Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Trump shares quote ripping Brennan: ‘This guy is the genesis of this whole debacle’

May 21, 2018

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President Donald Trump on Monday shared a quote from a former Secret Service agent and conservative commentator, Dan Bongino, who slammed former CIA director John Brennan.

By MALLORY SHELBOURNE
The Hill

“’John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community. He is the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community and in some people at the……..top of the FBI.” Trump wrote on Twitter.“Brennan started this entire debacle about President Trump. We now know that Brennan had detailed knowledge of the (phony) Dossier…he knows about the Dossier, he denies knowledge of the Dossier, he briefs the Gang of 8 on the Hill about the Dossier, which…….they then used to start an investigation about Trump,” the president added.

While Trump was using Bongino’s comments, he added in his own commentary by labeling the controversial dossier as “phony.”

“It is that simple. This guy is the genesis of this whole Debacle. This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation. Brennan has disgraced himself, he’s worried about staying out of Jail.’ Dan Bongino,” Trump said.

The president appeared to be loosely quoting Bongino from an appearance he made early Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

Bongino hosts his own podcast, called “The Dan Bongino Show,” and has unsuccessfully run for the House and Senate several times. He is also a host for NRATV.

Brennan, who served as the CIA chief during former President Barack Obama’s second term, has publicly criticized Trump.

“Mr. Trump: Your hypocrisy knows no bounds. Jim Clapper is a man of integrity, honesty, ethics, & morality. You are not,” Brennan wrote on Twitter late last month, referring to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Jim Clapper served his country for over a half century, including in Vietnam. You did not. By your words & behavior, you diminish the Office of the Presidency.”

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http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/388586-trump-shares-quote-ripping-brennan-this-guy-is-the-genesis-of-this
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After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication (No Wonder Hillary Is Bitter — The CIA and FBI Let Her Down)

May 21, 2018

 

Former Secretary of State and former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds up a Russian fur hat, an ushanka, with a Soviet era hammer and sickle emblem, to the Yale College class of 2018 during her Class Day address at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, May 20, 2018. As a tradition, Yale students and faculty wear humorous and playful hats during a Senior Class Day ceremony. (Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

It was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI counterintelligence operation that targeted Trump figures as part of the investigation into possible campaign ties to Russia. It was a poignant choice of a Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” that describes a man “born in a crossfire hurricane” who “howled at the morning driving rain.”

By Jonathan Turley
The Hill

https://johnib.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/after-year-of-investigation-trump-can-rightly-claim-some-vindication-no-wonder-hillery-is-bitter-the-cia-and-fbi-let-her-down/

It could be an apt description of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After a year of media denials of his claims of surveillance targeting his campaign, Trump can legitimately claim some vindication. Indeed, with his rising poll numbers, the president must feel, in the words of the song, like “it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas.”The New York Times this week disclosed that the FBI made a conscious effort to use secret counterintelligence powers to investigate Trump officials and may have had a confidential informant who was used in connection with key Trump figures long before the November 2016 election. (Officials stated anonymously that this was a longstanding source who worked with both the FBI and CIA for years.)


In early 2017, President Trump was widely ridiculed for alleging that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance. The response from experts on CNN and other sites was open mockery. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came forward to assure the media that he could categorically deny the allegation and stated, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” The range of media analysis seemed to run from whether Trump was a clinical paranoid or a delusional demagogue.
We now know there was, indeed, surveillance ordered repeatedly on Trump campaign figures before and after the election. Rather than acknowledge the troubling implications of an administration investigating the opposing party’s leading candidate for president, the media shifted to saying that there was ample reason to order the surveillance.That remains to be seen but much of the coverage brushes over the fact that no charges were brought against the principal target, Carter Page, or that the secret warrants for surveillance were based in part on a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a fact known but not fully disclosed by the FBI to the secret FISA court. The documented Russian interference, thus far, has been largely a Russian operation out of St. Petersburg that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has said was carried out without the knowledge of Trump campaign officials.Now the plot has thickened even further with the added disclosure of not just national security letters to gather documents related to Trump figures but also at least one confidential informant who met with campaign figures like Page and George Papadopoulos to gather information. In response to the New York Times report, Trump declared that the FBI planted “at least one” spy in his campaign to frame him. Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani ratcheted up the rhetoric and said, if the story is true, that former FBI Director James Comey should be prosecuted.The record does not currently support such a criminal conspiracy. However, if Trump and his counsel can be accused of overplaying the known facts, the media can be equally accused of ignoring the implications of the known facts. It should be a serious concern that the Obama administration used secret counterintelligence powers to target officials in the campaign of the opposing party. That is a practice we have widely criticized in other countries from Turkey to Russia to Iran.

