it comes to having secrets exposed, since their business model is based on being the exposer, not the one being exposed. AMI, whose acquaintance with journalistic ethics can charitably be termed fleeting, has secrets to hide in this high-profile case.

Read the rest at The Observer …

In Moscow, There’s No Longer Any Line Between Spies, Lies & Terrorists

These days there’s no term more likely to attract the nut fringe than “false flag.” Citing it is a surefire way to rally online monomaniacs who believe that nothing in the world is as it seems to be. The belief that nefarious secret forces pull the strings behind events is for some as addictive as opioids.

This is unfortunate, since false flag is a perfectly legitimate term in the espionage world, and it’s far from new. Spies have masqueraded as someone else during their secret operations for as long as there have been spies. In extreme cases, intelligence services have undertaken terrorist attacks under a false flag to smear opponents and fool the public. Such cases, while rare, do occur.

They still happen today. A fair amount of the time, these incidents involve Russians, since the Kremlin perfected this dark art over a century ago, when professional provocateurs ran the tsar’s terrorism problem bloodily into the ground. A recent case of false flag terrorism illustrates that not much has changed in the last 120 years.

On February 4, 2018, unidentified assailants fire-bombed a Hungarian cultural center in Uzhhorod, the capital of Ukraine’s westernmost region. There were no casualties, but the attack raised worries among the 100,000 Hungarians who live around Uzhhorod, on the border with Hungary, their ancestral homeland. The status of Ukraine’s Hungarian minority has become a hot-button issue between Kiev and Budapest, and the terrorist incident made the touchy situation worse.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Donald Trump, the Kremlin and the ghost of Alger Hiss

Judging from the weekend’s ‘modern presidential’ tweets – always a decent metric of Donald Trump’s mood swings – the Special Counsel investigation into his Russian links is weighing heavily on our 45th president.

And no wonder. New reports indicate that Donald J. Trump may be in a lot hotter water than his MAGA legions want to believe. According to the New York Times, the FBI in the opening months of Trump’s administration opened a counterintelligence investigation into the new president to assess whether he is a pawn of the Kremlin, wittingly or otherwise.

Then the Washington Post reported that President Trump concealed the content of his one-on-one discussions with his Russian counterpart, even from senior administration officials and the US intelligence community. Whatever he and Vladimir Putin discussed is something President Trump doesn’t want known, even in classified channels of the government he heads. Calling this abnormal is being very charitable.

Airing of these troubling matters flummoxed the president, and during a softball interview with Fox News – whose nightly talkers fulfill a role in Trump’s Washington roughly analogous to KCNA’s in Pyongyang – Trump waffled a straight-up query, ‘Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia?’ The president replied in his customary word-salad fashion how ‘insulted’ he was by the Times’sreport, never answering the up-or-down question.

Read the rest at Spectator USA …

Maybe it’s time to accept that Huawei is a Chinese intelligence front

Established in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen in 1987, it didn’t take long for Huawei Technologies to become a top player in global telecommunications. Since 2012, it’s been the world’s biggest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. Last year, Huawei displaced Apple as the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker, after South Korea’s Samsung. Active in 170 countries, Huawei matters – to China and to the global economy.

Yet there have long been questions raised about the company, starting with the fact that Huawei’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, is a former senior technologist for the People’s Liberation Army. For years, Western counterintelligence has quietly warned about the company’s connections to the PLA and other Chinese security agencies.

Recently, those cautions have grown distinctly audible. Last February, the heads of the ‘big three’ US intelligence agencies warned Americans against buying Huawei phones, which they deemed a security risk. As FBI Director Christopher Wray explained, ‘We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values…It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.’

Read the rest at Spectator USA … 

Exclusive: Mueller Is Holding Top Secret Intelligence That Will Sink the Trump Presidency

Another day, another bombshell emanating from the Special Counsel investigation into President Donald Trump and his links to the Kremlin. We now have more proof that Robert Mueller really does know everything about 2016—and I can exclusively tell you how he knows it.

This latest reveal comes from a legal screw-up of gargantuan proportions. Yesterday, attorneys for Paul Manafort, the president’s disgraced campaign manager for the decisive phase of the 2016 election, filed papers with the Justice Department trying to prevent their client from spending the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary. They asserted that Manafort did not lie to Team Mueller, as the Special Counsel believes, but in the process, they made an epic redaction fail that blows the case wide open.

Manafort’s lawyers accidentally revealed that Team Mueller believes—and Manafort confirmed—that their client shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, one of Manafort’s closest friends and a longtime business partner. Moreover, Manafort conceded, he had discussed a “Ukraine peace plan” with Kilimnik “on more than one occasion.” Worst of all, Manafort met with Kilimnik in Madrid to discuss these matters, he admitted, without saying when (Manafort’s spokesman later stated the Madrid meeting was in January or February 2017).

Read the rest at The Observer …