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Vladimir Putin Has Already Won Our Election

The news keeps getting worse. Alarming evidence of how deep the Kremlin’s got its tentacles in Washington mounts by the day. Large-scale hacking by Russian cyber-warriors didn’t just hit the Democratic National Committee, it stole emails from a wide array of top power-players, including the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO’s military boss.

Systematic Russian cyber-attacks on the DNC and related political targets in Washington were detected over a year ago by the National Security Agency, which monitors foreign cyber shenanigans, but the highly classified nature of this intelligence made it difficult to alert Congress about Kremlin espionage.

That the Russians stood behind this operation, using well-known hacking cut-outs, was established early by NSA. “It was the Kremlin, we had them cold,” explained an NSA official with direct knowledge of the case: “Moscow didn’t care we knew, they were unusually brazen.”

Although Democrats were the main focus of this espionage effort, prominent Republicans got hit too. Sen. John McCain was a target of the Russians, which is no surprise given his reputation as a hardliner on Kremlin matters. When President George W. Bush stated that he looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and “found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy…I was able to get a sense of his soul,” McCain famously retorted, “I looked in Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters—a K, a G, and a B.”

Under President Putin, Moscow again refers to United States as their Main Adversary, just as the KGB did during the last Cold War, and there can’t be many American politicians that Putin and his Kremlin loathe more than straight-talking John McCain.

Read the rest at The Observer…

No, Obama is Not the Founder of ISIS

He’s done it again. A couple weeks ago, it seemed that Donald Trump’s gaffes would be difficult to top. First the Republican nominee encouraged the Russians to steal Hillary Clinton’s missing emails—a criminal act of espionage. Then he repeatedly attacked a Muslim Gold Star immigrant family whose Army officer son was killed in Iraq.

Yet Trump’s managed to top even those virtuoso own-goals. His sly encouragement of Second Amendment enthusiasts who might want to assassinate the Democratic nominee caused outrage and encouraged mounting defections from the GOP over Trump’s lack of self-control. It’s never a good day in politics when the Secret Service must have a word with a candidate about assassinating his rival.

Now he’s blown past even that low point by stating that President Obama is the founder of the Islamic State, the notorious ISIS. Wednesday night at a spirited Florida rally, Trump said, “In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama… He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS… I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”

Although this wasn’t the first time Trump has pointed a finger at Obama and Clinton as having created ISIS, the emphasis he placed on saying “founder” repeatedly caught the attention of the commentariat. Even some Trump supporters were more than a little taken aback by the GOP nominee’s gleeful tarring of the president as an alleged jihadist.

Thursday morning Hugh Hewitt, a well-known Republican commentator who’s backed the GOP nominee, interviewed Trump and gave him a golden opportunity to repudiate his incendiary words. Trump did nothing of the sort, instead doubling down on his accusation. The exchange was so shocking it’s worth quoting at length:

Read the rest at The Observer…

Did NSA Try to Destroy Hillary Clinton?

The mega-hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, as exposed by Wikileaks last month, is one of the most politically consequential cyber-thefts of all time. Its revelations of shady deals have caused bad press for the Democrats in an election year and have led to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with three more top DNC officials following suit. More leaks are coming, and some Democrats now fear an “October surprise” designed to finish Hillary Clinton off just before the election.

Whodunit is therefore an important question. The Clinton campaign and the DNC have stated forthrightly that they see a Russian hand behind this dirty operation, with the Kremlin using Wikileaks as their fence for stolen emails. As I detailed in a recent column, that’s a very plausible answer that’s supported by the facts we know so far.

It’s also the conclusion of most American intelligence agencies. Although the criminal incident is under FBI investigation, that Kremlin-linked hackers were behind the cyber-pillaging of the DNC is widely accepted in the Intelligence Community, which has tracked the hackers in question for years.

However, there’s been pushback against this theory, including from the Trump campaign, which clearly sees Wikileaks doing their job for them—and they like it. Roger Stone, a longtime Trump intimate and mouthpiece, recently dismissed any Russian involvement in the DNC hack as Clintonian propaganda, while on Twitter Stone hailed Julian Assange, the founder and boss of Wikileaks, as a “hero.”

Since Assange was instrumental in the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified documents stolen from the American government by Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden, doing colossal damage to our foreign relationships and our intelligence agencies, it’s safe to say that Stone’s depiction isn’t mainstream in Republican circles.

Read the rest at The Observer…

Yes, America Spies Really Think Trump is Putin’s Guy

The nominee’s Kremlin ties have become a scandal—and the GOP has nobody to blame but itself for this mess

In today’s New York Times, former Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Morell initiated a firestorm by strongly endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. His memorable op-ed didn’t simply back the Democrat, her own grave security lapses notwithstanding. Morell went further, tearing down her Republican opponent as “not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security… he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.”

Normally that would be sufficiently lethal coming from a former CIA director, but Morell kept going, castigating Donald Trump as a pawn of the Kremlin possessing overtly pro-Russian views. He minced no words: “In the intelligence business, we would say that Putin had recruited Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

Uproar ensued at once, and the Trump campaign dismissed the allegation as absurd. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice presidential nominee, lambasted Morell’s former agency as “the same CIA that told the president that ISIS was the JV team”—which isn’t exactly a denial of Trump’s ties to the Kremlin.