Worse yet, the New York Times wrote that the decision was made to use the secret FISA court and counterintelligence personnel to conceal the operation for political purposes. According to the report, FBI officials consciously decided not to seek conventional criminal warrants or pursue a criminal investigation because it might be discovered and raised by Trump during the campaign. Thus, as Trump campaigned against the “deep state,” FBI officials hid their investigation deeper inside the state. FISA was not designed as a convenient alternative for the FBI and the Justice Department to avoid political costs or scrutiny.

The added problem with using a counterintelligence operation is that it is easier to launch and conceal than a criminal investigation. While there is a “probable cause” requirement under FISA, it is not the same as the one contained in the Fourth Amendment. Virtually every FISA application ever filed by the Justice Department has been granted, with a couple of exceptions. The FISA investigation was based on loose claims of foreign influence and a little cognizable evidence of actual crimes.

For his part, Page continues to maintain that he accepted standard contracts to work with the Russians, as have hundreds of people in Washington. Clearly, the FBI should investigate any serious criminal conduct linked to Trump figures or the campaign. However, the publicly released FISA material describes interactions with Russians that could have applied easily to myriad other “Beltway bandits” who regularly cash in on foreign contracts, including leading figures of both parties. The still unresolved question is why these particular allegations of foreign contacts merited the extraordinary decision to target an opposing party’s campaign or campaign figures before a major election.

I have been highly critical of Trump’s attacks on the media. However, that does not mean his objections are wholly unfounded, and this seems one such example. There may have been legitimate reasons to investigate Russian influence before the election. Yet, very serious concerns are raised by the targeting of an opposing party in the midst of a heated election. These concerns will be magnified by the use of a confidential source to elicit information from Trump campaign associates, though officials deny that the FBI actually had an informant inside the campaign.

Just as it is too early to support allegations of a conspiracy to frame Trump, it is too early to dismiss allegations of bias against Trump. As shown by many of the emails and later criminal referrals and disciplinary actions at the FBI, an open hostility to Trump existed among some bureau figures. Moreover, the extensive unmasking of Trump figures and false statements from FBI officials cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

As a nation committed to the rule of law, we need a full and transparent investigation of these allegations. All of the allegations. That includes both the investigation of special counsel Mueller and the investigation of these latest allegations involving the FBI. For many Trump supporters, this new information deepens suspicions of the role of the “deep state.” If we ever hope to come out of these poisonous times as a unified nation, the public must be allowed to see the full record on both sides.

Until then, many Americans across the country will continue to believe that, like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Trump was greeted after his election by being “crowned with a spike” right through his head.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

TAGS GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS HILLARY CLINTON ROBERT MUELLER JAMES CLAPPER DONALD TRUMP JAMES COMEY SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATION ELECTION RUSSIA

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The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying

May 21, 2018

A secret source insinuated himself with Trump campaign officials. Ho hum.

The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying
PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Well, what do you know. The Federal Bureau of Investigation really did task an “informant” to insinuate himself with Trump campaign advisers in 2016. Our Kimberley Strassel reported this two weeks ago without disclosing a name.

We now have all but official confirmation thanks to “current and former government officials” who contributed to apologias last week in the New York Times and Washington Post. And please don’t call the informant a “spy.” A headline on one of the Times’ stories says the “F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims.”

We’ll let readers parse that casuistic distinction, which is part of a campaign by the FBI and Justice Department to justify their refusal to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee documents related to the informant. Justice and the FBI claim this Capitol Hill oversight would blow the cover of this non-spy and even endanger his life. Yet these same stories have disclosed so many specific details about the informant whom we dare not call a spy that you can discover the name of the likeliest suspect in a single Google search.

We now know, for example, that the informant is “an American academic who teaches in Britain” who “served in previous Republican administrations.” He has worked as a “longtime U.S. intelligence source” for the FBI and the CIA.

The stories provide the names of the three Trump campaign officials who the informant sought to court— Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos —as well as specific dates and details of the encounters. He met with Mr. Page at a symposium at a “British university” in “mid-July,” and stayed in touch with him for more than year. He met with Mr. Clovis at a “hotel café in Crystal City,” Virginia, on “either Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.”

The informant didn’t previously know the three men but offered to help with the campaign. He also threw money at Mr. Papadopoulos, and the stories even report the exact language of the message the informant sent to Mr. Papadopoulos offering him a $3,000 honorarium to write a research paper and a paid trip to London. Media accounts differ about whether the informant asked the three men what they knew about Russia. But this sure sounds like a classic attempt to make friends for intelligence-gathering purposes.

This ought to disturb anyone who wants law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services to stay out of partisan politics. We can’t recall a similar case, even in the J. Edgar Hoover days, when the FBI decided it needed to snoop on a presidential campaign. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman, is seeking documents to learn exactly what happened, what triggered this FBI action, and how it was justified. This is precisely the kind of oversight that Congress should provide to assure Americans that their government isn’t spying illegally.

Yet now the same people who lionized Edward Snowden for stealing secrets about metadata—which collected phone numbers, not names—claim the FBI informant is no big deal. James Clapper, Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, claims it was even a “good thing” that the FBI was monitoring the campaign for Russian influence.

Forgive us if we don’t trust Mr. Clapper, who leaked details related to the notorious Steele dossier to the press, as a proper judge of such snooping. Would he and the press corps be so blasé if the FBI under George W. Bush had sought to insinuate sources with Obama supporters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright or radical Bill Ayers during the 2008 campaign?

Incredibly, Democrats and their media friends are painting Mr. Nunes as the villain for daring even to ask about all this. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is making the rounds warning that “the first thing any new” committee member “learns is the critical importance of protecting sources and methods.”

Sure, but as far as we know Mr. Nunes hasn’t disclosed the source’s name—certainly not to us—even as anonymous Justice officials all but paint a neon path of details to the informant’s door. Justice and the FBI have disclosed more to their media Boswells than they have to the people’s representatives in Congress.

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As is his habit, President Trump belly-flopped into this debate over the weekend with demands that Justice investigate whether his campaign was spied on. Justice officials quickly asked the Inspector General to investigate, and this will polarize the political debate even further.

But the stakes here go beyond Mr. Trump’s political future. The public deserves to know who tasked the informant to seek out Trump campaign officials, what his orders were, what the justification was for doing so, and who was aware of it. Was the knowledge limited to the FBI, or did it run into the Obama White House?

As important, what are the standards for the future? Could a Trump FBI task agents to look into the foreign ties of advisers to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2020? Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein need to clear the air by sharing what they and the FBI know with the House. This is bigger than blowing a source whose identity Justice leakers have already blown. This is about public trust in the FBI and Justice.

Appeared in the May 21, 2018, print edition as ‘The Informant Who Wasn’t Spying.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fbi-informant-who-wasnt-spying-1526854417

WSJ: The FBI Hid A Mole In The Trump Campaign

May 11, 2018

On Wednesday we reported on an intense battle playing out between House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (D-CA), the Department of Justice, and the Mueller investigation concerning a cache of intelligence that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein refuses to hand over – a request he equated to “extortion.”

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On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Nunes was denied access to the information on the grounds that it “could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.

After the White House caved to Rosenstein and Nunes was barred from seeing the documents, it also emerged that this same intelligence had already been shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US election.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, news emerged that Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) would receive a classified Thursday briefing at the DOJ on the documents. This is, to put it lightly, incredibly significant.

Why? Because it appears that the FBI may have had a mole embedded in the Trump campaign.

In a bombshell op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel shares a few key insights about recent developments. Perhaps we should start with the ending and let you take it from there. Needless to say Strassel’s claims, if true, would have wide ranging implications for the CIA, FBI, DOJ and former Obama administration officials.

Strassel concludes: 

“I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it.”

Authored by Kimberley Strassel, op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,

About That FBI ‘Source’

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?
And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-10/wsj-fbi-hid-mole-trump-campaign

Related:

Related (Wall Street Journal):

Gina Haspel’s hypocritical critics

May 10, 2018

Senate Democrats gave President Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel a fierce grilling Wednesday over the post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program, which is fair enough. The question is, how many will vote against her — after they voted to confirm President Barack Obama’s CIA pick, John Brennan, back in 2013?

 

Brennan, after all, was also deeply involved in the use of waterboarding and other now-controversial techniques to gain vital intelligence from captured terrorists. That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union opposed his confirmation (as it has Haspel’s), citing his “complicity” in the program.