Critics have countered that Morell is a Clinton operative, but the former spook boss claims to be politically independent. The only “evidence” he’s on Team Hillary is his current employment with a Washington strategic advisory firm with ties to members of the Clinton inner circle.

Before that, Morell spent 33 years at Langley as an intelligence analyst, winding up as the CIA’s deputy director in 2010. Before retiring in 2013, he served twice as the agency’s acting director, in 2011 and again in 2012-13, enjoying a good relationship with President Obama.

Read the rest at The Observer …

The Desire to Please Dictators: Why Trump’s Crimea Gaffe Matters

It’s August and we’re officially in this year’s presidential contest in a serious way. Now that both parties have anointed nominees at their conventions, campaigning begins in earnest with the election in early November only three months and much hard electoral slogging away.

Hillary Clinton’s coronation in Philadelphia at the Democratic convention got off to a rocky start last week with revelations of messy squabbling and shady dealings thanks to 20,000 stolen Democratic National Committee internal emails that appeared on the website of Wikileaks, the “privacy” organization that, as I explained in detail, now functions as an arm of the Kremlin.

Donald Trump has done himself and the Republican party no favors with his reaction to the Wikileaks operation, however. Initially dismissing allegations of Russian involvement as a “joke,” Trump then asked Moscow to locate the more than 30,000 emails that Clinton and her staff deleted in EmailGate. While it’s highly likely that the Kremlin indeed does have Hillary’s missing emails, encouraging a hostile intelligence service to pillage the communications of fellow Americans represents a genuinely novel development in our politics.

To make matters worse, Trump then attacked the parents of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq while serving as an officer in the U.S. Army. Make no mistake—the Khan family appeared at the Democratic convention in a political role and they badmouthed Trump there. That said, the optics of going after the grieving parents in public are so bad as to defy belief that anybody would do it—repeatedly. Attacking Gold Star parents, too, is a novel development in our politics.

It’s apparent that the Democrats laid a cunning trap for Trump with the Khans, knowing how the media was likely to cover the story, and the Republican nominee walked straight right into it, mouth blazing. It’s no wonder that Trump’s polls numbers have been dropping in recent days while Hillary’s are rising.

Read the rest at The Observer…

BREAKING: Chinese Mole Uncovered Inside the FBI

Today the Department of Justice revealed that a longtime employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been charged with espionage on behalf of China, his homeland. Kun Shan Chun, who was employed by the FBI since 1997, was arrested back in March of this year and has already pleaded guilty to his betrayal.

Chun, who went by “Joey,” worked for nearly two decades as an electronics technician with the FBI’s huge New York field office, where ten percent of the Bureau is assigned. He held Top Secret security clearances since 1998. Part of his job, as one of the legions of technical personnel who support the FBI’s storied special agents, included accessing classified information. It seems safe to assume that was what Chun was sharing with Beijing.

Chun admitted that, from 2011 to 2016, he passed sensitive information to a Chinese official whom he knew to be a government representative, i.e. a spy. Among the classified information he passed included the identity and travel plans of an FBI agent, an internal organizational chart, plus photos taken by Chun of documents in a restricted area related to surveillance technology.

As a Chinese mole inside the FBI, he systematically concealed his secret ties to Beijing, including a meeting with a Chinese spy in an unnamed European country. It’s normal spycraft to meet high-value agents like moles inside hostile intelligence services far from the United States, where the chances of being detected are high, rather in third countries in Europe.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Wikileaks Dismantling of DNC Is Clear Attack by Putin on Clinton

By stepping into the middle of our Presidential race, the obvious Russian front has outed themselves.

The recent Wikileaks dump of 20,000 emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee has caused political sensation and scandal on a grand scale. These internal communications reveal nothing flattering about the DNC or Hillary Clinton, who is set to be anointed as the Democrats’ presidential nominee at their party convention in Philadelphia that gets underway with fanfare today.

Wikileaks has thrown an ugly wrench into Hillary’s coronation. DNC emails reveal a Clinton campaign that’s shady and dishonest, not to mention corrupt. Its secret dealings with Hillary’s opponents—whether Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump—have been distasteful and possibly illegal. To say this is an unflattering portrayal of Team Clinton is like saying the Titanic had issues with ice.

The ramifications of this massive leak are already serious. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the embattled DNC chair, has been forced to tender her resignation in advance of the party conclave in Philadelphia, while Senator Sanders, who’s been revealed as the target of much aggressive DNC attention during the Democratic primary campaign, stated he was “not shocked but I’m disappointed” by the Wikileaks revelations. The Democrats are anything but united now as they prepare to take on Donald Trump and the Republicans.

On the eve of the four-day Democratic convention extravaganza, this data-dump could not have been timed better to damage Hillary and her efforts to move back into the White House this November. Although it’s doubtful that leaked RNC internal emails would make any more pleasant a read for the public, Clinton will emerge from this tarred with the indelible brush of corruption and collusion with her party’s leadership to fix the Democratic presidential nomination.

Read the rest at The Observer …

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