In fact, Brennan praised it in 2007, telling CBS: “A lot of information . . . has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has, in fact, used against the real hard-core terrorists . . . It has saved lives.”

Yes, he later walked back those comments while serving as Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser — and as point man in the also-controversial use of drones to kill terrorists, and sometimes bystanders as well.

Fifty Senate Democrats voted to confirm Brennan; 36 remain in office. That includes five current Intelligence Committee members, as well as New York’s Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Haspel told the committee she wouldn’t restore the program, even if Trump so ordered. Yes, she refused to call it “immoral” — and rightly so: that would be a cheap concession to political grandstanding.

After all, the CIA fully briefed Nancy Pelosi and other key Democrats in Congress on what it was doing in those scary early days of the War on Terror, and none objected.

Haspel was plainly doing her job when (as chief of staff for the CIA leader who actually made the call) she played a role in destroying videos of interrogations in order to prevent them from being leaked (as similar info then was) and so endangering the lives of men and women who’d been trying to protect this country.

A 30-year veteran already serving as acting CIA chief, Haspel would be the first woman to lead the agency and the first director in decades who’s spent her entire career there. She has the enthusiastic support of pretty much anyone who’s ever worked with her, including several top Obama officials who are now loudly anti-Trump.

Any Democrats voting against her, especially those who voted to confirm Brennan, ought to give a good explanation why. They could cite the statement opposing her from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed…

FILED UNDER       
 https://nypost.com/2018/05/09/gina-haspels-hypocritical-critics/

CIA Abides By Interrogation Laws From Congress: Dick Cheney [Video]

May 10, 2018

Long Version:

McCain urges Senate to reject Haspel’s nomination

May 10, 2018
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) came out against Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to be CIA director, on Wednesday after her confirmation hearing in the Senate.
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BY JACQUELINE THOMSEN AND BRETT SAMUELS – 05/09/18 08:36 PM
The Hill

In a break with President Trump, McCain urged his Senate colleagues to vote against Haspel, charging that “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”

McCain said Haspel in speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee failed to address his concerns about her role in an enhanced interrogation program during the George W. Bush administration. The methods used in that program are now widely regarded as torture.

Haspel cannot afford to lose any additional Republican support. McCain is recovering from surgery related to his brain cancer in Arizona and was not expected to be present when the Senate votes on Haspel’s nomination. With McCain out and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposed, Haspel still needs support from at least one Democratic senator as well as every other Republican to be confirmed.

“Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked. I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty,” McCain said in a statement Wednesday.

“But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”

McCain said that he believes Haspel “is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense.”

“However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,” he continued. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

McCain was tortured as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. He had previously expressed skepticism about Haspel’s nomination.

Haspel’s ties to the interrogation program led to a contentious confirmation hearing on Wednesday in which Senate Democrats drilled down on her views on the subject. She did not answer when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) repeatedly asked if Haspel believes past interrogation techniques were “immoral.”

However, she pledged that she would not bring back the program.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday that he will support Haspel’s nomination. Several other GOP senators remain on the fence.

McCain’s opposition to Haspel’s nomination marked the latest instance in which the Arizona senator broke with Trump.

The president drew harsh criticism during the 2016 campaign when he disputed that McCain is a war hero, saying he prefers war heroes “who weren’t captured.”

Since Trump’s election, McCain has frequently spoken out against Trump’s rhetoric and the “spurious nationalism” sweeping the country, and wrote critically of Trump in his upcoming book.

In addition, McCain delivered the decisive vote to kill an ObamaCare repeal effort in the Senate last summer.

-Updated 9:05 p.m.

TAGS KAMALA HARRIS, DONALD TRUMP, JOE MANCHIN, JOHN MCCAIN, RAND PAUL, JOHN MCCAIN; GINA HASPEL; DONALD TRUMP; CIA

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http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/387037-mccain-urges-senate-to-reject-haspels-nomination

 

Peter Thiel and Palantir Are at the Heart of the Iran Nuclear Deal

May 8, 2018

Silicon Valley billionaire — and Donald Trump supporter — Peter Thiel has emerged as an unlikely player in the international debate over Iran’s nuclear deal with six world powers.

 Image result for Peter Thiel, photos

Thiel’s big-data engine, Palantir Technologies Inc., is at the heart of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s system for verifying Iran’s compliance with the landmark 2015 agreement, according to officials familiar with the program. The accord lifted years of punishing sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its ability to develop nuclear weapons.

By Bloomberg

Scrapping the accord, as Trump is threatening to do as early as Tuesday, would not only anger the other signatories — China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain — it would also hamstring the IAEA’s increasingly sophisticated ability to track the use of uranium in Iran and around the world, according to Ernest Moniz, who helped negotiate the deal as U.S. secretary of energy.

“We have a completely unique and unparalleled intrusive verification regime that was not there before the agreement,” Moniz said on PBS. If Trump kills the deal, “the No. 1 downside is that we lose this regime.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Trump not to scupper the accord during recent visits to Washington. Macron warned over the weekend that abrogation by the U.S. could lead to war.

Read a Quicktake on understanding the Iranian nuclear deal

Israeli Heist

Palantir has spent years modifying its predictive-policing software for inspectors at the Vienna-based IAEA, which was founded in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The tool is at the analytical core of the agency’s new $50 million Mosaic platform, turning databases of classified information into maps that help inspectors visualize ties between the people, places and material involved in nuclear activities, IAEA documents show.

That sets up Palantir, which Thiel and his partners built with CIA funding, as the platform of choice for assessing the documents Israel claims to have detailing Iran’s secret efforts to build a bomb. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Iran’s arch foe, announced the trove just days before Trump’s May 12 deadline to either make good on pledges to scrap the deal or extend sanctions relief.

While experts say Netanyahu revealed little new, parties involved want the 55,000 files and 183 CDs he says Mossad agents stole in Tehran vetted through the IAEA. That could offer Trump a third option — reinstating penalties without officially abandoning the deal while the agency investigates, a process that could take years, according to Ali Vaez, a former Federation of American Scientists official who runs the International Crisis Group’s Iran Project.

Whatever Trump decides, the “dirty” or unstructured data obtained by Mossad, which prides itself on deception, could serve as a stress test for Palantir’s nuclear analytics. Even a small amount of false information could trigger a flurry of unnecessary snap inspections and derail an agreement that took years to reach, Vaez said.

“Turning the access issue into a gotcha exercise might very well be the ulterior motive,” Vaez said. “The more the issue appears as a fishing expedition, the harder it will be for Iran to open its doors to inspectors.”

Iran refuted Netanyahu’s allegations, calling his presentation, which was carried live by U.S. cable news networks, “cartoonish.” Trump’s issue with the deal isn’t compliance — the IAEA has certified Iran’s work 10 times — it’s that it doesn’t address the country’s missile program or regional actions.

Trump Dinner

Palantir’s role at the IAEA, which has access to information that governments don’t, has come under increasing scrutiny since the company revealed a worker’s misuse of Facebook Inc. data in March, according to diplomats and international officials. Also of concern for an international agency known for its independence are Thiel’s close personal ties to Trump, these people said.

Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor, dined at the White House with Trump and the Israeli-born co-chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., Safra Catz, just hours after the president spoke with Netanyahu about Iran on April 4.

A deputy White House press secretary, Lindsay Walters, declined to comment on what was discussed at the dinner. Palantir declined to comment. An IAEA spokesman said the agency’s data-mining program operates in “a secure environment” and within its “existing legal framework.”

Palantir’s software helps the IAEA plan and justify unscheduled probes,which have totaled 60 in Iran since the agreement came into force in 2016. The amount of information available to inspectors that Palantir can process has jumped 30-fold in three years to some 400 million “digital objects” around the world, including social media feeds and satellite photographs inside Iran.

These enhanced investigative abilities, which are inextricably linked with the Iran deal, have raised concern that the IAEA may overstep the boundary between nuclear monitoring and intelligence-gathering.

Chasing Shadows

Historically, IAEA inspectors have worked more like atomic accountants, tracking stockpiles of fissile material to ensure it isn’t diverted for weapons. But new methods of inspection — from Palantir’s analytics to mass spectrometry — have turned them into potential cyber sleuths.

Russia’s envoy for nonproliferation issues, Vladimir Yermakov, said last month that the growing powers of the IAEA are only justified “if the safeguards system remains objective, depoliticized, technically credible, clear to the member states and based on rights and obligations.”

Other countries are also starting to worry about the the agency’s expanding arsenal of surveillance tools. The Non-Aligned Group, which includes Brazil and India, said the agency’s “integrity and credibility” are at stake.

Of equal concern is the false data that “predictive-analysis” systems like Palantir’s can generate — either by accident or design, according to Andreas Persbo, who runs Vertic, a London-based company that advises governments on verification issues.

“You will generate a false return if you add a false assumption into the system without making the appropriate qualifier,” Persbo said. “You’ll end up convincing yourself that shadows are real.”

Includes video:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-08/peter-thiel-in-eye-of-iran-storm-as-deadline-looms-for-trump

China, U.S. in Artificial Intelligence Technology Race

April 30, 2018
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 – The Washington Times – Sunday, April 29, 2018

The growing race for military superiority between Washington and Beijing is entering a new phase, with both world powers preparing to square off in the cutting-edge realm of artificial intelligence.

A cadre of tech gurus at the Defense Department and in the intelligence community are working to develop an interagency center designed to position the United States as the dominant force in the emerging technology subsector.

Michael Griffin, the Pentagon’s chief of research and engineering, has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill and in national security circles in Washington to extol the necessity and opportunity posed by the organization, dubbed the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

Artificial intelligence technologies, which leverage various binary computations and algorithms to replicate human decision-making and risk assessments, has revolutionized the commercial and defense sectors.

On the military side, automation fueled by artificial intelligence has assisted the U.S. and allied forces in areas such as combat logistics, resupply and analysis of raw intelligence collected by the Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies.

Those advantages will be key not just for U.S. forces but for their international allies as well.

“Everything that will be required in terms of intelligence — artificial intelligence, the changes that it will bring about, ability to attract talents. And we will have to work to make sure that it is still possible because we know how to defend this peace that we cherish together,” French President Emmanuel Macron said last week in a speech at the State Department.

Mr. Macron was in Washington for a three-say state visit, the first foreign leader honored with that distinction in the Trump administration.

The Pentagon’s Project Maven — an effort to use artificial intelligence to scan through the hours of aerial footage gathered by American surveillance drones to identify potential targets — is one example of the untapped potential of artificial intelligence.

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“These technology areas are not just important to the Department of Defense. They are, in fact, the focus of global industry, something we must learn to leverage,” Mr. Griffin told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee this month.

But that learning curve has been fraught with challenges, the Pentagon official told lawmakers. The department’s massive bureaucracy and a commercial sector that is wary of cooperating with Washington to develop technologies for the intelligence and defense communities have hastened the Pentagon’s efforts to compete with near-peer adversaries, such as China, in the realm of AI.

“The [Defense] Department is not short of innovators; we’re short of time, and we lack in expertise in adapting commercial market advances to military needs,” Mr. Griffin said during the April 18 hearing of the Senate defense panel.

“We need to strike a balance between bringing in new technology and getting current technology out to the field,” he said, adding that the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will be just the vehicle to achieve that balance.

Development of the Pentagon-led AI center will be part of a grander strategy on how the U.S. can compete on the technological battlefield of the 21st century. Department officials anticipate submitting a final road map to Congress in June on how it will leverage artificial intelligence into the overall U.S. National Security Strategy.

But congressional lawmakers remain concerned that Washington’s efforts to achieve parity with Russia and China in the field of AI may be too little, too late as both countries continue to move out aggressively in developing such technologies.

“The Chinese are leaning forward in advanced technology to gain momentum ahead of others. Their decision cycle between development and production is faster, frankly, than what the [Pentagon] is able to do,” Mr. Griffin said during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Navy’s fiscal 2019 budget request.

Beijing technologies are “now rivals in artificial intelligence, in quantum computing, in biotechnology. … The innovation ecosystem that they are building, right now, as we speak, is something that I hope we open our eyes to,” he told Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller during Thursday’s hearing.

China does not encounter the same resistance from its state-sponsored technology firms in developing applications for intelligence and military use, unlike Silicon Valley’s uncomfortable relationship with the Pentagon and the CIA in the post-Edward Snowden era.

China’s advantages in its indigenous tech sector aside, it is incumbent on Washington’s national security apparatus to not cede any more ground to Beijing or other competitors in the field of artificial intelligence, despite any challenges, officials say.

“Everyone wants innovation, but innovation is messy. If the department is really going to succeed in innovating, we’re going to have to get comfortable with people making mistakes,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Comey’s media tour shows why we’re better off without him

April 29, 2018

The more Comey talks, the more he inadvertently proves Trump’s case that something was very rotten in Washington and that Comey himself was unfit to lead the FBI.

You don’t have to be a cockeyed optimist to believe that, although times are tough, they could be worse. Just imagine the mess if James Comey were still running the FBI.

Near the end of his forceful Thursday interview, Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Comey if he would have kept working for President Trump had the president not fired him.

“Yes,” Comey said. “In fact, that was my intention. To serve another six years.”

Yikes. Thank heavens — and Trump — Comey didn’t get the chance to corrupt the FBI for a minute longer, let alone six more years.

Comey’s book tour is a phenomenon possible only in the Age of Trump. He is treated like a star because he delivers catnip to the hate-Trump media, as when he condemns the president as “like a crime boss who’s morally unfit.” The book, “Higher Loyalty” has sold more than 600,000 copies and the president feeds the circus by calling Comey a “leaker and a liar.”

Most authors would die for such attention and sales, but Comey is paying a reputational price for his windfall. The more he talks, the more he inadvertently proves Trump’s case that something was very rotten in Washington and that Comey himself was unfit to lead the FBI.

Consider his comments to a New York bookstore audience.

“There is a deep state in this sense,” Comey said. “There is a collection of people, CIA, NSA, FBI [and] in the United States military services who care passionately about getting it right, who care passionately about the values we try to talk about.”

He called them the “ballast of the country” and said “No president in a single term could screw it up…It would take generations, and that should comfort us.”

That depends on who “us” is and whose “values” are being pushed.

In a vacuum, the notion of seasoned professionals making the government run is unremarkable. But against the backdrop of continuing revelations of serious misconduct in those agencies during the Obama administration, there is no comfort for the millions of Americans who believe insiders abused their powers for partisan purposes.

They see the “deep state” as a sinister force aiming to hijack an election and, when that didn’t work, undermine a fairly elected president. They also see a system with one set of laws for those favored by the government and a different set for everyone else.

Comey, as an ambitious insider, was both a beneficiary and a perpetrator of this double standard of justice.

He continues to insist that his investigation of Hillary Clinton was clean, even as he says he didn’t trust the actions of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He insists the Trump probe was not affected by the anti-Trump sentiments of top officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who texted about an “insurance plan” in case Trump won, or the lies to investigators of his top deputy, Andrew McCabe.

His claim that he saw no bias is laughable — they were all biased in the same way, agreeing that Trump should not be president!

In a truly bizarre claim, Comey said on Fox he isn’t certain the Russian dossier was paid for by Clinton and the Democratic Party.

That doesn’t pass the smell test, and, even if true, would mean the probe was incompetent. The political motivation behind the dossier is a key fact when judging its credibility, as are the openly-partisan leanings of investigators.

Yet to hear Comey talk, none of this matters. All that matters is that we should trust him to do the right thing, which happens to be whatever he says it is.

That includes giving a “friend” memos he wrote to leak them to the media. Oops — it’s not a leak when he does it.

Nor does he see anything wrong in writing a scathing book based on his private meetings with the president, even though he leaves an unprecedented stain on the FBI.

Comey’s self-aggrandizement is apparent with his claim that he tried to “protect the independence” of the agency, as if it were a separate branch of government, accountable to no one.

It also doesn’t seem to bother him that public trust is destroyed when law enforcement is politicized to help the candidate of the incumbent party and hurt the candidate of the opposition party.

What happened at the FBI under Comey in 2016 was not “ballast.” It was a clear and present danger to America.

This is the “deep state” in reality, not the idealized one he depicts.

A final example involves how the most salacious aspects of the Russian dossier were published. Comey writes that he briefed President-elect Trump on the alleged prostitute saga, telling him that “media like CNN had the dossier and were looking for a news hook” to publish it.

Presto — two days after that briefing, CNN broke the news that Comey had discussed the dossier with Trump, making the meeting the news hook CNN sought. The source of that story appears to be James Clapper, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence — and now a CNN contributor.

According to a House Intelligence Committee report released Friday, Clapper initially “flatly denied” discussing the dossier with CNN.

But when confronted with evidence to the contrary, he changed his story.

The report says “Clapper subsequently acknowledged discussing the ‘dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,’ and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists,” according to The Federalist.

One more fact: Comey said he briefed Trump on the dossier at Clapper’s suggestion.

That’s the deep state in action.

https://nypost.com/2018/04/28/comeys-media-tour-shows-why-were-better-off-without-him/